• Published 20th Dec 2021
  • 6,329 Views, 161 Comments

An Anon-a-Miss Carol - sonicfan05

On the night of Christmas Eve, the CMCs encountered the ghosts of Apple Bloom's parents, who warned them that they will be visited by three ghosts if they don't confess to being Anon-a-Miss and make things right.

  • ...

Chapter 3 - Past Regrets

Some time has passed since Bright Mac and Pear Butter visited the CMCs with a warning about their futures and they will be visited by three more ghosts. Both Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo were already asleep in their sleeping bags, but Apple Bloom was still wide awake, staring at her dark ceiling above her.

Apple Bloom couldn’t help but think back to the conversation she had with her parents some time ago. She felt bad for talking back and acting like a brat to her parents when they were trying to look out for her, but at the same time, she was still very annoyed that she was told that she was being unfair with Sunset and that her actions were wrong. Even before her “redemption”, it was hard for Apple Bloom to picture Sunset acting anything but a meanie before the Fall Formal. What could Sunset's excuse be that led her to become the meanest girl in school?

Apple Bloom then glanced at her digital clock on her bedside table which read, "seven fifty-eight" in red bright numbers. She groaned inwardly for not getting any sleep for so long. She paused however when her father’s words echoed in her mind.

“The first ghost will arrive at a struck of eight.”

Apple Bloom furrowed her brows and shook her head. Naw. My father was joking. No ghost is coming to visit us… right?

Apple Bloom glanced at her clock again just as the time changed to "seven fifty-nine". She realized that she had less than a minute left for this supposed ghost to arrive. Apple Bloom silently watched the clock in anticipation, sweat trailing down from her forehead. After what felt like an eternity, her clock changed to "eight". Apple Bloom immediately looked around her room, trying to spot the ghost visitor that her father mentioned.

There were none in sight.

Apple Bloom let out a quiet scoff, both annoyed and relieved that her supposed visitor didn't show up.

“I knew it!" she muttered. "I knew he was jokin'!”

Apple Bloom then lay down on her bed and closed her eyes so that she can finally get some sleep.

Suddenly, a bright white light filled up her room, causing Apple Bloom to jolt up from her bed with a loud gasp. Her gasp has also woken up her friends and they are too shocked by the sudden bright light in the room.

"W-what the heck was that!?" Scootaloo exclaimed.

"I can’t see!" Sweetie shouted as she covered her eyes due to the brightness of the light.

Apple Bloom also struggled to keep her eyes open due to the light. She turned towards one of her windows with squinted eyes and noticed something from the corner of her room.

“Girls, look!” she cried as she was pointing at something.

Both Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo turned towards where Apple Bloom was pointing at and they were shocked to see an outline of a grown person, despite having a hard time seeing due to the brightness of the light. The bright light only lasted a moment longer before it suddenly died out, making things easier for the CMCs to finally see their new “visitor”.

The visitor appeared to be a young woman, no older than a teenager. She has violet eyes with blue eyeliner around her eyes and semi-long blue and green hair which was covered by a white head cloth and a golden headpiece. She was also wearing a white toga that reached her knees with a white translucent garb over her body, including her shoulders. She also wore a gold neckpiece with a string of glowpaz necklace over it. She also wore a golden waistband around her waist and a golden ankle piece over her left ankle. While her form is more solid than Apple Bloom’s parents, she has that while light glowing around her body.

Despite the woman giving them her friendly smile, the CMCs were frightened by her sudden appearance. Seeing that none of her friends are willing to speak up, it was Apple Bloom who finally broke the silence.

"Who… who are you?" Apple Bloom asked with a gulp.

"Do not be frightened, my child,” The ghostly woman said kindly. “I'm not here to hurt you."

Apple Bloom furrowed her brows. "Then… why are you here?"

The woman grinned and her eyes were twinkling with mirth. "Well, I'm the first of the three ghosts who will be visiting you tonight, just as your father instructed."

Sweetie turned towards Apple Bloom with a deadpan expression. "Still think your dad was joking, Apple Bloom?"

Apple Bloom simply grumbled in response.

"Anyway, I am the ghost of Christmas Past," the woman introduced. "But my friends in my past life used to call me, Somnambula."

Scootaloo grinned. "Well, it's nice to meet ya Somnaba–" She paused, furrowing her brows. "Uh, Somnaboo… Somna-na…"

She then gave the ghost her sheepish grin. "Um, you know what, I'll just call you Somna… if that's okay?"

Somna gave Scootaloo an amused grin. "If it's easier for you, then I have no objections."

"Cool!" Scootaloo said with a grin before her expression became curious. "So Somna, what is it that you're going to tell us?"

"Actually, I'm here to take you all out for a trip," said Somna.

Sweetie Belle blinked. "A trip? A trip to where?"

Somna shook her head. "Not where. When! Specifically, to the past."

The CMCs' eyes widened in shock, neither of them was expecting to take a trip, let alone time travel from the visit of the ghost.

“But… how?” Scootaloo exclaimed. “How is that possible?”

Somna chuckled at their reactions. “Being a ghost has its perks. We can go and visit any point of time, just to observe of course.” Her expression became serious. “But tonight, we are going to a specific point in time so that I can show you and give you a new perspective about your own actions.”

“Um… right now?” Apple Bloom inquired nervously.

Somna nodded. “Yes, right now while the night is still young.”

Apple Bloom cocked an eyebrow. "How could we possibly be wastin' time if we're travelin' back in time?"

"That is a very good question," Somna replied before waving Apple Bloom off. "But we have no time for that!"

She ignored Apple Bloom’s annoyed expression as she waved her hand towards one of the windows, causing it to open on its own.

“Come," Somna instructed. "I shall take you three to your destination.”

"Uh… through a window?" Sweetie asked with a worried expression.

Somna nodded. "Yes. Through the window."

"Oh wait, Ah just remembered!" Apple Bloom spoke up suddenly with a fake gasp. "The three of us are alive and us humans can't fly." She then snapped her fingers while acting like she's disappointed. "Oh darn! Ah guess we can't go and you'll have to call the whole thing–"

Before Apple Bloom could walk back towards her bed, she was suddenly frozen in place by some ghostly aura. She was then floated off of the floor and yanked back away from her bed and then she was forced to be eye level in front of Somna, who the ladder was not amused from Apple Bloom’s weak attempt to back out.

"Nice try, little one!" Somna deadpanned. "With my ghostly abilities, you will come along for a ride, whether you want to or not."

Apple Bloom simply grumbled in response.

Somna then shifted her attention to Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo, who each had a petrified expression. "Does anyone else want to try me?"

The two CMCs shook their heads rapidly.

Somna then smiled. "Good! Now hold on tight!"

With a snap of her fingers, both Sweetie and Scootaloo were also covered in a ghostly aura and then floated up in the air.

"W-w-wait! Are you sure this is safe?" Apple Bloom asked nervously. "A-A-Ah'm not great at travelin' by flight because I usually get–"

Apple Bloom was then abruptly tossed out of the window by Somna.

"Airsiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiick!" Apple Bloom screamed as she was thrown into the sky.

Before either of the girls called out to their friend, they were also shot out the window by Somna. The girls screamed as they were launched into the night sky, spinning around uncontrollably in the process. A bright white light suddenly came out of nowhere and slowly blinded their vision. By the time they were completely engulfed in the light, the girls passed out.

Apple Bloom let out a low groan as she slowly regained her consciousness.

"Where… where am Ah?" She mumbled, feeling a little dizzy.

She was currently lying in the snow somewhere in the middle of town. While she was aching, her whole body felt mostly... strange, but she couldn’t put a finger on it. And despite that she was lying in the snow, she wasn't cold at all.

"Apple Bloom?"

“Is… that really you?”

Apple Bloom slowly opened her eyes but her vision was blurry. "Sweetie Belle? Scootaloo? Where are you?"

“Over here, Apple Bloom!”

Apple Bloom tried to turn her head towards Sweetie’s voice until she spotted what appeared to be two blurry figures, assumed to be her friends. She couldn’t make out any details because her vision was still a little blurry.

