by Cynical

First published

It didn't exactly start out as the best day for Twilight Sparkle, and that trend doesn't seem to be improving anytime soon.

As if things weren't bad enough for Twilight Sparkle now that she's been told that she's got two days left to live, new problems just seem to keep cropping up all over the place:

She has to tell everyone she knows that she's not going to live two days forth,
She has to set her affairs in order for after she's gone,
Oh... and Rainbow Dash seems to want to talk to her about something.

Twilight has forty-eight hours left to live and that doesn't seem to be changing anytime soon.

Prologue : The Magic Phrase

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“What would you do if you had two days to live?”

The doctor looked up from his paperwork and sighed. “The results from the tests haven’t come back from the lab yet, Miss Sparkle,” he said patiently, “There’s still a chance that you’re completely fine.”

Twilight Sparkle was sat on the edge of the only other chair in a nondescript office. She sat back and sighed, “And there is a much more likely chance that the initial diagnosis was correct and that I have two days left to live,” she said as despondently as if she was reading from a textbook. “So… what would you do?”

“Numbers are just that, Miss Sparkle,” the doctor continued, moving a few sheets around the desk until only one was in front of him, “A way to completely overlook all the complexities… real ponies are not divided into groups of personalities.”

“I know…” Twilight said morosely, “I took that into account and rolled back the odds.”

The doctor looked at her soundlessly for a few moments until he was interrupted by a knocking at the door. He looked up as a nurse pushed it open and smiled briefly. “Speak of the devil,” he said, reaching out and taking the envelope from the nurse and thanking her quietly before she left. He slit it open with the edge of his hoof and took the piece of paper from inside, his smile quickly becoming forced.

“So…” Twilight said conversationally, “What would you do?”

He sighed and put the sheet on the table in front of him. It was a lonely affair with simply the patient name, Twilight Sparkle, the disease they’d tested for, advanced magical hyperactivity flux disorder, and the verdict.

“I’d probably spend about a day on lamenting the fact that I had two days left to live,” the doctor said, smiling weakly, “But that’s me… two days is still a lot of time, if you know what to do with it.” He stood up uncertainly, “Would you like me to book you in with a counsellor?”

Twilight glanced up at him before looking back at the floorboards. “No… it’s fine.”

The doctor kept looking at her and Twilight could almost hear the cogs whirring around inside his head. “If you're sure...” he said finally, stepping out from behind his desk and lending her a hoof.

She took it and pulled herself up. “I'm sure,” she confirmed resolutely. She knew that the doctor was concerned about her... she'd just brushed off her inevitable death in as carefree manner as she could after all. Yet worrying about it wasn't for him to do. “Thank you, doctor,” she said, working on automatic as she let go of his hoof. “I'll...” she broke off, her voice hitching in the back of her throat before she coughed. “I'll see you later,” she finished, pushing past him into the hall.

For a moment, she thought that the doctor was going to follow her, yet the door simply slid shut behind her. She sighed, shutting her eyes and breathing deeply, trying to compose herself. She hadn't actually told anyone about the possibility of this happening yet... it had all been too sudden and she hadn't wanted to worry any of them.

No matter... it seemed that she'd have to worry them now.

She wondered where it had all gone wrong... one moment she was able to hop to and fro without a care in the world; able to use her magic as she'd pleased. Then… she didn’t know what had changed. She’d been in Ponyville for nearly five years, and then it had taking more and more effort to do simple acts of magic, then it started to hurt. Teleportation gave her a headache, transfiguration gave her a migraine and transmogrification started inflicting harm on her own body.

It was just her luck; of all the conditions- of all the diseases… she had managed to land the jackpot; the one-in-a-trillion condition. There was no known cure and no survivors of the disease which, in Twilight’s opinion, was just brilliant.

Grimacing to herself, she started walking down the hallway towards the exit. Whether she liked it or not, she was going to have to tell her friends. She was going to have to tell Spike, her parents. She was going to have to tell Princess Celestia… The list just kept growing the more she thought about it.

She’d have to put her will in order, maybe even pay a visit home… to her old home in Canterlot. There were her affairs to sort out too; how many ponies were depending on her to do something this week? This month? She’d have to see all of them and tell them that she wasn’t going to be able to help them.

To cap it off… she’d been warned off using any more magic as a precaution earlier… not that it’d helped. She nodded to the receptionist and the ghost of a smile flickered across her features as she waved back.

The doors were pushed open and she left the hospital, breathing in the cool air and looking around. The sun was low in the sky and the faint warble of the birds could just be heard. It was too late in the evening to expect that other ponies would be out and about, yet it was so easy- too easy- to believe that absolutely nothing was wrong; that the world was going to keep turning and she’d live to see it turn more and more.

Not easy enough though…

She cast a look back at the hospital and sighed. “It’s not like it can get much worse…” she muttered to herself, wincing as her horn came to life. “Lots to do…” she said out loud before winking out of existence in a flash of magenta and scarlet.


Twilight cried out as she slipped through reality. She swore she could feel the fabric of reality tearing at her, ripping off her skin and burrowing through her body. She couldn’t see anything- everything hurt- she couldn’t move- she couldn’t do anything- she-

She was shot out of the folds of reality, faintly aware of someone screaming. Maybe it was her? It was probably reasonable considering how battered she felt… yet the screaming was muffled. Maybe it wasn’t her after all.

It got further and further away… she couldn’t hear anything now- just a buzzing in her head; the white-noise of her mind.

Then even that faded away and the world went silent for her.

Chapter 1: There There

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Twilight grimaced as a bolt of pain finally made itself known to her. She pulled a hoof to her head and pressed it gently, rolling over and covering her head with the pillow.

She stayed like that for a few moments until something clicked.

She threw the pillow off her head with a yell and looked around wildly. She was in her bedroom, tucked into her bed with a glass of water on her bedside table. It was the same room that she’d woken up in for five years now. She sighed again and sat back in her bed as someone knocked at the door.

“Uh… Come in?” she called uncertainly, picking the water up and taking a sip as the door opened to reveal Spike, now slightly taller than she was, carrying a tray of breakfast.

“Morning, Twilight,” he greeted, walking alongside the bed and putting the tray down in front of her. “How’re you feeling?”

“Fine…” Twilight replied hesitantly, “Um… how did I get here?” she asked him, idly picking at the toast he’d brought her.

“I was hoping you could tell me…” he said, sitting at the end of her bed. “I heard something outside the house yesterday evening and came out to find you dead to the world,” he paused and twiddled his claw anxiously, “I was really worried, Twilight… Do you want me to call the hospital?”

“No,” Twilight said quickly and Spike glanced at her uncertainly. “No,” Twilight tried again, much more calmly, “There’s no point in bothering them with something like that. I’m fine, see?” she said, smiling brightly at Spike and thanking her lucky stars that she had picked up some tips on lying over the years.

“And the reason you were collapsed on the doorstep?” he prompted, still suspicious.

“I miscalculated the amount of charge I would need to hop over here and completely drained it all… You remember when it’s happened before? Completely harmless.” Not quite a lie… but not quite the whole truth either.

He scrutinised her for another few moments before shrugging. “Fair enough. Let me know if you need anything else,” he said, standing up again and leaving the room.

Twilight bit her lip. She’d avoided telling him… He’d have to know sooner or later. “Later sounds good…” Twilight muttered to herself, helping herself to the breakfast he’d prepared for her: marmalade on toast and orange juice. She bit into the toast and savoured the flavour… It was one of her last meals after all.

Soon enough, the orange juice and the toast were gone and the tray was left to the side of the bed. “Well… here goes…” she muttered to herself, climbing out of her bed and stepping towards the door.

It creaked slightly as she pushed it open and she glanced out. Far below, she could just make out Spike shelving some of the new returns and humming a quiet tune to himself. It looked… so normal. “And now I’m going to have to ruin it…” she muttered to herself darkly, slipping out through the door and making her way down the stairs.

“Spike?” she said, pausing just a few steps from the ground floor.

“Yeah, Twilight?” he asked, looking over at her with a few books still held in his arms.

So far, so good… now, how did you go about telling the closest thing you’d had to a brother that you were going to die in less than two days?

Her mouth was dry. There really was no proper way to go about it she realised. There was no checklist she had to follow. No step one or step two.

“Thanks for the breakfast,” she replied, cursing herself as she did so, “I’ve left the tray on the side so…”

“I’ll take care of it,” Spike said, smiling up at her, “And you’re welcome. So, what’s the plan for today?”

Twilight shrugged, then paused. “I… don’t have one,” she admitted, barely believing it herself.

“So you’re finally taking my advice,” Spike said, completely ignorant of Twilight’s surprise. “I keep telling you that the days get a lot more enjoyable if you don’t plan them out five months beforehand. I bet you that today is going to be the best day of your life.”

“Wouldn’t count on it,” she said under her breath, finally stepping off the stairs and heading towards the front door. “I’ll see you later, Spike; I need to run some errands.”

“See you later, Twilight,” he called, starting on the books again as she slipped out through the door, shutting it quietly behind her.

This was going to be harder than she’d thought. The sound of bells rang out across the street and she glanced towards the large clock tower in the middle of the town. It was already 11 AM and she hadn’t even managed to tell Spike about her condition.

She sighed again. That was the drawback about having been given such a slight amount of time to live… besides the obvious problem anyway. There simply wasn’t enough time to do everything.

Resolving to give it a damn good go anyway, she lit her horn. She’d get all of her friends together and tell them then; she’d include Spike too, along with anyone else that would need to know.

Sparks flew from her horn and she quickly extinguished it, wincing. “Okay… so teleporting is currently out of order,” she muttered and sighed for the umpteenth time. “Alright… so I’m walking. Wonderful.”

It was with that that she turned to the left and started walking towards Sweet Apple Acres, already trying to plan the explanation that she was going to have to present to all of her friends.

She was so enthralled in trying to think it through that she didn’t notice when she missed the turn out of town until she was about ten more paces past. Slightly embarrassed, she turned around and headed back towards the turn and actually took it this time.

Ahead of her, she could see a lone plume of smoke that could only belong to the Apple family’s chimney, rising slowly into the sky. She continued down the road, letting her mind wander back to the subject of what she was actually going to tell everyone.

“Listen… I’m sorry, but I’m going to die sometime in the next few days.”

Somehow, Twilight didn’t think that would be the best method of delivery. She growled to herself quietly for a moment before speaking again, “I’ve been diagnosed with advanced magical hyperactivity flux disorder. I can’t use much magic anymore and I’ve been given two days to live.”

Yet again… it seemed like there’d be a better way to tell them all without countless blank stares or panicked faces.

She shut her eyes, leaning her head forwards and letting the blood pool for a moment. As much as she’d love to finalise a speech on how she was going to die… she had to admit that she had more pressing matters to deal with before then.

The fact that she’d passed the farm was one of them.

The gate swung shut behind her as she passed through, heading straight towards the large farmhouse. It was oddly quiet; the usual sounds of the farm and its occupants strangely absent. Worried that no-one was home, Twilight stepped onto the porch and knocked sharply on the door.

After a few seconds of anxious silence, she finally heard movement from inside the house and she turned towards the door as it opened to reveal Big Mac.

She felt her smile droop slightly but tried to freeze it in place as Mac nodded at her. “’Afternoon, Miss Twilight,” he drawled.

It’s afternoon already? Twilight thought to herself as she replied, “Hi. I don’t suppose you know where Applejack is, do you?”

Mac shook his head and Twilight’s smile dropped again. “But…” he started thoughtfully and Twilight perked up, “I think she mentioned that she was gonna head into town today. Sorry I couldn’t be more help.”

“Thanks, Mac,” Twilight said, turning towards the gate again.

“No problem,” he called out behind her and a few moments later, she heard the click of the door shutting. Only then did she groan to herself.

“Well that was pointless,” she grumbled to the quiet farm, slipping out the gate again and starting on the long road back into town. She could just hear the sound of bells announcing that it was already half-past the hour.

She heard them twice more before she arrived back into town, the second time as the clock struck noon.

During the walk back from the farm, she’d decided to go and look in at Sugarcube corner in the hopes that she’d find Pinkie. Finding Applejack in the meantime would be a bonus.

More ponies were wandering about the streets now and she nodded a greeting to one or two that she recognised, looking out for Applejack as she did so. Sadly, there was no sign of her as she reached Sugarcube corner.

Or rather, she reached the street that Sugarcube corner was on. Getting inside the store to talk to Pinkie appeared to be another matter entirely as the lunch-crowd seemed to simply grow from the store with no clear end as a mass of ponies chatted around outside, waiting for there to be enough space inside to move.

“You have got to be kidding me…” she groaned to herself before walking down an alley to the back entrance of the shop. She knocked on the door and waited patiently.

And more patiently.

And more so.

She knocked on the door again; harder this time and waited for some sign that she had been heard.

Once again, no such sign came. Frustrated, she tried the handle, only to find it locked.

She sighed and leant her head against the door. “I guess it’s just really not my day…” she murmured to herself before straightening up. Resolving to come back later, she headed out of the alley and started towards the Carousel Boutique, hoping that Rarity would be on her lunch break and, more importantly, there.

Any hope of that was ruthlessly kicked aside as she reached the shop. Pride and place in the front window, a sign was held, stating:

Gone for Lunch.
Will be back soon.

Twilight bit her lip to catch the exclamation she had been about to shout and took a deep breath. “Not the best of mornings,” she admitted to herself and shook her head slightly. It was noon, she was going to die in less than two days, she’d found not-a-one of her friends, she couldn’t do magic, and now she was getting hungry.

Her stomach reiterated the last fact and she grimaced to herself. Of the five, that seemed like the one that was the easiest to fix.

With that thought in mind, she started towards a favourite restaurant of hers, specialising in freshly-made sandwiches among other things.

Something else that she liked about that restaurant was how relatively unknown it was. On arriving, she sat down at a table next to a window and sat there, looking out over the street as ponies moved to and fro, ignorant of her dilemmas.

After a few minutes of staring out the window, there was a polite cough from behind her and she looked over at the waiter, stood patiently next to her table with a notebook at the ready.

“Oh…” Twilight said, slightly embarrassed, “Right.” She cleared her throat quietly before relaying her order of hayfries and a daisy and cress sandwich.

The waiter flipped his notepad shut and headed towards the kitchens, leaving Twilight to go back to looking morosely out the window. She was hesitant to look at the clock though, knowing that it would only make her feel worse as she unconsciously ticked down the hours.

She wondered whether Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash would be as elusive as her other friends, even if it was just a matter of poor timing on her part.

Honestly, she wouldn’t put it past Fluttershy to choose today to go and tend to a creature in the Everfree forest. Added to the fact that it was almost a certainty that Rainbow would be wherever she pleased and Twilight had very little hope about finding all of her friends with any sort of decent speed.

The waiter returned with the sandwich and she thanked him absent-mindedly, lost in her own apathy.

It hardly seemed like she had enough time now. She still had to find and tell all of her friends, Spike, Celestia, her parents, and her brother; that was a trip to Canterlot in its own right. Then she’d have to sort out her affairs; what was going to happen to Spike after she was gone? Who was going to look after Owlicious? Who was going to take care of the library…?

She took a bite of her sandwich, letting herself drown in her thoughts as they kept presenting her with more and more tasks to do.

She was going to have to tidy the library, take out the rubbish, file all her research and put away all her equipment in the basement.

The tasks kept piling up as she made her way through her lunch until, by the time that the last hayfry had been eaten, she had precisely two-hundred and thirty-seven tasks to complete in order to make sure she was ready to move on.

Her horn sparked again and she winced, reaching for her bits with her hooves instead of her magic.

Then she stood and left the restaurant without saying anything, not even noticing the waiter as she passed him, too far lost in her own thoughts. Without thinking, she glanced towards the clock tower again and sighed. It was one ‘o’clock in the afternoon and she was reminded of why she had been avoiding looking at the clock.

“Well at least Rarity should be off her lunch break by now…” she muttered to herself, already walking the way she’d come again.

By the time she reached the boutique, the sign from before had been removed and she stepped into the shop, shutting the door behind her to the tune of the doorbell above her.

“Coming!” a voice trilled from the back of the shop and a few moments later, Rarity appeared from around the corner, a mannequin held behind her in her magic. “Twilight,” Rarity said, beaming, “What an unexpected pleasure. What can I do for you, dear?”

“Hey, Rarity,” Twilight greeted, smiling back, “Listen… would you mind coming to the library a bit later, say about five?”

Rarity looked at her curiously for a moment, “Of course, as if you’d need to ask… but, if I may, why?”

“I just have some news that I’d like to share with all of you, that’s all,” Twilight said truthfully, “And if you happen to see any of the other girls, would you mind passing along the message? I haven’t had the best luck finding any of them so far.”

“Of course,” Rarity said, “Applejack should be dropping in a little later and I suspect Fluttershy will be doing so too so you can let me tell them.”

“Thanks Rarity,” Twilight said, trying not to let the relief show too plainly on her face, “I’ll see you later then.”

“Take care,” Rarity called out behind her as Twilight pulled the door open and left the shop, heading straight towards Sugarcube corner now.

The lunch-queue had died down by now and Twilight slipped inside the shop without hassle. Mrs Cake was behind the counter, chatting to the only other customer in the shop as she arrived.

Twilight caught her eye and Mrs Cake smiled at her briefly before resuming her conversation, “But of course, Whooves, I’ll see what we can do about a cake for the party, is there anything you’d like it to say?”

The stallion in front of her paused for a moment, thinking quietly before replying, “Just… ‘Happy Birthday’ I think…”

Mrs Cake made a note on something in front of her and the stallion known as Whooves thanked her. “Think nothing of it; it should be ready for collection tomorrow. That’ll be twenty-five bits, please.”

The quiet clink of money passed over the counter and Twilight became the only customer in the shop.

“Now then, Twilight,” Mrs Cake greeted warmly, “What can I do for you?”

“Good afternoon, Mrs Cake,” Twilight replied, “I don’t suppose you’ve seen Pinkie around anywhere, have you?”

“I can’t say I have, dear. The last time I saw her was this morning when she announced that she was going to go and replenish our supply of flour,” Mrs Cake broke off and smiled to herself, “I really don’t know what we would do without her.”

“Well… If you see her later, would you mind telling her to come by the library at around five tonight?”

“I’ll see what I can do, now can I trouble you for a favour of my own?”

Twilight, who was about to turn around and leave the shop, paused, “Sure, what’s the matter?”

“It’s Mr Cake,” Mrs Cake said, biting her lip, “He left a few hours ago to get some more sugar and he still hasn’t come back… Would you mind keeping an eye open?”

“Of course I will,” Twilight replied, “I’ll tell him that you’re worrying about him.”

“Thank you, dearie,” Mrs Cake said as Twilight turned and left the store, emerging into the mostly-quiet street.

“Okay…” Twilight muttered to herself, “Two-hundred and thirty-eight tasks.” She paused and sighed, shutting her eyes and trying vainly to forget about everything but finding her last friend for now.

Opening her eyes, she immediately looked upwards into the sky, searching for any sign of Rainbow Dash against the skyline.

Yet it seemed her initial assumption was correct. There was no sign of Rainbow in the air, meaning that she could be absolutely anywhere at – Twilight glanced at the clock again – two ‘o’clock in the afternoon.

She groaned… “So much for not looking at the clock,” she berated herself, “Now where could Rainbow be…”

That thought plagued her as she continued down the street, walking absent-mindedly as she considered where-in-Equestria she was. The problem with Rainbow Dash was that she could feasibly be absolutely anywhere in Equestria.

“There you are!” Twilight span around to see Rainbow Dash gliding down towards her, touching down at a trot which she slowed to a halt. “I’ve been looking all over for you,” she exclaimed, breathing heavily.

“Me too,” Twilight said, still somewhat surprised at her questionably good fortune.

“You have?” Rainbow said, slightly astonished, “Listen, would you mind if I talked to you about something?”

“Can it wait, Rainbow?” Twilight asked, “I’ve got something that I need to talk to all of you about and it really can’t wait… can you meet me at the library at five tonight?”

“Uh… I suppose…” Rainbow said, caught slightly off-guard, “But that’s not for another three hours… can’t I talk to you about this now?” she insisted.

Twilight shook her head wearily. “Sorry, Rainbow… I’m in a bit of a hurry at the moment… can’t you talk to me later? Maybe at the library later?”

“Then can I talk to you about this thing?” Rainbow reiterated and Twilight sighed, exasperated.

“Yes, Rainbow. You can talk to me about whatever it is you’d like to talk to me about after I’ve talked to you all later, okay?”

“Um… yeah, that’s fine… I’ll… talk to you later then?” she said and Twilight nodded.

“See you later.”

Twilight waved Rainbow goodbye as she turned and rose steadily into the air, setting off elsewhere and leaving Twilight on her own.

She stood there for a few more moments, replaying that slightly odd conversation in her mind twice more before she shook her head; she had more important matters at hoof. She still had to tell…

Who else did she have to tell to meet at the library later?

She couldn’t think of anyone else for that matter. “Maybe I should just go back home…” she wondered quietly, still wracking her brains for anyone who she might have forgotten. After a few more minutes of that, she sighed and shook her head, setting off back home for some well-earned rest.

The library was silent when she returned and she quickly found a note from Spike telling her that he’d gone out to pick up some more pancakes.

She picked the note up and threw it away, making herself a glass of water while she contemplated what to do next. Against her better wishes, she’d managed to sneak a glance at the clock again on her way back to the library. It was only half-past two now; meaning she had another two-and-a-half hours to kill before she’d have to tell everyone.

Setting the empty glass on the side, she walked into the library and scanned the bookshelves for something to help take her mind off the time. Almost immediately, she picked out an old favourite of hers: The Lord of the Rings.

She set it down on the side of the sofa and laid herself beside it, flicking open the first page and starting to read.

When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.

She found her eyes wandering, not quite seeing the words on the page as her mind reverted to the problem she’d had earlier. Just what exactly was she going to tell her friends?

