Junior Speedster

by VanillaWaffle

First published

Rainbow Dash wakes up one winter morning to find she's been turned into a young filly. With a counter-spell farther down the line than she would like, Rainbow must learn to deal with her less-than-cool situation and save what's left of her reputation

Rainbow Dash always considered herself to be the coolest of the cool, the fastest pegasus in Equestria, and the bravest pony around. She had achieved her dream of becoming a Wonderbolt, had her own fan club, and even saved the world with her friends at least a dozen times now. But when a magical accident results in her waking up as a young filly one morning, Rainbow Dash suddenly finds her awesomeness to be a little strained.

With Twilight unable to break the spell for a while, the once proud mare must learn to get used to her new size and hopefully make the most of it. Unfortunately, her old fillyhood habits, insecurities, and immaturity that she had long since outgrown have made a comeback as well, making Rainbow's life that much more complicated. To make it even worse, those around her are finding it more and more difficult to take her seriously as an adult...

...And Rainbow Danger Dash does NOT need a babysitter!

Not a Morning Filly

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Living in a cloud house had its ups and downs as far as Rainbow Dash was concerned. On one hand, living in a house made entirely of condensed water made for some very chilly mornings. This was especially true during the wintertime when the frosty morning air breezed in through any open windows or cracks that the lazy pegasus hadn’t seen fit to patch yet. While pegasi physiology was definitely more adapted to colder climates than the other tribes, anypony would still feel perturbed when waking up to a draft of freezing air circulating throughout the room. This was the case for the cyan pegasus who was trying her best to ignore her uncomfortable wakefulness by snuggling tightly into her bedcovers and being grateful for the upside of cloud houses: comfy beds.

“Ungh…” the pegasus moaned in duress as the sheets did little to protect her from the draft. She tried curling even tighter into her sheets, but all seemed to be in vain as her body temperature seemingly continued to drop. She tossed from one side of her bed to the other in a feeble attempt to get comfortable before giving up with a grunt of exasperation. It’s too early to be cold, she thought to herself. She sat up in her bed, letting the covers fall over her hind legs, and wrapped her forelegs around her midsection tightly. For a moment, she thought she had left a window open again as she was wont to do from time to time, but a quick scan of the room found all windows to be closed. Then where is that darn draft coming from?

A stronger gust of wind picked up, blowing more cool air into Rainbow’s bedroom with more force than before. That was enough to alert the sleepy pegasus to the location of the issue which for some reason was just to the left of her bed. Lifting an eyebrow in confusion, the young pony shuffled to the side to see the problem. Her eyes widened at the sight of a considerably large hole in the floor of her bedroom, probably about nine inches in diameter, and perfectly round.

“What the hay?” the pegasus let out in a sleepy and confused voice.

A voice that was… higher pitch than she was used to. And significantly scratchier than it had been in years. Eyes widening further, Rainbow’s hoof immediately clamped over her mouth in surprise.

Was… was that my voice?

The chill was all but forgotten as the rainbow-maned pony slowly released her muzzle again and cautiously opened her mouth.

“T-testing?” The voice that sounded out was not Rainbow’s, but it was very similar. It was high-pitched, rough, and squeaky. Kind of like a filly’s.

Like a filly…

In her morning haze, Rainbow Dash hadn’t noticed until then anything else peculiar about her surroundings. The bed she was laying in seemed much wider than normal. It also seemed higher off the floor than normal. The room seemed more spacious than normal. To Rainbow, it seemed everything had gotten larger than normal.

What is going on?

Rainbow Dash abandoned the comfort of her cloud bed by throwing her sheets haphazardly to the side before spreading her wings. With a sharp push of her hind legs, she catapulted herself from the oversized bedframe and flew to the bathroom door on the other side of the room. Or at least she tried to.

“ACK!” she squawked as she promptly faceplanted onto her bedroom floor. She took a deep breath and let it out in a whine as she looked around her room from her new vantage point. Everything was definitely bigger than before. Rainbow could feel her heart beating slightly faster.

W-what just happened?

With a shake of her rainbow-capped head, the pony got to her hooves again and flapped her wings in the direction of her bathroom door. Her body rose into the air and she outstretched her forelegs as she moved closer. Almost immediately, gravity brought her down on her face again.

“What the hay is going on!?” she shouted in her now squeaky voice. With a turn of her head, the scowling pony glared at the wings on her back. At the sight of them her glare vanished and was replaced with shock. Her feathery appendages were smaller than they should be. Her primary feathers barely stretched out more than a hoof-length from her torso, making them only slightly larger in comparison to her body mass than Scootaloo’s.

And Scootaloo can’t…

The small pegasus franticly tried flapping her wings again but only rose a couple inches from the floor before falling to her hooves again. She repeated the action without delay only to achieve the same result. She persisted.

“No… No, No, NO!” she muttered, getting louder (and squeakier) with each subsequent “no”. After the seventh failed attempt, she gave up and looked to her bathroom again. She needed a mirror. It had been a long time since she had last run on a cloud, and the spongey cloud floor did not make it feel any less awkward than it did before she could fly. She tripped once over her own hooves and quickly corrected as she reached for her bathroom door handle, silently cursing her decision to use cloud flooring in her bedroom rather than something more solid. The door handle was definitely higher than it should be. It rested at eye level to the rosy-eyed pegasus where it had once been below her chest. She told herself to ignore it for now and pushed the door open quickly.

Rainbow Dash’s master bath was as extravagant as the rest of her house. It was spacious with a bathtub resting in the corner and a separate glass-cased shower area next to it. A sink rested on a countertop with a vanity mirror mounted on the wall. She ran up to the larger than normal countertop and stood on her hind-legs, her forelegs holding onto the counter. A gasp left her in a fit of shock as she looked at the image in the mirror.

It was her. A smaller version of her, with stubbier legs and a shorter barrel. Her magenta eyes stared back at her in a mix of confusion and pitched horror. She unfurled her cyan wings and stretched them as far as she could. Just as she saw earlier, they were nothing more than puffs of feathers jutting from her sides, not nearly large enough to provide her lift. Her multi-hued mane was shorter than she usually kept it. It was shaggier and much more unkempt, even for bed-head standards. But the style was not unfamiliar to her. She remembered wearing her mane just like that when she was younger, back when she lived in Cloudsdale. Back when she was…

“…A filly… I’m a…”

The shrill childish scream that billowed out of Rainbow Dash’s cloud home that morning could be heard mile away.


“Rainbow Dash? I heard screaming. Are you okay?”

The newly regressed filly heard the concerned soft-spoken voice coming from her front doorstep, but she barely registered it. She was too busy at that moment curling into a ball on her bathroom floor and staring into space, utterly catatonic. She was trembling slightly as the reality of the situation started to sink in.

I’m a foal again… I’m just a little filly…

She could barely think of anything else. Every now and then a stray thought entered her mind, telling her it was all a bad dream. She would wake up in her cloud bed just before noon just like any other day, ready to get some flight practice in before doing her usual ten-second flat cloud clearing. Just like usual.

My life's over. I can't even fly anymore.

“Rainbow?” A hoof knocked against the door again. “Oh, dear. Rainbow, could you please open the door?”

The Wonderbolts are sure to fire me. Why would they want a little kid with them anyway? Sweet Celestia, what about Scoots? What will she think of me?

The voice was getting increasingly less soft as the knocking became slightly louder. It was enough to finally knock the multi-colored filly out of her stupor as her ears pivoted in the direction of her home’s entryway. The voice registered finally and sent a wave of fresh panic through her tiny body.

Fluttershy! No, she can’t see me like this!

The idea of someone seeing her was humiliating. She was supposed to be a proud and awesome mare. Instead, she was a tiny, shaking, scared little filly barely keeping herself from sobbing at the sight of herself. Fluttershy always looked up to her, and she refused to ruin that now. Granted, of her friends, she probably trusted Fluttershy the most, but her pride was still on the line. She briefly thought of calling out to her friend to tell her she was fine but stopped herself when she remembered her newly prepubescent voice would give her away immediately.

Right. Okay, Rainbow, be cool. You can figure this out, just pretend you aren’t home and she’ll go away. She took a deep breath, then another, and got to her hooves again. She quietly stepped out of her bathroom and into her bedroom again. She crawled on top of the bed again and sat down to think.

Maybe Twilight can fix this? But I can't go out iike this, and Tank is hibernating, so he can't send a message for me...

Another round of knocking sounded out sending another wave of panic shot through the filly. She took a deep breath to keep it down while tuning out her friend’s incessant calling. She curled into a ball again and tried to stop her trembling. She almost didn’t notice when the knocking stopped, but curiosity gripped her when it did. She carefully stepped down from her bed, minding her new size, and cantered towards her bedroom door. A quick look through the hallway and down the stairs showed her nothing through her front windows, which must have meant Fluttershy gave up. She let out a sigh of relief.

Rainbow Dash felt a little bad about ignoring her friend, but she just couldn’t get herself to face her. She didn’t really think Fluttershy would laugh, but others certainly would. Rainbow Dash was not a laughing stock! Her pride wouldn’t allow her to be. She could figure this out somehow without involving others. At least she told herself that. Honestly, she didn’t have the first clue what had happened. Perhaps it had involved that hole in her floor?

With the immediate concern of being found out by Fluttershy over with, the blue filly curiously turned around to look at the offending opening in her home that was still letting in chill winter air. Instead her eyes were attracted to the window just above her bed. The one that had a butter-yellow, pink-maned pegasus with saucer-wide blue eyes looking in. Staring directly at Rainbow Dash. She froze.

”R-Rainbow Dash?”


The rational part of the filly’s mind whispered to her that it was okay. She was found out, but it was her closest friend. Fluttershy could help her, probably. She was found out anyway. She just had to pony-up and let her in.

The irrational part of the filly’s mind was much louder. It screamed in her ear that her reputation was over and she should run and hide. With a panicked yelp of her own, the filly threw the bedroom door open wide and galloped as fast as her short little legs would allow her. She heard Fluttershy shout her name again, but she didn’t stop. She need to hide. Hide from her best friend. Hide from her best friend and never let herself out again. In a childish fashion, she sprinted down the stairs, past her spacious foyer, and to the kitchen. She danced in place while looking around the room for some kind of hiding spot. She decided on an empty cupboard under the sink and dived into it before slamming the door shut.

Alone in the dark, the former adult let herself hyperventilate again. “I’m doomed,” she whispered to herself and tried to ignore the crack in her voice as she said “doomed.” Fluttershy would probably run and tell somepony in an attempt to get help, but then they would tell somepony else. Soon enough everyone would know.

No, Rainbow! Don’t think that way! Fluttershy is your best friend. You can trust her to keep a secret.

She told herself that, but she struggled to believe it.

You’re Rainbow Dash. You’re a Wonderbolt. Or at least you were. Another tremble shook her body. You can handle pressure. This is just… a lot more pressure. Just stay cool. Just… chillax!

She couldn’t get herself to chillax. Her head fell into her hooves as she tried to hold back tears. She stayed like that for a couple minutes, trying to steady her breathing, but struggled to do so. Quiet whimpers slipped past her lips. Her limbs continued to tremble slightly as the anxiety of the situation beat upon her. It was in the middle of another long breath that light poured into the dark cupboard as the door was pulled open. Rainbow instinctively pulled her head out of her hooves and looked to the intruder in terrified surprise. Fluttershy knelt down and looked at her in utter shock.

“Rainbow? Are you okay? Oh, dear, what happened to you?”

Be strong, Dash. Be cool. Rainbow Danger Dash. You got this!

“I-I…. I-I….”

The filly suddenly shot from the cupboard, wrapped her hooves around the yellow pegasus faster than she could blink, and simply sobbed into Fluttershy’s fluffy chest. Fluttershy, unsure of what was going on and with her forelimbs trapped by rainbow’s tiny arms, could only stare in shock. After a few seconds, she wriggled her right limb free from the filly’s grip and wrapped it around her in turn, still confused.

“Um… there, there?” She hesitantly but sweetly cooed, trying to calm the filly down. She started rubbing the blue foal’s back between her wings with her free hoof in a way reminiscent a mother trying to comfort her own foal. It was awkward, but it was the only thing the startled and confused pegasus could think of. Rainbow held onto her even tighter.

She continued to rub the filly’s back as she sat on her haunches in the kitchen, the filly wrapped tightly around her and filling the air with her cries. “It’s okay, Rainbow. I, uh, don’t know what’s happening, but I’m here.” Over time Rainbow’s cries seemed to lessen, and each sob happened further apart from the last. “Just let it out. I’m here.”


It took a few more minutes, but the filly finally calmed down. Rainbow Dash had since released her friend they were now sitting side by side on the couch in Rainbow’s living room. Fluttershy’s eyes kept glancing around the room, frequently landing on the small form of her once larger friend before drifting away again. One of her hooves twirled the pink scarf she was wearing unsure of what to say. Rainbow’s eyes simply focused on the floor below her as she continued to wipe the last remaining tears from her eyes.

“T-thanks, Fluttershy,” she hesitantly stated.

“Um, it was no problem.” Neither of the two looked each other in the eye as an awkward silence filled the room. Neither was sure what to ask. Fluttershy was the first to break the silence. “So… um… You look… cute.” Rainbow whined at that. “Oh! Sorry, I didn’t mean to say… uh…”

“It’s fine, Fluttershy. I get it.”

“Oh, sorry… Any idea why you… uh…”

Rainbow let out a deep sigh and rubbed her still glistening eyes again. “I… woke up this way.”

“Oh, well, that’s odd.” Her voice trailed off uncertainly and the awkward silence permeated for a moment.

“I take it you heard me?”

“Um, yes. I spent the morning helping some of the less seasonal animals settle down for hibernation and I was walking home when I heard you scream. I thought something awful had happened.” She turned her head and rubbed her hoof on the back of her neck. “I, um, thought the scream sounded… different, though.”

Rainbow dipped her head again. “Sorry for ignoring you, Flutters. That was uncool of me, but I was kinda freaking out about… this, and, well… yeah.”

“It’s okay.” She paused again for a moment before hesitantly continuing. “Do you, um, feel different?”

“Just a size difference”

“Well, yes, but… are you still… or are you… um…”

“I’m still me if that’s what you’re asking.” the filly replied tightly. The yellow mare flinched a bit. “Sorry, I’m just… a little uptight.”

“Maybe we should go find Twilight?” the mare suggested. “Maybe it’s something magical. She’d know what to do.”

“NO!” the filly shouted as she jolted to her hooves again and faced her friend. “I can’t be seen like this! My reputation will be ruined!”

“B-but Twilight may be your only chance of fixing whatever happened to you. She’s our friend, too! She’ll understand.”

“I-I know, but…” The filly trailed off as she gathered her thoughts. “I’m embarrassed. I’m supposed to be Rainbow Dash, the coolest pony alive! But… now look at me.” She let out a sigh. "I'm probably too young even for junior flight camp again, let alone the Wonderbolts! Not that I can fly anymore anyway."

"You can't fly? Oh dear, that's terrible!"

Rainbow just nodded as she fought back more tears. Flying was her life. It was what she was best at. Now it was gone, and she could do nothing about it. Fluttershy inched closer and wrapped a wing around the sniffling filly. Rainbow Dash didn't resist.

"We need to get you to Twilight."

"I..." She sniffled again and looked to her much larger friend. "C-couldn't you just go and get her for me? A-and bring her h-here?"

Fluttershy looked a little uncomfortable at that question. “Um…. Well… Normally I would, but… how should I say this?” The blue pegasus looked at her curiously as the yellow mare fumbled her words. “I uh… I don’t know if I should leave you… alone. Like this.” She gestured to Rainbow. The filly, in turn, simply stared at her for a moment before the implication of her friend’s words dawned on her.

“Huh? But you know I’m not actually a little filly! I don’t need you to babysit me!”

Fluttershy flinched slightly, but continued to meet Rainbow’s gaze. “I-I didn’t mean to say you were! But… well… you kind of are.” Rainbow glared a bit harder at her, but Fluttershy didn’t back down. “I’m sorry, Rainbow. I don’t mean to babysit you, but you're going through a lot right now. You know you need me with you right now!”


“No buts! You’re just going to have to stay with me until we get you fixed.”

Rainbow Dash tried to stay strong in her indignation, but found herself withering at her friend’s newfound assertiveness. She at last sighed and hung her head.

“This is so uncool,” the filly squeaked.

“I know. Let’s just think for a moment. If you really don’t want to be seen, we could, well, just take the long way around Ponyville.”

That could work. Rainbow and Twilight both lived on the edge of town, though on different sides. It would be a bit of a walk…

“Or, um, I guess you could, well…”

Rainbow’s wide eyes locked on to Fluttershy as she looked around nervously. “What is it, Fluttershy?”

“Oh, well… you’re a bit smaller now, so maybe you could… ride on my back?” She offered an uncertain smile. Rainbow just stared slack jawed at the implication of that statement. She was small enough now that even Fluttershy could most likely carry her. Fluttershy! And not even Fluttershy in emergency mode.

I really am just a filly again…

Nevertheless, it was quick, efficient, probably easy, and so long as Fluttershy was careful nobody would see her. It was a degrading idea, riding on her best friend’s back, but it would have to do.

“Well… it’s not exactly cool, and it’s a bit embarrassing, but it’s the best idea we’ve got.” The filly shuffled nervously again. Fluttershy was right, Twilight would know what to do. She was a princess and the embodiment of magic, after all! Twilight can fix this. Everything will be okay. Then you can go back to be the raddest pony in Equestria at full size. Just keep it together. She took another deep breath, and, for the first time since she woke up, Rainbow Dash was able to think clearly again. “Let’s do it!”

Fluttershy returned the smile. “Are you ready now?”

“Yeah,” Rainbow said with a nod of her rainbow-capped head. She looked up to the mare who had a wing around her and smiled. “Thanks for finding me, Fluttershy. I’m sorry for hiding from…” She trailed off for a moment. Her smile faltered. “Wait… how did you get in?”

Fluttershy shuffled a bit and once again averted her eyes. She sheepishly replied, “The, um, large hole in your floor.” Rainbow blinked for a moment before responding.


Ice on the Wings

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If there was any redeeming quality of the situation Rainbow Dash found herself in, it was the fact that she wasn’t quite small enough for Fluttershy to really carry her. At least not as well as she initially thought. The filly was perched on top of her friend’s back between her wings and had her hooves wrapped around her in a tight grip. While Fluttershy barely even strained on her cloud, the air was a different story. She had leaped into the air off the ledge of Rainbow’s cloud home and immediately dropped a few meters before pulling them both up. Rainbow Dash’s stomach dropped as she felt what it was like to fly under someone else’s power for the first time in over a decade.

“This must be what Scootaloo feels like,” she muttered to herself.

“Sorry, Rainbow, what was that?”

“Oh, uh, nothing.”

The filly’s wings buzzed reflexively as they flew through the air, yearning to be flying instead. Meanwhile, Fluttershy was huffing and puffing as she fought against gravity to keep them in the air. She was doing remarkably well, Rainbow thought, but wouldn’t mind if she could go a little faster. Twilight’s castle wasn’t too far away since Ponyville was a small town, but the sooner the better she figured. More time in the air meant more chance of being seen.

The blue and white striped beanie that Rainbow had grabbed before leaving draped over her eyes again, being very much too large for her filly-sized head. She had skirted around that issue by rolling the edges upwards until there was a thick rim surrounding the hat barely above her brow. Or at least it used to be above her brow but was unfurling as they flew. The filly released one of her hooves and fumbled with the hat, but only seemed to make it worse. She grumbled in frustration. At least her similarly-colored scarf, as large as it was, wasn’t at risk of coming off as it flapped in the breeze. The hat also would make her vibrant mane less noticeable to passing pegasi.

“Uh, Fluttershy? Are you doing okay?”

“Y-yes!” the mare panted, clearly not doing too well. “I-I’m *pant* doing great!”

“Are you sure?” As much as she wished they could double-time their flight, the sight of her friend struggling so much was enough to avoid complaining. Wonderbolts training taught her patience, even if the current circumstances called for a little more hustle. She thought about offering the choice to land to Fluttershy, but her anxiety caused her to bite her tongue.

“I-I should be. We’re… almost… oh!”

Rainbow suddenly felt Fluttershy’s muscles underneath her become stiff, signifying what she knew to be a wing cramp. She knew that pain all too well from many years of pushing her own limits, and she could only imagine how much Fluttershy was pushing hers. The cramp itself was nothing to worry about so long as the victim got a little rest and perhaps put some ice on it as soon as possible. The real problem of a wing cramp was that it made flying very, very difficult. Almost immediately, the filly could feel her own wings buzzing like a hummingbird in a reflexive attempt to stay airborne as her friend and transport began to rapidly lose altitude.

“Woah! Woooaaaaah!” She cried as she watched the ground beneath her come closer. Luckily, this was another situation she trained for in the Wonderbolt Academy: emergency landings. They weren’t too high off the ground, but hitting the ground directly could still cause quite a lot of damage. She figured that Fluttershy would likely be fine, but she herself would be a bit worse with her more fragile foal body. Winter had only just arrived and the snow was still thin, so the white-coated ground would not provide much in the way of cushion. She scanned the landscape looking for somewhere they could crash into. Light reflecting off a pool of water nearby danced across her vision as they descended. The pond had yet to freeze over.

That’ll do!

“Fluttershy! Aim for the pond!”

The crippled pegasus let out a loud cry of pain as she flexed her stiff wing to redirect the two towards the small body of water. The filly wrapped her arms around her friend as hard as she could as the pond grew nearer and nearer. Fluttershy pulled her front legs over her head in a sort of crash position and prepared for impact.

Oh, ponyfeathers that water looks cold...

The two pegasi splashed into the frigid water like a cannonball, sending waves and ripples throughout the small pool. The force of the fall pushed both underwater in daze and knocked Rainbow Dash off of Fluttershy’s back. The two fought to right themselves and swim their way to the surface.

Fluttershy was the first to breach the surface with a loud gasp, a shiver, and a very obvious wince as her cramped wing was further hurt from the impact. She treaded the bitter cold water painfully as her head scanned the pond for her friend.

Rainbow Dash, on the other hand, was having trouble. The filly was able to snap out of the daze quickly as she floated beneath the water and was trying to swim her way to the surface. Her hooves, on the other hand, didn’t seem to cut through the water properly. Her strokes were awkward and failed to propel her towards the surface effectively. A ice-cold wave of pure panic shot through her again as realization dawned on her.

Why can’t I swim?!

She had known how to swim earlier, and she was fairly certain she hadn’t forgotten the theory behind the action. She had learned to swim later than most fillies as there typically wasn’t much need for it in Cloudsdale. Still, that was over ten years ago. Now her limbs were not cooperating as they should. Her wings began buzzing again in desperation as she kicked with all her might.

Come’on, come’on!

The cold began to penetrate her skin and stiffened her muscles, which made the effort all the more difficult. Bubbles began piling out of her mouth as her lungs struggled to hold in their expired air. The pond was not that deep, probably about a meter and a half, yet she could not get to the surface! The filly’s heart clenched as she realized she was drowning. The day just seemed to get worse and worse as it went on, she thought to herself.

The water rippled again and the filly could see Fluttershy dip her head under to look for her. As soon as the mare saw Rainbow, she dove towards her at great speed, cutting through the water like a dolphin. She grabbed the filly around the barrel tightly with one hoof while the other kicked furiously.

At last, Rainbow felt the chill winter air as they breached. She reflexively took in a long, deep gasp as she replaced the stale air in her lungs with fresh oxygen. Fluttershy, still holding onto the rainbow-maned filly, continued to breast stroke towards the nearby shore with a fierce look of determination in her eyes.

“Are you okay, Rainbow?”

The filly didn’t answer right away, mainly because she physically couldn’t. Her teeth were chattering too much as her wet coat chilled her small frame to the bone. On top of that, she was in shock. All she could find the strength to do was nod her head dumbly.

I almost died…

She felt herself leave the water completely as Fluttershy pulled the two of them onto the icy shore. As soon as they were clear, Fluttershy pulled the filly into a tight hug against her chest, wrapping both hooves around her.

“Oh, dear, I’m so sorry Rainbow!” the mare cried. “I told you I was fine, but I wasn’t, and I pushed myself too hard, and you almost got hurt, and-”

Rainbow shook her head clear. “F-fluttershy, I’m-”

“And you clearly weren’t swimming and I forgot you couldn’t swim as a filly and you’re a filly now and-”

“F-fluttershy!” the filly interrupted. “I-I’m fine! S-see? J-just r-really c-cold.”

