[Chapter 3, part 1]
[Chapter 3, part 2] - coming
[Epilogue] - coming later
Chapter 3, part 1
Saturday, early afternoon
Spitfire was flying over the valley connecting Canterlot with Ponyville, passing stray clouds and a few pegasus pony messengers. Under her she could see the trading routes and public roads running in the sides of the mountains, at the edge of forests and winding through the low hills. Occasionally these roads would split into two, one leading her towards Ponyville, the others to places like Fillydelphia or Manehattan or through the woods to the cities east of the mountain ridge. Merchants and travelling salesponies were journeying along these paths, sometimes travelling in groups of two or three but most of them alone, pulling their carts and wagons behind them.
While she could have simply been sitting in the chariot she had ordered for Twilight, Spitfire had preferred to fly herself. The difference in altitudes between the mountain city and the small town allowed her to practically glide all the way without having to flap her wings once. Also confined spaces had always made her uneasy and she was already feeling nervous. Feeling the wind brush her face and mane, having the air currents comb through the feathers in her wings and the borderless freedom of the sky were calming her nerves a little, but some worries were still crawling through her mind. What if I do have a crush on her, but she only wants to be friends, if she wants that at all? was one of those concerns. Or what if she wants to be more than just friends, but I don't? was another. Would I be ready for a relationship?
This was what had always made her nervous: uncertainty. She had been pondering over her strange attraction for Twilight over the last couple of days, but had yet to reach a conclusion, which she considered to be due to her inexperience in both romance and friendship. She was also hesitant to seek advice from somepony else. None of her few friends had been in town recently and she was not close enough to any of her fellow Wonderbolts to share that kind of personal information with them. She also thought that they would all have given her the same suggestion anyway: to spend more time with Twilight. And that was what she was doing already, or at least about to do. She was now approaching Ponyville, the giant tree housing the library within her sight. She dived downwards and landed on the street in front of Twilight's home.
She looked up and down the street and saw just what she had expected from the small town. Flying over Ponyville she had seen only a few pegasi in the air, mostly pegasus couples and families having picnics on clouds or the occasional weather pony half-heartedly going after their job. She had also had a light collision with what had seemed to be a mail pony. How the grey pegasus with blonde mane and tail had managed to directly hit her and avoid everything around her in the wide, open air that was not her, was beyond Spitfire. Standing on the street she now observed the earth pony equivalent of what she had seen in the sky above. A small number of families and couples with at least one non-pegasus were enjoying the weekend and taking walks together while their foals were playing around those lucky enough to be parents.
She could hear an instrument being played in the distance and turned her head in the direction the music was coming from and spotted a bench with a green unicorn sitting on it in what would have been a very uncomfortable position for Spitfire. The unicorn was sitting on her haunches while leaning with her upper body leaning against the back of the bench and her legs dangling above the ground in front of it, her eyes closed in concentration while playing her music. She did not know much about musical instruments, so the only way Spitfire could have described what was floating over the musician, close to her chest, would have been as a small, two-sided harp. She was wondering why the unicorn was plucking the strings of her instrument with her hooves rather than using her magic to do that, too; perhaps the unicorn had learned playing it in that manner before her magical talents were developed to a sufficient level.
The artist had gathered a small audience in front of her and on the same bench next to her was lying a beige earth pony with curled blue and rose colored mane and tail watching the artist with a loving smile, seemingly hypnotized by the music. Spitfire was unable to hear the whole song being played over the distance between her and the musician, she only caught the occasional high notes, but judging from the speed and elegance with which the unicorn's hooves moved across the instrument's strings the musical piece must have been much more complex. She felt the need to get closer and listen to her song, however a loud and faintly familiar voice from behind her ripped her out of her trance, reminding her why she had actually come to Ponyville.
Spitfire turned around to find the source of the voice, but found no pony in that direction. She saw the library door open and heard the voice again. "And don't forget, tomorrow afternoon," it said in a cheering tone and a pink earth pony with hair like pink cotton candy emerged from the building and closed the door behind her. She was humming to herself and bouncing away from the library towards Spitfire, while having a basket strapped on top of her head. In the basket were several pink envelopes, which, amazingly to Spitfire, somehow managed to stay inside despite their carrier's jumping. She stopped in front of the pegasus, saying "Hi!" and giving her a bright smile.
