"Can you keep a secret?"
Twilight was lying in her bed wide awake, staring at the ceiling. The sunlight was creeping into the room behind the thick blue curtains; the light filtering through casted faint shadows on the walls. The mare was going over yesterday's lesson in her head. Instead of ending awkwardly like the one earlier this week, it had just been awkward in general. The lengthy discussions she and the Princess usually had about the books had been diminished into a few words and there had been no "ideas" from Princess Celestia. At least this time Twilight had been prepared for it, though the way she prepared for something like this meant that there was rarely much more she could learn. Luckily studying was something Twilight greatly enjoyed. She also got to spend time with the Princess - something she enjoyed even more, lately more than ever. But no matter how much she loved all this, she hadn't been able to shake the nagging feeling that she was missing something, something she was supposed to say or do. But she didn't know what. And seeing Celestia so distant and quiet sure didn't help.
This threw Twilight back into the previous lesson, or rather to the abrupt end of it. She still hadn't been able to figure out what had gone wrong. Or what had caused all the weird feelings of hers to arise all of a sudden. She should really go and ask her friends about this – with as little detail as possible, of course. With all this in mind, she broke her staring contest with the ceiling and forced herself up. It was lucky Rarity wasn't here; Twilight had been rolling and twisting in her sleep more than usual because of her distressing dreams and the resulting mane would probably have been enough to make the fashionista faint. Picturing this made Twilight giggle, as she started making her way into the bathroom.
After a long shower, Twilight headed downstairs. She wasn't sure how long she'd been lying in her room, but the clatter of plates and cutlery revealed that Spike was already up making breakfast. Not that long then.
Twilight arrived in the kitchen with what seemed to be perfect timing. Spike had just finished making breakfast; oatmeal with strawberries and some toast, and had set the table. She only managed to catch a glimpse of the dragon as he disappeared behind the cupboards. Twilight sat down and gazed outside, watching the Sun slowly making its way higher and higher. The view from the kitchen window was beautiful. You could see a tiny field, covered in flowers and trees, where a lot of the fillies liked to play, and older ponies just enjoy themselves. Watching all that had always managed to make Twilight happy, but now it just seemed to emphasize her feelings of loneliness.
Spike returned to the table and gave Twilight the same concerned look he had done so many times before, though usually after she had been lost in books for days without much sleep or food. He seemed to have perfected it over the years, since it instantly made Twilight feel bad for keeping all of her problems to herself. But this time it had a glimmer of something Twilight couldn't identify. Before she could dwell on it any further, Spike finally opened his mouth: "Twilight, are you okay?"
Twilight hadn't expected this to come up so soon and so bluntly, but Spike seemed to know her better than she gave him credit for. "Uhm… Yeah, I'm fine. Why do you ask?"
"Well it's just that lately you've seemed to be a bit more zoned out than usual. And you have barely studied at all this week," Spike said while eating his toast. "Not that I'm complaining though, I've always thought you've gone a bit overboard with the studying." This evoked a slightly annoyed look from Twilight but he ignored it and continued: "And you've been spending a lot of time in your room. I'm just concerned about you, that's all." His eyes reinforced the statement, laced with genuine concern.
All of this was true; Twilight had been a bit lost after the awkward encounter with the Princess earlier this week. And it hadn't helped that Celestia had acted as if nothing had happened yesterday. All this had also caused Twilight to neglect her usual studies. Not that they were all that important, but she just enjoyed drowning herself in books and absorbing all the knowledge she possibly could. Therefore it was a strange feeling, not finding any comfort in her books and scrolls. They hadn't let her down so far, no matter what the problem had been. But these feelings and questions of hers had no clear answers written down. And with this realization the joy she got from reading and learning had vanished for the time being.
Focusing back on Spike, who hadn't broken the intense stare, she said: "Oh it's just that I've had a lot on my mind lately. Nothing to worry about though." She gave him a weak smile, hoping this would be enough to satisfy the little dragon's worries for now. At least until she could work this out. She hated lying, especially to Spike, but this time it was necessary. He couldn't help her (or so she thought at least), so there was no need to make him more worried than he already was.
"Okay then," Spike said, looking disappointed. He obviously realized that he couldn't get Twilight to confide in him, so he ate the rest of his oatmeal in silence and left, mumbling something about meeting with the Cutie Mark Crusaders. No doubt something related to another attempt to find out their special talents. Twilight was happy Spike had someone to spend time with; there were no other dragons in Ponyville. And even if there had been, she didn't think it would matter. Or at least judging by the last encounter they had had with teenage dragons. Spike wasn't a traditional dragon, so to speak.
