• Published 15th Mar 2015
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Six Nights (and a Day) With Sunset - EchoWing



Sunset Shimmer adjusts to her new life after the Fall Formal and gets to know her new friends better, while reflecting on her old one.

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Chapter Four - A Night With Fluttershy

It had been a few days since Sunset Shimmer had earned her cutie mark, and she’d spent the time since then researching and practicing at any magic spell she could find, squirreled away in the bedroom she shared with Sunrunner. What time she wasn’t doing so was spent taking care of daily needs like food and drink, and of course the trips back and forth to the library. Having one only a few blocks away from her aunt’s house was a help, especially with her spells to help clear the way. She’d be studying as she went about other things, but alas, no reading at the table while they were eating.

“Flare, please, how am I supposed to…?”

Solar Flare regarded her husband’s pouting protest with a stern face as she portioned out their meal. “Streaks, I told you, you can read the paper before or after breakfast, but not during.”

“That’s the rule, Daddy.” Sunrunner chimed in. “You can’t have the paper, Shims can’t have her magic books, and I can’t have my comics.”

Sunset allowed herself a small smirk. At least the rules were being applied equally.

“Besides dear, we don’t want to distract ourselves from anything important. We aren’t going to have too much longer with the girls after all.”

“Oh yeah! We’re starting school together soon!” Sunrunner squealed gleefully and clapped her hooves together. “Oh, this is gonna be so much fun!”

“Yeah, fun.” Sunset rolled her eyes; she was hardly looking forward to having to go into some local public school day in and day out. Some tiny part of her doubted that some school that mixed in a bunch of different kinds of ponies and whatevers would be able to really help her with her magic. And worse, she’d be joined at the hip with her cousin whether she wanted to be or not. She’d been sensible enough to figure out her boundaries, but still, she could just see them getting stuck together in class.

“Yes, about that,” The two looked to Flare as she gave them an anxious look. “Girls, promise me that you won’t get your hopes up about this.”

Sunrunner gave her mother a curious look. “About what, Mom?”

“Well Runnie, your father and I were talking about what your cousin did a couple days ago.” Already anticipating her daughter’s reaction, she quickly amended, “Sunset isn’t in trouble, I promise! I’m not about to punish my niece for getting her cutie mark. But since then, it’s become obvious that she might be a little ahead of the curve.”

Sunset grinned.

“And I shouldn’t be surprised. Mom, Dad and Sunrise were all great with magic, same with your father. You earning your cutie mark so early, doing magic at that level, means that you’re either a very early bloomer, or you’re a prodigy.” She reached over with one wing and produced some of yesterday’s mail. “So them applying you for Princess Celestia’s school isn’t a shocker.”

The grin turned to surprise. “They what?”

“I was asked if I wanted to withdraw it, but I decided not to. It was one of the last things they did for you, and I know they’d be happy to see you there.” She shook the bit of paper with one wing. “They aren’t around to see you attend. Now I can do it for them. The rule’s being bent this once, Sunset. Take a look.”

Amazement clear on her face, Sunset took up the paper in her magic and brought it close. She read over it enough to see what was most important. “I’ve been accepted!”

Sunrunner looked to her mother with anxious surprise. “Does this mean Shims is going back to Canterlot?”

A nod. “And I have to go with her, at least for a while. She’ll still need to take the entrance exam, but…”

“I’m going back.” Any concerns about tests were out of her mind as Sunset realized the implications of what she was being told. She was going back to Canterlot, back where she belonged. Best bit of mail ever!

-

Twilight,

Here I am, Day Two of the suspension. Not too worried about missing out on classwork – the girls made sure I had everything I needed to keep up. Just one more surprise, I guess, them doing what they can to make me feel like one of the group. It turns out this world’s Rainbow Dash knows how to play the guitar. It suits her, but I never saw her and me having something in common. Wish I could’ve gotten some practice in, seen if I could remember a few chords, but her guitar’s a bit past it’s prime. And that’s putting it politely. Now that part wasn’t a surprise. No offense to her, but playing hard can be a problem if you don’t maintain things, right?

What else isn’t surprising me is that I’m running out of places to stay; after tonight, I’m going to have to take my chances and hope Sweet Apple Acres doesn’t turn out to be a repeat of Rarity’s home. I’m not going to complain, though. I’m grateful for what little I’m getting.

