• Published 15th Jan 2020
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The Sunset of a Frozen Princess - DaylightHobbyist

Sunset Shimmer is lost in a world that she can't move on from. Twilight Sparkle is lost in a world that moves on without her. Together, they each try to find their way again.

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Chapter 3: Getting Settled

An insistent knocking at the door to her room jolted Sunset awake as the light of the early morning penetrated through the gaps of the curtains futilely trying to block out the light of the newly-risen sun.

It was in the hazy half-dead state of, ‘not quite awake, but not quite asleep’ that she most got the wires between pony and human crossed up so in order to avoid yet another embarrassing incident that she would no doubt need to explain to anyone who either saw her roll out of bed on all fours or vainly try to keep herself upright on two hind legs.

Let’s see, can’t feel my fingers or toes, pointy thing coming out of my head, and I’m currently sleeping in a much nicer bed than I could ever afford,” Sunset mentally checked off. “Pony it is.”

Ordinarily, Sunset would have considered simply ignoring the headache-inducing knocking and going back to her cloud-like royal bed, but the unicorn already had a strong feeling about who it was. It was likely in her best interest not to snub royalty just yet.

“Keep your crown on, I’m coming!” came the half-shouted half growled affirmation that the mare was in fact getting out of bed. On the bright side, the knocking had finally stopped, though it did little to raise Sunset’s spirits as she trudged over to open the door.

She was, as expected, greeted by a positively radiant Princess Twilight Sparkle complete with a winning smile that lived up to her last name.

“Goooood morning, Sunset!” the princess practically sang.

Apparently, Twilight was a morning pony now. Which made sense, given how the morning existed due to her, not that such a fact did anything for the amber pony’s less than excited mood.

“…Blegh” spat the incredibly frazzled unicorn who was currently sporting bags under her eyes and a bird’s nest for a mane.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Apologized Twilight as she took in the sight of her disheveled friend. “Do you need a moment to freshen up?”

Sunset took a moment to process the offer.

“No,” came the curt reply as she strolled past Twilight into the castle hall without even bothering to fix her bed head. With a shrug, the princess rounded around to catch up.

“I figured with that cutie mark of yours, you’d be a bit more of an early riser,” Twilight idly commented once she had caught up.

“The name’s Sunset Shimmer, Twilight, not Sunrise,” the still agitated unicorn quipped as she padded down the hall, only growing more agitated when she realized she had to work overtime to keep up with Twilight’s stride. Internally she wondered if she’d ever get over the massive size increase. “What’s with the early wake-up call anyway princess? You must have only just raised the sun a few minutes ago.”

“Well you see, I had to put a few things off due to your arrival yesterday, so I’m going to be extra busy today. I figured that if we got an early start we could squeeze in some breakfast and a little magic training. Just to bring you back to speed.” Explained Twilight.

The thoughtfulness of the gesture was not lost on Sunset and she found her morning irritability quickly abating. “Thanks, Twi. Sorry, if I seemed a bit testy. I’m usually not all there until after breakfast. A frosting free breakfast that is,” Sunset shuddered, remembering a particularly painful morning with Pinkie Pie.

Now that her head was a bit clearer, she could take advantage of a spell she had perfected during her early days at Celestia’s School. It proved rather useful in the past given the fire maned unicorn’s penchant for sleeping in. With a brief glow, her mane restored itself from a tangled mess to the more organized wildness she typically sported on a day to day basis. “Gotta say, it’s pretty great to be magic again,” thought the now much more presentable pony.

“Teleportation and mane magic? It looks like you’re readjusting to your magic pretty quickly. I might have to make some adjustments to the exercise program I mapped out for us this morning,” Twilight commented, clearly already in the process of making mental altercations to her schedule.

“We’ll workshop magic AFTER we get something to eat. I haven’t had Equestrian cuisine in ages,” Sunset said before trotting off in the direction of the castle’s dining area.

Twilight had to admit that she never would have believed Sunset could consume her own body weight in pancakes were she not currently witnessing it with her own currently enlarged eyes. The princess just hoped she remembered to chew.

“Twilight, whatever you’re paying your chef, it’s not enough,” Sunset managed to get out somewhere between the third and fourth plate she had levitated over to herself.

