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Twilight’s Opus

by EconomistBrony

Part I - The Elements of Harmony

Chapter 1 - Honesty

“And that’s how ponies are made!” Pinkie Pie concluded her presentation with a beaming smile.

Twilight stared at her magenta-maned co-presenter for a long moment before finally speaking. “Um, Pinkie?” she asked, a twinge of nervousness rising in her voice.  “We were supposed to talk about how to make cupcakes.”

“Oh! Were we?!” Pinkie took in a sharp gasp, blinking several times in quick succession.

Finally regaining the wherewithal to speak, Cheerilee gave a slightly unnerved little chuckle as she braced herself against her desk with her forehooves. “W-well, th-thank you for that… enlightening... presentation, Ms. Pie!”

The entirety of Apple Bloom’s class stared up at Pinkie wide-eyed, slowly absorbing the wealth of information unexpectedly expounded by the town’s resident party planner.

“So, are there any questions!?” Pinkie asked the class with a hop into the air, her legs quivering with excitement before landing back on the ground, Twilight’s nervous laughter almost entirely drowned out by Cheerilee’s near faint.

“Actually, I think we should let Cheerilee get back to her classes, Pinkie,”  Twilight interjected as, with a shimmer of her horn, she levitated the bubbly pink pony into the air and began floating her from the room.  “Thank you for letting us come speak, though, Ms. Cheerilee.”  Twilight gave a frantic smile back to the teacher as she pushed Pinkie out from the room, the door shimmering likewise as it slammed shut behind her.

“Pinkie...” Twilight muttered from beneath a mound of pillows.

“And it turned out that Rarity had been locked up in jail the entire time! All for the crime of ‘spontaneous makeovers’ or something craaaaazy like that I mean I knew that Manehatten had some weird laws but I would’ve never imagined that sprucing up the uniforms of a few security guards would potentially carry prison time!” Pinkie rattled on and on as she bounced about the library that Twilight called home.

“Pinkie...” Twilight raised her voice just a little, still not wanting to see or hear another pony unless absolutely necessary.

“- had a whole bunch of weapons on her back for some strange reason - I mean, yeah, she considers herself fashion forward but I personally would think that medieval weaponry would technically be considered ‘fashion backwards’!  Unless time is cyclical, in which case it’s really really really fashion forward!  Like, so far fashion forward the next thing we’ll be wearing is laser guns and plasma bombs!” Pinkie continued nonsensically, having climbed halfway up one of Twilight’s bookshelves in the process.

“Pinkie!...” Twilight yelled from beneath her blush-covering fort of pillows.

“- that next morning, at least I think it was the next morning I don’t really remember because alcohol tends to make for weird distortions of time and space, there was waffles and syrup eeeeeeeverywhere! It was just like my eighth birthday party all over again, only it was waffles instead of bear traps and syrup instead of-” Pinkie’s strange story continued on and on, the pink party pony not seeming to hear or heed Twilight’s increasingly loud protestations as she dug through a pile of books to Twilight’s left.

“PINKIIIEEEEE!!!!” Twilight finally yelled at the top of her lungs, the pillow-fort around her disassembling with a burst of feather, pillows, and shimmering purple outlines of magic.

Pinkie suddenly stopped talking in response, staring back at Twilight with a surprised look on her face.

“...” Twilight stared back at Pinkie before finally giving a resigned sigh and dropping back to the ground. “...Nevermind.”  Her horn glowed and shimmering pillows began piling themselves back atop her.

“Okey dokey Loki!” the balloon-flanked pony said with another bounce as she rolled into recounting another story spawned from somewhere deep within the recesses of her candy-filled mind.

Shutting out her friend’s voice for the moment, Twilight began to think about just how she’d go about the damage-control for Pinkie’s latest act.  She hadn’t taken the time to read up on how to deal with utterly disastrous presentations.  Another presentation?  A deeply apologetic letter to Cheerilee?  Deeply apologetic letters to every family member of the ponies in the- Twilight suddenly gasped at that realization.  Apple Bloom was in that class! And if Apple Bloom heard it, Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle were going to hear it in no time! Was she ever going to hear it from Applejack and Rarity...