Hey, can you do me a favor? I don’t know if she’ll know anything about it, but can you ask Princess Celestia about what happened to my parents? If you find the time, I mean.

Your friend, Sunset Shimmer.

Sunset closed her message journal with a contented smile. She’d had a decent enough day for herself, thanks mostly to Rainbow Dash’s father. He’d seen to it that she was left in relative peace in the library at the college he worked at, and she’d taken the opportunity to deal with her schoolwork and catch up on missed assignments. One thing she hadn’t done during her tenure as Canterlot High’s resident alpha was have others do her homework for her, something that she took greater pride in now than she did before, and she wasn’t about to change that. She was almost tempted to offer the girls her help as a tutor, but she got the feeling the others wouldn’t go for it, for one reason or another. One thing at a time, it seemed.

“Um, excuse me?” She looked up from where she sat to find a familiar pink-haired girl standing at the information desk, and quickly made to pack up her things in her backpack. Her voice was still more quiet than a mouse, but years of practice had given her all she needed to find it, particularly in a quiet place like this. “I’m sorry to bother you, miss, but I was told I could find my friend here? Her name is Sunset Shimmer? She’s about my height, with red and yellow hair?” Her belongings packed, Sunset slung her bag over her shoulders and cleared her throat just loud enough to be heard, Fluttershy spinning about to see her. “Oh! I’m sorry, I didn’t notice you.”

“It’s okay, Fluttershy.” She approached with a smile. “I didn’t want to draw too much attention to myself.”

“Oh. I understand.” A nervous laugh, and Fluttershy led her out of the library and into the nearby parking lot towards an old van. “My house isn’t too far away, and my parents are okay with you staying the night. I’m just sorry we can’t keep you much longer than that.”

“It’s alright, I don’t mind.” If anything, this was going to be a respite before the inevitable trouble at Applejack’s family farm. “After everything that’s happened, I’m just glad to have a roof over my head tonight.” She climbed into the van and caught a quick glimpse of her luggage and sleeping bag, no doubt having been relayed by Rainbow Dash that morning. Seatbelt in place, she asked, “I’m actually curious to see what your place is like.”

“Well, I like it, but the other girls do have nicer places.” A modest smile crossed her face as Fluttershy turned the key and started her van up. “And I expect you’re used to nicer.”

Sunset smiled reassuringly. “Let me worry about that.”

-

Fluttershy’s home, as it turned out, was a very small house, practically a cottage. “My parents won’t be home for a little bit yet, but don’t worry, they know you’ll be here.” Fluttershy paused near the door, a birdhouse hanging beside it, and whistled, a familiar rose-colored bird emerging and singing back before landing on an offered finger. “Hello Wesley. I’m glad to be home too.”

Sunset had expected the house to be packed to the brim with animals and assorted strays that Fluttershy had brought home, but she was surprised to find no animals rushing to get out the door as she closed it behind her and slipped off her boots. Even more surprising was part of Fluttershy’s menagerie had been with them the entire time, as her friend opened her backpack and released the white rabbit inside. “Here we are, Angel, home sweet home. Now, you be nice to Sunset and don’t give her any trouble.”

The rabbit glared at Sunset with his beady little black eyes, instantly making her nervous. She steadied her nerves and asked, “So, am I bunking with you, or do you have a guest room?”

“Oh, you’ll be with me. I just hope that isn’t a problem.”

“Of course not. I slept in the same room as Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash without any trouble. All I need is a place to set my sleeping bag and I’ll be fine.”

“Oh, um, about that.” Fluttershy gestured to follow, and she led her guest to her bedroom door, opening it to reveal the contents. “My bedroom isn’t all that big.”

Indeed it wasn’t, as furniture was packed in as close as it could get and there was still barely enough room to maneuver around. Sunset suspected that Fluttershy’s bed ended up doubling for a chair fairly often. There certainly wasn’t enough room on the floor for Sunset to lay out in her sleeping bag. “Wow. I guess I’m sleeping on your couch.”

“Oh no, I can’t let you do that. You’re my guest. I’ll take the couch.”

