Part One: Strangers in the Night
Twilight Sparkle buried her head in her book as she tried to concentrate, shutting out the crashing of the torrential rain and the wailing of the wind outside her house. Try as she might however, she couldn't shut out the wailing that was going on inside.
"But Twilight!" Spike moaned, tugging at her shoulder. "You said you'd read me a bedtime ghost story! That was an hour ago!"
Twilight rolled her eyes and slammed shut the archaeology textbook she'd been studying. "Fine Spike, fine!" she huffed, trotting over to the pesky dragon and opening the tattered book he had been clutching in his paws. "But if you get scared again, I'm not staying up all night making it better!"
Spike frowned. "But Twilight, that WAS a scary story! I mean, it was a VERY hungry caterpillar! The book even had HOLES in it!" He trembled again, eyes darting round the room as if a caterpillar would lurch out of the shadows at him.
Twilight gave a long, protracted sigh and shook her head. "That wasn't even supposed to be a scary st-" She trailed off in defeat. "Nevermind. Let's get this over with." She scanned the page, and began: "It was a dark and stormy night. The wind howled like a banshee, and lightning forked in the sky."
At that moment, a huge boom of thunder rolled across the sky, and the night was lit up by a crackling of lightning that momentarily illuminated the windswept town of Ponyville outside.
Twilight continued unabated: "All the citizens of Trotsdale had barricaded their homes, for there was a MAD MURDERER PONY on the loose."
Spike yelped and hid under a table, wide-eyed and shaking.
Twilight tutted. "Come on Spike, it's only a story, there's no such thing as 'murder'. You need to learn the difference between make believe and reality." She cleared her throat. "The town library was especially quiet, as Booky McReaderson ugh, who thinks of these names tended to her books. Booky hadn't barricaded the library in case a pony wanted a late night book. 'Still, who would be out in this weather', she thought. 'Only a totally crazy pony'. Suddenly there was a knocking at the door!"
There was a sharp knocking at the door.
Twilight growled as she was interrupted mid-flow. "Spike, quit it with the sound effects!"
Spike meanwhile, was still hiding under a table, shaking. Twilight continued, ignoring her friend. "The knocking continued. Booky knew that only a mad mare would be out in the storm, but the code of the librarian forced her to let in any pony who wanted a book! Slowly she walked to the door, and "
There was a sharper knocking at the door.
Twilight snapped the book shut. "If you're going to mess about Spike, you're not getting your story!"
Spike however, was not messing about. He was tucked in the shadow of the table, pointing to the door. "I-it's not me Twilight. There's... there's someone there!"
Twilight frowned, and cautiously walked to the door. "Don't be ridiculous. Who would be out in this sort of weather. Only a "
She was cut off as the sharp thumping on the door continued, and so gathering up her resolve she threw the door open. Standing on the doorstep was a bright blue pony, drenched from head to hoof and caked in mud, her pink mane completely sodden and drooping over her face, a battered yellow suitcase by her feet.
"Hello" she said. "I'm Dewdrop Dazzle. Can I come in?"
Once Twilight had regained her composure and checked that the new arrival wasn't carrying any sharp implements, she invited the poor soaked unicorn in out of the rain. Dewdrop told her how she had been travelling cross country when she found herself stranded in Ponyville in the middle of a torrential storm. Of course, Twilight invited her to stay for the night and had instructed Spike (once she had scraped him out from beneath the table) to show Dewdrop to the spare room and the shower.
Twilight settled back down with her book, breathing in happily at the peace and quiet that now reigned, the howling of the storm outside soothing rather than scaring. The only thing out of place was the muddy hoofprints Dewdrop had trampled across the floor. "Spike's going to be busy tomorrow!" Twilight tittered to herself as she returned to the important business of late night studying.
This plan was foiled as a clattering commotion echoed from down the stairs. Twilight was just about to admonish Spike for being noisy when the perpetrator came into view. It was Dewdrop Dazzle, now clean and free of mud, her hair carefully dried and hanging in curls about her face.
"Hi Twilight!" she smiled as she trotted into the room, looking about carefully as if seeing it for the first time. "Thanks again for letting me stay!"
Twilight smiled. "It's no problem, I'd have thought you'd be asleep already though after a day's travelling. And..." She paused, suddenly frowning. "Hey, I didn't tell you my name did I?"
