Dreaming with Ponies
Edited by Foolonthehillz
Today was another calm and relaxing day for Twilight who, sitting on a park bench, watched as Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie ran around in a game of tag. Applejack and Rarity stood at the edge of a pond, bickering over something to do with their manes. Finally Twilight looked to her right, seeing Fluttershy on the bench beside her, looking down to the ground and lightly crying.
"Fluttershy? What's the matter?" Twilight asked softly.
Fluttershy tried to look more cheery, wiping her tears away. "Oh, n-nothing is wrong."
Twilight looked into Fluttershy's sorrowful eyes. Something about herself was bothering her friend. Did she say something? Or do something? Maybe there was something wrong with her she hadn't seen before. Seeing the pond, an idea came to her, so she stood from the bench. Something felt wrong; her bones and entire body ached in pain. She felt as though she had been in a fight or put through intensive labor.
"Oh, n-no Twilight don't-" Fluttershy began.
"It's alright, I just want to go see if something is wrong with me," Twilight said, slowly continuing her march to the pond's edge.
Her joints ached and popped as she walked. She glanced at her hooves, noticing her vibrant purple coat looked faded and old, like Granny Smith's. Twilight felt a twinge of fear in her gut, so she made haste in reaching the pond.
"Well howdy there, sugarcube. Watcha doin' over here?" Applejack asked the fast-approaching Twilight, tipping her hat for a better look.
"I want to see my reflection, if that's okay," Twilight said without stopping.
"Uh, I don't know Twilight," Rarity began, "You know what happens every time you see yourself. And Fluttershy gets so upset every time you leave us."
"I see myself? Every time I leave?" Twilight questioned, almost to the pond's edge.
Behind her, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, and Rainbow Dash had come to join the others. Once she reached the water, she peered down and nearly jumped in shock. She was... old! She looked old enough to be one of her friends' mothers! Twilight looked to the others in shock, unsure what was going on.
"This is a dream, dear," Rarity spoke up, adjusting her mane in the process.
"We're waiting for you, Twi," Applejack butted in. "That's all ya gotta know."
They all smiled to her--though Fluttershy looked as if she was on the verge of bawling her eyes out--as they began to fade away. Twilight felt another change in her surroundings. She was no longer in the park, but in a chair inside her library.
Twilight awoke with a light gasp, the dream still horribly fresh in her mind. At the time she hadn't realized it, but the dream was familiar. She felt as though she had been having them many times lately, all her friends alive and young once more. And they always said the same thing, just before she would wake up:
We're waiting for you.
Twilight began to rock in her chair, slowly tipping forward, then using her momentum to go back, and then repeating. It helped calm her nerves, and after that sort of dream she needed to relax. She wasn't the young mare she was nearly a century ago; her bright purple coat had lost its luster, though its purple color remained. Her mane didn't have the same luxury, the lavender completely gone, silvered with age. However, her purple and red stripes remained, helping to keep herself distinct from the other older ponies in town. Granted, they had their individual cutie marks, but Twilight felt it was nice to know she had something else.
She looked to the clock in her library; she had been asleep for only fifteen minutes, but the dream felt so much longer. She swore they had spent the entire day at the park, having fun and enjoying their time together. And yet, she herself had difficulties due to her age. But why was she the only one still old? It was a mystery that bugged her constantly, but she would never dwell on it. After all, it was only a dream..
Looking at the clock again, Twilight remembered she was waiting for some special visitors to arrive. With nothing better to do than sit there or read a book she's read countless times before, she decided to reflect on her surroundings. All the books she had collected over the course of her life sat around her on shelves that lined the walls all the way around the tree hull. Every book in the library she had read numerous times, though her more recent books she has only read once. Some of the books were even special, given to her by her friends before they passed on. Special editions, or rare one-of-a-kind pieces she made sure to keep where only adult ponies could reach, and a select few were for her eyes alone.
The hardest part of living and maintaining the library was putting the books back where they belonged. She had an assistant, a baby dragon by the name of Spike, who had helped her years ago, but as time grew on so did he. He wasn't as large as a fully grown dragon yet, but about a decade ago he had to leave for the first of his many century-long naps. It was hard for her and her friends to say goodbye, more so for Twilight herself since she raised him from birth. They'd all be long gone, while he still had centuries of life ahead of him. Before, she had at least had her friends to lean on when she was sad. Now, she was alone.