Spitfire recognized the cheery pony as one of Rainbow Dash's friends she met at the party. "Uh, hi," she said. "You're Pinkie Pie, right?"
Pinkie Pie nodded energetically. "Yes, I am," she answered as a pink envelope began floating down in front of her, undoubtedly fallen out of the basket due to her excessive head movement. She caught it with her teeth and offered it to Spitfire. "And here's you invitation," she said over the envelope in her mouth.
Spitfire arched an eyebrow. "Invitation?"
"Hmmhm," hummed the earth pony. Spitfire took the envelope out of Pinkie Pie's mouth, opened it and read it aloud.
"You are invited to Spitfire's Welcome-to-Ponyville party tomorrow afternoon at Sugarcube Corner." She looked up and gave Pinkie Pie a stunned look. "You're throwing me a party?"
The pink pony looked confused. "You?" she asked before gasping and pointing a hoof at Spitfire. "It is you," she exclaimed, "Spitfire! I didn't recognize you without your uniform or your mane!"
"Yeah," the pegasus said scratching the back of her head, "I'm trying not to attract attention right now."
"Oh, you're incognito?" Pinkie Pie asked before muffling her voice and holding a hoof to one side of her mouth. "Are you on a secret mission for the princess?" she whispered conspiratorially, "If you are, then I might know some ponies who could be able to help you."
"No, I'm not on a secret mission," Spitfire responded, to which Pinkie Pie simply gave a slow, understanding nod, probably trying not to blow Spitfire's cover. "Anyway," she said carefully, "why are you throwing me a Welcome-to-Ponyville party? Wasn't that what Dash's party was for?"
"Oh no, silly." Pinkie Pie laughed and started bouncing again. "That was just to meet Dashie's best friends. Tomorrow you're going to meet all of Ponyville!"
Spitfire's face dropped. "All of Ponyville?" she repeated slowly. "Why?"
"Well, if you're gonna be super special friends with Twilight then you'll have to be friends with her friends, too, and I'm friends with everypony in Ponyville, that means that you'll have to be friends with everypony here, too, so we're going to throw you a big, special party to meet everyone like I did for Twilight when she first came here." Pinkie Pie was now smiling happily at her and Spitfire wondered if the pink pony actually needed to breathe or just pretended to.
It appeared to Spitfire that the party pony used the term 'friend' rather loosely, but then her mind caught up to what Pinkie Pie had just said. "What do mean, 'super special friends with Twilight'?"
"Well, duh!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed and bumped Spitfire's nose with her hoof. "Twilight told me that you're taking her on a date today."
"What?" Why would Twilight think I'm taking her on a date? Spitfire thought. I didn't give any hints for that. "Wait," she said through narrowing eyes. "Did Twilight say it was 'date'?"
Pinkie Pie scrunched up her face in thought. "Hmmm, no, she didn't." This relieved some of Spitfire's tension. "But one doesn't have to be a genius to figure that out," Pinkie Pie continued happily. "I mean with all your ogling and flirting and hugging and kissing at Dashie's party, what else could it be but a date?"
Spitfire's ears hung low and she let out a sigh as she noticed the town's bell tower announce the current hour and her ears perked up again. "Look, Pinkie, I have to go now. The carriage I ordered should be here any minute. Thanks for the invitation. I'm sure I can make it to the party," she said and offered a smile to Pinkie Pie.
The pink pony smiled brightly back at her. "Oki doki loki! See you at the party!" she exclaimed and began bouncing away. "And good luck!" she called over her shoulder towards the Wonderbolt.
Spitfire gave her a weak smile before turning around and approaching Twilight's home. She knocked on the door which opened shortly thereafter, revealing the purple unicorn. Twilight was wearing small saddlebags and was levitating a quill next to her head. "Oh. Hi, Spitfire," she said smiling brightly.
