• Published 11th May 2014
  • 8,281 Views, 406 Comments

The Shimmer of Magic - Hakuno



Sunset Shimmer is stuck again in the human world. Struggling with the consequences of her actions, she must redeem herself with the help of five girls and a very interested magician.

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4. Break down

Chapter 4. Break down.

If you want something done right, do it yourself.

Sunset always believed in that statement. More than that, it was her philosophy. She always hated to work in teams, to depend on someone else for something. Since she was a little filly, she always worked alone, and she was always the best in her class, that's why Princess Celestia had noticed her. Sunset was smart, skilled, powerful, and independent, and she never needed others, ever.

However, as she soon had to learn, sometimes you have to betray your own beliefs, if it is for a bigger purpose. This time, the bigger purpose was repairing the school's entrance.

Through the course of the days, the five girls all came to help Sunset with her punishment. Since day two, the six girls did whatever the workers asked them to do to speed up the repairs. At first she didn't like to work with them, but she had to admit that six was definitively better than one. And fortunately for her, every day was filled up with work, so they didn't exactly get a chance to talk to each other, more specifically, to bother Sunset. And at the end of each day, they all were so tired that they just returned home without crossing more than a few words.

So, basically, for the whole time they helped Sunset, there never was the occasion to keep asking her about Equestria and everything related to that, but on the bad side, neither did Sunset have the chance to study them, so it was a whole week wasted. And because of these two things, she didn't know if being happy or sad. But she shrugged; she'd have the time once classes began again.

And classes were going to begin really soon, for they had already repaired almost everything. The crater on the front yard had been filled up with dirt and covered with grass, and the wall had been completely repaired. All the dust and pieces of the former wall had been cleaned up, and even the windows and the front door had been replaced. The only thing left was the paint.

"Pinkie! Stop painting hearts! You're only giving us more workload!" Rainbow yelled at her friend, who was at the top of a ladder with a brush and two buckets of pink paint tied up at her sides. "When did you even get the pink paint?!"

Pinkie waved her hand at Rainbow, offering a big smile. "Don't worry, Dashie! It's special paint, it'll wash off with today's rain!"

"Rain?!" Rainbow looked at the sky and then frowned at the pink girl. "There's not even a single cloud in the sky!"

Applejack put a hand on her shoulder, making her turn to face her. "Oh, but it'll rain, Dash! Ah can fill it! A big storm's coming tonight!" She said with a knowing smile.

"Applejack, you're a bad liar."

Applejack rolled her eyes. "Come on, Dash, have a laugh! The weather girl, uhh Cloud Chaser Ah think, she said it's gonna rain, and she's always right." She put her hands on her hips. "Ah tell ya, thanks ta her we at the farm always know when to keep the animals inside."

Rainbow sighed forcefully, but gave a small laugh nonetheless. "Sorry, I'm just a little… uhhh… not happy at the time."

"Is it 'cuz Sunset?" Applejack asked, and both girls turned their heads to the aforementioned girl, who was at the other side of the wall, using a roller with a bored expression in her face. "Listen, sugarcube-"

"Not now, AJ." Rainbow interrupted, scratching the back of her head. "I… I don't really want to talk about it, ok?"

There was a small pause between them, and that pause quickly became a fight of wills. Applejack was staring at Rainbow with a big frown, as if trying to make a hole in her face, while Rainbow was looking back, using her own frown as a shield, doing her best not to yield. At the end, Applejack finally closed her eyes and sighed. "Ok, but ya'll hafta tell us what's wrong sooner or later, and I'd really like it to be sooner, ya hear?"

"Thanks, AJ." Rainbow answered with a weak smile. Applejack nodded and went to work again.

Minutes passed and the six girls, along with three men kept painting the wall. They didn't talk too much in the process, but luckily, since they were nine people, they finally finished their work in less time than expected. Almost a whole day before what they had originally planned.

"Well I think we all can say that we did a very well job, don't you agree?" Rarity said with a satisfied smile, and was quickly followed by nods and sounds of agreement.

Two of the workers excused themselves and went to their truck while the third one, who now they knew it was the boss, went inside the school to tell Principal Celestia that they had finished their job.

"Now what?" Rainbow asked.

Applejack shrugged. "Well, today's Monday, so Ah think Principal Celestia and Vice Principal Luna will want school to begin once again by tomorrow." She said, earning a few groans. "Ah think we better go home and rest."

"OR!!" Pinkie intervened before anyone could say anything. "We can have a "We repaired the school's entrance" party! It can be at my house, I have plenty of space!"

"Well, I don't think that's a bad idea, as long as we don't stay up too late." Rarity offered.

