Sunset Shimmer and Twilight Sparkle stared upwards in awe, hardly daring to believe what was happening before their eyes. Their giggling baby niece Flurry Heart was hovering close to the ceiling, playfully trying to stay away from her father Shining Armor's outstretched hands.
That word could only begin to describe what was going on. What had seemed to be a normal ordinary human baby the previous evening had sprouted a pair of pegasus wings and a unicorn horn overnight, signifying that Flurry Heart had not only learned to pony up but, much like her Equestrian counterpart, had taken on the characteristic physical traits of an alicorn.
Sunset clapped her hand to her forehead, now that she had reminded herself of the fact the pony version of Flurry was an alicorn. How was it she had not seen the possibility of this occurring? While it was true that there were some differences between dimensional counterparts of Equestria and the human world, the two Twilights being a clear example, the amount of similarities were just far too numerous to mention. Maybe it was because Flurry Heart had not yet had an exposure to magic that caused her to think otherwise; after all, the only people that had happened to consisted of herself, Twilight, the girls and Gloriosa Daisy. Even Principal Celestia and Vice Principal Luna who were metres from the portal to Equestria every day had not undergone a transformation such as this.
She glanced at Twilight, wondering if her wife had anything else to say about the new development. Her eyebrows rose as she recognised the starry wide-eyed curious analytical stare Twilight always expressed whenever she had got the inspiration to start a new project. An angry defensive flare shot up from within Sunset's heart, knowing what was going on in her mind.
No you don't, Sunshine. That's Flurry Heart, remember?
The wondrous look on Twilight's face fell, her expression melting into a brightening red blush and a sheepish grin.
Sorry, she apologised.
Shaking her head in exasperation, Sunset turned again to the panicked father and his joyous airborne infant daughter. She smiled, her thoughts relegating to the fun-sounding idea of reconciling the first part of the current problem: getting Flurry Heart back to the ground. As if in answer to her wish, her own alicorn horn and wings appeared. Her hair slid further down her back, growing another foot in length. Her human ears vanished, absorbing into her head, and resurfaced again towards the top as the ears of a pony. Mentally and with a bit of humour, she explained her plan to Twilight.
You're just doing this to have fun, aren't you?, was her answer.
Sunset's smile became a grin. Twilight rolled her eyes, smiling also, and she turned around to her sister-in-law. "Cadence, down on the floor."
Cadence, watching her husband and daughter from behind Sunset and Twilight, blinked. Her eyes darted to Twilight, then back to Shining Armor and Flurry, to Sunset, and finally back to Twilight again. "Um, why?"
It was Sunset who answered her. "Because the minute I go after her, Flurry's going to think I'm playing with her. So, to avoid me, she's going to start flying around the place."
"She means really flying around the place," Twilight emphasised.
"And because she's a baby," Sunset continued. "She's got a lot more room to manoeuvre, where I don't."
Cadence flinched, finally understanding the gist as a picture of a fully grown woman flying in the living room processed through her mind. She rounded towards Shining Armor.
"Shiny! Get down!" she cried, flinging herself to the floor as Twilight had told her to.
Shining Armor turned to his wife, gazing in confusion at her as she dropped down. He shifted his attention to Twilight and then to Sunset who, to his startling disbelief, was getting ready to take flight.
"Now hold it. Noone is doing any magic stuff in this house," he exclaimed, attempting to give his voice the same stern touch Night Light had always given him and Twilight whenever either of them had got in trouble.
Twilight scowled at him in reply and sharply pointed her finger downwards to the floor. Shining Armor grumbled, laying himself on his knees and then flat on his stomach in reluctance. With a smirk, Twilight glanced at Sunset.
Mom's scowl, she explained. It works every time.
Not on me, Sunset responded.
Maybe, Twilight giggled, agreeing with her. But I know something else that does.
Sunset blushed. You're going to get it later
I can hardly wait, Twilight spoke teasingly as she joined Cadence on the floor.
