• Published 3rd Oct 2015
  • 5,105 Views, 627 Comments

Finding Home - Krickis



Sunset Shimmer returns to Equestria only to find that returning home is different than finding one.

  • ...
24
 627
 5,105

1 – Left Behind

Act I

From a Distance

Chapter One

Left Behind

“Aah!”

Sunset tumbled to the ground. Her first moments back in Equestria were spent wildly flailing around in a mess of clothing.

“Sunset? Hold still, you’re making it worse.”

She did stop moving, but not because of the command. She stopped because the voice that spoke was one she’d missed, more so than she had realized.

As someone – probably Twilight – began working on freeing her from the outside, Sunset grabbed hold of her shirt. Or rather, she tried to. Realization struck her as she held her hand in front of her to find it wasn’t a hand at all. She pressed it against her cheek. It was hard, but that was to be expected; it was a hoof, after all. She stretched out her arm – or rather, her foreleg – to try and get a better view, but hit something on the other side.

“Ow! Sunset, please, stop moving!” Twilight said, her voice sharpening.

“Sorry!” Sunset did as Twilight asked. She could barely see what she was doing and had lost all her instincts for this body.

Once they were no longer working against each other, Twilight quickly freed Sunset from her outfit. Her smiling face was the first thing Sunset saw properly in her return to Equestria. “Welcome home!”

Able to look around for the first time, Sunset took in her surroundings. She was in a library in what was obviously Twilight’s crystal castle. But far more interesting to her was Twilight herself, who was directly in front of her. While she looked very different from how Sunset knew her, the most surprising thing was how little she was surprised. She had seen Twilight as a pony before, but that had been brief and before they were friends. She had expected seeing someone she knew so well as a human to be shocking, but it seemed entirely normal.

“Twilight!” Sunset said, the name bringing a smile to her face. She awkwardly lunged forward and wrapped her forelegs around her friend.

“Hey, watch the hooves,” Twilight said as Sunset accidentlly dug one into her back.

“Sorry! Again… This is gonna take some getting used to.” Sunset chuckled. She took a good look at her foreleg and hoof for the first time. Strange, yet familiar. She didn’t even notice she was still holding on to Twilight as she examined herself.

Twilight returned the hug. “It’s fine, just be careful. I missed you too, Sunset.”

While the two mares hugged a third giggled and walked up to them. “Hello, Sunset.”

Sunset stared at the smiling yellow pony. She knew, of course, that it was Fluttershy. Next to Twilight, she was Sunset’s closest friend in Equestria. They had only met face to face once, when she came into the human world with Twilight to visit Sunset some time after the couple’s tour of Equestria, but they’d been talking through the journal for over a year. But despite the familiarity, seeing her as a pony again was… odd. In a way that seeing Twilight as a pony wasn’t. It wasn’t just her appearance that caught Sunset off guard though. ‘They have the same voice.’

“Hey, Shy,” Sunset said, a little dumbfounded.

Fluttershy’s expression changed from general happiness to amusement. Sunset wasn’t exactly sure why until Twilight tapped her on the shoulder, which reminded her she was still hugging the alicorn. Who was Fluttershy’s marefriend. Embarrassed at how long the hug had gone on for, Sunset let go and instead hugged Fluttershy, keeping it to a much more acceptable length.

When she let go, she noticed the little purple and green dragon waving from across the room. “Hey, Sunset.”

“Hi, Spike.” Sunset waved back, wondering if the dragon kept his distance because he was wary of the hugging.

Sunset had never seen a dragon before. Or rather, never got a good look at a dragon before. She had seen him the first time she returned to Equestria, but that was years ago and he had been asleep. Not to mention she had been much more interested in other things at the time. Since then they had met a few times, but he had been a dog in while in the human world. Still, aside from her general interest in getting a good look at a dragon, she didn’t find it that weird.

Spike grinned. “You know, you’re still a bit tangled up.” He pointed to her legs and looking down she saw he was right, her pants hung loosely from her waist.

At that moment several thoughts occurred to her. The academic side of her was fascinated by the differences in both general size and body proportions to both her human and pony forms. While it looked like her head would still fit comfortably through the shirt Twilight had managed to get off her, which now lay forgotten on the ground next to her, the rest of her body was much smaller, which resulted in the entanglement earlier. Likewise, she found it interesting she even came through the mirror with clothes at all.

