• Published 19th Jul 2016
  • 6,554 Views, 122 Comments

The Application of Unified Harmony Magics - Novel-Idea

Celestia’s prized student, Sunset Shimmer, must deal with an unexpected remnant of her past while seeking a lost book in the Royal Canterlot Archives. Right after lunch and some meddling from her friends.

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Deep Berried Secrets

Even as she stepped out into the bright fall sunlight, Celestia’s final words haunted her. There was the possibility Celestia hadn’t intended Sunset to hear her, but Sunset knew better. After all, one did not remain a monarch for a millennium without learning how to control one’s tongue.

So what was Sunset supposed to have gathered from that?

Probably still trying to hammer the idea of forgiving myself into my head. Sunset sighed and felt the familiar wretched knot in her stomach. If it were only that easy.

The angry little pony piped up from the back of her head. If she hadn’t shown you that mirror maybe none of that would have happened. She set you up, Sunset. When will you realize that?

She really, really wished she had the ability to lock that door in the back of her head better. That damn pony kept escaping no matter how hard she bucked her.

I wonder if Celestia has to deal with dissenting voices in her head.

She was very happy to see Moon Dancer sitting under a wide oak tree, glasses perched on her muzzle and a book between her forelegs. The last thing Sunset wanted to consider was that idea that Celestia had anything as… mundane as little voices inside her head. The implications were terrifying.

“Hi, Moony.” Sunset plopped down next to her best friend. The cool grass felt wonderful on her coat. “What’s today’s fare?”

Moon Dancer just rolled her eyes like she always did when Sunset tried to interrupt her whenever she was in the middle of a passage. When Sunset tried to move into position to see what Moon Dancer was studying, her friend shifted so her striped red and purple mane fell over her shoulder. A second movement resulted in the mare snapping her perfectly straight tail at Sunset. With a chuckle, Sunset contented herself with watching her friend read until the pale unicorn came to a break and slipped a bookmark into place. The book closed with a wash of pinkish-gray magic and Sunset caught the name on the cover.

The Life and Times of Morari the Maneless?” Sunset tried to keep the incredulity out of her voice. “You’ve already read that twice this year.”

“Morari the Maneless was one of the greatest librarians to ever walk the face of Equestria,” Moon Dancer replied primly. “Even Dewey Decimal derived half of her catalog techniques from his work. Any librarian who cares one whit about her calling should know Morari inside and out.”

“And reading it front to back three times a year for the last five years isn’t enough to get you to know it ‘inside and out’?”

“I never said that.” Moon Dancer slipped the book into one of her saddlebags and got to her hooves.

Sunset rolled her eyes. “Admit it, Moony. At this point, you reading Morari is as bad as Coco reading the Bridle Princess series. It’s comfort food.”

Moon Dancer gasped and clutched her hoof to her chest. “How dare you compare such a brilliant mind as Morari to the romantic trash that Coco is addicted to! I feel compelled to challenge you to a duel for the honor of librarians everywhere for such sacrilege!”

Sunset blinked. Then she kept her face as straight as she could.

Let’s see how long she can hold this one.

It wasn’t very long. Less than a minute had passed before the outraged expression fell apart and revealed the laughing Moon Dancer beneath.

“You are such a brat,” Moon Dancer said, smacking her on the shoulder.

Sunset pouted a little and rubbed the offending spot. “Hey! No beating up the grad student!”

“If I don’t, who will?”

“How about nopony?” Sunset got to her hooves.

“Hmph.” Moon Dancer just shook her head. “That’s just not going to happen, Sunny.”

Time for a change in tactics.

“So what’s for lunch today?” Sunset asked as she peered into the sky. There were a few clouds above, but nothing that promised anything other than a few seconds of shade when they lazily drifted across the sun.

“Berries,” Moon Dancer said with a smirk and sauntered off down the path toward the main gate of Canterlot Castle.

“Oh that’s just not fair,” Sunset protested. “Don’t you remember what happened last time we went to Strawberry Lemonade’s?”

