Disclaimer: My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is copyrighted by Lauren Faust and Hasbro. The story and any possible fancharacters are copyrighted by me, and no profit is being distributed in any way.
Pot o' Gold
The moon glowed over Ponyville. Glowing full, Night Mare Moon's silhouette stared down. Her aura flared miles apart, pushing aside stray clouds that dared to interfere. Only the stars were welcome. As the moon ascended, they flickered except for an occasional planet overhead. Peaceful, the moon thought. No chance of commotion until the morning when she would set for the sun.
Suddenly, a door opened.
Music ripped through the village.
Her aura expanded. The clouds that hovered nearby slunk deeper into the darkness. Stars dimmed. And the craters of the moon sunk into the darker crevasses.
A dancing pony.
After one vigorous wave of "good-bye," it skipped away.
Finally, the door shut, and the moon's aura glowed softer. Two clouds — both on the left and stacked above one another — crept alongside the moon, but stayed away from her aura. But one decided to scoot towards her…and then backed away again.
Just another typical night above Ponyville.
And just another typical night down in Sugarcube Corner.
"MMMMM! Caramel apples!" Rainbow Dash licked her lips.
"And allllll yummy!" Pinkie Pie's wide grin brightened the already yellow room. "All you have t'do is bob for 'em!"
"Aw, that's nothin', sugar cube," said Applejack with a shoo-like motion of her left front leg.
"It'll be a piece of cake!" agreed Rainbow Dash.
"Great!" chirped Pinkie Pie and zoomed away, leaving Rainbow Dash and Applejack alone, both of whom continued to look down at the apples.
"Great Celestia, they look delicious!" Rainbow Dash exclaimed with a slurp.
"Oh, I know they do, Rainbow," said Applejack. "Caramel always makes the best caramel apples in Ponyville."
The pale blue flier jabbed Applejack gingerly on the shoulder. "And you're the one who grows these apples, so they HAVE to be good!"
Rainbow Dash's eye's bulged.
Applejack flinched from Rainbow Dash tripping onto her flank and then blinked. Green eyes retracted like dried tomato slices.
The Bearer of Loyalty wiped her rainbow-colored mane off her eyes…only to gasp.
A pink hoof tapped. Another stood straight. Two front legs crossed over her chest. Her eyebrows furrowed, revealing only a glimpse of her blue eyes. Finally, one frown drooped down and around her muzzle.
"Did you say…'good,' Rainbow Dash?"
Rainbow Dash nodded her head, and a rainbow flew above.
"Well, let me tell you this, missy-Rainy!" Pinkie Pie jabbed a hoof on Rainbow Dash's nose. "They're not 'good.'" She lunged forward until Rainbow Dash could only see her eyes and smell the blackberries from her mouth. "They're never 'good' and never will be 'good'! And do you know why?"
"Yes! Yes! Yes!" whimpered Rainbow Dash.
Finally, Pinkie Pie's expression relaxed into a bright beam.
"Because they're grrrreat!"
Magenta eyes swirled clockwise.
"Point taken, Pinkie Pie," she said and leapt to her feet. "Now can Applejack and I have some apples?"
Big, blue eyes snapped shut. Eyebrows arched.
"Sure!" Squeaks of delight squirmed at Rainbow Dash's direction. "But under one condition."
"And that is…?"
Pinkie Pie snapped her hoof back.
"For good luck!"
Blank eyes. Mouth drooling. Cheeks bulging. Sweat pouring. A stifling cough.
A sudden gulp.
Once more, Applejack and Rainbow Dash were left alone.
"Mmm, blueberry cake," said Rainbow Dash, smacking her lips. Then, she looked back at Applejack. "But first…"
Applejack nodded in reply, and they both leaned across from each other on the barrel.
"On my count of three, Applejack…"
Two pairs of eyes focused on the apples. Aged caramel — some plain, others covered in a variety of tree nuts — drenched each apple, and they floated in a sea of apple juice. Golden in color, the juice swayed, shoveling every apple around the wooden barrel.
More waving of the apple juice, and the apples floated further apart.
Applejack's green eyes glistened, her smile broad, eyebrows furrowed, and ears pointing.
A loud splash! Two pairs of ears twitched, and their manes dangled lopsidedly besides their ribcages.
All the while, Twilight Sparkle and Pinkie Pie watched, each of them occupying a glass of iced fruit punch.