The breakfast had gone cold, but Twilight finished it anyway. Her mind didn't work all that well with an empty stomach, something she had discovered after nearly a week of continuous research without regular meals. Eventually Spike had been forced to drag her away from the books. It was funny, even though Twilight was the one supposed to take care of him, there were moments where it ended up going the other way around.
This small trip down memory lane had caused Twilight to realize something. Spike had known her since she was a filly, so his worries were well placed. She had to do something about these feelings before they would drive her crazy. Maybe today would be a good day to finally seek advice from her friends. It was obvious that she wasn't getting anywhere with this and it was worth a try. After all, her friends had always been there for her. This was also something she hadn't experienced in her fillyhood, and thus felt really lucky to finally have friends, ponies she could confide in.
Twilight left a note on the door, explaining that she wouldn't be around today and that all library-related business would have to wait for tomorrow. As she stood at the door, rechecking the note for the fifth time, she started thinking. Who should she visit first, or at all for that matter. After the images of her friends had twirled in her head for a while, she decided that Applejack was her best bet for answers. She was the Element of Honesty after all, and Twilight wasn't all that keen on opening up to Rarity, as she tended to gossip. She didn't think Pinkie Pie or Rainbow Dash would know too much about these kinds of things, or take her seriously and talking to Fluttershy would probably be awkward, with both of them having avoided social confrontations as best as they could for most of their lives. Feeling somewhat better than she had in the morning, the lavender mare started making her way towards Sweet Apple Acres. Maybe she would finally get some answers.
When Twilight began to see the farmhouses and what seemed to be an endless sea of apple trees, the calm feeling started to dissipate as she realized what she was about to do. I'm going to go there to ask about relationships and…love. She also had no idea what she was supposed to say to Applejack. She hadn't thought this through at all, but now that she was here she might as well go through with it. Feeling somewhat determined, she headed for the orchards.
Twilight passed the giant red house the Apple family lived in, and entered the orchard. Applejack was most likely bucking apple trees this time of the day - now she would just have to find her. She followed the faint thuds and the sight of bobbing apple trees in the distance. But when she arrived at the source of the sounds, she was looking at Big McIntosh, Applejack's brother, instead of Applejack herself.
Twilight cleared her throat and asked: "Hey Big Mac, do you know where I could find Applejack?"
The red stallion focused on the mare instead of the apples he had just bucked, resulting in a few of them landing on his head. He didn't seem to even notice, frowning for a bit to think. Finally he opened his mouth: "Eeyup."
Big Mac wasn't known for talking, unless it was absolutely necessary. Usually Twilight thought it was pretty funny, but now it only managed to make her more nervous. "So, uh, mind telling me where she is?" she said, trying to look into the big green eyes of the stallion, which were already searching for the next tree to buck. Big Mac absentmindedly pointed a hoof towards the edge of the orchard and turned his back on Twilight, clearly having found the next tree.
"Thanks," Twilight mumbled, and started walking in the direction Big Mac had pointed to. After ten minutes or so, she saw a glimpse of the orange mare behind the trees. She arrived in a small opening in the orchard, failing to notice the familiar prismatic flash disappear into a cloud above her and the other mare. "Hey Applejack, I've been looking for you," she called out.
"Howdy Twilight, what brings you here so early?" Applejack responded.
Now that Twilight got a closer look at the orange mare, she noticed something a bit odd. Even though the trees around the opening they were standing on were full of apples and the buckets placed around them empty, Applejack was panting, if ever so slightly. And having known Applejack for a long time, she knew that the earth pony wasn't easily tired out. However, this was not the time to let her mind wander. "Well, to be honest I need some advice," Twilight managed to say, trying to keep a steady eye contact. "I've been having some troubles lately."
"Oh, well what can I do you for?" Applejack said, appearing almost relieved with the direction the conversation had taken.
"Have you ever been in love with somepony?" This came out so directly that Twilight, surprised at herself, blushed slightly and for a moment broke the eye contact she had worked so hard to maintain.
The look of relief faded from Applejack's face, and was replaced with bewilderment; this clearly wasn't something she would have expected Twilight Sparkle, out of all the ponies in Ponyville, to come and ask her. Twilight observed as different expressions flickered on the other mare's face, finally settling on a slight smirk. "Well of course I have sugarcube, why do you ask?"
