• Published 30th Jul 2014
  • 5,581 Views, 318 Comments

Seven Days in Sunny June, Book II - BlueBastard

Sunset Shimmer's return to Equestria has her seeking to stop whatever it is causing her foster sister nightmares across the boundaries of two realities. But the challenges she faces will test her ability to handle the consequences of her past

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Monday, PM: There's a Magic I Can Hold

Monday, PM: There’s a Magic I Can Hold

It took all of Sunset Shimmer’s resolve to keep up a calm outer appearance as she flew over the Equestrian countryside in the sky chariot, armored ponies beside her. The mountainside city of Canterlot was quickly getting bigger on the horizon. Too quickly. Although she was doing her best to imitate her captors’ rock hard exterior, inside she was screaming. I’m screwed I’m screwed I’m so screwed!

Indeed, it seemed likely that Princess Celestia would throw her in a dungeon upon her arrival at the castle. Or banish her. Perhaps some combination of the two? Of course, it was also possible that the Princess would be merciful and grant Sunset a quick death. That thought didn’t do much to reassure the young unicorn as she realized with despair that if Celestia gave Sunset her well-earned punishment, she wouldn’t be able to save Twily from her nightmares. It was then that Sunset’s strong facade cracked, and the once proud unicorn let out a whimper.

It couldn’t end like this. Not before Twily was safe from whatever haunted her. Sunset began looking around at her surroundings, desperately searching for an avenue of escape. Her captors remained unflinching as they sat around her, staring straight ahead. Sunset thought she might have recognized them, and for a moment wondered whether they were the same guards she’d knocked out before first escaping through Platinum’s mirror.

They haven’t bothered to put her in chained hobbles or attach an inhibitor ring to her horn. It would be all too easy to simply teleport herself to the ground. The guards would give chase of course, but the Everfree Forest was very close. Even Celestia’s soldiers would know better than to follow her in there. And if they did, Sunset could probably knock them out just like she had last time. When I stabbed Celestia through the heart.

That sobering thought shook all notions of escape from Sunset’s mind. Even if she could escape, what then? She couldn’t run from Celestia forever. Besides, she’d already had a run through the Everfree earlier that day, and the thought of another suddenly became very unappealing. Sunset Shimmer was tired of running.

So it was with a surprising sense of calm that Sunset was led through the halls of Castle Canterlot to her likely doom. Feelings of nostalgia welled up within her at the familiar sights of the castle. The tall, vaulted ceilings. The shining marble floor. The stained-glass windows depicting battles of old. It was only when Sunset was led into the throne room itself that the fear began to resurface. Sitting on the throne at the end of a long red carpet was Princess Celestia herself, flanked by a pair of guards. The solar diarch studied Sunset as she approached with the careful neutrality Sunset had come to know so well over her years as Celestia’s protégé. As her surrogate daughter.

“So, you have returned, Sunset Shimmer,” said Celestia, her voice showing no sign of anger, but no trace of happiness either. Her head was also raised slightly such that Sunset couldn’t get a good enough look at the eyes of her former mentor to get an idea of her true emotional state. “Have you set your sights beyond a mere artifact of magical power and instead seek other means to achieve that which you refused to earn through honest means?”

Sunset found she couldn’t talk, couldn’t look away, couldn’t do anything but let her legs tremble in place. But not because Celestia was suggesting she hadn’t learned a thing in the past four years, but because she seemed to be expecting it. It hurt to even have the accusation be little more than a suggestion, but Sunset knew how much she’d hurt the princess. It felt more than a little ironic to be back in the place where it all began: the halls of power that she so very much wanted - and now wanted nothing to do with, now that she had a home on Earth, a family that loved her...and a sinking guilt that she had been given what she desired just to have it taken from her now. Now she knew she had to ask for the goddess-princess - the one who could banish her to an eternity of solitude on the heavenly body of her choosing - to forgive an offense that had gone deeper than any physical wound could.

“No…I have come seeking something more valuable, Princess.”

