TWO DAYS LATER
Cozy eventually was released from the hospital after a few more tests. She was eager to meet up with Twilight outside the hospital to help start a new, better life. The moment a nurse came in to escort her out, Cozy was out of bed like a rocket, with Cobalt Blitz hot on her tail. She was given a drug prescription for her meds at the front desk and stepped outside followed by her best friend. There, she was greeted by the Lavender Alicorn herself.
"Hello, Cozy," Twilight said sweetly.
"Hey, Twilight," Cozy replied shyly. She was a little scared at being outside again. Although it felt good to be out of that stuffy hospital room, she felt a like an outcast in Equestria. She was worried what everyone would think of her being out again instead of rotting in jail.
Twilight could sense Cozy's uneasiness, scooped her up, and placed her on her back. Cozy buried herself into the fur on Twilight's back and used some of her mane to cover herself. She didn't do a good job, though and she could feel other ponies looking at her. However, they weren't glaring at her. Instead, they were giving her looks of sympathy and sadness. News of how Cozy had her head injury and how Tirek had manipulated her spread like wildfire and everyone now knew why this little Pegasus was the way she was. The sad looks were worse than glares in Cozy's opinion, it just reminded her of how she'd never be a normal pony like everyone else. Cobalt reached up and rubbed her back comfortingly. He could tell she was trying to hide from everyone and he hated seeing her like this. Cozy felt a little comfort knowing that her friend was beside her no matter what.
ONE HOUR LATER
After what seemed like forever, Cozy, Twilight, and Cobalt finally arrived at the castle. Cobalt decided to head into the living room to hang out with everyone else, while Cozy was escorted upstairs by Starlight Glimmer. The second she was inside, Cozy now felt safe again. No one was looking at her and no one was judging her. She felt calm and at ease as she was slowly led to her new room by Starlight Glimmer. At Spike's request, Cozy would be given a room in the castle because she had nowhere to go after she'd leave the hospital. Cozy couldn't be happier. She now had a place to call home and she had ponies she could call not just friends, but family as well.
As she left the staircase behind and walked down the long hallway, she spotted a door that was ajar. Her curiousity overtook her and she creaked open the door and stepped into the room. Instantly, she wished that she didn't, but she couldn't help to look around. The room behind the door turned out to be Spike's room. It had a new shelf on the wall that was the farthest from the door. On that shelf were several Power Ponies comics that seemed to be on display and there was a banner above that read, "SPIKE'S FAVORITE COMICS". On the bed were several boquets of flowers. there was a small crown made of tinfoil resting on a stand inside a glass display case and it had a wooden base with a golden plaque that had cursive letters carved into it. The plaque read, "SPIKE: FOREVER THE WINNER OF THE SIBLING SUPREME". There was another wooden stand that held a large book on top of it. It had a medium thickness and the cover read, "THE ONE WHO TAUGHT US EVERYTHING: THE LIFE OF SPIKE THE DRAGON". Cozy began to flip through the pages. She teared up as she made her way to the middle of the book, reading how he saved the Crystal Empire twice, how he befriended a changeling named Thorax, and how he competed in the Gauntlet of Fire just to ensure the safety of his friends, family, and home. She then came upon a chapter in which a secret admirer kept sending love letters and small gifts to the Element Bearers, Starlight, the Cutie Mark Crusaders, Smolder, and Gabby. She read how this went on for a solid three months, until one night, the admirer was caught and revealed to be Spike. Cozy took the time to read why he loved each of them so much, as well as how Gabby, Smolder, and the Crusaders had already fallen in love for him long before the admirer fiasco.
Cozy couldn't help but stop reading to cry for a minute remembering what the guard had said to her and the other two villains in the cell.
"You should also know that he had a harem of 12 girls, one of which suffers from depression and is having the hardest time out of them all."
"What did I do?" she whispered through her tears.