Dewdrop smiled brightly. "Oh come on, you're Twilight Sparkle! You're famous! I've heard all about your adventures; that's all the papers in Canterlot are talking about!"
Twilight blushed, turning her head and grinning to herself. "Well..." she coughed. "I hardly think I'm much to write about."
"Are you KIDDING?" Dewdrop had suddenly become rather more animated and was excitedly dancing about. "You defeated Nightmare Moon! And an Ursa Minor! And a hydra! You've got to tell me all about it!"
Twilight slowly closed her book, trying not to feel herself getting too big headed about this attention. "Well, since you're here, I guess a few tales of my adventures before bedtime couldn't hurt..."
"And what colour were its eyes?" Dewdrop pressed, wide-eyed and riveted to the spot, as she had been for the past four hours.
The clock struck 3am.
Twilight drooped wearily, propped up against a stool. "I... I really don't know Dewdrop. Does it matter?" At first she had been happy to talk about herself for once; just knowing that she was looked up to in Canterlot had made her burn with pride. As the hours ticked by however, Dewdrop had pressed her for more and more information about even the most banal of incidents until it felt like an interrogation.
Dewdrop swivelled the lampshade to shine into Twilight's eyes. "I noticed you were getting sleepy, is this better?" she asked with concern. "So how many feathers did the Cockatrice have?"
Twilight blinked once at the flash of light and fell over, her four hooves pointing straight upwards. "Uh, no offense Dewdrop but I think its way past our bedtimes! We can talk again in the morning."
"Okay!" Dewdrop smiled cheerfully as she hopped up the stairs after Twilight.
Twilight shook her head blearily. At least it was only one night, and she was doing a good deed. She waved goodnight to Dewdrop on the landing and wearily trotted into her room. There was a strange echo.
Twilight turned around to switch off the light, to be met face to face with Dewdrop's smiling visage. "Hi!" Dewdrop uttered happily.
Twilight blinked. "I'm uh, going to bed Dewdrop, I'll tell you more stories in the morning, I promise."
Dewdrop nodded. "I'm going to bed too!"
Twilight narrowed her eyes. "This... this is my room. Didn't Spike show you the spare room?"
"Oh!" Dewdrop gave a little gasp. "Yes he showed it to me and I thought was very nice. Oh, did you want me to sleep in there? I can move my stuff out of your room if you like!" She motioned to Twilight's bed, which had the contents of Dewdrop's suitcase sprawled out over it as if the suitcase had exploded.
"Yes" Twilight intoned through gritted teeth. "Yes, if you would; that would be lovely."
Once Dewdrop had removed herself, and her worryingly large array of possessions, Twilight settled down on her bed and finally drifted off to sleep.
The sun shone down on Ponyville the next morning, the storm of the last night all but forgotten. Twilight was getting none of the benefits of the crisp morning air however, as she sat in her living room, blearily pushing her breakfast around her plate. Bags hung under her eyes from lack of sleep; her plans for a morning lie-in had been thwarted by the incessant sounds of Dewdrop Dazzle clattering around downstairs, and she had resolved to be up and awake to ensure the strange blue unicorn wasn't trying to burn down her house.
Dewdrop meanwhile, was surprisingly lively, as if permanently energised. She bounced around the room, clearing up stray books much to Twilight's protestations.
"So, you'll be leaving bright and early I take it?" Twilight hinted heavily, eager to get back to sleep.
"No no, I'm good!" Dewdrop trilled back as she tried to helpfully push an old, expensive and fragile tome into a space in which it couldn't possibly fit.
Twilight's right eye twitched. "Well, I'm sure you've got a long journey ahead of you to... wherever it was you were heading to..."
"Yeah yeah!" Dewdrop said, a bit too quickly. "It can wait, Ponyville's great after all! And I get to spend time with you, Twilight! My hero!"
"Good" Twilight slowly retorted as she tried to bury her head in her book and pretend the blue unicorn didn't exist. She had a horrible sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach that perhaps Dewdrop hadn't been heading anywhere else; that perhaps Twilight's house had been her ultimate destination. But perhaps that was paranoia. Perhaps
"What're we reading?"
