• Published 16th May 2016
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A Shimmering New Year - EchoWing



Sunset Shimmer and her friends struggle to deal with recovering from Anon-A-Miss as they move forward. New friends and a doctor, thankfully, can help them along.

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Chapter One - Out With The Old...

It was dark. Not a frightening, terrifying sort of dark, thankfully, but still dark enough to make Fluttershy uneasy. It was a cold winter’s night, a few clouds drifting through the sky and a sea of stars overhead, the moon casting the area around Canterlot High in soft light.

She shivered as she approached the front entrance, the cold bitter despite her winter coat and her attempts at warming herself up by rubbing her arms. She wasn’t even sure why she was here, until she caught sight of a familiar figure at the side of the statue facing the front entrance.

“Sunset?” Sure enough, Sunset Shimmer was kneeling against the base of the statue, her forehead pressed upon it and her face obscured by her long crimson and yellow hair. Fluttershy approached, her discomfort lessened in the presence of her friend. “What are you doing here?” At the lack of an answer, she closed in and reached out to the girl. “Come on, let’s get out of this cold and…”

“And what?” Sunset’s hand whipped out and grabbed hold of her wrist. As Fluttershy cried out in shock, her captor rose to her full height and asked, “Share a laugh? What do I have to laugh about, Fluttershy?”

“Sunset, please, you’re hurting me!”

“And how do you think I felt when you tossed me away?” Sunset had turned to face her, but her eyes were shut tight. “But then again, why should I be surprised?” She shoved Fluttershy away. “After all, you look at me, and you see a monster!” Her eyes shot open, and they were as they’d been when she’d been transformed into a demon the night of the Fall Formal, black where they should’ve been white and otherwise the familiar cyan she’d come to know. Only now they were far less pleasant and warm.

Fluttershy stumbled back and fell to the ground. “No! That’s not true!”

“But it is!” Unholy fire flared forth from Sunset’s body, surrounding her in a column of black and opal flame. Once it subsided, she emerged fully transformed back into the monster she’d become that fateful night, the only difference being the lack of Twilight’s crown. “And what do you do with a monster? You make it die!”

Fluttershy scooted back as far as much as she could, too terrified to get back to her feet and run. “No Sunset! I didn’t want to lose you! I care about you!”

“Oh don’t give me that! I almost died because of you!” A clawed finger pointed behind her as Sunset snarled, “And they actually did.”

And that was when the sounds of sad mewls and whimpers hit Fluttershy’s ears. She turned away from Sunset to look upon scores of dogs and cats, all of varying ages from the young kittens and puppies to the full grown. And all of them were looking upon her with saddened expressions on their faces, particularly one large dog in the center. A mutt by the look of her, possibly with Alaskan malamute traits, with coloring that brought to mind a coyote. “Why did we have to die, Fluttershy?” A chorus of whimpers and mewls, and the dog asked again, “Why did we have to die?”

“What do you do with a monster?” Fluttershy turned back to find Sunset standing over her, eldritch fire swirling about her clawed hands, anger and rage clear in her eyes. “You make it die!”

“No! Please, don’t! No!”

-

“No!” Fluttershy sat up with a scream in her bed. Her breaths were quick and shallow, but soon slowed and turned deep as she calmed down. It had all been a bad dream. A bad dream that she’d been having for close to a week now.

She looked up and took in her surroundings. She was safe in her bed, in her newly-established bedroom in the attic of her family’s home, some of the animal friends that kept her company in their pens or, in the case of Cordelia, nestled in a basket. Many were looking at her, clearly startled by her outburst, and Angel had managed to free himself from his enclosure and make his way up onto her bed to nuzzle her. She softly sighed, picked the bunny up and held him close. “Oh Angel… what have I done?”

-

It was little better for Rarity as she laid awake in bed, her gaze fixed upon the ceiling of her four-poster bed. Sleep had eluded her, in part thanks to nightmares but mostly due to old-fashioned guilt. But she didn’t see any sense in climbing out of bed until…

*beep-beep*…*beep-beep*

…Until her alarm sounded. She reached over and turned off her alarm, then pulled down her sheets and rose from her bed. With habitual ease, she retrieved her violet robe and draped it over herself, concealing her nightgown as she slipped her feet into her slippers and made her way out of her bedroom and down to the kitchen. Some breakfast might help to ease her mind, especially if aided by peace and quiet and some solitude…

“Sweetie Belle?”