Eventually, she got herself together and continued reading on. She gulped as she neared the end, knowing full well what would be waiting for her. She decided to suck it up and read the end of the book. Sure enough, the end of the book went into detail about how the final battle went down as well as Spike's fatal injuries. Then something in the middle of one page caught her attention. There were two lines with bold text in quotation marks that were inbetween two paragraphs. Cozy began to read them over.
"As long as I know that Equestria is safe, more importantly, as long I know that you’re all safe, there's nothing more I'd want to know in my last moments than that." --- Spike telling the one half of his harem that was with him how he viewed the results of the battle as he lies terminally injured on the ground, slowly growing weaker.
“Please make sure Smolder, the Crusaders, Starlight, and Gabby know that I love them,” --- Spike's final words to the Element Bearers, to pass the word onto the other half of his harem that he loved them, before fully succumbing to his wounds at the scene of the battle.
Cozy felt both shocked and sad at the same time. Sad because she was just reminded of what she did when she was trying her very hardest to try to forget and shocked because she had never seen a creature express such bravery and selflessness before, aside from Cobalt of course.
"Like what we did with this place, huh?" said a voice.
Cozy turned to face the source of the voice and it had come from none other than Starlight Glimmer. She wore a sad smile and she seemed a bit happy that Cozy was exploring the new additions to what was her lover's room. Cozy, however, believed she stuck her nose where it didn't belong.
"Oh, uh, sorry. I was just heading out," she said in a tone as meek and Fluttershy.
"No, no, it's cool," Starlight replied. "You were bound to come in here eventually and I'm happy to see you interested in Spike. He was a kid who always made sure everyone was happy and always helped out those who were less fortunate than he was. I take it you read about the harem as well as the crushes Gabby, Smolder, and the Crusaders had on him?"
"Yeah," Cozy sighed. "Can't really blame 'em though. Now that I'm coherant and stable again, I can see why so many people loved him so much. He's the sweetest kid, aside from Cobalt, I've ever met," she shuffled her hoof on the ground and a light blush came across her cheeks. "If, uh, the truth be told, even when I was unstable, I did find him kind of cute too."
"You know?" Starlight said. "When I think about it more, I think I had a light crush on him before that admirer fiasco too. Rarity was his crush ever since he moved to Ponyville and he'd do anything to impress her," Starlight sighed. "She does still wish she would've seen his feelings sooner so she could've repayed him for his kindness. Even if she was with Spike alone, she says, she would've been more than happy to share him with us as well. In fact, she would've encouraged it if she knew Dragons were polygamous had they gotten together early on."
Cozy felt bad for her. More importantly she felt bad for everyone who not just loved Spike more than a friend, but who knew Spike in general. She began to tear up again. Feeling guilty for what she did began to feel normal for her. Starlight saw this and wrapped the filly in a comforting hug. After a full minute of hugging, they broke away and decided to go around and look at all the new things in the bedroom turned memorial room. Cozy was fascinated with Spike's Power Pony comics and she was very interested on how he had become Sibling Supreme. Eventually, after about 45 minutes of Starlight reminiscing good memories of Spike to Cozy, the duo left the room and headed into another room one door down from Spike's memorial room.
She was told where everything was by the Pink Unicorn and was told that she would be going back to the school of friendship in one week. Before Starlight left, however, Cozy had one last question for her.
"Hey, Starlight," she said. "I hope you don't mind me asking, but what's going to happen to Tirek and Chrysalis?"
Starlight winced slightly at the mention of Chrysalis' and Tirek's names.
"Well, they'll be sentenced in two days, Cozy. It's likely they'll both get life in Tartarus," Starlight replied simply. She didn't want to go too deep into conversation about the two other villains who had done deeds that were unforgivable.
Cozy could see that Starlight looked a little uneasy by her question so she decided to wrap the subject up quickly.
"Oh, okay. Thanks for the information," she said.
"Anytime, Cozy," Starlight replied.