Twilight began rolling over in her mind the different lectures she was likely to receive from her closest friends.  ‘Poor Apple Bloom just hasn’t been able to look at Big Mac the same since yer lil’ presentation!’ ‘Twilight, darling, is there a reason why Sweetie Belle is looking for extremely elastic materials?’  Her thoughts were interrupted, however, by the sudden sound of a belch, followed by the sound of something rather heavy for its size tumbling down the stairs.

“Letter fro- whoa- augh!- whoop- wahuyaaa~!” Her number one assistant’s voice resounded through the treebrary as he gracefully belly-flopped his way down her stairs.

Twilight flung the pillows from around her and ran over to the base of the stairs, just barely missing the baby dragon, who promptly fell belly-first beside her.  She could swear she saw little Rarity-heads floating around his head... “Spike? Are you alright?”

“Do we really have to go out tonight, Rarity? It’d be so much nicer if we could just stay in and snu-” Spike muttered in a daze before suddenly snapping his eyes open, his cheeks turning almost the same color as Pinkie’s mane.  “Uh... ye-yeah. I’ll be fine...” Spike said with a wide, bashful smile.

Pinkie suddenly appeared at his side with a loud giggle. “Whoa, Spike! That was -awesome-!  I mean, you were all like wahuyaaa- whoop - augh!- whoa!” the pink pony pantomimed as she proceeded to fall up the stairs in an almost perfectly mirror imitation of the path the young dragon just took.

Twilight and Spike both stared blankly for a long moment at the pony thespian’s antics before Spike suddenly remembered why he fell down the stairs.  “Oh! Twilight! Letter from the Princess,” Spike said as he held out the scroll he somehow managed to hold onto.

“From the Princess? Really? I wasn’t expecting anything from her today...” Twilight mused to herself as she levitated the scroll out of Spike’s hand.  Unfurling the scroll before her eyes, she scanned it once before reading it aloud for Spike’s enjoyment:

My Dearest and Most Faithful Student Twilight Sparkle,

I hope that this letter finds you well, and that you have been having a wonderful and educational time with your friends.  Having reviewed the numerous letters you have sent me recounting your experiences in Ponyville, I believe that it is now time for you to conclude the field work portion of your studies.  Please prepare a final report on the Elements your friends represent and the magic of friendship that binds you together.  When this is done, we can arrange a time to meet and discuss your final thesis, to be written over the next several years.  But don’t worry!  You’ll be able to do the actual writing wherever you want, so there’s no need to start saying goodbye to any of your friends.  I think that your ‘Number One Assistant’ will be more than capable of being an adequate liaison during the dissertation-writing process.  I will look forward to receiving your final report.

Twilight stared at the scroll, rapidly rereading the contents several times over.  Slowly, her expression turned from one of shock to one of pure glee and anxiety rolled together.  “Wow!  I mean... I can’t believe that she wants me to finish up my studies,” Twilight mused to no one in particular.

Spike tilted his head to the side with a bit of confusion. “Why? Isn’t this what you’ve been waiting for?  I mean, you have been here in Ponyville for almost two years, now.”

“I guess you’re right, Spike,” Twilight said with a blink of her eyes.  “It’s just that time just passes by so fast!  I haven’t done nearly the number of experiments and research studies I’ve wanted to do!  How am I ever going to write a thesis?” Twilight slumped back onto her hindquarters.  “I mean, it’s really great that Princess Celestia is going to be my research mentor, but that just makes it all the more important that I do something really impressive! I just can’t let her down!” Twilight began to get a few wrinkles of worry.

“Oh, thesis-writing is easy!” Pinkie said, suddenly reappearing from the kitchen with a tray of cupcakes balanced on her head.  “I mean, I did mine in no time at all back when I was in Canterlot!  Now, making the perfect cupcake - that’s hard!

“Hold on a second,” Twilight interrupted, holding up a hoof as she stared incredulously at the magenta-maned baker.  “You wrote a thesis?”

“Thirteen!” Pinkie tossed the tray up into the air, it landing neatly on a nearby table.  She immediately rushed over and plucked one out, chewing vociferously.  “So I guess, technically, I’m Dr. Pie! Or Dr. Pinkie.  I like Doctor Pie better, though, because everything’s better with pie! And sugar.”

How-?” Twilight managed to stammer before Pinkie picked up again.

