Left behind by my best friend. Forgotten. I was nothing, a nobody. No fancy high institution took me in. I wasn’t raised, groomed by the elite. I was a self-made mare, forged by the struggles of life and trials to prove myself.
And I made it. I became the mayor of my own little town. I rose from a friendless filly to a leader. I had living proof that the beliefs I held at my very core worked.
But then the empire came and took everything I knew and loved. Oh, I put up a fight. Maybe, just maybe, I could help the agents of evil they sent against me see the light. No one is beyond redemption, after all. But they rejected my message, burned my home down, destroyed everything I worked for.
I didn’t have time to mourn. I had to fight back, take back what was mine, avenge the fallen innocent of my village. I examined my foe’s every weakness, studied over countless magical texts, planned for every contingency.
And I won. I fought my archnemesis to a standstill. Would have fought her to the ends of eternity. My heroic resolve won in the end.
The hero always wins, right?
My head hit the pillow. Fluffy. Twilight tells me Rarity picked them out for the guest room when she first moved in. I turn my head, and stare at my reflection in the mirror.
I was supposed to be the hero of my story. What sort of story has the hero come from the castle halls of Canterlot, given every opportunity in the world, and have the resources of an entire kingdom at her hooftips? Assuredly the hero would be the pony from a normal house in a forgettable village, who had her life turned upside down when the Friendship Nation attacked.
I stare into my reflection, and it stares back at me. I can see the disgust on her face.
“You’re a disgrace. Everything you did, and you turned your back on everything you believed in because of some honeyed words from a princess.”
“The world ended. Because of me.”
“Is that your fault? You offered a better vision for the world. The fact that the world did not accept it is not your fault.”
“Stalking a princess, rewriting time, endangering the world… is this how a hero truly operates?”
“Listen to yourself. You already sound like her. Heroes work with what they are given. What sort of hero gives up in the face of adversity?”
“I do not sound like her.”
Apparently I’m making more sound than I think, because who should come through the door (without knocking, no less) than the Princess herself.
“Starlight? Are you okay?” There’s a look of concern on her face as our eyes meet. I roll over and face the opposite wall.
“No. I’m not okay.” The soft patter of hooves sound behind me. I can feel her climb into the bed behind me, her hoof on my shoulder.
“Do you want to talk about it?” I don’t have a choice here, do I?
I whisper. It’s all I dare do. “History is written by the winners.”
There was no point in beating around the bush. “Was I a villain, Princess?”
“Starlight, what’s this about?”
“I was supposed to be the hero, Princess. I lost everything I held dear, twice. I was fighting for the common pony. I wanted justice for what I thought you took away from my town.”
“You did seem a bit more focused on revenge on me and my friends than that.”
Silence. All I can do is look at my reflection in the crystalline wall. She doesn’t speak. She doesn’t need to.
Finally, I manage to say something. “What do you think of me, Twilight Sparkle?”
She rustles, her reflection taken aback. “I… I think you’re a brilliant, gifted mare who lost her way, but is back on the right track.”
That’s exactly what I knew what I’d hear. That’s exactly what I didn’t want to hear. “So I’m reformed. Redeemed.”
“Y-Yes, I suppose you could say that.”
“You don’t redeem heroes, Twilight. You think I was a villain. A bad guy. Evil.”
“Starlight, that’s not-“
“I thought I was the hero, Twilight. A world where we’re all equal – is that so evil? Fighting against the ponies drove me from my home – is that so wrong? Never wanting another to feel the pain I felt – is that the motivation of a villain, Princess?” There’s a little more bite than I intended, but maybe not enough for the fire in my heart. Or is it even my heart anymore, or is it my reflection’s?
“Yes, I admit it, I made mistakes. I got too caught up in my revenge. I was willing to watch the world end for my own desires. But where was it written in the stars that everything I believed in was wrong, Twilight?” I felt the blade dig deeper and deeper with each word. “But that’s all I’ll go down in history as, right? Starlight Glimmer, former villain, redeemed by Twilight Sparkle, our princess and hero.”
“That’s not true, Starlight, and you know it.”
“History is written by the winners, Princess. And the hero always wins, right?”
“I didn’t beat you, Starlight.”
“You could have, eventually. I’m sure.” The doubt enters my voice, my heart, and I can see the disgust in my reflection. “You won, Twilight. You were this close to it all being over, and you turned it all around.”
“Only because you–”
“You don’t get it, do you, Princess? You’re the hero. It was your precious friendship that saved the world, not mine. It was your steadfast belief in different ponies being friends that won out, not mine. You saved the world from the evil, hateful mare hell-bent on world destruction.
“I was… the villain.”
A hoof turns my head, and I look into the Princess’ face. At least, I assume it’s the Princess’ face. All I can see right now is purple. Has to be better than looking at my reflection, at least.
For a moment, she doesn’t say anything. I can hear my reflection, in the back of my head. “She’ll never understand you, your struggle. Ponies that are different can’t be friends.” I wish I could still believe she was right.
“You’re not the first pony I’ve met to have a friend leave them behind.” Her voice shakes me out of my thoughts, and I turn my head to face her. She keeps looking at the wall. At her reflection. “I know a pony by the name of Moondancer. Her friend never came to the first party she ever threw, and it broke her heart. It drove her to a life of solitude, afraid to make friends, afraid her heart would be broken again.
“When I tried to help her, she pushed me away. She was certain her way was the only way. I couldn’t reason with her, could never prove to her what I knew about friendship.
“It didn’t help the pony who left her behind… was me.” For the barest of instants, I saw a flash of an orange pony before me.
“I didn’t beat Moondancer, Starlight, not in that sense. I didn’t prove to her she’d never struggle with a lost friendship. She was right, really, in her own way. But I gave her a chance to believe in better future… and I’m glad she took it.
“I read once that, in order to let go, sometimes you have to mourn the death of a past self.”
I didn’t want to hear it. I didn’t want to be told to let go, to embrace the future, to leave behind everything that made me who I was. But I looked back at my reflection. And suddenly, seeing her on a funeral pyre didn’t seem too bad.
I feel the bed shift as the princess climbed out of the bed. I hear the door creak open, and I turn over. “Twilight.”
She turns to face me. I feel a smirk on my face. “Princess of Friendship, indeed.” A small smile crosses her face.
She turned to the door. “Twilight.”
She turned again. “…Thanks.”
“You’re welcome.” And with that, she leaves me alone with my reflection. I would put the past behind me… someday. But tonight, I gaze at my reflection, and resign myself to labelling her a villain.
I stumble down the stairs. I don’t know the way around the castle, but I have enough sense to follow the smell of pancakes. It’s just the Princess and her dragon in the kitchen, and a pile of pancakes that cannot possibly be for only two ponies and a dragon. I get a warm smile and a warm-enough smile when they see me. The pancakes slide across the table to in front of me, and I indulge my hunger.
“Oh, Starlight.” The Princess’ call draws my head up, pancake hanging from my mouth in a most undignified manner. “I was hoping you would be willing to share a little more about yourself and your past later today.”
I shrug. Probably some get-to-know-you-better friendship exercise. “Okay. Any particular reason?”
“Because… history is written by the winners.”