Immortality Is A Price, Not A Gift
I used to wish on shooting stars. Sometimes I wished for unyielding power, other times it may have just been for a good book.
Never once did I wish to live forever. If I had known what it was like to live even a hundred years, I would have cursed it from the start.
I still remember the day that I became a princess. It was... quite the surprise, to say the least. One second, I'm surrounded by my best friends, the next... Poof, I have a new pair of wings.
My friends... they were so supportive. I wasn't expecting to become a princess, much the less want to become one, but... honestly, I think they were happier for me that day than I was. And it hurts.
Being a princess brought a lot of responsibility with it, but it also had it's perks. While I had a lot more work to do, most of it was the same labor I'd been doing my whole life! Spike was with me the whole time, bless his heart. He always was my favorite assistant.
At first, I thought that the princess life was everything I'd ever wanted, everything I could have dreamed of! And at first, it really seemed so. My challenges got harder, obstacles bigger, but every time I could count on my friends, the other elements of Harmony, and together we would pull through.
They weren't bearers of Harmony in my eyes. No, they were the elements.
Pinkie Pie was the first to leave us.
It was tragic, so sudden. One moment, she was preparing for a party just like any other day, and the next, she was just hanging from the rafters...
It... it hurt. It hurt a lot. I really didn't know quite how to feel about it at the moment beyond the obvious sad. One of my closest friends had died a horrible death, it was a rational reaction! But...
No, I couldn't have seen it coming. I can't have. But I should have.
Rainbow Dash took Pinkie's death the hardest, I think. She was so miserable the next few months, it really was painful to watch. But then she got accepted to the Wonderbolts, after all of her hard work! She finally had the chance to live the dream she always strived for, her one goal in life!
Life moved on. Applejack hit some financial problems, but of course I was there to lend a hoof. It took a couple of years, but eventually she ended up not only expanding the farm, but increasing revenue.
Rarity finally got her ticket to Canterlot in the form of an editor of a very popular fashion magazine. She claimed they felt love at first sight, but I'm pretty sure she threw the flowers back at him on their first date. Whatever their failures, though, they both cherished their successes. She moved in with him after being engaged for two years, even had a foal together!
It took a while for Spike to get used to the fact that Rarity had fell for somepony else, but he took it in stride. He claimed he knew all along he didn't have a chance, but... he was a tough dragon, I will always give him that. He moved on, thankfully, and with no hard feelings.
I suppose it was because everypony else was doing so well that we didn't notice Fluttershy for a while. After everypony had split along their own paths, we all managed to meet up at least once a month, back at Sugar Cube Corner like old times.
I... I must have made a mistake. I thought everypony looked so happy, I didn't notice... None of us noticed...
On the fourth year following Pinkie Pie's death, Fluttershy was finally diagnosed with the late stages of chronic leukemia, a disease she'd had since she was a filly. If she'd spoken up about it years before, treatment would have been a breeze, but with the extreme build up in her system...
Even with our good-byes said, losing her was just as hard. She didn't make it a year.
We all made it back to Ponyville for the funeral. Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Applejack and I did some catching up, and I have to admit I was a little surprised at what I noticed. The young, snarky Rainbow Dash was less brash and more bitter, a little reserved even. She still had a way with crowds, and her need for speed was nearly unquenchable, but there was something gone from her eyes.
There was something gone from all of our eyes. Rarity admitted the city life was starting to get to her, but she and her husband were doing better than well. Applejack, for her part, was running her farm like the true professional she was.
After the funeral, Spike had to leave. How he'd grown over the years, what a magnificent creature he'd become. While still a young child by dragon standards, he had a quest he needed to embark on, and who was I to stop him?
And so I was left alone again in Ponyville. Applejack was still in the productive Sweet Apple Acres, but we never talked outside of business. It was sad, but I always reminded myself there was always he next meeting we all pulled together. And the next. And the next.
How another four years blew by. And then another. It wasn't until the twentieth reunion we held in memory of our favorite party pony and our late veterinarian that Rainbow Dash wasn't present.
