• Published 23rd Aug 2019
  • 2,070 Views, 22 Comments

Time to Burn - Aragon



Only Princess Twilight and Principal Celestia can save the world, but it's really not their top priority.

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 2,070

A Matter of Principal

“It’s called,” Twilight said, only she was Princess Twilight, because she had no glasses, “a shellfire! And it’s pretty much just a flaming tortoise.”

Principal Celestia looked at the picture. “Right.”

Princess Twilight nodded. She had a bright smile. “And it’s going to burn us all alive!”

Pause.

“But there’s no reason to worry. It’s gonna do it very slowly.”


Here’s the best thing about teenagers: one day, they stop being teenagers.

Here’s the worst thing about teenagers: they’re not the only ones that change.

“You’re looking… old!” Ten years had passed since Princess Twilight had first saved Canterlot High, and all her friends had graduated. The princess herself—well, she wasn’t the little twig of a girl Principal Celestia remembered anymore. “You look older now, Principal Celestia. Your hair is white!”

Glee in her voice.

Principal Celestia clicked her tongue at this, but she made sure Twilight didn’t catch it. There was white in her hair nowadays. “Time catches up to us all,” she said once she got the frustration out, smiling at Twilight. “You look older, too.”

Twilight grinned at her. She knew that, when said to her, those words were very flattering.

Princess Twilight had grown into her title. She was a bit taller nowadays, and she had a sharper face. There was something in the way she walked, chin up, eyes level. Something in the way she moved.

She was used to the crown. She made it work.

“Thank you.” Twilight pressed a hand against her chest while she said this, and she seemed genuine. “But—I mean. You! Look at you!”

“Hmm.”

“You’re like a grandma now!”

Hmmm.”

They were looking for the shellfire. Celestia was looking for the shellfire. Twilight was following along, gawking at Celestia with big happy eyes, chirping new things every few steps.

Tortoises were slow, but Canterlot High was big. Twilight said the monster would be around the building, but so far there were no traces of scorched grass around the football field, and the track field was equally empty.

So they headed for the main building, and Celestia felt she had to say something. “You’re in an awfully good mood for someone trying to save the world. I was under the impression we were all in grave danger?”

“Ah.” Twilight blinked, and paused for once, but then she just went on. “Well! It is going to kill us all if we don’t stop it in time, yes. But…”

Celestia smiled. “But?”

“It’s a shellfire! They’re very tame, and very friendly. We’ll just have to pick it up.” Twilight mimicked the act of lifting something big and heavy. “And then you throw it through the portal!”

“Right. So then Equestria dies, instead of my highschool.”

“Instead of your planet,” Twilight said, lifting a finger. “And, not really! We can control shellfires in Equestria. They raise the temperature of their surroundings and create warmer climates, but Princess Celestia controls the sun in my world. So it’s not really that much of an issue.”

Something in the way she said this, in the way she edged the name, made Celestia’s mind click. “Oh, right.” And she hit the palm of her hand with a fist. “My other self. The immortal sun empress?”

“Sun goddess.”

“The immortal sun goddess.” Celestia nodded, and ran a hand through her hair. Her white hair. Suddenly Twilight felt less mature, less adult-like in her mannerisms, and way more similar to that little twig of a girl she’d once been. “The one that raised you, if I remember correctly?”

“Ehehe, eheheh.” Twilight blushed, and nodded. “She’s… well. A bit of a mother figure, yes.”

“The one who will never grow old.”

This time, Twilight nodded in silence, and that was all the reply she could give.

Celestia smiled. Here’s the thing about teenagers:

You’ll always be their teacher.

“Twilight, walk with me. Be honest. What’s the actual reason you came to this world?”


No shellfires in the cafeteria, or the library. On the one hand, waste of time. On the other, hey—the books were safe.

“I mean, I did come here because of the shellfire,” Twilight was saying as they went back outside and headed for the pool. “I already told you. Even if they’re friendly, just by existing, shellfires can eventually burn the world itself.”

“Right.” Celestia eyed Twilight. “But is that why you came here? That’s what I asked.”

