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    The tavern was nearly empty, the few quiet patrons still there casting shadows under the dimly lit lanterns floating along the ceiling. In the kitchen, the cook washed dishes, waiting for the next order, the next customer, keeping the place running rather than closing for the night and going home to an empty house.

    At the register, the waitress counted money, wondering when she’d earn enough to quit her second job and dreaming of moving out of her aunt’s home to have a little garden of her own. Nothing big. Just a little living thing to care for and call hers.

    At the table near the corner, there was a man well on his way to drowning his liver with liquor. He didn’t care, clearly. Maybe he had once. Maybe he will, eventually. But right now, right then, drinking his drink as he drank every day, his eyes were set on a young woman a few tables away.

    She’d been there so long, he thought. All day, it felt like. As long as him. She’d only ordered water so far. Water, and a bowl of chips, presumably so they wouldn’t throw her out.

    She did nothing else. She simply sat there, her hands folded on her lap, her sight set on her untouched plate.

    Earlier, a drunkard (not him, a different one) had tripped and fallen, glasses shattering alongside his remaining dignity. He wailed in pain, and then… Then, after a moment of silence, he cried. He let out big, awful sobs, lying amongst the shards of his vice and his heart.

    “I loved her,” he wailed, like so many others before him. “I loved her.”

    Everyone had turned to look. The cook, the waitress, the other patrons, and so did our drunk.

    But not the woman.

    She stared at her table, though her hands were no longer flat against her lap. They were curled up in fists.

    She was so loud, thought our drunk. Even as the other man wailed and wailed, he could not hope to be as loud as the quiet woman, her nails digging into flesh.

    Hours later, well into the night, the door to the tavern opened, letting in a gust of cold, biting wind. Our drunk turned to look and felt at a loss for words. The most elegant woman he’d ever seen had just come in, her tall, slim body hidden under a long, navy cloak.

    He blinked at her twice, and then turned to the silent woman, again anticipating her being lost in her thoughts, but what a surprise! She’d turned to see the woman, too. Watched as the new patron looked around, and then went quite pale when their eyes locked.

    The young woman quickly stood up, her chair loudly scraping against the floor. She stood there, awkwardly, watching as the new patron strode up to her, stopping on the other side of the table.

    “Well, well. Twilight Sparkle,” said my dear Lady Luna. “Good evening.”

    “Lady Luna. Good evening,” said Twilight, the words glued to her mouth, only barely coming out. Her hands gripped the back of the chair. “Thank you for coming.”

    “I wouldn’t thank me yet, child,” said the Lady. “I can’t say I’m happy to be here, so it would be wise we wait and see what happens before you decide if you’re grateful I came.”

    Twilight said nothing to this, though I should note she did turn paler.

    A moment passed, the two women taking each other in.

    “Well? Aren’t you going to ask me to sit?” Lady Luna inquired, and despite herself, the ghost of a smile crossed her lips when poor Twilight scrambled to do just that, her cheeks turning red.

    “Yes! Sorry! Y-Yes, please, sit. Please.”

    Lady Luna did as asked, ordering a drink from the waitress as she did so. Whiskey on the rocks.

    My Lady went straight to it.

    “Did my sister send you? Did she organize this?”

    “No,” Twilight replied, immediately, brusquely almost. Firmly. “No. She didn’t. I asked you to come, not her.”

    This choice, it was clear, was hers and hers alone.

    “Does she know we’re meeting?” asked Lady Luna next, and Twilight’s bravado faltered for a second.

    “No,” she said, quietly.

    “Interesting,” said Lady Luna, her eyebrow raising ever so slightly. Very, very interesting. “Tell me, then. Why am I here?”

    A long silence followed. A loud, loud silence, Twilight’s stare scorching the table.

    “Anytime now, Twilight Sparkle,” she said. “I don’t have all nig—”

    “I need you to be my professor,” Twilight blurted out, her eyes slamming shut. “Please.”

    I mentioned a long silence earlier. Another one came next. Not as long, but dear god, it felt longer. Longer than life itself and then some.

    Lady Luna replied eloquently.


    “I’d like to request you be my teacher, please,” Twilight continued, still unable to look at Lady Luna. “I can pay. Whatever you want. Well, not whatever you want. But I can try.”

    Lady Luna didn’t quite know what to say.

    No, that’s not true. She wanted to say she wasn’t surprised–she was better at magic than Celestia, certainly–but out of all the things she’d expected from this conversation, that wasn’t it.

    “You want me to teach you magic?” she asked, and how her intrigue grew when Twilight’s blush deepened. When more and more the young mage looked like she wanted to drop dead, then and there.

    “No,” she replied. Stammered, more like it. “I… I need you to teach me about sex work. Please.”

    So many long pauses happened that night! So many Twilight Sparkles wanting to die, and Lady Lunas wondering what strange yet fascinating dimension they’d stepped into.

