An Unexpected family

by archr

First published

Sunset Shimmer finds a family when she needs it the most.

While working late one-night Principal Celestia happens upon a bundled up Sunset Shimmer sleeping in the school library. Realizing the truth of Sunset's living situation she takes her in and lets her sleep in her guest room. As events unfold and with a little bit of help their relationship evolves to one far from that of a teacher and student.

Chapter 1: Déjà vu

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The students and staff of Canterlot High trickled home at the end of the day, Sunset waved goodbye to her newfound friends. It had been two weeks since the fall formal,She felt good—ashamed,but happy in a way she hadn’t since before her mother died.

Sunset Sighed,“I doubt there’s any room at the shelter tonight and it’s too cold to sleep in the park, I guess I’ll have to hole up in the school library tonight.”

Using a key she copied from the janitor she made her way into the library. The school was quiet now—no one was around but her. She pulled a mummy bag and a candle from behind the encyclopedias; She lit it,pulled out a book and began to read herself to sleep.

Principal Celestia was working late—she had a lot of paperwork to do for the ‘renovations’ to the school, she didn’t want to explain the fall formal incident the administration. She packed her things and made her way to her car. Passing the library she stopped as she saw the flicker of a candle coming from the window. She Decided To investigate, “Hello, is someone here?”
Sunset Quickly Snuffed the candle.

Celestia turned on the lights and started looking between the bookcases and came upon the bundled up student. “Sunset Shimmer, Is that you, what are you doing here? You should be home, the school is closed.”
Sunset looked down, but didn’t move, struck with a terrifying feeling of deja vu.

Celestia Crossed her arms,“Breaking into the school library is against the rules, not to mention illegal. Sunset I thought you changed, why are you here? Explain yourself!”

Sunset looked up, fear in her eyes. “The Shelter was full and—I didn’t want to sleep in the park again, I’m sorry I’ll leave please don’t expel me for this!”

The principal’s demeanor changed as the truth struck her, “Sunset are you—homeless?”

“Yes, I’m—not from here remember, I can’t go home.”

“Yes, you did tell me your origins after the incident I just never put things together. Get up, you’re coming with me.”

“No, please don’t report me to CPS I don’t want to go back to an orphanage, I—I’ll be 18 soon enough, and I’ll go back to Equestria when the portal opens up again I promise, just please let me sleep here.”

“Sunset I’m not reporting you to CPS, I know your situation is­––unique, but I’m not going to let you sleep here either, you’re coming home with me. I have a guest bedroom you can use and we can workout your situation later,No arguing with me on this okay?”

“Okay Doctor Sonos.” Sunset said, reluctantly gathering her things.
The two of them began walking to Celestia's sedan. “Now, what would you like for dinner? Luna’s waiting and she gets insufferable when she’s hungry, I was thinking Chinese food?”

“I—don’t care as long as it’s vegetarian.” Sunset replied getting into the passenger side as Celestia unlocked it with her key-fob.

“You’re a vegetarian? I would have never guessed that.”

“Yeah, I’m—you know,” she trailed off awkwardly.

“A horse.” Celestia said.

“A pony not a horse, there’s a big difference. We’re herbivores and I don’t feel comfortable with eating another animal, the portal changed my appearance but it didn’t change what I am on the inside.”

“That makes sense, still it’s strange considering how much you love leather.”

“Why is that?”

“You do know where leather comes from right?”

“I never really thought about it.”

“Good, I think you’d rather not know.” Celestia said starting the car.

Celestia made her way down main-street and headed towards her favorite Chinese restaurant––the only Chinese restaurant in town. “So, Sunset, back there you said you didn’t want to go back to an orphanage. Does that mean you don’t have a home in your world either, you don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to.”

“Yes, I’m an orphan, my mom died when I was seven and I never knew my dad. I bounced around between foster homes and orphanages for a few years up until the Princess took me under her wing. When she expelled me I made the decision not to go back—at any cost—even if it meant being on the streets.”

Celestia couldn’t help but tear up a little, Sunset’s past actions made more sense in context.“tout comprendre c'est tout pardonner,” She whispered to herself.

“What was that?”