“I told you, it was easy!  Of course, I was accidentally locked in a supply closet in Canterlot University tower by some guards who claimed it was ‘in the best interest for everyone involved’ or something.  Lucky for me, the closet was filled with something called ‘coffee’, paper, quills, ink and enough candy to feed an army of Scootaloos!” Pinkie Pie recounted with a thoughtful hoof to her muzzle.  “Wait!” Pinkie suddenly shouted with a look of terror on her face. “What time is it?!”

Twilight and Spike both shook off their mixed feelings of shock, amazement, and raw terror to simultaneously glance up at a nearby clock.  “It’s five-thirty. Why-?” Twilight began to ask when Pinkie Pie suddenly rushed to the door.

“I promised I’d help out Mr. and Mrs. Cake a half hour ago! Gotta go! Thanks for the cupcakes!” Pinkie Pie shouted with a smile as she fled, the door closing forcefully behind her.

Spike stared off after the pink pony. “But... you made the cupcakes...”

“It’s just Pinkie being Pinkie.” Twilight gave a little giggle as she trotted over to take a bite out of one of the aforementioned cupcakes.  “Don’t think too much about it.”

Spike leaped up onto the table and grabbed a cupcake of his own, surveying it carefully. “I suppose it’d be too much to ask for these to be ruby filled,” the baby dragon said with a disappointed sigh as he set it back in its tin.  “I still think you’ve got nothing to worry about, though, Twilight.  If anyone can do a great job impressing the Princess, it’d be you! You just need to know where to start.”

Twilight finished consuming the cupcake floating before her and humming thoughtfully.  “You know, Spike, you’re right.  I just need to know where to start.  The question is, where should I beg-” the libraricorn was interrupted by a sudden knocking at the door.

“Twilight?  You there?” Twilight heard a familiar voice on the other side.

“Well, I guess that answers that question,” Twilight muttered beneath her breath with a somewhat bemused grin.  She trotted over to the door, opening it with a magical purple shimmer.  “Hi there, Applejack,” Twilight greeted as the farmer pony walked right on in past her.

“Twilight Sparkle, I absolutely cannot believe what Apple Bloom has been doin’ and sayin’ ever since she got home from school.” AJ shook her head from side to side.  “And she says she got all ‘er ideas from you an’ Pinkie Pie.”

“Oh! That. Yeaah...” Twilight said with an awkward smile as she kicked closed the library door. “Spike, how about you go upstairs and... uhm, organize the telescopes?”

“But Twilight, you’ve only got like-” Spike began to protest before with a purple shimmer a zipper suddenly appeared on his mouth and zipped closed.  He slumped his head down in a little pout before making his way back up the stairs, mumbling something to himself.

Applejack raised an eyebrow skeptically at the little air, but otherwise dismissed it as she glanced over at the cupcakes on the table.  “Pinkie Pie ain’t here, is she?” the earth pony asked with a glance around.

“No, she had to run back to Sugarcube corner, AJ,” Twilight said as she made her way over.  “Something about needing to help out Mr. and Mrs. Cake. But, you were saying? About... Apple Bloom?”  The purple unicorn took a nervous gulp as she prepared to be chewed out by her friend.

“Oh, right, ‘bout Apple Bloom.  I just cannot understand that girl fer the life of me!  She comes home sayin’ her friends and her found out the best way to get their cutie marks; next thing ah know, she and ‘er friends have got poor Big Mac trussed in some sorta crazy makeshift contraption the likes o’ which I’ve never imagined.” Applejack rubbed her chin with a hoof.  “Well, except for that one store back in Manehatten ah stopped in with Rainbow Dash, back last year.”  The earth pony’s voice grew a bit more pensive.  “I swear, that pegasus was like a filly in a candy store,” Applejack muttered beneath her breath.  “But, I think ah’ve put a stop to it. As ah see it, no harm, no foul.”

Twilight stared for a moment. “Wait. So, you’re not mad?” the pony asked with a blank-faced stare.

“Mad? Shucks, sugarcube, it ain’t your fault Pinkie’s more random than polka dotted leaves on an apple tree,” Applejack explained with a smile to her bookish friend.  “Jus’ gotta keep an eye on the little’uns, so they don’t get into too much trouble.  But, that ain’t the reason I came by,” Applejack continued with a little frown.  “Y’see... well, ah’ve got a lil’ problem.”