Twilight nearly jumped into the air in fright as Dewdrop's head scooted into view right next to her own, staring intently at the book. Twilight twitched again. "I am reading a technical book on ancient Equestrian archaeology, you wouldn't find it interesting."
Dewdrop clapped her front hooves together in joy. "Oh no, I love studying!" With that, she settled down next to Twilight, peering over her shoulder intently at the pages.
Twilight's brow creased, unsettled at this new development. "You know..." she said after an awkward silence. "I might leave you with that and read a different book." She stood up to leave Dewdrop to her reading, and trotted over to the nearest shelf.
She turned around. Dewdrop was standing behind her, smiling innocently. "What're we reading next?" Dewdrop chirped happily.
Twilight attempted to glare Dewdrop into submission, but the pink and blue unicorn just stood there vacantly, eagerly awaiting whatever book Twilight was about to pull out. "Look Dewdrop..." Twilight started. "If you want to help me, we need some more eggs. Could you fetch some from the shops?" 'Before I do something I'll regret' she added to herself mentally.
Dewdrop leaped into the air in glee at being given a mission by Twilight. "Of course Twilight, I won't fail you! Don't worry, I have a map of Ponyville that I made!" In a hyperactive rush, Dewdrop raced upstairs, and then galloped outside, a crumpled, hoof-drawn map of Ponyville in tow.
Twilight sighed heavily as peace and quiet returned. "She's got... a map..." she mumbled to herself darkly, trying to shake the thoughts from her head as she settled back with her book once more. Now she could forget about Dewdrop and get back to studying.
"Dewdrop Dazzle is GREAT!" Spike sauntered into the room cheerfully. "She's cleaned the whole kitchen; that was my morning chore! Now it's SPIKE TIME!"
"That's lovely Spike" Twilight snapped back. "Now go clean the kitchen again." As the little dragon's head fell and he trooped into the kitchen, Twilight let out an exasperated gasp as she was once more left in peace, turned the page of her book, and began to read.
"Ugh" Twilight slowly lifted her head and peeled her mouth off the page of the book where her drool had formed a sticky barrier. Obviously the late night had taken more of a toll than she had realised. The warm glow of the sun was filtering through the windows, a cursory check of the position of the sun indicated that it was midday; she hadn't slept too long.
More importantly, Dewdrop Dazzle was nowhere to be seen.
Twilight rose shakily to her hooves. "Spike, I'm awake!" she called, blearily shaking her face to get the last vestiges of sleep from her head. She patted down her hair and rubbed her eyes, trotting to a full length mirror to make sure she was presentable.
As Twilight's sleep addled mind tried to adjust, she stared at herself in the mirror. Her reflection stared back at her. Thoughts congealed in her head as her brain struggled to return to 'wakefulness' mode. Something was wrong. Suddenly it hit her.
She didn't own a full-length mirror. And her 'reflection' was blue and pink.
"Hello!" said Dewdrop Dazzle, unblinkingly, a look of happiness on her face. "I went into town and got my hair cut so now it looks like yours, isn't that great!" She clapped her hooves together in excitement.
"You... what..." Twilight stared at Dewdrop. The unicorn's hair was not only in an unerringly similar style to Twilight's, but there was a yellow stripe now dyed in it, in imitation of Twilight's own stripe. Dewdrop was now an accurate if garishly coloured copy of Twilight.
"It's a shame you couldn't dye yourself purple" Twilight retorted, half joking, still reeling from the shock of Dewdrop's haircut.
Dewdrop however, wasn't joking. "I know!" she said sadly. "They had run out of purple dye. But don't worry, I ordered some!" She happily bounced about the room, circling Twilight. "So best buddy, what are we doing today? Are we going on an adventure?"
Twilight paused, staring at Dewdrop, mentally restraining herself from doing something unspeakably terrible to the annoying interloper. "You can go on an adventure, I'm going to bed. I'm feeling quite ill" she lied, her horn sparking into life to make her book levitate after her, turning to ascend the stairs.
Dewdrop's face fell into one of honest worry. "Oh no Twilight, are you okay? Do you need anything? Shall I nurse you back to health?"
"No. No. NO!" Twilight almost shouted back. "Don't worry about me, I need to be left alone to get better. You go off and have as many adventures as you like. I'll be fine."