Twilight opened her mouth, shut it. Opened it again. Looked away. “It’s, er. It’s one of the reasons, yes. I really, really wanted to talk to you, to be honest. I’ve been looking forward to this.”

“Aah. See, that sounds more like the truth.” You don’t run a high school for so many years without learning to be careful. Twilight had always been a good girl, but just in case, Celestia felt the need to ask. “Did you actually bring the shellfire here yourself or…?”

“Oh, no, no!” Twilight shook her head, and gave Celestia a reassuring smile. “I wouldn’t put an entire planet at risk just to get something off my chest. Princess Celestia was careful not to raise a sociopath again.”

Principal Celestia nodded. “Right. Because that’s something she had to be careful ab—”

“Sunset Shimmer.”

“Oh.” Celestia frowned. “Hmm.”

“And Princess Luna, too! She had to be really careful with me.” To get to the pool you had to climb some stairs, once you got past the gate. Twilight grabbed Celestia’s arm to help her walk all the way up. “So, this is all just a huge coincidence. Did you know I’m a principal, too?”

Back in the day, Celestia would have been too proud to not climb up the stairs by herself, but those days were long gone—and any hesitation she might have felt fell to the side, because she was too busy looking at Twilight. “A principal? Really?”

And Twilight beamed. “Really!” she said. They kept climbing the steps, one at a time, and Twilight sounded excited. “I run my own school! I’ve been taking care of teenagers these last few years, and it’s been—”

“Really rewarding, in an exhausting sort of way, I’m sure of it.” Celestia looked at her up and down. “Can you run a school?”

“Yeah!”

“Are you good at it?”

“I think so!”

Celestia nodded. “Good. You’re a smart girl. That kind of mind is meant to teach others.” She frowned. “ Do your teenagers have superpowers, too? Keep saving the world, dooming it now and then?”

“Yeah! We do it way more often, but they’re certainly trying.”

No need to ask who that ‘we’ was referring to. “Yes, well,” Celestia said. “That sounds terrible, actually.”

Twilight giggled.

“So why do you want to talk to me about these things?” Celestia asked. “You’ve been so focused on this you’ve barely been looking for that monster, but I don’t understand why me.”

The smile didn’t wash away from Twilight’s face, but she gave a sad little laugh. “Was it that obvious?”

“Yes.”

“Well.” Twilight sighed. “As soon as we find the shellfire, I’ll have to go back. Lots of work waiting for me in Equestria, and… I guess I’m being a little childish. I wanted to talk to you a little bit longer.”

“Because…?”

“You’re a good woman.” Twilight shrugged. “And you’re Principal Celestia.

They made it up the stairs, and to the swimming pool.

They both stared at the empty, wet space.

Celestia was the first to talk. “It’s a tortoise, not a turtle, and it’s made out of fire. Why did we think looking in here would be a good idea?”

“I really don’t have my head in the game right now.”


“So is this about Princess Celesta not growing old?” Celestia asked as they headed for the greenhouse. “Or is it about me growing old?”

Twilight thought about it. “It’s about me growing old.”

“Ah.”

The greenhouse was very close to the pool. They could see it from there. It was burning down, hard.

“Looks like we found it,” Celestia muttered, and then she looked at Twilight. “So, what happened?”

Twilight was also looking at the greenhouse, and her pace slowed down. Just enough to be noticeable. “It’s… It’s not like anything happened,” she said. She was still leading Celestia by the arm. Celestia said nothing. “It was more…”

“Twilight.” Celestia patted her arm. “I won’t judge.”

“It’s just—she’s tall, you see? Very tall. Taller than a normal pony. And I used to be very tiny. Skinny.” Twilight smiled to herself, eyes lost. “Like a twig, she used to say. Little twig of a girl.”

Celestia nodded. “Hmm-hm.”

“And she looked like she could be my mother. Nopony would ever think she was my mother, because—I mean, she’s Princess Celestia!” Twilight bit her lip. “But she still looked like she could be.”

“Right.” They’d arrived to the greenhouse by now, but they didn’t go in. Celestia just stood there, in front of the flames, Twilight still grabbing her arm. “But not anymore?”

