• Published 31st Aug 2017
  • 2,816 Views, 65 Comments

Time Goes On - Fangren

Princess Celestia has finally decided to introduce her two prized pupils to each other, hoping that together they'll finally start to appreciate the magic of friendship. They'll go even beyond that in time, but the road they'll take is a rocky one.

  • ...


Author's Note:

This chapter was not included in the original version of the story created for the 'Changing Seasons' contest. It was added as part of the October 2017 update to the story.

Twilight screwed up her muzzle in concentration, horn aglow as she shaped her magic into the proper counterspell and launched it at Sunset.

“Did it work?” Sunset asked the moment it struck her, frantically checking her legs and back. She let out a sigh of relief as she saw them return to their normal coloration. “Finally. I was worried I'd have to walk around like that all day.”

“Hey, it only took me two tries to reverse it,” Twilight said, the defiance in her voice doing nothing to hide the embarrassment on her cheeks. “And only one try to reverse the slipping spell, and that was with you flailing around!”

Sunset rolled her eyes. “Still took you more than one try to counter a simple color-changing spell,” she said with a surprising amount of playfulness in her voice.

Twilight leveled a stare at the older filly as she walked past towards the workbench in the middle of the slightly-ruined Advanced Thaum Lab 6, then smirked. “I guess it just proves how good I am with magic that a simple color-changing spell was so persistent.”

“Hah hah. You're lucky the Princess intervened when she did,” came the reply, Sunset's joviality melting away just enough to make Twilight a little nervous. “Otherwise, I would've shown you what a really persistent spell looked like.”

An awkward laugh tried and failed to fill the air as Twilight moved to the center workbench as well. “Ummm, right. Let's just focus on cleaning up the mess we made like Princess Celestia told us. Shouldn't be too hard, right?”

The two fell silent as they surveyed the damage their argument had caused. The sturdy top of the workbench they'd been using, designed to withstand the effects of magical experimentation, had held true to its purpose and was only slightly scuffed. The notes and papers the two girls had brought for their research project had fared much worse, and Twilight frowned in dismay upon lifting a notebook in her magic only for half its pages to disintegrate.

And, of course, the lab was littered with the after-effects of spells that had missed their intended targets. A magnetometer was vibrating so wildly it threatened to knock neighboring instruments from their tables; the needle of a thaumic barometer was spinning so fast it had achieved lift; and acrid yellow smoke was pouring out of, of all things, a thermal indexer. And Twilight didn't even want to begin to think about the things that had just straight-up been broken.

She did, however, eye a number of suspicious-looking objects that now laid in odd places and wondered how many of them had been in the room when she had arrived.

“I'd say we have our work cut out for us,” Sunset finally said, snapping Twilight out of her pondering.

“Agreed,” Twilight said with a curt nod, grabbing in her magic a quill and a blank piece of parchment that had gone mostly undamaged and levitating them over to her. “Let's see, we'll have to identify and dispel any lingering spell-effects first, then take an inventory of what was damaged... that'll take awhile...”

She wrote as she spoke, the sound of quill scribbling against parchment soothing her as she carefully walked around the room and surveyed the damage. It wasn't until she reached 'Dispose of the broken glass that's been swept up' that she noticed Sunset was on the other side of the room scrutinizing a beach ball.

“What are you doing?” Twilight asked, brow raised and quill motionless.

“Cleaning up, what does it look like?” came the reply, Sunset not taking her eyes off the ball. Her muzzle screwed up in concentration and her horn flared with magic, and in a flash the ball transformed back into a beam balance. “What are you doing?” she then asked, looking back over her shoulder.

“I'm creating a checklist so we know what to clean up and thus when we've finished cleaning,” Twilight answered, brow trying to raise even higher. “Isn't it obvious?”

“I guess,” Sunset shrugged, moving over to a nearby potted plant. “I just don't see the point. We can see what needs to be done.” She paused just long enough to turn the plant back into a small filing cabinet, then gave Twilight a smug look. “And we'll know when we're finished.”

“But what if we miss something!” Twilight countered. She trotted over to Sunset, pausing only a moment to gingerly step around some unidentified spill. She added identifying and removing it to the checklist, then looked back at Sunset. “It's bad enough that we wrecked the lab in the first place, what'll Princess Celestia think if we can't clean it up?!”

Sunset turned around and gave her junior and annoyed look. “Relax, Sparkle. If the two of us can't get this mess completely cleaned up, then something must seriously be wrong with the world. So just stop worrying about the checklist-” she seized both quill and parchment in her magic and pulled them away from Twilight- “pick a spot to work on, and start cleaning.”

Twilight didn't budge. In fact, her worried eyes narrowed into a glare. “I will,” she told Sunset, “after I finish documenting everything that needs to be done.” With a swift yank she pulled her list back in front of her, then turned her back on her senior. “You might be willing to risk forgetting something, but I'm not.”

“Fine, fine,” Sunset said, rolling her eyes again. She sighed, and Twilight resumed her survey. “I guess I might as well give you this one since we're supposed to be...,” she rolled a forehoof in a gesture of vague distaste, “friends... now, or whatever...”

'Friends'. Twilight stopped in mid-step upon hearing the word, her ears swiveling back before the rest of her head followed. Disbelief was plain on her face. “Really? We're friends now, just like that?”