Twilight felt a pang of pain in her chest as memory of the events came to mind. She hated when this happened. She and the others had cried enough at the time, and yet she still had more tears when he was brought up. She wiped a tear from her eyes, trying to forget about the memories. She longed to remember them, but they were so hard on her. So, to help distract herself, she returned her focus to her books.
Books were a part of her life, which is why she lived in a library. She maintained them, cleaned them, read them, and above all else made sure to find the right book for the right pony. A skill she had learned over the years was being able to tell what kind of book any pony that walked in would enjoy. As important as the books were to her, there was one other thing that, no matter what, was stronger than the binding of any book: friendship. The word held such a strong, emotional tie to her for its basis was what she studied for a great portion of her life. As much joy as the word brought to her, it also hurt.
With each passing decade, another of her close friends would pass. It got harder each time it happened, but Twilight kept strong. She had to, for them. Twilight knew that her friends would never want to see her sad just because their time had come. It didn't make it any easier that she couldn't push herself to meet any new ponies; she didn't want to betray the friendships she had built with the others.
At least there was something that, no matter what, would bring her joy when they arrived.
The bell just above the library door ringed, signaling to Twilight that she had guests. Today being a Sunday, she would close the library early so she could rest and indulge in a good book, but every week around this time some special visitors would stop by for dinner.
Twilight smiled, looking to the doorway as a blue unicorn filly ran towards her, before stopping just inches from her seat. Twilight leaned down, her back cracking in the process, and gave her grandfoal a tight hug.
"Hello there, Dawn. It's so good to see you again!" Twilight said, rubbing her muzzle on the little filly's neck.
She then looked back to the doorway, seeing two larger ponies. A dark purple stallion unicorn, whose lavender mane resembled what her own once looked like, stood beside his wife, a yellow unicorn mare with a long and elegant teal mane. Twilight seemed to focus more onto the stallion, her mouth keeping its large grin.
"Dusk, my son."
At Twilight's words, the stallion marched over and gave his mother a large hug.
"Hello mom. How are you?"
The stallion backed up, Twilight feeling a single tear running down her cheek as they separated. It didn't matter that they came to see her every week; she still would get emotional. To Twilight, a week felt like an eternity as she waited for their arrival. She was just grateful that they came in the first place.
"I'm fine, dear. How are you all doing?" Twilight peered back to the yellow mare, her daughter in law, who seemed to be holding something bundled in her right forehoof. "Is that-?"
Dusk Sparkle nodded, then backed away to allow his wife to come forward. "Yes mom. This is her, the new foal."
The yellow mare took a seat next to Twilight's chair and lifted the wrapping to show her the foal. Twilight could barely contain her glee when she saw it. She hadn't seen such a young foal since Dawn's birth three years ago, and when her son told her about this new foal, she nearly had a stroke.
"Mother, this is Dream Sparkle, your second grandfoal."
Twilight looked at the sleeping foal, sucking on one of its hooves as it slept. It was so young, and she saw so much potential in the foal. Twilight couldn't keep her mouth straight even if she didn't want to, but being a grandmother how couldn't she? She could remember how happy she was when Dusk had entered her world, then years later he had little Dawn, and now Dream. The cutest filly she had ever seen.
So with the new foal introduced, they all sat down and talked. Dusk spoke mostly about things at home and his job as a university professor for Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns. He wasn't the most powerful unicorn, but he was still knowledgeable with spells and magic in general. He was also very shy, much like his father Caramel Apple. One of Applejack's cousins, he was the sweetest stallion she had ever met. They lived together in the library, until the day that he too passed like her all of her friends had. It was another hard time for her, but Dusk's constant support made things easier.
"I sure miss him too, mom," Dusk said, looking at a framed photo of she, Caramel, and Dusk at a young age.
"Yes... I do every day." Twilight sat back into her rocking chair, staring at her son. She could see the intent in his eyes, tears wanting to pour out, but he held back. Little Dawn then grabbed his attention, and so he showed Dawn some of his favorite books from when he was her age.
Twilight looked back to the photo, reflecting on their time together. They were some of the best times, only matched by when she and her friends were together. She closed her eyes, allowing his image to appear before her. She gazed upon him for a few moments, but quickly opened her eyes, not to dwell on it. What she saw then startled her... she was back in the park again.
"Well howdy there again, Twi!" Applejack said, sitting on the park bench beside Twilight. "Glad ya could make it again so soon."