Seated at the kitchen table, slowly munching away at a bowl of cereal, was her younger sister. She looked up with saddened eyes and softly greeted her. “Hi Rarity.”

The fashionista knew that tone all too well – she’d been hearing it for the last couple weeks, both from herself and her little sister. Not feeling like a particularly extravagant breakfast herself, she opted to follow her sister’s example and pour a bowl of cereal. She poured some milk in to join it and then sat beside her sibling. “I take it you’ve had a restless night too.”

A nod. “Think maybe I can convince Mom and Dad to let me stay home?”

“I’m afraid not, dear.” She gently wrapped an arm around her sister’s shoulders. “Your actions have consequences dear, and you’ll have to face them eventually. And it wouldn’t be fair for you to stay behind while Apple Bloom and Scootaloo are punished, would it? Each of you was equally responsible.”

“I guess.” The younger girl idly prodded at her food with her spoon before looking up at her sister. “Rarity, do you hate me?”

Rarity smiled. “No. What you did was disappointing, but it hasn’t caused me to hate you.” The smile faded as she amended, “If I hate anyone in this, it’s myself, for what I’ve done to Sunset.”

“But it wasn’t –!” A finger was raised for her to lower her voice, and Sweetie Belle did so. “But it wasn’t your fault! We put all of that stuff up there, we framed her!”

“Yes, but you weren’t the ones who disowned her, are you? You may have intended for that all along, but I and my friends were the ones who fell for your ruse.” A sad sigh escaped her lips. “And it’s going to be a long time before we can forgive ourselves for that. A part of me wonders how Sunset could forgive us.”

“You forgave her, though.”

“Did we? I thought that I had, but if that were true, then would we really have done what we’d done?” Her hand gently moved to Sweetie Belle’s head as she pulled her close into a one-armed hug. “Neither of us is without fault, or without consequence.”

A long pause held between the two sisters until the younger one broke it. “Do you think she’s forgiven us?”

Rarity smiled. “I suspect so. If nothing else, what you did was easier to forgive than the betrayal we inflicted upon her.” She then gestured to their meal and prompted, “Now then, what say we finish our breakfast before our cereal gets horribly soggy, hmm? Neither of us likes soggy cereal.”

Sweetie Belle giggled. “No. Does go down easier, though.”

“Yes, but it loses so much nutritional value. And we both need our nutrients.” She regarded her own and admitted, “Though I could afford to cut back on carbohydrates. If I’m not careful, I’ll start looking like a marshmallow.”

More giggling. “Me first.”

“Oh please. You’re still growing.” She smirked. “You can afford it.”

-

A feeling of dread and sorrow stayed with Fluttershy as she stepped into Sugar Cube Corner, and the warmth inside of the small shop gave her comfort. “Hi Fluttershy!” She turned to find Pinkie Pie gleefully waving to her from their normal booth, the rest of the girls sans Sunset seated with her. “Happy New Year!”

The shy girl smiled and took an offered seat beside Rainbow Dash, her usual drink waiting for her. “Hello everyone. It’s good to see you.”

“And you, dear.” Rarity’s expression turned concerned as she examined her. “Are you alright, darling? You seem a little out of sorts.”

“Oh, it’s…it’s nothing.” She sank in her seat and explained, “I’m just still getting used to the new room, is all.”

“You sure that’s all there is, sugar cube?” At her friend’s small nod, Applejack let the matter drop. “Alright then. So, we all ready fer the new semester?”

“After how the last one ended? I figure we’ve got nowhere to go but up.” Rainbow turned her attention to the empty space opposite her. “So, aside from me and Flutters, anyone see Sunset since Sweet Apple Acres? In person, I mean?”

The rest of the girls shook their heads. “I was rather hoping that she’d be with us this morning, but then she sent that text out about meeting Twilight.” Rarity sadly regarded her tea as she amended, “I do hope that whatever is going on isn’t serious.”

“Probably got somethin’ to do with that business about the Tree.” The farmgirl shrugged. “Whatever it is, Sunset’ll keep us in the loop.”

“Assuming of course that nothing distracts her from that.” Heads turned to find Principal Celestia standing over them with a cup of tea in hand. “Hello girls. May I join you?”

“Of course, by all means.” As Celestia took her seat, Rarity noted, “To what do we owe this honor?”

“Is Sunset really mad at us and asking you to deliver a message on her behalf?”

The older woman gave a comforting smile. “No, Pinkie. If Sunset had something that she needed to say to the five of you, she’d do so directly. At least, I’d hope so.”