Rainbow nodded. "That's more like it! We didn't have a chance to talk this week since we were fixing Sunset's mess." She said, making Sunset glare daggers at her.

"Well then, let's get going!" Pinkie said, completely oblivious of anything wrong. The girls decided to comply, for they wanted to play and relax, not to fight. "Sunny, aren't you coming?"

Unlike the others, Sunset hadn't moved from her place. She turned to look at Pinkie. "No, and stop calling me that."

"Aww but it's gonna be super fun!" Pinkie said stretching her arms at both sides of her body and with a big grin. "We'll dance and eat pastries and drink soda and play board games and dance again and play truth or dare and tell stories and play bingo!"

"Are we really going to do all that?" Fluttershy asked, but no one seemed to hear her.

"I have to talk with Celestia." Sunset said. "And I have better things to do after that." She really didn't. Granted, she wanted to study them, but a party wasn't exactly an appealing situation for her.

Rarity walked a little to her and offered her a small smile. "If you change your opinion, Pinkie lives three houses to the left of Sugar Cube Corner."

Sunset looked at her for a moment. She wasn't able to understand why Rarity was being so nice to her. Even after all the things she did, even after she almost killed her just a week ago. Sunset looked down for a moment. She still doesn't realize just what I was about to do to them…

"Come one, Rarity!" Rainbow called from the other side of the street, with the other girls behind her.

"In a second, dear!" She answered, and then looked at Sunset, using her right hand to gently lift her chin. "You know, I've been working on your jacket these days. I will bring it tomorrow, and I'm sure you're going to love it." She said with a warm smile.

Sunset gave her a smile on her own, and, Rarity noticed, it was her first true smile since the first day after the incident. "Thanks." Rarity nodded and gently patted Sunset on her shoulder. She then turned around and joined the group of friends, leaving Sunset alone in the front yard.

Once the girls were out of her field of view, Sunset walked into the school, stopping but a moment to admire the work of a week. Even if it was for a punishment, somehow, Sunset felt very proud of the new entrance. She made a mental note to not destroy that entrance again.

She smiled at her own silly joke and quickly made her way to the principal's office. The door was closed as always, so she casually walked to it and lifted her hand to knock. "Huh?" Sunset looked at her hand, it was shivering. "What's going on?" She whispered, taking her shivering hand with the other, now noticing that her whole body was doing it too. She was shivering.

She noticed how her heart rate increased not only in speed, but in force too. She felt as if her heart was going to explode in any second. She looked at the door again, and her shivering increased a little. Am I… Afraid?...

Her eyes widened in realization. She was afraid of talking to Celestia, but why? Surely the principal only wanted to know what the hell happened a week ago, or maybe she just was going to reiterate about her punishment. Then, why was she afraid? Because she resembled her former teacher and mentor? Sunset knew for a fact that they weren't the same Celestia. One was a powerful alicorn able to raise the sun and moon every day for a thousand years, while the other was just a normal middle-aged woman with a degree in pedagogy.

Sunset breathed deeply and sighed slowly for a few times until she finally stopped the shivering. She didn't have a single reason to be scared of Principal Celestia. She was just over thinking it, even if she didn't even thought about it until just a few seconds ago.

With another deep breath, she knocked the door.

"Come in." Celestia's unmistakable voice echoed from inside, making Sunset gulp before opening the door. Celestia was sitting there in her desk, reading a few papers, as she always did when someone entered her office. There even was the rumor that every time someone knocked at her door, Celestia always picked the nearest paper to fake a sense of busyness. "How may I help you?" She asked, still reading the paper. Sunset knew that Celestia was waiting her, so the fact that she so robotically asked the same question over and over again told her that the rumor might be true.

"It's me. You wanted to talk with me." Sunset walked to the front of the desk and grabbed the back of the chair with both hands. Celestia put the papers at one side and looked directly at Sunset. There was a moment of silence, just a few seconds, but for Sunset it felt like years. Celestia finally looked away and instructed her to take a sit with a movement of her hand.

Sunset did as she was told, carefully sitting in the chair, still looking at Celestia's eyes. "I suppose you're wondering what I want to talk about." Sunset opened her mouth to speak, but quickly closed it again and only nodded. Celestia sighed and looked away. "I won't lie, you are probably the best student I've ever met. You have the best grades in the school and all the teachers love you."

Sunset frowned a little, she already knew that she was the best, but there was something in Celestia's voice that unsettled her. For some reason, she didn't want to hear the rest of what the principal had to say. But, she wasn't going to just run away. She wasn't a coward.

"That's why I decided to ignore the fact that you don't have any kind of academic records whatsoever before Canterlot High." Celestia then looked directly at Sunset, sending a shiver down her spine.