Sunset, despite the growing embarrassment she was feeling, smiled at the cheek. Taking a moment to reflect on the changes that had come over her in the space of less than a day, of how she had gone from doubting any possibility she had of wanting to be a mother to taking the chance of becoming parents with Twilight all through just a few hours of babysitting Flurry Heart, she slowly rose into the air.
"Oh, Flurry Heart," she cooed loudly over to her niece.
Flurry Heart, who had gone from teasing her father to looping around in circles, stopped what she was doing and turned to face Sunset.
"Auntie Sunset's going to get you."
Flurry Heart yelped, giggling as she raced for the stairs. Sunset pushed forward, ducking underneath the baby and came up again to block her escape route. Flurry Heart braked hard, sliding to a stop in midair, and turned right for the kitchen. Sunset gave chase. The two sailed above the kitchen table and around the countertop island. Flurry Heart glanced back; seeing Sunset was right behind her still, she dove towards the floor, pulling up at the end of it to lightly skim over the tiles. Sunset followed, turning on her side to give herself more room to pass between the island and the cupboards.
From her spot on the ground next to Cadence, Twilight viewed the chase with an unending amount of enthusiasm. Having only witnessed the newly strengthened bond between her niece and her wife at the tail end of the babysitting period last night, she now could see why one evening of babysitting had done so much to cure Sunset of her doubts. Of course now with this change, babysitting itself was going to require a new adjustment on both her and Sunset's parts, she reminded herself.
Not to mention Shining Armor and Cadence, she quickly added on.
A sudden thought came to her, and she pondered. What if her and Sunset's own children were born alicorns? The Flurry Heart of Equestria had been born that way and she had only one alicorn parent. Her and Sunset's children would have two. Wild images started to come through to her imagination; the apartment lying in ruins, her and Sunset screaming at the tops of their lungs, their kids flying around and blasting everything in sight with their magic.
As dangerous and alarming as that seemed, Twilight could not help but continue to smile. The thought of her and Sunset chasing after their children as they got up to mischief was warming her heart incredibly, as was the one where her parents Night Light and Twilight Velvet would watch, smiling happily as they reminisced with their own escapades involving her and Shining Armor and as they were entertainingly enjoying their grandchildren putting her through the same things. What was that line, she tried to recall. Grandchildren are the parents' revenge?
She stopped thinking, putting an end to the series of images and questions. At first she had assumed that it was Sunset who had just spoke to her, either through their mindlink or up close in person. A single glance upward after coming to told her both was impossible as Sunset was still focused on catching Flurry Heart, which meant the voice had to belong to the person right next to her. Twilight turned her head, facing a bemused Cadence.
"You're enjoying this, aren't you?" her sister-in-law asked.
"In a way," Twilight answered, blushing. "Why?"
"Because Shining Armor just gave you permission to use your levitation abilities on Flurry Heart and you didn't hear him."
Twilight regarded her brother with an instantly-formed cross expression. So magic was now allowed to be used under his roof? Mumbling under her breath, she recalled how fine Shining Armor used to be about how she, Sunset and the girls freely utilised magic, but that was all before Flurry Heart was born. After the little one had been brought into the world, Shining Armor placed restriction after restriction upon the use of magic in his household until finally it was not allowed period. And it was allowed now just to benefit his sanity, which when restored was likely to lead him to ban magic again? Not likely, Twilight though as she smiled deviously.
"Now where would the fun be in that?" she answered Cadence.
To her surprise, Cadence responded with a genuine laugh.
Sunset was beginning to wonder if this was the first time Flurry Heart had ponied up or that she had somehow done it before and nobody ever noticed. Little Flurry just seemed to be a natural at flying. Every time Sunset had got within reach of her, her baby niece dodged out of her hands' closing grasp and changed direction, all with uttering a tiny laugh with each narrow miss. The bouts of giggles served to encourage Sunset to keep up their game with a smirk on her face as she strategized how best to capture her next. Flurry Heart had led her on a merry chase all around the living room, the dining area and the kitchen, bringing her close to several near-collisions with ceiling lights, fans, one of the sofas and the dining table, along with all the various wall corners that had grazed her body.
Sunset needed something. She needed a new method.
Then it came to her.
