“And where do you think you all are going with Ms. Shimmer?”
Sunset winced as she heard the familiar voice of the Vice-Principal.
Applejack stepped towards the older woman, positioning her body slightly in front of Sunset’s as if guarding her. But that doesn’t make any sense, Sunset thought.
“With all due respect, Miss Luna, we’re taking Sunset to Fluttershy’s place for the night.”
Luna nodded with an exacerbated sigh. “I figured as much. Please hand her ove-”
“No!” All eyes turned to the broken girl. It was the first thing she had said since Twilight left, though she looked like she hadn’t meant for it to slip out. Luna raised an eyebrow at the girl which only seemed to make her cower more. Usually Luna felt a spark of joy at the fear she instilled in her more troubled students, but seeing Sunset so broken and vulnerable didn’t sit well with the blue woman.
Perhaps that is a sign.
“What do you mean no?” Luna questioned, crossing her arms as she waited for a response. Sunset floundered, her eyes darting all over the place.
Crap! I just told the Vice-Principal no! What the buck is wrong with me? Sunset glanced at the girls in desperation. How do I explain that I would rather die than let Celestia see me this weak? It doesn’t matter that this one isn’t my Celestia, I still can’t let her see me like this!
Rarity noticed the panic in Sunset’s eyes and decided to step in.
“Vice-Principal Luna,” she started, taking a few steps to stand next to Applejack, “Princess Twilight entrusted us with Sunset’s care.” Rainbow Dash took a step next, standing on the other side of Rarity. “Yeah, she asked us to take care of Sunset and that’s what we’re gonna do!” Luna raised her eyebrows at the teenagers before her.
“While I am impressed by your loyalty, you are all just children. My sister and I will-”
“Please don’t take me away,” Sunset whimpered in the most pathetic, broken voice any of them had ever heard. Fluttershy held Sunset even tighter, rubbing her lower back as the girl began to tremble violently. Pinkie Pie grabbed the girl’s hand, giving it a squeeze to show Sunset support.
“Ms. Shimmer, I have no intention of taking you away. I simply wish to ask you some questions.” Luna frowned at the way Sunset continued to tremble despite the softness she tried to speak with.
Rarity took another step closer to the adult. “Is now really the best time to interrogate her?” The fashionista gestured dramatically towards the cowering girl behind her. “The poor thing can hardly stand on her own!” It was then that Luna noticed how heavily Sunset was leaning on Ms. Forst and Ms. Pyman. From the looks of it, she needed medical attention— and soon.
How the gods test me.
“You are quite right, Ms. Abila. However, given the nature of Ms. Shimmer’s injuries, my sister and I feel it is best that she stay with one of us for the night to receive adequate medical attention.” Luna paused and pointedly made eye contact with the battered girl. “I am assuming you are lacking the proper documentation for health insurance?”
Sunset looked away, tears filling her vision once more. “I have all my papers, but…” She hesitated, trying to gather the will power to meet the Vice-Principal’s gaze. “I didn’t think I would be around long enough for that...” Sunset once again looked away, though this time in shame. It’s not like I expected to need it. It was either go back to Equestria or let nature take its course.
Luna pinched the bridge of her nose, closing her eyes and releasing a short sigh. “That settles it then,” she said, putting her hands on her hips. “If you would please hand over Ms. Shim-”
The blue woman abruptly stopped talking when she saw Fluttershy and Pinkie drop to the ground, evidently pulled down by the girl in question.
“Sunset?” Luna called out as she rushed over to the girls, pushing past an indignant Rainbow Dash and a cautious Applejack. “Hey!” both shouted out as they nearly fell.
“No no nonono no she can’t I can’t I--” “Sunset, breathe!” Fluttershy kneeled in front of the shaking girl, trying to calm her down.
“What is the matter with her, Ms. Forst?” Luna stood behind Fluttershy, looking over her at Sunset with worry. “I think she’s having a panic attack, Ms. Luna.” Rarity and Applejack rushed forward past Vice-Principal Luna, both knowing just how horrible panic attacks could be.
“Breathe, darling. You need to focus on your breathing.” Rarity stroked her hand through Sunset’s locks, horrified when her hands came away with a few drops of blood. “She’s bleeding!”
Fluttershy moved to Sunset’s side to look for the source of blood. Applejack took Fluttershy’s spot, squatting before the girl.
“Ya gotta breathe, Sunset,” the farm girl cooed before grabbing her hand. “Focus on mah hand now, ya hear?” Applejack squeezed Sunset’s hand repeatedly, counting each squeeze. The counting and Rarity playing with Sunset’s hair helped her to calm down in a matter of minutes. By that point, Fluttershy had found the source of the bleeding— a rock had apparently cut a gash in the poor girl’s head, though the blood was clotted enough that it didn’t require a bandage at the moment.