"Enjoy the rest of the day, Starlight," Cozy said with a warm smile.
"You too, Cozy," Starlight replied and left the room, leaving Cozy alone with her many thoughts.
As she lay in bed later that night, Cozy thought about everything that had happened in the last month. She had gone from a villain to a good girl and she was getting top-of-the-line help with rebuilding her life and she felt happy knowing that she had ponies who'd be with her every step of the way. Although, deep inside, there was a feeling of fear inside her of what everyone, particularly the Young Six, would think of her, but, for now, she was exhausted. She needed to get to sleep and she did just that. Contrary to the nights in the hospital bed, she didn't have a single nightmare that night and, for the first time in a full week, slept like a log.
ONE WEEK LATER
*BEEP!* *BEEP!* *BEEP!*
At 8:00 A.M., Cozy's alarm clock blared throughout the castle. Cozy immediatlely jumped out of bed and shut it off. Today was the day she'd be heading back to the School of Friendship. She was somewhat excited, but, at the same time, was scared of what other students would think of her. She had pushed those feelings aside all week and now it was time to face them. She combed her mane and tail, washed her face, brushed her teeth, and washed down a pill for both her PTSD and Bipolar Disorder with water before barreling down the stairs to meet up with Starlight at the front door. When she got down there, however, she was surprised to find not just Starlight waiting for her down there, but Cobalt as well.
"Surprise!" Cobalt shouted. "Starlight and I agreed that it wouldn't be fair for you to go back to school alone. So we contacted my parents and they agreed to let me go to the School of Friendship with you to ensure you're alright."
"Aww, thanks, you two. This really means a lot to me," Cozy said softly. She felt truly touched by the kindness of every one of her new friends.
"Hey, it was nothing," Cobalt replied. "I'm just looking out for my best friend."
With that said, the three ponies began the moderate walk to school.
Eventually, Cozy, Cobalt, and Starlight arrived at the School of Friendship. Cobalt was excited, he was looking forward to meeting other creatures who possibly shared the same hobbies he did. Cozy, on the other hand, was nervous about seeing the same faces who she had try to defeat no more than a month ago. Starlight could sense Cozy's nervousness and assured her everything would be alright. With a gulp, Cozy led the way as she slowly opened the front door and stepped inside. Waiting for them in the hallway were the Young Six. Cozy immediately became fearful upon seeing them. The all smiled warmly at her, but Cozy still ducked behind Starlight's front legs and tried to hide. After a little coaxing from Cobalt, Starlight as well as the Young Six, however, she eventaully came out and they all walked down the hall together to their first class.
If this were two weeks ago, the Young Six would be furious at seeing Cozy return, but upon learning her backstory and how she was manipulated, all their anger and hatred went towatd Tirek and they saw Cozy in a new light. Then they got word of the heaven portal and how Spike persuaded Celestia to try and reform the Pegasus rather than punishing her. The six creatures felt absolutely touched by the angel dragon's forgiveness and kind words.
There was one member of the Young Six who felt the most touched by Spike's forgiveness and kind words, Smolder. Just when she thought she couldn't fall in love with him more than she already had, he proved her wrong by forgiving the one who had taken part in ending his life. When she was notified of the spell that was mastered that could show them to Spike in the heavens, Smolder felt reborn again. Even if she couldn't hold him, just seeing him and hearing his beautiful voice again was more than enough for the lovesick, tomboyish, teen dragon. In fact, there were some days when she wouldn't be taking her meds because she was literally that happy that she could have some sort of contact with her other half. In her eyes, the angel dragon was the definition of perfect.
There was another member of the Young Six who felt for Cozy because he could also relate to the pink Pegasus' situation. It was none other than Gallus. Like Cozy, he too had no family, but he had never been manipulated like Spike into believing he had a long lost parent, nor did he have a mental illness caused by a head injury. He felt beyond sorry for her when he heard about her backstory. He also couldn't help but feel like he had a personal connection with Cozy now.
