• Member Since 21st Feb, 2013
  • offline last seen Apr 21st, 2023



In a desperate attempt to thwart the plans of a power-hungry sorceror, Twilight Sparkle ends up displaced in time.

She finds herself in a world untouched by catastrophe of any kind. Everything turned out well in her absence, and her friends, who have missed her dearly for the last decade, are overjoyed to have her back.

Now she has a decision to make. Go to fight the foe she left behind, restoring time as it should have been, or stay and leave him be. All is well that ends well, after all. Right?

Much gratitude goes out to Sagebrush, who helped me untangle some of my messes!

Chapters (4)
Comments ( 53 )

Now that we have that out of the way, nice fic!

I have to say I found all the logistics about time travel to be a bit difficult to understand, but then again that could just be me. Besides that, I really enjoyed this fic and I’m interested to see where it’s headed. :pinkiesmile:

Interesting premise. Actually, scratch that. REALLY interesting premise. A time travel story not involving Terrible Tragedy and being required to be changed back to What It Should Have Been is really novel. I completely agree with Twilight. It seems unwise to meddle with the time-stream; not the least before the full tale of the last ten years is told. If it ain't broke...

Now, there might be an arguement that Twilight could cram her her with as much information of future events that she can effectively be a metaphorical walkthrough for a Perfect Ending for the next ten years (i.e. knowing when crisis pop up and how they were resolved), though, of course, that has the same risk as going back to fight Merrok, to varying extents. You are trading a future that, at first blush, seems pretty okay for a more uncertain one, as you don't know how much Twilight's presense might alter the time stream, or how much temporal inertia is in effect (i.e. the tendancy of events to broadly happen regardless, but in differing ways. A loose example would be in Command & Conquer Red Alert, wherein Albert Einstein erased Hilter to prevent WW2, but they essentially got a world war anyway, just between slightly different sides.)

Certainly, before the decision would be made, you would want to have a very thorough breifing on the events of the previous ten years before you could make and informed decision. And even then, I agree with Twilight; I'm not sure she does have the right to risk a stable and (hopefully happy) future just for herself; but of course, we still don't know the full picture.

Please continue, I am very much interested in seeing where this goes, especially if you keep on the path seldom trodden.

I am terrible about keeping on top of stories I haven't finished - which is why you'll be delighted to hear that I HAVE finished this particular story already. All that remains is editing. Stay tuned!:raritywink:

I really don't want to spoil anything coming up, so I'll have to bite my tongue. I'm glad you're enthusiastic about the premise - naturally, I was, too, or this wouldn't exist!

(@yitz, the magic babble - yes, I plead guilty - is much less heavy in the later chapters. Hope you'll enjoy the rest, too!)

Pretty intriguing premise. Looking forward to more :twilightsmile:

This is getting very interesting; please continue...

Very very cool. I'll be watching this eagerly.

Keep it coming, duder.

Little heavy on exposition, but you have a 10 year timejump. i'll allow it.


Totes, man.

Celestia's scene with Twilight gave and gives me the most trouble by far. It used to be even more impenetrable. Time travel stories are never about the mechanics, but I need to explain the mechanics well enough that Twilight's dilemma becomes clear. How to accomplish that without unnecessary lengths and details, especially when I personally love exploring how magic works and have to rein myself in, is something I might never find out.

Oh well! You made it through! Thanks for that!

Would be nice to know what did happen in ten years, just to know if Twilight managed to keep everything right... as it is, it's guesswork how much she's affected the time stream, so a bit more open-ended than I would have preferred. Perhaps an epilogue maybe?

Still, the crux of the morale dilemma was the important bit, and it was well-reasoned both ways. (Personally, I'd have gone with the staying option, myself, were I Twilight, I think...)

Very nice work. It's always good to see something new with time-travel involved.


The future is always guesswork.

Here's what I've bitten my tongue over before: I don't think it's sensible or practical for Twilight to write a record of the ten years of the changed timeline and try to solve every crisis based on that record after she goes back. The smallest change can lead to severe repercussions. There are no guarantees even something that happened a week after her disappearance in one timeline is going to happen in the other. Even someone who researches as thoroughly and is as brilliant as Twilight cannot possibly keep track of even a fraction of the possible changes she's made to the time stream by going back. She could research the events that transpired in those ten years for centuries and she wouldn't be able to predict a single thing with absolute certainty. Twilight understands very well that she cannot possibly know everything. It's something she tries to drill into Merrok's head at the end, too, and one of the points the story tries to make.