Meanwhile the more impulsive side of her had only one thought. She shrunk back into her pants as much as possible. “Uhm… I know this is gonna sound really dumb, but I’m kind of naked.”

The others all looked at each other. Fluttershy seemed lost, probably forgetting that humans always wore clothes. Twilight understood though. “You’re a pony again, that sort of thing doesn’t really matter here.”

“I know, but… I just feel weird. Do you think maybe I could borrow something?” Sunset asked, blushing.

“Of course. I’ll go find you something to wear.” Twilight turned and walked towards the door. “Come on Spike, girls only.”

Spike followed Twilight out. “But everypony’s naked all the time. What does it matter?”

“It matters because it’s important to Sunset,” Twilight said as the door closed and cut off the rest of the conversation.

She must have still looked uncomfortable, because Fluttershy picked up Sunset’s jacket and draped it over her like a blanket, leaving only her head sticking out. She immediately felt better being covered up.

“Is it weird being a pony again?” Fluttershy asked.

“Yeah, and I haven’t even started yet. Walking around, grabbing things without hands… This is gonna be a pain.”

“It’ll be okay,” Fluttershy said. “We’ll help you.” Her charming smile and good nature got Sunset to smile back.

“Thanks, Fluttershy. I’ll be fine, just have to get back in the swing of things.”

“I’m sure you will be,” Fluttershy said. She fidgeted in place and Sunset could tell she was trying to fight her anxiety to find something to else say.

In the journal, Fluttershy was far more outgoing. At first, Sunset thought it was a difference between the pony and human Fluttershy, but when she visited Sunset through the mirror, she realized how eerily similar the two were. Fluttershy often relied on Twilight to hold the majority of the conversation, sometimes even when people directly asked her questions. With Twilight out of the room, it fell to Sunset to keep the conversation going. Not that she minded, of course.

“So what do you think? Weird seeing me as a pony?” Sunset asked.

“Oh, no,” Fluttershy said. Although Sunset had never seen this Fluttershy lie before, she recognized the overly large smile immediately.

“Really?” Sunset asked doubtfully.

“Okay, a little,” Fluttershy said. “But it’s not so much that you being a pony is weird. It’s more that, uhm…”

“Makes it even weirder that you met me as a human?” Sunset asked. Fluttershy didn’t say anything, but the way she looked away and blushed said plenty. “I know what you mean. You wouldn’t believe how long it actually took to get used to looking at humans. Then I finally do get used to it, and I come back here. Go figure.”

Fluttershy smiled. “So do ponies look weird now?”

“Not really. To be honest, it is a little weird to see you as a pony, but I think that’s just because I’m so used to the human Fluttershy.”

“So how is everypony doing in the human world?”

Sunset grinned. “Everypony… that’ll take some getting used to.”

“Oh, uhm, I meant everybody,” Fluttershy corrected.

Sunset chuckled. “I know. I’m sure I’ll be making that mistake a lot too. Everyone’s doing fine, even if they are all over the world.” Sunset hesitated a moment before continuing, wondering how much she wanted to say. “I haven’t actually talked to Fluttershy in a while.”

Fluttershy noticed Sunset’s hesitation and rolled her eyes. “It’s fine, Sunset. Once I actually met her, it stopped feeling strange to hear you talk about her. It’s just like… you have two friends with the same name.”

“Yeah, pretty much,” Sunset said. ‘And face. And voice.’

The door opened and Twilight came back in, levitating several dresses behind her. “I’m not sure if dresses are really your thing, but I figured you’d want something a little more covering than a jacket.” Twilight laid out several dresses on a table. “My clothes might be a little too big for you, so I brought some of Fluttershy’s too, although they might be a little small. I hope you don’t mind, Shy?”

“Of course I don’t,” Fluttershy said. She stood up and walked to the door. “We’ll give you some privacy.”

Once they left the room, Sunset threw off the jacket she was hiding under. She looked down and couldn’t help but laugh when she saw the bra still around her torso. It was a hassle to get off with hooves, and she didn’t even consider trying to work the clasp, opting to shimmy it over her head instead. The pants were far easier; they were only loosely hanging on, so she only needed to kick her hindlegs to shake them off.

Actually standing up and walking proved to be another matter entirely. At least she wasn’t at much risk to fall over, since she was already on all fours and had such a low center of gravity, but walking required her to consciously think about what leg she needed to move. Before even examining the clothes she walked a few laps around the library, slowly growing accustomed to having four legs again.

