"Spike! Have you found those tablemats yet?" She asked.
Twilight Sparkle was standing in the middle of the main room of the library, waiting for the young dragon to come out of the kitchen. Soon enough, he arrived, carrying the tablemats she'd been asking for.
"Yep. They're right here." He said.
She smiled as Spike began placing them around the large table twilight had conjured up soon before. She looked around and admired her work. She, Spike and Dusk had spent the last few days making sure everything here was clean and orderly for the big upcoming visit. And she was confident everything would go right.
"I still can't believe it. Shining AND Cadence! Here together for the first time since their wedding!" Twilight exclaimed happily.
It had only been declared a few days ago, but she was still happy about it. Shining Armour and Princess Cadence had managed to find space in their schedules to visit her in Ponyville. She'd been looking forward to it all week. Her smile vanished however as she looked around and noticed a missing pony.
"Has Dusk come back yet?" She asked.
Spike shook his head.
"Not yet. He's still looking for all the fruits and vegetables at the grocery store."
Twilight nodded. It always bothered here when small thing like this didn't go according to plan. But they still had time before her brother and Cadence got here so it wasn't too much of a problem. In fact, mere moments later, Twilight heard the sound of a door opening behind her. Spinning around, she saw her "very special somepony", Dusk, walking into the house using his magic to levitate a bag of groceries behind him.
The two smiled at each other as he gently placed the bag on the table.
"How's everything else been going?" He asked.
Twilight gained a look of pride on her face.
"Everything's fine. The house is clean. We have a nice dinner ready. There's no big disasters happening. I think this visit will go well."
Dusk nodded but his smile shrank somewhat as he thought more and more on the matter. Twilight could tell instantly what he was thinking about. Although her brother seems to have been largely accepting of her relationship with him, Princess Cadence had yet to meet him. And given her last experience with changelings, Dusk had been worried about how she might react to his presence, despite his transformed appearance.
She walked over to him and placed a hoof on his shoulder, offering him a smile.
"Don't worry. I'm sure you'll get on great with them." She said.
Dusk's smile widened once more. It always comforted him to have her be this assuring to him. He nodded and the three of them got back to work putting the finishing touches on the place in preparation for the family visit.
All three waited outside the front door. The sun was starting to set and there was still no sign of them. Twilight was looking all over, as were Dusk and Spike. But Shining and Cadence were yet to arrive.
"Maybe they decided to take the scenic route?" Dusk suggested.
Twilight shot him a dark look. He shut up soon afterwards. He should have known it was stupid to try and inject humour into the situation. But he was soon saved by the sound of hooves in the distance. Looking ahead, the three gained smiles on their faces as they saw four ponies approach the house. The two in the middle were the ones they'd been hoping for. Shining Armour and Princess Cadence. They were flanked on either side by armour-clad pegasi guards. Shining and Cadence however were not decked out in their usual armour or jewellery for this visit, given it's non-formal nature.
As they approached, Twilight rushed forward and was immediately embraced by her elder brother. Cadence, always happy to see her former foal-sitting companion, was hugged immediately afterwards. As they broke away, Twilight turned around and invited the other two over. Spike approached enthusiastically, followed shortly afterwards by Dusk, who was still nervous about the whole thing.
"Hey Shining!" Spike said.
Shining smiled and placed his hoof on top of Spike's head.
"Hey there kiddo." He replied.
Spike had been sort of a little brother to Shining ever since he was taken in by Twilight. As such he was as pleased to see him as Twilight. When they moved back however, Cadence and Shining looked past Twilight and Spike towards Dusk, who was nervously approaching them. Cadence gave Shining a look and he in turn nodded to her. The princess approached.
"I take it you're the one called Dusk?"
Dusk gulped before answering.
"Yes Cadence. I mean Princess! I mean
The princess raised an eyebrow as she looked him over. Then, much to Dusk's surprise, she gave a giggle.
"Nice to meet you. Any friend of Twilight's is a friend of mine."
She offered him her hoof and he took it and bowed to her. They resumed their normal stance soon afterwards. Twilight spoke up.