"Hi, Twilight," Spitfire replied, mirroring the unicorn's expression.
"You really don't have to knock every time you come here," Twilight explained. "It is a public library after all."
"But it's also your home, isn't it? I can't just walk into your home like that."
"Okay," Twilight said with a bemused expression. "It's up to you. I see your wound is healing?"
"Hm?" Spitfire lifted a hoof to the former cut above her eye. "Oh, yeah. The stitches came out yesterday and the doctor says it shouldn't leave a scar."
"That's good to hear. Well, I'll be with you in a moment." Twilight walked back into the library towards a podium with a sheet of paper on it. "I'm just leaving Spike some instructions for the rest of the day."
"Sure, take your time." Spitfire stayed at the entrance to the building, leaning against the door frame, and watched Twilight move to the other podium across the room. She had paid particular attention to the movement of the unicorn's flank during the short walk and was now regarding her tail with a playful grin as it swung from side to side while Twilight was busy dictating her instructions for her assistant quietly to herself. Spitfire had not seen much of it at the party or the last time she spoke to Twilight, but she had to admit that the purple mare had quite the fine rump. Just the kind you would want to sink your teeth into and
Spitfire felt her tail flick and became aware of a familiar sensation at the sides of her body. Her eyes went wide and her grin faded as she turned her head, only to see her free wing already halfway in the air, while the other one was still pressed against the door frame. Oh, no, she thought in a commanding tone, no, no, no! Not now. She forced her wing down and pressed harder against the frame, trying to think of something to distract her imagination from Twilight's flank. "So Spike isn't here right now?" Spitfire asked.
"No, he's over at Rarity's boutique," Twilight answered without looking up from the parchment.
Spitfire wondered briefly what business a baby dragon could have at a boutique. "Shouldn't he be helping you in here? He is your assistant, isn't he?"
"Yes, but I don't need him right now, so he's helping Rarity with her dresses." Twilight finished her sentence on the parchment and laid the quill down next to it. She turned around and was walking back to Spitfire with an amused smile. "Besides, it's not like I can get him away from there that easily. He totally has a " Twilight stopped in mid-sentence. Her smile had disappeared and she was now staring with wide eyes past Spitfire onto the street. The pegasus turned her head and saw the pink earth pony from before sitting on the ground not far from the library with the basket full of envelopes still on her head while giving the unicorn an angry glare and slowly mouthing a word that Spitfire could not make out. Twilight gulped. "Uhm, you know what," she continued, "never mind. We should probably get going now."
"Yeah," Spitfire said slowly and lowered her eyebrow before facing Twilight again and removing herself from the door frame. "Are you all done here?"
Twilight lifted her head and stared into the air while apparently going over a mental list and nodding for each completed task on it. "Let's see. I closed the windows, turned off all the lights, counted all the gems in the gem bowl," she briefly looked at a door on the other side of the room, presumably leading to the kitchen, "hid the gem bowl," Twilight continued with a slight grin, "and left Spike dinner in the oven. Yes, I'm all set to go," she finished with a smile at the Wonderbolt.
Spitfire found that the purple unicorn had an extremely cute face when she was being deep in thought and had patiently waited for her to finish her list. "So what's with the bags?" Spitfire asked and motioned her head towards the saddlebags Twilight was carrying.
"Oh," Twilight exclaimed and looked at the bags herself before facing Spitfire again. "Just some bits for the fair."
"If that's all, then you can leave them here. I'm paying for everything today," Spitfire said smiling and touched her chest with a hoof.
Twilight shook her head. "Oh, no, I can't ask you to do that."
Spitfire chuckled at that. "Then don't ask. After all, I invited you. And I will see to it that you will not spend one bit today."
Twilight giggled quietly. "Alright, but I don't see any saddlebags on you."
The pegasus moved her mouth towards the wing previously pressed against the door frame and removed a small purse out of it. She showed it to Twilight. "See?" she asked with a grin past the object in her mouth and secured it between the feathers of her wing again. "Flying's not everything these babies are good for," she said and playfully flapped her wings once.