Once she was a little more sure on her hooves, she walked back to the clothes. She wasn’t particularly concerned with being fashionable, just covering up, so she just picked one that looked like it would cover her backside and had sleeves. She stared at her hooves for a moment and sighed. “This is gonna be a bitch…”

She began by sliding her front hooves through the bottom of the dress, followed by her head. She lifted up her forelegs and tried to shimmy into the dress while standing on her back legs. It worked well enough, at least until she fell over. “Aah!”

Once again on the floor tangled up in clothing, she had the feeling of déjà vu. There was a knock on the door and Twilight’s voice called, “Are you okay in there? Do you need any help?”

Sunset sighed. She was getting nowhere by herself. “Yes…”

The door opened for a moment then closed, and she heard Twilight chuckle. “You do remember you have magic, right?”

Sunset facehoofed, entirely too forcefully as she forgot how hard hooves actually were. Rubbing her forehead, she felt her horn and wondered how she could have forgotten about it. She had been devastated to lose her magic in the human world, but had been so preoccupied with everything else that she hadn’t even spared it a thought since returning, even when she saw Twilight use her magic.

“Actually, to be perfectly honest, I’d feel more comfortable if you practiced on something other than Fluttershy’s dress anyway,” Twilight said. “Here, start by getting your foreleg through this hole.”

With Twilight’s help, she finally managed to get the dress on properly. She wasn’t sure what was worse, the fact that she needed help with something as simple as putting on a dress, or the fact that Twilight had seen her naked. She tried to remind herself that she was the only one who thought of herself as naked, but it didn’t help too much.

As Twilight had predicted, it was a snug fit; Sunset was quite a bit bigger than Fluttershy. But at least ponies didn’t have as much size variation as humans did, so the dress still covered everything it needed to.

Twilight levitated all of Sunset's clothes over to the backpack she had brought with her. She made a mental note to get proper saddlebags later, once she was able to get her own wardrobe.

They walked out of the library together and joined Fluttershy in the hallway. “You look nice,” she said.

“Thanks,” Sunset said, a little embarrassed by the compliment. “Any non-magical mirrors around here I can use?”

“Sure, right over here.” Twilight led the way to a bathroom down the hall.

It was a little strange walking through Twilight’s castle. Sunset had lived in Canterlot Castle for years before her escape through the mirror, so the regal aspect was nothing new to her. But Twilight and Fluttershy both lacked Celestia’s regal demeanor, and it was strange to think of them as living in a castle.

And judging by the decor, it was strange to them as well. There were signs pointing to the castle’s various rooms posted around, no doubt from Twilight. That was amusing to see in a castle, but not terribly surprising. What really made Sunset smile was the network of shelves and walkways that lined the wall, clearly set up for small animals to use and play with. As they made their way down the hall, a squirrel scurried along a rope bridge in the opposite direction, and nopony seemed to pay it any mind. Sunset was pretty sure she even saw a few bird nests in the rafters.

Once in the bathroom, Sunset examined her reflection, actually getting a good look at herself as a pony for the first time in years. She turned to better see her tail and it dawned on her that her cutie mark would be back, but it was covered by the dress. She might have checked, but Fluttershy and Twilight were still in the doorway, and she would feel more than a little ridiculous if she asked them to leave just so she could look at the picture on her butt.

She took a second to admire the dress. It was nice, but she certainly could have coordinated with her coloring a bit better. The simple green dress would definitely have looked better on Fluttershy. She was glad to see her necklace still fit, something she probably should have considered before stepping through the portal. It was one of the few accessories she wore, a loose hanging strand of red and yellow gemstones. Except it no longer hung so loose, as her neck was much thicker now. Still, it wasn’t tight, and it probably suited her better anyway.

Finally, she looked at her horn and grinned. If she had any doubts left about being a unicorn again they were gone as she channelled some of her magic, causing her horn to give off a teal glow. She meant to just light it up, but as soon as she saw her will taking form, she couldn’t help herself. Looking around for something to practice on, she noticed a bar of soap and extended her magic to it, lifting it up before making it fly around the room.

“Sunset that’s great!” Twilight said, clapping her hooves together. “With how much control you have already, in a few days you’ll be as good as anypony.”