“Sweetie Belle? Scootaloo? Is dat you?” She asked with caution.

"We should be asking you that?" said one figure who sounded like Scootaloo.

“From the look of it, she transformed just like us!” said another blurry figure who sounded like Sweetie Belle.

Apple Bloom blinked. Transformed? What is she talkin’ about?

Before she could ask Sweetie to elaborate her words, Apple Bloom’s vision finally became clear. Her eyes blinked a few times and then widened in shock. The two figures in front of her were indeed her best friends, except they don’t look like themselves at all.

Heck, they are no longer humans.

Instead, they appeared to be smaller, have furs coats, manes, and standing on fours. And most importantly, they have snouts, which reminded Apple Bloom of a certain animal her family owns back at her farm. The only minor difference between the two was Sweetie has a small horn on her forehead and Scootaloo has wings.

“Yer… yer ponies!” Apple Bloom exclaimed with a look of shock.

Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo, now fillies, looked at each other and then turned back to Apple Bloom with a look of confusion.

“So?” Scootaloo questioned. “You’re a pony too!”

Apple Bloom blinked at her friend’s statement. Now that she thought about it, she hasn’t felt her fingers since she woke up, but she assumed it was because of the cold. Apple Bloom slowly lifted her arm to see her hand, only her pupils shrink in shock when she sees that she has no fingers. In fact, she wasn’t looking at her hand at all.

It was actually her hoof.

Feeling a bit of a panic, Apple Bloom quickly sat up and looked around until she spotted a frozen puddle next to her next to a streetlamp. She took a good look at the puddle and she froze when she saw her reflection.

Instead of seeing her human self, she was only seeing a pony version of herself. She had a snout, her mane instead of hair, and her whole body is furry. The only thing that remotely resembled her was her orange eyes and her pink bow. Apple Bloom could only do one thing that any sane person who just turned into a pony could react.

She screamed.

"Aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Pony face!"

As Apple Bloom was having a meltdown, her two friends tried to comfort her.

“Apple Bloom! Apple Bloom, it’s okay!” said Sweetie Belle as she was patting her friend’s back.

“Yeah, Apple Bloom!” Scootaloo added. “Everything is going to be okay!”

Apple Bloom gave her friends a look of bewilderment. “Okay? How is everythin’ goin’ to be ‘okay’!?” She yelled as she pointed to herself. “All my things are horse things!”

"Technically, the term here are pony things."

They all turned towards the new source, and they were shocked to see not only another pony but a talking pony too. The pony appeared to be a mare and is bigger than they are. Like Scootaloo, she also has wings, but much bigger. Despite that she is another pony, she was also very familiar.

Her coat is light scarlet, has a blue and green mane and tail, and has violet eyes with blue eyeliner. The only type of clothing she wore was a white head cloth, translucent white cloth over her shoulders and waist, gold bands around her waist and tail, a golden headpiece on her head, and a glowpaz necklace around her neck.

After studying the mare for a moment, it all finally clicked for the CMCs.

“Somna?” Sweetie Belle exclaims with an awe expression.

Somna chuckled. “In the flesh, young one.”

While the young girls were comforted about seeing their guide, they still had questions for the newly transformed ghost.

“W-what’s going on?” Scootaloo inquired as she looked around. “What is this place, and why are we ponies?”

Somna smirked. “Well, my little ponies, that's because we are no longer on Earth. We're in Equestria!"

Scootaloo blinked. "Equestria?"

Somna nodded. “Yes. Specifically, we’re in Canterlot, their royal city.”

"Wait!" Sweetie gasped with a look of realization. "You mean We're in Princess Twilight and Sunset’s homeworld?"

"Indeed we are,” Somna confirmed. “For you see, the very first stop for your very first lesson took place in this world where you will soon that there were more than meets the eyes about a certain someone you know.”

Before either Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo could ask what Somna means, Apple Bloom spoke up.

“Sorry, I wasn’t listening,” Apple Bloom said calmly before screaming, “Because we’re ponies!

Suddenly, they all heard giggles and laughter nearby. They turned to see a group of fillies and colts running and playing down the street through the snow without a care to the world. Sweetie noticed them and smiled.

“Aww! They all looked so cute!” She gushed before waving. “Hi! Hi everyone!”

Instead of responding to Sweetie, the kids just walked right past her like she wasn’t there, causing Sweetie to frown.

“Hey, why didn’t they respond to me?”

Scootaloo frowned. “Yeah, that was rude of them!”

“That’s because they can’t see or hear you,” Somna explained, getting the CMCs' attention. "These are the shadows of things that have been. In other words, they are merely projections of things around you that have already happened. Which is why no one can see us."

"You mean like watching a rerun episode of a TV show… but in person?" Sweetie offered.

Somna cocked an eyebrow. "I'm not sure what this 'tee-vee' you're speaking of, but we'll go with that!" She then trotted down the street. "Come girls, there's somewhere we need to be."

The girls looked at each other for a moment before they followed Somna, but not without some difficulty. The CMCs, especially Apple Bloom, were trying to get used to walking all fours as ponies. Unfortunately, they kept stumbling and nearly fell on their faces a few times as they followed Somna. Somna could only shake her head in amusement at their antics before coming to a stop in front of their destination.

“We’re here!” she announced.

“Oh thank Faust!” Sweetie Belle exclaimed before lying down on her belly.

“Man! How the heck do these ponies used to walk like this!?” Scootaloo moaned before lying on her side.

Apple Bloom carefully sat on her hunches and then turned to Somna expectedly. “So where are we now?”

“Why not take a look for yourself,” said Somna as she gestured towards a specific spot with her head.

Apple Bloom and the rest of the CMCs faced towards the direction where Somna was pointing. In front of them was an old building, which was made of stone and thick hay. They wouldn’t be able to see that building if it weren't for the street lamp in front of it. From what the girls could make out of the place, it was fairly in condition, but it still needed repairs like the cracked porch or the sign on the door which was slightly askew. Speaking of which, the CMCs were slightly taken aback after reading the sign on the door.

The Canterlot Orphanage?” Apple Bloom read. “Why are we here?”

Somna didn’t answer Apple Bloom’s question as she stood in silence as if she was waiting for something. Before Apple Bloom could question her again, she and her friends immediately spotted something from the darkness from the corner of their eyes.

Emerging from the darkness was some pony dressed in a black cloak, quietly trotting towards them. The girls were about to scream in fear, but then they remembered that no one would see them since they are seeing what already happened. What also brought their fear down somewhat was a basket that was held by the pony’s mouth. They were wondering about what was inside of the basket until they heard a soft coo. Their eyes widened when they realized that the pony was carrying a baby. They didn’t get a good look at the child as the pony in the cloak walked past them and headed to the porch of the orphanage.

The CMCs already had a bad feeling, knowing where this is all heading. Their theories have been confirmed as the pony placed the basket in front of the door of the orphanage. The pony raised their hoof but paused for a moment as the pony looked down at the basket again, seeing the baby one last time.

"...I'm so sorry," the pony, who sounded like a mare, spoke quietly in sorrow.

The pony knocked on the front door and then she took off and disappeared into the night, ignoring her baby crying to her mother.

Needless to say, the CMCs were shocked at what they saw in front of them. Sweetie Belle herself was in tears as the baby continued to wail out towards the fleeing pony.

"That poor thing!" Sweetie cried, feeling helpless for the child.

"She just left her child on the porch… as a baby!" Scootaloo shouted, upset at the mother for abandoning her child.

But no one was more upset than Apple Bloom; both out of sadness for the crying child and angry at the so-called mother.

"Why…" Apple Bloom whispered before shouting in anger. "Why did she do that!? Why would she leave her own flesh and blood out in the cold all alone?"

Somna let out a sigh. "While we don't know her reasons, judging from her expression of pain and sorrow, she loves her child with all of her heart."

Apple Bloom turned towards Somna with a look of disbelief. "Well if she loves her child, she shouldn't have ditched her baby like that!"

Despite receiving Apple Bloom’s anger, Somna had a calm expression. "While I don't condone her actions, nor her reasoning to leave her child, this poor mare obviously had a hard life to the point that she couldn't take care of her child, let alone herself."

