• Published 13th May 2015
  • 2,278 Views, 104 Comments

The Return of Sunset Shimmer - Never2muchpinkie

Sunset returns through the portal when it opens again, wanting to make amends for the past. However, things get complicatred when she discovers a familiar dark artifact. Lured by a promise of power, can Twilight save her from herself a second time?

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Epilogue: The old journal

Sunset emerged on the other side of the portal. Looking down she saw she was human again. She looked around at the familiar school, but that was it. No one was waiting for her. She had expected her friends to be there to see which world she was gonna stay in.

Her heart began to ache. She had never wanted to see them more. Touching the base of the statue she saw it had turned solid again. Once more the connection between the worlds was severed.

She was alone… all alone. The weight of everything that had happened during her recent trip to Equestria felt physical, and she sat down in front of the statue, burying her head in her knees.

It all felt the same as the very first time she had come here. She made a bunch of mistakes and left to something new and exciting, only to feel scared and lonely once it was done. She began to cry, her arms wrapped around her legs.

It had seemed so easy to keep going surrounded by her friends, but now there was no one here but herself. She had really expected all of them to be anxiously waiting to see which side she would remain on. She really needed their support right now. Her heart felt so heavy and dark without them by her side.

She could always visit their houses, but she couldn’t muster the energy to stand.

Time seemed to be frozen. She didn’t know if time was passing at all. All she could hear was the sound of crickets chirping, the occasional car passing by, and her own breathing.

“Hey! Isn’t that-”

“It is!”

“Yeehaw! She’s back!”

Sunset’s head jerked up. She could never forget those voices. Turning her head to the left she saw the five of them in the moonlight and the headlights from the school.

“Woohoo!” Pinkie cried out, charging her and nearly knocking her over as she hugged Sunset.

Sunset was so relieved. The heaviness on her soul lessened. “You guys…” She let out a little sob, her eyes clenching shut.

“Hey, what’s wrong?” Pinkie asked, concerned. She pulled away to look Sunset over. “Are you hurt? Why are you crying?”

It was too much to take in all at once. There was so much to process and too much to say. Opening her eyes she said, “I… I just missed all of you so much. When I didn’t see you guys I thought… that maybe you had given up on me.”

“No way!” Rainbow said strongly.

“That’s right, Sugarcube,” said Applejack.

Rarity let out a tsk. “We were going to wait here most of the night, but security chased us away for loitering. We couldn’t exactly tell them we were waiting for a pony from another world to pop up through a magic portal in a statue.”

“So we’ve just been walking around and checking every half-hour or so.”

So they had been waiting for her. She let out a shuddering breath.

“So how’d it go?” asked Applejack. “Ya get everything settled with Celestia?”

The lightness in her heart faded. “Yes…”

“That’s sounds great, Sunset,” said Fluttershy. “But you don’t seem too happy about it.”

Sunset felt like her stomach might explode. Her breathing grew lighter.

“What’s wrong, darling?” asked Rarity.

“T-the whole thing was a disaster!” Sunset cried out. “I made so many mistakes and would up getting corrupted by this thing called the Alicorn Amulet and it turned me on my friends and I almost killed some of them!

“I’m… I’m so ashamed!” She squeezed Pinkie tight for support, lightly bawling into her shoulder.

All of them surrounded her, adding their hugs to the mix. “Oh, Sunset,” Fluttershy said mournfully. “I’m so sorry.”

“A-all I wanted was to make amends, but I wound up creating as many problems as I solved!”

“Come on, Sunset,” said Pinkie. “I think we should all go to my house for a sleepover so you can tell us all about it.”

Sunset didn’t know if she wanted to tell them all about it. She didn’t know if she could be completely open about all the terrible things she had done. Still… she had told them the basics of the story and they had responded with sympathy instead of scorn or anger. Wasn’t the lesson she had learned from everything not to keep all her feelings inside?

Reluctantly she agreed. “Okay. Let’s go.”

They helped her up and started the trek home. It felt so familiar to be walking these streets. Even though it had only been three days since she had left it felt like forever.

None of them intruded on the silence as they walked, but they huddled around her to provide a sense of closeness.