Twilight seemed impressed. Apparently she had not known pegasus wings were capable of holding small objects. "Okay, if you insist." She magically took off her bags and laid them on the floor at the wall next to the door. "So," she said, "can we go now?"
"Sure." Spitfire glanced quickly at a clock above the podium Twilight used earlier before turning around and trotting onto the street again, followed by Twilight closing the door behind them. She turned her head skyward and surveyed it for the carriage. The clock in the library had shown about 4:10 pm, but there was still no sight of it anywhere.
Twilight walked to Spitfire's side and now confusedly looked at the sky. "Are we waiting for something?"
"Hm?" Spitfire turned her head towards Twilight. "Oh, right!" she exclaimed. "I didn't tell you. Hehe." She scratched the back of her head. "Yes, I ordered a carriage here for us at 4. It should be here by now. They're hardly ever late."
"You ordered a carriage for us?"
Spitfire regarded her with an amused scowl. "Of course. Did you think we would walk all the way to Canterlot?"
"What, no," Twilight responded hastily. "I thought, maybe," she continued and lowered her head shyly, "that you would take me flying." A blush was now spreading across her cheeks.
Spitfire was taken aback at the response. She honestly could not have expected that. Raising an eyebrow she said slowly, "I haven't thought of that." Taking the unicorn flying on her back to the fair seemed a bit too intimate for what she had not even intended to be a date. Well, might as well have some fun, she thought with a smirk. Tease her just a little. Twilight was still facing the ground. "Would you prefer that? But I should warn you, I would be all hot and sweaty afterwards," she finished in a sly tone and saw Twilight close her eyes and her blush deepen. Simply adorable, she thought, but was then slightly irritated as she noticed a change in the ambience. At first she did not know what it was, but turning her head in various directions she realized that the faint music that had been playing all the while had stopped as she heard a round of applause and cheering from the group of ponies around the musician she had seen earlier. The green unicorn appeared somewhat surprised by her audience, but a wide smile quickly showed across her face.
"Oh, Lyra finished one of her songs." Twilight had lifted her head and was looking in the direction of the green unicorn, apparently welcoming the distraction. "I didn't even realize she was playing until she stopped."
"Lyra?" Spitfire inquired.
"Yes, that's her name. She's a musician and composer; some of the songs she writes are even played at the Royal Academy. She likes to come out here from time to time and practice. She also sometimes teaches the foals at school about musical history and theory."
"So that instrument of hers is a "
"Lyre," Twilight finished and sighed with a peaceful smile. "She plays the most beautiful songs on it and always seems to work herself into to kind of trance. I don't think she even noticed that she had an audience this time. She must have thought she was only playing for Bonbon." Spitfire gave her a questioning look. "The earth pony on the bench next to her," Twilight explained and pointed a hoof at the two sitting ponies. "They live together."
"So are they " Spitfire began, but was interrupted by a rush of air through her mane and a series of hoofsteps behind her. She turned around and saw that their carriage had arrived. The wooden carriage was painted in a generic brown and had little decorations aside from the Wonderbolts' and Royal Air Force emblems on its sides. It measured about three ponies in length and two in height and was being pulled by two pairs of white, male pegasi in military garments. It stood on shoulder-high wheels at its four corners and windows adorned both of its sides as well as a wide door on one side.
"Sorry for the delay, ma'am," one of the pegasi pulling the wagon said.
"Oh, it's not that wild," Spitfire said and walked closer to him. "But what happened? You guys aren't usually late."
"Yeah," another pegasus answered scratching his head nervously, "Soarin' had one of his little episodes."
"What did he want this time?" Spitfire asked chuckling.
Spitfire rubbed her forehead with one hoof. "I thought that might happen. That's why I gave you the written order," she said looking up.
"He didn't want to accept it first," the first pegasus said. "With you on vacation, he insisted on being commanding officer."
"Ohoho, I'll show him who's commanding officer alright," Spitfire said with certain anticipation. "But anyway, you guys ready and know where we're going?"
