“I see,” said Spike with a sigh. “We finally settled one issue and now we have to deal with another one.”
Twilight sighed as well, levitating a mirror toward her. The swelling on her eye had gone down considerably. She could see out of it again. Setting the mirror down she pulled Spike to her, wrapping him in a strong hug. “Thank you for listening, Spike. It really did help.”
“No problem, Twilight. I’m glad you opened up. I already lost one of my best friends. We don’t need any more sadness than we already have from that.”
“I don’t expect she’ll want to forgive me. She really blew her stack.” She tapped her eye. “It was a foolish decision on my part, and she was right. I really should have asked Discord in private. The heartbreak on her face was devastating.”
“So… why didn’t you?”
Twilight backed off, sitting back on her bed. “I don’t know.” She looked blankly toward a wall. “I guess… I just attributed more to Discord than he actually had. If he can move the sun and moon like nothing, transfer wings and horns from one pony to another, use mind-control, make it rain chocolate milk from cotton candy clouds, and transform himself as he wishes why shouldn’t I think that bringing the dead back to life would be any more of a strain for him?
"He’s so insanely powerful that I thought the only thing he couldn’t do with his magic was defeat the Elements of Harmony. He could go after the users, yes, but not overpower the Elements themselves. He’s done things so far above what Princess Celestia can do and with such incredible ease and lack of effort that I didn’t think this would be any different.” She set her head back on the bed, starting to cry again. “I was wrong. So very wrong. And I made Sweetie Belle suffer for it.” She buried her head in her hooves. “I’m so stupid!”
Spike grabbed Twilight’s head, lifting it up. “Stop it, Twilight! This isn’t helping. Beating yourself up isn’t going to make things any better. I’m sad too that Rarity can’t come back, but you have to stop blaming yourself.”
Twilight blinked tears out of her eyes, trying to pull away, but Spike held her head steady, looking her in the eyes. “I don’t know what to do,” she finally said. “Sweetie Belle hates me, and she has every right to. Distrusting Discord was a reasonable course of action at the time. Sweetie Belle did the same when she refused to hand the Element over, which is why she wasn’t too mad at me when I said it was our fault for what happened. But what I did just a little while ago was the peak of stupidity.”
“Twiliiight,” Spike said exasperatingly. “You’re NOT stupid. You’re a pony like the rest of your friends. You make mistakes. Sure, Sweetie Belle is mad now, but she’ll forgive you. It might take a day or two, or maybe ever a week or two, but she will forgive you. It’s what friends do, you know? You got mad at me for ruining your book and then lying about it, and my jealously over Owlicious made me leave town, thinking you didn’t need me anymore. Still, after all that, you forgave me and we moved past it. It will happen here too. Now I want you to stop with the stupid talk, alright? I don’t want to hear any more.”
Twilight let out a heavy breath. “Alright, Spike,” she said in a quiet voice, a hint of a smile on her face.
“What are you thinking, Discord?” said Sweetie Belle, her eyes narrowed. There was a squeak of discomfort from her sister, making Sweetie Belle look down quickly. She saw she was tensing up so hard that she had been squeezing her sister without realizing it. She loosened her grip, rocking Rarity again. “Shh. Shh. It’s okay.” After a few seconds Rarity settled down and remained asleep.
Looking back up she said, “You said you need me and my friends. I guess you’re planning to use the Elements of Harmony and combine it with your magic somehow to restore her.”
Discord shook his head. He shrank down to her size. “No. What I need from you isn’t the Elements, but your information.”
Sweetie Belle sighed. In a way she was glad she was holding Rarity. She didn’t know how she would be acting otherwise. She had already had her hopes crushed just a short time ago and pledged to forgive Twilight so she didn’t chance having Rarity turn out wrong. How now should she feel about Discord? Should she forgive him too?