She let out a sad sigh. "Unfortunately, there are other ponies like her who also had the misfortune of living out on the streets with no food, money, or even a place to live. Despite the fact that this city is filled with rich ponies, not everyone cares for those who are poor. They instead only look down on them and let them suffer while acting superior to them."

"That's horrible!" Scootaloo exclaimed.

"But I thought Equestria was a better world to live in!" Sweetie Belle squeaked in a shocked tone.

"Just because this world is full of magic, ponies, and other creatures, that doesn’t mean that this world has problems of its own," Somna said gravely. "After all, this world was nearly taken over by many evil dictators many times before. No world is perfect."

"Even so, that poor kid doesn't deserve to be abandoned like that!" Apple Bloom retorted.

Somna shook her head. "No, she doesn't… but not for long."

Just as Somna stated, the front door opened, revealing to be another mare who is a unicorn, had a light blue coat, a mole on her left cheek, three-pearl earrings, and had a haggard purple mane. The mare herself looked like she had just been rudely interrupted from her sleep.

"What's all the ruckus out here?" said the mare with an irritated expression.

The mare then looked down and was surprised to see a crying baby on her doorstep.

"A baby?"

As the baby stopped crying, the mare also noticed a letter attached to its basket. Curious, the mare took the note from the basket and then read it out loud.

"To whoever finds my daughter, I can no longer take care of my child. Please look after her and give Sunset Shimmer her happy life."

The mare then looked down at the foal again. "Sunset Shimmer, eh?" She then shrugged. "Well, we already have a bunch of orphaned kids in this house, might as well take one more."

The mare picked up the basket with the baby in her mouth before bringing it inside and closed the door behind her. While that was happening, the CMCs watched the scene unfold with jaws hanging open. For the second time within five minutes, the girls were shocked beyond belief with what they saw and heard in front of them.

"No way!" Scootaloo exclaimed.

"The baby that we saw right now was Sunset Shimmer?" Sweetie Belle shouted.

Somna nodded with a look of pity and sorrow. "Indeed. Almost immediately after her birth, she became an orphan… and on Hearth's Warming of all days, the poor little thing."

Before either Sweetie or Scootaloo commented, it was Apple Bloom who spoke up.

"Why?" Apple Bloom said quietly before glaring daggers at Somna. "Why are ya showing us this?"

"I told you, as a ghost of Christmas past, I'm showing the things that happened in the past," Somna explained as if the answer was obvious.

"But why are you showing me Sunset’s past?" Apple Bloom demanded, angrier than she was a moment ago. "Ah thought the whole point of this trip was showing us our past?"

"Normally, you are right," Somna conceded. "We usually show the person we are taking their own pasts to reflect on their lives. But in your case, you three assumed what Sunset’s life was like as a means to justify your actions. So we all made an exception to show you her life so that you understand her better and put things in her perspective."

“But she’s Sunset Shimmer!” Apple Bloom argued, nearly yelling. “She is an evil bully who does bad things and steals our sisters! What’s more to understand her?”

Somna cocked an eyebrow, not amused with the way Apple Bloom was behaving. “Just a moment ago, you actually felt bad for that baby, who turned out to be Sunset Shimmer herself. Are you saying that she’s always evil, even as soon as she was born?”

Apple Bloom tried to counter Somna’s argument, but she couldn’t.

“No person, or in this case, a pony is ever born evil or good for that matter. However, a pony can be both ways depending on how they are raised and experienced growing up. Yes, Sunset had made bad decisions and not always a good reason, but circumstances led her to become the mean person she was until she became friends with your sister. And I will personally show you what those circumstances are.”

Apple Bloom scowled angrily. "If dats wat yer gonna do then forget it! Ah don't want to learn anything about–"

"This is not a negotiation!" Somna asserted, had enough of Apple Bloom’s attitude. "Your parents tried to explain to you about her life in a calm manner, but you refused to listen and did not give them a chance! Now that you're under my care, you have lost your privilege to back out while remaining ignorant to your actions! You will see and listen to what I and my other two colleagues have to say, even if I have to drag you around kicking and screaming!"

With a glare, Somna leaned so close to Apple Bloom’s face that their nuzzles nearly touched, making the latter nervous and uncomfortable.

"Now… will you stop acting like some brat and behave or should I drag you with my spiritual power again?"

Before Apple Bloom could respond, Sweetie Belle spoke up.

"C'mon, Apple Bloom! We're in this mess because of your attitude!" she said with a glare. "The least you can do is listen to what she has to say!"

"For once, I agree with Sweetie Belle," said Scootaloo. "We've been told that there's more to Sunset Shimmer than meets the eye. We… should hear her out."

Apple Bloom furrowed her brow. As much as she didn't want to go through Sunset’s childhood, it was practically her fault that she and her friends were dragged into this. And by the look on Somna's face, there was no way they could get out of it. If witnessing Sunset’s life is the only way to get through this, then she'll have to suck it up and hope that this will be over and done with.

She'll take that then being dragged around in that ghostly aura by force on any day.

"Fine… we'll listen," Apple Bloom conceded with a grumble. "But dat doesn't mean that Ah'll change mah mind about her!"

"We shall see," Somna said with a shrug. "Now, let's all jump ahead a few years into the future, shall we?"

With a glow from her necklace, everyone immediately was engulfed by the light, blinding them once again.

A moment later, the bright light dimmed down, giving everyone the ability to see again. Unfortunately, that brief moment of the bright light caused the CMCs to feel disorientated. The only one who wasn't affected by the light was Somna, who just stood as nothing happened.

"What the heck was that!?" Scootaloo exclaimed.

"Yeah, it was making me sick," Sweetie added.

"My apologies," said Somna. "My necklace is the only way for us to travel to another point in time. Don't worry, you'll get used to it pretty quick."

"Well, give us a bit of a warning next time!" Apple Bloom scolded with an annoyed look before looking around. "Where are we?"

Unlike last time, instead of the cold streets of Canterlot, they were in a beige room. The walls had cracks in some places and the windows were dirty with green dusty curtains. Even all the furniture looked worn out like it was something that was usually found in the junkyard. What got the CMCs the most attention was the line of fillies and colts in the middle of the room while the elder mare, the same one who found Sunset earlier, stood in front of them, now wearing a blue suit and red glasses.

"Alright, children!" the elder mare announced with an authoritative tone. "We got a lot of ponies visiting us today thanks to the advertisements of our Hearth's Warming’s Adopting Event." Her eyes narrowed. "Now I want you all to behave yourselves and to show these ponies your best abilities you can offer as their child. We have a reputation to uphold in this orphanage. Understood?"

“Yes, Miss Cinch,” the kids chorused obediently.

Cinch nodded. "Good! At least you all remembered. After all, no parent ever wanted some second-rate child as their children, now do they?"

As Cinch left the room to bring in the guests, Somna and the CMCs frowned at the sight, appalled at what they saw.

"Jeez, this feels more like boot camp than an orphanage," Scootaloo remarked.

“And what’s up with that lady?” Sweetie added with a frown. “She’s treating them like they are pets than children.”

Somna sighed. “Unfortunately, while this orphanage offered the best children to adopt, it also has the reputation that these kids are living under a strict and unfriendly environment, especially by that mare. And these kids suffered for it.”

Scootaloo frowned, disliking the older mare in charge. “Sheesh! If that’s how she treats them as their caretaker, I hate to see what she is like as a teacher!

“Or worse, the principal!” Sweetie Belle added with a shiver.

Apple Bloom rolled her eyes at her friends’ comments. “Speaking of which, where’s Sunset?”

Sweetie surveyed the line of kids until she spotted the girl in question. “There she is!”

Everyone looked in the direction where Sweetie was pointing. Sure enough, they spotted the unicorn filly with a familiar flaming mane and teal eyes. She looked to be the same age and size as they are. She was also wearing a red dress, a black hairband to make her mane into a ponytail, and a purple flower on the left side of her head. While she appeared to be very confident, her eyes tell a different story, almost as if she went through this process many times before.

