Follow TV Tropes


Fanfic / A Delicate Balance

Go To

"This is the most unromantic ship-fic I've ever read."

A My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Fanfic by Japanese Teeth, found here.

What happens when you realize that your feelings for one of your friends aren't quite the same as your feelings for the rest of them? Do you just prefer some friends over others, or is it a sign of something deeper? What do you do with those feelings? Hide them? Admit them? And how will the rest of your friends react when they find out? Twilight is going to have to do her best to find the answers, because they're anything but obvious.

A Twilight/Applejack fic with a very subtle (and deliberately paced) approach to Shipping, and a strong dedication to keeping everyone as in character as possible. As a result, it borders on a Genre Deconstruction of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic shipping stories; it takes a long time to set the relationship up, and also attempts to deal with the ripple effect that Twilight's romantic endeavors spread through the rest of the cast.

This Fanfic contains examples of:

  • Anti-Climax: After six chapters of buildup, Twilight finally gets the nerve to ask Applejack whether or not she's willing to go out with her. Applejack's answer? "I don't know". It isn't for two more chapters that Twilight actually gets an answer.
  • Beta Couple: Lyra and Bon Bon.
  • Brick Joke: Kinda, if one is following the story as it updates: Chapter 8 ends with Twilight and Applejack joking about how Pinkie was watching them through a telescope. Chapter 9 opens with... Pinkie actually watching them through a telescope. If you're doing an Archive Binge, it turns into more of a Smash Cut, though.
  • But I Read a Book About It: Twilight extensively researches the optimal way to ask Applejack out. Most of her sources are either not very applicable to Applejack or just altogether terrible, resulting in spectacular failure.
  • Centipede's Dilemma: After realizing that she has a crush, Twilight makes a concerted effort to act normal around Applejack. Too much self-consciousness makes this impossible.
    • In the second chapter, Twilight is so distracted that she picks up a cup of water with her hooves rather than her telekinesis. She does fine until she realizes she's holding the cup that way, at which point she drops it.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Lyra and Bon Bon.
  • Chocolate of Romance: Lyra gave Bon Bon a box of chocolates when she first asked Bon Bon out; when Twilight decides to ask Applejack out, Bon Bon gives Twi the very same assortment of chocolates to offer to AJ.
  • Comfort Food: While wallowing in sorrow, Twilight chows down on chocolaty granola bars.
  • Continuity Nod: To the show. Lyra explicitly says that Bon Bon has trouble remembering Rarity's name.
  • Date Peepers: Pinkie Pie intends to spy on Twilight and Applejack's first date, but Rarity ultimately convinces her to respect their privacy.
  • Deconstruction Fic: Pretty much the entire thing is an extended example of this as applied to Shipping. Specifically concerning the fact that just because one's Love Confession is accepted doesn't mean things are going to go smoothly.
  • Double Subversion: It's common in FIM fanworks to portray Applejack's hat as some kind of precious heirloom. In this story, it's not special at all. AJ actually has dozens of identical hats; individual hats tend to survive only a few months of farm life. However, the specific hat AJ was wearing during Twilight's love confession is special to AJ now, so she gives it to Twilight for safekeeping.
  • Drama Queen: Rarity is acknowledged in-story as the resident expert on "wallowing".
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The relationship between Twilight and Applejack has a lot of bumps in the road, but it ends with a wedding..
  • False Start: When Twilight finally gets up the nerve to attempt a confession, it gets derailed by Apple Bloom.
  • The Four Loves: The ponies have to puzzle out where friendship ends and romantic love begins.
  • Gossip Evolution: One of these is responsible for Rainbow Dash believing that a love triangle is forming between Twilight, Applejack, and Fluttershy. Ultimately subverted; as soon as Rarity hears the rumor, she traces it back to its source, realizes how inaccurate it is, and quashes it before it spreads.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Fluttershy isn't happy that Twilight's infatuation means less time for them to spend together, but she recognizes that this jealousy isn't a healthy attitude, so she pushes herself to support the two of them in spite of her feelings. At one point she hopes, to herself, that Twi and AJ's relationship won't work out—then she immediately hates herself for thinking that.
  • Headbutt Thermometer: Applejack does this to Twilight in chapter 2.
  • Heroic BSoD: After her attempt to ask Applejack out goes very, very badly, Twilight holes herself up in the library, eating badly and reading trashy vampony novels.
  • Hollywood Kiss: Pointedly averted. Any time a kiss is attempted, they tend to bump noses a few times first.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every chapter is named after a poem by John Donne (and excerpts from these poems show up as epigrams).
  • I Don't Want to Ruin Our Friendship: Twilight is initially very reluctant to pursue a relationship. Not only is she fearful of messing up her friendship with Applejack, but she's also worried that a romantic relationship would entail slighting all her other friends.
  • Interrupted Declaration of Love: See False Start.
  • I Was Having Such a Nice Dream: Rarity is not happy to be rudely awakened from a dream involving rave reviews from Hoity Toity, carte blanche from her doctor to eat as much chocolate as she wants, and Opalescence learning to handle Carousel Boutique's finances.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Bon Bon is rather... brusque with just about everyone, but according to Lyra she's a softie at heart.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Lyra and Bon Bon. And to an extent, Twilight and Applejack. Their orientations seem to have no bearing on their how they're portrayed.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Applejack is the last member of the Mane Six to learn of Twilight's crush. Spike finds out even later, and Twilight is embarrassed over leaving him out of the loop.