Fluttershy paused her rambling and blinked at the filly bundled in her forelegs. “Oh, yes, um… me too.”

Rainbow continued to shuffle as Fluttershy still held onto her. The little bit of warmth she got from it was nice, so she didn’t struggle. I’m fine, she thought definitely to herself. I’m okay. I’m Rainbow Dash! Filly or not, no water is going to get me! She looked up to the mare, who still looked a bit panicked, and smiled through her chattering teeth.

“W-we’re n-not very f-far from the c-castle. Can w-we just g-go?” she stammered.

“Oh, yes,” Fluttershy nodded. “Yes, but, um, let's take it on hoof this time.”

Rainbow inwardly sighed, still afraid of being seen. But they were still on the outskirts of town, and she didn’t think anyone had seen her yet. She’d be fine, so she nodded her head with a cheeky grin on her face.

“Yeah, t-totally.”

The mare finally let go of the filly, who took the opportunity to shake the icy water out of her coat like a dog would. Still, she shivered as the cold bit into her. Slowly and weakly, she crawled on top of Fluttershy’s back once again and got herself situated. Her body continued to quake as the mare began trotting towards the castle at a brisk pace.

“F-fluttershy?” the weakly murmured into her ear.

“Yes, Rainbow?”

“T-today s-stinks.”


Despite everything that had happened since her ascension, Twilight Sparkle could never let herself stop being a librarian. The purple alicorn figured she probably never would stop being one even if she wanted to. The deep sense of organization that caricatured a typical librarian could never simply stop being in her nature, and whether or not the town library she called home for the first couple years since moving to Ponyville still existed was irrelevant to that behavior. She certainly missed her old library, and that was not likely to change soon either, but she figured she could get a new one going in the castle.

The newly-crowned princess had gone to great lengths to salvage whatever books she could from her old tree house and may or may not have used her new authority and budget to purchase copies of the ones that were lost. Soon enough, she was building up a collection beyond what the old library had contained as the crystal shelves began to fill up to her satisfaction. She figured until the town library was rebuilt, perhaps ponies could use the castle as a replacement as well. It was a hobby, of course, secondary to her admittedly ill-defined duties as a princess and tertiary to her responsibility as a teacher. But Twilight refused to let the librarian in her die out so soon!

The purple alicorn was in the middle of shelving latest shipment from the Canterlot archives (dutifully sorted by herself with a little help from Spike), when the sound of a door opening and the the pitter-patter of hoofsteps reached her ears. With a stack of books still held in her magic, she looked to the source of the noise to see her prized student walk in.

“Well good morning, Starlight! I was wondering when you would wake up.”

The pink unicorn responded with a loud yawn accompanied with a stretch of her limbs. Her eyes were still half-lid and threatening to close at any minute. She clearly had yet to brush her mane, which currently looked like something a bird would make a nest in. She mumbled her response.

“Mmm… yeah… I had a…” she covered her mouth as she yawned again. “...a long night. Wuh’time is it?”

“Apparently it was a long night for both you and Spike. He just got up an hour ago. It’s a quarter past ten,” her teacher responded with an eyebrow curiously piqued. She stepped down from her ladder and placed the unshelved books down on one of the nearby study tables. “What were you too doing that kept you up so late?”

“Oh nothing much,” Starlight replied as she waved her hoof dismissively. “Just getting some magic practice in and just lost track of time.”

“More magic practice? What were you practicing that kept you up so long?”

Starlight’s eyes widened in alarm for a split second before going back to normal. “Oh, you know, just practicing some new spells I heard about. Never stop learning, right?” She chuckled a bit and gave a disarming smile to her mentor. Twilight simply quirked an eyebrow.

“Um… okay. Why did you need Spike then? Was he helping you with something” It was unlike the little dragon to stay up so late.

“Oh, he wasn’t really helping me.” Her tone became slightly more lively as her sleepy brain caught up with her body. “He just dropped by while I was practicing and gave me some company. As far as I know he went to bed a couple hours before I did.”

“Which was when?”

“Uh….” Starlight trailed off, clearly hesitant to answer. “Weeeeeell…” Twilight’s eyes narrowed in suspicion as she caught on to the unspoken admission.

“You were up until four again, weren’t you? And you let Spike stay up past midnight as well? Starlight, we talked about this!”

The unicorn waved her hooves defensively as if trying to disperse the tension in the air. “I know, I know! But I was in a groove and didn’t want to stop! And I was just so close to figuring out one particular spell...” She nervously trailed off and pointed a hoof accusingly at Twilight. “You know how that is, Princess All-Night-Doing-Research!”

Twilight recoiled a bit as she was in turn reprimanded. “Well… But…. I… okay, fine!” She threw a hoof in the air in exasperation as she lightly leered at her pupil. “But I’ve been working on it!”

“And until you stop you can’t tell me ‘no’ either!” the pink unicorn declared with an upturned nose and a triumphant smile. She sheepishly looked towards her mentor who glared at her back. “So...anyway... what’s for break-”

All the way from the castle’s foyer, the two mages could hear a sudden rapid and loud knocking at the castle doors. The noise reverberated down the crystal halls until Twilight was quite certain that it was audible all throughout the castle. “Huh,” she wondered aloud. “I wonder what’s gotten into them. Spike! Could you get that?” she called out to her assistant.

“I’m on it!” came the distant reply. Moments later, the purple baby dragon jogged past them en route to the front door.

“I’d better go see who that is too,” the princess said. Just before stepping out the door she turned and stared pointedly at Starlight. “But we’re going to talk about your sleeping habits later!”

Starlight dramatically rolled her eyes. “Yes, Mother.” Twilight was about to say more when Spike’s voice once more cut through the hallways, effectively interrupting her thoughts.

“Uh, Twilight? You might want to come down over here!”

“Coming, Spike!” she shouted back before lowering her voice. “Huh”, she wondered aloud. “I wonder what has him so freaked out.”

The princess quickly cantered out of the library and down the hall. It had taken her a while, but she was finally at the point of being able to wander the halls without getting too lost, though she did have to occasionally reorient herself. She followed the crystal hallway as it opened into the main entry and descended the main steps.

At the door she could see a sopping wet Fluttershy who was shivering quite a lot. Her gaze was darting around the open foyer and she seemed to be dancing in place, obviously antsy of something. She wore a face that held a strange mix of determination, exhaustion, and a hint of panic. Her wings were raised and bent inward as if she was keeping something covered on her back, but the alicorn couldn’t make anything out. Quickening her pace, Twilight rushed over to her friend with a smile on her face.

“Fluttershy? I didn’t know you were coming,” she said before adopting a more concerned tone. “What happened to you?”

The yellow pegasus quickly looked to the purple alicorn, eyes gleaming in what seemed to her like relief.

“Oh, Twilight! Thank goodness you’re here. We need your help!”

“Help with wh-... Wait, ‘we?’”

That’s when she noticed the small, blue bundle hidden beneath her friend’s yellow wings. A rainbow-colored mane could be seen as well, matching Rainbow Dash’s coloration perfectly. She trailed off in shocked confusion, unable to speak, as Fluttershy unfurled her wings to reveal the sleeping but still shivering form of a young filly, probably no older than seven years old, wearing a wet beanie and scarf that both looked too large to fit her. The foal was curled tightly into a ball, probably in an instinctive attempt to stay warm. The filly looked uncannily like her daredevil friend.

“We had a bit of an accident on the way here,” Fluttershy said.

Twilight said nothing as she continued to stare slack-jawed at the sleeping filly. It looked exactly like Rainbow Dash, only much smaller than normal. She scanned the filly all over and noticed a cutie mark on the filly’s flank. The filly seemed much too young to have earned one yet. But that wasn’t her chief concern. The cutie mark was a cloud and tricolored lighting bolt. Just like the rest of the filly, it matched Dash perfectly.


“Huh? What?” the confused alicorn sputtered as the sound of her name pulled her from her trance. “Fluttershy, who is… she looks like… but she couldn’t be...”

“Twilight Sparkle!” the mare interrupted again. “she’s passed out from exhaustion and hypothermia. She’s been through quite a lot this morning and needs help, starting with warming her up!” It wasn’t often that Twilight saw Fluttershy enter her “assertive mode” as their group often called it. It was enough to snap her out of her daze as her friend’s words registered in her befuddled mind.



“Get some hot soup made and bring it to the parlor as fast as possible!” She turned to gallop towards the parlor before stopping and pivoting to look at the dragon guiltily. “Uh, please?”

Normally Spike would say something or simply roll his eyes, but he was fully aware they were in minor emergency mode. Sparing another quizzical look at the rainbow-maned filly, he gave an affirmative “I’m on it” and dashed to the kitchen.

Twilight turned back to her friend with a strained smile and motioned for them to follow.

“Follow me. I’ll get the fireplace started and get some blankets. Maybe you could explain what is going on in the meantime?”

Fluttershy nodded and followed the clearly perturbed purple alicorn at a canter, being sure to cover up the filly with her wings once more. “O-okay, certainly. It all started this morning while I was on walk with some of the animals and I heard a horrible scream from Rainbow’s house…”

Perplexed Purple Princess

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“So she just woke up like this?”

“Well, that’s what she said. She seemed pretty scared about it all.”

“But… that doesn’t make sense! You don’t just wake up a dozen or so years younger!”

“Yes, but, um… she did.”

“But she…that can’t be right. Is she still… herself?”

“I think so. She seemed a little emotional, but certainly still acts like herself. Um, at least it seems like it.”

Rainbow partially tuned out the voices as she slowly returned to consciousness. Though her senses were still hazy, she could make one thing out very clearly. She was warm. She couldn’t remember off the top of her head why that was so significant, but at the moment she didn’t care. She was definitely bundled up under what felt like a blanket and could feel the heat of a crackling fire radiate onto her coat. It felt really, really nice. She let out a content “Mmm” and decided wakefulness wasn’t worth the effort. She shuffled around under the thick quilt that covered her to get comfortable again.

“Was there anything unusual at her house that you noticed?”

“Well, there was a hole in her bedroom floor,” one of the foggy voices spoke. “It was quite big too. Maybe something got in while Rainbow was sleeping?”

The voices were getting a little more clear now, much to Rainbow’s annoyance. She just wanted to sleep again. She murmured slightly and kicked at her blanket again to keep it nice and comfy.

“Hmm… I guess it’s possible, but seems unlikely. Did you notice any projectiles in her room when you found her?”

“Projectiles? Uh, like what?”

“I don’t know, something big and round that could possibly have made that hole?”

“Well, no. But why would someone want to throw something at Rainbow Dash?”

Rainbow Dash. Right, that was her name. Were they talking about her? Well that was rude! She was right next to them after all! Or at least she thought she was. She hadn’t really opened her eyes yet. At least she had definitely stopped shivering.

Her eyes crashed open in an instant. Shivering! That’s what she was doing! She and Fluttershy, going to Twilight’s, the pond, the cold, it was all coming back to her. Wakefulness torrented through her like a river as her head bolted up off the pillow she was laying on. Her blanket fell down her back some as the pegasus’s sudden movement knocked it back. Her eyes scanned the room around her as she tried to get her bearings.

The walls surrounding her were definitely crystal, meaning she had either somehow teleported to the Crystal Empire (which she thought would have been awesome) or she was at Twilight’s place. The latter seemed more likely. The fireplace beside her glowed warmly as the flames danced around the blackened wood within. She was apparently resting on the mantel close enough to feel the radiant warmth but far enough away to avoid being burned or overheated. She looked down at the fluffy white pillow she had been sleeping on and and wondered at what point she had fallen asleep. The blue pegasus then shuffled a bit to free up the blanket before pulling some of it into her view. It was definitely a quilt, and it looked homemade. It was differing shades of purple alternating with each square, the same color scheme as Twilight. It must have been one of Twilight’s blankets from back home.

“Oh, Rainbow Dash! You’re awake!” called the soft voice that could only be Fluttershy. She turned to face the mare to see her as she hopped off of a nearby couch. For a moment Rainbow Dash wondered why she seemed so big.

Oh, right. Filly. Hooray.

Fluttershy immediately cantered over to the small filly with a relieved smile on her face. Rainbow Dash watched the mare as she sat down in front of her and snatched her tiny body up in a two-limbed hug. She felt herself rise off the ground as Fluttershy pulled her in. It was the kind of hug she hadn’t been given since she grew too big for her to hold. It was a… strange feeling.

“Are you feeling better?”

Rainbow gave a halfhearted nod and weakly replied, still a bit tired. “Uh, yeah. It feels good to be dry again.” The filly awkwardly chuckled a bit in an attempt to reassure her friend. “So… how long was I out?”

“Only about an hour,” a new voice called from behind Fluttershy. The filly looked and saw Twilight making her way over to the two with a curious look in her eyes. Spike stood behind her, eyeing the pegasus curiously. The alicorn stopped in front of them and knelt down more to Rainbow’s eye level. She looked unsure of what to say. “Hello, Rainbow. You look… well?”

“Yeah, you sure look… different.” The dragon awkwardly thumped the thumbs of his claws together as he stared at the filly.

Rainbow frowned and responded by letting out a slow whine from deep within her, looking more than a little embarrassed. “Yeah. I’ve, uh, been better. Hey, Twilight. Hiya, Spike.”

“Oh, you poor thing,” Rainbow’s lungs felt constrained as she felt her friend’s grip get tighter. Though that didn’t bother her quite as much as the strange tone in Fluttershy’s voice. “You were so cold and exhausted you passed out! We tried waking you up, but you really wanted to sleep.” Her tone was almost motherly. She tried not to let it bother her. The filly replied with bravado.

“It was just a little water and snow. I’ve fought off waves of changelings, bucked a dragon in the face, and have broken who knows how many bones. This is nothing!” She plastered her face with a wide, toothy smile.

“Oh, but you were shivering so badly. Are you sure you’re feeling okay?”

“I’m okay, ‘Shy! I promise! It’ll take more than some cold water to take the toughest pegasus in equestria out!” Her ears deflated a little which belied her forced smile. “Eeeeeven if I happen to be a bit… smaller than normal.”

Spike looked incredulously at the filly. “A bit? You’re totally tiny!” Twilight sharply nudged him in the ribs and fixed him with a glare. The baby dragon decided to stay quiet after that and awkwardly shuffled back to the couch. Rainbow mumbled a bit in response but otherwise decided to ignore the remark.

Reluctantly, Fluttershy let her grip release as she set Rainbow back on the ground. The filly took that moment to stretch her stiff limbs before facing the princess who had been watching them ever so curiously and gave a hopeful smile. “So, how about turning me back to normal, Twi?”

Twilight looked a bit startled by the request. She quickly recovered and magicked a notebook from a nearby end table. “Well, I can’t reverse whatever happened to you just yet. First I need to find out what happened to you. If it’s a curse or an enchantment then it’s actively making you appear younger. I may be able to break it, but I’ll have to do a lot of studying to figure out what the original spell was.” The alicorn began pacing back and forth through the parlor. Her eyes focused on nothing in particular as she rambled on. “A complex hex can’t just be brute forced, assuming it was a hex, so I would need some for of thaumic blueprint to really intricately and delicately dismantle it. I’m sure I have a book somewhere in the library to help with that. It’s possible it could be an age spell, which truly reverts you to an earlier form, but the only pony I’ve seen do something like that was Trixie when she had the Alicorn Amulet. Now, perhaps we could-...”

“Twilight?” Rainbow interrupted, looking a immensely bored. “Quit the egghead talk. You can fix it, right?” The alicorn looked back to the filly and chuckled sheepishly.

“Oh, sorry. First I would need to do a magical scan to see what has made you younger.”

“What would a scan do?” asked both Rainbow and Spike in unison. They stared at eachother for a moment before turning to the alicorn once more.

“Oh, that’s simple!” Twilight answered with a cheery smile. “I have a spell that can sense other magical properties. To put it simply, it’ll tell me what kind of spell is on you and how magic is otherwise affecting you.”

“Oh, that’s cool!” the filly said as she took in the multitude of information. If it can help Twilight fix me, then I don’t really care.

“Can I cast it now?” Twilight asked. The filly eagerly nodded.

“Yeah, please! The sooner I get back to being myself, the better!” The blue filly was practically bouncing in impatience.

“Great! Hopefully after we find out what kind of spell it is we can find out who cast it. Let’s begin!” Twilight smiled and let her horn glow in its distinctive lavender aura. A second later, Rainbow felt her vision tint purple as the same aura surrounded her. “Okay, I just need you to stay still for a few minutes.” The filly nodded in response. Twilight closed her eyes in concentration. Another aura surrounded a quill which began scribbling on the notepad. Both Spike and Fluttershy looked on with great interest.

She sat still as she alicorn did her work. Or at least she tried to sit still. The whole ordeal seemed to take an eternity as she sat on her haunches while Twilight seemed to just stand in front of her and scribble wordlessly on her notebook with her eyes still shut. After a few long minutes she looked over to the couch to see Spike still staring at her, but with significantly less shock that earlier. He seemed simply curious now and averted his gaze when he noticed the filly looking back. She couldn’t really blame him. If she had found Fluttershy in such a spot then Rainbow would probably be staring too. Fluttershy meanwhile was laying down close to her while her line of sight alternated between Rainbow and Twilight.

As the minutes pressed on, the filly tried to avoid an almost carnal desire to fidget. Her efforts amounted to little. Instead they resulted in a good deal of squirming, a couple gentle reprimands from Twilight to stay still, and a feeling of restlessness and boredom the likes of which she hadn’t felt since the last time Rarity asked her to be a mannequin for her.

“Huh? That can’t be right…”

“What? What is it?” The filly excitedly responded with a hopeful smile and perked ears.

“What? Oh, nothing. Just thinking out loud. Just a few more minutes.”

Rainbow Dash’s ears fell flat against her head as her enthusiasm vanished. She grumbled impatiently and continued the grueling task of sitting still. As the silence pressed on, she could feel her stomach rumble lightly.

Darn it, I forgot I didn’t get breakfast.

It was quiet for a minute longer until Rainbow’s stomach growled out again, louder this time. The feeling of hunger provoked a quiet whine from the filly as she fought harder to keep still. If Twilight heard it, she didn’t react. Fluttershy heard it clearly, however, and spoke up.

“Oh, dear, you haven’t eaten yet have you?”

“My mind was on other things this morning,” the pegasus tersely replied. “Do you think maybe we can get some grub after this?” Fluttershy opened her mouth to answer, but was cut off by Twilight.

“I had Spike make some soup earlier, but you were still asleep. It just needs to be reheated. Spike, could you please do that for us?”

The baby dragon quickly hopped off the couch. “Sure thing, Twilight!” he exclaimed with a smile as he walked out towards the kitchen. Just as he was leaving Rainbow could barely make out “I was afraid I’d made all that soup for nothing.”

The princess closed her eyes again and let the notepad continue it’s scribbling. “I just need you to be still and quiet for another minute while I finish this up.” Rainbow grumbled indignantly, but said nothing else.


That doesn’t make sense, Twilight thought to herself. But it has to be that. There is no other explanation.

At last, the purple alicorn cut off her magic and allowed her aura to fade. She opened her eyes to see the blue filly looking up at her with eager rose-colored eyes, evidently happy to no longer be sitting still. She was bouncing on her hooves slightly, much like a normal filly would after being told to sit still for so long. Twilight could not return the enthusiasm though and instead met the filly’s gaze with utter confusion. She glanced to her notebook and scanned her notes for confirmation. More silence ensued much to Rainbow’s chagrin.


“It’s strange,” the alicorn responded after a moment of contemplation. “Everything about you seems normal.”

“What?” Rainbow’s squeaky voice cracked as she exclaimed her opinion of that idea. She stopped bouncing and instead through her little hooves into the air. “Normal? Does this look normal to you!? I’m supposed to be twenty!” the filly shouted as she gestured to the rest of her body. Twilight was about to clarify when Fluttershy wrapped a wing around the fuming filly and assertively pulled her in close.

“Rainbow Dash!” she sharply reprimanded with a stern look on her face. “It’s rude to raise your voice like that!” Rainbow Dash couldn’t help but shrink under her friend’s withering gaze.

“But she said-!” she tried to protest.

“She’s trying to help. Say you're sorry and let her finish.”

“But…” Fluttershy continued to fix her with a look that made the filly’s words catch in her mouth like a hoof snagged on a root. It wasn’t nearly at the same level as “The Stare,” but it was enough to keep her subdued nonetheless. Instead of continuing her argument, the cyan pegasus slunk her shoulders sheepishly and let out a muttered “sorry” as she averted her eyes to the floor beneath her.

Twilight, meanwhile, looked to be in a trace at what she had just witnessed. Her mouth hung open and one of her eyebrows piqued.

Did Fluttershy just… scold Rainbow Dash? She blinked slowly in confusion as she continued to stare at the two ponies. What was even stranger to the princess was that Rainbow didn’t pick up on it. The usually stubborn mare instead took it like a real filly would take their mother’s admonishment. It was surreal.

She quickly realized that the two ponies were staring at her, waiting for Twilight to continue. She shook her head of the stray thought and filed it in her memory for later.

“What I was going to say, Rainbow Dash, was that nothing is actively keeping you younger. My scan couldn’t find any sign of curses, enchantments, or hexes. As such, well, there is no spell to break. Whatever spell it was that changed you has actually changed you into a filly.”

Twilight’s heart sank as she watched the filly’s rosey eyes widen in disbelief. She fell down to her haunches and stared at Twilight with mouth agape, her visage the epitome of shock. “So… does that mean I-I’m… stuck like this?” Twilight could hear the sputter in the filly’s voice. It was obvious she was starting to panic. She knew what that was like all too well.

“I didn’t say that!” Twilight quickly rebutted. “I’m just saying the only thing it could possibly be is a very complex age spell. But that doesn’t make any sense! Not even I could do an age spell. It’s one of the hardest spells to learn and would take days if not weeks of constant practice to perform. It would have to have been an absolutely gifted magic user who….” the mare trailed off and her eyes slowly opened up more and more until they were like saucers.

“Um, Twilight?” asked Fluttershy. Twilight just sat there on her haunches, seemingly frozen.

Spike walked through the door at that moment carrying two bowls of tomato soup. Rainbow, also confused but still functional, stared at the steaming bowl as the dragon brought it closer.

“There you go! Two bowls of my special tomato soup! It’s, uh, been out for a bit. But it’s still good!” He handed one bowl to Fluttershy who graciously accepted it with both hooves. The second bowl was handed to Rainbow, who greedily snatched it away and began slurping it down with haste. Spike watched with a mixture of curiosity and horror. Watching the small pegasus slurp down soup was almost as bad as watching Twilight eat hayburgers. “Well glad you’re enjo-”

“Spike!” Twilight cried out. The startled dragon turned to face her only to see the mare standing very close to him. He jumped back in surprise, but the mare gave his reaction little heed. “What was Starlight practicing last night?”

“You mean her magic practice?” he asked, unsure of what she meant. “Just a few spells she had been learning. Something about ripening fruit and making plants grow and shrink. It seemed really neat, but she didn’t really say much else. She did seem to be putting a lot of effort into it, which I thought was strange since she’s usually so good with magic. Why, what’s up?”

Twilight stared at the dragon wordlessly with eyes even wider. Her right eye twitched slightly and Spike could see a few strands of the mare’s mane spring out of place. He felt very uncomfortable at the sight and instead looked at the yellow mare and cyan filly near the fireplace. The filly’s fur around her mouth was dripping in red soup as she abandoned her meal for the moment. Both pegasi stared at him in stunned surprise.

“What did I say?”


“Hey, Starlight?” Twilight called from the library doorway, effectively grabbing the pink unicorn’s attention. Starlight looked up from her magical theory book to face the alicorn, who was wearing a sweet and inviting smile. Starlight Glimmer returned the gesture as she placed a bookmark into the thick tome and closed it.

“Hello, Twilight. What’s up?” she asked as she trotted over to her mentor. Her eyes were momentarily drawn to the mare’s mane, which upon closer examination seemed oddly more frizzy than it did an hour or two ago.

“Oh, nothing much. I was just, you know, wondering if I could… uh… borrow you for a moment. Right now.” Her eyes jumped around the room, struggling to stay on Starlight for more than a moment. Starlight recognized it as a nervous tick the both of them shared. Usually it was a sign the other was hiding something. Nevertheless the alicorn carried a toothy smile with her. The unicorn couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow.

“Uh, yeah. Sure. Is something wrong?”

“Oh, nothing really. Just follow me down to the parlor. There’s something there that, well, you should see. Right this way!” Starlight watched as the suspiciously friendly princess pranced out the door, beckoning her to follow with a wave of her hoof. Starlight shrugged and cantered to catch up.