The very biggest risk - and most calculable, because she has to fight him immediately after her return - is Merrok himself, because his plans depend on Twilight's presence in the first place. Beyond that, there's very little reason to assume her presence will have negative repercussions for her friends, or Equestria, or the universe, if you ask me, but more to the point, there just is no way to know for sure.

And of course - she knows that she traded a certain, pretty good timeline for an uncertain one, solely because she wants her life back. She knows she's made the risky - the Rainbow Dash - choice, and for selfish reasons. That's why the battle against Merrok is such a curbstomp - she cannot possibly afford to lose ("You're my responsibility now."), so she takes a page out of Merrok's book and Prepares with a capital P. That's also why she is completely frazzled until she makes sure all her friends are ok. Personally, I'd be very surprised if she has researched very much beyond beating Merrok. Whether and how much she ends up sharing about her timeline, with Celestia or her friends, I can't say. I think she's content with her choice, but she definitely wouldn't claim it was the definitely right one. Your guess is as good as mine. The open-endedness is very much intentional, and I'm as certain as I can be that there won't be an epilogue.

Anyway! I'm delighted you enjoyed the story. I fully expect my readers to disagree over whether or not she made the right decision, because I don't know that either.

So good I had to read the final chapter twice. :rainbowdetermined2:

Before reading other people's opinions, I don't know if she made the right choice. However it's the choice I would have made if I had Twilight's life. Perhaps my own life as well, I'd have checked the future out more.



That's pretty much how I see it, too. Your guess is as good as mine on how much she researched exactly about the ten years she undid, but I think the lion's share (dohoho) of her research went into defeating Merrok.

I think you broke my brain.


Is that in a good way or in a bad way? It gets better starting with chapter 2! I think!

in only the way that time travel can do.
I'm normally okay with basic time logic, but when you put it as much detail as you did, it becomes a bit overwhelming.:twilightoops:

edit: I finished the story, and it did get better.

Well that was difficult to understand but I think I got it in the end. Loved this so far so im gona keep reading, looking forward to see how this turns out.

"Pain had never been easier to endure."
What a perfect line! you made me laugh and for that I thank you.
A little bit heavy on the exposition but it was still pretty good considering.
Overall a great chapter, Now on to the next one.

Another good chapter, bit confused by the ending but I'm sure it will make sense in a few minuets when I read the next one. On to the Final Chappter

A great conclusion to a great story. Read the whole thing in one siting and I was very satisfied. Hope to see more from you in the future. Keep it up!


I actually was online when your first comment showed up, just didn't want to interrupt anything. :twilightblush:

I'm glad you enjoyed it! Despite the flaws - by now just about everyone, including myself, agrees that the first chapter turned out way too heavy on the exposition, and the complaints I got about the end of chapter three match your expression of confusion perfectly. Your reaction was the one I was counting on - that people would just click "next" for the final chapter and get their confusion cleared up (was it for you?) - but there's definitely a much better way to go about it, I just haven't figured it out just yet.

It feels like I owe it to those who've given me such great feedback and insight into the ways I went wrong with this story to go back and revise it - but right now I don't think I've got it in me to pull it off the way I should. I'd like to write something new first. I don't write nearly enough.

2328235 This story could benefit from a bit of revising but it isn't really necessary. Hope to see more fro you in the future, Keep up the great work!
Also, thanks for not interrupting :D

Hmm. Twilight might not even need to do any extra research to take care of Merrok. Think about it: he throws his specially-prepared, carefully-crafted spell at Twilight, and it fails utterly. No discernible reason, it just doesn't work. That would undoubtedly throw him off long enough for Twilight to get some hits in.

But on another hoof... what if he prepared for his spell not working, and this is part of a trap? :twilightoops:


Twilight turned out to be massively over-prepared, no question about it. Merrok definitely had contingency plans though. He was carefully watching the progress of his spell, and while he was caught by surprise by it not working, if Twilight hadn't acted so quickly and so decisively, sealing both his magical channeling outlets and applying powerful magical binds in a matter of seconds, he might have recovered quickly and struck back. I don't know either. But it would have made no sense for Twilight not to prepare as much as she did.