“I’m so sorry,” Sunset mumbled once she had calmed down enough, bringing her knees up to her chest and burying her head in her arms. Great, just great. Now they’re gonna think you’re weak. Just like King S did, Sunset thought bitterly to herself while she silently sobbed. Why did you have to go and freak out like that? Luna was just offering to take care of you. But why? It’s not like I deserve it, not after what I just did. Sunset stiffened when she felt a hand rubbing her back, which just caused her to cry even harder.
Why do they care? Why are they trying to comfort me? The hand rubbed over one of her shoulder blades, causing Sunset to flinch. Great, she thought to herself. I guess I'm injured there too. Sunset grimaced at the feeling of something sticky coating her back.
“Are you hurt, Sunset?”
The girl in question winced at the soft voice of Fluttershy. How can she even ask me that? I was the worst to her! Regardless, the flame haired girl nodded ever so slightly. No! Lie! You don’t deserve any help. You should suffer for everything you’ve done.
“Where are you hurt?” This time the voice belonged to the woman who had caused the panic attack: Vice Principal Luna.
“Please don’t take me away,” Sunset said instead, cowering and even leaning into Fluttershy who in turn wrapped her arms around the girl. I don’t deserve her kindness. Tartarus, I don’t deserve to live at all.
Luna was visibly shocked at the way Sunset was responding to her. You would think I was taking her to prison instead of Celestia’s condo.
“Sunset?” Luna said softly, moving to kneel before the visibly terrified girl. She waited until Sunset made eye contact before asking, “Why don’t you wish to come with me?”
Sunset blanched at the very direct question which did not go unnoticed by the rest of the girls.
“I think she’s afraid,” Pinkie stated, speaking for the first time in an hour. All eyes turned towards the cotton candy haired girl.
“What? She had a panic attack after Ms. Luna tried to take her from us! How else would you explain that?” Pinkie Pie glanced around at the girls and the blue woman, daring them to challenge her.
“Is it true, Ms. Shimmer? Are you afraid to go with me?” Sunset’s eyes widened at the softness in Luna’s voice.
Is that- hurt? Did I hurt her feelings? Sunset tried to formulate a response but her mind was spiraling again. I can’t tell her that I’m afraid of her and her sister! They’ve been nothing but fair to me! But then again, Sunset thought as she looked around at the girls surrounding her, do I really feel safe enough with these girls? I did nothing but torment them for years, and I ruined their friendship! Sunset furrowed her brows. But then why does the thought of being away from them hurt so bad?
“I…” Sunset began, her breathing speeding up as she saw the expectant looks she was getting from everyone except for Fluttershy. “You’re ok, Sunset,” Fluttershy whispered as she brushed a piece of Sunset’s mussed hair behind her ear. “Just be honest with us.”
“Yeah,” Applejack chimed in. “Ya just gotta be honest with us, Sunset. We can’t help ya if we don’t know what ya need.” The rest of the girls nodded along with the farm girl.
Sunset felt the panic begin to rise again, but Rarity’s hand on her shoulder and Fluttershy’s arms around her helped her to calm down enough to respond.
“I don’t know,” she answered honestly, her voice barely above a whisper. “I don’t know why but,” Sunset started, tilting her head to meet the eyes of her Vice-Principal, “I just feel… safe with these girls.” Sunset dropped her head back down onto her knees as sobs wracked her frame once more. I’m so pathetic. Just like always.
Luna’s heart broke at how vulnerable and helpless the once fierce girl sounded. She looked around at her students, taking in the way they seemed to naturally protect the fallen girl. With a deep breath, the woman stood up and looked around at the girls.
“If you wish to stay with them Ms. Shimmer, I will need to ask them a few questions first.” The girls looked around at each other in confusion and some hesitancy, each wondering what Vice Principal Luna would ask of them.
“Everyone but Fluttershy, may I speak with you over there?” Luna gestured towards the crumbling entrance a few yards away. “I think it best Ms. Shimmer have someone to watch her while we discuss a few things.” With that, she turned around and started walking to the destroyed entrance of the school. Sunset couldn’t help but think that the Vice-Principal didn’t exactly trust her to be alone. Not that I blame her.
Still, she was terrified about what the older woman could possibly discuss with them. The girls all looked at each other, most unsure if they should follow the Vice Principal.
“Come on guys!” Pinkie shouted suddenly, bounding over to the older woman. Rarity and Applejack looked at each other in confusion before looking over at Rainbow Dash, who just shrugged.
