• Published 12th Apr 2015
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What Didn't Happen: After - Zeg



A Princess and a Queen share the same one dream, but on nights separated by over six centuries worth of time. Is the dream a warning of what is yet to come?

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You are You

What Didn't Happen: After

by Zeg

Chapter VIII – You are You

Twilight laid silently asleep in Luna’s bed, the gentle motion of her breathing in and out being the only noticeable movement coming from her otherwise still form beneath the covers. The room was cast in dark shadows highlighted by moonlight filtering in through the curtains that covered the windows and glass balcony doors along the room’s west wall.

She suddenly stirred from her sleep, her ears quickly flick-flicking as she rapidly blinked her eyes and raised her head. She wasn’t exactly sure what it was that had just awoken her as she peered about the quiet and empty room. Her ears shifted to a sound behind her, and she rolled over to look toward the balcony. Strangely enough, she noticed the curtains moving and felt the slight chill of a gentle night breeze. She was sure that the doors leading out onto the balcony had been closed when she had checked them before turning in for the night.

She slipped out from under the covers, tucking her wings close to her sides to hold in some of the warmth she was leaving behind. She squinted her eyes at the curtains and tilted her head, wondering if Luna had visited the balcony at some point during the night to check up on her and had accidently left the doors unlatched when she had left.

It appeared the hour was still well before sunrise judging by the dark shadows covering the room, and Twilight was sure she could still use a few more hours rest. She let out a wide-mouthed yawn then slowly plodded over toward the billowing curtains, intent on latching the glass doors so she could then retreat to the warmth of the covers and return to her dreams. A fleeting thought passed through her mind just then; she wondered what she had been dreaming about. She couldn’t recall.

Just as her hoof was about to brush the curtains aside she stopped. Her ears twitched as she picked up on what she thought was a buzz of conversations. If she hadn’t known better, she would have assumed that a crowd of ponies was gathered together just outside on Luna’s balcony, but it was far too small a space for something like that. Twilight tilted her head and scrunched her muzzle in confusion as she timidly reached out for the curtain.

The curtains pulled back as if they had been yanked out of the way just before Twilight’s hoof touched allowing a bright light to flood in, temporarily blinding Twilight to the point that she shielded her face with a wing. The hum of conversations around her was much louder now, and she could make out the sounds of many hoofsteps click-clacking against the ground all about her. She rapidly blinked her eyes, trying to adjust to the bright light as she slowly lowered her wing. For a moment afterward, all she could do was stare in silent shock.

The sun shone brightly in the sky overhead, and all about her were ponies going about their daily business, some conversing with each other, others heading to wherever it was they needed to be. A few of them cast curious glances her way before averting their eyes and scurrying along their way. Twilight glanced to her left and right, finding a row of solid crystal houses and buildings to each side of her lining the crystal street that she was now standing on. At first, she was certain that she was now somehow standing on a street in the middle of the Crystal Empire, but then her eyes followed the street as it stretched onward ahead of her to the center of the city where she found a partially constructed castle that she did not recognize. It sat right where the city’s crystal spire palace should have been.

She noticed a presence next to her and looked to her side to find a familiar face. Moondancer was there, but instead of being clad in a full suit of guard’s armor she was wearing a simple, off-white turtleneck sweater and a pair of black-framed glasses. She glanced up and, upon noticing that Twilight was looking to her, gave a friendly smile back before saying, “Don’t worry. We’ll find her. She couldn’t have gone too far.”

Find who? None of this was making any sense, but yet everyone else appeared to be acting as if what had just happened was perfectly normal. Twilight was sure only a moment ago that she had been soundly sleeping in Luna’s bedroom. Did she just day dream that?

“... A dream,” Twilight said so quietly that only she could hear it. Her eyes began to wander as she tried to pick out some telltale detail that could be used to discern if her surroundings were actually real, but if what she was currently witnessing was a dream of some sort, it appeared to be incredibly realistic. Usually, there would be missing details, something unimportant to the dream itself but completely unrealistic if focused upon, such as some unimportant somepony lacking any facial features, or perhaps a book or sign with unreadable words. But everywhere Twilight’s eyes wandered, she saw nothing strange or out of place. Even her ears couldn’t find anything wrong as she shifted them about to try and pick out an odd or misplaced sound.