Maybe she could tell it to them quickly; just to get it over and done with… but then they’d demand more of an explanation. Or she could just give them the explanation straight-away… but then they might not understand it, or the significance might be lost on them…

Somewhere that was not in Twilight’s inner monologue, she heard the door open and close, signifying Spike’s arrival back into the house.

What if she didn’t tell them? She still had tomorrow to do it after all. She’d just have to invent something else to say to them when they all arrived later today… assuming they did all arrive later today. She didn’t know for certain that Applejack, Pinkie, and Fluttershy were going to make it.

Maybe they wouldn’t and she’d be able to put it off with the excuse that not all of them were there yet? She could hope after all…

The doorbell rang, knocking her from her reverie. She glanced around for a moment, trying to get her head back into the world of the living. She glanced down at the book and saw that she was still on the first page.

She grimaced and shut the book, listening as Spike went to answer the door.

“Oh, hey, Rarity,” she heard, “What can I do for you?”

“Good evening, Spike. I don’t suppose Twilight is home?”

“Uh, yeah… she’s just through here.”

Twilight sat up as Rarity came into the room and she offered her guest a smile. “Isn’t it still a bit early?” she said uncertainly as Rarity sat herself down on a chair.

“Only fifteen minutes so, dear,” Rarity replied, “I know you said five, but I thought I’d drop in a bit earlier to let you know that I’ve passed on the invitation to Applejack and Fluttershy; they both say that they’ll be coming.”

Of all the pieces of information in that sentence, Twilight focused on only one. “It’s quarter-to-five?” she asked incredulously, looking towards the window and at the darkened sky outside.

“Well… yes,” Rarity said, confused, before she looked at the book on the table, “Ah… you must have lost track of time again… I’ve lost count of the number of times that I’ve sat down with a good book in the morning and only put it down after nightfall.”

Twilight looked at the book in disbelief, “I wasn’t even reading it…” she muttered under her breath as the doorbell rang again and Spike set off to answer it.

This time, it was Pinkie who bounced into the room in high spirits, “Heya, Twilight,” she greeted, hopping over the sofa and landing next to Rarity, who blanched.

“Do you mind,” Rarity said hotly, glaring at Pinkie, “I’ve just had this tail curled. I’d prefer it if you didn’t sit on it, dear.”

The doorbell rang once more as Pinkie simply offered Rarity an innocent smile and Twilight stood up sharply, “I’ll get it,” she said to Spike, eager to not get involved in the glaring war she was leaving behind.

She opened the door to find Applejack and Fluttershy on the doorstep. “Evenin’ Twi,” Applejack greeted warmly.

Twilight smiled back and stood back from the door, “Welcome, come inside,” she said, looking up at the darkened sky before she shut the door behind herself. “Rarity and Pinkie are already here,” she said, pointing the two of them towards the suspiciously-silent room beyond.

They nodded and headed on through, leaving Twilight on her own in the hallway as Pinkie greeted the newcomers exuberantly.

“Now I just have to wait for Rainbow Dash…” she muttered to herself, trying to get her nerves in order even as someone knocked on the door.

She opened it and smiled at Rainbow Dash, “Thanks for coming,” she said, shutting the door after her and leading her into the room.

“Well I could hardly refuse, could I?” Rainbow asked, smirking.

Twilight didn’t reply, leading Rainbow to the others and letting them greet her in their own ways.

“Spike?” she called.

“Yeah, Twilight?” he asked, appearing around the corner of the kitchen and looking at her expectantly.

“Would you mind joining us for a few minutes?”

Shrugging, he nodded and did so, greeting the other ponies who he hadn’t seen yet.

After another minute, Twilight cleared her throat and spoke. “Thanks for coming, everypony,” she said, letting the noise die down before she continued, “I’m afraid that I have some bad news…”

She licked her lips, going over the numerous iterations of speeches that she’d prepared for this moment, trying to choose the best.

“I’m dying,” she said in the silence of the library. “I’ve been diagnosed with a rare condition that’s fatal,” she continued, trying to ignore the horrified stares from the audience in front of her, “I’ve been given a few days of life before it happens… That’s what I wanted to talk to you about… Any questions?”

She scanned her friend’s faces, waiting for any response as they all stared at her with a mix of horror and bug-eyed shock.

“You’re… you’re sure about this, right?” Applejack started at last, causing the others to snowball in on the questions.

“You can’t be serious!”

“What about a second opinion?”

“Is there a cure?”

“What about Princess Celestia?”

“What about me?”

Twilight held up her hooves and tried to calm them all down as they continued to babble on regardless. Gritting her teeth, she let a flare erupt from her horn and cried out in pain, sinking to the floor. “Please… please…” she whispered to herself in the silence of the library, “Just… be quiet…”


“I’m fine…” she said shortly, getting to her hooves and breathing heavily. “Yes, Applejack, I’m sure… I got the diagnosis last night; the second diagnosis. No, there isn’t a cure and… I haven’t actually told Celestia yet; you’re the first ones I’ve told so far.”

“And what about me?” Spike repeated, looking up at Twilight incredulously.

“Spike…” she started.

“No…” he interrupted, “I wondered what was wrong with you this morning; I asked you if you were okay and you said you were. I heard you scream when you came back last night,” he continued, tears in his eyes, “You said you were fine and I accepted it… Why didn’t you tell me, Twilight? What’s going to happen to me when you’re gone?”

“I… I… don’t know…” Twilight stammered out, looking down, ashamed, only to feel a pair of arms that wrapped themselves around her neck a few moments later.

“I don’t want you to die…” Spike said next to her ear and she wrapped a foreleg around him in return, staying silent.

A few moments more and Spike was joined with Twilight’s friends, all of whom tried to wrap her in a hug and all of whom tried to offer their support through sob-wracked breaths.

“It’s going to be okay…” she muttered quietly, knowing that not-a-one of them believed her. She cried along with them and shut her eyes, resting her head on Spike’s as the tears dripped down her face.

Eventually, the hug broke and Twilight was left looking at her puffy-eyed friends, trying to keep her own eyes clear.

“Do you want us to stay the night?” Fluttershy asked, looking at Twilght with worry.

“No,” Twilight replied, her voice breaking somewhat, “I’ll be fine… I’d just like some time to myself for now.”

“If you’re sure…” Rarity said doubtfully.

“We’ll be around first-thing tomorrow, ya hear?” Applejack said, not moving either.

Twilight nodded, “Alright… I’ll see you then, okay?”

The rest of them nodded then, with varying numbers of worrying glances sent back towards Twilight, they all left the library, Applejack shutting the door behind her as she did so.

“Would… would you like something to eat?”

Twilight looked over at Spike, looking at her with tears still brimming in his eyes, and sighed. “Honestly Spike? I don’t feel hungry now. I think I’m going to have an early night.”

“I’ll come with you then!” Spike exclaimed, standing up and heading towards the stairwell.

“No, Spike,” Twilight said suddenly, causing him to pause with his claw on the banister. “No… I’d just like some peace and quiet, please.”

“But, Twilight…” Spike protested, “You said it yourself, you’re going to die soon. I’d just like to have a bit more time with you before then… please…”

“No,” Twilight said again, carefully not looking into Spike’s eyes, “I’d just like a bit of time to myself now… please.”

It almost looked as if Spike was about to continue arguing but, after a moment, he sighed. “Fine… I’ll have your favourite breakfast ready in the morning… if tomorrow is your last day, then I’m going to do my part to make sure that it’s the best day ever.” He hopped off the stairs and headed towards the kitchen, leaving Twilight alone in the room.

She sighed. “Thanks, Spike…” she said quietly. She looked around again and started climbing the stairs to her room. She pushed open the door and stood there for a moment, looking around silently for a moment before she stepped inside and shut the door behind her.

She scanned the room again and stepped towards another pair of doors, these leading outside to the small balcony she had. She stepped through and into the chilly night, leaning on the banister surrounding her.

Twilight sighed, looking up towards the night sky. The stars were out tonight, uncovered by clouds. “Well that day could have gone better,” she said, deadpan.

“Not enough time…” she murmured to herself, letting her head fall into her hooves.

She still had to tell Celestia, her family, her solicitor, the mayor, and countless other ponies who were going to have to pick up the pieces that she would leave behind. She’d barely managed to force Spike to leave her alone to her problems and to get some sleep. What was Celestia going to do when she found out?

The stars twinkled in reply to her thoughts and she looked down again… She’d been given forty-eight hours to live and she’d used twenty-four of them to tell six ponies and one dragon…

“I wish I had another day…” It was a moment before she realised that she murmur was her own. But… what would another day give her? It’d give her time to tell a few more ponies and get a few more of her problems in order… then she’d still die.

She didn’t want to die.

She took one last look at the stars before she headed inside again, shutting the door to the balcony behind her before she crawled into her bed and buried her head into the pillows.

Chapter 2: We Never Change

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She winced as she came to, a headache waking her up from her sleep. She reached out for the glass of water next to her and drank deeply from it, trying to ignore the pounding in her head.

Someone knocked at the door and she called, “Come in.”

Spike came into the room carrying a tray of breakfast. “Morning, Twilight,” he greeted, “How’re you feeling?”

Twilight sighed, rubbing a hoof against her head. “As well as can be expected, I suppose…” she muttered, glancing at the clock next to her. It was 9:30 in the morning.

Spike put the breakfast in front of her and sat at the end of her bed as she inspected the marmalade-on-toast and orange juice.

“So much for breakfast for the sick,” she said jokingly, biting into her toast and giving an appreciative moan.

Spike chuckled and rubbed his claw behind his head bashfully. “Yeah… about that,” he started, “We’re completely out of pancakes.”

Twilight raised her eyebrows at Spike in surprise, “I thought you went to get some more yesterday…”

Spike looked at her oddly for a moment, his half-smirk still frozen across his face. “You sure you’re okay, Twilight?” he asked.

“As okay as you could expect…” she sighed, shaking her head, “What with… everything and all that.”

“Yeah…” Spike shuffled uncomfortably for a moment, “Listen… is there anything that I should know, Twilight? Like… anything important?”

Twilight paused, thinking for a moment. “You mean… anything important beyond the fact that I’m dying?” she asked bluntly, “Because I don’t think so… not unless you mean-“

“What do you mean, you’re dying?” Spike asked incredulously, looking agog at her.

Twilight paused again. “Don’t you remember, Spike?” she asked gently, “I told you and the other girls that I’m dying… in fact, where are the other girls, they said they’d be here sometime early.”

Spike spluttered for a moment before he could get the words out, “Don’t you think I’d remember something like that? And no, none of the girls are here; I haven’t seen them since a few days back.”

Twilight sighed before she cleared her throat. “In the presence of news that a pony (or dragon) cannot bear to believe,” she recited, “they may refute that it ever happened, blocking it from their memory entirely. Minds and Maladies, sixth edition, page five-hundred and twenty.”

Spike kept looking at her doubtfully and Twilight sighed, shutting her eyes and leaning back against the cushions. “Listen…” she said into the silence, “If you still don’t believe me, what were you doing at five ‘o’clock last night?”

“I was looking after you…” Spike said uncertainly, “You’d appeared on the doorstep and-“

Twilight opened her eyes and looked at Spike, irritated, “I said yesterday at five, not the day before that.”

He shifted on the bed and fixed Twilight with an even deeper look of concern than before. “That was yesterday,” he said, allowing his features to crease in worry, “I came outside to find you on the doorstep, dead to the world, and I brought you up here. Twilight… do you want me to call the hospital?”

“But-” Twilight started before her brain caught up with her mouth. To say that she’d lived a day that had never happened would almost certainly get her marked as crazy… or more so anyway. “No…” she said finally, “Would you mind leaving me alone for a little while, Spike? I need to do some thinking.”

He nodded and stood up from the bed, but he didn’t make any move towards the door. “Twilight…” he said, his voice uncertain again, “When you said that you were dying… did- did you mean it?”

A lump formed in Twilight’s throat as she met his gaze, the tiniest glimmer of hope caught in his eyes, and nodded. She watched as the hope died and his face went slack.

“I’ll… I’ll send a message to the princess and the others…” he said quietly, moving towards the door and trying to keep his face hidden from Twilight as the tears formed. Twilight stayed silent and let him leave, acknowledging the door shutting behind him with yet another sigh.

“Was yesterday just a dream then?” she asked herself in the empty room. She looked around at her room. There was the glass of water, half-empty, on her bedside table, and there was the tray of food that Spike had brought; the toast with marmalade still present along with half of the orange juice.

“It’s not that uncommon of a breakfast…” she muttered to herself, “It was probably just a coincidence that Spike brought that in the dream…” The reassurance didn’t help her and she fell back against the headboard of the bed, trying to put the dream or whatever it was, firmly out of her mind.

It hadn’t happened and that was what mattered… or didn’t as the case may be.

She put the tray on the side and swung herself out of bed, heading towards her personal bookcase in the corner of the room. There on the bottom shelf was the book she’d quoted from not ten minutes ago. She bit her lip and tried to levitate Minds and Maladies by Clear Thought from the shelf only to wince and cut her magic a few seconds later.

“Still no magic then…” she muttered to herself and leant down to pick it up manually, balancing on three hooves and trying desperately not to let the fourth drop it. She dropped it on her bed and opened the back cover, searching the index for something.

“Here we go…” she muttered, starting to flick through the pages with increasing ferocity, “Delusions, delusions, delusions…” Eventually, she stopped flicking through the pages and started reading out loud, “Schizophrenia is a long-term mental health condition that causes a range of different psychological symptoms, including: hallucinations, delusions, muddled thoughts based on the hallucinations or delusions and changes in behaviour.”

She paused and flicked back to the index, looking for the same line she’d found before. “Delusions… pages 435, 255, 634…” Once again, the book was flicked open onto Drug Abuse, flicked shut again, then opened for a final time onto Delusions of Grandeur.

She choked back a laugh; of the three mental conditions to which the symptom pointed to, it had to be the only long-term one of the three. “I’m not sure I appreciate the irony,” she said to herself with a small smile that died on her face.

There was a quiet knock on her door and Spike poked his head in. “I’ve sent a letter to the princess,” he said, spotting the abandoned breakfast and the vast tome that was resting on the bed, “I’ll be going out for a little while to tell our friends… are you going to be okay?”

Twilight sighed and nodded. “I’ll be fine, Spike,” she reassured, trying not to think about the book in front of her for once, “I’d go and talk to Rarity first, she’ll probably save you a bit of effort later.”

Spike gave her an odd look, but nodded. “Sure,” he acknowledged, “I’ll go and pick up some pancakes while I’m out too shall I?” he asked with the ghost of a smile that Twilight barely returned.

“That’d be nice.”

The door shut again and Twilight returned her attention to the book in front of her. Somewhere outside, the clock started its dutiful tolling, Twilight counted out eleven loud tolls. She shut the book.

It had all felt so… real. She was almost certain that she’d gone to Applejack’s, only to find Big Mac instead of his sister. She was more-or-less positive that Pinkie hadn’t been at the boutique when she’d asked and that Mr Cake was missing somewhere. She was nearly sure that Rainbow had been looking for her with something to say.

Far below her, someone knocked at the door.

She briefly contemplated ignoring them; she wasn’t in the mood for visitors. Then she stood up and left her room. There was no point inflicting her bad mood on ponies that might genuinely need her help.

As she passed through her house, she saw that Spike had left her a note on the table saying that he’d left some sandwiches in the fridge for her if she got hungry. She wondered when their roles had been reversed and he’d started taking care of her.

She put that thought to the back of her mind along with all her other worries before she opened the door. Rainbow Dash looked in at her from the other side, hopping lightly from hoof to hoof. “Uh… Morning, Rainbow,” Twilight said, not sure whether she should be surprised or not, “What can I do for you?”

“Hey, Twilight,” Rainbow greeted somewhat jerkily, pausing for another moment before she continued, “Listen… would you mind if I talked to you about something?”

Twilight raised an eyebrow in faux surprise as her mind worked overtime. The toast might have just been a coincidence, but this didn’t seem as likely. Possible, maybe… but highly unlikely. “You want to talk to me about something?” she asked, deadpan, “What is it this time then? Something so important that it can’t wait?”

Rainbow nodded.

Twilight groaned to herself inwardly. “You’d better come on in then,” she invited, stepping back from the door and letting Rainbow slip in.

“Are you okay, Twi?” Rainbow asked as she passed, “You seem a bit… edgy.”

“I’m fine…” Twilight replied, shutting the door with a quiet click, “I’ve just not had the best of mornings.”

Rainbow nodded sympathetically, “I hear ya… One morning I woke up, climbed out of bed and slipped on Tank. Ended up-”

“Rainbow,” Twilight interrupted, her voice tense and quiet, “I don’t mean to be rude, but would you please just get to the point? I’m somewhat preoccupied.”

Rainbow looked at her, embarrassed, “Sorry…” she said quietly, all traces of humour and confidence gone, “Sorry for interrupting you… I’ll just leave you be. I’ll come back when you’re a little less busy.”

Without further ado, she fled. Twilight was left looking at the space that she’d occupied moments ago and she cursed under her breath as the door swung shut behind her departing friend. “Stupid…” she berated herself, trying to push her bad mood back under control, “Why did you take it out on her? She hasn’t done anything to you?” she asked herself.

She shot a glance at the note from Spike that was still on the table. As much as she wanted to, she couldn’t find a shred of hunger within her. It seemed that the morning had left its marks all the way from a bad taste in her mouth to a bad feeling in her stomach.

“Wonderful…” she said to herself bitterly.

A lone candle in the middle of the table spat into life and Twilight looked up as it flared bright green and spluttered out. It had been something she’d made as an afterthought a couple of years ago. Sometimes Spike wasn’t around to send or receive messages for her so she made her own device to do just that.

The fact that her letters no-longer smelt like earth was another bonus.

This letter was not unlike any other she’d seen. It was sealed with the royal crest and wound tight enough to be exactly 1.6 inches in diameter. She reached out and broke the wax with a quick snap. The letter was unrolled and she read the words in silence.


Thank you for bringing this to my attention. Please could you ask her what she has been diagnosed with so that myself and my sisters can aid her in some way, shape or form? I realise that she has grown apart from me in recent years and that she might be unwilling to accept this help, but please… I don’t want to sit here and do nothing while my student is dying.

It might be wise that she never sees this letter.

Twilight read the letter twice more before she rolled it back up. It was true… there were only so many lessons of friendship that existed and once they’d all been exhausted, contact between them had dried up, then stopped.

Twilight had assumed it was because Celestia had nothing left to teach her… she couldn’t even begin to imagine what Celestia thought had been the cause. Looking at the letter though… it seemed as if she imagined that Twilight resented her for that same fact.

Did she? She pondered the question for a moment. Celestia had nothing left to teach her; there was nothing left to teach that could be taught by her. That was precisely the reason why she’d been sent to Ponyville so long ago. She never imagined resenting the princess for such a decision; it had been the best one in her life.

She didn’t resent the princess. She knew that. She opened the scroll again and looked at the bottom of the page. There was just enough room for a few sentences to be left and re-sent.

Her magic sparked into life and a quill shivered for a moment before the magic was cut, the sound of swearing echoing around the library as Twilight clutched a hoof to her horn.

She lifted the quill in her mouth, letting it rest between her teeth as the pain dulled itself down. After another few moments, she let the quill meet the paper and scrawled the words advanced magical hyperactivity flux disorder beneath Celestia’s signature. Then, beneath that, she wrote her own, signing the reply with a simple ‘I’m sorry,’ then she paused.

The candle stood inconspicuously in the middle of the table, as quiet and unassuming as any other. It was enchanted; that was how it worked of course. She’d enchanted it to take in a letter and send it on its way to Celestia or vice versa. But it still needed that slight push to send it.

It one of the basic laws of magic: Something has to be lost for something to happen. She’d simply built the door when she enchanted the candle… opening it would require a spark of magic that she could not provide.

“Looks like I’m waiting for Spike then…” she murmured to herself, sitting back into a chair. Spike, who she’d cared for since he was little more than a baby. Spike, who she loved like a brother. Spike, who she still hadn’t told. She had a lot of secrets; the full extent of the disorder was one of them. No matter what Princess Celestia had asked, she probably still wouldn’t have told him about just what was going to happen to her.

She didn’t want others to be scared for when she died.

There would be no grave for Twilight Sparkle: No bones to bury or ashes to scatter. That was the curse of who she was. She was not an ordinary unicorn. She didn’t have a limit on the magic she could call or craft. If she so wished, she could summon her own sun and her power would still be there at the limit.

When she died… she would simply cease. The curse of the magi as it was known. They lived, leaving their mark on the world before they left. Specifically… they left with a rather large bang.

Celestia had told her a few years ago now; there was nothing she could do about it. She’d noticed it on the first day they’d met… no filly should have had that much power at their hooves, no matter how talented they were.

And now... She’d taken the precaution of building a special room, far below her home, where she could die in peace and with the knowledge that her death wouldn’t cause Ponyville to be flattened.

It wasn’t a matter that she particularly liked focussing on, but it was a necessary one nevertheless. She sat up, reading the letter from Celestia once again.

The door opened and Spike came in. Twilight quickly rolled up the scroll in front of her to stop him seeing it, notching the wax slightly so that it was held closed. “Hey… Twilight,” he greeted, his smile wan and forced.

She smiled back at him slightly. “Hey,” she said quietly, “Would you mind sending this along to Celestia?” she asked, holding out the sealed scroll to him.

He took it, somewhat confused. “But what about the candle?” he asked, looking pointedly at it, still sitting inconspicuously on the table.

Twilight glanced its way for a moment, trying to invent an excuse before she turned back. “Oh…” she said, letting some annoyance seep into her tone, “It’s on the blink again… I don’t think there’s much point in fixing up another one though… not now.”

“Right…” Spike said softly before a tongue of flame took the scroll from his claw, dissolving it as his fyre did its work.