"I don't understand... what is this?" Twilight asked, looking around for the others.
"Well, Ah reckon you're dreamin'," Applejack said, spitting out a stick of hay. "'N it seems you are havin' these more frequent. Which means it's just 'bout that time, Ah suppose."
Applejack stood up from the bench and began to walk away.
"Wait, AJ, what do you mean?" Twilight stared blankly to her cowpony friend.
Applejack stopped a moment, then turned and looked at Twilight. "Remember Fluttershy's dreams, sugarcube?"
Twilight thought for a moment.
"Ya might not remember when yer here, but once ya wake up you should, 'n ya'll know what to do..."
Twilight was just about to ask again when a loud noise brought her back from her dream.
Twilight was startled awake.
Twilight looked to her grandfoal, sitting amidst a pile of books. From what she assumed, the foal had tried to reach a book that was just out of reach, using other books as a step stool. Twilight loved her curiosity, but using her beloved books as a stool was not the way to show it.
Twilight went to speak, but the dream was still floating around her mind, bothering her. Applejack had given her two very clear messages: "It's about that time" and "Fluttershy's dreams". From her mother's forelegs, the small foal began to stir. Its purple eyes blinked out the sand as they looked around.
"Oh, honey, go show Dream her grandmother," Dusk said, standing up from the couch.
She carefully carried the foal towards Twilight, and Twilight's worry over the dream disappeared, replaced with joy in seeing her grandfoal awake. She had been anxious to see her, but the foal was apparently tired from the trip and had woken up only once to feed. The yellow mare leaned over to Twilight, allowing the foal to look at her grandmother. Twilight smiled warmly, but the foal didn't recognize her and thus began to cry. She was scared of her own grandmother.
"Oh goodness, here we go again," the yellow mare protested in agitation. "It took me an hour just to get her to fall asleep on the train ride."
Twilight smirked, giving a light chuckle. "My dear, if it takes you that long to put a foal to sleep then you are not doing it right."
"Mother-" Dusk began to protest, sensing the potential beginnings of a mother rivalry.
Still crying in her mother's forelegs, the foal continued its relentless assault. Dusk's ears flattened at the noise. He and his wife had barely made it through this process with Dawn, and now they had Dream to raise.
"It's apparent that you haven't found your mother's touch yet. If I may?"
Twilight slowly extended her forehooves to the foal, and in a huff her daughter-in-law handed it over, the foal continuing to cry. Twilight brought the foal close, whispering.
"Shh now, it's okay. It's me, your Grandma Twi," Twilight said, giving another warm smile.
The foal paused for a moment but, still unsure as to who the old mare was, went back to her crying fit. Twilight being Twilight, however, knew what needed to be done. Using what magic she still had, she grabbed a little wood box from a nearby table. She levitated it beside her, resting it on the tea table beside an open book. She opened the box with another touch of her magic, revealing a statuette of six ponies in a group hug, each one a different color but all with the same smile on their faces.
"Mother, are you sure abo-"
Ignoring her son, Twilight cranked a small key on the inside of the box while the foal continued bawling. With a final click, Twilight knew it was ready and released it as the small platform of ponies began to spin and music began to play; Twilight mustered her voice to sing. She hadn't done something like this in ages, since Pinkie's passing, but her voice was still up to the task.
"My little pony, my little pony..."
Twilight kept with the slow tempo of the song, her voice not faltering as she sang. She looked to the small foal in her arms, who was quieting down as the song continued. Dusk and his wife looked in "aw" as she continued to sing and hum, telling the tale of six friends who found the magic of friendship. The foal was sinking further into quietude, doing nothing but looking at her grandmother.
Twilight stared blankly at the foal as scenes of her past flashed in her mind. She remembered a gift she had received from her five friends for Dusk's birth: the music box. The wooden chair she sat in was hoofmade by Caramel, another gift for Dusk's arrival. The memory seemed vivid as she remembered opening the box for the first time, and upon seeing the small figure she had begun to cry in front of her friends and husband.
"Is there somethin' tha matter, sugarcube?" Applejack asked with a worried look.
Twilight used her free hoof to wipe away a tear. "No AJ, nothing is the matter. T-thank you, all of you."
Twilight looked to all her friends, each one sitting and smiling, AJ and Fluttershy with their own foals beside them. Twilight had hers a little later in life, but it was "better late than never" as Applejack would say to her. Finally, Twilight looked down at her hooves, seeing her foal awake, looking at the ceiling in amazement.