As Filly Sunset was waiting for the older ponies to arrive, she heard a low “psst” sound, which was coming from a colt next to her.

“You really think some pony is going to adopt you?” the colt gibed with a smirk. “You went through this for the past seven years in this cruddy place, what makes you so sure that this year will be any different?”

Sunset narrowed her eyes at him before she faced forward again. “Laugh it up you little brat! This time, I will be adopted before the night is over. You’ll see!”

The colt scoffed before he went back to position. “We shall see!”

Shortly after that moment, a flood of ponies entered the room, which was led by Cinch.

For the next hour, the CMCs watched as the children were being inspected by high-class ponies while Cinch was giving them a sales pitch to each kid as if they were cars. One by one, each filly and colt was selected by different couples until it was just Sunset and the colt left, the same colt who mocked her earlier. As the last couple was inspecting them, Sunset tried her attempt to persuade them to adopt her.

“Please sir and madam,” said Sunset, trying to act all cute. “Having me as your daughter will be your worthwhile! I’m good with numbers, highly educated, and super talented with my magic!”

To demonstrate, Sunset activated her horn and created a mini light show above her which includes fireworks, creating outlines of Princess Celestia, and ending it with words simply stated “To My Awesome Parents” just to add brownie points.

The couple looked at each other for a moment before facing the two children.

“Yes, I think we both know who exactly we will pick as our child,” said the stallion with glasses and a neat hairstyle while his wife nodded. “Our child will be…”

Sunset swelled up her chest with a smirk, believing she got them around her hoof thanks to her presentation.

“...him!” the stallion announced as he pointed at the colt.

Sunset widened her eyes in shock as she turned towards the colt in question, who gave her a subtle smirk.

"A fine choice! Congratulations!" Said Cinch as she shook the Stallion’s hoof. “Now why don’t you and your new child wait out in the hall to get yourselves better acquainted and I’ll join you with your paperwork at the moment.”

The couple nodded as they and the colt headed out the door, but not before the colt gave Sunset one last taunt.

“Better luck next time… assuming if there is a next time!”

As the colt and his new parents left the room, Sunset turned to Cinch.

“Please tell me there are more adults in this building!” Sunset begged. “That can’t be the last couple!”

“I’m afraid that’s the last pair of ponies for the night,” Cinch said bluntly with an unsympathetic tone. “And you’re the only one left who is not adopted.”

N-no! I can’t be the only one left again!” Sunset cried, who was on a verge of tears. “Is there anything you can do? I… I don’t want to be alone!”

Despite standing in front of a crying child, Cinch had a stone-faced expression. "You know the rules Sunset Shimmer. If you don't get picked, then that means you're not good enough.” Ignoring Sunset’s devastated look, Cinch trotted towards the door. “Now head back to your dorm. It wouldn’t be good for our reputation if that couple sees a crying child in this building."

As Cinch left the room, Sunset just stood there, letting tears flow down her cheeks.

"Why… why no one wants me?" Sunset said quietly with a sniff. "Am I… not good enough?"

The CMCs watched as Sunset slowly trotted out the door with her head hung low, feeling sympathy for the sad filly.

“Oh, poor Sunset…” Sweetie uttered sadly with tears at the corner of her eyes. "I have no idea how lonely she was."

"Was she always this lonely?" Scootaloo asked with a frown. "She has to be adopted at some point, right?"

"...she never did," Somna answered, much to the CMCs shock. "Despite her efforts, no pony is ever interested in taking her as part of the family. While there were a few who were interested in her, they were easily persuaded to adopt a different child by her 'caretaker'."

The CMCs eyes widened from this revelation.

"What!? Why would she do that to Sunset?" Sweetie shouted angrily.

"Because with how brilliant Sunset was at her young age, Cinch thought Sunset is too valuable to be let go from her grasp," Somna answered, who was also not pleased with the caretaker.

Scootaloo frowned in disgust. "That's horrible! Sunset is a person, er… pony, not some trophy!"

Somna nodded. "I agree, young one. Luckily, Sunset eventually wised up from Cinch's schemes. And since no pony really wanted her, she decided to run away from the orphanage and lived on her own for a few years."

"Well, that's good," said Scootaloo, relieved for Sunset. "At least she is no longer in that caretaker's grasp. Right, Apple Bloom?"

Apple Bloom hardly paid attention to anyone as she was busy staring at the door where filly Sunset had left with furrowed brows, appearing to be in deep thought.

"Apple Bloom?" Scootaloo called again.

Apple Bloom heard Scootaloo call her that time as she turned to face her. “Oh! Um… wat were ya sayin’, Scoots?”

Scootaloo gestured towards the room in front of her. “I’m saying what were your thoughts from this with Sunset?”

Apple Bloom blinked. “Oh. It’s… interesting.”

Sweetie Belle frowned. “Interesting!? That’s your big takeaway from what you just saw?”

Apple Bloom raised her palms in defense. “Hey! What do you want me to say? That Ah ‘feel bad fer her’ because she was an orphan? Don’t get me wrong, it stinks what happened to her, but she is still a bully! And Ah’m supposed to feel bad fer her?”

Before either Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo were about to retort, Somna spoke up.

"You know, Apple Bloom, you also became an orphan at a young age," Somna pointed out, causing Apple Bloom to cringe. "I'm sure you know what it's like to be parentless while watching those who do with envy."

"She and Ah are nothin' alike!" Apple Bloom retorted. "Sure, Ah lost mah folks at a young age, but dat don't mean her life is harder than mine!"

Somna cocked an eyebrow. "Oh really? Perhaps it's time to show you three another point in Sunset’s past."

With a blink in her eye, she once again activated her necklace and a bright light blinds them all.

As soon as the light faded, the CMCs felt disoriented due to the sudden transportation. After a moment of recovery, Apple Bloom glared at Somna, who had that same calm expression on her face.

"Ah thought Ah told ya to warn us next time!" Apple Bloom retorted with an annoyed expression.

"I did," Somna insisted calmly. "I said I'm 'showing you another point in Sunset’s past', didn't I?"

Apple Bloom opened her mouth to argue, but stopped herself when she realized that Somna was technically correct. Despite that, Apple Bloom was still very annoyed with the way Somna warned them before being dragged across time on such short notice.

"Whatever! Just… be clearer next time!" Apple Bloom scolded before glancing around the room.

Instead of a small, dirty room from the orphanage, this time, they were in a much bigger and well-organized room. There was some kind of a stage in front of them with a podium on the side. There were some banners, bulletin boards and even a map of the world. As she glanced downwards, it was then that she and her friends realized that they were sitting on one of many rows of chairs from the upper part of the room.

"Where are we now?" Apple Bloom inquired.

"We're now in Princess Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns," Somna replied. "Or more specifically, this school's auditorium."

Sweetie Belle surveyed the room in awe. "Why are we here?"

"We are about to witness one of Sunset’s most important moments of her life," Somna answered as she was faced towards the stage.

Before either of the CMCs commented, they heard someone talking from the stage.

"Are you sure that this performance will guarantee to get me to pass the entrance exam for this school?"

The CMCs turned towards the direction of the stage and spotted two young ponies standing on the stage. One pony that they know already at this point was Sunset Shimmer, but slightly older than from her previous memory from the orphanage. The other pony, however, was a different pony they're not familiar with. This pony was yellow with a long violet and white mane, had violet eyes, wore pink earrings, a blue necklace, a white dress shirt with a pink scarf, and she even had three blue dollar signs on the side of her flank.

"Sure as sure!" The pony replied with a smirk. "Just do exactly as I said and those judges will practically beg for you to join this school in no time?"

Sunset gave the other pony her meek look. "If… if you say so, Upper Crust."

Sweetie Belle suddenly let out a loud gasp. "Wait, that's Upper Crust!?"

Both Apple Bloom and Scootaloo turned to Sweetie Belle with curious expressions.

"You know her Sweetie Belle?" Scootaloo asked.

"Well, not the pony version, but I do know Upper Crust from our world! She's Rarity’s rival!" Sweetie Belle revealed.

Apple Bloom tilted her head. "What's so bad about her?"

