Thermodynamics of Love
Twilight groggily peeled her face off of her copy of Theoretical Thermodynamics of Arcane Expenditure. It had been another long night of studying, and this particular tome was a quite difficult read. Normally, Twilight didn’t have much trouble getting her head around complex ideas, but Wiz-mare’s theory on the inherent chaotic and inefficient properties of magic were particularly hard to digest.
She shook her head and looked out the window next to her bed. Sunlight was already streaming in, and the morning had every appearance of being yet another spectacular spring day. Between the craftsmanship of Celestia and the Ponyville pegasi, Twilight had no doubt the day would be absolutely beautiful.
She looked back down at the large leather bound book and closed it frustration. Why waste such a perfect morning? she thought, After all, a little bit of sunshine is just what I need to clear my head.
Lost in thought and still not completely awake, Twilight slowly made her way to the town square. Just on the edge of the square, she found a patch of sun-touched grass that still held the remnants of the morning dew. After nestling down in the perfect harmony of dewy coolness and warm sunshine, she continued to mull over the old mage’s theories while absent-mindedly watching the market open for business.
It wasn’t long after the market opened, though, that Twilight began to notice something unusual about the market’s atmosphere. Nothing was really different from any other day. Ponies walked from stall to stall, mingled with friends, and bought groceries as normal. Still… there was an unusual cheer about the market that day. Her thoughts on the old tome vanished in light of this strange phenomenon. What was so different about the market this day?
Upon closer scrutiny, she began to notice a pattern. Most, but not all of the ponies, were traveling in pairs. Why would they be traveling in pairs? After all, normally there were small herds of ponies that traveled together as well as the lone shoppers. Today, though, it seemed like everypony had somepony else in particular to spend the day with. Unsatisfied with the lack of a clear reason, she stood up and walked into the market to investigate further.
The pairs were everywhere and of all kinds! By far the most common pairs she saw where young colts and fillies, but she also noted older couples enjoying a day without the foals, pairs of school-aged foals, several paired fillies, and even Blues hanging out with one of his band members. Just about everypony had another pony!
Feeling confused and increasingly lonely, Twilight decided to head back to library. At least she had Spike there, and maybe he could tell her what was so special toda—
“Twilight Sparkle, is that you?”
Twilight snapped from her reverie and turned to the sound of the voice. It was none other than Rarity!
“Rarity, what are you doing at the market today? Actually… why are you selling stuff at the market at all?” Twilight had never seen Rarity sell accessories from her boutique in the market before. In fact, she would have thought Rarity would scoff at the idea of selling her wares at such a common place.
“Oh! Well, I must admit, I normally do not prefer to sell my luxurious creations in such a” Rarity winkled her nose at her surroundings, “…dusty, banal venue. But! Today is a very special day, my dear~”
“Yeah, I kinda noticed today is different. Do you know what’s going on?”
“Oh, my. You don’t know?” Twilight shook her head. “Well, darling, today is Couple’s Day! It’s a day when you and somepony you love spend the day together and do all sorts of special things that you otherwise wouldn’t do.”
“Special things?” Twilight asked quizzically.
“You know… things that are taken for granted. Like watching the sunset together, or if you're an adventurous couple, even taking a stroll through the outskirts of the Everfree forest. Of course, the most common thing that couple couples do is to give their fillies that something extra special which says “I love you forever.” At this point Rarity had gone silent and started swaying, lost in one of her many romantic daydreams.
Twilight cleared her throat and that seemed to bring Rarity back to reality. “Oh! I’m so sorry, my dear. Whenever I think of Celestia’s nephew and I and all of the simply magical things we would do… well, you know~” Actually, Twilight didn’t. She continued to stare at Rarity quizzically. As far as Twilight knew, Princess Luna had no children or relatives, and she had never heard of Celestia’s nephew despite her many years under Celestia’s tutelage. Who exactly was this pony that Rarity always talked about?
“So…” Twilight pushed the issue aside and smiled as she now understood why Rarity was at the market afterall, “You’re here to sell some of your amazing accessories to couples!”
A large grin spread over Rarity’s muzzle. “Why yes, dear, you’re absolutely right! On what other day would couples line up to buy some of my most splendid creations—and on days like this, I get plenty more customers than at my boutique.”
“That sounds amazing, Rarity! Well, I should probably let you get back to work since this sounds like a busy day for you.”
As Twilight turned around to head back to the library, Rarity called after her. “W-w-wait, Twilight.” Twilight turned around and was a little surprised to see Rarity blushing from behind her makeup. “I was…. wondering… if…” Rarity shook her mane and took on a resolute face. “I was wondering if you would be free after the market closed.”
“Hmm…” Twilight was contemplative for a few seconds. “Well, I don’t have any plans, but won’t people get the wrong impression if we decided to hang out tonight?”
There was a moment of awkward silence with Rarity staring dumbfounded the purple filly.
“Ah, haha, yes, you are absolutely right,” Rarity’s right eye began to twitch a little bit, and a couple strands of her mane began to poke out. Seriously, Rarity thought to herself, how can this filly be as dense as those books she reads? “Well, I suppose we could reschedule to tomorrow evening then.”
“Alright! It’s a date then,” Twilight said happily before she trotted off towards the edge of the market.”
Rarity sighed. For being so well read, Twilight sometimes didn’t have the best of word choice considering the situation.
Twilight sped through the market. Her mind was quickly flipping through the library catalogue—there were a few books she needed to look at to explain why Rarity was acting so weird, and she needed some answers before the day ended.
Completely oblivious to where she was going, Twilight noticed too late that she was going to run headfirst into a fruit cart that was crossing the street! At what seemed like the last second, a strong force pulled at her tail and threw her sideways into a bale of hay.