Everypony managed to secure the monthly meetings, everypony. Even Rainbow Dash.
At first, I admit, we were a little angry. This was an important date, after all. We stopped being angry once we got the letter.
For somepony whose entire existence was living on the edge, we never expected a freak lightning bolt to push her off it.
The mourning returned, and it was then, nestled between Rarity and Applejack, that I realized something. I never had truly paid attention to it, but...
They weren't the same young mares I grew up with. Rarity had bloomed from the beautiful young fashionista I'd met into an elegant and truly magnificent mare. Applejack, too, had grown up quite a bit, years of hard labor worn into her appearance.
But there was something else, something, I don't know, just got to me.
They were starting to get old.
Not physically, of course, for both of them couldn't have been better than they were had they tried. No, not in appearances or fortitude, but in maturity and numbers. It wasn't something I particularly paid attention to, but it did spike my interest.
I, on the far other hoof as them, had hardly aged at all. While I was just as old as they were, I hardly seemed any more mature or experienced than the egghead that trotted in to Ponyville all those Summer Sun Celebrations ago.
Ignorant as I was, though, I didn't let it get to me. What could I have done, after all?
I could have talked to them, I suppose. Spent more time with them, for sure, but it all went so fast after that. A decade seemed so short, and then came Rarity's turn pass the torch. Heart attack, the doctors said. I don't believe them. She had a strong heart, she had been through a lot, what with the divorce and her foal going off the college...
Applejack and I were surrounded by a sea of false compassion when she was cast to the wind. Of all the ponies present, we were two of the few who had actually known her. And she had deserved better.
I suppose I should have seen it coming for Applejack, but stubborn is as stubborn does. A collapsing barn was all it took, but at least she saved the cows...
At least she saved the damn cows.
Spike returned a few years later, a mature dragon, grown from experiencing the world. He returned to me, and we spent time together.
But it was obvious that after his time with his own kind, he no longer belonged in a world of ponies. Soon after, he set off on his own yet again, only this time he would not return.
I was still youthful, though. It was odd, to be honest. Where as Applejack had passed as an aging mare, I was still young and full of vitality. I had my awkward grace and charm, unchanged for the last sixty-plus years.
I hated it.
I spent the nights crying myself to sleep. Who was I to live while the ponies I cared about, I cherished, were reduced to nothing but memories around me? I was not shameful of my power, I simply resented it.
How quickly a hundred years passed when there was nobody to enjoy it with. How quickly the end to my torture finally came.
* * *
“Are you sure that you wish to do this, Twilight?”
I nodded, a tear already forming in my eye before we'd even begun. “Absolutely positive,” I reaffirmed.
The princess gave a solemn nod. Princess Celestia then turned to back away from me.
My parents, my brother, my most treasured friends, all gone. The three mares before me, the rightful princesses of Equestria, they were far stronger than I. They deserved to stay.
Cadance gave me a hug. She had been a close friend to me over the past century, and I appreciated every second of it. Perhaps she was disappointed in me for my selfish decision, perhaps even ashamed; if she had any ill feelings about my ultimate choice, she kept them to herself.
Luna was surprisingly quiet as Celestia prepared her counter spell. I had never really been close with the Princess of the night, but we had a mutual respect for the other. She gave me a sad nod, and as she blinked I saw that her eyes were rimmed with tears as well.
I couldn't hear anything as Celestia released the keys to my binds, but I felt it. My wings, the symbol of my rule, were gone, cast from me. I felt my body go weak after a century of abuse, crumbling behind me, but my spirit was set free. Above me, I heard a great clamor and commotion.
I looked up to see them all standing there, lined around a hole in the clouds. They were waiting for me, just as I'd waited for them.
The tears sprang free.
“I'm coming,” I croaked out as I climbed my ways to them, towards that final trot through the sky. To my friends, who I knew I would be with for the rest of eternity. To a place I would never have to say good-bye to them again. To a new home.
“I'm coming home.”