The Twining

by Grimm

First published

At Celestia's request, Twilight volunteers herself and Shining Armor to watch over the Overlook Hotel through the winter. Unfortunately for them, it has a reputation for making ponies go a little crazy...

At Celestia's request, Twilight volunteers herself and Shining Armor to watch over the Overlook Hotel through the winter. However, it's not long before isolation and solitude begins to wear at the two of them, and that's before they start seeing things that can't possibly be there.

She should probably have told Shining that the hotel has a reputation for driving its caretakers a little crazy. After all, all work and no play makes for dull ponies...

1. Come Play With Us

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The hotel was cold.

It was always cold, now, no matter how long they fired the boilers, no matter how much magic Shining and his sister pumped into it. It was always cold, and it was always empty, and Shining hated it.

There were lots of things he hated about it – the cold was just the beginning. Being away from Cadance for so long, for a start. For a lot more than just the start, in fact. Flurry, too. He missed them both so dearly, and that was still just the tip of the iceberg. It was his fault, really: he never could say ‘no’ to Twilight. He should have done, though, at least this time. Who cared if she was going to be the next Princess of Equestria? Who cared if Celestia had given her one last test? Surely Twilight had at least five other first picks for ponies to come with her to the Overlook, and surely Celestia could have come up with a better test than this?

Twilight was certain it was to ascertain how well she could handle the isolation of rule, but Shining was privately pretty sure that Celestia both had a stake in this hotel and was reluctant to give up her kingdom quite yet. Send her protege far away and snow her in for a few months, and in the meantime Celestia could enjoy the last of her rule in peace.

A cunning scheme, and Shining was already sick of it. Come stay with me, Twilight had said. It will be fun, she said. It wasn’t fun. It was cold, and boring, and lonely, and Shining wanted to go home. He thought he’d been used to snow with the Crystal Empire, but it was nothing compared to this. Outside the windows was pure white, always, swirling and spiralling and piling so high up that the doors were almost entirely buried. When he was a foal, he and Twilight had fought so many bitter snowball battles, and back then he didn’t think he would ever grow tired of snow. But he was, and he missed his wife, and now he was trudging through the empty halls while he and Twilight fought a very different kind of battle. One of shouted words and tear-filled pleas before Shining stormed off into the maze of corridors.

It had started over breakfast. Twilight could tell he was feeling down, and how could he not be? She’d asked him here for company, for security, apparently at the request of Celestia herself, and then Twilight had shooed him away at every moment so she could work on her ‘memoirs’.

“Ponies will want to read them, now I’m going to be their Princess,” Twilight had insisted. “And I can’t think of a better way to teach some lessons in friendship while I’m at it.”

And so she spent her days at her typewriter in the big, empty hall she had claimed for it, and Shining spent his days wandering the hotel and thinking of Cadance. And sometimes – more and more often – in his bed and thinking of Cadance for entirely different reasons.

Yes, Shining hated this.

And then this morning at breakfast, Twilight had thought it would be a great idea to break the ice that had formed between them by talking about the previous caretakers of the hotel. How Celestia had mentioned the family she’d hired to overwinter it before, and what had become of them.

“They didn’t deal well with the snow, being locked away like this,” Twilight had said, nonchalantly. “By the time the snow melted they’d all gone mad, which Celestia only discovered once she arrived to relieve them. And what she found was… horrible.”

Shining shuddered. “Did they… Did they murder each other?”

“What?” Twilight blinked. “No, of course not, don’t be stupid.”

“Oh. Well, what then?”

And Twilight told him. It took Shining some time to process what she’d said, to finally sink in, and then his eyes went wide. “But… But they were related!”

“Yes, but as I said, they were crazy.”

Shining shook his head in disbelief. “So the father and the daughter? They…?”


“And the mother and son? They did it too?”


“And the siblings, together!?”

“Yes, all of them, Shiny,” said Twilight, sighing in exasperation. “They all fucked.”

The coarse words surprised Shining, coming out of his sister. Sometimes he still found it hard to see her as anything but the little filly he was supposed to protect from the world like he always used to. Nowadays he supposed she was probably the one who was supposed to protect him.

“But there’s more,” Twilight said, with a smile that seemed almost sadistic. “As it turns out, that’s happened before. Lots of times, in fact. Almost every family that’s ever taken care of this hotel. Almost like… the place is haunted.”

Shining gave her a very cold glare. “Haunted by what? Incestuous ghosts?”

Twilight shrugged. “Maybe. I’m just saying don’t rule it out. I’ve learned so many things over the past few years, but one of the most important is to never assume something is impossible.”

“Even crazy incest ghosts?”

“Even crazy incest ghosts.”

Shining rolled his eyes and returned to his cereal for a moment, and then the realisation began to sink in and he stopped, mid-crunch. “Wait a minute…” he said, slowly, the gears clunking into place in his head. Twilight must have known what he was going to say because she was making a very concerted effort not to look at him. “You’re telling me that you knew there was an incest ghost epidemic in this place, and you invited me?”

“Oh come on, Shiny, now who’s being ridiculous. I thought you didn’t believe in ghosts?”

“And I thought you said never to rule things out! You’re telling me his place has a history of turning ponies into sex-crazed perverts over winter and you invited me anyway? What is wrong with you?”

“That’s not fair,” protested Twilight, tears beginning to shine in her eyes. “The princess mentioned the idea, and I just… We get to spend so little time together nowadays, and when I’m officially coronated it will be even less. I thought it would be nice to spend a few months together, maybe for the last time.”

“Well, you were wrong,” Shining said, rising to his hooves and shoving his chair back with a sharp squeal against the floor. “This place is terrible, and it’s not as though we’re hanging out like you wanted anyway. You just spend the whole time with that damn typewriter instead. If I could go home, believe me, I would.” His eyes narrowed. “This was a mistake.”

And with that, he’d stormed from the dining hall. Twilight had called out to him, but he’d ignored it, and as he stomped through the halls and his anger slowly dissipated, the regret had started to seep in to replace it. She had sounded so heartbroken, begging him not to leave, but he’d done so anyway. And what good had it done? He’d stomped along the endless corridors until he could stomp no more, and he didn’t feel any better for it.

Such a brave stallion, shouting at his sister just because she wanted to spend some time with you.

Yes, he hated this place. Yes, it was cold and lonely. Yes, he missed Cadance and Flurry. But none of that was an excuse for acting like a petulant foal again. The isolation must be getting to him – there was no way he would have yelled at Twilight like that otherwise. He was just so irritable all the time. So frustrated.

And the corridors twisted and turned before him, an endless sea of repeating chintzy carpet and wallpaper, room after room scrolling past beside him. Infinite, meaningless numbers, one after another. 234. 235. 236. 237.

Shining stopped.

Room 237 was open.

It certainly wasn’t supposed to be. Shining was fairly certain he’d walked past 237 before – he’d walked through most of the hotel multiple times by this point, after all – and he never remembered it being open. None of the rooms were, all shut up tight for winter. But now it was, even if just a crack. A dark sliver, somehow seeming to suck in all the light around it. It seemed to draw him in, too, closer and closer, and Shining wasn’t entirely sure when he had stepped up next to it, or when he’d started reaching out a hoof to push it open.

His hoof fell against the wood, softly, but there he hesitated. Something deep in his gut screamed at him that this was a bad idea, that this was dangerous. Shining had learned to trust his gut: it had saved him more than once in the past, and if he hadn’t written it off as nerves before his wedding it might have even saved him from Chrysalis. This wasn’t nerves. This was something else, and so his horn blazed with magic as he readied himself to push open the door, just in case.

He never got the chance. Something on the other side pushed back before he could even try, slamming it shut and sending Shining stumbling backwards in shock. He was quick to recover, though, breathing hard and heavy.

“Twilight?” he called out, even though that twisting sensation in his stomach told him it wasn’t her. “Is that you?”

No answer. He hadn’t really been expecting one.

“If that’s you in there, I’m sorry I got mad. There’s no need to pull a prank on me, though. You’re kinda freaking me out here.”


Slowly, carefully, Shining approached the door again. The sinking feeling worsened, and the darkness he had glimpsed through the crack seemed almost to be seeping out around the edges, contouring the frame. Something was very wrong with this room. Something that wasn’t Twilight. Something urging him to run, flee, get out of there while you still can.

Yet somehow he found himself reaching for the door handle instead.

But the moment his hoof touched the metal, a sudden noise made him freeze, ice spilling down his spine. A giggle, right beside him. He whirled around, only to be confronted by the sight of Twilight standing just down the hall, grinning coquettishly. She wasn’t alone, either, standing beside…

“Mom?” Shining spluttered, incredulous. “What the hay are you doing here?”

Velvet simply smiled in an eerie reflection of her daughter beside her. And then she spoke, and her words echoed with Twilight’s in perfect unison.

“Hello, Shiny,” they said, voices overlapping.

Shining frowned. The feeling hadn’t dissipated, it had only gotten worse. Something was still wrong, this whole situation was wrong. How had Velvet even gotten here? There was no way through the snow even if she’d wanted to come.

That question died along with all the others as the two mares spoke again. “Come play with us, Shiny,” they said, slowly turning, still in perfect sync as their tails flagged and they presented themselves to him. He could see everything, could see them wink, saw how desperate they were for a stallion. For him. “Come play with us,” they repeated, and visions of them lying on the floor, panting and out of breath and sticky – well-fucked and oh so satisfied – began to flash before his eyes. “Forever, and ever.” The two mares gazed back over their shoulders, smiling that same smile, and it was too wide, and there was something wrong with their eyes, and why couldn’t his stomach stop lurching? “And ever.”

Shining covered his eyes with a foreleg, desperate to strike the images from his view. They seemed to be seared into the back of his eyelids, and even in their darkness he still saw his sister and mother, waiting for him, so wet and ready. Winking. Tails flagging. Needy and wanting, and after all he was so pent up wasn’t he, let us make you feel good and forget about everything else, forget about the snow and the lonely halls. Forget about Cadance. Forget about everything except for plunging into us and rutting us just like you need to.

He wrenched his eyes open again, and the visions vanished. The hallway was empty. It had always been empty, of course – had to have been. His mother wasn’t here, couldn’t be here, and even if she were there was no way she and Twilight would have-

Don’t think about it.

Shining shivered and turned back to the room beside him. The door was just a door, and whatever ominous feeling he’d sensed leaking from it had faded to nothing. Taking a brief moment to calm himself and find his nerve again, Shining reached out and tried the handle.

Room 237 was locked.