Yet, Twilight only glanced at the competitors: Most of her attention was towards the décor inside the lobby. The walls glittered with various shades of blue bow ties, green banners, and pink streamers. Pink heart-shaped balloons bobbed from the ceiling, each of them brandishing white smiles. Finally, a hanging wind chime spun in the center.
And the more attention she gave to the lobby, the broader her grin became.
"My, Pinkie," she gasped, "this has been quite a lovely party tonight."
"Why, thanks, Twilight!" beamed Pinkie Pie, sipping fruit punch from a red-and-white striped swizzle straw. "If it weren't for you, I wouldn't have the cake, donuts, and décor for tonight's 'Cool-Summer-Day' party!"
Twilght blushed. "Aw, shucks, Pinkie!"
The Bearer of Laughter tapped her shoulder. "Hey, Twily…I may be Ponyville's party bonanza, but I can't run it allby myself!" Another sip. "I gotta have help, too! Your organizing skills have always been super-duper!"
Twilight floated her glass to her mouth and took a sip. "Thanks, Pinkie," she said, but then frowned. "But I have one tiny question."
Pinkie jumped, smiling. "Cool! What is it?"
With her eyes closed, Twilight gulped down more fruit punch. The cold fluids flowed down her throat, soothing the dryness of her esophagus more.
"Why do you have to use Shining Armor's nickname for me?" she asked once she opened her eyes again.
Pinkie Pie giggled like a schoolfilly. "'Cause it's so CUTE! The embarrassment on you makes me wanna grab my camera!"
"Okay, okay, Pinkie. I get your point," interrupted Twilight and waved a hoof nonchalantly. After another swig of her fruit punch, she sighed with a slightly higher pitch. "I'll get more punch."
"Me, too," said Pinkie Pie, eyes fixated at her glass. "Mine's running on empty. And I don't wanna chew any ice."
As they trotted back to the table, Twilight wiped a hoof across her forehead and said, "After a week of heat, today was much cooler. I don't miss that heat wave."
"You said it, Twilight. It was so hot, my mane flattened." The Earth pony glanced up at her bubbly magenta mane with cross eyes. "Not cool, mane! You stay up when I tell you to. Got that?" Looking back at Twilight, she added, "At least the heat took the day off."
"Hopefully longer. The Pegasus team dragged a furious cold front to balance the weather."
The fruit punch table's purple glass bowl glistened in the light. A dark green tablecloth covered it and smoothened the table's wooden edges. Hooked along the bowl's rim, the ladle floated along the punch's surface.
Once arriving at the bowl, a purple aura cocooned the ladle. With a gentle tug, its hook slowly floated up, but it rocked like grass blades in the wind.
Then, her horn throbbed internally, and the ladle's rocking began to relax with subtle motions.
Another internal beat of her horn, and the spoon of the ladle began to surface, beginning with the lip and then the bottom of its bowl. The soft, reddish fruit punch lay still and touched the lip of the spoon's bowl. Steady, Twilight's conscience and horn urged. No need to rush. Just let the fruit punch and ladle slowly approach.
Moments later, the ladle hovered next to Twilight's glass, which sat on the tablecloth.
Her horn throbbed again, and the ladle turned. The punch fell out, landing into her glass, and it kept pouring until the ladle emptied.
One glass done, another—
"I can do this."
—Or maybe not.
"Thanks, Pinkie Pie," she said and sipped, tasting the fresh fruit flavors that swirled inside her cup of ice cubes. "Unfortunately, the team in Mareami won't be pleased with our Pegasi bring in the cool wind."
"Oh, don't sweat it, silly!" said Pinkie Pie as she poured herself a second serving into her cup of ice. "They can take the day off, too!"
"But they love the hot weather. Cold fronts drive them batty!"
"Derpy! That's my caramel apple!"
As quick as fireworks exploding in the sky above Canterlot, they snapped their heads back. There, Rainbow Dash glared at a gray Pegasus as she ate a caramel apple with her eyes closed (while Applejack laughed).
When her eyelids opened, they stared into the ceiling, one of them stopping halfway up. "Mmmm…" she said slowly. "Almond. Walnut. Salty caramel. Delish!" She turned to Applejack (who had calmed down). "Hey, Applejack, y'have extra?"
Applejack shook her head. "Sorry, sugar. I don't have no more."
"Buuuut…" continued Applejack, "how 'bout 'notha bobbin'?"
"I'd love it!" cheered Derpy.