Twilight let out a chuckle at the childlike glee of the grown mare. “I’ll be sure to let Chef Sizzle know you approve.”

Sizzle? That’s a bit strange for a pony name. Oh well, if he makes more food like this who cares what he’s called?” Sunset idly thought as she finished the last of the pancake stacks. “Let me tell you princess, human taste buds and pony taste buds are NOTHING alike. After living off of school lunches and microwaveable meals for ten years or so, these have got to be the second-best pancakes I’ve ever had.”

“Only the second best? What’s the first?” Twilight prodded with a quirked brow, her curiosity needing to know the answer if the food she had borderline mauled was only second best.

“Well, back when I was a filly, Princess Celestia used to get up every morning to make breakfast herself. We used to start every morning eating together, just the two of us. Sometimes it was the only time we saw each other, so even though she was always super busy, and I was still half asleep, we still made sure to start the day off together,” Sunset recounted as she lost herself in the nostalgia of pleasant foalhood memories, now years gone.

Sunset knew she’d have to confront her mentor eventually while she was here. She promised herself that if she accomplished nothing else in Equestria, she’d at least do that. She wanted just one more day with the pony who was the closest thing she ever had to a mother.

Yet, the courage to track the ancient alicorn down currently eluded her for whatever reason. It was just one of the many things she was too much of a coward to face at the moment.

Not least of her current issues being the disconnect she had recently learned of between this world and the one she had called home until recently. As of now, Sunset had yet to really talk about what that meant beyond her shouting at Twilight, but she had certainly thought about it.

The fact was, she could live a whole life here before her friends on the other side of the mirror even developed gray hairs. It certainly made long term communication with her friends a hassle. Sunset wondered if perhaps she should just call it quits and go back through the mirror.

But then what? I’d just be right back in the same place I started, and if my little panic attack yesterday taught me anything about myself, it’s that I’m not as unaffected by leaving Equestria behind as I thought I was,” Sunset rationalized in her head. It was the truth. Finding out that the Equestria she knew was more than likely almost completely gone was a sobering experience. Sunset considered herself lucky that all her meaningful relationships on this side of the mirror were to ponies who were immortal, but something about missing out on her entire generation left her feeling empty inside.

For now, Sunset decided it would be best to take advantage of the one thing she had plenty of on this side of the mirror. Time. Time to figure out exactly what she wanted out of her life.

These musings were interrupted by the lavender alicorn sitting across from her. “Well, now that you’ve had your fill, and about four other pony’s fill in addition to that, what do you say we head outside and get a feel for where your magic stands.

“I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear what you just muttered under your breath and say yes. Let’s get our magic on!” Sunset exclaimed with a raised hoof.

“Alright, now for the final test, let’s try a growth spell.”

“Seriously princess? I thought this was supposed to be a workout?” Sunset said with confidence as she stepped forward and rolled her neck. “Here’s a toned-down variant of a spell I created for one of my mid-terms.”

The amber pony proceeded to unleash a controlled blast of magic on a simple daisy poking out of the private garden grounds. The flower began to glow with a stunning magical aura…before quickly fizzling out as the magic was absorbed into the stem, looking no different than it had before.

Twilight made her way over to Sunset to console her. Growth magic was an advanced form of magic that relied on serious molecular manipulation for any size increase at all. It wasn’t surprising that it would take a few attempts to succeed. Let alone perform a personalized spell. “It’s alright, Sunset. You just need a lit-“ Twilight began, only to be interrupted by the ground violently shaking.

The unsuspecting daisy suddenly erupted out of the ground like a giant beanstalk, twisting its way into the sky. Increasing in length and width as it climbed skyward, the once-simple flower didn’t stop growing until it was large and high enough to block out the sun. When all was said and done, the flower was the size of a small tower.

“THAT’S your idea of a toned-down growth spell!?” Twilight shouted at her now all too content with herself companion.

“Are you kidding?” Sunset responded with perhaps a touch of self-satisfaction. “The first time I used that spell, I destroyed the exam building and the tower next door.”

“That was YOU!?”

“Twi, I was doing magic while you were still in diapers. Anytime a building in Canterlot needed to be rebuilt and it wasn’t because of you, it was probably me,” elaborated Sunset who was perhaps a bit too proud of the fact.