2. Room 237

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The Overlook Hotel’s ballroom was large, opulent, and resoundingly empty. Twilight wasn’t sure what made large spaces so susceptible to feeling lonely, but there was definitely some kind of correlation. An entire ballroom without any other ponies in it seemed so much more desolate than any of the other rooms she could have found herself in.

Along the far wall stretched an enormous bar, a dark wood counter reaching almost entirely from one side to the other, and it was at this bar that Twilight found herself, staring out at the emptiness and wondering how she had gotten herself into this mess in the first place. If this was a test (and Twilight was beginning to doubt the veracity of Celestia’s claim), it was not a very good one.

She shouldn’t have asked Shining. That was a bad idea. It had seemed like such a good idea at the time: get him away from the rigorous demands of parenthood for a while, have some time for himself to unwind, and they could catch up and he could be her BBBFF again, at least for a little while. When Celestia had suggested it, Twilight had jumped at the chance. Hay, even Cadance had agreed it sounded like a good idea. But a little while had turned into a whole lot of while, and the snow kept falling and the hotel remained so empty.

And now they were fighting, and if anything was going to make the time they had left here even more unbearable, it was arguing. She’d hoped bringing Shining here was going to improve their relationship, but now it seemed as though this may be the final nail in the coffin instead.

“Forgive me for saying so, Princess, but you look as though you could do with a drink.”

Twilight turned her gaze back behind the bar, towards the earth pony standing behind it. Her coat was light grey, her mane short, straight, and so barely purple that it threatened to leach out the last of its colour all together if one focused a little too much on it.

“You know what, Maud?” Twilight smiled, at least a little of her hurt momentarily fading. “A drink sounds pretty great right about now.”

Maud nodded curtly. “A bourbon, perhaps?”

“What? It’s only three in the afternoon; what kind of pony do you take me for?”

“Ah, my apologies.” Maud didn’t seem particularly apologetic, but then again she never seemed particularly anything.

“I’ll take a milkshake,” Twilight said.

“Of course, Miss Sparkle.”

Within moments, Maud was pushing a perfectly presented shake across the counter, a single, bright red cherry perched on top.

“Thanks, Maud. You always know how to make them just right.” Twilight’s smile suddenly dropped. “Oh, I just realised, I don’t have any bits with me.”

Maud simply stared, a picture of impassiveness.

“Could I…” Twilight tried, trailing off at Maud’s blank expression.

“I’ll put it on your tab, Miss Sparkle,” Maud said, accompanied by another of her slight nods.

“Thanks, I knew I could count on you.” Twilight’s smile was back again, and then she pursed her lips around the straw, enjoying the sweetness on her tongue. Maud stood there with her usual bored apathy, as if she had nothing better to do than watch Twilight enjoy her drink. A glance around the otherwise empty ballroom suggested that may indeed have been the case. “A little slow today, isn’t it?” Twilight asked.

“Yes,” Maud agreed. “The winter always is.”

Twilight nodded at this immutable truth and took another long slurp from her straw. It was perfect. It was always perfect. And yet still Maud stared, although for some reason Twilight didn’t really find it uncomfortable. She never did, although as the silence stretched on, Twilight felt as though she had to at least try to fill it. “I don’t think Shining believes me,” she said, eventually.

Maud maintained her silence, although she raised an eyebrow slightly, prompting Twilight to continue.

“I just thought it would be a great excuse to spend more time with him, you know? I wasn’t even thinking about… well, all the things Celestia told me about.”

“Of course not.”

“But he thinks it was some of… ploy. Like I tricked him into it for my own reasons. As if I would ever do something like that to him.”

Twilight stared deeply into the swirl of cream atop her milkshake, but for some reason it was starting to seem somewhat unappealing. A little too sweet. A little too perfect.

“I don’t think he ever forgave me,” she said, quietly. “But it was just a mistake, that’s all. A stupid, spur of the moment mistake, the kind everypony makes sometimes. And it was years ago. That’s long enough to forgive someone, isn’t it? Especially for something so meaningless.”

Maud said nothing, but she didn’t need to. She was always such a good listener. The best bartenders always were, in Twilight’s admittedly limited experience. Simply listening, without comment, without judgement. That was enough.

“And I mean, it wasn’t even a real kiss,” Twilight said, bitterly. “Not a proper one. It was just a stupid thing from a stupid filly filled with hormones, and surely that doesn’t count, does it? A peck on the lips. That’s no reason to vilify your own sister, is it? Nothing more than a foalish mistake, back when I was too young to know better.”


Shining’s voice ripped through the ballroom, and Twilight spun around to find him practically cantering towards her, his hooves clacking hollowly against the floor. His eyes were wide and wild, his mane plastered to his forehead, and as he skidded to a halt beside her she could see the panic so clearly on his face.

“Someone’s here,” he panted. “In the hotel.”

Twilight frowned. “Yes, I know. You and me.”

“No, I mean, someone else.”

There was a moment of quiet, and then Twilight couldn’t help but laugh, couldn’t even try to stifle it.

“I’m not kidding, Twilight. This is serious.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” she said. “We both know nopony can get in or out of here, not with the snow.” She spread her hooves wide to gesture around the empty and desolate ballroom. “It’s just us, all alone until the melt.”

“But I saw them.”

“Saw who?”

“Well…” Shining hesitated. “I saw Mom.”

Of all the things Twilight had expected him to say, it wasn’t that.

“But it wasn’t her though,” he continued. “Just like it wasn’t you. Not changelings, either, something else. I don’t know what.”

“What are you talking about?” Twilight reached out a hoof for his shoulder, but he flinched away, and another twinge of despair rent through her. “Slow down,” she said. “Explain.”

“It’s that room, Twilight. Something’s wrong with that room. With this whole hotel, but that room especially. Like it’s more concentrated there.” He growled in frustration at her confusion. “Can’t you feel it?”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about. Hey, Shiny, look at me.” And he did, and she could see the rings of red at the edges of his eyes. He wasn’t sleeping well, or maybe it was stress. Probably both. “It’s okay,” she told him. “I’ll go have a look and make sure no one’s there.”

“No, you shouldn’t,” he insisted. “Neither of us should. We should just leave, Twily. We have to get out of here. Find some way to get to the nearest town, and then… I don’t know, but it isn’t safe here.”

“I’ll be fine,” she said, firmly. “Now, which room are you talking about?”



The copper numbers gleamed in the dim light of the hallway, strangely ominous. Shining’s story had made no sense, at least what little of it he’d told her, but perhaps it had put her more on edge than she’d realised. Twilight was fairly certain he’d been leaving large chunks out – it didn’t quite add up – but she’d decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. He must have had his reasons, and so instead of asking further questions she’d sent him to get some rest and made her way to the room by herself.

Shining had been right about one thing, at least: the door was open. Every room was supposed to be locked up tight, but this one had apparently been missed, a dark gap between the door and the frame. Stranger still was an incessant hissing sound that filtered out into the corridor, quiet but clearly emanating from the room.

Perhaps something was happening here, after all. More likely the ponies in charge of locking up the place had overlooked this one, and Shining’s imagination had run wild. Or perhaps it was all a very elaborate prank at her expense, his way of getting revenge for all the impositions he felt she’d bestowed on him.

Only one way to find out, she decided, striding up to the door and pushing it open. Shining had told her it slammed shut in his face when he tried, but for her it swung freely, and she was able to step right inside.

Nothing happened. As far as she could tell it was just like any of the other hotel rooms here; all the bedding had been stripped and stored for winter, and the bed frame lay bare to one side. There was the usual arrangement of dressers and wardrobes, but nothing unusual. No ominous feeling like Shining had told her about. Simply an empty room with an unlocked door.

Oh, but not quite. That hissing sound continued, much louder now that she was inside, and as Twilight determined its source as the bathroom she suddenly realised what was making it.

The shower was running.

She did feel it, now. That sinking sensation, low in her stomach, that feeling that everything was not quite right here. As though the world had been slanted ever so slightly, subtle enough that she could only notice deep in her subconscious.

The bathroom door was open, too, again just a crack. A mirror of the outside, just wide enough for that hissing splash to leak out. A lead weight in Twilight’s chest as she crept closer and closer.

You are a princess. An alicorn. You’re not supposed to be scared. Not over something as banal as a running shower.

But she was scared, even as she stepped right up to the door, her heart hammering as she reached out and pushed it open. It swung all too easily – she had expected it to be heavier – and so she pushed too hard and it clattered loudly against the bathroom wall.

At the sound, the shower stopped abruptly.

The bathroom seemed to stretch out a little too far, a little too long, but otherwise unremarkable. The bath itself lay at the far end on a slightly raised section, like some kind of strange altar. The half below the shower was shielded by misted glass, and Twilight’s gut twisted a little as she saw a dark, pony-sized shape moving behind it.

Her legs frozen in place; she couldn’t move, couldn’t run, couldn’t do anything. Couldn’t even bring herself to call out to the shape. Her throat felt like it had sealed itself shut, dry and coarse. The shadow moved again, and although Twilight could see no details she could make out the unmistakable silhouette of the pony behind the glass slowly turning its head to face her, to stare right at her through the mist.

And it was with that same, strange slowness that the pony twisted itself around and began to move towards the edge of the screen. A dark blue hoof reached out around the glass, the first hint of colour, dragging out the rest of the pony behind it as he clambered into view.

And as the stallion (for there was no mistaking them as otherwise, now) passed the misty glass and stepped into the open, Twilight recognised him. Instantly.

After all, he was her father.

That settled it. This wasn’t real, couldn’t be real. He couldn’t be here. And yet as Night Light’s hooves set down against the pale bathroom tiles with a soft clink, they sounded real. The steam that poured off his damp fur seemed real, real enough to mist the mirrors beside him as he smiled at her, running a hoof through his wet mane to keep it out of his eyes. Piercing eyes, staring right at her, that easy smile beckoning her closer even as he closed the gap himself.

Still with that strange, slow gait, as though entirely unconcerned with the passage of time, Night Light moved towards her. Twilight remained transfixed in the doorway, unable to breathe, to blink, to look away. Her eyes travelled across his body, the way his fur, flattened with water, hugged his muscles, every single one of his movements making them roll under his skin. Perhaps that was why he was moving so slow, to accentuate them. To show off.

And then her eyes were drawn irresistibly lower, and they went wider still as she saw his thick length, hard and excited, and still Twilight could do nothing but wordlessly stare as he approached. She wasn’t supposed to look, she knew. He was her father. It was wrong. She was supposed to be disgusted, and horrified. Supposed to cover her eyes and run.

But she didn’t.