“Woah, nelly! Ya’ll alright there, Twi?” Twilight disorientedly popped her head out of the bale of hay to see Applejack standing above her with a look of concern on the earth pony’s face. “Ah know ah shouldn’t be chidin’ you, but ya got to look where you’re going when your trottin’ all hurried-like. Ya’ll nearly barreled through ol Mrs. Cherry’s fruit cart.”
“I’m sorry, AJ… thanks for catching me though!”
“Ah, shucks, ain’t nothin’ really.” Applejack looked closely at Twilight and broke into a big grin. “Ah can tell when a pony ain’t had nothing to eat all day. No wonder ya’ll nearly ran into Mrs. Cherry’s cart!”
Twilight’s face burned red in embarrassment. However, before she could make an excuse and trot back off towards the library, her stomach rebelled and churned in acknowledgement.
Twilight chucked, obviously embarrassed. Applejack on the other hand, beamed with pride, “Well, ah told you so, sugarcube. Let’s say ya’ll come with me back to my apple cart and ah’ll get ya something tasty to munch on.”
Twilight resigned herself and nodded in agreement. There was no use in denying food from Applejack—not only was it free, but the hard-headed pony would never accept no for an answer. Applejack reached into the haystack and helped Twilight get back on her feet. In the process of doing so, their muzzles came uncomfortably close to touching. Applejack blushed furiously during the endeavor while Twilight found herself blushing from sheer awkwardness.
Once the two ponies made it to Applejack’s food cart, Twilight couldn’t help but comment on what she saw. “Are all those apples and pies really—“
“Shaped liked hearts? You betcha! We save apples all year long that look like hearts and keep ‘em down in the ice box in the cellar.” Applejack was beaming with pride as she spoke. “We only bring ‘em out for Couples Day, and ya’ll wouldn’t believe what a hit they are! Ah’ll prob’ly be sold out in ‘nother hour or so, to be perfactly honest.”
Twilight could only nod in amazement. The market had been open for less than an hour, and everything on the cart was already half sold! Looking behind her, she realized that, as Applejack had been talking a long line had already formed behind Twilight.
Twilight gave the noticeably impatient ponies a sheepish look and turned to Applejack “Wow, Applejack, you’ve got quite a line already. I don’t really want to hold up your business or anything…”
“Oh, dontcha go worryin’ ‘bout that, sugarcube. They’ve only been waiting ‘bout a minute and Ah don’t plan on keepin’ them waitin’ too much longer. Besides,” Applejack grabbed one of the heart-shaped pies with her mouth and passed it over to Twilight, “ya’ll more than just a friend to me.” Twilight began to get nervous. She had a good idea what was going to come next. “Say, Twi,” Applejack continued without the barest trace of nervousness, “When Ah get done ‘ere at the market, what do ya say we go hang out a bit? Ah don’t got much else goin’ on today.”
Twilight spit the pie out onto an outstretched hoof and was very conscious that the eyes of everypony in line were now on her. Feeling her face turn red from nerves, she shakily replied, “Uh, um… Well, let me get back to you on that, Applejack—I uh,” she noticed that Applejack’s eyes were intent on her every movement. “I’ve gotta do some more research first!” she cried as both her and the pie spontaneously teleported away from sight.
Applejack was beside herself. She shouted loudly, hoping that the unicorn might hear it if she wasn’t too far away, “Twilight Sparkle! What kind of excuse was that!? Dontcha go tellin’ me that you think you can learn about love from some dusty ‘ol books!”
Shouting had calmed Applejack down enough for her to notice that the entire market was quietly looking at her. Blushing from embarrassment, she chuckled a little to herself. “Hehe… sorry ‘bout that folks… Kinda got carried away a bit there….”
As Applejack was just about to turn back to her customers, Rarity caught her eye from her booth down close to the square. The unicorn looked absolutely livid, and… seemed to be enjoying snacking on one of her fancy little scarfs? “Huh… wonder what’s got that there pony all riled up?” she mumbled to herself.
Twilight teleported directly into the lobby of her library home. There was no time to waste—she needed some answers quickly.
“SPIKE!” Twilight heard a startle yell from the bedroom and saw spike sprint downstairs in a hurry. The poor dragon was still red-eyed and drowsy, and, while she felt bad for making him get to work so quickly, this just couldn’t wait.
“What’s going on, Twilight? Is something bad going on in town?” Spike asked while rubbing his eyes. “Wait… is that apple pie?” Spike was looking at the pie on the floor.
“Yes, that is pie, Spike, and that is part of the problem.” Twilight replied as she levitated the pie and placed it gently on her study desk.
“Uh… I don’t get it. What could be wrong with a pie?”
“Nothing’s wrong with the pie, Spike,” Twilight shook her head, “but I need to get to the bottom of a few things first.”
“Oh! Of course!” Spike saluted, but then relaxed and rubbed his two index fingers together expectantly. “But, first… you wouldn’t mind splitting some of that pie with me would you?”
Twilight rolled her eyes at the dragon, “Sure, I’ll split half of it with you, but you need to get a few things for me first.”
“Sure! What do you need?”
“Two things—I need a complete family tree or history of Celestia’s royal family and the Apple Family.”
Spike had been taking notes with a quill and a piece of parchment, but at the mention of the Apple family, he stopped and looked up at Twilight quizzically. “Why the Apple Family? They’re huge!”
“Believe me, Spike, I need a decently detailed account of at least the Apple Family members here in Ponyville.” Twilight hoped that Spike wouldn’t ask too many questions about why she needed this information. At least not yet—Twilight didn’t know how she would answer him.
Spike looked like he wanted to ask questions, but he just said, “Alright, Twilight, I’ll go look through the town records for you, but I’ll want to know what got you so interested in the Apple Family all of a sudden.”
Twilight nodded, it would be the least she could do for her assistant. As Spike started ruffling through old town records, Twilight began her own mission. There was a certain book that explained her current predicament pretty well, and she needed a reference or two from it.