When they arrived they all headed for Pinkie’s room, sitting down. When they were comfortable they looked expectantly at Sunset.

Sunset looked around at them, feeling like her insides were on fire. She was terrified of losing them. If they couldn’t accept her now then what did she have left to live for?

Once again the words of the Rainbow Dash that had appeared from the Element came to her. Even though she had screwed up so badly Rainbow refused to abandon her. All of them encouraged her. They might not have been the real things, but they were based on the way she viewed them. And if what lay in her heart was anything like the real things in front of her then they would accept her too.

She opened her mouth, telling them all that had transpired. The beginning was easy: going to Twilight for help, telling her of the past, sleeping in a hammock, having breakfast, and chilling at a carnival.

The next part was harder. Putting on the Amulet, and hearing Stardust’s dual nature, one part kind, empathetic master, and one part desire for the death of Celestia. Talking about the ways he got into her head made her really think about how much of what he said was subjective, but that there was someone else who agreed with her so much only made her feel like all her complaints about Celestia were justified.

Just like when she was telling parts of the story to Celestia it all felt so stupid and obvious that she was simply being used. He had given her just enough room to let her think she was making her own choices, but was actually guiding her down one path all along.

She felt a dull ache inside of her as she spoke about the visions he had placed in her head. “He showed me the five of you in school, talking about how you hated me; how you were glad I was gone and it had been a huge waste of your time keeping an eye on me.” She hugged herself, crying. “That you thought I had been irredeemable from the start and were only being nice to me because Twilight asked you to.” She sniffed. “It hurt so much.”

Pinkie grabbed her in a hug. “That mean old Stardust!”

Rarity crossed her arms. “It’s clear what he was after. He wanted to distance you from us, or rather your memories of us. He couldn’t bend you to his will until you thought he was the only thing you had to rely on.”

Sunset nodded. “There was another one where the pony versions of you did much the same, Apple Bloom talking about how terrified she was to be near me.

“The final one showed Twilight meeting Celestia. She was the only one that stood up for me. Even though Celestia said she wanted me taken out Twilight defended me, saying she didn’t want to go through with it. Celestia got mad and attacked her, then put a spell on her that made her like an empty shell.

“Because I came to believe that what I saw in my nightmares were actually visions of the truth I thought that Twilight was a helpless victim. It was a no-win situation either way it went. Celestia would be at her least protected away from her Royal Guards and her sister Luna. Of course if I went after Celestia then Twilight would defend her, so even though I believed that taking Celestia down would break the spell she put on Twilight it wasn’t likely to happen.

“Even though I wanted to protect Twilight… in my mind there was only one way to do so: take her down permanently so that Celestia couldn’t control her anymore.”

Fluttershy put a hand to her mouth as she gasped.

Sunset rubbed her forehead. “I’m not proud of it, but it felt like the only option available to me. When Celestia saw what became of Twilight she’d be distracted for at least a few moments, which would have been the time I struck.”

Applejack crossed her arms as well. “This Stardust fella was a real piece of work, wasn’t he? He set everything up so he’d win in the end.”

After asking for a glass of water Sunset told them about the great battle between her and Twilight. Her friends gasped and ‘oohed’ and ‘aahed’ at the right places, but largely just let her talk. She was keeping the story in order up until she told them about Spike’s injuries. She emphasized that he was alive and his injuries healed up after the battle so they wouldn’t mourn over him.

“It drove Twilight past the brink when Celestia arrived and I attacked her. Drained of her regular magic but still wanting to protect her friends she accidentally drew on a different sort of strength: dark magic. Celestia had taught it to her in preparation for her trip to the Crystal Empire, as it was used by the one who conquered it long ago.

“That was when Stardust decided to abandon me. In our last big clash to see who deserved to live he flat-out told me that he had only been using me and that he had set me up to accomplish his own ends. It broke my spirit and crippled my ability to fight back, and I was engulfed in Twilight’s spell, but I was protected by her, Cadance, and Shining Armor.”

“What were those two doing there?” asked Rainbow. “And why abandon you? Didn’t he need you?”