“You don’t look so good, Twilight. What happened that needs me there?”

The princess kept her grin firmly in place as they walked side by side. “Weeeeell, there’s somepony downstairs who wants to… er… know more about certain forms of advanced magic. You’ve been studying really hard with advanced magic, so I figured maybe you could help her?”

Starlight felt intrigued. “Okay, but why me? You’re the real master of magic. Can’t you help her?”

“I tried. I actually don’t know the specific spell she’s looking for.” The door to the parlor entered their view as they walked down the winding crystal hallway. “After all, I’ve never had success with really dangerous advanced magic that I’ve warned you about and told you before to avoid.”

Starlight froze mid-step with a hoof hovering before her as Twilight’s hoof reached the door and began to push it open. Her pupils shrank to pinpricks. She looked to her mentor again only to see the alicorn was no longer smiling. The pink mare chuckled nervously as Twilight gave her a rigid glare.

“Uh, heh heh. What do you mean, Twilight?” One hoof reached around her front to anxiously rub her other foreleg. She gave the mare what she was sure had to be the world’s least convincing smile.

“Why don’t you see for yourself?” the purple mare dangerously offered. She pushed the door open all the way and moved to the side to allow Starlight in first. Starlight gulped in fear and stepped into the parlor.

Immediately the mare’s eyes were drawn to the group resting near the fireplace. She recognized Spike and Fluttershy instantly and was about to give an awkward wave hello when she noticed the other pony in the room. She was a young filly with a cyan coat and a very, very, familiar rainbow-colored mane. In fact, the filly looked almost exactly like Rainbow Dash had all those times she went back in time to stop her from performing the Sonic Rainboom. The filly watched her sheepishly in return and rubbed one foreleg with another just as she had been doing earlier. It was evident that the filly was embarrassed about being watched..

“Uh, hey Starlight. How’s it hanging?”

It was the same voice as the young Rainbow Dash’s as well. Starlight froze in place, absolutely unable to move as the situation worked its way into her head. That filly was Rainbow Dash. She stared at the filly wordlessly until she noticed her mentor walk in front of her with a very angry look on her face. She gulped as they made eye contact once again.

“Starlight, you’ve been staying up late trying out age magic, haven’t you?”

Oh dear.

Truth is a Shard of Glass

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Starlight Glimmer felt she had come a long way since her successful time-travel excursion. Frankly she was lucky that Twilight was so quick to forgiveness after all she had done. Now her rival was her mentor, and it was a weird but not unwelcome change in her life. Starlight had really started to figure out the whole friendship thing, and she knew she was a much better pony than she was before. She made mistakes from time to time, but overall everything that had happened was for the better. Even Twilight could see through her mistakes if she knew Starlight was sincerely trying.

Starlight was starting to doubt that sentiment as she stood frozen in place with her mentor, friend, and smaller friend all staring at her with anger, confusion, and shock respectively. She could feel their eyes piercing her body and searing her soul as a wave of anxiety rippled through her and flushed out any sense of peace she had. She started sweating, and she had to remind herself to blink as her wide-open eyes began to dry out.

“Wait, YOU did this!?” screeched the blue filly as she leaped to her hooves. Her tiny wings fluttered in aggravation and her face transformed from shocked staring to a more hostile leer. “What did I ever do to you!?” When Starlight didn’t answer, she crouched down like a lion and grit her teeth dangerously. The mare quickly snapped out of her haze at the sight of the enamored foal.

“N-nothing! I didn’t do anything to you!” She reared up and waved her hooves around wildly as if trying to wave away the negativity being slung at her. “I-I don’t think so, at least!”

Did I do that? No, I couldn’t have! I took every precaution!

She was unsure of her thoughts. Her wild eyes looked to everypony in the room in quick succession, trying to find some solace. Twilight was still glaring at her like a disappointed teacher would to a filly that was just caught cheating on a test. Rainbow’s narrowed eyes bore into her like laser beams. Spike looked shocked and slightly nervous.Fluttershy looked confused more than anything. “I was practicing in an empty room, so there’s no way anyone else could have been effected!”

Twilight was quick to respond. “So you were practicing age magic without my supervision! Starlight, we-”

“I know, I know! We talked about it. But Trixie kept telling me about what it was like when she had the amulet, and then I just got curious, and then you said not even you could do it, and I just wanted to be the first to master it!” She was sweating profusely and her eyes refused to focus on anything in particular as she manically gestured with a hoof as she talked. “I-I-I didn’t want to tell you because I knew you’d tell me it was too much for me, and it was dangerous, and not even you could do it, and and and…”

And I really messed up.

Twilight’s glare gradually decreased into a stern gaze. She walked up to Starlight and put a hoof on the unicorn’s quivering shoulder. “Starlight,” she began, pulling the unicorn’s focus out of her stammering. The pink mare averted her gaze and looked to the ground as her mentor spoke to her. “I’m angry right now that you went behind my back, and in doing so you might have hurt one of our friends. I might not be as mad if you explain what happened.”

“I’ll still be mad!” Rainbow shouted. Fluttershy quickly reacted by pulling the filly in close again with a “shush” and another disapproving look. Rainbow whined feeling quite annoyed but nevertheless held her tongue.

“I-I…” the anxious unicorn sputtered. She looked to the angry blue pegasus foal in the room again, then to the yellow pegasus who had until then been staying quiet. Fluttershy, seeing she was being watched, softly spoke.

“Go on, Starlight. We’ll understand.”

Starlight could hear Rainbow grumble but couldn’t make out what she said. Instead, she took one last look at the element of Kindness’s eyes and took a deep breath. Then another. Then another. Finally she turned back to her mentor after having calmed down a little more.

“Okay, it started when I was trying to reverse the effects of aging on spoiled fruit....”


Starlight hummed a merry tune to herself as she pulled a wagon into one of the spare rooms in the castle. The room was empty, having nothing but it’s crystal walls, a door, and a window leading to the southern side of the castle. There were no furnishings as Twilight had yet to find any good use for the room. Starlight could understand why that was difficult. She couldn’t even begin to count the number of rooms in the castle before she inevitably got lost in the process. Of course her navigational skills got better over the months she had been with Twilight, but she still had moments of walking in on Spike posing for a mirror from time to time. Those moments never ceased to make her cringe.

The unicorn moved the small wagon into a corner of the room and promptly began unloading. She set up a chair first, preparing to use it as a testing table of sorts for her assortment of objects that she brought with her. She continued to hum as she placed a green, unripened banana on the chair and put everything else on the floor around her. A spellbook was then retrieved and hovered in Starlights magical grasp at eye level with the mare.

Starlight’s eyes scanned the page while she smiled contently. She had been waiting for a chance to try this out for a while. If she succeeded, who knew what the impact could be for magical experts everywhere? The excitement made her giggle to herself.

A spiral-bound notebook was brought up to her eye level next and quickly opened to a page covered in runes and diagrams. She had been taking notes with Trixie as the showmare talked about some of her less-than favorable but still informative escapades of recent times. Starlight was especially impressed when she learned that Trixie had been able to perform a spell that not even Twilight could do, even if it was under the influence of a magical artifact. The idea of being able to do such advanced magic herself was positively electric.

The unicorn scanned both pages quickly before putting both books down on the floor beside her. She decided next time she should bring in a card table or at least another chair for her study materials. She waved the thought off and determined to do it next time.

“Okay, Starlight. You can do this. It’s just theoretical magic that not even the Princess can do. But you’re not the princess!” She smiled devilishly. “Rejuvenatis, here I come!” The unicorn’s horn glowed blue as she charged the spell. She focused on the green banana resting on the chair in front of her and bent her legs in a bracing position. Her horn sparked as it filled with pent-up energy begging for release. She aimed at fruit and let it go.

The whole room shined bright blue for a moment before fading back into the candlelit dimness that existed before. Starlight winced at the brightness and blinked away the after-image. Once the spots clouding her vision faded away, the eager unicorn looked to the fruit on the chair. It looked the same.

“Darn!” she muttered with a frown. So much for that. She picked up her notebook and scribbled more notes across it. She would have to alter that spell. Her quill slipped across the page in surprise when she heard a sharp knocking on the door behind her. Oh, drat! I thought Twilight was already in bed!

The pink unicorn indeed felt she was doing better at being a good pony. She held the utmost respect for her once hated enemy that she now called her teacher, but the tendency to break the rules from time to time was not soon to change for her. Particularly, when Starlight had first shared what Trixie had told her with Twilight, the alicorn had given her student a firm warning to avoid unstudied magic of that difficulty. Her reasons had been that it was too dangerous, that if something were to go wrong there would be very little they could do to fix it.

Starlight Glimmer thought differently and the two scholars had a bit of an argument (which Starlight ultimately lost). The mare had grumbled and gone to her room that night in obvious annoyance. Just because the great Twilight Sparkle couldn’t do it doesn’t mean I can’t either! she thought to herself as she layed in bed, tossing and turning. I just need to be careful with it.

That thinking had been what led the mare into the empty crystal room with nothing but a basket of fruit, plants, and an assortment of other odds and ends that Starlight figured Twilight wouldn’t miss. This way there was a nearly zero chance of collateral magical damage if her spell went wrong, in theory at least.

Unfortunately, the pink unicorn hadn’t thought of an excuse to explain what she was doing yet. Well, time to wing it. She anxiously gulped as she grasped the door handle in her magic and pulled it open.

“Hey, Starlight,” the little dragon at the door said cheerily. “What’cha you doing? I saw a flash!”

The unicorn let out a sigh of relief and the smile returned to her face. “Oh, Spike. It’s just you. Just doing some late night magic practice. Shouldn’t you be going to bed?”

“Well, yeah. But Then I saw that big flash under the door and got curious. It looked really cool. What kind of magic are you practicing?” The little dragon looked immensely interested and had an almost pleading look in his eyes. Starlight sighed again and opened the door for the whelp who quickly scurried in.

“It’s a new spell that I’m trying to learn,” the unicorn vaguely explained as she approached the green banana on the chair again. She picked it up in her blue aura and studied it for any sort of change. Spike watched her eyes scan the banana in bewilderment.

“What’s the banana for?”

“I’m trying to get it to ripen earlier than normal. I guess you could say I’m practicing a, uh, minor time spell.” Try as she might, Starlight couldn’t see anything different with the fruit. Okay, that definitely didn’t work.

“A time spell? Are you sure you should be messing with time again?” Starlight turned her head to face the young dragon with a glare. Spike met it with an innocent smile. She shook her head and took a deep breath before continuing.

“No, Spike, it’s not like that. It’s more like I’m changing the relative age of a single thing compared to everything else around it. Like this banana!” She held up the fruit for the dragon to clearly see. “It’s not supposed to ripen for a couple more days, but if I fast forward it’s own time I can make it ready to eat right now!” she glared at the fruit in frustration before setting it back into her small wagon with her other things. “If I could get it to work, that is.”

The dragon walked over to the wagon and studied the objects within with narrowed eyes and a frown. “So.... it’s an age spell.” Starlight held her breath in trepidation, hoping that Twilight hadn’t told Spike about their conversation on the matter. “That’s pretty cool!” She let her breath out and smiled again. “But not even Twilight can do an age spell, and she’s the best magic user in Equestria!”

Starlight picked up her notebook again and scribbled some more in thought. A moment went by until she responded to the young dragon. “Well, I know that, but maybe it’s just because she doesn’t know how rather than that she’s just not able to. And I’m just as gifted with magic as she is!” She puffed out her chest and felt a prideful smile grace her lips. A cough from Spike snapped her out of it and she deflated slowly. “Eeeven if I don’t have the sheer power that comes from being an Alicorn. But Twilight said she hasn’t tried since her last run-in with Trixie, so she doesn’t know that it’s impossible!” She levitated another banana out of the wagon, this time brown and obviously not fit to eat, and placed it on the chair before her. “I just need to figure out the technique.”

And so long as Spike doesn’t tell Twilight, I should be fine!

“Mind if I watch?” Spike cheerfully asked. Starlight looked to him, ready to say no, when she met his pleading gaze. She hesitated slightly before smiling.

“You just don’t want to go to bed yet, do you?”

The dragon shrank slightly and put on a paper-thin innocent smile. “Well, uh, kinda?” Starlight giggled and thought about it.

“How about this: I take the fall for letting you stay up and you tell Twilight you didn’t know what I was doing.”

“Why can’t I-”

“Do we have a deal?” She extended her hoof forward. The dragon looked at it quizzically before grinning. He grasped the limb in a claw and gave it an affirmative shake.



“Ugh, Starlight! It’s been two hours! Maybe you should give it a rest?” the baby dragon whined sleepily. Starlight on the other hoof looked frustrated but otherwise wide awake. She continued to scribble on her notes again as another test failed to work.

For the life of her, Starlight could not figure out what the problem was. She had tried different techniques, different amounts of magic, and different fruits. She had eventually decided to try reversing time on a blackened banana instead. No matter what adjustments the irritated unicorn had done to the spell, the result was always the same. The banana simply never changed. The pink unicorn growled a bit under her breath and slammed the notebook down on the ground beside her.

“I don’t get it, Spike! I know the theory, the spell seems correct, but it just won’t work! All my attempts just end up being…”

“Fruitless?” The dragon giggled to himself before being silenced by an annoyed look from Starlight.

“Yes, Spike. That.” She took a deep breath, held it in for ten seconds, and let it out. When she had calmed down sufficiently, she turned once again to the dragon with a disappointed frown on her lips. “Maybe you should go to bed Spike. I think it’ll be a while until anything interesting happens.”

The dragon yawned in response. “I guess. But I’m sure you’ll get it soon, Starlight!” He gave the unicorn a thumbs up and made his way to the door. “Good night,” he said on his way out. Starlight returned the farewell and watched him leave for a moment before turning to her books once again.

Come on, Starlight! It’s just a complex mix of different time spells. You can do complex. You can do Rejuvinatis. She breathed in through her nose and let it out in a huff. Finally, after studying the spell one more time, she charged her horn full of etheric power. Her brow furrowed in concentration and her eyes narrowed at the blackened banana in front of her. Finally, she discharged the energy from her horn. The blue beam shot across the room and engulfed the yellow fruit in a bright flash, one more blinding than the previous ones. Starlight instinctively brought a hoof to her eyes to shield them from the light, but the flash dissipated before any benefit could be reaped from the action. Instead she used her hoof to wipe her eyes as she blinked away the sun spots from her vision once again. Once she could see, she looked to the fruit once more.

The pink unicorn's eyes widened when, on the chair across the room, she saw a perfectly ripe yellow banana. Her jaw dropped open and for a moment all was silent. The silence was broken when a cheer came unbidden from deep within her. She jumped in the air joyfully and let out a loud "Woohoo!". She instantly clamped a hoof over her mouth, remembering her mentor was asleep. However, her joy was sated as she merrily trotted up to the chair and picked up the banana in her aura. She turned the thing around in her magical grip in a studious fashion, analyzing every inch of it. She then peeled it and took a bite. The soft texture and sweet taste was absolutely perfect. She levitated her notebook and quill back to her and frantically scribbled notes onto its surface so quickly she almost tore through the page.

With her notes on her success documented, she turned to her wagon of items once more. Okay, can't claim to have done it unless I can replicate it. She giggled foalishly to herself as she picked up a small potted plant and placed it on the chair. But I still did it!

She stepped back to her testing position and charged her horn once more. The goal this time was to regress the plant back to a sprout, which would be a little more complicated than reversing a fruit's age by a few days. A sure grin crossed the unicorn's features as she braced herself. Remembering exactly what she did, she prepared to fire.

"Did you get it?" Spike shouted as he burst through the door excitedly.

Starlight let out a shriek as her body jolted in surprise. Her horn discharged mid-turn, sending the blue beam firing far off to the side. The sound of glass shattering pierced the ears of the room's two occupants and directed their attention to the window on the wall across from the door. Where there was once a pane of glass there was now an empty window frame. A rim of shards protruded from the frame while the floor in front was blanketed with smaller pieces of broken glass. Starlight didn't doubt the ground below would be dangerous to walk on too.

The unicorn averted her eyes from the broken window and whirled around to leer at a very fidgety Spike. The baby dragon twirled his thumbs and wore a nervous and pleading smile.

"Uh, my bad?" he nervously eeked out. "I didn't mean to sneak up on you like that. I, uh, heard cheering and thought you must have had a breakthrough, so I came back. Sorry about that." Starlight looked at him for a moment longer before sighing and replacing her frown with a gentle grin. She couldn't stay mad at the little guy.

"It's fine, Spike. We can clean it up later. But I think I finally got it!"


"And then Spike stayed to watch me as I practiced for another half hour or so until he went to bed."

"By the way, I claim no fault in any of this!" Spike hurriedly interjected. Twilight nudged him gently and gave him a pointed "Sush" and a look that screamed “we’ll talk about this later”. Starlight looked from him back to the other ponies in the room and continued.

"Well, I was finally on a roll with the rejuvenating spells and I stayed up until I ran out of things to rejuvenate. I got really good at it with plants." Starlight had noticeably calmed down as she told her story. She was certainly still tense, but she wasn't quaking nearly as much as she had earlier. All of her newfound peace was thrown out the window as she glanced once more to the still visibly angry blue filly before her.

"Okay, so what gives? Why did you use it on me, huh?" Rainbow's wings buzzed aggressively as she marched towards the unicorn with menace, despite the squeak of her voice. "Didn't we already agree NOT to use magic on your friends?!"

"I-I swear I didn't mean to! It must have been the blast that went out the window. I didn't think about what had happened to the beam!"

The filly pointed an accusative hoof at the mare and bared her teeth. “Well you should have thought about that when… Hey!” Rainbow directed her attention to the purple alicorn who was currently restraining the angry filly in her aura a few inches above the floor.

“Rainbow, calm down!” Twilight commanded. Rainbow heedlessly squirmed in midair. Her protests were promptly silenced with a muting spell, allowing the filly to thrash and shout inaudibly until she eventually wore herself out. In the meantime, Twilight let out a sigh and, without releasing the foal, looked to her perturbed student. “Starlight, I know it was an accident, but you are responsible for this.”

“I-I’m really sorry! I didn’t think anything w-went wrong.” The unicorn rushed over to Twilight, reared up on her hind legs, and placed both hooves on the startled alicorn’s shoulders. “Please don’t banish me for this! I’ve come so far and can’t let it stop now!” Tears started to pool in the corner of the panicked mare’s eyes.

“Starlight,” Twilight began before being cut off.

“I didn’t mean to hurt her! I swear it was an accident! You gotta believe me!”

“Starliight, calm do-”

“I’ve disappointed you before and this is a little worse so I understand if you want to get rid of me, but-”

“Starlight!” Twilight clamped the unicorn’s muzzle shut with another aura. Starlight whimpered and looked pleadingly at her mentor who gave an exasperated groan back. At the same time she released her hold on Rainbow Dash, and the filly squawked as she was unceremoniously plopped on the floor again. “Just calm down. I’m not going to banish you or anything like that. Are you okay?” The mare nodded and Twilight released her grip. Starlight rubbed her muzzle tenderly. “But I’m not the one you need to fix things with.”

Starlight looked nervously at the filly once more. Fluttershy had moved in to keep her calm and the two of them were looking back at her expectantly. Starlight moved her mouth but couldn’t push any words out. Rainbow Dash continued to leer at her. It was Fluttershy who finally broke the silence.

“You can fix her, right, Starlight?”

Starlight could feel herself shake again as she felt all eyes on her once more. She calmed slightly when Twilight placed a hoof on her shoulder and nodded at her. The unicorn took a deep breath and gulped.

“Uh, the rejuvenation spell was the only one I could get working. I still can’t do the forward aging spell.” She focused on Rainbow once more. “I’m so sorry, Rainbow, but you may be stuck like that for a while until I can perfect it.”

The unicorn and young pegasus looked each other in the eyes. Moments later, realization dawned on the pegasus. “I’m… stuck like this?” Despair cascaded upon Rainbow Dash, filling her up with bitter hopelessness. Fluttershy swiftly reached a hoof over to soothingly rub between the filly’s wings. “B-But…” she muttered as he eyes misted over. “I-I…”

Starlight’s eyes shot open as she saw the teary-eyed filly turn from enraged to despondent in a matter of moments. It was as if she could visibly see the hope vanish from her rosy eyes and devolve into a vast emptiness in which the filly was on the precipice of losing herself in. It was painful to watch.

“I’m sorry! It’ll only be for a few days, I promise!”


“There, there, Rainbow,” Fluttershy spoke into her ear. “Starlight will fix it, it’ll just take a couple days. It’s not the end of the world.”

Twilight looked to her student for a moment and then smiled at Rainbow. “I’ll help too. We’ll get you back to normal soon, Rainbow Dash!”

Starlight vigorously nodded. “I promise I’ll set this right!”

The filly wiped her eyes with a shaky hoof and looked at the three mares and dragon surrounding her. “B-but what will I do until then? Hearth’s W-warming is next week… and the h-holiday airshow w-with the W-wonderbolts… a-a-and my parent’s…” She stumbled over her words as emotion clouded her mind. “I-I promised Scootaloo that we’d hang… And the W-wonderbolts are expecting me in three days!” The blue pegasus buried her face in her hooves and choked back a sob. “W-what am I going to do?”

Fluttershy continued to rub her back in an attempt to calm her. Everyone watched as the filly failed to choke back anything more and broke out into full-blown sobbing. It tore at everypony’s heartstrings, but nopony knew just what to say. Starlight looked away shamefully. Everypony waited in silence while Rainbow Dash let the world crash around her.

It took ten minutes of tense silence until the foal’s sobs lightened up. Rainbow wiped her eyes and runny nose once more and sniffed a few times. Fluttershy ruffled her wings in an attempt to cheer her up. “Feeling better?” she asked with a smile.

“Not really,” the filly replied. With another sniff, she narrowed her eyes and pointed to Starlight again. “You promise this will only take a few days?” she demanded.

Starlight’s mind quickly ran through the magical formulas and diagrams from her notes and books. Feeling a modicum of confidence, she nodded her head and said “Yes, I promise.” The filly lowered her hoof and nodded in acceptance. She then turned around and walked towards the couch. With an agile leap, Rainbow hopped onto the couch and settled into the cushions.

“This is so not cool, but I guess it could be worse.” She sighed, obviously not convinced of her own words. She rested her head on the end pillow and faced away from the others. “At least it’ll just be for a couple days.”

Starlight hoped she was right.

Reality Catches Up

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Rainbow Dash was a lot of things, some of which she was willing to admit and others that she would deny on her life. Some of the more positive things that she knew without a doubt about herself were that she was not a quitter. The brave pegasus had done many things in her life whether it be in the name of friendship, Equestria, or just for the heck of it, and she took pride in all of it. She especially took pride in knowing that she once bore the element of Loyalty, even if it did seem conceited to think so. Rainbow knew for certain that breaking a promise to a friend was akin to abandoning them.

It was for this reason above all else that Rainbow Dash was feeling particularly mopey. She stared at the ground as she walked the halls of Twilight’s crystal castle aimlessly, affixing her eyes to the ground all the while.

It had been about an hour since Starlight’s revelation and while Rainbow Dash was none too happy about the situation, she wasn’t about to abandon her newfound friendship with the unicorn just because of an accident. So long as she keeps her promise, that is!

Despite her attempts at quelling her frustration, she could feel it bubbling up from within her once more. She wasn’t mad at her friend, but she was still upset and couldn’t deny that. Because of Starlight being careless, she was stuck in the body of a foal for the foreseeable future, which pretty much ruined her plans for the holidays. The Wonderbolts show, Hearth’s Warming with her parents, the day with Scootaloo she had promised...

The worst part was that, because of her current situation, she would have to back out of a lot of her commitments. Starlight said she’d do her best to perfect that spell, but the tone in her voice made Rainbow Dash believe that it would take longer than she would say. That would mean she would need to cancel her plans for the next week, and the thought made her anxious.

The pegasus paused in the middle of the hallway and took in a deep breath. She held it for a brief moment, just as she had once seen Twilight do when she was panicking, and slowly let it out. She had been wandering for forty minutes or so, but she was still feeling stressed. And lost. She continued walking.

Maybe I should have stayed with the others.


Rainbow had originally tried to hide from her own emotions behind a wall of acceptance on Twilight’s parlor couch. She avoided eye contact with her other friends while Twilight, Fluttershy, Starlight, and Spike talked among themselves.