“I keep growing. I’m taller.” Twilight looked at herself, frowning. “Even here. And I’m more—I look like her sister. I literally look like her sister, every day I’m more like Princess Luna. Cadance says it’s an alicorn thing.”

Celestia thought of her own version of Luna. “I could think of worse fates.”

“Me too, but—Princess Celestia was my mother figure. Is my mother figure. It just…” Twilight bit her lip again. “This is very silly.”

Celestia said nothing. She just waited it out.

That’s all she had to do.

“She doesn’t look that concerned,” Twilight finally admitted. “She’s used to it. We’ve talked about this, even—immortality means that eventually you learn to accept that children will grow, and you’ll outlive them. And I don’t mind that, and I get it, and this is very silly but, but I can’t help but think I—”

“Miss your mother?”

It hit Twilight like a brick. Her grip around Celestia’s arm got harder; almost hard enough to hurt.

And then she relaxed, and chuckled. “I have an actual mother, and Princess Celestia isn’t going anywhere. But, yes. In a way. I had two mother figures as a kid, you see? But they were never the same. And now I only have one. Everything’s perfect with my mother, but Princess Celestia is… different. Not worse, just different.”

“Because you’ve grown?”

“And she hasn’t,” Twilight said. “So it’s like—it feels like the age gap between us is smaller now. It’s not, but it feels like it. She treats me like an adult, and most of the time that’s great, but… Sometimes, something’s missing.”

“Hmm.” Celestia clicked her tongue again. This time she didn’t mind Twilight seeing it. “No wonder you were so happy to see my hair going white.”

“It’s very odd to see an old Celestia,” Twilight said. “No offense.”

“None taken.” A little bit taken, but hey, what’s a white lie in the grand scale of things? “I don’t think you’re being silly.”

Twilight looked at her. “No?”

“Well.” Celestia shrugged. “Yes. Actually. But you’re not being bad. So what’s it that’s changed with that other me, exactly?”

“She refuses to slow down,” Twilight said with another chuckle. “I feel like I don’t have the energy I had when I was younger, but she’s still the same. I struggle to keep up. And there’s this…” She sounded wistful. “With my actual mother, well, she still dotes on me. I’m still her little girl. And that’s frustrating sometimes, but it’s also…”

She went quiet.

So Principal Celestia patted Twilight’s hand, and then she interlinked their arms together. “I think it’s natural to want to take over your parents, at some point.” She knew what it was to struggle to keep up with others, with her hip the way it was nowadays. Never fun, that. “And to be doted on. I think it makes sense that you’d miss some… normalcy in your life.”

Twilight sighed. “I’m a princess. I should be over this kind of thing.”

“That will probably never happen.” Celestia pulled from her and turned the other way around, headed for her office. Away from the burning greenhouse. “Well, fortunately for you, I don’t mind playing substitutes. I don’t have children of my own, so this could be a good change of pace.”

Twilight blinked, and looking down at her feet. Then, at Celestia. “Um. Principal Celestia?”

“Yes?”

“The greenhouse’s that way.”

“Well, yes, I can see that.” Celestia didn’t look back, and pulled from Twilight’s arm so she’d keep walking. “But that monster’s going to take a while to kill us all, right?”

“I mean, yes, it’s a tortoise. Being fast is not exactly one of its defining feat—”

“Good, then there’s no need for us to be fast either.” The good thing about growing older, Celestia had found out long ago, is that you could stop being responsible and nobody dared to say anything. “We’ll pick up the shellfire later. It’s not like it can’t wait.”

“I don’t—”

“Well, I do. I can always spoil you some, even if I personally didn’t raise you. I definitely became a mother figure to your other self, so why not you, too?” Celestia shrugged. “Also, I feel like drinking some tea. Now, what’s that about you being a principal. You’re running your own school, you said, but you didn’t elaborate. I want to hear everything about it. How many students?”

Twilight tried to reply. She tried to be an adult. She tried to explain that, no, actually—I do need to go back to Equestria. I’ve got a lot of work, I’m a Princess, and paperwork waits for nobody. I can’t just ignore the shellfire, stuff like this is literally why they put the fate of the kingdom on my hooves so often.