“They sensed the dark magic through this artifact called the Crystal Heart.

“As for why… he had no further need of me. He wanted a better host than me.”

“Twilight?” Fluttershy asked in horror.

“Exactly. He expected me to die in that final clash. I’m assuming that if his current host dies that it negates the whole magical lock thing, or he himself can break it at any time. Either way, he expected Twilight to retrieve the Amulet from me, and then persuade her to put it on.

“Stardust did succeed at that. I didn’t get to warn Twilight before I fell unconscious, but the next time I arose she was wearing it and threatening to finish me off. Twilight was so emotionally drained that she more or less was letting him control her. Since Twilight was so furious with me she wouldn’t have much of an issue with that. He knew he couldn’t control her properly unless he broke her will, so he couldn’t attack the one he really wanted to.

“Ultimately I survived again because of friendship. Twilight’s friends protected me from her, and because Twilight loved her friends far more than she hated me she wouldn’t let them be collateral damage. It did eventually get to her, and she removed the Amulet, blasting it into pieces.”

“So that was that, huh?” Rainbow asked, imitating a laser. “Pachew! See ya! Game over!”

Sunset chuckled weakly. “I wish it had been that easy. Then again… if it was I might not have received so favorably a consequence.”

“What do you mean?” asked Rarity.

“The jewel had a crack in it from Twilight’s attack, but it only seemed to work out in his favor. His spirit emerged from it, and he could now use his magic freely. He thought it was great, as it meant Twilight wouldn’t be able to get rid of him when he tried to take her body again. He challenged Cadance to a contest of love verses hate, as that’s what their shield spells were based on.

“I knew Cadance wouldn’t win. Stardust had taken me and turned me inside out just from some words. I don’t think anyone could have beaten him head to head. I knew the only way to stop him was the Elements of Harmony. It took everything I had to get to where I had stashed it and return, but I didn’t want Twilight to suffer anymore.

“Stardust noticed me and knocked the Element away, trying to blow it up. I took the blow to keep the Element safe.”

“Way to go, Sunset!” Rainbow put her fist out, and Sunset meekly hit it with her own.

“I was at my limit. I couldn’t move. I had too many injuries. I was too tired to think. It felt like it should have been the end for all of us, but then… all of you showed up.”

“Pardon?” said Applejack, her eyebrow going up.

“What do you mean, Darling?” asked Rarity. “None of us went through the portal.”

“It wasn’t really you guys,” Sunset replied. “Celestia told me that the Element saved me from Stardust’s attack because I genuinely intended to die for my friends. Similarly, it created images of you from the depths of my heart to remind me not to give in or give up to him.

“All of you encouraged me, and gave strength to my heart. Even though I was exhausted and hurt I pressed on just a little further to finish my mission to save Twilight and the rest.” Sunset grinned as she remembered all of them in a circle, holding out their hands for her to complete it.

“I passed out right after I sent Twilight the Element, so I didn’t see the end of the battle. The next time I woke up I was staring right into the eyes of Celestia.”

“Oh, dear,” said Fluttershy timidly. “That must have been scary.”

“It should have been…” Sunset thought of that moment. “I woke up, knowing what I had done. And yet… Celestia wasn’t angry or upset. She looked down at me with compassion and love and worry and concern.” A tear came down Sunset’s cheek. “In that moment all of my fears left me, and I did what I meant to all along: I apologized from my heart, becoming a sobbing mess.” She closed her eyes, almost feeling Celestia around her again. “She pulled me close to her, telling me she was glad to see me and she had missed me.”

“Well, shoot!” Applejack said happily. “That musta been wonderful to hear.”

Sunset raised her arms, hugging an invisible Celestia. “It really was,” she said warmly.

Dropping her arms she opened her eyes and continued, “As I said before we healed Spike with the Elements, Celestia addressed the citizens of Ponyville to let them know everything was okay, and Celestia told us about Stardust’s origins. He had previously been the student of Starswirl but had gone bad, much like me with Celestia. Celestia wasn’t sure whether he had always been like that or whether he just fell to darkness over time.”