“I don't know, I guess?” Sunset said, flicking her tail in frustration as she turned herself to the next cleaning task. “I mean, we might as well finally try, right? Unless you want to go back to hating each other...”

“No no, friends is good,” Twilight said quickly, a nervous smile appearing on her lips that she quickly tried to hide by turning away. She only lasted a second before looking back. “It's just surprising. To be honest, I wasn't sure how truthful you were being with the Princess earlier.”

Sunset sighed, grabbing the flying barometer and with her hooves and giving it a zap of magic. The needle returned to its normal fluctuations after that. “I was being honest, okay?” She set the barometer down on one of the side tables. “I'm not gonna look down on you anymore.”

“Oh, well, that's a relief,” Twilight said, her nerves easing back into a gentle happiness as she assessed the damage to a set of beakers. It wasn't good, and with a grimace she gingerly set the broken glass back down on a bench and made a note of it. “Think of all the progress we'll be able to make now that we're cooperating instead of competing!”

“Oh, we're still competing,” Sunset countered with a sharpness that made Twilight flinch stumble into a stationary cloud of pink dust.

She dropped out of it moments later, coughing up glitter. She pounded her chest a couple times, then weakly looked up at Sunset and asked “Come again?”

“We're still competing, Sparkle,” Sunset told her, changing another potted plant back into its original form – a blank crystal array, in this case. “Just because I accept that you're more-or-less my equal doesn't mean I'm gonna cut you any slack. I still aim to be the best, and you're my number one competition. I just won't be mean about it as long as you keep up with me.”

Twilight stared at her for a moment, then let out a long, exasperated sigh. “Are you sure you're trying to be friends with me? Because I may not know much about friendship, but,” she rolled her head, “this doesn't really seem like friendship.”

Sunset shrugged and moved on to a glowing stain on the tile floor. “Hey, for once I'm just as clueless about this as you are.” Twilight gave her back a sour look. Sunset gave her chin a scratch, then shrugged again. “We probably should have paid more attention to what the Princess was saying about friendship. But better late than never, I guess.”

“I guess,” Twilight echoed, uncertainty on her muzzle as she turned back to her self-appointed task. Her attention to it only lasted a few seconds, however. “And you didn't really answer my question.”

It was Sunset's turn for an exasperated sigh. “Yes, I'm trying to be friends with you,” she repeated in her most put-upon voice, and while Twilight couldn't see them she was sure Sunset's eyes were rolling. “I'm just... doing it without compromising who I am as a pony. I'll admit it'll take some getting used to, for me especially.” She gave the stain she was working on a zap of magic, then hummed in displeasure at the result. “But I'm willing to give it a try if you are.”

She paused, and looked back at Twilight. “You are willing to give it a try, right?” she asked, eyes narrowed and tone icy.

Twilight tried to reply, but all that came out at first was an awkward laugh. “S-sure! I'm just not sure how. The only friends I've had before you are Spike and my brother, and I get the feeling being friends with you is gonna be, well, different.”

Sunset snorted, and muttered something under her breath while resuming her stain-removal work that Twilight didn't quite catch.

“The point is, where do we even begin?” she continued, quill and list still floating patiently nearby as Twilight stayed aboard her train of thought. “Is there a book on friendship we can read?”

Sunset stopped working again and looked up in thought. “Maybe? I mean, the archives are pretty big and somepony's bound to have written down something about friendship, right? I mean,” a light smile graced her lips, “I've seen books on lint in there before. There has to be something in there about friendship.”

“But what if all the copies have been checked out? Or they only have editions that are out-of-date?” Twilight asked, her breathing beginning to quicken. “What if Princess Celestia wants us to figure it out on our own, and gets mad at us for consulting a book? What if she wants us to ask her? What if-”

Whatever panicked question she was about to ask next was lost when her checklist and quill were unceremoniously stuffed into her mouth. “Calm down, Sparkle, honestly,” Sunset chided, walking over. “As if the Princess would get mad at us for doing research. Especially research on something she's been bugging us about since we became her personal students.”

Twilight spit out her belongings, too dazed to care that they were damp with saliva. “Right. Right. Of course! Obviously,” she said as her breathing slowed, more to herself than to Sunset. “Right. So... we'll go to the library and look for books on friendship, together. Doing things together is part of friendship, right?” she asked, looking up at Sunset with resurgent worry.

“I... think so?” Sunset answered, looking up and pawing at the floor a little. “That's the point, isn't it? Spending time with other ponies and appreciating them, or something like that? If nothing else, we'll find out once we do the research.”

“Right. That's right.” Finally convinced, Twilight let out a sigh of relief and stood back up. “It's settled, then. Let's go to the library and find some books on friendship.”

She turned to head for the doorway, only stopping when she felt a tug on her tail. When she looked back over her shoulder, Sunset let it go and leveled a glare her way. “Where do you think you're going?” she asked angrily. “We still have to clean up the lab, remember?”

Twilight blinked, noticed the state of the room, and when it all came rushing back to her she gasped hard enough she jumped. “Oh no! How could I forget so quickly?” She frantically dashed back to her fallen checklist and quill and took them both up again, looking around the room and making notes as fast as she could. “Thank you so much Sunset Shimmer, I almost made a huge mistake!”

She didn't hear Sunset's grumbled reply as the older filly trudged off to resume her battle with the floor stain.