After levitating a dozen or so books from the shelves, she came across the one that she was looking for: An Anthropologist’s Understanding of Romance. Sitting in her seat at her favorite study desk, she sectioned the heart-shaped pie in half with her magic and began to nibble on her half as she flipped through the book. It didn’t take her long to find the passage she needed to reference.
All previous findings from various Anthropological research support the current model of romance in equine societies. This model consists of 5 separate stages of romance beginning with Crush; proceeding through Infatuation and Initiation of the relationship; forging a life-long Commitment; Acknowledgement and Addressing the intra and interpersonal flaws and bias in the relationship; and, ultimately, Acceptance with mature love and honest compassion between the partners.
Twilight focused most of her studying on the first two stages of romance. From her memory, she knew that the later three stages of the romance were well beyond what Rarity and Applejack were experiencing.
By the time Spike had finished collecting all of the books and records, Twilight had developed a reasonable understanding of the difference between a crush and infatuation. A crush, by her reasoning, was a simple unrequited pining for an individual that was superficial in nature. Twilight thought back to her years as a foal under Celestia’s tutelage, and couldn’t help but to let out a chuckle. While she didn’t know it at the time, Twilight had definitely held a small crush on the princess. Whether it was her seemingly infinite wisdom and knowledge, or, rather, her impressive beauty, Princess Celestia had always been admired and loved by Twilight. Perhaps, Twilight though to herself, that was why I was such a great student. I always wanted to see Celestia give that radiant smile of hers and to spend as much time as I could with her as only her prized pupil could.
As for infatuation, Twilight hadn’t had much experience with that aspect of romance, but there was no doubt in her mind that Rarity and Applejack were both in that stage of romance. Infatuation appeared to surpass a simple crush by being focused on developing a relationship with another pony that could eventually lead to sharing one’s life with them. As for how one knows that they are infatuated or in a position to reasonably accept somepony’s infatuation, the book did not mention. Twilight, likewise, had the uneasy suspicion that no book in the library could help her understand her predicament. Afterall, she had read several books on the topic in her endeavors to understand friendship, and she couldn’t remember a single passage detailing the transition from friendship to something more—at least, not any passage that would remotely help her.
Twilight’s thought process was abruptly interrupted by Spike dropping a surprisingly small stack of books and a scroll onto Twilight’s desk.
“Yeah…” Spike rubbed the spines on the back of his head, “I couldn’t find much on the royal family. It seems that there has only ever been Princess Celestia and Princess Luna, and neither of them have had any foals… ever.”
“Hmm…” Twilight wasn’t really surprised to hear this news. From all of the texts she had read, both Celestia and Luna were quite old, possibly older than written history.
“But,” Spike continued, “I did find a complete enrollment list in Princess Celestia’s Orphanage for the Talented.” He grinned from ear to ear, “You should know all about that, considering that you were the top student there until you graduated!”
Of course! Who Rarity thought was Princess Celestia’s nephew could have easily have been one of the top students since she had left the orphanage. “Great job, Spike! This may be it!”
Spike continued to grin and sat up next to Twilight on the desk and began to eat his half of the pie. As Twilight browsed through the library’s replica of the orphanage register, Spike decided to ask the question of the hour. “So, Twilight, why are you all of a sudden interested in the Royal family and the Apple family?”
Now that she was thinking rationally and no longer emotionally distraught from her friend’s advances, Twilight had no problem filling Spike in on what was going on. “Well, I’m trying to see if this nephew of Princess Celestia that Rarity talks about really exists or not.”
Spike crossed his arms and huffed, “Huh, I always thought it was obvious that the princess didn’t have a nephew. I mean, its not like we ever saw the pony if he did exist.”
Twilight looked up from the ledger and decided not to break the news as quickly as she had planned. Spike still did have his crush on Rarity, after all and she didn’t want to needlessly upset the young dragon. “Well, that’s true, but that pony could have easily have been another orphanage student that Princess Celestia favors.”
“I suppose, but that sounds like quite a stretch for me. Find anything yet?”
Twilight sighed. The register had a lot of remarkable details on the different ponies that attended the orphanage, including their accomplishments and positions throughout Equestria. As far as she could tell, though, there was no colt that even came close to what Rarity described as Princess Celestia’s nephew.
“No, there’s no mention of any colt that could match her nephew in here…” Twilight shut the book and moved onto the scroll containing the Apple Family Tree.
“Ha, figures. So… why are you looking at the Apple Family Tree, again?”
“Well, that’s a great question, Spike.” Twilight smiled to herself. She’d let the dragon slowly figure out the answer himself. That’ll make it a bit easier on her and definitely more enjoyable. “What can you tell me about that pie we just ate?”
“Well that’s easy. It was Applejack’s famous recipe! I could pick one of those pies out of a pile of pies easily!” Twilight nodded and continued to smile as she picked up a book containing news snippets relating to the Apple Family in Ponyville. Leave it to a dragon to figure out the difference using his stomach, she thought to herself.
“And what shape was it in, Spike?”
“Uh… a heart?” Spike started looking confused.
“And what day is it?”
Spike’s face went blank as he thought for a few seconds and, like a match being struck, the truth was evident on his face. “Oh my gosh! Applejack asked you out for Couple’s Day didn’t she, Twilight?”
Despite being in her element—hard at work in the library applying reason to even the most irrational of topics—Twilight still couldn’t help but blush. “Yep, you got it, Spike!”
“That’s awesome! Congratulations, Twilight! Did you say yes?”
“Um…” Twilight paused, trying to collect her thoughts. “I didn’t really say anything. I was so embarrassed that I accidentally teleported back to the library…”
“Oh, Twilight…” Spike face-palmed and shook his head in mock dissapointment. “I didn’t think you were the kind of unicorn that suffered from premature teleportation.”