“So I take it you found everyone?” Twilight asked, trying to change the subject to something a tad less relational to her impending demise.

“Sort of…” Spike said quietly, clearing his throat before he continued, his voice slightly stronger, “I asked for them to all come round a bit later… in about an hour or two actually. Rarity said she’d find Applejack and Fluttershy, Mrs Cake said she’d speak to Pinkie whenever she got back; oh, and apparently Mr Cake is missing somewhere. I couldn’t find Rainbow though… Is that alright, Twilight? Twilight?”

She’d stopped listening halfway into his explanation, finding some of its contents eerily familiar. “Did you by any chance tell them to come around at five, Spike?” she asked innocently, wondering just how similar the dream was to this.

“Yeah…” he said, looking at her suspiciously, “How did you know?”

“Lucky guess…” she said absent-mindedly, trying to think back to the other details of the dream. What happened when they all came over? “Spike,” she started again, “What time is it now?”

There was a pause as Spike went over to a window and looked outside. “It’s about ten-to-four,” he replied after a few moments.

“What is it about the afternoons and slipping away?” she asked herself quietly before she grimaced. “Thanks, Spike,” she said out loud and nodded to herself. If her memory was as good as she remembered, Rarity would be arriving in a bit less than an hour, then it would be Pinkie Pie, then Applejack and Fluttershy, and finally Rainbow-

“Spike?” she asked again.


“Did you say that you couldn’t find Rainbow?”


Okay… no Rainbow then.

“Listen… Twilight… is there anything else that I need to know?” Spike asked from behind her, “Like… what’s going to happen to me when you’re gone?”

Twilight sighed again. She’d completely forgotten that part. “I’ll… talk to the mayor tomorrow,” she started, rolling out the details on the spot, “I’ll see if you’ll be alright to stay in the library… that is… if you want to.”

Spike shook his head. “I don’t mean where I’m going to stay…” he said, “I meant what am I going to do without you here? This is your home; I can’t imagine you not being in it.”

Twilight smiled sadly and reached out to hug Spike. He leant into her and wrapped his arms around her neck. “I’m sure you’ll figure out a way…” she said quietly, “You always seem to. Just remember that I wouldn’t want you moping around the place, okay?”

Spike let out a choked laugh, “No…” he said, smiling slightly, “You’d want me to make sure that all the books were neat and tidy for any customers that happened to come calling. I still can’t remember a day where you’ve shut the library due to illness.”

“That’s right,” Twilight smiled fondly, “No matter what… the library will remain open.” She wasn’t sure whether she was joking or not now. It had always seemed so important that she didn’t let her own problems get in the way of everyone else… She still maintained that, but she would be damned if she was going to spend her last few days on her own.

She let Spike go and he stepped back, smiling sadly to himself as he headed into the kitchen. Twilight bit her lip as she realised that she’d still not touched the food he’d left for her; she’d just not been hungry – she still wasn’t for that matter.

With nothing else to do, she scanned the bookcase for something to read to pass the rest of the time. There was The Lord of the Rings that she’d looked at in her dream… or whatever it was. She considered reading it again; she’d still not gotten any further than the first paragraph after all.

Then her eyes moved over it. Something else would be good… something a bit lighter and less… dense. Her eyes landed on her Daring Do collection and she smiled slightly. “Sure… why not?” she muttered to herself, standing up and lifting the first book from the shelf. It had been hers after the first week it’d hit the shelves of Canterlot – her parents having bought it for her birthday – and she’d kept it since.

She sat back down in the chair and started reading, allowing herself to get lost in the world of Daring Do and far-off lands.

Soon enough though, someone knocked at the door, breaking Twilight from her reading. She looked up as Spike headed towards the door. A glance out the window showed her that it was quarter-to-five. She sighed and folded the page she was on, putting the book down next to her as Rarity came into the room.

“Hey, Rarity,” Twilight greeted, smiling as Rarity sat down opposite her on the sofa.

“Good evening, Twilight,” she said, “Sorry I’m early, I know you said five, but I just wanted to let you know that I’ve told Applejack and Fluttershy to be here too.” She paused, looking at Twilight with worry, “Is there something the matter, dear? Spike was-” she looked around for a moment to check that he wasn’t listening to them, “Well… Spike looked as if he’d seen a ghost.”

Twilight nodded, “That’s what this is about… yes. I’ll tell you about it when everyone else is here first though… speaking of which…”

As if on cue, the doorbell rang again and Spike went to answer it, letting Pinkie into the fray in her typical high spirits. “Heya, Twilight,” she greeted, hopping over the sofa and landing next to Rarity, who blanched.

“Do you mind,” Rarity said hotly, glaring at Pinkie, “I’ve just had this tail curled. I’d-”

“Prefer it if you didn’t sit on it, dear,” Twilight murmured to herself, echoing the words that Rarity said at exactly the same time. She shivered. As déjà vu went, this seemed to be one of the worse cases she’d had.

The doorbell rang for the final time and Spike left to let Applejack and Fluttershy in, both of whom greeted Twilight warmly before saying hello to the other two ponies in the room.

After a few more moments, Twilight cleared her throat. The others settled down and focussed on her as she started speaking, “So since Rainbow couldn’t be found… It’s unlikely that she’ll be coming here to join us. Someone’ll have to pass this on to her later,” she said calmly, knowing she had their rapt attention; she’d had it before after all.

Recalling how she’d explained it before, she continued, “I’m dying. I’ve been diagnosed with a rare condition that’s fatal,” she paused, looking around the horrified stares from the audience, noticing how incredibly similar they were to the ones in her dream, “I’ve been given a few days of life before it happens… Any questions?”

The silence of the library echoed around her for a moment, as she knew it would, then Applejack asked the question that sent the others tumbling around her.

“You’re… you’re sure about this, right?”

“What about a second opinion?”

“Is there a cure?”

“What about princess Celestia?”

She didn’t send up a flare this time, she just held up her hoof and waited until they all fell silent before her. She sighed, “I’m sure… that was the second diagnosis I’ve been given. The disease I have… it’s incurable. The princess already knows and there isn’t going to be anything she can do about it, as much as it’s going to pain her to know that…”

“Is there anything we can do?” Fluttershy asked quietly, looking at Twilight with sorrow etched plainly across her face.

Caught between lying and telling her the blunt truth, Twilight settled on something else, “Just… be with me tomorrow…” she said, already wishing that Spike hadn’t asked them all over. This was already making her feel uncomfortable and she wanted to be left to herself again… there was still something about that dream that didn’t quite seem right.

Before she could voice her thoughts, she felt hooves wrap around her neck and leant into them, welcoming the hug, then the group hug as the others joined in with Fluttershy. There were no tears in this hug though, all eyes present remained dry as they mourned for their friend’s problems.

“Thanks, girls…” she said, her voice drugged and weighted.

“We’ll be around first thing tomorrow, ya hear?” Applejack said quietly into the group hug and Twilight nodded, hardly able to form any more words around the lump in her throat. They stayed like that for a little longer before the hug broke.

“We’ll see you in the morning,” Rarity said, trying to keep the tears from trekking down her face.

Twilight nodded and let them go, listening to them leave and the subsequent sound of the door shutting behind them. Once it had happened, she let herself fall against the chair and let her mind wander.

She had done exactly what she had done in her dream: She’d told Spike and her friends; she’d even told Celestia. And then there was the dream itself… it had predicted everything that would happen today, from when Spike had brought her marmalade on toast and a glass of orange juice, to when Pinkie Pie had jumped over the sofa and landed on Rarity’s tail. It was almost as if it was today that was the dream and the dream that was reality.

She hardly even knew anymore.

Spike was somewhere in the kitchen; he’d left Twilight to explain her predicament to her friends in peace. She knew though, that sooner or later, he’d come in and ask her if she wanted something to eat. She’d refuse and try to go to her room for some peace and quiet, he wouldn’t like it, but with a bit of prodding, he’d accept and leave her to her thoughts.

She’d go outside and look out over the balcony, feeling the chilly breeze on her face as she looked into the starry sky. She’d repeat to herself that she hadn’t enough time to say goodbye to everyone, she didn’t have enough time to get everything in order. Then she’d wish for another day…

A shiver ran up her spine as she thought about that last point.

Something like this was a myth, of course it was. There was no-one in living memory who had ever been caught inside something like it. Those that had gave dubious explanations too, about how they had been caught inside the same day for years and years; how they’d been stuck in a time loop.

She kept thinking about it. Two days… that might have been coincidence, but three… if she woke up tomorrow to find marmalade on toast and orange juice in front of her, she’d know it to be true.

In front of her, the candle lit up again and the fyre burned for a moment before it died, leaving another scroll on the table, this one also sealed shut with wax.

She lifted it up and cracked the wax open, letting it unroll in her hooves as she read it.

No… I’m sorry.

Chapter 3: Tomorrow Comes Today

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She woke up to the feeling of her head trying to implode. She wasn’t surprised; it wasn’t that uncommon of late. A cursory glance to the clock beside her showed that it was 9:30 in the morning again. A further glance to the bedside table showed an absence of the scroll she’d left there last night.

She grimaced and fell back against the bed, waiting for the knock that would inevitably arrive. Soon enough, it came, and Twilight called out, “Come in.”

Spike entered the room with a tray of breakfast. “Morning, Twilight,” he said, “How’re you feeling?”

“The usual of late,” Twilight grumbled, more to herself than to Spike, “Aching and with the distinct sense of déjà vu.”

Spike walked up alongside the bed and laid the tray down in front of her with a flourish. “Bon appetite,” he said in a faux-accent, grinning slightly.

Twilight chuckled to herself and shook her head slightly at his antics. She had more important things to focus on for the time being… the marmalade on toast was a good start.

“No more pancakes?” she asked, almost certain that the answer would be…

“Well… about that,” Spike said bashfully, “We’re all out.”


Twilight sighed, thinking over what she could do. She wasn’t really in the mood to repeat the actions of her last few days again; telling your friends that you were going to die was rather draining apparently.

No… if her hunch was right and she was stuck in some sort of time loop, it’d be better to just play along with it for the moment and act like nothing was wrong.

“I’ll pick some up later,” she said, taking hold of the toast and taking a bite from it.

“Why aren’t you using magic?” Spike asked curiously, watching her from the end of her bed.

“Mm?” Twilight paused to swallow before she continued, “Oh, I’m somewhat burnt out. I used a lot more magic than I meant to yesterday; that’s probably why I was dead on the doorstep when you found me,” she finished, chuckling to herself.

“Oh… right,” Spike said, turning towards the door and seeming disappointed that it was nothing more fantastical. “Wait…” he started again, pausing, “How did you know it was me if you were dead to the world?”

Caught out, Twilight fumbled her words for a moment before settling on: “Lucky guess.”

Spike shrugged and turned again. “Call if you need anything,” he said over his shoulder, leaving the room and Twilight to her thoughts with a slight click.

She remained still for a few more moments, taking another bite of her breakfast, before she grimaced. “So this is what it’s like to be stuck in a timeloop…” she muttered to herself, “I wish Spike could have gotten some more pancakes yesterday.”

The room was quiet again and she glanced around it, or more particularly, the bookcase lining one of the walls; a reference for everything she would ever wish to know. “Time loops…” she muttered, scanning the shelves for something that would be vaguely helpful. The Magic of Time, Starswirl’s Seconds, and Time and Consequence all came down from the shelves onto the bed, joined swiftly by Twilight as she flipped the first one open to the index page.

“Stopping time … no,” she muttered, flipping the pages as fast as her hooves would allow and reading off various hopeful items. “Slowing time… no, reality manipulation… no, time warp… no, time machine… Why is time machine in this?” She spared a glance at the page number before she glanced up again and grimaced. The next entry in the index was time killers, straight past any notion of Loops.

She snapped the book shut and put it aside, making room for the second book to which she subjected to the same treatment. Pages flicked by as she murmured to herself, pausing every now and again to flick through the book itself before she went back. The clock struck ten outside and she looked up, annoyed.

The second book hadn’t yielded any more information on the matter and she threw it off the bed, not caring that it was probably the most valuable book in the library. Before it had even finished falling, the final book was in front of her and she skimmed through the index as if her life depended on it.

The third book hit the floor with a thunk and she let out a yell: “Spike!”

There was a hurried patter of claws on the stairs and he stuck his head inside, red-faced and puffing slightly, hooking himself on the door to stop him toppling forwards.

“Do we have anything on time loops anywhere in this library?” she asked, frustrated.

“I- uh- no,” Spike wheezed, still trying to catch his breath as Twilight’s glare intensified. “But,” he quickly backtracked, “I think Canterlot library has a copy of A Stitch in Time; that’s about time loops I think.”

“Excellent! When’s the next train to Canterlot?”

Spike paused, thinking, “Well… usually there’s one an hour…” he started, standing up fully and pushing the door open a bit wider, “but I think they’re running a skeleton service at the moment… something about there being maintenance with the rails I think. The next one will be at six in the evening if I remember the poster correctly.”

“Six in the evening!?” Twilight exclaimed, disbelief running rife in her voice, “What the hay happened to early morning service?”

Spike twiddled his thumb nervously. “It left five minutes ago…” he admitted, biting his lip, and backing away from Twilight as she ground her teeth quietly. “What- What’s the sudden interest in time loops though?” Spike asked with a nervous laugh, trying to distract Twilight from the problem of reliable train times.

“I’m in one,” Twilight said, speaking through locked jaws and trying as hard as she could to burn a hole into the wall with her glare.

“A time loop?” Spike confirmed, walking forwards again as Twilight let out a grunt of acknowledgement, “Are you sure you’re okay, Twilight?”

She looked at him, irritated, “You don’t believe me,” she stated.

“Not in so many words… no.”

Twilight chewed her lip for a moment, thinking. “Alright…” she said finally, “I can prove it.” Wordlessly, Spike raised an eyebrow and looked at her patiently. “At a little past eleven, Rainbow Dash will knock on the door, looking for me.”

Spike looked at her in disbelief, “That’s your proof?” he asked incredulously, “That Rainbow will come calling?”

It was Twilight’s turn to look at Spike in surprise. “Isn’t it proof enough?” she implored.

“Well… you could have asked her to come around this morning,” Spike reasoned.

“Since when did you become a cynic?”

Spike snorted quietly, a slight smile breaking out on his features. “Alright,” he said, “So let’s say I believe you… you say that Rainbow is going to come calling at about eleven…? What’s she going to talk to you about?”

Twilight opened her mouth, then shut it again as she realised something. “I… uh… don’t know,” she admitted, looking shiftily at everything but Spike, “I always managed to cut her off before she spoke…”

“Right…” Spike said, “If it’s all the same with you… I think I’ll go and get you an appointment with one of those quacks they have at the docs.” His face a mix of resignation and weariness, he turned and shut the door behind him, the sound of his claws going down the stairs echoing a few moments later.

“Because I lie so often…” Twilight muttered vindictively to herself, trying to think of one such occasion, thinking of several, then resolving to stop the white lies… again.

She pushed the last book off the bed and flopped back against the sheets again, hearing the springs beneath her groan in dismay. “Oh, shut up…” she said quietly, shutting her eyes and thinking aloud, “Well… since Canterlot is out of the question for the moment… what was I going to do after I’ve looked at the book? Hell… the longer I stay in this loop, the longer I can stay alive.”

“What if I look for a cure?” she asked herself thoughtfully, “There’s been none found so far… but it seems that I have time on my hooves.”

With the thought firmly in her mind, she stood up and dragged down the large book of Minds and Maladies from before, immediately turning to the page she’d memorised about a week ago. Across the top, written in bold letters, was the object of her intellect.

Advanced Magical Hyperactivity Flux Disorder

This was a condition theorised by Clover the Clever over five-thousand years ago. The condition would occur when the magic-wielding creature does not prepare themselves for the sheer amount of magic that they would use.

Since we live on the natural magic in our bodies and the air around us, a complete absence of it soon proves fatal to the creature involved. Those conditioned to using vast amounts of magic on a regular basis, whether it be a unicorn, pegasus, or earth pony, will suffer a complete lack of their talents that could prove jarring.


An inability to use magic in whatever form it is usually used.

A lack of control over whatever magic is left.



None known.

“Well that’s a brilliant start…” she murmured to herself, taking a bookmark she kept on the bedside table and slotting it into the page before she shut the book. “Where the hell am I meant to go from that?” she asked herself again, wracking her brain for the possibilities.

“Where do I start… where do I start…” her muttering echoed around the room as she frowned in concentration, “Start… start- Start!” Her eyes shot open and she rolled out of bed with a thump, talking to herself, “Start from the start… of course… initial diagnosis to find out the individual problems.”

Grinning happily to herself, she ran out the room and down the stairs two-at-a-time, barely pausing as she hit the landing and careering straight down towards the basement. The door slammed shut behind her, plunging her into the darkness of the basement.

She paused for a moment, muttering darkly as she made her way forwards much more cautiously than before, her hooves scanning the floor and tables for a match of some sort.

After about a minute of fruitless searching, she ground her teeth together and sparks shot from her horn, illuminating the room as if it were midday down there and sending flames jolting from the lanterns hung around the room as Celestia played the bongos on Twilight’s brain.

Her eyes flickered open then shut rapidly and she hissed as the faint light from the candles burnt itself onto the back of her retinas.

Setting her face against the pain, she stood up, using the nearest table as support as she limped towards the desk at the end of the basement. On it was a notebook, several pens, and, what she was interested in, a medical spellbook that she’d borrowed from the hospital several days previous.

Squinting through barely-open eyes, she flicked through the book until she came to a section on diagnostics.

“Self-diagnosis… self-diagnosis,” she muttered, jumping from page to page with increasing ferocity as the book’s pages started to run out until, with a triumphant yell, she stopped on the penultimate page of the section and started to read, committing the spell on the page to memory.

She bit her lip; if her previous experiences were any judge, performing this spell would probably make her faint from the pain, once again, something she wasn’t too fond of happening while she was casting a spell.

“What’s the worst that could happen?” she asked herself darkly and charged up her horn regardless of the consequences.

The sound of the door rattling on its hinges echoed down into the basement as someone knocked firmly, breaking Twilight from her reverie. Magic splintered from her horn, backfiring and sending her reeling backwards as various bits of equipment shattered before her eyes.

“Ow…” she muttered from her new position against the wall.

She stood up again, trying to ignore the black dots flitting around her vision as she made her way slowly towards the staircase again. She’d been so close to completing the spell… She grumbled to herself as she emerged into the library, trying to think of a way to get rid of the caller as quickly as possible.

She swung open the door with a scowl to reveal Rainbow Dash, once more, nervously hopping to and fro. “Yes?” she asked curtly, mentally noting that it must be around eleven in the morning.

“Uh- hey… Twilight,” Rainbow greeted jerkily, surprise flickering across her nervous face at Twilight’s bluntness.

“Can it wait- whatever this is?” Twilight asked, not allowing her scowl to soften, “I’m busy and I’m working on a deadline here.”

“Well- uh-” Rainbow fumbled for her words for another few precious seconds and Twilight tried to keep her teeth from grinding together.

“It’s hardly a pop quiz, Rainbow…” Twilight said, irritated, “It’s just a simple yes or no question. So… can it wait?”

Once again, Rainbow opened and closed her mouth, mumbling half-formed words and not quite meeting Twilight’s eyes.

Twilight’s patience snapped and she said angrily: “Well… since you seem to be waiting just fine there, I think I can gather the answer. I’ll talk to you later, Rainbow.” She slammed the door shut, moving away from it in a huff as she went down towards the basement again.

She was busy… she didn’t have time to waste on waiting for Rainbow to say whatever it was she wanted to say. Especially not when she could just wait for when she came by tomorrow at the same time.

Her eyes scanned the smashed basement, making a quick inventory check of all the equipment which hadn’t been able to stand up to the magical backfire. By some miracle, the lanterns were still shining brightly, turning the smashed glass and apparatus into flickering shadows against the walls and floor.

She made a mental note to ask Spike to clean it up later, then moved to her previous position at the end of the room where the medical book was still laid open on the self-diagnosis spell she’d been looking at before.

She glanced at the page again, refreshing it in her memory, before she charged up her horn once more and cast the spell.

She teetered on her hooves as a migraine assaulted her, trying to block out the pain and to focus on the spell.

The spell was akin to looking at yourself in a mirror, only this mirror happened to show you what was inside rather than out.

She looked at the connections in her head, following the inactive line from her horn wherever it took her. The migraine pulsed once and her hold on the spell faltered before she strengthened it, working through the pain.

She followed the dead connection down her spine, ignoring the pulses that were coming more and more frequently and with increasing ferocity.

She was nearly there… she could sense it… it was heading towards her-

Something popped and clicked inside her ears and whatever control she’d had over the spell was lost as she fell to the floor, screaming in pain as the migraines took her and she drifted into blackness.

The candles had burnt to their death by the time she woke up in the pitch black. Her head felt as if it had split itself open and she could taste blood from when she’d apparently bitten her tongue.

She let out a pitiful moan as the pain washed over her again, sending darker spots scattering across her closed eyelids.

She needed water… Water and some painkillers…

Bracing herself, she planted a forehoof firmly against the floor followed by the other one, pushing herself up slightly before her leg gave way and she was sent crashing to the floor again.

Any breath that she would have used to yell was forced from her lungs in a quiet grunt as she laid there, trying to catch her breath and to force the pain back down.

The sound of the door opening above her barely registered, but the pattering of claws on the steps did. She managed to move her head towards the doorway and saw Spike, holding a candle and looking at her, aghast.

She managed to offer him a ghostly smile before she felt herself slipping back down into the blackness again.


The next time she came to, she felt much better.

That was an understatement actually. The headaches were gone, she felt as if she was lying on a bed with a comfy pillow behind her head. In fact, the only gripe she could conjure was that there was something sharp poking into her arm.

She grunted, opening her eyes and trying to blink away the bright light above her. Almost immediately, someone was at her side and leaning over her, blocking out some of that accursed light.