“Given recent events, I’m considering it a miracle that she’s even willing to talk with us.” Rarity noticed a shameful expression on her face as well as those of all her friends as she noted, “We all acted rather terribly towards her, and I fear there might still be some scars there.”

“That’s my concern as well.” Celestia straightened up and explained, “In light of what happened before break, I’ve asked a therapist to come in to speak with Sunset.”

“Is that a good idea?”

“Even if it wasn’t, it’s school policy. You know as well as I what Sunset nearly did because of the actions of your sister and her friends, Applejack. I’ve done what I could to keep the details under wraps, but Sunset still needs to see a professional. We were lucky this time, but there’s no guarantee that we’ll be as lucky next time.”

The girls seated with her nodded softly, and Fluttershy asked, “So, why are you telling us this?”

“Because I’d like the five of you to speak with the therapist as well.” The girls looked at her with surprise, and Celestia quickly gave them a look that told them to keep silent. “Now, before any of you protest, may I at least explain myself?” Satisfied at their response, she explained, “Rumors were spread and false accusations were made, and as a result, feelings were hurt and friendships torn apart, all because of an anonymous individual who managed to pin the blame upon someone else. What am I speaking of; the Anon-A-Miss incident, or the events leading up to the Spring Fling last year?”

Pinkie sipped at her chocolate milk as she considered her answer. “Well, putting it that way…”

“I won’t deny that the two cases are similar. Not wholly identical, of course, but still.” Rarity looked to the principal and asked, “And you think that speaking with the therapist will help to prevent an issue like this from reoccurring?”

“It’s a better option than doing nothing.”

“Can’t argue too much with that logic.” Applejack looked to her friends and asked, “Ah’m up for it. What about the rest a’ y’all?”

There were general murmurs of agreement from the rest of the group, save one. “No way, no thank you.” Rainbow Dash shook her head and explained, “I don’t need to see a shrink to figure out what’s going on in my head, thanks.”

“Honestly Rainbow, do you have some sort of issue with talking about your feelings?” Rarity rolled her eyes. “There’s nothing ‘un-cool’ about letting things out into the open, and this could do us all some good.”

“Hey, I let things out into the open enough, Rarity. Besides, there is a point where sharing goes a little far.” The athlete turned to the principal and finished, “Anyway, great idea Principal Celestia, but you can count me out. I don’t need to see a shrink, and there’s no way you can make me do it.”

The principal smirked. “You’ll be excused from your afternoon classes.”

That prompted a very predictable one-eighty. “Okay, I’m in. Where and when?”

“I’ve set aside the second floor conference room. The five of you will convene there with Sunset after lunch, and the six of you will speak with the therapist one at a time.” She arched an eyebrow and added, “And try not to give her too much trouble? She and I are old friends, and I don’t want her to think too badly of my administration here.”

“Of course not. We’ll be at our very best with her, won’t we girls?” Sounds of general agreement answered Rarity’s question.

“Um, I just have one question?” Fluttershy nervously smiled and asked, “Is she nice?”

Celestia smiled. “I’m proud to say that none of my old friends are particularly mean. I’m sure all of you will like her. Or at least not dislike her.”

-

Once again, Sunset found herself glad that Principal Celestia and Vice Principal Luna hadn’t insisted upon her returning the keys to the school to them. Aside from that simple act demonstrating that they still trusted her not to trash the school, it also made her stopping into the bridge realm and visiting with Twilight that much easier. And given current circumstances, those visits were probably going to be a little more frequent for the foreseeable future.

The doors near the main entrance were already open for her, however, along with the door to the teacher’s lounge. She didn’t check to see if the principal or vice principal were present, however; she expected that she’d get an answer soon enough anyway. Right now, she just hoped that she and Twilight didn’t have too many unexpected guests, as the fewer who knew their secrets, the better.

She took a second to rub the sleep from her eyes, then stepped through the mirror into the bridge realm. Once more, the cavernous space was sparsely decorated, a few cushions and a small table laid out with the privacy screen off to one side. Already waiting for her was the mare she’d hoped to see. “Hey Twilight.”

“Hey Sunset.” The alicorn looked similarly exhausted, slight bags under her eyes and a cup of what looked like coffee set on the table before her. “Did you get everything that I asked for?”

“Yeah, it’s all here.” Sunset set her backpack down and pulled out a folder. “I’m not sure what you need all of this for, though. I doubt you’re going to track down any information regarding the Chest on this end.”