Tears came down her eyes, splashing down onto Rarity’s coat. “It’s partly your fault my sister died,” she said in a quiet voice. She felt herself tensing this time, and so worked to unclench her body before she caused Rarity discomfort. “I can say that, but I know that I also played a part along with Twilight and her friends. As Luna just tried to teach me there is no going back in time. The only thing we can do is learn from the past and move on.
“So what is this grand plan of yours? You planning to make a life size Rarity doll and bring it to life? Or maybe you want me to decide which Rarity is more important to me by aging up this Rarity and having it like my older sister?”
“Of course not! I’ve learned my lesson now.” Surprising her completely he got down on the ground in a submissive position. “I’m sorry, Sweetie Belle. I’m sorry my stupidity and fear cost you your sister."
Her body clenched again as more tears came down her eyes. She slowly shook her head. “Please don’t do that. It’s not you.”
He got up to a kneeling position. “It is me now. I had one friend, and being told she didn’t want to be friends anymore is what truly set me off. Now I have five friends. I finally feel safe, even though I don’t have one of the Elements. I still have a lot to learn about friendship, and so I’d like to have a sixth friend in you.”
Bowing down again he continued, “I know I’m usually proud and arrogant and joking, but this is the one thing I can’t joke about. Even at my worst I never took anyone’s life, but it seems I really did this time, even if indirectly. I was too blinded by pride to see anyone’s life as important besides my friend Fluttershy. I humbly ask for your forgiveness,” he said with complete sincerity.
Sweetie Belle wiped her face, but the tears still kept going. She felt like she was still dreaming. Seeing Discord prostrate on the ground, begging for her good favor, and actually MEANING it, was the last thing she thought she’d ever see, especially given the way he had been acting before.
“Rarity…” Sweetie Belle closed her eyes, seeing her older sister. She thought back to Luna’s words, when she was asked if it was Twilight she was really the angriest at, or if it simply was easier to hate someone else to forget her feelings towards herself.
“Raise your head. Get up. Please… just stop doing that. It’s really weirding me out. But… I guess that’s just a sign of how serious you are about wanting to change. I will forgive you, but I want to know one thing first.”
Discord stood up again. “Yes?” He waited, but she didn’t speak. “Yeeees?”
Sweetie Belle was hesitating. She didn’t want to ask, but she had to know. “If… if I had given you the Element back… back before Rarity died… what were you really planning to do?”
Now it was Discord’s turn to be quiet for a little while. “I… well… at the time I didn’t have the best of intentions. I tried to manipulate you and break you to my will without actually using my powers on you. I needed you to give me the Element on your own so your guilt would make you keep it a secret until it was too late to do anything about it. I was being truthful that I would have cured Rarity.
“My friendship with Fluttershy was very important to me, and I didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize that, but I wanted out of the confines I was being placed under. Once the Element stopped being the deciding factor I planned to force my way into pony society.
"Like I said before I wanted to have a way for chaos and harmony could coexist the same way you three types of ponies did. Kids cause trouble all the time. They get into mischief and act bad and do crazy things, and yet no one wants to turn THEM to stone for it. I wanted to show ponies the brighter side of chaos. A pony that prefers cold weather to hot weather could have a house with an ice rink year long. There could be snowball fights whenever you want.
"My powers can be used for good things too. It was like I told you before. I would use my magic to help out those who needed it, in exchange for letting me have my way. Of course, with all the stories about me being a horrible monster and such going around, no one would accept it at first. That’s why I’d have to force it a little, to show them I was serious.”
Sweetie Belle let out a long sigh. “So it is true.”
“Rarity’s death really was for nothing.” She stared at her reflection in the water, feeling despair begin to eat at her again.
“No, Sweetie Belle!” Discord said firmly as he saw her pain. “It wasn’t for nothing.”
“Please stop,” she said quietly. “Just leave me alone.
“I know what you’re going to say. That if it wasn’t for Rarity’s death and you being locked away I wouldn’t have pushed so hard to learn magic and strive to learn how to protect little Rarity, and I wouldn’t have gotten my cutie mark so quickly, and that Rarity isn’t really dead. She’s still alive in me. I’m not stupid. I know all that, but it doesn’t mean anything. I would rather be a stupid kid and a lifelong blank flank if it meant Rarity was still here with me.” She closed her eyes, letting her tears flow.