She didn’t even want to. And he didn’t want her to, either, or he would have made to cover himself, to hide his excitement from her. But instead he simply drew closer and closer, and if anything he was trying to exaggerate it, allowing her to appreciate and admire him. Close enough now that she could feel the warm steam pouring off of him, smell that damp but not unpleasant scent of freshly washed fur. And then he stopped, waiting.

So close, all it would take was a single step, and he didn’t have to say anything for Twilight to know what he wanted. His stare did that, his smile did that, his stallionhood so stiff beneath his barrel did that.

Come here, he said without speaking. Come here, kiddo, you know you want to.

And Twilight did.

Almost without thinking, bypassing the part of her brain that was supposed to work out if she should or not, Twilight took a step forward. Her hooves clicked sharply against the tiles, and then Night Light swept her up in an embrace and pulled her tight.

His lips went to hers, or hers went to his, she wasn’t entirely sure, and then there was nothing but a deep kiss, one more full of passion and lust and love than Twilight had ever felt before. He tasted and smelled of whatever he’d showered with, something faintly citrus, and Twilight closed her eyes as he held her closer so she could better appreciate every moment, every inch of him.

Whatever doubt or dread she’d been feeling had vanished in an instant. There was nothing to fear here. Just her father, just this kiss, just his growing passion as it grew more aggressive and she stumbled back a little from the sheer forcefulness of it. Her tail flicking relentlessly back and forth in anticipation, a rising flush in her cheeks.

He’s your father.

The though ebbed low in the very back of her mind, barely enough to register, let alone concern her. It should have concerned her, she knew. It should have made her gag, push him away, run screaming. But it didn’t. It couldn’t. Not when this felt so right, so perfect, so full of love and desire and want. This was okay because nothing in the world had ever felt more okay before.

Was she going to give herself to him, here in this bathroom? Would he take her, throw her up against the wall, rut her until she couldn’t even walk straight? Twilight didn’t know, but she was beginning to believe it was exactly what she wanted, and if Night Light’s firm hold of her and his proprietorial kiss were any indication then it was exactly what he wanted, too.

Twilight opened her eyes, ready to give him all of that and more, and then she caught a glimpse in the mirror behind him and that lead weight returned in full force. The stallion in the mirror, kissing her so passionately, wasn’t Night Light.

His coat was pale as the snow outside, his mane electric blue, and even from behind Shining Armor was instantly recognisable.

Twilight broke the kiss, pushing him away as she staggered backwards, and Shining simply smiled that same, easy smile, and again her eyes were drawn down to the jet black length beneath him, and if anything it was only bigger and harder, only more excited for her.

That was enough to finally shatter the illusion, the strange fog – or was it steam? – that had settled over her thoughts. This wasn’t Shining. It was someone else, something else. Shining would never act like this, and whatever madness had caught her was unravelling so rapidly in his wake. And even quicker as Shining – not-Shining – began to laugh at the panic on her face. A laugh that started low in his throat, almost more of a growl, and as she stumbled away from him and he effortlessly closed the distance again, it began to grow louder. Wild, crazy.

Twilight turned and fled, the only thing she could think to do, and his laughter followed her all the way through the deserted room and out into the hallway, and even when she slammed the door shut and held it with her magic, just in case, she could still hear him. Or whatever it was that was wearing his skin. The laughter crept under the door, and she could still taste citrus on her lips, and as Twilight turned tail and cantered down the hallway as fast as she could go, his ringing laughter seemed to echo off the walls.

But Room 237 stayed closed.

3. Party

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Shining was right. He was so, so right, and if only Twilight had believed him before she’d been wrapped in the embrace of… whatever the thing in the bathroom had been. The thing wearing her father’s face, and then Shining’s too. The thing whose haunting laughter had followed her out and down the corridor, ringing incessantly in her ears.

Twilight didn’t know what kind of spell it had placed on her, what strange fog had settled over her mind and pulled her towards her father, drawn her in for that intense and longing kiss, but it scared her. It had seemed so right, so natural. So perfect. At least, right up until it had revealed its duplicity, and now Twilight knew Shining was right. They had to get out of here. She had to find him, before this place got to him. Before it got to her.

Back through the maze of corridors, as fast as her legs could carry her. Burning muscles, gasping breath. Keep running and don’t stop and whatever you do don’t think about Night Light’s kiss, don’t think about how warm and wonderful it was. And don’t you dare think about how when you opened your eyes and saw Shining’s reflection instead, the first thing to jolt through your thoughts was deep excitement. Just run. Just get out. Grab Shining and go, you’ll find a way, surely.

Twilight didn’t stop running until she heard music.

Her canter slowed to a crawl, that sick feeling back again in full force. She’d been hearing it for some time, now, creeping at the very edges of her hearing, but it was only now that she could hear the tune and melody that she really comprehended that faint whisper. And something else, too, rumbling beneath it.

All coming from the direction of the ballroom.

Twilight cursed under her breath, but she had to check, didn’t she? Had to see. Perhaps Shining had returned there, and something else had found him first. Something that wore other ponies’ faces and kissed so well with them and just look how hard he is for you and-

Don’t think about it.

And so, reluctantly, carefully, Twilight began to creep along towards the source of the noise. It wasn’t long before she could discern what that rumbling was: the bustle of conversation, of hundreds of voices rolled together into a single roar of sound. The sinking feeling worsened. All alone. She and Shining were all alone here, just her and her brother, and now hundreds of voices that couldn’t possibly be here but were, all the same.

The ballroom doors loomed before Twilight, wooden frames around tall, misted glass that brought back memories she was trying very hard to forget, and she wasn’t quite sure when they had snuck up on her like that. She’d been so focused on the noise and its impossibility that she hadn’t really noticed when she’d arrived here. Or something like that. It didn’t really explain how she’d gotten here so quickly, in the same way she couldn’t really explain how she’d known exactly which part of the hotel to find Room 237 in without any guidance from Shining.

Through the glass came the buzz of a happy, cheerful crowd, and Twilight didn’t want to open the doors. She didn’t want to know what was waiting for her on the other side, but she also knew it was for her. Somehow, all of this was for her, just as the thing in the bathroom had chosen its faces for her. And if she didn’t look, if she just walked away, she’d probably somehow wind her way back here anyway. The hotel wasn’t going to let her go that easily.

When Twilight did push open the door, for a dreadful, awful moment she was convinced she was going to see nothing on the other side. For a second she was sure that was exactly what she did see, an empty and desolate ballroom like before, gathering cobwebs and nothing more.

But then she saw the blazing chandeliers, heard the music wash over her, and the illusion of nothing was gone and replaced by an enormous crowd of ponies. All at once, Twilight felt very underdressed. The gathered crowd all sported fancy tuxedos and overindulgent dresses, the sort that Rarity would have been fawning over all evening, and the feeling that soaked through Twilight was reminiscent of the first Canterlot gala she’d ever attended, how the ponies had sneered at her and her friends. At least now she could be safe in the knowledge that princesshood had made her practically immune to sneering from the upper crust. None of them would dare.

Still, she couldn’t help feeling out of place as she meandered through the crowd towards the bar. The music languished in the air, gently and unhurriedly moving through the motions, taking its time. Twilight didn’t recognise the song, but it sounded strangely familiar nonetheless, as though she’d heard it once before and since forgotten. Around her, ponies danced, swaying gently to the pleasant tune, and while Twilight couldn’t work out where the music was coming from, she couldn’t help but sway a little herself as she walked.

And whether it was the gentle music or the familiar sight of Maud behind the bar, a wide smile broke across Twilight’s face.

“Good evening, Princess.” Maud greeted Twilight with her typical monotone. “What will you be having? The usual?”

“Yes, thanks,” Twilight replied, dropping into one of the few vacant stools. “It’s been a… difficult evening, that would be great.” Her smile wavered a little. “Oh, but I don’t have any bits, I wasn’t planning on-”

Maud waved away her concerns with a contemptuous flick of her hoof, sliding a milkshake over to Twilight with the other. That was strange: Twilight hadn’t seen her making it, and so quickly, too.

“For you, no charge,” Maud said. “Orders from the house.”

Twilight frowned. “The owners? But I don’t know them.”

“Orders from the house,” Maud repeated, slowly and carefully enunciating each word as though explaining something to a foal, and leaving Twilight mildly offended.

“I really think I should get some bits from my room,” Twilight said.

Maud’s usual impassiveness turned stern. “Your money’s no good here, Twilight,” she said, firmly. “Now drink up, you’ll feel better.” And with that, Maud turned and moved away to serve some of the more raucous party-goers.

Twilight hesitated a moment. She felt like she was missing something, something important. Why would the owners be covering her drinks here? She’d never even met them, and surely simply looking after the hotel over winter wasn’t enough to warrant such insistence? Maybe it was her royalty coming to the rescue again, although she always hated getting special treatment simply because she was a Princess. Still, she knew better than to question a free milkshake too harshly, and so with a shrug she picked up her drink and made to mingle with the rest of the crowd. Perhaps she could even find out what they were supposed to be celebrating.

She didn’t manage to get more than two steps before a sudden blur slammed into her at breakneck speed, almost knocking her straight to the ground. There was a loud clatter as a metal tray went flying and the champagne glasses perched atop it followed suit, and then Twilight was coated in an awful mixture of expensive booze and milkshake, splattering wetly against her fur.

“Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, I’m so so so so so so so so super sorry! I didn’t see you there, I was just-” The pink blur froze in sudden recognition. “Twilight?”

It took a moment for Twilight to recognise her friend: she couldn’t remember the last time she’d seen Pinkie Pie dressed up so smartly, a long tailcoat almost managing to hide her otherwise stand-out bubblegum pink fur and unkempt mane. And then Pinkie was holding her in a crushing hug, so tight Twilight couldn’t even try to breathe.

“It is you!” Pinkie squealed. “I thought I saw you earlier when you first came in, but then I was like no way Pinkie why would Twilight be here you silly goose, it must have been someone else who looked just like her and also happened to be an alicorn and have the same cutie mark.” She frowned, although her suffocating hug didn’t relax in the slightest as Twilight spluttered and struggled. “You know, come to think of it that was pretty silly of me, of course it had to be you, I should have come over and said hi! But I was busy and I had to keep serving drinks or Maud would get mad at me, and I mean you know how emotional Maud gets, I wouldn’t dare upset her.”

Twilight’s world began to go dark at the edges as her lungs screamed for oxygen to no avail. Moments before she passed out completely, though, Pinkie let out a tremendous gasp of horror and released her grip.