“HEY! I’ll have you know that I only destroyed the roof. Maybe a few walls, but NEVER an entire building,” Twilight argued by making the totally important distinction.

Rather than squabble about who did or did not cause the most property damage in their youth Sunset decided to get her final grade from her impromptu instructor. “So, what do you think? Am I qualified to be your assistant?”

“Sunset…" Twilight began, “Your raw magical ability is far beyond almost any non-alicorn I’ve ever seen. I can only think of a hoof-full of unicorns I’ve ever met that were capable of matching your power. I mean, I always knew you were strong, but I guess I never really thought about what that meant until now.”

“Well, as much as the old me would have liked to take those compliments and run with them, I have to admit that it probably isn’t all me anymore,” Sunset confessed. To demonstrate her point, she used her magic to take hold of a nearby stone and levitated it over to them. “Have you ever noticed anything peculiar about my magic, Twilight?” Sunset asked as she floated the rock around where the alicorn could see it.

Sensing Sunset was getting at something here, Twilight took a careful look at the reddish glow keeping the stone suspended in the air. No matter how long she stared however, she couldn’t see anything that stood out about the magic field compared to any other auras she had seen. “Sorry no, it looks perfectly normal to me.”

Expecting that answer, for the most part, Sunset pushed on to what she hoped would make her point clear to the princess. “Alright, I know this was a long time ago, especially for you, but try to think back to when we first met. Think back to the night I stole your crown.”

Now especially curious as to what Sunset was getting at by bringing up such old memories Twilight did her best to recall that night. “Let’s see, it was the middle of the night, and I was asleep. I heard a loud noise, and I woke up to see you there, with my crown. Then I chased you. I tried to use my magic to head you off by teleporting in front of you. Then, I think you ran right at me. I stood my ground, but there was a blinding flash of green light…or was it blue? Either way, you teleported just like I did and…WAIT!?”

Twilight stopped herself mid-memory and took another hard look at the rock still floating in the air, this time noticing something was definitely off about what she was looking at. “Your magic! It’s red now! It used to be green. Or was it blue? Who cares!? It’s red now! How have I never noticed this!” Twilight began to rant.

Sunset noticed that, as the ruler of Equestria, Twilight seemed to have moved past her full out panic attacks, yet she was still rather excitable when confronted with either an unexpected surprise or a chance for study. Just another way the more things change the more they stay the same with this new Twilight. Whatever the case, Sunset was also still a pony that liked to cut to the chase.

“I mean, I know I’ve only seen your magic a hoof-full of times, and each of those times involved some sort of catastrophe, but I still think I would hav-mphf!

Twilight’s babbling was unceremoniously silenced by a red, magic aura forcing her muzzle shut. Sunset found herself briefly wondering if forcibly silencing the monarch of the entire kingdom constituted some form of treason but rationalized it wouldn’t be the first time she had committed a crime against the state, and knowing Twilight it wouldn’t be the last time such an action was called for.

“Yes, Twilight, my magic used to be a different color. Cyan to be specific, the same color as my eyes, but some time after traveling to the human world, it...changed. Now I’m going to let you talk but promise me you’ll be pertinent,” Sunset broke down for her fellow student.

Her request was met with little more than a glare, clearly not appreciating being forcefully cut off. Fearing an overnight stay in the dungeon, Sunset decided to release her alicorn friend regardless of whether or not she accepted the terms set before her.

“Well, as I was getting to before I was so rudely interrupted, do you have any idea what changed your magic?” Twilight questioned. “I’ve seen a ton of magic phenomenon, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a pony’s magic completely altered before.”

“I don’t know what caused it exactly, but I do have some theories I’ve been dying to test out. I’ve never seen or heard of this happening before either and I was never able to explore why it happened or what it meant in the human world,” Sunset rattled off growing more excited by the second. The exercises she had performed this morning with Twilight had left her feeling more alive than she had in years, and now she already had a magical mystery to personally unravel two days into Equestria. She had forgotten exactly how much she loved what she used to do. It was like her entire world had a direction again, even if only briefly.