Dewdrop trotted about in a circle, slightly worried and confused as she stared after the retreating Twilight. "Okay!" she called. "Please be okay Twilight; if you need anything, just call!" After a while, she slowly sat down and began leafing through a book that Twilight had discarded earlier in the day.
There was a knock at the door.
Dewdrop looked about, and seeing that she was the only pony about, trotted to the door and opened it. A bundle of pink rolled into the house.
"Hi Twilight!" Pinkie Pie chirped happily from beneath a bob of tangled pink hair. "I like your new look!"
Dewdrop blushed. "I'm not Twilight, Pinkie, I'm Dewdrop Dazzle! I'm Twilight Sparkle's best friend, and she's letting me live her with her!"
Pinkie Pie leapt to her feet. "That's great! New friends are always great, we should have a party for you!" Pinkie's expression suddenly changed and she leaned into Dewdrop's face, staring at her. "Wait a minute, I didn't tell you my name. Are you psychic?"
Dewdrop giggled and shook her head. "No no, I've read all about Twilight's adventures, the stories always talk about her friends! I feel like I know you all already!"
Pinkie gave a sigh of relief. "Whew! It's good you're not psychic or I'd have to be thinking of a brick wall all day!" She hopped into the front room, peering around. "Is Twilight about? There's a yeti on the loose which needs dealing with! Everyone else is waiting for her!"
Dewdrop perked up even more than she was, which was quite a feat. "An adventure?" she gasped. Her face fell. "Twilight said she's feeling ill. But she said it was okay if I went on adventures; I can take her place!"
Pinkie skipped happily towards the door. "Great! There's no time to lose, don't dawdle then!" And with that, the two were off.
Twilight sighed in contentment. The moment she had heard the front door slam, she had cautiously made her way downstairs, calling out to a confused Spike to make sure that the coast was clear. She had then spent a rather relaxing afternoon catching up on her important reading. "This is so much better!" she sighed to Spike. "Peace and quiet."
The front door crashed open. She had spoken too soon.
In trotted not just Dewdrop Dazzle, but Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, and all her other friends. All laughing and joking and cheering as if they'd known Dewdrop for years.
"Twilight, Twilight!" Dewdrop hopped happily over to her purple friend. "We had an adventure! It was amazing!"
Twilight stared at her friends, putting down her book. "You... you had an adventure without me?" she stuttered.
Pinkie Pie tilted her head. "Of course, you were ill, silly! But don't worry, we had Dewdrop Dazzle! She is just as good as you!"
"She was amazing!" Rainbow Dash shot into the air, almost hitting the ceiling. "She used her magic on the yeti, and then we were in a tricky situation and she got the answer from a book, and then she sung a song!"
The other ponies nodded their appreciation. Dewdrop Dazzle just beamed proudly.
"That's wonderful" Twilight retorted coldly. "I'm so glad you didn't need me at all, now you have my double."
Any sarcasm was lost as Dewdrop hopped happily about the room. "Thanks Twilight, that means so much coming from you! We have the same interests, isn't it great that we have the same friends now too!"
Pinkie Pie scooted up to Twilight. "I think this calls for a party!"she cheered. Balloons floated up from behind her, as if by magic.
And as if by magic, the balloons popped one by one, Twilight's horn glowing sneakily. "Oops" Twilight deadpanned back. "I guess that means the party's off. Early nights for all!"
"Hey, digging the new look Dewdrop!" Spike had wandered into the room, seeing Dewdrop's haircut for the first time.
Dewdrop beamed with happiness at this statement. "Thanks Spike, my little dragon friend!" she replied.
"My little dragon friend" Twilight hissed under her breath. She glanced about at her friends; none of them seemed to think anything was amiss. In fact, it seemed as if they'd forgotten she existed. Twilight rose to her feet and slammed her book shut. When no-one noticed, she opened it, and slammed it shut again. "I'm suddenly relapsing, I think I need an early night."
Dewdrop blinked as Twilight departed, and looked over at her new friends. "We can still have a party, right?" she asked hopefully. "I've read all about Pinkie Parties, they sound the best!"
That night, Twilight tossed and turned, unable to sleep as her house vibrated to the noise of a boisterous party in full swing. She covered her head with her pillow to block out the noise. At least Dewdrop wouldn't stay for long, she reasoned. She'd soon get bored and find some other pony to latch onto...