Twilight’s pursed her lips at the horrible innuendo. Well, she thought to herself devilishly, if Spike wants to play dirty, then I won’t hold back.
“You know…. I’m surprised you haven’t asked yet why I was looking into Rarity’s mysterious ‘crush.’“
Spike stopped dead in his tracks. Twilight swore she could see the gears accelerating in the little dragons head as they slowly wound up into full panic mode.
Rarity let out a petite sneeze. Oh great, the pony thought to herself, as if this day could not get any worse, I think I may be developing a cold! Truly, this day hadn’t been very kind to Rarity at all. After watching Applejack try to take away her precious Twilight Sparkle, it took all of Rarity’s willpower not to walk over to Applejack’s cart and make another scene.
Rarity shook her head and tried to calm down, but she knew it was no use. As an artist, once her emotions were kindled into such a blaze, she had to find some way to channel that extra energy. Taking note that she had not sold one single accessory since Applejack’s outburst, Rarity was forced to concede that trying to channel that energy towards selling accessories to customers was simply not her talent.
As the market’s clock tower began to strike noon, Rarity took a brief glance over in Applejack’s direction and saw that the earth pony had just sold the last of her pies and was busily packing up her cart. Rarity sighed and brushed away the last of her tears as she started packing up her creations. After all, what was the point of staying at the market if she knew that she wouldn’t be able to sell anything in this state?
Within a few minutes, Rarity had everything gently folded inside of a portable chest of drawers, strapped herself into the harness, and had started to make her way back to the boutique. Along the way, her and Applejack passed by one another, each heading in opposite directions. Rarity, still very distraught, couldn’t make herself look over at Applejack as they passed.
Finally arriving at the boutique, she left the chest of drawers in the anteroom, and slowly made her way to the powder room. She looked in the mirror, and nearly fainted. Her well-manicured mane was frazzled to the point of being a rats-nest, the mascara and baby blue eye shadow had streamed down the sides of her muzzle with her tears, and her eyes were swollen and puffy.
“Oh, dear Celestia! I look horrible!” Fresh tears streamed onto cheeks as she wailed in front of the mirror. It wasn’t too long, however, until she felt something furry brush across her hind legs. Rarity sniffed and rubbed her eyes before looking down to see Opal mewing and rubbing herself proudly on Rarity’s legs.
“Oh, Opal! At least you can understand my pain,” Rarity cried as she scooped up the feline and held her close to her chest.
Opal hadn’t exactly been there to comfort Rarity. As far as the regal feline was concerned, she was the master of this boutique, and Rarity was just a humble food servant. She was just relishing the latest one of Rarity’s emotional outbursts, when, as always, the darned servant would pick her up and squeeze her. Opal unsheathed her claws and tried in vain to scratch Rarity as if to make a point.
Rarity cried for a few more minutes, all the while holding Opal in a vice grip. Eventually, feeling better, the young unicorn slowed down her tears and released her prisoner.
“Thank you, Opal,” Rarity said as she wiped away tears for what must have been the 15th time that day, “You always know how to make me feel better.”
Opal just ran to the door and gave Rarity an undignified, “Hmpf!” before walking out. Rarity paid no attention to Opal at that point though—she was too busy drawing a bath and adding her favorite bubbles and scented salts to make her feel better.
She soaked in the bath for what seemed like a small eon—letting the smells, sounds and feelings of the popping bubbles sooth her worries and calm her emotions. Only after she started feeling more or less like her old self did she allow herself to consider what she should do next.
Rarity sighed. She didn’t really have a choice. She had to go see Twilight today and apologize for not being tactful enough in their earlier conversation. Then, perhaps… perhaps she would be able to convince Twilight to give her chance? Rarity tapped a hoof to her lips pensively. Yes, but, if she was going to succeed, she needed to look fabulous, and she’ll need to find something that would make Twilight just as fabulous as her.
Rarity smiled for the first time in hours and began to drain the bath. She had the perfect plan.
“So… why’re ya gettin’ your bath so early today, Big Sis?” Applebloom asked before she started scrubbed her big sister’s back with a brush that was bigger than little Applebloom’s head.
Applejack, on the other hand, was enjoying the hard scrubbing that only Applebloom could give. “Well, shucks, Applebloom, Ah thought Ah’d ought to try and look presentable for Twi.”
“Mwimight?” Applebloom spit out the brush. “What’re ya crazy? The entire town is talkin’ ‘bout how Twilight off and disappear’d after you up and confessed your love to her! What makes ya think going back so soon is gonna help anythin’?”
“Just keep on scrubbin’ there, sugarcube,” Applejack replied. Applebloom made a sour face and got back to work scrubbing her sister’s back. “If there’s anypony I know better than an ‘ol Apple Family member, it’d be ‘ol Twilight. Ah’d bet ya an extra 50 trees durin’ applebucking season that she’ll be off in that there library tryin’ ta discover love from a book. And that ain’t no way to go ‘bout doing it.”
Applebloom finished scrubbing Applejack’s back and started lathering some shampoo to wash her hair. “Ah still don’t know ‘bout that, sis…” Applebloom said. “Aren’t ya gonna at least ‘pologize when ya go see her?”
“Of course!” Applejack smiled as Applebloom’s skilled hooves brushed and kneaded her scalp. “Ah, mean, what kind’ve friend would ah be if ah didn’t ‘pologize to Twilight ‘bout making a scene in front of the whole town? Besides,” Applejack looked up at Applebloom and winked, “Ah’ve been workin’ on somethin’ to win her over for some time now.”
Applebloom gasped. “Ya don’t mean the—“
“Yes ah do, sugarcube.” Applejack beamed at her younger sister.
“Aw… and ‘ere ah was thinkin’ ya were making that for little old me…”
“Dontcha go worrying ‘bout that, little sis. Ya’re next on my list.”