Either Sunset’s enthusiasm was infecting the lavender mare by her side or she was becoming just as invested in the prospect of such untouched research as her friend. Both were likely possibilities given who it was. Regardless, Twilight was becoming positively giddy. “Sunset, we have to record this! Maybe we can narrow down the possible causes of this change. Do you remember when the first time you realized your magic had changed was?”

Twilight finished this question by practically putting herself muzzle to muzzle with Sunset, which served to once again highlight just how much bigger Twilight was than her now. Sunset could feel her face heating up from the sudden invasion of her personal space and took a few steps back.

Once she had regained her focus the answer to Twilight’s logical question came fairly easily. It was only briefly, and she had been much too focused on other things and excited to even have her magic back at all to properly give it attention, but it was impossible to forget the interactions she had on that day. “Yeah! It was when I came back to Equestria to get a replacement journal from you. I met your friendship student that day. Her name was Starlight Glimmer, wasn’t it?”

The result of her question was instantaneous. Every ounce of excitement and enthusiasm Twilight Sparkle had been practically bursting with drained out of her in a matter of seconds. Her excited smile fell clean off her face and her eyes lost the sparkle they usually contained. “Yeah…yeah, it was,” Twilight answered like somepony who was currently a million miles away. “...Excuse me Sunset, but I need to go take care of some things right now. I’ll see you later,” Twilight finished as she turned away and spread her wings.

Sunset panicked at the sudden change in tone “W-Wait a moment, Twilight, I-“

“We’ll talk later Sunset, I have to go.”

As soon as the words left her mouth the princess pushed herself into the air and was gone, leaving a confused and distressed Sunset Shimmer in her wake. Sunset could only watch the alicorn fly off into the horizon until she lost sight of her.

This was the second time she had seen Twilight undergo a complete change out of the blue. The change was short-lived and subtle enough yesterday that Sunset could almost convince herself she had simply imagined it, but even the most emotionally deaf pony in the world couldn’t ignore what had just happened. One moment the princess had been practically bouncing and the next she had looked completely lost. Then she flew off, with barely an excuse.

“Something’s not right,” Sunset muttered to herself as she walked her way out of the garden.

Sunset found herself aimlessly wandering the castle halls later that day. Before now, she had been kept to the more private areas of the palace, and she suspected Twilight had intentionally kept the staff’s presence light upon her return. With Twilight running off before they had actually set any terms for her position at the castle, Sunset found herself with little else to do than see how her old home had changed over the decades.

The answer was like a lot of things so far, not a lot and completely at the exact same time. The general structure of the building seemed to have been preserved during reconstruction, making finding her way around easier than she had originally feared.

She had taken the time pay a visit to the Chef mentioned this morning in order to offer her gratitude and was surprised by it being not a pony heading the castle diet these days, but a dragon. It certainly explained the name.

It didn’t stop there however, for it seemed that the entire castle had undergone a change in management. Back during her youth, the castle had been exclusively occupied by various types of ponies. There were still quite a few ponies working here, such as the attendants that kept track of Twilight’s duties, but there were also just as many other species doing equal amounts of work around the castle.

Ever since she had taken the time to actually look around the busier parts of the castle, she had seen griffons, yaks, dragons, creatures that were apparently an evolved form of changeling, hippogriffs, and one or two strange ponylike creatures called kirin. It was apparent that the castle had greatly diversified in her time away. Was all of Canterlot like this now? All of Equestria even?

Sunset was by no means ever the kind of pony to discriminate against other species as she had known some ponies, particularly the upper class and high standing nobles, to do. No, back in her formative years all creatures had been equally below her, regardless of their race, and now she had long since realized that all that really mattered was how a creature looked on the inside.

Equestria becoming more accepting of others wasn’t bad by any means. If anything, it seemed to indicate a great era of peace was upon them. The culture shock was simply getting to Sunset again. Everywhere she looked seemed to be a reminder of all she had missed. A reminder of all she could have been a part of but wasn’t.

Still, Sunset thought as she entered a great hall, one she had walked through countless times as a foal, that it was perhaps a blessing in disguise. Sunset had never imagined she’d be welcomed in the castle again after her banishment, let alone living here again, but now it was like she had a fresh start.