Twilight breathed a deep internal sigh of relief.  “Yes, Applejack?  How can I be of service?”

“Well... y’see... it kinda has to do with the whole ‘Element of Honesty’ thing,” Applejack said as she sat down scratching the back of her head with a hoof.

“Really?” Twilight asked, her eyes getting a little bigger. “Well, that’s just perfect! I’d been wanting to talk to you about just that...” Twilight caught herself with a nervous little giggle.  “But please, Applejack, go on.”

Applejack gave a halfhearted chuckle before continuing on.  “Well, Twilight. Y’see, ah’ve never been all that good with mah feelings. It’s just, well... there’s this pony ah think ah’ve got feelin’s for, but ah don’ know how to express it.  It’s just... well, it’s tough, Twilight.  And when I see... this pony... I can’t keep it in, ‘cause of the whole honesty thing.  As such, ah’ve been ignoring ‘em like crazy, and ah worry that it’s makin’ them upset.”

Twilight listened silently, sitting down as well right next to her normally stoic friend.  “Well, Applejack...” Twilight thought for a long moment.  “Let me start by asking you this: what is honesty?”

Applejack turned to her with slightly squinted eyes. “What is this, some kinda quiz show?”

“Just bear with me, Applejack.  I promise it’ll help,” Twilight said with a tender smile, patting the earth pony gently on the back with a hoof.

“Alright, then.  I guess... I guess honesty is about always bein’ genuine.  Truly bein’ yourself, and puttin’ it all out there.  It’s about not bein’ selfish with what you say, and keepin’ other ponies’ feelings in mind.  It’s about not lyin’ or deceivin’, not trickin’ or pullin’ cons.  It’s about bein’ yourself, always.”

Twilight nodded her head along with the earth pony’s words, letting her finish before finally speaking.  “So, Applejack, what’s the problem?”

“Well,” Applejack began before stopping herself and blinking her eyes.  “Well, I guess there ain’t one after all.”

“Exactly,” Twilight said with a nuzzle to her close friend.  “I think you know what you have to do, then.”

“Why yes, yes ah do,” Applejack said with a renewed vigor.  “A pony’s gotta do what she’s gotta do.” And with that, the applicious pony stood up and gave a determined stomp of her hoof on the ground.  About to run off, she took a moment to turn back to Twilight and give her a grateful smile.  “Thank you, Twilight. Really.”

“Well, you’ll have to let me know how it goes!”  Twilight winked back to her friend before making ‘shoo’ing gestures with her hooves.  As Applejack went running out the door (just barely slowing to actually open up the door, rather then barrel right through it), Twilight called up to Spike.  “Spike! I need you to take down some notes for me.”

“Mrrrfle-mflewrfle,” was the response, the little purple dragon coming to the edge of the stairs and crossing his arms.

“Oh, Spike...” the unicorn said with a chuckle and flash of magic.  The dragon’s mouth-zipper disappeared, and he quickly made his way down, quill and scroll in hand.  “Are you ready, my Number One Assistant?”

“Yes, sir! Er, ma’am. You know what I mean.”

“Alright.  Here goes:


Honesty is, by its very nature, an extreme.  Honesty is the absolute and unwavering dedication to making one’s words and actions truly reflect what actually is.  It is not holding back information for a selfish reason, nor using information to harm others.  It is, to use more technical language, a dedication to eliminating any information asymmetries that exist, thereby allowing the world to a more equal and fair society by enabling markets and communities to reach Walrasian equilibrium and, thereby, allocative and productive efficiency.

Twilight paused as she noticed Spike struggling to keep up.  “You okay there, Spike?”

“Yeah, yeah, I’m getting there.  Do you really have to use such big words all the time?” the baby dragon grumbled as he flipped through a massive dictionary set nearby.

Twilight giggled and let the dragon get caught up before continuing.

Ultimately, honesty is purity of information.  To use a musical analogy, it is the clear, sharp overtones such as those of a chime or triangle, striking through to provide acknowledgement of a melody.

“There we go, Spike.  All done, for now.  I just really wanted to get those notes down before they slipped my mind,” Twilight concluded with a soft, contented sigh.  “Well, at least we’ve got one down,” the unicorn said with a smile.  “But first, I think these cupcakes are really just asking to be eaten...”