"We've been getting dinner ready. Would you like to come in and have some?" She asked.
"We'd love to sis."
And with that, all five of them walked into the library, closing the door behind them and leaving the two pegasi guards outside to guard the place.
They'd all been sitting around the table for over an hour now and there wasn't a single moment of it that they didn't enjoy. There was laughter and discussions of all sorts as they fed on the delicious meal Twilight had prepared. Twilight had told Shining and Cadence of everything that had been happening in Ponyville recently, from her studies in magic to all the things she and her friends had been getting up to.
Shining and cadence meanwhile had been letting her in on their activities back in Canterlot. Shining had some new recruits he was responsible for and had been drilling them for some time. Cadence had been sent on a number of diplomatic missions all over Equestria, meeting many interesting ponies along the way.
But the biggest plus for the evening was Dusk's interactions with Cadence and Shining. He'd been worried right from the start that he might not make a good impression on Twilight's visiting family members, mostly because of the knowledge of where he came from. But as the evening went on it became increasingly clear to him that the two had no hard feelings towards him whatsoever. This worked wonders on his confidence as he happily joined in with many of the discussions and got on pretty well with both of them.
All-in-all the evening was going just as well as Twilight had been expecting. Her attention was drawn to Cadence however as the alicorn used her magic to levitate more food from the central bowl onto her plate. Twilight raised an eyebrow.
"Cadence? You hungry? That's your fourth helping."
Cadence looked around nervously at the ponies now looking at her.
"Oh...well...it was a long trip you see and I hadn't had much else to eat today."
She started eating her food as the rest got back to chatting. Twilight kept her eyes on her for a bit longer but decided not to press the matter. The rest of the evening went as well as could be expected, with Twilight and the others all having a good time. Eventually it got late and everypony decided it was time to sleep. Twilight directed Shining and Cadence over to the spare room she'd prepared for them.
The next morning would bring many new surprises.
"Is she okay?" Twilight asked.
She, Dusk, Spike and Shining Armour were all standing at the foot of the stairs leading up to Shining and Cadence's room. Shining was clearly worried although his tone tried it's best not to show it.
"She says she's fine Twily. She's just feeling a bit off this morning. Nothing big to worry about." He said, trying his best to put everyone at ease over everything.
"Maybe it's because she ate too much last night?" Spike said blatantly.
That remark got him a lot of dark looks from the three unicorns, which caused him to cover his mouth with his hands immediately. Turning away from the young dragon, Shining spoke up again.
"She said she didn't want her condition to spoil this day, but still..."
He looked back up the stairs. Twilight gave him a concerned look. She knew her brother well enough to know what he was thinking. He always trusted Cadence, so if she said it wasn't serious, he was going to believe her. But she also knew that he wasn't the kind of stallion to just leave his wife ill in bed and have fun while she was like that. And that gave Twilight an idea.
"Don't worry BBBFF. I'll look after her." She said confidently.
Shining and Dusk looked at her with raised eyebrows.
"Are you sure about that Twily? I know there was a lot of stuff you wanted to do today." Shining said.
Twilight shook her head.
"Don't worry about me. You can go with Dusk. I'm sure the three of you can do plenty of things in town together."
Spike was pretty excited but the two stallions looked at each other with unsure expressions. They'd never spent much time with each other without Twilight and as such were not entirely confident in Twilight's plan. Still, that big smile on her face was hard to say no to. So the two of them simply nodded.
"Very well Twilight. We'll try to not be too long." Dusk said.
Twilight smiled again and kissed him on the cheek before opening the door and shooing the three of them outside.
"Now be sure to have fun!" She said.
The two stallions opened their mouths to say something, but the purple mare closed the door before they had the chance. They looked at each other with rather dumbfounded expressions as they wondered what to do next.
"So...." Dusk said.
"So....." Shining replied.
The level of awkwardness in the air was so thick you could cut it with a knife. Spike watched the two with a certain level of amusement as both struggled to say a word to each other. Deciding to break the tension, Shining spoke first.