Spitfire walked up to the door at the side of the carriage and opened it. Holding it open with one hoof she turned towards Twilight, who had not moved from where she and Spitfire had stood moments ago, and gave the unicorn an inviting smile. "You coming?"
"You actually ordered a carriage here?" Twilight asked walking towards Spitfire.
"Yes," Spitfire answered irritated. "That's what I said, wasn't it?"
Twilight came to a stop in front of the open door and examined the outside of the wagon. "I thought you meant something like a taxi. Aren't they needed otherwise?"
"Oh, no," Spitfire said shaking her head. "It's their job, really, to get us where we want."
Twilight laughed shortly. "You guys have special chauffeurs to take you to your dates?" she asked while climbing into the carriage.
Spitfire let out a chuckle, but her mind was busy pondering over Twilight's last words. So she does think this is a date? Well, that's one mystery solved. Now, is that good or bad? The yellow pegasus sighed, climbed inside and closed the door. The carriage had two rows of seats at either end, padded with dark red leather and foam on the inside. She saw Twilight sitting next to the window opposite the door at the rear end of the carriage and sat down at the other window, leaving roughly half a seat between them. The carriage started moving and they were airborne shortly afterwards. Spitfire kept looking out the window, nervously clapping her front hooves together.
"Is something wrong?" Twilight asked next to her.
Spitfire turned her head and saw a look of concern on the unicorn's face. She attempted a reassuring smile. "It's nothing," she said and stared out the window again. "Small spaces just always make me kinda jumpy." If only that were the only reason, she thought.
"If that's what it's called. I just don't like not having access to the sky. And tight spaces don't exactly make it better."
"Don't worry," Twilight said and Spitfire felt her take one of her hooves and holding it gently. Her heart began to beat faster and she looked over and saw a caring smile on Twilight's face. "There's nothing to fear," she said.
Spitfire's heart made no attempt at slowing down and she would have retracted her hoof if, had she not known what kind of message that would have sent. This isn't helping me calm down at all,
she thought. But holding hooves? Well it's actually not that bad. "I know it's stupid," she said, "but I can't control it."
"Oh, I've read some books about that subject." Given what she already knew about the bookworm next to her, Spitfire had little reason to doubt that statement. "It's not that rare among pegasi. All you need is a distraction," Twilight finished.
"A distraction?" the pegasus asked with a raised eyebrow. Spitfire smiled inwardly, thinking, she's not talking about making out again, is she? That would be distracting enough, though.
"What was that bit about Soarin' and something about fritters earlier?" Twilight asked, seemingly ignoring Spitfire's question.
"Soarin'? Oh, well, I told you it's these guys' job to get us to places," Spitfire explained. "Airshows, galas, parties, things like that. And if they're not busy otherwise they also do some errand work for us. They're cool with that and they really don't mind, but sometimes Soarin' gets one of his cravings and if he feels lazy enough he gets one of them to fly out and get him something to eat." Spitfire and Twilight were laughing. "Like apple pie, apple fritters or just plain apples."
"Is that even allowed?" Twilight asked.
Spitfire laughed louder. "Oh, hay no! And when his requests get too ridiculous I step in and make him get it himself or forget about it. But as long as the boys don't mind," she motioned with her free hoof to the front of the vehicle, "I have no problem with it."
After Twilight finished laughing she took Spitfire's hoof she had been holding and placed her other hoof on top of it. "See, that wasn't so hard now, was it?" she asked.
Spitfire looked down at her hoof being held by the other mare. Well, I guess my claustrophobia is gone, she thought. However, as soon as Twilight had enclosed her hoof with her own two she had felt her heart speeding up again, after it had been calming down during their conversation. She was not so sure anymore if it was nervousness she felt when Twilight was touching her. Nonetheless she put on a smile and looked at Twilight again. "No," she said, "I guess not." Twilight smiled brightly, but said nothing. She would have been content with her and Twilight just smiling at each other, but she could already feel a certain awkwardness creeping into the situation.
