Twilight Sparkle stared up at the bookshelf before her, and wondered if she should get the book she wanted using her magic or her wings. Spike was off helping Rarity with something today and she didn't have any duties as a Princess to worry about at the moment, so it seemed like as good of a day as any to simply curl up and read a nice book.
After a few more moments of pondering, Twilight settled on just pulling the book down with magic. She could use the practice, but if she messed up with her wings, she'd have to spend time cleaning that was better spent reading. Slightly pleased with herself at avoiding a potential disaster, Twilight trotted over to her favorite reading cushion, ready to settle in for the day.
As these things tend to go, right as Twilight began to get comfortable, she was interrupted by a soft knocking at her door.
Well, I guess I really shouldn't be too surprised, thought Twilight as she let out a light sigh, and then smiled anyway despite her disappointment. She put her book to the side and headed over to the door. Opening it, she found Fluttershy standing there, fidgeting nervously and carrying a satchel draped over her flanks.
"Fluttershy! I haven't seen you around in awhile, how have you been?" asked Twilight.
"Oh, um. Hi Twilight. I've been… good. And um, busy I guess. This isn't a bad time, is it? I know you have a lot of important things to do now, and I wouldn't want to interrupt anything," said Fluttershy.
Twilight took one last look back at her abandoned book knowing that she probably wouldn't be getting any reading in today, and then turned back to her friend. "Not at all Fluttershy, come right in," said Twilight. There would always be other days.
Closing the door behind her as Fluttershy walked in, Twilight turned towards the kitchen. "Would you like anything?" Twilight asked. "Tea? Maybe some cookies or something? Spike isn't in right now, but he made some pretty nice cookies the other day. They're still relatively fresh."
"Oh, that won't be necessary Twilight, I just…" Fluttershy muttered, staring at her hooves and fidgeting slightly, then pausing and nodding to herself before looking back up. "I mean, I guess that would be nice."
Beaming, Twilight made her way to the kitchen in order to get some refreshments for her unexpected guest. Fluttershy took the time to unhook her satchel and lay it on the floor next to her before standing around somewhat awkwardly waiting for Twilight to get back. She alternated between staring at the floor and glancing around at the various books in the library. After some time, Twilight returned with the promised snacks and the two of them sat down at a table.
"Mmm, these are quite good, Twilight. Thank you," said Fluttershy, washing down one of the cookies with a sip of tea.
"Aren't they? The tea is a special blend I bought in Canterlot the last time I was at the palace, but I haven't really found many occasions to bring it out. A bit pricey, but definitely worth it. Although the shopkeeper tried to give it to me for free on account of, well, you know." Twilight emphasized her point by stretching her wings slightly, a sour expression on her face. "I practically had to order him to let me pay full price."
"I see... That, um, must be difficult to get used to," said Fluttershy.
"Yeah, I'm still working on it," said Twilight. "But enough about my griping - what brings you here, Fluttershy? You seem troubled."
Fluttershy coughed, choking on her tea slightly. "Oh, excuse me. Um, was I that obvious?"
Twilight smiled, giggling slightly as Fluttershy wiped her mouth with a napkin. "You're like an open book, Fluttershy - I haven't seen you in three weeks, you come directly here, and you're super nervous? Tell me what's up, and I'll do what I can to help."
Fluttershy deflated slightly, looking up at Twilight with a small flicker of hope in her eyes. "Oh. Thank you… you're a good friend, Twilight. I just… wanted to ask you a favor, if that's okay."
Twilight simply nodded in response, and Fluttershy closed her eyes, taking a deep breath. "Do you remember when you lent me that mystery novel a while back?" asked Fluttershy.
Twilight blinked, caught somewhat off guard. "Yes? That was the first volume of the "Mystery Mares" series, right? Did you like it?"
"Oh yes, I loved it. I mean, in perspective it's really more of a beginner series for fillies, but I still read them all," said Fluttershy, perking up a she launched into a longer explanation. "After I finished that one, I looked for similar stories and found a lot of the old mystery classics, and even a few modern, experimental types of mystery fiction. I've, um, been doing a lot of reading lately."