So, what if she couldn't have? I have considered having Twilight not retain her memories of the future upon the counterspell, but I think that would have pushed it far over the "too risky to consider" line, and I would have to make the future at least kind of crappy so it would be a believable choice for Twilight to make. But my main goal was to subvert the "terrible future, must undo" premise we know from stuff like Ocarina of Time (and apparently some other fanfictions on time travel already on the site, and come to think of it 80% of time travel stories ever), into "pretty damn good future, still undo?". Instead of "how do I do it?", the question driving the story is "do I even do it?". I wanted to write a story in which that question is as hard to answer as possible.

I personally like Twilight's decision, considering many other stories would pick the opposite. (I would almost say seeing an alternate ending would be interesting, but that's just me trying to make more work out of nothing. :rainbowlaugh:)

The only real complaints I have is that the first chapter is a little wonky in the pacing department. Otherwise, I really liked this story and can't wait to see more from you~ :twilightsmile:

I almost passed this story by but after reading it I'm so glad I didn't:twilightsmile:


That's what I get for making the first chapter almost impenetrable. Glad you stuck it out! :yay:

Wow. This is the perils and conundrums of time travel done right. this really needs more attention.
I probably would have made the other decision my self but I don't really fault twilight for her choice. It really is impossible to cleanly choose between the infinite number of lives that could have been, or would be in the new reality.

The only thing that's still bugging me, and that might cost Twilight some sleep in the future as well is that: Will the alternate timeline really cease to exist after she 'undid' the bent time, or will it continue its existance, with Twilight just vanishing from it again when she casts the spell? If so, that would probably break her friends in that timeline. :raritydespair: :fluttershbad:


That is at the same time terrifying and delicious. Celestia does state that they've managed to peer into the time stream and as far as they can tell there is only one. At the places where the time stream took a different flow because of some time magic use, they detect a bend in it, not a fork (i.e. another timestream that exists simultaneously). I don't think she would lie about anything in order to get Twilight to go back to the past (it would go against everything she says about enabling Twilight to make her own, fully informed decision).

The only way this, as I said, both terrifying and delicious possibility exists is if Celestia and her crew of Equestria's best scientists - were mistaken. Which, unfortunately, no one can really tell for sure.

(EDIT: Well, that escalated. Think that should be a blog post? I'll leave it here, maybe you'll enjoy it)

Celestia opened her eyes. Nothing to see in front of her.

She looked to her side, and caught Luna doing the same. There was a sliver of hope in their eyes, then realization, then only sorrow.

"You remember her, too?" Celestia asked.

Luna looked away and nodded. "What do we tell them?" She almost whispered the words, and her voice trembled partway through. Tears had formed.

Celestia realized that she had to think of an answer soon, not just for the sake of Twilight's friends, who would soon find her gone once more, but for her own sister. She spread out one of her wings and pressed Luna softly against her side.

"We will tell them about her determination. We will tell them how hard she has worked. We will tell them that there can be absolutely no doubt that she will defeat Merrok and take her life back, and create another timeline, one in which their counterparts will never have to go through the things they did. They'll have to - we'll have to endure the loss, but at least..." Celestia trailed off, eyes growing watery. She'd reached her limit, too. She looked at Luna, pleading.

The younger sister managed a smile. She rose a hoof to Celestia's eyes and rubbed some of the tears away. "Twilight will be happier this way. We'll bear it, for her sake."

"Do you think she will be?" Celestia asked, full of sorrow and doubt.

"I can only speak for myself," Luna said thoughtfully, "but if I could, I would undo my own worst mistake and take back those thousand years. And I know, as much as I know of the existence of the moon and stars - I would be happier today. How could I not be? I'd have been able to spend all that time with you." She closed her eyes and rested her head against her sister's neck. "It's the same for Twilight, or she would not have gone back."

Celestia finally smiled again, too, even if just for a moment. "It's not much."

Luna nodded, sighing. "I know. It's not fair to them. They've suffered so much, and we can't make it stop. But Twilight will be happier this way. I know it. I think they know it, too. And unless everything I've learnt about them is wrong - that will help. At least a little."

They went silent for a while. Then Celestia spoke up again, wistfully. "You know, it's different, this time."