She had been treating catching Flurry Heart as an adult would in trying to catch a normal child, deliberately slowing their own speed to make the child think they were the faster. Sunset smirked; all she needed was to increase things a notch. She pursued Flurry Heart back into the dining area. Flurry Heart ducked, taking shelter beneath the table. Sunset stopped, moving herself carefully above the table and holding herself aloft and out of sight.
Flurry Heart turned her head back, curiously wondering why Sunset had not followed her in. Finding no sign of her aunt, she gazed around the area of the table. Her eyes found her daddy, and then mommy, and her other auntie, but not her Suh-seh. She edged out from the side of the table closest to the living room to get a better view. From above she heard a soft beat, then she felt a small shaft of blown air, and then her eyes saw the shadow.
Alerted, she looked up. Suh-seh was right on top of her.
"Yeep!" she cried. Flurry Heart darted forward.
Sunset readjusted, lunging after her. He leap carried over past Flurry Heart and she halted, keeping herself far enough to give Flurry time to realise she was just ahead of her. Flurry Heart gave out a short cry, slowing down to ensure she did not crash into Sunset. Sunset was prepared. She jumped back an inch after Flurry Heart shut her eyes. Now she held her arms out, waiting.
Flurry Heart slowed to a stop.
Sunset gently took her into her arms and brought her into an embrace.
"Gotcha, little ladybug," she giggled.
Flurry Heart opened her eyes, looking up into Sunset's, and knew that the game was over. In spite of this, the infant girl grinned happily, throwing her arms across Sunset's front in a tiny hug.
Sunset landed on the floor. As she and Flurry Heart hugged, their wings and horns faded away, their hair returning to their respective proper lengths and their ears going back to being in their human shape and position. Shining Armor, Cadence and Twilight eased themselves up on their feet. The first two approached Sunset and their baby.
"Thank you, and congratulations," Cadence said.
"What do you mean?" Sunset asked.
"You're her third word, right after Shiny and myself."
Sunset glanced at Flurry Heart in interest. Had the little one grown that attached to her that she was the first person she could name after her parents? Flurry Heart's blissfully happy gaze was all the answer she needed. Yet some sense of guilt was gnawing at her for it; the guilt expanded when she contemplated just what had not been said. If her name was Flurry's third word, then that meant someone else's had not been spoken at all.
Sure enough, as she looked towards her wife, the facial expression that Twilight was bearing could only be defined as hurt. Sunset swallowed, sensing all the ramifications Twilight was believing the revelation was meaning. Looking at Flurry Heart again, she was struck with an idea.
"Hey, Flurry Heart," she spoke. "Look over there." She pointed her thumb to Twilight. Flurry Heart gazed along the direction she was pointing towards until her eyes fell on Twilight. Joy split across her face and she let out a giggle of joy in recognition of her. Twilight's face brightened immeasurably.
"You remember your Aunt Twilight, right? Can you say her name?" Sunset continued encouragingly. "Come on, you can do it. Say Twilight."
Flurry Heart crossed her eyes as she struggled to speak. "Tw. Tw. Twi."
"That's it; just a little more," Sunset spoke.
"Come on, baby," Cadence joined in.
"Tw. Tw. Twi. Twi-w. TWI-WHY!" Flurry Heart exclaimed.
"Yes!" Cadence cheered.
"Well done," Shining Armor remarked.
"Good girl," Sunset rewarded Flurry as Twilight hurried over, positively beaming. With Cadence's permission, Sunset handed Flurry Heart over to her.
Twilight took her into her arms. "Oh, you love your Auntie Twily, don't you," she bubbled jubilantly.
Flurry Heart laughed as Twilight began tickling her cheek. "Twi-why! Twi-why! Twi-why!"
The mood of the Shining Armor-Cadence household changed again, largely because the playful joyous manner in which everyone had treated Flurry Heart trying to say Twilight's name had ground to a halt after Flurry Heart eventually grew tired from the enormous amount of fun she had been having all morning and had fallen asleep in Twilight's arms.