Eventually, they arrived at Cozy's first class of the day. She was purposely given a seat right next to Cobalt so she felt more at ease. Even though she was right by the one who she knew and cared for most, she couldn't help but feel like everyone was staring at her. She wanted nothing more than to shrink down and dissapear into any cracks or holes in the floor or walls. She did, however, pay close attention to what all the Professers said in each of her classes and spoke only when spoken to by a professor, although her tone seemed quieter than Fluttershy's and she'd sometimes be asked to repeat herself. At lunch, she politely asked Rarity if she could eat lunch in her room instead of the cafeteria as the fashonista's class would be the one she had right before lunch. At recess, she left Rarity's classroom, but instead of going outside, she went to the library and curled up on a couch. She didn't cry, but anyone passing by could tell something was bothering her. When they asked her what was the matter, Cozy politely told them that she was fine. Reluctantly, they left Cozy alone. The real reason Cozy was being so distant was because it felt so wrong to her to be back with the ones that she betrayed no more than a year ago. She felt deep down, that everyone hated her and it was best that she just left everyone alone.
"I can't face all of them again," Cozy sighed to herself. "Not after what I've done. They probably all hate me for betraying them."
Unbeknownst to the little, pink Pegasus, however, there was a griffon, dragon, yak, pony, changeling, and hippogriff listening in on what she had just said and decided to confront her about it. They would've gone out to recess as well, but they noticed Cozy's demeanor and decided to follow her and witnessed her sad and somewhat sulky demeanor. They knew exactly how she felt and finally decided to pull her out of it once and for all.
"Hey, Cozy," Smolder called, getting Cozy's attention.
Cozy turned to face them.
"Oh, uh, hi, everyone. Uh, what's going on?" Cozy asked.
"Nothing much," Gallus said. "Although we couldn't help but notice how you've been moping around all day."
Cozy gulped, she knew she was caught.
"It's that obvious, huh?" she sighed.
"Well, yeah," Ocellus said.
"But why do you still feel this way? We've all forgiven you and you know it too," Sandbar said.
"I just don't understand it. Less than a month ago I was so bent on getting rid of all of you and now you want to become my friends. Yes, I get my fractured mind was the main reason I was driven to my villainous nature, but I can't help but feel partially responsible for what happened because I chose to stay with the one who manipulated me and I didn't ever stop to think if what he was telling me was a lie or not," Cozy explained.
Smolder was next to speak up. She looked very serious.
"Listen, Cozy. I want to straighten something out. You were not responsible for your actions in any way. Tirek was the one who pulled the strings and he could've, at any point, said, 'you know what, Cozy? I lied to you what I told you was actually an attempt to bring Equestria to its knees and I'm sorry'. Did he do that? No! Yes, I know I was angry at you. Hell, we all were. That was until Twilight told us how insane you looked when they visited you in your cell and when Tirek came clean to them about how he met and manipulated you. What ultimately motivated not just me, but all of us, to help you out was when Celestia and Luna surprised us when they had revealed they had mastered a special spell, which was always thought to be a myth until less than two weeks ago, that made a portal which showed us to the heavens," Smolder explained.
"Wait a minute," Cozy said. "I saw that same portal. Spike was an angel and he told me about how he had forgiven me and told me to be better. He also introduced me to his parents."