The sound of someone screaming from somewhere down the street caught Twilight’s attention. She squinted her eyes as she tried to make out who it was, and after a moment she realized that the screaming was actually someone calling out her name. A unicorn, dark gray with a long, sea green mane. Chrysalis?

Twilight stumbled back a step when the smaller unicorn nearly tackled her, wrapping her forelegs around Twilight’s chest and burying her muzzle against it. She found herself wondering what could have possibly caused Chrysalis to become so distraught. She gently draped a foreleg over the unicorn’s withers and asked, “What happened?”

She looked up, the tears rimming her eyes glistening in the sunlight. Violet eyes full of sadness and horror. She’s... not Chrysalis.

“It’s my fault,” the unicorn choked out in a small, weak voice. “I didn’t remember in time.”

---

Twilight’s eyes shot wide open, and she quickly sat up. She glanced around, finding herself back where she had started in the bedroom. The sudden change was so jarring that she could only sit there in silence for a moment while her addled mind tried to work out what had just happened.

It appeared that morning was now approaching as the day’s first rays of sunlight filter in through the drawn curtains. It was odd, as she remembered leaving Luna’s bed only moments ago, and it had definitely been some time in the middle of the night then. She wondered if perhaps that had been part of a dream, but it had all seemed far too real. The chill of the cool night air when she had left the bed and the hum of conversations around her as she had stood on the street in the Crystal Empire, if not for the impossible transition she may have never considered that it was all a dream.

Actually, the castle had also stuck out as an oddity. Why would she dream about something else being built in place of the spire palace in the Crystal Empire?

“...Of course,” Twilight quietly said to herself as her awakening mind soon came upon the answer. In this alternate history, the spire palace had been all but demolished years ago.

Pushing the bed covers aside, she slid off the mattress and quickly trotted to the bedroom’s doorway. There was someone else that she needed to see right away.

---

The halls of the palace infirmary were silent, though only moments earlier the usual serenity had been shattered by frantic cries for help from down the hall. Lacewing had only just barely settled in for the morning shift when she found herself rushing toward a patient room to find out what was the matter. What she had found was a sight that she still couldn’t shake from her mind, that of Queen Chrysalis babbling madly about some forgotten dream and demanding to speak to one of the princesses right away.

She hung her head low and let out a quiet sigh as she passed by the waiting room on her way to check on the few patients in another wing of the infirmary. The receptionist at the desk noticed her, and she quickly leaned over the desk and asked, “Is she alright, Lacey?” in a hushed voice.

Lacewing paused mid-stride, turning toward the desk while sadly shaking her head. “I got her to calm down for now, but only by promising her I’d go find—”

Lacewing was startled by the sound of the infirmary door opening behind her. She quickly glanced over her shoulder to see who it was, and her eyes widened in shock when she saw her. “Princess Twilight.”

Twilight smiled, offering a quick, “Good morning,” as a greeting as she stepped into the waiting room. “Sorry, I know it’s a bit earlier than normal for visiting hours, but I was hoping I might get a chance to talk with... with her.” Twilight’s thoughts stuttered a step when she realized that she wasn’t exactly sure what the correct name would be. Twilight Chrysalis? Chrysalis Sparkle? She still sounded like and looked almost exactly like the Queen Chrysalis from this past, with the only noticeable physical difference being her eye color. Perhaps calling her by some combination of both names would be appropriate, if not a bit confusing. Twilight let out a quiet hum in contemplation as she mulled over the possible names.

Lacewing quickly shook her head, snapping herself out of the brief state of shock. “She was just asking for you, minutes ago.”

“Oh?” Twilight asked, tilting her head. “I suppose it’s a good thing I stopped by then.”

“Please, go right in,” Lacewing said, gesturing down the hall.

Twilight gave a quick, polite nod as she trotted by and entered the hall. She stopped just outside the doorway to the patient room to peek inside, and there she found her, Twilight Chrysalis, sitting upright on her bed, her head turned away toward the window on the far wall. She was holding one of her forelegs against her chest and steadily petting it with the other while she vacantly stared out the window. As Princess Twilight took a few steps into the room, Twilight Chrysalis’s gaze quickly snapped to her.