H-How does she know that?! I made sure that all the papers looked original! Sunset gulped as Celestia's gaze seemed to harden. "I… I don't know what you're talking about." Not that stupid cliché phrase! Uhg!

Celestia didn't flinch, and her frown only deepened. "I'm pretty sure you know exactly what I'm talking about." Without looking away, Celestia opened the top drawer of the desk and pulled out a blue folder. She closed the drawer and put the folder on the desk at equal distance from her and from Sunset. "I've seen a lot of students trying to falsify documents for stupid reasons. But you? You falsified yours to enter the school." She opened the folder and the first paper was Sunset's birth certificate. "That's why I didn't say anything. What better than someone capable of everything just to feed their desire for knowledge? And you demonstrated that you really love learning." She passed the paper, and the next one was Sunset's record of Canterlot Elementary.

Sunset couldn't help but notice how Celestia was still looking directly at her eyes, as if trying to break her with her gaze only. "In all my life, I never knew of someone able to get the best grades and win all the coronations of their school. I was really impressed, that's why I didn't say anything when I noticed that all your papers are falsified." Celestia leaned a little closer to Sunset, and her eyes moved a little from side to side, as if trying to read Sunset's mind.

"And through the years, you maintained your perfect grades, and you never caused any troubles… Or, at least, that's what I thought." Sunset couldn't say anything, Celestia's stare was really strong, but she wasn't able to tell if the principal was angry or not, and honestly, she really didn't want to find out. "A week ago, Snips and Snails kidnapped Twilight Sparkle's dog to make her follow them to where you were. And everyone followed her shortly after, just to see how you became a monster."

Celestia never changed the tone of her voice, but that last word felt to Sunset as a stab in her heart, partly because it was technically true, partly because it had been said with Celestia's voice. "Quite literally, in fact… And then you just… Destroyed the school's entrance…" Now her voice had a very obvious tone of surprise, as if she was having troubles believing her own words.

"After that, I only remember an explosion of colors, and then, you were in a crater." Celestia closed her eyes and leaned on her chair. "I wanted to ask you in that very moment about what happened, but you were sleeping, and I just couldn't deny the students the fun after that show, so I decided not to ask Twilight and friends." She opened her eyes, still looking directly at Sunset's. "But I did ask Snips and Snails, and after a quick chat, they told me everything."

"E… Everything?" Sunset asked mostly to herself, but Celestia heard her anyways.

"Yes. They told me about all the things you've been doing the past years." Celestia sighed, and the expression in her face was a mixture of different emotions. Sunset couldn't separate them properly. "At least, all the things they know about."

Sunset nervously shifted in her seat, and for the first time, she couldn't keep looking at Celestia. A question formed in her mind, she knew that it was going to be answered at sometime within the conversation, but she needed to know in that moment. She looked up at Celestia once again. "What… What are you going to do to me?"

"It depends." Celestia answered instantly, as if she was expecting that specific question. "It depends on how you answer my next question." She said before Sunset had the chance to ask. Celestia leaned forward, resting her upper body on her crossed arms upon the desk. "Who are you?"

Sunset blinked. That's it? She nervously made herself comfortable in her sit. "I'm Sunset Shimmer, of course."

Celestia didn't change her expression; she didn't even move a muscle. She only kept staring at Sunset. "How old are you?" Sunset was about to answer quickly, but Celestia hardened her stare, which made Sunset to press her lips.

Obviously, Celestia wanted the truth, and in other circumstances, Sunset would just say everything, but these weren't normal circumstances. She wasn't sure of just how much Celestia trusted her, and even so, would she believe everything? Sunset looked at the blue folder again. It really didn't matter if Celestia would believe what she said, what really mattered was what she was going to do with Sunset.

Sunset opened her mouth to take a deep breath. She quickly pondered her situation, and soon she came to the conclusion that she really didn't have anything else to lose. Her life couldn't get any worse. She decided to say the truth.

"I'm… I'm twenty-five." She said, looking at Celestia. And expectedly, the principal had an eyebrow arched. Sunset gulped, but said nothing.

"Where are you from?"

Sunset pressed her lips once again. She knew that she was going to ask that, but she still didn't have an answer. One thing was to tell everything to the girls who literally became a part of her world, even for just an hour, but it was a completely different thing to tell someone who didn't have the slightest clue. She had decided to tell the truth, yes, but for some reason, she couldn't say anything.

Silence flooded the room for a full minute. Sunset kept looking everywhere, desperately trying to make herself invisible, but Celestia only stared back, directly at her eyes, forcing her to look back every few seconds. Finally, after what seemed an eternity, Celestia sighed. "Are you going to answer?" Sunset looked down but said nothing, making Celestia sigh again, but this time it sounded more like a groan. "Sunset, I need you to answer."