Celestia’s eyebrow raised up slightly. “Oh? Tell me, what does this pony before me - who herself stated to desire naught but power- seek that even surpassing Faust herself cannot compare to?” As she finished speaking, she gave Sunset the courtesy to look eye-to-eye.

“Your help,” Sunset said, bowing lower than she ever had in her life. She would have said “your forgiveness,” but Sunset didn’t feel like pushing her luck just yet.

The Princess gave her former pupil a curious look, but retained her calm ire.

“Look, I don’t blame you for assuming the worst about me. Lord only knows I’ve done everything to earn your mistrust,” Sunset started, as with most things in her life not thinking about what would come next. “I know that I’ve also earned whatever retribution you wish to bring down, but please just hear me out!”

Sunset looked up at Celestia, who continued looking down at her with that unreadable expression. Sunset took her silence as a sign to continue and swallowed the bile building up in her throat.

“Someone very close to me is suffering horribly. Whatever’s hurting her is here in Equestria, and I have to stop it!” Sunset’s eyes began to water as she thought of Twily. The truck was bearing down on her. Sunset blinked the tears away and took a calming breath. It wouldn’t do to break down now.

“I ask… no, I beg you! Let me do this one thing. Afterwards…” Sunset bowed her head low, “I’ll submit myself to your judgement.”

It seemed a very long time before Sunset had the courage to look back up. Celestia was unrelenting in her gaze, but something in her features changed. It was subtle, so subtle that any other pony might not have noticed, but Sunset Shimmer had become very proficient at reading her old mentor over their years together. Princess Celestia’s expression had suddenly turned softer.

“Guards, please leave us,” Celestia ordered calmly.

“A-as you wish, your majesty,” they replied, clearly uneasy in leaving their matriarch alone with Sunset. But they were sworn to follow the orders of Celestia all the same, and so they left their posts.

“You’re different than when last we were here,” Celestia mused once they were alone. “Tell me, Sunset. Does the prospect of ascending truly hold no appeal to you?”

“Of course it doesn’t!” Sunset’s answer was immediate. “Honestly? If I could take it all back I would. Not a single day goes by that I don’t regret everything I’ve ever done to hurt you. No amount of apologies in the world can ever fix what I did, but Princess, you deserve to know that I am so, so sorry.

Princess Celestia then stepped down from her throne and approached her disgraced pupil slowly. In an instant, she was no longer the supreme ruler of Equestria, but a mare who had lost something precious to her. One who was grasping for it in futility.

“I want to believe you, Sunset,” the Princess’ voice suddenly seemed frail and vulnerable, her features hanging low in a quite un-regal manner. Sunset touched her throat where it was clenching up. Perhaps this was Celestia’s punishment; the pain in her voice hurt Sunset more than all of the fire in the sun ever could. “I really, really want to believe you…”

The unspoken words hung heavy in the air around the two ponies, weighing them down. But I can’t. Celestia then brought herself back up to her full height, and Sunset found herself talking to the Princess again. “Nevertheless… I accept your apology. Now, if what you’ve told me is true, an innocent life is in danger. I won’t let what has come between us destroy whatever chance we have of saving it. So, for the time being… I withhold my judgement.”

Sunset let out a breath she wasn’t aware she’d been holding. Yes, she would still have to face Celestia’s judgement eventually, but at least now she could go through with her quest to save Twily.

“Now, you look hungry,” Celestia said, a slight smile cautiously finding its way across her face. It wasn’t the warm, motherly smile that Sunset knew - that she yearned for - but it was still good to see. “Let us discuss the rest of this matter over some lunch.”

Sunset nodded in agreement. It would be nice to eat some good Equestrian cuisine again. As the two of them exited the throne room, the cold dread in her heart began to dissipate. In its place, a small light of hope found its way through Sunset’s mind as she thought that maybe… just maybe… Celestia could yet forgive her.

As it would turn out, Celestia had invited somepony else to have the impromptu luncheon with her and Sunset.

Somepony who Sunset had been absolutely sure didn’t exist.

“You didn’t tell your student about your own sister?!” blurted a stunned Luna.