Their voice was muffled, as if through a thick wall, and she could only just make out their lips moving as her vision swam back into some sort of focus.

“- Twilight? Miss Twilight?”

“Uh… where am I?” she asked drowsily, looking up at a surprisingly familiar face.

“You’re awake,” the doctor said in relief, “You gave us quite a scare,” he said, smiling slightly and stepping back.

Letting out a small moue of effort, she tried to sit up, vaguely aware of the doctor looking at her anxiously.

“You’re at the hospital,” the doctor continued, still keeping an eye on her as she examined her surroundings, “Your assistant, Spike, brought you here after he found you collapsed in your basement. I’ll go and let him know that you’re awake.”

“Wait!” Twilight said quickly, settling back into the bed as the doctor paused at the door, “What time is it?”

The doctor looked at her in mild surprise before he glanced at a watch on his forehoof. “It’s half-past five in the afternoon; you were out for about five hours since you were brought in. I’ll be back in a minute,” he said, slipping through the doors and closing them quietly behind him.

Twilight sighed, closing her eyes and trying to remember what had happened. She’d been so close to finishing the spell before she’d lost control. The connection had been going straight towards her main organs… to speculate further could make any cure fatal, or even worse, useless to her.

She’d just have to try again when she was feeling stronger.

The door slammed open in front of her again and Spike ran into the room, swiftly followed by all five of her friends. Twilight noted how Spike’s eyes were red-rimmed and the tear-tracks that hadn’t quite been rubbed away completely.

“You’re alright,” Spike exclaimed joyously and ran forwards to embrace her, quickly followed by her other friends as the doctor quietly joined them in the room, shutting the door silently.

“What in the hay were you doing, girl?” Applejack asked incredulously to her right, “Your whole basement is all-but gone.”

“Give the poor girl some time, Applejack,” Rarity scolded to her left, “She’s just woken up from whatever it was that caused all this.”

“Ooh! Ooh! I know what to do!” Pinkie said cheerfully from in front of her, “Let’s throw a ‘Thank You Twilight for Not Destroying Ponyville with Your Super-Awesome-Power’ party!”

“How is that going to solve anything?” Applejack asked, puzzled.

“A party always solves everything!” Pinkie insisted

“Um… Pinkie,” Fluttershy started, still looking at Twilight in concern, “I don’t think Twilight meant to destroy anything.”

Pinkie paused, thinking for a moment, “Good point, Flutters,” she finally conceded, “But what should the party be for then? I need a reason to have a party.”

“How about a ‘Twilight Didn’t Fry Herself with Her Magic’ party?” Rainbow suggested, also looking at Twilight in concern.

“Excellent idea Dashie!” Pinkie exclaimed, grinning to herself.

“Wouldn’t a party be a tad premature?” Rarity asked, raising an eyebrow at Pinkie.

Twilight let the conversation wash over her, resting her hoof around Spike’s neck as he kept hugging her.

From behind all of them, the doctor let out a chuckle. “How about you give her a chance to get a word in edgeways,” he said, smiling.

“Oh yeah,” Pinkie said, as if the idea had only just dawned on her, “That’s a brilliant idea Doc, Twilight can tell us all about what went wrong and how she was going to destroy Ponyville but wasn’t in the end and ended up destroying her labrat- Mphh!”

“Ignore her,” Rainbow said, holding her hoof firmly in place inside Pinkie’s mouth, “Go on, Twi, what happened?”

Twilight let out a breath that she didn’t realise she’d been holding and released Spike, who stood up, looking at her with wide eyes. She had two options… to lie, or to tell the truth.

“It was a magical backfire,” she admitted, settling on a half-truth, “I overestimated myself and I must have knocked myself out during the spell…”

“Bwut khind ov sphell?” Pinkie said through Rainbow’s hoof.

“Ew… gross…” Rainbow muttered as her hoof was doused in a healthy amount of Pinkie’s saliva, withdrawing it and hopping towards the sink in the corner of the room.

“Not a destruction spell, no,” Twilight said, smiling, Something like that would have killed me… she thought to herself before speaking aloud again, “It was an experimental spell to find out something, that’s all.”

“Aww…” Pinkie said, drooping slightly before she perked up again, “Welp, a ‘Twilight Didn’t Fry Herself’ party it is then!”

Both Applejack and Rarity rolled their eyes as Rainbow Dash joined them again.

“How long is she going to be here?” Fluttershy asked the doctor, who looked up.

“That’s up to her,” he said smoothly, looking Twilight directly in the eye. She shook her head slightly and he sighed, “But we’ll keep her overnight at the very least, just to make sure that she’s fine.”

“I’ll be fine, girls,” Twilight reassured, “I’ll be out in the morning, okay?”

Pinkie leant forwards and laid an envelope in front of Twilight. She smiled at Twilight and said, “We’ll see you then, then!” before she turned and bounced out the door, followed by everyone but Spike and the doctor.

Curiously, Twilight opened the envelope with the edge of her hoof and looked at the invitation inside with some disbelief. “You are invited to a ‘Twilight Didn’t Fry Herself’ party tomorrow at Sugarcube corner at 10 AM,” she read aloud before she shook her head, clearing the doubts from her mind.

“And now why don’t you tell me the real reason that you were admitted,” the doctor spoke, looking at her with a steely gaze.

Twilight met his eyes, then glanced towards Spike.

“He knows,” the doctor answered briefly, “I may have let something slip when he came here with you.”

Spike remained silent, his red-rimmed eyes threatening to flood again.

Twilight sighed before speaking again, “It happened while I was casting a self-diagnosis spell,” she admitted, watching the doctor’s surprise, “I was trying to figure out where the block in my magic was. Diagnose the individual problems and make a solution to each of them,” she continued.

“But- but… your magic is blocked,” the doctor stated, shocked, “How were you performing magic in the first place?”

“I’ve been studying magic for about five years,” Twilight said, deadpan, “I found a way.”

“And you fainted half-way through this spell, is that correct?” the doctor continued, the wonder still evident in his eyes.

“Yes,” Twilight replied shortly, “The next time I woke up, I was here.” She left out the screaming and the pain and the time that she’d first collapsed on purpose. She didn’t want any more concern than she’d already garnered.

The doctor noted down something on the clipboard at the foot of her bed before he nodded. “I’ll leave you two alone for a little while. If you need anything, there’s a button on the table beside you.”

Twilight nodded her thanks then followed him with her eyes as he walked out the room, leaving her and Spike alone.

The silence of the room engulfed them for a moment before Spike finally spoke, “Why didn’t you tell me that you were dying?”

Twilight sighed, letting her shoulders slump. “And how was I supposed to do that?” she implored, “I’ve already done it twice now… I didn’t want to do it again.”

“That time loop stuff again?” Spike asked, grasping at that faint hope, “So you weren’t lying? You’ve done this all before? You’re not going to die?”

Twilight didn’t know how to answer that, so she didn’t.

Chapter 4: St. Petersberg

View Online

She was home; in her bed; in her house.

She was home, and she had a headache. She grunted, rolling over in her bed to reach for the water again, drinking deeply from it until it was all-but empty.

She placed it back down on the surface with a contented sigh, noting that the clock was back at 9:30 in the morning.

Spike knocked at the door and she called for him to come in.

“Morning, Twilight,” he greeted, the tray as stacked as ever, “How’re you feeling?”

“Tired,” Twilight replied on automatic, smiling as Spike set the tray in front of her.

“You’ve been sleeping for about half a day, Twilight… How in Equestria are you still tired?”

Twilight shrugged, taking a bite from her toast, “Yesterday was a long day…” she admitted.

“Speaking of which…” Spike began, sitting on the end of her bed and looking at her in worry, “Why wer-“

“Magical backfire from a loss of focus,” she interrupted, pre-empting the usual question and taking another bite from her breakfast, “Mmm… This is really good, Spike.”

“Are magical backfires that painful?” Spike asked, shivering slightly.

Twilight thought back to the previous day when she’d managed to perform a backfire twice, comparing it to the original teleport she did a while ago. “More so…” she finally settled on.

“Wouldn’t want to be in your hooves then,” Spike muttered, hopping of the bed, “Well, call if you need anything; I’ll be downstairs, sorting out the travel section.”

Twilight waved absent-mindedly as Spike left the room, taking a gulp from the drink in front of her while she pondered what to do today. Another glance towards the clock showed her that it was already 9:45 and she bit her lip. It seemed that it wasn’t just the afternoons that seemed to be slipping away now.

Having said that… She was almost certain that she had been planning to do something today… Spike talking about organising the travel section had started something whirring in her brain and she was trying to decipher the meaning… albeit unsuccessfully.

And then, she remembered about the book. “Bother, bother, bother…” she muttered to herself, glancing at the clock again as it ticked over to ten-to.

Abandoning her unfinished breakfast to the side of the bed, she rushed out of her room and shot down the stairs as fast as she could, yelling: “I’ll be back later, I’ll be in Canterlot if you need to get me!” to Spike over her shoulder as she left, slamming the door behind her as she pelted down the street, attracting more than a few curious glances.

“Come on, Twilight,” she muttered to herself, between gasps of breath, still galloping towards the train station. Soon enough, it came up in front of her and she slowed down, breathing heavily as she trotted into the ticket office and the lone mare on duty inside. “Good- morning,” she wheezed, still drawing in vast lungfuls of air.

“Uh…” the mare, a slim, pale-grey pony wearing a conductor’s cap, behind the counter looked around nervously, “Morning, Miss Princess.”

“I need a ticket from here to Canterlot,” Twilight said, her panting now slightly more under control.

“Yes, Princess,” the mare answered quickly, already pressing buttons on a contraption hidden behind the desk before she looked up with the ticket in hoof, “That’s seventeen bits please.”

Twilight stared at her, agog, as she realised the thing that she had forgotten to bring. “Shoot…” she muttered to herself, “I- uh… can I pay you back tomorrow?” she asked hopefully, gesturing to her lack of bits helplessly.

The pony behind the counter bit her lip, trying to decide what to do. On the one hoof, her boss would skin her alive if he knew that she was giving favours; on the other hand, this was princess Sparkle that was asking… she was sure he’d understand. She slid the tickets across the counter and smiled nervously as Twilight took them.

“Thanks!” she called over her shoulder as she dashed onto the platform to see the train, doors open, in front of her. “Talk about timing…” she muttered to herself, taking a moment to flatten her mane from its slicked-back running position before she boarded the train, finding a seat reasonably close to the door.

The journey was unremarkable in itself. She was the only one in the carriage bar for a lone stallion seated near the back, slate-grey and thinning, with a mane of almost-wispy brown hair, and he was sleeping.

She didn’t really notice bar a casual glance though, the rest of the journey was spent with her eyes out of the window, watching the scenery race by as she considered her game plan for the rest of the day.

Obviously her first stop would be the library to search out the book, followed by an hour or two of reading. Then she’d step out into town for a spot of lunch, possibly over at the Wax and Wick – a café she’d become fond of over the years – before she returned to her reading and her analysis.

Nodding to herself, she sat back in the chair and shut her eyes, listening to the growl of the engine and allowing her body to roll with the train. It brought a certain sort of calm to her; the calm of simply letting the world pass her by.

She allowed it to do so until she arrived at Canterlot, whereupon she opened her eyes and stood up, vaguely aware of the other occupant doing likewise as she waited beside the door.

Once they opened, she stepped out into the lukewarm sun and glanced around briefly at the other ponies joining her on the platform, surprised that she recognised one in particular. “Mr Cake?” she shouted across the platform in surprise, seeing him turn his head, along with a few other curious ponies, and wave to her.

“Well, fancy seeing you here, princess Twilight,” Mr Cake offered, smiling as she approached.

“Just Twilight, thanks,” she corrected, joining and following him towards the exit of the station, “What’s brought you here?” she asked curiously, remembering that Mrs Cake had been worrying about him previously.

He looked around shiftily as they presented their tickets to the ponies at the gate. Leaning in to Twilight’s ear, he whispered, “Well… can you keep a secret?”

Raising an eyebrow, Twilight nodded silently, blinking as they emerged into the open air of Canterlot.

“It’s our – my wife’s and my – anniversary tomorrow,” he admitted quietly, “Our tenth,” he continued, a bit of pride injected into his voice.

“Congratulations,” Twilight offered amicably.

“Thank you. That’s why I’m here though… I need to find her a present for tomorrow…”

Twilight raised another eyebrow in further surprise, “Isn’t this cutting it a bit fine?”

“You’re telling me…” he said morosely, “I always kept missing the trains…”

“I’m sure you’ll find something,” she encouraged, and he chuckled.

“Of course; it’s just whether she’ll like it that’s the worry. I’ll see you around, Twilight,” he said, turning left down a street whilst she carried straight on towards the palace, waving over her shoulder.

She spared a glance at the Canterlot church and the clock tower it held, showing that it was 10:30.

“I’d best get to work…” she muttered to herself, setting off towards the palace library at a light jog, offering an amicable greeting to those who offered their own. The gateway to Canterlot castle rose up in front of her and she slowed down for a moment as the two guards on duty briefly glanced her way.

“Morning,” she greeted idly as their eyes widened and they snapped to attention, audibly clanking as their armour caught up with them.

“Princess Sparkle!” one of them – the one on the left – exclaimed, saluting, and then cringing as his head rang from hitting his helmet.

Twilight winced along with him and smiled briefly. “Uh… hello?” she half-asked, looking between the guards quizzically, “Can I help you with anything?”

The other guard looked at her oddly. “That’s our line, your highness,” he corrected, “What can we do for you?”

Twilight looked from one guard to the other again, irritation flashing briefly across her features, “I don’t want anything,” she said allowing the irritation to seep into her voice very slightly, “I just want to go to the library.”

“Do you want us to accompany you, your highness?” the first guard asked, leaning forwards eagerly.

Her brow furrowed slightly, she replied testily, “No, can’t you go back to guarding the gate?” she asked hopefully.

“You want us to guard you from the gate?” the first guard repeated, “Got it.”

The sound of Twilight’s hoof hitting her face was drowned out as the second guard spoke up again, “But why are you afraid of the gate?” A sharp look from the other guard later and he quickly added, “Your highness.”

“I don’t want you to guard me from the gate,” Twilight said through grit teeth, “I want you to go back to guarding the gate.”

“Well why didn’t you say so in the first place?” the second guard asked, “We can do that, easy peasy.”

“Thank you,” Twilight said, relief in her voice.

“Oh, uh,” the first guard started again and Twilight groaned internally, “Why does the gate need guarding, your highness? It’s not going to escape is it?”

Twilight’s eyebrow twitched and she glanced at the other guard only to see the same earnest and worried eyes. “All I want you to do…” she said in a slow and painfully patient voice, “Is to go back to what you were doing before I came here. Okay?”

The guards shared a glance at one another and they looked back at Twilight. “Well… uh,” the first guard started uneasily, “Do you mean before you came to the palace or before you came to Canterlot?”

“Before I came to the palace,” she answered drily.

“I wasn’t doing anything then, your highness,” the second guard said, “I wasn’t old enough to work back then. I think Bill over there had a job at a bakers…”

“It’s shut now, Bob,” the first one replied sadly, “Still… one day, I’m going to open my own bakery,” he continued, staring off into space while Twilight gaped at him.

“Nice,” the guard, apparently named Bob, replied approvingly, “Oh! Are you going to make those things you can get in Prance… what are they… Crossants?”

“Croissants,” the guard named Bill corrected, “And among other things… It’s going to be a pastry heaven in there,” he said with a dreamy sigh, too lost in his own thoughts to realise that Twilight had slipped away through the gate.

She grumbled to herself as she went further and further away from the two bumbling guards; she’d be lucky if she had the time to get through the whole book by the end of the day now, especially as she still needed to find it.

She settled into a brisk trot, nodding to one or two other ponies in the palace’s staff. She knew the route to the library like the web of circulatory veins running about her body – that is to say, very well.

And if she knew the route to the library like the structure of her body, then she knew the library itself like her magic. She headed straight towards the indexing cabinets dotted around the library and drew out the draw she needed, searching for ‘A Stitch in Time’- the book that she was looking for.

She found it quickly enough, the card in her hoof telling her that it was indexed as 068.24 in the decimal system the library operated. She committed the number to memory and set off, weaving between the shelves until she reached the isle she needed.

A quick scan of the shelves in front of her and she started to feel like things were finally looking up today. She withdrew the book – a thin affair with the cover depicting a Möbius strip – and made her way to one of the many tables in the almost-deserted library.

She opened the cover of the book and started to read.


What is contained within this book may be perceived as science fiction. To many readers, that is what it will remain- a set of events considered dubious by all-but-a-few. It is to those few that I write for.

This is my recounting and observations on the looping of my own time loop, written in the hope that it will, one day, aid another, you, who finds themselves stuck in their own slice of time.

Clover Ironshield

She shivered as she read the name. To all-but-a-few, that name would have been lost to history as another unicorn. There were not many that knew how Clover Ironshield had risen to fame as Clover the Clever. Twilight counted herself as one of those lucky few and turned the page onto the first chapter.

She looked up from the book some time later to find that the silent clock in the library had already ticked past twelve and was over halfway towards one o’clock in the afternoon.

The book, now nearly finished, read more like a story than anything else, detailing how the unicorn within had woken up on the worst day of her life countless times over, how she changed minute details which affected events later in the day, and of how she’d changed it from the worst day into the best.

She glanced at the pages left again, she’d been reading for around two hours now and she’d hardly noticed. She guessed that she had another hour left of reading to go before she was done with the book.

She briefly considered continuing with it when her stomach let out a gurgle of annoyance. She sighed, mentally noting the page number, and closing the book, letting it stay on the table where, hopefully, no-one would move it in the time she was gone.

She let herself out of the library, nodding a greeting to the elderly librarian – a blue-grey stallion with a wispy beard – and trying to ignore the groans from her stomach. “It’s hardly the first time you’ve missed a meal,” she muttered to herself crossly, trying to placate her grumbling belly unsuccessfully.

Thankfully, she noted that the two previous guards had apparently shifted out, replaced by a second pair that she didn’t engage in conversation.

It had already crossed her mind that she still had no money on her. Thankfully, a quick visit to the bank later and she was ready for lunch, cash and hungry stomach in tow.

The city was bustling at this hour, the various visitors, workers, and nobles all flocking around the local markets and gawping at some of the work that was on display. She ignored all of them, making her way instead to a café, somewhat out-of-sight from the main markets, the sign depicting it to be the Wax and Wick hung inconspicuously above the door.

At the sound of the jingling bell, a pony behind the counter looked up and offered a warm smile. “Twilight Sparkle,” Doughnut Joe greeted, his eyes twinkling, “Or is it princess Sparkle now?” he continued.

“Just Twilight Sparkle will suffice,” she said, glancing around the empty shop, “Where’s the usual crowd?” she asked.

Joe looked up, surprised, “You haven’t heard?” he asked, his smile dropping.

Twilight slowly shook her head and Joe grunted. “There’s a new café just around the corner from here called ‘The Sparkle.’ Quite popular too, apparently,” he said bitterly.

“You’re joking, right?” Twilight asked, raising an eyebrow at the name of the café.

“I’m afraid not,” Joe said, shrugging, “Still, what can I do?” he said helplessly, “At least there’s still no competition for the doughnut shop at the hours I run.”

Twilight bit her lip and sighed, “I’m sorry, Joe,” she said finally and he shrugged.

“There’s nothing you can do about it, it simply is what it is,” he said matter-of-factly before straightening up, “Anyway… I assume you didn’t come in here to just chat, although it would be a nice change every once in a while,” he added whimsically.

Twilight chuckled, “You’re right,” she admitted, “I’ll bear the company thing in mind though,” she said before glancing at the menu behind Joe’s head. “I’ll have the…” she started, browsing the menu with a practised eye, “Oh, I’ll have the balsamic salad with a glass of orange juice please,” she said and Joe nodded.

“Right you are,” he muttered, “That’ll be thirty bits please,” he said and Twilight passed a small bag over the counter before making her way to a table and watching as Joe bustled around the small kitchen behind the counter.

“So how long ago did they open?” she asked.

“A few weeks ago tomorrow,” he replied over his shoulder, starting to slice some lettuce as he did so.

“And they took away your lunch crowd?” Twilight asked, aghast, and Joe shrugged.

“Most of them. They’re a lot cheaper than this place and a lot of ponies want cheaper stuff these days, you know, with the economy and all that.”

In fact, Twilight did not know about the economy, but she stayed silent on that matter. “So how are you going to manage?” she asked, “I did your finances a while back; I know how little of a margin you leave yourself.”

“I’ll manage,” he said stiffly and Twilight shut up, unwilling to prod him any more as he continued to slice and dice. “Order up,” he said smartly a few minutes later and Twilight took the proffered plate.

Joe looked at her oddly; holding the plate in her mouth before placing it onto the table. “Something up with your magic?” he asked quietly.

“Nothing permanent,” Twilight said, equally stiffly, and taking the glass from the counter, letting it join the plate on the table.

“I know a doctor if you need one,” Joe said helpfully, “She’s a specialist in magical problems.”

Internally, Twilight doubted whether she’d be able to help with this particular problem, but she sighed, “I’m fine, Joe. It’s just a bit of magical overuse, I’ll get over it soon enough.”

“If you’re sure,” he said doubtfully and left her to her lunch, which she munched down appreciatively, satiating her stomach.

It was at that moment that the bell to the shop rang again and another – rather familiar customer – walked in.

“Miss Dash?” Joe exclaimed from behind the counter, “What’re the odds, ey?”

At Joe’s greeting, Twilight span around in her seat to see Rainbow Dash standing, somewhat dazed, in the entrance of the shop. “Rainbow?” she said, surprised, “How- but- What are you doing here?”

Rainbow looked around the shop briefly, catching her breath. “I’ve-” she started, wheezing somewhat, “I’ve been looking for- looking for you all day,” she explained, moving inside and letting the door shut as she continued to breathe heavily.

