The words flickered with each invisible penstroke. Occasional punctuation billowed with miniature tufts of flame.
"Twilight Sparkle, are you there?"
She sat in the middle of the Royal Canterlot Library. The tome was spread open upon the wooden desktop before her. A quill pen rested on the edge of the podium, and yet the alicorn mare didn't move. Her mane billowed with twinkling brilliance, but otherwise she was perfectly still. Violet eyes danced around the book's aged binding. Studying. Waiting.
At last, after a full two minutes, more words rippled across the middle of an otherwise blank page.
"Please. Write to me, Twilight."
Twilight Sparkle took a long breath. Dim candlelight glinted off her crown. Her muzzle tightened ever so slightly.
"It's been so long."
"Is it my fault? Have I been a bad friend?"
Twilight inhaled deeply. She clenched her eyes shut and brought a hoof up to rub her aching head.
Against her better judgment, she gazed upon the book once again. What she saw made her coil her majestic wings tighter by her side.
"Please, let me make it up to you. Just trust me. I want to be friends with you again."
A lump formed in Twilight's throat.
Her eyes darted towards the quill. The tip of her horn glowed with telekinetic energy... but dimmed. She had nearly picked up the pen. Nearly.
More flickering. A streak of yellow. Reluctantly, Twilight looked at the book yet again.
"I want to be friends with everypony. Isn't that what you've always wanted of me?"
Twilight breathed harder and harder. Her muscles locked in place, and she felt the onset of shivers.
"Don't shut me out. I promise... I will be good to everypony once again."
There was a slight whimpering sound under the Princess' lips. At last, she gave in. Her hoof reached for the pen this time.
But just as the fetlock brushed up against the feathery quill—
"Twilight???" It was a deep voice. Rumbling. Outside the window to the library, a set of purple scales glinted in the setting sunlight. A massive beast shifted by—shaking the stone foundation of the palace. At long last, an emerald eyeslit lowered into view, peering into the candle-lit room. "Twilight, why is it so dark in here?"
Twilight blurted her reply in a bitter tone: "What is it that you want, Spike?"
The eyeslit narrowed slightly. "I'm sorry, your highness..." The voice rumbled. "...I didn't know that you were still busy brooding."
Twilight sighed. She raised a hoof in a half-hearted attempt to block the book from the large dragon's eyesight. "I'm sorry. Lack of sleep."
"What for this time?"
She didn't answer.
"Well..." He shifted his weight outside. A large claw pointed past the eastern ramparts of Canterlot. "...it's about twenty minutes until the Commencement of the Flurry Heart Monument. Are... are you going to appear before your subjects this time? Or should I tell the Council that it'll be another no-show—?"
"I'll be there, Spike," the Princess said firmly. "I'm... I'm a lot better now. You know this."
"Well, the public could certainly use the proof." He snorted fumes, and Twilight caught a pallid flash of smirking teeth. "I can't be your proxy for every event. I'm liable to step on somepony at this rate."
The castle stones rumbled once again. He was walking away—and this threw Twilight into a panic.
"Spike—!" she stammered, a bit too loudly for her own good.
Drawn by the nervous lilt in her voice, the dragon instantly swung back to peer through the window yet again. "Yes... Twilight...?" He spoke as gently as his massive vocal cords could allow.
Twilight Sparkle fidgeted noticeably. She had to reach a hoof up to straighten her crown before finally speaking: "Do you remember Sunset Shimmer?"
The emerald eyeslit narrowed thinly. Spike was evidently taken back by that question. "Of course I do, Twilight. She was like family." An uncomfortable silence followed, so he punctuated it: "What would even make you ask that?"
"Do... do you think I did the right thing?" Twilight asked in an anxious tone. "Burying her with the book?"
"... ... ...you mean her journal?"
"Magic never had a place in that world," Twilight said. Her voice tightened into a dry knot, but she nevertheless managed to speak. "It caused so much havoc for the geode-bearers. Sometimes... sometimes I wonder if I should never have jumped through the mirror to begin with..."
"They're all better for it, Twilight," Spike said. "Every human who lives there does so thanks to your influence... and for the accomplishments Sunset Shimmer did. You were her inspiration, after all."
Twilight gazed off at the amber horizon beyond her scaly friend.
"... ... ...have you been getting enough sleep lately, Twilight?"
Twilight didn't answer, and yet she did. "I'll be at the monument shortly, Spike. Tell the guards to expect me."
"Hmmmmff..." He marched out of view with the flick of a cedar-stick tail. "As you wish."
As the rumbling dwindled away...
...Twilight closed her eyes and breathed deeply... tensely. Her muzzle formed an iron frown.
There was a crackle of magic in the air, accompanied by the resonance of a tiny flame.
Twilight gazed angrily at the tome beneath her.
Fresh words were splashed across the pale parchment.
"Do you think I've forgotten my lessons? Is that it?"
Twilight seethed through clenched teeth. With a flick of the hoof, she grabbed the pen, stabbed it into an inkwell, then wrote swiftly beneath the last stretch of words to appear.
"This conversation is over."
Orange letters burned into the page before the princess was even done with her penstroke.
"Twilight! No! Please, don't go! I don't want to be alone! Talk to me! I beg you!"
Twilight fought the urge to hyperventilate. She dabbed the pen in ink once more and—shaking slightly—she managed to write back:
"You are not Sunset Shimmer."
There was no immediate response this time.
But Twilight Sparkle was far from done.
"Whoever you are... whatever you are... you do not belong here. Leave the book alone. Leave her grave alone. I will not ask you again."
All was still. Silent.
For minutes, nothing emanated from the tome lying before Twilight.
And yet... the Princess lingered. She bit her lip. She even began to tremble.
Then... suddenly... like a flare at the bottom of a deep well:
"It is so full."
Twilight's brow creased. Line with sweat. Against her better judgment, she stroked the pen.
"The blackness. So full of friends. Blocks of ice holding up the walls of emptiness. So many years and yet so few pages. Not even enough room to weep."
Twilight breathed. Blinked.
"I do nothing but listen to them, Twilight. Like a good apprentice."
Twilight panted and panted. Her eyes darted all over. Rolling.
"Do you want to know which ones died hating you the most?"
A whimper. Rushing hooves.
"We're waiting for you—"
Twilight Sparkle slammed the binding shut.
She sat in place. Awash in sweat.
It took several trembling moments. At last—as the sun began to disappear beyond the window—Twilight stood up, carrying the book beyond the penumbra of candlelight. She found a lonesome place in the library... a shelf so dusty and remote that she hopefully would never hear the book vibrating again.
...just like it was right then, pitiable and hungry, as she walked away and shut the door behind her.