“Well, what was I going to say, Luna?” retorted Celestia. “That I had to banish my own sister when she got possessed by her own dark side? Then to help calm the masses afterwards, I made an entire annual holiday based around the idea of you eating candy tribute instead of small foals?”

“I’d think that given what you were hoping Sunset would become, it might have been helpful to inform her about who she was actually taking on in the first place!”

"I didn't tell Twilight - the one who actually fulfilled that prophecy - so I'm not seeing your point, Luna."

Sunset nervously shrank back as far as she could from the verbally-sparring alicorn sisters, trying to enjoy her first taste of native cuisine in years. I wonder if Twilight, being a princess and all, has to deal with this she pondered.

It was quite surreal, eating in the castle’s main dining hall for the first time in years with her old mentor sitting at the head of the table just beside her. Indeed, everything seemed to be exactly as Sunset remembered. The paintings, displayed plates and other decadent decor was exactly where it had all been when she’d had her last meal here. The chef had served Sunset her old favorite: black bean and cheese enchiladas with the hottest sauce they had. Even the chef was exactly the same pony as when Sunset had lived here as a filly. It was as if Canterlot Castle itself was as ageless as the Princess who called it home. Or rather, Princesses now.

The second Princess in question saw Sunset’s state and backed down. “My apologies, Miss Shimmer. This is not the place for me to confront my sister about such a minor matter.”

“Oh, it’s okay,” Sunset said meekly.

Luna leaned forward and tried to give Sunset a reassuring smile “In fact, I think that you and I are not so different.”

Of course, Celestia and Luna had gotten Sunset caught up on the events that had occurred between them. Hearing of Luna’s fall from grace as she took the form of Nightmare Moon, only to eventually be defeated and subsequently forgiven gave Sunset some hope for her own relationship with Celestia. That hope was short lived, as she then remembered that Luna had been possessed by some dark force before her rebellion against Celestia. When Sunset betrayed her, she did so entirely of her own volition.

Chancing a glance at her former mentor, Sunset thought she saw her do the same. What was more, Sunset thought she saw a flicker of something in Celestia’s eyes. But it was gone as quickly as it appeared.

Celestia made to say something, but then one of the guards entered and whispered something in her ear. “Is that so? Uh-huh, right…ok, just give me a minute.” The white princess turned to face her ex-protégée. “My apologies, Sunset, but it appears Luna and I are needed elsewhere at the present time.”

“We’re needed for what?” asked Luna, confused.

“You know quite well, Luna. The ambassadors from-“

“They’re here? Now?!”

Celestia nodded glumly. “They certainly know how to time things in the most annoying way. Regardless, as unpleasant as the next hour or so is going to be, it shouldn’t be much longer than that, so it might be in your best interest, Sunset, to just wait for me in the library. My guards will escort you there.”

The unicorn perked up at the suggestion. “Okay!”

Judging from the muffled sound of what seemed to be both Princesses shouting along with an undefined number of male voices, it would have sounded (to Sunset at least) that war was on the horizon. The fact Sunset was located nowhere near the royal throne hall where said argument was taking place was an indication that anypony without godlike hearing protection would probably go deaf if they were in the same room as the princesses. However, Sunset had managed to tune out the world around her like she had so many times in her previous life (including the guard who was silently watching her), and instead was more interested in the large pile of books she’d compiled.

Specifically, she had selected books about the Crystal Empire and its most infamous resident: the twice-late King Sombra.

An entire empire, thrown forward a thousand years into the future, Sunset pondered as she deftly drifted her eyes along the printed words. Come to think of it, there was a lot of stuff getting any relevance they had thrown forward a thousand years. Probably explains why this book is so new.