She was trying to think of something else they could talk about, anything to keep her from getting nervous again, or at least keep Twilight distracted long enough, so that she could she could examine the effects this unicorn had on her. "So," she said eventually and leaned back, resting her free elbow on the window frame and supporting her head with her hoof, careful not to let the other one slip out of Twilight's hooves. "You got an urgent letter from the princess last time? Can you tell me what it was about? Or is that too personal?"
"A letter?" Twilight seemed confused for a bit, but quickly regained her composure. "Oh, right. No, it's fine, 'urgent' doesn't mean 'personal' or 'top secret'," she chuckled. "Princess Celestia wanted me to help Luna with a spell she misfired. She was on diplomatic business in the Griffon Kingdom herself, so she couldn't help. So she asked me, since I'm really the only other pony Princess Luna feels comfortable around."
"You're friends with Luna?" Spitfire asked, to which Twilight nodded happily. "What did she do?"
Twilight removed the hoof she had been pressing on Spitfire's to gesture with it while she was talking, but kept the other one around it. "Well, I think Luna was practicing a new spell to bring inanimate objects to life, but she must have "
Twilight seemed to enjoy talking and it appeared that she would be busy with telling the story for some time. Spitfire was perfectly fine with that, since it gave her time to admire the unicorn's cute facial expressions and half-heartedly listen to her story, while thinking about her attraction to her. It was now obvious to Spitfire that she wanted to be more than just friends with the purple mare, since none of her other friends had ever evoked these kinds of reactions from her body. Her voice calmed her down, while her touch made her heart race like it only did before performing for her fans. She took a deep breath and smelled Twilight's perfume. It mixed with the unicorn's own lavender smell and reminded Spitfire of peaceful summer evenings she spent on clouds over Canterlot, lazily watching ponies down in the city going after their business. Remembering what it felt like only moments earlier when they had both been smiling at each other and she had been staring into Twilight's eyes - those big, indigo, innocent and honest eyes - she felt a tingling sensation coursing up through her stomach, which caused her to breath in quickly.
She let out her breath through her nostrils. Yep, I actually have a crush on her, she thought. Ugh, how did this happen? The captain of Equestria's best team of flyers falling for the probably nerdiest bookworm in the country. Is that what they call it? Falling for somepony? The unicorn was performing some complex gestures and explaining some sort of spell to her. I don't even understand a word she's saying right now. She wondered if Twilight felt the same or something similar. She had been more reluctant than Spitfire to make body contact, after all, so she might not. If she did, then she showed no sign of it and, thinking about it, the pegasus was not sure if she had been showing any sign of her own reactions either. After all, she had always been good at hiding her emotions if she wanted to.
Spitfire had been paying attention to Twilight's story for brief periods during her pondering. Basically it had involved the Princess incorrectly using a spell and as a result all the paintings in the hallways of the castle coming to life. Those with ponies in them had been insulting and harassing servants and guards who had walked past them, while those without resorted to attacking them physically. Spitfire was now listening more attentively to the unicorn. She was apparently explaining to her how she and Luna had resolved the situation; based on Twilight's gestures and the words she was using Spitfire concluded that she was giving her the details of the spell she had used together with the princess to turn the paintings back to normal. However none of Twilight's sentences were making any sense to the Wonderbolt and she decided not to ask about the details of the solution and simply resorted to giving the purple filly a blank stare, her head still resting on her hoof against the window frame.
Twilight seemed to have noticed Spitfire's expressionless face and stopped her monologue mid-sentence, giving the pegasus a slight scowl before quickly laughing to herself. "I'm sorry," she said. "I'm probably boring you right now."
Spitfire blinked a few times and raised her eyebrows slightly. "Hm?"
"You probably don't want to hear about the specifics of the spell we used, do you?"
The pegasus had an amused smile on her face. "Oh, that's what you were explaining?"
Twilight laughed quietly. "It's okay. I can skip that part of the story if you want."
"Actually " Spitfire started, and looked away in thought for a moment. "Actually I wanted to talk about something else." She might as well ask Twilight, get it out of the way. "Do you think this is a date?"