“Hmm… I can’t quite recall,” Moon Dancer said, looking up at one of the ivory towers as they passed under its shadow.

Sunset muttered something under her breath even she didn’t understand.

“So, what do you want?”

“To have lunch.”


“What?” Moon Dancer protested, adjusting her glasses with a quick snap of her magic while glancing back at Sunset. “I’m allowed to be hungry, Sunny. Us lesser mortals—you know, the ones who aren’t personal protégées of the Princess of the Sun—do have to eat once in a while.”

Sunset stuck out her tongue at her best friend. Moon Dancer just batted her eyelashes in response. Defeated, Sunset let out a sigh and plodded along in the librarian’s wake, knowing that she wouldn’t get a bit out of her until they were seated at the Berry Café.

They passed through the massive gate of Canterlot Castle, and Sunset moved beside Moon Dancer as they struck out into the cobblestone streets of Canterlot proper. As was usual at the lunch hour in Canterlot, ponies were bustling, rushing, hurrying and scampering to and fro across the city. Despite Canterlot being the home to the nobility, the city was more than just fancy homes, concert halls and posh cafés. Office buildings, designed with the same Canterlot aesthetic as the Castle itself, stood on almost every street. They were easy to miss, except during lunch, when all those government officials escaped the confines of their cubicles and rushed out for some fresh food and fresh air.

The entire bureaucracy that formed the foundation of the nation of Equestria existed for the most part in Canterlot. Sunset would know. In the last six months, her studies had expanded far past magic and into the actual operation of Equestria itself. She tried not to think too much about the reason why Celestia had recently broadened her studies. The few times she did, it brought up memories she’d rather leave buried in the back of her mind with that obnoxious voice.

The Berry Café was a new face in the Canterlot eatery scene. Run by the perky and insanely talented Strawberry Lemonade, it served up every conceivable construction of berry-based delight. Unfortunately for Sunset, Moon Dancer had learned of her weakness for strawberries a few years ago. Now Moon Dancer had the perfect weapon to use against Sunset whenever she wanted something. She used it with a surgeon’s precision, too.

Why Sunset allowed Moon Dancer to actually get away with it… well, her willpower could only take so much.

Come on, she rationalized. They’re strawberries. As long as Moon Dancer doesn’t ever learn about the thing with peaches, I’ll survive.

One of Sunset’s favorite things about Strawberry Lemonade was the simple fact the proprietress treated her absolutely no different from anypony else. As Soft Treat—Sunset’s favorite waiter—seated the two friends at one of the patio tables, Strawberry waved to Sunset in that same friendly way Strawberry used with everypony else. Sunset waved back with a genuine smile at the blonde-maned light pink pony whose coat matched her namesake.

“You like her,” Moon Dancer suddenly announced.

Sunset stiffened and swiveled her gaze to stare at her friend. “Who?”

“Strawberry Lemonade.”

Sunset blinked a few times as her brain tried to process just what Moon Dancer was implying. But as the impish smile grew underneath those thick black glasses, there was no escaping that Moon Dancer wasn’t implying anything: she was stating it as a fact.

It didn’t mean Sunset had to rise to the bait, though.

“Of course I like Strawberry Lemonade,” Sunset replied. “She’s a nice pony and an amazing chef.”

“Oh knock it off, Sunny,” Moon Dancer said. “You know exactly what I mean.”

Sunset’s ears flattened against her head as she felt the blush creeping up her cheeks. “I do not. Anyway, she’s engaged.”

“What?” Moon Dancer looked shocked. “Since when?”

“Smoked Oat asked her last week.”

“Ah, shoot.” Moon Dancer wilted. “I thought they weren’t going to last.”

Sunset’s eyes went wide as she put two and two together—well, in this case, one and one. She forced herself not to stammer.

“You were going to try and set me up with her, weren’t you? That’s what this was about? You were actually going to use my… um… handicap for strawberries to get me to date her?”

It was Moon Dancer’s turn to blush. “Um… maybe?”

