Red and Gold

by Rose Quill

Lunch, September 13

"Arrrrgh!" I slammed the door behind me with my magic, stomping my way to one of the small studies on the lower level of the castle. "I can't believe this! Those ponies are crazy!"

"That sounds familiar," a voice spoke up as Spike came in, a couple of comics in his claws. "What's up?"

"I just tried to go shopping for something and I couldn't go anywhere without hearing about if I should have been pardoned or not!" I snorted in frustration. "How did they even find out?"

"It was in the paper," the dragon replied, holding up said offender. I took it and flipped through until I found an article - complete with picture - about how the prodigal pony had returned after disappearing for six years with an unconditional pardon for an unnamed crime after heroic actions.

"To Tartarus with it!" I snarled, the paper crumpling in my aura. "I finally got comfortable here and had gained everyponies' trust. Pinkie even threw a party!"

"Ah, come on, Sunset," he said. "It's not like we don't trust you. I even saw some of those heroic actions myself!"

"I know, Spike," I muttered, anger fading into a dull disappointment. "It's just...this is how it was after Twilight defeated me at the Fall Formal. I can even hear some of the same whispered voices."

The dragon patted me on the shoulder. "I know what will cheer you up," he said. "A fresh set of cupcakes. Come on!"

As he led the way to the kitchen, I couldn't help but look at him. "Do you know how to make them without gems?" I asked warily. " I almost cracked a tooth the last time."

"Don't worry," he chuckled. "I wont be the the one baking."

"SURPRISE, SUNSET!" Pinkie shouted as we walked through the doors.

I blinked and shook the confetti from my mane. "Pinkie? What are you doing here?"

"Well," she said as she closed the door to the oven. "I saw you in the market earlier and you seemed really, really upset, so at first I thought that it was that somepony had forgotten your birthday. But then I realized that your birthday isn’t until April, so then I thought that it was because you had been back three months but haven't found a place of your own. But then I heard all the mean things some of the ponies were saying about you, so I decided to throw you a ‘Cheer-up-Sunset’ lunch!"

I blinked, mentally slowing down her sentences. Thankfully, understanding Pinkie was often easier than understanding Twilight, despite the Alicorn's slower speech pattern.

"Thanks, Pinkie," I said, settling on a stool. "It's been tough coming back. Nothing is how I remember it. I mean, Nightmare Moon defeated and Princess Luna returned? Discord reformed? The Crystal Empire's just so much. Almost too much."

"I'll admit, it was a lot," a soft voice came from behind us. Turning, I saw Fluttershy walking in with Twilight. "And it was scary at the time."

I frowned inwardly. "Am I forgetting something?" I asked, looking at the two ponies. "I thought you were working wih Starlight on magic tests, Twilight."

The Alicorn giggled sheepishly. "Yeah, about that," she stammered.

"She's upset that Starlight was called to Canterlot by the Cutie Map," Spike said casually as he turned a page in his comic.

"I am not," Twilight returned. "Just hoping she fixes whatever problem the staff has soon."

"Are you sure it isn't one of the Princesses?" I asked.

"Of course not," she said laughing, a twitch in her eye. "Don't be ridiculous!"