She got a thoughtful look on her face. “The Alicorn Amulet corrupts the user. From what me and Twilight gathered Stardust’s manipulations are only half of the equation. He can try and talk you into doing something you’d rather not, but until you actually do it you’re blameless. Once you’ve reached that point you can either keep going or back off and try to make amends.

“Celestia tried to stop Starswirl from creating the Alicorn Transformation spell because of the risk of misuse, but Stardust ignored that and continued on until Starswirl caught him. They got into a fight over it and Stardust took Starswirl’s life.”

Her eyes narrowed a bit, the question stronger in her mind. “Maybe… what he did to other ponies is what happened to him.”

“What do you mean?” asked Pinkie, putting her head on her knees.

“Of course I could be completely off-base. Stardust might have always had malicious intentions. Celestia did say Starswirl was a pony that could get completely swept up in creating new spells for months at a time, so this is just a theory.

“What if Stardust felt guilty for going against both his mentor and Celestia’s admonishments to leave the spell unfinished? When Starswirl caught him he might have reacted on impulse and attacked. I remember that I was all nervous after Stardust planted those nightmares in my head, and I attacked Zecora.”

Sunset kneaded her hands together. “Maybe Stardust’s biggest fault is that he didn’t know when to back down. He couldn’t give up after coming so far.” She ran a hand through her hair. “Or maybe it’s just wishful thinking on my part.

“The thing is… Stardust… he reminds me so much of me when I first arrived here. I felt so superior, being trained by someone so high up on the ladder. I had genuine talent. Once I felt distanced from Celestia I began to believe I could only rely on myself and my own abilities…” She drifted off.

They gave her a little time, but eventually Pinkie grew impatient. “Come on, Sunset! There’s something on your mind. What are you thinking about so hard in there?”

“If Stardust had only been honest with me… told me the real, honest truth, then maybe I could have helped him the right way. Instead, he was too deep in his sea of lies and excuses to ever think of turning back from his anger and grudges, and corrupted me by doing the same thing, reminding me of how I felt back then.”

She slowly lifted her hands, looking at them. “I guess… I’m just wondering… why me? Why did I survive, but Stardust didn’t? We each did terrible things, became corrupted, corrupted others, and tried to take over the world… but… I’m still here, and he isn’t. I got a second chance from Twilight, and then again from Celestia. So… why me?”

Sympathetic tears came down her eyes. “It must seem so crazy and pathetic, but I’m actually mourning Stardust’s death right now. If he had only known how wonderful it felt to have someone you can trust with your heart and your soul like I learned, then maybe he could have redeemed himself as well.” Her hands clenched into fists, and then fell to her sides. “I don’t know,” she said weakly. “Maybe I’m not making any sense.”

Applejack moved a little closer to her, putting an arm around her neck. “I think yer makin’ perfect sense, actually. Ya had similar beginnings, but eventually ya got ta make some friends that gave ya a reason ta keep goin’ on. Stardust never did.”

“Don’t let Stardust’s fate weight too heavily on you, Darling,” said Rarity. “He made his choices and eventually had to take responsibility for them. The same with you. Consider it fate or good luck or whatever you want to, but in the end you survived.”

Sunset’s mind turned back to that one glorious moment that changed her life. “All I’ve ever done since being here is tear everyone apart. I don’t know the first thing about friendship.”

Twilight reached out her hand, helping her up. “I bet they can teach you.”

That one act of kindness had turned her whole world around. Even though everyone else treated her with contempt, not that she didn’t deserve it, the five of them had always been by her side since that day. And it was only through them that she eventually began to win over some of the others and felt like she could endure any hardships that came her way.

She shuddered as her nightmare came back to her as well. Stardust, emerging from her body, pulling out a blackened heart with a tidal wave of darkness inside it, just waiting to come out. She felt cold, like he really had left a piece of himself behind in her. It wasn’t true in the literal sense, but in the memories she had of trying to destroy her friends and Celestia. His darkness was still clinging to her, and she couldn’t fight it off alone.

Her breathing grew short. “P-please!” she sputtered out. “Promise me you won’t abandon me for all this. Tell me you’ll always be by my side like before.” Her eyes were wide as she trembled. “I-I-I feel like I’m being swallowed up by his remains. I don’t want to go back there again! To that cold, lonely place.”