“It’s not about the Chest actually, it’s for another project.” Twilight took the folder in her magical grasp and opened it. Inside were several loose sheets of paper, filled with hand-written notes and including a map of the town of Canterlot and its surrounding environs. “I’ve got a strong feeling that this one will be finished up a lot sooner, however. Once it is, I’m going to need to speak with you and everyone in the know in the human world about it.” The papers were removed from the folder and deposited into another one that Twilight had brought with her, before she turned her full attention to her friend. “Speaking of, how are things with them? Have you seen them since finishing up with Christmas at Sweet Apple Acres?”

“Not all at once. I’ve been with Fluttershy, to help out with the move from her old bedroom to her new one, and Dash and the Crusaders for the same thing, but no one else.” The flame-haired girl turned anxious. “It’s been a little hard to do it, with the nightmares and everything.”

Twilight looked at her uneasily. “Nightmares?”

“It’s nothing…”

“Oh no, we are not ignoring this.” Twilight sat up and pressed, “Tell me what’s going on.”

Sunset sighed. “You remember that nightmare I had before Christmas, during that whole Anon-A-Miss mess?” The alicorn before her nodded, and she continued, “It stayed away for a while, but a couple nights after I got back home, it started coming back. Repeatedly. I’ve had it practically every night since.” She shrugged. “I’ve done what I could to hold it off – exercise before bed, less caffeine and sugar, everything short of sleeping pills to try and get a full night’s sleep, but it’s still kept coming.”

“Have you talked with the girls about it?”

She shook her head. “I want to, really, but…” A sad sigh escaped her lips. “I’ve had a lot of time to think since everything settled down. I’m glad to still have them, and I know they regret what happened, but…” Sunset knelt down beside Twilight and explained, “But it doesn’t change the fact that it did happen. Just like how my regrets don’t change everything I did. Did they really trust me? And if they did…?”

Twilight gently rested a hoof in Sunset’s hands and asked, “Do you remember when I told you about Cadance and Shining Armor’s wedding?” At Sunset’s nod, she continued, “I felt pretty much the same way. I’d had an incident weeks prior where I freaked out over a late friendship report, so much that I ended up causing enough chaos that Discord probably would’ve pinned a medal on me if he wasn’t petrified at the time. The girls all promised to take my concerns seriously from there on. And they did, for a while.”

“That whole time travel mess.”

A nod. “And then the wedding happened, and it was like they’d just forgotten.” Twilight groaned. “I’m still a little irritated about all of that. Granted, I was wrong about what I thought was going on, but if somepony had listened to me, maybe we could’ve prevented the changeling invasion before it even got started.” She then sighed and admitted, “But that’s hardly comforting for you, is it?”

A shrug. “I don’t know, the population of Canterlot almost ending up changeling chow is a little worse than me ending my own life. At least there was a good chance that my end would’ve been quick and painless.”

“But it doesn’t change the facts that mistakes were made and disaster almost struck. At least in your case, the actual culprits were remorseful.” A smirk crossed her face. “Did you really call them ‘the Crusaders’ earlier?”

“They’ve already been calling themselves that since the start of the school year. Remember that video of theirs?”

“Yeah. Some things never change, I guess.” Twilight smiled gently. “In any case, I can understand some lingering resentment. I still had a little towards Celestia after all of that, at least until she brought it up with you. This is something you’ll have to sort out for yourself, but whatever happens, you know that you have me, right?”

Sunset smiled. “I do. Thanks Twilight.”

“And hopefully your talk with our guest later today will help you to do exactly that.” The two turned to find Vice Principal Luna standing at the entrance back to Canterlot High. “Forgive me, I didn’t want to interrupt you.”

“No ma’am, it’s alright.” Sunset gave Twilight a quick hug, then collected her things and stood up. “I guess I need to worry about getting to class?”

“No, you still have some time. I’m actually here on another matter.” The vice principal turned to the alicorn and explained, “Sunset Shimmer has kept I and my sister informed regarding what’s recently occurred with the Elements of Harmony. Equestria may not be our world, but we’re nonetheless concerned. Have you made any progress?”

“Some, but not as much as I’d like.” Twilight stood up and elaborated, “I’ve examined the Chest the Tree of Harmony left behind, made diagrams, all of that. There’s six locks, which suggests six keys, and logically, they’re all supposed to correspond to an Element of Harmony. But where those keys are supposed to be is the big question.”