“Oh, thank goodness! You’re here,” she said, her words rushing out at an almost frantic pace. “Um, it’s already starting to get a bit... hard to recall,” she said as she tapped a hoof to the side of her head. “This will probably sound strange, but... I’m certain I just saw you in a dream.”

Princess Twilight approached and sat near the side of the bed. “Doesn’t sound strange at all. That’s the reason why I’m here. I think we just shared the same dream.”

“You mean... it was a vision?” Twilight Chrysalis asked as her eyes grew wide. “Chrys told me about them.” Her ears laid back as she said, “I didn’t know they would feel like a nightmare.”

Princess Twilight reached forward, gently cupping Twilight Chrysalis’s hooves in her own. “Are you alright?”

She silently nodded in response, despite the troubled look in her eyes.

“In the dream, you came rushing to me. You were upset about something.”

“Hrm... yeah. I’m trying to remember what exactly.” Twilight Chrysalis scrunched her muzzle as she rubbed a hoof against the side of her head. “I remember for sure that it was something that... felt really horrible. I just... I can’t remember what it was now.”

“Easy. You don’t want to over do it again,” Princess Twilight said in a cautioning tone.

“I know, I can’t force it,” Twilight Chrysalis said though a heavy sigh. She stared dejectedly down at her hooves where they laid in her lap, her jaw working back and forth as she ground her teeth together in frustration. “Ugh, this is so frustrating. It’s right there! I can feel it.” She continued to stare down blankly at her hooves for a few seconds longer before she turned her troubled gaze up toward Princess Twilight. “What if I really can’t remember in time? Something horrible is going to happen if I don’t figure this out!”

“Figure what out?”

The sound of Graphite’s voice drew both of the mares’ attention to the doorway. They both were a bit shocked to see him there as early in the morning as it was. The uneasy silence lingered in the room for a moment before Princess Twilight finally spoke up, lightly clearing her throat and putting on a smile as she said, “Good morning, Graphite. You’re here early.”

“Yes, and so are you,” he responded, cocking an eyebrow at her. He then glanced to Twilight Chrysalis as he stepped into the room. “Lacewing contacted me. She told me you were upset about something this morning, so I got here as soon as I could.” He stopped a few steps away from the bedside and glanced to and from each of them in turn a few times over as he waited expectantly for some sort of response. “So, are you two going to tell me what this is about?” he asked, furrowing his brow deeply at their reluctance to speak up.

Princess Twilight looked to Twilight Chrysalis, and the silent question of who should explain was answered when she received a quick nod. “Well,” Princess Twilight began as she gathered her thoughts. “We just experienced a shared vision. I’m fairly certain it means something is going to happen at the Crystal Empire.”

“Another one?” Graphite asked sounding a bit surprised. He had already been told of their first shared vision of the world disintegrating around them, and he knew that rarely throughout history, a select few had received such visions that seemed to predict possible future events, his queen being one of the few. It seemed odd that another vision would occur so soon when they hadn’t even managed to completely decipher the meaning of the first. “Why the Empire?” he pondered.

Princess Twilight barely shook her head. “Not sure. We’re not even exactly sure of what might happen there.”

Twilight Chrysalis let out a heavy sigh. “I’m sorry, I wish I could remember it, but it’s just been so hard to hold onto these memories. They keep coming and going,” she said with a slight growl in her voice as she gestured a hoof side to side.

“Hey, it’s alright. We’ll figure it out.” Princess Twilight placed a hoof upon Twilight Chrysalis’s shoulder and gave her a reassuring smile. The last thing she wanted was to imply that any of this was somehow her fault.

“Speaking of figuring things out,” Graphite said as he looked to Princess Twilight. “What have you figured out about... this situation,” he asked as his eyes very briefly flickered to his queen.

“Nothing definite yet,” she said with a quick shake of her head. “Though I haven’t checked with Luna yet this morning. She was going to continue the research last night.” When she noticed the disappointed frown on his muzzle, she added, “It’s not going to be easy to find an answer, but I’m not planning on giving up. However, we do have another potential lead now. This vision placed both of us in the Crystal Empire. I don’t know exactly when or even what for, but I’m fairly sure that little Twilight here was still the one in control.”