Sunset set down the soap and shook her head. “That’s nothing.” Her horn glowed and she disappeared, reappearing next to Twilight. “You know, I was Celestia’s student before you.” She teleported again to the other side of the couple, appearing next to Fluttershy. “You’re not the only magic prodigy. In a few weeks, I bet I’ll be teaching you a thing or two.”

Twilight grinned. “I hope so, it’d be fun to practice together. But for now, maybe we can dial it down a notch?”

Sunset was reluctant but agreed. “Fine. So what’s the plan?”

“Well, all our friends would love to meet you, if you’re feeling up to it,” Twilight said.

“Sure, why n– Wait, is Pinkie gonna try to throw a party?”

“Do you even have to ask?” Twilight asked. “No matter what world, Pinkie’s still Pinkie.”

“No parties,” Sunset said. “I don’t mind meeting your friends, but until I talk to Celestia, I don’t want to make a big deal about anything.” Twilight had assured her their former mentor would be thrilled she returned, but until they actually spoke, Sunset couldn’t help but feel there was a distinct chance she was going to wind up getting arrested. If not for leaving, then for trying to return with a zombie army.

“I’m sure we can convince Pinkie to not throw a party,” Fluttershy said. “And I just know everypony really would love to meet you.”

“Alright, I trust you guys,” Sunset said.

They quickly made plans, then sent Spike to get their friends, specifically instructing him to make sure Pinkie knew they couldn’t do a full party. Meanwhile, Fluttershy made snacks for everypony, and Twilight offered to give Sunset a tour of the castle. She turned it down, as she was still more than a little uncertain on her hooves. Instead, they waited in the sitting room and Twilight told her about some of the most interesting magical theories from the past few years.

“But if that’s true, then it’ll mean Clover’s entire classification of magical elements was wrong, and only works because of dumb luck!” Sunset said, astounded.

“I know! But the traditionalists say that it can’t possibly be true because it leaves Star Swirl’s discovery of transdimensional rifts unexplained.” Twilight was practically leaping out of her chair with excitement. Sunset wondered how long she’d been waiting to find somepony who could possibly understand what any of this even meant, let alone the implications.

“You know, humans have their own theories on that sort of stuff, using science as a base instead of magic,” Sunset said.

At that Twilight really did leap out of her chair, using her wings to hover sightly as if the prospect of knowledge no other ponies would have even thought of physically pulled her into the air. “Really? I’d love to hear them!”

Sunset took some guilty pleasure in how much she enjoyed being the only one who could possibly share that knowledge with her. But before she could answer, Spike walked into the room, followed by four ponies whom Sunset recognized immediately. Still she waited patiently for introductions, not wanting to make anypony feel weird since she knew about them but they didn’t know her yet.

“Hello everypony, I’d like to introduce you all to my friend, Sunset Shimmer.” Twilight gestured to Sunset who waved and smiled nervously, wondering if they would still hold the last time they saw her against her. “Sunset, this is Rarity, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, and Pinkie Pie.”

“Silly Twilight, Sunny already knows who we are!” Pinkie said, hopping over to Sunset. “We’re already really good friends, we just don’t know it yet!”

“Well, yeah I guess that’s one way of looking at it,” Sunset said, grinning and rubbing her neck. At least nopony seemed upset with her. “But, uhm, I don’t really like that nickname, actually…”

“Okie dokie, Sunset!” Pinkie said as she continued to hop around the room.

“I gotta admit, the idea that there’s another me out there has always been a bit much to take in,” Applejack said.

“At least the other you isn’t a dog…” Spike grumbled.

“Well, it’s not exactly like it’s you at all, really,” Sunset said. Fluttershy joined them, walking over to sit next to Twilight.

“Yes,” Twilight said. “Your counterparts just share your name, general appearance, personality traits, and familial connections to the human equivalent of your respective family members. But I assure you everyone is entirely their own individual.”

Rainbow rolled her eyes. “Yeah, ‘cause that totally doesn’t sound like us at all.”

“We did tests and everything,” Twilight said, as if that put the whole case to rest.

“By the way, when she says ‘we’, she means herself and the other Twilight,” Sunset said, shaking her head at the memory. “Imagine how Twilight is when she sets her mind to something, then double it…”

“It wasn’t that bad,” Twilight said.

“Uhm… that sounds like a little much,” Fluttershy said. Twilight swatted the pegasus with her tail.

“Really though, Twilight’s right,” Sunset said. “While there is a lot in common, there are also some big differences between you all and my friends in the human world.”