"You won't understand." Sunset said under her breath.

Celestia narrowed her eyes a little. "How do you know? Why don't you explain yourself and let me decide what I can and cannot do?" Sunset didn't reply, she was too busy contemplating the edge of the desk. Celestia frowned and leaned a little closer to Sunset. "Sunset, please, help me understand." She pleaded.

Suddenly, Sunset's eyes widened as two plates, her heart stopped for a moment and her stomach fell. And for a second, just a second, she was in Equestria again, she was a pony, and in front of her, there was Princess Celestia in all her regalia, looking down at Sunset with disappointment in her eyes. "Sunset, please, help me understand." It was a memory, a memory from just a few days before she crossed the portal.

Tears streamed down her cheeks. She took her left hand to her aching chest and pressed her teeth. She didn't understand what was happening, but she just couldn't stop crying. She looked up, and Principal Celestia was looking at her, unable to hide her surprise. Sunset started to sob as her body slowly forced her to give up. For years she had been holding up, convincing herself over and over again that she was doing the right thing for her future. When the elements purified her heart, she cried; but she cried out of guilt and remorse for her wrongdoings, for hurting and threatening and blackmailing, for plotting and manipulating and breaking friendships.

But, now it was different. It only took one phrase, and after all this time, she was finally broken. She couldn't hold it anymore, she needed to cry, and cry she did. She cried because she missed her world and her magic and her family, she missed her tail and her estrus and hay burgers. Sunset looked up, her eyes were red and her breathing was constantly interrupted by a hiccup of her chest. The principal had a worried expression, but she was smiling, silently telling Sunset that it was ok to cry, to let go all she had been holding.

There was something she missed above everything else. Sunset's jaw made pressure in its position.