“Might as well. Ah don’t see any harm in’t,” AJ said with shrug of her own. The girls followed their energetic friend to the scene of the crime, as it were.
Sunset watched them leave in fear, her anxiety growing the further away they walked.
“Breathe, Sunset,” Fluttershy whispered, holding the shivering girl close and playing with her matted hair. “You’re going to be ok.”
Sunset leaned into the touch almost against her will. What’s wrong with me? It’s like I can’t control my own body! After rethinking the last few minutes, dread started to form in the pit of Sunset’s stomach. What if the Harmony Magic did this? What if I’m under some kind of magic mind control! The fallen girl started to panic at the feeling of Fluttershy’s arms around her. What once felt comforting now felt entirely too constricting. Fluttershy let out an “Eep!” when Sunset tore herself out of her embrace, fear filling her. What if this was all an act?
Fluttershy need not have worried, as Sunset turned and promptly vomited into the nearby bushes. The timid girl quickly rushed to Sunset’s side, pulling back her hair and rubbing her back. She was completely unaware that she was rubbing directly along one of Sunset's injuries on her shoulder blades, causing the former pony to collapse in pain.
Fuck! Sunset screamed in her mind, a groan pushing past her clenched teeth.
“Sunset?’ Fluttershy cried out in alarm before kneeling beside the girl as she curled into as small a ball as possible. Tears escaped her eyes and a sob wracked her body. Fluttershy didn’t know what to do. What’s wrong? Did I hurt her? That thought nearly crushed the poor girl with guilt, which surprised her. Just a little over an hour ago, Sunset had been a literal she-demon. Why was she so concerned about her? One look at the former queen bee gave her all the answers she needed.
Time to go all out.
Fluttershy shifted near Sunset’s head and pulled her into her lap. Sunset tried to resist, but she was too weak to do more than groan and whine at the pain she was feeling. Celestia damn my own body!
Fluttershy used one hand to gently stroke Sunset’s red and gold hair–carefully avoiding the shallow gash– while the other lightly traced her neck and shoulders. Almost instantly, the crying girl relaxed. It was almost like the pain was leaving her body through the points of contact Fluttershy held with her skin. Soon Sunset was able to focus on the softness of Fluttershy’s dress, the slight tingling of the girl’s fingers tracing along her skin, and the bitter smell of bile coming from where she had emptied her stomach earlier.
This feels like heaven, Sunset thought to herself with more than a little shame and guilt. I don’t deserve any of this. Tears flowed freely as Sunset silently cried. This was the first time since before she came over through the portal that she had felt this comfortable and safe. How long has it been since She held me? Since anyone held me? More quiet sobs escaped her as the pain she had closed off suddenly started crashing over her in waves. Despite her best efforts, she was forced to remember all the moments that brought her to this one.
Miss Shimmer? I'm Doctor Hooves. Please step into my office.
Sunset Shimmer, I am removing you from the position of my pupil.
Just a few pictures and the rest will be taken care of.
If you wish to have protection, you must surrender yourself to the Hive.
Anyone is welcome to sign up to be the Fall Formal Princess!
The sound of someone singing brought Sunset out of her spiraling mind and overwhelming memories.
There's music in the treetops
And there's music in the vale
And all around the music fills the sky
There's music by the river
And there's music in the grass
And the music makes your heart soar in reply
Sunset stared up at the normally shy girl, mesmerized by her clear and soft voice. I didn’t know she could sing, she thought to herself. When Fluttershy noticed that the girl in her lap had stopped crying and shaking, she abruptly stopped, letting out a small “Eep!” before tilting her head to let her hair obscure her blushing face. Sunset was confused until she looked around and realized that everyone was back and staring at the two girls in awe.
“That was beautiful, darling” Rarity whispered as she discreetly wiped away a tear.
“Yeah, Shy. I haven’t heard you sing that since we were kids.” Rainbow wiped her nose with her pink gloves, pulling a gasp of horror from Rarity. “What?” the technicolor girl asked indignantly. “I was gonna wash them tomorrow anyway!”
“Well I suppose I can forgive you this one time, but I would hope you would treat my works of art with more respect than that!” Both girls glared at each other for a second before Pinkie Pie interrupted them.
“Ohmygosh, she’s smiling!”
All eyes turned to Sunset, whose smile was turned to a grimace at the sudden attention. Huh, I didn’t even realize I was smiling.
Before anyone could say anything, Vice-Principal Luna cleared her throat.
“Ms. Shimmer,” Luna started, waiting until the girl met her eyes. “I will let you stay with these girls so long as you agree to my conditions.” Sunset’s eyes widened at her words, but she nodded eagerly. Anything to stay away from Celestia.