Graphite’s frown quickly morphed into a scowl. “Are you suggesting that we take her there when she’s still like this?” he asked, gesturing a hoof toward the bed.

Princess Twilight’s expression hardened a bit. “Graphite, this isn’t an illness.”

“What about what happened when she first woke up? She hurt herself just by thinking.”

“And it hasn’t happened again, has it?” Princess Twilight asked, quickly glancing to Twilight Chrysalis who only silently shook her head in reply. Princess Twilight looked back to Graphite and continued as she said, “There is something guiding us. If we ignore it... what if this is our only chance to find the answers we’re looking for?”

After a quiet moment of contemplation, Graphite stood and began to pace back and forth in the room. “I can’t believe I’m actually considering this,” he grumbled. He then turned his attention to Twilight Chrysalis, stopping at her bedside as he asked her, “Do you even feel well enough to travel?”

She held her forehooves against her chest a bit tighter, and her gaze drifted away as she quietly said, “Honestly, it’s been pretty boring just sitting here waiting for something to happen.” She then took a deep breath, steeling herself as she looked back directly into Graphite’s eyes. “If there is anything I can do to help bring Chrys back, then I want to do it.”

Graphite was surprised, as he hadn’t seen that level of confidence in her eyes over the last couple days. She had seemed more like a lost and frightened foal ever since she had awoken with a different mind controlling her body. “Right,” he said with a heavy sigh. He turned and looked to Princess Twilight and asked, “When would we be leaving then?”

“Y-you can’t go,” Twilight Chrysalis quickly said, which drew a confused glare from him. Though she shrunk back from the look a bit, she still maintained her position as she said, “Graphite, you have to stay in Sanctuary.”

Graphite narrowed his eyes and took a step closer. He pointed a hoof at her as he said, “Don’t assume that just because you look like my queen that you can tell me what I will do. I’m not letting you out of my sight until this has been resolved.”

“But you’re needed here—”

“I’m not having this argument with you,” Graphite quickly said, dismissively cutting her off as he began to turn his attention back to Princess Twilight.

“You’re staying here!” Her eyes flashed with a bright green glow for but an instance, matching the fury behind them. Graphite stumbled back a couple steps, taken off guard by her sudden outburst. The room fell into an uneasy silence for a moment afterward as she glared angrily at him.

Eventually, the anger in her eyes subsided as she closed them as she folded her forelegs across her chest. “I can feel it. Chrys wants you to stay here. There are other rogue changelings out there and they’ve already made a move against us.”

Graphite cautiously moved a step closer. “That’s why I want to be by your side,” he quietly said.

She shook her head and locked a serious gaze upon him. “If you’re not here, a rogue could make their way into Sanctuary.”

Graphite opened his mouth as if to say something in protest, but it simply hung uselessly open as he failed to think of anything.

She continued, her voice taking on a more authoritative tone. “Without your protection, a rogue could start a takeover. Maybe not a complete one, but if they even forced just a few of our changelings to cause trouble here in Sanctuary or Canterlot, it would be a disaster.” Her gaze drifted as she fell silent for a moment, and then quietly said, “The ponies would never trust changelings again.”

“... You’re right.” It seemed that her logic had soundly silenced any further protests. He slowly turned away and made his way to the room’s door to leave.

Princess Twilight watched him as he was leaving without a word. “Graphite?” she called out to him just as he stepped into the hall.

“I’m going to go find Doctor Heart,” he said in reply. He turned his head to look back to his queen long enough to say, “We’ll have to convince him that you’re well enough to be released if you two are going to be making a trip to the Empire.” And then he headed off down the hall.

---

It took nearly an hour of discussions before Doctor Heart hesitantly agreed to allow for Twilight Chrysalis’s release. His reluctance wasn’t unfounded, as there had never been a documented case even remotely like hers to their knowledge. Everything was an unknown, including just how serious a merging of two consciousnesses actually was, but the possibility of finding a cure at the Crystal Empire had tipped the argument in Princess Twilight’s favor. After agreeing to certain conditions, one of which was to commit Twilight Chrysalis to Princess Twilight’s care for the full duration of the trip, the two finally set off from the infirmary.