Joe edged into view beside her with a glass of water that Rainbow gladly accepted, drinking the cool liquid down quickly.

“Thanks, Joe,” she muttered quietly, passing back the glass which he took before retreating back to the kitchen area behind them.

“But, why?” Twilight implored, confused, as Rainbow fell back into a chair opposite her.

“There’s something I need to tell you,” Rainbow admitted somewhat uneasily, casting a glance over at Joe warily. “Something I’d rather have said in private admittedly,” she continued, raising her voice slightly so that Joe heard it.

“I can take a hint, ladies,” he said, taking a newspaper from a small stack atop the counter, “I’ll be in the back if you need anything.”

Meanwhile, Twilight was staring at Rainbow in abject disbelief. “You need to tell me something…” she repeated back to Rainbow slowly, “Something so important that it just couldn’t wait?”

Rainbow nodded and Twilight thought she heard something go pop inside her head.

“Alright… fine…” she grumbled, mostly to herself, “I give up… what is so important that you keep tracking me down relentlessly?” She waited patiently for some sort of sarcastic retort, yet it never came.

She glanced up and looked at Rainbow properly for the second time since she’d come in through the doors. She looked anxious – flighty – and was paler than Twilight remembered her being. “Are you sure you’re alright?” she asked again.

“Peachy…” Rainbow said, lying.

“Sure…” Twilight said, raising an eyebrow and letting Rainbow know just how bad that lie had been. The recipient squirmed.

“Well, you’ve finally managed it,” Twilight said in the absence of any talking from Rainbow, “You’ve found me and you’ve managed to get me to hear you out at last… so it’d help if I had something to actually hear…” She was almost certain that she hadn’t meant to be so cutting with her sarcasm.

Once again, Rainbow squirmed and looked at everything but Twilight for a few moments. To her credit, Twilight waited patiently for her to speak, and speak she did… eventually.

“Well…” she started at last, keeping at least some of her anxiety from leaking into her voice, “How long have you been in Ponyville now?” she asked at last and Twilight had the distinct impression that she was fighting for more time.

“Nearly five years,” she replied, playing along with Rainbow’s game for the moment.

“And… uh… We’ve been good friends for all that time, right?”

Twilight raised her eyebrow again and, yet again, Rainbow fidgeted in her seat. “Sure…” Twilight said at last, “At least most of it anyway…” she added in an undertone.

“And…” Rainbow paused for a moment, as if trying to think of what to ask next.

Twilight, on the other hand, sighed and spoke again, “Look, Rainbow… I know you have trouble articulating things sometimes, but this is just ridiculous. Just tell me what you want to tell me, please.”

“S’not my fault all the words went out of my head…” Rainbow muttered quietly to herself before she spoke up again, “Alright… You want me to just say what I want to say?” she confirmed, almost seeming to steel herself for the next part.

Half with exasperated patience, half with burning curiosity, Twilight nodded her head.

“I think I have a crush on you.”

Twilight said nothing in reply. She did nothing, offered no perceivable reaction to Rainbow’s statement.

Rainbow, examining her features carefully, frowned, “Twilight?” she asked, reaching forward to wave a hoof in front of her face, “Anybody home?”

Whatever trance Twilight had sunken into, she broke out of it immediately and shook her head vigorously, trying to clear the cobwebs. “Sorry…” she muttered, “Would you mind repeating that?” she asked politely, already knowing what Rainbow had said and now desperately trying to buy herself more time to think.

Rainbow repeated herself again, seeming more and more anxious as Twilight continued thinking through all the possible courses of action.

What was she going to do? What could she do? She could turn Rainbow down flat, there and then, dismiss her ‘crush’ as a confused spectre of some emotion or another, but Rainbow certainly didn’t seem confused… Nervous, maybe, and now Twilight could see why she was so, but certainly not confused.

She could refute it… say that Rainbow wasn’t her type… hell… she didn’t even know what her type was so it wasn’t technically lying… But… but… But what… She didn’t want to hurt Rainbow’s feelings?

“I… uh…” she stammered out, still running through thoughts as fast as she could, playing each and every scenario out in her head.

Tell her the truth, that you’ve never considered the two of you together.

Tell her the real truth… that you’re really not looking for a relationship when you’re going to die in a few days.

Tell her the whole truth… that you’re really not looking for a relationship where you’re not in that relationship the next day because the next day was this morning.

Tell her the partial truth… that you never considered the two of you and you need to go now because the fountain is going to spontaneously combust and you’re going to have to solve that.

Tell her a less elaborate lie… one that doesn’t sound like you’re running away from her.

Tell her that you’re already seeing Cheerilee, and Trixie, and Spitfire.

… Preferably a believable lie.

She looked across at Rainbow, now almost on the edge of her seat and her eyes skittering all about the café nervously.

“I… don’t know what to tell you,” she settled on, “I’ve never really considered the… uh- the two of us.”

“You… you haven’t?” Rainbow confirmed, her voice a mixture of surprised, worried, and, somewhat curiously, relieved.

Twilight shook her head, “That’s all there is to it… I never thought you’d be the type of pony to have a crush on me for that matter…” she admitted, albeit to herself.

“Oh…” Rainbow said quietly, “So… what does that mean?”

“It means that this is a bit too far out of left field for me to have ever considered the possibility,” Twilight expanded.

“No, no…,” Rainbow said, shaking her head before she paused, “I meant… uh… would you like to give it a go?”

It was impossible to miss the flicker of hope that flashed across Rainbow’s face as she asked and Twilight considered the options again.

It was quite simple… she just had to answer yes or no and she’d be done. Then she’d have to answer the same question again when Rainbow asked her the next day, in the next loop.

“Well…” It was Twilight’s turn to shuffle in her seat. She looked around herself at the subdued café, weighing up her options… She was stuck in a time loop, in the city of Canterlot, and whatever she did wouldn’t matter once the day was over.

“Sure,” she said eventually, “Why not.” A glance across to Rainbow showed just how well the news had been received as she slumped back in her chair, a relieved sigh pouring forth from her mouth.

“Great,” Rainbow said, grinning, “So… uh… you want to go somewhere tomorrow?”

Thinking quickly, Twilight countered with, “We’re already in Canterlot today… why not do something now?”

Hardly believing her good fortune, Rainbow could simply nod as Twilight smiled to herself, pleased with her new plans.

“Although… speaking of that…” Twilight continued, turning something over in her head, “how did you find your way into Canterlot? There’re only two trains every day at the moment and I could have been anywhere.”

Rainbow considered Twilight for a moment, “Well… we both have wings; I was hardly likely to have walked, was I?” She paused before continuing, “And I asked Spike where you were earlier; he seemed to think you were in Canterlot and gave me a few of your usual haunts- this was the third one I checked.”

“Oh… right…” Twilight felt somewhat silly now that she thought about it.

The two of them sat there for a little longer, neither of them looking the other in the eye. “So,” Rainbow coughed, breaking the silence to pieces, “What did you have in mind in Canterlot anyway?”

Plans were whirring through her mind like quicksilver as she considered all the options she could. There were so many places in Canterlot to spend the day, especially if you knew where to look.

Mentally apologising to the book that was still left, unfinished, on a lone library table somewhere, she said, “Well… I take it that you’re not too interested in any of the garden party stuff here?”

There was a momentary flash of distaste across Rainbow’s features which she quickly covered behind a nervous laugh, “If that’s what you want to do, then- uh- that’s fine by me…”

Twilight rolled her eyes and smiled slightly, “You’re a rubbish liar, Rainbow,” she stated, “I can think of a few places that could work…” She paused, weighing up her options before deciding ‘to hell with it’ and calling over her shoulder, “Joe?”

Moments later, Doughnut Joe poked his head around from the back and looked over at the two of them. “Aye?” he asked.

“Do you still stock any of that single malt?” Twilight asked and Rainbow glanced over curiously.

‘Single malt?’ she mouthed at Twilight, who just smiled faintly.

“Uh… sure, I think I still keep a few bottles lying around,” Joe replied, looking somewhat surprised.

“Excellent,” Twilight said with a grin, “I’ll take all of them.”

“Uh… Twilight,” Rainbow started, her expression a mixture of alarmed and bemused now, “What in Equestria are you planning?”

“I wouldn’t question her if I were you…” Joe said from behind the counter, resignation written across his face as he leant down behind the counter, “It’s been a while since she’s been like this… I wondered if she’d ever relapse…”

“Wait,” Rainbow said as the clinking of bottles echoed up, looking from the counter to Twilight and back again, “Relapse? As in… again?”

“Oh give it a break,” Twilight said, walking over to the counter and waiting expectantly as one, two, three, four bottles were placed in front of her. “I do let myself go every now and again… I think this is as good a time as any…”

“If you count every now and again as once in a blue moon, then fine…” Joe muttered under his breath, loud enough for Rainbow to hear him and smirk. He straightened up, inspecting the four bottles in front of him for a moment before nodding, “That’s all of them…” he confirmed, “Now, listen… promise me that you’ll not get into trouble with these, okay?”

“Relax, Joe,” Twilight sighed, “I promise that I’ll try to leave at least some of this untouched.”

“Wait, wait,” Rainbow interrupted again, still looking from Twilight to Joe in bewilderment, “You mean to say that you came here and drank whisky before you came to Ponyville?”

“Yes, Rainbow,” Twilight stressed, letting some of her irritation seep into her tone, “I let myself go every now and again when I studied… and I happen to like the single malt, thank-you-very-much.”

Rainbow raised her hooves in surrender and watched as Twilight inspected the bottles, muttering quietly to herself. She briefly glanced towards Joe, who just shrugged at her, before sighing to herself, deciding to let her incredulity slide for the time being.

“So how old are these now?” Twilight asked, turning one of the bottles around with a critical eye.

“They’ve been with me for about ten years,” Joe answered simply.

“Brilliant… I take it that this’ll be payment enough?” she asked, lifting the almost-full bag of coins again and passing it over the counter.

He leant forwards and picked up the bag, whistling quietly to himself at the weight before coughing and nodding in response.

“Thank you, Joe,” Twilight said warmly before she turned to Rainbow, “Would you mind grabbing a bottle or two, Dash?”

Rainbow, who had been standing quietly with her mouth slightly agape, nodded mutely for a moment before shaking her head vigorously, “Wait… what about your-“

“Magical overuse,” Twilight interrupted, shutting her eyes and trying not to grind her teeth, “Now would you mind carrying two of the bottles?”

Rainbow was smart enough not to argue this time and moved forwards, taking two of the proffered bottles and standing back immediately, both of them secured on her back in between her wings.

“Try not to drink yourself half to death this time,” Joe offered as Twilight took the last two bottles, balancing them across her own back and wings.

“I promised, didn’t I?” Twilight responded, smiling as her inner monologue scoffed at any future past today.

“Well… take care then.”

“Thanks, Joe, I’ll see you soon.”

With that, Twilight turned and left the café, followed a moment later by Rainbow as she realised that Twilight had no plans for slowing down. “Hey- wait up” she called, letting the door shut behind her as Twilight paused, “What’s the big rush; it’s only what, two in the afternoon?”

“Plenty of time to get where we need to go then,” Twilight replied simply, looking out into the still-packed high street, “Ready to get going then?”

“Well- yes- but-“

“Well come on then, time’s a-wasting.”

Without further ado, Twilight set off into the high street, allowing herself to slip past the countless other ponies, humming a quiet tune to herself as Rainbow tried to catch up.

“Hey! Twilight! Wait up!” Rainbow called out, barely able to hear herself over the babbling crowd and unwilling to jump up and fly, lest she let the bottles balanced on her back drop and shatter.

Apparently Twilight hadn’t heard her since she just kept going. It was a small mercy that Rainbow was simply able to keep sight of her through the throng of market-goers. Eventually, she spotted Twilight slipping into an alley on the left. Putting on an extra spurt of speed, she joined her in the dim light of the passage.

“What the hell are we doing here?” Rainbow asked incredulously, slowing down to a trot and keeping pace with Twilight.

“We have to be somewhere,” Twilight replied absently, “Here just happens to be there…”

“Right…” Rainbow said quietly, “Anyway… What’s with the whiskey? I thought you said we were going on a date?”

“I did,” Twilight said simply, leaving it at that.

“Yeah, well… forgive me for being surprised, but I thought we were going to go out and see a movie, grab something to eat, something like that.”

“Seems a bit cliché for you, Rainbow.”

Rainbow squirmed evasively, muttering: “Well… They’re clichés for a reason…”

She thought she heard Twilight chuckle next to her before she spoke again, “Anyway, I thought we’d do something a little different.”

“Like going down a barely-lit alley in the middle of the day?”

“You’ll see…” Twilight replied with a faint smile.

Rainbow grumbled quietly to herself in reply, but kept following anyway, her curiosity egging her on.

“So, uh, what were you doing in Canterlot anyway?” she asked after a few more moments of silently stepping through the alley.

“Hmm? Oh, I was just here to find a book; It doesn’t matter now, I’ll finish it tomorrow.”

“Anything interesting?” Rainbow probed once more.

Twilight looked around at Rainbow, expression set in bemusement.

“What?” Rainbow asked innocently, “I just wanted to know if I might enjoy it too.”

Twilight chuckled and shook her head slightly before answering, “I don’t think you would, Rainbow. It’s more of a biography than a Daring Do story.”

“I don’t just like Daring Do,” Rainbow replied somewhat indignantly, “I like other stuff too…”

“Sorry, Rainbow,” Twilight said over her shoulder, “I wasn’t poking fun at you: just using it as an example.”

“Yeah, yeah, I know,” came the grudging reply, “How long until we’re at this place of yours anyway?”

“Shouldn’t be too much longer,” Twilight replied before continuing, quieter this time, “I remember it was around here somewhere…”

Resigning herself to be kept in the dark until they were there, Rainbow kept following, all-but silent for the clink of the bottles on her back. Thankfully for her, a few steps later, and Twilight stopped.

“Here we are,” she announced, and Rainbow looked expectantly around.

“Where is here?” she asked aloud, “There’s nothing here.”

“Of course there is,” Twilight corrected, moving towards one of the walls, “It’s not my fault if you can’t see it.”

Rainbow watched, interested, as Twilight started pushing against it, then with amazement as it gave way, opening itself to show a darkened room inside. “How…” she started, speechless.

“I wandered the city a lot when I was younger,” Twilight replied disinterestedly, stepping inside, “Now are you coming or what?”

Curiously, Rainbow hopped forwards towards the doorway, slipping through after Twilight and stepping smartly out of the way as she shut it behind her. “So… what’s in here?” she asked, looking around in the almost-darkness, the only light provided coming from thin cracks in the walls and roof.

“It’s somewhere quiet,” Twilight replied, shuffling around in the darkness, “That’s all it needs to be at the moment.”

Rainbow cautiously took a few steps forwards for herself, being careful not to step on anything. “I can’t really say I think much of your choice of date locations, Twi,” she said to the shuffling darkness.

“Aha!” Twilight said from somewhere in the room and a few seconds later, a match flared and threw the dark room into flickering light. Another few seconds and the light separated into two points, the original match blown out as the lantern started glowing. “This should be sufficient…” Twilight muttered to herself as she picked it up and brought it to the middle of the room.

“I hate to sound like a broken record here, Twi… but sufficient for what? What are we doing here?”

Twilight shut her eyes and sighed quietly to herself in exasperation. “We are here because, for what we’re doing, it’s the perfect spot.”

“And what are we doing exactly?” Rainbow probed as she stepped towards the light and Twilight, who was moving her bottles from her back onto the floor with the lantern.

“We’re going to have a little bit of a competition,” Twilight responded, sitting down next to the bottles she’d brought, “Put the bottles down and I’ll explain the rules.”

Once again, her curiosity got the better of her and Rainbow pulled the bottles from her back, letting them join the other two before she sat down opposite Twilight as she started talking.

“The game is a simple one… I know for a fact you’ve played truth or dare at some point or another,” she started, waiting for Rainbow to nod before continuing, “The only difference between that and this is that you have a drink every time it is your turn to request something. Any questions?”

“We’re… playing a drinking- You… are playing a drinking game?”

“Yes, Rainbow…” Twilight said, mentally tallying up the number of times she’d been treated with incredulity so far today, “So… want to start?”

Unwilling to answer, Rainbow kept looking at Twilight as if she was a completely different pony.

Twilight sighed, “Fine, I’ll start…” she said, taking one of the bottles and removing the lid with ease. “Cheers,” she said to Rainbow before lifting the bottle up and taking a gulp from it. “Truth or dare?” she asked, lowering the bottle and sliding it towards Rainbow, who started.

“Um- Dare,” she answered, still somewhat unsure of what else to do other than to carry on.

“Surprise, surprise,” Twilight muttered quietly before raising her voice, “Alright… I dare you to… to…” She looked around; there really wasn’t that much there to use as daring material. “I dare you to fly a loop in here,” she finally said from a lack of other ideas.

“Easy peasy,” Rainbow said predictably and did just that, hopping into the air and looping with plenty of room to spare. Once she landed, grinning happily, Twilight slid the open bottle closer to Rainbow as a reminder.

She eyed the bottle, shrugged, and lifted it up to take a gulp. It tasted strong and Rainbow shuddered as she felt it tread a path down her throat. Gasping slightly as she remembered to breathe, she put the bottle down and looked to Twilight, “Truth or dare?” she asked hoarsely.


“When did you start drinking whiskey?”

Twilight raised an eyebrow at the question, but shook her head after a moment and started speaking, “It was during my years directly under Celestia’s tutelage; once I was no longer part of the education system…

“My father always had this… bottle on the side of a table at home; I was always curious about it and, for my eighteenth, he let me try it. And that’s the story of how I had my first taste of whiskey, which I assume you were actually interested in…” Twilight concluded, shooting an irritated glare towards Rainbow.

“Um... yeah...” Rainbow said shiftily, fully aware of the glare but paying it no heed for the time being.

Another measure of whiskey disappeared from the bottle before Twilight asked, “Truth or dare?”

Despite her bravado, Rainbow wasn’t much of a drinker and she could already feel the alcohol taking its hold on her after a single round. “Dare,” she said carefully, paying attention to not slur the word.

Taking it in her stride, Twilight replied almost immediately, “I dare you to drink what is left in the first bottle of whiskey.”

Rainbow looked up at Twilight in surprise, then down to the proffered bottle in worry. They may have been small-ish bottles, but the fact that it was still almost half-full made her anxious. That was a lot of alcohol for her. Despite her misgivings though, she put on a grim smile of determination and lifted the bottle to her mouth.

Twilight winced as Rainbow started drinking it down, not pausing to pull the bottle away from her mouth. It may not have been the nicest dare she could have offered her friend… but it was the one that would alter her thought process somewhat, hopefully making her more willing to choose ‘truth’ in the process.

Rainbow finished the bottle with a grimace, her expression making it clear that she wasn’t in a hurry to repeat the experience. “Done,” she said quietly as Twilight slid over an unopened bottle. It was opened and Rainbow tipped it back and down quickly before asking, “Truth or dare?”


Rainbow could feel the drink swimming about in her gut and her head and she sloshed about with it. “Why did you agree?”

Twilight was almost certain to what Rainbow was referring, but she asked nevertheless, “To what?”

“To us; this; going on a date.”

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you…” Twilight said sadly, shaking her head.

“Hey!” Rainbow protested, “You said you’d say the truth… let’s hear it.”

Twilight sighed, unsurprised despite herself, “Fine… you’re probably not going to like it though…” She paused, looking at Rainbow for a moment and deciding how much she wasn’t going to tell her.

“I’m in a time loop,” she started on, thinking five words ahead of what she spoke, “I have been for the past few… days?” She paused, distracted as she wondered if that was the correct technical term. At Rainbow’s patient cough, she shook her head and started again, “I have from nine in the morning to whatever time I fall asleep that night, then I loop back.”

Twilight risked a glance at Rainbow during the pause and bit her lip; she could tell that Rainbow was already out of it: her gaze was slightly unfocused and she was swaying slightly.

“Everything I do is undone the next day; the only thing I keep is my memories of the previous days. The reason I said ‘okay’ was because you’re going to ask me tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after, and I just… wanted to see what I’d be in for… that’s all.”

She watched Rainbow’s reaction earnestly, waiting for some sign that she’d actually heard what Twilight had said.

When none came, she sighed and asked, “Truth or dare,” not even bothering with the bottle anymore.

There was an audible pause between when Rainbow heard the question and heard the question. She glanced around hazily and said, “Dare,” stretching the word around her mouth.

Twilight almost started grinding her teeth, trying not to be angry at how stubborn her friend was being. “Alright…” she muttered to herself before speaking up again, “I dare you to choose truth.”

Somewhat surprisingly, Rainbow complied, grinning as she nodded along.

Unwilling to risk losing her chance at an answer she asked her question quickly, searching Rainbow’s expression carefully as she did so.

“Why me?”

“Whadda you mean: why you?” Rainbow repeated back to her, her words slurring more and more as the alcohol kept its grip on her.

Patiently, Twilight replied, “Why do you have a crush on me?”

“Oh, that,” Rainbow said, and Twilight could have sworn that she’d sobered up slightly as she heard the question.

She waited for a minute, then another, as Rainbow continued to say nothing, averting her eyes from Twilight’s in the meantime. Eventually, she decided to move things along and coughed pointedly. “You did agree to ‘truth’, Rainbow,” she said, aware of the parallel between her question and the one Rainbow had asked just before.

There was another moment of silence before Rainbow started talking again, still slurring the odd word. “Well… ‘s because you’re cool,” she said, her voice growing in confidence as she continued, “You’ve been in Ponyville for what? Five years? An’ you’re the one that knows me best.”

Twilight quirked her head towards Rainbow at that, confused. “Knows you best?” she repeated, “What about Fluttershy and Applejack? You’ve known them for longer that you’ve known me.”

