My little Pony Friendship is magic doesn't belong to me.
Shining Armour nervously paced through the entrance hall of Canterlot Palace. Twilight would come to the Winter Ball with her friends. He was incredible happy about that, sure, but also nervous. His parents would be here too. They didn't know Twilight was back yet.
How should they though?
Nightmare Moon's return and Twilight's tribe were a well-kept secret between the inhabitants of Ponyville and the royal guard. Nothing had leaked out. And if it did the Princesses and also not Shining Armour knew of it.
Shining straightened up instinctively and looked at the owner of the voice. Many ponies had passed him already, but that was the first time he'd gotten spoke to. In front of him stood an elderly white Unicorn-Stallion with grey mane and tail.
"Silver Shield", greeted Shining with a smile. This was the former Captain of the royal guard. "How wonderful to see you again!"
Silver Shield laughed and nodded. "It has been a while. I heard you've been at Ponyville with the Princesses, your wife and most of the guard. What was the occasion?"
Shining bit back a frown and answered: "I'm very sorry sir, but I'm not allowed to say anything."
"Not even to an old friend?", dug the older stallion.
"No. Princess Celestia forbid me."
Silver Shield shrugged at this, then said: "Well, I'll be sure to see you again tonight. All the best Shining Armour."
"To you as well Silver Shield", answered Shining.
He walked off and Shining picked up pacing again. More and more ponies arrived, many coming from Manehatten and Canterlot. Snobs, thought Shining Armour with a quiet snort while he observed their gowns and their way to walk. Some even wore make-up. A little was alright at times, if you really needed it, or at least that's what Shining had learned from Rarity, but most of the ponies that wore make-up here looked just wrong.
"Ah, the Captain of the Royal Guard, what an honour."
Shining once again searched for the pony that had spoken to him, to almost gag.
In front of him stood a dark purple mare with deep violet mane and an incredible amount of make-up. It was Princess Purple Icing. She was Prince Blueblood's cousin and lived in Manehatten. Shining had had a few encounters with her already. During most of them she'd tried to flirt with him, even after he'd gotten married. Tonight, like always, she came far too close for comfort and Shining backed off a bit, before politely answering: "The honour is all mine Princess."
The mare giggled, then scanned him. A frown crossed Shining's face, before he composed himself. He glanced down at himself and wondered what was wrong. He wore something similar to what he'd worn during his wedding, only instead of red, it was from the same blue the darkest shade of his mane was.
"No uniform today?", asked the Princess.
Now Shining understood. On any other ball they'd met, he'd officially been there as Captain of the Royal Guard. Tonight though, he was just a guest as well. Cadence had requested it and Princess Celestia had agreed, saying he would have an easier time spending time with his wife and sister. "No", answered Shining finally, then continued: "Is it too much? Cadence chose it, even matching it with what she's wearing tonight."
At this the mare frowned and Shining sighed internally. He'd hoped his words would have that effect. Finally Princess Purple Icing stepped back and said her goodbyes, scanning him once more before she walked off. The moment she finally looked away, Shining shook himself and a shudder ran down his spine. That was when he heard it.
He spun to the voice, to get tackled by a lilac and white blur.
"Twily", shouted Shining and hugged the mare that hung from his neck tightly.
"Twilight", complained Rarity's voice. "You're going to wrinkle the dress already."
"I couldn't care less", muttered Twilight, but stepped away from his brother, scanning his outfit. Shining in answer took in his sister's dress. It was simple, but beautiful. The main-colour was white, matching the snow that covered everything outside. A few lilac accents gave the dress some colour. Twilight's mane was curled, but still covered her eyes.
"Wow Twily, you look like a princess", stated Shining.
Twilight laughed at that, before stating: "You're not looking too bad by yourself."
"Well, why don't you all follow me in", asked Shining. "The Princesses and Cadence are dying to see you all again."
He found the mares grinning and smirked back at them, before leading them into the ball room. The room was decorated in white and blue and magical snow floated through the air. Ice sculptures were lined along the walls. "Incredible", breathed Twilight.
"It is pretty when yah see it for the first time", agreed Applejack. Twilight smiled at her and Applejack gave a weak smile in return. Shining frowned, but continued walking. Then he leaned down to his sister and asked: "Still no process with her?"
Twilight sighed deeply and answered: "I really don't know. There are days when it seems like we can finally make this turn out right. On other days, she doesn't even talk to me." She shook her head, to finally smile at him and say: "Enough of that. How was it in Canterlot lately?"