Cadence took the responsibility of taking her up to the nursery and putting her to bed, leaving Sunset and Twilight with Shining Armor. From there, the atmosphere turned tense as the elation went out of Shining Armor and he began to constantly throw glares at Sunset, which was now disturbing Sunset and greatly annoying Twilight. Cadence came back down the stairs and froze when she saw the once happy and chaotic room was carrying an ominous sense of foreboding. When she noticed that the cause of it was her husband's glares, she spoke sharply.
"Dining table now."
Sunset and Twilight sat across from Shining Armor and Cadence. The first three had gone on to resume what they had been doing before and after Cadence had taken Flurry Heart to bed; Shining Armor glared at Sunset, Sunset showed a slight fear of his unspoken anger, and Twilight was getting irritated with his silent bullying. It was only a matter of time before Cadence added her own emotion into the mix as she was getting impatient on the four of them figuring out why Flurry Heart had started displaying magical abilities all of a sudden.
Cadence groaned finally. "Shining, you're being impossible."
"Me?" Shining Armor exclaimed, caught in midglare.
"Yes. You're obviously blaming Sunset for this, only you don't want to spit it out because it means angering you-know-who."
"WHAT?!" Twilight burst out in an apoplectic rage, directing her furious eyes at her brother.
"Thank you for throwing me to the she-wolf, Cadence," Shining Armor muttered.
Quietly, Sunset remembered the phone call from earlier in the morning regarding the recently-resolved situation. The first thing Shining Armor had said to her was demanding what she had done.
"You think I did this to Flurry Heart? Why you would think that?" Sunset spoke, her voice filled with hurt and betrayal.
Shining Armor turned to face her. His anger abated at seeing the saddened look on her face. "I didn't mean you did it on purpose," he tried to apologise. "It's just that, well, ever since you and the other Twilight came here, it's exposed a lot of others to magic. You, Twily and the girls have managed to control it yourselves, but you have to admit it's placed all of you in danger time and again. The Friendship Games, Camp Everfree, that harpy guy, Sorla. Do you think I want my little girl facing things like that?"
"No," Sunset replied, shaking her head slowly.
"But magic isn't contagious like you're making it out to be," Twilight spoke up. "It doesn't have to do with people. It has to do with objects. Applejack, Pinkie Pie, Rarity, Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash got theirs from Princess Twilight's crown. I turned into Midnight Sparkle because of my magic-collecting device. And all of us got our other abilities from the gemstones we found at Camp Everfree."
Cadence blinked astonishingly, impressed with Twilight taking the definition of the word fury to greater heights in defence of Sunset and magic and interested with the new input of information. "So, you're saying Flurry Heart must have come into contact with a magical object for this to happen."
"It stands to reason," Twilight answered, still glowering at Shining Armor with her hand leaping to protectively grasp Sunset around her shoulder, something which was bolstering Sunset with positivity.
Shining Armor grimaced, his face reddening in shame. "Then I'm sorry, all right?" he blurted. "What am I supposed to think? You two never really stop to explain anything about your magic. All I know is that Flurry Heart was a perfectly normal human baby girl one day and, after being babysat by you, Sunset, is capable of flight and magic the next."
"I understand what you're saying, Shining Armor, I do," Sunset replied softly. "But Twilight's right. Flurry Heart must have been exposed to magic at some point, and I think there are two big factors that might narrow down our potential list of what."
"Which are?" the other three asked altogether, Twilight sounding the most interested of the lot.
"First off, it just seems to be Flurry Heart ponying up at the moment. Have either of you noticed the other doing any of the same things she did today?"
Shining Armor and Cadence glanced at each other, racking their memories to remember if either of them ever had ponied up. They both gave Sunset the same response.
"Okay," Sunset replied, noting humorously out of the corner of her eye that Twilight had fished out a pen and her pocket notebook and had begun writing down notes. "The next thing is her being able to be an alicorn. It's entirely possible that that's because the Equestrian Flurry Heart was born an alicorn, but there are other things between the dimensions to consider. Twilight, for example, did not become an alicorn at the same time as Princess Twilight."