“Oh no!” Pinkie exclaimed in terror, as Twilight hyperventilated beside her. “I made your fur all sticky and gross! You can’t be sticky and gross at a party like this, what will the other ponies think? Come on, I can fix this, and especially before Maud finds out I covered you in champagne.”

And before Twilight had recovered enough to attempt speech, Pinkie grabbed her by the hoof and began dragging her through the crowd, only stopping once she’d dragged Twilight into an otherwise deserted bathroom. A little twinge of hesitance shot through Twilight at the sight of pale tiles, but it was too late and Pinkie had pulled her inside before she could say a word.

The moment the door closed behind them, the party outside was utterly and completely silenced. Not even a whisper snuck in beneath the bathroom door, and Twilight couldn’t help but shake the unnerving feeling that the party really had gone silent, that all those ponies outside were now standing motionless, staring at the door Pinkie had dragged her through, waiting and listening.

The bathroom itself seemed strangely desolate, too. Perhaps it was the way their hooves echoed against the tiles, or perhaps it was the odd, vivid orange colouring on the walls that seemed so out of place. Either way, Twilight couldn’t shake off the uncomfortable feeling even as Pinkie practically skidded to a stop and beamed at her.

“We made it!” Pinkie said, triumphantly, “Now just stand still and let ol’ Pinkie Pie work her magic and get you as good as new.”

Pinkie produced a cloth from… somewhere, and as she soaked it in the sink Twilight was finally given a moment to speak without being strangled or manhandled.

“Pinkie, what are you doing here?”

“Uh, what does it look like I’m doing, Twilight? I’m waitressing, obviously! Come on, you ‘re supposed to be the big brain purple smarty pants, it shouldn’t take a genius to work that out.” Pinkie rolled her eyes and set to work furiously sponging at Twilight’s fur with the cloth.

“No, I mean, what are you doing here? In this hotel?”

“Oh! Well me and Maud are working here over winter, and the rest of the family, too! Rock farming isn’t as lucrative as it used to be, y’know, so they’ve had to branch out a bit. And I offered to help.”


There was a long silence, Pinkie Pie’s tongue poking between her teeth as she concentrated entirely on her efforts.

“Wait, what do you mean you’re working over here over winter? Are you caretaking as well?”

“Don’t be silly, Twilight. You’re the caretaker.” Pinkie fixed her with an uncharacteristically serious stare. “You’ve always been the caretaker,” she murmured. “And I should know. I’ve always been here.”

Twilight’s eyes widened in confusion and fear, only for Pinkie to snort loudly with laughter.

“Just kidding!” she exclaimed, before devolving into another fit of giggles. “But wouldn’t that be weird?”

“Um, yes? I guess it would be.”

“Obviously I haven’t always been here, but we’re not the caretakers. Not now you’re here, anyway.”


Pinkie ignored the question, humming cheerfully to herself as she continued to mop at Twilight’s fur. “Hey, I think this is starting to come out!”

Twilight barely heard her. She was starting to piece things together – an awful puzzle she wished she hadn’t solved.


“That’s me!”

Were you and your family the caretakers here? Before me, I mean.”

Pinkie perched her chin on her hoof, as though this was some great task of recollection. “Hmmmmmm. No, I don’t think so. I’d remember something like that.”

“It’s just… one of the previous families that Celestia was telling me about was just like yours. A husband and wife, three daughters. And then… And then they…” Twilight couldn’t finish. The words got caught in her throat, unwilling to even entertain the notion that Pinkie could have been caught up in all this, too.

“I’m sorry, Twilight, that doesn’t sound familiar. What did they do?”

Twilight tried to force the word out, but all she could manage was a tiny squeak.

“I still can’t hear you.”

Incest,” Twilight whispered.

Pinkie stopped wiping. “Incest?” she asked in a low voice, her horror and disgust obvious.

Twilight could only nod.

“That’s terrible!” exclaimed Pinkie. “All of them? The whole family!?”

“Yes. I know, it’s hard to believe, but-”

“Twilight, how could you possibly think we’d be the type of ponies to do something like that? I thought you were my friend!”

Twilight could see the hurt in Pinkie’s eyes, and knew she’d overstepped. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have doubted you.”

“No,” said Pinkie, coldly. “You shouldn’t have.”

“I’m sorry! It’s just all those stories Celestia told me, I think they’re getting to me. I know you’re not the kind of pony to sleep with her family, it’s just-”

Pinkie’s expression suddenly morphed into one of pure confusion. “Wait, that’s what incest means?”

“Um, yes?”

“Oh.” Pinkie’s confusion made way for a bright smile. “In that case we totally did it.”


“Well, yeah. You’ve been here a while now Twilight, you know what it’s like. Maud didn’t deal with it well – she’s got a libido like you wouldn’t believe, even I struggle to keep up with her sometimes – and she was saying crazy things like she was gonna run out in the snow to find a stallion if she had to, and what sort of sister would I be if I let her do something like that? So, I did the only thing I could.” Pinkie leaned in close, close enough that the sweet, candy-like smell that followed her everywhere began to overwhelm Twilight’s senses. “I fucked her.”

Twilight couldn’t believe the things she was hearing. That sick feeling was back, and the whole bathroom felt like it was slowly rotating, as though her hooves were about to slide out from beneath her and send her sprawling. “But… You…”

“And then Limestone and Marble found out, and they wanted in, and so of course we said yes and fucked them as well. And then Mom and Dad found out too, and they… Well, they took a bit more convincing, but now they love it as much as we do!”

There were no words left. Twilight stammered, searching, sure that she would find some if she only tried hard enough, but there was nothing in her vocabulary for this scenario. It was too impossible, too incomprehensible.

“This isn’t real,” were the words she settled on. The only ones she could find. “You’re just one of the ghosts we were worried about.”

“Um, I’m not dead, Twilight,” Pinkie giggled, and even though it sounded no different than usual it seemed so sinister as it echoed off the bathroom walls. “How could I be a ghost if I’m still alive? That’s not how ghosts work.”


Pinkie rolled her eyes in exasperation. “Obviously I’m a manifestation produced from your fractured psyche and the malevolent, fetishistic sentience in this hotel! Duh.”

“Oh. Right. Duh.” Twilight’s voice was flat and monotone, a startling likeness to Maud. The world seemed to be closing in around her, the bathroom constricting smaller and smaller, crushing her and Pinkie within it along with any sense of reason Twilight thought she’d had left.

“Besides,” said Pinkie, “it’s not like you haven’t wanted to have sex with Shining Armor this whole time. I don’t know why you’re being so weird about it.”

That managed to break through the dullness, snapping Twilight out of it with a flash of panic and anger. “I do not want to sleep with my brother!”

Pinkie, for once, said nothing. She simply gave Twilight a pointed look.

“Okay, fine! I had a crush on him when I was still a filly, but we’re not foals anymore. That was just hormones. Puberty. It’s not what you think it is.”

Pinkie smiled again, but now it was warm and friendly, no trace of that sinister feeling from earlier. The bathroom, too, seemed to have relinquished its choking grip, and Twilight felt like she could breathe again.

“He wants you too, you know,” Pinkie said.

“What? How would you know that?”

“I tested him. He liked what he saw, even if he didn’t want to admit it. Why do you think he was so flustered earlier?” Pinkie leaned closer to whisper into her ear. “It would be so easy,” she murmured. “All he needs is a little… push, and he could be all yours, just like you want. You’re all alone here, after all, who’s going to stop you? No one would ever know. Just you and him, the way you’ve always wanted.”

“That’s not true,” Twilight insisted, but even she didn’t sound so sure of herself anymore. Her head spun, and the dizziness made her stumble, and when did the bathroom get so warm?

“You could have him, Twilight. All of him. And all you would have to do is stop lying to yourself.”

The last of Twilight’s resistance crumbled. She’d been fighting it for so long, so unwilling to accept the truth, and she was tired of it. Tired of resisting, tired of that little pang in her chest whenever she caught Shining and Cadance in those little moments of affection. A quick peck on the cheek followed by a warm smile, Cadance resting her head on Shining’s shoulder, or even just the way he looked at her sometimes, like he was lost in her. Why keep pretending? Why not take him, now that you can?

Twilight stared at Pinkie, trembling, eyes wide, and if she concentrated it almost seemed like Pinkie wasn’t quite there, like she was staring straight past at nothing but her own reflection in the bathroom’s mirror. “Okay,” she breathed, almost too quiet to hear. “I want him.”

Loud enough, it seemed, because Pinkie’s grin widened until it would rival the Cheshire Cat’s. “Good girl,” she murmured. “And luckily for you, I know just where you can find him.”

4. Typewriter

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This was pointless. Shining Armor sighed heavily, tossing and turning in his bed. Go and get some rest, she’d told him, as if he could, as if he’d be able to sleep knowing Twilight was going to that room all alone. Knowing that no matter her assurances something was very, very wrong with this hotel. Knowing that those visions of his mother and Twilight irreversibly burned into his memory were far more than simply his imagination.

He shouldn’t have let her go. And so he lay in bed and tried not to think about it, tried to steal some sleep that he sorely needed, tried to pretend that Twilight would return and tell him the room was empty and boring and normal, and there was absolutely nothing to worry about. But as the hours relentlessly slipped past, Shining failed at every single one.

This was doing no good for anyone, he decided, throwing off the covers with dramatic finality. Least of all himself. He had to find Twilight, even if it was just so she could tell him he was being stupid and worrying too much, and that she wasn’t a little foal anymore and she could take care of herself, before giving him that little smile that always seemed so adorable. He hoped that’s what would happen, that Twilight had just decided to let him rest, and everything was going to be okay. Hoped, but didn’t believe.

And so it was that he found himself outside room 237 again, those brass numbers glinting in the light. The door was closed. Still, he swore he could feel something leaking out around the edges, in the same way he could have sworn he saw the darkness melting out of them before. A kind of dull, throbbing pressure, making his head swim, and his vision pulse. What was it about this room, he wondered? Why 237?

Perhaps some foul sin had been committed here, decades ago, one that had burned into the walls and corrupted the hotel entirely. Perhaps this was the centre: the dark, beating heart from which all the hotel’s secrets and madness leaked out. Or perhaps it was built over an ancient burial ground, or something. Impossible to know, although Shining was certain that – whatever the reason – this room was the source. The beginning. The feeling that coursed out of it permeated the whole hotel, but so faintly that it was only here that one could acknowledge it, contrast throwing the sensation into stark relief. It all came from here, this place, and the air was thick with a terrible weight.

And he’d let Twilight come here alone.