Before Applejack could react, little Applebloom was already hugging her back. “Yay! Thanks so much, big sis! Ya know how ah’ve always wanted one of those!”
Applejack smiled and patted her little sister’s hooves as she thought about Twilight. Hopefully she would also be as excited when Applejack showed the gift to her.
Twilight paced around the library’s foyer, lost in thought. As she had expected, the Apple Family did indeed have a few individuals each generation that broke away from traditional marriages. After reading through the snippets of news stories on the family, Twilight had a new appreciation and understanding of the Apple Family. Unlike what she had learned about the traditions of rural towns and families back in Canterlot, the Apple Family always seemed to support and care for everypony in the family—even if they were married to somepony of the same gender.
She was relieved that Applejack wouldn’t be ostracized because of her love, but… that still didn’t help Twilight understand how she felt about Applejack. She thought more on the aspects of Applejack that she liked, such as her honestly, hard work ethic, bravery, willingness to help others, even when it wasn’t convenient for her….
Yet, despite all of the list making and detailing that Twilight did, she wasn’t any closer to discovering how she felt about Applejack. Frustrated, she then focused her attention on Rarity’s positive aspects, but had more of the same result. Despite noting Rarity’s boundless generosity, guileless compassion, and, admittedly, sometimes cloying charm, Twilight still didn’t know what to think of Rarity either.
Finally, exhausted from her futile thought experiments, Twilight went to her bedroom and collapsed on her bed. More frustrated than tired, her mind kept racing. What was she going to do? Today was a special day after all, and two of her friends wanted to share it and more with her! However, Twilight just didn’t feel comfortable choosing one pony over the other—especially since she didn’t think she felt enamored with either pony.
Twilight buried her face into the pillow. This was just like the Galloping Gala all over again, except this time she was the ticket!
“I just don’t know!!!!” She screamed into the pillow.
“Well, why didn’t you just say so, you silly filly?” the pillow asked back.
Twilight shot backwards onto the bed, her left eye twitching as she stared at the pillow. “Great—all this worrying must be making me go crazy! Now, pillows are talking and they sound just like Pinkie Pie!”
In a flash of pink, Pinkie pie jumped from underneath Twilight’s bed and was sitting in front of her, giggling in the normal Pinkie Pie manner. “No way, silly! Pillows don’t talk. I though everyone knew that!”
“Of course… I should have guessed,” Twilight responded in a deadpan tone. “By the way, Pinkie, how in all of Equestria did you get up here? No one’s been in or out of the library since I got back.”
“Oh! Oh! Oh!” Pinkie Pie jumped up and down excitedly. Then she glanced upwards for just the briefest of seconds before saying, “Well, I could tell you but it would ruin the surprise, and you wouldn’t want me to ruin the surprise would-you-because-ruining-thesurprisewouldn’tbethatmuchfunand—“
If there was one thing Twilight had gotten good at while she had been in Ponyville, it was ignoring Pinkie when she went on one of her speaking sprees. While Pinkie droned on, she had tried to follow Pinkie’s momentary glance upward, just to see at the last moment, a few multicolored slivers of hair duck behind a ceiling plank.
“I see you there, Rainbow Dash!” Twilight shouted triumphantly.
“Aw, man… and I had just gotten into the perfect position to surprise you, too.” Dash muttered as she gently floated down besides Pinkie.
Twilight couldn’t help but chuckle, momentarily forgetting her worries. “So, what brings you girls over here? Are you two going around and pranking everypony again?”
“Well, that wasn’t really our plan. We came over as soon as we heard what happened between you and Applejack at the market--” Rainbow Dash began.
“And you wouldn’t BELIEVE how much people are talking about it! I mean it’s not everyday that somepony has the courage to ask another pony something so private in front of so many other ponies! I mean it’s no wonder that you teleported away, I mean, if somepony had asked me, I would have thrown a party to celebrate, but I could see other ponies being embarrassed so—“
“So, we don’t really blame an Egghead like you for running back to your books.” Dash concluded for Pinkie.
Twilight smiled at her friends. “Thanks so much guys, I really appreciate you coming over.”
“Hey, that’s what friends are for, right?” Rainbow and Pinkie replied in union, both with a smile on their face.
“Right….” Twilight said as stared quizzically at the two fillies. “Say, you guys wouldn’t have heard if anything happened to Rarity, would you?”
Suddenly the entire atmosphere of the conversation turned somber. Even Pinkie stopped grinning. “Why do you ask?” Dash inquired softly.
“Well…” Twilight began nervously, “before the incident with Applejack and I, she had asked me if I had some free time after the market closed. I think she may have been trying to ask me out tonight.” There were a few moments of awkward silence before Twilight spoke again, this time with a little more force. “What happened to Rarity?”
“Well,” Dash looked over at Pinkie who nodded furiously, “Rarity wasn’t quite being herself at the market today. Apparently, shortly after you left, she had chewed through one of her fancy scarf-things, and she started running away customers by being a scary drama queen.”
“It all makes a lot more sense when you told us that, Twilight!” Pinkie Pie chimed in. “I thought it just sounded like she needed a cupcake or maybe a parfait… yeah! Parfaits do fit Rarity better than cupcakes!”
“I don’t know about the parfaits, Pinkie.” Rainbow interjected. “At any rate, Rarity started crying just before she started packing up her stuff and heading back to her shop. Everypony’s been wondering if a relative had died or something.”
“Oh…” Twilight was at a loss for words.
“Twi, you can’t blame yourself for this. It’s not like you knew Rarity liked you or that Applejack was going to announce her feelings to the entire town.”
“Yeah, Twilight!” Pinkie clopped her hooves together in excitement, “You should be thinking about who you’re gonna want to spend the rest of the day with!”