“Fluttershy, I…” She stopped and took a breath; arguing like this wasn’t going to get them anywhere. “Tell you what, we’ll settle this the old fashioned way. Got any loose change?” Fluttershy wordlessly pulled a quarter from a nearby bowl. “Okay, coin toss. Heads, you take the bed. Tails, I take it.”

“But what if it lands on the floor, on its side?”

“Then I’ll stomp on the floor and knock it flat.”

“And if it still stays on its side?”

“Then we both take the bed and Pinkie Promise not to say a word of it to anyone. Fair?”

“I suppose so.” Resigned, Fluttershy performed the coin flip, the quarter spinning in the air but utterly missing her hand, landing on the floor and spinning about on its rim until it stopped, stuck on its side. A light stomp from Sunset, and then a heavy one, and it refused to budge, and the two girls looked to one another with the same expression, host starting off the gestures. “Cross my heart and hope to fly…”

“Stick a cupcake in my eye.” Resigned, Sunset knelt down, retrieved the coin, and gave it back to Fluttershy. She then set her luggage into a free corner with a nervous smile. “Well, tonight’s going to be awkward, isn’t it?”

“A little, I guess. Um, would you like to sit down and talk for a while? Or just sit down?”

“I’m fine with talking. And sitting.” Both perched themselves on the bed, now growing nervous for their own individual reasons, and Sunset opted to break the silence. She looked about for something to start talking about, launching into talk with the first thing she found that looked interesting, assorted yarn and craft supplies on the dresser. “You knit?”

Fluttershy smiled. “Yes, a little here and there. It’s nothing special, though.”

“Special enough.” Now she knew how Fluttershy and Rarity could bond so well. “Listen, Fluttershy, about everything that’s happened? I’m sorry, for treating you so horribly and mocking you all the time.”

“It’s alright, Sunset.”

“No, it isn’t alright. No one deserves to be treated like that, you especially. You’re not pathetic.” Shame clear in her voice, Sunset admitted, “If any of us is pathetic, it’s me.”

Both her arms were wrapped around her friend, and Fluttershy soothingly countered, “Sunset, you’re not pathetic. You were just doing what was natural in your situation is all. You were the alpha predator and I was one of the weaker prey animals. It’s how nature works.”

“That doesn’t exactly help things.” Sunset laid her hand upon both of her friend’s. “Still, you’re not the weak one here. It’s easy to be cruel, especially when you think that you’re better than everyone else. Being good to others, being nice? That’s hard. You do it a lot better than I ever could.”

“You were better than everyone, though.”

“No, I was different. I still am when you get right down to it, and the only ones who know how different are you, me, the rest of the girls and this world’s Celestia and Luna. Everyone else just has a part of the picture, and it isn’t a really good part. And it didn’t give me the right to treat you like I did. That you can let me into your home after all that is a miracle as far as I’m concerned.”

“It’s not a miracle when you do something for a friend, Sunset. At least, not a big miracle. It’s just a small one, and life’s filled with small miracles. And besides, now you know better.”

Sunset smiled, and wrapped her arm around Fluttershy, who giggled happily. “What’s that about?”

“Oh, nothing, it’s just, well, I’ve never been hugged by a unicorn before.” Both girls laughed, Sunset more loudly than her host, and Fluttershy offered, “I’m still a little amazed that you’re so willing to eat meat, though. I mean, I know equines can eat some meat if they really need to, but I’m surprised at how specific you are.”

“Well, I’ve got reasons. The thought of eating any cooked flesh freaked me out at first, until I broke down and had a chicken sandwich that first fall. Not going to bring that up very often back in Equestria, of course, but still, you do what you need to do, right? Anyway, eating chicken and pork was an easy justification; we raise them back in Equestria, even if we don’t eat them.” She leaned in and explained, “We harvest the eggs from the chickens we raise, and pigs are either garbage disposals or truffle hunters. We love truffles.”

“Still, Rarity mentioned you not eating specific meats. I’m not questioning you abstaining from seafood, but the rest?”

Sunset shrugged, already knowing what the response to this would be. “Well, how many people do you know who would eat a cow if it could talk?”

“Oh, not many would…” Wonder dawned upon Fluttershy’s face as she realized exactly what Sunset had said. She looked up at the girl beside her and asked, “Cows talk in Equestria?”