Shining would never forgive himself for that, but he was here now, and if Twilight was here too he was going to find her. No matter what it took. He reached out to touch the door handle, and for a moment he imagined there being some kind of electric spark just from touching it, that whatever energy boiled within would zap him. But the moment passed, and the handle was just a handle, and the door was just a door.

A door that was, he quickly discovered as he turned the handle and pushed, well and truly locked.

Shining sighed. Things were never that easy. Perhaps it had been locked for Twilight, too. Perhaps she’d never even gone inside, and he’d been worried over nothing after all. Perhaps he’d really just imagined the gap in the first place, and everything that happened outside afterwards.

But he knew he hadn’t. And now he had to be sure.

Shining raised a hoof, hesitating, and then took the plunge and rapped sharply against the wood. Somehow the silence the other side seemed to grow even quieter, the kind of silence where something was now listening intently. Every nerve in Shining’s body was screaming at him, every instinct warning him that this was dangerous, impossibly so, but Shining quelled them. If Twilight was here, nothing could stop him.

“Twilight?” he called, and he sounded far braver than he felt. “Are you in there?”


And then, not silence. A sound creeping under the doorframe, a noise so faint it could almost be imagined. He pressed his ear up against the wood, and although it was still so quiet there was no denying its existence. A soft, rhythmic, metallic clicking. Over and over again. Click click click click. He recognised that sound. After all, he had heard it echoing through the corridors on so many of the days he’d spent aimlessly wandering as Twilight worked on her book.

The sound of a typewriter.

“Twilight, is that you?”

The clicking stopped. The silence afterwards only seemed so much more all-consuming in contrast, and that vibrating power was rolling off the door in waves again. Shining grit his teeth. She was in there, he was sure of it, and he was also sure that the room was taunting him. Toying with him.

To Tartarus with it. He took a couple of steps back, shifting his weight from hoof to hoof. This was going to hurt, but desperate times called for desperate measures, and if the former captain of the Royal Guard couldn’t barge down a single door, then what good was he?

A deep breath, and then Shining charged forwards, aiming his shoulder at the edge nearest the door latch. He closed his eyes, bracing for impact. None came. Instead he heard a loud click and a creak, and as he opened his eyes again he just about made out the shape of the now open doorway as he stumbled through it, thrown off balance by the lack of an expected crash. His hooves rapped against polished wood as he staggered to a stop, and that wasn’t right either.

This was not room 237.

Instead, Shining found himself in the grand hall that Twilight had spent her time writing in, the one she had shooed him out of on so many occasions to work tirelessly on her manuscript, only further fueling his smouldering resentment at her dragging him out here. He spun to find no doorway behind him, either, just the wide and opulent staircase that gently ascended to the second floor.

Windows stretching all the way to the high ceiling lined one wall – white with snow, as always. In better weather, Shining was sure this room would have had a wonderful view of the hotel’s gardens, but not anymore. If he squinted, he could just about make out the faint outline of the hotel’s sprawling hedge maze, and he shuddered a little. Mazes were bad enough at the best of times; the thought of charging frantically around in one through heavy snow and ice sent a chill down his spine.

The hall itself was mostly bare, and his hooves echoed loudly and resonated in the wide space as he approached the only furnishing of note: a desk that Twilight had borrowed from one of the nearby rooms. He’d wondered aloud about her choice of writing location at the time, suggesting she might be happier in a more cosy room, but Twilight insisted this place was perfect.

It gives the writing room to breathe, she’d told him, enigmatically. Privately, Shining thought that sounded stupid, but then what did he know about writing?

And resting atop it – strangely monolithic, a black slab of metal – was Twilight’s typewriter, beside a thick stack of papers. Shining eyed it warily as he approached, as though it would start clicking of its own volition, but it lay still in the silence. Its keys gleamed silver, a blank page held tightly in its jaws, all ready to devour the emptiness and replace it with printed word. Experimentally, Shining reached out and pressed one of the keys, and it clicked loudly in the quiet, ringing out through the empty hall. Perhaps that was why Twilight had chosen this spot. Hearing that echo with every letter, demarcating every sliver of progress.

It set Shining’s teeth on edge, even before he’d heard it through the thick wood of Room 237’s door.

With a snarl, maybe just to prove he wasn’t scared of an inanimate object, Shining slammed the lever back, and as the loud ringing noise bounced around every nook and cranny of the empty room, he froze. He’d thought the page was blank, but now he noticed the very tops of a row of words.

You’re not supposed to look, Shining. They’re personal, not ready for the public eye yet. She wouldn’t want you to look.

He resisted for all of two seconds before scrolling the page up and pulling it free. A single sentence stood out starkly against the pale parchment, above the errant letter he’d typed himself.

All work and no play makes Twilight a horny mare.

Shining had to read it twice more to make sure he wasn’t imagining it. The words remained stubbornly the same.

A joke. It had to be. A bad one, maybe, but a joke nonetheless. Or maybe she was bored, just putting words on the page to kick-start her creativity. Something like that, surely. Shining’s attention slowly slid over to the stack of papers beside the typewriter – all of Twilight’s progress so far – and his heart began to sink.

The top page had two sentences. Well, not two exactly. The same sentence twice.

All work and no play makes Twilight a horny mare.
All work and no play makes Twilight a horny mare.

Shining’s hoof was shaking as he reached out towards the stack. Please, he begged to himself. Anything else. Anything but more of this.

The page beneath had a lot more than two sentences. A wall of text, no punctuation or paragraphs, and every sentence exactly the same.

All work and no play makes Twilight a horny mare.

And as Shining leafed through the rest of the stack, hoping desperately that he’d uncover something else, he discovered it was all the same. Page after page, all covered in the same sentence, over and over and over again. The sprawl of words turned into neat paragraphs, still repeating the same mantra. All work. The words melting into one another, typos and smudges as Shining imagined Twilight frantically hammering at the typewriter’s keys, insanity practically dripping from the pages. No play. He couldn’t look away, couldn’t stop delving deeper, and now the words began to prance across the page, no longer content to sit in a conventional arrangement. Makes Twilight. They zigzagged and spiralled across the space, forming rudimentary shapes and patterns. Triangles, circles, endlessly cascading. Horny mare.

One set only had a single word on each page, but read in order they formed the same sentence. The next was all blurry, and it took Shining a moment to realise Twilight had taken the page after writing her message and typed over it exactly the same, perhaps more than once.

Page upon page upon page of madness. Finally, he reached the bottom of the stack. The same sentence stared up at him, right in the middle, as if daring him to think it would have been anything else.

All work and no play makes Twilight a horny mare.

“What do you think?”

The voice behind Shining made him jump harder than he ever had in his life, dropping the perverse parchment as he whipped around to find Twilight standing in the shadowy alcoves at the edge of the room.

“What the hay is this?” he demanded.

“It’s my manuscript,” Twilight said, slowly. “Don’t you like it? I thought you would. After all, it’s mostly about you.”

This is what you’ve been writing? The whole time? All those days you spent here, just…”

“All work,” said Twilight, with a slightly lopsided smile. “And no play.”

An icy shiver ran down Shining’s spine as his sister stepped out of the shadows. Something was wrong. It was in her eyes – a kind of casual, calm confidence that put him in mind of a lion stalking its prey. He’d seen that look before, on the fake-Twilight outside room 237. The one standing beside his mother, the one that had tried to entice him and had definitely, absolutely not succeeded.

“Don’t you know it’s rude to read somepony’s first draft unless they offer?” Twilight asked, taking another step closer. There was a strange sway in her step, and her tail swished restlessly back and forth behind her. “Especially for something like your sister’s memoirs. There could be anything in there, things that you’re not supposed to see.”

Another step towards him, and Shining found himself taking an equal step back to match. “I’m sorry, Twily. I didn’t mean to. I was looking for you, and-”

“Oh, really?” Twilight smiled, and it was all teeth, glinting in the pale light like numbers on a door. “Well, you’ve found me.”

Another step forward, another mirrored step back. Shining’s thigh knocked painfully against the desk, and he winced in pain and surprise.

“What did you want me for?” Twilight asked, and her words were drenched with meaning that Shining didn’t want to guess at.

“I wanted to make sure you were okay,” he said. “I shouldn’t have let you go to that room alone, I should have come with you.”

Twilight paused for a moment, frowning. “I’m fine, Shiny. And the room was empty, there’s nothing to worry about. You were just imagining things.”

“I wasn’t,” he insisted. “This place is dangerous. Do you even know what you’ve written? That’s not normal.”

“I know exactly what I wrote,” said Twilight, moving closer still and forcing Shining to manoeuver around the desk and back up towards the stairs to keep that gap between them. “Every. Single. Word.”

All work and no play makes Twilight a horny mare.

“We have to get out of here,” he pleaded, although he was fairly certain his words were falling on deaf ears, that she was too far gone to hear him. “We’ll find a way, somehow. Take our chances in the snow.”

“Get out of here?” Twilight’s unnerving smile morphed into a snarl. “Get out? I made a promise, Shining. To Princess Celestia herself. Do you understand that? Do you even know what a promise is?”

“Of course I do, but-”

“I can’t let down the Princess. You were her personal guard, once, don’t you remember the oaths you took? You can’t let her down either.”

“She didn’t want this, Twilight, whatever this is.” Shining hoof knocked against the bottom stair, and he had no choice but to continue his retreat upwards, Twilight matching him every step of the way. “This isn’t you. Please, stop this.”

“Stop? Why, what do you think I’m going to do?”

Shining didn’t know what to say to that, had no answer. Twilight didn’t really give him a chance to think about it either.

“I thought you wanted to make sure I’m okay,” she said. “Don’t you want to? Come close and make sure every inch of me is okay, so much more than okay.”

“Stay back, Twilight,” he warned, although his voice held very little conviction as she kept getting closer, one step at a time. “I don’t know what’s happened to you, but-”

“I’m not going to hurt you, Shiny.”

“Listen to me, we have to-”

“You didn’t let me finish,” Twilight snapped. “I said, I’m not going to hurt you. My big brother, best friend forever, you know I’d never do something like that.” Her tone grew low and husky, and that lion’s gaze was back and more intense than ever. “I’m just going to fuck your brains out.”

A wave of fear and revulsion rippled through Shining’s body at Twilight’s declaration. This was another trick, another thing the hotel had thrown at him to make him suffer. This wasn’t Twilight, couldn’t be, couldn’t be the same little sister who had asked him to check the closet for monsters, who had cuddled him when she couldn’t sleep because of bad dreams, whom he’d always done everything to protect, to keep safe and happy. That couldn’t be the mare staring at him now, her eyes wide with madness and lust, her grin manic. It was just another illusion, another hallucination.