Twilight looked somewhat stunned. "Uhm, what gave you that idea?"
Spitfire tilted her head and pointed with her eyes at her hoof being held by the unicorn's own before expectantly looking back at her.
Twilight quickly retracted her hoof. "That was just to help you calm down."
"You also said this was a date earlier."
"I did?" Twilight was looking nervous and raised her eyebrows in worry.
"And so did your pink friend."
Twilight laughed shortly and waved a hoof in front of her. "Oh, you shouldn't take everything Pinkie Pie says seriously. Sometimes she's just so random."
'Random' seemed like a good description of the pink pony to Spitfire. However, she did not want to drop the issue now and gave Twilight a raised eyebrow.
The unicorn looked at her nervously for a moment. Eventually she turned head away and let out a sigh. "Okay, yes, I did think this was a date. But now I'm not so sure anymore."
Spitfire was slightly surprised, but could not suppress a smile. "So you'd have no problem with going on a date with me?"
Twilight faced the pegasus again. "No. Of course not. Wait, should I? I mean I've never really had a date before."
Spitfire turned her head for a second and laughed to herself. "You're not the only one."
"What? Don't tell me you've never dated anypony."
"Hmm " Spitfire looked away in thought. "No, I don't think I ever had anything you could call a 'date'."
"So do you want this to be a date?" Twilight asked with a raised eyebrow.
"I I don't know. Is this what you would normally do on one?"
Twilight seemed to be more relaxed again and a smile appeared on her face. "Maybe we should just see what happens," she suggested.
Spitfire was grinning slightly. "Maybe we should." She noticed her hoof tapping on the window frame. "Umm, do you think we could " She held up her hoof towards Twilight.
The unicorn let out a short giggle. "Oh, of course," she said and took the pegasus' hoof in her own. "Do you want me to continue my story?"
"I don't think you'll have to," Spitfire said looking out of her window. "We're almost there." Twilight shifted closer to her and leaned over to get a look out as well, filling Spitfire's nostrils with her perfume again.
The two ponies could now see the city of Canterlot under them, a metropolis built onto the giant, flattened steps of a mountain. The carriage flew past the high, white walls surrounding the lower city which housed the majority of Canterlot's industrial complex, homes for the poorer families in the outskirts and the city's main gates, kept open at all times for a steady flow of traders from and to Equestria's other cities, towns and villages.
Various columns of smoke, coming from the ovens and hearths of bakeries, smithies and factories providing goods for the royal castle, the upper city and its trading partners, were rising over the nested and narrow streets that broke off of the wide road through the area connecting the city's gates with markets, shops, vendors and eventually the winded path along the cliff to the higher parts of Canterlot.
The upper city was built on a larger plateau and contained more open spaces than its counterpart, two larger park areas along the cliff, a second city entrance - a path splitting off of the wide track along the mountain shortly before the main gates and overpassing the lower city - as well as houses and villas for nobles and aristocrats, factory owners, foreign ambassadors and families with old money. The streets were wider, paced with white stone that had grayed over time, less densely travelled by traders, but by messengers and government carriages instead, and led past the finer boutiques and restaurants towards the castle of the princesses on the highest of the plateaus.
Coming closer to the castle the buildings on one's sides would have become higher, wider and each one more impressive than the last, adored with the finest ornaments of their architectural period, until one would have reached the ancient foundation of Canterlot - the palace itself. The imposing structure loomed over the city, its walls shining white, the golden tips of its towers reflecting the light from the afternoon sun and its entrance guarded and patrolled by the royal guard.
"I can never get over the view," Twilight said, adoring the sight out of the carriage window. "Canterlot is such a beautiful city."
"Oh, you should see it at night," Spitfire replied equally amazed.
"Heh, too bad I can't fly."
Wink, wink, Spitfire thought with a hidden smirk.