Sweetie Belle furrowed her brow. "Well, Upper Crust used to be an acquaintance to my sister and also into fashion design like my sister. But unlike Rarity, Upper Crust treats others like dirt! And when it comes to being on top of the fashion world, she'll do anything to get on top!" She then frowned. "Even if it means sabotaging her competition! And worse of all, she is also a Crystal Prep student!"

"...I don't like this pony already!" Scootaloo remarked.

As soon as Scootaloo said her words, three older ponies entered the room through the main doors above them and they're all unicorns. The first unicorn is a male. He is gray, has a short black mane, and has violet eyes. The second unicorn is a mare. She has yellow, has a flat light purple mane, and dark purple eyes. And the third unicorn is also a mare. She is tan, has a brown mane with a short ponytail, light blue eyes, and wears glasses. Out of the three unicorns, she is the leader of the group. And judging from their demeanors, the three unicorns were represented for the school.

The three unicorn ponies made their way towards their seats, which was a row below the CMCs and Somna.

"Morning ladies," said the tan mare with glasses as she and her colleagues took their seats. "As you both know, we're looking for the best of the best to join our school, so you two better show off the best skill you could offer for this entrance exam." She then glanced at her clipboard. "First one up is… Sunset Shimmer!"

Hearing her name, Sunset slowly walked over to the center of the stage where the covered box was before facing the judges. Despite feeling nervous before the big ponies, Sunset gave them her confident grin.

"Greetings mares and stallions!" she announced. "My name is Sunset Shimmer, and today, I will be performing a spell on these cats for your entertainment which I call, the Synchronized Dancing Cats!"

Sunset then turned towards the huge box, which was covered in a huge cloth. She then pulled the cover off with her magic from her horn, revealing a cage with at least a dozen cats.

The CMCs were taken aback by the number of cats Sunset had for her performance.

“Wow… so many cats,” Sweetie Belle mumbled.

“I wonder what she’s going to do to them,” Scootaloo wondered loudly.

Sunset then used her magic again. This time, she teleported all the cats from the cage to the stage, making them stand on their hind legs. While still using her magic, the cats began to dance in various moves. First, the cats simply turned their heads back and forth. Then they all do the paw stand before they flip themselves upright again while stretching their paws up in the air. Then they failed their arms around while moving from one side of the stage to another. The cats were then stood side by side and did some synchronized kicks.

As the cats danced, the cats themselves grew fussier by the second. By the time they started the kick dance, the cats finally had enough and started failing and clawing at each other. Sunset noticed this and tried to calm them down.

“Stop! Please, stop! We almost have this!” Sunset grunted, trying to hold on to her magic.

Unfortunately, Sunset wasn’t able to contain the cats anymore as they broke free and scampered everywhere all around the room, including the seats where the judges were located, much to Sunset’s horror.

“Oh no!” Sunset exclaimed.

The judges were then ambushed by many cats as they jumped and clawed them. No matter what the judges have done to get the cats off of them, the cats just keep coming back. Even the CMCs were nervous as the cats were heading over to them.

“Incoming!” shouted Apple Bloom as she and her friends braced for impact.

Only for the cats to jump through them like they were never there, much to the CMCs confusion.

“Relax,” Somna soothed. “Nothing will harm us since we’re just observing everything that just happened from Sunset’s memory. Remember?”

Apple Bloom, along with her friends, had sheepish expressions. “Right… forgot about dat.”

“I’ll stop these pests!” Upper Crust suddenly announced.

They all watched as Upper Crust lit up her horn, causing all the cats to freeze in place. Then, with a flick of her horn, the cats teleported back to the center of the stage, piled into a pyramid. As an added flare, Upper Crust even added different outfits for each cat. Sunset and the CMCs watched in disbelief, while the judges applauded Upper Crust’s performance.

“Well done Upper Crust!” the tan mare with glasses praised. “Not only was that quick thinking, but you also ended with an amazing presentation! I think it goes without saying that you've passed the entrance exam."

Her two colleagues nodded in agreement as they clapped their hooves eagerly.

"Thank you, thank you all so much!" said Upper Crust, while trying to act all humble. "You're all too kind!"

The three judges then set their eyes on Sunset, but their expressions became less pleased.

"As for you, Sunset Shimmer! Your performance with the cats just now was a disaster… and that's just putting it lightly!" The tan pony with glasses scolded. "Poor planning, sloppy magic casting, animal cruelty, the list goes on! If you're the type of pony who doesn't even know how to control their magic, then… this school is not for you."

Sunset looked like she'd been slapped in the face. "But… but–"

"And when you learn to get your act together, you can try again the next semester… but I doubt you will at this rate," the tan pony with glasses concluded as she and her colleagues stood up from their chairs. "That will be all!"

Sunset pointed at Upper Crust. "You don't understand! She–"

"That will be all!" The tan pony with glasses repeated coolly with a warning look. She then glanced at Upper Crust. "Anyway, Miss Polomare, please follow me to my office and we'll finalize your paperwork."

Upper Crust smiled. "Sure, but please give me one minute to clean this up."

The tan mare with glasses smiled back. "No problem. Take all the time you need."

As the tan mare with glasses and her colleagues left the room, Sunset turned to Upper Crust with an enraged look, causing Upper Crust to chuckle at the sight.

"Aw, what's wrong Sunny? Failed your entrance exam?" Upper Crust mocked. "It's okay, not everypony succeeds on their first try."

"You tricked me!" Sunset screamed accusingly as she pointed at Upper Crust. "It's because of your so-called advice that I didn't get in!"

Upper Crust then dropped her smirk and her expression changed to a bored expression. “You’re so naive Sunny! You didn’t really think I was helping you, did you? When it comes to competition, you must always be on top whatever means necessary! It’s everypony for themselves, that's just how things go in this world!”

Upper Crust turned around and climbed up the stairs, without any sign of remorse in her features. As she opened the door, she glanced back at the Sunset one last time, who still had an angry expression.

“You'll understand once you become the number one, m'kay?" She smirked again. "But I doubt you ever will!"

And with that, Upper Crust left the room and closed the door behind her, leaving Sunset, the CMCs, and Somna alone in the room.

Wow!” Sweetie Belle muttered with a deep frown on her face. “Even the pony version of Upper Crust is such a piece of work!”

“Is the Upper Crust back in our world is as bad as this one?” Apple Bloom asked.

Sweetie Belle scoffed. “You don’t want to know!”

Before Apple Bloom could ask for clarification, the CMCs turned back towards the flaming-maned mare when they all heard a loud sniff. Sunset was no longer angry from before. Instead, Sunset just stood there with a gloomy expression.

“What was I thinking?” Sunset scolded herself sadly, stomping her hoof on the stage in anger. “I can’t believe I trusted her! I knew my ‘Synchronized Dancing Cats’ piece wasn’t a good idea and now I missed my chance!”

Sunset sniffed again as she bowed her head, tears leaking from her eyes. This display made most of the CMCs feel sorry for the poor unicorn while Apple Bloom only stared at Sunset with a blank expression, still conflicted at the former bully. Despite that, one thing the girls all silently agreed on was that no one deserved to be betrayed and hurt by some pony who only took advantage of.

Even somepony like Sunset Shimmer.

“Why?” Sunset whispered. “Why am I such a failure?”

“I don’t think it was a complete failure.”

Sunset and the CMCs gasped from a sudden new voice. They all turned towards the backstage to see a new pony, who somehow hid until now. Unlike the previous ponies like Sunset’s caregiver and the judges, this new pony was the tallest pony the CMCs have ever seen by far. Her fur is all white, has huge wings, a long horn, has violet eyes, and has a sun tattoo on her flank. She was also wearing a golden crown, necklace, and shoes, which the CMCs assumed that she came from royalty. But what stood out the most was the pony’s mane and tail. They’re long, mixed with blues, greens, and pink, and they just flowed gracefully with sparkles in the air.

Sunset gasped. “Oh my goodness! P-princess Celestia!” Sunset then quickly bowed. "M-my apologies! I–I didn't know you were here!"