Twilight had to work hard to keep her voice steady, but she continued: "So how did that, uhm, make you feel?" She was starting to sound like Fluttershy, with the sentences fading into inaudible mumble. But Applejack seemed to realize what she was going for.
"Mighty happy of course, it's a wonderful thing, being in love and all," Applejack said, staring at the skies for some reason Twilight couldn't figure out.
"So how did you…" Twilight had serious difficulties asking this last question, the one that had troubled her the most, having kept her awake at night for a while now. Finally she managed to get a hold of herself, and asked: "How did you tell he…him, or did you?" That slip had almost caused her to freeze again, how on Equestria could she be so careless. She just hoped that Applejack hadn't noticed it.
"Oooh, Twilight, are you saying there's a pony you…"
Twilight interrupted the earth pony; Applejack almost sounded like Rarity now and that was something she wanted to avoid – at least for now. "No no no, it's just for a paper I'm writing." That was horrible. Applejack didn't look too convinced, but decided to answer the question nonetheless.
"Well Twi, I just went and said it," Applejack said, the smirk now widened into a full grin. She was looking at the lavender mare, almost like knowing something she didn't.
"And it worked?" Twilight asked, realizing too late that she sounded a bit too enthusiastic to be writing a paper about this.
"Yep, and it felt good to get if off my heart, so to speak," the earth pony said, directing her gaze at the sky once more, but Twilight was so lost in her thoughts that she didn't notice.
As Twilight was walking back to Ponyville, countless thoughts swirled in her head, making her feel a bit nauseous. After all the excitement had passed, she had realized that she didn't get much out of the conversation with Applejack. Nothing she didn't already know at least. Besides, she wasn't feeling ecstatic, happy or even content. She was unable to work or study because she couldn't concentrate, and she was unable to sleep well because every night she was tormented by dreams of varying nature, though always featuring Celestia in some twisted way. Maybe this wasn't love after all. What was I thinking, she's the Princess of Equestria. She wouldn't even want to be my… But finishing the sentence, even in her head, was too painful for some reason.
Twilight suddenly realized she was standing next to the Carousel Boutique. Maybe she would visit Rarity after all, but just to pass some time. And frankly she needed a friend right now to take her mind off Celestia, if only for a while.
The bell tinkled as Twilight entered, her eyes wandering around the room searching for Rarity. She could hear voices from upstairs, but suddenly they faded. Instead she heard light clacking of hoofs against wood, and soon saw a familiar white unicorn appearing at the end of the stairs.
"Welcome to the Carousel Boutique, what can I…" the purple maned unicorn stopped as she saw the lavender mare standing at the door. "Oh it's you Twilight, how are you?"
"I'm fine, is this a bad time to visit?" Twilight asked, noticing Rarity was covered in ribbons and some sparkling powder.
"Oh no, not at all," Rarity said while removing some ribbons from her mane. "Oh, was there a specific reason you came to visit, need a new dress perhaps?" Rarity's eyes started beaming as she was most likely already designing a dress for Twilight in her mind.
"Actually I was just wondering if we could…hang out," Twilight said quickly, trying to stop the design progress before Rarity got any ideas.
"Of course, of course," Rarity responded, looking a bit disappointed. "Would you mind if I work on a dress while we 'hang out', I got this amazing idea after I woke up and I've been at it ever since," she added.
"Of course not, maybe I can help." Twilight followed the other unicorn upstairs. Rarity's design process was…interesting, though not that different from what Twilight did when she studied. The room looked as if every cabinet and drawer had just been emptied on the floor, with pieces of fabric and ribbons scattered amongst all the other things. It was funny how chaos was sometimes needed in order to create perfect harmony. Maybe Discord hadn't been completely wrong, though he had taken it to a completely absurd level.
"So, what do you think?" Rarity asked, pointing to an unfinished dress on a mannequin.
Even though the dress obviously wasn't finished, it looked astonishing. After staring at it for a while, Twilight managed to utter: "Wow…"
The white unicorn just giggled and started glancing around the room, looking for something. After finding what she was looking for, a pincushion, she looked back at Twilight. "Would you be a dear and hold this while I fix the dress a bit?"
Twilight held the pincushion in the air with her magic and watched as Rarity placed some pins in places where the dress was drooping. It was weird watching her work; Twilight didn't even notice there was something wrong until Rarity placed a pin somewhere, making the dress look a lot better. But then the beauty and elegance of the dress reminded her of a certain Princess, and the joyful feeling she got from spending time with a friend took a dive for the worse. Desperation struck the mare, remembering that she hadn't gotten any further with her problem so far, and she decided that asking Rarity for advice couldn't be that bad.