Luna nodded, looking up from Celestia's neck to find her sister smiling at her. "It is, isn't it?"

"Before, I thought of her as lost in the time stream, and I had images of her lost and adrift at sea. I worried for her so much it almost killed me. Now..." Celestia's eyes gleamed. "I see her in the company of friends. I know she's fine."

"I can see it, too," Luna whispered.

And they sat, and stared at the place where Twilight had stood, tense and full of concentration to the tip of her horn, and waited for the opportunity to take back her happiness.

Finally, the fact that they remembered didn't seem like so much of a disaster after all. You couldn't hope for a perfect outcome with time magic - but even in the bleakest-seeming futures, there is usually light on the horizon.

[…]I'll leave it here, maybe you'll enjoy it[…]

I most certainly did. :twilightsmile:

And I don't think that Celestia would lie either, but she has been wrong before… and I'm still upset with her for telling Twilight that "trusting [her] instincts is a valuable lesson to learn" without admitting and apologizing even once that it was she, not Twilight, who hadn't trusted Twilights instincts. She was wrong. She had lept to a conclusion without seeing it through that time, so I'm not sure I trust her thorough research now :trixieshiftright:
But maybe I'm just a little overprotective of Twilight :twilightblush:

No words, I have no words, just, just take my Thumbs Up :fluttercry:

“Leave your paws off my Twilight, you ruffian!” There was a high-pitched battle cry, and then the sound of pony hooves skidding to a halt near where Merrok lay and suffered. “Huh.”

That amused me more than it probably should have :rainbowlaugh:


But maybe I'm just a little overprotective of Twilight :twilightblush:

I know the feeling :twilightsmile:

OK yes.

I would have liked a little more about the exact methods Twilight used to shut him down, but this was a pretty good ending, all around. :eeyup:

My tears are tears of strength. As are yours! I am proud to cry with you!

Best. Lines. Ever.

This moved me, and that makes me unbelievably happy.
I thoroughly enjoyed every part of this story, and find that you- Glimmerglaze have a lot of talent. You write excellently and you have interesting thoughts to write about.
Thank you for taking the time to do it.
Thank you.

“Would you call me a crybaby? No, Spike, I am the Captain of the Wonderbolts. My tears are tears of strength. As are yours! I am proud to cry with you!” She sniffed, gloriously.


Fantastic. A satisfying read from start to finish.

Reading this story for the first time, well after its publication, I'm amused at how ahead-of-its-time it is. Because I've read three other fics with similar premises—that is, Twi winds up in an alternate timeline that's actually pretty nice, and debates whether she should stay or go back to the canon timeline. Except those other three fics were inspired by the season 5 finale, while you wrote yours back when Twi was still a unicorn.

And I think I like your take on that premise best.


Huh, I never thought about it - but I guess MLP time travel in season 5 did turn out to work similarly to how I wrote it, both with events of the past affecting events of the future, and time travellers retaining their memories of changed timelines. Back then all we had was It's About Time, which was focused on the predestination paradox - Twilight traveling back in time is the cause of the events that she travelled back in time to prevent. So while the story does intentionally subvert the "bad future; must fix" premise, that premise hadn't actually been utilized by the show yet, and so a subversion of it wasn't a natural starting point for an MLP time travel fic. (I do remember at least one fic releasing close or concurrent to mine that played the premise straight, with Twilight stuck in a bad future that - naturally - needed fixing. I'm betting there's plenty more of those now - especially with regards to the last, unexplained wasteland future in the season 5 finale.)

The starting point for "It's Also About Time" were the scenes involving Twilight and the rest of the Mane Six in the future - they started popping into my head at some point and had an emotional impact on me, which I then tried to inflict on others. The idea to write a subversion of "bad future; must fix" came after that somehow, I'm not sure how. Chalk this one up as a coincidence.

I'm glad you liked my take on the premise - how have other fics been dealing with it? I'm pretty out of the loop in fanfiction.


I'm glad you liked my take on the premise - how have other fics been dealing with it? I'm pretty out of the loop in fanfiction.