“I don’t know what your offer is, but I doubt it will cheer me up. If you’re saying 'sorta' it means she really won’t still be alive. She’ll be a ghost or something, right?”
“No. Giving it some thought I figured that there is one way to have 'Rarity' here again. Do you remember the wedding for Shining Armor and Cadence?”
“What about it?” she asked, remembering how she was one of the flower girls.
“I’m sure you also remember the little disturbance that occurred?”
Sweetie Belle rolled her eyes. An army of monsters invading the ceremony was hardly what one would call little. “Yeah, the Changelings attacked. After Queen Chrysalis manipulated Shining Armor while disguised as Cadence the army broke through his shield spell and attacked all of Canterlot." She had seen first-hoof how they could turn into perfect copies of other ponies.
Sweetie Belle suddenly twitched, slowly turning toward him. That couldn’t possibly what he had in mind, could it? “Please tell me you’re joking!” she spat out. “You want to bring a Changeling here?”
Discord said quickly, “Now just hear me out.” A thought bubble appeared above his head. One of the Changeling drones appeared. “First I use my magic to get it on our side.” A caricature of Discord came in and poked the Changeling, making spiral dizzy lines appear in its eyes for a few seconds before it become brighter colored and cute. With a green flash it transformed into Rarity, a blank look on “her” face. “Next we add in all of you.” “Rarity’s” head opened, and Sweetie Belle, Spike, and the other Element bearers appeared around her. Images of dresses, beauty, and other things one would associate with Rarity all started flowing into “Rarity’s” brain, before going back in and her head closing, then “Rarity” was wearing a dress and making an elegant pose. “We feed all you and your friends memories of Rarity into the Changeling, so it will start to act just like the Rarity you all remember.”
Sweetie Belle stared at Discord for a short while, unsure if she should be amazed or horrified at the idea. There were problems with it that should have been obvious. “And… how do you plan to explain just how come 'Rarity' is back after three months of being dead?”
“Simple. Because I’M back. You can tell everyone that I CAN bring others back to life. It’s ME, after all. They already experienced my power back when I was evil. They wouldn’t doubt that explanation for a second.”
“And, when you’re claiming to be good now and wanting to help others with their injuries and illnesses and stuff, how are you going to explain why you can’t do for all the others who died as you did for 'Rarity?' They’ll want loved ones back too.”
“I’ll just say I refuse on ethical boundaries. I could say I only brought her back because she’s needed for her Element of Harmony to protect Equestria because using the Element is too tough on your tiny body.”
“And how are you planning on getting a Changeling for this plan of yours?”
“I don’t need to know where they are. I can get one easy. Don’t underestimate my abilities.”
Sweetie Belle sighed, shaking her head as she went back to staring at her reflection in the water. She pulled her sister closer to her, nuzzling her nose. “When I lost Rarity I felt like my heart was destroyed. I had never felt such pain in my entire life. When my baby sister was born it was the first time since she died that I had a reason to feel hopeful again. Even more than this cutie mark it makes me feel a purpose in life, that I am truly needed and necessary.
“I’m tired of playing the blame game already. It’s her fault, it’s your fault, it’s my fault. No matter who we blame it won’t bring Rarity back. Princess Luna helped me to realize that. Having Twilight bring up that possibility brought me back to when I had first lost her, and it felt like I had lost my purpose again.”
She gave Rarity a few gentle kisses on her cheeks. “I love my baby sister more than I’ve loved anything else, and she needs that love to grow up right. Growing up around a hateful, angry me will cause her to grow up that same way.” Tears began coming down her eyes again. “No matter how painful it is for me I have to put on my best face for her, because she needs me.