Twilight frowned as she considered her friend's newfound interest. "I guess that explains what you've been up to… but if you were reading all these books, how come I didn't see you here at the library?" asked Twilight.
"Oh, I came by a lot, but you were never in. Spike helped me get some of them and I special ordered the rest," said Fluttershy.
"I see," said Twilight, bringing a hoof to her chin. "Honestly I recommended you that book totally at random – I had no idea you'd enjoy the genre so much! But I'm glad you did. So, what's the favor you need?"
Fluttershy looked away again, before standing up and making her way to the satchel she had left by the door. "Well, um, you see. After reading all those mystery novels, I kind of started to get an idea in my head. I wanted to really do something, but I didn't think I could. Then one night I had a really inspirational dream, and all my ideas came together and I was determined enough to just go for it," said Fluttershy, rambling on as she brought the satchel to the table. Opening the bag, she pulled out a small book and placed it on the table between her and Twilight.
"Could you um, read this and tell me what you think?" asked Fluttershy, ducking her head and peeking out from behind her bangs.
"This is…" Twilight frowned, placing her hoof on the book in front of her. "Wait – Fluttershy, are you saying you wrote this?" When Fluttershy nodded meekly, Twilight let out a low whistle. "That's amazing! And in such a short time…"
Twilight levitated the book with her magic, casually flipping through the pages and noting Fluttershy's neat, nearly perfect calligraphy. "Sure, I'd be happy to read this for you. But, can you tell me exactly what you're looking for? Do you want constructive criticism and a technical critique? Or do you just want me to read through and tell you what I think?" asked Twilight.
"Oh. Well, I was mostly hoping you could read it and solve the mystery. But um, I guess the other stuff would be nice too," said Fluttershy, staring at Twilight expectantly.
"Oh. Did you want me to read it now?" asked Twilight. When Fluttershy nodded in response, Twilight glanced back at the book she had originally planned to read, smiling wryly. "No problem then. I guess I can set aside time today for reading."
Twilight got up from the table and moved to her reading cushions, settling in to get comfortable for the second time that day. "Did you want me to read it out loud? Hearing it said back to you can be helpful for evaluating your own writing, I think," said Twilight.
"Oh. Yes, that would be lovely," said Fluttershy, grabbing a cushion of her own and pulling it up next to Twilight.
Twilight cleared her throat before opening Fluttershy's book to the first page, and began. "Princess Twilight Sparkle…"
Twilight blinked, staring at the words on the page in front of her in confusion, and then quickly skimmed the rest of the page to confirm what she saw. "Uh, Fluttershy? Am I the main character in your story?" asked Twilight, a note of apprehension in her voice.
Fluttershy blushed in response and tried to explain the distinction. "Yes. Well, sort of, not really. I mean, the character is Twilight Sparkle, and she looks like you and I tried to make her act like you, but you're you, and that Twilight is just a fictional character." Fluttershy paused, taking a breath before mumbling, "They say you're supposed to write what you know…"
Frowning, Twilight skimmed through the book again, looking for familiar names that jumped out to her. "The rest of our friends are in here too?" asked Twilight.
Fluttershy nodded, hanging her head. "It's probably weird, isn't it? I'm sorry Twilight; this was all a silly idea. Forget I ever said anything."
Fluttershy jumped up to try and grab the book, but Twilight pulled it away. "Not so fast. You are right though. It IS kind of strange, but that doesn't mean it's bad. Sure, it'll take me some time to get used to it, but it'll be a unique experience. I've certainly never read a novel starring me before!" said Twilight, smiling as she tried to reassure Fluttershy.
Fluttershy paced back and forth, furrowing and unfurrowing her brow before finally acquiescing and settling back down next to Twilight. "Okay, if you're sure it's not a problem," she said.
Once again Twilight pulled the book back in front of her, pausing to glance at the cover. "Does this story have a name? I don't see one here."
"Oh, right," said Fluttershy. "I wasn't able to get the cover engraved or anything, but the title of the story is-"
"The Legend of Dragon-Mare Manor"