Except he knew it wasn’t. The manifestations before had a strange blankness to them, a hollowness, a not-quite-thereness. And while something in Twilight had clearly broken, snapped under strain, Shining knew this was her. He’d always know.

“Please,” he begged, his voice cracking. “Whatever this is, we can fix it. We can work it out. Don’t do this”

Twilight’s grin faltered for a moment, and for the briefest of instant Shining wondered if he had gotten through, if his words had unearthed the real Twilight, somehow. That hope didn’t last long. “Come on, Shiny,” she said, her voice suddenly low and monotonous. “We both know what you want to do. All you have to do is say yes, and I’m yours.”

“Stop it, Twilight..”

Twilight snarled in frustration and impatience. “Just say it.”

Shining had run out of stairs. He staggered as his hoof plunged through the air where he’d expected a step to be, almost tripping to the ground, and in that moment of vulnerability Twilight lunged at him with a primal shriek.

Everything stopped. A series of flashes, moments, all he had time to process. Twilight leaping, her face full of sadistic glee and lust, wings outstretched. A surge of magic in Shining’s horn, welling up out of pure instinct. Twilight’s excitement morphing into shock and fear as she tried to summon her own magic to stop him, but too late, too slow. A flash of colour, blinding, bright light erupting from Shining’s horn, and Twilight barely had time to wince before it enveloped her and blasted her backwards, tumbling away. Falling out of the air, crashing down the stairs with awful, sickening thuds as she rolled and bounced. And then, as she skidded to a stop at the foot, silence. Dreadful, terrible silence that seemed to hang so thickly in the air.

“Twilight?” Shining asked, and he hated the quiver in his voice.

Twilight didn’t answer.

“Are you okay?”

Twilight didn’t answer.

The walk back down the stairs to his sister’s motionless form was one of the longest in Shining’s life. The longest held breath, every part of him tensing in anticipation, half of him dreading that Twilight was about to jump to her hooves and take him by surprise, the other half even more terrified that she would remain utterly still instead. He reached the foot and slowly approached, ready for the slightest movement, but none came.


Twilight didn’t answer.

This close he could at least see her breathing, but she made no movement or acknowledgement of his presence. He reached out, carefully, and prodded her with a hoof. No response. She was out cold.

Shining finally let out the breath he’d been holding in, a burst of relief and dismay all wrapped up in one as he sank down to sit on the stairs and wonder what in the hay he was supposed to do now.


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Shining Armor needed a plan. Unfortunately for him, plans seemed to be in short supply.

The first problem had been Twilight herself, and after some deliberation he’d wrapped her insensate body in his magic and carried her to the hotel’s enormous food store. It was big, stocked full of enough supplies to last three winters, and – most importantly – locked from the outside. He’d shut her in with more than a little pang of regret, but she was already starting to stir and she was too dangerous to let her run loose. He certainly couldn’t take her on in a straight magical fight – he’d only managed to knock her down earlier thanks to the element of surprise and her addled state of mind. Next time he probably wouldn’t be so lucky.

So he shut her away, and all he could do was hope she wasn’t seriously hurt. She didn’t seem to be, and hoping was all he could do for the time being either way.

Afterwards, Shining had retreated to his quarters to plan his escape, and had so far been wholly unsuccessful. A brief check outside the hotel’s front door had proven futile: the ice and snow had chilled him to the bone, and he wouldn’t have lasted more than an hour out there. Not on his own. Warming magic would only last so long in weather like that, and when he ran out he’d be a dead stallion.

That was a dead-end, then. His second idea was to find some way to contact Cadance. She’d know what to do, she always knew what to do. And this dilemma with Twilight was sort of her area of expertise, too. Well, not really, but perhaps close enough that she would have some ideas. Worst case scenario, she would be able to arrange a contingent of the crystal guard to come and rescue him and his sister. Royalty did have its perks, after all.

But he’d drawn a blank there, too. If Spike had been here he could have gotten a message to Celestia, but Twilight had left him in charge of Ponyville’s castle in her absence, so that was another no go. Shining made a mental note to get a dragon for himself, and more importantly not to leave it behind when going on long excursions into isolation.

Teleporting? Twilight had always been better at that than he had, and the possibility of getting it wrong was too great to imagine. The further the distance, the greater the scope for whatever showed up at the other end to be… something else. Every unicorn had the horror stories drilled into them: ponies showing up inside out, or materialising inside something else. Or someone. Or even never rematerialising at all. Shining would have to be far more desperate to try something like that.

He was stuck. That was sort of the point, after all, it was why caretakers were needed in the first place. Shining groaned and lay back on his bed, staring dejectedly up at the ceiling. Was that how this was going to be? Stuck here until the thaw, leaving Twilight locked in a glorified cupboard? Maybe it was. Maybe it was the only thing he could do.

Except he’d locked Twilight in with the food. He’d had the foresight to grab a few supplies before shutting it, but it wouldn’t last him the whole winter. And then what? Hope Twilight had come to her senses, he supposed. There wasn’t much of a choice left. An entire winter, locked away in this hotel. And now, alone. It didn’t bear thinking about. And what about all the strange things that had been going on? What about room 237? Twilight was living proof of the madness they could cause, what the hotel wanted of them, and he was supposed to survive the entire winter without the solitude driving him insane?

There had to be a way out, had to be something he could do to get Twilight and himself away from here, out of this place. It was just so hard to think. Visions of Twilight’s manic expression, raw lust in her eyes, and the imagined version of her in the hallway baring everything as she urged Shining to mount her, take her, rut her senseless into the carpet. With all that swimming around in his head, it was no wonder he couldn’t come up with a plan. He just needed to clear his thoughts, get those images out. And it would be so much easier without that incessant scratching and scraping against wood, too.

Wait. What was that last thing?

So caught up in his whirling mind, Shining hadn’t really acknowledged the sound until he focused on it now. A cold fear enveloped him, the kind that made all his skin feel a little too tight, his fur standing on end. It was coming from inside the room, from the door to the en suite bathroom. His head slowly turned, as if of its own volition, looking out across the gulf of his room at the bathroom door, even though he wasn’t sure he really wanted to know what was making it.

Letters were carving themselves into the wood, flaking paint and wood chips scattering onto the carpet beneath as some invisible force hewed out rough lines. As Shining watched, eyes wide, it finished its message with a final scratch.


He didn’t need to look at the mirror across from it to understand – it wasn’t hard to read it backwards. That sickening, oppressive twisting sensation was filling his stomach again, the one that made his head spin and pound and the world feel like it was slipping away from its axis, the feeling that always emerged when the hotel began to manifest its despicable will.

And as he stared at the mirror anyway and the word slashed backwards into the bathroom door somehow seemed to stare back, a loud slam against the other door in his room made him jump so badly he almost slipped and fell right out of his bed. A loud, sonorous bang, followed immediately by another. He knew exactly what that meant, too.

Knock knock.

“Shiny? Big brother?” came a muffled voice through the wood, one he immediately recognised as Twilight even though that was impossible. But only as impossible as the apparitions outside room 237, only as impossible the doorway that had taken him halfway across the hotel in an instant. Only as impossible as INCEST carving itself in reverse on his bathroom door. Another loud slam against the wood, and he could hear Twilight laughing from outside. “I’m home.”

The next slam was hard enough to splinter it, wood buckling inwards and sending fragments erupting across the room, Shining raising a hoof just in time to cover his eyes. Splinters pelted his coat, and the next impact against the door made sent large chunks of wood skittering to the ground as the top half began to crumple under Twilight’s assault. Instinct took over, Shining rolling off the bed and landing deftly on his hooves, staying low as another shower of splinters rained over him. Twilight had the exit covered, his only option was the bathroom. He charged towards it, and behind him the room’s door finally surrendered to Twilight’s magic and disintegrated, shattering into an explosion of boards and wood dust. He didn’t turn around, though, not even when he heard Twilight’s snarl of frustration and galloping hooves, and she wasn’t quite quick enough to catch him. He slipped into the bathroom at the last possible moment, the sound of Twilight’s hooves right behind him, and he slammed the door shut just in time to hear her crash against it.

Shining slammed the bolt across, but he knew it wouldn’t hold her for long. This door was old, far less sturdy than the other had been. If Twilight could get through that, this one would be even easier.

Think. Escape. But how? He’d cornered himself, shut himself into a dead-end (not that he’d had much of a choice in the matter). And now Twilight stood between him and his freedom, and there was no way his magic would work a second time.

There. The window. A small, sliding one, high in the wall. Thank Celestia he’d been sleeping on the ground floor. Yes, he’d be out in the cold and the snow, but he’d stand a better chance than in here all the same. He could even loop back around to an entrance if it came to it – anything was better than staying here.

The window slid easily enough, requiring only a minimum of elbow grease, but the hard part was yet to come. The window was small, and high, and while Shining Armor certainly wasn’t fat, the fact remained that he was a full-grown, ex-military stallion. His frame was far from slender, and Shining had no idea how he’d fit through the tiny window, the cold air and snow blasting inwards and already making his teeth chatter. He had to try, though, before…

Shining hesitated a moment, his hooves hooked around the window frame. Before what? What was Twilight doing out there? He’d expected the bathroom door to be mostly off its hinges by now, but instead there was nothing but an eerie silence outside.

He paused, his hooves growing chill against the icy air. It was a trap. Had to be. Couldn’t have been anything else. Just Twilight pretending she wasn’t there and waiting for Shining to do something stupid, like open the door.

And it was stupid, he knew that. It was absolutely the stupidest thing he could do when instead he could be focusing on his escape, but something held him back. The silence was unnerving, yes, but that was Twilight ou there. His own sister. Why was she hesitating?

Shining groaned and dropped back down from the sill. He’d been kidding himself if he thought he was going to fit through that window anyway. It would have been difficult even back when he was a foal – a fully grown stallion stood no chance.

He just didn’t want to know what the alternative was going to be.

“Twilight?” he asked the door, already hating his decision. “Are you okay?”

“No,” came the muted response, and a little jolt shot through Shining’s stomach as he heard the thick, telltale sound in her voice. Twilight was crying.

“Are… Are you going to break this door down, too?”

It took a bit longer for Twilight to answer this time. “No,” she said, eventually. And then: “Can we just talk?”

“I don’t think I should open this,” Shining said. “Not when you’re like this.”

“That’s okay,” said Twilight, but Shining could hear the hurt in her voice. “We can talk like this.”

Shining was far from convinced, but it wasn’t as though he had any other recourse. “Okay,” he said, slowly. “We can talk. Just like this.”

