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Lesson Zero, part 1
It's already been an eventful day for Twilight Sparkle and Spike. They've been out running errands, making orders, picking up orders, returning borrowed items... everything on the lengthy checklist Spike made Twilight this morning. Sure, it might have taken less time if Twilight hadn't insisted on double- and triple-checking the checklist after every stop to make sure they hadn't forgotten anything, but you can't be too careful!

"Looks like that's everything," says Spike as they return home.

"Almost everything," Twilight reminds him, nodding toward the last item at the bottom of the parchment roll.

"'Triple check checklist to make sure we didn't miss anything when we double checked the checklist'? Uh... check." Spike winces and rubs his wrist. "Ugh... I've been holding that quill so long, I've got a claw cramp. Good thing we don't have anything to report to Princess Celestia this week... I don't think I could write another word!"

Twilight stops dead in her tracks. "We haven't sent a letter to Princess Celestia this week??"

"Why? Is that bad?"

"Bad?? BAD?!" Twilight shrieks. "Of course it's bad! I'm supposed to send Princess Celestia a letter every week telling her about a lesson I've learned about friendship. Not every other week. Not every 10 days. Every. Single. Week." She rummages frantically through her desk drawers, telekinetically lifting a dozen books at once. "Ohh, where's my calender, where's my calendar??"

"...where it always is?" Spike waves the item in question, then flinches as Twilight magically drags it over.

"When did we send the last one?"

"Last... Tuesday?"

"And today is...?"


Twilight yelps. "Nononononononono--" She dashes up the stairs to stare at the sun, which is already high in the sky. "If I don't send her a letter by sundown," she wails, "I'll be... TARDY!"

Spike is nonplussed. "What's that now?"

"Tar-dy, Spike! Late, I'll be late!" Twilight flops down on her bed, all four legs flailing in agitation. "Oh, how could I let this happen? I'm usually so organized. I've never been late with an assignment."

"Oh, please. You're the most studious student ever!" Spike protests. "I'm sure the princess will forgive you if you miss one little deadline."

Twilight shakes her head. "I'm afraid to take that chance, Spike. This is the ruler of all of Equestria we're talking about. The pony who holds my fate in her hooves! What if she doesn't forgive me?"

"Yeahhh, I don't think she--"

POOF. Twilight teleports down from her bed in a flash of pink light so she can be nose-to-nose with Spike. "What if instead she starts thinking I'm not taking my studies on friendship seriously?"

"Why would she--?"

"What if she makes me come back to Canterlot and puts me back in school and makes me prove I've been taking them seriously by giving me a test?? What if don't pass?!"

"But why wouldn't you pass--?"

"She's my teacher. Do you know what teachers do to students who don't pass? They send them back a grade! But she won't just send me back a grade. She'll send me back to... magic kindergarten."

She can already imagine it. Her, a fully grown mare, struggling to fit into a foal's desk, all the other students pointing at her and laughing...

"Twilight? Twilight!"

"Huh?" Twilight blinks in surprise as Spike's touch brings her back to reality.

"That is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard!" says Spike. "You're not going to be sent back to magic kindergarten."

"You're right," says Twilight, after taking a couple of deep breaths. "I have no reason to worry. Because I'm going to solve a friend's problem and get that letter to Princess Celestia before sundown! So..." She gives Spike her cheeriest grin. "Got any problems, troubles, conundrums, or any other sort of issues, major or minor, that I as a good friend can help you solve?"

Spike thinks. And thinks. And thinks. And thinks some more. "...I got nothin'," he finally admits.

"Then it looks like I'm going to have to find somepony who does." Twilight trots purposefully toward the stairs.

"This won't end well," murmurs Spike before setting to work on picking up the books and parchment scattered across the room.