End of Chapter 1

Twilight’s Opus

by EconomistBrony

Part I - The Elements of Harmony

Chapter 2 – Generosity

“You know, you could’ve only eaten one cupcake,” Spike said reproachfully to the cupcake-laden Twilight Sparkle.

“Please, I don’t need to hear it, Spike,” Twilight grumbled as she rolled onto her back, trying to the best of her ability to shut out her number one assistant’s voice.

“Still, though, I’m impressed.  Two dozen cupcakes is more than even Derpy eats in one sitting. Or are those muffins...?” Spike’s voice trailed off as he turned around to return to the kitchen, taking the remaining cupcakes with him.

“Oooohhhhhh... Did I really eat two dozen?” Twilight moaned to no one in particular as her belly gave her a punishing ache.

“Yep!” Spike called back with a wide grin.  “Well, you kept a tally sheet through ten, so I know it was at least that many.  It all went downhill from there, though, so after that’s just a best-guess.  The last time I saw such a binge was when that crazy purple pegasus got into Fluttershy’s private mushroom garden.”

Twilight considered responding but thought better of it quickly, deciding that Spike deserved to win that round.  That, and she was far too preoccupied with trying to remember a spell for ‘sugar overdose’.  As she lay on the ground, her belly quaking with a magnitude not seen since the aftermath of Pinkie Pie’s I THOUGHT I ORDERED 40 DOZEN COOKIES FOR THE SHOP BUT ACTUALLY ORDERED 400 DOZEN HELP ME GUYS!’ party, Twilight’s mind drifted back to the assignment the Princess had given her.  “I have to write a thesis... wait, I have to write a thesis!” the purple unicorn suddenly shouted at the severity of such a recollection.  The distinct sound of a baby dragon dropping something akin to a handful of cupcakes quickly followed, causing Twilight to break into a fit of giggles.  “Are you alright in there, Spike?”

“It’s just a flesh wound!” Spike’s voice floated out from the kitchen, exerting yet another fit of giggles from Twilight.

“Oh, Spike,” Twilight said with a roll of her eyes and bemused sigh.  She rolled back onto her hooves and slowly got up to join her assistant, walking into the kitchen with a still-amused grin.  “Are you sure you don’t need any help in here?”

“Well, if you insist,” Spike said not-so-begrudgingly before stepping back and letting Twilight work her magic.  Thankfully, with Twilight, ‘working her magic’ was a rather literal event, and a few minutes later the few remaining cupcakes were tightly sealed and shut securely away for later consumption.

“So, Spike,” Twilight said with a mischievous little grin as she closed a cabinet door.  “I need to decide which friend to go visit next to study the elements.  Do you have an opinion as to who we go visit first?”

“I, uh....” Spike stammered.  “I mean, it’s, um, totally up to you, Twilight.  I mean, uh, they’re your friends and I, uh,” the dragon continued to stammer..

“Gee, well, if you don’t have any opinion at all,” Twilight said, drawing a wry grin across her muzzle.  “Looks like I have no choice but to visit my dear friend Rarity.  Care to join me?”

“Well, um, there’s so much work to do around here,” Spike muttered as he twiddled his fingers.

“Owloysius can take care of it later.  How about you take the afternoon off?” the libraricorn offered, gesturing with her head for the dragon to leap on her back.

“Well, if you’re gonna twist my arm like that,” the dragon assistant said with a near-instant leap onto the unicorn’s back.  “I guess I can make the time.”


Twilight took a deep breath of the crisp, clean winter air as she trotted through Ponyville.  Winter was always one of her favorite times of the year.  Sure, it wasn’t the best weather for outdoor activity, but for Twilight, that was the perfect excuse to curl up with a good book by the library’s fireplace.  Twilight gave a wistful sigh as she looked around at the snow-covered town.  It looked so pastoral, so peaceful.  Back when she was in Canterlot, she would have never imagined that a place like this could be so... so beautiful.  And that, more importantly, that she could ever consider such a place ‘home’.  Twilight couldn’t help but smile at that little thought. ‘Home’.  It wasn’t just a place, no, it was everything, and everypony.  Home was Rarity putting her all into every dress she ever made, Pinkie Pie never failing to turn a frown into a giggle.  Home was Fluttershy always having a kind word, and Applejack never failing to tell anything but the whole truth.  Home was Rainbow Dash always having her back...  Home was here, in Ponyville, with her dearest, best of friends.  And Twilight knew that this home was always meant to be hers, from the very beginning.  She had found her place in the universe.  And she could never be happier for it.