“Moony!” Sunset practically wailed. “What is wrong with you? I don’t need you playing matchmaker!”

“Let me take a wild guess!” Minuette chirped as she plopped down in the empty third seat with her usual perfect timing. “Moon Dancer once again plotted to set you up with some cute mare, didn’t she?”

“Don’t tell me you knew about it, Minuette.” Sunset stabbed a hoof at her. “I swear if I find out you and the rest have been trying to set me up with somepony…”

Minuette held up her hooves in defense. “You know me, Sunny. I always believe in doing things the right way at the right time. Moon Dancer and I don’t exactly see eye-to-eye on that particular agenda.”

“What kept you?” Moon Dancer asked, ignoring the pointed comment in her direction. “You were supposed to meet me at the castle gates.”

“Emergency call. Seems a student in Celestia’s School managed to cast a come-to-life spell on one of the gear trains in the main clocktower.” Minuette shrugged and gave her trademark pearly-white grin. “Not sure if it was a prank or an accident, but it took thirteen minutes and thirty-four seconds longer than I had originally anticipated. It happens when the gear train actually starts running away from you.”

Sunset rolled her eyes. She’d long stopped calling Minuette out on her obsessive timekeeping. After all, it was part of her special talent. There was a reason she was the best clockmaker in Canterlot. But she never got used to the way Minuette could sidle into a conversation at precisely the right time.

“You didn’t answer my question,” Sunset pointed out. “Were you in on this?”

Minuette rolled her eyes and giggled. “Of course not, silly. Don’t get me wrong, Strawberry Lemonade’s an amazing mare, but she’s not what you need right now.”

Moon Dancer tilted her head to one side. “What, you’re prophetic now?”

The blue unicorn lifted a hoof and wiggled it from side to side. “Maybe only a little.”

Sunset laughed. She couldn’t help it. Finally, she reached over and gave Minuette a hug.

“I’m glad you could join us.”

“Coco and Rara say hello,” Minuette said. “But they’re caught up in preparation for Rara’s show in a few days at the Wonderbolt Exhibition.”

“Oh, the curse of being a world-famous pop star,” Moon Dancer said with a swoon. “Whatever will she do?”

“Get along just fine, I think." Sunset grinned. “As long as Rara got us our tickets.”

“What, don’t feel like using your ‘royal prerogative’ again?” Minuette giggled at Sunset’s suddenly burning cheeks. “Oh Sunny, I will never let you live that moment down.”

“Yes, I know!” Sunset groused as she hid behind a menu. She didn’t need to, she’d already known exactly what she was going to order the moment Moon Dancer had mentioned the place. Still, it was convenient, despite the fact that she knew it wouldn’t save her.

“What was it that she said to the bouncer?” Moon Dancer asked Minuette, her chin on her hoof.

Minuette coughed and did her best impersonation of Sunset’s voice. “‘You know exactly who I am. I would like to speak to Miss Coloratura. Please let her know. Unless you want to explain to your manager why you decided that the personal protégée of Princess Celestia was barred from seeing her?’”

Moon Dancer cracked up, laughing so hard she nearly fell out of her chair. She had to adjust her glasses twice before they would sit right on her muzzle again. Minuette joined in while Sunset continued to use the flimsy protection offered by the menu. She was intensely grateful when Soft Treat dropped by to take their orders.

After the laughter had finally died down and the teasing session was over—for now—Minuette smiled at Sunset.

“So what’s the Princess got you working on today?”

Sunset immediately brightened, not only for the change in topic but the opportunity to gush just a little about something she’d been looking forward to for months.

“Unified spellwork!” Sunset said, trying and mostly failing to keep the squeal out of her voice. “She thinks I’m finally ready for it!”

Okay, maybe more than just a little gushing.

“Unified spellwork?” Minuette asked. “Sorry, but I just do clocks. That’s a bit above my pay grade.”

“Seriously, she thinks you’re ready for that?” Moon Dancer all but squeed. “That’s some seriously advanced material, even for a graduate student.”