“At ease my little pony,” Princess Celestia said kindly with a chuckle. “I'm just visiting, that's all."

Meanwhile, from the sidelines, the CMCs watched the scene with jaws hanging from their mouths.

“Did… did she just say, Princess Celestia!?” Sweetie Belle shrieked in shock.

“Wait, wait! Hold up!” Scootaloo spoke up, eyes widened. “Principal Celestia in our world… is a princess in this world!?

"Funny how universes work, isn't it?" Somna mused. "I'm sure your sisters have mentioned to you before that there are pony counterparts of the people you know in this world, right?"

"Yeah I know that, but our principal's counterpart is a princess?" Scootaloo remarked in disbelief.

Somna shrugged. “While we are similar to our own counterparts, at the same time, we are also very different depending on the words themselves. Both Celestias are authoritative figures, yet love to teach others. Which is why your Celestia is the principal of your school, while the pony Celestia is the princess of this land.”

“I… guess that makes sense,” Apple Bloom conceded while tapping her chin in thought. “I wonder what our counterparts are like?”

“Probably something awesome!” Scootaloo crowed. “Maybe we formed some kind of club as Crusaders!”

Sweetie’s eyes brightened in excitement. “Ooh! I like the sound of that!”

“I hate to interrupt,” Somna interjected. “But I need you three must focus on this!”

The CMCs ceased their conversation and focused back on Sunset and Princess Celestia as they began talking again.

"I've seen your little performance with those cats earlier," said Princess Celestia.

Sunset Shimmer cringed from that statement, felt even more embarrassed for performing that disaster in front of the Princess.

"Yeah… not my best work," Sunset mumbled with her ears drooped to her skull. "I'm so sorry you have to see that. I bet it was the most disgraceful performance you've ever seen in your school."

"Not at all," Princess Celestia assured. "In fact, that's the funniest thing I've ever seen in this school all day!" Celestia then rubbed her chin with an amused expression. "Actually, that's probably the funniest thing I've seen in this school since… ever!"

Sunset blinked. "Huh!?"

"Huh!?" The CMCs chorused, neither expected this kind of response from the princess.

Celestia chuckled. "I swear, this school has gotten more and more serious over the past many moons! They need to lighten up once in a while." Her expression became serious. “That aside, your performance could have gone better…”

Sunset winced at that.

“...but I think the judges were a little too harsh on you,” she concluded with a gentle smile. “Your magic is so strong and I do see potential in you. You just need some guidance."

“R-really? Y-you’re serious?” Sunset stuttered with widened eyes, not expected to be praised by the princess.

Princess Celestia nodded. “I do!” She then looked around the room. “By the way, where are your parents? Shouldn’t they be here with you for your entrance exam?”

Sunset winced again, feeling uncomfortable all of the sudden.

“I, uh… have no parents,” Sunset admitted quietly while avoiding Princess Celestia’s gaze. “I lived alone my entire life.”

Celestia frowned. “Not even at a foster home?”

Sunset scoffed. “They don’t care! After constantly being rejected by 'potential' parents, I decided to live out on my own.”

"...I see,” Princess Celestia responded. “Tell me, what is your name?"

Sunset blinked. "Oh, it's Sunset. Sunset Shimmer."

Celestia smiled. "Well, Sunset Shimmer, you certainly have talent with your magic. How would you like to study under me, as my apprentice?"

As Princess Celestia stretched her hoof out towards her new apprentice, Sunset’s eyes widened in shock. In her wildest dreams, she never expected to be anypony's appearance after the disaster of her performance, let alone from the Princess herself. She resisted not pinching herself with her magic in case this was all a dream.

Sunset slowly smiled up to the Princess with shimmering eyes, while desperately trying not to cry.

"P-princess Celestia, it… it would be an honor!" Sunset said happily as she shook the Princess' hoof.

As the two began to discuss Sunset’s new apprenticeship, the CMCs talked among themselves.

“So that’s how Sunset became Princess Celestia’s apprentice,” said Scootaloo with interest.

“It would seem that way,” Apple Bloom simply stated, still having mixed feelings about the flaming-maned mare.

“Well, at least things are better for Sunset after she was taken in by the Princess," said Sweetie before giving Somna her unsure look. "...right?”

“Perhaps we should jump ahead further and see for ourselves,” Somna suggested before activating her powers from her necklace once again.

As soon as the light faded out, the CMCs felt slightly disoriented again but didn't last as long as those other times. Apple Bloom, who first recovered quickly, immediately turned to Somna with a glare.

Somna cocked an eyebrow. "What? I warned you that time."

Apple Bloom let out a snort in annoyance before she surveyed the area.

Instead of a classroom, this time they were in some kind of castle. The walls and floors were made of shiny marble stones. There were multiple tall stone pillars on each side of the room. Many glass stain windows were displayed everywhere along the walls. The throne was golden and red which sat on top of the golden stairs. And a long red carpet was laid on the floor from where the throne was to all the way to those huge double doors, which were located on the other side of the room.

"Where are we now?" Apple Bloom inquired.

"We are now in the throne room of Princess Celestia’s castle within Canterlot a few years later," Somna replied.

Scootaloo whistled loudly, impressed with the decor. "Okay, I'll admit… this is pretty cool! Probably the best location by far!"

Sweetie nodded. "I agree. This Princess has great taste… for a pony."

Apple Bloom frowned. "And Ah assumed this is where Sunset lives?"

"Well, technically Sunset lives in a dorm near the school," Somna corrected. "But she was seen with Princess Celestia almost every day ever since she was taken in as the Princess' apprentice–"

"Didn't she at one point… wanted to be a Princess?" Apple Bloom pressed, cutting Somna off.

Somna said nothing for a moment, not appreciating the way Apple Bloom pressed her like that until she let out a soft sigh.

"...yes," Somna admitted. "Sunset always wanted to be a Princess ever since Princess Celestia took her under her wing. And after she saw that magic mirror, which is a few months after this timeline, it resolved her ambition even further."

Apple Bloom scoffed. "Then it proves mah point!"

Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo were taken aback by their friend's angry remark.

"What do you mean Apple Bloom?" Sweetie Belle asked.

Apple Bloom huffed as she gestured around the room.

"Sunset had all of this and got it good… and yet, she still had the nerve to come to our world, bullied everyone, and then turned us all into mindless zombies just to take over this world! How the heck should Ah feel any sympathy towards her!"

Both Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo were baffled by the harshness and lack of sympathy coming from their friend.

“But what about everything we’ve seen so far from her past?” Sweetie questioned. “When she got backstabbed from another pony when she was abused at the orphanage… when she was ditched by her mother as a baby?”

Apple Bloom glanced away from her Sweetie Belle. “Ah’ll admit, I felt bad for Sunset to see those things that happened to her…” Apple Bloom turned her head back to her friend with a hardened expression. “But this still changes nothing! At the end of the day… she still became a meanie we all know today!”

“How can you say that!” Sweetie Belle argued. “How can you be so cruel!”

“Ah’m not being cruel, Ah’m only speaking the truth!” Apple Bloom retorted.

“Is it?” Scootaloo asked, cutting into the conversation. “What if there was a reason for her to become a bully on top of everything we’ve seen so far?”

Apple Bloom glared at her tomboy friend in disbelief. “Reason!? What could there be any other reason for her to ditch her home other than wanting to be as powerful as a Princess?”

“Maybe if you three should stop your bickering for one moment,” Somna stated calmly which gained the attention of the three fillies in question. “Then I think you all will get your answers right. About… now.

As soon as Somna said the word “now”, the huge double doors opened, revealing Sunset, who was now a few years older, and Princess Celestia, who was having a heated conversation.

“Oh c'mon, Princess Celestia," Sunset complained, as she and Princess Celestia walked into the room. "Upper Crust is a snake and she had it coming!"

Celestia frowned. "Sunset, there's no reason to humiliate her by having her dressed up in a snake onesie and then hanging her up on a flag pole with your magic for all to see."