"SO, WE GONNA CELEBRATE OR WHAT?" Pinkie shouted, blowing a kazoo near Twilight's ear.
"PINKIE!" Applejack shouted, grabbing her tail and dragging her back.
The sudden burst of noise had upset the foal, startling him into a fit of tears. Twilight, being a new mother, was unsure of how she should react. When asking for assistance, the only pony to speak up was Applejack.
"Ya gotta find yer mother's touch, sugarcube. And we can't tell ya what that'll be." Applejack spoke from experience, already having three foals of her own. "That'll be somethin' you'll learn on yer own."
Twilight was looking around for any toys that could help calm the foal when she spied the music box. She opened it, cranked the key, and then allowed the music to play. It was such a beautiful sound, one she could recognize as their group song. Pinkie had written it some time ago. It was her one gift to all of them, something they'd all share with their children to pass the message of friendship. It was about them, the six bearers of the Elements of Harmony.
So, when the time was right and the song repeated, Twilight cleared her throat and began to sing. The song's normal fast tempo was slower and gentler here, perfect for the situation.
"My little pony, my little pony,
Hmmm Hmmm Hmmm
My little pony,
I used to wonder what friendship could be,
My little pony,
Until you all shared its magic with me,"
Rainbow Dash then stepped forward from the row of ponies and enthusiastically recited "Big Adventure."
Pinkie Pie bounced next to her friend, wrapped a hoof around her neck and singing "Tons of fun!"
Rarity spoke up next with "A beautiful heart,"
Applejack came in with "Faithful and strong,"
Fluttershy's line followed strongly: "Sharing kindness,"
Then, all six mares continued in unison:
"It's an easy feat,
And magic makes it all complete,
You have my little pony,
Don't you know you're all my very best frieeeeends!"
The six mares fell silent and looked to Twilight's foal, now sleeping in his mother's hooves. Twilight looked to her friends, all of whom were either openly tearing up, or trying not to.
Twilight remembered all of this... it was the last time they all sang the song together before they went back to their own lives. They still got together and talked, laughed, and enjoyed themselves, but never again would there be such a moment of unity.
Twilight opened her eyes again, spying the small foal in her hooves fast asleep from her voice. She looked to her son, smiling at her and tearing up himself. Twilight hadn't realized she had been crying while she sang, but had managed to keep with the song to the very end. Once the music ended, she gingerly closed the lid on the music box.
"Beautiful, mom," was all Dusk could muster, nuzzling his mother's neck.
Twilight lipped a thank you to Dusk and then looked to his wife, who gave a genuine smile. Twilight handed the foal back to its mother, careful not to wake it up again.
Her family remained at her home for another hour, the two of them telling her how life has been since they spoke last. Little Dawn showed Twilight the spells she had been learning, amazing her in the process; she was learning very quickly for her age, reminding Twilight of herself. The entire time, voices of her past echoed throughout her library: the laughter of the fillies reminded her of when she and her friends had laughed and played board games together. It all felt so long ago, and yet she could swear it had happened just yesterday... one more of time's cruel jokes.
Dusk's voice broke her from the thought. "Well, she must have gotten it from you, mom," Dusk joked, "Cause she certainly didn't get it from me or Trisha here, heh." Dusk nudged his wife, who huffed.
Twilight remembered the topic at hand and focused back on their conversation. "It must have skipped a generation, I suppose." Twilight looked on as Dawn played with her baby sister.
Dusk nodded, then looked to the library clock. "Well mom, it looks like we should be going. I'm sorry our visit was so short, but we need to get the baby home so she can rest. The trip wasn't easy on her."
Twilight snapped back to reality again and spoke, "From Canterlot? Of course it wouldn't be," she agreed, watching as Trisha rounded up the foals.
She watched as her son, daugher-in-law, and two grandfoals were about to walk out of her house. Twilight's mind began to prod at her, like she was forgetting something. She looked to her side, at the open book. She didn't even remember placing it there, but after flipping a few pages she stumbled upon her old Element of Magic crown. Why did she have this book out? Another message?
"Dusk, one more thing."