"Rarity?" Twilight asked, wondering if this was enough to break her concentration.
Apparently it was, since the unicorn was now looking at her, intrigued. "Yes dear?"
"I was just wondering, have you…Have you ever been in love with somepony?" The two mares just stared at each other for a while. Twilight realized that once again she had asked a rather personal question just like it would have been about the weather or something as trivial.
Just as she was about to tell Rarity to ignore it, the white unicorn answered: "Well of course, you remember Prince Blueblood, don't you?" Rarity didn't seem to find the question weird at all, judging by her light tone and smirk. "Of course, as it turned out, he was obviously not worth my love," she added, tossing her purple mane.
Suddenly understanding spread across Rarity's face, and she drew her gaze at Twilight. "A-ha!" she cheered, jumping in front of the lavender mare, her face now on level with Twilight's. "It was about time you found somepony," she announced and chuckled.
Panic spread across Twilight's face while she was thinking of something to counter this. After a painfully long moment she responded: "Nothing like that, I was just curious."
"Sure you were dear, you should just go and tell him how you feel and…" Rarity's eyes lost focus mid-sentence and she stared at the dress behind Twilight for a moment. "I-DEA!" she cried, making Twilight jump in shock. Before the lavender unicorn could do or say anything, Rarity was lost in her process, ribbons and jewels flying across the room fast enough to make even Rainbow Dash jealous.
With Rarity obsessing over whatever it was she had thought off, Twilight managed to sneak out of the boutique. As she stepped outside, she noticed it was almost dark already. With nowhere to be, she stopped to think for a while. So far her quest for answers had gone rather poorly with both of her friends telling her the same thing – confess your feelings. But she couldn't do that, for two reasons. First of all, she wasn't really sure if this even was love. Even thinking about it almost switched her brain into analytical mode, coming up with dozens of reasons why all of this made no sense. But love didn't make sense – at least according to the romance novels she had read (something she would never admit). And even if it would be, she couldn't just go and tell the Goddess of the Sun, the co-ruler of Equestria, that she loved her. Every scenario she had come up with so far had ended badly. Would Celestia be shocked? Or confused? Or maybe she would just laugh at her… Why does this hurt so much? What is wrong with me?
On the brink of tears, Twilight realized that she needed to talk to somepony – now. She couldn't handle another night of agonizing dreams without some comfort. And there was no better source of comfort than Fluttershy. Twilight had tried to avoid a conversation with the canary mare, but she didn't really care anymore. And so she started walking towards the edge of Ponyville, and Fluttershy's cabin while the Moon started its climb, filling Ponyville's streets with its eerie glow.
When Twilight was closing in on the cabin, it suddenly hit her. It was really late; she could barely see the path she was walking on without using her magic - Fluttershy might not be awake. But before she could envision the dreaded night ahead of her, she caught a glimpse of the cabin. The lights were still on! Relieved, the lavender mare started to trot towards Fluttershy's home. The fact that they both lived in a tree had always amused Twilight. She had more in common with the canary mare than she cared to admit, yet they rarely spent time together without all their other friends. Maybe Fluttershy would understand how she felt.
At the sound of the first knock on the door, Fluttershy squeaked and dove under her table. After a moment of shivering, she realized that somepony was at the door. Still shaking a bit, she walked to the door and opened it just enough to see who would visit her so late. The sudden breeze made her knees wobble, as she squinted because of the intense light. She then recognized the familiar lavender coat and purple aura around the unicorn's horn.
"Oh hey Twilight, w-what are you doing here so late?" she asked in her typical voice, which was more like a whisper.
"Hi Fluttershy, I was just wondering if I could stay for a bit and…talk." Fluttershy noticed that the unicorn seemed nervous, but before she could answer, Twilight continued: "I know it's pretty late, I can go if you want to go to bed. I wasn't really thinking straight when I decided to come here."
The thought of sending Twilight back home briefly flashed in Fluttershy's mind, but she would never do that, especially when her friend seemed so troubled. "Oh no, it's okay, come in," Fluttershy whispered and stepped aside, making room for the unicorn.
"Thanks," Twilight said and stepped inside, her eyes wandering around the cozy living room.
"So uhm, what did you want to talk about?" Fluttershy asked, sitting on the couch.