While among the books in the dwindling “To-Read” pile and the increasing “Already-Read” piles were old tomes that had been doubles lent out from the Crystal Empire’s own library, the majority of the texts had been printed within the last two years. Admittedly, there wasn’t much about the Crystal Empire to begin with, given the thousand year time jump, but as it was only supposed to keep Sunset occupied for a little whi-

“Holy. Crap,” gaped Sunset, a nine-month old newspaper in her hooves. On the front page was the unicorn mare from earlier: one Raspberry Beryl, posing with a nervous smile and a raised hoof, on which was perched a gold-and-green phoenix. According to the article, the phoenix was her pet by the name of “Heliodor”. Much more alarming, though, was the detail of how she had been pardoned from the death sentence by Celestia after innumerable crimes of having committed dark magic. Yet, despite the amended sentence of life servitude for the crown, she was allowed to keep living in Ponyville and retain her inherited title of princess as the only known member of the once-extinguished Crystal Imperial line.

But it was the article’s descriptions of what had happened that drew Sunset’s full attention. Evidently, back on Nightmare Night, Raspberry Beryl had unintentionally allowed a black crystal she had disguised as a valuable diamond get eaten by Spike the Dragon. She’d nearly killed him by accident it seemed, then later at the trial, the revelation that Prince Blueblood (where had she heard that name before?) had stolen and then abused Heliodor had sent Raspberry into a rage. She had nearly killed not only him but all four alicorn princesses (there was a fourth alicorn?) simply by overpowering them.

And her appearance, thought Sunset. It can’t just be a coincidence!

“There’s a sight I never expected to see again,” Celestia said with a slight smile. She stood a few paces behind Sunset, scaring the absolute hell out of her.

Sunset bit back a comment about Celestia’s old habit of sneaking up on her, silently noting how she’d seamlessly gone back into being a bookish nerd again. It was a shocking contrast to the kind of person she tended to be as a human.

As if reading Sunset’s thoughts, Celestia’s warm demeanor vanished. “Now, before we were rudely interrupted by those ambassadors, I was going to ask you for more details about the situation back in the human world.”

“To be honest, I didn’t really know what I was looking for myself, but now I think I do,” replied the fiery-maned mare, lifting up the newspaper with her telekinesis. “Seriously, a pony who uses dark magic, is the blooded descendant of this King Sombra asshole, and nearly killed you and all the other princesses is still allowed to be walking around in public?!”

Celestia frowned, and Sunset couldn’t keep her ears from folding back. “Raspberry Beryl is a very…complex pony, but she is far from a threat to anypony. In fact, she has proven to be a very great asset to Equestria .”

“I wish I could believe you, Princess, but you see… I have reason to believe she’s the source of my problems back home,” Sunset then proceeded to tell Celestia about her living situation back in the human world. She told her about how Twilight’s human counterpart had become the sister she never had, and how the poor girl was being tortured to insanity with horrifying nightmares. Nightmares that featured Equestrian ponies.

Celestia studied Sunset skeptically, “I don’t see how this relates to Raspberry-“

“Because Twily described her attacker in these dreams as another unicorn who looked similar to me, but darker in coloration and was attacking her with some sort of smooze or gak-like substance.”


“It’s like a slimy, goopy human toy, but that’s not important. What is important is that the creature attacking Twily used dark magic and looks exactly like Raspberry Beryl! That can’t just be a coincidence!””

Celestia did not say anything at first, considering Sunset’s words carefully. After some deliberation, she chanced to say, “I see your point, Sunset. The potential truth behind your statement is…concerning with regards to how closely related this world is to that of the humans. However, I do not believe that Raspberry Beryl would willingly do such harm onto anypony, or any human.”

Sunset couldn’t believe it. She finally had the first decent lead on whatever was harming her sister. Finally had a name to go with the face. And here Celestia stood, defending that pony! Before she knew what she was doing, Sunset stomped a hoof on the marble floor and glared defiantly at the Princess.

“I don’t care! I know it’s her!

Sunset immediately took a step backward, ears folding back at her own outburst. The last time she blew up at Celestia like that hadn’t ended well for either of them. The look of calm disappointment on Celestia’s face was scathing. “Princess… I’m sorry, I-I didn’t mean to…”

Celestia closed her eyes and took a patient breath. “It’s okay, Sunset. What I was going to suggest is that you go to Ponyville and keep an eye on Raspberry. Even if she doesn’t mean it, the fact is Raspberry still has some…control issues when it comes to the effects of her magic, if the recent incident in Lonesome Dove is any indication.”