There was a long silence, and then Twilight spoke, and though her voice was still thick with tears he could hear the slight smile in it, too.

“I can’t believe you thought locking me in the pantry would work,” she said. “You do know I’m an alicorn, right? I can think of a hundred different ways I could have gotten out of there.” She sighed. “I’m sorry, Shining. I didn’t mean for all this to happen.”

Shining leaned against the door and slid down it, allowing himself to relax, even if only a little. “I know,” he said. “It’s this place. The hotel, there’s something wrong with it.”

“No, it’s not that. I mean, it is, but it’s also not.”

“What do you mean?”

“It’s like…” Twilight hesitated, searching for the right word. “This place is like an amplifier. It doesn’t change us, it just makes those feelings stronger.”

“Wait, what are you saying?”

“I’m saying the hotel didn’t make me want anything I didn’t already. It just showed me how much I needed you. And it made me a little crazy in the process.”

“A little? Twilight, you blew up my bedroom door.”

“Hey, I could have blown this one up too! But I didn’t, did I? I even had a cool line I was going to say and everything.”

Shining wasn’t sure he wanted to know what Twilight’s idea of a ‘cool line’ was. “So what stopped you?”

There was another pause, and he heard a little sniffle from the other side. “Realising how much you were going to hate me if I did.”

“You know I could never hate you.”

“Yes, you could,” Twilight insisted. “And you probably do. And I love you way too much to bear that. I want you too much to bear that.”

“Twilight…” Shining said, a warning edge to his voice, preparing himself to leap to his hooves again, half-expecting another shattering blow to slam into the wood above him.

“It’s not me being crazy, and it’s not the hotel. It’s just… It’s just me. It’s just what I want. What I’ve always wanted, ever since we-”

“That was nothing,” Shining said, firmly. “It was just a dumb mistake we made when we were both too young to know better.”

“It wasn’t nothing. And I think you know that too.” He heard a shuffling from outside, Twilight drawing nearer, her voice growing more earnest again. “That’s why you never forgave me, isn’t it?”

“Of course I did.”

“You say that, but it isn’t true. Do you remember, you didn’t talk to me for weeks afterwards? And ever since you’ve always kept me at hoof’s length, and I know why.”

Shining’s fear and concern had started to melt away, burned off by hot anger that surged up from somewhere deep inside him. “That’s not true. I never held it against you.”

“I didn’t say that, I said you didn’t forgive me. And that’s because you felt it too. You wanted it just as badly as I did.”

Shining wanted to shout something back, that anger now roiling around inside him, but he couldn’t find any words that meant what he felt.

“But of course we couldn’t,” Twilight said. “Because we’re siblings, and that’s wrong, isn’t it? Everyone else would say so. And then you had Cadance and that’s when you started being nice to me again, because then you had enough excuses that you didn’t have to be scared of how you felt anymore.”

“I was never scared.”

“You still are. I still am.”

Shining thumped a hoof against the wood in frustration. “I’m not.”

“Then open the door.”

Shining shook his head, even though there was no way Twilight could have seen it. “This is a trick.”

“No trick,” Twilight said. “I Pinkie promise.” She let out a quiet laugh, although it was still somewhat fractured through her tears. “And you can’t break those. Pinkie would never let me.”

It was a trap. It had to be; there was no way it could be anything else. It was a trap and the moment he went out there she would pounce and it would all be over, but none of that mattered. Shining had already made up his mind. He rose to his hooves again, took a deep breath, and unlocked the door.

When he opened it he was fully expecting to see the crazed mare his sister had become earlier, the same mad stare, that unhinged grin. But that wasn’t what he found outside. Instead the mare before him seemed suddenly very small, sitting on the carpet and staring up at him, her eyes wide and shining with tears, as if she’d never truly believed he would open it. As if she’d been expecting him to keep her shut out.

Just like he’d always done.

They stayed frozen for a moment, eyes locked, Shining wary and ready for any sudden movement, prepared to slam the door shut again if Twilight tried anything, if he had time. He probably wouldn’t. The moment seemed to stretch on forever, crystalised, the air thick with anticipation.

But there was no great shattering like Shining expected. Instead Twilight simply smiled weakly. “Thank you,” she said, and even though she was smiling there was barely any hope in it, and her voice was little more than a whisper. “I didn’t think you actually would.”

“You’re not going to go crazy on me again?”

Twilight shook her head. “I promised.”

Shining gave her a long, hard stare, trying to probe for any dishonesty. He didn’t think she was lying, and he was usually able to tell. Still, it was with heavy steps, teeth gritted, that he made his way over to the bed, brushed off the splinters with a burst of magic, and sat down. It took a great deal of resolve to turn his head away from her and let her out of his sight, half expecting a painful jolt of magic, or for her to simply tackle him as she’d tried to do earlier. Neither happened, and Twilight simply sat there and watched him pass.

“You wanted to talk,” he said. “So here I am.”

Twilight swallowed, shuffling her wings uneasily. “We have to talk about what happened. Back then.”

“We already have,” Shining said. “We said everything that needed to be said, years ago. We don’t talk about it because it didn’t mean anything. Because we both regret it.”

“I don’t,” said Twilight, quietly. Bitterly. “I never did.”

“You don’t mean that.”

“I do!” Twilight rose to her hooves again, and hurt flashed over her face when she saw him flinch at her sudden movement. “And I know you feel the same way,” she insisted. “You always have.”

“That’s not true.”

“You don’t have to lie about it. There’s no one else here. Nopony around for miles and miles.”

Shining sighed. “What do you want from me, Twilight?”

“I want to hear you say it again,” she said, settling herself on the bed next to him. “Just once. I want to hear it.”

“I can’t do that. You know I can’t. I’m married. I have a family. A foal, maybe another one soon. And you’re going to be the Princess of Equestria.” He shook his head. “You’re my sister, Twily, and I’ll always love you, but you can’t be anything else. You can’t have this.”

“Just once,” she whispered. “That’s all. Just say it, one single time. Like you did before. I’ll never ask again.”

“I can’t,” he insisted.

“You can. No one else will ever know. It’s just us, just you and me. Like it used to be.” Her eyes were starting to shine with tears again. “Please.”

Shining winced. He couldn’t. He absolutely couldn’t – there were very few things in this world that he couldn’t do more than say those same things he’d said all those years ago, the ones that had plagued him ever since. He shouldn’t have done it then, either, but he’d been stupid. He didn’t know any better.

He didn’t want to know any better.


Twilight was right about one thing, at least: nopony would ever know. Maybe that was what he was scared of. His safety net, his fallback, had been taken away. Shining never had to worry about denying it back home because he had too much to lose. Here, he had none of that to rely on. No excuses. Only his own conviction.

And if anyone could break that, it was Twilight.

It had always been Twilight.

He sighed, and closed his eyes. “Okay, you win,” he said, regretting the words even before they left his mouth. “I want you.” He heard the slight hitch in Twilight’s breath as he said it. “I’ve always wanted you. I never stopped.”

Twilight was smiling again, a real one this time, one that wasn’t crooked or broken. One that was warm, her eyes sparkling. “Thank you,” she murmured. “See, that wasn’t so bad, was it?”

“Are you happy now?” he muttered.


Twilight was so close, when had she gotten so close? When had the room gotten so warm, a hot flush in Shining’s cheeks? When had Shining started to lean closer, and when had he take Twilight’s face in his hooves and pulled her in for a kiss?

It was a lot better than their first one – they’d both had more practice in the years since – but it was filled with the same earnestness they’d felt back then, the same longing, the same want. The same passion that made them kiss until his lungs burned and when they finally broke apart it was as if coming up for air from drowning, and Shining could still feel her against his lips.

“We shouldn’t have done that,” he said.

“Do you want to stop?”

And if only there was an easy answer to that. There was supposed to be, he knew, but instead his heart pulled him in so many directions at once. Think of Cadance, think of Flurry. Think of Twilight, think of how much she hurt, how much she cried when you shouted at her back then and walked out after taking her first kiss. Think of how just the sight of her makes your heart beat faster, and think about how much you hate yourself for feeling that way. Think about how much she wants you too. Think about how no one will ever find out.

Think about how right it felt when you kissed her.

“No,” he said. “I don’t.”

And then they were wrapped up in each other again, and her lips were soft and warm and perfect, and fuck, she was perfect, she was always so Celestia-damn perfect and it wasn’t fair. It had never been fair that she was his sister, so unreachable and unattainable. That she was so perfect and he couldn’t have her, that they wanted each other so badly and still could never have been together.

It wasn’t fair.

All that frustration he’d pushed down for so long – buried with the rest of it, the memories and regrets – was in every moment of their kiss. All that wasted time, all those moments of longing and jealousy and self-loathing. All released, set free at last, and they melted together in a blur of heat and desire. They sank down to the bed together, entwined so tightly, neither willing to let the other go in case this moment would somehow end, in case sense would prevail over want. But as long as they held onto each other, it would be okay. As long as Shining clung to Twilight, her wings wrapped around him, this moment would last forever and everything would be right and good. Everything would be her.

There was no room for anything else. No room for Cadance or Flurry or guilt. No time for it, borne breathlessly from one moment to another as they rolled across the bed together and her embrace was warm and gentle and close all at the same time. They came to a stop, and now Twilight was perched above him, as unwilling to break the kiss as he was, and so didn’t matter if it lasted forever because neither of them wanted it to end.

Except, finally, it did, and Twilight pulled back. They were both panting again, and her cheeks were flushed red and her eyes were filled with pure, wanton desire, the kind of smouldering gaze that could turn any stallion’s head, the one that couldn’t be faked, could only be honest.

Shining’s stiff length twitched as she shifted above him, and fuck he couldn’t remember the last time he’d been this hard, so hard that it almost hurt, aching and desperate. Maybe back when he and Cadance had first started. Or maybe further back still, when Shining had pushed Twilight away and stormed out of the room and told her siblings weren’t supposed to kiss that way, hoping she wouldn’t notice how stiff she had made him doing just that.

He wouldn’t push her away now, though. Even if she wasn’t practically pinning him beneath her, he wouldn’t. He couldn’t. He wanted nothing more than to let Twilight continued and do whatever she wanted to, everything she wanted to. He could feel how wet she was, the heat coming from her as she brushed against his length, teasing and toying as she shivered at the sensation.

“You have no idea how long I’ve waited for this,” Twilight breathed.

But he did. He’d been waiting just as long.

No one will ever know. You’re safe here. We’re safe here, together.