"Precisely," Smolder continued. "I was beyond overjoyed when I saw Spike again. When we did see him, he told us how proud he was for our performance in coping with his death. He told us how his parents and he was there for every second for every event. He also praised both Fluttershy and me directly for forgiving Discord sooner than everyone else and helping everyone else to go down the right path. When he saw how you acted in the dungeon, he told us how he knew you were good inside and asked us to help you reform. His opinion was only cemented after that hospital room visit. He also said that he, and I quote, 'saw your soul in those scarlet eyes and it seemed broken'. He said he wanted nothing more than to lead you down the right path so you could have a great and fun-filled life. I remember wiping the tears that were brimming my eyes and I felt my heart pumping faster. I already was in love with Spike because of his kindness, and I got to be in a harem with him because he loved not just me back, but 11 other girls. However, in that moment, I felt like I was falling for him all over again. Only this time, my feelings for him felt deeper than last time. Another thing I want to add is that no one here hates you. After the other students heard about what Spike had said about you, the only thing I heard of in the hallways...was you. Everyone was saying they were eager to have you back so they could fill Spike's wishes of reforming you. There's also something else you should know about me. I suffer from severe depression and when I was in a relatioship with Spike, it seemed to dissapear. When he died, I felt like a part of me died also. With the help of my fellow harem members, brother, and close friends, however, I realized that I, as well as everyone who knew and loved Spike, have a small part of his spirit inside of us. That little fact also helped me, as well as Fluttershy, forgive Discord because we knew that he didn't expect the Legion to betray him so suddenly because of something they read in a book. Plus, dwelling on the past wouldn't do me, or anyone else, any good. In his last moments, Spike also begged the Elements to forgive Discord, because he, as well, knew Discord's intentions were good at heart. If he had about 30-45 more seconds of life left in him, I bet there'd be a 95 percent chance he'd ask us to consider reformation for you too. In fact, you want to know a little something? Discord told all of us directly while you were in the hospital that if his plan had gone accordingly, he was going to do everything he could to try and convince Twilight and the others to reform all three of you after the battle. What he didn’t realize, however, was that two of those three creatures he was trying to reform were already a lost cause. He literally saw your soul in his eyes, like Spike did, and knew that you had good in you. What he also didn't realize, however, was about how Tirek met you and manipulated you. If he had known that, he wouldn't have pulled him out of Tartarus as well."
Discord appeared out of nowhere in a puff of smoke, taking everyone by surprise, even Smolder.
"I can vouch for that," the Draconequus said. "Little Cozy, I despised seeing you get sent to Tartarus at such a young age and I wanted to do something about it. Unfortunately, this plan was the first thing that came to mind and I didn't bother considering other options. I was also eager to finally try and get Equestria’s most feared foes to become our allies, not seeing the other two for what they truly were. An unremorseful murderer and a child-manipulating coward. I'm sorry for what you had to go through at the hands of that monster, as well as my own hands. If I had known what he had done to you, I wouldn't have picked him up and I would've verbally told the Princesses to consider reformation for you. I also understand if you do not want to forgive me for what I've put you through."
Cozy was beyond shocked. She hadn't expected anyone to be so eager to have her back especially after all that she had done, nor had she expected the mastermind go through months of planning just to reform her. After a full minute of processing everything Smolder and Discord had said, she began to speak.
"I-I don't know what to say," Cozy stuttered. "I guess I really do have opportunity to make new friends here. I just needed a push in the right direction. Thank you, Smolder."
She then turned to Discord.
"Discord," she started. "I must say that I need to thank you. While you did, to put it frankly, put me through hell, if you didn't do what you did, I would've become probably too insane to re-enter society."
Discord smiled warmly. He felt touched by Cozy's words. Smolder also smiled, seeing Cozy starting to learn new things already.
"Exactly. Now you're getting it, kid."
Then the bell rung, signaling recess was over and it was time for their next class. Cozy turned to face the Young Six.
"Want to go up together?" she asked.
"You bet," Gallus replied.
"Well, you all do that," Discord said. "I have other things to attend to, but make no mistake. I will be checking in on you whenever I can."
With that said, Discord snapped his fingers and dissapeared in another cloud of smoke. Once he was gone, Cozy and the Young Six all walked to their next class. They all were in the same room so they didn't have to split up, much to Cozy's relief. As she sat down, Cozy felt a new hope filling the inside of her as she basked in what Smolder had said. It was at this point she knew that things were now truly looking up from here.