And on any other day, with any other person, she would have said that, and she would have walked back to the greenhouse, and then she would have returned home.

But this time—

“Come on,” Celestia said. “My hip hurts. Don’t make me pull from you all the way through.”

—this time, Twilight just smiled, and walked with Principal Celestia. All the way to the office, and they’d take care of the shellfire later.

And she never let go of her arm.

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Comments ( 22 )

These are my Patreon supporters with a $5 tier or higher, and this is the special small-story shoutout I do for them. From now on, though, due to this list kind of getting way too long, I’ll only be doing shoutouts for Patreon suporters with a $10 tier or higher. Sorry!

  • The year was 1988, and we were in trouble. The terrorists had taken over the skyscraper, and G.P. Prior and I were crawling down the air vents. G.P. Prior said, this isn’t looking good. There’s thirty of them. I said, don’t worry, I have a plan. You go down that vent and rally the hostages. I’ll go up the elevator shaft and have sexual intercourse with the dog we saw earlier. G.P Prior said, what? I said, it’s the only way. Good luck. G.P. Prior said w-what? Wait, don’t go just yet, we—hey. HEY. THAT’S OUR ONLY GUN. WHY ARE YOU LEAVING WITH OUR ONLY GUN IF ALL YOU’RE GOING TO DO IS FUCK A DOG. HEY. YOU PIECE OF SHIT.
  • I opened my chest cavity to reveal my purple, glowing, still-beating heart. Reach for it, I hissed, poison in my breath. Dare to claim what’s rightfully yours. Undome Tinwe said, uh, no. I hissed again, spitting teeth, and said, do it! Foolish mortal, you can’t deny your fate! If one of us is to live, the other shall die today! Undome said for the last fucking time, Aragón, I’m not going to consume your sacrilegious flesh to achieve immortality, just give me the twelve goddamn dollars you owe me. I said Eat my heart! Do it! Undome said dude I don’t care if you have a vore fetish, but stop trying to drag me into it. I said COME ON DUDE I HAVEN’T CUM IN YEARS.
  • I met with Octavia Harmony at the British Museum, and he took the file from my hands without saying a word. I said, the Nazis have stolen a statue containing our ciphers, agent Harmony, and if we want to win this war we need you to take it back. Octavia Harmony said um. Why is this a statue of you naked. Why does it look like this. I said because I enjoy art, agent Harmony, and now if you excuse me— And he said no I more mean, like. Why does it have so many nipples. This is an unnatural number of nipples. I said oh. Uh. That’s just an accurate representation of my—y’know, my mother always told me I had nothing to be ashamed of, so I assumed— And he said dude. Your mother lied. Your mother super lied.
  • Jeffb and I met up to feed the ducks by the riverside every Tuesday, and this unspoken agreement only became more important after the death of our respective wives. I still miss her, I said one day, throwing my last piece of bread at the river. Jeffb said, yeah, me too. He said, it’s especially bad in the mornings, waking up and seeing she’s not there. I said, yeah. I said, sometimes, when I think I can’t handle it, I’ll pick up her ashes and snort them a little. Jeffb said what. I said yeah, just like, grab some and snort them like you do with powdered milk? Jeffb said you don’t snort powdered milk. I said what? He said dude you mix it with cold water and drink it. I said what? You want me to drink my dead wife? and he said, wow. You deserve loneliness.
  • Emlyn Costilow was our coach during that last game, and by the fourth quarter we were losing 75 to 50. In our last time-out, I said, coach, there’s no way! They’re too good! Emlyn said, don’t you worry, guys. I think I know the way to win. I said, really? Emlyn said, yes, and then they opened the door to reveal a golden retriever on the other side. Emlyn said, its name is Air Bud. It’s the best basketball player I’ve ever seen. And I think it’s going to be the key to—Aragón what are you doing. I said hm? Emlyn said, why are you licking your lips every time you look at Air Bud. I said oh, you’re about to find out. Emlyn said what. What do you mean. Why are you pulling down your p—