Rainbow personally just wanted a few minutes to forget about all of it. The filly tried to tune out the discussion by napping again, but found she was just too restless. She tried daydreaming about the latest Daring Do cliffhanger, but found it hard to focus when her whole life was crashing down. Her ears, against her best efforts, continued to swivel in the direction of her chatting friends.

“I really think the others need to know about this. We don’t know how long it’s going to be and she needs some friendly support,” pitched Twilight. Rainbow’s head popped up off the pillow at last at the suggestion. She raised a hoof and opened her mouth to reply. Fluttershy cut her off before she could get a word out.

“But it won’t be too long, right? She seems really worried about others seeing her like this.”

“I-” the filly ventured.

“Rarity, Applejack, and Pinkie can help us with this. We should tell them.”

“Huh? No, I-”

“She’ll be too embarrassed,” Fluttershy interrupted once more. Rainbow tried to interject again, but was cut off by Starlight.

“I can’t say how long it’ll take to figure out the aging spell, though. I don’t even know if there’s side effects or not. Maybe she should just stay here and out of sight until we can figure things out.”

“Don’t I get a say in-”

“Well, um, she could stay with me if it’s easier. She can’t really get back to her house, so…”

“She can’t fly?”

“Well, no. She struggled as a filly too. Or, um, a real filly I-”

“HEY!” Rainbow finally shouted indignantly over everyone else. She bounded from her perch on the couch and landed in the middle of the talking adults, buzzing her wings aggressively. “I’m still here! Don’t I get a say in this?”

The three adults all looked sheepishly between themselves, then back to the filly. Fluttershy hid herself behind her hair and shrank a bit. Starlight gave a strained smile. Twilight was the first to speak, placing a hoof on the back of her head as she did.

“We’re sorry, Rainbow. We should have asked you first.” Rainbow’s anger devolved into a pout as the princess walked up to her and knelt down to her height. The motion made Rainbow feel smaller than she was. It tugged at her pride slightly, but she fought back the urge to whine again. “Getting you turned back may take a while. What would you like us to do?”

The first thing to go through the filly’s mind was Turn me back faster!, but she had enough sense to know that was a futile statement. She straightened her back and looked Twilight in the eye. “I… Well…” her bravado faltered slightly and she slouched. “I… don’t really know. But I don’t want everyone knowing about this. And I don’t want you all making choices for me! I’m not really a filly!”

The alicorn took a deep breath and smiled gently at the filly. In Twilight’s mind, it reminded her of when Cadence would smile at her at a young age. Rainbow narrowed her eyes as she noticed the patronizing look that Twilight did not. She huffed, but otherwise waited for Twilight to talk. “We know you’re not, Rainbow, but we’re just trying to figure things out too. Sorry for not including you. You just seemed a bit distant, so we let you be.”

Rainbow continued to glare at her, but it was forced. Deep down, the filly understood. She didn’t want to talk ten minutes ago, but she did now! The fact that her friends wouldn’t even let her butt in was unacceptable! She humphed again and broke eye contact. She noticed Fluttershy trotting over to her and kneeling down just as Twilight had done. She had a very similar though more natural smile.

“Okay, Rainbow, we can let you choose. So, until Twilight and Starlight fix you, where do you want to stay?”

“At my house!”

The two adults glanced to one another, sharing a look of cautious pity. They both looked back to the filly, sans smiles, and eventually broke the silence.

“Well,” Twilight began. “You see… We don’t think you should do that.”

“We, um, think you should stay with one of us.”

Rainbow Dash stiffened up with wide eyes and looked between the two with bewilderment. “What? Why the hay not?”

Twilight looked away and rubbed her head with a hoof once more. Fluttershy also shied away, but was still the first to speak. “Well, you, um… we just… don’t think you should be alone. We don’t want to, um… we...” She looked to Starlight, silently begging for backup.

“We don’t know what else could be wrong and need you to stay close in case something happens!” Starlight interjected. Twilight shared a look of relief with Starlight, who gave a reassuring smile back. Rainbow watched her as she continued. “It’s new magic we’re dealing with, after all, and it may have affected more than just your physical age. It be best if you stayed close to us.”

Fluttershy nodded, gaining a modicum of confidence, and smiled. “It would also be terrible if you accidently fell through that hole in your floor.”

“Wait, hole?” asked Starlight. She looked to Spike, who tried to mime out what looked like a laser beam coming from his forehead and impacting his fist. He set his hands down and nodded sideways to the multihued filly in the room. Starlight looked confused until the meaning dawned on her and her eyes widened. “Oh, I must have done that when I, uh, accidentally hit you. My bad.”

Rainbow stared blankly at the embarrassed unicorn until Fluttershy spoke up again. “So, um, I just think if you were to fall, since you, well, can’t fly… It would just be awful it that happened!”

Rainbow shuffled her hooves and frowned, seeing the logic in their statement. She let out another low whine (increasingly common to her, it seemed) and looked to the floor. “Okay,” she hesitantly let out. “I guess my wings can’t get me up there anyways.”

“Plus, there’s also the fact it would look weird to have a filly as young as you left alone,” Spike added. He leaned back in his chair and chuckled to himself. “It’s also kinda illegal.”

All eyes flashed to the baby dragon, three pairs staring in panic and the other gleaming in shock. The dragon, noticing this, looked confused.

“What?” he asked.

The filly looked at the lounging dragon blankly as her brain began turning. According to Spike, it was illegal for her to be left alone. Because she was a filly. That’s why they don’t want me alone, she thought. It’s not ‘cause of… whatever Starlight said. It’s because they think… they think that I…

The filly pivoted like lighting with wild wide eyes that seemed to be bulging out in surprise and aimed another accusatory hoof at her friends. The three mares returned it with panicked looks of their own. “YOU’RE TRYING TO BABYSIT ME AGAIN!”

Twilight tried to diffuse the situation immediately. “N-no! It’s not like that! It’s what Starlight said, we just need to keep an eye on you! That’s all!”

“Like hay it is!” she shouted vehemently. “You just think I’m a little filly who needs somepony to be watching them! You think I’m just a kid! I’m not!”

“Now, Rainbow, we know you’re not just a filly,” Fluttershy started cautiously. “We just… think you need a little, um, protection right now.”


There was a round of gasping as everypony in attendance stared at the angry filly. “Rainbow Dash!” Fluttershy scolded as she adopted a stern glare. “You shouldn’t use that kind of language!”

The filly turned on her friend instinctively with a sharp scowl. “See! I’ve always talked like that. It’s not new! Nopony has ever cared!” She sweeped an accusing hoof at her surrounding friends. Her voice’s squeak got more apparent as she became more emotionally charged. “But suddenly I’m half my size and you all insist on treating me like a foal!” Tears began to well up in the scowling filly’s eyes as she continued her tirade. “I’m still me! I can make my own decisions, I can take care of myself, and I don’t need a friggin’ babysitter!”

The emotions cascaded over Rainbow Dash like white water, clouding her thoughts and filling her heart with intense frustration. She huffed in and out while trying to blink away the pesky tears that had been welling up in her eyes. Fluttershy’s stern face morphed into one of concern. She knelt down and reached a hoof over to Rainbow just as before.


“NO!” the filly screamed as she smacked the hoof away. The adults reeled back in shock at the action. “Stop talking to me like I’m just a kid. I’m Rainbow Dash! I’m a Wonderbolt! I’ve fought off Nightmare Moon, Discord, a horde of Changelings, Starlight Glimmer-” said mare mumbled slightly and looked at her hooves. “-been on two different adventures with the actual Daring Do, and wielded an Element of Harmony, and I’m a friggin’ embarassador- “

“Ambassador,” Twilight quietly corrected.

Whatever, to the friggin’ Princess of friggin’ Friendship! I’m a full grown mare for crying out loud!” Her voice squeaked again as her rant continued. She scowled at all of them, barely noticing the tears beginning to blur her vision. “I-I’m an adult!” she repeated. Her legs suddenly felt weak and she sat down on her haunches, staring at her hooves. A tear dripped from her cheek onto the crystal floor. “I-I’m s-still m-me.”

“Oh, Rainbow Dash…” muttered Fluttershy as she wrapped the sniffling filly up in her arms. Rainbow quickly squirmed out of the hold, much to her friend’s shock, and quickly trotted out the door. She paused just before leaving.

“I-I’m… I’m sorry. I’ll plan to stay with Twilight, I-I just… I… I need to be alone.” She then ran out of the room while all three adults and Spike watched her, all feeling slightly guilty.


Rainbow continued her walk through the hallways of the Castle of Friendship, letting her mind wander all the while. She looked down at her reflection in the polished floor as her little hooves clip-clopped along the crystalline floor. The sound of it was definitely lighter than normal, serving as a constant reminder of the former mare’s reduced stature. Her wings fluttered along with her desire to escape the noise by flying instead, but she knew it was in vain. It prompted another low whine out of her, but she carried on. She didn’t have a destination in mind anyway.

Try as she might, the blue pegasus filly could not get her mind off of her botched obligations for the coming week. She didn’t get to see her parents often enough, so she was sure they would be pretty disappointed to get a letter canceling their holiday plans so late. She was really looking forward to spending Hearth’s Warming with them too. Maybe we can still make it work…

She brushed the thought from her mind immediately. Her parent’s wouldn’t think any less of her, but Rainbow still didn’t want them knowing about this. Her dad tended to be a bit of a tease and Rainbow knew he would not let her forget this anytime soon.

Friday was usually set aside for Rainbow and Scootaloo to have their sister-bonding time. That was two days away and Rainbow hated cancelling on her number one fan and surrogate sister more than anyone. The orange filly looked up to her in absolutely everything she did. Rainbow would do anything to keep from disappointing her.

Of course, “anything” still had exceptions so far as being turned into a filly (probably younger than Scootaloo) was concerned. Ain’t no way I’m letting Scoots see me like this. Rainbow doubted Scootaloo would still look up to her if she was smaller than her, and she certainly wasn’t the shining symbol of awesomeness Scootaloo thought she was without her wings. She sighed sadly. So much for loyalty.

The Wonderbolts were another crate of eggs. Being relatively new to the Wonderbolts meant the rookie was quick to the chopping block, especially after her blunder at her first show. She had grown pretty close to the team and considered her old hero Spitfire a good friend, but she was not interested in seeing how far she could push that. Mandatory practice for the Hearth’s Warming Eve airshow in Canterlot was only three days away, and Rainbow didn’t like her odds of missing that. To escalate matters, she was supposed to have a solo stunt in the show that she had been practicing for weeks.

“Spitfire is going to be peeved for sure,” she mumbled melancholically under her breath. Her gaze continued to leer at her reflection in the floor. The filly looked back at her with sad, rose-colored eyes. She paused in the middle of the hall in order to direct all her attention to the mirrored Rainbow Dash looking up at her. “What am I going to do?” she asked her reflection. The reflection instantly mouthed her exact words and said nothing more. She let out another depressed whine. “I’m not a foal,” she said. “I’m not.”

She told herself that, but the tiny blue face and short, shaggy rainbow mane made it hard for her to believe it. She remembered looking at that face every day years ago, dodging her mother whenever she dared to bring a brush near her bedraggled mane. She had liked it messy since it meant less worrying about messing it up further. It meant she could go fast, get dirty, and never give a second thought about her hair’s condition while she played. It was all to her mother’s chagrin at the time, and the mare had been absolutely delighted when her daughter finally let her mane grow out to her shoulders when she became a teenager. Then and now, the most she would do was a quick brushing, but it was enough to satisfy her more beauty-conscious mother.

It was like that mane was coming back to haunt her. She brushed a hoof through her mane in an attempt to smooth it out, but the stubborn strands of hair refused to lay down like they did yesterday. She sighed again and looked up, gazing down the seemingly endless hallway before her. She didn’t want to walk anymore.

The filly’s head swiveled around to glance at all the doors around her. She didn’t know where she was at this point, and she was just feeling depressed. Might as well just explore a bit.

She paused for a moment, gazing at nothing but with eyes wide all the same. “Explore…” she repeated aloud. The word resonated through her mind. “Explore… Daring Do!” That could work. A smile spread across her previously mopey face as she quickly started scanning the doors. “One of these is probably the library! A Daring Do book is just what this junior speedster needs!”

The little pegasus, sworn in her duty, promptly got to work opening every door she could find. The library would soon be hers!


“Rainbow Dash?” Spike called to the slowly-moving filly down the hall from him. Upon spotting the cyan pegasus, he picked up the pace and jogged closer to her. As he approached, he could tell she looked sluggish. “There you are, Dash!”

The filly, appearing dejected while she closed the door, looked to the dragon in apathy. “Oh, hey, Spike. Whazzup?”

The dragon tilted his head in bewilderment. “You doing okay? You look exhausted.”

“I’m fine,” Rainbow replied after letting out a frustrated breath through her nose. “I’m just lost. Been looking for the library forever.”

“The library? It’s just down the hall from the foyer.”

“Seriously?” The filly looked past the dragon down the hall expecting to see the library doors somewhere. She saw nothing and sighed dejectedly. “Ugh, this place is too big.”

Spike chuckled. “Yeah, don’t I know it. Looking for a book?”

The filly nodded. “Yeah, I was hoping to find a Daring Do book to read. I’m just really, really bored.”

“Oh, sorry about that. We’re all looking for you. I was just about to get dinner going.” He shuffled a little bit. “You feeling any better?”

“Yeah, I’m… I’m doing better, I guess.” Rainbow’s ears deflated and she slumped, looking very much still upset to the baby dragon.

“A lot to take in?”

The blue filly nodded sadly. At the very least, Dash could say she wasn’t angry anymore. Just bored and depressed. Perhaps some food could fix that, she thought. “You said dinner was ready?”

“Not yet,” Spike answered with a shake of his head. “I was going to get it going as soon as someone found you. Wednesday is spaghetti night! Come on, I’ll show you the way to the kitchen.” He turned around and waved a claw in a motion to follow. Rainbow wordlessly obliged and cantered after him.

“But we can go to the library afterwards, right?”


Dinner ended up being a fairly awkward affair.

Spike had called out to the others soon after returning to the kitchen saying he had found her, prompting the swift return of the three other mares. All three adults were still feeling a bit guilty over Rainbow Dash’s “babysitting” accusations, making them quite over conscious of saying anything potentially matronizing or unintentionally foalish to the grieving pegasus. The group munched on Spike’s pasta in silence as a result, none saying anything for quite a while.

“So,” Twilight said, breaking the ice with hesitation and turning to the blue pegasus filly. “You said you’d rather stay with us, right?”

“Mhm,” Rainbow mumbled affirmatively around a mouthful of spaghetti. The filly was taking great care to pick at her food as much as possible. The tomato sauce was the reason for it. Despite the fact that the sauce itself, as well as the tomato soup she had had early, was perfectly delicious, the chunks of diced tomatoes scattered throughout the dish utterly repulsed her. The filly found it strange at first as she rather liked tomatoes, but decided they just didn’t agree with her today and shrugged it off. Deep down she knew the reason was because she hated tomatoes as a kid, but she didn’t want to admit it to herself. She pushed the chunks to the side of the plate with her fork and was instead focusing on sloppily slurping the noodles up.

“Okay, that’s great. We have plenty of guest rooms around here. We’ll get you settled in after dinner.” The alicorn looked back at her spaghetti for a moment before magicking another forkful to her mouth. Silence reigned again.

Fluttershy shuffled in her seat, having barely touched her food. She stared at her plate sadly, at last speaking up.

“I’m sorry, Rainbow Dash.”

“Huh?” asked Rainbow as she flicked away another nasty tomato chunk.

“For earlier. I didn’t mean to embarrass you.”

“Us as well,” Twilight said. Starlight nodded in agreement. “We didn’t mean to demean you like we did. We were just trying to look out for you and were a bit too… forward about it.” She sighed. “Will you ever forgive us?”

Rainbow Dash sat frozen with her fork in her mouth as she looked at the mares around her. Realizing Twilight asked a question, she quickly chewed and swallowed her food, set her fork down on the table, and stared at her plate.

“Y-yeah. Totally,” she answered uncertainly. “I’m sorry too. For, you know, snapping at you guys. I get that you’re just trying to help. Just, please, let me make my own decisions, will ya? I don’t want to be left out because suddenly I’m…” She stared at the discarded tomato chunks again. “...too young.”

“Of course, Rainbow.”


“We can do that.”

“Good. Thanks, guys.” The filly let herself smile sheepishly, her ears belying her face.


Dinner soon wrapped up. Spike and Starlight got to work on the dishes as Twilight and Fluttershy ushered Rainbow Dash to her new room. The two mares had to walk slower than normal to prevent the disgruntled filly from having to trot to keep up. It was along the way that the blue pegasus saw a pair of double doors with a carving of a thick book at the keystone.

There’s the library!” the filly exclaimed with a squeak.

“Hm? Oh, yeah,” Twilight said. “Your room is just a few doors down from it. Were you looking for it earlier?”

“Yeah! I wanted to try reading something to get my mind off of everything, but ended up wandering around for an hour or two instead trying to find it.”

“Well, you know where it is now. Anyway, we’re here.” They had stopped at what seemed to be any ordinary door. Twilight held the door open while Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash walked inside.

“It looks nice,” said Fluttershy as she scanned the suite. It wasn’t as grand as a guest suite in Canterlot Castle, but it was certainly lavish.

A gust of wind blew from behind the butter-yellow pegasus as Rainbow Dash burst past her. With a leap and an instinctual flap of her tiny wings, the filly landed on the fluffy bed with a bounce and layed on her back with hooves outstretched, letting herself sink into the cushion. She let out a content sigh as she laid against the downy linens of the royal guest bed. “It’s no cloud, but it’ll do,” she said, prompting Twilight to roll her eyes.

“You going to be okay, Rainbow?” Fluttershy asked softly.

Rainbow nodded. “Yeah, I think so. But Twilight?”


“Could I get something to write with? I need to, uh, let some ponies know I won’t be around. You know, for the holidays.” The filly’s ears drooped again, but she maintained an awkward smile. Twilight nodded with a reassuring smile.

“Certainly! Would you like me to have Spike help?”

“Uh, no thanks. I can write.” She averted eye contact. “At least… I think I can. Oh, but could he send the letters? I’d rather Spitfire know I won’t be there sooner than later.”

“Of course. I’ll go get some for you now. I’ll be right back!” The lavender alicorn turned around and quickly cantered out the bedroom door, leaving only Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy behind.

Once Twilight was gone, Fluttershy walked over to Rainbow’s bedside and laid herself down beside the prone filly. Rainbow continued to look up at the ceiling, doing nothing to stop her friend. They laid beside each other for a minute without a word.

“I hate this,” muttered Rainbow.

“I know,” her friend answered. “I’m sorry this happened to you. What can I do to help?”

“I don’t know,” Rainbow reluctantly answered. “I think I’ll just try to hide away here until Starlight fixes me. However long that will take.”

“Oh, okay. I understand.” She was quiet for a moment, evidently hesitating over what to say next. “Would you, um… Would you really be against letting our friends know what happened?”

“I… well… I guess so long as it’s just Rarity, Applejack, and Pinkie Pie, I’ll be okay.” She sighed and closed her eyes. “Applejack is going to laugh at me for sure.”

“Oh, don’t say that. They’re our friends. I’m sure it’ll all be fine.”

“I guess…”

Rainbow doubted it, personally. So far everything that could go wrong had gone wrong. Surely fate had something more to throw at her, but she didn’t want to worry about it then. While it wasn’t too late in the evening, the filly was feeling a bit exhausted. She figured she might as well get some shut-eye, but not until she could get some letters written.

Gotta get one out for Mom and Dad. They should understand so long as I make it clear that I’m fine. Then Spitfire needs to know I can’t make it. Ugh, hopefully she doesn’t need to know why. The other ‘bolts would never let me live this down if they knew. She sighed again, which seemed to be becoming a regular occurrence by now. Scootaloo will be upset. I hate canceling on the Squirt.

“You seem upset.”

“Just thinking about what to say to everyone.”

“Oh, okay.”



The filly smiled, looking to the mare next to her. “Thanks for being there for me today. I don’t know what I’d have done without ya.”

Fluttershy returned the smile gently.

“Always, Rainbow Dash.”

Blueberry Blues

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“Rainbow Dash, it’s time to get up.”

A jostling to the shoulder was the first sensory cue that the pegasus perceived. She grumbled in protest and rolled to her side in an attempt to shake off the nagging hoof that was attempting to rouse her from her sanctuary of sleep. “G’way,” she muttered, not opening her eyes. To her disappointment, the jostling continued unabated.

“You’ve slept in long enough, sleepyhead,” the voice spoke again. “You went to bed really early, and it’s already nine. Too much sleep isn’t good for you, after all.”

The young pegasus grumbled again, but decided ultimately that the voice was not about to let her sleep anytime soon. Lifting her face from the downy pillow beneath her, she groggily looked to her assailant. Twilight stood at her bedside with a soft yet cheery smile. With a half-hearted glare, the filly made to sit up, letting the covers slide off her body as she leaned against the headboard. With a loud yawn, she stretched out all four limbs and rolled her shoulders. Silence replaced the usually cracks and pops that her athletic joints made from such a motion, serving as an unwelcome reminder of the filly’s current predicament.

It was during mid-stretch that Rainbow Dash realized she had no memory of actually going to bed. She looked down at the messy covers beneath her with a quirked eyebrow before looking back to Twilight. She opened her mouth to ask, but Twilight could evidently see the confusion she was exuding.

“I came in to help you send your letters, but I found you instead passed out on the writing desk. I took the liberty to, uh, move you to the bed.”

You mean you tucked me in, Rainbow Dash thought, feeling slightly miffed at the idea. She opted not to vocalize her opinion on the matter, partly out of consideration but mostly because she was too tired to feel overly-indignant. Twilight didn’t mean anything degrading by it, she knew. Little fillies got tucked in after all, and considering how comfortable she felt she really shouldn’t have been complaining about it. Because I’m just a filly now. Right. Twilight was quick to interrupt the filly’s depression.

“Do you have any of your letters finished? We can get them sent after breakfast if you like.”

“Hm? Oh, yeah. I got the letter to my parents finished. I’m still trying to figure out what to say to Scoots, and-”

“Why are you having trouble explaining things to Scootaloo? I’m sure she’ll understand just fine.” Twilight’s face was one of confusion mixed with compassion. It quickly changed to embarrassment. “Oh, sorry! I didn’t mean to cut you off like that. What were you-”

“It’s fine, Twi. It’s just…” Rainbow sighed and looked to the quilted bedsheets underneath her. She grabbed hold of the bedding and held it close to her. “I just feel, i dunno, guilty about canceling with the little Squirt. We don’t get to hang enough as is since I joined the Wonderbolts, but I also don’t want her to see me like this. I... don’t know what to say.”

Twilight looked to her sadly. “I’m sure Scootaloo wouldn’t mind if…” She cut herself off and shook her head. “Oh, nevermind. Why don’t you think about it over Spike’s pancakes? That’ll loosen you up a bit!”

“Yeah,” Rainbow sadly muttered. “I guess.” With an agile hop from the bed and an instinctive flutter of her stumpy wings, the filly landed on all four hooves and made to walk towards the bedroom door. Twilight followed close behind.

“By the way,” Twilight began as they made their way down the hallway towards the dining area. “I took the liberty of writing the wonderbolts. I figured-”

“You WHAT?!” The filly stopped in her tracks and turned to the surprised purple alicorn before her. Her eyes were wide in shock and her limbs stiffened. “You told the Wonderbolts? I didn’t want them to know! You-”

“N-now wait a moment, Rainbow Dash!” Twilight hastily interrupted, watching the volatile filly closely. “I didn’t tell them anything in detail. They don’t know what happened. I just thought they would rather have the excusal letter from me before they heard it from you.”

“B-but I…. You…” The filly swallowed the lump that had been forming in her throat as the fear began to drain from her body. She looked up again with cautious eyes, studying Twilight’s own for signs of betrayal. It all looked sincere to her. “Uh, then what did you tell them?” Twilight responded with a gentle smile.

“Just that you were in a magical accident and would most likely not be well enough to perform for Hearth’s Warming.” She placed a hoof on the filly’s shoulder and continued to give her a warm smile. “They may give you a hard time for missing, but they can’t reject an excusal from one of the princesses. You’ll be okay, Rainbow Dash. I’ll make sure of it.”

The statement was enough to allow Rainbow Dash to shed a little bit of the stress off her wings. I’ll be fine, she thought to herself. Twilight’s a princess. She can bail me out. I’ll… They’ll never let me live it down, but… She took a deep breath and let it out slowly, just as she had seen Twilight do in such moments. “I’ll be fine,” she echoed aloud. She looked up to her friend once more and returned the smile. “Thanks, Twi. I… I needed that.”