Rainbow snorted quietly to herself, “I’ve known ‘em longer, yeah, but you’re the only one that I can actually be properly normal around. I mean… AJ and Shy are cool an’ all, but I don’t go to Applejack with my problems, do I?” When Twilight didn’t answer her, she continued onwards, “And Flutters… I love her to bits, but she still doesn’t understand what I see in flying.”

“Which leaves me as the only one who does?” Twilight confirmed, trying to go through the logic in her mind.

“Well… yeah,” Rainbow stated as if it were obvious, “You’re the only one of us, ‘cept me ‘course, that likes to fly an’ isn’t scared of doing it… flying that is.”

“And this leads on to why you have a crush on me?”

“Well… sorta,” she replied, a bit more nervously this time, the bravado present in her voice slipping for a moment, “You’re the only one that understands, Twi… the rest of them… they don’t know what it’s like… for us.”

“What it’s like for us?” Twilight repeated, somehow more confused now, “What do you mean, what it’s like for us?”

“You an’ me… we’re the best, Twi; no-one else comes close to us.” Twilight remained silent and Rainbow continued in a whisper that was almost lost to the dark room, “It’s lonely at the top…”

Rainbow seemed to have finished and still, Twilight didn’t answer. She looked at Rainbow in the dim light and wondered just what she had meant by that… even if she knew in her gut just what it was.

Meanwhile, opposite her, Rainbow had slumped over on the floor, curling up on the hard wood with her eyes shut, her breathing only just audible in the quiet room.

“Sorry, Rainbow,” she said into the room, “I wanted to know…” Carefully, trying to avoid the creaky floorboards, she retreated to a corner of the room where a few moth-eaten blankets were stored. She tossed several over her back and came back to Rainbow, covering her with them.

Once she was sure that Rainbow wasn’t going to freeze during the night, she tip-toed her way to the entrance and stuck her head outside. Once again, the afternoon seemed to have slipped away despite her best efforts and the sky had darkened around her, throwing the alley into total darkness.

Sighing, she retreated back inside, unwilling to go anywhere else in the late twilight and unsure of where she could go. “I suppose here is as good as anywhere else…” she murmured, shutting the door behind her and looking over her shoulder at Rainbow. “Not that it matters anyway…”

She went back towards the corner of the room, gathering a few more blankets for herself. Then she paused, looking towards Rainbow as she slept soundly. “Using my friend like that…” she whispered to herself, “What have I done?” It wasn’t a horrified whisper, nor was it one of regret.

A wave of sadness hit her and she sat down where she stood, still in the far corner of the room. If this was what she was going to be doing to her friends, using this time loop business as some sort of justification, she wasn’t sure that she wanted to continue.

She settled down in the corner, wrapping the blankets around herself and looking across at Rainbow and the lamp – it’d burn out soon – and the few other bottles that were still unopened.

She sighed again and curled herself up beneath the blankets, still keeping a watchful eye over her friend as she went over her words.

“It’s lonely at the top…”

Chapter 5: Square One

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It was over… she’d finally found out just what Rainbow wanted from her… so why did she feel so sour?

Twilight rolled over in her bed and opened an eye to look at the clock.

It wasn’t because she was drunk… she wasn’t; her tolerance and metabolism made it so it was almost impossible for her to get drunk. Nor was it because of her omnipresent headache again.

No… it probably had something to do with the fact that she’d used her friend… she’d gotten her drunk and abused her position to find out information which she would have been hard-pressed to find out otherwise.

That was probably why.

There was a quick knock and Spike walked into the room carrying the tray of breakfast as per normal. “Morning, Twilight,” he greeted, “How’re you feeling?”

Twilight tried to cover her regretful expression and replaced it with a flickering smile as she propped herself up: “I’m fine, Spike. How about yourself?”

“I’m good,” he answered, looking at her uncertainly, “Are you sure you’re fine… you don’t look it. Is this something to do with why you were collapsed on the doorstep yesterday?”

Twilight sighed to herself, apparently her skills at lying were not as up-to-scratch as she’d hoped. “Probably,” she conceded, “It shouldn’t be anything to worry about,” she continued, “With any luck, I’ll be back to normal in a few hours. Is that breakfast?” she asked, changing the subject entirely.

Spike looked down at the tray he was holding in surprise, almost as if he’d forgotten that he was carrying it. “Uh… yeah,” he said after a moment, looking up and proffering it to Twilight, “I take it you’re hungry then?”

“Very,” Twilight replied, reaching over the bed and taking the tray in her hooves, “I don’t think I managed to have anything to eat yesterday…”

“Speaking of which…” Spike said, watching Twilight as she started digging in to the breakfast with gusto, “Where were you yesterday? You said you were going out, but you never said where.”

“Mmm?” Twilight wondered aloud, chewing on half-a-slice of toast as she registered the question and swallowed. “I was out for a drink with a friend,” she answered truthfully for once.

Spike just looked at her blankly. “Since when did you drink?”

The look that Twilight gave Spike was not impressed. “Seriously?” she asked aloud, “Is anyone not going to be incredulous when I say that I drink?”

Unsure of whether she was addressing him or not, Spike shrugged his shoulders unhelpfully. “I’ll just go and re-shelve the travel section shall I?” he asked, edging away from Twilight as she started to knead her head.

“Fine,” she muttered, more to herself than to him, “I’m not in today, alright?” she said after a moment, letting her bad mood speak for her, “If anyone- and I mean anyone- comes calling for me… tell them that I’ll be back tomorrow.”

“Whatever you say,” Spike said, edging out the door and shutting it quietly behind him.

She glanced at the clock again. It was ten-forty-five. She briefly considered rushing over to the train station again before deciding against it. She needed a break… a day where she wasn’t rushing around everywhere and a day where she could sit back and contemplate her situation properly.

It occurred to her that she’d been taking the whole stuck-in-the-same-day incident surprisingly well. She hadn’t freaked out yet… not properly anyway. She’d kept herself rational, working through each day as it came and delaying her death just that bit longer.

She wondered whether there was even a way out of this loop or if she’d be stuck in the same day forever. It wasn’t an exciting prospect.

On second thoughts… perhaps another visit to Canterlot would help ease her mind and pre-empt any such mental disasters.

She glanced at the clock again; it had barely ticked onwards since she’d last checked.

Deciding to get the book read sooner rather than later, she quickly finished what was left of her breakfast and slid out of her bed, leaving the tray on her bedside table.

At least this time, she wouldn’t have to rush to the train station. Remembering what had happened yesterday, she opened the drawers beside her bed and retrieved a small pouch of coins.

She left her house at a brisk trot, leaving a note for Spike if he went looking for her.

It wasn’t long until she could see the station, the train waiting patiently inside as it had been doing yesterday.

She strolled inside the station, approaching the pale-grey mare behind the ticket desk. “Good morning,” she greeted, “I’d like a ticket to Canterlot, please.”

The conductor pressed a few buttons on the machine behind her desk before she spoke, “That’ll be seventeen bits, Princess.”

Twilight quickly handed over the bits in exchange for the ticket, marvelling at how different the exchange had gone this time. “Thanks,” she offered, moving towards the waiting train.

Once again, the carriage was all-but empty and she settled herself onto one of the many unoccupied seats as she contemplated just how dissimilar the two conversations had been.

The first conversation had been when she had rushed into the station, perhaps catching the conductor off-guard for the subsequent chat. She wondered what would have happened if she’d forgotten her bits this time around; whether the conductor would have still given her a ticket regardless.

The train juddered to life as Twilight kept thinking it over. Maybe the fact that she was stuck in this loop was a blessing in another way… She’d be able to see how others would react to what she did and how she did it.

It would just be like one of her experiments… a social experiment to see what everypony reacted to; what caught them off-guard, etcetera.

It took her a few moments before she realised what she’d been thinking. She mentally slapped herself, trying to rid her brain of any of those ideas.

She would never play with another pony’s emotions and their feelings… Why those thoughts had even crossed her mind was a mystery to her.

Another stray thought presented itself for her inspection. You’ve already done it once… or were you so quick to forget?

“Shut up, shut up, shut up,” she whispered to herself, shutting her eyes and willing that particular thought to go away. Just because she’d already done it with Rainbow Dash didn’t mean that she had to be proud of it.

Another thought poked her, Isn’t she going to be looking for you again?

Twilight bit her lip. She’d left a note to Spike telling him that she’d gone to Canterlot. Assuming that he found that note before Rainbow came calling, she was willing to bet that he’d share the information with her.

She didn’t want to run into her today; she needed some time to reconcile with herself, to convince herself that her manipulation had been necessary. Only then would she feel like she could face Rainbow again.

In the meantime…

Well… she was fairly sure that she knew some spots in Canterlot that she could hide in safely.

She glanced outside, watching the countryside speed past as she grew closer and closer to Canterlot.

She decided that she’d read through the rest of the book first, analyse it after some lunch as prepared in the palace, then go back home for the night.

She wondered about that last point…

As proven yesterday and the day before that, it didn’t matter where she slept, she’d always end up back in her own bed the next morning.

She supposed it was just one more habit that didn’t seem to matter in this loop.

She had time now… there was no reason why she couldn’t consolidate the previous days now as she’d planned to do earlier.

The first and second day of the loop, she’d let her friends know that she was going to die. That was basically that for them. She knew what their reactions would be and that was something at the very least.

The third day was where she’d attempted to make the starting steps in fixing her body, attempting to diagnose herself and apparently putting herself into a short coma in the meantime. She was in no rush to put herself in that same situation, but it would be a necessary evil at some point in the future.

And then there was the fourth day – yesterday – where she’d travelled to Canterlot to research the time loop that she was in… and when she’d found out what Rainbow wanted to talk to her about.

The time loop was what she was going there today for, so she could focus on that at a later date… Rainbow on the other hand…

Twilight really couldn’t have guessed that was what she’d wanted to talk to her about, and it certainly accounted for Rainbow’s prevalent nerves over the previous encounters. What struck her about it though, was Rainbow’s reasoning. Twilight could focus on whether she shared Rainbow’s feelings or not later, it was the why that made her wonder.

It’s lonely at the top.

Her whisper came as a surprise as she echoed Rainbow’s words. She could lie and say that she had no idea what Rainbow was talking about… but she’d had a point.

There were very few ponies that could match Twilight’s raw power and that made socialising odd.

She had friends, yes. She had Applejack, Fluttershy, Pinkie, Rainbow, and Rarity. Otherwise… she knew a lot of ponies that knew her and knew how powerful she was. No matter how much she insisted that she wasn’t special, they always treated her with reverence.

The fact that she was an alicorn now hadn’t helped matters.

She wondered if that was what Rainbow referred to; whether she suffered from the same admiration that separated her from ponies.

It made sense, Twilight supposed. If she believed the stories, Rainbow was leagues above other pegasi in terms of velocity, agility, and simple creativity. It took a certain kind of pony to invent their own tricks apparently.

Just like it took a certain kind of pony to invent their own spells.

Looking at it that way, Twilight supposed she could see where Rainbow had drawn the lines and how she’d connected the dots. That she’d supposed that they, both being lonely, could be together and not be lonely anymore.

Was she lonely?

That was a question that Rainbow’s whole thought process seemed to revolve on: was Twilight lonely?

No answers presented themselves to Twilight.

The sound of brakes broke her from her thoughts and she glanced out the window again as the train rolled into Canterlot.

She left the train silently, not calling attention to herself this time as she left the station. She glanced at the clock, now showing ten-thirty, and smiled to herself. If her memory served her correctly, there was less than half of the book left to go.

She set off towards the castle briskly, simply nodding at the two guards on duty this time, far-from eager to get involved in another inane conversation.

The library welcomed her into its silent embrace and she immediately sought out ‘A Stitch in Time’ once again. Soon enough, she had the book and the familiar Mobius strip cover was placed on one of the reading tables dotted around the library.

Smiling to herself, she opened the book to the last page she’d reached yesterday and started reading.


Once I was finally free of the loop, I immediately wrote what was the first draft of this book, believing that by doing so, I would be somehow closer to understanding just why I was ever caught inside such a loop, or indeed, how I was freed.

After such an assignment, I am sad to report that I reached no such conclusion. There was no apparent reason to why I ever stumbled into the time loop, nor such a reason for why it ended. It simply happened on the thirty-fourth day of the time loop.

My account was met with doubt by my peers, yet I know that, someday, you and I will know the truth of the matter.

That was it.

One of the cleverest unicorns of an age hadn’t been able to puzzle out why she’d been caught, nor why she’d been freed. Twilight didn’t have much hope for herself in that case then.

She turned over the last few pages, hoping against hope that there’d be another paragraph, a footnote, something that meant she was further from freeing herself from the loop than four days ago.

She had no such luck, finally shutting the book with a sigh as she contemplated her next move.

It seemed that there’d be very little effective analysis that she could do of the book, and that frustrated her. She’d try to glean what she could, but she doubted that’d be much more than a few pages and loose notes, none of which would be crucial.

“It’s probably just as well that they’re not going to last then,” she muttered to herself quietly, sliding the book away from her and resting her head on the table sadly.

All her life, the library had given her answers on everything she’d ever wanted to know; whether it was the capital of Griphonia and the royal bloodline thereof, or the maximum velocity of an unladen swallow. The library had always provided her with an answer…

Now, it seemed that it could help her no more.

She wondered if there was an advanced medical book in here somewhere, something that could aid her in her other quest; the one that would heal her and ensure that she’d still be alive on leaving the loop.

She had no doubt that there’d be such a book somewhere in the library, but she doubted that it’d yield any more useful information than her own book had done; simply stating that the patient could not use their magic in any regular fashion and that death would follow soon after.

She rolled her head upwards, angling it towards the clock and noting the time again – a habit which was becoming unhealthier and unhealthier for her. It was a little past noon and she was a loss for something else to do.

She decided to settle with some lunch first of all, getting to her hooves and leaving the book out again, resolving to return to it with a full stomach and a clear head.

She didn’t see the librarian on the way out this time, yet it didn’t surprise her. He was probably shelving some of the returned books or something similar, she reasoned to herself.

Thankfully, she remembered her days in the palace well enough to navigate it with ease, heading north as soon as she left the library and towards the palace kitchens.

She wondered where Celestia would be at this hour. Certainly, she’d be up and about, it was just a matter of specifically where she was. She was still trying to decide whether or not she wanted to run into her mentor at the current time.

Maybe she’d even give you a few more ideas on getting out of the time loop? some small part of her reasoned.

Twilight shook her head, sighing and clearing all thoughts from her mind. She could think about that if she ran into her. For the time being, she’d just focus on something to eat.

Instead of continuing onwards towards the banquet hall, she took a right into a small passage, almost hidden from view due to how discreetly it was placed. The passage was cosy and led straight to a single wooden door; the kitchens.

She knocked twice and waited patiently outside the door.

Soon enough, the door swung open to reveal a slightly-plump mare with laughter lines etched permanently into her cream coat and a trace of her previous laugh still caught on her lips.

“Afternoon, Apple Pie,” Twilight greeted warmly and it was barely a moment before the unicorn in front of her followed suit.

“Miss Twilight,” the chef – Apple Pie – replied, smiling widely, “Well this is a surprise; we haven’t seen you here for at least a year.”

“I thought I’d come and say hello again,” Twilight said, “I don’t suppose you have any spare portions for lunch that are still in the kitchen?”

Apple Pie nodded, stepping back from the doorway with a bound. “Of course,” she answered, “Silly old me for not seeing it sooner; you’re looking downright peaky. Come on in, come on in. I’m sure Ginger is as eager to say hello again as I am.”

Twilight stepped through the door quickly and into the cavernous kitchen beyond, the narrow passage and lone door doing nothing to approximate the sheer size of the room beyond.

Rows and rows of surfaces were packed into the room, each of which was being taken up by an assortment of pots, pans, ingredients, a sink, or, in some cases, all four. Along the far wall, there was a collection of fridges and another pair of doors that presumably led to the freezer and the pantry. Every now and again, Twilight had to remind herself that this was all being run by two ponies at any one time.

It beggared belief sometimes that Apple Pie and Ginger Pudding could keep this whole kitchen moving like a well-oiled machine. The latter of the two – a lilac mare with teal curls – was currently stood at one of the workstations, slicing something in front of her.

“Ginger,” Apple announced, “We have a guest.”

Ginger looked up from what she was doing and over towards Twilight. Once she recognised who it was, she offered a brief smile towards Twilight before turning back to her chopping. “Twilight Sparkle,” she called over her shoulder as the sound of a knife hitting a board started up again, “It’s been too long.”

Apple rolled her eyes, “She’s been working since six this morning, the poor dear, I don’t think she could stop if she tried at the moment.”

Twilight just smiled again. “Hello, Ginger,” she called, “it’s nice to see you’re doing well.”

“I’ll be doing well once I’ve finished this meal and I can have a break,” Ginger muttered to herself, her words carrying across the echoing room.

Apple shook her head slightly, “No matter,” she said to Twilight, “I’m sure we have something here that would do nicely for lunch.” She paused, looking around the kitchen and sighing. “Ginger?” she eventually called, “Where did you put the leftover lasagne?”

“It’s in fridge fifteen-b, along with all the other leftovers from today,” Ginger called back, not looking up once.

“Ah, of course it is,” Apple said to herself, setting off down the room at a trot, Twilight following close behind. “I’ve never managed to figure out how she remembers where everything goes,” Apple commented jovially, “Thank Celestia for me that she’s here though – and you for that matter. Here we go.”

They’d stopped in front of one of the many fridges and Apple opened it, searching inside it for a moment before she emerged with a plate, a few portions of lasagne still left on it.

“Just give me a few moments to warm this up for you,” Apple said, closing the fridge behind her and heading towards one of the counters. Using a knife, she split the leftovers and moved a reasonably large portion onto another plate. “Be a dear and put this back in the fridge, would you?” Apple asked, indicating towards the remaining leftovers.

Twilight nodded and picked it up carefully, making sure she had a firm grip on the plate with her teeth before she set off moving, leaving Apple humming quietly to herself behind her.

Thankfully, she remembered which fridge it had belonged to and slid the plate into place quickly, shutting the door of the fridge again once she was sure that it was secure.

By the time she returned to Apple, steam was rising steadily from the plate and Apple was rummaging around in a few more drawers. “Aha!” she said after another moment, returning with a knife and fork clasped in her magic. “Bon Appétit,” she said grandly, laying down the utensils beside the plate and letting Twilight step forwards to examine her work.

“This smells really good,” Twilight aptly commented, trying to figure out how she was going to go about eating the food in front of her with no magic, especially with present company.

“It’s nothing compared to how it tastes, I assure you,” Apple said, busying herself at the closest sink with some of the washing up. “You’re welcome to stay here and chat a while if you want to.”

“Thanks,” Twilight replied, silently thankful that Apple had her back to her now as she considered how she was going to go about doing this. She paused for a moment. “Do you have any chairs or something?” she asked.

“There’s one under the worktop, my dear.”

“Ah,” Twilight murmured to herself, reaching down and pulling it out quickly, trying to ignore the grating screech as she dragged it across the floor, sitting down on it once it was far enough away from the table.

She quickly glanced towards Apple, making sure that she wasn’t looking as she picked up the knife and fork in her hooves, balancing them carefully as she started to cut into her meal.

She had to hand it to Apple as always; it was absolutely delicious, and, soon enough, there was nothing left on the plate. She let out a satisfied burp as she put down the utensils. “Pardon,” she muttered quietly to herself before speaking to Apple, who was now drying the washed pots, “That was fantastic, thanks.”

“Think nothing of it,” Apple replied lightly, smiling over at Twilight, “You’re always welcome here; remember that.”

“Thank you,” Twilight repeated, her smile dying slightly as she thought about what Apple had just said.

“It’s nothing to be ashamed of,” she continued nonchalantly, “Everyone gets sick now and again. Neither you nor I can help it; we may as well live with it. Can you pass me your plate, dear?”

Twilight did so silently, watching Apple as she washed it up with a jaunty tune kept under her breath. “Thank you,” she said eventually.

“It’s no problem,” Apple replied insistently, “Now, don’t be a stranger.”

Twilight smiled and pushed the chair back in before she headed towards the exit again. She offered a quiet goodbye to Ginger as she passed her and smiled again as she heard the busy chef’s quiet undertones.

Waving goodbye to Apple one last time from across the room, she left, emerging into the narrow corridor again, her stomach now filled and satisfied. She let out another quiet belch as she shut the door behind her.

Once she was sure her stomach had settled again, she headed back towards the library. By her estimate, she’d been gone for a little over half an hour, leaving her with plenty of time to perform what little analysis she could on the book and its contents.

The librarian was back behind his desk and Twilight nodded to him in greeting as she entered the library.

She paused in front of the stationary cupboard and took a few materials from inside, balancing a few sheets of paper, a bottle of ink, and a quill carefully on her back before continuing on towards her working table.

The book was still as she left it and she deposited the items on the desk with precision, uncorking the inkwell in the process, before sitting down in front of them.

She opened the book again and picked up the quill in her mouth, making sure it was poised and ready before she began.

Thankfully for her, she had a vague memory of the pages that were going to be of most use to her and she quickly flicked through the book, landing several pages in.

The first night that the loop happened was like any other. It was remarkable in the fact that it was unremarkable and seemed to bear no influence on the forthcoming days. I went to my rooms the previous evening after a filling meal and slept until dawn the same day.

And that was how the loops started. I would always waken at eight in the morning with the same duties I had possessed that day for all times that the same day was lived. I attempted to move the time of my awakening each morning via altering my sleeping pattern to no avail. All that I did to try and influence the next iteration remained pointless.

Twilight hummed to herself, scratching out a note or two from those two simple paragraphs. It was fairly simple to gather that these loops were independent of one another except for the single aspect that was her, or whoever was looping anyway. Anything she tried to do to change the base aspects of the next loop wouldn’t matter.

She sighed to herself, flipping over the next few pages as she reminisced about that fact. She wouldn’t be able to stop Spike from bringing her a breakfast of marmalade-on-toast and an orange juice. She wouldn’t be able to change the fact that she still couldn’t do any form of basic magic. She wouldn’t be able to stop Rainbow from looking for her.