“The Tree and the Chest are located near the Everfree Forest, though.” Sunset looked to Luna and added, “There are other areas like it in Equestria; the woods surrounding Hollow Shades, the forest of Dusky Dale out west, the bayous near Neigh Orleans…”

“And the frozen wilderness surrounding the Crystal Empire, just for starters.” Twilight gave a hopeful smile. “I’ve sent out requests to the regional authorities asking for surveys to be taken, and Cadance is already doing what she can with the search. That part at least I’m optimistic about, given they found what was left of Sombra.”

“And hopefully locked it away somewhere safe for good measure.”

The alicorn’s smile turned more confident. “Celestia’s got a lot of carefully-marked vaults full of magical artifacts, and she’s made sure to not group too many dark magic items together. It’s not impossible that something bad could happen with them, but it’s really unlikely.” At Luna’s arched eyebrow, Twilight explained, “I’m being careful in my phrasing. Don’t want to tempt fate.”

“Well, I for one hope that none of them found their way into this world. As glad as I am that Sunset has turned over a new leaf, we have enough drama without more trouble coming to us from Equestria. Just do us the courtesy of keeping us in the loop?”

“Of course.” Twilight turned to Sunset and added, “And I hope that the talk with the psychologist goes well today. There’s a lot you probably can’t tell them, but hopefully, you can still get some issues worked out.”

“Fingers crossed for both of us.” At Twilight’s smirk, she added, “You know what I mean.”

Twilight waved as Luna ushered Sunset out. She smiled and hoped that things went well, in both their cases, and that something wouldn’t come up to distract her should Sunset need her help in the future. “Thank Celestia for the message journal and these portals.”

-

“So, are you nervous about later today?”

Sunset shrugged. “A little. I mean, I’m okay with talking about my feelings, but this is someone new. Plus, with a couple exceptions, the last few people I opened up to…”

“Yes, I know. With any luck, today will see the chances of that decrease exponentially.” Luna paused as they exited the teacher’s lounge and amended, “Oh, there’s one more thing. We’ve two new students starting classes here at Canterlot High today. I was hoping you would be willing to show them around campus and help them feel welcome.”

The flame-haired girl turned to her in surprise. “Me? Really?”

“You know the school better than most of the other students here, in more ways than one, and besides, this will give you an excellent chance to make a good first impression upon them.” Luna smiled encouragingly and added, “It certainly doesn’t hurt to make new friends, Sunset.”

“No, I guess not.” A hopeful smile crossed her face. “And it wouldn’t hurt for them to meet the new me before they find out about the old me.”

“Excellent. We’ll call you down over the PA system when they’re ready for the tour.” She turned apologetic and noted, “Of course, this does mean that you’ll be a little longer in starting as a tutor.”

Sunset sighed. “Somehow, I don’t think that’ll be a big deal. Who’s going to want to get advice on their studies from me? Without being desperate?”

Luna chuckled softly. “You’d be surprised. The tutors we have are overworked as it is. I expect that they’ll welcome it, one way or another.”

-

The library was exactly the way Cheerilee wanted it at the start of the day, peaceful and quiet. Granted, it was supposed to be peaceful and quiet all the time, but past experience had taught her that it could only remain that way for so long, and she knew that today would be taxing, if only because of a certain trio who’d be serving detention with her today.

“Miss Cheerilee? May I have a moment?”

And that of course ignored the inevitable protests to come about CHS’ newest tutor. The young teacher turned from her desk and looked up at her guest. “Yes Octavia?”

Octavia Melody stood before her, her mulberry eyes locked upon her with unease as she produced a piece of paper from her backpack. “I wanted to speak with you about this e-mail I received from the school server.” She passed the paper along and asked, “This is meant to be some sort of joke, yes?”

Cheerilee looked the e-mail over and passed it back. “It’s no joke, Octavia. Sunset Shimmer wants to help out as a tutor here on campus, and I’ve allowed it.”

“Well forgive my protests, but is that truly wise?” The young musician was clearly doing her best to maintain her composure. “We both know of her history and the trouble she’s caused about campus. And as outlandish as some of the stories I’ve heard about the Fall Formal are, the fact remains that she nearly wrecked the event and could have caused serious harm to the students in attendance.”

“Yes, I know. I was there.” Cheerilee stood up before she continued. “But you weren’t there to see the look on her face after everything was said and done. I know remorse when I see it, Octavia, and since then, she’s been a model student. And before you bring up the Anon-A-Miss incident, she’s been cleared for that.”

Octavia sighed. “I suppose. Regardless, what’s stopping her from sabotaging another student and leading them astray?”

