EPILOGUE


"I hope you'll be comfortable, Miss Pinwheel."

"Oh, it's Missus." Pinwheel replied, smiling at the bookstore owner. The old brown stallion nodded, smiling in spite of his error. He pushed the glass door open with his shoulder, waving Pinwheel inside. Pinwheel bowed her head in thanks as she entered the bookshop. The smell of freshly brewed coffee and paper swirled around her head. The bookstore could be described as small, cozy. Warm wooden shelves filled the small space, but somehow there was just enough room for a glass pastry case and café in the corner. The bookstores in Canterlot were much fancier than the ones back in Ponyville. Pinwheel couldn't think of a single Ponyville bookstore that boasted a café in back. Still smiling, Pinwheel turned and looked down at the small filly still hesitating in the doorway, "Do you want a cookie, Marilyn?"

The small, pale grey unicorn inched her way into the bookstore. She darted past the bookstore owner, eyeing him suspiciously. Her blue eyes darted mischievously behind her thick, round glasses. Pinwheel ruffled the little mare's straw-colored mane. Aside from the glasses and the blue eyes, though, Marilyn and Pinwheel looked nothing like each other. Marilyn's dark coat clashed with her mother's bright blue one. "What kind of cookie?" Marilyn asked, peeking at the pastry case from between her mother's legs.

"Any kind you want. Go pick one." Pinwheel nudged her forward. Marilyn skipped toward the pastry case, pressing her face right up against the glass. The mare behind the register smiled sweetly at Marilyn. Pinwheel turned back toward the bookstore owner, "So where are we setting up?"

The bookstore owner gestured to a card table toward the back of the bookstore. Stacks of books, each as high as Pinwheel's chest, sat piled up around the table. Pinwheel approached the table. Smiling, she touched one of the tomes. 'Near Death Experience', the front cover read in a swirling, elegant font, 'by Pinwheel'. It had taken her years to compile all the stories and details. The parts about Celestia ended up having to be trimmed, if only out of respect for the Princess. Even so, the story contained in these piles of books still came straight from Pinwheel's memories. Her relationship with Pale Hoof, from meeting to proposal, all contained in a single book. "Do you like it?" The bookstore owner asked.

"This will be just fine." Pinwheel smiled at the bookstore owner, "Um, this is my first book. How do these book signing things usually go?"

"Oh, don't worry, ma'am. You just sit here and give out your autograph. Maybe talk to your readers a little."

Pinwheel blinked, shaking her head. Readers. She actually had readers. The thought stirred something fuzzy and warm inside her chest. All of a sudden, Marilyn reappeared, peeking over the top of the mound of books. "I want the one with rainbow sprinkles!" She declared decisively, throwing one hoof in the air.

Pinwheel laughed. She glanced over at the bookstore owner. "How much?"

"Oh, don't worry. She can have all the cookies she likes, on the house."

Pinwheel smirked. "Are you sure? Marilyn will eat the house if you let her."

"I insist." The bookstore owner gestured to the pastry case. Breaking into a manic grin, Marilyn rushed over and began demanding cookies from the mare behind the cash register.

The little bell above the shop door rang. Pinwheel half-turned to look at the new guest. There, standing half-in and half-out of the door was a tall grey stallion. His long, black mane flopped in his face, nearly obscuring his electric green eyes. He looked around the bookstore, scanning each shelf. Finally, he caught sight of the Pinwheel staring at him and broke into a wide, toothy grin. Pinwheel beamed in return. "AM I…" He paused, coughing into his hoof, "Am I late?"

"No, I'm just setting up." Pinwheel patted the table. She beckoned the tall pony over, "You can be my first official signature."

"It is only fitting." The grey colt crossed the bookstore floor over to Pinwheel. He peered down at the piles of books, inspecting the covers critically. For the cover illustration, Pinwheel's publisher had chosen an elaborate, abstract depiction of the pony Reaper. White lines swept across a black field, forming the outline of his cloak. A stylized skull hovered just beneath the title. The grey colt harrumphed, "That is not what I look like at all! Who chose this abominable illustration?"

Pinwheel hissed through her teeth. "Keep it down, Chuckles." She whispered, "You're not even supposed to be in Canterlot. Celestia said Ponyville only, remember?"

"I do not care what Celestia says, I go where I please." Pale Hoof whispered back, selecting a book off the top of a nearby pile and setting it down in front of Pinwheel, "And it pleases me to be near you."

Pinwheel struggled not to smile as she flipped open the front cover. A fountain pen and an inkwell filled with blue ink sat near the edge of the table. As Pinwheel put the pen to paper, though, Marilyn returned with a plate full of cookies floating by her head. She ate them one after the other, shoving entire cookies in her mouth and swallowing them whole. Upon catching sight of the grey stallion, though, she gasped sharply and nearly choked. "DADDY!" She shrieked in delight, her mouth still full of cookie. The black aura around the plate of cookies vanished and it smashed on the floor. Marilyn flung her front hooves around Pale Hoof's leg, "I'm so glad you're here! They're giving out cookies and everything! Are you visiting? Is this your visiting week? Did you bring me a present from the spooky realm? Did ya? Did ya?"

Pinwheel seized hold of the little filly, clapping a hoof over her mouth. "Shush!" Pinwheel whispered. The bookstore owner, if he'd heard, said nothing. He merely fetched a broom from the corner and started sweeping the cookies up. Pinwheel let out a sigh of relief. Gently, she set Marilyn back down, "Don't yell in bookstores, Marilyn." Pinwheel smiled at the filly, who pouted.

"I didn't know Daddy was gonna visit!" Marilyn replied. She gazed adoringly up at Pale Hoof, her blue eyes wide with rapture, "Did you bring me a present? Did you?"

"As a matter of fact, I did." Pale Hoof replied. He glanced around. After a moment, his eyes fixed on a particularly deep shadow between two piles of books. The shadow flickered and began to move across the floor. It crept up Marilyn's front leg, climbing from her chest into her mane. There, it materialized as a large, silky black bow. Marilyn let out another gasp of delight. She rushed to the shop window, peering at her reflection in the glass.

"Oh, Daddy, it's the most beautiful ribbon that ever was!" She giggled, turning circles to admire her gift. The ribbon bounced weightlessly as she trotted around. Pinwheel couldn't help but smile.

"She's never going to take that ribbon out of her mane, you know." Pinwheel shook her head, still grinning. Pale Hoof snorted.

"Either way, I believe you owe me a signature."

Pinwheel picked the pen back up with her teeth and signed her name in looping font in the front cover of the book. Setting the pen aside, she closed the book with a decisive 'thump' and slid it across the table to Pale Hoof, "There you go. My first signature on my first book."

"About your first love." Pale Hoof added.

Pinwheel chuckled. "And last. Til Death do us part."

"I don't think either of us have to worry about that."

Pinwheel smirked. "No. No, we don't."


THE END