Twilight gave her another reassuring smile followed by a push towards the door. The two then continued their walk through the castle, but Rainbow could feel a little more of a spring in her step as she trotted towards the now-noticeable sweet smell of pancakes.

It’ll all be fine.


The wafting smell of fresh pancakes became ever-more noticeable as the pair of ponies reached the kitchen of the crystal castle. The sweet aroma was enough to make Rainbow Dash’s stomach grumble, more out of apetite than hunger. Her walk turned to a trot as she rushed past her friend and towards the closed door that housed the origin of the sweet smell. She licked her lips in anticipation as she reached a short hoof out towards the crystalline portal.

The filly was stopped at the last second by a tug at her tail. “Huh?” she whined as she turned around to face the alicorn behind her. Twilight’s horn was aglow, the color matching the aura holding onto her tail. “Hey, what gives, Twilight?” The purple mare seemed to hesitate and a look that Rainbow could only describe as weird flooded her features. “Twilight?” she asked with a little concern.

“...Sorry, Rainbow. I was just debating whether to tell you or let you find out for yourself, and I think I should tell you.”

“Okaaaay…” Rainbow responded questioningly, drawing out the word to show her confusion on the statement. Her eyebrow creased as her attention was drawn back to her ensnared rainbow-colored tail once more. She waved a hoof through the hairs in an attempt to shake away the magic, which Twilight evidently saw as she released her grip. “What is it?”

Twilight looked off to the side and scratched the back of her neck with a hoof. “Well… you said it was okay yesterday, but maybe you’ve had second thoughts, so…”

“Yes…?” the filly prodded, feeling her heartbeat increase with anxiety.

“I.. we… uh.” She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. When she released it, her eyes opened with a stoic look in Rainbow’s direction. The filly felt a little off-put by the glance. “The girls are here.”

Rainbow’s eyes shot open and she stared at her larger friend in terror. “WHAT?!” she shouted with an audible squeak in her voice. “You told everyone else?!”

“Kind of, though Applejack couldn’t make it this morning. Fluttershy is doing her morning rounds with her animals, and Starlight is still sleeping after staying up all night doing research, but still. But Pinkie Pie and Rarity are here.”

Her wings fluttered as if she was trying to escape, which was not far off from the filly’s desires at the news. Her legs began to prance around in a nervous dance. She looked at the door before her, then in every direction around her for escape routes. “B-but… but I can’t…. No, no, no… They…” Rainbow’s heartbeat got faster and faster, and the fear of the situation started making things spin. Twilight noticed that she was even shaking.

“Rainbow Dash, are you okay?” The filly paid her little heed, instead letting her fight or flight instinct kick in.

“I… I gotta go!” she said. She pivoted on a hoof, panic lacing her features. She made to bolt down the nearest corridor . Twilight was faster, though, and encased the tiny pegasus in her magic before she could get far. She floated the struggling filly, who was kicking and thrashing in her grip, up to her eye level.

“Rainbow, calm down! You don’t have to talk to them if you don’t want to, but I do think they should know.”

“B-but you already told them! A-and they, I-I...”

“I didn’t give them details since I figured they needed to see you themselves. They just know you’re with me until we figure out how to reverse a… uh… curse that was put on you.” Rainbow felt herself calm down a little at the news, but still felt herself fidget intensely inside Twilight’s magical grasp. “You don’t have to go in there, but I really think you should.”

“But they’ll laugh at me!” the trembling foal whined. Images flew through her mind rapidly of worst case scenarios. Rarity would tell her how adorable she was and whisk her helpless form away to play dress-up in frilly dresses and children’s Nightmare Night costumes. Pinkie would run out of the castle and tell the entire town the news for her first ever “Congratulations on Your Second Foalhood” party. Heck, Rarity was a gossip too, so she would be spreading the news just as fervently whenever she wasn’t decking Rainbow out in all of Sweetie Belle’s old dresses or whatever heinous fashion acts she had in store. And Applejack would just laugh and laugh and laugh all day long…

No, wait. Twilight said she wasn’t in there. Thank Celestia.

Somewhere in the filly’s emotional mess of a mind was a tickling thought, reminding her that she knew her friends would never do that to her, or anypony for that matter. They were very good friends, after all. Her terrifying fantasies were just her imagination, her freaking out over nothing. Just like yesterday morning, though, the loud voice of panic screamed over reason.

I’m doomed.

“Rainbow Dash, I promise it’ll be fine.” She smirked deviously. “Besides, you aren’t afraid, are you?”

The filly twitched once. A feeling of pride swelled inside her at the insinuation that SHE was afraid. Rainbow Dash wasn’t afraid of anything, filly or not! She once bucked a dragon in the face! She was not scared of her friends! She puffed out her furry chest and stood defiantly in front of the smirking Twilight, affixing her with a determined look.

“Hay, no! Rainbow Danger Dash is not afraid of her friends!” A moment of silence passed between the two. Rainbow stood still, but slowly felt herself slouch and broke eye contact. Twilight’s smirk slowly melted into a concerned frown. With a glance at the shiny floor, the foal once more saw her small reflection. It starred back in hesitant fear. It didn’t need to be said out loud.

Rainbow Dash was scared of her friends.

“Let’s just get this over with,” she mumbled.

The filly turned to face the door, which seemed to stand menacingly above her with a looming darkness. She frowned and turned her head behind her to look at her friend once more. Twilight gave an encouraging nod that did little to alleviate the filly’s internal fear. Rainbow Dash took a deep breath, placed her small hoof on the large doorknob, and pushed.

The door seemed to creak open slowly as she and Twilight stepped into the kitchen. The noise interrupted the small chatter that had been going on behind the closed door. Two voices stopped abruptly, then gasped. Rainbow raised her eyes from the floor to look at her friend, expecting the worst.

Pinkie Pie and Rarity were both sitting at the kitchen table across from one another. Their bodies were facing one another as if in the middle of a conversation, but both of their heads had turned towards the doorway where Rainbow Dash was. Both of their mouths were agape. Rarity held a fork in her magic which held a perfectly squared piece of pancake that stood still in the air. Both mares were frozen in place. Spike, meanwhile, simply rolled his eyes and continued to serve a plate of pancakes to Pinkie. Rainbow fought back a strong desire to hide behind Twilight and instead replaced that urge with minor quivering.

“Uh… H-hi, guys.”

Both mares continued their catatonic staring for a while longer until eventually Rarity became the first to break it up. “Rainbow Dash. You look, well, um, positively-”

“ADORABLE!” Pinkie Pie bolted from her position at the table and nearly instantly was looming over a somewhat shellshocked Rainbow Dash. The pink earth pony stretched out and grabbed rainbows cheeks with her hooves, tugging and pulling in all directions much to her chagrin. “Oh my gosh, your so CUTE! Is this what being cursed is like? Can I be cursed? I wanna be cute too!”

The filly quickly snapped out of her shock and jerked her head away in a futile attempt to escape her friend’s grasp. Her friend was not deterred. “P-pinkie! The hay are you doing? Stop it!”

“Oh, but you're just so cute, Dashie!” the mare chirped with a wide smile. “Twilight said you were cursed and we came over right away because we thought something AWFUL had happened to you. I have never had a cursed friend before! Well, unless you count Princess Luna, but she was a meanie pants until the curse was lifted, so this is perfect!” She took in a gasp of air and looked at the scared filly with wild eyes. “What’s it like being a filly again? Is it awesome? Is it fun? What are you...”

Rainbow tuned out the rest as she began thrashing around in her friend’s grasp, eager to escape. Her heart began racing with every word out of the Pink mare’s mouth. It was just as she feared; Pinkie would go nuts over her and demand a fillyhood party or something, which was not what she wanted. “P-pinkie! L-let go!”

If the party-pony had heard her, she didn’t acknowledge the request. She kept released Rainbow Dash’s cheeks, instead preferring to wrap the panicking filly up in a big hug. “Oh, you’re just so CUTE, Dashie!”

“Pinkie, darling, maybe you should release her,” Rarity sounded from the table. Rainbow couldn’t see her on account of all the pink fluff currently filling her vision, but she was taken aback by the genuine concern in Rarity’s voice. “The poor dear doesn’t look comfortable right now.”

“Oops! Sorry, Dashie!” Pinkie exclaimed as she promptly let go. The filly immediately fled away from her friend, for a moment reconsidering the idea of hiding behind Twilight once again. She barely resisted the temptation, instead busying herself with fidgeting and mild trembling. She looked between her two friends. Pinkie continued to wear her wide, toothy smile, but Rainbow could see a hint of sheepishness behind it. Rarity still looked surprised, but more concerned than anything. The white unicorn mare, over her shock, stood from her seat at the table and made her way over to Rainbow Dash. The filly backed up a step instinctively as her friend drew near until bumping into Twilight. Rarity knelt down lower to the ground to look the scared filly in the eyes.

“Despite your recent, well, change… are you doing fine, Darling?”

Rainbow stared at the white mare for a few moments, blinking as she processed the words. She nodded her head. “Uh, y-yeah. Great.” Rarity smiled tenderly.

“That is wonderful to hear. I’m, on the other hand, trying to figure out whether to say you look absolutely adorable or positively dreadful.”

“She’s positively absolutely dreadfully adorable!” cheered Pinkie from a respectable distance away. Rainbow shrank back a little bit at the outburst, repulsed at the idea of being considered “cute”.

Rarity, ignoring Pinkie for the moment, looked up at Twilight. “I would assume that this is the curse you mentioned?”

“Yes,” Twilight answered with a strained smile. “It might be a while until we can change her back, and she’s a bit nervous like this.”

“I’m right here!” Rainbow whined. Her neglected whine was beginning to become trademark at this point as she felt herself be spoken for now more than ever. It was undignifying if not downright embarrassing, especially when it was between two of her closest friends.

“Oh, sorry about that, Darling,” Rarity said sympathetically. “Maybe it would be a good idea if first we talked about this over breakfast. Spike here made some quite marvelous pancakes.”

“You bet I did!” Everypony in the room, save for the still nervous pegasus filly, giggled at the dragon’s prideful outburst.

It’ll be fine, Rainbow thought to herself as she made her way to the long dining table where the baby dragon was dishing out another two plates for her and Twilight. Just fine.


The next fifteen minutes were spent with Twilight explaining all that happened to Rarity and Pinkie Pie, leaving out some of the details about the responsible party. The former seemed mortified with the turn of events while the latter kept stealing wickedly cheery glances in the filly’s direction. The filly tried to ignore the looks and the conversation as a whole, instead choosing to stare at the only partially eaten fried disks adorning her plate. She held a fork in her hoof as she picked at her food with a distant look on her face. The height of the table was a little too much for the shrunken pegasus, and she had let out a distinctly irritated groan when she had taken her seat. Initially questions were thrown her way, but the filly only answered with single-syllable answers and affirmative grunts. “Do you feel any different?” Negative grunt. “Is everything a lot bigger?” Affirmative grunt. “Is being a kid again just the bestest thing ever?!” Double-negative grunt. “What are you going to do about your show next week?” Annoyed whine.

Twilight eventually decided to direct the attention to her while she told the story and answered the questions as most of them were the same one’s she asked yesterday. She left out the details about Starlight Glimmer’s involvement, instead answering the question of “whodunnit” with a thinly veiled “No clue!” and a nervous laugh. Somehow, the other two mares did nothing but raise an eyebrow and didn’t press further. While the conversation centered around Rainbow, she saw no reason to take part in it. She was tired of answering the same old questions, and luckily Twilight seemed to have all the answers memorized. Yes, she was the same Rainbow they knew as far as they could tell. No, she was not hurt. Yesterday morning. Somewhere between six and eight years old.

As impossible as it was to forget about her current predicament, the pegasus didn’t want to focus on it. However, she also found it hard to focus on anything at that moment, including her food. She had initially been excited to try the delicious-smelling pancakes that spike had made. It had taken a single bite of the food to change her mind as the taste made her mouth pucker up, and she had to fight the urge to spit it out. They were blueberry pancakes, which she hadn’t acquired a taste for until her teenage years. She had loved blueberries the other day, but now the taste was sour and repulsive to her. She swallowed it anyway with a grimace, but struggled to get herself to take another bite. The filly used her fork to pick the cake apart, twisting the instrument and tearing pieces away before casting them to the side of her plate. So focused was she on playing with her food that she was eventually able to tune out her friends. She was lost in thought, yet found it hard to focus on anything in particular. Tunnel vision removed everything from her sight until all that was left were the brown pancakes full of those infernal blueberries. All seemed silent until she felt a nudge on her shoulder.

“Huh?” Rainbow sputtered out. She looked up from her mess of a plate and saw the three mares looking at her quizzically over the seemingly too-high tabletop.

“I said, what are you gonna do now, Dashie?” the beaming earth pony asked.

“Uh, wait it out until Twilight and Starlight can get me back to normal, I guess.”

“WHAT?” Pinkie shouted with wide eyes. She grasped her head in her hooves as if having just heard some awful news. The other mares and Rainbow looked at her in startled confusion. “You’ll do nothing? But that’s gonna be so boooooring!”

Rainbow hadn’t thought too much about what she would do. She had spent a lot of time thinking about what she would miss, but not much about what she would do with her time. She tried the library yesterday, but that ended up failing. At least now she knew where it was, but Rainbow had to concede that Pinkie had a point. She was bound to get bored eventually.

“I dunno. I’ll read something.”

“But you’re a little filly again!”

“I know, Pinkie.” Rainbow’s ears drooped at the reminder. “I can’t really change that right now.”

“Maybe not, but you can still make the most of it!” The mare climbed atop her chair, startling Spike as he walked past, and raised her right forehoof high into the air. “This is your chance, Rainbow Dash! You’re one shot! You’re opportunity! Seize the day! CARPE DIEM!”

All was silent as the three other ponies and dragon stared at the mare in utter bafflement. Eventually it was Rarity who collected her thoughts first.

“Pinkie, Darling, I don’t think we understand what you have in mind.”

“What I’m saying~,” Pinkie sing-songed as she slid back into her chair. “Is that you can make the most of this! How often does a pony get to be little filly again? This is great, Dashie!”

“WHAT?!” Rainbow shouted, dropping her fork. It clattered against the plate loudly, drawing everyone’s attention. “How is this a good thing?! This is the most uncool thing ever!”

“But imagine how much FUN you could have!” Pinkie threw her hooves up in the air in jubilation. “Imagine how much closer you and Scootaloo could be if you were both the same age! You two would be so CUTE together!”

Rainbow’s eyes widened further. “Nuh, uh. No, way, Pinkie!”


“Um, Pinkie?” Twilight said as she leaned in closer to her friend. “She’s a bit sensitive about the whole thing. Maybe you shouldn’t push it.”

“Awww…” Pinkie Pie muttered, slumping down in her chair a bit. “But she so cute! And it can’t be any fun being stuck in the castle for very long. It would get soooooooo boring for me.”

Rainbow hadn’t given much thought to that. It would get boring if it really does take a couple weeks to fix. What would she do? That’s future Rainbow’s problem, she thought to herself as she readied her grumpy face. She fixed her frown tight again to let her friends know exactly what she thought of the idea.

“You know, Rainbow Dash, I think our dear Pinkie Pie might be right,” Rarity said, not looking at Rainbow but instead somewhere past her shoulder. “It might be a much more alluring idea to go out rather than stay cooped up here.”

“I’m not letting the whole freaking town know I’m a kid again!” she cried out. The gleam in Rarity’s eyes got brighter.

“What if nobody knew it was you?” the white mare asked. Rainbow recognized that face; the gleaming eyes looking off into space, the slowly-growing grin. It was Rarity’s inspiration face, and that usually meant she had a new idea for a dress. For a moment Rainbow remembered her original fear of being a dress-up doll and felt her heart beat faster. Spike broke the dangerous train of thought quickly.

“Ha! The only way people wouldn’t recognize her is if you died her coat and mane,” the little dragon said as he tore a chunk of gem-studded pancake from his plate and held it in front of him. “But that would just be weird.”

“You mean like a disguise? OOOH, I like it!” Pinkie called out, her toothy smile almost tearing her face off. “You’d be totally undercover, like a secret agent!”

“A… disguise?” the filly hesitantly echoed.

“Actually, Rainbow Dash,” Twilight started, tapping a hoof to her chin. “That doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. Only if you’d be willing, of course.”

Rainbow dash looked from Spike back to Rarity, who was looking right at her with her sparkling eyes. The filly pondered that for a moment. Maybe they were right about her getting bored. A disguise would mean she could go outside rather than being cooped up for the next week. She wasn’t sure what she would do either way, but it certainly added a load of possibilities.

An image of an orange pegasus filly fluttered through her mind briefly, but she shooed it away just as fast. Even in disguise, it would be too embarrassing to be with the squirt. Or, at least, that’s what she kept telling herself. Still, it was a possibility that was a little more comfortable than being out in the open, letting the whole town get a chance to laugh at her. At the very least it would give the filly a chance to get some air. Even if she couldn’t fly, she could at least go on a walk or a run. She tapped her chin with a hoof as she thought about it. She then turned to Rarity, who still had a whimsical grin, and narrowed her eyes.

“What exactly do you have in mind?”

Rarity’s grin almost seemed devious.

Master of Disguise

View Online

It was with a yawn that Starlight Glimmer groggily stumbled into castle foyer that morning. She could smell the pancakes from the library where she had awoken, and it had been the only thing to rouse her from sleep after the all-nighter she had pulled. She knew she had woken up late, so Spike’s pancakes were probably cold by now, but it didn’t matter. She was hungry, tired, and needed a pick-me-up. It had been her and a pile of magical theory books all afternoon and all night, and it had to have been four in the morning when she finally collapsed.

Twilight will probably be upset about that, she thought to herself as she slunk across the crystal floors on her trek to the dining room. She could just imagine the lecture Twilight was ready to give her, focusing on “Don’t push yourself too hard” and “you need to eat” and “sleep is not for the weak”. She shook her head to clear her mind and replaced her frown with a sleepy smile. Pancakes now, guilt trip later.

She was almost at the dining room doorway when she heard a knock resound through the foyer. Starlight looked to the dining room which had previously been calling her name, then to the front entrance, then back to the dining room. She sighed and turned back. “Be right there!” She pushed the wide double doors open. Fluttershy pranced in immediately.

“Good morning, Starlight,” she said cheerily. Her face fell as she took a closer look at the purple mare. “Oh, wow. You look exhausted.”

“Yeeaah…” she said, rubbing a hoof behind her head. “I was up late trying to work out a counterspell.”

“Oh, that’s good. Any luck?”

“Eh, not quite.” She chewed her lip with the answer, feeling a little ashamed of it. “More like I learned why forward age spells are harder than reverse. Apparently it's because…”

“Oh, Starlight, you’re up!” came the voice of the castle’s resident dragon as he walked towards them from the dining area. “Twilight wanted me to make sure you were okay. Hey, Fluttershy!”

“Good morning Spike.” Fluttershy smiled warmly at him.

“You came to check up on Rainbow Dash, right?” Fluttershy nodded. “Okay, great. We’re all in the kitchen if you two want to come watch.”

“Watch?” Fluttershy asked with an eyebrow raised.

Starlight felt the same confusion at the vague statement. “What would you be watching in the kitchen?”

Spike laughed. “Oh, boy. Rarity and Pinkie, they…” another giggle fit. “Aw, you just need to see what they’re doing to Rainbow right now!” He turned around and quickly jogged back to the dining room door, throwing it open excitedly and vanishing behind it.

Fluttershy and Starlight shared a confused look, then followed.


“Rainbow Dash, dear, could you possibly hold your wings still? It’s a little difficult to apply dye to one’s coat when they can’t stop fidgeting.”

“Sorry,” the filly mumbled in return as she stretched out her tiny wings again. “Does it really have to take so long dye my coat? We’ve been here for hoouuurs!”

“No we haven't!” Pinkie Pie chirped from beside Rarity. She pulled out a clock and pointed to it with a smile. “It’s only been about twenty-three minutes and fifty-three seconds to be exact.” The clock ticked seven times more. The mare piped up again. “Twenty-four!”

The filly groaned.

The sight that greeted Starlight and Fluttershy was a strange one. Old newspapers were spread out in a wide radius on the kitchen’s crystal floor. They were splattered with mane dyes both yellow and blue around the similarly-colored and absolutely bored-looking pegasus filly in the center. The pegasus’s once cyan coat was now a golden yellow throughout while an azure blue coloring pervaded most of her rainbow mane and tail. Multicolored strands of hair still poked out at the tips, but were receiving their due attention from the white unicorn who was hovering around the filly. Rarity pulled the applicator brush away from her victim’s mane as she got to work rubbing in the blue dye with her plastic-gloved hooves. The mare held a smile and hummed to herself while the filly beneath her pouted.

Twilight stood to the side, watching intently with a small grin on her face.It was clear she was enjoying the show, but didn’t want to make it too obvious. “Don’t worry, Rainbow Dash. You look great.”

“Oh, but the dear would look even more stunningly adorable when I finish,” the white unicorn stated confidently. Finishing up with the lather, she stepped backwards to admire her work. “Hm… I still think it’s missing something…” She tapped her chin thoughtfully, then her eyes lit up. “Yes, I think that would work. In disguise or not, I still want it to feel like you. A mane-streak will do just the trick, don’t you think?”

The filly groaned. “Will it take long?”

“Maybe five minutes, dear.”

“And it won’t look weird?”

“Certainly not”

“Then sure. Have at it, Rares.”

Rarity beamed despite her subject's overpowering lack of enthusiasm. She turned to Pinkie Pie at her side. “Pinkie, darling, do you happen to have any white dye in your, how you call it... ‘hidden emergency temporary hair-dye kit’?”

“Yupperooni! I’ll be riiiiight back!” Pinkie affirmed with a bounce. With a sudden surge of energy, she dashed out of the kitchen door leading to the dining room, leaving behind a vibrant pink streak. All four mares, filly, and dragon looked to the door in surprise.

“Woah,” Spike said wondrously. “Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie might be faster than you.”

“Nuh, uh.” The filly shook her head with a smile. “Pinkie is just Pinkie. She’s fast, but she’s no Wonderbolt!” With a cocky smile, Rainbow puffed out her chest and outstretched her tiny golden wings with pride.

Pinkie quickly zipped back into the kitchen with a white tube held up with her outstretched hoof. All eyes returned to her. “One tube of white hair coloring, cooked to order!” She handed it to Rarity, who received it with a word of gratitude.

“Why, thank you, darling. Okay, Rainbow, let’s get your mane looking magnificent!”

“Yay,” the filly said halfheartedly, letting her prideful pose deflate.

“So,” Starlight ventured, drawing everyone’s attention to the two mare’s presence. “What’s with the dye job? Did I miss something?”

“Rarity agreed to make Rainbow Dash a disguise,” Twilight said as she walked over to the new arrivals. “We figured it would be best if Rainbow didn’t stay cooped up all day for however long this takes.”

“So you’re dying her mane and coat?”

“It’s just temporary dye. It’ll wash out if she hates it.”

“And I guarantee she will not!” Rarity assured in a sing-song voice.”

The golden filly in the middle of it all grumbled a bit, but said nothing to the contrary. Instead she contented herself with fidgeting, much to her mane stylist’s disapproval.

Despite her charge’s apparent annoyance, Twilight couldn’t help but chuckle. “Oh, hush, Rainbow. You thought it was a good idea too. You look great!” Rainbow Dash grumbled again, and everypony in attendance rolled their eyes with a smile. “Anyway,” the alicorn said turning back to her student with a pointed frown. “It’s about time you got up. It’s getting close to noon!”

“Sorry, sorry,” the purple mare apologized, rubbing a hoof on the back of her neck. “It was a long night. Just trying to get things fixed sooner than later.”

“And?” the filly chirped up excitedly, flaring her petite wings in a way that startled Rarity. “Will it be sooner?”

“Uhhh… well… I don’t know yet. Still trying to figure it out.”

Rainbow Dash deflated again at that declaration. Her ears laid flat against her head and she looked downcast. Her head then rose again while Rarity fought to keep up with the movements. She cast a pleading look back to the purple unicorn. “But you will, right?”

Starlight felt herself wilt under the sad eyes Rainbow was giving her. It contrasted starkly with the angry glare she received yesterday, and she wasn’t sure which was worse. She smiled reassuringly despite herself. “Yes, I promise.”

Pinkie Pie zipped over to Starlight in a flash with narrowed eyes. “Juuust a promise?”