All the other fics took the timeline-hopping fight with Starlight Glimmer and, after visiting many nasty timelines, Twilight and Spike wind up in one that's very different from canon Equestria, but not really better or worse. Like in one fic, Sunset Shimmer was the new timeline's Element of Magic, but her version of the Mane Six outright killed Nightmare Moon / Princess Luna, but on the other hoof they were able to redeem King Sombra, and now he's married to Celestia. Or in another fic, the alt-timeline's local Twilight redeemed Sombra and negotiated peace with Queen Chrysalis, but sacrificed her life to defeat Tirek.

So, much like in your fic, Twi debates whether to say this altered timeline is good enough and stay in it, or to risk everything by fighting Starlight to restore the original timeline. In two of the fics, Twi goes back and fixes the timeline. The third was an extended reference to the SF short story "All the Myriad Ways", and it ends with the timeline splitting further, and we see Twilight make every possible choice, though the consequences aren't shown.


Looks like I had it a bit easier, then - because I had Twilight jump into the future, I didn't have to mess around with canon events to arrive at the "actually pretty good" future, so I didn't have to come up with creative explanations for why Nightmare Moon, Discord, Chrysalis, Tirek etc. didn't take over the world.

I'm pretty sure I couldn't actually have written the story I wanted based on the season 5 finale, since that whole affair with Twilight's friends having to wait for her to return for the next ten years while grieving for her loss - the initial reason I wrote the story in the first place - was also dependant on Twilight making a journey into the future, as opposed to the past.

Really great story! I'm curious about how much detail Twilight might go into when explaining what happened to her friends - would she even mention that she went to the future? It seems like a secret that might not be fun to keep for 10 years. On the other hand, if she did let her friends know, it's not fair to say "Yeah, you're captain of the wonderbolts, RD" (talk about spoilers!). She could say "I went to the future" and then when prompted what it was like just say "you've got a lot to live up to" or something vague like that. But that's just teasing.

Anywho, I caught a single typo, right there at the end (such a great story doesn't deserve typos! :twilightsheepish:):

Pinkie Pie joined them in an instant - trying as hard as she could to put her forelegs around all tree of them

7829393 Honestly, I don't know what she's going to tell them. I probably never did. That's probably why the story ends at the point it does!

Considering how afraid she was and still is of disturbing the natural flow of time, I think she'd tell them that she traveled ten years into the future, and came back knowing how to defeat Merrok, but that she won't tell them what happened in that future because she's afraid of what the consequences of her telling them might be. No idea if she will be able to hold to that resolution.

I don't think she's the type to make light of the situation - if anything, it's her friends who will.

"Twilight, Spitfire is retiring - the team offered me the captaincy."

"Oh, Rainbow Dash, that's wonderful!"

"I mean, yeah, but I was wondering..."


"Like, if I should even do it. I'm not sure."

"WHAT WHYYyyever would that be? Cough."

"I mean, I often think about what you've seen in that future... Did I make it then? Did I find something better? Maybe I'm going to ruin everything. I'm just not sure. Can you help me out?"

Twilight's right eyebrow twitched. "I... I can't tell you... Look, it's not about what I saw in the future, really, you should make your own decision based on... I mean, I don't want to affect... WHY WOULDN'T YOU I mean of course there's always doubts with every decision you make in life..."

"You're just mumbling now. I can't hear you."

"What I'm trying to say is... You can't make decisions based on what I think, because... It has to be YOU who... You know?"

"You know what, Twilight? Stop the excuses. Just tell me. Was I captain of the Wonderbolts in the other timeline or not?"

"YEEEEEYYYou know I can't tell you, really! I wish I could! I can't..."

"You know, with you being so reluctant, I think what you're trying to tell me is either that I didn't become captain, or that I did and that I did actually fail at everything and they kicked me out again."


Rainbow Dash sighed. "I mean, that has to be it. I'm just too klutzy and irresponsible. I'd never amount to anything. I guess I just have to live with that. Thanks for being straight with me, Twilight."


"Sorry for taking up your time." Rainbow turned around, head drooped low.

"NOOOO!" Twilight blinked out of existence, and reappeared directly in front of her startled friend. "Don't just give up like that! You can't!"

"So you're telling me I did become captain of the Wonderbolts in the other future?" said Rainbow Dash, eyes twinkling.

"OF COURSE-" Twilight blinked. "I am not telling you that, because, like I told you... Argh!" She embraced Rainbow, tears in her eyes.