The walls and towers may not have been exactly as she remembered, but the creatures within them had also never heard the tale of Celestia’s little brat, who once terrorized Canterlot with her bad attitude and immense power. If she wanted, this could be the chance for a new start. She could make a new legacy in this castle, maybe in all Equestria, in a world where no one yet knew the name-

“Sunset Shimmer!”

Sunset rounded around to face whoever it was that somehow knew who she was. She barely had time to look up before she was scooped into the arms of some sort of hulking dragon.

“Oh man, it really is you! Twilight said you’d be here, but I didn’t expect to just walk into you once I got back to Canterlot.”

Whoever it was that was currently pleased to see her clearly didn’t know his own strength as his broad arms strangled the air right out of Sunset’s lungs. “I still can’t believe you’re even here! It’s great to see a familiar face these days. Or well, the pony version of a familiar face. Not that I don’t know what you look like as a pony, but I’m just a bit more used to your other look is all.”

Every second the dragon rambled about their supposed history brought Sunset closer to asphyxiation. Fortunately, as a close friend of Pinkie Pie’s Sunset had plenty of experience with ‘Death by hug’. Still, unnaturally strong as Pinkie was, she didn’t quite possess Dragon muscle so Sunset figured the sooner she ended the embrace the better.

“C-Can’t…breath. Talk…after…let…go,” Sunset choked out. Experience had taught her that short incomplete sentences were wiser when air was in short supply. Survival first, grammar later.

“Oh! sorry about that. I was just excited to see you is all,” remarked the dragon who finally released his hold. Unfortunately for Sunset, this hugging beast didn’t feel compelled to completely release the mare just yet, and instead of putting her down, he merely readjusted his grip on her to one she had seen Rarity use when she was cooing at her pet cat.

Being dangled off the ground by her underarms didn’t do Sunset’s dignity any favors, but it did at least give her a much clearer look at the face of her assailant now that she was being held eye level with him. He was roughly as tall as Twilight and his face was remarkably chiseled, but there certainly was something undeniably familiar about this dragon. But she didn’t even know any dragons aside from…

“…Spike?” Sunset tentatively called out, halfway not believing her own guess.

The now fully-grown drake responded with a half-smile and a restrained chuckle, “Yep, that’s what they call me.”

Sunset didn’t think anything could shock her more than Twilight’s sudden turn from book horse to a goddess, but at least Twilight had pretty much always been noticeably taller than her before it got ridiculous. Spike had been a baby dragon when they’d met. Granted the only time she got a good look at him in that form was during the whole Spring Break debacle, but he was very clearly no larger than a foal. Then on the other side of the mirror, he was just a pup. He could fit into a backpack for Pete’s sake. She had held him in her arms. Now he was practically handling her like a doll.

“This is so unfair,” Sunset made her frustrations known to the dragon.

“Uhm, what?” Spike asked in understandable confusion expecting a different reaction to their first meeting in years.

“I mean, I get that I’ve been gone a while, so I understand things are going to change. I could understand with Twilight because all that height is probably necessary for running things. I could get over all the huge new creatures roaming around the palace. But YOU Spike? Why is EVERYTHING so much bigger than me now!?” Sunset punctuated her rant with a futile kick of her hind legs that only served to make her sway back and forth in Spike’s grip.

Just when Sunset didn’t believe she could feel any smaller, Spike burst into a full-on guffaw clearly finding her crisis hysterical. “HAHAHAHA! Oh man, Sunset. You haven’t changed a bit.”

“Yeah yeah, laugh it up, dragon boy. Now put me down before I turn you into a house plant.”

Spike thankfully did as requested and finally set the amber pony back on her own hooves, though to Sunset’s disdain it seemed to be more to wipe the tears of mirth from his eye than a reaction to the threat she had made.

“It really is good to see you,” Spike said after he had finally gotten a handle on himself.

It was a shame everypony Sunset knew was so genuine. It made holding her temper next to impossible no matter how justified she felt in her offense. “It’s good to see you too Spike. Just…go easy the next time you decide to hug me, alright?”

The two of them fell into step with each other soon after, taking the walk as an opportunity to catch up. “So, friendship ambassador and royal advisor, huh? Must be a full-time job,” Sunset began while not shifting her eyes from what was in front of her.