At the mentioning of who she was going to spend the rest of her day with, Twilight could feel her control of the floodgates of her emotions slip, and she was quickly overwhelmed by her feelings of frustration and… something new she had never felt before. Twilight then did something so totally uncharacteristic of her that it even surprised herself—she began to cry.
Rainbow Dash was initially taken aback. Being a tomboy, she had always thought that crying was for particularly girly ponies like Rarity, and didn’t quite know how to react with the cool-headed Twilight Sparkle bawling her eyes out like a foal. Pinkie on the other hand, already had her forelegs around Twilight and was making soothing sounds as she petted the filly’s head.
In between sobs, Twilight managed to speak about her troubles. “I-I’ve tried everything! Everything…. That I could think of. I’ve looked in books. I’ve made lists. I even tried to figure out which pony would suit me better… but… but….”
“Nothing worked.” Dash said simply. Twilight looked over at the pegasus pony. At that moment, Dash’s countenance was the embodiment of her multicolored mane: cool confidence, warm compassion, slight annoyance, a hint of quiet nurturing, and a pose that indicated she was ready to reprimand. Her voice was soft, though, “You tried to learn about love from books and tried to think your way to what your heart wanted. You just can’t do that. Love just can’t be reasoned with—believe me.”
The last comment made Twilight smile a little. “You mean, the Rainbow Dash, the fastest pony in Equestria, even at decision making, tried to slow down and reason with love?”
“Well…” Dash began to blush slightly, “when it comes to Pinkie Pie, everypony tends to second guess themselves.”
“Hey! What’s that supposed to mean, Dash?” Pinkie retorted with a grin.
“Nothing, Pinkie.” Dash rolled her eyes though.
“So, Twilight,” Pinkie said, softly looking the now silent unicorn quietly in the eyes. “All you have to do is follow your heart. Don’t try to think about who better suits you—your heart will know the answer!”
Twilight’s ears drooped, but a large smile had formed across her face. “Thank you guys, I’m lucky to have such good friends as you. All right, I’ll give listening to my heart a chance!”
Applejack waved goodbye to Applebloom and Big Macintosh and she trotted away from the Big Apple Acres. Her normally cool and levelheaded demeanor was replaced by sheer excitement and romantic passion. This was her moment—at last she would be able to show the filly of her dreams how much she loved her!
As she galloped into Ponyville, she let out a big “Yeehaw!” in excitement. Ponies turned their heads towards the galloping pony as she run pashed, but Applejack paid them no attention. Her mind and heart were focused on only one pony. Twilight Sparkle! Applejack’s heart couldn’t help but flutter at the thought of her name! Yes, she would gallop confidently to Twilight’s library home, and there Twilight would be, waiting for none other than Ponyville’s Prized Pony to arrive. Then, Applejack would serenade her love with an old-fashioned country song that no filly in the Apple Family could resist. If that wasn’t enough to make Twilight completely fall for the earth pony, then Applejack’s work of love and joy would. Applejack had spent the last month tanning hides and working leather to make the perfect gift—a cowpony hat made in the good ‘ol fashioned, sturdy Apple Family way. There was no way that Twilight could say no—
Applejack skidded to a halt in front of the library. In front of the door, just about ready to knock was none other than Rarity! Having heard the noise behind her, Rarity had turned away from the door and looked at Applejack. Now, what in the world is that pony doing ‘ere? Applejack thought to herself. Rarity was decked out in the type of frilly girly clothes that Applejack hated the utmost—the long poufy princess dress, complete with matching tiara. Perhaps what bothered her most, though, was that the entire color scheme of Rarity’s ensemble, including her eye shadow, matched the colors of Twilights mane!
“What in tarnation are ya doing here dressed like that, Rarity?” Applejack asked suspiciously.
Rarity stood regally as she studied the cowgirl pony. “Hmph, and I could ask you the same thing, my dear Applejack, but we both know why you are here.” She added, coyly, “Oh, my, it looks like you’ve finally decided to clean up and put your mane in order too!”
It’s true. Applejack had taken an unusual amount of time that afternoon to thoroughly brush out her mane and tail and braid them, with the help of a certain little sister of course. Heckfire, she had even donned her special Apple Family Crest bolo tie and her best work boots.
“Now what’re ya goin’ on about there, Rarity? Anypony can get fancy anytime they darn well please. Ya’ll of all ponies should know that! Now, if ya’ll excuse me,” Applejack tried to move between Rarity and the door, “I’ve got some unsettled business with Twilight, ‘ere.”
Rarity’s hoof shot up and blocked the door from Applejack. “I insist that you wait. I shall only be a minute with Twilight, and then you can have her the rest of the day.” Rarity narrowed her eyes and smiled coyly, “That is, of course, if dear Twilight is still interested in you once I’ve talked with her.”
Applejack was starting to get angry. “Ah think ah see what’s goin’ on ‘ere now. Ya think ya’ll can just come and try to woo Twilight right from under me? Well, tough patootie, ah asked her first!”
“Oh, ho, ho! I’m so sorry my dear, but that honor goes to yours truly. For, you see, while you were focused on selling apples at the market, I was busy telling Twilight my most secret desire.”
“Ya mean, that’s why she ran off so scared like and nearly barreled through ‘ol Mrs. Cherry’s fruit cart? Sounds like she’s not interested to me!”
Rarity was not to be deterred. “Funny you should mention that, considering that you were crude enough to yell your intentions to the entire market. Heavens! I would want teleport away from that embarrassment!”
Applejack butted heads with Rarity, “ Ya better take that back! Ah yelled that after she done and left!”
Rarity stood her ground and pushed back against the stronger pony with all of her might. She was not going to lose after coming this far! “Ha, well, makes no difference. Thanks to you, she is now the subject of town gossip! Besides, what would Twilight want in farm pony like yourself? You have no class and no culture! All you ever talk about is the farm this and apples that. I would be impressed if you could even count to 10!”