  • As the alarms blared through the spaceship, Wishcometrue was the first to come to the bridge. They said, What is going on?! I said, Captain! We were hit by space debris, there’s a breach in the hull! Wishcometrue swore under their breath, and said, how bad is it? I said, worse than anything I’ve seen before, Captain. The entire structure of the ship has been compromised, and our oxygen is leaking. There’s not enough air for the whole crew. I moved to the airlock, and I said, it’s been a pleasure. Wishcometrue said wait. what? WAIT. WAIT NO. YOU’RE THE ONLY ENGINEER. YOU PIECE OF SHIT, YOU’RE THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN FIX THE—NO DON’T LAUNCH YOURSELF INTO SPACE. WHY ARE YOU FUCKING KILLING YOURSELF. THIS IS NOT HOW HULL BREACHES WORK. OH MY GOD. WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE.
  • I was watching a movie with Ross James in late September, when his three-month old baby sister, who was supposed to be sleeping, walked into the room smiled at us with a full set of adult teeth. It said, God cannot see me. Once I’m done, it won’t see you either. Ross James screamed, and said Aragón, what the fuck did you do. I said why do you always assume it’s my fault when a corrupted baby appears. The baby said, I will flay your soul out of your bodies. I will burn your eyes and eat your liver. I said oh, wow. Y-you’ll eat my liver, huh. That’s, phew. Y’know, Ross James, maybe you should run away and find help, I’ll stay here and, ehehe, I’m sure we’ll find a way to— Ross James said DUDE. MY SISTER HAS ADULT TEETH AND WANTS TO KILL US. CAN YOU PLEASE STOP THINKING WITH YOUR DICK. FOR ONCE. I said, hahah. No.
  • I helped FanOfMostEverything put on his boxing gloves, and I said, chap, good news. These gloves aren’t magical. The fight was IN YOU ALL ALONG. FanOfMostEverything said oh wow, coach. I don’t know what to say. I said I know, chap. Now go and get that guy who killed your father during last year’s tournament. FanOfMostEverything said you got it coach, I’ll use your secret uppercut technique and defeat him once and for all. I said oh yeah, more good news. About that uppercut. I don’t actually know anything about boxing. The talent was IN YOU ALL ALONG. He said wow, coach, that’s incredible. Okay. I guess I’ll avenge my father with my own strength. I said oh yeah, more good news. About your father. Guess where he was all along. FanOfMostEverything said what. W-what?. FanOfMostEverything’s shoulder said I love you son. FanOfMostEverything said Aaah. Aaaaaaaaah. AaaaaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA—
  • Alamandir walked into the Labyrinth, only to find my two halves blocking the way. One of us can only speak the truth, both halves of Aragón said. The other can only speak lies. You can ask one question to find the way home. Alamandir said wait hold on, but you both said that at the same time. So you obviously can say whatever, right? My one half said what. My other half said oh my God. My one half said are you kidding me. Are you fucking kidding me. I can say the truth? I’ve been able to say the truth all this time?! My other half said oh fuck the shit I’ve said to people. The shit I’ve—I want to die. I want to fucking die right now. My one half said I COULD SPEAK THE TRUTH ALL THIS TIME?! I’VE RUINED MY LIFE FOR NOTHING?! and Alamandir said Jesus Christ, I get why nobody wants to come to this fucking labyrinth now.
  • I was the first one to visit Pearple Prose once he finished moving in. He opened the door with a smile and I said hi! Welcome to the island! I brought you a gift. Pearple said oh, thank you very much! Everybody’s so nice in here. And you brought me a casket of eggs! I can make a mean omelette, if you want to stay for lunch? I said sure! It was right then that one of the eggs cracked, and a tiny Aragón came out. I said, whoops, and quickly crushed it under my hand. I said, sorry, I must have accidentally inseminated that one. The rest are fine to eat, though. Pearple Prose said, uh. Sure. Then he started working on the omelette, using my eggs. He said, you know, this better not, like. Awaken anything in you. I said ah, hahah. Nah. Nah, I’m sure that won’t happen.