“I know!” Sunset clopped her hooves together in glee. “I know! And the best part is… I’ll be doing it with Celestia herself!

“Um, mind cluing me into what you two are rambling on about?”

Moon Dancer breathed out a great sigh at Minuette. “You’ve never heard of unified spellwork? Maybe unified harmony magic? Augmented magical frameworks? Harmony constructs?”

“No, no and no,” Minuette replied. “But wasn’t the last one something from last month’s issue of the Power Ponies?”

Moon Dancer snorted and Sunset hid a smirk. To the librarian, comic books were only one step above Coco’s romance novels. She didn’t bother hiding the smirk when she saw her friend shift into lecture mode, something she could do even better than Cheerilee—and Cheerilee was a teacher, for pony’s sake. She tweaked her glasses with a flare of magic and she brought herself up. At that point, Sunset almost broke down laughing. She just barely managed to keep it in with little more than a snort Moon Dancer ignored.

“Unified spellwork, or more appropriately called unified harmony magics,” Moon Dancer began. “Is an extremely difficult area of study as it relates to the underlying innate magic of Equestria itself, better known as Harmony. It requires a singular purpose and focused will that is beyond the reach of most unicorns. Unified spellwork is when two unicorns—or a unicorn and an alicorn—combine their magical talents on a single spell. When proper harmony is found between the two ponies, the result of said spell connects them on a deeply fundamental level. Unexpected and very impressive—and beneficial—side effects can and often do occur. Not only that but the effects are magnified by a factor of ten at minimum. Getting beyond that threshold entirely depends on the level of connection between the two ponies.”

“So basically, some magic user and you just make a spell supercharged?” Minuette asked. “Doesn’t sound like that big of a deal to me.”

Moon Dancer’s eyes bulged. “Seriously, have you ever read anything by Clover, Meadowbrook or Starswirl?”

Minuette rubbed her mane awkwardly. “Um… a little…”

“You mean you’ve read them for homework back in school.”


“That’s enough, Moony,” Sunset interrupted before Moon Dancer could get up enough steam.

“But Sunny!” Her best friend was practically wailing at this point. “She’s missing one of the greatest potential applications of unicorn magic! At least a third of the most significant spells in history have been cast using this method! By Celestia, the events of Hearth’s Warming Eve are based on a variant of this theory!”

“And beating her over the head with the textbook is going to help how?” Sunset raised an eyebrow.

Moon Dancer sputtered for a few seconds before throwing up her hooves and slumping to the table. She could do a great job at pouting when she put her mind to it and she was putting her mind to it now.

“Come on, Moony,” Minuette said, reaching out a hoof and nudging her friend. “You know my area. If you need to fix a clock, I’m your pony. But if you want advanced magical theory, everypony knows that’s not me!”

She smiled in her widest, most cheerful smile, the one she brought out only when she was actually concerned for somepony’s happiness. Sunset was a bit curious why she was bringing it out now. After all, she could tell Moon Dancer was just demanding attention as a bit of a trade for Minuette’s ignorance of an extremely specialized field of magical study. At least, that’s what she thought Moon Dancer was doing.

“That’s why I’m friends with you two,” Minuette chirped. “After all, Canterlot can barely handle having two unicorns with your skills and knowledge. It would probably explode if it had three.”

“And you wouldn’t want to be responsible for the complete destruction of Canterlot, would you, Moon Dancer?” Sunset inquired.

Moon Dancer made a face, but there wasn’t any real sullenness in it. Thankfully, she was saved from responding directly by the arrival of their lunch. Sunset was grateful for the interruption. There had been a few times where she’d practically had to yank Moon Dancer and Minuette apart, and while she didn’t think this could become one of them, she wasn’t eager to see them get into anything beyond playful banter.

Minuette, as usual, finished first. Her blueberry kebabs—each the size of a small apple—always went fast.

“I almost forgot to mention!” Minuette grinned. “I ran into Lyra yesterday!”