Sunset wasn’t quite sure what incident Celestia was referring to. She certainly didn’t remember reading anything about “Lonesome Dove” in the article she found. Before Sunset could inquire further into the matter, Celestia continued.

“Additionally, I think you could benefit from spending some time with Princess Twilight and her friends. I am sure they’ll do everything in their power to get to the bottom of this as well.”

“Okay,” Sunset nodded.

“As it is, you probably need to go back to Ponyville to secure your lodgings. I’ll prepare a sky wagon to send you back to Golden Oaks, as I’m sure Twilight can help you with that.”

With everything said, Celestia turned to leave. Before she could, though, Sunset felt that she needed to say one more thing. “Um, Princess?” Celestia stopped and turned to look over her shoulder at her former student. “Thank you... For giving me another chance.”

“I know you’re worried about Twily, Sunset,” Celestia said. Her voice then took on a dark tone. “But I would strongly advise against any more violent outbursts during your stay here.”

It was evening by the time Sunset arrived in front of Golden Oaks Library, Celestia’s sun setting on her first day back in Equestria. Something seemed… off about the tree structure as Sunset approached. The blinds on all the windows were closed and by all outward appearances, Golden Oaks was devoid of life. A feeling of cold dread began to well up within Sunset Shimmer as she slowly opened the library’s front door.

Inside, the library was pitch black. Sunset carefully crept into Twilight’s abode, feeling more ill at ease with every passing moment. Maybe Raspberry Beryl was behind this. Maybe that demon unicorn found out that Sunset was onto her, took care of Twilight and Spike and was now lying in wait for her.

“H-hello?” she asked the darkness. Immediately the lights switched on and for all Sunset knew, the entire town was now packed into the library.

“SURPRISE!” they all shouted. Sunset could feel her left eye twitching slightly, the only instinctual response to her inability to process the rapid turn of events fast enough. What were they all doing here? Certainly this had to be some kind of mistake, given that nobody-nopony would bother throwing a surprise party at the drop of a hat for a pony they weren’t even sure would be back.. That required some kind of inexplicable foresight that Sunset was only even able to conceive of possibly existing all due to it being how Pinkie Pi-

Of course, thought Sunset, her nerves slowly getting less jumpy upon seeing the smiling face of the pink mare with balloons on her flank. It seemed to be that wherever there was a Pinkie Pie, in whatever form, there was always something to celebrate with a party when they were concerned.

“Let me guess,” came the voice of Princess Twilight, walking out of the crowd and up to her reality-jumping friend. “Pinkie Pie doesn’t throw parties quite at random in the human world compared to the one currently making three balloon animals at once over there?”

Shimmer shook her head. “Nope, though that may have more to do with just how different human life is compared to pony life, especially being a teen in high school. The unending mountains of homework, for instance, would slow anybody down.”

“What’s wrong with homework?” asked Twilight with a totally straight face.

“Either you are a really good liar, Twilight, or…” Sunset then remembered just who she was talking to. “Nevermind, I forgot that you are a total workaholic when it comes to academic stuff.”

Twilight laughed. “Like how Pinkie Pie is always ready to throw a party?”

Always,” replied the yellow mare, chuckling alongside the alicorn. “Though since that’s the case, and we’re both familiar with the human versions of your friends, are their pony counterparts just as similar?”

Ohhhhhhhhh yes, are they ever! Right down to initially not liking you, to be honest.” With a quick side nod of her head, Sunset glanced in the indicated direction to see Rainbow trying to not be obvious that she was watching Sunset’s every move closely. A quick scan revealed the same was for the other three in question, though it was hard to tell if Fluttershy actually was watching Sunset or was glancing around quickly because she was nervous.

Just like the Fluttershy I know, thought Sunset with a smile.

“Oh, by the way, what are your lodging arrangements?” asked the princess, catching Sunset off guard.

“Uh, don’t have any at the moment, though I was thinking about renting a room at an inn or something.”