Spike rubbed the back of his head, somehow still not used to all those lofty titles being thrown around. “Oh, Twilight told you about all that, did she?”

“Are you kidding?” Sunset started while turning to look at the hulking dragon walking beside her. “I know things about you that would make you want to curl up in a corner and die. Any chance Twilight got, she filled our journal with the escapades of her favorite assistant. Your favorite kind of gem, how much ice cream you managed to sneak out of the freezer, the stuffed animals you keep, how excited you got over a new comic book, and my personal favorite, Spike’s baby adventures. Twilight talks about you like a proud mom and an overbearing sister rolled into one. Honestly, it’s adorable.”

Spike, unfortunately, wasn’t seeing the cute side of things and instead wanted to find himself a nice quiet corner to do exactly what Sunset said. Fortunately, he was far from defenseless if this was the game the unicorn wanted to play. “Oh, and I don’t suppose you actually think everything that you write in that journal stays there? You should know that as Twilight’s number one assistant, I got a front-row seat to all your little heart to hearts. Isn’t that right ‘Celestia’s little sunspot’?”

Sunset’s face did an incredible imitation of her hair color as she quickly diverted her gaze elsewhere. “Touché Spike, touché.”

“So, are you around the castle often?” Sunset decided to pry, curious to know just how much she’d be seeing of the dragon.

“It honestly depends. Friendship problems aren’t things that have any sort of schedule so sometimes I’m around for a few months at a time and other times I’ll be away for just as long. Plus I’ve made a lot of friends around Equestria I need to go and visit every so often. I try my best, but, really, I don’t think I’m around as often as I’d like to be,” Spike explained.

The subtle somber note at the end was not lost on Sunset. If anything, it seemed to be a running theme in this new Equestria. Still, it would be nice having a somewhat familiar friendly face around every once and awhile.

“So, I take it you’re back from some Friendship ambassador business? Anything interesting come up?” Sunset prompted to continue the conversation.

“Ah, not really. Once you’ve been around the block enough you actually find yourself reteaching the same friendship lessons. It’s still nice to help, but it gets a little predictable,” Spike answered before taking the reins of the conversation. “I was actually on my way to see Twilight. Court should be over by now, so we were going to have dinner together. I’m sure she’d want you to join us.”

“I don’t know Spike. I think I messed up earlier. Maybe I should give her some space right now?” Sunset admitted.

Spike’s tone once again shifted to a more somber inflection as he looked down at the pony walking beside him. “Trust me Sunset. The very last thing Twilight needs right now is space.”

Whatever few doubts Sunset had that there was something going on she wasn’t privy to were quashed right there. It seemed Spike was all too aware of whatever it was that was bothering Twilight. Perhaps she could get what exactly out of him later. Now though, it was clear Twilight needed her.

“Alright, Spike, lead the way then.”

“It would be my pleasure,” his voice now back to the friendly chipper inflection that suited him. “Just so you know, Twilight was really happy you decided to come here. I haven’t seen her so excited in…years really.”

This was a new change in mood Sunset had yet to experience since returning. This was tinged in a new emotion other than sadness. His voice now sounded, hopeful perhaps. Sunset knew she really needed to get to the bottom of all this now, but not before she allowed herself to enjoy a nice meal with some old friends.

For now, the pair made their way to their waiting ruler content to enjoy each other’s peaceful company.

“…So how long until we get there exactly?”

“What? Those small legs of yours getting tired already?”

“Oh, zip it. I’m seriously starting to consider the plant idea.”

“Would you be less grumpy if I carried you? You’re pretty light really.”

“I mean it, Spike. I remember the spell. I’d find you a nice windowsill and nopony would ever know.”

The private dining room was surprisingly spartan, at least when compared to the rest of the castle. In contrast to the dining room she had eaten breakfast in that morning, the room Spike led her to was no bigger than an average house, and the center of the room contained a small round dining table akin to the ones used by small families. This was in stark contrast to the rectangular tables found throughout the castle, each capable of seating at least a moderately sized party.

Everything about the dining room setup indicated that it was a place meant for Twilight and those close to her. Somewhere to escape the grandiose pomp of everyday royal life and be close to those around you. It was a place for friends.

Princess Twilight Sparkle was already seated at the table when the two arrived, clearly awaiting somepony. Sunset noted that it was the first time she had seen Twilight without her crown on since coming back through the mirror. Perhaps it was simply nostalgia, but Sunset found herself thinking she preferred the lavender pony without it.

“Spike! It’s good to see you,” Twilight said the instant she caught sight of the purple dragon as she quickly rose from her chair to embrace him.

“It’s good to see you too, Twi,” Spike returned while wrapping his arms around her in a firm but gentle hug. “You’ll never believe who I ran into on my way here.”

Twilight caught sight of the small amber unicorn hiding just out of view while looking over Spike’s shoulder. The earlier confidence Sunset had felt on her way here was gradually wearing down as the doubts from earlier reasserted themselves. Taking in the sight of the cozy room and touching moment between the two who were clearly family in all but blood left her feeling like more of an intruder than a guest.

Twilight’s eyes flashed with surprise at her presence before settling into a welcoming smile. “Sunset, you’re here already. I was just about to send one of the guards to fetch you.”

Knowing her presence was not only welcomed but planned did wonders for stilling Sunset’s nerves as she returned a smile of her own. “Well, Spike and I just sort of bumped into each other, so we thought we’d come see you together.”

“In any case, I’m glad you’re both here. Come on, take a seat” Twilight gestured as she returned to her place at the table.

Twilight seemed to have once again returned to her usual state since the last time Sunset had seen her. Whatever had happened earlier, she wouldn’t press for details just yet. Still, this would be a good chance to finalize their arrangements.

“So, when exactly do I start?” Sunset questioned as she took her seat.

“What do you mean?” Twilight asked back.

“My job. As your assistant. We never actually got around to setting any terms,” Sunset clarified as a pony wheeled in a cart adorned with tonight’s meal.

Clearly remembering her abrupt exit from earlier, Twilight’s face took on a faint blush as she sat up straighter. “Oh right, sorry. It just slipped my mind. I was actually thinking you could start as soon as tomorrow...if that’s alright with you, I mean.”

Sunset found bashfulness both didn’t suit Twilight’s new figure in the slightest and was incredibly adorable at once. Just another thing to add to the list of perfect contradictions that was Twilight Sparkle. “That sounds perfect. I’ve been itching to get my hooves dirty.”

Twilight’s face took on a relieved expression at Sunset’s enthusiasm. “Great, I usually work in the lab after I’ve finished teaching class at Celestia’s school. I’ll send for you when I'm finished.”

“So, you run Celestia’s school now too? She really did give you everything,” Sunset prodded in a teasing manner.

“Well, I didn’t have to run the school, but I enjoy it. Ruling Equestria is my duty, but magic is my passion. You understand, right?”

“More than you could imagine.”

“So, you’re going to be Twilight’s assistant? I didn’t know you were coming here to replace me,” Spike interjected with a false offense.

This caused a round of good-natured chuckles to fill the table. “Come on Spike. You know that no matter what happens, you’ll always be my number one assistant.”

The rest of the evening was rather peaceful. Sunset couldn’t remember the last time she had dinner with anyone or anypony besides herself. It made her realize just how lonely she had gotten in the human world. Even when her friends had been able to see her regularly, she had spent most nights alone. No one to talk to over a meal or bid her goodnight.

Talking, sharing stories, laughing at jokes, all by the gentle candlelight. It was really something special. For the first time, Sunset allowed herself to wonder if she belonged here.

Author's Note:

Not too much to say this time. Just the beginning of Sunset familiarizing herself with Equestria again as well as the people who now live there. Also, Spike is here now. I needed to make good on his character tag. We'll be seeing him a fair bit from now on, so hopefully I've done him justice.

Nuance is something I believe a lot of witters struggle with, but I hope I've done a good enough job so far without shoving it in everyone's face.

Again, please don't be afraid to give me feedback, even if it's just to slap me about my terrible grammar. I want this to be as enjoyable to read as it is to write.

Final small note, there's only going to be one more chapter after this one before updates slow down a bit. I penned the rough draft of the first five chapters before publishing the story which is why I've been able to update every few days. Just wanted to give everyone a fair warning.