• Published 21st Apr 2018
  • 3,084 Views, 20 Comments

Sunset and the Sun - milesprower06

When her friends lose all memories of her redemption and their subsequent friendships, Sunset gathers the courage to return to Equestria for help from her former teacher.

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"I woke up this morning to meet my friends at the beach. When I got there, it was like they didn't even recognize me... The way they looked at me, talked to me. Then I touched them and saw their memories, and I had vanished from all of them. It was like nothing after the Fall Formal ever happened. It... It was so convincing that I had to write to Princess Twilight to make sure it hadn't affected anypony over here." Sunset began to explain after her and the three princesses left the throne room.

"I am not familiar with the exact spell that could have erased your friends' memories, but it sounds like Equestrian magic is at work in your world again." Celestia told her.

"Hm, indeed. The toilings of this nefarious enchantment portend unimaginable catastrophe if left unchecked." Luna added, and for whatever reason, this caused Sunset to hold back a snicker, for which Twilight smacked her with her wing.

"Sorry, I'm just used to you saying 'no student parking in the faculty lot', hehe." Sunset tried to save face.

"This 'faculty lot' you speak of sounds like a place of great power." Luna commented, even getting a smirk out of Twilight as they continued on.

"The best chance we have of finding what you're looking for is in the Canterlot Library." Celestia told them, ushering them forth.

Now that the nervousness had passed, and knowing that she truly had her former teacher's forgiveness, Sunset felt a lot more at ease... And a lot more at home here in the halls of the castle. It felt like so long ago when she was here last. As they exited the castle proper and made their way into the city, she remembered walks with Celestia, as she went over the day's lesson, practical magic applications, and on her walks alone, how she turned down opportunities to socialize and make friends. It was like Twilight used to be, only worse. Not only was she wrapped up in her studies and research, but there was an arrogance, a belief that she was above making friends.

It was a slice of her life that she was now completely disgusted with. Princess Twilight had proven that powerful spells were nothing before the feats of friendship. It was only a short jaunt to the Canterlot Library, and the four ponies made their way up the steps to the main doors. Before going in, she had to do a double take of the guard to the door's left. She swore it looked like Flash.

Upon entering, Sunset and Twilight found themselves in a very familiar location; the three story concourse, each level lined with shelves packed with tomes.

"There's over a million books in here." Sunset mused, becoming disheartened by the amount of content they seemingly had to sift through.

"I wish," Twilight began with a laugh. "But don't worry, you're looking at somepony who knows this place like the back of her hoof."

As the two younger ponies stood in the entrance, Twilight noticed that the two elder Princesses had not stopped, and continued down a corridor at the rear of the concourse.

"Where are you going, Princess Celestia?" The lavender alicorn asked.

"To the restricted section." Celestia replied plainly.

Twilight gave a look like a mare would look at an incoming mobile DJ booth.

"There's a r... A re... A re... A re..." The Princess of Friendship began to hyperventilate.

"Breathe, Twilight." Sunset told her, getting her attention with a touch of her hoof to her side, then went to follow Celestia and Luna. Twilight soon followed, though the stunned look didn't leave her face.

At the back of their chosen alcove, Celestia and Luna lit up their horns, and pulled at a pair of books on the shelf, as they came out, mechanical works could be heard behind the wall. As one would pull a lever, the books sprung back into the shelf, and the entire unit slid away, revealing a hidden staircase that spiraled downwards.

Sunset had to shut Twilight's jaw.

The descending staircase was lined with enchanted torches that lit up upon their approach. The passage was so seldom used that bats had began to roost on the stalactites as the stairs took them well under the library deeper into the mountain Canterlot had been built into.

After descending at least two hundred feet, they came to a set of large double doors, which Celestia and Luna pushed open with their magic.

Twilight took in a three second gasp of breath.

"Oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh! So many books... All unread... Ancient historical artifacts! Just... I thought... I can't..."

Sunset smirked.

"You sure you're up for helping me go through all this stuff?"

"DON'T TAKE THIS AWAY FROM ME!" Twilight pleaded.

"I should warn you however, the archive's mechanical catalog has not been... Well maintained..." Celestia said, standing next to a rather ancient looking mechanism with a series of levers and index wheels scribed in Ancient Equestrian glyphs. Curious, Sunset approached and tried the center lever.

What she got in return was a few clouds of dust, one index cylinder falling off its mount, one tumbling to the floor, and one catapulting to the opposite end of the room. On top of everything else, now they had a repair job to do.

"Guess we'll have to read everythiiiing!" Twilight excitedly sing-songed. "Come on!"

With a flap of her wings, Twilight bolted up to the second floor of the archives, immediately taking hold of a trio of books, studying their covers before her eyes went wide.

"No way, can you believe they have Canterlot Cannibals Volume Thirty-One?! You heard me! Thirty. One. Sunset... That's when it gets goooood."

Sunset Shimmer wasn't quite sure what disturbed her more... The fact that cannibalism in Canterlot's history required at least 30 other volumes, or that Twilight knew precisely when it got 'good'.