Starlight sighed and rose her hoof to do the motions. “Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye.” Pinkie’s scrutiny turned into glee as she bounced back to the side of the room. Starlight couldn’t help but chuckle, and tried not to think of how tough keeping that promise would be.


Rainbow Dash, meanwhile, was thinking about that promise. From what Starlight and Twilight were saying, she definitely wasn’t stuck at her age. Magic wasn’t something she knew much about, but she trusted her friend well enough to know that if Twilight says she’d be fine, then she’d be fine. That didn’t mean she was happy about the wait. Nor was she happy about what she was going to miss out on. She felt another gentle tug on her mane before she saw the white applicator brush float over and rest on the table.

“Aaaaaand, voila! I think we have your new look, Rainbow Dash!” Rarity cheered.

Rainbow bristled her feathers and stretched out. “Finally! I thought that would never end.” Rarity huffed, and rolled her eyes while the rest of the group giggled. “So,” she prodded. “How do I look?”

“ADORABLE!” Pinkie Pie squealed as she zipped in front of the filly. Rainbow took a step back in surprise. “You’re like Raindrops, but more gold than yellow. And with a darker blue mane. And with a stripe. And a you're a filly!” she cheered with another gleeful bounce.

“Huh? I look like Raindrops?” Rainbow asked, looking to Rarity.

“Well, sort of, but not quite. It’s a similar color scheme, but nobody would ever mistake you,” the mare provided. “Oh, Spike, would you do us a favor and fetch a mirror for us?”

“Yes, ma’am!” The drake gave a cheery salute and quickly scampered out the door.

“You do look like you could be related to Raindrops, though,” Fluttershy said, breaking her long-held silence. Starlight and Twilight nodded their heads in agreement.

“I agree. Even when you were… uh, older…” Rainbow winced a bit at Twilight’s word choice, “...you even had similar mane styles. You look like you could be her little sister.” She looked to Rarity, who was packing up her supplies. “Was that intentional?”

“Oh, no, certainly not! I just think the color scheme works very well on Rainbow. Ponies have similar color schemes all the time. It’s nothing to worry about.”

And indeed it wasn’t, but that didn’t stop Rainbow from frowning. She was hoping that whatever Rarity cooked up for her would be unique. She hadn’t really gotten a good look at herself yet, but by the sounds of it her new style wasn’t as unique as she was expecting. Her frown didn’t last long as Spike promptly returned with a lightweight mirror, which Rarity graciously accepted in her magical grasp. She held it up for the Filly, and her jaw dropped.

Her friends weren’t wrong, she did look similar to a filly-sized Raindrops, but outside of the coat and mane colors the similarities ended. Her golden coat and azure mane contrasted vividly against one another. The white streak that penetrated the otherwise solid blue spiky locks was slightly jagged, but not in a haphazard way. It instead looked vaguely like a lightning bolt, stretching from the tips of her bangs to the end of her tail, slightly off-center from the middle.

The sight in the mirror gave her a feeling of being in the uncanny valley. It was very much her shape, but it was not her colors or pattern. It was strange, and for a moment the filly felt a little uncomfortable with the image. But as she continued to stare at the glass, she couldn’t help but crack a smile. If she wasn't so cute, she could maybe consider it at least a little awesome.

“So? How do you like it, dear?” Rarity asked with a slight smugness in her voice, already knowing the answer.

“Weeeeell…” Rainbow started, trying to hide her interest. “It’s not nearly as awesome as my normal look, but I can dig it for now.” The mares in the room all giggled. She looked away from the filly in the mirror and turned to Rarity, who was looking very pleased with herself. “It looks great, Rares. I barely even recognize myself!”

“Glad you like it, darling. I may be a clothier, but my talent is fashion and beauty!” she announced with pride. “And that includes mane and coat styling. Or coloring, as the case may be. I thought contrasting colors and a well-placed mane-streak would be a perfect fit for you.”

“But what about her cutie mark?” Fluttershy asked. Rainbow nodded in agreement to the question. Cutie marks couldn't be covered up with just dye. It was part of their nature that they should be seen through the coloration on the coat, which was why despite the gold covering her everyone could still see Rainbow Dash’s signature cloud and lightning bolt.

“Oh, I am sure we can find something that could cover that up.”

“I could do that!” Starlight Glimmer proudly announced. When all eyes were on her, she realized what that implied and wilted. “I’ve got some makeup that works wonders hiding cutie marks.”

Twilight raised an eyebrow curiously, but not accusatory. “From your village?”

Starlight scratched the back of her neck, breaking eye contact. “Uh… yeah. I have some leftover in my room. I can just change the color to match her coat and she should be set.”

“Yay,” Rainbow droned dryly with half-lidded eyes. “Can’t wait to finally be a blank flank again.”

Fluttershy took that moment to move beside the filly. “Oh, don’t be like that, Rainbow. I think this is a wonderful idea.”

“Abso-positively-lutley!” Pinkie Pie agreed. “It’s like that thing ponies say about lemons and lemonade, but it’s, like, MAGICAL lemons. You even look like lemonade! But with too much sugar and maybe with some tea added. BUT IT'S STILL GOOD!” She wrapped her forelegs around the startled filly, who couldn’t help but chuckle at her exuberance.

“Oh, Pinkie, Darling, her dye still needs to dry!” Rarity spoke up, getting Pinkie’s attention. The earth pony took a look at herself, slightly discolored with golden splotches, and laughed.

“Whoopsie! Sorry about that.”

“That’s quite alright, darling. It washes right out.” She turned to Rainbow, who looked considerably cheerier after witnessing Pinkie’s usual antics. “You should be completely dry and ready to go in about twenty minutes or so, dear. Is everything to your liking?”

“Yup! I mean, I wish I didn’t need it, but it does look good on me.” The filly stretched out her wings in a triumphant pose, puffing out her chest and lifting her head up high. The mares around her cheerfully giggled, amused with her bravado. Rainbow Dash smiled broadly. For the moment, dyed coat notwithstanding, the filly felt a sense of normality that being with her friends usually caused. It was refreshing, she thought, despite all that had happened so far.

Starlight then excused herself to go grab her makeup with a guilty smile that Twilight quickly tried to dispel. Rainbow watched her go before turning back to the mirror to admire her new look. It definitely wasn’t something she planned to keep after this was over, but she had to admit it really did suit her well. She struck a few poses in the mirror while all her friends conversed with each other. I look good, don’t have to be cooped up this week, and nobody will notice, she thought to herself. Awesome.

It didn’t take long for Pinkie to renew her giddy bounce as she happily circled her now golden friend. Dash smirked, drifting her gaze from the mirror. “What now, Pinkie?”

Now we need to get you a new name!” she cheered. Rainbow Dash blinked for a moment in confusion before understanding. The others seemed to understand around the same time as well.

“Of course!” Twilight exclaimed as her hyperactive friend’s words registered. “If she’s going to be walking around assuming a new identity, it’s only fitting we figure out a pseudonym for her.”

Rarity nodded. “Hm, quite right. We should have thought of that earlier.”

“A what?” Spiked asked. Rainbow felt equally confused.

“A pseudonym! Or an alias, if that fits better. It means an assumed name.”

“Oh, that makes sense.” The others nodded along in agreement. There was a moment of silence as everypony in the room began contemplating, Rainbow Dash included.

“OOOH! OOOH! I vote ‘Golden Oriole'!”

“That’s a bird, Pinkie Pie. We can’t name her after a bird.”

“Though golden orioles are really sweet and cuddly…” Fluttershy quietly said.

“Cloudy Skies?” Spike pitched. Rainbow vetoed that with a shake of her head.

“Naw, I know, like, three Cloudy Skies. If it’s gonna be my suitoname-”


“ ...Pseudoname, it’s gotta be unique!”

“What about ‘Morning Glow?’” Rarity asked. “It does seem to fit your colors nicely, like a dazzling sunset!”

“Hmm, it’s not bad... but I don’t know....” It was fitting, Rainbow thought to herself. But it didn’t seem right.

“Meadow Gold?” Fluttershy asked.

“Eh, maybe if I was an earth pony. Nothing really Rainbow Dash about that.”

“Sunny Skies?”

“C’mon, Twilight, that’s gotta be the second most common pegasus name out there!”

Twilight rolled her eyes. “Well what do you think sounds good?”

“Umm… ‘Skylight?’ That sounds kinda cool.”

“That’s a type of window.” Twilight deadpanned.

“I got it!” Pinkie announced. “Skylancer!”

“Like a sword? I guess it sounds cool, but I dunno….”

“Hey, if ‘Spitfire’ is a name, then I say ‘Skylancer’ can be too!”

“What about ‘Nimbus Rush’?”

Rainbow Dash’s rose-colored eyes lit up at Fluttershy’s quiet addition. It definitely sounded good, having a ring to it that just sounded awesome. It reminded her of storms, of speed, and of the sky. That's perfect!

“Nimbus Rush, huh?” Spike echoed, tapping a claw to his chin. “I like it.”

“Hm, distinctively pegasus, yet unique enough to fit your personality,” Twilight added thoughtfully. “I can definitely see it.”

Fluttershy and Rarity voiced their agreements with smiles and nods. Rainbow took the moment to look herself in the mirror once more, taking in the golden coat and azure mane. “Nimbus Rush… I can definitely live with that.”

“Okay then, Nimbus,” Twilight said with a pleased grin. “We have officially made you a different pony than Rainbow Dash.”

“Yeah,” Rainbow agreed, still looking at herself in the mirror. Her smile wavered at her friend’s words. No longer Rainbow Dash, huh? She didn’t like the sound of that at all. “No,” she then said, shaking her head. “I’m still me, just no one has to know I’m me. This is just a test drive, right?”

“Yes, darling,” Rarity replied, frowning slightly. “All you need do is take a bath and all the dye will come right out. If you decide you’d rather just be yourself-”

“Nuh uh! Nopony else needs to know I’m a kid again! If I have to go out, Nimbus Rush works well enough for me!” she insisted. The other mares in the room traded an uncertain glance at each other which Dash hadn’t noticed. “So, now what?”

“Oh, well, um…” Fluttershy started, fidgeting slightly before letting a warm smile replace her uncertainty. “I was just stopping by to check in on you before going to the market for some supplies. Maybe, um, you’d like to come with me?”

A wave of trepidation swept through Rainbow Dash as the reality that she was going to be in public crashed around her. She shook her head in defiance to that uncertainty. I”m Rainbow Danger Dash. I’m not at risk of humiliation. It’s just the marketplace. I can handle some crowds. With that, the filly donned a cocksure grin that she told herself was genuine and looked at her friend.

“Ah, what the hay. I’m down.”


View Online

“I’m… having second thoughts about this.”

Fluttershy turned her head to the left to face the filly, mouth open to provide reassurance, but paused when she noticed the golden pegasus was no longer at her side. Rainbow Dash had stopped walking beside her about ten paces back, fidgeting with her blue scarf nervously with one hoof. Her eyes stared beyond the grown mare in the direction of the Ponyville marketplace, and her body subtly quaked in a way that did not seem quite indicative of the cold. Fluttershy wanly smiled as she walked towards the uncomfortable filly.

“Rainbow Dash, if you’re worried about being found out, I’m sure nopony is going to notice. Rarity made sure of that.”

“B-but what if she wasn’t thorough enough? What if somepony still sees my real colors near my roots? What if the makeup comes off my cutie mark? What if-”

“You’ll be fine,” Fluttershy interrupted. “If you really feel uncomfortable while we’re there, we can go back to the castle...” Her look quickly developed a sly glint. “But, I wouldn’t think a marketplace in a small town would be enough to scare off such a brave and daring pony as Rainbow Dash.”

“Wouldn’t… scared… WHAT?!” Fluttershy’s sly grin remained firm as the small golden pegasus leapt forwards, rosy eyes glaring daggers at her friend. “I am not afraid of the marketplace! It’s just food! Sold by ponies I know… lots of them…” Many of which I want to look up to me, she mentally added. Her gaze went vacant again, and Fluttershy’s grin faltered. The filly shook her head violently, clearing the doubt from her mind and reasserted a brave face. “Of course I’m not scared! In fact, let’s get to it already!” The filly quickly readjusted her beanie and puffed out her chest in an unintentionally cute hero stance. Her wings buzzed uselessly as Rainbow Dash briskly cantered past the older yellow mare. “C’mon, Fluttershy! Keep up!”

Fluttershy watched her go for a moment before allowing herself to giggle. She promptly took off and caught up to the filly, landing beside her and matching her speed. Due to her much longer stride, it wasn’t difficult. “The market is over there, Nimbus Rush,” she gently reminded, pointing to the side with nod of the head. Rainbow immediately pivoted in the correct direction.

“I knew that! Just testing ya!”


Rainbow Dash was never a shy pony, even during her true foalhood. Her sense of pride and bravado was always at a maximum, and she relished in every opportunity to prove her coolness. She was too awesome to be shy.

She was feeling none of that now. Despite the fact that nopony in Ponyville had yet to give the little golden filly a second glance, she felt as if their eyes were a crushing weight, bearing down on her in all directions. Every time she made eye contact with a pony she knew, the weight seemed to double and caused her to quickly evade sight behind Fluttershy’s legs.

It occurred to her after the fourth time executing such a tactic that for the first time she could truly empathize with her best friend. Shyness was not in her nature, but the circumstances made the filly feel increasingly small with each passing glance. Rainbow Dash did not like feeling small. The thought of fleeing to the castle didn’t exactly make her feel big again, but it did seem tempting nonetheless.

Fluttershy graciously thanked the merchant and collected her new carrots into her saddlebags. She barely caught herself just before tripping over the filly for the second time. She glanced at the antsy pegasus who was huddled against her, looking around with minor panic. “Are… you going to be alright, Ra-, um, Nimbus?”

“Yeahdoingfineneverbetter,” Rainbow Dash responded. “Love errands. Love being around everypony. Big adventure! Tons of fun! Yes ma’am!” She forced a wide, toothy smile onto her cheeks, which did nothing to alleviate the concern from her friend.

“Oh. It’s just I haven’t seen you so on edge since the Best Young Flyer competition. You really don’t have to worry so much.”

“I know, I know,” Rainbow Dash whined. “But I just… I… ugh!” she exclaimed. “Can we hurry this up? I would really feel more awesome somewhere else.”

Fluttershy looked at her worryingly. Rainbow returned the glance while rubbing her left leg with her right hoof. “Okay,” she finally said. “I just need to run one more errand, and then we can take you back to the castle.” She turned and started walking again. Rainbow eagerly followed.

“Okay, cool, let’s just make it fast. Like, ‘me’ fast. That would be great. Peachy, even. Totally cool. Radical you could-”

“Howdy, ‘Shy! What brings ya here today?”

Rainbow froze mid step a few paces behind Fluttershy. She slowly raised her head to look up at the orange farm pony before her, standing beside her apple cart with her green serving apron on. Rainbow gulped, braced herself, and finally moved to Fluttershy’s side.

“Hello, Applejack. It’s good to see you’re still selling for the season.”

“Eeyup! Still got enough from the last harvest to last a few more weeks, ah reckon.” She then noticed the nervous looking golden filly at Fluttershy’s side. “Now who’s this lil’ one with ya today?” The earth pony directed her attention quickly away from Fluttershy and focused it all on Rainbow Dash. She lowered herself down to the filly’s level and smiled warmly. Oddly enough, getting that look from one of her best friends made her feel supremely uncomfortable. “What’s yer name, cutie?”

With that last word, all the discomfort fled from Rainbow Dash in an instant and was replaced with pure annoyance. Her wide-eyed grimace was replaced with a stone cold glare.

Fluttershy looked around to check if the coast was clear of any close passersby. “We already told her something happened,” she whispered into Rainbow’s ear. “You should tell her.”

With her annoyed glare from being called “cutie” still affixed, she looked Applejack in the eye and grumbled out “Rainbow Dash.”

Applejack blinked, her child-friendly smile fading. After a momentary staring contest with the golden pegasus, she looked up to Fluttershy in confusion. Fluttershy nodded.

“This the curse y’all told me about?”


“That also why she’s yellow?”

“It’s dye. We’re calling her ‘Nimbus Rush’ for now.”

“Huh.” There was a moment of silence as Applejack turned back to the grumpy filly before her. Then a wicked grin appeared as she dropped down again to Rainbow’s level and stretched out a hoof to rustle the beanie covering the filly’s azure mane. “Now ain’t you just the cutest lil’ thing?”

“Hey!” Rainbow Dash recoiled, shaking her friend’s hoof away. “Stop that!” Applejack playfully insisted, and the filly attempted to dodge. “I’m not cute! Just small!”

“Ha ha, yup, I’ll say. Ah reckon y’all could fit nicely inside mah sister’s old hoovie PJs.” The mare laughed heartily, reaching once more for the filly’s mane.

“NO! Quit it, AJ!” Rainbow Dash complained as she backed up. Applejack persisted with a laugh. “This isn’t funny!” Fluttershy watched the teasing unfold, unsure if she should intervene. She opted to watch, humored by the interaction.

“Ah’d say it’s the funniest darn thing Ah’ve seen all week.” The mare lunged at the filly, the latter failing to evade quickly enough, and wrapped her hooves tightly around her. Rainbow squirmed in the hold. “This dye washable? Ah think Ah’ve still got them hoovies layin’ around and now Ah can’t get the image of y’all in yer normal colors wearin’ ‘em outta mah head.”

Rainbow’s eyes widened and she momentarily stopped squirming. A mental image of her small body encased in a one-piece set of pajamas flashed through her mind. She would not let that happen. Her squirming renewed with twice the vigor as she thrashed around fruitlessly in Applejack’s grip.

“Nuh, uh! No way! Let me go!” Applejack only giggled, grasping the filly tighter. “Fluttershy! Make her stop!”

The yellow mare giggled to herself as she moved to separate the two. At her behest, Applejack released the small pegasus who quickly sought shelter behind her friend’s legs, peeking out enough to stick her tongue out at the apple farmer. Applejack chuckled again.

“Ah, shucks, Sugercube, Ah was just playin’. Consider this payback for the time y’all and Pinkie Pie filled mah apple cellar with pears.”

Despite her annoyance, Rainbow Dash had to suppress a chuckle at the memory. “Yeah, well, that’s not going to happen. I’m way too cool for hoovie pajamas!”

Applejack smirked and raised an eyebrow. “Eh, you coulda fooled me, ya lil’ filly.”

“Hey!” Rainbow asserted indignantly. “I may be little temporarily, but I’m still Rainbow Da-”

“Hey, Sis, do you have-”

“-sh’s biggest fan!” She finished in a panic.

Fluttershy, Applejack, and the newly arrived Apple Bloom all stared at her. An awkward moment of silence passed in which Fluttershy looked shocked, Applejack looked startled, and Apple Bloom looked confused. That confusion quickly turned to a smirk.

“Oh, you must be new here.” She looked over the anxious filly’s shoulder. “Hey, Scoots!” she shouted beyond Rainbow Dash. “Sounds like y’all got competition!”

Rainbow’s pupils dilated. Uh oh.

“With what?” a familiar voice called back from behind her, sounding somewhat far away.

“Bein’ Rainbow Dash’s number one fan!”

“WHAT!?” There was a sudden gust of wind, and in a moment the orange pegasus filly herself was standing before a smirking Apple bloom like a startled cat. “Where is the pretender!?”

Despite herself, Rainbow Dash couldn’t help but smile proudly as she saw her honorary little sister prepare to defend her title as her biggest fan. She remembered the day the kid started the Rainbow Dash Fan Club, when she watched the filly zoom around on her scooter delivering fliers to everypony on the street. Even before that fateful camping trip, Rainbow Dash had always found the hero worship that Scootaloo had for her flattered her more than anything else, and not just because it inflated her ego. She had always liked the kid, and saught the squirt’s approval before all others. The decision to take the kid under her wing as a surrogate sister required no thought, for it seemed so right. The fact that the hero worship hadn’t diminished any only made her fondness for her “little sister” stronger. She giggled involuntarily.

Scootaloo’s ears pivoted in the sound of the foalish giggle, and the larger filly’s whipped around to face her. Rainbow’s ears flattened at the fierce look her not-as-little-in-comparison-anymore surrogate sister was giving her.

“You!” She pointed an accusing hoof at the golden pegasus filly. “Are you the one who dares challenge my throne as Rainbow Dash’s number-one fan!” She planted her hoof down and puffed out her chest, flexing her petite wings in a heroic stance. “Me, the president of the Rainbow Dash Fan Club and the kinda-sorta-sister of the mare herself?”

Sweetie Belle caught up to them, approaching Apple Bloom with a questioning glance towards the two fillies. “The new filly said she was Rainbow Dash’s biggest fan,” Apple Bloom answered. Sweetie’s face formed an “O” shape and she nodded with understanding.

“Which is dumb because everypony knows that I’M Rainbow Dash’s biggest fan!”

Rainbow’s ears perked up again as the filly continued her showboating. That’s my Scoots, she thought with a smile. Always the fanfilly.

An idea occurred to the filly. Scootaloo clearly hadn’t noticed her idol was the one she was challenging. Rainbow looked up at her, for the first time realizing just how much larger the orange pegasus was filly was compared to her. She was definitely a few years younger. Rainbow’s prepubescent voice was different enough to avoid suspicion. It looked like she was in the clear from the potential embarrassment she was afraid of after all. She could have some fun with this.

“OHMYGOSH!” Rainbow cheered loudly. She put up the most convincing expression of awe that she could muster, one that she had seen on the squirt’s face more times than she could ever count. “Did you just say you were Rainbow Dash’s sister?!”

“Huh?” Scootaloo muttered, taking a confused step back. “Uh, yeah. I just said that.”

“Oh my gosh, this is so cool!” She added a bounce for emphasis. “I never thought I’d get to meet Rainbow Dash’s sister before!”

“W-well, we aren’t TECHNICALLY sisters, we just…”

“I take it back,” Rainbow Dash said with a toothy smile. “I could never say I’m Rainbow Dash’s biggest fan when somepony as awesome as you clearly is!”

Scootaloo stammered, her lips moving but no words forming. She blushed brightly through her orange fur. She turned to her two friends, who were standing next to a smirking Applejack. They giggled at her..

Meanwhile, Rainbow Dash took the chance to look at Fluttershy, who was looking at her proudly. The yellow mare nodded at the filly, telling her she was on the right track. Scootaloo turned around again and looked at the disguised former-mare with a blush.

“Uh... thanks. You seem pretty cool too, Kid.” She smiled awkwardly.

Suppressing her annoyance at being called ‘kid’, she purposely buzzed her wings in an excited motion with a smile. It felt good to make her number one fan blush with praise.

“So… you’re a Rainbow Dash fan?”

“Oh, uh, yup!” It was technically true.

“Oh. Cool. You should, uh, join our club. We meet on Saturdays.” She resumed her confident stance, pointing at herself. “Just remember that I’m the president of that club because I’M the number one fan!”

Rainbow couldn’t help but giggle again.

“Yup, sure thing!”

The filly was about to return to her friends, but the other two fillies quickly approached looking curiously at Rainbow Dash.

“Ah don’t think we’ve seen ya around before,” Apple Bloom said with a smile. “Ah’m Apple Bloom. What’s yer name?”

“Huh? Oh, uh… Nimbus! Nimbus Rush. Yup, that’s me!” If any of the three fillies noticed the nervous manner that Rainbow Dash gave her pseudonym, they didn’t show it.

“Where are you from?” Sweetie Belle asked.

“I’m… uh, I’m from…” She stammered a bit. They hadn’t planned this far ahead. Should she say she was from cloudsdale? That would probably be safest, and it was true. She just hadn’t lived there in a really long time. She opened her mouth to respond, but Fluttershy joined in first.

“Girls, Nimbus Rush is a... cousin of mine... from Cloudsdale.”

Huh. Same page with the Cloudsdale part, she thought to herself. Wait, cousin?

“Uh… yeah. Cousin. Totally!” Rainbow looked at Fluttershy with a cocked eyebrow. Fluttershy simply shrugged.

“Oh, cool! I didn’t know you had any cousins, Fluttershy!” Sweetie said jubilantly.

“Oh, yes, well…” Fluttershy grasped for the words. Eventually she settled with, “She’s my second cousin. It’s a distant relationship.”

“Oh,” Sweetie and Apple Bloom said simultaneously. Rainbow noticed Scootaloo off to the side, silently blushing still.

“Apple Bloom,” Applejack called, directing the attention away from the uncomfortable filly. “What was it y’all needed?”

“Oh yeah! We were wonderin’ if you have any spare wood from the last time we fixed the barn.”