“Ooh! Does Pinkie have superpowers!?” Pinkie asked.

“Uh, not quite that different,” Sunset said. “Things most people – er, ponies – wouldn’t notice immediately.”

“I must admit I’ve also been quite curious about that,” Rarity said. “What might the differences between me and the other Rarity be?”

“Well, I’ll really need to get to know you all better before I can say for sure, but I can think of one thing. Twilight told me you opened another shop in the fashion district of Canterlot, but still decided to stay in Ponyville even though business over there has been huge.”

Rarity looked puzzled, like she couldn’t understand why anypony might think she’d ever move away. “Well of course. I do love Canterlot, but I never even considered leaving my family and friends in Ponyville.”

“Well, the other Rarity isn’t even in the same country anymore. She moved to study foreign fashion, and now she works as a high profile designer for celebrities.”

Whatever confusion Rarity had felt before was replaced with outright disbelief. “Surely you don’t mean only the celebrities?”

“Well, yeah, but you have to understand it’s an entirely different world. Things just work differently over there.” This was why she knew she had to be selective with what she told her new friends about her old ones. She wanted everypony to understand that their human counterparts really were entirely separate, but she knew their first instinct would be to think of them as an extension of themselves.

“If she designed clothes for everyone, then the wealthy wouldn’t want to be seen in them. And while that may be a horrible and stuck up way of thinking, working with the rich has also made her a lot of money, almost all of which she donates to charity. And I don’t know about here, but over there the fashion industry has a huge problem with ruining people’s self-image by forcing them to compare themselves to unattainable ideals of beauty. Well, working with only a few clients gives her time to try and change that. She spends more time visiting schools and holding free workshops to show how people can use fashion to feel good about themselves, instead of just feeling like they can’t compare with some model.”

“I see.” Rarity tapped her chin as she contemplated what Sunset said. “I can certainly see your point. And while I wouldn’t say it’s what I would choose to do, I can see the merit in it.”

Applejack nudged her. “Aww shucks, Rare, it sounds to me like you’re a gem in any world. So what about me, what am I like over there?”

Sunset considered what she knew about this Applejack. “Well, from what Twilight and Fluttershy have told me there’s nothing I can really say for sure is different between you two. Well, except maybe the way she does business.”

At least Applejack didn’t look upset, just confused. “I know ya can’t mean she does dishonest business.”

“No, nothing like that.” Sunset tapped on her chin while trying to think of how to explain. “Over there a lot of agricultural work is either done with machines or in foreign countries where it can be done much cheaper. Sweet Apple Acres still does everything traditionally, and because of that the competitors’ products are all cheaper, even though the quality suffers.”

Applejack scrunched her nose. “I reckon I know a mite about that. But we proved there’s no substitute for hard work.”

“And I’m sure that’s true in any world,” Sunset said.

Out of everything she left behind, Applejack had been the hardest. As everyone else started drifting further apart, she and Applejack had been drawn closer together. She’d wondered if talking to the pony Applejack would help, but mostly it just made her feel sad. No matter how similar they were, they would never be the same, after all.

“I guess it’s not so much how she does business, it’s how everybody else does, but it affects her too. Sweet Apple Acres products are all natural and grown locally. It’s a brand people buy because they trust it, but it’s expensive compared to its competitors, which means fewer people in a given area can buy it. So now she spends most of her time marketing it to neighboring cities, trying to expand her business just so they can get enough clients to get by, which cuts into the time she can actually work on the farm, not to mention adds a lot of delivery time. Apple Bloom and Big Mac just can’t do it by themselves, which means it’s no longer only family members that work there. Granny Smith was not happy about that fact.”

Applejack let out a low whistle. “Boy, I’d hate to be in her place. I don’t rightly know what I’d do if everypony did business like them Flim Flam Brothers. And I hope I never live to see the day I have to tell Granny we need to hire extra help on the farm.”

“Sounds like your world has a lot of problems with money,” Rainbow said.

“Yeah, that is true. That’s one thing I missed about Equestria.” Sunset shook her head, not really wanting to get into a full course on economics when the only pony who would possibly care would be Twilight. “But it’s a complicated situation.”

Rainbow grinned. “I was gonna ask about the other Rainbow Dash, but I don’t think I even want to know anymore. Not like she could ever be as awesome as me anyway.” Sunset rolled her eyes. It was almost a shame; she was sure Rainbow would like hearing about her double, the rock star.