"So Dusk. How about we start by you showing me where Twilight's friends live?" He suggested.
Dusk gave a small smile at that thought. That was certainly something he could do.
"Of course. Rarity's place is closest."
At the mention of Rarity's boutique, Spike perked up somewhat.
"Good idea. I think Sweetie Belle's there right now. It'd be good to spend time with her again."
The two stallions gave Spike a funny look.
"Oh, I'm SURE you'd love to spend time with her Spike." Shining joked.
And with that, the three of them laughed as they made their way down the street.
Twilight gently knocked on the door to Cadence's room. After waiting a few moments and hearing no answer, she knocked again, making sure to do it gently in case she was asleep.
Cadence?" Twilight called.
Soon enough, a reply came.
"Twilight? Oh! Of course! Come on in!"
Twilight raised an eyebrow at this. It had only been an hour since Shining had told her Cadence was ill. She couldn't have recovered this quickly, could she? Regardless, she entered the room and saw the princess get out of bed.
"Good morning." She said cheerfully.
Twilight's eyebrow stayed up. This was definitely not the reaction of someone who was ill just a few moments ago.
"Er...Cadence? Are you okay?"
Cadence looked confused for a moment before suddenly understanding Twilight's concern.
"Ok that! No need to worry Twilight. I'm fine now." She said.
But Twilight's face let Cadence know that whatever she was hiding, Twilight wasn't buying it. The princess sighed as she walked up to the purple unicorn.
"Alright Twilight. You got me. I WAS ill, but it wasn't a cold or a disease or anything like that."
Twilight gained a concerned expression on her face.
"Then what was it?" She asked.
Cadence now looked incredibly uncomfortable, as though embarrassed to say what she was about to say.
"Well. You see...let's just say that it's a condition I'm going to have for some time. One that I'm actually quite happy to have."
Cadence could tell that Twilight was utterly confused by that statement. As such, she decided to just come right out and say it.
"Okay. I was hoping that Shining would be the one I'd say this to first but.......I'm going to have a foal."
It was as if time itself suddenly came to a halt. Twilight stood there, staring at her sister-in-law, not quite sure that she heard what she thought she heard. But those words stayed in her mind, playing over and over again. "Going to have a foal". Cadence was pregnant. Pregnant! PREGNANT! As that word played out in her head a new sensation swept over her.
"Ohmygoshohmygoshohmygosh!" She called out.
Then, before Cadence could react, Twilight rushed over to her and wrapped her forelegs around the princess' neck, hugging her.
"Cadence that's incredible! You're going to be a mother! And I'm going to be and auntie!"
Cadence could not help but join her in smiling widely. It was true. She was happy about this. There was no getting around that. And it pleased her to know that the first person she told was just as happy about it as she was. Still, there was one issue that had to be dealt with, as she made clear when she pulled away from Twilight.
"I still need to tell Shining." She said bluntly.
Twilight's smile shrank, but only a little.
"Oh, don't worry about him. I'm sure he'll be just as happy. you'll see. In fact, let's tell him when he and Dusk get back."
Cadence considered that proposition for a moment before smiling back at Twilight. She nodded in agreement. They would tell him when he returns.
The two stallions waved back at Spike, who was now standing in the doorway of Rarity's boutique.
"See ya Spike! Have fun with Sweetie!" Dusk called out.
Spike smiled back at them before closing the door of the place. The two stallions turned and began walking back down the street, in the direction of Sugar-Cube Corner, Pinkie's home. As they walked, the air was rather silent. Although the two had had much to talk to Rarity about, they had not spoken to each other than much.
In truth, Dusk had been somewhat anxious about this. It was one thing to speak t a princess, but this was the brother of the mare he loved. That was a whole other game. But he at least took solace in the fact that nothing tense had come up yet.
"Dusk. I'd like to talk to you about something."
Spoke too soon.
Dusk looked to Shining as the two kept walking.
"Yes." He replied.
Shining Armour's expression was a stern one, though lacking in anger.