“Why ya little--” Applejack grunted and pushed harder, but Rarity wasn’t budging. “What makes ya think Twilight would be interested in a fru-fru girl like ya anyways? Heck, ‘bout half the times she enters that shops of yours, she winds up running away like she’s on fire! ‘Least ah can offer her some sort of family and stability!”
“And you really think that she would want to stay in this cultureless frontier farming town the rest of her life? I know what kind of girl Twilight is. She pines for the society and class that only Canterlot can provide! And when she goes, I want to be right there beside her, supporting her all the way.”
“It sounds to me like somepony is tryin’ to put words in Twilights mouth!”
“Oh, ho, ho, prove it!”
“I can’t thank you two enough,” Twilight said to both Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash. “If it wasn’t for your advice, I probably still wouldn’t know what to think!”
“Aw, it was nothing, Twi, really!” Dash replied, not bothering to mask her pride at helping a friend.
Pinkie Pie was bouncing up and down as was normal for the hyperactive filly. “Yeah, Twilight! No problemo! Say, Twilight,” Pinkie Pie stopped bouncing and cocked her head at Twilight, “how come you won’t tell us who the lucky filly is?”
Twilight was beaming behind her immense blush. “Well, I think I should probably let her know before anyone else. You of all ponies should know how fast gossip spreads in Ponyville, Pinkie Pie.”
“Aw…” Pinkie was obviously disappointed that she wouldn’t get at least some bit of juicy gossip from Twilight.
“Meh, let it go, Pinks. We’ll find out when every other pony does.” Rainbow Dash said as she nonchalantly waved her hoof. “Well, I guess we better get going. Celestia’s not gonna keep the sun up forever you know, Pinks.”
“Oh! Before you go, would you mind doing me one other favor?” Twilight asked. “I know you’ve already done a lot for me today, but could the two of you check on Spike for me? He’s been a bit down since he found out about Rarity and could probably use a little cheering up.”
Pinkie Pie’s eyes grew big and she started bouncing all over the room in excitement as she recited all the things they could do to cheer Spike up. Dash, on the other hand rolled her eyes and stuck out a hoof just in time to clothesline the pink blur.
Twilight couldn’t help but chuckle at the couple. “I’ll take that as a yes, then. Spike’s downstairs in the laboratory—have fun you two!”
As the two ponies headed downstairs, Twilight walked towards the front door, still thinking about how wonderful a couple Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie made. They complimented each other remarkably well, after all. Pinkie seemed to make Dash more carefree while Dash did a remarkable job handling Pinkie’s excessive energy. All that Twilight could hope for was that her love and her could make just as wonderful of a couple.
Upon opening the door, however, Twilight’s happy reverie was abruptly derailed. Just before her, both Applejack and Rarity were butting heads and arguing loudly!
Twilight’s magically enhanced shout surprised the two ponies enough that they collapsed upon one another dazed.
“Just what is going on here?” Twilight demanded, both concerned and upset.
Applejack came to her senses first and struggled off Rarity and onto her shaky legs. “Well, ah was just comin’ to see how ya were doing, Twi and to ‘pologize about earlier this morning when this pony,” Applejack glared at Rarity, who was just struggling to get on her hooves, “decided to stop me and give me a bushel of crazy talk!”
“It was hardly crazy talk, my dear Applejack.” Rarity at last found her balance and stood with regal grace and poise. “I simply wished to speak with Twilight first, and you overreacted for no reason whatsoever.”
“No reason!? I’d have ya’ll know that Rarity started this mess!”
Rarity ignored Applejack’s outburst and turned to Twilight. Out of seemingly nowhere, Rarity produced a beautifully tailored court-style dress colored in pure white, royal purple, and a brillant azure. It was obvious that the dress was made to match Rarity’s coat in much the same way that Rarity’s dress matched Twilights.
“This, my dear precious Twilight, is my gift to you.” Twilight’ eyes grew wide as she looked at the marvelous garment. It was plain that the unicorn was enraptured by the beauty of the dress. “It symbolizes my heartfelt feelings for you and, more importantly, what we could be.”
Twilight’s eyes broke away from the dress and locked with Rarity’s hopeful gaze. “Rarity,” Twilight said slowly, giving a pained, but still appreciative look, “you really shouldn’t have…”
Rarity was frozen in disbelief. Twilight had obviously loved the dress—the wonder that Rarity had seen in her eyes was unmistakable. Yet, still she…
Rarity slumped down in shock and the magic that suspended the dress in the air vanished, leaving the dress to fall unceremoniously to the ground.
Applejack, on the other hand, let out a loud “Yeehaw!” and presented Twilight with the fruits of her many nights of hard labor. Twilight immediately recognized that the hat was made in a similar style to Applejacks, but, the brim of the hat had meticulously woven, thin fibers of leather. On the frontward facing part of the hat’s peak was none other than the Apple Family Crest, loving and painstakingly etched into the leather.
“Ah’ve been working on this a good month now, sugarcube, and finally the time is right to give it to you!” Applejack was beaming with pride with at last giving her token of love to Twilight.
But, Twilight didn’t take the hat from Applejack’s outstretched hoof. Instead, Twilight sat back on her haunches and tried desperately to hold back tears. Applejack was understandably taken aback at this and stammered, “Well… ah… ah guess ah was a bit rash in asking ya so soon. Probably should’ve let ya have some more time to think ‘bout things.”
“No.” Twilight said. “I’ve done enough thinking today.” Twilight opened her teary eyes and looked at both Rarity and Applejack before wiping away the pre-formed tears and saying, “It’s time that I listen to my heart, and it’s time that you two know how I feel.
“Both of you are two of my best friends, and I wouldn’t want my friendship with either of you or the friendship that you share damaged by choosing to date one pony over the other. After seeing you two fighting, I’m very grateful that I won’t have to choose between my friends.”