"Yeah. I only became one when we were facing Sorla," Twilight added, momentarily pausing in her note-writing.
"Another thing," Sunset went on, "is that Flurry Heart of Equestria was born from an alicorn, your counterpart, Cadence. As far as we know, you're still a regular human being, meaning there's no way our Flurry could get her alicorn powers from you."
"Is it possible that Flurry could have been exposed by magic while Cadence was pregnant with her?" Shining Armor suggested.
"Possible, but unlikely," Sunset answered. "Whatever magic affects an unborn child usually affects the mother as well."
"Well, in what way, could it be possible?"
Sunset replied hesitantly. "I can only think of one."
Twilight ceased in writing, turning to curiously inquire why she was being so slow to give everyone a full answer. Sunset spoke to her through their link, giving her the answer very straightly. Twilight fought back against the coming blush, nearly dropping her pen and book. Shining Armor and Cadence eyed the two of them with suspicion.
"Well?" they asked.
Sunset gulped before responding to them. "That you two were in the presence of a magical object when Flurry Heart was conceived."
She bit her lip, knowing that she had spoken it a little hyperactively. Twilight was cringing in her chair, now holding the pen and book to her chest and hiding the blush that was coating her cheeks with red. Shining Armor and Cadence's faces blanched with white.
"Well, uh," Shining Armor stammered.
"Maybe we shouldn't have put you on the spot like that," Cadence apologised. "But if we need an answer to eliminate the possibility, I think the answer is no."
"Yeah," Shining Armor agreed.
"Well, where were you? Here at home or somewhere else?" Sunset asked. "If it's somewhere else, Twilight and I could investigate the place for any - - -
"It wasn't at Canterlot High, was it?!" Twilight yelped suddenly, unable to contain herself from jumping to a conclusion.
"NO!" Shining Armor and Cadence shouted, aghast that she would imply that they made love in a public place like the high school.
Sunset was equally shocked at the outburst. "Where did that come from, Sunshine?"
"Sorry," Twilight blushed greatly with embarrassment. "I just thought that maybe, if they did...it so close to the portal, might that have affected Flurry Heart's conception?"
"Actually," Sunset spoke, considering the idea seriously. "That's not a bad theory now that you've explained it. With the portal still remaining open, there is the chance of Equestrian magic coming out of it."
"Yes, but they didn't do it there anyway, so - - -
Cadence coughed, interrupting them. Sunset, Twilight and Shining Armor turned towards her, the former two noting as they did that she appeared as if she had come to a secret conclusion. "So you're saying if someone was in close enough proximity to the portal when they're conceiving a child, there's a chance their child will be born with the ability to pony up?" she asked them.
"Well, I wouldn't say born, giving the current circumstances," Sunset answered. "But yes it's probable. The closer to Equestria, the greater the chance."
Cadence sighed in regret and gazed at her husband. "Shiny, it's time to come clean about what we did after the wedding."
Shining Armor stiffened, understanding what she meant. He frowned at her, appearing to Sunset and Twilight as if he was a child upset at being caught in a lie.
"Don't look at me that way," Cadence admonished him. "You started this by blaming Sunset. Now you've got to admit we're the ones that are at fault."
"What do you mean by that?" Sunset enquired.
"You're not telling us you did have sex close to the portal?" Twilight almost shrieked.
Shining Armor groaned, facing his sister and sister-in-law. "Do you remember how we never told anyone where we went for our honeymoon?"
"Yes," Sunset nodded.
"You never even took any pictures," Twilight recalled. "Mom was disappointed not to have anything to add to the family album."
Shining Armor smiled clumsily. "That would be because neither of us were able to handle the camera."
"Handle the camera? What do you," Sunset started in confusion. Then the answer dawned on her. "You didn't."
Cadence took over from Shining Armor. "Well, you or Twilight wouldn't stop talking about the place, so naturally Shiny and I were curious to see it for ourselves. We always did say we wanted our honeymoon to be a unique one."
Twilight's mouth fell open; she had caught up to the revelation Sunset had already arrived at.
"You had your honeymoon...
"You conceived Flurry Heart...