She missed Princess Celestia.

~~~~~~~~

Several minutes passed before Sunset finally calmed down, and honestly, she felt better. No, she felt better than better. All that pressure, all those repressed feelings were finally gone. At the end it was true that crying over important things really helped.

Principal Celestia had been in silence the whole time, waiting for Sunset to let it all go, as a mother cares for her children when they need someone to care for them. Well, it was easy when you only have to sit there doing nothing, but she did it, and she felt very proud. But, she still wanted answers, and she wasn't going to let Sunset go until she got them. "I take it you feel better?"

Sunset nodded. "Yes…"

"That's good to hear…" She made a pause to take a deep breath. "I'd like to tell you to go home already, but-"

"You want answers, I know." Sunset interrupted, making Celestia arch an eyebrow. Sunset puffed through her mouth and offered the principal a weak smile. "You're a lot like her." Sunset laughed a little at Celestia's expression. She had to laugh, not everyday one could confuse someone like her. "I'm going to tell you everything, but you have to promise two things." She said, showing two fingers, as if trying to reiterate her point. "First: You won't interrupt me. It's a long story, and I don't want to repeat myself. Second: Everything I'll say is the honest truth, and I can… partially prove it. So don't try to get me psychological help."

There was a moment of silence, but finally, Celestia nodded. Sunset made herself comfortable in her chair and closed her eyes for a few seconds. When she opened them, she told her everything.

She told her about Equestria and how magic existed there. She told her about all the sentient creatures that shared the same world, creatures that in the human world were either farm animals or mythological beings. She told her everything about ponies, the races, their society, their past and their present.

At first, Celestia was looking at her with doubt, and for a moment Sunset thought that she would laugh at her. But, as the minutes passed by, Celestia grew more and more interested in what Sunset was saying, as a kid listening to a storyteller. "Now: Politics." After almost an hour, Sunset had grown very comfortable in the conversation. At the end it was true that talking things over really helped. "The nation of Equestria is a kingdom, though there's not a king or a queen, only princes and princesses. But, there are two kinds of royalty. First, nobles: They are relatives from the ponies who used to rule the land. They really don't do anything important and just have the title because they have the money. And then, there's the true royalty…"

Sunset made a pause, thinking how best to approach this specific subject. "They are the most powerful beings in the whole world, and all of them are alicorns." She said, moving idly her thumbs against one another. "Twilight Sparkle is one of them. She is the weakest, her power barely surpasses a normal unicorn, but she has the Elements of Harmony, so, while alone she's not nearly as powerful as the other princesses, when she and her friends use the power of the Elements, there's literally nothing that can stand a chance against them." She said with a dark expression on her face, mostly because she remembered last week's incident.

She blinked hard and slowly shook her head to dismiss that memory. "The next in power is Princess Cadence. Along with her husband, she is the ruler of the Crystal Empire and guardian of the Crystal Heart, which is a powerful artifact. Though it's not even half as powerful as the Elements of Harmony…" She looked at Celestia with a sly smile. "Her husband is just a normal unicorn, so he doesn't count here." She stretched her neck a little until she heard a pop, then she looked again at Celestia. "And finally, there are the Royal Sisters."

Celestia noticed how Sunset's face saddened again. "They are the most powerful beings, and the true and only rulers of Equestria. They can move the sun and moon, and they do it every day and night. Yes, that's how it works there." She said after noticing a spark of doubt in Celestia's eyes. "The younger sister, though, was imprisoned in the moon for exactly a thousand years. It's a long story, maybe another day I'll tell you about it. Anyway, she returned just about a year ago, but for those thousand years, the older sister had to move the sun and moon every day and night while ruling Equestria alone and creating a golden era of peace and harmony all by herself."

Sunset looked away, lowering a little her voice. "She was also my teacher and mentor… And I even consider her a second mother…" She rested her back on the chair and looked at Celestia with an unreadable face. "Do you want to know the names of the Royal Sisters?"

There was a moment of silence while Celestia assimilated the information, and a shimmer in her eyes told Sunset that she was connecting the dots. But instead of just assuming, the principal decided to only nod and wait for an answer. Sunset smiled weakly. "Regent of the night and co-ruler of Equestria: Princess Luna. And…" With a sooth movement, Sunset leaned on the desk and looked directly at Celestia's eyes. "Regent of the day and co-ruler of Equestria: Princess Celestia."

Even though she suspected it, Celestia couldn't hide her surprise as her eyes widened and her mouth slightly opened. It was too much information, and not only that, everything sounded as a very well written fairy tale. She didn't want to believe it, but all the time she had been observing Sunset and her mannerisms, trying to find something, anything that told her that she was lying. She couldn't find anything, so she was trying to convince herself that Sunset was mentally damaged. Then again, what she saw a week ago defied any logical explanation, at least, that humans could offer. And Sunset was explaining it to her right there.

She sighed. "Ok… That was… interesting…" She grabbed her chin with her right hand and looked at Sunset. "I'll need time to assimilate everything… But I believe you." To her surprise, Sunset's face lit up as a smile formed in her face. "I just have one more question." Sunset leaned back to the chair. "Why are you here?"

Sunset looked away. "That's a complicated question… Why did I come here? I don't know myself… Not anymore."

"No…" Celestia shook her head to give more emphasis. "You clearly miss your home… Why you don't return there? Why are you still here?"

Sunset gave her a sad smile, a smile one forces when trying to suppress bursting into crying. "I… I'd be lying if I say that I have some kind of… civic motives…" Tears started to form in her eyes. "The truth is… I can't…"

"Why not?" Celestia almost interrupted herself, as if she just realized something important. "Did they forbid you to return?"

"Hah… That'd make things easier…" Sunset wanted to laugh, not because she was happy, but because she didn't want to spend another ten minutes crying. But, she was losing that fight with her own emotions. "No. I… I can't return because the portal is closed and… And…" The back of her head started to ache as tears ran down her cheeks again. "It won't open in another two and a half years… And there's nothing I can do about it!" She yelled, not on purpose, but mostly as a reaction of her feelings. "Twilight came because I stole her stupid crown. One would think that she'd take me with her to-to be judged there, but no!" She stood up and slammed her hands on the desk. "She left me here! She condemned me to a fate worse than imprisonment! She… SHE ABANDONED ME! And not only in another city or country! IN ANOTHER DIMENSION!"

Celestia didn't say anything, but she didn't need to do it, her gaze said everything. She was very, very confused and surprised. Sunset looked down and slowly sat down again. "She knew as well as me that the portal was going to close soon, but she decided to return alone and leave me here. She didn't even say anything, like "I hereby banish you". No…" The hiccups returned and the pain in the back of her head grew. "I'd rather face Celestia's wrath than this… Than… Be abandoned as a street animal…"

Sunset closed her eyes, and tears only streamed faster. "I just… I just want to say I'm sorry…" She looked at Celestia with pleading eyes. "I'm sorry, ok? I'm sorry for being so greedy! I'm sorry for being such a brat! I'm sorry for… For disappointing her!" She crossed her arms on the desk and leaned closer, placing her forehead on her arms. She was fully crying again. "I'm sorry, Celestia… I'm sorry…"

Author's Note:

Did you know that you can make awesome magic tricks with a completely new and totally not tricked deck?

((This chapter requires a little fixing. It will be when my editors can ^^))