Dusk stopped and looked to his mother, who produced from the open book beside her a golden crown topped with a purple jewel. Twilight was sure she was finally come to understand what her friends had meant; the pieces to this puzzle were coming together, first with Fluttershy's Dreams. For reasons she was unsure of, memories of Fluttershy coming to her with troubling dreams flooded back to her. She had said she dreamt of their four friends, all waiting for her in a park. now.
"Do you know what this is, Dusk?" Twilight asked, slowly floating it to her son.
"Yea, wow, I haven't seen that since I was young."
They had been giving her messages, and she felt that other things were influencing her outside of the dreams. The last time they saw each other, Fluttershy had decided to pass her Element of Kindness necklace on to her grandfoal. And now, everything was fitting together for Twilight. She knew what had to be done, and now Applejack's other message made clear sense. It wasn't almost time, it was time.
"Dusk, I want Dawn to have it."
Dusk looked to his mother with shock. "But Mom-"
"Every pony has their time, Dusk. I don't know how much longer I will hold onto this world, but before I do, I must pass the Element of Magic on to somepony fitting. And from what I've seen, that pony is Dawn."
"Well, I mean-"
"Dash's went to Scootaloo's daughter, Pinkie's went to her own grandfoal, same with Rarity's and Fluttershy's. Applejack's too. All that remains to be passed on is mine, which is what I am now doing."
Twilight carefully rested the crown onto Dawn's head. Still too large for her, it shifted to a tilt on her head.
"This is really for me?" Dawn asked in excitement.
Twilight nodded, then looked back to her son and daughter-in-law. "One day, she will fully understand its meaning. Until then, keep it safe."
The ponies were all silent for another short moment before Twilight spoke once again. "Now, get along. You have a train to catch."
Trisha nodded, taking the foals outside. Dusk remained at the doorway, then slowly walked to his mother's side.
"I love you, Mom. Take care, and see you next weekend," he said, kissing her on the head.
"I love you too, my Dusk," Twilight said with a smile and tear before shooing her son out. "Don't keep them waiting, young man."
Dusk nodded again, running out the door this time and making sure to close it behind him. With her magic, Twilight moved the shades from the window to peer outside, watching as her family left for home. She looked back to her library, empty and quiet. Just full of old books and memories. She opened the music box once more, and from the inside of the lid pulled out a photograph. The same six ponies were on it, posing with a small purple dragon. Her longtime assistant Spike, who a decade ago had to retreat for his century long slumber.
The memory stung, causing Twilight to look away from the photo. She cranked the key on the music box once more to allow the melody to fill the room. She hummed with it, rocking in her chair as she went back in time with her memories. As they came and went, she eventually found herself in the park once again. This time, her five friends were all standing side by side under a large tree, smiling and happy to see her again.
"Well, how did it go?" Dash asked in excitement.
"How did what go, Dash?" Twilight asked, confused.
"Passing on the element! Did you feel something once it left the house?"
Twilight thought more about it, and after a short time nodded her head. "Yes. I felt... relaxed. Very relaxed, for that matter. I... I couldn't even move my hooves, I was so tired."
The others nodded in agreement, then Pinkie pointed to a hill about a couple hundred feet away.
"Come on Twi! We got a pick-nic party all set up and waitin' for ya!" Pinkie said before beginning to bounce her way towards the hill.
"Hey, wait for me!" Dash shouted, taking to the air and speeding off.
Applejack, Rarity, and Fluttershy began to run off, leaving Twilight sitting by herself under the tree. Fluttershy stopped and looked back, confusedly tilting her head. "Twi, aren't you coming?"
"I can't keep up with you all, you know that."
From ahead, Applejack shouted back, "O'course ya can, sugarcube! Just put one hoof ahead of the other, and run!"
Unsure, Twilight braced herself for a world of pain that would come from pushing her body so hard. But as she leaped, she felt... nothing. There was no pain, no popping of joints or other ailments. She looked down to her hoof, seeing her bright purple coat once more. It had been years since she looked this good, and even without seeing her face she could tell that she was young again. Taking a look at her mane, the dark blue glistened in the sunlight, like it had so long ago.
She was... young again. She felt... free. She could do anything, and her age wouldn't stop her.
"Are you coming, Twilight? I mean, you don't have to, but if you want to it's okay just-"
Before Fluttershy could continue, Twilight ran past her in a full gallop to catch up with the others, a large smile on her face as the wind blew her mane. Fluttershy smiled warmly; she had no reason to cry anymore. No more would Twilight have to dream them all together, for they were there to stay. Six friends, together once more.