"Hey!" exclaimed Derpy and glared at Rainbow Dash, who swallowed a caramel apple. "No cheating, Rainbow Dash!"
Afar, Pinkie Pie laughed, accidentally releasing a snort in the process. "Silly Rainy!"
"More like silly Rainbow Dash A.J., and Derpy!" chuckled Twilight and drank some fruit punch. "Since when did you start calling Rainbow Dash 'Rainy,' anyway, Pinkie Pie?"
The pink Earth pony grinned back. "When? Just now!"
"'Now'?" asked Twilight, puzzled, before sighing with a smile. "Oh, Pinkie, you silly pony!"
"Yup!" She wrapped her right hoof over Twilight Sparkle's back and slid herself closer. "Expect it from Ponyville's party-going, quick-thinking extravaganza! So how 'bout some more blueberry cake?"
"That'd be wonderful."
And they walked further away, leaving Rainbow Dash, Applejack, and Derpy to fend for themselves against the caramel apples.
Night crept along. The clouds continued to wander around the moon, whose Night Mare Moon imprint continued to stare down at Ponyville. Her aura continually glowed miles apart, blocking some of the stars' sights. It was such a shame that those twinkles could not budge willfully. Only when the moon set would they be allowed to view the quiet night.
As for the quiet night, each time the door to Sugarcube Corner opened, the commotion became less busy. More ponies left for home, but there was much less collective chatter as her reward. While some lights flickered on the minute some of the visitors returned home, they were shut off soon after, leaving Ponyville in peace for the moon to contently watch over like a colt from the Royal Guard.
Yet, there was one uncertain piece. The moon floated high and above, and she was close to reaching the zenith. Just another forty-five minutes to one hour away from approaching its highest point before preparing to make way for that vial combination of blue, green, and golden yellow.
So how come she felt comfortable? Admired?
Sugarcube Corner lay quiet, but the lights were on, and the front door was open. Streamers and balloons continued to sway as the chill wafted inside, crashing into Twilight Sparkle and Pinkie, the lone two occupants remaining.
"Brrrr!" Pinkie Pie's teeth chattered. "Last night, I was sweaty. Now I'm freezing."
The purple unicorn pony shook her head and made a shooing wave with her front left leg. "Oh, it's not that cold, Pinkie Pie. It's just, well…right. So, are you sure you'll be okay in cleaning up by yourself?"
"Aww, no worries, Twilight," replied Pinkie Pie and ate the last piece of blueberry cake. "I can clean this place up in a jiffy!"
"Okay, then," said Twilight, approaching the door. "Well…goodnight!"
"Goodnight!" cheered Pinkie Pie as Twilight's head peered out the door. "And stay warm!"
Twilight laughed. "More like 'stay cool,'" she jested and gingerly closed the door behind her.
Once it snapped shut, Twilight stepped on the grass and walked away. But her legs slowed. Steady. Hooves caressed the soft grass with each step. One hoof up, then down. Another up, and then it descended. Grass crunched on each impact; nerves circulated through her legs, and Twilight's back hairs stiffened.
Maybe Pinkie Pie's right. It's a bit too cold tonight.
A sharp, quick gust whipped across her left, and she shut her eyes.
I guess not.
The wind quieted.
A small rustle.
Twilight's right ear twitched.
Purple eyes gazed.
"Oh, hi, Derpy."
Sitting in the dark night, the face of a gray mare stared up in the starry sky. Her blonde mane curled down, but not far enough to interfere with her shiny golden eyes.
Little Derpy Hooves turned to her left, her crossed eyes dancing. "Hey, Twilight!" she chirped, waving her right hoof. "I heardja coming."
Twilight raised an eyebrow. "How?"
"Your soft walking and the wind."
Twilight "oh'd" and continued to approach. "So, you felt it, too?"
Derpy nodded and hummed. Once Twilight's face appeared in the light, she looked back up at the moon and asked, "So how long were you in Sugarcube Corner since I left? Must've been hours."
Twilight blinked and looked at her naked front hooves. "…I don't know. Two hours, perhaps." She sighed. "I wish I looked up at the clock."
One of Derpy's feathers tapped her chin. "Well, lemme see. Hmm…"
Derpy closed her eyes. Feathers stroked her throat. Tongue stuck out to the side.
Eyelids opened. Gold illuminated off the aura as the moon continued to climb.
"…Moon still rising," began Derpy, her voice descending to a whisper. "Almost at the zenith, but not quite."
Crickets chirped into the atmosphere.