With a laugh Shining proceeded to fill her in about Princess Purple Icing and how she continued to flirt with him. That gained him laughing from Twilight and her friends. They chatted the whole way to the other side of the ball room, where Princess Celestia and Cadence talked to a few ministers of Canterlot.
Twilight had to admit, she really did enjoy being on this ball. At first she'd feared it would turn out like her first Grand Galloping Gala, but this was actually quite nice. She got to talk a lot with Princess Celestia and even more with Cadence and her brother, catching up on what she'd missed the past four years. Close to Midnight though, Cadence excused herself with a grin etched on her face.
Twilight glanced at Shining, who stared after his wife uncertainty on his face.
"What is it Shining?", asked Twilight.
Shining looked back at her, then back to where Cadence had gone and then back to her. Finally he gave in and sighed deeply. "Our parents are here tonight Twily. Cadence went to get them", explained Shining.
Twilight froze up at this. Their parents were here? "What? But…NO…I can't-can't face them yet and…" The unicorn trailed off and shook her head. Of course she missed her parents deeply, but she wasn't ready to face them yet.
What should she say?
Shining nuzzled her and answered: "I was against it as well little sis, but Cadence and the Princesses insisted on it."
"And what about my opinion?", asked Twilight.
Shining rolled his eyes and stated: "You know there is no stopping her when Cadence has her mind set on something. I tried to argue her out of her a whole month, but it wouldn't work."
Twilight gulped nervously, then took a deep breath. "Well, I guess we can't change it now", whispered the unicorn. Shining nuzzled her again, then froze and stepped back. Twilight glanced at him confused, when she saw Cadence trotting up to them, two unicorns in tow. Fear spread through Twilight when she saw them.
What if they wouldn't want her anymore?
What if they would be upset about her not contacting them?
Her mother's happy voice cut her off and she watched how the unicorn mare hugged Shining. She looked just like Twilight remembered her. A white, or more very pale silver, coat, bright blue eyes and a violet mane with white streaks. Her cutie mark were three stars. "Hello mother", greeted Shining warmly. Then he got a hug from a blue coated unicorn stallion with dark-blue mane, golden eyes and two golden sickle-moons as cutie mark. Their father.
Twilight felt her eyes tear up and a lump gathered in her throat. She wasn't able to speak. A part of her wanted to laugh at that. She hadn't been in a situation where she couldn't speak in years. It came with being the leader of a tribe full of unicorns. Oh, she could lead them into battle, she could correct their mistakes and make the right decisions, but she couldn't face her own parents.
It was ironic.
Finally she realised that Shining glanced at her, all the while hiding her from their parent's sight. With a deep breath, Twilight started to move forward slowly and Shining gave her an encouraging smile, before he turned to their parents and said: "Mother, Father, here is someone…who wants to see you again." Twilight took a big step now, then stopped next to Shining Armour. She heard gasps from her parents, but kept her eyes on the ground. She couldn't dare looking up.
"T-Twilight?", whispered her mother.
The joy that broke her voice, warmed Twilight's heart and she finally looked up. Her mother had tears in her eyes, just like Twilight, but smiled brightly. Twilight gave a timid smile in return, then found herself engulfed in a strong hug. She hugged back and buried her face in her mother's mane, sobbing. Her mother sobbed as well, but nuzzled her strongly. After a long while the two mares pulled apart, for Twilight to gain a kiss on the forehead. The two of them locked eyes, tears still streaming down both of their faces.
"I- mi-ssed you too, mom", chocked Twilight out.
Her mother beamed at her and kissed her again, before both turned to look at Twilight's and Shining's father. The blue stallion stared for a long while, his eyes widened and Twilight almost ran off in shame, when he rushed forward and hugged her as well. "Our little filly came home", sounded the blue unicorn's voice. New sobs started to rake Twilight's body and her father held her while she cried.
"I missed you as well dad", whispered Twilight after a long time.
Her father squeezed her softly, before pulling back and stating: "Look at you, our little Twilight all grown up and beautiful."
That drew a blush from the lavender mare and she glanced away. Shining Armour chuckled at that, gaining a glare from his little sister. Suddenly something brushed over Twilight's flank softly. She looked up, to find Princess Celestia walking up to a balcony, her wing just finishing folding against her flank again. Twilight excused herself and went to follow the sun-princess.
"But come back quick", called Shining after her.
"We're not done yet", agreed her father in what Twilight guessed was supposed to sound strict, but the bright smile on his face made it impossible for him to sound rough in any way. Both of her parents were out of it with joy that Twilight was back.
A pang hit the lavender unicorn's heart at that. She didn't even know how long, or if she stayed. The tribe needed her too.
Why does life have to be so complicated, wondered Twilight. And why me?