While she bawled, Rainbow Dash softly patted her back. Once the torrent died down and they pulled apart, she softly patted her friend's head. "Of course I'm going to do it. I knew that when I came in here."


"You're cute when your eyes bulge out like that." She chuckled. "Twilight, I know you're scared of screwing up. I can tell. We can all tell. Lighten up. Listen."

Twilight, who had opened her mouth to speak, or more likely scream, shut it again.

"You can't screw up. You're our friend. There's no way in hell that a timeline that doesn't have you in it could be better than the timeline where I can talk to you and make fun of you like this." This time, she embraced Twilight. "Do you get it?"

"Sniff. I do. Very funny."

"Not my prank. Though it was hella funny."

Twilight smiled, and leaned her head against Rainbow's mane. "I do."

"You gotta admit, that was good acting. Making you think I was not going to do it. Ha! Me! Like I'd ever let anyone tell me what to do!"



"I love you very much."

Rainbow chuckled. "But?"

"Shut up."

"Shutting up, yes ma'am."


:rainbowlaugh: You are so awesome! Thanks for writing that.


Pleasure is all mine :)

I also had this idea of Rarity consistently pestering Twilight for information on future fashion trends, and Twilight finally giving in and telling her all she knows - which, of course, is nothing.

I don't think Fluttershy or Applejack would knowingly bother Twilight about the future at all. And Pinkie Pie can probably time travel herself.

I have to disagree with Celestia and say that she doesn't understand causation. Everything leading up the the time displacement was based on cause and effect -- the way the universe was meant to be. And all the displacement spell did was take Twilight out of phase with reality and return her in phase once a certain amount of time was up (or physically moved her forward... somehow). In other words, logically, the current timeline is the correct timeline. There is no paradox; no reason for confusion or uncertainty; everything happened as it would have happened. So if Twilight chooses to go back, then everything still happens as it happens. There is no logical conundrum. There is, however, a moral one.

No matter how you look at it, going back in time and erasing the future is mass-murder. Death is the ceasation of self; the decay of a person into something that is not a person; Brain cells splitting into their component parts, spreading throughout the world; spreading throughout the universe; something thinking into something not.

Twilight made the right decision in my eyes.

“If seeing just one little foal is enough to keep you from casting the counterspell, maybe that’s a hint that you shouldn’t be considering it in the first place,” a tiny nagging voice in her head said.

Exactly. Especially since said foal will cease to exist. Other ponies will just have their worldlines severed and changed to another (half a death, but still death); any foal born after the split timeline will, mathematically, be impossible to be born again. Every single one. Numerous children under the age of ten, dead. Unless she can prove this timeline won't cease to exist afterward, Twilight should never use the counter-spell.

How is it that no one brought up the fact thatevery foal in the last ten years will cease to exist, with other foals being born in their place (or not at all)? Because that's the biggest issue here. Is this truly something that didn't cross your mind?

There is no justification to ending a timeline. It's not just selfishness: it's mass murder. Sure, you may think I'm overthinking things, but honestly everyone else just under thinks time travel. Do you even realize how unlikely it is for any one sperm to form a child? A literal once in a lifetime chance. A single variation and another sperm will make it instead. And new sperm is produced daily. Not to mention all the external variables.

Being in the past for a single instance is enough to change everything. The Butterfly Effect isn't an exaggeration: a slight change in air pressure from a butterfly can literally cause a hurricane down the line.

Okay, rant over. I don't really blame you for this oversight; everyone seems to ignore logic to make a good story. But it does kind of irk me in this circumstance, as the whole point of this story is the moral conundrum of the decision.

So, Twilight: how does it feel to have commited omnicide? Saying she is literally worse than Hitler isn't an exaggeration in this circumstance. So many foals -- living, breathing, potentially happy foals -- snuffed out in an instance. One moment they were there, and the next they were just molecules and atoms scattered about the planet randomly, ten years in the future of the new timeline. It's the equivalent to them being vaporised personally by Twilight Sparkle herself. Never to be born again.

After giving it some thought, I have decided not to give this story a like. The whole point of the story was about her choice and the consequences therof, yet the biggest consequence wasn't even considered. Unacceptable. Such a huge plothole, staring in my face and ignored by everyone.

And it doesn't even matter if the timeline wasn't erased: she thinks it was. So if it does still exist somewhere and no one knows that, that doesn't change the morality of it.

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