"So it's about eleven PM now," Derpy whispered, her wing feathers still tapping her chin. "Now, the party—"
"It started about one hour before sunset."
"—That was about seven-thirty PM," Derpy said, as if she didn't hear Twilight. "I was the first to leave. Did so after eating some delicious cupcakes." She rubbed her abdomen and giggled. "Mmm-MMMM-mmm!"
Sighing, she buckled her legs and plopped onto the grass.
The moon's glow continued to resonate all over the Pegasus pony's face.
"Best red velvet cupcakes yet!"
Twilight giggled. "Oh, they were certainly delicious."
Derpy whipped her face towards Twilight. "Are you kidding? They were double-licious!"
Twilight laughed. "Oh, Derpy, you're so silly," she said, biting her bottom lip.
"Darn tootin'!" she exclaimed, and her irises shrunk. "Oh, gosh." A hoof implanted itself on her muzzle. "If anypony heard that, they'll mistake me for Applejack's distant sister."
"I heard you."
Rolling her eyes back, Derpy fell down on her right side.
All the while, Twilight could barely suppress herself, as she started guffawing.
And of all the noise, the moon asked herself, why did she have to bother the peace now? Could that stubborn unicorn really not control her own emotions until tomorrow morning? If only she could approach the zenith any sooner and plunge into the horizon out west…
The Pegasus was laughing, too?
Immediately, the clouds slunk further away.
If only her night could not get any worse than now…
Unfortunately, the wind and moon never cooperated throughout the eons. Not when Earth was created and certainly not now.
Best to let the two mares sort themselves out, she supposed.
Fortunately, she did not have to wait long, for Derpy and Twilight had finally stopped laughing.
"Derpy, I've gotta say, you've spent quite some time with Pinkie Pie, haven't you?
Derpy nodded. "Best—party—pony—ever!" she cheered and sprung up.
Twilight giggled in response. Maybe a bit too much, I daresay.
But the gray mare's muzzle contorted to a frown, and her eyebrows furrowed.
"Now, where was I?" she asked herself with a blink. "Oh, yeah, I remember!" Turning to Twilight again, she continued, "So, I was the first to leave. That was around, I don't know, ten-ish. Maybe a few minutes before. I forget." She shrugged. "Anyways, the moon was closer to the horizon then."
Twilight nodded out of understanding. Well, out of what she could get out of. She may hold the Element of Magic, but the idea of detecting time without some kind of device made the back of her brain spin. So much ancient time calculation, so little knowledge of how to understand it.
I wish I brought my watch.
That, an hourglass, or anything kind of spell that would allow her to know exactly what time it was now. Guesstimating wasn't really her forte.
But maybe it is for her,she thought, relating to Derpy, whose head was still glowing in the moonlight.
But why her instead of the rest of Ponyville?
I've got to talk to Princess Luna about moon magic.
"So, Derpy," she said sheepishly and sat down, "why are you looking up at the moon, anyway?"
"Uh, I don't know." Derpy shrugged. "'Cause it's beautiful or somethin'."
Not much logic in that, thought Twilight, but I'll do.
"And how long have you watched it?"
"Since I left the party."
Suddenly, confusion replaced simple logic.
"So let me get this straight…" said Twilight, rubbing her temple with a hoof. "You've stayed here…" pointed towards the grass, "…on the grass…watching the moon…" a hoof towards Luna's moon, "…since you left?"
"Mm-hmm," was Derpy's simple reply.
"Why?" asked Twilight confusedly.
Derpy's lopsided eyes looked back for a moment, as if asking her mind to come up with the best answer she could think of. "Uhhhhh…I…don't know. Just because. What about you?"
"Well, I left Sugarcube Corner a few minutes ago. Wanted to lend Pinkie a hand, but she said no," replied Twilight, her eyes concentrating on the moon. She turned to the Pegasus once more. "So…did you enjoy the party?"
"Loved it! Each time Pinkie Pie plans a party, it's always better than the last one."
A giggle escaped Twilight's system. "Pinkie's going to love that compliment."
"Well, what can I say? I'm a sucker for Pinkie Pie's parties!" said Derpy. "How come she has all these ideas, anyway?"
"I've got no idea, Derpy," replied Twilight, shrugging her shoulders. "Pinkie just does, for the lack of a better word. And beautifully, too. So, are you relieved by the cold front?"
"Huh?" Derpy's golden eyes stared at Twilight, who quickly corrected herself.