After lingering for a while, the lavender mare sat next to Fluttershy, keeping her eyes on the floor. "Well I wanted to ask you if…" Twilight stopped, her eyes now locked onto the vase on the table next to the couch. After a moment, she suddenly asked: "Fluttershy, have you ever been in…love?"
Couple seconds passed before the canary mare processed the question. After realizing what Twilight had just asked, she blushed fiercely and hid her face behind her pink mane – something she did very often. Twilight was stunned at her direct approach. The words had come out before she had managed to think at all. So much for easing into it. She watched as her friend just sat there in silence. After a while, Fluttershy's face slowly emerged behind her mane and she whispered: "W-Why do you ask?" It was all she managed to say before her voice let out.
Twilight was thinking about what she should say, but after a while she came to the conclusion that there was no easy way to do this. She abandoned all of her schemes, which weren't that good to begin with and finally opened up: "Well I…I'm not sure but I think…I think I could be and I need some advice." A feeling of relief washed over Twilight; it felt good to finally confide in somepony. Now she just needed to wait for some sort of response.
Fluttershy seemed to have frozen in place. After what seemed like an eternity, her eyes focused back on Twilight. "Sorry Twilight, I don't think I can help you with that," she said, her voice quivering. Fluttershy felt odd; she had always been rather useless when it came to problem solving, but she hadn't cared because she had always found some way to cope. But now, when her friend was facing such a huge problem and she couldn't do anything to help, she felt sad. Pathetic.
Inspired by these feelings, she decided to give it a try: "A-Although if I was you, I'd probably wait a bit and see how things go." Fluttershy knew this 'advice' was next to nothing, but it still made her feel better – if only slightly. With this newfound confidence, she continued: "Who is he anyway, do I know him?"
Twilight was suddenly very interested in the fireplace, or at least that's what she was staring at. Fluttershy noticed the familiar hue of red appearing on her friend's cheeks, having watched the same red appear on her own face in the mirror countless times. She got embarrassed rather easily, even when she was alone. It was silly, but she couldn't help it. Suddenly her eyes lit up in realization. "Or…her?"
Twilight turned her head so fast that Fluttershy thought she heard a snap. The lavender mare was blushing so hard that Big McIntosh would have been jealous. "I…It's…But…" If it hadn't been such a tense moment, Fluttershy would have giggled. Twilight sounded exactly like her.
"It's okay, you don't have to tell me if you don't want to," Fluttershy said in a comforting tone. "And Twilight," the lavender mare was staring at her, dumbstruck, "there's nothing wrong with that."
"Please don't tell anypony," was all Twilight managed to utter.
"Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye," Fluttersay said while giggling; even Twilight smiled weakly.
"Well I guess I'll go now, Spike is probably wondering where I am and…" Twilight's voice faded out mid-sentence.
Fluttershy seemed to understand though, and she said: "It'll be okay Twilight, see you tomorrow?"
"Yeah, and thanks for…talking." Fluttershy just smiled, as Twilight prepared to teleport home. She had finally mastered long-range teleporting. In a blink of an eye, Fluttershy's warm and cozy cottage turned into her own dark and lonely bedroom. She sighed and fell on the bed, falling asleep almost instantly.
Celestia was staring at the setting Sun, wondering. The day so far had been…uncomfortable. At times it had felt like time had passed by without her even noticing, but when she had, a minute had felt like a year. She had been trying to avoid everypony, but being a Princess this was easier said than done. The court especially had been a pain with her losing focus every other minute. The latest study session with Twilight was bugging her. After the 'incident', she had decided to refrain from these ideas of hers, and concentrate on the actual studying. But this hadn't worked out too well either, because every time the lavender mare wasn't looking, Celestia found herself staring at her longingly. She hated herself for being so weak; there had been a few cases such as this in her lifetime, but she had been able to contain her feelings, though it had been painful. She knew what would have happened if she had given in. But this time it was harder. Maybe this time she just wouldn't be able to do it.
Walking next to her bed, she placed her crown and regalia on a table and sighed in exhaustion. She knew that her sister had some power over dreams and had almost asked her to remove hers for a while. At least then she could sleep in peace, if only for one night. But she couldn't tell Luna, especially now when she was being all…allusive. Ever since her sister had caught her off guard at breakfast, she had been…well, annoying. She seemed to follow her everywhere she went, and always with a smug look on her face. Also the only subject she would talk about as of late was Twilight.
