• Published 30th Dec 2018
  • 1,108 Views, 13 Comments

The Right Reads - libertydude



Back in Equestria, Sunset Shimmer finds herself stuck in a Hearth's Warming party without much warmth.

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This Cold, Unfamiliar Land

The party had been a last minute endeavor on Sunset’s part. The invitation came just as she’d settled upon her bed that night, her journal buzzing and Twilight’s words leaping off the page in unrestrained anticipation. Promises of a wide variety of desserts and an exchange of classic Equestrian literature filled Sunset’s blurred eyes.

It would be nice, Sunset had thought, stifling a yawn. A certain homesickness had pervaded since her brief visit during the Wallflower saga. Past grievances had been buried, and the other world’s holiday celebrations now seemed tainted by their dull familiarity.

What the hay, she thought. So she’d thrown on the ragged clothes piled in her laundry bin, strapped on her tennis shoes and ran through suburbia as fast as she could. The holiday lights hanging from the homes’ roofs reflected off her glimmering skin, and her heart beat in anticipation as she neared Canterlot High.

But standing here now, on four hooves instead of two feet and her cup of punch floating in a light blue aura, she realized just how much of a guest she really was. The other ponies, all local friends and family of Twilight, mingled with each other in comfortable familiarity throughout the castle library. The Elements stood in their own cluster, Spike and Starlight wrestled over the last cinnamon roll on the dessert table, and Princess Luna stared up at a portrait of Starswirl the Bearded hanging by the Historical section.

But Sunset stood off in the corner, sipping her punch with the urgency of somepony who simply needed something, anything to do.

It’s not Twilight’s fault, Sunset thought. She was just trying to be a good friend.

As were Twilight’s other friends, who’d similarly welcomed Sunset with open hooves. For a few minutes, their similarity to Sunset’s otherworldly companions made their introductions easier to handle than she’d expected. Fluttershy still remained quaintly aloof as ever, and Rarity bombarded her with compliments on the way her newly-grown tail shimmered in the Hearth’s Warming lights strung throughout the library. The same warmth of friendship permeated their interactions, almost enough to fool Sunset that they were her own friends.

Almost.

The minor deviances announced themselves in their own subtle ways. The brief pause from Pinkie when Sunset told her about the Theremin in the other world, or Rainbow Dash’s confusion over the concept of “the video-game”. Even Starlight, a visitor of the other world, seemed lost when Sunset brought up her broken motorbike. Nopony (Not ‘nobody’, Sunset always had to remind herself) jeered at her faux pas, but each stumble served as a reminder that this wasn’t her world anymore.

I should’ve told Twilight I was going to sleep, Sunset thought. It would’ve been true. Indeed, Sunset’s presence had been the party’s sole wildcard, a seeming bonus to a holiday filled with a surplus of joy already. Twilight had planned everything else weeks in advance, deciding the various minutia from the shiny blue tinsel that covered the bookshelves to the fruit-flavored punch sitting in Sunset’s cup.

Tastes like mango and pineapple, Sunset thought. She squinted down at her drink and imagined it sloshing around the cup. The cup soon repeated her thought, though the cup’s tilts felt forced compared to the easy handling her mind dictated.

Sunset sighed. I can’t even hold a cup naturally anymore.

“What’s the matter, Sunset Shimmer?” a deep voice emanated from within the cup. Her eyes went wide when the orange liquid pressed into a long, goateed face staring up at her. “Not enough punch to this party?”

“Ack!” Sunset squealed, she and the cup tumbling to the floor. The punch flew out, the little droplets growing larger and larger before materializing into a slender form speckled with different appendages.

“Please, Sunset,” the horned figure said. “‘Ack’ was my third cousin four times removed. ‘Discord’ is the name most ponies call me.”

“Right,” she said, getting up from the floor. Twilight’s numerous correspondences detailing the shenanigans of the mischievous being came to her mind. “Do you always appear to ponies in their drinks?”

“Of course not,” Discord said with a grin. “Sometimes I cameo in their toast and bowls of spaghetti.”

Sunset sighed. “Twilight told me you’d do something like this.”

“Oh? She told you that my face would appear in your drink and you’d react the same way everypony does when they see something so indescribably delightful?”

“Well, not exac-”

“Excellent! I’d hate to have become predictable. Being the Lord of Chaos comes with certain expectations, you know.”

A knowing smile came across Sunset’s face. “But aren’t you supposed to not have expectations?”

Discord grinned. “You catch on quickly, Sunset Shimmer. You’re all right.”

“Well, I like to think-“ Just then, Sunset stood on only two legs and went blind in her left eye. She looked down with her right eye to see the entire left side of her body gone.

“Aaah!” she cried as she fell to the ground. She landed on her reconstituted left side with a thunk.

“Closer,” Discord said. “‘Aaah’ was my second cousin four and a half times removed.”

“Discord!” a powerful voice called out. Sunset didn’t even need to look up at the tall and dark figure to recognize the command’s owner, her blue mane flowing in eternal ethereality. “Cease this tomfoolery!”

“Oh dearest Luna,” Discord said, bowing low with his bottom sticking high in the air. “I’m simply introducing myself to our guest.”

“Such an introduction does not require erasing half of her body.”

“Well, I wanted to make an impression,” Discord said with a sheepish shrug. “A brief moment of inescapable bodily manipulation and the resulting existential terror is something one rarely forgets.”

“Precisely why one does not do it at a Hearth’s Warming Eve Party,” Luna said with a scowl. “This is an occasion for happiness.”

“Well, I was pretty happy…”

A look as hard as steel filled Luna’s face. “Do I need to call Fluttershy over?”

Discord gasped. “You wouldn’t…”

Luna gave a coy smile. “I spent a thousand years haunting little ponies’ nightmares. I’m more than willing to ruin Hearth’s Warming for a being of chaos.”

For a moment, they stared at each other in silence, the upbeat Hearth’s Warming carol blasting from the phonograph and the other guests’ chatter their only accompaniment.

Sunset tensed. Oh no, she thought. One of them is going to unleash a hundred megatons of magic on-

“Oh, phooey,” Discord said with a scowl. “Your sister is much more fun.” With that, he stuck out his tongue and floated off back towards the cluster of guests.

“Do not mind him, Sunset Shimmer,” Luna said with a smile, gentler than her previous one. “He may be reformed, but he’s more than capable of the occasional insolence.”

“Yeah,” Sunset said. “Though if Twilight’s letters are anything to go by, his shenanigans are far from ‘occasional’.”

Luna chuckled. “Indeed.”

“Alright, everypony!” Twilight’s voice reverberated throughout the library. “We’re going to start the book exchange!”

Sunset let out a sigh.

“What’s the matter?” Luna said. “Surely a student of Celestia’s is not adverse to literary exchanges?”

“Oh no,” Sunset said, a hint of embarrassment crossing her face. “It’s just…I wasn’t able to bring a book with me. The book shops in the, um…other place weren’t open when I was invited.”

“Fear not,” Luna said with a smile. “My sister got tied up with some dispute between the Canterlot nobles, so I brought another tome in her place.” A book floated out of her satchel into Sunset’s hoof. “I’m sure she wouldn’t mind if you used this one as your own.”

“Oh, thanks!” Sunset said. She and the Princess then made their way towards the room’s center table, a familiar warmth spreading through Sunset’s body.