Rising up they surrounded her, ten arms wrapping around her.

“No way!” Pinkie said. “You’re not going back there.”

“We stood behind ya before, and we’re here for ya all the way,” said Applejack.

“Friends don’t abandon friends!” Rainbow said strongly, “Especially one that’s trying hard to change herself.”

“That’s right,” said Rarity. “We’re not letting go of you, ever!”

“Our hearts are with you, Sunset,” said Fluttershy, “Now and forever!”

Sunset’s breathing grew deeper. Hands were still being held out to her, pulling her up out of her despair. They weren’t going to leave her for her mistakes. That was the most important thing to her. So long as they were with her she had nothing to fear.

Things wouldn’t be perfect between them. They’d break apart at times, but always come back together in the end.

She felt their five hearts, blazing with their love for her. It made her feel inspired too. She shook off the fears and doubts holding her own back, letting it join in theirs as she hugged them back.

Her heart shined brightly, and she thought of Twilight. ‘Thank you, my dear friend. I’ll make you proud of me, Twilight, so you better do the same.’

Even though she had partied and had a sleepover with her pony friends she had been plagued by too many doubts and worries to really enjoy it. This time as they partied the night away she felt light as air. Nothing bothered her.

After guzzling soda, eating snacks, playing video games, watching movies, and dancing they all were pretty wiped. Though the other five eventually conked out Sunset remained awake. She wasn’t upset or scared, but just thinking.

Twilight and Celestia had both seen her potential for good. They had seen who she truly was behind all her layers of defenses. That was why they hadn’t locked her up or sealed her away. They wanted to see her succeed and excel, and had provided her the means to do so. Sunset smiled as she looked around at her sleeping friends.

Sunset thought of something she had forgotten about for a long time. Tiptoeing towards the door so as not to wake the others she left Pinkie’s room, heading to the next room over.

She flipped on the light switch, seeing her own modest room. Pinkie had talked her parents into moving her in after they had all become friends. She had mainly been sleeping in the school once she enrolled, but she was eventually caught. Since then she had been sleeping anywhere she could find at night.

When Pinkie’s parents heard that she was homeless they agreed to let her move in. In the few years since her last visit through the portal Pinkie’s oldest sister, Maud, had gone to college, leaving an empty room.

She opened the closet, moving stuff around and going into a cardboard box. She pulled several items out until she pulled out a book emblazoned with the red and orange sun of her cutie mark. She rubbed off the dust on it, then sat down at the desk.

It was a magical book that the two shared. Celestia had a similar one with her own cutie mark on it. If one of them wrote in their book it appeared in the other one’s book.

She opened the book to the beginning, memories going through her. She poured over the entries, telling of successes she’d had in mastering particularly tricky spells, or just to simply ask how she was doing. When she was younger her entries were more silly, like “Ha, ha, I’m wasting your time making you read this!” That one made her chuckle and slap her forehead. As she grew and matured her journal entries similarly grew more serious.

Whether they were long or short, or serious or silly, Celestia always responded back to her, usually in the same tone. Celestia’s reply to the one about wasting her time made her eyes shine with tears. “You couldn’t ever waste my time, Sunset, because I always love hearing from you, my wonderful student.” Right next to that was a drawn happy face and a heart.

Celestia had been a mother figure to her, as well as a friend. With her sister being locked up for so long Celestia had to have been terribly lonely. Ponies expected her to be strong. She barely even opened up to Twilight or her about her true feelings. How hard must it have been to always smile during those hard times?

The happy tears that had been forming grew sadder. “I always love hearing from you.” She had been a bright spot of light in Celestia’s life, easing her loneliness and pain. And then she had run away from Celestia, leaving her lonely again until Twilight came along.

She was a fool. Celestia acknowledged her own mistake in not being more forthcoming with what she expected. Now she had to acknowledge her own in not trusting that the one that had raised her with love and respect all her life knew what she was doing.