“Nothing more than what’s stopping any other student here.” An encouraging smile crossed her face, and she prompted, “No one’s asking you to embrace her as a sister or throw her a party, Octavia. Just try to go into this with an open mind, hmm? Sunset isn’t who she was before the Fall Formal. She’s a better person now.” A soft knock caught her attention, and she turned to find the girl in question standing nearby. “Oh, Sunset! How long have you been there?”

A nervous smile crossed Sunset’s face. “Long enough, I guess.” She approached and looked to the grey-skinned girl, who was giving her an expression bordering on a scowl. “Good morning, Octavia. I guess you’ve gotten the news?”

“Indeed, I have.” She looked over the flame-haired girl with a critical eye, as if attempting to come up with a reason why she shouldn’t be tutoring. At least, a currently relevant one. “And you are one of the highest-scoring students in our year, if not the school itself. Though I understand you’ll be starting tomorrow?”

“Vice Principal Luna’s asked me to show some new students around today during my free period.”

The scowl shifted to something less distinct but clearly uneasy. “Very well. But if you’re truly serious about tutoring, then remember to report to the library promptly. Miss Cheerilee will know if you do not, as will I.” With that, she gave the teacher a brief nod before she strode past Sunset and out of the library.

Sunset shook her head and sighed sadly. “Octavia wasn’t even at the Fall Formal, and she wasn’t among the victims of Anon-A-Miss, but she’s still treating me like everyone else. I shouldn’t be surprised.”

“Give it time. Wounds heal, scars fade, and forgiveness comes with patience.” An encouraging smile crossed her face. “They’ll see you’re not that terrible eventually.”

A shrug. “Maybe.” She slung off her backpack and looked through it. “Anyway, I’ve got something for you, sort of a thank-you for what you did before Christmas.” A smile crossed her lips as Sunset found what she was looking for. “Better late than never, I guess.”

“Sunset, thank you! You didn’t need to get me something…”

“I didn’t get you something, I made it for you.” She handed over a framed sketch and amended, “Plus I had a couple frames left over.”

Cheerilee accepted and looked over the sketch, which depicted her and what looked like a pony beside her. She looked to Sunset and asked, “Is this supposed to be…?”

“The version of you from my world, yes. She’s a schoolteacher too, just not in a high school.”

That prompted a smile. “So, why did you shade it differently between the two of us?”

“Oh, yeah, that’s a weird thing. Just about everyone I’ve met here at CHS that I know has a counterpart back in Equestria that is a match or near-match, but for some reason, you’re one of the exceptions.” Sunset pointed for clarification as she explained, “Your hair color matches your counterpart’s coat color, while your skin color matches her mane color. Don’t ask me to explain it.”

“Well, at least you could tell us apart.” The two laughed, and Cheerilee set the gift down at her desk. “Thank you, Sunset. I appreciate it. Now go on, you don’t have long before homeroom.” The younger woman turned to leave, only to be stopped before the teacher asked, “Oh, you said just about everyone here matched their counterpart?”

Sunset turned back and explained, “I haven’t been able to get word about everyone’s counterparts. There’s one person I’ve met in this world whose case is like yours, though; same hair color as his pony self’s mane, but the skin and coat colors don’t match up.” She grinned. “I think you know who I might be talking about.”

Sunset left before the teacher could chastise her, and Cheerilee laughed. Her relationship with Big McIntosh wasn’t something they were trying to keep secret, but it wasn’t common knowledge either. Nor was it a problem, given both were the same age. The worst she’d heard was that Applejack and Apple Bloom considered it awkward, but liked the idea of having her for a sister-in-law, with the latter even encouraging it.

Another laugh. Apple Bloom and her friends had made a bad mistake, and could be a little enthusiastic at times, but they weren’t bad kids. That they’d come forward about what they’d done and admitted it to the school had shown that. No reason for her to be hard on them today.

Well, she wouldn’t be too hard on them.

Author's Note:

Minor notes for this one - Neigh Orleans was a location that played a prominent role in an arc for Reality Check's story "The Great Alicorn Hunt". Dusky Dale, meanwhile, was a location featured in Deep Pond's "A Great and Powerful Heart". Both are good stories - check them out if you haven't already.

Oh, and while Sunset taking up tutoring is drawn from official materials - namely, "Sunset Shimmer's Time to Shine" - the notion of Octavia being a tutor is a nod to Echo 27's "She's Gonna Kill Me!". It's a good story as well.

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