Applejack scratched her head. “Ah think we might have some layin’ around in the barn loft. Whatcha need that for?”

Scootaloo jumped up at that, excitedly answering. “We’re gonna make some sleds!”

“Sleds, huh? Y’all know we already got some y’all could use.”

“Oh, we know,” Sweetie Belle answered. “But we’re trying to help a client of ours that we think would make a great woodworker.”

“And what better way to help somepony find their talent in woodworking than to help them make something awesome?” Scootaloo buzzed her wings in excitement.

“We figure if we help out Fine Grain with makin’ these sleds today, we got something fun ta do tomorrow!”

“Well, you two do anyway. I’ve already got plans!” Scootaloo announced proudly. Rainbow Dash felt her ears fall flat. Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle rolled their eyes and smirked at the pegasus.

“Yeah, yeah, Scoots. Y’all been going on about that all week.”

“Hey, Nimbus. You said you are a big Rainbow Dash fan?”

“Y-yeah! Totally! Big fan!”

“Well I get to spend the day with her tomorrow! Just me and her!”

Normally Rainbow Dash would get an ego boost from hearing Scootaloo boast about that, but now it was only painful to hear. “O-oh, wow. T-that’s, uh, awesome!”

“Aw, yeah! See, pipsqueak?” Scootaloo strutting over to Dash and wrapping a forehoof around her smaller shoulders. “You play your cards right, and maybe Equestria’s coolest pegasus will want to hang with you too!”

Rainbow’s heart fell next. For what had to have been the first time, Scootaloo’s cheerful demeanor actually made her sad. She looked to Fluttershy, who was looking back sadly. Fluttershy pointed her hoof at herself, then to Scootaloo, then to back to Rainbow Dash and shook her head subtly with a questioning look. It wasn’t hard to figure out what the pantomiming meant. Fluttershy was offering to break the news for Rainbow Dash. They hadn’t discussed what Rainbow Dash wanted to tell Scootaloo though. She didn’t want to lie to her favorite filly any more than she had, and she also didn’t want her to know the embarrassing truth. Nevertheless, she trusted her friend and nodded sadly.

Fluttershy turned to the orange filly. “Oh, Scootaloo, I’m so sorry to tell you this, but something came up.”

“Huh?” the filly asked. “What do you mean?”

“Well, um…” Fluttershy hesitated, figuring out her thoughts. She continued. “Rainbow Dash suddenly, um, found herself… unavailable for a while.”

That’s one way to put it.

“WHAT!” Scootaloo stood rigidly, her pupils shrinking. “What happened? Is she okay?”

Applejack and Rainbow Dash made eye contact briefly. Applejack raised an eyebrow, as if subtly disapproving of something. The filly turned her eyes sadly back to Fluttershy and Scootaloo.

“Well, yes. She’s perfectly fine. It’s just that, well, something came up.”

“But what?” Scootaloo’s body was almost slumping in disappointment. “Did the map call her somewhere?”

“It’s… personal. I can’t really say much. But she feels REALLY bad about having to cancel on you.” She put a hoof on Fluttershy’s shoulder. “She also said she would make it up to you as soon as she can.”

I never actually said that, but she’s totally right. It was getting hard to look at the dejected pegasus. As soon as I can, I’ll make it up to you, Squirt.

“O-oh,” Scootaloo muttered, trying and failing to look nonplussed. “Y-yeah, I get it. It’s cool, i guess… When did she say she would be back?”

“Um, well, we don’t really know.” Fluttershy shrinked down a bit.

“Oh. Well, uh, okay. That’s fine, I guess.” Scootaloo looked down at her hooves, scraping at the snowy dirt.

“I’m sorry,” Rainbow Dash found herself saying aloud. She quickly realized what she did and covered her mouth. Fluttershy looked worried but none of the fillies seemed to notice.

“I-it’s fine. Not your fault or anything,” Scootaloo said, still trying to sound like she wasn’t bothered. “It’s only been a month or so since the last time we hung out, or since my last flying lesson. It’s not that bad! Rainbow Dash is pretty busy, after all. Can’t blame her.”

Rainbow’s heart was getting crushed. She felt a tear form in her eye, and she blinked it away hoping nopony noticed.

You should tell her.

Rainbow looked around before she realized she was telling herself that. She shook her head. She couldn’t do that.

Why not? She’d be fine with it.

But Rainbow wouldn’t be fine. It was humiliating, and the less ponies that knew about it, the better. But the more she thought of that, the more it just seemed selfish. Instead, she simply watched dismally as the orange pegasus filly walked slowly back to her friends.

“Should we, uh...” she said. “Should we go get that wood?”

Her friends looked at her with sympathy and nodded. As a group, they trotted away. Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom turned their heads as they walked off and waved.

“Bye, Applejack. Bye, Fluttershy,” Sweetie Belle called.

“It was great ta meet ya, Nimbus.”

“Y-yeah,” Rainbow Dash mumbled with a half-hearted wave. “You too.” She watched as they departed, looking particularly at Scootaloo as she moped off. She sighed. When they were out of earshot, she muttered, “Scoots is gonna hate me.”

“Oh, you know she won’t, Dashie.” Fluttershy wrapped a comforting wing around Rainbow Dash. It seemed like she was doing that a lot lately, but Rainbow couldn’t find it in her to feel embarrassed by it. She snuggled into the wing hug.

She sniffled. Rainbow’s eyes shot open at the sound of her own sniffling, and she frantically wiped her eyes. She found it easiest to blame her new age.

“Y’all shouldn’ta lied to her.”

Rainbow looked up at her friend. Applejack wore a look of critical sympathy. Rainbow sniffled again.

“B-but… I…” She looked down at her hooves, and quietly whispered “I know.”

“Then why did ya?” Her tone was softer, but just as criticising. “It ain’t right to be lying to somepony you consider family.”

Rainbow knew the real answer. Pride. The risk of a bruised ego. But for some reason, that was enough for her to hold onto the fear of discovery. After all, Scootaloo was clearly older. Being looked down on like a little filly was an uncomfortable feeling. She could kind of deal with it when nopony knew who she was, but it was hard enough having her friends think of her as just a foal. It was selfish, and Rainbow knew it. For her little sister and biggest fan to think of her like that…

Then she remembered Scootaloo blushing and bristling with praise earlier as Rainbow Dash played fanfilly for her. It was fun to see her like that.

Growing up, I never thought I’d be the best at anything, because nopony ever told me.”


Applejack and Fluttershy shuffled back in surprise, the pegasus losing her grip as the filly jumped up suddenly.

“I’ll hang out with Scootaloo, as I promised! But this time, Scoots is gonna have somepony looking up to HER!”

“So you’re going to tell her?” Fluttershy inquired hopefully.

“Well, no. But I don’t think I need to.”

Applejack raised an eyebrow. “And why in Equestria not? That there filly wants to be with Rainbow Dash, not Nimble Hush.”

“Nimbus Rush.”

“Whatever. Point still stands.”

“Because,” Rainbow started. “She once told me that she wished she had somepony to cheer her on,” Rainbow stood up straight and put a hoof to her chest. “I want to be to her what the squirt’s been to me all these years. Maybe I can give her a confidence boost.”

“Still don’t answer why ya can’t just tell ‘er about the situation.”

“Because she’s always been looking up to me and giving me a confidence boost when I need it. I have the chance to do so to her, but it wouldn’t be the same if it was ME! She already has a sister, but she doesn’t have a fan!”

Applejack’s eyebrow raised even further, and she cocked her head in bewilderment. “Ah don’t think you understand what she really ne-”

“I think it’s a great idea,” Fluttershy interrupted, covering up Applejack’s mouth with an outstretched hoof. “Why don’t we get some lunch back at the castle and then you can catch up to Scootaloo.”

As if a switch had been flipped, Rainbow’s anxiety reignited. She looked around, realizing all the ponies that were in the marketplace. She had almost forgot how exposed she previously felt. She looked back to Fluttershy and nodded her head. “Uh, yeah. Castle. That sounds good. Meet you there!” She buzzed her wings and jumped into the air, only to plop down on her belly in the snowy dirt. She quickly got up as Fluttershy moved to help her, blushing furiously and brushing off the snowflakes that stuck to her belly.

“Right. Force of habit. I’m, uh… I’m just going to head there.” She briskly trotted off, hoping nopony else saw.


Fluttershy moved to follow, but Applejack stopped her with a hoof on the shoulder.

“You shouldn’t have been lying for her.”

“I know, but she so afraid of being discovered. I felt I should help.”

“Shy, you know as well as Ah do that Rainbow ought not to lie to the filly. Dishonesty is how ya lose those you care about.”

“I know, Applejack. But she’s too worried something bad will happen if Scootaloo finds out to do anything otherwise.”

“Scootaloo loves Rainbow Dash. Practically worships the mare. Trust me when Ah say she wouldn’t care a lick.” Her eyes narrowed. “And as a long-time sister I can say that Scootaloo needs Rainbow Dash to be herself more than she needs her pretendin’ to be somepony else.”

“I know. But she won’t believe that. She is under a lot of self-imposed stress from everything that’s happened. It’s either let Rainbow Dash be disguised as Nimbus Rush or let her stay cooped up all day in Twilight’s castle, too afraid to be discovered. That’s not healthy for anypony, especially somepony like her.”

Applejack grumbled lowly. “Fine, but I don’t like all this lyin’.” She softened her features and looked Fluttershy in the eye. “Just keep an eye on her until this all gets fixed.”

Fluttershy nodded warmly. “Of course. I won’t let her get into any trouble.”

“And encourage her to tell Scootaloo.”

“I’ll try. Goodbye, Applejack!”

“Bye, Fluttershy.”

Applejack watched as Fluttershy took off into the air to catch up with the recently-regressed filly. With a final glance at the anxious golden foal, she sighed and turned her attention to a newly-arrived customer.

“Howdy! How can Ah help you today?”

Twelve CC's of Adventure

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The sound of the door knocking reverberated throughout the castle, breaking Twilight out of her paperwork-induced trance. She looked up over the stack of documents and policy before her in the direction of the noise.

“Want me to get that?” Spike asked as he dutifully carried his own mountain of papers to add to Twilight’s ever-growing workload. Twilight sighed, and deposited her quill in her inkwell.

“That’s okay, Spike. I’ll get it this time.” She smiled warmly at her assistant as she got up and walked by. “Just get those documents sorted and ready for me, then you can take a break.”

“Okay, no problem! I’ll be here.”

The alicorn left the study and made her way down the hall to the foyer. The door knocked again.

I really need to make an open door policy, she thought to herself. It would certainly be necessary once we get the library open again. “I’m coming!” she called.

With a pull of her magic, Twilight opened the front doors. An anxious white-maned pegasus wearing a blue and yellow jumpsuit stood before her.

“Oh, hello. You’re…” She paused to think of the mare’s name. “...Fleetfoot, right?”

Fleetfoot dipped herself into a quick bow, maintaining a sense of royal protocol while evidently respecting Twilight’s discomfort with such formalities. “Yes, Princess. Sorry to burst in like this, but Captain Spitfire sent me.”

“Oh, okay.” Remembering they were standing at the front door, Twilight quickly backed up to the side of the doorway. “Please come in.”

“Thank you,” the pegasus said with a grateful nod as she walked inside. “The captain got your letter and we all got worried, so she sent me to check in to make sure Rainbow Dash was okay. But she wasn’t at her house.”

“Oh, um, right. She’s okay, don’t worry!” Twilight reassured. “She’s just going to be… unexpectedly unavailable for a while.”

“But your letter said she was in a ‘magical accident.’” Fleetfoot’s wings bristled at the phrase. “That kinda sounds serious.”

Twilight broke eye contact at that. “Alright, so… maybe she’s not entirely ‘okay’ per se, but…”

“Is she hurt?” the pegasus lurched forward, her saucer-wide eyes taking up most of Twilight’s vision. She hovered in the air in a nervous matter, an action that she had seen Rainbow Dash do on multiple occasions in the past. “Was she teleported somewhere and is now lost?” She gasped as if having an epiphany. “She’s still a pegasus, right?”

“Huh? Is she still a…” Twilight shook her head and as politely as she could pushed the mare away from her with a hoof. She gave a toothy smile that lacked confidence. “Rainbow Dash is safe. She’s fine. She’s still a... pegasus. I just… well… she’s… uhhh...”

The front door swung open again, and a small golden pegasus filly cantered with Fluttershy following. “...and maybe then,” the filly said, speaking to the older mare behind her, “I’ll talk her into teaching me how to ride her scooter.” Fluttershy hummed her approval as she closed the door behind her. “It would be just like when I would teach the squirt how to-”

“NIMBUS!” Twilight loudly interrupted, feeling herself sweat lightly. “Fluttershy! You’re back!” Rainbow Dash looked ahead to address her friend.

“Oh, hey Twilight. I was just telling Fluttershy my idea for… FLEETFOOT!”

The filly shouted the name, only just noticing the familiar mare in the jumpsuit. The shock made her leap into the air, wings flapping fruitlessly until gravity brought her back down. Her muscles locked up, freezing her in her shocked position. The mare in question recoiled in surprise. She quickly recovered and landed beside Twilight, looking at the two newcomers.

“She a fan?” Fleetfoot whispered to the anxious alicorn beside her.

“Y-you could say that.”

“Thought so.” Transitioning into autograph-mode, Fleetfoot trotted up to Rainbow Dash with a proud grin. “Hiya, kid! Don’t mind me, I’m just having a chat with Princess Twilight here about, you know, official Wonderbolt stuff.” She capped it off by ruffling the filly’s mane with a hoof. Rainbow continued to stare slack-jawed, barely reacting to the contact. Fleetfoot looked back to Twilight. “She okay?”

“Y-yes. She’s fine. Just… starstruck.” The princess laughed nervously. She stretched out a wing and pulled Fleetfoot over to the side away from the stunned filly and the pegasus mare trying to get her attention back. “B-back to what we were saying before, Rainbow Dash is fine. She just... won’t be able to fly for a... while.”

“How long’s ‘a while’?”

“Well… we don’t know. Hopefully a few days, a couple weeks at most.”

“And she’s not hurt?” Twilight subconsciously looked over to Rainbow Dash, who was still frozen in place. She barely noticed when Fluttershy started nudging the filly away until the two made eye contact, Fluttershy returning an identical look to Twilight’s.

“N-no, she’s safe. Just… indisposed.”

Fleetfoot let out a sigh of relief. Her wings relaxed, folding back against her sides. She looked back to Twilight with a hopeful glint in her eyes. “Where is she though? I already checked her house.”

“She’s…” Twilight hesitated, looking over to the golden filly who was being ushered away by Fluttershy, frequently stealing glances at the two talking mares. Eventually, Fluttershy scooped up the frozen golden filly in her forelegs and flew her upstairs and out of sight. With a sigh, she looked back to Fleetfoot. “She’s staying here while we get her fixed.”

Fleetfoot perked up at that. “Great! Can I see her?”

“W-well, uh, you see...” Twilight sputtered, grasping for words. “She’s not… she’s not really up for visitors,” she eventually settled on. It was true, but it still seemed like a cheap response. Twilight studied Fleetfoot as she digested that. Eventually Fleetfoot just sighed, her wings drooping along with her ears.

“That bad, huh?”

“Again, she’s fine. But she feels really bad. I promise she wouldn’t be missing training or the Hearth’s Warming airshow otherwise! She feels really bad about it.”

Fleetfoot sighed again, but put on a weak smile regardless. “Well… I guess that’ll have to be enough for the Captain. You sure I can’t see her?”

“Yes. I’m sorry.”

“Darn. I better let Spitfire know then.” She turned to the castle door and paused, turning back to the princess. “Where’d the kid go?”


“Shoot, I was going to offer her an autograph. She seemed familiar for some reason.” She shook her head and turned back to open the door. “Make sure Dash knows she owes us for missing out! And we’re gonna miss having her for the show.”

Twilight nodded, and Fleetfoot left. When the door clicked closed, the purple alicorn let out a long sigh, before trotting off towards the kitchen.

“I need lunch.”

“So… the disguise worked out okay?” Twilight asked the filly sitting across the table from her. Spike, at Twilight’s request, went to whip up a quick batch of daisy, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches for everypony. She, Rainbow Dash, and Fluttershy were gathered at the table, and the older pegasus was filling Twilight in on the events of the last hour while Spike quickly prepared lunch in the adjacent kitchen.

Rainbow Dash listened halfheartedly, her mind elsewhere. It had taken a few minutes to escape her shell-shock. Now she just felt somewhat downtrodden, and had resorted to laying her head down on the rim of the table and anxiously tapping her hoof.

“Oh yes, it worked wonderfully!” Rainbow heard Fluttershy say. “Even Applejack was convinced until Rainbow Dash let her know who she was.”

“That’s great! That means we can use that disguise again if we want.”

Spike brought out a plate of sandwiches then, placing it in the center of the table and taking a seat beside twilight. Everypony reached for a sandwich. Rainbow felt a stab of annoyance as she realized she couldn’t quite reach the plate, and grumbled when Twilight floated a sandwich to her. Nevertheless, she grabbed the sandwich with her hooves and brought it to her mouth, only to hesitate at the last moment. She put her meal down, removed the bread, and picked the tomato out from between the daisy and lettuce, sliding it off the sandwich with her hoof and holding a disgusted look on her face.

Starlight made her way into the kitchen then, having been summoned by Twilight lest she forget to eat. The mare took a seat beside Twilight where an untouched sandwich had been laid out for her. Thanking her mentor, she levitated the sandwich and began eating.

She paused after the second bite as she noticed Rainbow Dash staring at her sandwich, not touching it.

“She okay?” Starlight asked Twilight, who was still talking to Fluttershy. The purple mare looked to her student questioningly, then glanced to the filly sitting beside Fluttershy.

“Is something wrong Rainbow Dash?” Fluttershy asked, beating Twilight to the punch.

“Huh? Oh, yeah. I’m fine.” She continued staring at her sandwich before picking it up again. She lacked the eagerness to eat it that she had before.

“Is the sandwich bad?” Spike asked, quickly inspecting his own.

“N-no, I’m sure it’s awesome. It’s just… well…”

Starlight’s eyes lit up in understanding for a moment. Without saying a word, she reached out and enveloped the sandwich in her magic. There was a brief flash of light, and then she released the DLT. Rainbow looked down at her meal in confusion, then her eyes sparkled in glee.

The crust had disappeared from the bread, leaving only the white innards behind. With a childish squeal of delight, Rainbow gave Starlight a grateful look. The dyed filly quickly scooped up her DLT (minus the T) and voraciously tore into it as if it was the first time she’d eaten in days. Everypony else looked to Starlight in awe, while the mare in question simply sat back and bit into her own sandwich with a smug grin.

“My mom always cut the crusts off when I was a filly,” Starlight said before taking another bite, her smile never leaving. “I wouldn’t eat it otherwise.”

Twilight simply gave a “Huh” in response, while Fluttershy reached with a napkin to wipe the excess mayonnaise off Rainbow Dash’s face.

“And here’s the library,” Starlight announced as she guided Rainbow Dash into the bookshelf-lined room.

The filly was back to her usual cyan and spectral color scheme. After Rainbow Dash had finished her third sandwich (minus the tomato and crusts), Twilight pitched an idea to magically copy Rainbow’s disguise. According to the princess, she could copy the dye and Rarity’s design perfectly, removing it now and reapplying it later. Fluttershy was the one who, after a moment of hesitation, asked why Twilight didn’t just use magic to change Rainbow Dash’s colors in the first place. The alicorn answered with a long-winded explanation that made Rainbow Dash’s mind melt in boredom. She dozed off somewhere between “hard to sustain the illusion” and “dye has less magical drain”, instead choosing to let her mind wander.

She was reliving the finale of the latest Daring Do book in her head when Starlight interrupted, asking if she wanted the dye removed until tomorrow. Rainbow Dash enthusiastically nodded her head. There was a flash of light as she was wrapped up in Twilight’s magic. She didn’t feel much different afterwards, besides an insatiable desire to curb her lecture-induced boredom with a Daring Do book.

Hence why Starlight had escorted her to the library. The pink and purple mare had volunteered, citing the need to peruse some of the library’s magic tomes for more clues to a counterspell.

“Awesome! Thanks for the help, Starlight,” the filly said. “I couldn’t find this place anywhere yesterday.”

“It’s the least I can do. I still get lost in this castle every now and then.” Starlight quickly wandered off to one side of the library and ran her hoof along a row of books, squinting as she did so. Rainbow Dash watched for a moment, then realized that was boring and set about finding something to read herself.

The search was less than fruitful. She considered asking Starlight where the Daring Do books were, but she remembered the last time she asked a similar question to Twilight. The resulting lecture about the Dewdrop Decimal System was enough to lull her to sleep, much to the then-unicorn’s annoyance. She played with the idea in her head as she kept skimming over the titles on the spines, finding nothing that even resembled her favorite explorer. With a sigh, Rainbow consigned herself to asking for help.

She turned around to ask Starlight, only for her jaw to freeze open. Starlight had stacked a pile of books taller than she was on the table, all of various thicknesses and sizes. “W-wow,” she said in amazement. “That is a lot of paper.”

“Hm? Oh, I guess it is.” Starlight eyed the stack with a smirk. “Just trying to make sure I got all the basis covered. Figured the answer to what I’m stuck on could probably be in one of these.”

“Stuck on?”

Starlight froze, the grin melting away in an instant. “O-oh, uh, not really ‘stuck on’ I should say.” Rainbow could practically see the sweat on her face. The unicorn waved her hoof around nervously. “Just, you know, hit a barrier. It’ll be fine.” Her smile seemed insincere.

“Uh huh.” The filly quirked an eyebrow.

“Yup! Totally fine! And fast, because I promised. Nothing will hold this up, I can assure--”

“Starlight!” Twilight popped her head in through the door, cutting the unicorn off. “Could I talk to you for a mo--”

“Coming!” Leaving her stack of literature on the table, Starlight fled the room, dragging a surprised alicorn princess away with her. The door slammed shut. Rainbow Dash sat on her haunches in stunned silence.

“B-but… ah, ponyfeathers.” She around at the multitude of bookcases, squinting to hopefully make out the spines on the top shelf. “C’mon, Dash. Green book, red words on the side. You can find it.”

With a look of fierce determination, the little pegasus scanned the shelves up and down. After a minute or two, a set of books with familiar red and orange lettering on the side caught her eyes. The set was on the fourth shelf from the bottom. The filly smiled. Out of habit, Rainbow flapped her wings and kicked off the ground with her hind legs. She hopped a few inches into the air, fumbling back to the ground in disappointment.

“Right. Foal. Okay, Rainbow, think. How to get that Daring Do book…” She tapped her chin thoughtfully while staring off into space. She looked at the bookcase before her again. She saw her reflection off one of the thin crystal ledges. “The shelves are made of crystal,” she whispered to herself, “and crystal is, like, a rock of some kind. Hmm…” She placed a hoof on one of the lower shelves and put her weight on it. It didn’t even flex. She smirked. “It’d be like rock climbing.”

A memory of a thrilling scene from the fourth book came to mind, where Daring, having broken a wing again, had to climb up a steep cliff by hoof. Seemingly before her eyes, the crystal bookcase seemed to turn into a steep rock wall, the book series in question becoming a ancient, magical tome set within a shallow alcove in the rock.

With a feeling of invigoration, she reached up with her forelimbs and grasped a rocky hoofhold above her, pulling herself up as best she could. With some wriggling and kicking, Rainbow began to make progress and reached for the next hoofhold. She repeated the process again for the next shelf, her cocksure grin never leaving her.

Soon enough, the tome she sought was just before her. With one hoof firmly holding onto her hoofhold, she reached out to grab her prize. Her hooves were just a little too short, however, and she could not make contact. She stretched out again, grunting from the strain of it. “C’moooon…” she growled. Eventually, her hoof made contact. She beamed in pride, pulling the mystical tome closer to her. Once it was free of its shelf, she pressed it against her body in joy.

“Yes!” she cheered. A worrying crack echoed through the library and the filly’s hoofhold shifted below her, causing Rainbow’s pupils to shrink. “Hoboy.”

The door slammed behind the two mares as Twilight dizzly tried to regain her bearings. “What… What was that about?”

“Sorry! Sorry! I accidently told Rainbow Dash I hit a roadblock with the counterspell and I panicked!”

“A roadblock?” Twilight cocked her head to the side, the dizziness from her sudden relocation fading. “Is everything okay?”