“Ooh! Ooh! I wanna know! Tell me about Pinkie Pie!” Pinkie said, bouncing in her seat.

Sunset smiled. “I think you two seem mostly the same. She’s probably off doing something fun right now.”

That wasn’t really true, but she couldn’t bring herself to say so. As everyone moved away, Pinkie grew sadder and sadder. With Twilight studying abroad and Fluttershy touring with Rainbow’s band as their manager, it was just Sunset and Applejack left in town with her, and now Sunset left too. The last time she’d seen Pinkie was at her going away party, where she excused herself for an hour and came back with her eyes red from crying.

“That Pinkie.” Pinkie laughed and shook her head as if she was talking about an old friend. “She’s such a party animal!”

“Yup, good old Pinkie.” Sunset looked down for a moment before she remembered to keep her head up. She wasn’t supposed to look sad, she was starting a new life in Ponyville! This was supposed to be a happy day for her.

“Uhm, Sunset, would you mind lending me a hoof?” Fluttershy asked. “I think it’s time to check on the snacks, and I could use some help getting everything out.”

“Oh, I’ll help,” Twilight offered.

Fluttershy smiled in the way the other Fluttershy always did when she wanted to wordlessly ask someone to trust her. “I think Sunset could use the practice with her magic.”

“I’m happy to help. Lead the way.” Sunset followed Fluttershy into the kitchen.

Something definitely smelled good, but Fluttershy didn’t go to the oven. Instead she put a hoof on Sunset’s shoulder. “You know, it’s okay if you don’t want to talk about it, I’m sure everypony would understand.”

“Huh?”

“Well, I… I saw how you looked when you were talking about Pinkie. Nopony would blame you if you said you didn’t want to talk about your friends.”

Sunset smiled. She was happy Fluttershy was looking out for her, even if she didn’t need her to. “Thanks, Fluttershy. But it’s fine. I knew they’d want to know, and I really just want to get it out of the way.”

Fluttershy frowned. “If you say so. But remember, everypony wants to be your friend. Even if they’re curious, they don’t want to upset you.”

“I know,” Sunset said. “I promise if it gets to be too much I’ll say something.” It seemed to be enough for Fluttershy, who finally checked on the food.

Sunset levitated a pan of stuffed mushrooms back to the sitting room. Soon everypony was eating and praising Fluttershy for the delicious food.

“Sunset, it’s only just occurred to me you must not have any of your own clothes,” Rarity said while everypony ate. “You simply must let me design you a few ensembles.”

Sunset looked at Fluttershy’s dress. Of course Rarity probably made it and realized it was Fluttershy’s. “It’s fine, I…” Sunset stopped short as she realized that if she didn’t let Rarity make her something, she would either have to keep borrowing Fluttershy’s clothes or go naked.

“Oh, I insist, darling. Perhaps something that goes with that lovely necklace of yours?”

Sunset chuckled. She realized the necklace was the same colors as her mane, so Rarity was basically offering to make her a dress that would actually look good with her colors. “It’s okay, I know I’m a little mismatched.”

Rarity clearly thought it was more than a little, but did a good job at maintaining positive composure. “It’s just that green doesn’t seem to be your color, darling.” She walked over and leaned a bit to get a better look at Sunset’s necklace. “May I?”

“Sure.” Sunset lifted her mane and held it aside so Rarity would have a clearer view of the necklace. “Sorry, I’d take it off, but I’m still getting used to magic again, and I’m even worse with my hooves.”

“It’s quite alright darling, I can see it well enough.” Rarity inspected it for a moment before turning her attention upwards to look back in Sunset’s eyes as she talked. “It’s quite lovely, and it suits your coloring exquisitely.”

“Thanks.” Sunset let her mane fall back onto her neck. “It’s not much really, and all the gems are fake. But I like it.”

Rarity looked at her quizzically. “Darling, I assure you they are completely genuine. They may not be the rarest of gems, but they aren’t the most common either. And in any event, they are most definitely real gemstones.”

Sunset’s mouth hung open slightly as she tentatively reached out a hoof to touch the necklace. “They are?”

Rarity grinned. “I assure you I’m quite good at this sort of thing. You mean to say you did not know?”

Sunset gingerly held the necklace up in one hoof, trying to look down and see it only to find that her muzzle was in the way. “No, I… well, somebody told me it was costume jewelry when I got it.”