"Upper Crust had it out for me for years!" Sunset argued with a scowl. "She always tries to cheat and humiliate me throughout my years in school! Then she has the nerve to try to butter me up to get on my good side… only because she heard that I'm your apprentice. She was only using me just to get connections to you! She doesn't care about me! So it was only fair I gave her exactly what she deserves!"

Princess Celestia frowned deeply. "I'm sorry to hear about how you were treated by this pony. But even so, that's no reason to stoop to her level. The whole purpose of you studying in my school is to make friends."

"Friends?" Sunset scoffed. "None of these ponies wanted to be my friend! The only reason they stick close to me is that they know I'm your apprentice! They were hoping to gain favors or gain social status from you through me! They were no better than Upper Crust!" Sunset’s expression darkened. "And frankly… I'd rather be the best than be friends with any of these losers! If there is one thing I will agree with Upper Crust, it's everypony for themselves!"

"Sunset Shimmer!" Princess Celestia thundered with an appalled expression, causing Sunset to end her tirade and the CMCs to jump in fright.

"Oh, man… I'm not sure which version of Celestia is scarier: our Principal or the Princess?" Scootaloo stammered nervously.

Apple Bloom gulped. "Ah'm not sure, but Ah bet both Celestias are scary in their own way!"

Sweetie simply nodded in agreement.

After a moment of long, tense silence, Princess Celestia breathed softly through her nose before she spoke again in a much calmer tone.

"I understand the struggle of dealing with ponies like that… and I also understand what it was like to be alone. It was one of the few things why I took you in as my apprentice. You have the potential to do great things, but to do that, you need to have some humility and be open to other ponies so that you will eventually find friends who care for you. Not every pony is like that."

Sunset rolled her eyes. "Wanna bet?"

"What was that?"

"Nothing!" Sunset said quickly before changing the subject. "By the way… you know that Hearth's Warming is tomorrow, right?"

Princess Celestia raised her brow. "Yeah, I'm aware of it. Why'd you ask?"

Feeling nervous all of the sudden, Sunset awkwardly rubbed the back of her neck. “Well… since the school is closed for the holidays and you also don’t have any important royal duties around that time, I was wondering… if I could spend Hearth’s Warming… with you?”

“With me?” Princess Celestia asked in a surprised tone.

Sunset nodded with a small smile. “Y-yeah! I thought that… maybe we could spend time together and have some fun?”

Princess Celestia was quiet for a moment before she glanced away from Sunset. "I'm… flattered that you spend the holiday with me Sunset, but… I’m afraid I’ll have to decline."

Princess Celestia’s answer not only shocked Sunset but the CMCs too. Neither pony, except for Somna expected a kind-hearted Princess could turn down Sunset like that, on Hearth’s Warming no less.

Sunset shook her head in disbelief. “B-b-but why!? Why won’t you spend time with me?”

Princess Celestia sighed. “I already have plans for Hearth’s Warming this year and it’s very important.”

“You… already have plans with some other pony?” Sunset exclaimed. “Who? Don’t tell me you’re spending the holidays with your worst excuse of your nephew!”

Princess Celestia’s eyes narrowed. “While my nephew isn’t… perfect, I don’t appreciate you insulting him like that.”

Sunset rolled her eyes at that.

“And to answer your question,” Princess Celestia continued. “I’m actually spending the Hearth’s Warming with my niece.”

Sunset stared at Princess Celestia with a mixed expression of shock and anger. “You mean, Cadance!? That so-called Pegasus from some small village who turned into an Alicorn? You gotta be kidding me?”

“Yes, that Cadance,” Princess Celestia replied calmly, not once flinched by Sunset’s outburst. “This will be her first Hearth’s Warming in Canterlot and I’m going to show her around the city and then we’ll both have a private celebration within the castle.”

“But what about me?” Sunset retorted. “Why can’t I celebrate Hearth’s Warming with you?”

Princess Celestia shook her head. “I’m sorry Sunset, but I’m afraid that my celebration with my niece is a family event. You should go off and celebrate with your–”

“I thought I was your family!” Sunset screamed angrily, tears leaking from her eyes. “And that so-called new Alicorn isn’t your real niece! It’s because I’m not an Alicorn! Is that it!?”

Princess Celestia immediately was taken aback by Sunset’s anger and looked at Sunset with concern. “Sunset… that’s not tru–”

“Make me an Alicorn then!” Sunset demanded. “Make me an Alicorn so that I can be a part of it!”

“Sunset that’s enough!” Princess Celestia shouted, ending Sunset’s ranting.

With a heartbroken expression, Sunset bowed her head.

“I thought when you took me in and I became your apprentice after all these years, I thought I finally found the place where I belong and be with somepony I cared about… but I was wrong! Ever since she came into our lives, you spend more time with her and she is all you talked about! You don’t care about me… no one does!”

Apple Bloom blinked at the scene and her eyes were as wide as dinner plates. For a brief moment, instead of seeing Sunset yelling at the Princess, she was seeing herself yelling at her sister over the same topic. Apple Bloom couldn’t believe just how close to home she was after seeing Sunset dealing with someone she cared about was spending time with a different pony who she didn’t really like.

Apple Bloom let out a small groan, realizing just how ironic this scenario was.

“But I do care!” Princess Celestia cried, snapping Apple Bloom out of her thoughts.

Sunset looked up. “Then why can’t I be an Alicorn?”

“Sunset,” Princess Celestia sighed. “The reason Cadance became an Alicorn was because she earned them. You do not. You could potentially become one, but you’re not ready.”

When Sunset didn’t respond, Princess Celestia sighed again with a guilty expression.

“I’m so sorry Sunset… I never meant to hurt you,” she said gently. “I want to make it up to you. How about… we’ll go to a picnic together in my private garden once Hearth’s Warming is over?”

Sunset frowned. “By the time you return, my classes will resume and you’ll be back to your royal duties.”

Princess Celestia flinched from Sunset’s cold tone, as well as knowing what Sunset said was the truth.

“Don’t worry… I’m sure we’ll come up with something,” she assured.

Sunset simply looked away from the Princess with a scoff, not believing her words.

Before Princess Celestia could speak, the main door opened, revealing to be one of her guards.

“Parden me, your highness, but your niece is in the hallway waiting for you.”

“Oh, yes… thank you,” Princess Celestia responded. “Tell her that I’ll be there momentarily.”

The guard bowed before he left the room, leaving the two ponies and four other “guests” alone again.

“We’ll… talk more about this some other time,” Princess Celestia said awkwardly as was heading to the door, walking past a very upset Sunset.

Just as Princess Celestia reached the door, Princess Celestia looked back at her student again with a guilty expression.

“Um… Happy Hearth’s Warming, Sunset,” she said quietly before she left the room, shutting the door behind her.

Everything was quiet for a moment. The girls were starting to feel concerned for the flaming maned pony until Sunset let out a humorless chuckle.

“She left me,” Sunset croaked before she looked up with rage-fueled eyes. “I can’t believe she left me! All because I’m not an Alicorn!

The CMCs stepped back in fright as Sunset growled. She then took out what it looks like some kind of card out of her tail with her magic.

“To think I got her this stupid card!

While still using her magic, Sunset tore up her card in two before tossing the pieces to the floor.

“I’ll just work harder until Princess Celestia deems me worthy enough to be an Alicorn, then I’ll bet I can become part of her family then, and wipe that smirk off of that so-called wannabe Alcorn’s face!

Sunset glanced at her ruined cards with a glare, tears pouring from her eyes and down her cheeks.

"Friends and family… who needs ‘em!"

With her head low, Sunset galloped out of the room and slammed the door behind her.

The CMCs stared at the door for what felt like an eternity before they set their eyes on a torn card. Curious about what was on the card, Sweetie Belle moved closer to the card while Apple Bloom and Scootaloo followed behind. With her hoof, Sweetie Belle moved the two pieces of cards together, completing an image of two ponies of a mare and filly, hugging each other in the snow with words above them which said:

Happy Hearth’s Warming,

To my great mentor,

To my dear friend,

And to my caring mother.

Sweetie Belle felt tears forming in her eyes. “Oh, Sunset…”

"Now do you understand?"

The CMCs turned to face Somna, who had a serious expression on her face as she continued to explain to the human turned ponies.