  • Love Confession: Takes Twilight a while to get to it, but she manages.
  • Love Hurts: Let's just say that the whole process is a source of stress for quite a few ponies, even those who aren't part of the relationship in question.
  • Love Makes You Dumb: The main reason Twilight attempts a Zany Scheme to get on Applejack's good side. Naturally, it backfires.
  • Love Triangle:
    • Discussed; Rarity talks about how love triangles suck because unless the parties involved are okay with sharing, it guarantees that somebody is going to end up alone. And that if everyone is already on friendly terms it's even worse because even the two who do end up together will still feel bad about excluding the third party.
    • Subverted. Several characters think a triangle is forming with Fluttershy developing feelings for Twilight, but it turns out that Fluttershy's feelings aren't romantic in nature.
  • No Antagonist: The closest thing the story has to an antagonist is when the characters misunderstand each other.
  • Noodle Incident: Apparently, Rainbow Dash once had a romance-based incident during flight school that resulted in her being unable to look Thunderlane in the eye.
    • When Twilight starts working at the chocolate shop, Bon Bon explains that she's only ever let four ponies enter the kitchen: herself, Lyra, the health inspector, and a fourth who became the reason why nopony except the other three is allowed back there now.
  • Not Herself: Twilight helps Pinkie decorate cupcakes, and falls very short of her usual perfectionism. Pinkie immediately catches on that something is troubling her.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: When Rarity visits Twilight after the latter's unsuccessful approach at Applejack, she notices that all the charts and graphs that used to cover the insides of library were gone, nothing. She is rather startled.
  • Official Kiss: When Applejack finally agrees to go out with Twilight, this happens.
  • Painting the Medium: Pinkie is capable of inserting hearts into her dialogue.
  • Pair the Smart Ones: See Running Gag.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Subverted. The end of one chapter sets up a misunderstanding in which Rainbow Dash believes that Fluttershy has a crush on Twilight. The next chapter starts with Rarity explaining why this probably isn't the case, and deciding to find out what's actually going on before attempting to do anything.
  • Prolonged Prologue: For a shipping story, it takes its sweet time in actually getting to the pairing, preferring to spend the first few chapters setting Twilight's state of mind. The initial Love Confession doesn't even come up until roughly forty thousand words into the story, and it's about five thousand more words before Applejack even gives Twilight a definitive answer at all.
  • Real Dreams are Weirder: Rarity points out that one can't really trust dreams for insight into waking reality. She cites one of Pinkie's dreams, involving a doughnut-balloon and Diamond Dogs firing chocolatizing magic bolts. On the other hand, Twilight's dream about Applejack "seemed so real, for a moment I almost didn't realize that it had been a dream. Well, that sea serpent from the Everfree Forest was there, wearing a rainbow clown wig, but other than that it was just like real life!"
  • Redundant Romance Attempt: Twilight's attempt to get on Applejack's good side before confessing her feelings only end up making Applejack annoyed at her. When she finally does get it out, Applejack says she appreciates the honesty more than anything else.
  • Relationship Upgrade: The entire plot.
  • Running Gag: Whenever somepony mentions their surprise that Twilight is interested in Applejack, they usually follow it up with a statement that they would have expected Twilight to be interested in another pony, almost always using Cheerilee as an example.
  • Satiating Sandwich: A part of Twilight's Zany Scheme involves asking Applejack to help her with making a sandwich.
  • Say It with Hearts: Pinkie does this on occasion.
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: Pops up several times, the most obvious one being Pinkie's rant in chapter 15 about why chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cookies should be kept on separate plates.
  • Sidetracked by the Analogy: Pinkie says that uncertainty over the outcome is no reason to be afraid of romance, just like the possibility of eating an "icky coconut" candy is no reason to refrain from digging into a box of chocolates. Twilight counters, explaining that it's totally possible to tell which chocolates have which fillings before eating them.
  • Shipper on Deck: Pinkie is very enthusiastic in seeing Applejack and Twilight together. Rainbow Dash and Rarity also support the idea, although they aren't quite as gung-ho about it as Pinkie is.
  • Ship Tease: The whole fic is about Twilight X Applejack, although it is mostly from the former. A certain yellow Pegasus is hinted to have a feeling toward Twilight too...which is then revealed to be lies. However, attentive readers will find sly hints about the feelings of a certain cyan pegasus toward her yellow friend...
  • Signature Headgear: Applejack's hat is brought up very frequently, mostly by Pinkie, who thinks it would be adorable if she let Twilight wear it.
  • Smarter Than You Look: Rainbow Dash uses a quite solid strategy, even if it just meant exploiting Twilight's "eggheaded approaches" to beat her in Battlecloud. 17 times in a row.
  • Sliding Scale of Plot Versus Characters: Heavy on the "characters" side.
  • Squee: Upon seeing AJ and Twi are a couple, Pinkie squees so hard that she manages to insert a heart icon into her exclamation.
  • Time for Plan B: Twilight's over-thought-out attempt to ask Applejack out. “I've actually put together plans going all the way through N. Although I doubt I'll have to go past plan G.”
  • The Unintelligible: Owlowysius gets this treatment. Spike is the only character who seems to understand him.
  • Zany Scheme: Twilight's plan for getting a positive response from Applejack tends towards this method: Her plan? Read a bunch of advice books and then engineer a series of situations to make Applejack positively disposed towards her so that when she goes for a Love Confession she'll get a positive result. It goes about as well as one would expect.