Applejack and Rarity were stunned by Twilight’s words. “Whadya mean, Twi?” Applejack asked first. “Ah mean, Rarity and ah may not’ve been gettin’ along real well back a few minutes ago, but that doesn't mean we’d stop being friends if ya chose her over me. Might be a bit awkward for a few days, though…”
Rarity nodded her agreement. “I concur with Applejack. While I may also have not been acting as civilized as I would have preferred, nothing would stop Applejack and I from being good friends. Yes, we do argue and fight a lot, but even if you chose her over myself, I would… eventually have to accept that fact.”
Twilight smiled at her friends and shook her head slowly. “Oh, girls, that’s not what I meant at all! I’m really happy that you feel that way, but I listened to my heart and I discovered that the pony I’m in love with is somepony else!”
“What!? Who?” Rarity and Applejack shouted in unison.
Twilight giggled to herself. Well, they had been honest, after all with their feelings for me, she thought to herself, might as well be honest to them.
“I’m in love with Zecora!”
A surprised silence filled the air as both Applejack and Rarity stood, mouths agape, in astonishment. Feeling like she should fill the silence, Twilight continued. “While I was thinking with my heart about who I loved, I realized that I’ve been spending a lot of time at Zecora’s recently. At first, I thought it was a simple anthropologist interest in her culture or perhaps her amazing tea, but as I thought more, I realized that I was most interested in Zecora herself!
“You see, she’s a researcher much like myself, although she would never call herself that. She’s document the medicinal properties of nearly every herb and mushroom in the Everfree forest and parts of the surrounding mountains, and she’s been thinking about taking over the old apothecary when old Mrs. Herbs decides to retire.” Twilight looked thoughtful for a moment before continuing. “When I go to visit her we talk for hours on all sorts of subjects from magic to astronomy and the wildlife in the Everfree forest. I guess that is what made me begin to like her in that way. Hopefully, she feels the same way that I do…”
Applejack tried to give Twilight a look of reassurance, but could only manage a weak smile for her friend. “Ah reckon ya outta go and find out what she thinks for yourself, sugarcube. Don’tcha go worryin’ about Rarity and myself here. We’ll be alright once things settle in a bit.”
Rarity managed to nod her head in agreement, but was at a loss for words.
Twilight nodded her appreciation and smiled towards her friends before galloping off towards the forest. That left the two heartbroken fillies who, just minutes before were in a heated argument on the future of their common love, sat together in contemplative silence as the sun started it’s long journey down the horizon.
Rarity was the first to break the prolonged mutual silence. “I… I just can’t believe she fell for a zebra!”
“Well, believe it or not, that’s what Twilight’s heart told her. Ah reckon there’s not much we can do now.” Applejack said solemnly.
As the fillies resumed their quiet ponderings, the sun continued to set over the town and temperature began to drop. Spring had only begun, and the nights were still chilly. Applejack couldn’t help but to shiver slightly in the cold breeze.
Rarity noticed this and used her magic to pick up what would have been Twilight’s dress and passed it over to Applejack. “You’re shivering, dearie. Use this to stay warm.”
Applejack outright refused. “No way there, Rarity. Ah ain’t wearin’ one of those frilly little dresses.”
“I didn’t say anything about wearing it, my dear, just drape it over your shoulders.”
Reluctantly, Applejack did as she was told. The dress was easily warm enough to keep her shivering, so she supposed she ought to thank Rarity. “Thank ya very much,” she muttered.
“You are most welcome.” Rarity said simply. After a few minutes more had passed and the sun was about set, Rarity stood up and turned to Applejack. “I suppose we’ve done enough brooding this evening. I do have a proposition for you, though, if you are so inclined.”
Applejack raised an eyebrow in suspicion, but said, “Go on.”
“Well, considering that we were both unable to spend such a wonderful sunset with the filly that we are in love with, how about we go back to my boutique and just enjoy the quiet evening?” Applejack continued to stare at Rarity with suspicion, but the unicorn just rolled her eyes. “Yes, as friends, of course. Honestly, I didn’t think a pony could be so hardheaded.”
Surprisingly, Applejack smiled and even chuckled a little! “Well, ya can never be too sure on days like these, Rarity. It wouldn’t have surprised me if ya did mean that romantically.”
Rarity countered saying, “You wouldn’t be calling into question my lady-like principals now would you, Applejack?”
“Nope, but ya wouldn’t be the first pony who would have done that, though.” Applejack picked up the leather hat she had worked so hard on. Turning towards Rarity, she gently placed the hat on the unicorn’s head. “Hmm,” she said, “Looks a mite bit silly with the fru-fru dress and the tiara, but ah suppose it looks alright on you. Ya can wear it for tonight, ah don’t mind.”
Rarity disagreed that the leather hat fit her style and sophistication, but understood what Applejack was trying to do. “Well, I will just have to see what I look like in a mirror then, won’t I?”
“Ah reckon ya should. Ya’ll may even like it.”
The two fillies laughed quietly to themselves as they walked through the early twilight, together, towards the warmth and hospitality of Rarity’s boutique.
Late that cold spring night, Twilight was up on the library’s balcony, gazing at stars that rarely shone so clearly. Zecora, not used to the late nights that Twilight frequently experienced, was already fast asleep beside her. Zecora’s warmth was the perfect blanket for Twilight—she barely noticed the cold wind as it whipped her mane.
Today has been quite an experience, hasn’t it, she thought to herself. She had definitely collected enough information to make her report to Princess Celestia, but…. Twilight looked down at the sleeping form of Zecora, and felt her heart flutter anew. Perhaps, just this once, she would hold off on her report for something more special.
Using her magic to bring a blanket from her bedroom, Twilight tucked herself next to Zecora and fell fast asleep next to the filly she loved.
Written with special thanks to my dear fiancé who has been patient with my obsession with the friendly anthropomorphic and brightly colored miniature equines.