“No! I mean, yes. I mean… Gah!” Starlight closed her eyes and sucked in a deep breath, letting it all out slowly. Twilight placed a hoof on her shoulder, letting the mare relax further. “It’s fine. I’ve just been stuck trying to figure out how to get any sort of temporal shift in the correct direction. Everything I’ve tried and everything I’ve read only seems to point to me only being able to regressing things. Aging should theoretically be possible, but it’s a ton more complicated it seems!”

“Is this why you were up so late last night?” Starlight nodded.

“I know I can figure this out! Or, at least, I’m pretty sure I can. Rainbow Dash needs me to, after all.”

“Hm.” Twilight chewed her lip in thought. “Let’s see if I can help then. I’m sure the two of us can get it figured out.”

“No! You don’t have to do that!” Starlight finally pushed Twilight’s hoof away, feeling exasperated again. “This is my fault and I need to fix it. You’re a princess; you have a lot more on your plate to worry about.”

“I’m the Princess of Friendship, Starlight. I’ve got two friends that need my help right now. I can certainly make time for that.” She rolled her eyes. “Besides, it’s not like my title has me doing much more than paperwork. So long as the map doesn’t call us anywhere, I'm pretty sure I can handle it.”

“B-but…” Her objections melted in her throat. “Okay, maybe I could use a little help.”

“And that’s perfectly okay. So, give me a summary of what we’re up against right now.”

“A summary. Yeah, I can do that. Essentially, I'm finding that the de-aging spell was so much easier because--”

A loud crash and a yell from beyond the closed library door interrupted her. The two mares exchanged looks of confusion followed by panic. Wordless, the two threw the door open and sprinted inside.

Rainbow Dash was in pain.

It was really only a relatively mild pain. She had definitely hurt worse many times before. It was part of the contract when she decided to be a stunt flyer many years ago; you get hurt. A lot. For some reason, she wasn’t thinking of any of those times currently. Instead, as she lay on the ground buried under a pile of books of various sizes and fragments of a crystal bookshelf, and clutching her front left fetlock with her right hoof, Rainbow Dash was trying her hardest to hold back tears.

Her attempt lasted only a few seconds after the initial shock wore off. As if it was a carnal and uncontrollable need, the filly cried. Somewhere in Rainbow Dash’s mind she new that wasn’t like her, but a much larger side of her insisted she had almost died and ignored that rational part all together. So she cried louder.

Twilight and Starlight frantically stumbled into this scene moments later. Books were scattered around in a wide radius, with a couple of the higher shelves in the bookcase completely empty. A large chunk was missing from two shelves, with pieces of crystal mixed in with the books. Twilight immediately ran at the sobbing pile of books with a rainbow tail sticking out and cleared them away with her magic, revealing the tearful pegasus underneath. “Rainbow Dash, are you okay?”

Rainbow continued to wail, shaking her head rapidly. Twilight, was stunned for a moment, but soon found herself scooping the foal up and holding her tight to her chest. The cyan pegasus limply let herself be held, still grasping her foreleg and burying her face in her friend’s chest. “It’s okay, Rainbow Dash. You’re okay. I’m here. Just calm down. Can you do that for me?”

Rainbow Dash shook her head.

“Where does it hurt?”

“M-my leg,” the filly choked out between sobs. “I-I think it’s b-broken or something!”

“Starlight, go get us a first aid kit,” Twilight commanded, looking over her shoulder at her student. “I think we keep one in the bathroom down the hall.”

“Gotcha.” Starlight quickly about-faced and left the library. Twilight focused her attention back on the crying filly. She brushed a hoof through the filly’s mane in a calming manner, looking at the fetlock Rainbow was hiding.

“It’s gonna be okay, Rainbow. Here, let me see it.”

Rainbow continued sobbing, then shook her head vehemently. “N-no, I don’t w-wanna look!”

“I need to see it to know if it’s serious.” The mare reached forward and pried Rainbow’s little hoof away. The filly resisted initially before turning her head away and clenching her watery eyes tighter, letting Twilight peel her hoof away view the gory mess her hoof had become.

Twilight looked at the fetlock before her, blinking once, twice, then smirking a little. It was mildly skinned with small red dots visible on the skin through her blue fur and was perhaps a tiny bit discolored, but it otherwise looked fine to her.

“I-It’s b-bad, isn’t it?” Rainbow asked, her sobbing downgraded to tearful sniffling.

“Well, let’s see. Does it hurt when I touch here?” Twilight firmly prodded the area to the side of the wound, pushing into the limb.

“NO, D-DON’T! OW! OW! OW! THAT…” Rainbow paused, puffy eyes opening up. “D-doesn’t hurt that bad, a-actually.”

Twilight giggled. “Then I highly doubt it’s broken. Just a scrape and probably a bruise.”

“B-But…” The filly sniffled again. “Th-then why am I crying? I don’t c-cry!”

Twilight didn’t know what to say to that. Before she could say anything, Starlight returned carrying a white box with a red cross in her magic. She layed it beside Rainbow Dash, who realized she was practically sitting in Twilight’s lap still and quickly shuffled to off a few inches away.

“How bad is it?” Starlight asked, pulling out a roll of bandages and a splint from the box.

“I don’t think we’ll need to amputate,” Twilight said, bemused. Rainbow sniffled again in embarrassment. “I think some antiseptic and a sticky bandage should be enough.”

“Gotcha.” Starlight placed the supplies back into the box, instead fishing around for the bottle of rubbing alcohol.

“So,” Twilight began, losing her smile. “Do you want to tell me what happened?”

Rainbow Dash gulped. “Um...” She glanced at the broken bookshelf. “Not particularly.”

Twilight chewed her lip, looking from the filly to the pile of books surrounding them. Among them, a collection of covers featuring a yellow pegasus wearing a pith helmet stood out. “Rainbow, you should know better than trying to climb the bookcase. It would have been a lot easier and safer to just ask one of us to get a book for you.”

“Or just using the ladder that got set up just for that,” Starlight pointed out, nodding to the corner of the room while pouring a splash of rubbing alcohol onto cotton ball.

“W-wait, there’s a la- OW OW OW OW!” She hissed in pain as Starlight dabbed the cotton ball on her scraped knee. Her wings flapped with futility, and Twilight started stroking her mane again in a calming motion. Finally, Starlight put the cotton ball down and placed a small rubber bandage onto the filly’s throbbing hoof.

“There, good as new!”

“Thank you, Starlight,” Twilight said gratefully. “Now, Rainbow Dash, you got lucky. You could have been much more seriously hurt from that.”

Rainbow grumbled, rubbing her hoof over her new bandage. “I know, I know. I’ll be more careful next time.”

“You mean you won’t do something reckless and ask for help next time?”

“Okay, I know. I get it,” Rainbow groaned in annoyance. “Jeez, Twilight, you’re starting to sound like my mom.”

As soon as the words came from her mouth, Rainbow Dash locked up. She met Twilight’s eyes, who had also frozen in embarrassment as the events of the last five minutes replayed themselves with sudden clarity in their minds.

Starlight looked back and forth at the two, then pointed in the direction of the mess. “I… think I’ll go get that cleaned up.”

“A-and I think I’ll just, uh, take this book,” Rainbow sputtered out as she picked up a random Daring Do book from the pile, “and go to my room.” She sheepishly shuffled towards the library door.

Twilight snapped out of it then. “Oh, no.” She yoinked the book out of Rainbow’s grasp with her magic. “First you’re going to help Starlight clean up this mess and reorganize the books you spilled. Then you can go read.”

“B-But…!” Rainbow tried to argue. A stern glance from Twilight made any further argument die on her tongue. “...fine.” With her head down, she turned around and plodded over to Starlight.

Twilight watched her go, only letting the worry settle in once neither of her friends were looking. She muttered quietly to herself.

“This just keeps getting more and more interesting.”

Act Your Age

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“Stupid, stupid, stupidstupidstupid….” Rainbow Dash muttered to herself, hearing her own voice drift off into a despondent whisper. She lay on her bed, both bandaged and unbandaged legs alike held out limply to the sides with an opened copy of Daring Do and the Cavern of Dreams laying face-down on her own face to hide herself from the unyielding gaze of existence.

The filly had every intent to forget about what had just happened. It was for that reason that, after spending a good thirty mind-numbing minutes reshelving her mess of fallen books (and finding new homes for the ones that used to be on the now-broken shelf), Rainbow Dash had retreated to her temporary room with the intent to bury herself in her originally sought-after Daring Do adventure.

It was easier said than done, and she found herself buried more in her thoughts. The filly wasn’t sure if it was her frazzled nerves or her childlike attention span, but she was finding it hard to be invested in what was one of her favorite books. Sentences would drag on and morph into daydreams and rumination until Rainbow realized she had spent ten minutes on a single page and couldn’t remember a single thing that had happened on that page. Eventually she conceded to her thoughts and flopped down on her bed, letting the book simply drape over her eyes. Not the most comfortable way to put down a book, she considered, yet she couldn’t find it in herself to care. She sank into the mattress with a groan.

“‘Oh, thanks for treating my boo-boos, Twilight! You’re such a great mommy!’” She waived her bandaged hoof in the air as she spoke, then let it flop back onto the bed. “Ugh, why am I such a feather brain?”

She lay still for a minute, feeling completely unmotivated to so much as move. The filly lifted the cover of her novel off of one eye and glanced at the nearby window. The sun had set. With a groan, she let the cover hide her face once more.

“Okay, Rainbow Dash,” she mumbled to herself. “That… thing with Twilight was less than awesome… but you’re still Rainbow Dash. You’ll make it through this. You just gotta avoid letting that happen again.” She picked up her impromptu mask, inserted a bookmark, and placed it on her nightstand. The filly then sat up letting her back rest against the headboard and affixed her gaze to the opposite wall. “And if you can’t… there’s always Nimbus Rush”.

Rainbow Dash smiled for the first time in hours as her plans for the next day came back to her. She had a promise with the Squirt to fulfill, and she had a feeling Nimbus Rush would be a fitting replacement for Rainbow Dash. She just had to make Scootaloo the star of the show for a day instead of herself. The kid would love it! How hard could it be?

Before she could let the doubt creep back into her mind, Rainbow Dash decided she might as well go to bed early. She chose not to think about how close it was to her childhood bedtime.

“Twilight, I really don’t think this is necessary.”

“On the contrary,” Twilight started with a smile as she cheerfully walked down the crystalline hallway towards the dining room. “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day! If you keep staying up so late and skipping meals, you won’t have the energy or wakefulness to study a counterspell. I promised I would help you, and so I am!”

“But do you really have to carry me?”

Twilight looked over her shoulder at her apprentice, dangling limply in her purple aura and looking haggard like somepony who had just been unceremoniously awakened and forcibly removed from their bed. Which was a pretty accurate description, considering Starlight still had her pajamas on and her unkempt mane was still sticking up in all direction, screaming for a hairbrush.

“You wouldn’t get out of bed, so I got you out of bed! We’ve got a big day of intense studying ahead of us, and I don’t want to be late!”

“How are we going to be late? We’re the one’s setting the schedule.”

“All the more reason to keep to it! No schedule is more important than your own!”

Starlight groaned, but didn’t resist any further. She was too tired to, anyway. So instead she surrendered herself to be carried towards the dining room. At last she was set down in a chair in front of a plate of crispy haycon and sunny-side-up eggs. She grumbled, but wordlessly levitated a piece of haycon to her lips and took a bite.

Twilight took a seat beside her infront of her own breakfast platter, grinning wide in stark opposition to her student’s more nettled demeanor. With a fork in her magic, she took a bite of her gooey eggs and hummed in satisfaction. “Thank you for breakfast, Spike. This is very good.”

The dragon poked his head out of the adjacent kitchen, wearing what Starlight had always considered a sickeningly frilly apron and matching hat. “Thanks, Twi! Any idea how Rainbow Dash likes her eggs?”

“I usually see her get over-easy when we-”

“Scrambled, Spike,” Starlight interrupted.

“Huh?” Twilight turned to the unicorn, looking perplexed. Starlight took another nibble of her haycon. “But she always gets her eggs over-easy whenever we go to breakfast. Why scrambled?”

Starlight took a moment to swallow her bite. “Twilight, have you ever seen a foal Rainbow’s age eats eggs that are anything other than scrambled? I know I wouldn’t touch eggs that runny until I was at least twelve.” She took one last bite, finishing off the fried hay and somehow feeling a lot better than she did beforehand. “She’s clearly a pickier eater than she was last week.”

Twilight simply hmm’d in response, giving it some thought before nodding to Spike, who swiftly walked back into the kitchen to finish breakfast. He came out soon after with two smaller plates of scrambled eggs and haycon, sliding one onto the table across from Starlight and sitting down with the other across from Twilight. He too took a bite, then looked to the plate beside him. “Why isn’t Rainbow Dash with you?”

“I decided to let her sleep in this morning,” Twilight replied.

“Ah… Is this about what happened in the library yesterday?”

“Eh… a little bit? I just figure she can wake up when she’s ready.”

“Really? Huh.”

Twilight raised an eyebrow. “Yes. You seem surprised, Spike.”

“Well, it’s just you seemed to be hovering over her a lot the last couple-”

“So!” Twilight started, teleporting a notepad and quill before her. “Let’s go over what you’ve got so far, Starlight!”

Starlight stared at her mentor for a moment, reeling from the sudden change in topic. “...Yeah, sure. As I was saying yesterday, in my research over the last few days I’ve come to learn the reason why advancing the age of something is so much harder than reversing it. Apparently-”

“Starlight!” The unicorn was cut off as a shrill young voice rang out. Rainbow Dash burst into the room at full speed, skidding to a stop just before Starlight’s chair. She bounced on her hooves excitedly. “Can you put my disguise back up for me?”

Starlight blinked absently for a second. “Right now?”

“Yeah! I’ve got a day to spend with the Squirt, but I need to be Nimbus Rush to do that.” The filly wavered from side to side impatiently. “So can you do it?”

“You want to go out alone?” Twilight asked. “What about Fluttershy?”

Rainbow Dash scowled at her in annoyance. “I don’t need a babysitter, Twilight! Besides, I kinda wanna spend the day just with Scoots. As cool as Fluttershy is, she’d be a bit of a third wheel.”

“But…!” Twilight bit her lip as she stopped herself. “But… What about breakfast?”

“Huh? Oh, right.” Rainbow spared a brief glance at the plate in front of an empty chair. “I’m not really hungry. But you can still re-dye me, right?”

Twilight and Starlight shared a look between them, as if both expecting the other to say something. Eventually, Starlight broke first, leaning over to look at Rainbow Dash at eye level. “Tell you what, Rainbow: I’ll reapply the disguise after you eat breakfast. But it’s up to Twilight if you go alone.”


“No buts!”

Rainbow Dash grumbled and turned to Twilight with an expectant look. The alicorn chewed her lip a moment longer. Eventually she let out a deep sigh, then said “Okay. So long as you stay with Scootaloo you can go alone. I’m sure Fluttershy needs a day with her animals anyway. But if you run into any trouble, just come straight back here, okay?”

Rainbow nodded enthusiastically. “Right, gotcha! So, disguise?”

“Breakfast first, Rainbow,” Starlight sternly repeated.

“Okay, okay! Fine, I’ll eat breakfast.” The filly lethargically climbed into her seat, taking her time in her movements as if to emphasize how much she didn’t want to do it. She quickly consumed the two slices of haycon on her plate, then moved to get out of her chair.

“All of it, Rainbow Dash,” Starlight spoke up with a smirk.

“But I’m not hungry!”

“Then at least have a couple bites of your eggs. Spike took time to make you breakfast, and it’d be rude not to try it.”

Spike looked up, a forkful of eggs halfway to his mouth. “I’m not really bothered if she doesn’t…” Starlight shot him a baleful glare. “...Nevermind.” He shoved the forkful in his mouth and looked away.

Rainbow Dash in turn looked down at her mound of eggs with a defeated whine. She grasped a fork with her hoof and scooped a chunk out of the fluffy yellow mash, bringing it to her mouth. She took one bite, then two, then three. Then she set the fork down. “Is that enough? Can we go now?”

Starlight, seemingly satisfied with the meager portion, nodded. “That’s good enough. Come on, let’s get you ready.” With a smile, Rainbow Dash leapt from her seat and trotted into the hallway. Starlight followed at a slower pace, taking a moment to look at a very bewildered Twilight. “What? What is it, Twilight?”

“You and… you’re…” She shook her head. “Nothing. We’ll talk about it later. Go help Rainbow get ready.”

“Right, sure. I’ll be right back.” With that, Starlight cantered out of the room. Once she was gone, Twilight groaned and buried her head in her hooves.

“Wha’ was ‘at all abou’?” Spike asked, speaking with his mouth full.

“Don’t worry about it Spike. And don’t talk with your mouth full.”

The dragon swallowed. “Whatever you say, Mom.”

Twilight groaned louder.

Scootaloo rode along the dirt path from her house to the Crusader clubhouse feeling particularly mopy. Not that she was normally mopy, especially not this time of year, but today she couldn’t help but feel like she was pulling a cartload of mope. She figured she was allowed to at least be a little bit depressed given the circumstances, but she wasn’t expecting it to hit her quite so hard or to last so long. The orange pegasus filly kept her head down, staring fixedly at the slushy road in front of her scooter as she rolled along.

The plan was to get together with her friends and build sleds with Fine Grain, their latest cutie mark client. It wasn’t Scootaloo’s original plan. That, of course, fell through.

As it usually does, she inwardly griped.

It was seeming to be a pattern recently. Rainbow Dash promises Scootaloo that they’ll hang out. Scootaloo gets excited. Emergency friendship problem in Griffinstone comes up. Rainbow apologizes and promises to hang out next weekend. Scootaloo gets excited. Wonderbolts call for a mandatory extra practice session. Rainbow Dash apologizes and gives a raincheck. Rinse and repeat again, and again, and again, and again….

At this point, the filly was wondering why it was bugging her so much this time. Sure, it had only been about a month since her last attempted flying lesson, and yeah, winter had become an even more special occasion since the two had become sorta-sisters, and she was looking forward to building a snowpony with her idol, and perhaps she only had two weeks off of school and wanted to spend at least a little of it with her, and…

Scootaloo decided that thinking about it might be unhealthy and chose instead to redirect her mind towards sleds and the fact that none of the crusaders really knew what they were doing. Apple Bloom had some ideas and was the one to initially pitch the idea of making sleds from scratch to help Fine Grain. Scootaloo was mainly just interested in riding them afterwards, although the thought of building something did seem kinda fun. She supposed that was at least something to look forward to. She picked up the pace a little, trying her hardest to not look at the snowy ground beneath her.

“Hey, Scootaloo!”

Scootaloo’s ears swiveled towards the direction of the call, and the filly put a hoof down to brake before looking around. A little ways ahead to the side of the road was a familiar golden-yellow pegasus filly with a streaked blue mane and a blue scarf wrapped around her neck. A small plastic bandage was visible on her knee. It took a moment to place where she knew her, but then the previous day came back to her and she remembered.

“Oh, hey. Nimbus, right? Fluttershy’s cousin?”

“Yup! That’s me alright! Totally!” The filly grinned brightly, buzzing her wings as she trotted over. “I saw you riding by and wanted to say ‘hi’ because you’re just so cool!”

The sudden compliment made Scootaloo blush slightly. “Uhh… Thanks, Kid. What’s… uh… what’s up?”

The filly in front of her hopped once, that oddly unnerving grin still shining. “Oh, not much, you know. I was just walking along going nowhere in particular and saw you shredding it up on your scooter and thought ‘Wow! What my awesome luck to run into the totally awesome Scootaloo again!’” Nimbus paused for a moment while Scootaloo stared at her. “Anyway, wanna hang out today?”

Scootaloo blinked, her mouth slightly open. “Uhh….” was the only thing she was able to say for a moment. Shredding? She was just going down the trail, and not even quickly at that. Nimbus seemed oddly forward, and her rapid fire way of speaking was a little freaky. The filly in front of her continued to look at her eagerly. “Well, uh, you see…” Nimbus’s smile faltered slightly. “I’m kinda on my way to meet up with my friends, so I’m kinda busy today.”

“Oh.” Nimbus Rush pawed at the ground with a hoof for a moment. She seemed a little surprised, and not a little disappointed. “But I said… I mean, I thought Rainbow Dash said she couldn’t make it today. I thought maybe I could fill her spot?”

That made Scootaloo raise an eyebrow. She didn’t think anypony could fill Rainbow Dash’s spot. “You really want to hang out with… me?”

“Yeah! Totally!” The younger filly exclaimed. Scootaloo looked at her with her mouth slightly agape.


“Because you’re… well, because you’re Scootaloo! Why wouldn’t I?”

“Uh huh…”

This kid is weird, she thought to herself. The orange pegasus looked around idly, as if checking if somepony was watching them. Scootaloo had hardly ever seen this filly before, and now she wanted to spend her Friday with her for some reason? It seemed a little… odd to her. Besides, she had sleds to make with her friends. Who would want to babysit when there were sleds to ride? And build. But mostly ride.

Still, the foal was staring up at her with a strained smile, as if she was somehow nervous about being around her. Scootaloo couldn’t understand why. She took a deep breath and spoke.

“Look, Kid, I think you’re cool and all, but-”

“-But you want to go for a race around Sweet Apple Acres? That’d be cool!”

“No, I was saying I was going to-”

“-Challenge me to a milkshake drinking contest? I accept!”

“No! I’m just-”

“-Here to kick flips and chew bubble gum, but you’re all outta…”

“I’m not interested, okay!” She stomped her hoof in agitation, feeling immensely worked up. The crusader could see the foal’s face fall almost instantaneously from the rejection. She took a deep breath. “Look, I already made other plans with my friends. You seem pretty cool, but I just want to be with my friends today, okay?”

“Oh.” The younger filly shuffled on her hooves. “I just thought… I… Uh…” Her ears fell flat against her head, and Scootaloo could visibly see her deflate. “T-that’s cool, I-I guess.” The filly looked away, suddenly unable to make eye contact.

“Maybe another ti-...” She cut off as she noticed a glistening on the corner of Nimbus’s eyes. She froze up at the sight of it.

Oh, Celestia, she thought. Is she about to cry?

“...I, uh… I mean…”

“T-that’s fine!” Nimbus said, feigning a smile about as well as a manticore could feign being a breezie. “I-I shouldn’t h-have assumed you w-were free.” The filly wiped at her eye, with a sniffle.

Celestia, Scootaloo was not good with foals. She took a slow step forward, softening her glare to something she hoped was less menacing. “Look, Kid, I didn’t mean to make you cr-”

“I am n-not crying!!” Defended the crying pegasus filly. She sniffled again. “I-I don’t c-cry! It’s j-just allergies”

“It’s Winter, and you’re definitely cry-”


“Sure! Right, uh… definitely NOT crying! Whatever you say!” Scootaloo looked around, worried that somepony may be watching. She didn’t need somepony seeing her bring a foal to tears.

Nimbus sniffled another time before turning away. “I-I… I guess I’ll leave y-you be, then…” With one final wipe of her snout, the golden filly began walking away, head held low and eyes glued to the ground as if looking for bits in the dirt.

Scootaloo watched the dejected filly walk away solemnly. At last, she let out a deep sigh, bracing herself.

“Wait,” she said barely loud enough for Nimbus to hear. The golden pegasus turned her head back, eyes noticeably red and puffy. Scootaloo found it hard to maintain eye contact and turned her head away, looking instead at a nearby tree. “My friends and I are making sleds for a client. I guess, maybe, you know, you can tag along, if you want.”

There was a moment of silence punctuated only by a soft sniffle, then Nimbus’ eyes lit up with a sparkle. “Really?”

“Uh, yeah, sure. I guess it’s o- OOF!” Scootaloo felt the wind knock out of her as Nimbus shot forward and wrapped her in a hug.

“Thankyouthankyouthankyou!” Nimbus repeated on rapid fire.

“Don’t mention it,” She carefully pried the golden filly off of her. “To anyone. Just.. be cool about it, you know?”

“Totally! Cool’s my middle name! Ra-, I mean, Nimbus ‘Cool’ Rush!”

Scootaloo rolled her eyes. “Of course it is. Anyway, you wanna tag along, you gotta keep up. Follow me!”

“Yep! Right behind you!” Nimbus chirped, her tears rapidly drying up.

With that, she buzzed her wings and kicked off, albeit at a much slower pace than normal so as to let her younger charge keep up. Babysitting it is then, she thought to herself. Oh well, maybe it won’t be so bad.

But as she rode off with a golden filly trotting happily alongside, she couldn’t help but dwell further on how much she’d rather be with Rainbow Dash.