"Uhh…I mean, the break from the heat wave."
"Oh, that." The bubbly Pegasus tapped the top of her head. " Well, I'm relieved. My blonde mane was turning golden brown, and my gray coat turned two shades darker." She grumbled lowly. "The less heat, the better."
"Nopony will disagree with you."
"I hope so, Twilight," said Derpy crossly, but she relaxed once she glanced up at the moon. "Well, I gotta go home. It was great talking to you tonight."
"I'm glad to see you, too," replied Twilight. Her purple eyes continued to follow Derpy's lopsided irises, which shined in the light. "But I've gotta go, as well. I need to attend to Spike. He might be sleeping, playing with Owlowiscious or Peewee, or sneaking off to read Dragon of Pearl again."
"Dragon of Pearl?" Derpy's right eyebrow disappeared under her bangs. "Isn't that a century-old young pony novel?"
"Well, he seems to love that book," said Twilight, reaching a hoof back to message the back of her neck. "I haven't read it, yet."
"You should," said Derpy hastily. "Well, anyway, I gotta go home now. Goodnight, Twilight!"
As she walked away, Twilight called out, "Goodnight, Derpy…"
But then, the Bearer of Magic gasped small. Derpy was walking one way. Twilight was a few yards away from the now darkened Sugarcube Corner.
Her feet galloped. The wind warped around her, but her mane flew, streaks of purple, rose, and blue urging themselves to keep up. But she never panted. Purple eyes relaxed. Her eyebrows arched above.
Derpy Hooves stopped walking, and the unicorn was standing on her left seconds later.
"What is it, Twilight?" Her voice was slow, but her smile stained her muzzle.
"Isn't your home thatway?" She pointed a hoof behind them. Shadows blanketed the town; only stars were visible. "In Cloudesdale?"
Derpy shook her head. "Not anymore. I live by Sweet Apple Acres now." After another look towards the moon, she waved and said, "Well, goodnight!"
She began to walk away, leaving Twilight there to meekly wave back.
"Good…night," she whispered, and Derpy's face vanished in the deep night.
With a sigh, she looked down on the ground. The grass danced in the soft wind. Blades clashed. Insects buzzed— The fur on the left side of her ribcage felt itself being pushed inward, as if desiring to protect Twilight from the cool summer night.
But her eyes still shone…yet the tops of her irises were clouded by shadow of her bangs. No unicorn magic to push itself behind her. No necessity to. The moon gave her all the light she needed.
Yet, she glanced around.
Light shined on her, but why nopony else? Nowhere else?
Sugarcube Corner. Dark.
Her library. Dark.
Town Hall. Dormant, as well.
And why Derpy, too?
Her eyebrows arched back. Muzzle frowning. Highlights on her eyes twinkled.
Another look up towards the moon. A continuous ascent. But it was slower…as if it was approaching its zenith. Cloud tails silently approached in front and below her aura—black in color, but with whitish-blue highlights. Twinkling stars flashed behind and began to pierce through the moon's aura.
Twilight tilted her head, the back of her hair dropping behind her.
Why do I feel that they're trying to tell me something?
The sky continued to dance.
"Unfortunately, I can't talk to them," she whispered aloud.
Finally, a yawn.
"I need sleep."
Her eyelids closed. A wandering conscience skipped throughout her brain; it sped one direction, yet backtracked the next. A maze formed her mind, and her conscience yearned to find the right direction before hitting one big dead end.
C'mon, Twilight, think!
Grumbling. It was a good start, but not for her. More innate power was mandatory.
Like a cornfield from the winter to the summer, her maze grew. Whenever it found another path towards clearance, another dead end blocked her, forcing Twilight to backpedal once again.
All the while, the tip of her horn continued to glow. Energy sputtered, baring the bottom two sections.
I still have a lot to learn about magic,she thought and opened her eyes.
When she looked behind, Sugarcube Corner lay tranquil. No lights spilled out from the windows, from the lobby to Pinkie Pie's room in the attic.
Then, she looked ahead and saw every front and façade of the dormant houses.
Two eyes peered up. Her horn still sputtered light, but her purple aura glowed smoothly.
I should've done this sooner… But better late than never.
Suddenly, she found herself yawning again. She covered her mouth with a hoof, feeling a warm breath full of blueberries and fruit punch embedding deep into her fur.
When she stopped yawning, she mumbled, "Goodnight, Derpy," and vanished into the darkness.