“Thanks,” Twilight Chrysalis said. She glanced up to the taller princess walking beside her with a sheepish smile and said, “I’m sorry you have to be my foal-sitter now.”

“It’s not like that. They’re just concerned and want to make sure someone is always with you in case something happens.” Princess Twilight smiled back warmly, tilting her head downward slightly. “And honestly, I think it’s a good idea. You’re absolutely sure that you’re feeling fairly normal today?”

“Other than almost constantly having moments where I feel like I’m forgetting something? Yeah, I feel fine.” Twilight Chrysalis glanced around herself at the tall stained glass windows lining the hall. “Still not used to this,” she mumbled quietly.

“You mean seeing the real world?”

The smaller unicorn nodded in response, her eyes squinting slightly as they walked through the sunlight filtering in through one of the windows.

“I can’t imagine what that must be like, not even knowing what the world looks like for so long.”

“Oh, I knew,” Twilight Chrysalis said, glancing back up to Princess Twilight with a small smile. “The library that was in that mindscape wasn’t just for looks you know. I learned a lot about the world just from viewing the memories that collected as ‘books’ there. Lots of memories from the changelings that linked with it over the years.” Her gaze drifted away down the hall again and she craned her neck back as her eyes followed one of the pillars that stretched upward to the ceiling overhead. “Still feels different seeing things for yourself. Makes it feel more... real.”

Princess Twilight had almost forgotten just how long her younger counterpart had spent separated from a physical form. Over three years worth of time had passed since she had last visited this alternate Equestria, and before that, the younger Twilight had been trapped along with this world’s Chrysalis for another thirteen. That would put this young ‘filly’ at an age somewhere in her mid-twenties.

However, she had never gotten the chance to properly grow up. From the age of ten until now, she had only existed within a mindscape with no real body, her form being just a reflection of how she remembered herself. Having only learned of the world through glimpses of memories from others, it was very likely that she had gaps in her knowledge of the world that most adults wouldn’t have. It was a wonder that she wasn’t completely terrified of the thought of traveling to some far off place in the North.

Or perhaps she was and was simply trying her best to hide it. When Princess Twilight stole a glance out of the corner of her eye at the young unicorn walking beside her, she noticed that Twilight Chrysalis was no longer taking in the sights around her and was instead staring blankly at the floor as they continued walking the length of the hall before them. “What’s wrong?” she asked.

Twilight Chrysalis flinched at the question and quickly glanced up. Her ears laid back as she looked away and quietly said, “I shouldn’t be happy about being on the outside. Not like this.”

“This wasn’t something under your control.”

“Doesn’t make it any more fair to Chrys. She’s trapped in her own head because I’m here.” Twilight Chrysalis stopped and sat down in the middle of the hall as she let out a heavy sigh. After a moment of sitting in silence, she glanced up and asked, “You really haven’t found a way to bring her back yet?”

Princess Twilight sat down in front of her, lowering her head slightly so she could look Twilight Chrysalis directly in the eyes. “I plan on helping both of you.”

Twilight Chrysalis was silent for a moment, her mind no doubt working through the troubled thoughts that were plaguing her. She finally turned her head away and quietly said, “I don’t see how that could work. There is only one body and it belongs to her.” She furrowed her brow deeply and then shook her head. “I think the most important thing for you to do is to figure out how to bring Chrys back as soon as you can.” The tone of her voice easily gave away her inner thoughts. Her time was limited. She had already given up on any chance of remaining a part of the real world.

“Stop it.” The angry undertone in Princess Twilight’s voice must have come as a surprise. Twilight Chrysalis cowered away, laying down against the floor while giving a wide-eyed fearful look back at the alicorn. However, the look she found on the princess’s face wasn’t one of anger, but of concern. Princess Twilight laid down as she reached a hoof forward and gently placed it over one of Twilight Chrysalis’s hooves and said, “You’re just as important.”

Twilight Chrysalis quickly sat up, making an exaggerated gesture with one hoof to her side as she said, “She’s a queen! And she’s the bearer of Magic. The Elements don’t even work without her!” Her voice carried on an echo through the hall for a second afterward and was then followed by another moment of silence that was only broken by the small clack that her hoof made when she let it fall to the floor. “I’m neither of those things,” she said in a half-whisper. “Our world is in danger, and I’m... just in her way.” Her vision went blurry as the tears threatened to fall, and she quickly tried to blink them away as a small sniffle escaped from her and a shudder ran through her body.