She put a hand to her heart, quietly crying. “I’m so sorry,” she whispered. “I promise… this time I’m not going to let you down. I’m going to work harder than I’ve ever worked before. You won’t even recognize me by the time I see you again.”

When she finished going through her old back and forths with Celestia she noticed the book was only half full. She pulled out a pen from a drawer, curious. After all these years, and with the portal closed, would it still work?

Even if the magic of the book didn’t work, or if Celestia had thrown away her copy, it would serve as a perfect journal to keep track of her progress.

She felt a strange excitement bubbling inside of her. Setting the pen to the next blank page she began writing the words she hadn’t written in over a decade.

“Dear Princess Celestia…”

Author's Note:

Took a little something from the second movie. I thought it fit so that she can still keep in touch with her pony friends.

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Comments ( 12 )

Wow. I can't believe the story is actually over. It was quite a journey to get here and it was worth it.

Any plans for a sequel?

8045587 If you were one of the one that had to endure the long hiatus I'm sorry. I'm glad you thought it was worth the wait. I'm glad this is finished up. I don't like leaving things unfinished like that right in the middle.

Any plans for a sequel?

A sequel??? Hasn't Sunset been through enough? :raritydespair:

At this time I have no plans for a sequel. A sequel would have to mean some kind of trouble for Sunset, or else there wouldn't be anything really interesting about it. I won't say with certainty there will never be one, but I feel this story has run its course.

8045674 You might do a sequel of an only one chapter where sunset returns to equestria and celestia waiting for this.

Those type of friends are the best. I am happy that Sunset has overcome such overwhelming odds. This story has been quite entertaining.

Isn't Sunsets problem being afraid of her magic?

Wouldn't it be a better way to give her some kind of magic supressor and to gradually accustom her to her magical powers again?
When she comes back from the human world( at least if the rest of the EQ Movies don't happen) being afraid of her magic would still be an issue.

I really liked your story but in my mind what Sunset really needed was some magical and psychological therapy concerning fear and abuse of power.

But thats just my personal opinion and it seems that the power of friendship works better in Equestria (and the EQ Girls world) then on earth:trollestia:

8045846 OOH! :raritystarry: I didn't think about a magic suppressant. One of the reasons I sent Sunset back through the portal was her fear of abusing power, but also because she'd feel closer to the human five than the pony six. Even though they're basically the same people, they're not. Compare human Twilight to pony Twilight.

One of the big things is that the experience is so fresh and raw that she's going to need time to process it before she could move on. Without magic and being near close friends means she won't have that fear of abusing her power. Having resolved her old problem with Celestia and seeing where she needs to improve makes me feel she'll be better equipped to handle things the next time she comes through. Especially because Stardust won't be around to manipulate her. Every time she wanted to back off and stop he'd mess with her thoughts to get her to keep going.

I feel like I'm going to do a bonus chapter for this, as one person said they feel that too many stories end with Sunset going back to the human world, and another that a short sequel would be nice to show how she'd changed from the experience. Add in that gizmo they created to stabilize the portal and keep it open and a magic suppressor and Sunset can have the best of both worlds without fear.

8045783 There you are! You'd been commenting every day so I was waiting for your reaction.

You think Celestia went too far? :unsuresweetie: But it fits with her sometimes trolling attitude. As Rainbow says she needs a little more excitement in her life to stop her messing with ponies for a laugh.

8045793 With all the comments I've been getting today I've decided this story is going to go just a little bit longer. I'm not going to negate the good ending by giving Sunset more trouble, but I want to jump forward a few months and show how Sunset has changed from the incident.

8045924 Personally I beleive that Celestia went too far. She knows that Sunset, Twilight, and thier friends have been greatly affected by Stardust's actions. Her actions seem OoC to me.

8048797 Yeah, already at Chapter 15, it's been hella bumpy! :pinkiegasp:

:fluttercry: That ending though

She put a hand to her heart, quietly crying. “I’m so sorry,” she whispered. “I promise… this time I’m not going to let you down. I’m going to work harder than I’ve ever worked before. You won’t even recognize me by the time I see you again.”

so many feels! :raritycry:

I hope there is a Sequel this is a well done story... Likes it.

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