    You,” she said, and she really emphazised that ‘you’, “want to learn about sex work. You. You want me to teach you about men and women performing explicit sexual acts as a job. You. Twilight Sparkle.”

    “Yes,” Twilight said. Still looking away. “Please.”

    “Why?” the Lady asked next, and when a thought occurred to her, her tone grew glacial. “Is this because of Rarity? What, are you intending on using me to win her back? Put in a good word for you?”

    And then and only then did Twilight Sparkle lock eyes with the lady.

    “No,” Twilight replied, immediately, brusquely almost. Firmly. “This has nothing to do with Rarity.”

    The lady laughed, incredulously. “Oh?”

    A glass of whisky was placed before the Lady, which she took in her hand.

    “Very well, Twilight Sparkle. Convince me. You have until I finish my drink.”

    “This is for me,” Twilight continued, not a waver in her voice. Steady as her beating, drumming heart. “That night—The night Rarity came to the mansion. You said I should wait until I know what I really want before I act.” Her hands balled into fists. “This is what I want. I want to understand.” Her voice faltered. “I need to understand.”

    The glass was three quarters full.

    “And Rarity?”

    “Rarity doesn’t matter,” Twilight repeated, insistently. “This isn’t for her. I don’t… I don’t want to win her back, or have her see me in a better light or… Or even find out. I don’t want her to know.”

    Two quarters full.

    “Why not?”

    “I don’t want to… I don’t want to bother her. She said goodbye. I respect that,” Twilight said, nails digging into flesh. “It’s over between us. She has her friends, and…” She swallowed the lump in her throat. “And she has a boyfriend now, doesn’t she?”

    There was slight hesitation in the question. As much as she hated to admit it, there was hope.

    One quarter full.

    “Rift Shield,” said Lady Luna, the edge in her voice softening, and especially more so when a dark shadow crossed Twilight’s face.

    That was the first time she heard his name, wasn’t it? He was real. He wasn’t A Boyfriend or Some Man Rarity’s Dating. He was Rift Shield, tall and handsome and charming, and I expect that at that very same moment, somewhere else in the big city, he was holding me against his naked chest.

    “Yeah,” Twilight replied, quietly. “Like I said. It’s over between us.”

    “I see.”

    “You know what?” Twilight said, suddenly. “You don’t even have to teach me. If you can just…” She reached into her bag and took out a notebook. “Please. If you can tell me where I can find other brothels in the city, or… or other establishments like yours, I can go there instead. I can interview the workers from there.”

    “From other places? There are plenty of people to interview in the Sapphire Carousel.”

    “Not the Sapphire,” Twilight said, irritation lacing her words for the briefest of moments. “I can’t go there. I told you. The Sapphire is Rarity’s home. She shouldn’t have to see me there.”

    “The other brothels in this city are not like mine, Twilight. They are much more like the establishments that end up in the news, and not for reasons you would like. Are you certain you want to go there?”

    “Yes,” Twilight said with finality, just as the Lady emptied her glass of its last drop. “If that’s what I have to do.”

    Many thoughts crossed my Lady’s mind, the younger woman waiting for the final verdict. Lady Luna rhythmically tapped her fingers against the table, one after the other, until finally she spoke.

    “I said it before. In more ways than one, you are much like your teacher, Twilight.”

    She raised her hand, beckoning the waitress, watching the crestfallen expression on Twilight’s face.

    “But,” she continued, “I’m pleased to see my suspicions were correct when I said you could be better.” Before Twilight could react, she turned to the waitress, smiling politely. “Can you bring us a pitcher of water, please? And a platter of cheese and meat. Thank you.”

    When she turned back to Twilight, her tone was sharp.

    “I have two conditions.”

    “Tw-Two conditions?” Twilight asked, startled. “In exchange for telling me where the other brothels are?”

    “No. To teach you. Guide you.”


    “My first condition is that you will tell my sister you have asked me to teach you about the subject. You do not have to tell her immediately, but you will have to tell her sooner rather than later. I am not interested in keeping secrets or going behind her back. Do you agree?”

    Twilight sat up. “Yes,” she said, uncomfortable. “I… Yes. That’s fine.”

    “My second condition is that we will meet at the Sapphire from now on. You come to me, not the other way around.”

    “The Sapphire? But, I—”

    “I will take care of Rarity,” my Lady interrupted. “The Sapphire might be her home, but she does not own the place, and she certainly doesn’t dictate who can or can not go into it. However, for your comfort, I will ensure our classes are private. Initially, at least. Rarity, like Celestia, will have to be told eventually, too. Do you agree?”

    Twilight took a breath.

    And then, she made her final choice.

    “…Yes. I do.”

    “Good,” said the Lady, unfastening her cloak and settling in for the night. “Let’s begin.”

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    1. platinumSKIES
      Jul 11, '22 at 7:39 am

      WELL NOW!