She was startled once again when she noticed the violet wing wrapping around her and pulling her into a hug, but the tension in her body quickly melted away in the embrace. She closed her eyes as she laid the side of her face against the princess’s chest, and for a time, the two simply sat there in silence together. Princess Twilight then brought her other wing around and under the unicorn’s chin to draw her attention up to her. “From what I remember of this world’s Chrysalis, I seriously doubt she would ever think of you as being in her way. She tried very hard to find you after you disappeared. Why would you ever think she would want you gone now?” Her voice carried a soft and almost motherly undertone as she spoke, but her expression hardened slightly when she asked her next question. “Who are you?”

Twilight Chrysalis’s ears laid back as a confused look grew upon her face. “What?”

“I asked who you are.”

She struggled to find something to say, her mouth hanging uselessly open for a time before she closed it and let out a sigh.

“Come on, I know you have a name.”

“Well, of course I do,” she said with a slight growl behind her voice. “We have the same name.”

“Then say it. Who are you?”

“... I’m Twilight Sparkle.”

“Yes, you are. You are you. Now come on.” Princess Twilight stood, folding her wings back to her sides and starting on her way down the hall again in a single fluid motion.

Twilight Chrysalis lagged behind for a few seconds as her mind was trying to discern the question’s meaning. Perhaps the future princess had been trying to use herself as an example? She glanced up from focusing on her inner thoughts and took off at a trot down the hall to catch up. “I’m nothing like you, you know,” she pointed out as she caught up to walk beside the alicorn.

“Well, I am six centuries older than you,” Princess Twilight said as a counterpoint. “And what I mean by that, is that you still have a lot of potential. Don’t forget” — she glanced back over her shoulder — “you’re the one who helped Chrysalis activate Magic when she wasn’t able to on her own.”

While she had no memory of what came after she had lent her power to Chrysalis at the invasion of the Crystal Empire, she had been told that it was only then that the power of the Elements became strong enough to push the corruptive magic back. She had given very little thought to what good came of her choice and had instead spent nearly every waking moment fretting over what she may have done to Chrysalis.

She silently followed alongside Princess Twilight, preferring to focus mostly on her inner thoughts as she was lead to wherever their first destination was to be. One of her many concerns rose to the forefront of her mind, prompting her to glance down to her own foreleg for a second. She looked nothing like herself. She knew who she was, but she felt unsure of what she was supposed to be now. Her eyes drifted upward to the alicorn princess beside her, and she found herself wondering how she could ever live up being something that, at that moment, seemed so far out of reach. She knew who she was, yes, but there was no way she had earned the right to consider herself royalty, even if she did currently possess the body of one who was.

“You know,” she quietly said, drawing Princess Twilight’s attention to her, “it’s going to get confusing if we use the same name.”

Princess Twilight tilted her head side to side as if to weigh the thought in her own mind. “What do you suggest?” While she had some thoughts of her own on possible name combinations, she was more interested in what her younger self would prefer.

“Some of the other’s were calling me Chryssy yesterday.” She let a weak chuckle escape from herself, but then shook her head with a sigh. “I don’t think it’s right for me to use her name.”

“So, I suppose nicknaming you something like Chrysalis Sparkle is out?” Princess Twilight asked, showing a wry grin. While the recommendation had been meant as a light hearted jest, the grin quickly fell away from her muzzle when she saw that her younger self struggled to even crack a smile for a second. “You’re right, using her name with yours would be a bit awkward.” As would be attempting to explain why they had the same exact name to everyone they came in contact with. If they were going to be traveling with each other for the foreseeable future, some sort of nickname would be helpful.

Princess Twilight’s eyes lit up and she smiled brightly when the perfect idea came to mind. “How about this. You do still remember what our brother used to call us when we were younger, right?”

The mention of her brother caused old memories that she had long ago put away to stir within her mind. “Twily,” she said quietly as she recalled the foalhood nickname, prompting a rush of pleasant memories from years ago. She smiled up to the princess, this one a genuine, unburdened smile. “Yeah. I like that.”