Twilight leaned a little closer to the window. "Is that where were going?" She pointed her hoof at an area next to the larger of the two parks where most of the activity in the upper city this day seemed to be concentrated. It spanned several neighboring streets in a district largely populated by shops, cafés and restaurants and was drawing ponies from all over Upper Canterlot to it. The streets were covered in a multitude of colored tents, booths and stalls on their sides, the crowd of ponies moving up and down the alleys between them.
"Yep, that's it. We're going to land just outside of the area." Spitfire indicated with her head a spot on an open road leading to the fair.
"Can you tell me about it?"
"Umm, well, it's the second one in a row. I think they're planning on making it an annual thing. A poster I saw in town said there are game booths and haunted houses, but no rollercoasters or Furris wheels [^^], too little space for such things. I bet there are a lot of food stalls, too, and I think I can see a tribune over there." The carriage was descending in a large spiral motion, but then pulled into a sharp corner in the other direction, sending Twilight's body onto the pegasus', their noses touching. Both ponies' eyes went wider and Spitfire felt her cheeks heating up. "Umm, maybe you should hold onto something?" she suggested as Twilight pushed herself off of her. "Else we're gonna fall all over each other."
"Oh, yeah," Twilight said with a sly grin, sitting down at the other window again and taking a firm hold of its frame. "We can't have that."
Spitfire chuckled and returned her attention to the city outside the window. Twilight was getting into her party spirit again. Good, the pegasus thought. She's more fun like that, anyway. The carriage slowed down, landed on the street and came to a halt. Spitfire stood up followed by Twilight and opened the door. She climbed outside and held the door open again for the unicorn. After closing it she motioned for Twilight to follow her to their chauffeurs. The white pegasi were already unhinging themselves from the straps on the wagon. "Thanks, guys," she said approaching the group.
"No problem, ma'am," one of them replied.
"Do you know when you're going back?" another asked.
"Uhm " Spitfire gave Twilight a questioning look, but the unicorn only shrugged and shook her head. "Well, how long can you wait?" she asked with a nervous laugh.
"Oh, that shouldn't be a problem," the second pegasus said and pointed down the street. "We can just wait in that inn over there."
"You want to sit in an inn for a couple hours and wait for us to come back?" Twilight asked raising her eyebrow. "Sounds a bit boring."
"Oh, believe me," Spitfire answered, "it's much more exciting than what they're usually doing."
"Why not have some fun at the fair?" the unicorn asked into the group again.
"Sorry, ma'am. We're on duty."
Spitfire chuckled at the purple mare's uncomprehending look. Clearly military logic was beyond the bookworm's understanding.
"And aren't you needed at the base?" Twilight questioned.
"Oh, we're not going back to Soarin' now!" one pegasus exclaimed who had been quiet until then, causing the whole group of ponies to laugh.
"Alright," Spitfire said, "see you guys later." With that the squad set off towards the inn and she began walking with Twilight in the other direction towards the fair. As the pony filled streets were coming closer so did the shouts of excited vendors attempting to draw in new customers become louder. Familiar sweet odors were beginning to fill their nostrils. It smelt of caramel and cotton candy, roasted almonds and pineapples, apple pie, apple fritters, candied apples, melt cakes with powdered sugar and plain old hayfries but also the more exotic Glühwein. The pegasus turned her head towards Twilight. "Have you been to one of these before?" she asked.
The unicorn seemed to awaken out of a dream-like state of admiration for the multitude of colors and scents. "Hm? Oh, yes. My parents used to take me to street fairs like these and festivals when I was a filly, but after I became Princess Celestia's personal student there was hardly time for anything besides studying. So I haven't been to one in years; I hope they haven't changed too much. You?"
"Oh, I go to almost every one I can find if there's time. I just love the game booths at these. I went to this one last year. It wasn't so bad, but going alone wasn't that much fun."
"Well, that's going to change this time, isn't it?" the unicorn asked and playfully bumped her shoulder against the Wonderbolt's.
"Hehe, I hope so. Last year's was a lot smaller, though, and with less ponies everywhere." They arrived at the street with the first tented booths and came to a stop, other ponies still moving from and to the fair around them. "So," Spitfire exclaimed and turned towards Twilight with a grin. "What do you want to do first?"