They were both too desperate for much foreplay, and there was no need for teasing, not really. No need for build-up. There had been years enough of it, after all. Years of sidelong glances and painful stabs of jealousy and regret. Years of wondering what it would have been like if Shining had stayed, if he hadn’t shaken off Twilight’s affection. If that dumb, ill-advised kiss had become something far more, if they’d only let it continue to the inevitable. If Shining hadn’t fled.

You had to. You couldn’t stay.

No, he couldn’t have, but he’d wanted to. Twilight was right, he’d always been sure to keep a careful distance between them after that, but not for her sake. For his. Because if he didn’t, Shining had no idea how he would have kept those feelings buried. For all the good that did him.

None at all, and now he simply regretted all the wasted time, all the hurt. He’d pushed her away and let her blame herself, and now he’d given in anyway but Twilight wanted him as badly as she had back then all the same.

“Are you ready?” she asked, and there was a tinge of nervousness in her voice, of uncertainty and doubt that managed to pierce through the haze of lust.

He wasn’t. He never would be. Shining hadn’t been ready back then, and now they were mature enough to not even entertain the idea, no excuses this time. And yet here they were, and what they were about to do still hadn’t really sunk in. Or maybe it had, and it was already enough to make Shining’s head spin with desire.

But he nodded anyway, and Twilight carefully repositioned above him, and Shining gasped as she slowly, oh so slowly, began to sink down his length. And Celestia she was tight, wrapped around him, enveloping him as she let out a loud, shivery moan and still kept dropping her hips.

He remembered the apparition outside room 237, that look, how she’d presented herself to him. Come play with us. He’d looked away, then, horrified. Terrified. Scared that if he didn’t it would bring everything back, but all too late and the image had been scorched into his memory anyway.

There was nothing to stop him looking now. He saw everything as his sister slid down and took all of him into her, feeling her squeezing and tightening around him, feeling her shudder a little every time his cock twitched with desire. He couldn’t stop a quiet grunt escaping as she took more and more of him, as the hotel melted away and there was nothing but hot, velvet tightness around him. Unable to focus on anything else, unable to see anything but Twilight atop him.

Her rump reached him, and he was hilted inside her, Twilight pausing as her body tried to adjust to the thick length buried so deeply into her.

“Just… just give me a moment,” she breathed.

Shining needed one too. There was no going back anymore, no changing his mind. An irreversible line had been crossed, the thing that he’d been running from for so long, but now he was here Shining knew he would never have done any different.

Twilight was right, he wanted this. He always had, always imagined it, and as Twilight shivered above him and somehow clenched even tighter around him, a strange feeling washed over him. The sensation that this was inevitable. Fated, that he and Twilight were somehow destined to end up this way no matter how hard he tried to fight it, that the universe would conspire to somehow bring them together. All for this moment, this instant. He lay back and tried not to buck his hips as Twilight shuddered above him, even though the temptation was so great.

Cadance didn’t normally want to take it slow, and though he was trying not to think about her right now the difference was all too apparent, Twilight’s relative inexperience obvious.

“Are you okay?” he asked, and Twilight smiled down at him

“I am now,” she said. “Ready?”

Shining nodded, but Twilight was moving before he’d even given his response, gently lifting her hips before sinking back down onto him and letting out a loud gasp that was filled with years’ worth of denial and unslaked desire, finally sated. Arching her back and clutching at the fur on his chest, her wings fluttering a little as she took him in so deeply, all the way to the hilt again.

There was no hesitation this time, Twilight beginning to ride him in earnest, holding him down as her hips bucked and the loud moans of her passion began to fill the room. She opened her eyes to stare into Shining’s and for a second there was a flash of something else. A memory. A moment.

Come play with us.

The thought no longer brought that sickening revulsion, however. Instead he saw the memory of Twilight bending over for him and could no longer deny his excitement, raising his hooves to grab her hips, pulling her back down onto him with a lustful growl, no longer content to lie there passively as she enjoyed herself.

Twilight gave another shuddering moan at his sudden forcefulness, her marehood practically pulling him as she shivered and gasped, as she drew closer and Shining couldn’t tear his eyes away from the blissful expression on her face. Oh fuck, how badly had he wanted to see her like this, quivering and moaning and impaling herself on his length, screaming his name to the air as she rode him, as he pulled her down and thrust upwards to bury himself as deeply as he could, and still it wasn’t enough. Still he needed so much more.

Twilight leant forwards the rest of the way, enveloping him in another kiss, and Shining remembered the first one. The one on his bed, how they’d dropped to the covers together just like this, and how he’d felt himself growing traitorously hard. The little “Oh!” that Twilight had made when it brushed against her stomach, and then how he’d broken the kiss and disentangled himself, storming out, blaming her even though the only one he’d truly blamed had been himself.

No running, this time. No blame. Just lust and love and adoration. Just need, just perfection. Because this was perfect, was right, because otherwise how could it have felt so good? How could it have made Shining’s heart crash in his chest with that nervous rush he hadn’t felt since he was a colt sneaking off to a closet to make out with Cadance? He knew that feeling, knew it all too well, and if it was wrong then it was the entire world that was wrong. He needed Twilight, and she needed him, and nothing else mattered.

Maybe they’d matter in time, maybe there’d be things to worry about after this, but not here, not now. Now she could ride him like this and they could melt into the kiss together, melt in every way together, and no one would ever be able to stop them. No one could tell them they shouldn’t and couldn’t, no one could tell them it was wrong. They were alone, and together, and that was all they needed.

The bed creaked beneath Shining as Twilight’s movements grew more frantic, more erratic. His grip on her waist tightened, but he was no longer leading her movements. They were too much, it was all too much, too intense. Now he was simply clinging to her, letting her buck and roll her hips and bounce atop him. Letting her drive him ever deeper, wrap ever tighter, her marehood as desperate and needy as she was. Urging him onwards, to fill her as much as he could.

Every buck slamming back down against the mattress, hard enough for her rump to smack loudly against him and sending a visible ripple across her flank. Her tail swishing and flicking behind her, Shining grunting and gritting his teeth as Twilight’s movements grew ever faster, ever more desperate, her moans rising in pitch as she reached closer and closer to her peak.

The bed creaked, her wings fluttered, Shining’s breathing hard and heavy. And then Twilight arched her back and let out one final, rapturous cry, shuddering atop him, no strength left to try and buck her hips anymore as she came, her marehood squeezing and trying to milk him for every drop.

But she had left Shining at his own precipice, and he couldn’t hold himself back. His hooves held onto her with newfound vigour, and even as Twilight’s climax ripped through her Shining began to buck upwards, lifting her up just to get leverage to drive roughly upwards as hard as possible, and then dropping back down the mattress to do it all over again.

Twilight’s ecstatic cries only grew louder, and then, as her orgasm faded and Shining kept fucking her, she dropped down and held herself tightly against him, clinging so strongly as he rutted her, tight enough that Shining wondered if she ever planned to let go, as if her very life depended on holding him close, burying her head in his neck.

“I’m close,” he murmured, and her hindlegs tightened around his waist a little.

“I want to feel it,” she whispered back, her breath warm and quick against his ear, catching every time he thrust upwards. “I want to feel all of you.”

All work and no play makes Twilight a horny mare.

Come play with me. Forever, and ever, and ever.

Shining bucked his hips upwards one last time, as hard as he could, and let go. Pleasure crashed through him, rippling up across his skin as he buried himself as deep into his sister as he could, and filled her. Completely, utterly, cumming harder than he could ever remember, as Twilight shuddered in excitement at the warmth finally dousing her lust. As Shining growled possessively, his turn to hold her close, pin her against him, his length still spurting into her, his flare locking her in place.

And then he was collapsing backwards, and they fell together, exhausted. Shining lay, panting, the occasional shiver of pleasure still rolling all the way through him as Twilight stayed draped over him, still wrapped around him in every sense. Neither wanted to move, or speak, or do anything to shatter the afterglow, content simply to bask in it. Perhaps forever.

But forever was impossible, and Twilight extricated herself and rolled off him to his side, still hugging him close in a tender embrace that was full of warmth and love.

“Thank you,” she murmured into his neck.

But despite the pleasant shudders, a gnawing feeling had begun to eat at Shining’s conscience. “This can’t be a thing,” he said, staring up at the ceiling. It was easier than looking at her. “You know that, right? Once we go back, this can’t keep happening. There’s too much at stake, too much for either of us to lose. Cadance. Flurry. The whole kingdom. We can’t keep doing this.”

He felt Twilight wince a little at his harsh words. “I know,” she said. “But for now, can we just pretend? At least until the snow melts?”

Shining smiled. “Until the snow melts,” he agreed. He turned to look her in the eye again, and there was so much adoration there it made his heart jolt, made the inevitably kiss all the more warm and close.

“I love you, Shiny,” she murmured.

“I love you too,” he said. “And I always will.”

Until the snow melts. Until things have to go back to the way they were, the way they have to be.

But not yet. For now they could be exactly who they wanted to be. Twilight nestled herself closer, and Shining pulled her in tight, running his hoof in small, affectionate little circles against her fur.

Spending the winter here together suddenly seemed a lot less unbearable after all.


In an easily overlooked corner of the hotel, tucked away in one of the many nooks and crannies in the winding maze of corridors, lay a small alcove decorated with history. Photographs, paintings. Memories.

Old ones, ones from times long forgotten, filled with ponies long since departed. Pictures of celebrations, reunions. Weddings. Funerals. Parties of all shapes and sizes, the photographs ranging from crisp colour all the way back to grainy black and white and then further still, oil on canvas. The hotel had stood for many years after all, and would stand for many more.

Too many years, if the dates carefully noted beneath some of the oldest painting were to be believed; impossible stretches of time, the old paint flaking but still holding on. But then the hotel was full of impossible things, and still it stood, as if only to spite those who would question it.

The most prominent of these images hung in the very centre of the arrangement, a large painting dated over a thousand years in the past. A subtitle had been carefully calligraphed underneath:

The Overlook Hotel Inaugural Ball

The painting itself depicted a vast and opulent celebration in the hotel’s ballroom, still recognisable even though the decoration had changed significantly in the years since. Ponies in dated suits and exuberant dresses, all cheering and applauding, raising their glasses high and dancing to music that – if one listened very carefully – one could almost hear, still floating through the hotel’s empty corridors.

But the most striking aspect of the painting came from the two ponies in the front and centre. Tall, towering over the ponies behind them cheering them on. One midnight blue, the other snow white. Alicorns. Princesses.


Celestia and Luna, wrapped in a passionate, loving embrace, complete with a deep and lustful kiss.