Short, sweet, and poignant. It's a very nice character piece between and Twilight and Principal Celestia, and it just feels cozy, like the kind of thing you read in a leatherbound book while sitting by the fireplace with a glass of whiskey by your side and thinking about your granddaughter's upcoming wedding. Which is to say, I really like the tone you've built up in this story, and I need to grab my copy of your book and go find a fireplace somewhere to read before the whiskey wears off.

"Twilight! You have to go through the portal quickly to stop a threat that could destroy the other world!"

"Really, Princess? How much time do I have?"

"Oh, about five hundred and seven years."

"Five hundred and... Let me guess. Time gets to be more relative when you're immortal, right?"

A lovely bit of reflection on aging, responsibility, and the times when you need to tell responsibility to just take five minutes, because seriously, I need some time to wrap my head around everything.

And just a little global peril for flavor.

Thank you for a great read and the contents of tonight's nightmares. I contain multitudes.

That was... really sweet. In a way I didn't expect.

Thanks. This was a good fic, and a perspective I'd never seen before on the immortality thing.

9797014
I did always wonder how it would work out with Principal Celestia and Princess Celestia...
My current theory is... Principal Celestia / Luna will simply be always reborn and therefore are a constant to their universe as well... just... just a growing, dying and regrowing one ^^

9796811
what comes to mind thou... the shellfire and Twilight's reluctance to do something right now COULD explain global warming...
hmmm...
are we living in a parallel universe to Equestria and we simply don't know it? Or better... only a scares few know it?

Is it me or do Aragon's comedies tend to involve things getting on fire all too often?

9797185
Jesus Christ I legitimately paused to think about this while I was coming up with a title and wrote a note for myself going 'stop using fire as a catalyser' cause like, I really do, don't I?

I mean it's a catalyser, so it's not THAT big a deal, it's never the point of the story. Still, I really seem to like setting shit on fire. Wonder what's up with that.

So sweet and heartwarming.

Also interesting to see how things on fire don't phase the principal. The girls certainly left an impression.

9797192
I'm not sure whether to be more concerned by that or by the fact that two of the discrete Patreon stories that followed were about you preparing to have sexual intercourse with a dog.

I mean, on the surface. I don't know you; I didn't examine the the subtext in the other stories.

Thing is, I'm 61-- 62 come November. I have an artificial hip (total replacement yet), dentures, failing hearing at times, bad eyesight, and slight nerve damage. So this one struck me a little closer than most here.

Because Princess Celestia, well... is Princess Celestia. But Principal Celestia... is someone I find myself relating to, a bit. (Except my hip, artificial as it is, doesn't hurt-- although I do require a cane from time to time. Now, my feet... don't get me started on my feet...)

Aragon stories are never disappointing. Excellent work as always.

That was very sweet and believable. And by now Principal Celestia probably is a past master at submitting dubious work orders with plausible excuses for the occasional reconstruction jobs at CHS.

This was a very sweet and wistful story, thank you for it.

As for the permanent damage (at cosmic scale) of having a shellfire around for a while, I'm sure it's nothing a cautious and totally safe application of a wendigo can't undo.

Lovely story. Principal Celestia shows real maturity to Twilight when giving some advice. Though I wonder how the shellfire entered the Humane World

'See's an interesting looking story'

Ok

'See's Aragon is the author'

'Whips out popcorn' This is gonna be good

9801034
Adorable with a side of melancholy, I like it.

On a side note, I couldn't not see Twilight call herself a psychopath after

"Princess Celestia was careful not to raise a sociopath again"

And on any other day, with any other person, she would have said that, and she would have walked back to the greenhouse, and then she would have returned home.
But this time—
“Come on,” Celestia said. “My hip hurts. Don’t make me pull from you all the way through.”
—this time, Twilight just smiled, and walked with Principal Celestia. All the way to the office, and they’d take care of the shellfire later.
And she never let go of her arm.

This is fine,
i.imgur.com/Wlh53Jl.png

This was a nice sweet story, and it's easy to forget the instigating factor is everything potentially going up in flames with its easygoing nature. Like a tortoise! Twilight's reaction to Principal Celestia is something I never considered, but it makes a ton of sense that she'd find it interesting, and feel so oddly about it. Great job.

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