Sunset’s ears perked as she took another bite of a criminally delicious strawberry biscuit.

“Oh?” Sunset asked. “How’s she doing?”

“She’s great! She seems really happy in Ponyville. She’s roommates with an earth pony who just moved there from Canterlot too. Runs a nice little candy shop. Lyra’s already got a few small concerts planned and she’s been hired to do the dinner music for one of the nicer cafés in town.”

Sunset smiled. She’d been a little worried about Lyra since she had decided to escape the bustle of Canterlot and head to the rural town of Ponyville. The place couldn’t be that bad, since Cheerilee had been living there for a few years now. Still, Sunset had been a bit sad to see Lyra leave.

“You ever think about us back then, Sunset?” Minuette asked. “I’ll admit when I first met you, the last thing I ever expected was for you to become one of our best friends.”

Sunset rubbed the back of her mane, wishing she could hide behind it as she grimaced.

“She’s got a point,” Moon Dancer added. “If memory serves, you were pretty much forced to spend time with me.”

“I wasn’t that bad…”

No, you were far, far worse.

Sunset managed to keep the growl internal.

Minuette looked awkward for a moment. She didn’t need to say the words. They were written on her face.

It was Sunset’s turn to slump to the table which had the added benefit of actually allowing her to hide behind her mane.

“Look, I really don’t want to get into this,” she mumbled through the hopefully impenetrable social shield of her mane. “First Celestia and now you two…”

“The Princess brought it up?” Minuette asked.

She groaned. One of these days she’d need to find a way to get that filter installed between her brain and her muzzle. “Yes, she brought it up in passing.”

“And what did she say about it?”

Another sigh. “Same thing as always. Mainly about forgiveness.”

“And here I thought you never ignored a lesson.” Minuette was obnoxiously insightful sometimes, especially when it came to her friends and twice over when it was something that was bothering one of them. Sunset could feel Minuette’s concerned eyes on her even through the shield of her mane. “Sunny…”

“Look!” Sunset snapped her head up. “I know, you’ve been telling me this forever. And one day, hopefully, I will be able to do that. But… you don’t… you don’t know…”

She knew she didn’t want to finish that sentence. She also knew her friends would make her.

Moon Dancer leaned forward and placed a hoof on Sunset’s shoulder. “What’s really going on here? We can both tell this is eating at you, even more than usual. You’re our friend. We want to help.”

“Even friends can’t make the voice go away,” Sunset murmured. “I don’t know if you’ve ever heard it, but it’s a little pony who loves to point out every mistake you’ve ever made. This morning, the Princess wanted me to study Legends of Equestria, of all things. There’s a lot of stories in there, stories about a lot of ponies who made some pretty big mistakes. I guess, well, I guess my own mistakes have been coming back to haunt me since then.”

“Sunset.” Moon Dancer’s voice was firm. “I know for a fact that it wasn’t Princess Celestia who ordered you to start tutoring me in advanced telekinetic field manipulation. She may have pushed you to spend more time with me afterward, but you were the one who started things off.”

“Girls… you don’t get it!” Sunset almost screamed, but she forced herself to use that breathing exercise Celestia had taught her. It didn’t do much good. “You know how I was during the beginning of that year… even worse than I was the year before! I was awful to the entire class and I was supposed to be Professor Apple Polish’s aide. I was insulting, rude… you hated me.”

“Hate is such a strong word…” Minuette wheedled. “I wouldn’t go that far.”

Sunset stared at her and Minuette’s trademark smile wilted.

“Honestly, Moon Dancer,” Sunset continued. “I don’t even remember why I offered to tutor you. And what I said to you the day of midterms… I don’t know why you even accepted my help. I think… I think the only reason I offered was I thought you were the only pony who might be able to keep up with the insane expectations I had of a student at Celestia’s School. Expectations that even graduate students would have a hard time living up to.”