Celestia knew what her sister was trying to accomplish, but she just couldn't stand her right now, because in a way she was right. And there was no way she would give her sister the tiniest bit of acknowledgment to fuel the fire. She couldn't break, not now. The last thing she wanted was to make Twilight feel uncomfortable around her, though this seemed to be the case already. Maybe things would get better in time. And with a glimmer of hope, Celestia lied down, shut her eyes and was lost in her usual dreams. What she didn't notice, was a pair of cyan eyes staring at her.
Luna was hovering outside her sister's bedroom, watching her sleep. As usual, Celestia looked sad, even when she was sleeping. Luna could only imagine that in her current state the dream world wasn't at all easier to handle than the real world. Though she could only guess what her sister was dreaming about, she had a fairly good guess. Twilight… This reminded her, she had to find out whether her sister's presumed feelings would be met with similar ones, should the time come. And she would make sure it would, after confirming some things.
But how should she approach Twilight? Visiting Ponyville in broad daylight would draw too much unwanted attention, so that was out of the cards. Maybe she shouldn't even ask Twilight herself, but rather a friend of hers. She had never thanked Fluttershy for the tips in fitting in after her return. Maybe she would be able to reveal something about Twilight's feelings. After all, Twilight would have to tell somepony – or so Luna hoped. With some luck Fluttershy would still be awake, with her being quite fond of the night.
Luna often sweeped over Ponyville after raising the Moon, and the only lights that she would see would come from the canary mare's cabin. And sometimes when she could get a closer look, she would notice the pegasus staring at the Moon, lost in thought. Not many ponies appreciated her efforts in making the night so beautiful, and Luna was glad that there was one so close. Maybe she should visit Fluttershy more often, and without a hidden agenda. With all this in mind, the alicorn gently flapped her wings to turn around, and started flying towards Ponyville.
Just as expected, Luna saw the familiar silhouette in the window as she approached the cabin near the Everfree Forest. Luna, just like her sister, was quite fond of pranks, and thus for a moment thought whether she could come up with something funny. But then she figured that the shy pegasus wouldn't probably take it too well, and instead of a flashy entrance she just landed softly near the open window.
"Enjoying the night?" Luna asked, interrupting the other mare's thoughts.
"Yes, it's so beautiful…" Before Fluttershy could finish, she noticed who had asked the question and froze for a second. "I-I mean yes your Highness, it's wonderful."
Luna chuckled at use of titles; she didn't really care for them. "Luna is just fine," she said. Fluttershy's eyes had widened to the size of dinner plates and she was shivering, though it wasn't cold. She seemed to have lost her voice, so Luna continued: "Is it a bad time to visit?"
After a moment, the canary mare found her voice again and replied: "I-It's okay. Twilight was here, b-but she just left."
The alicorn's eyes lit up at the mention of the lavender unicorn. She tried to control her enthusiasm as she inquired: "Oh? Why was she here so late, if you don't mind me asking?"
"She just needed some advice about relationships and I…" Fluttershy suddenly realized what she had said, and fell silent. It hadn't even been an hour and she had already broken her promise. Twilight would be so mad; why on Equestria did she speak without thinking. The presence of the Princess made her so nervous.
Luna was having a hard time holding back a victory dance. This was an excellent sign, it could only mean one thing: she was right. Oh this is perfect. Now I can proceed with my plan. A devious grin formed on the alicorn's face without her noticing. Luna became aware of Fluttershy's confused look, and let go of her plans for a moment. "Excuse me Fluttershy, I was thinking about something else." The pegasus was just staring at her silently, looking shocked. "Oh don't worry, I won't tell anypony about this, I assume it was supposed to be a secret?" Luna said, unable to wipe the grin off her face. Fluttershy seemed to have lost her voice completely.
The awkward silence went on, until Luna decided to break it: "I'm so sorry for such a brief visit, but I just remembered there is someplace I have to be. Do you think we could try this again some other time?" The canary mare was still just looking at her, so she interpreted the silence as approval and spread her wings. "Again, I apologize I can't stay any longer, but royal duty calls," Luna said, smiling awkwardly. She got no response. With a single thrust of her wings, she took off, leaving the confused pegasus staring at her diminishing silhouette against the night sky.
Fluttershy broke off from her trance when she realized she was alone again. The conversation with the Princess seemed like a distant dream, but she was certain it had been real. She had been relatively happy a while ago, but now all she could feel was shame. Eventually she would have to tell Twilight… She could only hope that her friend wouldn't hate her afterwards.