"As you know, Twilight is my sister. And since we were children I have made it my job to look out for her. Now it's no secret that she cares greatly for oyu, and that the two of you are involved. And I've accepted that decision. If my sister believes you're good enough for her, then I will respect that decision."
Dusk held his breath throughout this. He couldn't help but think that there was a "but" coming up somewhere.
And there it was.
"I want you to know this. If you anything to make her sad, do anything that might hurt her, or otherwise make things bad for her, it will be me you have to deal with. Understood?"
Under normal circumstances, having someone say that to him might make Dusk nervous. But today, something stirred in him. He stopped walking, leading to Shining doing the same. The two looked at each other, with Dusk now having an angry look on his face.
"I understand what you're saying captain. But you need to understand something as well." He said with a harsh tone.
Shining raised an eyebrow as Dusk spoke again.
"I love Twilight Sparkle. She is the most important thing in my life. The only thing that matters to me. For her sake, I gave up everything I was. Everything I once held dear. The life I knew, I cast away when I chose to be with her. So don't you Dare suggest that I would ever do anything to hurt her. She is my life now. And will never make her sad."
The two continued to stare at each other, never moving, never taking their eyes off each other. Things were tense to be sure. But then that tension vanished as Shining, much to Dusk's surprise, smiled at him.
"Good. That's EXACTLY what I wanted to hear. I always knew Twilight would choose somepony good."
Dusk was rather taken aback by this statement, especially given Shining's attitude mere moments ago. He was even more taken aback as the older stallion placed a hoof on his shoulder.
"I believe you Dusk. And for that, you have my thanks. Take care of her when I'm not here, okay?"
Dusk, in spite of his confused state, chuckled briefly.
"Good. Now let's make our way to Pinkie Pie's. We've got plenty of Twilight's friends to visit, so let's get on with it."
The sun was beginning to set. In a few minutes, Princess Luna would sure bring out the moon. Given this, the two decided it was time to head back. They'd gone all over Ponyville today, visiting all of Twilight's friends. Pinkie was certainly rather pleased to see them both, so much so that they could barely get a word in edgeways. Rarity had been polite and courteous as always. Rainbow Dash had shown up rather unexpectedly but was not able to talk to them fully because of her weather duties. Fluttershy had been very welcoming and even made tea for them both. And as for Applejack, hers was the most tiring visit. Helping her to collect apples from the orchard had worn them both out.
But now they were approaching the library again and were fairly satisfied with how the day had gone. But to their surprise, they saw their respective lovers standing outside the door, smiling at them.
As they approached, the two mares walked forward to greet them, with Cadence and Shining giving each other a big hug.
"Cadence! Honey, are you okay? How's your illness?" He asked.
Cadence held up a hoof to stop him.
"I'm fine honey, really. It wasn't an illness."
She looked over to Twilight, who gave a node to her. Shining was rather confused by this exchange as Cadence turned to face him again.
"Actually....there's something I want to tell you."
"What is it?" He asked.
Cadence took a deep breath and finally spoke.
Shining looked confused, as though he had not understood what he'd just heard. Cadence' couldn't help but roll her eyes at this reaction. Sparkles behave alike it seems. After what seemed like ten minutes, a massive smile began to break across Shining's face. He looked over to his sister, who nodded, confirming what Cadence had just told him.
He then wrapped his forelegs around her and gave out a loud laugh.
"This is wonderful! How long have you known?"
Cadence considered this.
"A few weeks now. I was waiting for the right moment to tell you."
"Oh honey, any time would have been perfect. You have no idea how happy I am right now."
Cadence raised an eyebrow.
"I think I have a good idea." She said jokingly.
The four of them laughed at this. This was truly a happy moment for all of them. Twilight walked over to Dusk as her brother and his wife were talking. Dusk wrapped one foreleg around her shoulders as they watched the married ponies go on about "what they should name the foal" and "who they should invite to celebrate" and all manner of other things they could think up.
But as time passed and the sky got darker, they all moved inside the library, still abuzz with the wonderful news they'd received. And as the light eventually faded out, Twilight could not help but think one thing to herself.
"Yeah. This visit went alright."