“And sheep.”

Fluttershy pulled out of her hug, only for her to pull her arms in gleefully, her blue eyes lit up like a Christmas tree as she squealed at the thought. “Oh my goodness! Spike was enough of a surprise, but cows and sheep?!” She gasped and asked, “Do all animals talk in Equestria?”

“No, but all animals do have some degree of sapience. A few are considered equal members of society to ponies like me, though, and that includes cattle and sheep. I think them being able to talk is the big point in their favor, not to mention being able to negotiate as economic equals. We buy milk and wool from them.”

“Really? What about goats?”

“No, goats can’t talk. Last I checked, the list of races equal to ponies included cattle, sheep, buffalo, donkeys, zebras, and some orders of deer. Most of them are considered Equestrian citizens, though there are exceptions. Zebras are mostly native to Zebrica; it and the various deer kingdoms have diplomatic relations with Equestria, but it’s the rare individual of either race who interacts with the greater citizenry.” A disgusted look crossed her face as she amended, “Well, except caribou. The stories I’ve heard about the border skirmishes with their territories aren’t nice ones.” Anticipating another question, she added, “And yes, there are mules, and they’re equal under the law to ponies like me.”

“Oh good. I was wondering about that. But what about Spike? He’s a dragon. I’d think that dragons would prey on ponies.”

“It depends on the dragon. They come in all shapes and sizes, but most are wild and migratory. I never met one until Spike came along; most ponies haven’t, given how dangerous they can be. They tend to leave ponies alone, for whatever reason. In fact…” A thought occurred to her, and she quickly retrieved her journal and jotted down a quick question. “Let’s get back to the dragons in a minute; they aren’t the only creatures your world has in its mythologies that are real in mine.”

“Really? Are there any that are part of Equestrian society?”

“Some. I’ve met griffons, both native to Equestria and from the Griffon Kingdom proper, hippogriffs and minotaurs. They’re all definitely a part of society, but there are other races capable of speech that aren’t among Equestria’s citizenry. Princess Celestia’s spoken of lands for gremlins, centaurs, gargoyles, and so many others. I’ve also read about chimera, Diamond Dogs and changelings, but I’ve never met them.” At Fluttershy’s curious expression, she elaborated, “Large dog-like creatures native to Dimandia and pony-like shapeshifters with insectoid traits, exoskeletons and such.”

“Oh, that part wasn’t what got me curious. You’ve heard of the Diamond Dog boys, right?”

“I’ve seen those three once or twice, but they gave me a wide…” The realization struck her, and she slapped her forehead. “Okay, now I really feel like an idiot. Should’ve made the connection before now.”

“Well, I don’t want to sound like an idiot too, but why did the portal turn Spike into a dog? I mean, it’s fine if you don’t know, but…” Sunset’s journal buzzed. “Oh, did that have something to do with what you asked Twilight?”

“Actually, yeah.” Sunset quickly found the anticipated response and skimmed through it. “Thought so.” She turned to Fluttershy and explained, “Part of the entrance exam to Princess Celestia’s school was a test; every prospective student is told to try and hatch a dragon egg. I don’t know how long the test was there for, just that I wasn’t able to manage it. According to Twilight, she actually did the impossible and hatched the egg.”

“And the little baby dragon who came out of it was Spike?” A nod, and Fluttershy reasoned, “So Spike became a dog because, as far as the portal was concerned, he wasn’t equal to other Equestrian citizens?”

“Or just because he was a dragon. No way of telling.” She jotted down a quick reply. “I never found out who made the Crystal Mirror, only what I told you and the girls. We may never know exactly why it’s set up the way it is.” She closed the journal and set it aside. “Still, I’d hate to see them try to get a full-grown dragon through the portal. How would it fit? And that’s ignoring the really uncomfortable questions.”

“Like if Spike’s counterpart was to remain a dog or turn into a dragon after going through the portal?”

“Exactly.” She noticed an embarrassed expression on Fluttershy’s face and asked, “What’s wrong?”

“It’s…well, when Twilight and Spike told us the truth, I didn’t even think of Spike as a dragon. I saw him talking, and I was so caught up in having a cute talking dog in front of me that…well, I’ve dreamed of having an animal talk back to me for so long…”

Sunset smiled. “I don’t think he took too much offense to it.”

“Still, I treated him like a pet. I don’t think Twilight treats him like a pet. I mean, if she hatched him, then wouldn’t that make him an adopted son?”

Sunset shrugged. “Maybe. Twilight may see him as a baby brother instead. She is a little young to be a mother.” She offered a hopeful smile and asked, “Does that help any?”

The smile was returned. “A little, yes. Still, Rarity’s right. He’s adorable as a dog or a dragon.” Fluttershy gave a small squeal. “Though that does make me wonder if ponies do have really exotic pets.”

“Some of us do. Princess Celestia’s got a pet phoenix.” At her friend’s awestruck expression, she added, “That said, Philomena’s got a strange sense of humor. Lots of fun, though, trust me.”

A joyful squeal, and Fluttershy took hold of Sunset with both arms. “Oh, thank you for telling me all that! It’s all so amazing!” Her hold loosened as she added, “And what you were saying about how hard it is to be good? It’s not easy, but the more you do it, the easier it gets. Like being a friend. And you’re doing really good so far.”

Sunset smiled and leaned in. “Thanks, Fluttershy.” The smile faded slightly as her thoughts went back, a memory flashing into her mind from far too long ago of a mistake she’d only recently started to regret. One mistake, out of so many.

“Mrrow?”

Sunset looked down at her feet to find a white kitten adorned by a blue bow, purring contentedly as she rubbed herself against her amber legs. She gently scooped the kitten up as Fluttershy cooed, “Aww. Cordelia likes you.”

“And here I was worried your pets would hate me.” Sunset gently petted the kitten on her head with a smile. Some mistakes could be forgiven, she supposed.

-

Sunset could barely contain her excitement as she packed her saddlebags and got ready for the trip. Today was the day – she was going back to Canterlot! Yes, she had to take some silly test, but she wasn’t worried about that in the slightest. She was going to ace it, and when that happened…!

A knock sounded at the bedroom door before it slid open. “Shims?”

Sunset rolled her eyes. “Yes, Sunrunner?”

Her cousin entered and gently offered. “I just wanted to tell you, before you and Mommy left for Canterlot, how happy I am for you. I’d wish you luck, but I know you don’t need it. You’re amazing, Shims. There’s no way they won’t let you attend.”

A smile crossed Sunset’s face. Her cousin wasn’t wrong; she would get in.

“After all, you’re my awesome big sister.”

The smile faded instantly, and Sunset turned to face her cousin with a glare strong enough that the filly backed off a step. She wasn’t sure what she was angrier about, her claims of them being siblings or the fact that the filly before her had stolen her manestyle. “Sunrunner, there’s something you need to get through that thick, bird-brained skull of yours. I don’t have a sister. I never had a sister. It was just me and my mommy and my daddy – I didn’t want a sister and I didn’t need one. We’re not sisters, and we’ll never be sisters.”

“But…”

“But nothing. My mommy isn’t your mommy. You never knew her, just like I never knew your mommy. And I wish I hadn’t. I’m going back to Canterlot, back where I belong, and I’m staying there, and everypony will know my name.” She stepped past her and added, “Sunset Shimmer. Not some stupid nickname like ‘Shims’. If I ever hear it again, it’ll be too soon.”

Sunset trotted out of the bedroom, her cousin left in her wake. Her hoofsteps were just loud enough that they muffled out the sounds of the odd sniffle from a pegasus filly trying to hold back tears.

-

“Come in.” The door to her temporary office opened, and Princess Celestia looked up with a smile. “Hello Twilight.”

The younger alicorn smiled in greeting, closed the door behind her and quickly glanced about the ornate office. “Wow. I almost thought this was a guest suite.”

“The royals of the Crystal Empire made it a rule to have offices for their peers done up as well as their own. I think it was a way to avoid complaints from some of their more obstinate guests. I think it’s a little much, but I don’t mind.” As her former student approached, she gestured to a waiting seat and asked, “I assume what brings you here wasn’t to do with today’s discussions?”

“No, I thought this was something best kept between the two of us.” Twilight shifted her wings to reveal her saddlebags and then gently lifted out the message journal with her magic. “It’s something to do with Sunset Shimmer.” At her fellow princess’ concerned expression, she quickly clarified, “She’s perfectly fine, not hurt at all, but the last few days haven’t been perfect for her. She hasn’t really had a chance to settle in with any of the girls. They’re getting along fine, but things just keep on happening.”

Celestia relaxed, an enigmatic smile crossing her face. “Well, I think things will work out for her well enough. But I doubt you came here just to let me know how your new student is doing.”

“No. Sunset asked me to ask you if you knew anything about what happened to her parents.”

“Ah.” Her expression was now laced with guilt, and the Princess of the Sun stepped out from behind her desk and approached her former student. “I wondered when this would come. Has she told you anything about her parents?”

“Not much, beyond their names and occupations and what little she surmised about how they died. She thought it was a workplace accident.”

“Calling it that would be a gross understatement.” The elder princess took a breath, collected her thoughts, and asked, “Would it surprise you to know that I have a number of research projects going on? Nothing truly absurd, of course, just things that I think could have genuine, practical benefits, among them efforts at alternative energy sources, cleaner and more efficient than what we already have.” She paused and recognized the sound of a pencil striking parchment, then looked to her former student to notice she was taking notes. “Twilight?”

“I don’t have Sunset’s eidetic memory.” Twilight looked up and asked, “I’m guessing that programs like that led to things like Ponyville’s hydroelectric dam?”

“Among other similar facilities, like wind and solar farms. But there are those who said we still had the means to improve. After all, we still use steam engines to drive our trains and power construction equipment. Sunset’s parents were part of a project that would have allowed us an alternative power source to coal; small artificial suns.”

Twilight’s eyes widened. “Small-scale solar fusion? Is such a thing possible?”

“When the project was suggested, it came with very compelling math and some strong supporting evidence. I gave it my approval, but nonetheless, I monitored it closely. As someone who controls the sun itself, I know full well how dangerous it can be. Careful precautions were put in place, but nonetheless, they weren’t enough.” A sad sigh, and Celestia explained, “Work progressed far enough to create an artificial sun, but the containment field wasn’t strong enough, and the sun itself was horribly unstable. It burned itself out within a few minutes, but in the process of doing so, it put out small-scale coronal ejections.”

“Solar flares,” Twilight translated. “That’s something even you would have difficulty controlling.”

“And I take great comfort in the fact that I’ve yet to deal with one, and that if one did occur, I’d be able to deflect most of the damage. In that case, however, I would have several minutes warning. In the case of Sunset’s parents, I had none.” A mournful expression crossed her face as she explained, “Two flares struck them both. Their bodies were recognizable enough, but what was left was horribly burned. My only comfort is that their deaths were quick.”

Twilight looked up from her notes, a horrified, pained expression on her face. “And you never told her?”

“She never asked me, and I never asked her what she knew about their passing. I later found out that her family never talked with her about it, for one reason or another.” Remorse was clear as she added, “We all have regrets over one thing or another, Twilight. They aren’t simply limited to those of us who wear crowns.”

“But that doesn’t make dealing with them any easier.”

Celestia gently nuzzled her protégé. “You act as though you have something you regret.”

“Nothing really terrible.” Twilight made a small smile and explained, “I was just thinking about how I treated some of my peers back in school. I don’t know if Sunset and I had any classmates in common, but…”

“You had several, some of whom may surprise you. But the two of you treated your peers very differently, as I’ve told you. Her dismissal of them was always very brusque, while yours tended to be polite, even if it was standoffish.” Celestia gently laughed and reassured her, “But I wouldn’t worry too much. In comparison to my past sins, yours are minor, and far more easily rectified. Do so when you get a chance, hmm?” She gently nudged her and offered, “Now go on. You’ve a question to answer, and I think other issues to address?” At her former student’s shocked expression, she smiled and explained, “I’ve made a point of paying attention, Twilight. I don’t like repeating mistakes.”

An embarrassed blush crossed her face as she asked, “How much do you know?”

“Enough to know that you and I are in very different boats, though probably from similar manufacturers.” She gently smiled and suggested, “All I can offer in terms of advice is that you do what you think is right. And that’s something you’re very good at.”

“But?”

“But I know from experience that love isn’t something that comes by every day. Which doesn’t help, I know, but…”

“But I’ll take what I can get.” She turned discussion away from her love life and back to what she came for as she asked, “The project that Sunset’s parents were working on. Was it cancelled?”

“No, but it’s been put on hold until we can improve our containment methods. As I said, I don’t like repeating mistakes. Give her all my best, hmm?” Twilight nodded and departed, and Celestia smiled, thinking back on her own love life. She wasn’t immune to it any more than anypony else, but it had been a long time since she’d had a special somepony.

Perhaps it was approaching time that she reconnected. The risks were great, of course, but nothing was without risk. And she’d been around long enough to know that hope should never be abandoned.

-

Perhaps not surprisingly, Sunset’s stay with Fluttershy had been the smoothest so far. Her friend’s parents had been nothing but gracious, though apologetic that they could only keep her for the night. When the evening came, and the two girls found themselves sharing a bed as agreed, Sunset found herself unable to sleep, her arms crossed behind her head and her mind on what she had learned from Twilight earlier in the evening. Now she had some closure, at least, though other thoughts weighed on her.

“Sunset?” She looked to her side to find Fluttershy looking at her with bleary eyes. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing. I’m just thinking to myself.”

“You’re not still feeling guilty, are you?”

“Some, but it’s other things too.”

“Would you like to talk about it?”

“Yes, but not right now. You have school in the morning, and I’m still sorting things out. So get some sleep, okay?”

A smile crossed her friend’s lips. “Okay, but you need to get some sleep too. You’ve got a big day ahead tomorrow.” Fluttershy closed her eyes, settled beneath the blankets, and softly started singing.

“Hush now, quiet now,

It’s time to lay your sleepy head.

Hush now, quiet now,

It’s time to go to bed.”

Sunset smiled, softly laughed, and found herself thinking back to an old memory from a happier time. As if they had a will of their own, the next few words of the song escaped her lips.

“Drifting off to sleep,

Exciting day behind you.

Drifting off to sleep,

Let the joy of dream land find you.”

At Fluttershy’s surprised expression, she explained, “My mother sang that same lullaby to me when I was little.”

“Oh. I’m sorry.”

“No, don’t be. You sang it beautifully.”

“…So did you.”

Sunset closed her eyes, putting her concerns aside. A tiny part of her was still thinking she’d face nightmares, despite Rainbow Dash’s theory against it, but she found herself less worried about them, given her company. Fluttershy might not believe it, but she was stronger than she knew. After all, she was the first to really forgive her, despite how horrible she’d been. “Thank you, Fluttershy. For being so strong. For being my friend.” She felt an arm draped over her, Fluttershy hugging her gently, and smiled as she wrapped her arms around her friend and drifted off to sleep. “For forgiving me…”

Author's Note:

This was a shorter chapter than the others to write, mostly because of poor Fluttershy. I love her dearly, but alas, she has no canon relatives, so it was mostly her and Sunset for this chapter. A tiny bit of Angel Bunny, but still, mostly the two of them. I don't ship them, mind, but if you're into that kind of thing, feel free to check out the feel-inducing "Goodnight Sunset, Good Morning Sunrise" by Twilight Nightmare.

Fluttershy driving a van is something I've seen in two other stories - "Taking Another Career Option" by DJLowrider and, again, ConningOfficer's "Sunset Shimmer: Element of Redemption". I like it, I like the explanation, so I rolled with it. The various races discussed between Fluttershy and Sunset that have sapience status all come from canon materials, save the caribou, but they're related to deer so that gives them a smidge of authenticity. Aquatic races go unmentioned mostly because Sunset hasn't met them or heard much about them, but suffice it to say, seaponies, mermares and (of course) Sirens exist.

The Hush Now Lullaby is, of course, credited to Chris Savino and Daniel Ingram. Amusingly, Rebecca Shoichet provided backing vocals to Sweetie Belle's rendition.

EDIT 5/20/2015 - A few more small tweaks as prompted by Imperator Knoedel, mostly to include Fluttershy's other pets from the first film. I also snuck in a nod to Fluttershy's Micro Series comic that I failed to include originally. Also, please forgive the theme naming; I think Fluttershy's a Whedon fan.

EDIT 12/2/2015 - Another small tweak.