• Published 5th Jan 2021
  • 3,055 Views, 43 Comments

the room is on fire - moonlit scribe

She isn't sure exactly how - but somehow, she's forgotten to learn one of the most important aspects of friendship: how to forgive.

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prologue: invisible smoke

The aftermath of the incident is this: six girls sitting around a cafeteria table, each lost in thought. One stares out a window, at a plinth upon which a stone horse stands, her hand on a book that’s just barely stopped vibrating every few minutes. Another bites her lip, worried eyes peeking out from behind pink hair at the slightest semblance of sound from the others at the table. A third attempts to act normal — or at least as normal as she can seem — plowing through an overly-sugary lunch that is most certainly not offered in the lunch line, though even she doesn’t attempt to start a conversation.

The latter three all act much the same, their eyes cast towards the same, singular location within the cafeteria: a cafeteria table as unusual and silent as their own, seated by three younger girls who sit with their eyes glued to their meals, their backs hunched and uncomfortable.

“Just go.”

Fluttershy startles, as do the others around her, at the harsh words. They turn to Sunset, as she stands and shoves her book into her satchel, her expression only half-warm.

“I… Darling, whatever do you-” Rarity attempts to ask, before she is interrupted.

Sunset sighs a little, and somehow, though the motion softens her bearing, it neither opens nor closes the expressiveness of her face — Fluttershy can clearly see the emotions drifting in the backs of eyes, but she cannot put names to them.

“I mean, I know you guys want to talk to your sisters. I know you’re upset about how the school is treating them now that everyone knows they were Anon-a-Miss. So go. Talk to them,” Sunset’s voice is resigned and cold and weary, and Fluttershy feels guilt churn in her stomach at the tone. Somehow, that tone is more painful to hear than any lashing out would have been — to hear someone she’s always seen as strong or powerful seem so defeated now.

Sunset shakes her head a little, shifting on her feet, and Fluttershy chances a glance at the rest of the table. Pinkie — sitting across from Fluttershy — glances warily between Sunset and the other three, her hair the tiniest bit deflated, the curls just the tiniest bit more loose. Next to her, Rainbow Dash scowls at the table, her head ducked and her hands clutching — pinching, even — at the skin near her elbows, as if to try and wake herself up from a bad dream. Rarity’s face is folded into a look of concern, worrying her lower lip between her teeth as her hands drum against each other in agitation. Applejack’s expression, sitting across from Sunset, is hesitant, and her eyes flicker from Sunset to her sister’s table at the edge of the cafeteria.

Fluttershy looks back at Sunset, expecting to see the same undefinable stream of emotions in her eyes, and is instead shocked to see a singular, overriding emotion having taken its place.


She glances up, intent on, at the very least, asking if Sunset is okay, but before Fluttershy can process the realisation, Sunset turns back away, pulling her satchel on.

“I’ve got to return a book. Are we meeting in the parking lot to figure out rides to Sweet Apple Acres?” Sunset asks, her nonchalant tone such a juxtaposition that it throws Fluttershy off, leaving Applejack to murmur out an affirmative.

“She looked like she felt… guilty. But she sounded normal. How is she so good at hiding the emotions in her voice?” she wonders, the thought prompting another, more troubling thought, “And how many times has she done this before?

She looks back up, and Sunset is already leaving, the cafeteria quieting whenever she walks by.

It takes half an hour — a solid half of their lunchtime, passed in yet more uneasy silence — before Rarity stands up and walks over to the Crusaders' table,

The library is quiet at lunchtime.

Or maybe it's just quiet where she sits, the students around her either glancing at her apologetically or suspiciously.

Either way, Sunset tries her best to enjoy it, even though it scrapes at her nerves like nails against chalkboard.

It feels strange, somehow, to be so uncomfortable without sound. As a foal, as a student in Equestria, she had thrived in the quiet, in the bookshelves of the Canterlot Archives, in the sizzling of knowledge just beyond her hooftips. The quiet had been necessary to concentrate, then, and each minuscule sound — the leaflike flap of a page turning, the echoes of a gasp as an attempted spell just barely burns out on her horn — amplified by the lack of background noise, had sent a stream of fire flowing through her veins.

But that had been when she'd been a student of Celestia's, and it only tracks that when she'd thrown away her tutelage under Princess Celestia, she'd ended up throwing all of the rest as well.

She no longer loves the quiet, the way she used to. She can no longer see excitement in it. It curls too tightly around her, smothering and callous to her discomfort. Bookshelves close in on her, tall and reaching for heights she's never going to see, filled with knowledge she wasn't ever meant to know.

She chuckles a little, at the thought. Regrets — all she has to show for all the time and work she'd put into her life in Equestria. And her time in the human world is, miraculously, worse.

She'd had a second chance at a new life here. In this new world, she could have rebuilt herself to be kinder, better than before, and instead she'd invested in growing crueler and ever more power-hungry. And it was that, that hunger, that desire for vengeance and power and everything that Twilight Sparkle had, that had brought her to the ground. That had brought her here.

Sitting alone, in a too-quiet library, because she is too cruel and cowardly and resentful to forgive the friends she can't blame for distrusting her.

She's learned so much about friendship, in the last few months, learned so much about kindness and laughter and honesty and loyalty and charity. But she's never learned about forgiveness.

And if she is certain of anything, anymore, it is that it is not the fault of her teachers, who had forgiven her without forgetting her past. It is her own.

Author's Note:

titles from this song: taylor swift — the archer

idk if i'll really continue this but i just wanted to publish smth so i could get back into the swing of writing. this is a little all over the place, but enjoy(?)

p.s. this is not a fic that plans on bashing anyone, esp the main five, so if that's what you came here to see…. sorry?