“Did Princess Celestia give you some money? Or do you have invisible saddlebags? You certainly didn’t seem to have any means of carrying money when you walked in a few hours ago.

Sunset’s hoof firmly connected to her face. Suffice to say, the action hurt a lot more as a pony than as a human. “Ah, yes, kinda need money to sleep at an inn…money I don’t have…er, do you think they accept debit cards?”

“Debit cards?”

“Oh, right, those don’t exist in Equestria…” Sunset was now in a new dilemma: without means of getting a rented room, she’d need to bunk with somepony. While in the human world she shared a house – and sometimes the same bed – with Twily, it just didn’t seem appropriate to ask the same of Princess Twilight. But who else could-

“Oh, do you need someplace to stay for a while?” Pinkie asked, appearing out of nowhere. “There’s a spare guest room at Sugarcube Corner – that’s where I live and also where I work so I get paid for making my own breakfast! – that I’m sure I could ask Mr. and Mrs. Cake to lend you!”

“Wow, um, yeah, that’d be great!” said Sunset, beaming. “That is, if it isn’t an inconvenience for them.”

“Nah, as long as you don’t need nighttime room service they’ll be fine! Trust me, Pound and Pumpkin – the twin foals the Cakes have – won’t like it if you take their parents attention away from them in the middle of the night when they need a diaper change!”

Oh. Great. Babies. Thought Sunset, her beaming smile faltering a little. Still, it’s probably going to be more of a ‘homey’ feel than living at an inn for a few days, and I’ve dealt with the human twins so hopefully pony babies aren’t too different.

The rest of the night was more enjoyable, at least for Sunset. She met with the other main friends of the Princess who she hadn’t met with yet, and while they were all honest about their concerns – well placed, given how Twilight had said she’d almost been killed by Sunset – they were willing to be more open than they initially wanted to when the princess herself vouched for her. And Sunset couldn’t help but feel a little vindicated when Twilight took her aside to mention what had become of Spike.

“You grounded him?” the yellow unicorn gasped.

Twilight nodded solemnly. “I’ve never had to punish him to such an extent before, but just sending you off willy-nilly to possibly face Celestia’s wrath? I hope you’re worth the month of indignant looks he’s going to be shooting me afterwards.”

“Hey, you can order him around, your Spike is much more disciplined than the one I’m stuck with.”

“I’m guessing he’s not housebroken, then?” The two mares laughed, both of them glad they could find some common ground in humor.

However, when the time came for the party to end, with Pinkie to escort Sunset to the bakery, the unicorn did note that of all the ponies at the party, she hadn’t seen one trace of Raspberry Beryl.

Later, once settled into her room on the second floor of Sugarcube Corner, Sunset looked up into the night sky through the room’s window, the first time she’d seen it as it had always meant to be: the designs of Princess Luna and not of Princess Celestia. She idly wondered if the stars that were in the heavens here in Equestria were the same ones whose light reached the night sky back through the window at 482 Golden Oaks Drive, San Palomino.

If they are, then they too bore silent witness to what I did over the last four years, thought the unicorn. There was so much that could have been different had she just surrendered herself to sense and returned at the first possible chance after the thirty moons had passed, instead of blowing those four years and trying to steal the crow-

Wait, Sunset’s eyes shot open as it suddenly occurred to her. If thirty moons was approximately thirty months, on a twelve month calendar it’s about two and a half years. If the mirror only ever opened at two and a half year intervals, that meant Sunset should never have been able to go back when she did. It should have been five years when Sunset went back through to steal the crown, but it had only been four.

How did I not realize this before? Actually, that could be explained by Sunset’s focus on her vain ambition keeping her from thinking about anything else. It still didn’t explain why the mirror didn’t follow it’s own rules. Sunset tried to push those thoughts from her mind. She needed the sleep. It had been a long, tiring day, but at the very least the returned mare could close her eyes with the knowledge Celestia wouldn’t outright try to destroy her. She’d have to face her old mentor’s judgement eventually, but she finally had the first step she could track in saving Twily and, just maybe, redeeming herself at long last.