“Oh, nothing.” Celestia regained her composure, she pulled into the parking lot of the Chinese restaurant. They both sat there in silence for a second before Celestia turned to Sunset, “How did you end up here? You told me about the portal at the base of the statue, but why did you go through it, was it an accident?”

Sunset took a deep breath “When—the guards were escorting me out of the castle we passed the room where the princess kept the mirror, when we passed it I just—There was so much anger, resentment and confusion built up in me, when I saw the door I ran for it and ended up here—alone. The guards didn’t follow me, the princess didn’t follow me.”

“What then?”

“At first I was happy I felt like I had beaten her—punished her even, but then reality dawned on me. I returned to the statue the next day and tried to go back, but it had closed. I didn’t know what to do so I started hanging around the school, I forged some documents and that was that.”

Celestia took Sunset’s hand to comfort her, “Thank you for sharing Sunset I know this must be hard after keeping everything a secret for so long. This princess, did—you see her as your mother?”

Sunset had never thought about her motivations but something about the principals words rang true in a way she couldn’t deny. “Yes—I think I wanted her to be—looking back, but she didn’t reciprocate––the princess liked to keep herself distant. I guess I tried to gain her love through achievement, I thought if I impressed her I could earn her love, but as time went on I think my desire to be wanted became something else.”

Celestia unbuckled the carseat and reached across the center console to give the distraught teen a hug, the best she could in the parking lot of a small town Chinese restaurant, “I’m sorry Sunset, but that’s now how love works.”
Sunset began to cry. The two of them stayed like that for several minutes in the dark car with light from a half lit Lucky China sign, finally Principal Celestia broke the silence, “What was her name?”


“Who was this princess that led you to so much hardship.”

“I think it would be best if you didn’t know.” Sunset said.

“Sunset, tell me the truth or I will ruin leather for you.” Celestia said sternly

Sunset smiled slightly “Okay, I guess I need to tell all this to someone eventually, her name was Princess––Celestia.” she forced out. She closed her eyes and waited for the bombshell to land.

“You mean she was me?” Celestia asked.

“Not you, but a different version of you.” Sunset looked out the window into the vacant parking lot.

“Well this is awkward.” Celestia chuckled uneasily.

“I told you it would be better if you didn’t know.”

“You did, but I had to, especially if you’re going to be living with me for the foreseeable future. Why don’t you stay here while I get our dinner, Luna must be infuriated right now, do you know what you want?”

“I’ve never had Chinese food before. Is it like, food from China?”
Celestia gave a warm smile, “Yeah, something like that, I’ll just get you something, okay?”

“Okay just make sure it’s vegetarian.”

“Of course.”

Celestia got out of the car and gave the teen a moment of peace. She went inside the restaurant and looked at her phone.

“Where r u? I’m starving.” the latest message from her sister read.

“I’m at the restaurant right now. I should give you a heads up, Sunset Shimmer will be joining us tonight, I found her sleeping in the library.” Celestia texted back. She ordered her food and finished paying when her sister responded.

“Doesn't she have a place to stay.”

“No she’s been homeless, for the last 2 years, I just now found out.”

“Oh my.” Vice Principal Luna texted back.
Celestia made her way to the car, opened the rear door and carefully placed the plastic bag of food on the seat and fastened the seatbelt around it, “don’t want any spills,” she said looking towards Sunset with a reassuring smile. “I texted Luna, she knows you’re coming.”
Sunset wasn't crying, but was even less at ease than before. “What did she say?”

“Not much, I’m not good at reading her emotions through text.”

“Oh” Sunset said.

“Sunset I know this is awkward for you––for both of us, and I can’t promise I will be the family you’ve been seeking, but I can promise you a warm bed, food and sympathetic ear that’s willing to listen when you need to talk.”

“Okay.” Sunset said sheepishly
They were both quiet for a while. Sunset looked out the window focussing on the flares the street lamps made in the windshield as each one passed, “you know this is the first time I’ve ever ridden in a car.”

“Really now, this is a day of first for you then.”
“Yeah, I guess.” Sunset looked at the principal and gave half smile. “you’re not like her—the princess that is. You’re different, kinder, easier to talk to.”

“I’ll take that as a complement.” Celestia said keeping her eyes on the road.