“But you still did it.” Moon Dancer smiled at her and ran a hoof over her little top knot she kept insisting on wearing, though never when Coco was around for some reason. “That’s what matters. You did it. And you weren’t mean about it… well, you stopped being mean about it really quick, especially after... well, you know. In fact, the next year, you started volunteering to help just about anypony!”

“It wasn’t me.” Sunset’s eyes dropped again. “That was the Princess.”

“What do you mean?” Minuette asked. “I didn’t think the Princess got involved until later… aside from making you the professor’s aide, I mean.”

Sunset took a deep shuddering breath. Did she really want to go through with this? Did she really want to tell them?

Of course you don’t! They won’t understand. They’ll just reject you and abandon you like—

The simple fact the angry little pony in her head said no was enough reason for Sunset to get the words out. She looked up into the accepting faces of her friends and forced herself to speak.

“She finally let me see the mirror again.”

“The mirror?” Minuette blinked a few times. “Oh, you mean the thing she showed you after midterms the year before?”

Sunset nodded. “She… well… I…” She stopped and took a breath. “I had pestered her for weeks about that mirror. After my little speech about what I had seen… Princess Celestia didn’t really seem inclined to talk to me about it. She refused again and again. I think it was halfway through summer, right after your class’s entrance exams, when she announced I would be the new aide for Professor Apple Polish at her school. I wasn’t happy about it. At all.”

Sunset poked at the last half of her biscuit and grabbed the strawberry lemonade on the table. She took a gulp, more to give her a second to get the next part of the story together than any real thirst. It did help that Strawberry Lemonade lived up to her namesake in spades.

“I thought she was trying to get rid of me,” Sunset confessed. “But she wasn’t going to just come right out and do it. Now, well, the whole aide thing… it was a test. A multiple part test, actually. The first part was to see if I would actually go through with it. I wasn’t happy about it, but I was still her personal student. I was angry at her, but I didn’t want to directly defy her. So I did the job. And found out… I kinda liked it.”

Moon Dancer and Minuette smiled at her, giving her enough encouragement to push forward.

“You both know I’ve always been a bit on the… um… ambitious side.” She chuckled nervously. “And with the Princess practically like a mother to me, I wanted to be just like her. In almost… every way. I thought fear was the best way to do it. Looking back, I know that Celestia rarely used fear, but fear… was easier. But after a few weeks as Polish’s aide, I started to get comfortable. I let my angry mask down a bit. It was just a bit though. And I found out that despite what I’d done, I was still respected in a way. Then came the alchemy final. I don't need to remind you what happened then. After that, it… well… it finally clicked. I didn’t need to use fear. I didn’t need to force it. There was a better way. I know it doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it’s the only way I can think to describe it.”

“Sunny, for somepony as brilliant as you, you can be incredibly thick sometimes.” Moon Dancer rolled her eyes.

“Rub it in, why don’t you?” Sunset stuck out her tongue. “Anyway, it was about a month after Hearth’s Warming Vacation in my second year as an aide and I had just gotten back from class. It was one of your potion lessons, I think. I remember being a little annoyed Lemon Hearts had managed to splatter a beaker of color-shifting glue onto my favorite saddlebags.”

Minuette snorted and giggled at the same time, a Minuette specialty. “Lemon Hearts was terrible with anything alchemical.” She turned to Moon Dancer. “Do you remember when one of her spells went off wrong, and she somehow got her head stuck in a beaker?”

“First-year science lab!” Moon Dancer cackled. “Great times.”

Sunset smirked at that. “Professor Crystal Clear told me that one. Anyway, after class, I went to my lesson with the Princess. She asked why my saddlebags were suddenly a blinding shade of neon pink. I only told her what had happened. She just stood there. She looked at me with this strange, unreadable expression, as if she’d never seen me before.” Sunset frowned. “No, that’s not right. It was like… she was looking into me, looking for something specific, something special. I was worried I’d screwed up somehow, but I didn’t have a clue how.”

And then she fed you the lies—

Buck off, Sunset snapped.

“Then she had me follow her and led me back to the chamber where that mirror was kept. She asked me to look again and to tell her what I saw.”