"All her life, even when she started off in a loveless environment, she had no one to guide her or to teach her from right to wrong. And even after the Princess had taken her in as her mentor… it wasn't enough for her. She wanted the one thing she needed desperately that not even her Princess wasn't able to give her."

"What was it?" Scootaloo whispered.

"Family," Somna answered.

She then bore her eyes at Apple Bloom, who made the latter feel a bit uneasily.

"You mentioned earlier that you two aren’t alike and that Sunset has it good? …I disagree,” Somna said calmly. “You may have lost your parents at a young age, you at least still have your siblings and your Grandmother to support and love you. Sunset Shimmer, however… has no one. Even after she was taken in from her mentor, she couldn’t give her the family love she so desperately needed. She lost her love for a brief time and lost hope that she’ll ever find someone who cared for her.”

“Until Princess Twilight came!” Sweetie Belle exclaimed in realization. She then slumped miserably. “And then our sisters became her friend.”

“They became more than just friends, they have become her family," Somna stressed. “The night that your sisters started this whole sleepover event, Sunset never felt so happy in her entire life and has finally found the place she had thought she belonged.” Her eyes narrowed in disapproval. “That is… until you three interfered… all because of your jealousy!

Apple Bloom scowled. "We're not–"

"Yes. You. Are!" Somna said sternly. "I can sense your true feelings throughout our trip. You can't deny that from me!"

Apple Bloom let out an annoyed huff. "Okay, fine! So Ah am jealous of Shimmer, but that still doesn't excuse her actions. She became a real meanie ever since she was denied to be a Princess."

Somna frowned. "While it's true that her obsession to become a Princess went into overdrive after Princess Celestia showed her the mirror months later and then decided to go on her own to your world. And I also conceded that Sunset’s actions don't excuse what she did after she came to your school.

"However, while part of her reason for wanting to be an Alicorn was so she can gain power and respect, her original reason was just so that Princess Celestia could finally view her as her daughter… just how the Princess viewed this Cadance character as her niece. Unfortunately, after the mirror incident, she had forgotten her main reason to become an Alicorn in the first place as she became more misguided to gain that power… until the Fall Formal night that is."

"But she still came to our world to do bad things after she was denied to become an Alicorn!" Apple Bloom argued.

Somna cocked an eyebrow. "Just like how you ended up doing bad things when you didn't get what you wanted?"

Apple Bloom growled, but she couldn't deny Somna's rebuttal.

"I still can't believe that the Princess rejected her like that!" Sweetie exclaimed, angry at the Princess' actions. "I thought that being a Princess is that you always make a good decision!"

“Just because she’s a Princess, doesn’t mean that she’s perfect,” said Somna, shaking her head. “Princess Celestia herself was dealing with her own issues after banishing her sister to the moon.”

Apple Bloom's eyes widened. “She banished her sister to da moon!? Wat fer!?”

“...let’s just say those two had a disagreement,” Somna said vaguely. “But rest assured, those two eventually made up. But at the time, Princess Celestia blamed herself for losing her sister and didn’t want to get close to anyone in fear of hurting another pony again, even her adopted niece. Yet ironically, her actions have hurt Sunset, and those two have fallen out since then.”

Scootaloo looked up at Somna sadly. “So… they both hated each other now?”

Somna shook her head. “No. Quite frankly… they missed each other.”

The CMCs blinked with confused expressions.

“What do you mean? Sweetie Belle asked.

“After the Fall Formal, Sunset Shimmer felt great remorse for what she had done, including letting her mentor down,” Somna explained. “And after Princess Celestia took Twilight under her wing and got her sister back, she too felt guilty for not being there for Sunset when she needed her most.”

Apple Bloom raised an eyebrow. “Well if Sunset felt guilty for the way she treated the Princess, why can she go back home so that the two of them could reconcile?”

“Because Sunset felt unworthy and too ashamed to see her mentor after she left for her own selfish gain,” Somna answered. “And it’s also because she wanted to make things right to the people she wronged before she could face her mentor again.”

“Well, what about the Princess?” Apple Bloom inquired. “Why can she come to our world and talk to Sunset?”

“Same with the Princess,” Somna replied. “She too felt ashamed of herself for how she turned her down and failed her as her mentor. She believed that after everything that happened, Sunset would never forgive her. And even if she wanted to, her royal duties kept her from visiting Sunset herself.”

Jeez, talk about some serious complications!” Scootaloo remarked.

Sweetie frowned. “Will the two of them ever talk to each other again?”

“...only time will tell,” Somna responded vaguely before turning her attention to Apple Bloom. “You seemed awful quiet Apple Bloom.”

Apple Bloom nearly jolted as soon as Somna called her out.

"I can sense that you are beginning to second guess your justification of framing Sunset. Even you cannot ignore that she is not only an ordinary girl like you, she was also a lonely girl who was on her own until she was reached out by your sister."

Somna then leaned in close to Apple Bloom’s face, making the ladder feel uncomfortable.

“What do you think after walking down through Sunset’s memories? Do you still think she was born evil?” Somna pressed, her voice sounded harsher in every question. “Do you still believe that Sunset was having an easy life? Do you still think that she deserved a taste of a hard life, despite that she’d been dealing with it her entire life? Do you still think that she deserves all the pain and suffering right now in your world by your hand because you weren’t satisfied that she was hanging out with her sister and was happy for once? Do you still think that!?

"Stop!" Apple Bloom shouted.

Apple Bloom crouched down and then placed her hooves over her ears. Seeing her friend in distress, they ran over to comfort Apple Bloom. Both Sweetie and Scootaloo looked up and felt chills go down their spins as they saw Somna’s cold and unsympathetic expression. They turned towards Apple Bloom again as they heard her let out a small sniff.

"Please… just take me and mah friends back home!” Apple Bloom pleaded. “Ah… Ah don’t want to be here anymore!"

Somna just stood over them silently with that same unsympathetic expression for eternity, until she closed her eyes and sighed.

"Very well… so be it!"

Suddenly, the glowpaz around her neck glowed bright green, engulfing Somna in a green aura. The CMCs were terrified the moment Somna opened her eyes, which were now filled in green. Before either of the girls realized what was happening, they were suddenly wrapped up in green smoke, freezing them in place. They barely had time to scream when Somna began to speak in an echoey voice.

“My time has come anyway,” Somna boomed. “But before I go, let me offer you my final advice to you three!”

The CMCs were then lifted into the air, struggling as their lives depended on it while the green smoke continued to engulf them, slowly blocking out their vision.

“Never judge a person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes… remember that!”

As soon as Somna finished her words, the CMCs vision went black.

Author's Note:

Man... talk about a heavy first visit! :ajsleepy:

I bet none of you were expecting Somnambula as the first ghost, weren't you? :raritywink:

Fun fact: My original choices for the role of Christmas Past, aside from Somnambula, were Mage Meadowbrook, and Mistmane. While Mage Meadowbrook and Mistmane are good choices for the role, but in the end, I picked Somnambula because I felt she was not only best suited for the role but also a fan-favorite out of all the characters from the Pillars (myself included).

In case you're wondering, the description of the human Somnambula was based on this image below:

Artist Unknown

I couldn't find the original artist for this image. If anyone knows who created this, please let me know.

Some quick notes here. Some of Apple Bloom's dialogue about turning into a pony was based on a scene with Sci-Twi and Sunset in Equestria Girls Spring Breakdown special.

Sunset performing the Synchronized Dancing Cats as her entrance exam was based on this scene from The Fall of Sunset Shimmer from My Little Pony Annual 2013 comic

And the reason why I didn't include the fallout scene between Sunset and Princess Celestia from The Fall of Sunset Shimmer was that:

A) All the visions Somnambula showed the CMCs took place during Christmas/Hearth's Warming.

B) I wanted to write a scene as an origin to what causes a rift between the two which eventually leads to that major fallout scene in the comic.

Anyway, while this is an emotional chapter (even for me), I barely scratched the surface! So next time, it's Christmas Present's turn! Stay tuned for tomorrow! :pinkiesmile: