My Little Pony: Love is Confusing

by TheTwientist

First published

The Mane 6 must finds dates for a gala, and come to grips with their feelings in the process.

After a visit from Cadance and Shining Armor, Twilight realizes how little she understands romantic love and decides to do -what else?- some research. But she has to learn a lot quicker than she expected, for Princess Celestia has invited Twilight and her friends to a Hearts and Hooves Gala- and they're expected to bring dates!

What follows is a chaotic set of events in which hearts are broken, crushes are acted upon, cakes explode, and the very foundation of the Mane 6 is rocked to its core.

My first fic, so don't expect any spectacular writing. I've got a vague idea of the relationships, but things may change, as I'm trying to let things be organic. Assume nothing.

The Visit

It was a normal day in Ponyville. Well, as normal as could be expected, given that Pinkie Pie lived there. But at that moment, the sun was up in the daytime, the fourth wall was safely intact, and most reassuringly of all, Twilight was obsessing over a scheduling issue.

"Where are they where are they where are they-" she muttered as she paced back and forth across the room. "They're already nine minutes late! One more minute and they won't even be in the 'fashionably late' category! They'll just be plain late!"

Spike hurriedly snatched the teapot out of the way out of the way moments before Twilight barrelled through.

"Come on, Twilight!" he groaned. "Everypony's late occasionally! Even you!"

Twilight glared at Spike before being distracted by a knock on the door.

"They'reherethey'reherethey'rehere!" she shouted, galloping quickly to the doorway. A bit too quick, really, because she proceded to slam into the door head-on and tear it off its hinges.

Cadance gasped as her sister-in-law burst through the door and landed face first on the ground with a loud and painful-sounding "clunk".

"You okay, Twiley?" asked Shining Armor as he lifted Twilight to her feet.

"I'm fine," she grunted, shaking away the cuckoo birds circling her head. She hugged her brother and Cadance.

"Sorry we're late," said Cadance. "I hope it's not a problem."

Twilight opened her mouth, then shut it. "No . . . it's not a problem at all," she said through gritted teeth.

Spike tactfully said nothing.

"How are your friends?" asked Cadance as she walked in through the open doorway.

"Oh they're great!" replied Twilight as she levitated the door back into place. "Rarity asks if you liked the dresses she sent for payment."

Cadance grinned. "Oh, they're lovely! Tell her I'd pay her to make me a few more."

"Oh, and I was talking to the Wonderbolts the other day- I told them that your friend Rainbow Dash's amazing sonic rainboom."

Well, Rarity and Rainbow Dash are gonna be thrilled, Twilight thought to herself.

"And what about you guys? I haven't heard from you since your last letter. I hope your honeymoon improved after the beehive incident?"

Shinging Armor reflexively rubbed his front leg, where there were still a few red raised bumps visible.

"Oh yes!" said Cadance. "We had a great time. We went all over Equestria, from Manehattan to Las Pegasus. In fact," she added, rummaging through her saddlebag, "I brought all our pictures! Maybe we should watch them after lunch! Does that slide projector of yours still work?"

Spike and Twilight hastily exchanged glances. "I don't think so," said Twilight. "It, um, broke its wheel. A while back. I haven't gotten it fixed yet. Sorry." She gave her most convincing grin.

Cadance stared suspiciously at Twilight for a moment, then sighed, "Oh well."

"We even stayed a bit longer than we'd planned, really," said Shining Armor.

Twilight was puzzled. "Wasn't Princess Celestia expecting you back?"

"Well, yes, but she knew we had a bit catching up to do, after the, ah, wedding incident. She gave us a few more days."

Twilight furrowed her brow. "But you have responsibilities! I mean, honeymoons are important, but Cadance is a princess and you're the captain of the Royal Guard! You can't let love get in the way of your duties! Couldn't you have, like, put love on hold?"

Shining Armor and Cadance glanced at each other and sniggered.

"What's so funny?!" demanded Twilight.

"I'm sorry, Twiley," said Shining Armor, grinning. "I keep forgetting that you've always been, well . . .

"Well what?"

"You haven't got a coltfriend, have you?"

"No," said Twilight, confused.

"A marefriend?" asked Cadance.

"Certainly not!" exclaimed Twilight, making Shining Armor laugh again.

"There's nothing wrong with it," said Cadance. "But the thing is, you've never been in a relationship at all."

"No offense, Twiley," said Shining Armor, "but you don't understand love."

"Sure I do! I know the power of love! I was there when you used it to blow a thousand changelings out of Equestria!"

"But you've never experienced it first-hand," said Cadance patiently.

"You didn't even have a crush in magic kindergarden!" added Shining Armor.

Cadance continued, "You've never felt the joy and wonder that comes from a very close connection between two ponies."

Twilight rolled her eyes.

"Even Spike here's got a crush." chuckled Shining Armor.

Spike, shocked, glared at him and yelled, "Hey! Who told you that?"

Cadance sighed. "Love is not to be trifled with. It's a very powerful force. And there's not really anything that can get in its way. Celestia understood that."

"Yeah, and that means you got a few extra days' honeymoon. Big whoop," grumbled Twilight. "But you can't deal with love all the time; that's impossible! Love is too irrational! Love can ruin ponies! It can destroy friendships! It can make you sacrifice everything!"

"And you know all this how?" asked Cadance.

"I've . . . read books," Twilight muttered. She scowled at her brother and sister-in-law, trying to think up a good response.

And then Spike barfed up a letter on Twilight.

A bit relieved by the distraction, Twilight levitated it and started reading. "'Dear Princess Mi Amore-' Oh! It's for you guys!"

Shining Armor took a look. "From Celestia, I guess, I told her we'd be here for lunch- uh oh, we're needed back at the castle, for uh-" he frowned at the page, but then grinned. "Hey, honey, take a look at this." He showed Cadance the letter, and she started giggling.

"What is it?!" asked Twilight, already annoyed and getting more so.

Shining Armor stopped laughing, or at least tried to. "Um, royal planning duties. Sorry Twiley, I guess we'll have to cut lunch short. We'll see you again soon, I promise."

They got up and headed for the door, still hiding their giggles. "Don't forget what I said about love, Twilight," said Cadance, "it might prove important."

"Yeah, yeah," Twilight groaned. "I'll see you guys later!"


The door slammed shut. Twilight stared at it for a while, lost in thought. Something's going on here. I'm right, I know it. I just . . .

She leaped up. "SPIKE!"

"Oh no," said Spike. "Yes, Twilight?" he moaned.

"Get out every book on emotion and psychology. I have some research to do."

Spike's reptilian brain churned as he started fetching books. "Research about what?"


Author's Note:

WARNING: You will encounter many typos. I'm sorry, but it's just a fact of life. In some distant, perfect future, I will find and correct them all, but it will be a while.
Also, fear not, it should get more interesting as it goes on. This isn't my first fanfic ever, but it's my first MLP fic. I certainly wouldn't mind some constructive criticism.

What is Love?

It was a more or less normal day at Sugarcube Corner- only 12% of the total sweet supply had been consumed by Pinkie Pie and/or ruined by her spontaneous song-and-dance routines, which was a new record.

Pinkie had just sated herself with a couple of cupcakes, and was sitting behind the counter when the door opened. In walked a very grubby-looking Twilight levitating a clipboard and quill. Her hair was mussed up, and she had a rather familiar crazy glint in her eyes.

"Oh hey Twilight!" Pinkie called, surveying her friend and getting a bit worried. "You okay?"

"Fine! Great! Never better!" Twilight said enthusiastically, walking up to the counter.

"Are you sure? Because you look a bit-" Pinkie paused. "Banana-brained. Saddle-hoofed."

Twilight furrowed her brow in confusion.

"Nutso!" Pinkie added jumping up and down. "Cuckoo! Cuckoo! Cuckoo!"

"Oh! No! Certainly not. I've just been studying all night. Perfectly normal thing for a pony to do," said Twilight happily. "Spike fell asleep at three AM, though - lightweight," she muttered.

"Oh. Well, okay. If you say so! So, what brings you here? Were you doing research about cakes?"

Twilight frowned. "No?" asked Pinkie Pie, rather disappointed. "Somepony needs to do some serious cake research someday," she sighed.

"Pinkie, I'm here to ask you about a much more pressing concern," said Twilight impatiently. "I need to know- What is love?"

Across town, the nearest interdimensional conduit suddenly sang, "Baby don't hurt me, no more," thoroughly confusing her date Bon-bon.

"Love? Oh! Oh! I know what love is!" Pinkie Pie squeaked, raising her hand. "Love is when you really, really, really, really, really, really like somepony else! Like, you know how when you eat a really good desert? It's like that, but with another pony instead! And the two of you just spend all your time together, and you act all goofy-eyed, and you kiss all the time, like this!"

She proceeded to kiss Twilight repeatedly (and sloppily). Twilight, shocked, dropped the clipboard and pulled away as fast as she could. But much to her horror, she saw that Mr. and Mrs. Cake had just entered the room, and were now looking at the floor rather awkwardly.

Twilight had some more questions for Pinkie, but decided that just then wouldn't be the best time to ask them. "Well . . . ah . . . thanks for your input, Pinkie. Bye!"

And with that, she grabbed the clipboard, carefully backed out of the store, and headed away as fast as her hooves would carry her.

"What was that all about?" asked Mr. Cake, trying to process what he had just seen.

"Oh, nothing," said Pinkie, who returned to her place behind the counter. The Cakes looked at each other, shrugged, then headed back to the kitchen.

"Love?" Applejack grunted as she bucked a tree, "Why, love's kinda like . . . well, it's, uh, it's . . ." She sighed and turned to face Twilight. "Tell ya the truth, Twilight, ah can't really explain it," she sighed, and grabbed a basket of apples.

Twilight scribbled some notes. "Mmm-hmm. I see. Well, can you tell me if you've ever 'been in love' before?"

Applejack pulled her head upwards and glared at Twilight. Did I say something wrong? Twilight wondered.

Applejack's eyes softened. "Aw, heck, Twilight, you wouldn't understand it. Love's a real great thing, but it can cause ya a whole lotta pain too."

Twilight left, now almost as confused as the Cakes.

"Love? Ha!" Rainbow Dash called from her cloud. "Love's just a buncha hooey. Yadda yadda yadda, stallion meets mare, they have some kind of "connection", yadda yadda yadda, they get married. Boor-ring!" She grinned and flopped on her back. "Some ponies just don't seem to get it, though. 'Oh! It's special! Oh, you can't comprehend it!' They lap it up! Pft. Morons!"

"So, you've never been in love before?" Twilight called as she wrote down the "connection" line.

"Uh-uh. Nope! Not a chance! I'll be dead before you catch me going doe-eyed over somepony!"

"Love?" asked Rarity, turning around from her workbench. "Why, love is amazing! There's a stallion for every mare out there, and when they meet, why it's chemistry! An amazing, unique connection!" She practically swooned.

"I see," said Twilight skeptically. "And have you ever been in love before?"

"Well . . . no," she said, rather glumly, "But I know my stallion is out there somewhere!"

"Your- Prince Charming?" Twilight quipped, making Rarity glare at her.

"You've been talking to Rainbow Dash, haven't you? That pony will never find true love! It's special! She can't comprehend it!"

"So, what's your definition of 'love'?" Twilight asked as she glanced through her notes.

Fluttershy turned a bright shade of red and looked away.

Twilight looked up. "Um . . . Fluttershy?"

"Well, love is like, um, love is like when you . . ." her voice trailed off, and she stared awkwardly at her feet.

Twilgiht stared at Fluttershy, who continued to say nothing.

About thirty second later, Big Macintosh trundled by pulling a cartload of apples. "Morning, ladies."

Fluttershy squeaked and dashed off for the bushes.

"Well, I guess that's everypony," said Twilight, making a few final notes on her clipboard.

"SPIKE!" Twilight shouted as she banged open the door. She surveyed the room, which was still in a state of sheer chaos from the night before. "SPIKE! Why aren't these books put up yet?"

Spike drowsily came down the stairs. "Come on, Twilight, I just woke up! It's only ten-thirty!"

Twilight groaned and started magically reshelving the books herself.

"Well, Spike, having read through all available works about love, and having polled my five closest friends, I have reached a very interesting conclusion."

"Love is a very confusing and most likely unneccesary emotion. Indeed, very few ponies can define it beyond "two ponies like each other a lot". It is heavily over-romanticised (no pun intended), and, while being a powerful force, causes more harm than good."

"Twilight, that's not true at all! Love is great!" Spike exclaimed.

"Pft, yeah, you and Rarity'd be a better match than a thought," she said, not realizing that this was actually one of the best things Spike had ever heard.

"Love is just ponies acting cra-zy!" she concluded, neatly shelving the last book. "And I certainly don't need it."

Spike's joy was interrupted by the arrival of another letter.

"What's this all about?" Twilight wondered aloud as she started reading.

Then she fainted.


Dear Twilight Sparkle, My Most Faithful Student,

I would like to invite you to the very first annual Hearts and Hooves Day Gala. It will be taking place the evening of Hearts and Hooves Day, which is in exactly ten days. I would be very honored if you decide to come, and I want you to bring all five of of your friends and Spike. However, this is a "couples" Gala, meaning that all six of you are expected to bring some sort of romantic companion, or else you won't be allowed to participate. I look forward to seeing you there!

Princess Celestia
Bringer of the Day
Co-Ruler of Equestria

P.S. It's a potluck dinner- feel free to bring something.

"Twilight? Twilight?" A blurry purple and green figure slowly came into focus as Twilight blinked her eyes. "You okay, Twilight?"

Twilight slowly got back on her hooves. "Please tell me that I imagined that letter."

Puzzled, Spike grabbed the parchment. "This letter?"

"Dang it!" Twilight shouted. "I wasn't imagining it!"

"What's so bad about going to a Gala? It doesn't sound as bad as the last one we went to," Spike said, reading through the letter.

"Are you kidding? I have to bring a 'romantic companion'!"

"A what now?" Spike asked.

"A DATE!" Twilight shouted, pacing around the room. "I have to bring a DATE! I can't believe this! This can't be happening? I just proved I don't need love! And now it turns out I do need love! Why doesn't the universe listen to me?"

Clearly, Twilight does not understand irony.

"Hey, what does she mean, 'And Spike'?"

"I suppose you're all wondering why I've gathered you here today," Twilight began, looking out at her friends.

"Well, yeah," said Rainbow Dash. "You've been pacing around shouting 'I can't believe this!' for thee past five minutes."

"We've all been invited to a gala!"

"Oh, really! That's marvelous!" said Rarity. "I shall have to make us all new dresses!"

"Nononono! I haven't finished!" exclaimed Twilight. "We have to bring . . . dates!"

The ponies stared at Twilight.

"Is this why y'all were askin' us all them questions earlier?" Applejack asked, peering at Twilight skeptically.

"No! That's the thing! I do all this research, and I conclude that love is irrelevant, and then we have to find dates! It's the worst coincidence ever!"

To repeat, Twilight, despite all of her book learning, does not understand the concept of "irony".

"And if we don't bring dates, we can't go! But we can't not go, because we've been invited by Princess Celestia herself! You can't turn down an invitation from her! It's an impossible dilemma!" Twilight cried, making random gestures with her hooves.

"So . . . all of us have ta get dates?" asked Applejack.

"It's a Hearts and Hooves Day Gala! We only have ten days!" shouted Twilight.

"Pshh!" snorted Rainbow Dash. "Ten days! That's super easy. The Dash is a total stallion magnet. Chick magnet too. Why, I could have somepony asking me out in Ten-"

"Seconds Flat?" finished Rarity sarcastically. "Honestly, Rainbow Dash, you couldn't be less ladylike if you were a stallion! Finding the perfect date is a delicate process. It must be done with care and finesse. I wouldn't expect the rest of you to understand, of course . . ."

"And what makes you so special?" ask Applejack. "A frou-frou dress and false eyelashes?"

"I thought you swore never to discuss that!" shouted Rarity, turning towards Applejack and snarling. Fluttershy slowly crept away.

"Yeah!" shouted Rainbow Dash, making Apllejack turn and glare at her, growling, "That don't mean ah approve of yer opinion of romance either!"

The three all glared at each other. Fluttershy hid underneath a book. It didn't hide her very well.

"Oh boy! It's a potluck!" shouted Pinkie Pie, ignoring the commotion. "This is gonna be great! I'm gonna make two cakes- no, three cakes! No, three cakes and some cookies!"

Twilight sank under the table next to Spike. "See! I told you! Romance causes too many problems! Why do I have to deal with it right after I've just elimated the need for it?"

Irony [n] - A sharp incongruity between what is said and what actually happens. Ex: Deciding that love is useless, only to be forced to find a date.

It was chaos; Rarity, Applejack, and Rainbow Dash were nearly coming to blows; Fluttershy was on the verge of hyperventilating, and Pinkie Pie was randomly bouncing around the room, blabbing eagerly about food.

"PONIES!" came a loud voice. Shocked, Twilight looked around; it certainly hadn't been any of the girls talking. It took her a few moments to realize that Spike had actually been the one who spoken up; he was striding out into the center of the room. The girls were all staring at him rather perplexedly.

"You all just need to chillax!" he said, spreading his arms. "There's nothing worth fighting about here; we're all friends, right?"

"Spike-wikey's right," said Rarity, lowering her front legs, "We have more important things to worry about."

"You're right!" exclaimed Pinkie Pie. "I'd better start baking now!"

Applejack sighed. "Shucks. We shouldn't be fightin'. 'T'aint right."

Twilight got unsteadily to her feet. "Well, I guess I'll you guys around?" she asked uncertainly.

The five ponies bade their farewells and filed out the door. Spike, closing his eyes and leaning coolly against a bookshelf continued, "And Rarity, maybe we could be a bit more than friends? I mean, you're gonna need a date, right?"

Then he opened his eyes and realized there was nopony there.

Twilight trotted over to the window and stared outside. There were hundreds of ponies in Ponyville. Surely, one of them would be willing to go to the Gala with Twilight. Surely.

Well, probably.

Nopony Will Date Twilight Sparkle

"Okay. Finding a date."

Twilight was at the table, having just retrieved all of the books the books on love which she had just put away a few hours before. She flipped through one, calling out her findings to Spike, who was nearby with a pen and parchment.

"Okay, well, evidently, it's easier for some ponies to get dates than for others. It also appears that a "date" can be anything from a longtime friend to a pony you saw five seconds ago and thought looked attractive. It also appears that it's generally considered more proper for the stallion to ask the mare out, but due to the increasing number of non-traditional gender roles, this kind of old-fashioned chivalry does not hold true anymore."

She turned around. "Did you get all of that, Spike?" she asked her assistant, who was scribbling furiously. He made no reply.

"Spike?" Still no reply.

"Spike! What are you writing?" Twilight snatched away the paper, to find that it mostly contained drawings of Rarity and a few hearts containing SP + RA.

"Fine, I'll just do this myself," Twilight grumbled.

About an hour later, Twilight was ready to go. her hair was combed, Her pelt brushed, and she had even tried putting on a little makeup. The latter hadn't worked out very well, but she still looked presentable.

"Spike, I'm heading out!" she called. "I'm off to find a date!"

"You really think it'll be that easy?" Spike asked skeptically.

"Sure! There's a formula to it: I'm going to go around Ponyville, find somepony who I find attractive and whose company I enjoy, strike up a conversation with them, find out if they have plans for Hearts and Hooves Day, and, if not, I'll ask them to go with me! I know love is complicated, but there are hundreds of ponies here in Ponyville! There is no way I can come back here without having found a date!"


"Well, I haven't found a date," Twilight moaned, looking rather worse for wear. "I don't get it! What did I do wrong?"

"I dunno," said Spike. "What'd you do?"

"I did everything according to the script! I found somepony, talked to them, asked them out . . . but they turned out to be jerks, or I said something wrong, or they were in a relationship, or they had just goen through a messy breakup, or- GRRRRR!"

She kicked a pile of books. Then her librarian's instinct kicked in and she restacked them.

"Heck, I even tried hooking up with mares! I met Lyra and Bon-bon, and they said it was socially acceptable these days, and I said, 'Why not?' Well, it turns out I'm even worse with mares than I am with stallions!"

"Relax, Twilight!" said Spike "You've got lots of time before the actual gala! You're taking this too seriously."

He leaned one arm against the bookshelf and continued, "I mean, when I asked Rarity out earlier, I messed up, but did that stop me? Nope. She's gonna be mine! These things just take a little while." He then lost his balance and fell on the floor.

Twilgiht considered telling Spike the ugly truth about him and Rarity, but was distracted by her own problems. She flipped through her books, trying to think of a better solution.

"I've got it!" she exclaimed suddenly.

"You're gonna let things go at their own rate and relax?" asked Spike hopefully.

"No, silly, I'm going to create a compatibility formula, plug my personality into it, and use it to find my perfect match! It's flawless!"

Spike simply facepalmed.

Several hours, three pens, and two runs to the paper shop by Spike, Twilight had found her solution.

"Okay, so the introversion percentage should either be about equal or one should be double the other, plus an equal sarcasm factor and reverse ratios of optimism vs. cynicality (is that a word?) plus . . ."

Spike had given up trying to understand the psychological mathematics a while ago, but Twilight's tone of voice made it sound like she had actually figured something out.

"Why! This is just wonderful! I can just go up to a pony, talk to them, judge their numbers, plug it in, and see if we're compatible! It's brilliant!"

She got to her feet. "Spike! I'm going out again!" She headed out the door, only to return a few moments later. "Whoops! Forgot the papers!" She levitated the clipboard and dashed away.

The Doctor was at a cafe nabbing a cup of coffee when a purple unicorn sidled up next to him. He'd seen her around town before somewhere- her name was Sparkly or something. She was famous in this time period, wasn't she? She'd done something important, but he couldn't recall what. She was pretty, in a nerdy sort of way, he supposed. But she looked rather odd, especially because she was carrying around a clipboard and quill.

"Hi!" she said suddenly. "I'm Twilight."

He took a sip of his coffee, then replied, "I'm Doctor Whooves."

Twilight Sparkly scribbled something down on her clipboard. "Mmm-hmm . . . So, how are you today?"

"I'm fine," he said uncertainly. "I've certainly had worse days."

She looked at him, tilted her head, then wrote down a few more things. "Well, thank you, but I don't think your numbers are working right."

And with that, she got up and walked away.

The Doctor simply shrugged and took another sip. He'd seen stranger things.

This. Isn't. Working! Twilight told herself as she trotted down the street. You haven't found anyone even close to your number range! Hurry up, Twilight, think! Did you do the calculations wrong?

She glanced at her work. I carried the two right, I got both coefficients, the sine ratio is fine, oh! I put pi times delta, instead of phi times delta! Was that it? Wait, no, that's a phi all right-

She hit something and was suddenly knocked off her feet, her papers flying everywhere.

"Oh dear, I'm so sorry! I didn't see you there. Are you all right?" said a kind voice.

Twilight found herself being helped to her feet by gray earth pony she'd never seen before. "I'm- fine," she said slowly, snatching her papers magically before they blew away.

"I'm so sorry," the earth pony said. "I should have been looking out more!"

"No, no, it's my fault," said Twilight. "I had my eyes on my papers, I was the one who should have been looking out more."

"Nonetheless, please accept my sincerest apologies," said the earth pony. "I'm Octavia, by the way."

Will romance blossom between Twilight and Octavia? Could this be Twilight's future "date"? Or will it all go horribly, horribly wrong? Find out next tomorrow on MLP: Love is Horribly, Horribly Confusing!

First Date

As Twilight's worried, anti-social demeanor carried over into her love life, so too did Rainbow Dash's laid-back, practically apathetic personality. Getting a date was literally the last thing on her mind, even though she was expected to find one not just for the sake of her friend, but by the command of the Goddess of the Sun. But at the moment, Rainbow Dash had more important things on her mind.

Like going around Ponyville on a cloud, soaking unsuspecting pedestrians.

The trick was to pump out as much rain as possible onto them, while still scooting out of the way before they looked up and saw you.

She was getting pretty good at it, too; she'd nailed four ponies in five minutes, a new personal record. Then, she saw Applejack trotting down the street, and she knew what she had to do.

Wait for it . . . wait for it . . . wait for it . . . NOW!

With a boom of thunder, many gallons of water tumbled down onto an unsuspecting Applejack.

Rainbow Dash jumped behind the cloud, and started gently flapping her wings so it would innocently drift away. The perfect escape.


Abashed, Rainbow Dash pulled away and drifted down to Earth. "Ah oughta hogtie ya to the barn for a day, just ta teach you a lesson," Applejack sighed, with the tone of voice that told Rainbow that she didn't actually plan on doing it.

"Yeah, yeah," Rainbow said nonchalantly. "Hey, by the way, have you seen Twilight? I have to return a book."

"Last ah heard she was a, Rarity's, gettin' fitted for a new dress," said Applejack.

"Why does she need a new dress?"

"Ah heard she has a date tonight."

"She has a WHAT?" Rainbow exclaimed, drawing the confused stares of several other ponies.

"You heard me," said Applejack, grinning.

"How in the world does Twilight Sparkle have a date? Did she brainwash somepony?"

"Apparently, she was willing to date Twilight completely of her own free will."

"She? So it's a mare? I never figured . . . Hmm. Well, who's the lucky gal?"

"Some performer type, ah heard."

"So, I'm a cellist, you see. Trained in Canterlot. I perform there a lot, you see, for parties and such."

"Wow!" Twilight exclaimed. "That sounds really interesting, playing for so many important ponies. You're way up in high society!"

Octavia laughed as she opened the door to the restaurant. "You make it sound so glamorous. It's not that great being a musician. You struggle to get by. You're the important one, at any rate. Student of Princess Celestia herself!"

Twilgiht blushed. Octavia continued, "And you're so knowledgeable! There's not many ponies who know about all ten of Bethoofen's symphonies!"

"I . . . like history," Twilight said quietly. She felt rather lucky; the odds of finding this intelligent, kind pony, out of all the ponies in Ponyville . . . why, they were staggering, to say the least!

And she's not too hard on the eyes, either, a less-sophisticated part of her brain added.

All in all, not a bad first date.

And it was, indeed, a good dinner, despite the fact that Twilight made the classic blunder of ordering spaghetti. (Fortunately, Octavia was unfazed by the slurping noises.)

The two talked a great deal. A very great deal. So great, in fact, that they were annoying the other diners.

"-so, the new pony is taking his cello out of the room, and he raises his bow, and it hits the chandelier! Crash! Hot wax everywhere!"

Twilgiht burst out laughing, causing a nearby couple to wince. An angry unicorn trotted over at the table.

"Um, ladies? You're disturbing the other patrons. I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to leave."

"But we haven't had desert!" exclaimed Octavia.

"Nonetheless, I think it would be best if you left. You can pay as you leave."

Annoyed, the two mares got up and left.

"Well, that's just too bad," said Twilight as they headed away from the restaurant. "What a fussbudget!" (Fussbudget was not a word Twilight normally used.) "To mess up my very first date!" She stopped up a short and covered her mouth with a hoof.

"This is your first date, ever?" Octavia asked incredulously as they trudged down the dark street.

"Yup," Twilight said, shyly. "Am I doing okay?"

"Well, I'd say so," said Octavia, grinning. "It's the most fun I've had in ages! Especially since . . ." Her face fell. "I just got out of a relationship. And we really liked each other, we just . . . couldn't make it work. The break-up was kinda . . . messy."

"But that's in the past!" she said suddenly. "I'd prefer to be in the here and now, with this incredibly smart, and might I add, cute pony. And to think she's a rookie at the dating game!"

Twilight blushed again. Was that a symptom of romance?

"It's a pity about desert, though," Octavia sighed.

"Oh, I know!" exclaimed Twilight. "We should head over to Sugarcube Corner. Have you ever been there?"

Octavia shook her head.

"It's this great sweets shop . . . they do cakes and candy- you'll love it!"

It was, fortunately, open- Twilight had never been there after dark, and she'd been a bit worried that it would be closed.

Mr. Cake looked rather surpised to see Twilight and Octavia, but Twilight was distracted by a larger issue.

"Oh hey Twilight!" Pinkie exclaimed, bursting out of thin air. "I heard you had a date tonight- is this your date? She looks kinda serious- but she's probably really smart, too! And she's pretty! What's her name? Hang on . . . I know this. Oh! Octavia! You're Octavia! And you were going out with that pony-"

"Mm-hmm." Twilight burst in, trying to stem Pinkie's flood of words before it drowned them all. "Octavia, this is Pinkie Pie . . . she's one of my best friends."

"We've met," said Octavia, extending a hoof.

"Oh yeah!" said Pinkie, shaking Octav's hoof enthusiastically. "You were at that Grand Galloping Gala! You played Pony Pokey for us! That was great!"

"It was the height of my musical career," said Octavia drily.

"Yup!" said Pinkie. "But anyway, Twi and me have been buddies since we were itty-bitty fillies! Well, not really, but it sure feels that way! We're bestest buds! In fact, my bestest bud and her date desrve free cupcakes! Hang on, I was making some earlier . . . I'll go get 'em!" And with that, she dashed into the kitchen.

"So, ah, she's your friend," said Octavia, raising an eyebrow.

"Um yeah," said Twilight, grinning apologetically. "Forgive her . . . she's really nice once you get to know her, but she's kinda . . . energetic."

Octavia said nothing. They both took seats at a table. Twilight tapped her hoof on the table restlessly, waiting for the cupcakes.

Mrs. Cake came out with two milkshakes. Twilight tried to refuse, but Mrs. Cake just smiled and said, "For you, dearie, it's on the house."

Leaning in close, she whispered, "Looks like you and Pinkie have moved on already. I'm glad there aren't any bad feelings between you two."

Now the term "whisper" is only used because that's what it was supposed to be; in terms of actual volume, it was probably audible in the next building over.

As Mrs. Cake left, Octavia looked at Twilight and raised both eybrows. "I thought you said this was your first date?"

"No no no-" Twilight spluttered. "We weren't- I was asking Pinkie- and she kissed- and they saw- it's a long story," she finished weakly.

"Well, we've got plenty of time," said Octavia. Twilight was a bit puzzled. Octavia hadn't acted this way through dinner- was this a side of her Twilight hadn't seen?

Just then, Pinkie burst in, bearing two enormous platters of cupcakes. "Here you go! Lots of cupcake for my best friend and her date!"

"I- I don't think we can eat all these, Pinkie," said Twilight.

"Oh! Well no problem! Here, I'll help!"

Pinkie started cramming cupcakes into her mouth, sending a fine mist of frosting in all direction. Octavia glared at Twilight.

"Twilight, perhaps I-" Octavia was cut off by the sound of music drifting in through the window.

"What in the- ?" Her mouth dropped as she listened to the mournful pop song.

"Why, I'd recognize that dreadful song anywhere! Celestia above! It's Vinyl!"

"Vinyl?" Twilight murmured as she looked out the window. A white unicorn with a blue mane was holding up a boombox outside.

"Ugh! How did she even know I was here?" said Octavia angrily, getting up fro her seat.

"I'll go talk to her," she sighed, and headed for the door.

"Whash going on?" asked Pinkie, her mouth full of cupcakes.

"I think that's her ex-girlfriend," said Twilight uncertainly.

"Well, she sure made a mistake, breaking up with Octavia," said Pinkie, after swallowing. "She's cute, Twi. You're lucky! Has it been a good date?"

"Um . . . about that. I think you're kinda . . . putting her off," said Twilight.

Pinkie tilted her head.

"Just, maybe try dialling it back a bit?" Twilight asked.

"Like not be so bubbly? Like be-" Pinkie frowned and slumped- "calm and serious, like she is? Okie dokie lokie, Twilight, if that's what you want!"

"Thank you," Twilight sighed. "I'm gonna go check on her," she said, getting up.

But what she saw when she opened the door was . . . surprising, to say the least.

Rainbow Dash would've used the term "making out", but Twilight, having never attended high school, did not know such neologisms.

But there they were, Octavia and Vinyl, locked in embrace, kissing quite passionately.

"Um . . . Octavia?" Twilight asked uncertainly. The gray earth pony briefly looked away from her ex, and called, "I'm sorry, Twilight. Vinyl and I were talking, and we decided that maybe our relationship has more life in it than we thought. We're getting back together."

"And what about me?" Twilight called indignantly.

"Make out with your pink friend! It's not like you haven't done it already!" She and Vinyl turned to leave. "Oh, and thanks for dinner!"

And Twilight watched as they walked away.

"Well, what was that all about?" asked Pinkie.

My romance writing will improve eventually, I swear. And yes, I know Vinyl and Octavia is cliched by this point. Whatever.

Also, I know Octavia stands up, so it's technically a bass, but everybody already calls it a cello, and cellos are more awesome.

A Proper Gentlecolt

"Well, I haven't heard too many details," said Rarity, "but from what I understand our Twilight was, for lack of a better word, dumped!'

Fluttershy gasped.

"It was quite scandalous," Rarity continued. She was wearing a fine dress and a rather large hat, and the two were walking down the street towards the train station. "Twilight's date -Octavia, was her name?- ran out on Twilight! For her former marefriend! What nerve!"

"Poor Twilight," murmured Fluttershy.

"And that's not the worst part! Since then, they've been spreading the rumor that Twilight and Pinkie were . . . ahem, involved."

Fluttershy stopped briefly, not understanding, before gasping again.

"It's got to be just a rumor, of course," added Rarity quickly, "but can you believe the nerve of those two? Our Twilight! and Our Pinkie! Impossible," she finished with certainty. Or at least-near certainty.

"Definitely impossible," put in Fluttershy, just as decisively. "Poor Twilight . . ." she murmured again.

"Oh, but at least there's still, oh, eight days left, is there not?" said Rarity airily, climbing the platform steps. "I'm sure we'll all find our proper consorts in time."

"Have you found your . . . consort?" asked Fluttershy. She and Rarity stepped onto the platform, and Fluttershy glanced around, looking for the train.

"Well, not yet, obviously," said Rarity. "But I'll find my proper gentlecolt in soon."

"Should ah give Prince Blueblood a call?" came a sarcastic voice from behind them. Applejack trotted up beside them.

Rarity turned and nearly hissed at Applejack, but caught herself. "Oh, hello Applejack! What are you doing here?"

"Same as y'all, ah believe," said Applejack. "Ah'm headin' ta Canterlot."

This took Rarity aback. "Really! I never imagined that your type of pony would want to go Canterlot!"

"Ma type . . . ?" growled Applejack. "Ah'm headin' up there because we got a contract to supply some food for the Gala we're gonna be goin' to. You're probably just goin' up ta look for a date!"

"How dare you imply that i-" Rarity said angrily. "I just need some supplies for my Gala dress."

Applejack rolled her eyes. Fluttershy, sensing confrontation, tactfully sidled in between the two and said softly, "Um, Apllejack, has anyone in your family got a date? Like, say, Big Macintosh?"

"Um, no," said Applejack, a bit confused. "Why do ya want ta know?"

"Um, no reason," said Fluttershy, grinning a bit.

With a loud whistle, the train drew into the station. "Y'all aren't comin' with us?" asked Applejack to Fluttershy as she got on the train.

"Oh no," said Fluttershy. "I just came to walk Rarity down to the station. Angel's waiting for his breakfast!"

"So that means ah'm stuck with . . ." she turned to see Rarity, trying to climb through the other door, but unable to make it due to the wide brim of her hat. Applejack sighed.

"Ya know ya can just take off the hat!" she called.

"And ruin the ensemble?" asked Rarity indignantly, straining hard. "That'd be simply . . . unfabulous!"

With a pop, she finally made it through the door.

"Celestia help us all," whispered Applejack.

The train ride to Canterlot was exceedingly uneventful, so much so that it probably doesn't need a sentence about it. Oh well.

It took Rarity nearly as long to get out of the carriage as it had been to get on. After finally emerging, she brushed herself off and pretended that nothing had happened. In fact, Applejack had a theory that Rarity did not just deny that embarrassing events happened to her; she forgot them completely. It would explain her ego, anyway.

"Well, ah'm headin' off to the palace," called Applejack, "so ah suppose ah'll see ya on the train back." With very little sorrow, she turned and headed for the station exit. Rarity was almost certainly just as pleased to get away from Applejack; she spun on her hoof and headed away towards the street.

But, of course, the boutique she was intending to visit happened to be on the same street as the one Applejack was taking to get to the palace, leaving the pair of them stuck on a long walk together.

In retrospect, Applejack regretted what she'd said at the station, for it seemed that Rarity was still angry about it. She would've like somepony to talk to, even if it was Rarity.

"Um . . . so what're ya plannin' for the gala dresses?" Applejack asked quietly.

Rarity, surprised, glanced up at Applejack. "Well . . . I was planning on dresses which were rather more elegant than last time- not that you'd want that, you wouldn't even take a skirt last time-"

Applejack glared at her and opened her mouth, but before she could respond, a voice called out, "My dear Rarity! How wonderful to see you!"

Both mares wheeled around to see a jacketed white stallion trotting up towards them. "Why, it's been months!"

Applejack noted a definite glimmer in Rarity's eye as the fashionista said, "Not since the wedding- I've been terribly busy!"

"Coming up with more new designs?" said the stallion, impressed. "Why, I'd have expected nothing less from you!"

A memory popped to the fore of Applejack's mind - she'd seen this stallion, at the wedding, and on Twilight's birthday-

"And you've brought your friend! We've met before, forgive me, I can't recall your name . . ." he continued.

"Applejack," she said, extending a hoof, which, to her surprise, the stallion kissed it. Was that some sort of high society thing?

"But of course!" he exclaimed. "I'm Fancy Pants, we met at the Garden Party. What brings you to this fair city?"

Blushing furiously, Applejack stammered out, "Ah'm, uh, gonna be caterin' for the gala . . ."

"The Hearts and Hooves Gala?" said Fancy Pants. "Sounds magnificent!"

At this point, Rarity spoke up. "I, personally, can't wait! Who are you bring with you?"

Applejack stared. Was Rarity . . . ? Shucks, she thought, of course she is! Look at these two, they're a match made in prissiness.

Fancy Pants blushed himself as he said, "Well, that's a bit of a story, for my dear friend Fleur, who I intended to take, has found her own companion. So I've been looking for another fine mare to accompany me."

Rarity's squeal was drowned out by the noise of bells.

"Oh no!" said Applejack. "Eleven already? Ah'll be late to the palace!" She turned to leave, but was stopped by a hoof thrust out in front of her.

"Never fear," said fancy Pants. "I myself was going to the palace, and I have a cart at the ready." Indeed, as he spoke, a cart drawn by a smartly-uniformed pegasus rolled up alongside the trio. "We'll be at the palace in no time!"

"Gee, thanks," said Applejack, rubbing her mane awkwardly.

"Come along, then!" Fancy pants exclaimed, climbing aboard and proffering a hoof. Getting on, Applejack saw Rarity with a look of decidedly unladylike jealousy on her face, and a rather nasty idea occurred to Applejack.

And everypony knows that nasty ideas are the best ones.

Rarity was indeed rather distraught as she trudged down the street. Well, not distraught, but a bit annoyed. Of course, Applejack, perhaps the most uncultured pony in Equestria, was off with Rarity's best Canterlot contact. And, of course, a very good potential date. In fact, had it not been for Applejack, Fancy Pants would have probably already asked her to come with him to the gala!

Calm down, Rarity, said a little voice in her head. You're friends with Applejack! Remember? You deliberately chose her and your other Ponyville friends over the Canterlot elite! It's not like Applejack was intending to find hitch a ride in a private carriage with Fancy Pants while you were left here in the street to walk . . .

Needless to say, this did not make Rarity feel any better.

Ah well, the voice continued, this way you get to have a nice, refreshing walk through Canterlot's beautiful streets!

At that moment, a cart rolled by, splashing Rarity from head to foot with mud.

You know what, said the voice, Applejack is a [this unladylike word has been censored].

"Well, at least we agree on something," Rarity muttered.

About an hour later, Rarity arrived at the palace, with mud still caked in her mane and coat, bearing her several bags of fabric. Applejack was waiting outside the gate, looking rather pleased with herself.

"Well," said Rarity in an artificially civil voice, "How was it?"

"Applejack grinned. "It went great! We got the caterin' job!"

"Why, that's wonderful!" said Rarity. "Say, has Fancy Pants finished his business yet?"

"Why, indeed I have!" came his voice, as he trotted up beside the mares.

Rarity smiled, for real this time. "Well," she said sweetly, trying to brush the mud out of her mane, "I was just wondering if there was something you wanted to ask me?"

Fancy Pants smiled. "Indeed there is!"

Rarity, fighting to contain her excitement, leaned in closer.

"I was wondering if you could make my date and I a matching set of suit and dress for the gala."

Rarity nearly fell over. "Your- date? I thought you didn't have one!" She barely noticed that Applejack was grinning even more widely.

"Well, yes, said Fancy Pants, "but I've just met a very charming mare, and I knew she was just right! May I present my date, Applejack!"

Applejack flashed Rarity her biggest smile.

This time, Rarity did fall over.

Oy, it's finally done! Sorry it took so long. I've tried my best with this chapter, please excuse me if it feels a bit forced or rushed. Hopefully, I'll be able to get the next chapter done more quickly!

Also, assume nothing until the story is complete. There are many twists yet to come.

A Crush-ing Realization

Fluttershy practically skipped on her way back from the train station. It was perfect! She finally had a chance to act upon her long-standing, secret crush on Applejack's brother, Big Macintosh! It was absolutely, utterly perfect!

As she trotted merrily through the woods back to her house, she dreamed about the strong earth pony. She'd known from the moment the very moment that they had first locked eyes that they were perfect for each other. He was so handsome, so kind, so gentle . . .

And today was the day that she would ask him to go with her to the gala, the day that he would realize how much he really loved her. They would have the most wonderful time at the gala, and then they would have a happy relationship together. And, one day, he would pop the question, and she would, of course, say yes. And Pinkie would arrange the wedding, and it would be a beautiful ceremony, and they would have a quiet, happy, honeymoon at Neighagra Falls . . .

She was disrupted by the fact that Angel was standing directly in her path, tapping his foot as he waited for breakfast. Despite the fact that Fluttershy was at least ten times his weight, she tripped over him and went flying through the air, landing in a heap outside the door.

Angel, however, was not going to let a measly excuse like "I may have just broken several delicate wingbones" distract Fluttershy from what was really important: Breakfast.

"Don't worry, Angel bunny," said Fluttershy as she got back onto her hooves, "Mommy's gonna have breakfast ready in no time."

She entered the house, went into the kitchen, and grabbed a bowl. As she whipped up an expertly prepared salad, she pondered various names for their foals.

"Hmm . . . now, if it's an earth pony colt, we could name him Bramble, or maybe Oak, some kind of strong name. But if it's a girl earth pony, we could name her Rose, 'cause an Apple's a member of the rose family, he'd like that . . ."

Angel, who had heard enough woodland-themed monikers to fill up A Hippie's Book of Baby Names, merely rolled his eyes.

"And if it's a pegasus filly," Fluttershy went on, setting down the bowl, "it should be a more gentle name, like Foliage, or Heart . . . But what if it's a pegasus colt? I'm not sure- what do you think, Angel?"

Angel, being incapable of speech, said nothing, but the look in his eyes said, I think I should burn every single one of those romance novels Rarity gave you.

Fluttershy didn't notice this, however, as she was looking at herself in the mirror, and muttering, "Do I look alright? I wouldn't want to look ugly, not today of all days!" She fussed over her mane, smoothing it out, then ruffling it up, then smoothing it out again, and then ruffling it up again, then smoothing it out again, and then ruffling it up again, then smoothing it out again, and then ruffling it up again, then smoothing it out again, and then ruffling it up again, then smoothing it out again, and then ruffling it up again, then smoothing it out again, and then ruffling it up again, then smoothing it out again . . .

"Perfect!" she exclaimed, fifteen minutes later. She headed towards the door, and as she left called to Angel, "Mommy's gonna be out for a little bit, she's got to go find her true love!" Then she gently closed the door, and trotted away, singing, "La la la!"

Right then, thought Angel, Where are the matches?

After five minutes of gaily skipping, Fluttershy arrived at the edge of Sweet Apple Acres. Trotting gently though the apple orchards, she searched everywhere for her dashing stallion, her Prince Charming, the stallion who would sweep her off her hooves and show her the true meaning of-

Oh wait, there he was.

At this point, Fluttershy's natural evasion instinct set in, and she dashed behind the nearest tree. Peering out as far as she dared, she gazed at Big Mac. He was pulling a cart full of buckets of water, and carefully dumping one at the roots of each tree, gently nurturing them, so kind, so careful . . .

(Had Angel been there, he would have slapped Fluttershy.)

This was the moment, Fluttershy knew. She had to go to him now, talk to him, ask him- there would be no better time, it was just the two of them, alone, in the quiet of the woods. She could do it, she must do it now. She steeled her resolve, took a deep breath, and-

bravely chickened out. With the speed of a thundering bison, she corageously darted away from the love of her life, thinking, Well, there's still seven more days until the gala. Finding solace in that thought, she raced towards the edge of the farm.

Until, for the second time that day, she tripped over a small, furry mammal that was at most half her size.

However, this small, furry mammal, was not a rabbit. It was Apple Bloom.

"Oh, howdy Fluttershy! What brings ya here ta Sweet Apple Acres? If ya want ta see Applejack, I'm afraid she's off in Canterlot."

"I know," squeaked Fluttershy.

"Well, then what're ya doin' here?" Apple Bloom asked cheerfully.

"Well, um, I was trying to find Big Macintosh-"

"Big Mac? Why, I think he's off waterin' the south field! In fact, you're headin' directly away from him! Good thing I was here ta point you in the right direction!"

"Yes, a very good thing," said Fluttershy in a voice that was barely audible.

"Well, what're ya waitin' for?" asked Apple Bloom, looking at Fluttershy expectantly. With no choice, Fluttershy turned around and headed back towards Big Mac.

She found him a little ways down from she'd left him, still watering the trees. Rubbing her mane awkwardly, she trotted up to him and said "Hello, Big Macintosh."

Big Mac didn't seem to hear her. Fluttershy tried again. "Hello, Big Macintosh."

This time he did hear her, although just barely. He looked up and called, "Hello, Fluttershy."

Fluttershy bowed her head shyly. "Um- how are you?"


Fluttershy waited for him to say more, but he didn't; he just moved on to the next tree. Summoning up what little courage she had, Fluttershy forged on. "So, do you like watering your apple trees?"


"Um . . . is it hard work?"


Fluttershy said nothing for a while. Big Macintosh didn't say anything either. Fluttershy was a bit confused. Why wasn't he sweeping her off her hooves? Surely he knew they were meant for each other, he knew why she was here. So then why didn't he embrace Fluttershy and free both of their aching hearts?

At last, Fluttershy took a deep breath, and, before she could stop herself, asked, "Do you . . . do you want to go with me to the Hearts and Hooves Day Gala?"

Big Macintosh looked up and stared deep into her eyes. Fluttershy felt herself about to swoon as he said those wonderful, beautiful words-

"Nope, sorry, I gotta transplant some saplings that day."

Fluttershy wobbled, but managed to keep her balance. Her smile faltered as she said quickly, "WellitwasgreattalkingtoyoubutIhavetogoseeyoulater!"

And with that, she dashed away.

Big Mac continued working for several minutes in silence. Presently Apple Bloom arrived.

"So, what did Fluttershy want ta talk ta ya about?"

Big Mac paused, then said thoughtfully, "To tell you the truth, I'm not really sure."

He thought he smelled the scent of burning paper on the breeze.

A Hippie's Book of Baby Names, by Daddy-O Starshine, is coming soon to a bookstore near you.

No offense to Fluttermac shippers, but I don't really think this pairing works very well. So yeah. Also, I wasn't trying to make Big Mac an idiot, although he may seem that way.

Bridge Over Troubled Flutters

The first intimation that something was wrong only occurred when Rainbow Dash broke open the door. Fluttershy looked up to see the blue pegasus on her hind legs, glaring around the room and shouting, "Don't worry, I'm comin' for you, Fluttershy!"

"Hey, you!" she shouted at a badger who had just awoken. "Yeah, I'm talkin' to you! Where's Fluttershy? What did you do with her?"

"Nonono, it's okay, I'm right here," cried (or rather, squeaked) Fluttershy, jumping between Rainbow and the thoroughly confused badger.

"What's the matter? Why didn't you answer the door when I knocked."

"I guess I just didn't hear," said Fluttershy, rubbing her eyes. "How many times did you knock?"

"Um . . . once?" said Rainbow, averting her gaze, only to find herself being glared at by a very annoyed Angel.

Seeking to change the subject she asked, "Hey, what's that smell? Have you been cooking something? 'Cause it's done!"

"I'm not sure," saif Fluttershy. "I just came back from, um, well, out, and it was here. I can't explain it."

Anggel, of course, said nothing, because he can't talk.

Rainbow Dash, meanwhile, was looking at Fluttershy's face. "Hey, Flutters, have you been crying? Your eyes are all red and puffy."

"No," said Fluttershy quickly. "It's, um, my allergies. -achoo," she added unconvincingly.

Rainbow Dash didn't buy it. "Look, Fluttershy, if there's something wrong, you can just tellme. We're friends, right?"

Fluttershy nodded, slowly. Tears started leaking out of her eyes.

"It's just- it's just- I was- oh," she moaned, and started sobbing. Rainbow Dash reached out a hoof and placed it on Fluttershy's shoulder. The yellow pegasus dropped to the floor, crying uncontrollably.

Rainbow Dash was, by this point, far out of her comfort zone. This was getting into the messy field of emotions, an area she tended to avoid at all costs.

But she was Element of Loyalty for a reason. If Fluttershy was crying, then Celestia as her witness, Rainbow Dash would make her feel better, or die trying!

"There, there," said Rainbow Dash, trying to comfort her friend. "It's ok. Just tell me what happened."

"Well," said Fluttershy through sobs, "have you ever had a crush?"

Rainbow Dash nodded. This was indeed a sign of loyalty, that she was admitting this.

"And you really, really like him," Fluttershy went on, "and you dream about him, and how wonderful you'd be together, and then you go to talk to them and-"

Rainbow Dash waited with bated breath. Had Fluttershy fallen in love with a total jerk? Had she been taken advantage of? Was Rainbow Dash going to have to go kick some [censored for the sake of the children]?

"-And it turns out that you don't really get along as well as you'd hoped?"

It took all of Rainbow Dash's willpower not to shout "SERIOUSLY?" Sure, Fluttershy was sensitive, but she was really crying because she hadn't fallen head over hooves in love with somepony?

"Um- why didn't you like him?"

"He was very kind, oh, so kind, but I just didn't feel it! And I asked him to go to the gala with me, and he turned me down!"

Fluttershy broke down again. Rainbow Dash facehoofed with her free hoof. She has really got to get out more.

In her gentlest voice, Rainbow Dash said, "Fluttershy?"

Fluttershy kept on crying.


Still more crying. Her tears were forming large puddles on the floor.


At last, the shy pegasus looked up. "Y-yes?"

"This isn't the end of the world, you know. So you got turned down by one stallion! Big deal! There are plenty of other fish in the sea!"

"But- who would want to date me?" Fluttershy asked uncertainly.

"Are you kidding?" said Rainbow Dash, "who wouldn't? You're sweet, kind, and"- she whispered in a conspiratory tone- "you're pretty hot."

"Really?" said Fluttershy.

"Totally," affirmed Rainbow Dash.

As Rainbow Dash was not a mind reader, she could not know that a million thoughts were now whirring around inside Fluttershy's head. Roughly a third of them were still replaying that unfortunate conversation with Big Macintosh, and another fifth was worrying about her animals, but the rest was now pondering a heretofore dormant idea.

You couldn't, said a voice in her head.

Yes I could! thought Fluttershy.

She doesn't like you like that! argued the voice.

She thinks I'm pretty! Fluttershy rebutted.

She's just trying to make you feel better!

That just means she cares about me!

"Hello? Equestria to Fluttershy."

"Oh, I'm sorry!" squeaked Fluttershy. She must have gotten lost in her thoughts. She probably thinks you're crazy!

"Like I said, you don't have to worry about finding a date," said Rainbow Dash.

"You really think so?" asked Fluttershy.

"I'm surprised stallions aren't queueing up at the door right now! Mares too," she added with a wink.

Now you have a crush on Rainbow Dash, said the voice in her head. Can't wait to have this one blow up too.

Yeah, well, you can't break a heart twice! thought Fluttershy, and quietly asked, "Do you have a date for the gala, Rainbow Dash?"

"Well, no, not yet," said Rainbow, "but maybe- hmm . . ." she trailed off, evidently lost in thought.

Fluttershy held her breath, hoping against hope that Rainbow Dash would say it, knowing that she wouldn't, but still wishing, praying . . .

"I should totally take Pinkie Pie to the gala!" Rainbow Dash exclaimed.

Well, looks like a heart can break twice, said the voice in her head.

So, yeah, I've just crushed Fluttershy to a pulp in two consecutive chapters. Sorry. But does this mean that all hope is lost?

Probably, but you'll just have to wait and see.

Corner, Part One - Deny Your Feelings (Like a Baws)

Pinkie Pie belonged to a religion known as "Glucosism". This church promoted the achievement of religous experiences through the massive consumption of sugary treats.

It was a small church. It had, in fact, only one member, and that was Pinkie Pie. But she was a restless promoter, and never seemed to be disparaged by the fact that her friends did not enjoy cakes, cupcakes, and ice cream quite as much as she did. (Part of this was due to the fact that Pinkie had an unnaturally high caloric consumption rate.)

This did, however, meant that she was thrilled when Rarity walked in, and even more thrilled when Rainbow Dash arrived moments later.

"Hey girls! Hey! How are you doing? I haven't seen any of my friends in, like, a whole day! Not since Twilight was here on her date! Hey, are you two on a date?"

Rarity and Rainbow Dash glanced at each other with a look of alarm. "Um- no," said Rainbow Dash swiftly.

"Oh! Then are you guys here for some treats! Don't worry, I'll go get some!"

"Hey, Pinkie, wait up!" shouted Rainbow Dash, but the pink mare had already dashed away into the kitchen.

"So what are you doing here?" asked Rainbow Dash, with nothing better to do.

"Me?" said Rarity, "I just ducked in here to avoid bumping into- her."

Now Rainbow Dash was puzzled. "Who's 'her'?"

But, at that exact moment, the door opened with a jingle and Applejack strode in. She and Rarity's eyes met. Applejack shot the unicorn a wide smile. Rarity gave her a look of deepest loathing, then moved three tables away.

What the heck is going on with those two? wondered Rainbow Dash, but she was distracted by Pinkie Pie, who materialized out of nowhere with a cake.

"Oh boy! Now three of my friends are here! That's so awesome! I totally need to go get another cake!"

"No, wait, Pinkie!" said Rainbow dash again, and this time, Pinkie did hear her. "I think we've got enough cake as it is."

"If you say so, Dashie!" exclaimed Pinkie. She somehow managed to grab both Applejack and Rarity from their respective tables and sat all them down next to her at Rainbow Dash's table. The awkwardness was not diminished by the fact that there was not much room for all four of them. Rarity immediately scooted her chair as far from Applejack's as possible.

"So what's going on, guys?" asked Pinkie. "Anything exciting going on? Ooh, do you have dates to the gala yet?"

Applejack winked at Rarity.

"Well, I was gonna talk to you about that," said Rainbow Dash. Applejack and Rarity instantly forgot their conflict and studied Rainbow Dash with interest.

"Do you have a date to the gala yet?" Rainbow asked.

"Well, not yet. But I'll be sure to find somepony soon!" said Pinkie.

"Do you wanna go to the gala with me?"

Rarity's jaw dropped. Applejack dropped the slice of cake she'd been holding. Even Pinkie stared at Rainbow Dash in surprise.

"Not like that!" snapped Rainbow Dash. "It's just, I was thinking yesterday, and I said, 'Hey, wouldn't it be a great joke if me and Pinkie went to the gala?'"

"Like- a prank?" asked Pinkie Pie, her interest piqued.

"Exactly!" said Rainbow Dash. "Just think- Princess Celestia comes to see us, and there's you and me, and we'll be dates!"

Pinkie Pie giggled. "That's a great idea! We should totally do it! Me and Dashie are going to the gala! You know what this calls for?"

"Not- a party?' said Rainbow Dash, a bit worried.

"Nope! Another cake!" she cried, beaming, and dashed away once more to the kitchen.

"Ah think she's got a problem," said Applejack.

The moment Pinkie left, Rarity and Applejack seperated again, leaving Rainbow Dash alone at the table with her thoughts.

Well, that problem's solved, she thought, relieved. Isn't it?

Wait 'till the news gets out I'm taking Pinkie to the gala, she considered ruefully. But then, it's just one night, and it's not like we're actually . . . She thought about Pinkie. Nice smile, poofy hair, great sense of humor, but did Rainbow really like her?

Maybe. But not really. I can't imagine being in a relationship with her. She grinned and pictured Pinkie Pie standing atop a table at a fancy restaurant, hurling breadsticks at the maitre'd. Or showing up to their wedding with the party cannon. Or having kids . . . Celestia forbid.

No, Pinkie wasn't exactly relationship material. And the "joke" wasn't very funny, even if Pinkie liked it. Why then, had Rainbow asked her?

'Cause you're not going to find a date anywhere else? said a rebellious voice in her head.

Shut up! I could get a date in no time! I just don't want to get a date! I can't be tied down, man!

This was definitely true. If Pinkie Pie would be terrible at a relationship, Rainbow Dash would be even worse. It would have to be a pretty patient pony to date Rainbow Dash. Patient, caring, tolerant . . .

An image of Fluttershy popped unbiden into Rainbow's head. What the- No way!

Rarity and Applejack stared at Rainbow. "Um- did I say that out loud?"

"Uh- yeah," said Applejack.

Offering no further explanation, Rainbow turned to look out the window. Yes, Fluttershy might be patient enough, and she was pretty, Rainbow hadn't made that up . . . but would it really work?

I'm just- protective of her. She's shy and fragile, so I look after her. Like a big sister! Yeah. Totally pastromic.

Just then, Pinkie Pie appeared with an even larger cake than before with icing that read "Pinkie and Dashie - Best Date-Friends Forever!"

"Do you like it?" Pinkie asked eagerly.

"Yeah . . . it's great," said Rainbow sheepishly, and took a slice. Me and Pinkie, going to the gala as friends. That's it. End of discussion.

"Oh, and I told the Cakes all about it, and they thought it was a great idea!" added Pinkie, before vacuuming up half the cake.

. . . Crap.

So see, the last chapter did actually have a purpose! Totally! Next chapter will shift away from RD and Flutters to the other ponies. But brace yourselves, because it's only going to get more unneccesarily convoluted!

Oh, and when RD says "pastromic", she means "platonic".

Corner, Part Two - AJ is a Jerk

After that, there wasn't much noise in the room except for the sound of Pinkie noisily devouring the cake. Applejack sat alone at her table, thinking.

Rainbow and Pinkie! Ah guess ah saw it comin', but . . . well, it's still suprisin'. But then again, maybe it is just a joke. They'd sure be the type to show up ta the ball together and think it was funny. Celestia knows, ah've got some experience with joke dates.

She glanced over to Rarity, who was steadfastly trying to ignore the munching noises from the next table over. It wasn't easy, especially since bits of cake kept flying into her mane. No doubt she wanted to leave as soon as possible.

Maybe it had been a bit mean, stealing Fancy Pants from under her nose like that, but heck, she'd been so annoying all morning that she'd quite frankly deserved it.

Hadn't she?

The minutes dragged on; Applejack fidgeted in her seat, waiting for something, anything to happen. At last, just as she was about to head out herself, Twilight strode in with a disgruntled expression.

"Hiya Twilight!" called Rainbow Dash, perking up immediately. "How was your date the other night?"

"Stow it, Rainbow," Twilight snapped.

"Jeez, sorry," apoligized Rainbow quickly. "Come sit over here with us!"

Twilight took a seat at Pinkie and Rainbow's table. Applejack got up and sat down next to her. She noticed that Rarity, who had also gotten up, had returned to her own table.

"Well, anyway, I hope you still aren't bitter about Pinkie," contined Rainbow.

"I didn't- why not?" asked Twilight, her expression somewhere between annoyance and bewilderment.

"'Cause me and Dashie are going to the dance!" Pinkie exclaimed, hugging the cyan pegasus.

Twilight's jaw did a hasty impression of a lowering drawbridge.

"Jeez! Not like that," said Rainbow testily. "It's a joke."

"Oh," said Twilight, "so you're not taking her?"

"No, I'm going with her," said Pinkie.

"But you just said that it was a joke!" exclaimed Twilight.

"It is!" replied Rainbow Dash.

"How can you be taking her if you just said your taking her is a joke?!" said Twilight, nearly shouting.

"What she means is that Pinkie and Rainbow are going as a joke," said Applejack. "They're not "goin' out" or anything, just friends, still."

"Oh, I see. Good," said Twilight, after several moments of thought.

"Why's it good?" asked Applejack, squiniting at Twilight.

"Because, I, uh, don't want romance to drive our friendships apart," said Twilight quickly.

Rarity harrumphed quite audibly from the next table, got up, and walked out the door.

"What's up with her?" asked Rainbow.

"She's, um, mad at me," said Applejack, suddenly abashed.

"Why would Rarity be mad at you?" asked Pinkie, tilting her head.

"Ah may have, uh, er, um-"

"Just spit it out!" said Rainbow Dash. "I thought you were supposed to be the honest one!"

"Ah may have asked th' stallion who she'd fallen for to go to the ball with me."

"You did WHAT?"

This one was short, I know. It's more to scoot the story along than to provide its own mini-story.

AJ is a Nice Pony

Subtitle: Friendzone is Magic

Rarity bustled around her shop, rapidly reformatting the four dresses standing on mannequins.

No, no, no, Rainbow Dash's must have a shorter train, it's trailing too much. Her horn flashed, and scissors went flying through the air towards the dark blue and pink dress which was sitting in one corner.

And Fluttershy's shouldn't cramp her around the wings . . . The scissors flew across to the other side of the room.

More lace on Twilgiht's, less fluff on Pinkie's . . . ooh, pink ribbon, that'll be for Rainbow Dash, to go with her eyes . . .

By now several boxes were flying through the air, and the scissors were nothing but a line of whizzing metal.


Everything came to an abrupt halt; several boxes bumped into one another, and the scissor halted mere inches from Applejack's throat.

"What do you want?" scoffed Rarity. "Here to rub it in some more?" She turned her back to the orange earth pony and scowled.

Applejack looked down at the floor, and muttered, "Ah'm sorry."

Rarity froze, and with much effort, hissed, "Sorry, are you? Sorry that you took perhaps the most elegant and dashing available stallion in all of Equestria, when you specifically knew I wanted to ask him to the gala? Thirty minutes alone with him and you've sold him on the 'charming rustic who can do a Manehattan accent' schtick? Sorry?"

"Eeyup," said Applejack, doing a pretty good impression of her brother. "Ah'm sorry, I really am. It was childish of me, and no matter how much of a prissy snob ya'll were bein', weren't an excuse for me to do that."

Rarity ignored the "prissy snob" bit and studied Applejack with surprise and a faint bit of hope.

"And so Ah wrote Fancy Pants a letter, telling him that I had an obligation and couldn't go with him."

Rarity let out a litttle squeal.

"But Ah did mention that ya'll were still available, and that you certainly wouldn't mind going with him, if he wanted to . . ."

Rarity shrieked, jumped up, and hugged Applejack. "Thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthank-"

"Can't . . . breathe . . . " Applejack spluttered. Rarity awkwardly released her, and then was distracted by three empty mannequins. "It's a good thing I hadn't started on your gala outfits yet! I'll have to make a matching ensemble for us, and of course, a nice dress for you, too . . ."

She squealed and began to prance around in a little circle, chanting, "Going to the gala with Fancy Pants! Going to the gala with Fancy Pants! Going to the-

There was a low knock on the door, and then another one, slightly louder. Rarity raced to the door, smoothing out her mane, muttering, "Maybe it's him! Oh, what if it's him?" The door swung open to reveal . . .

Spike. He was carrying a bouquet of roses.

"Why, Spikey-wikey!" Rarity said, "whatever are you doing here?"

Spike took a deep breath, and said rapidly, "Rarity, I've had a crush on you since I first met you and I think you're the prettiest mare in all Equestria and I was wondering if maybe you'd like to go to the gala with me-?"

He broke off, gasping for breath, and trying to flash her a charming smile. Rarity glanced worriedly at Applejack, who was pointedly studying Fluttershy's dress.

"Well, um," Rarity said slowly, "this is a bit awkward . . ."

Poor Spike.

Next chapter will be longer, I swear.

Pinkie Pie's Speed-Dating Service

Subtitle: Background character-stravaganza!

Twilight briefly looked up from her desk when she heard the sound of a door being slammed. Or trying to be slammed, at least. It actually just floated closed with a defeated squeak.

Twilight was, naturally, a smart pony, and even if the field of romance did not come naturally to her, she could tell what had happened from Spike's expression. If he had been any more crushed, he'd have been roadkill.

"So it didn't go very well?" she asked, trying to be nice.

"Twilight," said Spike gruffly, "remember what you did when I asked you about your date with Octavia?"

Twilight looked away, abashed. "I threw a book at you."

"You threw the entire encyclopedia set at me."

"I was in a bad mood," murmured Twilight, studying her hooves with interest.

"Maybe that's how I feel right now," growled Spike as he trundled into the kitchen. He returned with a gallon of ice cream, muttered something about "freezing his sorrows", and headed up to his bed.

Twilight had tried to stop him, but he had been so dead set on asking Rarity out that it eventually seemed futile. He had to find out the hard way.

And by the looks of it, that way was harder than diamonds.

About twenty minutes later, the door swung open, but this time, it was a much more optimistic swing. Any readers who are experts in door-opening psychology will be able to tell right away that it is Pinkie Pie who has opened the door, and they would be correct.

The pink mare bounced into the room, grabbed Twilight, and bounced out. This happened so quickly that they were approximately halfway across Ponyville before Twilight realized that the green surface beneath her was not, in fact, the complete works of Starswirl the Bearded.

"Pink-ie-what's-go-ing-on?" Twilight gasped.

"It's a surprise!" said Pinkie brightly.

By the time Twilight had processed this, they were already at Sugarcube Corner. The two were moving so fast that Twilight failed to notice a banner adorned with hearts and an extremely familiar face.

However, Twilight did notice the large crowd of ponies inside, and that they all seemed to perk up when Twilight went by. In a flash, Pinkie whisked Twilight up the stairs, and plopped her down at a table.

"Pinkie! What's going on? Why did you take me here? What's with all those ponies-"

"SURPRISE!" shouted Pinkie.


"Welcome to Pinkie Pie's Speed-dating Service!"

"Oh no." The realization set in like a ton of bricks. "Nononono-"

"I heard you couldn't get a date, so I put up some posters saying that anypony who wanted a date for Hearts and Hooves day should come here!"

"Pinkie, I really don't think this is a good idea."

Pinkie paused momentarily. "But of course it's a good idea! There are tons of ponies down there! Statisically, one of them has to be a perfect match for you!"

Twilight was too stunned by the fact that Pinkie had used the word "statistically" to say anything.

"No, let's practice," said Pinkie, taking a seat at the table. "Hi, I'm Pinkie!"

Twilight rolled her eyes and said, "Hi, Pinkie."

The next instant, Pinkie had grabbed Twilight and had started making out with her.

"MMMMPHHHHH!" said Twilg\ight, which roughly translates to "Pinkie, what are you doing? This is most abnormal! Put me down this instant!"

Luckily, after about thirty seconds, Pinkie finally had to come up for air. Even more luckily, neither of the Cakes had been around during that time. Twilight attempted to speak, but could only gasp. Pinkie prepared for another go-round, but Twilight was able to stop her.

"Pinkie, what huff in the name of Celestia huff was that?"

"Practice!" said Pinkie. "That's how it works, isn't it?"

"I don't think so," said Twilight. "I think it's more along the lines of getting to know the pony. The kissing comes later."

Pinkie blinked. "Oh! Okay. Well, you obviously know a lot more about this than I do! NEXT!"

She disappeared down the steps, leaving the protesting Twilight all alone.

Twilight stared at the blue unicorn mare sitting across from her. She had an hourglass cutie mark and a dark blue mane with a white streak in it. She was beaming at Twilight.

"Hello," the mare said pleasantly.

"Hi," said Twilight, trying to recall the mare's name. "It's . . . Colgate, isn't it?"

The mare's smile rapidly turned into a scowl.

"It's Minuette!" she growled. "My name is Minuette! I conduct the Canterlot Orchestra! Never get a wrong rhythm! But does anypony care? No! They just see the stupid white streak in my mane, and call me Colgate! Like the freaking toothpaste!"

Her eyes were tearing up. "I. Hate. That. Name!"

She dashed back down the stairs.

Not a very good start, Twilight mused. "Um, next?"

Twilight blinked her eyes repeatedly to make sure she wasn't seeing double. She wasn't, obviously, but then the absence of a mustache on one of the stallions should have tipped her off already.

"So . . . there are two of you?" Twilight asked.

"That's right," said Flim and Flam simultaneously.

"That's a bit . . . odd," said Twilight.

"Well, we're a package deal!" said Flam. "Two for the price of one!" added Flim.

"Just think about it," Flam continued. "The odds of us missing a date are cut in half, at least! You'll have constant romantic companionship! And, best of all-"

He whispered something in Twilight's ear, while Flim grinned at her.

"Ew ew ew! No!" spluttered Twilight. "NEXT!"

Twilight was pleasantly surprised to see a familiar, friendly face arrive.

"Hey Derpy," Twilight said, smiling. "You're looking for a date?"

"Hiya Twilight!" exclaimed Derpy, one eye focused on the purple unicorn, the other on the wall. "I just read the poster and saw that you needed a date, so I wanted to be your date and make you happy!"

"Why, that's very kind of you-" Twilight was cut off by the sound of a chair breaking. Looking down, she found Derpy sprawled on the floor.

"Oh dear, let me help you-"

"I'm okay," insisted Derpy. She struggled back up to her feet and retrieved something from her bag.

"I brought you muffins!" she said proudly. "I made 'em myself!" She plopped the tray onto the table with a loud clang, and baked pastries flew everywhere.

Twilight snagged one off the floor, and noticed that it had probably been improved from the addition of dirt and hair.

"Um, Derpy," she said, trying to be kind, "it's really nice of you to offer to be my date, but you don't have to do that. I'm sure I can find somepony for the gala who I like."

Derpy frowned. "You mean you don't like me?"

"Not in that way, Derpy," Twilight said gently.

Derpy got up and slowly plodded down the stairs, sniffling.


The next pony was one who quite clearly looked down upon Twilight. Not that she condescended her in any way, she was just so tall that she towered several hands over Twilight.

"Princess Luna? What are you doing here?"

"Same as everypony else, I suppose," she said. "I want to be your date!"

Although this was the logical conclusion, it still caught Twilight off guard. "You? Want to date me?"

Luna sighed. 'It's terribly lonely, being stuck on the moon, all by yourself with nopony to talk to. I need somepony to love!"

Twilight was speechless. After several moments, she gathered her thoughts together enough to be able to say, "But- you're a goddess! You're immortal!"

Luna bent down and looked deep into Twilight's eyes. "'Tis of no matter! I will still cherish you for every night of your life!"

"But- but I'm your sister's protege!" Twilight squeaked.

Luna grabbed Twilight and lifted her into the air. "We do not need her! Let us elope together!" Luna's eyes appeared to have a maniacal glint. "We shall found a new, greater country, you and I! We shall rule together as Princesses OF THE NIGHT!"

Luna paused abruptly. The maniacal glint drained from her eyes. She set Twilight down, and stared at the floor. "Sorry. I got a bit carried away."

"Happens to the best of us," Twilight said, shaking slightly.

"So do you-"

"No thanks."

"Figures. Farewell, Twilight Sparkle." The purple alicorn trudged back down the stairs.

The yellow earth pony sat down across from Twilight with a goofy smile on his face. "Howdy, Twilight."

"Hello, Braeburn! What brings you to these parts?"

"Why, Applejack needed some help gettin' that caterin' order done, so I came from APPPAAAALLOOOOSSSAAAA-"

The table went flying, and Twilight with it.

"Aw shucks, ah'm so sorry," Braeburn said as he helped Twilight back to her feet. "Ah 'spose Ah've just ruined my chances?"

"No offense, but yeah," said Twilight.

"Gee, you're picky, Twilight," said Pinkie, peeking over the bannister. "There's only one pony left down here!"

"Probably the one pony left in Equestria who'd be willing to date me," Twilight groaned. "Let's just hope that it's not a complete jerk."

From the bottom of the steps, an all-too-familiar snapped impatiently, "Will you hurry up? The GREAT and POWERFUL Trrrrixie does NOT like to be kept waiting!"

Twilight's eyes widened in alarm. "Is Braeburn still here?"

Poor Spike. And Twilight. And everypony who got rejected by Twilight.

The Tally:

Number of Times Twilight Has been Kissed: 2
Number of Ponies She Has Kissed: 1
Number of Times Twilight Wanted To Be Kissed: 0

Denial, Depression, and Last-Minute Dates, Part 1

Fluttershy trotted into Ponyville. Having had her heart broken twice, and still nursing feelings for a certain rainbow-maned pegasus, she had decided to take up meditation. Since meditation is nothing but sitting very still and putting one's mind at ease, she was, not surprisingly, very good at it.

Since this was the first time in several days that she had been in Ponyville, she was unaware of the many strange developments that had taken place while she'd been "OMMMM"ing and/or bawling her eyes out.

For instance, she didn't know why Derpy was crying under a tree.

For those of you who don't know, seeing Derpy cry can roughly be approximated to looking at a starving puppy getting kicked repeatedly, and then having his doghouse foreclosed on for good measure.

Fluttershy's mother instinct instantly set in, and she was soon comforting the sobbing pegasus.

"There, there," she whispered, gently rubbing Derpy's mane. "You don't have to cry. What's wrong?"

Derpy dried her eyes as best she could, and sniffling, groaned, "Have you ever had a crush on somepony?"

An iron vice closed around Fluttershy's heart. "Yes?"

"And then, you try to talk to them, and ask them out, and then-"

Fluttershy pushed all thoughts of the ill-fated day when she'd lost not one, but two crushes as far back in her mind as possible.

"-and then it turns out they don't like you back, and you don't think it should be a big deal, but you feel really stupid 'cause you even thought it could happen in the first place and-"

Fluttershy let out a loud sob.

With the "HNNNGGGG" power of a thousand freezing kittens, the mares fell to the grass, weeping their hearts out over lost love they could never have attained. Each, seeking solace, grabbed each other and embraced. Their manes were soon wet with each other's tears, and their manes intermingled, dripping. Gray and yellow blended together in sadness, pink and blonde, it mattered not, they were of one soul. Their wings lay down across each others', conveying only the deepest sadness, but finding just the slightest bit of comfort in the downy feathers of another broken heart . . .

Is it over yet? Oh thank God. I don't care if you haven't had your sad fix yet. I can't write another sentence of soppy, mushy . . .

Anyway, when their sadness had subsided slightly, and their eyes were running dry of tears (groan), they fell back.

"I feel so dumb," sniffed Derpy. "I should'nta cried like that-"

"It's okay, Derpy," said Fluttershy. "I know how you feel."

The two looked deep into each other's eyes (well, ignoring the fact that Derpy's right eye was examining the tree). An idea dinged in Fluttershy's mind.

"Derpy," she said slowly, as if unsure if she could say it, "I have to bring somepony to the gala, and since I don't exactly have a date, maybe . . ." She paused. "Maybe you'd like to go with me, as friends?"

Derpy's eyes widened in excitement. Giving a whoop, she grabbed Fluttershy and hoisted her up. "Ohboyohboyohboy! Thank you, Fluttershy!"

And then she hit her head on a tree branch. But hey, it was still a nice moment.

Over at Sugarcube Corner, Pinkie and Rainbow were planning (or perhaps plotting would be a better word) the wide variety of pranks they intended to pull at the gala. Pinkie seemed pleased as punch with the goings-on, although hopefully it wasn't punch that Gummy had been swimming in.

"So, we'll put in three dribble cups at the drinks table," Pinkie was saying. "Or should we do four? There are probably gonna be a lot of ponies, so we should probably do four. And then, a joy buzzer on every door . . . Dashie, are you listening to me?"

Dashie was not, in fact, listening to Pinkie; instead she was preoccupied with thoughts of Fluttershy, and the active suppression of said thoughts.

"Hey Dashie, what'cha thinkin' about?" asked Pinkie, bouncing in front of her friend gleefully.

"Um, Flutt- I mean, these fluffy cupcakes, they're really good Pinkie, seriously . . ."

"Fluttershy?" asked Pinkie, who had apparently not heard the feeble cover-up. "Yeah, me too, she hasn't been into town for a while. I dunno how she's gonna find a date out there, though." She beamed at Rainbow. "She's got to meet more ponies! I mean, I don't there's anypony who's seriously got a crush on her . . ."

Rainbow Dash shuffled awkwardly. At the sound of a knock on the door, she jumped up and flew away from the kitchen as fast as she could.

However, she was then greeted by the sight of Fluttershy, framed by a heart. Rainbow froze, which is an impressive feat when you're flying.

"Um, Rainbow Dash, can you help me? Derpy's hit her head, I think we'd better get her inside . . ."

After several awkward seconds, Rainbow's mind finally said, Hey, it's just a window!

Rainbow Dash shook her head and pulled open the door. "What's going on?" she asked.

"Derpy's in trouble and she needs our help!" repeated Fluttershy.

"Won't be the first time," muttered Rainbow, but she was already heading out the door.

Fluttershy led Rainbow back to Derpy, who was snoozing quite peacefully, a smile still playing on her face.

"I tried lifting her alone, but she was a bit heavy, I think . . ." Fluttershy whispered.

"Well then we'll just both have to do it, then," said Rainbow. Bending down, she grabbed Derpy by her right shoulder. Fluttershy followed on her left. In the process, her hoof brushed Rainbow's leg.

Rainbow, confused, looked up, only to see a blushng Fluttershy actively avoiding eye contact. Something clicked in the small, underdeveloped quadrant of her mind called "social cues". Unfortunately, Rainbow Dash's mind can best be likened to a Rube Goldberg machine, and it was going to take a while for that "something" to reach anywhere of importance.

The two hauled the unconcious pegasus back to Sugar Cube Corner, and laid her out on the floor.

"Oh, there you are Dashie, I was wondering where you'd gotten to!"

It took her a few seconds to notice Derpy. "Uh oh? What happened to her?"

"Yeah, what happened, Flutters?" asked Rainbow. "You never exactly told me."

Fluttershy blushed and stared at the floor. "Well, I just asked her to go with me to the gala, and she was really happy, and she flew up into the tree and hit her head . . ."

Something unimportant about "trees" and "heads" flittered briefly through Rainbow's mind. "You're going to the gala with Derpy?"

Fluttershy turned a bright scarlet. "Well, she was really sad about something, and I wanted to cheer her up, so I asked her to go, but- but- but we're just going as friends, not like you and Pinkie . . ."

A strange relief washed over Rainbow's mind like salve on a burn. Pinkie, meanwhile, grinned and said, "We're not dating or anything, silly! We're just going as a joke! Just friends, like you guys!"

"Just . . . friends?" Fluttershy whispered, grinning despite herself. If Rainbow wasn't dating Pinkie, then maybe, just maybe, she'd be willing to go out with Fluttershy.

Then she glanced at the slumbering, derp-eyed pegasus on the floor. She couldn't do that to Derpy. It would break her heart again, and Fluttershy wouldn't wish the sensation of a twice-breaking heart on anypony.

At that moment, Derpy awoke from her stupor. Her eyes whizzed about the room, before coming to rest on Fluttershy. Comprehension dawned on her face.

"Oh boy! We're going to the gala!" She bounded to her feet with surprising agility. "Thank you, thank you, thank you! You're the best friend a pony could have!"

Meanwhile, the curious contraption that was Rainbow's mind finally clicked to a conclusion. I think Fluttershy's got a crush on me!

She opened her mouth, about to ask to talk to Fluttershy. Unfortunately for her, Derpy had jsut grabbed the yellow pegasus, and was now carrying her across the town at breakneck speeds.

"Well, I'm glad Fluttershy got a date, even if it's only a friendly date!" said Pinkie. "Aren't you?"

" . . . yeah," said Rainbow Dash, glancing ruefully over her shoulder at the door as Pinkie pulled her back to the kitchen.

I think one of my favorite things about this fic is that I can set up really random pairings. As such, have a Flutterderp.

Don't worry, there are a few more strange ones coming.

Denial, Depression, and Last-Minute Dates, Part 2

Applejack had just about given up on finding a date to the gala. She had neither the time nor the motivation to seek out attractive ponies and ask them to go to the gala with her. What would she do when she showed up at the gala without a date? She ignored that thought. She was getting very good at ignoring thoughts.

However, she was getting so good at ignoring thoughts that she also ignored a small, purple dragon bustling down the road. They collided with roughly the force of a bull hitting a mosquito.

"Aw shucks Spike, Ah'm really sorry . . ." Spike, who was now flattened against a wall, said nothing but a muffled "Mmmmmpphhhh". Applejack gently peeled him off the wall and layed him out flat on the ground. Spike did not move.

"Spike? Spike? Say somethin', Spike!" Applejack said urgently.

Spike continued to say nothing.

Applejack thought fast. Maybe he needs that facncy CRP, or whatever it's called. She bent down and prepared to administer the "kiss of life".

"AUUGHHHH! I'M ALIVE! I'M ALIVE!" screeched Spike, jumping to his feet. Applejack jumped back several feet.

"I'm okay." Spike huffed. The "kiss of life" was still a kiss, and Spike did not relish the prospect of kissing Applejack.

"Pardonez-moi!" came a voice from behind them. A voice that was all too familiar.

Spike and Applejack wheeled around to see Rarity. "Oh, hello, Applejack!" said Rarity, smiling. Then she saw Spike. ". . . and Spike."

She hastily looked back up at Applejack . Spike, for once, didn't mind. He had absolutely no desire to hang around the mare who had so brutally broken his heart.

"-and I've finished up your dress, Applejack, I think you'll really like it," Rarity was saying. Applejack nodded, but did not repsond.

Spike was about to walk away, but found that he was cornered against the wall by the two mares.

Who did not seem to be doing anything at all. No words were spoken. Neither of them were moving at all. There was a strange silence.

It could only be described in one way: awkward.

Spike was about to remind the mares that he was still there when a stallion trotted up to the trio. He had a blue mustache and mane of the same color. Spike vaguely recalled having seen him before, but he couldn't remember where.

"There you are, Rarity! I was wondering where you'd gone!"

The silence was immediately broken; Rarity wheeled around to face the stallion. "Don't worry, Fancy Pants, I've just been over here, talking to my friend."

Fancy Pants. So this was the stallion who had stolen Spike's one true love. The dragon's eyes narrowed, and he barely choked down a hiss.

"Applejack!" said Fancy Pants. Applejack, who had been trying to make a stealthy escape, stopped dead. "It's wonderful to see you again," he continued. "It's such a pity you were unable to go to the gala."

Applejack gulped. "Well, uh, Ah'm still gonna go to the gala, I just couldn't, uh, go . . . with you."

The awkwardness was so thick you could have cut it with a knife. "Ah yes. An obligation, I believe you said? What was it?"

Applejack glanced around, as if seeking an escape route. She was on the verge of telling all when an unfamiliar voice said, "Because we must go with her."

Now everypony (and one dragon) turned in surprise.

"We will not pretend to understand it," Princess Luna continued. "Every year, a wide variety of prophecies are made. Most of them concern trivial matters, and appear to make no sense, but as princesses, we and our sister have a duty to try and fulfill as many of them as possible. Hence, we and this 'noble farmer' must go to the gala together."

If Fancy Pants was shocked by any of this, he had done a good job of concealing it. "Wel, then I shall leave you two to your business, your majesty," he said, and bowing deeply, left with Rarity in tow.

Nopony said anything until the couple were out of sight. At last, Luna let out a deep breath. "We have not lied in over a milennia," she said. "We were a bit worried that we would not be able to pull it off convincingly."

Applejack furrowed her brow and gazed at the princess. "Ya mean all that about prophecies was a bunch of baloney?"

Luna nodded. "Thou, er, you are a creature of honesty. That is commendable. However, we recently did Twilight Sparkle a minor inconvenience, and while she has no doubt already forgiven us, we felt obligated to give aid to her friend."

Applejack nodded. "That's, uh, very kind of ya."

Luna sighed. "Alas, we fear that we must go to the gala with you in reality. Not romantically, of course," she added immediately, "but as mere companions. Is that alright with you?"

"Uh- sure."

"Very well. We shall see you on the night of the gala. Do try to wear something dark, to make sure we match. Farewell!"

Applejack trotted away with thoughts of what just happened slowly filtering through her brain. Luna flew into the distance, undoubtedly towards Canterlot.

And Spike, who has been ignored by no less than four ponies within five minutes, set off for the library.

Spike expected to at least feel a bit of anger towards Fancy Pants, a nice "How dare he?" feeling. He might have even, in his greed, grown into a full-sized dragon and destroyed Ponyville again. Instead of the expected joy at imagining such things, he only felt a bit lonely.

Rarity had rejected him. And that was that. She didn't hate him, she just didn't like Spike the way Spike liked her. If Spike really loved Rarity, he would just let her be happy. Jeez, I'm starting to sound really sappy, Spike thought to himself.

The point was, Rarity was happy with Fancy Pants. Wasn't she?

If delayed realizations were pennies, Ponyville would have been crushed under a giant wave of copper and its denizens would have been greatly injured. Indeed, this realization hit him with the force of such. But Spike knew now what had to be done.

He just needed to tell somepony. Rarity? No way. Twilight? She'd never believe it. He tried to think of other ponies. Uh . . . Princess Celestia? Nah, she's too busy for this sort of thing. But hang on. Princess . . .

He grabbed a piece of parchment and began to write.

Not my best chapter, I know, but important to the plot.

Poor Spike, getting ignored by everypony. What important realization has he made? Who's he gonna call? Ghostbusters?

No, that would be dumb.

Also, second-to-last strange pairing: Lunajack.

Denial, Depression, and Last-Minute Dates, Part 3

Pinkie Pie, as most of you will be aware, is not made of rubber. However, you would not have been able to tell this from the way she bounced down the street with her shopping bags.

It almost defied gravity; there was no way a pony's hooves could be that elastic. And whatever she was carrying in her bags must surely fly out whenever she went back down. And surely no pony could avoid anything with their eyes closed-

Yeah, she just ran into Twilight.

"Oh sorry, Twiight!" cried Pinkie, although it was hard to hear since she was currently stuck underneath the purple unicorn.

"Ahhh! Be careful! Those are important alchemical ingredients! They're extremely dangerous!" Twilight shouted, before noticing where Pinkie was. "Oh- um, sorry."

The ponies gradually picked themselves up and grabbed their various bags, when an angry voice called. "Fear not, fair Twilight! You have been led astray, but the Grrreat and Powerful Trrrrixie is here for you!"

"Oh no," Twilight whispered.

A blue unicorn who Pinkie hadn't seen for a season and a half came galloping up. "Back, hussy," she screeched, pointing a hoof at Pinkie. "Do not touch one hair of this beautiful mare's mane!"

She grabbed Twilight's hoof and heped her to her feet. "I'm watching you," she added, narrowing her eyes at Pinkie.

Twilight mouthed "I'm so sorry," to Pinkie.

Pinkie was merely confused. "Hey Trixie! What are you doing back in Ponyville?"

"As if you didn't already know!" said Trixie. "The Grrrreat and Powerful Trrrrixie has returned to this village to seek the fair hand of this beautiful, intelligent mare. She is perhaps the only pony in all of Equestria worthy to be the girlfriend of Trixie. Twilight also knew this, for she has asked Trixie to accompany her to the gala."

The next thing either of the unicorns knew, the air was thick with streamers and confetti. Pinkie had whipped out her party cannon.

Twilight blinked the confetti out of her eyes and sensed approaching disaster. She hastily shoved her hoof onto Pinkie's mouth, just managing to stop a musical number.

"Mo?" asked Pinkie.

"No," affirmed Twilight.

"Get your hooves off of her!" cried Trixie, shoving Pinkie backwards and spilling both Twilight and Pinkie's bags again. All three went flying, and ended up sprawled onto the ground.

Twilight rubbed her head and took a deep breath. Then another one. And a third one, just to be safe.

"Hey, didn't Twilight have her hooves on me?" asked Pinkie.

"You say that," hissed Trixie, "but we both know that you were trying to steal her away from me!"

Before things could go any further, Twilight called out, "Uh, Trixie, I think one of my bags went flying all the way back there. Could you get it for me?"

Trixie's eyes gleamed. "But, of course, Twilight!" Then, jsut as she was about to leave, she paused. "But I don't trust this one alone with you."

Twilight couldn't hold back a sigh. "I promise I won't let anything . . . untoward happen while you're gone."

This seemed good enough for Trixie, who trotted away.

"You really think a bag went back that far?" asked Pinkie.

"No, I just needed some time without her around," said Twilight.

"Oh yeah!" exclaimed Pinkie. "I was gonna congratulate you for finding another date! I knew my speed-dating service would work for you!"

Twilight grinned ruefully. "It hasn't exactly been easy, being with her."

Pinkie furrowed her brow. "She did seem kinda-"

"Possessive? Extremely so."

"Why do you wanna go out with her, then?" asked Pinkie, puzzled.

"Because there's nopony else in Equestria who'd want to go with me!" said Twilight. "This is my last shot, and I can't risk disappointing Princess Celestia. It's only a few more days, then it's over."

Pinkie shook her head. "That's dumb, Twilight. You should be with somepony who you like, not somepony you have to be with!"

Twilight just sighed..

Then Trixie jump-kicked Pinkie in the face.

Another plot-relevant short chapter. Note: I don't if you've been keeping track of the days, but I'm just gonna say that it's somewhere between one and three days before the gala.

Also, a Chekov's Gun was loaded in this chapter. Do you know what it is?

To the Gala!

The day of the gala drew ever closer, although it felt much longer to some ponies who were purple unicorns. The ponies prepared for what was alternately an event to be endured and the most important night of their lives.

Fluttershy mostly stayed out of everypony's way, especially Rainbow Dash, but Derpy showed up for tea every day.

Rarity fussed over the new dresses she was making for her friends (and especially the matching dress-suit ensemble for herself and Fancy Pants).

Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie continued to plot pranks together, althought Rainbow could frequently be seen glancing out towards the woods while Pinkie Pie cooked up a few more cakes.

Applejack continued her farm work, and Big Mac prepared to transplant his trees. The only differerence was that the moon shone a little bit brighter of the farm at night.

Twilight was accompanied nearly everywhere by her "girlfriend", and spent her time mentally inventing new time measurement systems to try and make the day go by faster.

Spike was very quiet, although he did seem to be borrowing a lot of paper recently.

And all seven of them counted off the days until the gala.

Then at last, the great night came.

"Trixie DEMANDS that she has a dress. She and her girlfriend MUST match!" shouted the blue unicorn.

"And, um, would you mind maybe, um, finding something nice for Derpy? I wouldn't want her to feel left out . . ." Fluttershy whispered, with her walleyed companion in tow.

"I can't be expected make dresses in less than five minutes!" Rarity moaned. "You''ll just have to pick something off the rack!"

"D'ya suppose it's dark enough? Ah wouldn't want to make her mad . . ." Applejack wondered aloud, peering at her new dress.

"Rarity, this dress is too tight! I can't fit my wings in!" Rainbow called impatiently.

"You've just got to slide them through the holes, like this," whispered Fluttershy, as Derpy browsed the racks. Rainbow tried again, and with Fluttershy's help, succeeded.

"Hey, thanks!" said Rainbow, only to find that Fluttershy had disappeared and was now actively hiding under a box.

Spike rolled his eyes. "Girls."

At last, after much stress, impatience, heartache, and worry, they were ready to go to the gala.

Twilight was keen to try her carriage transformation spell again, but was downvoted by the others (except, of course, for Trixie, who zealously backed up every statement Twilight made).

She was about to simply teleport them all to Canterlot instead when a familiar storm cloud broiled in the sky. With a crack of thunder and a loud whooshing noise, Luna's cart drew up in front of them.


Rarity and Trixie nodded vigorously. Spike was emotionless. Pinkie and Derpy giggled. Twilight rolled her eyes. Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy looked in opposite directions. Applejack merely shrugged.


"Uh, Princess, be pardon, but can ya not talk so loud?" asked Applejack.

"WHAT DO YOU- oh, right, sorry. It's still taking some getting used to," said Luna, smiling apologetically.

And, without further ado, the motley group of eight ponies (and one baby dragon) piled into the chariot. Spike, the last one to climb aboard, had mere moments to hold on before the chariot took off into the night at a breakneck speed.

Twilight, at last, understood why the Princess' manes looked so flowing; the wind was so fierce that it almost tore her mane off. All the ponies clung together (even Trixie), trying to stay on and maintain some vestige of body warmth. All except Luna, that is, who sat in the front seat, clutching the reins and laughing maniacally.

" . . . Is it over?"

"Ah think so."

"I'm not sure. We could still be moving and simply not notice it due to relativistic effects- whoa!" Rainbow Dash pushed Twilight out of the carriage and she landed on the ground with a thump.

"It's over, then," said Twilight, as Trixie smacked Rainbow.

"Luna! I trust these ponies are no worse for the wear?"

Twilgiht's heart stopped. Princess Celestia! She was here!

The white alicorn trotted over to Twilight, who was still lying on the ground. "Twilight Sparkle, my faithful student. I trust you've brought a romantic companion, as I requested?"

"Uh, yes, of course, your majesty," said Twilight, hastily getting to her hooves.

"And this pony is-" Celestia's eyes drifted over the occupants of the carriage.

"It is Trixie who is accompanying this lovely mare!" Trixie cried, hopping out of the carriage.

Celestia's eyes flashed the briefest Really? before she smiled and said, "Welcome to the gala, Trixie."

Then before the blue unicorn could respond, Celestia cast her gaze on the other ponies. "And all of your friends have brought companions as well?"

They trooped out and paired off; Fluttershy with Derpy ("Just friends," Fluttershy squeaked), Rainbow Dash with Pinkie ("Same," said Rainbow quickly) and Applejack with Luna ("Prophecy," said Luna with a wink, and Celestia just shrugged), as well as Spike and Rarity, both of whom were on their own. The former exchanged meaningful glances at Celestia. The latter tapped her hoof a bit impatiently and stared through the window at the crowds of ponies.

At last Fancy Pants hurried out, and taking everything in stride as usual, took his place beside Rarity without a word; Rarity glared at him, but grinned a little bit.

Celestia said nothing for a few moments, then, at last, announced, "I would like to welcome one and all to the first annual Hearts and Hooves Day Gala!"

For once, I don't really think I have anything to say here.


The last dragon Rarity wanted to see that night was Spike. Well, not the last dragon, because most dragons were far larger and meaner than Spike was. Still, Rarity didn't want to see him.

But Spike would not go away. He gently poked Fancy Pants' leg. The stallion could not find him for several moments (and nearly kicked him at one point), but at last faced him and asked, "Ah, good sir, what may I do for you?"

"I need to talk to Rarity for a moment," he said. Rarity sighed. She couldn't say she hadn't been expecting it, but it was inconvenient nonetheless.

"Now, Spike, I'm sure it can wait a little bit," she said.

"It's really important," said Spike, looking her in the eye. There was something in his eyes, something unknowable, that told Rarity he was telling the truth.

"All right," she said, sighing much more. "I'll be right back," she said to Fancy Pants.

"I have to go get somepony else," said Spike, "but can you just wait by the dessert table?"

And with that, he was gone, leaving Rarity alone and confused.

The gala was loud. Very loud. Twilight, being a natural introvert, did not enjoy this. Nor did she enjoy seeing Octavia, who was playing in the quartet on stage.

Applejack and Luna had not come within ten feet of each other since they had arrived. This was understandable, Twilight supposed, as she didn't even understand why the two were together to begin with.

The one positive of the large crowds was that it was very easy to "accidentally" lose Trixie, and, once Twilight was away from her, she actually had a tiny bit of fun.

She was standing by the dessert table when she saw Pinkie and Rainbow hiding behind it.

"What's up, guys?" Twilight called. Rainbow rapidly shushed her and motioned for her to join them. With nothing better to do, she did.

"Been having a good time?" asked Rainbow. "Trixie's looking all over for you."

"Somehow, I'm not surprised," Twilight sighed. "So what are you guys up to?"

"We're gonna put sparklers on the cakes!" said Pinkie excitedly. Rainbow mouthed "Pinkie humor" and rolled her eyes goodnaturedly.

"Well, I could use a bit of excitement," said Twilight, surveying the dozens of cakes which were laid out on the table.

"Applejack, I need to talk to you," said Spike.

"Sure thing Spike, what is it?"

"I can't tell you right now," said Spike, "I have to go get somepony else. Can you wait by the dessert table?"

And then he disappeared into the crowd of ponies.

Applejack shrugged and headed for the dessert table. There was nopony else here except Rarity. The two said nothing to each other.

Applejack peered out into the crowd, looking for Spike. She saw no sign of him. "Ah wish he'd just hurry up," she muttered.

"Who?" asked Rarity. "A stallion?"

"Nah," said Applejack quickly, "just Spike. He wanted ta talk ta me about something."

"Me too!" said Rarity. "I've no idea what it is, though."

The awkward silence descended once more.

Something strange had caught Twilight's eye.

"Who made those cakes? Should they be gray like that?"

"I made 'em, Twilight!" said Pinkie as she pulled out the sparklers. "Applejack needed some baked goods for her catering thing, so I helped her out. I just made them the other day."

"The day you got kicked in the face by Trixie?"

Pinkie nodded her head.

" . . . oh no."

"Get your hooves off of her!" cried Trixie, shoving Pinkie backwards and spilling both Twilight and Pinkie's bags again. All three went flying, and ended up sprawled onto the ground.

A small red bag flew out of Twilight's hooves and landed right next to another red bag, slightly larger. Pinkie grabbed the larger bag with her other bags.

"That's why my experiments didn't work!" said Twilight, as Pinkie struck a match. "Pinkie! Put it down!"

"Put what down?" said Pinkie, moving the burning match towards the cake as she fumbled for a couple of sparklers.

"The match! Those cakes are full of nitroglycerin! They're highly flammable-"

Then the cakes exploded.

So that's the Chekov's gun. Betcha thought that was just a throwaway line in the description! But it wasn't, was it? Ha! Ha ha ha!

This was originally going to be part of the last chapter, but I figured it should be separated. But I didn't want to drag the story out, so I posted it tonight.

UPDATE: As of 9/21, I've retconned some more stuff into this chapter. I'll post a note at the beginning of the next section so people don't miss the new parts.

Opposites Attract or the Opposite of Attraction?

WARNING! Before you read this chapter, did you know that the last chapter was changed on 9/21? If you haven't read the new version, this one won't make much sense. Sorry, you'll just have to go back and reread it.

The cake exploded with a loud noise that can best be described as

However, the Canterlot Royal Palace is perhaps one of the oldest inhabited buildings in Equestria, and home to veritable goddesses. As such, thousands of years of spells are packed into its very foundations. One of those is a security ward against massive explosions, which, while not as powerful as it used to be, still deadened much of the impact of the combusting nitro. All that got out was a minor shock wave and a great deal of flour, milk, eggs, and frosting.

None of this was evident to Applejack, however, because she was lying on the ground in an uncomfortable position, covered in and blinded by copious amounts of cake.

There were shouts coming from all around her, and the sound of thundering hooves. Applejack did not process any of this information, because she was, as mentioned, covered in cake, and greatly confused as a result.

Am Ah dead? she thought, trying to remember the last few seconds. She'd been standing right next to Rarity, and now- (she smelled the air) cake?

If this is Heaven, Applejack thought, it's a pretty messed place.

Then, from above, a feminine voice said, "Oh dear! Applejack! Are you alright?" The voice sounded vaguely familiar, but Applejack couldn't place it, probably because she was dead.

A hoof grabbed her front leg and pulled on it. Applejack felt a sharp pain. Could you feel pain when you were dead?

She was pulled to her hooves, her front leg smarting. Shaking her head, she saw light start to peek through the baked goop on her face.

An angelic face stared at her with concern, beautiful blue eyes framed by a flowing purple mane-

Oh wait. That was Rarity. Ah can't be dead, then, Applejack thought, 'cause there's no way the two of us are endin' up in the same place.

"Applejack?" Rarity asked anxiously, pulling on her leg. "Speak to me!"

"Owwwwwww," Applejack moaned. Rarity awkwardly released Applejack's leg and peered at it with concern. "Oh, that's a terrible cut."

Applejack glanced down; there was a long gash which was still bleeding a bit.

"Probably all that crockery flying around," said Rarity, "some of it got broken, no doubt. You need get to it looked at soon." Then, she did the most amazing thing Applejack had ever seen: she ripped off her dress and wrapped it around Applejack's injured leg.

"Something wrong?" the unicorn asked, Applejack, whose jaw had dropped several inches.

"Bu'- yer dress-"

"Oh, it's just a dress," said Rarity. "I can always make a new one."

Applejack was dumbfounded. Had Rarity's brains gotten switched around?

"I think there was some sort of explosion," Rarity was saying, "at the dessert table. Nopony was hurt, I think, but it's really just chaos. I hope they've called a nurse, you really do need medical attention."

Applejack surveyed the ballroom. Cake splattered the walls, floor, and ceiling. Many ponies were also picking themselves off the floor. Applejack caught a glimpse of a rainbow-shaded mane zipping across the room, and heard Trixie shrieking at Twilgiht and Pinkie. Rarity was right; nopony seemed badly hurt.

"Ah, there's the nurse!" Rarity was saying. "Come on."

She helped Appleajck limp across the room to where the newly-arrived castle nurse was looking over the injured ponies. She stared at Applejack's leg, muttered "tsk, tsk" and gave it a proper bandage.

Applejack surveyed the bloody rag that had been Rarity's dress, then casually dropped it behind a table.

"Yer alright then, Rarity?" Applejack asked as she trotted beside the unicorn. Rarity nodded. "I think you took the brunt of the blast for me," she said, smiling awkwardly. "You got right in front of me. It was a very brave thing to do."

Applejack shook her head in confusion. She had absolutely no memory of doing such a thing.

"I was really worried about you, Applejack," said Rarity, with a surprising amount of earnestness in her eyes. "All we've ever really done is fight. Even when we were in Canterlot last week. Only you had the courage to do the bigger thing, in the end."

Applejack looked at her hooves. "But Ah was the one who started it, Ah just wised up after a while." Rarity ignored her.

"I've never really given you your due, Applejack," said Rarity. "I make fun of you for your, ahem, earthiness, but you are at heart a very honest and hardworking pony."

"That's . . . real kind of ya," said Applejack.

"It's just so foolish. We need to settle our differences. I realized when the explosion happened that you were, really and truly, my friend. And I couldn't bear to lose you."

Applejack had by this point turned a deep shade of crimson. She and Rarity looked at each other, saying nothing. They leaned in, closer, closer-

"Spike was trying to set us up," said Rarity suddenly.

Applejack froze. "Beg pardon?"

"Spike was trying to set us up!" repeated Rarity. "You and I! He deliberately put us together at the dessert table! He was trying to get us to- well . . ." she trailed off awkwardly.

Applejack furrowed her brow in confusion. Then comprehension set in. "You an' me- Spike- That's the silliest thing Ah ever heard!"

"I saw him," said Rarity. "over behind that table, just now. It adds up. He was trying to play matchmaker."

"But why in Equestria would he try ta do that? Ya already got a date, and besides, he's the one who actually likes ya!"

"I don't know why!" said Rarity. "Maybe he thought I wasn't really happy with Fancy Pants."

"An' surely he could'na rigged up that explosion!" continued Applejack.

"Spike would never do such a thing," said Rarity. "That was probably an accident. He just wanted to have the two of us together with nopony around. It's an utterly ridiculous plan!"

"Yeah," said Applejack. "Completely ridiculous."

An awkward silence settled on the two.

At last, Applejack spoke again. "So- are ya gonna go find Fancy Pants?"

"He's all right," said Rarity. "I saw him across the way. Besides, I'm sure he'll come find me when he wants me."

"Ah think they're bringin' out some more food," said Applejack. "Wanna get some?"

"That sounds splendid," said Rarity.

As I've said, I don't think this fic turned out anywhere near as good as I'd hoped it would be, so you're probably justified in complaints about OOCness, lack of detail, etc. But I have to finish it up. There's only two or three real chapters left, plus epilogue.

In case you couldn't tell, I've been trying to set up Rarijack for this whole fic. I didn't feel like I developed it enough, though, so I decided not to go all the way with it, while still having some romantic overtures. I hope I was successful.

Whether or not Spike was really trying to bring them together will be revealed later on.

Nice Mares Always Cower Under Tables


Have you ever been a few feet away from a cake explosion?

Where's Fluttershy?

It's not very fun.

Gotta find Fluttershy.

Sometimes, it slams you into a wall at fifty miles per hour. And then covers you in frosting.

Gotta get up first.

Rainbow Dash tentatively shook one wing, then the other. She winced as a jolt of pain radiated from a joint in her right wing. Gritting her teeth, she tried out each leg in turn. Her back leg was probably sprained, at worst. With much effort, Rainbow pulled herself onto her hooves.

All systems operational. Now, finding Fluttershy.

She surveyed the room. Tables lay in disarray, and uniformed unicorns were hard at work clearing up broken glass and china. A nurse had arrived, and was tending to a nasty cut on Applejack's leg, while Rarity stood beside her with a surprising amount of concern on her face.

A blue-horned blob of frosting was screaming at a purple-horned blob and a frizzy, pink-maned blob. Prince Blueblood was galloping towards the door, covered in cake and wailing "Not Agaaaaiiiinnnnn!"

But there was no sign of Fluttershy. Rainbow limped to the center of the room and wheeled about in all direction, searching for that characteristic pink mane. No luck.

This is bad.

Not entirely able to fly, Rainbow jumped up and down, searching for her "friend".

Still nothing.

But she did see another pony who could help her.

"Derpy! Where's Fluttershy?"

Derpy turned to Rainbow Dash, her lopsided eyes wide with alarm. "I dunno, Rainbow! She was looking for you, and then the kaboom, and now I can't find her!"

Rainbow tried not to panic. "Where's the last place you saw her?"

"Heading towards the dessert table-"

Rainbow disappeared in a blur.

She gotta be okay she's gotta be okay she's gotta be okay

There was no trace of the dessert table. It had probably been obliterated.

But I was right there and I survived it so she had to survive it too

Ignoring the pain in her leg and wing, she glanced wildy around the room.

There. By the wall. Half a table, scorched and splintered but still intact.

Hang on Fluttershy I'm coming

She sprint-limped acorss the room to the table. It was covered in broken dishes and scraps of wood. Rainbow Dash pushed on it. It didn't move. She tried again. Still nothing.

Swiping aside the debris, she grabbed it and pushed with all her might. In gave a mighty creak and slid over on its side. There, trying hard to be invisible and desperately failing, was a delicate yellow pegaus.

"Found you," said Rainbow Dash weakly. Then she passed out.

"Rainbow Dash? Are you alright?"

Rainbow Dash opened her eyes. Fluttershy stood there before her, more beautiful than ever, despite the shredded dress, messed-up mane, and frosting.

"I'm fine," said Rainbow. "All in a day's work for the Dash."

"The nurse says you might have really damaged your leg when you moved the table. You were really lucky."

Rainbow grinned.

Fluttershy bent down. "You didn't have to do that for me," she said. "I was fine. And I never would have forgiven myself if you'd gotten hurt."

"I have to look after you," said Rainbow. "I'm always there to keep you safe."

"But you don't always have to do that!" said Fluttershy, with surprising conviction. Tears were springing to her eyes. "I don't want you to get hurt trying to keep me safe.It's- it's not fair."

"But I want to do it! I'd be happy to do it!" insisted Rainbow.

"I love you," said Fluttershy, looking away. And although, by rights, Rainbow's mind should have been doing a touchdown dance, all she could feel was surprise.

And then Rainbow herself did something even more surprising.

"I love you too."

Their lips met, and Rainbow Dash felt an immense, indescribable rush of satisfaction and joy. Was this love? If it was, that might explain why other ponies wouldn't shut up about it.

Rainbow was no poet. Words like "magnificent" or "breathtaking" weren't in her vocabulary. All she could think of was one word.


And that didn't even do it justice.

They pulled away, and Fluttershy looked away, as if ashamed. Rainbow nuzzled her gently.

"I don't know what to do now," murmured Fluttershy.

"Me neither," said Rainbow, with a snort. She slowly stood up. It hurt, but that was the last thing on Rainbow's mind at that moment.

"Let's go outside. Someplace quiet," said Rainbow. "We can talk, if you want, or not."

Fluttershy snuggled up close to Rainbow Dash. "I'd like that."

Rainbow wrapped her good wing around Fluttershy, and the two trotted out the door.

If you didn't see the Flutterdash coming, I have failed as a writer.

So yeah, two pairings down, one to go. I wonder who Twilight's gonna end up with? Well, i know, but you can wonder that.

Princess Strangelove (or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Ball)

Twilight was perhaps the only pony in the ballroom who had known that the cake was going to explode. Even so, she'd only had about a half a second's warning, so it wasn't very helpful.

Twilight was very relieved to discover that she was not dead.

She was less relieved to see that she was covered in cake, and even less that she and Pinkie had ended up in some sort of embrace. Not again! Twilight really didn't enjoy all of the fake romantic situations the two had been getting into. Not one bit. She hated it. Completely. Utterly.

Twilgiht tried to unglue herself from Pinkie, but it was more difficult than it appeared. They just ended up in a more . . . comprimising position.

"I KNEW IT!" screamed a familiar voice. Trixie jumped on Pinkie, dragged her off of Twilight, and started punching the pink mare repeatedly.

"You're trying to-" whack "-steal her away-" pow "-from me!"

"Trixie! What are you doing?" asked Twilight in alarm.

"She's mine!" Trixie screamed. "Mine! Don't touch her!"


Trixie raised her hoof again to strike, but was distracted by the fact that she was floating in midair. Twilight had levitated her, and was glaring at the blue unicorn with a frightening amount of anger.

"I have put up with you for three days!" said Twilight. "You are possesive, paranoid, and quite possibly insane. But I have tolerated you for three days, just so I could show up with a date. I could have put up with it. Barely, but I could have survived."

If looks could kill, Trixie would have spontaneously combusted.

"But you've gone too far. You. Do. Not. Hurt. My. Friends!"

Trixie braced herself for a painful impact, but none came. Twilight simply put her back down.

"Have I made myself clear?"

Trixie nodded and trotted away as fast as her hooves could carry her.

Twilight immediately turned to Pinkie. "Are you okay?"

Pinkie nodded. "I grew up on a rock farm. I'm tough."

She got onto her hooves and peered into the crowd. "What are you gonna do without a date?"

"Me?" said Twilight. "I'm gonna go get a drink."

To clarify, she meant a drink of punch. And not spiked punch, either. Normal, fruit-flavored, non-alcoholic punch.

Luckily, the palace staff were remarkably competent, and had managed to bring out new food and clear away most of the debris within twenty minutes.

"Rough night?"

Twilight Sparkle almost didn't react to the arrival of Princess Celestia. She did flinch, but only just.

"You have no idea," Twilight sighed.

"It hasn't exactly been a cakewalk for me either," said Celestia. "Especially since your friend decided to blow up half the palace."

"It wasn't her fault-!" began Twilight, but Celestia just snorted into her drink.

"Kidding! Kidding! I know it was an accident. You are so easy to rile up, Twilight."

Twilight merely scowled.

"I saw your, ah, "date". She looked like she'd seen a manticore," said Celestia.

"I only put up with her because you told me to get a date," said Twilight, grimacing.

"I think I should take the blame for that."

Cadance trotted up and sat down beside Twilight, who stared at in her in confusion.

"What in the world are you talking about?"

Cadance grinned. "You remember that letter you got? It was a summons, for a gala planning session. And considering your opinion of love you'd just expressed, I figured it might be good if you had to bring a date."

"You- you- how dare you!" said Twilight, nearly shouting. "I went through all this trouble- my friend got attacked-"

"I didn't want to hurt you, Twilight," said Cadance, looking sheepish. "It was in your best interests."

"My best interests? Ha! You practically put me through Tartarus this week" -she hiccuped- "and my friends haven't had it much better."

"I wouldn't say that," said Cadance. "Look out the window."

Twilight turned her head and, through the gloom, made out the forms of Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy sitting under a tree and nuzzling affectionately.

"Did I miss something?" ask Twilight in surprise.

"I'd certainly say so," said Celestia, giggling a bit.

"I knew it from the moment I met them. I have a sense for these things, you know," said Cadance with a wink.

Just then, Rarity and Applejack trotted over. "Hiya, Twilight," said Applejack, blushing slightly. "Glad ta see yer okay. We jus' came over fer some punch."

"Don't worry, I'll get you some," called Raritty, filling two cups.

"Thanks, Rarity," said Applejack, causing Rarity to turn a beautiful shade of scarlet. The two retrieved their drinks and walked away, nearly bumping into everal ponies because they couldn't stopp looking at their hooves.

"That's- a new one," said Twilight, after failing to think of any other response.

"The love wasn't as prominent there," said Cadance, "it was there, all right, but you had to dig way down to reach it. Ultimately, I got some help."


"Spike," said Cadance, with a straight face.

"Spike?" said Twilight. "now you're just pulling my leg. There's no way Spike would play matchmaker for the love of his life."

"I thought so too," said Cadance. "He adored her! Still does, really. But a few days ago I got a letter asking for advice. There was a mare her liked who didn't like him in return. And yet, the pony who she thought she liked wasn't really the pony who she did like . . ."

Twilight tilted her head.

"Bottom line, Spike wanted to make Rarity happy, even if it meant she wasn't dating him. It was very sweet. And it worked, although not exactly the way I expected."

Twilgiht opened her mouth, then shut it again.

"So this gala wasn't a complete waste after all," concluded Cadance.

"You're crazy," said Twilight. Celestia nodded in silent agreement. Cadance tactfully ignored her.

"I think there's somepony at this gala for you, too," Cadance added. "You ought to go find him. Or her."

"You're crazy," Twilight repeated.

"Just try it," said Cadance. Twilight sighed, got up, and trotted away.

Cadance was wrong. There was no pony for Twilight at the gala. Admittedly, she didn't exactly try to meet up with somepony, but there wasn't even the hint of romance in the air, or whatever claptrap you wanted to call it.

Mentally (and physically) worn out, Twilight flopped down at a little table in the corner. She was pleasantly surprised to see Pinkie there. "Hiya, Twilight!" she exclaimed.

"At least one of my friends hasn't fall in love tonight," said Twilight, rolling her eyes.

Pinkie grinned. "I know! Can you believe that Flutters and Dashie hooked up? They're so cute together! And I'm glad they both got an actual date, instead of just a joke date, 'cause you gotta have a real date on Hearts and Hooves Day. And have you seen Rarity and Applejack? I totally didn't see that one coming-"

"Pinkie," Twilight cut in, "please stop. You're depressing me."

Pinkie frowned. "Why's that? Aren't you happy that our friends are happy?"

"Well, yes," admitted Twilight, "but Cadance put me through all this to teach me something about love. All my friends are happy, but all I can find is a mare who punches you in the face. And now, here I am, all alone, feeling nothing except slight annoyance. For me, the night's been a compete failure."

"If it makes you feel any better, Twilight, I don'thave anypony either," said Pinkie in a surprisingly shy voice.

Twilight laughed harshly. "Great, we can be single mares together!"

Pinkie's shoulders slumped for some reason. She stared off into space for a few moments, then said, nearly whispering, "Can I try something, Twilight?"

Twilight furrowed her brow. "Uh, sure, but what-"

Pinkie leaned forward across the table and kissed Twilight.

And Twilight kissed her back.

They kept kissing for a while, maybe thirty seconds, but what did it matter? The whole gala could have been watching for all Twilight cared. She was kissing Pinkie, and Pinkie was kissing her, and Twilight liked it. A lot. Pinkie had a nice, sugary smell.

At last they pulled apart, and Pinkie looked down. "I liked it last time, and I wanted to try it again," she murmured.

Twilight reached across the table and rested her hoof against Pinkie's. The pink mare smiled, and her eyes sparkled with delight.

"Perhpas the night hasn't been a complete failure after all," Twilight muttered, to no one in particular.

The Tally:

Number of Times Twilight Has been Kissed: 3
Number of Ponies She Has Kissed: 1
Number of Times Twilight Wanted To Be Kissed: 1

How Spike Got His Swag Back

Meanwhile, in the darkness which cloaked most of the city, three indistinct forms moved out of an alley and lurked in the shadows.

"I told you we shouldn't have hidden in the luggage compartment," hissed the first.

"We were stuck in there for hours!" added the second.

"Well, how else were we supposed ta get ta Canterlot?" whispered the third indignantly. "We couldn't afford train tickets!"

They continued bickering until one of them happened to look across the street.

"Look girls, the palace gates! We made it!"

There were shouts of exictement. "I knew it! We just follow the sounds of the fireworks, and we'd find it!" said the first.

"Ah still don't think those were fireworks," came the reply. "Where were all the pretty lights?"

They were angrily shushed by the third, and all three crept across the street and squeezed through the gate.

"So are we ready to get our cutie marks?" asked the one. She was greeted with a resounding "Yes!" by the others.

"Wait a minute . . ." said the second one. "Weren't we supposed to bring dates?"

The other two looked at her in confusion.

The third nodded. "That's why Rarity got real mad at Applejack, right? Applejack stole her date . . ."

The first groaned. "I can't believe we forgot something like that! How are we supposed to get our ballroom dancing cutie marks if we don't have dates?"

Spike sat alone atop a low wall in the garden. Through the window, he could just make out three tables, where six familiar ponies sat in pairs. They were all smiling and hugging and kissing and talking happily.

Spike smiled a little bit. He'd made Rarity happy, and that made him happy. Right?

Well, yes, but Spike had the strange feeling that it would be a while until his broken heart mended.

Four ponies cheered as Applejack, having consumed far too many mugs of cider, finally worked up the nerve to kiss Rarity.

Spike sighed and stared out over Canterlot's skyline.

He was surprised to see Apple Bloom, Sweetie Bell, and Scootaloo trotting up the pathway, arguing loudly.

"Hi girls!" he called.

They all stopped and stared at him with a look like he was a gift from heaven.

"I saw him first!" shouted Sweetie Belle.

"No, I did!" said Apple Bloom.

"I really like his scales!" cried Scootaloo. The three immediately started fighting, complete with cartoon dustball.

Spike had no idea what was going on, but he couldn't help but smile.

In Conclusion

Dear Princess Cadance,

My friends and I would like to report our recent findings of love at the gala which you so graciously invited us to.

Rarity and Applejack would like to tell you that love can often be found hiding in the most unlikely of places, and that sometimes it takes a major event for your feelings to come out.

Fluttershy reports that you shouldn't get too carried away by a crush, for the pony you like may not turn out exactly the way you imagined them. However, a crush can sometimes lead into a deeper and more meaningful relationship. Rainbow Dash adds that you shouldn't hide your feelings.

Pinkie is of the scientific opinion that love is "really, really, really super," and that Twilight Sparkle is the cutest pony in Equestria, even if she talks too much and I have to kiss her to make her stop Pinkie stop Spike don't write that down STOP!

I would just like to say that while I don't really appreciate all the manure you put me through, I am very happy with my new girlfriend. Love is so chaotic that it cannot be analyzed, nor forced; you try your best, and if you don't find it, you look somewhere else. With luck, you may truly find happiness.

I'm not mad at you, but don't push it.

Love from your forgiving sister-in-law,
Twilight Sparkle

(And Spike, Pinkie, Applejack, Rarity, Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy!)

"No luck then, sister?" asked Celestia.

Luna smiled and shook her head.

"I'm not worried, though," said the purple alicorn. "I've still got hundreds of millenia to find a soul mate."

"That's the spirit," said Celestia. "Oh, and would you mind seeing to this stallion? He says he can't find his date, ah, 'romantic consort' anywhere."

Derpy gently tapped the forlorn-looking pony on the shoulder.

"Hey," she said, "I noticed you looked sad. I don't have anypony to talk with. Do you wanna hang out, maybe, and I can cheer you up?"

Sniffling, Trixie turned her head and smiled weakly at the gray pegasus. "That sounds wonderful."

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