“What did you see?” Minuette asked. She was literally on the edge of her seat, balanced at a nearly inequine angle as only the maddeningly precise Minuette could do.

Sunset licked her lips. “I saw… myself… as an alicorn, again. But… I was different this time. Like I told you before, the first time I looked, I had this fiery, arrogant stare in my eyes, well, the eyes of my reflection. And behind my reflection had been nothing but darkness. But when I looked this time, just a few months later… I didn’t have the same expression. I was smiling and there were… ponies behind me. Six of them. They were really vague, like brightly colored shadows.”

Minuette’s smile looked like it was ready to burst off from her muzzle and do a little jig all on its own. Even Moon Dancer’s grin was huge.

Sunset flushed. “After I told the Princess everything I saw, she knelt down and wrapped me in the tightest hug I’d ever gotten from her, wings and all. She said, ‘That’s what I was hoping you’d see. I am so very proud of you, Sunset.’” Her voice cracked and she fought back a few tears. “And somehow… that was enough. The mirror just didn’t bother me so much after that. She told me later that day, aside from some effects that are only available for very specific times every few years, the mirror shows ‘potential.’ Though I remember she was curious about the number of shadows, as if the number had been unexpected.”

“Why didn’t you ever tell us about this?” Minuette asked.

“You only ever told us about what you saw the first time around,” Moon Dancer added.

“Because… because… I didn’t think I deserved to tell you I got any closure on it,” Sunset finally admitted after another long gulp of strawberry lemonade. “I was ashamed. I didn’t deserve forgiveness, especially considering how I had treated you. Don’t you remember what I said to you right after that midterm? I told all of you that you were nothing! I heard what Lemon Hearts said… and after the way I acted when you invited me to lunch after complimenting me on my midterm…”

The tears were unwanted, but she couldn’t seem to keep them back.

“…I didn’t deserve to have you as friends.”

Minuette was going to say something, but it was Moon Dancer who managed to react first by thwacking Sunset solidly on the back of the head.

“Sunny, you’re a bucking idiot. The Princess is—shockingly—right. You need to forgive yourself.”

“Sunset, we’ve been friends for years now,” Minuette said with a heartfelt smile. “You need to let this go. It’s not healthy to hold onto this.”

And if you ever manage to forgive yourself, you’ll only make the same mistakes. You’ll just go back to the way you were, a disappointment to Celestia for not being her perfect little clone and be completely alone. But when will you figure out that doesn’t matter? You don’t need their approval. You’re Sunset Shimmer, the most powerful unicorn of your age. You could—

“What if… what if I start making the same mistakes again?” Sunset murmured, rubbing the tears out of her eyes, though they only reappeared seconds later. “I can’t… I can’t bear to think about what my life would be like alone with nothing but books and magic.”

Why is that so bad?

She pressed her forehooves to her forehead and groaned.

“Then Moon Dancer here will buck some sense into you,” Minuette said in an obnoxiously chirpy voice.

“It’s part of the job as your best friend, you know.”

“Really?” Sunset asked.

Moon Dancer grinned. “Sunny, I promise. I’ll always be there to buck you in the head when you need me to.”

Sunset couldn’t help but laugh. “Who would have thought that hearing you say that of all things makes me feel just a bit better?”

“You always were stubborn,” Minuette said with a shrug. “Maybe you just need somepony as stubborn as you. And maybe somepony who’s loyal enough to tell you when you’re being just silly.”

Sunset smiled. “Maybe.”

“Actually, I’m pretty sure I used the term ‘idiot.’” Moon Dancer pointed out. “Just to make sure we got that straight.”

“Ah, yes." Sunset couldn’t stop the laugh from escaping her. “Thank you ever so much for the clarification, Moony.”

Author's Note:

Yes, there have been some minor tweaks to this to better reflect the events in The Alchemy of Chemistry. Sunset still has a hard time remembering those events very clearly.

If you come across any errors, please let me know by PM!