The only thing the unicorn could do with the sight before her was look up at her former teacher and share a hearty chuckle at how the Princess of Friendship was losing herself in this ancient knowledge.

As Celestia watched her two students spend the next several hours go through the archives, the irony that Sunset Shimmer was now finally in a restricted section with permission was not lost on her. Soon enough, a pile of searched books began to form around the central table. She had to admit, enough time had passed where she wasn't sure exactly what had been collected down here in the last millennium. Suddenly, Twilight got a look of absolute euphoria, and Sunset one of absolute bewilderment when the alicorn came out from one of the alcoves with an absolutely massive purple tome. Twilight set the chest-high book on the central table, and Sunset craned her neck to look at the cover.

"The Life, Times, and Decrees of Chancellor Puddinghead." She read, a look of hopelessness coming over her face as she lowered her head down to the table.

"Sunset, are you alright?" Celestia asked, stepping up to the table.

"Princess... If... If this doesn't work... If we can't find anything... I mean, I-I could... Come home, right? They don't remember me as it is. No one over there remembers how I've changed."

These words miraculously got Twilight's attention away from the current book she was buried in.

"But Sunset... Everything you've done over there... The sirens, Camp Everfree..."

Celestia held up a hoof, and Twilight stopped there.

"Twilight, could you continue the search? Sunset, let's take a walk." Celestia told her former pupil. Gulping, Sunset stepped from the other side of the table, and followed Celestia out of the archives, while Twilight happily resumed her reading.

Sunset followed her teacher up out of the secret passage, and even out of the library. Looking up at the sky, the sun was well into the second half of the sky; they had spent hours down there so far. The two of them retraced their earlier steps back to the castle, and instead of going back to the throne room, Celestia took her to her private study, which consisted of a fireplace, two bookshelves, and a couple tables.

As Sunset sat at the center table, Princess Celestia went over to a small chest on one of the end tables against the wall. Her horn lit up, she opened it, and came back to the table with a book. Celestia sat down, opening the book, taking out a folded piece of parchment, unfolding it and levitating it over to Sunset, and she looked down at the photograph that had been cradled in the centerfold of the parchment.

Sunset's heart throbbed achingly as she gazed down at the first letter she had written to Celestia since her redemption.

"You've told me in your letters how homesick you've been, and I get the feeling there's a little bit more to this situation you've found yourself in. Can you be sure that you wouldn't start to miss your life over there, just as you're missing your life in Equestria now?" Celestia asked Sunset as she looked at the group photo she had sent along with the letter.

"Of course you would, but you know what I think? I think you're trying to convince yourself that because they don't remember how you've changed, that they wouldn't miss you. Maybe you think it would even save you from the pain of having to say goodbye to them."

Celestia's tone wasn't accusative, but gentle, and the point had hit the mark regardless. A single tear fell down the unicorn's cheek. It had never taken much for her former teacher to see through her when she was under her tutelage; back then it was one of the things that annoyed her most, but now, it was exactly what she needed.

Celestia brought her open book up to eye level, and began to read aloud.

"I'm not sure if you think I went and got Twilight the morning after you went through that portal, but I did a lot of reflecting. I spent many weeks wondering how I had failed you. I had hoped to augment your ambition with compassion, but with the way events have played out, I've accepted that perhaps it wasn't my place to do so." Celestia recited, then lowered the enchanted correspondence book to look back at her student.

"I didn't write that just to make you feel better, Sunset. With the way events have played out in that other realm, I don't believe you and I were meant to take your studies any further than they had gone. I thought you were lost, I still did when you came back to take Twilight's crown. But now, I believe our paths were supposed to split that night you jumped through the mirror. Maybe you were still lost, but Twilight, and your friends over there, helped set you back on your path, and you've been walking it since. Now, something over there has taken that from your friends... From everyone at Canterlot High."

"It's not fair..." Sunset said shakily, running a hoof over the photograph.

"You're right, it's not. It's not fair to them, or to you. That's why you've got to find out the source of what did this to them. Because abandoning their memories of you, turning your back and giving up... That doesn't sound like the Sunset Shimmer I've read about in Princess Twilight's reports. You're clearly not responsible for all the Equestrian magic in that other realm, but that doesn't necessarily mean that you don't belong there, even if it is just for the time being. The Sunset Princess Twilight has told me about, the one I hope is sitting in front of me now... I think that, homesick or not, she would fight for her friends with every ounce of her being, whether or not they remember her."

Sunset sniffled, sliding the photograph back over to Celestia.

"You're right. You're absolutely right. I'm so sorry. I have to try and fix this."

Celestia smiled down at her as she rounded the table and stood next to her former pupil, draping a wing around her.

"And if and when the time comes to come home for good, even if it's painful for a little while, I think you'll want to say your goodbyes the right way."

As she smiled and nodded at her former teacher, her own correspondence book began to vibrate from inside her saddlebags. She took it out and opened it.

"Twilight says she found something!"