Hey! Twilight!” came a bright and bubbly yell from across the busy plaza, breaking Twilight from her thoughts. Twilight and a number of ponies around her promptly turned to the source of the noise, only to find Pinkie Pie hopping right towards her from across the plaza.

“So, I totally completely forgot to give this to you back when I was at your place, and I felt so bad about it that I absolutely had to come find you!  Owloysius said that you were over at Rarity’s, so I figured that I could intercept you somewhere about here with a probability of 95! Give or take a block,” Pinkie explained before landing right next to Twilight, reaching into her saddlebags to pull out a bright pink envelope.

Twilight stared back at the pink party pony for just a moment.  Disregarding the idea that an owl managed to tell a pony anything, the idea that Pinkie could calculate just about where she’d be was... well, actually, for once, it made some amount of sense.  It was Pinkie Pie, after all.  The unicorn’s horn glowed and the envelope hovered in front of her before opening up slowly to reveal...

“It’s your invitation to my annual New Year’s Eve Party!” the pink party pony proclaimed, causing even Spike to get a look of excitement.  “You’re invited too, Spike, of course, but I figured you didn’t want a pretty pink envelope!”

Twilight grinned at the announcement and read over the invitation anyway.  “Well, they’re always a blast, Pinkie!” she said upon finishing, folding the invitation back up and place it back into the envelope.  “I can’t wait.”

“Okey dokey, Loki! I bet this one’ll be the best one ever! Pinkie said with a hop and excited quiver of her legs.  “Then again, that’s what I say about every party. Buuuuut, I’m absolutely positively 99.475647% plus or minus 0.00000493% certain that this one will be!  See you later, Twilight!”  And with that, the pink party sped off in a pink and magenta blur, presumably to deliver the remaining invitations in her saddlebags

“I don’t think I’ll ever understand that pony,” Twilight muttered.

“Well, maybe that should be your thesis,” Spike responded with a giggle.  “I mean, you could easily write a whole book about her alone.”

“I’m not sure that Princess Celestia would be too pleased with a paper on just one pony, Spike,” Twilight said with a grin as she began trotting forward once more.  “While laughter could definitely be a whole book, I really don’t think it would cover things like kindness, generosity, or honesty.”

“Geez, you take everything way too seriously, Twilight,” Spike said with a giggle.  “Still, though.  Someone should totally write a book about Pinkie.  I mean, I’d read it.”

Twilight giggled and bounced the dragon once atop her back, causing him to scramble mid-air and clutch the librarian’s mane to prevent flying entirely off.  “I know another pony that you’d read a book about,” she said with a wry little grin.

“Oh, I, uh....”  The dragon suddenly clammed up and turned a deep shade of red.

“Maybe that’s who I should write my book about.  Rarity: An Exposition on Beauty, Elegance, and Poise, by Twilight Sparkle,” Twilight continued to tease her young assistant, growing rather amused by the rising blush in his cheeks. “But, speaking of Rarity... I do believe we’re here,” she said before bringing up a hoof to knock on the front door of Rarity’s boutique.

The young dragon attempted to defend himself before, suddenly, the door to the boutique burst open and a rush of activity came swooping straight out from there within.  Twilight barely managed to leap to the side without getting caught up in the madness.

”What in the-?” Twilight muttered as a trio of rambunctious fillies sprinted out and across the plaza, the glimmer of very expensive-looking material shining in the bright winter sun.

“Cutie Mark Crusader Mission: Fabric Appropriation - accomplished!” Twilight overheard one of the fillies shout before disappearing into the crowd.

Why you little-” Twilight heard Rarity shout from within the boutique, quickly arriving at the front door and stomping her hooves. “Again! Why, oh why, did I leave that fabric out again?  I swear, those three fillies give a whole new meaning to the term inventory shrinkage’.  I wonder if there’s a tax deduction for ‘Inventory Misappropriated by Crazed Fillies’...” Her voice trailed off before suddenly seeing the purple unicorn standing to her side. “Oh, Twilight, darling, I wasn’t expecting you! Please, please come in,” Rarity greeted, her voice quickly brightening as she turned back to return inside.

“I hope you don’t mind me dropping by unannounced.  I know you stay really busy in the winter,” Twilight apologized as she stepped into her friend’s store, making sure to close the door behind her.

“I’m never too busy for a visit by one of my closest friends, darling!” Rarity eased the purple unicorn’s mind as she levitated over two cups of tea.  “But please tell me, what brings you by my shop?  You aren’t looking for a new set of boots, are you?  Maybe a new coat?  Trenches are definitely ‘in’ this year, from what my contacts in Canterlot have been telling me...”

Twilight giggled as she took a sip from her tea.  “No, Rarity, but thank you.  I’m still extremely well-stocked from last winter.”

“But I insist!  I can’t have one of my best friends wandering around in last year’s fashions!” Rarity expounded with a look of horror spread across her face.  “At least let me fit you for some new boots. Pleeeeeeasssseeeee?” Rarity pleaded, floating out an adorable pair from a shelf in the back to further attempt to persuade the purple unicorn.

“Oh, fine, fine,” Twilight said with another giggle.  “But in exchange, you have to do something for me.”

Deal!” Rarity agreed jovially before trotting off to the back to fetch a good dozen different boots.  “What’s your hoof size again, darling? Three and a half? Now, what do you need me to do?” she asked, her mind mostly preoccupied with the challenge of finding a color which clashed least with the unicorn’s purple coat.

“Well, Rarity... you see, I’ve been given a task from Princess Celestia,” Twilight began to explain.  “Namely, to study the Elements.  Since you represent Generosity...”

“Oh! Of course!” Rarity said with a sparkle of her eyes.  “Pinkie mentioned that you need to write a thesis now! And to think, I thought that the whole ‘studying friendship’ thing was nothing serious at all.  Well don’t worry, dear, if Pinkie could concentrate long enough to write a baker’s dozen groundbreaking theses, I know you’ll manage just fine,” she said as she slipped a taupe-colored boot onto Twilight’s right forehoof. “No, no, no!  What was I thinking?...” she muttered to herself as it slipped right back off again and flew off to the back.

“Oh! Well, then!  Basically, um, what can you tell me about generosity?” Twilight asked in her cute, awkward way as she watched boot after boot fly on and off her hoof.

“I’ve honestly never given it much thought, darling,” Rarity responded half-mindedly.  “Although...” Rarity paused, a little smile crossing her face.  “Actually, dear, it’s really quite simple.  It’s not something that I ever really actively do; it’s just a matter of doing what feels right, deep down in my heart.  It’s about always putting others first, and always keeping others’ needs in mind.  It’s about always doing the best for your friends.  And, of course, always making sure they look fabulous,” she said with a wink as the boot she was levitating towards Twilight slipped itself on.  “And I think that one looks absolutely perfect, Twilight.  Yes, yes, yes,” she mused to herself as she stepped back and lifted Twilight’s other hooves slightly up into the air with her magic, fitting them with the other boots in the set.  “That, darling, should cover one little pony’s views on generosity. And your delightful new boots.”

Twilight looked down at her hooves and smiled bashfully. “They are indeed beautiful, Rarity. Thank you so very much.  How much do I owe you?”

“Please, darling.  Consider this a gift from one dear friend to another.  It’s the least I can do. Especially since I just gave you a little speech about generosity,” the fashionista said with a light chuckle.

“Well, again, thank you so very much,” Twilight said with a bashful smile.  “You truly are the most generous pony I’ve ever met.”

“It’s my pleasure, darling. Now shoo, get off and do your studying thing!” Rarity said with a wink as the door to the boutique swung open.

“Sure, let me just have Spike jot down my notes.  Spike?  Spiiiike?” Twilight called out, rather suddenly noticing that he definitely was not on her back anymore.

Rarity turned back with a look of confusion. “Spike? Twilight, darling, are you alright?  It’s been just you in here the entire time.”

Twilight paused for a long moment.  “Well, if, he wasn’t here, and he was on my back right before the Cutie Mark Crusaders came rushing out, then...” The purple pony gave a sudden gasp at the realization of where he must be.  “Oh, poor Spike...”

End of Chapter 2