“Mmyes…” The librarian’s scratchy voice whispered its way towards Twilight, who tuned it out automatically. “I think I saw her head down the sixth aisle on the right; there’s a desk down there that she’s fond of.”


Twilight snapped to attention, recognising that other voice, and, more specifically, who it belonged to. She briefly weighed up her own misgivings about talking to Rainbow Dash again today, yesterday’s incident still fresh in her mind, and discounted the idea almost immediately.

She glanced down the aisle which Rainbow would come from any second now and cursed quietly to herself, jumping up and fleeing into the next aisle-but-one along.

Thankfully, this aisle was also empty and she peered through the books, watching as Rainbow approached the table she’d been sat at not ten seconds earlier.

The shape of her friend paused next to the table, and Twilight could just hear her muttering over the quiet library, “All loops are independent of one-another, base aspects remain the same…”

Twilight groaned internally to herself; all her work was still left out on the table… it probably looked as if she’d just left for a moment or two, she doubted that Rainbow would leave here anytime soon now.

There was a quiet ‘thump’ and Rainbow spoke again, “A Stitch in Time, by Clover Ironshield. Huh.” Yet even in the silence of the library, she wasn’t able to hear Twilight slowly leaving the library, trying to put as much distance between the two of them as she could.

She left the library quickly, breaking into a run once she was out the door and out of Rainbow’s range of hearing.

She really should have been surprised that Rainbow would have looked there for her… she already lived in a library in Ponyville, the only reason she came to Canterlot these days was to either see her parents or to take a few books from this library.

It didn’t stop her from cursing quietly to herself again, trying to think of what to do now that an encounter with Rainbow seemed to stand between her and the ongoing analysis that was still sitting on that table.

She slowed down. She was far away from the library now and Rainbow was unlikely to come looking for her here.

Then again… it wasn’t like there was much analysing to be done in the first place. Anything that could have been gleaned would have been done so on her first read-through, and what she’d gleaned had been precious little; the book simply reinforcing her knowledge that she’d be unable to do anything actively to break herself out of it.

She shook her head sadly; there was nothing more that could be done here… The clock still hadn’t struck one yet, so there was still a lot of day left to kill and not much there to kill it with.

Time loop research was a dead-end and, in all likelihood, she’d gotten everything she’d ever get from here now. Aside from that… she was going to make a proper attempt at solving her… situation tomorrow, when she was home with her books and Spike to drag her into the hospital if need-be.

There really was nothing else that she could think to be occupying her time with. They were the most pressing concerns to her at the moment.

“What is there to do in Canterlot for a few hours?” she wondered aloud, asking an empty suit of armour as she passed it by. “I could go and visit my parents… or Celestia… or Luna…” She pondered the question for a little more time.

“I could go and give Joe some company like he asked…” she thought aloud, mulling the option over in her head. It was better than the other options, namely because we was actually a friend to her; one that she could talk to easily.

And the prospect of going to Princess Celestia in order to wait for night to fall seemed a little prone to investigation…

Twilight stopped dead in the middle of the corridor, eye twitching.

That was exactly what she wanted… she wanted a bit of investigation and Celestia must have heard about other cases where ponies had been stuck in time loops.

She spun around, mapping out a route to the banquet hall – where Celestia would be at this time (a little past 1 PM) – and setting off at a trot, trying to mentally pick through the questions which wouldn’t make her seem as mad as others.

Thankfully, the banquet hall was not very far away from her, relatively speaking. It took a five-minute trot down the embellished passages before she was in front of the open door to the hall. She could see Celestia sitting by herself inside, picking at something on a plate in front of her.

Taking a deep breath, Twilight stepped inside the hall, immediately noticing that it was just the two of them in the hall with a complete lack of any other serving staff or guards.

She suddenly felt apprehensions… while she’d planned for what she’d liked to ask, she’d forgotten that it had been years since they’d spoken to each other properly and she wasn’t completely sure what her reaction would be to seeing her, here and now.

Nervously, she coughed.

Celestia lifted an eye and glanced over to where the cough had come from. It took a few seconds before that eye focussed on Twilight, and another few still before Celestia became animated.

“Twilight Sparkle;” she almost whispered, seeming to taste the words before she spoke them, “My Faithful Student. What’s the matter, child?”

Twilight opened her mouth, trying to think of what to say; all her questions flying out of her head now that Celestia was in front of her.

As if sensing her hesitance, her mentor shifted on the bench slightly, lifting a wing. “Come,” she said softly, “Take a seat; it’s been so long since we’ve talked.”

Hesitantly, Twilight stepped forwards, unsure of what to say. She sat down next to Celestia and her wing wrapped Twilight up, closing her off from the outside world so that it was just Twilight and Celestia.

“What’s the matter, Twilight?” she asked again, looking down at her student as she’d done many times before.

Twilight was lost… she didn’t know what to say, what to ask, what to do… she’d forgotten how Celestia had treated her… she’d forgotten how nice it had been to just sit next to her mentor. And now the memories were assaulting her, reminding her of every evening in the castle where she’d crept past the guards to Celestia’s rooms, where she’d dropped in to Canterlot for the odd weekend to say hello, where she’d sat next to her mentor and talked for hours.

She looked at the table. “It has been a while…” she murmured under her breath, her voice wavering slightly.

“At least two years, my faithful student,” Celestia answered for her, “I believe you owe me an explanation, or at least a recount of what you’ve been doing for all this time.”

Twilight looked up at Celestia’s words, only to see a half-smile on her face. She smiled back at Celestia, actually happy for the first time that day. “But… what about court?” she asked.

Celestia’s smile turned mischievous, “I’m sure Luna will be happy to step in…” Celestia said, “She needs to start waking up earlier so this will be an excellent opportunity for her to do so.”

Her horn glowed for a moment and then Luna was in front of them, snoring on the table top and curled around a stuffed one-eyed teddy.

Twilight’s smile grew as Celestia spoke, “Luna… Wake up, Luna.”

Luna just mumbled quietly to herself, still fast asleep as Celestia sighed to herself. She lit her magic and a jug of water appeared in front of her. Without further ado, she tipped it upside down and let the water come pouring out.

The effect was immediate as Luna woke up, spluttering as she tried to get away from what she’d been woken with, falling off the table in the process.

Twilight laughed out loud and Celestia started chuckling to herself as Luna righted herself, throwing the soaked teddy onto the table before she climbed onto the bench opposite them, her mane plastered to her head.

“Very funny,” she said sourly, glaring at Celestia. “How much have I overslept by this time, sister?”

Celestia just smiled again, “You didn’t oversleep, Luna,” she explained, “I wanted to have a talk with my student and I needed someone to fill in for me during the day court. Would you mind doing the honours?”

Luna glanced down at Twilight and smiled briefly before sighing. “Alright,” she said, lighting her horn as a series of pops dried her mane and made the teddy on the table disappear, “Just this once,” she continued, “And did you have to use ice-cold water?”

“It worked, didn’t it?”

“I’ll get you back for that,” Luna muttered darkly.

“I’m sure you will,” Celestia replied jovially, “Now, you have a court to attend to.”

“Correction,” Luna said, “I have breakfast to eat first. I’ll deal with your stupid court when I don’t feel like collapsing from hunger.”

“Thank you, Luna,” Celestia said, getting up from the table, “Come on, Twilight,” she said to her, “Let’s chat; I think my rooms are still sufficient.”

Twilight nodded, still smiling slightly as Luna pressed her head into the table top, groaning to herself slightly. She followed princess Celestia as she left the hall, remembering the path they were taking towards her mentor’s rooms.

When they reached them, Celestia pushed open the doors to reveal the room beyond; the windows open to reveal a breath-taking view across the mountains as the air rolled in. Her apartment was split into a spacious parlour, which they were stood in now, along with a kitchen to the right and a bedroom with a large balcony to the left.

Twilight had been there often enough to know what Celestia always did when she appeared. She sat down in the middle of the room as her host went into the kitchen to boil a kettle. Twilight found herself looking out the window, imagining that she could see the ocean in the distance.

Celestia came back into the room, a tray with a teapot, two mugs, a bowl with a spoon, and a jug carried in front of her. “Let’s talk outside,” she said, moving past Twilight towards her bedroom and the balcony beyond.

Twilight followed her onto the balcony, sitting down next to her mentor as she poured the amber liquid into the two mugs in front of them.

“Milk and sugar?” she asked.

“Just milk,” Twilight replied, watching as Celestia poured some into both mugs before heaping some sugar into her own.

Once the tea had been laid out in front of them, Celestia spoke again, “Now… I believe the last time we spoke was when Miss Pinkie was in charge of planning the Grand Galloping Gala a few years ago.”

“They still haven’t called her back to do it again,” Twilight said, smiling as she remembered that particular event.

“I think the nobility prefers its events to be a little less… unpredictable,” Celestia said diplomatically, “But that was so long ago… what has been happening with you since then?”

And Twilight told her. She allowed herself to forget about her condition. She forgot all about time loops and advanced magical hyperactivity flux disorder as she spoke with her mentor again. The cups were forgotten, the tea inside growing cold in the darkening air.

When she reached a week ago, she faltered.

“Is there something wrong, Twilight?” Celestia queried, looking over at her.

Last week… Twilight thought to herself, Last week… when I started having problems with my magic, when I started thinking that something was wrong with me, when I was diagnosed… She bit her lip. Do I tell her? she wondered to herself.

Trying to stall for more time to think, she lifted the tea to her mouth and took a sip, retching as the stone-cold tea went down her throat.

“It’s ice-cold,” Celestia muttered, inspecting her own tea. She glanced upwards and chuckled to herself, “Goodness, is that the time? We’ve been out here all afternoon. It must be at least eight in the evening now.”

Twilight looked up to see that, yes, night had fallen and the two of them were left with a much different view than they had been before; this one of stars and planets that were oh-so far away in the nightscape.

“I suppose the last train will have gone by now,” Celestia continued, “Why don’t you stay the night in the castle; your room is still untouched and we can continue this chat in the morning. Court doesn’t start until ten so that should give us plenty of time.”

Twilight nodded, standing up as the weight of reality came crashing down on her again, “That would be useful; thanks, Celestia.”

Celestia smiled slightly, “They’re still your rooms, you know,” she said, almost sadly, “There’s nothing stopping you from coming to stay here for a little while.”

“I’ll keep that in mind,” Twilight said silently realising that this was a conversation that they’d never finish.

Twilight followed Celestia inside again as she kept talking, “It was nice of you to come and visit… it gets quite lonely in the castle without anyone to talk to.”

“I was in Canterlot and I had some time to spare,” Twilight replied truthfully, then, because she could finally remember what she had come to ask Celestia in the first place, she asked, “Celestia, have you ever heard of anypony who was stuck in a time loop?”

“Hmm?” Celestia paused in the doorway to the kitchen, thinking for a moment, “Sorry, I can’t say I have, Twilight.” There was a pause, then Celestia sighed again, “I take it that this means we won’t be continuing that conversation in the morning.”

“Probably not,” Twilight said, resigned to Celestia performing the brief jump of intuition required to see why she asked the question.

Celestia smiled at Twilight, “Well… try to get a good night’s rest anyway; the kitchen is always open if you want something to eat.”

Twilight thanked her mentor again and slipped through the front door after wishing her ‘good night’, her last hope for finding out anything of consequence about time loops now crushed.

She headed to her own rooms for some sleep.

Chapter 6: If I Ruled the World

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When she woke up, Twilight wasn’t on the cloud mattress she’d slept on in Canterlot. She yawned, glancing briefly at the clock as she stretched, propping herself up against the headboard.

Maybe it was that she’d slept on clouds last night, or the chat she’d had with Celestia, but the fact remained that she felt a lot better this morning; a lot more at-ease with herself.

Today was a new day; she was going to find out what was wrong with her and then she’d have a nice cooked dinner with Spike afterwards in celebration.

Speaking of which…

Spike opened the door, balancing the tray as he usually did, and approached the bed with a cheerful smile.

“Morning, Spike,” Twilight offered happily.

“Morning,” Spike replied, “You seem better this morning.”

“Hmm?” Twilight asked, drawing in the breakfast that Spike had just put down and starting on the toast.

“Well… I found you on the doorstep last night; dead to the world,” Spike continued, looking at Twilight nervously. “Are you alright?”

“Never better,” Twilight replied, meaning it as she offered Spike a slight smile, “I think I need to look at a cure for narcolepsy sometime soon,” she elaborated, spinning the lie out of nothing.

Spike stayed next to the bed as Twilight took another few bites from her toast, just waiting as she munched it down until, eventually, “So… any plans for today?” he asked, apparently trying to fill the silence.

“I think I’ll be down in the lab,” Twilight answered confidently, “There’s something that’s been bugging me for a bit too long and I’d like to make a definite start on it.”

Thankfully, Spike knew better than to question her about any of her experiments and he simply smiled briefly before replying, “I’ll try not to disturb you then. I’ll call you when I’ve got something together for lunch.”

“That’d be brilliant,” Twilight agreed, watching as Spike left the room, closing the door behind him. Once he’d left, she finished off her breakfast with gusto, humming a quiet tune to herself. It was true; she felt better than ever. Today would be the day that she got results.

She yawned and pulled herself out of bed, leaving the tray on the side and folding back the covers before she straightened up, stretching in the morning light.

She felt alive; ready to tackle her illness again. Still humming quietly to herself, she slipped out of the room and lit a lamp before strolling downstairs to her laboratory, shutting the door behind her and locking it.

She was not going to be disturbed this time.

She left the lamp on the bench at the end of the room, opening the book that was next to it and quickly finding the page she wanted. She’d start with another self-diagnosis spell and work from there. It was what she’d planned after all.

She paused, then lit her horn, attempting to levitate the lamp in front of her. She was pleasantly surprised when it rose compliantly, the only reminder that Twilight had that she was impaired was a slight twinge above her right eye.

She put the lamp back down and grinned.

She still remembered where she’d left off last time. She’d work from there and see where it took her.

Once again, she closed her eyes, letting her magic loose on herself as the self-diagnosis spell took effect.

The magic dove straight into her organs as another twinge poked her. She ignored it, following the trail further into her organs, watching the dark line as it threaded itself around her body, very carefully ignoring the little signals that were being thrown up by her brain, telling her to stop.

The dead line led into her heart and she followed it, going closer and closer in, watching for the spot that would yield results.

Suddenly, her thoughts became sluggish; as if mired by cotton wool. She slowed down, the lines of light and missing magic becoming blurred as she watched them.

She was faintly aware that this was not how the spell was supposed to work, before she felt her mind explode in pain and the world turned black around her.

She was still standing up; that was the only similarity between five seconds ago and now. She looked around into the empty nothing, trying to see something, anything.

“Hello?” she called out, listening as the noise left her mouth and stopped there; simply hanging in the air as if time itself had frozen.

“Where am I?” she asked into the still air, barely hearing the words herself as she spoke them.

I couldn't tell you.

Twilight turned around as the voice presented itself to her. For that was what it had done; simply appearing in her head and bypassing her ears entirely. In front of her was a figure, dressed all in black and an imposing hood that covered its face. “W- Who are you?” Twilight asked, sounding a lot braver than she felt, “What am I doing here?”

The figure seemed to ponder this for a moment before answering: I am the last of the four; the Alpha and the Omega, the bringer of the end. You may call me Death.

The monotonous voice grated like two tombstones sliding together, echoing through the realm and through Twilight’s very being, making her hackles rise.

As to why you are here… well… The figure seemed to fidget for a moment, unwilling to say the words that had presented themselves to Twilight.

“I’m dead?”

Precisely, Death said, his granite tone remaining unchanged, Glad to see that you've got a grip on things here… you might be the only one who has.

“But-“ Twilight muttered to herself, “I… I can’t be dead… I was only doing a small spell…”

So I'm not the only one with conflicting orders, Death said, almost curiously You're here… Which means you're dead in the traditional sense… It paused. But... Your time has not come.

At this, Death reached into its cloak and withdrew a tall hourglass, the spiral between the bulbs: elegant and unfathomable. Sand had simply stopped in mid-air inside the glass, the top jar still more-than-half full.

Isn't that odd… Death muttered to itself quietly, What should be done then…

“I locked the door…” Twilight said to herself, still not quite listening to Death as it continued with its conundrum, too lost in the depths of her own shock to care, “They won’t find me for hours…”

Four hours to be precise, Death said, That is the time that the dragon, Spike, will use his spare key and open the door to… find you is a bit of a misnomer actually.

Finally paying attention, Twilight turned her focus on the hooded figure with her, “Wh- what do you mean?”

Death reached up a hoof to scratch its hood, the white bone of the foreleg contrasting with the perpetual darkness. I don't think there's very much left of you to be found.

“Oh…” Twilight replied in a small voice.

Which makes sending you back into your body a bit tricky, Death continued; its tone of voice could best be described as frustrated. I suppose you're going to have to come with me as the case may be… There is no other alternative I'm afraid.

“Come with you… where, exactly?”

To the other side.

“Oh,” Twilight murmured again, looking around herself into the darkness again. “I suppose that would make sense…”

Then we are in agreement, Death said in silent tones, If you would follow me, Miss Sparkle. Without another word to her, Death turned and started walking deeper into the darkness, closely followed by Twilight as she wondered what was going to happen next.

Chapter 7: Repetition

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Twilight Sparkle had a headache.

This was not unusual as and of itself.

The unusual part of the matter was when she had this headache… most notably… post mortem.

She groaned and opened her eyes, finding herself in a familiar room in a familiar treehouse.

The headache made itself known quite plainly to her and she sat up, guarding her face against the pain. To her left was the familiar glass of water and she grasped it loosely in her hooves, unsure of whether it was real or not.

She took a gulp from her glass and looked towards the drawn curtains, the light of the sun slipping through their folds. “Did that really just happen?” she asked herself, looking back to the water which felt so real; so solid. Surely this was some cruel twist of fate…

A knock at the door proved otherwise and Spike walked in with his breakfast tray.

“Morning, Twilight,” he greeted as normal, “How’re you feeling?”

“Fine, probably,” Twilight replied, still somewhat confused, “What day is it today?” she asked, trying to figure out what had just happened.

“It’s March the fourteenth,” Spike replied, allowing an undertone of worry to seep into his words, “You’ve been asleep for more than half a day; are you sure you’re okay? I found you on the porch yesterday, I wasn’t sure whether I should get a doctor or take you to the hospital or-”

Twilight held up her hoof, trying to quieten Spike as she drew in a deep breath, putting aside her worries for the moment, “I’m fine, Spike. It was just an accident. I don’t quite need a doctor,” she said with a half-smile.

Only because they’ve already done all they can for you, her subconscious said bitterly.

“Well, if you’re sure,” Spike said doubtfully, “Call me if you need anything. I’ll just be downstairs.”

“Thanks Spike,” Twilight said gratefully, “You’re a lifesaver.”

He grinned at her before turning and leaving the room, ego stoked.

Once the door had shut behind him, Twilight sighed, planting her head in her hooves and nearly unsettling the breakfast tray in front of her.

She was very sure that she’d died. There was just no way her mind could invent such a voice as that, nor could it weave such an odd conversation as she and Death had had together. So what was this? Everything seemed the same as it had been before.

She checked the breakfast in front of her, confirming that it was indeed exactly the same as before.

Did that mean that she was stuck in this infernal loop, come death or slightly-later-death, with no way out?

She hoped not.

Which drew her back to what she’d been doing before she’d… died.

It seemed that diagnosing herself was going to be a bit trickier than she’d originally anticipated; especially if there was the reasonable likelihood that she was going to die in the process of doing so.

She bit her lip in thought, trying to think back to exactly what had happened…

Maybe it was because she’d stretched herself too far… that was certainly a possibility; her sense of pain had seemed muted throughout that whole experience so that was another factor to add into it.

Remembering what had happened after that was harder… pain did that to minds sometimes. At other times, it could make events excruciatingly detailed. Now, it seemed to Twilight that the memory was too hot to touch, even now…

She stayed away from it, admitting defeat.

“Well… at least I really can’t die while I’m in this loop,” she said to herself, unsure of whether she was being bitter.

She paused, thinking along that tangent. Did she want to die now? Was she so willing to die that her failure to do so was a disappointment to her?

As much as she wanted to contest the idea… it did seem to ring true. This was the seventh time she’d lived this day… she’d lived a whole week longer than she had any right to. How long did Clover the Clever say she’d been in this loop for? A month? Longer?

Twilight couldn’t recall…

A month of impending doom… Twilight tried to imagine it. A month of living in stasis, where nothing would ever actually change and she might wake up tomorrow to find that it was all over for her…

Perhaps that was the scary part. At least without the loop, she knew that she was going to die tomorrow. Now, on the other hand… tomorrow could be another month away, or it could be… tomorrow.

There was no way of knowing when the loop would stop and when Twilight would die… If only she’d found out how the loop worked, then she might have stood a chance in predicting the end of the loop.

Pragmatic as ever, Twilight considered what would happen if tomorrow was the day that the loop stopped looping and the day that she embraced her death.

Then… the doctor would be the only one to know. She’d told Spike and her friends before, but that wasn’t… that wouldn’t… The doctor would have to tell them, the Princesses, her parents…

Twilight pulled herself up from her bed and wandered over to the window to see the sun rising into the sky. She sat down in front of the window.

She’d forgotten about her parents… her brother… not-a-one of them had she told of her condition in any of these loops. She hadn’t even remembered to do so. Celestia had been told in the second day of the loop, but even then… that had been through the cold facts of a letter.

She gazed out the window, the silence of the room surrounding her as the sun trekked its path across the sky, rising and falling until the moon was all that hung in front of her and the darkness of the night was eternal.

She was aware of Spike, stood somewhere behind her and keeping a watchful and worried eye on her contemplation.

Eventually… she spoke.