Before she could dwell on it anymore, Pinkie said, “Somebody? That’s a weird word. Do humans call each other bodies?”

Sunset couldn’t help but smile as she let the necklace rest. “No, but nobo– they don’t say somehuman either.”

As they talked about the differences between the two worlds and what life in Ponyville was like, Sunset sometimes forgot that these weren’t her friends from CHS. Even though they just met, everypony was so friendly it was easy to believe they’d known each other for years. But every now and then somepony said something she knew their human counterpart wouldn’t, and she remembered what she’d left behind.

It was the most apparent with Fluttershy. The pony Fluttershy was much happier, and even a little more outgoing. It all seemed to be because of Twilight’s influence. She wasn’t sure if either of them even noticed, but Fluttershy would first glance towards Twilight whenever she wanted to say something. When she did, Twilight would never fail to encourage her with a hug, a nuzzle, or a kiss on the cheek. It was clear how perfect they were together. Sunset couldn’t help but feel a little jealous.

When the differences between her pony and human friends proved to be too much, Sunset excused herself to the bathroom. She left the room, but wound up sitting in a hallway. She idly played with her necklace while wondering if she even knew what she was doing.

“You know, they’re all still there, and the portal works anytime.”

Sunset looked up to see Twilight smiling from the doorway. She sighed and let her gaze fall back to the floor. “Geez, is it that obvious? Fluttershy noticed too.”

“I don’t think it was so much that it was obvious, just that we’ve been expecting it.” Twilight sat down next to her. “I don’t think anypony else noticed, if that’s what you’re worried about.”

“I guess a little. I mean, I do want to make a good first impression. But mainly I just wish I didn’t feel so torn.” Sunset shook her head and gestured to the other room. “I really want to be here, but I already miss everyone back home.”

“I understand. Change is always hard.” Twilight looked up, seeming to stare at nothing in particular. “Especially when it feels like it’s forever. But it can be for the best, too.”

Sunset waited a moment but Twilight kept her distant look. “Uhm… Twilight?”

Twilight shook her head and grinned. “Sorry, just thinking out loud. Anyway, it doesn’t have to be forever. You’re welcome here as long for as you want, but you’re also free to go whenever you want. You can even go back and forth if that’s what you want to do.”

“I don’t think that’s gonna help. I came here for a reason, after all.”

Twilight put a hoof on her shoulder. “Have you talked to her recently?”

By ‘her’, Twilight meant Sunset’s ex-girlfriend – the person she had to go to a whole different world just to escape the memory of.

“No. But the memories are still there. I just… I don’t know what to say to her. I don’t even know if I want to say anything to her.”

“It’s okay. You don’t need to decide anything now. And if you do decide to talk to Morning Breeze, I’m sure things will go better than you think.”

“Maybe.” Sunset didn’t really want to talk about her, so she retreated back to safer ground. “I have another month before the rent’s due again, then I should have at least one more before the landlord evicts me, maybe two.”

“You have as much time as you need,” Twilight said. “I’m sure you can stay with any of our friends, even if you do lose your house.”

It was easy to see why Twilight became a princess. Even though she was just saying things Sunset herself had already thought of, hearing them in Twilight’s voice was oddly comforting. She decided to stop moping around so much. “Yeah, you’re right. I’m sorry for being such a downer; let’s go back to the party.”

“Don’t worry about it.” Twilight stood up and held out a hoof to help Sunset up.

Sunset had a flashback to another time Twilight helped her when she was down, during the lowest point in her life. As Sunset accepted her hoof and stood up, she felt emotions she’d tried to bury for years come rushing back. “Thanks…”

“What are friends for?” Twilight smiled, that same radiant smile she had stuck in her head constantly before she was dating someone. Even after, sometimes.

‘Yeah, friends.’ Sunset reminded herself. Twilight and Fluttershy were happy together, and they were both her friends. And that’s all they could ever be. As she followed Twilight back to the sitting room, she wondered if she was really better off here, spending every day with the mare she’d been in love with for years but could never tell.

Author's Note:

It begins! Let me know what you think so far down in the comments, all advice and criticism always welcome :raritywink:

If you read “Warmth in the Snow” first, there's a certain detail that will likely cause confusion. It'll be explained in time, so please bear with me :twilightsheepish:

Sunset’s cutie mark in this and future chapter headers was made by ChainChomp2 :twilightsmile:

Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!
Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!