“As for you…” She looked over at Discord, shaking her head again. “Oh, Discord.” She stood up, walking towards him after gently setting her sister on the ground. “You’ve still got a lot to learn. That much is clear. After what happened the last two times you began relying on mind-control to try to accomplish your aims ended with you being sealed away, your grand plan is to use mind-control again?”
Discord gave her an awkward look. “Well… I…”
“It’s obvious to me that at this rate you’re going to wind up getting a swelled head again, leading to you to start abusing your powers and forcing us to use the Elements of Harmony again. And, honestly, that’s way too annoying to me. I failed Rarity. I don’t want to fail at this too.
"You’re right that using the Element takes a lot out of me because I’m so young, and I want you to be around to help protect my little sister. So…” Her face clenched like she was in pain, and then she jumped up and gave Discord a hug. “…so I guess I don’t have any choice but to forgive you and be your friend so I can make sure you don’t go off the wrong path again.”
A small smile came to Discord’s face as he gently patted her head. “Thank you, Sweetie Belle.”
Throwing her anger and blame towards Discord away felt cleansing to her, as difficult as it had been to do. Letting go of Discord she began pacing around, saying, “As your new friend I want to pass on a lesson my teacher taught me about friendship. I talked to her about our deal for the Element, without actually telling her any of the details, and making it seem like it was about someone else. She saw right through my lie, but she pretended not to so I would talk normally.
“She told me that doing something wrong for the right reasons is better than doing it to be mean or cruel, but it still winds up being no better in the long run. It was her words that made me change my mind about handing over the Element of Generosity.
“Mind-controlling others is wrong, no matter what the circumstances. The Changelings invaded and attacked Princess Celestia. They were bad, no doubt about it. Still… your plan is just as evil. You mocked Twilight for planning to use a spell to force your change to good. And you’re planning to do the same thing. Not only that, but you’re planning on destroying its identity and forcing it to become someone completely different for its entire life with no choice in the matter.
“Having a fake Rarity that acts exactly like the original... it sounds nice on the surface, but we’d all know it wasn’t the real thing. Even if you gave the Changeling information about all her likes and dislikes it doesn’t mean she can play the part perfectly. Just because you implant the knowledge that Rarity was a fashion designer doesn’t mean it would have the skill to sew and make dresses. It would be the same as if you turned me into Rarity. I stink at sewing. All it would make me feel is inadequate because I couldn’t do what my cutie mark was pushing me toward.
“Then of course there is the possibility that it would fight off your magic over time, the same way my intense love for Rarity led to me breaking your spell on me. And since Changelings feed on love it would only grow stronger from all of us being around it. Shining Armor’s love for Cadence was strong enough that it allowed Queen Chrysalis to defeat the princess in a magic duel.
“So basically your plan is way too dangerous, morally wrong, and it wouldn’t really solve the problem because, without getting your memories directly from Rarity herself, you wouldn’t be able to create a convincing fake. You’d be taking each of our perspectives on Rarity and trying to make them make sense. I idolize Rarity, but Applejack and Rainbow Dash can find her annoying. Each of us has our own bias toward her, and I just don’t think it would add up.
“I thank you for trying to come up with an idea to help me after what happened today, but nothing doing.”
She stopped her pacing, sitting down and picking up Rarity again. Giving her sister a warm smile she said, “The word Rarity MEANS rare. It means unique... special... one-of-a-kind. That’s why I think there can only be one Rarity in the world. This Rarity can only be here because the old Rarity is not. So to try to create a fake Rarity just wouldn’t work, because the world wouldn’t allow it. She’s far too special to be replaced.”
Moving to a sitting position still holding her sister she said, “But if you really want to help me you can do me a favor right now.”
“Yes, Sweetie Belle?”
“Take me over to Twilight’s place. I owe her an apology.”
“Okay. But before we go I just want to say thank you. You’ve grown up a lot in such a short time.”
She gave him a weak smile. “I’m a big sister now. I don’t have any other choice but to grow up if I want to show Rarity the way to live her life.”
Discord smiled back. “Yes, I suppose not.” With a snap of his claw they disappeared, reappearing in front of the library.