“I have to tell them…”

Chapter 8: The Chain

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Twilight woke up.

She yawned as she sat up in her bed and forced herself to get out of it and stretch in the harsh cool of her bedroom.

Spike knocked at the door and Twilight called for him to come in, twisting her neck to rid herself of an aching crick.

“Morning, Twilight,” Spike said as he entered, then paused, quirking his head towards her. “You’re up early.”

“This is when I normally get up, Spike,” Twilight admonished, walking towards her dresser and picking up a comb.

“Well… yes,” Spike said, backtracking, “But you were somewhat…” he paused, trying to think of the right words, “Out of it last night…”

“Well I’m fine now,” Twilight said shortly, brushing some of the snarls from her mane with grit teeth and wincing as some strands came with it. “Why don’t you take the tray downstairs? I’ll be down in a moment to eat; we’re going to take a trip up to Canterlot today.”

“Canterlot?” Spike repeated stupidly, still holding the tray loosely and looking at Twilight as if she’d grown a fifth leg.

She rolled her eyes. “Yes, Spike… Canterlot. I need to visit my parents and Celestia; It’s been a while since I did so and I’d like to pop in.”

“But… shouldn’t I stay here and look after the library?” Spike asked.

Twilight looked herself over in her vanity for another few moments before she put down the brush. “I’m sure if someone really wants to pick up a book, they can do so tomorrow. We’ve still got the deposit box, haven’t we?”

“Well, yes, but-“

“Then it’s fine. Now go on downstairs,” Twilight interrupted, cutting straight across Spike’s protest, “I’ll be with you in a moment.”

Sensing defeat, Spike turned around and left the room, more bewildered than when he entered and still carrying the tray. Once he’d left and the door had shut behind him, Twilight let out a sigh, closing her eyes and resting her head against the cool mirror.

She’d have to tell him again at some point… it was going to be impossible not to today. She’d considered leaving him behind and making a secret trip up to Canterlot as she’d done previously, but that would raise more questions from Celestia and her parents than it was worth… She lifted her head from the mirror again, resigning herself to telling him on the train ride up to Canterlot.

It was probably not going to be a pleasant journey.

She sighed and left the room, heading down the stairs to find Spike waiting for her in the kitchen, her breakfast left on the table next to him. She sat down next to it and started eating as Spike watched her, still bewildered.

Eventually, when she’d gotten through her first slice of toast, he asked, “So what’s the real reason that we’re going to Canterlot?”

Twilight raised her eyebrows at Spike, “The real reason?” she clarified, keeping her voice level.

“You never go anywhere just to visit anyone; not even our- your parents.”

“And maybe today is the day I change that,” Twilight said, trying to emphasise just how fruitless it would be for Spike to prod her for any information to the contrary, emphasising that fact by picking up the second slice of toast and starting to eat it.

Spike bit his lip, holding back any judgement he might have had and Twilight smiled internally. He probably had his doubts, but he was unlikely to raise them again until they were on the train, at which point she’d be able to answer his qualms truthfully.


She quickly shushed the sarcasm that her brain threw up, even if she agreed with it half-heartedly. She wolfed down the rest of her breakfast and passed the plate over to Spike who washed it up.

“I’ll get some money and then we can be on our way,” she said, standing up from the table, well-aware of the glance that Spike shot her as she left the kitchen.

She found a piece of paper and wrote a few sentences on it, saying that the library was closed for today and was due to re-open tomorrow. Once that was done, she readied a bag of bits quickly, making sure that they had enough for the train and for lunch later today, before she turned back towards the library at-large. Spike was waiting at the door for her and she joined him, letting the two of them out before she closed and locked the door behind them.

Spike had already propped the letterbox open and Twilight placed the sign she’d been carrying on the front of the door, hoping that it wouldn’t blow away during the day.

“Let’s go then,” she said after another moment of inspecting her work, and the two of them set off towards the train station.

True to her prediction, Spike didn’t prod her for any information during the walk and she hummed a quiet tune to herself in the early morning quiet, glancing up towards the large clock in the centre of the town every now and again to make sure that they still had time.

Once they reached the train station, she bought the two of them tickets to and from Canterlot just in case they wanted to get back later and they headed out onto the platform where the train was just pulling into the station.

They boarded the train on the same almost-empty carriage that Twilight had joined before and found a few seats at the opposite end of the carriage from its sole occupant.

They sat down and Twilight waited patiently for Spike to speak as she carefully lost herself in the ambient noises of the train station. As it was, she had to wait until the train started moving again before Spike spoke.

“I don’t buy it…” he started, “You don’t do things spontaneously; that’s just not you.”

Privately, she wondered whether or not he’d believe her if she told him about her exploits in Canterlot a few days ago.

“Why are you really going to Canterlot?” he pressed again.

She bit her lip, trying to think of how best to answer the question and how best to go about soothing him afterwards...

“Well?” he asked after Twilight kept staring out the window, trying to think her way around the answer.

She sighed; maybe a blunt answer would be best for this. It would shock him, making him less-likely to immediately cry foul and giving her time to soothe his worries and fears.

“I’m dying,” she said suddenly and, true to her predictions, Spike’s jaw dropped soundlessly as she continued, talking ahead of the inevitable sadness. “I’ve been dying for a while actually… and I’d like to tell my parents and Celestia what’s happening. This might be the last chance I get to do so, and I’d like to say…” She could feel her throat constricting, choking her words as her emotions caught up with her, “I’d like to say… to say goodbye to them… at least once.”

Her throat finally won out and she quietened, focussing on gulping down her sobs to stop herself from breaking down in front of Spike.

“Y- you’re… You’re dying?” he said, almost silently. Twilight nodded soundlessly and Spike’s eyes widened further. “But… but… Celestia can save you, right? That’s why we’re going to Canterlot, right?”

Twilight remained silent, looking away from Spike and letting him connect the dots.

“There must be something we can do!” he exclaimed and Twilight thought she saw the only other occupant of the carriage open an eye and look at them lazily.

She sighed, remembering why she hadn’t broached the subject since the second time she’d done it. “There isn’t,” she replied, her voice controlled, “I’m going to see my parents and the princesses and explain my situation to them. There’s nothing they can do, Spike.”

“Well check when you see them later,” he demanded and Twilight looked at him, surprised. “I’m not going to sit here and… and… do nothing when you’ve just told me that you’re dying,” he continued.

There’s not much you can do,’ Twilight thought bitterly, but she shook her head and smiled slightly, trying to placate Spike. “I’ll ask them when I go to see them,” she said, already knowing that it’d be pointless.

Thankfully, it seemed to satisfy Spike, who nodded. “Good,” he said with conviction. “You’ll see, the princesses have fixed all your other problems; they’ll be able to fix this too.”

Twilight smiled to herself but didn’t reply. That Spike had confidence in the princesses’ ability to solve every problem was charming, yet didn’t provide her with any comfort in the long run. As it was, she was going to have to shatter that confidence at some point later in the day.

As if today wasn’t already fun enough.

She considered broaching the subject again but decided against it as the scenery changed abruptly, turning from green fields into stone houses. Her lips thinned. “Let’s visit the princesses,” she said, standing up as the train started slowing down.

Spike stood up with her. “You’ll see,” he repeated, as if it was a mantra.

The walk to the palace was quiet and quick as Twilight expertly navigated the streets, Spike trailing along after her as she set a pace to be reckoned with. Soon enough, they were in front of the castle and they went inside.

“Why don’t you wait in the library,” Twilight suggested amicably to Spike as they passed through the front doors.

He shook his head resolutely. “No; I’m coming with you,” he said, “I’m not going to let you forget to ask the princesses.”

Twilight’s mouth thinned again but she stayed silent. At least this way, she told herself, at least this way, he’ll find out sooner rather than later.

It was still early in the day, so she headed straight towards the throne room where court was normally held. There were always very few petitioners in the early morning, Celestia had once commented on it to Twilight, saying that if as many ponies turned up in the afternoon as they did the morning, she might as well hold a single hour of court each day.

They reached the throne room. Its closed doors were flanked by two guards, both of which were annoyingly familiar to her. She groaned, then cursed herself as one of them turned towards her.

“Hey! Hey Bill! It’s Princess Twilight,” he said excitedly, and his companion turned too.

“It is,” the second guard, Bill, said in surprise, “You must be here to see the princess, right? I’ll go and tell her that you want to speak to her.”

“No, wait!” Twilight started, but it was already too late as the guard disappeared through the door, leaving her alone with the first guard, Bob if she recalled correctly. She sighed and slumped to the ground as the remaining guard looked about nervously.

“Don’t you worry, princess, Bill will have you with the princess in a jiffy,” he said to her in an unforgivably cheery voice.

“Would you please just be quiet,” Twilight said softly; she’d had enough of him. She hardly needed any more distractions from what she was going to do.

“Of course, princess,” Bob said, surprised, “I can be as silent as a mouse, except quieter because mice aren’t very quiet; what with their squeaking and-“

A zipper appeared across his mouth and fastened it shut mid-sentence. The rest of the wait was blissfully silent for Twilight, whose head was throbbing painfully. Even Spike stayed quiet. When Bill eventually came back through, she smiled at him and went into the throne room, leaving the two guards to their thoughts.

In all the years she’d been at the palace, the throne room had never changed very much. The only items that seemed to have changed were the stained windows. Even the princess seemed to have stayed as constant as the carpet.

“Twilight, Spike,” Princess Celestia said, smiling, as she got up from her throne and started towards them, “It’s been too long.”

Twilight couldn’t think of what she could say, so she stayed silent as they met in the middle of the throne room. Celestia made as if to hug Twilight, but she held up a hoof, “No, please… not yet. I need to talk to you.”

Celestia watched her for a moment, then put her hoof back down. If she was hurt by Twilight rejecting her hug, she was careful to not let it show. “What’s wrong?” she asked softly.

Twilight’s lips trembled for a moment before she took a deep breath to steady herself. “Would you be able to get Luna and Cadence too? I’d rather not repeat this any more than I need to…”

The faintest hint of worry seemed to hide behind Celestia’s eyes as she nodded, otherwise the perfect picture of calm. “Would you like me to fetch your brother too?”

Twilight shook her head. “He’ll hear later… From me,” she reassured as Celestia raised an eyebrow, “Him… and mother… and father…”

Celestia didn’t reply to that, leaving Twilight alone in the throne room as she left, presumably to fetch Luna and Cadence. Twilight slowly walked down the throne room, followed closely by Spike, looking around at the windows and smiling as she remembered what each of them represented.

She sat back on the floor, only a few paces from the throne, waiting patiently for the princess to return. It took exactly four minutes and nineteen seconds before she returned, dragging a bleary-eyed Luna and a concerned Cadence with her.

Twilight offered a brief smile to each of them as a greeting, took a deep breath, and spoke.

By the end of it, she felt more tired than after a forty-eight hour reading marathon. “So,” she said in a shaky voice, “That’s why I came here today. I’m not looking for a cure,” she said quickly as Cadence opened her mouth, “Ask Celestia… one was never found… I just came here to… to let you know.”

Beside her, Spike looked as if he wanted to complain, to tell her to ask anyway. Thankfully, he didn’t and just sat still, twiddling his claws.

Silence reigned in the throne room for a good half a minute before someone finally managed to piece together their thoughts. As it so happened, it was Cadence. “You’re… dying?” she asked, and Twilight nodded, “And there’s no cure?” she continued faintly, “Since when has that ever stopped you?”

“Cadence…” Celestia said quietly, looking straight at Twilight, “I’m sure Twilight has already tried looking for a cure.”

“And found none whatsoever?” Cadence continued incredulously. She looked at Twilight for confirmation, then slammed a hoof into the ground when she got it. “No! I am not going to sit here and watch someone I love die!”

“Cadence…” Celestia warned.

“No- Auntie… I won’t. There has to be something, somewhere,” Cadence ran on, ignoring Celestia as she sighed, “Have you talked to Zecora? To the court physician? To Fluttershy? To Celestia?”

“She hasn’t,” Celestia said, quelling Cadence as she continued, “And for good reason… There is no cure known to ponykind, dragonkind, griffonkind, or zebrakind. It is one of the only incurable diseases we have.”

“And you didn’t let Celly bring Shining here to tell him?” Cadence continued, giving Twilight a look of astonishment. “He needs to know; he’s your brother for pony’s sake!”

“And she’s going to tell him later,” Luna said calmly, “Why don’t you go and talk to him now… Ask him if he’d like to say hello to his little sister at his parent’s house? Say about… five in the afternoon?”

Twilight nodded, and Luna offered her a slight smile.

“Fine…” Cadence said grudgingly, wiping tears away from her eyes before she turned and left the throne room to Celestia, Luna, and Twilight.

There was another few moments of silence before Celestia sighed, stepping back towards the throne and slumping into it. Twilight could clearly see the sadness now, any semblance of calm Celestia might have had before was long gone.

“Don’t mind Cadence,” Luna said with a faint smile, “This will be the first generation that she’s going to outlive… I don’t think she ever thought she’d have to outlive you though…” She paused for a moment, “You have tried, haven’t you?” she asked.

“I have,” she replied shortly.


“It’s obvious, isn’t it?” Celestia said from the throne, “She hasn’t found a cure, Luna… she wouldn’t be telling us that she’s dying if she had.”

“Celestia,” Luna started crossly, “This isn’t helping.”

“No,” Celestia said, her voice echoing across the hall, “And neither is the part about one of my closest friends dying. Neither is the part that I can’t do anything to help her. We can’t help her, Luna… we can’t do anything for her.”

“We can start by not wallowing in it,” Luna said sharply, the two seemingly forgetting that Twilight was still there. “We can help by not hindering her and treating her as if she’s going to die in a few minutes. You can mourn later, Celestia, but not while she’s still alive and breathing.”

“Thanks, Luna,” Twilight said in a small voice before she turned to Celestia. “I think I’ll take that hug now.”

Spike was silent now. He hadn’t said a word since the throne room. They’d talked a bit more after that, but it hadn’t been about anything of consequence… they’d just chatted to one another, all of them trying to forget about her impending death.

It was almost four in the afternoon now and she was on her way to her parent’s house. She wanted to talk to her parents a bit before she ruined their day. She could only hope that Spike wouldn’t spill the beans on his own while she was waiting for her brother to arrive. That was if Cadence did as she’d been told and brought Shining over at five.

It wasn’t long until they were standing in front of her parent’s house. It was a tall and lonely affair; more like a small mansion than a family home. She smiled as she pushed open the gate, walking up the familiar path to the front door, Spike still traipsing along behind her.

Somewhere behind them, the gate swung shut with a clatter, just as Twilight lifted her hoof to knock on the door.

There was a clatter of noise from inside, followed by a laugh, then the door opened to reveal her father.

Not missing a beat, he smiled. “Twilight,” he said loudly, “So good of you to visit. Come in, come in. It’s been far too long.”

“Hi, Dad,” She replied, walking past her father into the hall, pausing to give him a quick hug along the way.

“Cadence seemed to think you’d be dropping by a bit later,” he continued, shutting the door behind them, “Looks like we’re finally going to have a proper family reunion.” He chuckled, “Although to hear your mother talking about it, you’d think the whole of Canterlot had come to visit. She’s cooking dinner now.”

“Wait,” Twilight said, “Cadence visited earlier?”

“Mm,” her father replied, “She came by about 3-ish. She was all-but dragging Shining by the ear and said that you’d probably be dropping by a bit later. Funny thing though… she didn’t seem that happy about it. Didn’t stop for a chat or for dinner either.” He paused and glanced at Spike, who was still resolutely silent, “Is Spike okay?”

Twilight bit her lip, “I’ll tell you after dinner,” she said finally before switching the topic entirely, “So where’s Shining?”

“He’s in the kitchen,” he said, “She recruited him almost immediately. I think he’s in the middle of making the crumble.”

“And I can always use more help!” her mother’s familiar voice echoed from the kitchen.

“I guess that’s me recruited too,” Twilight said, and her father laughed.

“Come on then, let’s not keep her waiting.”

Her mother was a hard taskmaster when it came to cooking. She even managed to get Spike to do something other than follow Twilight relentlessly by giving him control of all the pans on the hobs.

It wasn’t long until dinner was finished and they were all sat around the table with food in front of them: rice with a mushroom and vegetable sauce.

“So what’s life like in the Crystal Empire, Shining?” Twilight asked, digging in to her food with gusto.

Her brother shrugged, swallowing a mouthful of food before replying, “It’s really not that different from Canterlot. Cadence is a fantastic governor.”

“Spike, is something wrong with your food?” her mother asked, and Twilight turned her head to look at him, noticing that he was the only one who hadn’t started on his food, preferring to push it around his plate listlessly.

“No, Mrs Sparkle,” he mumbled, followed by something about not having an appetite.

Twilight’s mother frowned and Twilight sighed. “Now, now, dear if something’s bothering you, please tell me, I’ll get your father to dig out some gems.”

He didn’t reply to her, instead shooting Twilight a quick glance before he focussed on pushing his food around his plate again.

“Twilight…” her mother said anxiously, “Is something wrong?”

“I said I’d wait until after dinner to talk about it,” she said, knowing that it was futile now her mother had the scent.

Sure enough, “No. If something’s wrong, I want to know now. You’re not going to keep putting it off with me.”

Twilight sighed. She glanced around the table, noting that she was the centre of attention again. “I really think that you might want to wait until everyone’s finished eating,” she tried again.

“We’ve all got strong stomachs here, Twily,” her brother said, “now come on, spill the beans, what’s wrong?”

She sighed again, “If you’re sure,” she muttered under her breath before she raised her voice. “I’m dying.”

The table froze: implements halfway to mouths which had dropped open, and eyes that had frozen to Twilight with looks of disbelief. Spike just kept pushing his food around his plate.

Her brother was the first one to recover, nervously laughing as he put down his fork, “Ha… very funny, Twilight,” he said, as if re-assuring himself, “Good one.”

Twilight just offered him a grim smile. “It’s called advanced magical hyperactivity flux disorder. Completely incurable,” she said grimly, “I told Spike earlier… that’s probably why he’s so listless.”

“W- Well… when did you find out about it?” her mother asked, her eyes wide.

“I got the second evaluation back yesterday,” Twilight said, “I didn’t tell you before then so I wouldn’t worry you.”

Her father put his cutlery down. “How long?” he asked heavily. If he’d been jovial before, he wasn’t now.

“A day,” she replied, shrugging, “Maybe more.” Her mother pushed her plate away next, and Twilight smiled to herself, “I said you might want to wait until after dinner.”

Shining just looked at her, poleaxed, “How can you sit there and make jokes about it?” he asked.

“What else can I do about it?” she retorted, “Sobbing about it isn’t going to change anything.”

“Well, no, but-“

“Shining,” Twilight’s mother interrupted, “Why don’t you clear away the plates. I think we’ve all finished with them.”

He opened and closed his mouth a few more times, then stood up sharply, lifting all the plates simultaneously in his magic before he left the room, the plates following him in a line.

“Thanks,” Twilight said.

“No problem,” her mother replied, “He’s probably just angry at himself...”

“I know,” Twilight sighed, “He still thought he’d be able to protect me.”

Her father offered a brief smile, “He’ll come round sooner or later.”

“Is there anything we can do to help?” her mother asked.

Twilight shook her head, “Sorry. Would I be able to stay here tonight though?”

“Of course,” her father said, “Your room is exactly how you left it.”

“Thanks,” she offered.

After that, there wasn’t very much to be said. There were some polite questions and a few threads of conversation which went no-where. There was even a joke, followed by a very forced laugh.

After a while though, Twilight said goodnight to her parents and left for her room. Back when she’d lived here, she’d moved from her first room into the attic where she’d have room for her books and desk.

She hummed to herself as she found the light and turned it on, illuminating her old room. It really was cavernous, bookcases lining a whole wall and a giant chalkboard which took up another.

She sighed and sat down in front of a desk. Spike would be sleeping in her first room tonight; she’d insisted on it. Even if this was where the loop ended, she wanted to sleep, and she wouldn’t be doing that if she had to comfort him throughout the night. For all his boasting about how old he was now, he was still young.

There was a knock against the stairs and a familiar voice called up into the attic, “Hey… Twily… Can we talk?”

“Sure,” she called back, “Come on up.”

Her brother appeared out of the trapdoor and looked around, “It’s been ages since I was in here,” he murmured to himself.

“Eons,” she agreed, smiling and gesturing for him to sit himself on the bed.

He sat down, making the bed creak slightly. He looked haunted now and was wringing his hooves restlessly. “I… I knew something was wrong when Cadence ferretted me out from the guard post,” he started, “And obviously it was something to do with you… She said that you’d be calling at mum and dad’s today and that I had to be there too.”

“It’s just… I never thought… Dying?” he implored, looking at her.

Twilight sighed again. “I never thought it would happen either if that helps,” she quipped, “Especially considering that I thought my magic would heal anything that happened to me.”

“Magic,” Shining snorted, “What’s it done for us. It hypnotised me, almost killed Cadence, and it is killing you.”

“Still wouldn’t trade it for anything,” Twilight replied, smiling.

Shining didn’t return her smile, avoiding her gaze entirely. He stood up from the bed and walked over to her, embracing her in a sudden hug. “Listen… Let’s just say that we’ll see each other later?” he proposed and Twilight nodded, faintly aware of a tear caught in her eye.

“See you later, alligator,” she said, feeling her voice hitch slightly.

“After a while, crocodile,” Shining replied.

They broke apart from the hug, Shining opened his mouth as if to say something else, closed it again, then fled.

Twilight briefly considered calling after him, then shook her head and turned back to her desk. She looked at the books littering it and the photos and notes that had been haphazardly stuck to the wall behind it. All of them were on magic… all of them were about the things she’d learnt under Celestia’s tutelage and on her own.

She drew one of the books towards her and looked at the cover. Twilight’s Diary.

Shining was right… her magic was the thing killing her… but would she ever give it up? Even if it would save her life?

She opened her old diary, and started to read.