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    “I can’t imagine it,” North said as they walked. “Having somepony else’s thoughts in my head.”

    “It is a strange concept to grasp, I’ll admit. Not everypony is fond of having their mind shared so completely, particularly when one has rampant unpleasant thoughts.”

    “So, what did you do?” he asked, returning their conversation to the story being told.

    “I hesitated, at first.”

    “Understandable, considering what you told me,” he said, eyeing the necklace glowing on her neck. “How was it?”

    “Intoxicating,” she said at once, closing her eyes and doubtless reliving the moment. “It was like finally being home after a terribly long trip abroad.”


    In the early hours of the morning, several days after she’d begun staying in Hollow Shades, Princess Twilight Sparkle thought of her long and rather haunting past.

    She thought about an incident where Star and Swirl had stopped functioning, and for a good five hours, the library had been submerged in darkness, leaving nothing but her voice and that of the unicorn she’d befriended only a few months ago.

    “This is what it feels like,” she’d said, a statement of unprompted and unplanned sincerity in the midst of the punishment she told herself she’d never escape from. “It feels like I can’t see the light, only the dark.”

    A few weeks after that, on a day Rarity did not stop by the library to visit the lonely pony, Star and Swirl stopped functioning again due to a slight miscalculation on Twilight’s part. What she remembered clearly of this event, however, wasn’t the annoyance she felt at the mistake, but the surprise when in the sudden darkness, a glowing necklace on a table valiantly fought against the dark.

    She remembered with crystal clarity the overwhelming affection for Rarity that shot through her at that moment along with the burning realization that, for the first time in eternity, she was not fighting the darkness alone.

    “Princess Twilight?”

    Drawn out of her thoughts, Twilight tore her gaze away from the necklace on the kitchen table and turned around to find Incantation standing under the door frame, rubbing away the sleep from her eyes.

    “Oh, good morning, Incantation.” Twilight greeted, watching with some surprise as the changeling stepped into the kitchen to join her. Usually she woke up at around seven, not six. “You’re up early.”

    “And you’re thinkin’ tasty stuff about the Boss really early in the morning.”

    Twilight couldn’t decide if Incantation feeding off her emotions was fascinating or disturbing. “Right.”

    Ink grinned at her, clearly taking pleasure in her embarrassment.

    “So, why are you up early, Princess?” continued the changeling. “Are you still trying to decide if you’re going to take Princess Luna’s dreamwalking lessons?”

    Twilight held back a sigh.

    “No,” she said, feeling a bit guilty about being indecisive when she knew Princess Luna wanted it very badly. It felt as though Luna’s insistence on the matter dwarfed what little memories Twilight was able to record in her dream journal after each night.

    Eager to move the conversation away from that topic, Twilight focused instead on her grumbling stomach and shifted the conversation with the elegance befitting her title.

    “Will you be making breakfast again?”

    “Yep! And since Sweetie’s stayin’ over, I’m makin’ pancakes with whipped cream and berries today,” continued the changeling, rolling with the shift in conversation. “She’s gonna need all her energy helping us get ready for tonight.”

    Twilight perked up at that. “Oh! You’re having an event today, aren’t you?”

    “Yeah, all the town foals are coming for stories and cupcakes,” Ink said, taking out an assortment of ingredients from the fridge. “We’re setting up shop early to make up for the fact that you and the Boss won’t be here to help.”

    “…We won’t?” asked Twilight. “Why not?”

    “You’ll see,” said the changeling, her slithering tongue poking out her mischievous smile. “You’ll see.”

    “I don’t exactly know how to feel about this,” Twilight said. It was true she’d only been living with them for a week, but a week was more than enough to learn to be suspicious of Pinkie and Incantation’s ploys.

    “Then help me make breakfast until you figure it out?”

    And so, Twilight did as suggested, trying to forget her trepidations at whatever awaited her by focusing on the delicious food she’d soon be eating.

    It was almost eight in the morning, right as she’d finished eating her sixth plate of pancakes, when the door opened and, like she did every morning, Pinkie stepped into the kitchen and then did or said nothing at all.

    Not a good morning, not a hello, not anything of the sort.

    A week ago, Twilight would have asked what was wrong, but she had since learnt not to interfere.

    Finally, after a few minutes, and without any seeming prompt, Pinkie lifted her hoof, giving Twilight and Ink enough of a warning to cover their ears. Swaying her hoof from side to side, Pinkie marked the passing of one, two, three seconds until, like clockwork, Rarity’s horrified screech echoed throughout the boutique.

    What do you mean it’s already eight?!”

    “Goooood morning, everypony!” Pinkie greeted, taking her time in the kitchen while Rarity rushed around yelling all sorts of remarks including, but not limited to: why hadn’t anypony woken her up; how did the place get so dirty during the night; why was everypony eating breakfast so slowly; why had Twilight eaten six plates of pancakes; why was she serving herself a seventh; did nopony care about anything at all; she was giving herself a raise because she deserved it; actually, she was packing up her things and going back to Ponyville; and so on and so forth in a half-hour long tirade Twilight had also learned not to interfere with.

    As Rarity stomped towards her study to pack her bags, a sleepy Sweetie Belle dragged herself into the kitchen, rubbing her eyes with a hoof.

    “Now I remember why I stopped visiting on weekends,” she complained, taking a seat next to Twilight and murmuring a quick thanks when Ink placed a small stack of pancakes before her.

    “Aw, Rarity just wants us all to be up bright and early!” Pinkie said, serving herself a large piece of cake for breakfast along with a delicious-looking jumbo milkshake. “We have lots to do today!”

    “Yes, we do,” came Rarity’s voice as she stepped into the kitchen, a checklist floating behind her.

    “I thought you were moving back to Ponyville?” asked Twilight with a grin that only grew in size when her marefriend shot her a dirty look.

    “Twilight Sparkle, have I gone insane or are you actually mocking me?”

    “Me, Rarity? I would never,” Twilight replied with an innocent smile, unable to stop herself from giggling when Rarity theatrically rolled her eyes.

    “You sillies!” Pinkie said between two mouthfuls of cake. “Now’s not the time for flirting!”

    “What?” Ink said, ceasing production of Twilight’s pancakes. “Yes, it is! Why would you stop them? There’s nothing wrong with them flirting. Let them flirt!”

    Rarity cleared her throat. “Incantation, as much as I love you and understand your situation, I do hope you realize how… well… creepy you can come off as.”

    “…Sorry, Boss,” muttered Ink, turning back to the stove and poking her pancakes with a spatula. “S’not my fault your love is so tasty…”

    “In any case,” Rarity said, moving the topic along, “we’d better start early if we’re to have everything ready for tonight. We have a lot to do.” She turned to her sister and sighed. “I’m sorry, darling. I know you want to spend time with Twilight, but your surprise visit was rather ill-timed.”

    “No, it wasn’t,” she said with a sneaky grin and a mouthful of pancakes. “Pinkie asked me to come help.”

    Rarity’s eyebrows raised at that. “And you agreed? You gave up spending time with the girls to come slave away at the Dreamland for an entire weekend?” She turned to Pinkie. “How much are you paying her?”

    “Hey!” Sweetie protested.

    “Rarity, I’m not paying her anything!” Pinkie quickly said. “I just told her we’d need the extra help since you and Princess Twilight won’t be around to help.”

    Rarity relented. “Oh, I suppose that makes sen—” Stopping mid-sentence, she raised an eyebrow at the pink pony. “We won’t be around to help?”

    “I’d like to help,” Twilight interjected, increasingly wishing to be part of the little family that lived in the Dreamland.

    “And you will!” Pinkie said, offering a big grin. “You two have to take care of something SUPER-DUPER-LOOPER important, right, Sweetie?”

    Sweetie nodded effusively, her giggling a less than endearing sight considering the whipped cream.

    “Well, this certainly isn’t ominous,” said Rarity, levitating a napkin and forcefully cleaning Sweetie’s muzzle. “What, pray tell, is this ‘super-duper-looper’ important affair that Twilight and I have to take care of?”

    “You both promise you won’t teleport?” asked Pinkie.

    “Yes…?” said Twilight which was much more positive than Rarity’s: “Yes, I said with growing terror-filled suspicion.”

    “Oki-doki! Follow me!”

    Trading concerned looks, Twilight and Rarity followed Pinkie into the lobby and out the Dreamland’s doors. Once outside, and after finding nothing that seemed to need taking care of, they turned to Pinkie.

    “Uh. What are we supposed to be taking care of?” Twilight asked, and before she could even wait for an answer, Pinkie rushed back into the Dreamland.

    EACH OTHER!” she yelled, slamming the door behind her and then loudly locking it from the other side.

    “Pinkie!” exclaimed Rarity, trying the door and then knocking on it when it failed to open. “Did she really just lock us out?”

    Twilight couldn’t help a smile. “That explains why she asked us not to teleport anywhere.”

    Rarity, however, was finding the affair less amusing, now resorting to knocking insistently on the door. “Pinkie Pie! Open this door this instant! What is the matter with you?”

    “Awwww, come on, Rarity!” came Pinkie’s muffled reply. “We just want you and Twilight to have fun! You’re always working so we’re making you have a surprise dat—” Her sentence was cut short by the sound of Rarity teleporting, leaving Twilight outside to stare at the door for a moment before, “Heeeey! You promised!”

    “Pinkie, this is ridiculous! I have work to do, and the Dreamland needs to be ready for toni—Pinkie Pie!”

    The doors to the Dreamland opened again and out came Rarity with a push, fast enough that she would have tripped onto the ground if not for Twilight quickly holding her with her magic. Behind her, Pinkie hung the closed sign on the door and then shut and locked it once more.

    Rarity cleared her throat. “Well then.”

    “Rarity?” asked Twilight, finally feeling bold enough to interject, if only because Rarity’s reaction to a surprise date wasn’t all that encouraging. “Don’t you want to go on a date with me?”

    Immediately, Rarity’s irritation melted away. “Darling, I— I mean, I do, of course, but—” She gestured helplessly towards the Dreamland.

    “They’ll be fine, Rarity,” Twilight said, clearly out of desire to comfort Rarity and not to convince her to agree to the surprise date. “Don’t you trust them?”

    “I do! I do, but…” She licked her lips, clearly uncomfortable with her thoughts as she toyed with the necklace hanging from her neck. “You must understand that I can’t simply drop my duties now that you’re here again. The Dreamland is my priority; I’m sorry.”

    And that Twilight understood, regardless of how much she wanted the date. The last thing she wanted was to create any problems for Rarity, after all. And besides, if Rarity was still the Rarity she knew and loved from two years ago…

    “All right, Rarity,” she said with a smile.

    Nothing more, nothing less.

    Rarity seemed surprised, probably having expected more objections.

    “I. Well. Yes! Yes, good, I’m so glad you understand, Twilight,” she said, taking a single step towards the door before turning back to the alicorn. “Of course, I don’t want you to think you’re not important either, darling,” she quickly added. “You really don’t mind us postponing our surprise date?”

    Twilight simply replied, smiling innocently. “Of course not, Rarity. I understand that you want to focus on the Dreamland and I’d be more than happy to stay and help. And you did say as much back in Ponyville, didn’t you? That you needed to focus on your job?”

    “Yes. Yes, I did,” Rarity continued, taking another step towards the boutique before again turning back to Twilight. “And you’re certain you don’t mind, do you? You did mention wanting to explore town.”

    “Rarity,” Twilight said with a raised eyebrow. “Are you sure you don’t want to go?”

    “What? Me? No!” Rarity denied. “I must focus on my duties! I’m just worried about you, is all.”

    Twilight restrained an amused smile. “Right. Well, would you feel better if you stay here to help and I ask your sister to show me the town?” She tilted her head. “We can do that, if you want. I’m sure Sweetie would agree. In fact, I think we should do that now.” She strode forwards towards the door with confident steps. “Come o—”

    Wait, no, stop!” Rarity exclaimed, jumping in between an innocently smiling Twilight and the door. “want to be the one to show you around town! Why should Swee—” She cut herself off, staring at Twilight for a moment before giving her a look bordering between flirtatious and disbelieving. “Why, Princess Twilight Sparkle, you are playing me like a fiddle.”

    Twilight leaned in. “Me, Rarity?” she said with a smirk. “I would never.”

    Rarity leaned in as well, matching Twilight’s smile. “Oh, yes, I’m sure you would never, Princess.” With a sigh, she leaned back. “Very well, you’ve convinced me.”

    convinced you?” Twilight said. “You convinced yourself.”

    Rarity fluttered her eyelashes. “Let us call it a team effort, then.” Letting out a smitten giggle, she lifted her hoof and fondly brushed back Twilight’s bangs. She seemed about to say something but shook it off, clearing her throat and turning towards the door. “I shall be back in an instant.”

    With a magical crack, she disappeared inside the Dreamland.

    Heeeeeeeey!”

    “Oh, for Denza’s’ sake, Pinkie, I’m just getting our things! Honestly!”

    The door opened moments later, and Rarity stepped out, her saddlebag firmly placed on her back and Twilight’s cloak floating behind her. After closing the door, she turned back to Twilight, coyly moving forward and helping Twilight put on the cloak.

    “So, Twilight,” she purred, the feel of her hoof pressing against Twilight’s necklace sent jolts through the alicorn’s body, “what’s on your mind?”

    “Uhm. Well…”

    “Yeeees?”

    Twilight smiled sheepishly. “What does playing somepony like a fiddle mean?”

    Rarity laughed, delighted.

    “Oh, Twilight Sparkle,” she said. “What am I going to do with you?”

    They made their way to the town’s marketplace, Rarity briefly explaining things here and there when Twilight wasn’t busy examining the stands. So many of them, she noticed, were themed after Princess Luna.

    “I don’t understand,” said Twilight as they walked past a small stone sculpture of Luna in between two stands, its base littered with Equestrian and foreign coins. “They don’t believe in her, but they honor her?”

    “It’s a tradition, darling,” Rarity explained. “They’ve been doing it for so long, they don’t question why they do it. They think it’s some sort of good luck charm, I suppose.” She smiled. “It certainly helps that the tourists find it all oh-so-charming, especially the cloaks.”

    “Do you make them?” Twilight asked, aware of the one hanging on her back. She would probably have to return it soon and get one for herself.

    Rarity snorted. “Stars, no,” she said. “Dear old Leather Silk would have Elder Moonshine banish me from the town if I dared try to be his competition. He has, however, hired me a few times during tourist season.”

    Twilight turned back towards the stands, her eyes catching a small oil-painting depicting rather inaccurate versions of the Princesses. It was strange to see first-hoof the impact her actions had caused amongst modern Equestrians. Dolls, paintings, books, and more, all centered around the supposedly fake tale of the Four Lost Princesses.

    “Are you two fans of Princess Twilight?”

    Twilight looked up from the little ‘Princess Twilight’ figurine she and Rarity had been examining to find the shopkeeper peering at them.

    “Oh yes,” Rarity said innocently, her tail swishing to brush against Twilight’s. “I’d venture to say I’m her biggest fan of all.”

    Twilight playfully rolled her eyes, putting the figurine down. “These are all very, uh, interesting,” she said, picking up the figurine of a black slithering creature with wings and paws. “Is this supposed to be the Spirit?”

    “Yes, it is!” chimed the shopkeeper before gesturing to the top of the stand. “And those are warding charms!”

    An assortment of necklaces hung above her, their pendants carved into all sizes and shapes.

    “There’s something very special about them, you see,” continued the shopkeeper. “A warding spell cast centuries ago! There isn’t any spell like it!”

    “I agree,” said Twilight. “Mostly because there is no spell on these necklaces.”

    The shopkeeper gasped. “What?! Yes, there is!” he protested. “They were found hidden in Canterlot Castle, along with a letter from Princess Twilight Sparkle herself, saying she placed a spell on them to keep the Spirit away!”

    “Right.”

    “My, my, how very thoughtful of the Princess!” exclaimed Rarity, placing a hoof on Twilight. “Don’t you agree, darling?”

    “Why would they be hidden if they were meant to protect other ponies, then?” Twilight asked.

    The shopkeeper sighed. “You see, miss, despite the Princess’s incredible magic talents…” He grinned. “Well, all alone in her library all day with nopony to talk to, poor Princess Twi went a little crazy in the head.”

    “She went wha—”

    “Do forgive her,” Rarity quickly interrupted before Twilight could lecture the stallion on how empty his head clearly was. “She simply has a rather large amount of, shall we say, strong opinions on the Myth of the Four Princesses.”

    “Oh, I see,” he said, looking her up and down. “You’re one of them.” His eyes narrowed. “A non-believer.”

    “A what?

    “You don’t believe in the legend of the four princesses, do you?” He shook his head, making a clicking noise with his tongue, as though he himself believed in the tale. “It’s because of ponies like you that the poor Princesses are still trapped throughout the land!”

    “Clearly,” said Twilight. “Princess Twilight is trapped because of me.”

    Rarity giggled. “I mean, dear, if you think about it, one could say she was trapped because of you.” At Twilight’s stare, she bit down on her lip. “Too soon?”

    “A bit.” Twilight then turned back to the shopkeeper. “Sir, these necklaces aren’t enchanted, and you shouldn’t be saying they are.”

    “But they are! The Princess enchanted them!” he protested, and she had to at least give him credit for his extraordinary stubbornness. “Poor Princess Twilight, what would she think of this?”

    “She would point out that you’re profiting off her and the other Princesses’s situation.”

    He waved her off. “It’s what she would have wanted.”

    “Actually, sir, what she would have wante—”

    “Twilight, look!” Rarity interrupted again, rudely preventing Twilight from telling him exactly what she wanted. She gestured to some pendants hanging above them, specifically two very familiar translucent crystals.

    “Wait,” she said, her hoof jumping to the crystal on her neck as she glanced at Rarity, “are those…?”

    “They are indeed. This is where I bought them.” Rarity gestured to her own necklace, the bottom part of it still missing. “Well, less damaged versions of them, of course.”

    “You broke it?!” gasped the shopkeeper. “No, no, no! The spell won’t work if it’s broken! Clearly, you must buy another one, Miss, or the spell won’t work properly! Buy it, and I’ll even throw in a discount book! Have you read The Day Princess Twilight Painted The Moon Purple?

    “No, I did not!”

    “Perhaps some other time!” Rarity politely refused, pushing Twilight away from the stand. “Thank you! Goodbye!”

    Once they were sufficiently distanced from the stand, Twilight wasted no time expressing her thoughts on the matter in the shape of a very pronounced frown.

    “Twiliiiight,” Rarity said, stifling a laugh. “Sweetest, you cannot let that upset you.”

    “I’m not upset, Rarity,” she said. “How would I even turn the moon purple? That’s impossible! According to the scientific book you gave me, the moon’s surface area is over fourteen million square miles! And I’d have to account for the paint I would use, which would need a chemical component complex enough to work in whatever atmosphere the moon has, which—” She stopped. “Unless I didn’t actually paint the moon, but instead cast a perception spell that made it seem purple? Hm.”

    She turned to Rarity, but before she could speak up, Rarity did.

    “No, you are not going to cast a perception spell on the entire town.”

    “I wasn’t going to ask that.”

    “Twilight, do you think I know nothing about you?” she asked with fluttered eyelashes.

    “No, you don’t seem to,” Twilight flatly replied. “I was going to ask if you were free tonight so I could try the perception spell on you.”

    “I do so love how you’ve just assumed I’d agree to being your test subject.”

    “Would you not want to help me if I asked?”

    “Well, no, of course I’d agree.”

    “See!” Twilight replied with a winning smile, leaning in. “Maybe I’m the only one of us who knows the other well.”

    “Well!” Rarity replied with a blush. “Somepony’s certainly on their game today, it would seem. But—!” She tapped Twilight on the nose. “It is always better to ask for permission even when you think you already have it, hm?”

    Twilight playfully rolled her eyes. “Rarity,” she said theatrically, “Can I use you as a test subject for a perception spell?”

    “I would be delighted,” she said, offering Twilight a quick peck on the lips right after. She then glanced towards the stand with the salespony and held her necklace. “Although…” She bit down on her lip. “You don’t think he’s right, do you?”

    Twilight frowned slightly. “About what?”

    “The spell—the real one—not working because my necklace is broken,” she elaborated. “Do you think I should replace it?”

    At Rarity’s permission, Twilight levitated the necklace off Rarity and examined it further. Though it was true that the pressure of the spell had cracked it once before…

    “It’s worked fine the other times we’ve used it,” she noted. “The two times it was damaged were due to overexertion on our part, but…” Her eyes lit up. “We could test them, if you want.”

    “You mean use the spell?” Rarity clarified, and she seemed much less enthusiastic about the idea than Twilight was. “I don’t know…”

    “You don’t know?” she asked, her excitement wavering. “Why not?”

    Rarity retrieved the necklace from Twilight’s magical grip and looked it over. “I— It’s been a very long time since we last did this properly, Twilight,” she said slowly. “Nearly two years, in fact, and I don’t know if…” She hesitated again. “A great many thoughts have gone through my mind in two years, and I’m not so certain I’m willing to share them so freely yet.”

    Oh.

    A rather sickening sensation overtook Twilight, as though a door had been shut squarely in her face. Rarity didn’t want to mindlink with her anymore. Because of what she’d caused. Because of the divide she had created. Because of the outburst that she’d had. No matter how hard she tried to forget it, the consequences of that outburst kept cropping up time and time again.

    “Right,” she said, and nothing else.

    An awkward silence shoved itself between them, only mildly alleviated by the glowing necklace on her neck. It was pink, wasn’t it? If Rarity had truly stopped trusting Twilight, then that wouldn’t be the case.

    Ugh.

    “Twilight?”

    Twilight looked up and found Rarity staring intently at her broken necklace, ears lowered.

    “Yes?”

    “You… Do you remember that night some time after we broke the curse? When we did the mindlink and you noticed something was wrong with Cadance? Do you remember how you were afraid of doing the spell after that because you didn’t want me to think about what you saw?”

    “Yes,” Twilight replied.

    “And do you remember,” she continued, still looking at the pendant, “how we did so later because I promised you I wouldn’t go where you didn’t want me to go?”

    That, Twilight remembered very well. She remembered being terrified of Rarity realizing the extent of the damage Twilight had caused, and instead being met with the most embarrassingly self-indulgent half-hour of Rarity mentally showing Twilight how much she loved her.

    Just thinking about it still sent shivers up her spine.

    Rarity looked up and their eyes met. “If we try the spell again, will you promise me you won’t go where I don’t want you to go?”

    Relief and excitement washed over the alicorn, and she had to stop her wings from flaring up.

    “Of course!” she exclaimed. True, she was still… sad that Rarity didn’t trust her a hundred percent, but considering her own past habits of keeping everything a secret, it wasn’t as though she was in any position to complain. “I can cast the spell so it’s focused on me rather than you, if you want.”

    Rarity mulled it over for a moment before smiling warmly. “All right, then, Your Highness.”

    Though every inch of Twilight wanted to jump in joy, she restrained herself and sought confirmation.

    “Are you sure?” she asked carefully.

    Rarity offered her a dazzling smile as her horn blazed with magic and their necklaces began to glow.

    “Certain.”

    Unable to stop herself, Twilight rushed forward, embracing her marefriend joyously before promptly levitating her up in the air and rushing out of the marketplace, ignoring Rarity’s half-hearted protests to be put back down.

    Upon finding a secluded spot in the first back alley she found, Twilight put Rarity down and began to speak at a mile per minute.

    “Darling, I do remember how to do it, you know?” Rarity said, playfully raising an eyebrow at the Princess’s long-winded explanation.

    “I just want to make sure,” Twilight promised before patiently waiting for Rarity to close her eyes and cast the spell.

    One, two, three seconds passed, and a ping! sounded off. A moment of silence befell them, Rarity waiting and Twilight…

    Twilight trying not to think too much of Rarity’s hesitation at using the spell, as well as the guilt that came with it.

    “Twilight?” prompted Rarity. “Is everything all right?”

    “Yes!” Twilight blurted out, once again pushing away the bad thoughts. What mattered now was Rarity, and nothing else. She took a long breath, and closed her eyes. “One, two, and…”

    Ping!

    In the darkness they sat, waiting and waiting. Nothing happened at first, no foreign thoughts or other sensations. Just silence, and the now familiar feeling of breathing in and out, the distant sounds of the marketplace, and the enticing smell of the food stands.

    So enticing, in fact, that they were awakening her large appet—

    “Dear stars,” came Rarity’s voice in a gasp. “Are you always this famished?! I feel like I haven’t eaten in centuries! Why?”

    Twilight grinned. “Why are you asking me? You already know why.”

    “Twilight Sparkle, just because your magic output has increased exponentially due to you being alicorn doesn’t mean you’re allowed to eat like an uncivilized troglody—Oh dear, I’ve just hurt our feelings. And now I feel bad for hurting our feelings. And now I can’t really tell which one of us is fee—”

    Twilight laughed. “Rari—”

    “I don’t care that me stating what we’re both feeling is silly!” Rarity said before Twilight could finish her sentence. “This is still bizarre!”

    Twilight fell silent, biting down on her lips.

    It was bizarre, wasn’t it? Yet more than bizarre, the feeling that completely and overwhelmingly seemed to be taking over was the feeling of relief, like coming home after a long trip. This was where Twilight felt most comfortable, in this space where she had nothing to hide, nothing to explain, nothing to be but herself with the pony she cared about the most.

    For the first time, all her barriers were completely and utterly gone, and she would have it no other way when being with Rarity.

    “Twilight, really,” Rarity said, and Twilight didn’t need to open her eyes to see Rarity’s burning blush and the whole flurry of emotions that melded with Twilight’s absolute delight at flustering the poor unicorn which, by the way…

    Without warning, she opened her eyes and regaled herself with the fantastic view of a closed-eyed Rarity, who was feeling mortified by how immensely flustered she was. And beautiful, too, Twilight was sure to add, and kind, and attractive, and every other word she could push to the forefront that would increase Rarity’s blush.

    “I can’t tell if I should feel flattered or horrifically narcissistic,” noted the unicorn with a laugh, prompting Twilight to finally nuzzle her, and embrace her, and try to put some sort of physical sense to what her mind was trying to express.

    “I’m perfectly fine staying here,” said Twilight before Rarity could even audibly point out that they should go on with the tour. She was perfectly fine staying there nuzzling Rarity, and she knew that so was Rarity, and it was so nice to know and understand and—

    And so a new sensation overtook her, not originating from her, but from her other half. A desire to show Twilight what she’d done in two years, who she’d met, which in turn fueled Twilight’s desire to understand and learn and finally rid herself of the silent question of what she had missed.

    “Where should we go first?” she asked, already on their next train of thought and making an effort to be as audible as Rarity.

    “We’ve already seen the marketplace,” said Rarity.

    “We could go see Moonstone park, though Lunar Plaza has that little café we like.”

    “Well, we don’t know if you like it, we only know that I certainly enjoy its aesthetic, and… and now I can see why this spell is a problem.”

    Twilight smiled. “It’s hard to decide on something when we’re both trying to please each other, right? Though, I agree with your idea of being spontaneous and looking around until we find something.”

    Rarity tilted her head. “Darling, us voicing our thoughts won’t work if you—”

    “Keep answering your questions before you ask them,” Twilight finished before sheepishly rubbing the back of her head. “Sorry.”

    “You’re quite the silly pony, aren’t you?”

    “We’re a silly pony,” Twilight clarified.

    She then turned around towards a more prominent town street and was about to lead the way until a foreign thought politely knocked in her head and reminded her Rarity couldn’t actually go anywhere with her eyes closed.

    That, unfortunately, was a lesson they’d learnt the hard way. The last time they both tried opening their eyes while under the spell had created an overload of sensory and visual information strong enough to result in a splitting headache so painful, Twilight was able to feel it through the spell despite her displaced condition.

    “A shame we can’t move as a single pony,” Rarity noted, until a thought arose in Twilight’s mind, and Rarity’s face immediately contorted. “NoAbsolutely not. No.”

    Twilight blinked innocently. “I haven’t said anything, Rarity,” she said. “It was just a hypothetical idea, which you’re seemingly starting to like.”

    “You’re imagining things, I can assure you. And besides, what are we going to use? Sunglasses? I don’t think anyone in this town sells them, let alone wears them. You’d have to use some sort of—Oh.” She fiddled with the necklace. “Well, you would look dashing and mysterious, I suppose, but…”

    “Rarity…”

    “Oh, all right, fine!” she exclaimed. “But you’re the one coming up with the excuse we’ll give ponies who stare!”


    Darkness.

    Complete and utter darkness with only a few struggling rays of light seeping into the black blindfold wrapped around Twilight’s eyes, and yet she could not care for the dark. It would be gone soon, after all.

    “Rarity?” she called out, the communication spell no longer active. “What’s wrong?”

    “Twilight, this is ridiculous! Really, it is! What if I fall?” came Rarity’s strained voice somewhere behind her.

    “You won’t fall off, Rarity,” Twilight reassured, bending down and extending her wings. “I promise.”

    “Promises won’t mean anything when I’m in the hospital with a broken leg!” she retorted, but finally relented when Twilight gave a meaningful look in the general direction of her voice.

    After one last plaintive noise on Rarity’s part, Twilight heard the mare trot up to her and then proceed to clumsily climb onto Twilight’s back and sit down rather uncomfortably, even going so far as to accidentally smack Twilight on the head.

    Once she’d finally seemed to settle into a comfortable position, Twilight heard the ping! of her necklace activating, followed by a theatrical sigh.

    “Well, let us break a leg, then!”

    A crackle of magic filled the air, the darkness continued for a moment, until an image filled Twilight’s mind. The back alley they’d been in materialized with crystal clarity in her mind, like some sort of vivid daydream, and while she took in the sight, so did Rarity adjust herself until she reached the optimal position for both of them.

    They both waited with bated breath until the blindfolded alicorn trusted the vision in her head and took a step forward, Rarity’s hold tightening and then releasing when nothing went wrong. A desire filled Twilight’s mind to take another step, and then another, and so on until a single mind controlled their joined bodies, the two of them sharing a shaky laugh.

    They left the alley in perfect coordination and looked around, simultaneously assessing and appreciating their surroundings. It was hard to tell where one began and the other ended. It was hard to tell if Rarity’s fascination towards hoof-made souvenirs was really Twilight’s burning curiosity, just as it was hard to tell if the glee Twilight felt towards the strength of her magic was hers or Rarity’s.

    “Rarity?”

    They turned towards a nearby stand, where a mare—Silver Blue, whom Twilight now remembered had met Rarity two months ago during a formal event—curiously peered at Rarity and Twilight from behind her wares.

    “Hello, Silver Blue!” exclaimed Twilight, seeing the mare’s rather confused expression through Rarity’s eyes.

    “How are you, dear?” Rarity continued, nonchalantly levitating an emerald bracelet from the table and bringing it up to her eyes. “Why, this is lovely! Twilight, what do you think?”

    “Oh! The inscription! Is that ancient Equish, Silver?” Twilight asked, and again withheld a laugh at Silver’s stammering.

    “Er, y-yes, Miss,” she said, staring Twilight down as if expecting to find out how shewas seeing while blindfolded. “It means—”

    Rarity interrupted. “We were strangers when first we met,” she read aloud.

    “I didn’t know you could read Old Equish, Rarity,” said Silver Blue, only for Rarity to simply smile.

    “I don’t.” She turned the bracelet around and exclaimed, “Oh, here’s the other part of the phrase! Look, Twilight!”

    But now we are the best of friends,” read the Princess, still blindfolded and amused by Silver Blue’s thoroughly flummoxed blinking.

    “What a lovely sentiment,” Rarity said wistfully. “It rather reminds me of us, except strangers don’t usually throw ponies against bookcases.”

    “Really, Rarity?”

    “You’re the one who let me say it out loud, Twilight,” replied Rarity before putting the bracelet back on the table and scanning the rest of the accessories. “Is there any other item you like, Twilight?”

    Twilight licked her lips, narrowing her closed eyes under the blindfold. “That blue one in the corner is nice, I think. Then again, this one with the red and blue oval is also nice.”

    “Excuse me,” blurted out Silver, “but how are you doing that?”

    “Doing what?” said Twilight and Rarity in perfect synch, their stares set on the mare.

    That,” said Silver.

    “Oh, you mean this?” replied Rarity and Twilight again, their smiles increasing.

    “Uhm. You know what? Don’t worry about it,” said Silver, taking the emerald bracelet and putting it in a small bag. “You can have this on the house.”

    “Are you sure?” they asked a third time, and held back cheeky smiles when the mare seemed entirely weirded-out.

    “Yes, yes,” said Silver. “You can pay me back by teaching my husband and I how to understand each other like you do!”

    With a final farewell, they moved on the next stand, and the next after that, all the way up until a voice called out to them; their smiles turning wicked at the sight of Professor Awe trotting towards them.

    “Dear lord,” he said when he reached them, taking in the sight of Rarity and the blindfolded alicorn. “What are you doing?”

    “Hello, Professor!” they said in unison. “It’s nice to see you. How was your trip back home?”

    “Clearly not as interesting as the one you’re on right now,” he said with a light smile, his eyes moving back and forth between the glowing necklaces. “So, this is the spell you’ve mentioned before, isn’t it? The communication spell?”

    “Actually,” Rarity began.

    “It’s a mind-melding spell,” Twilight clarified. “Well, an imperfect one, since we share different bodies, but we can essentially extract any information we want from the other’s mind.”

    The Professor offered an amused smile. “Interesting. And are you acting as a single entity now? Should I start calling you TwaRity?”

    “TwaRity?” Rarity gasped. “Stars no, that sounds terrible.”

    “TwiRity?” Twilight offered and then retracted. “Maybe not. RariTwi?”

    “I don’t know, it’s missing a certain je ne sais quoi.

    “Yeah, you might be right. Wait…. RariLight?”

    “Because you’re the light of my life or because I’m a shining light of beauty and fashion? What?! It’s true!”

    “I didn’t say anything, Rarity.”

    “You thought it!”

    “AHEM,” said the Professor.

    “Yes?” they asked in unison, Rarity directing their mutual sight towards him.

    A long silence followed, in which the Professor seemed to debate how exactly to react to, well, them. He eventually cleared his throat and looked up at Rarity.

    “I brought back what Princess Luna asked of me,” he said, and though Twilight was expecting to find out what it was through Rarity, she was surprised when Rarity herself had no idea what he was referring to.

    “Did you?” asked Rarity, for a moment putting aside their shared consciousness. “What exactly was this thing she wanted?”

    “A book,” he said, and his sights now turned to Twilight. “A very old book on dreamwalking.”

    “On dreamwalking?” Twilight immediately asked, suppressing the impulse to take the blindfold off. As soon as she’d spoken, however, a foreign memory jumped into her mind of a hesitant Rarity discussing with Luna the possibility of Twilight dreamwalking if she were ever freed.

    “She’s already asked Twilight,” Rarity said, “but she hasn’t decided yet.”

    The Professor sighed. “Well, at the rate things are going with the Princess, someone must give in. Either Princess Twilight or Moonshine.”

    “Moonshine?” asked Twilight. “Elder Moonshine? What about he—”

    Her sentence cut off, a new memory pushing into her mind. A room in the Dreamland she’d never seen before, where Pinkie and Rarity tirelessly worked on diagrams, and charts, and plans and… teddy bears?

    Was… Was that something to do with the thing Rarity mentioned about wanting to take charge of Seeking Night?

    “Twilight,” Rarity said suddenly, gently but firmly, “I will explain later.”

    Twilight swallowed, putting the matter aside. “Right. Sorry.”

    Rarity cleared her throat and turned to the Professor. “Now, what were you—Ah yes. You know the Elder, Professor. There is only so many times one can ask.”

    “Has she met our lovely Princess?”

    “Yes,” Rarity said, “and she thought her fake wings were very well done.”

    The Professor frowned. “I see. Well, giving up isn’t an option for us, as I’m sure you both know. It won’t hurt to ask again. I did see her near the Garden Plaza.” He smiled. “Perhaps if you go to her in this state, she might see the RariLight.”

    Twilight frowned and voiced her and Rarity’s common thought. “Really, Professor?”

    “And this is why I am not a comedian,” he added with a grin before trotting off. “Goodbye, ladies.”

    It wasn’t until after he was gone that Rarity finally answered the question in Twilight’s mind.

    “Yes, darling, it had to do with my ideas for Seeking Night,” she said, “but I see no use in dwelling on it since Elder Moonshine is as unwavering as a mountain about it, and no, we are not going to the plaza to ask her, no matter how much you try to persua—Oh, fine.”

    “I didn’t even say anything,” Twilight said cheekily.

    “You know,” Rarity said with a hum, “I think I’m suddenly tired of casting this spell.”

    “All right, all right, I’m moving!”

    The Garden Plaza, as its name suggested, was filled with all kinds of potted plants and flowers, as well as a small playground swarmed by several groups of foals. The only thing they couldn’t find was Elder Moonshine herself, much to the conflicting emotions of disappointment and relief that coursed through the mares.

    Oh well.

    Fortunately, whatever disappointment Twilight felt was soon forgotten in the wake of the things she remembered upon looking at the foals. It only took her a second, a quick look-over them all, and she suddenly knew everything about these foals she’d just met. Their names, their favorite games, everything Rarity had ever learnt about them.

    In fact, this wealth of information brought about the question of whether it was really ethically correct for her to be learning these things. Then again, the wildest secret these foals had was that one had a crush on the other, and that this one had wet the bed last month.

    “Princess Twilight! Rarity!” two voices called in unison, and the two were dragged out of their mental discussion on the ethics of mind-melding and towards a group of foals, two of whom Twilight herself recognized: Rhinestone and Dusk, the little siblings she seemed to have a habit of bumping into.

    Twilight stepped towards them, but the Rarity’s side of her compelled her to stop.

    “Rarity?” she asked.

    “Wait,” Rarity replied and without offering any explanation, vocal or mental, she jumped off Twilight and closed her eyes, sinking Twilight into darkness. “Quickly, give me your blindfold.”

    Twilight blinked. “I—Okay?” she said, removing the blindfold and taking a moment to get used to seeing through her own eyes again. “Why do you—”

    A foreign idea formed in her mind, her eyes darting towards the foals, and with an excited smile, she helped Rarity put on the blindfold. Once it was done, they walked towards Rhinestone and the others, trying to look nonchalant.

    “Hello, everypony!” Twilight greeted, immediately identifying the two other foals as Rosey Posey and Redwood Grass.

    “Why are you blindfolded, Rarity?” asked Rhy, peering up at the unicorn.

    “I seem to have strained my eyes terribly while working,” she explained, then gestured to her and Twilight’s glowing horns. “Luckily for me, Princess Twilight is kind enough to guide me with the help of a spell.” She paused for a single dramatic second and added, “She’s sending instructions right into my head, you see.”

    The foals’ eyes widened and they looked towards Twilight. “You are?!”

    “Yes, I am,” Twilight said. “I can read her mind and send her instructions as well.”

    Though Dusk and Rosey Posey nodded effusively, Rhy and Redwood seemed far more suspicious of Twilight and Rarity’s claims.

    “You can’t read Rarity’s thoughts!” Rhy said, regarding Twilight with a skeptical smile. “What’s she thinking now?!”

    “Well,” Twilight said, “she’s thinking about wan—” Her sentence cut-off with a choked cough at realizing the very forward thoughts Rarity was having about her.

    “Twilight?” asked Rarity innocently. “Is something wrong?”

    “No,” stammered the blushing alicorn, loudly thinking to herself that somepony was being very silly right now until a terribly entertaining idea formed in her mind. “Well, I guess since Rarity’s okay with this, I’m going to assume you’ve all had lessons on anato—”

    Twilight Sparkle!” gasped Rarity.

    “Rarity? Is something wrong?” she asked innocently, and she didn’t need to be mind-melded with Rarity to know that the unicorn’s little grunt meant point taken. “Weren’t you just thinking of how delicious Pinkie’s cupcakes are?”

    “Yes. Yes, I was. Yes. That.”

    “That’s not what she was thinking!” Redwood said, stomping his hoof on the ground. “Everypony thinks that!”

    He rushed over to Rarity and tugged on her foreleg, and as soon as she bent down, he whispered something in her ear. Nothing changed in Twilight’s mind at first, until suddenly she could hear his voice clear as crystal, as if he were whispering in her ear as well.

    “Okay!” he exclaimed, turning to Twilight with a smug smirk. “What’s she thinking of now?”

    Twilight let out an entirely too Rarity-esque sigh. “I don’t know, Redwood. It’s true that quinticorns would be exceedingly proficient at magic,” she said, quietly revelling in his gasp, “but I really don’t know if they’d be better than alicorns since they’re still lacking the magic of the other two races.”

    “How did you do that?!”

    “She’s Princess Twilight!” Dusk exclaimed, standing next to her and puffing out his chest. “She can do anything, just like Princess Luna!”

    “Can you read my thoughts too, Princess Twilight?” asked Rosey excitedly, tugging on her foreleg. “What am I thinking?!”

    Twilight laughed, the little filly staring up at her like her life depended on it. “I can’t read your thoughts right now, Posey, but…” A little tidbit of knowledge was politely sent her way. “I know your biggest secret.”

    Posey stepped back, horrified. “No, you don’t! …Do you?”

    “It’s all right,” Twilight said, leaning down to be at her eye-level. “I’m really afraid of spiders, too.”

    “R-Really?!” asked Posey, completely star-struck by the alicorn. Much like Dusk, she puffed out her chest and stood tall and proud. “Don’t be afraid, Princess Twilight! I’ll protect you!”

    “Wait, wait, do me next!” Redwood asked, rushing up to Twilight and jumping up in spot. “What’s my biggest secret?!”

    A new tidbit entered Twilight’s mind–a memory of Rarity comforting the colt after a little accident during an overnight event at the Dreamland.

    She bit down on her lip. “Do you really want me to say what your biggest secret is?” she asked, making a note to find a book for him on the unfortunate event of bedwetting.

    Redwood blushed. ‘Uhm. No. Maybe not,” he said, stepping back and then pointing to Dusk. “What’s his biggest secret?!”

    “Hey!” he protested before turning to Twilight. “…what is it?”

    Twilight waited a moment, and again a memory rushed through her mind, drawing a laugh out of her lips.

    “Dusk,” she said, trying to sound as serious as she could, “Incantation is a little tooooooo old to be your special somepony.”

    Dusk bowed his head, hoofing at the floor. “Aw.”

    “What about them?” Rhy asked, pointing to the rest of the foals scattered about the plaza. “Do you know their biggest secrets?!”

    Twilight hesitated. “Uh… I’d have to talk to them,” she said, and no sooner had she finished her sentence, the four foals sped off towards everypony else before she could stop them.

    “My, my, aren’t you a smashing success with the children?” said Rarity, moving towards Twilight and snuggling up against her. “Are you having fun taking my poor mind apart like everything else you’re interested in?”

    “I’m not taking it apart,” Twilight protested. “Only the parts you let me, just like you said.”

    “And you’ve delivered splendidly,” Rarity replied, a rather strong sense of external affection pushing itself into Twilight’s mind at the end of the statement. “Thank you, darling, for respecting my privacy.”

    Twilight nuzzled Rarity, content in that moment, still riding the small exhilaration from being able to so thoroughly amaze the foals. Thanks to Rarity, she’d been able to see what others saw when they looked at her. For a small time, she had forgotten her guilt, her nightmares, and the wings that seemed to tether her to a terrible past, and she was instead able to actually appreciate who she was.

    “I would hope this newfound appreciation of yourself lasts even past the spell, Twilight,” Rarity murmured.

    Twilight said nothing, for anything she could say Rarity already knew. It was a long road ahead to ever feel what she now felt without help, but it was easier with…

    “With…?” Rarity prompted. “Don’t keep me in suspense, now.”

    “You’re silly,” Twilight said.

    “And you’re deflecting.”

    “No, I’m not. You already know what I’m thinking.”

    “Touché,” she said, again nuzzling Twilight. “It is a long road ahead, but it certainly is worth walking, isn’t it?”

    Before Twilight could reply, somepony clearing their throat interrupted her and she turned to find an entire crowd of foals had now gathered before her, each and every one waiting to witness Princess Twilight’s mind-reading powers.

    “Dear stars, we’ll be here a while,” Rarity whispered. “Shall we show them, as they say, the RariLight?”

    Twilight laughed, the necklace on her chest glowing brightly. “It sounds even worse when you say it.”

    I said it? Pardon me, but this road is one we walk together, dearest.”

    “I know,” said Twilight.

    She wouldn’t have it any other way.


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    1. Guest
      Jul 17, '23 at 12:33 pm

      This chapter was so funny! Rarity waking up late, Rarilight confusing the hell out of Silver Blue, Professor Awe’s reaction… these all genuinely made me laugh out loud.

    2. A Deer
      May 6, '23 at 2:34 am

      I’ll one day go door to door asking people if they’ve seen the RariLight. I’ll even have pamphlets.

      It was great reading Rarity and Twilight having fun and just taking a break from the ordeal. Yet the story still moved forward and didn’t take a break itself. There was character growth and plot info presented. I like how that was done so well.

      Also I’m picturing Rarity riding Twilight like a horse due to this chapter. Just give Rarity a diamond studded cowboy hat and a shady backstory and you got a hit western in the making – The Good, The Bad and The Fabulous.

    3. Zanna Zannolin
      Oct 19, '22 at 8:31 pm

      okay i knOOOOW i already gushed about your less plotty chapters but i want to do it again because i’m so delighted by how GOOD this chapter is. like this series, at its core, isn’t JUST about freeing the four princesses. it’s about rarity and twilight’s relationship and so chapters like this where they get to take a breather and walk around and reassess where they are and where they’ve been…they’re so important! they give you this frame of reference for how far they’ve come since the beginning and it’s so fun and sweet and fluffy.

      the two of them finally getting to cast the communication spell after so long feels monumentally important but in this subdued way that doesn’t overwhelm the entire chapter. <- i almost typed like a massive paragraph here that would have made it way too evident i have been writing essays for college all day. fortunately i restrained myself from giving you MLA citations. suffice it to say: i love how you structured it and emphasized how important it was while keeping the sweetness and the lightheartedness of the chapter intact. seeing twilight make an effort not to get lost in bad thoughts for rarity's sake and rarity trust twilight not to go where she's uncomfortable with is just so! nice! like they're not perfect by any means but they really are putting in such active effort to be healthy and honest with each other and maybe i just haven't had a ship i really enjoyed in a while or maybe i've spent too much time in my other fandom with my incredibly unhealthily codependent fav dynamic but it's SO refreshing and heartening to see them being good to each other. YOU KNOW.

      also catch me seeing the crimson lips line and screaming. i don't know if it's actually a reference to crimson or if the line in crimson was a reference to this or something else but i got so excited hdsajdjas. i was like OH MY GOD CRIMSON LIPS????? fan behavior.

      furthermore i would read. simply an entire novel on each of your ocs. incantation my beloved. professor awe my brother. i adore them and i get so excited whenever they're around like you just do such a wonderful job of blending them into the story and now i'm attached!! they're like my own blorbos….like sons to me….

    4. A Deer
      Aug 21, '22 at 5:17 am

      Really enjoyed the humor and dialog here. Might need to read this chapter again before the next one. Also enjoyed the explanation of dream magic from the previous chapter and understanding what Luna might have to overcome. If Rarity and Luna both need to overcome obstacles, I can see that complicating reaching the goal of freeing Luna.

      1. A Deer
        @A DeerMay 6, '23 at 2:36 am

        Hi past me!