“Thanks for doing all of this. It’s more than I deserve, and I’ll get a job to pay for the food. It will have to be under the table but—”

“Sunset no, I will not accept a dime, my sister and I are quite well off, you can pay me by focusing on your studies and working to make up for your past mistakes.”

“Okay.” Sunset had figured out arguing wasn’t worth it.

“How have you been feeding yourself these past few years anyway?”

“I had a few bits—equestrian money—just spare change really, but it’s made of gold. I found out my pocket change was worth a few thousand of your dollars. it was only about three ounces, but I was able to sell it at a pawn shop and I’ve been living off that for the past few years.

“How much do you have left?”

“Nothing, I spent my last dollars on a new sleeping bag for the winter. I’ve been stealing cheese pizza out the back of Little Caesar's dumpster for the past few weeks, they have to keep all their food fresh so there is always a few cold pizzas in there.”

“So you’ve been eating nothing but day old cheese pizza for the past few weeks.”


“Sunset, why didn't you ask for help?”

“Who could I have turned to?”

“You’re friends, a teacher, Me, Luna.”

“I told you I made my decision, I wasn’t going back to an orphanage, and if i’d gone to a school administrator that’s where I would have ended up, or worse. If I told the truth I could have been sent to mental institution, I’m completely undocumented, the country I come from doesn’t exist, homelessness was the only option, I was planning to go back when the portal opened again but that’s passed and I’ll probably be arrested if I go back. I didn’t have any friends up until two weeks ago, not here or in Equestria. I’ve burned every bridge I’ve ever made and I don’t want to push their generosity, I’m on thin ice and I don’t want to lose the only friends i’ve ever had.” They pulled into the driveway of the house. It was a large some would almost call it a mansion if it hadn’t been built in such a small town.

“Well when you put it like that I guess you have a point, but I’m not going to send you away to anywhere, you can stay with me as long as you need and if you want you can try to go back to your world when the time comes. I know I remind you of this princess of yours but I don’t care, if you need help from now on come to me, Okay?”

“Okay Dr. Sonos.” Sunset said reluctantly. Despite the drawbacks she did enjoy some parts of being homeless, the freedom was liberating after having her life controlled by social workers for so long, but there were also comforts she yearned for, and connections. Celestia got out of the car, retrieved the food from the back seat, and started for the front door, Sunset trailed behind awkwardly.

They entered the house and Vice principal luna made her way from the living room to meet them. She looked at the food then at Sunset. “Hello Sunset this is quite the treat.” she smiled and grabbed the bag from Celestia.

“Um, hello Vice principal Luna,” she said rubbing her shoulder. Sunset had never met Luna’s counterpart in Equestria, she was still banished when Sunset left, but she was more familiar with the mirror worlds Luna then she was with Principal Celestia. Luna was the head of discipline and they had had quite a few talks over Sunset’s infractions.

“Please call me Luna, kiddo. Celestia said you’ve been homeless over the past few years. Is that true.”

“Yes, I’m not from here I—.”

“Yes, I know you’re some kind or talking horse—Celestia told me—quite strange.”

“I’m a pony!” she burst out, “I’m sorry, I just—I’m not a horse.”

“Whatever you say pony-girl.” Luna said digging into her her chow mein.
Sunset groaned, Celestia and luna sat down around the living room coffee table. Celestia gestured for Sunset to join them.
“Here you go Sunset this is for you.” Celestia pulled out a white foam box.

“What is it?”

“Does it matter, just eat, you must be hungry.” Celestia said.
The three of them ate in silence for a while, Sunset shoveling food into her mouth, Celestia was right she was hungry.

“Wow this is really good, I’ve eaten nothing but oatmeal, apples and dumpster pizza for the last few years.”
“Dumpster pizza?” Luna asked.

“I’ll fill you in later sis.” Celestia said, “Once you’re finished I’ll show you to the guest room, it will be yours for the foreseeable future so feel free to arrange things how you like.

“Okay.” Sunset said. Once they finished their meals Celestia got up and gestured for Sunset to follow her.

“Here's your new home Sunset,” she turned on the lights and entered the room. “There is a bathroom down the hall and another downstairs. These sheets have been sitting here for a while so I would wash them when you get the chance. The drawers are empty so you can use them for your clothes.”

“Thanks, this is—amazing, it means a lot.”

“Just doing my job, she said.” as she walked out.

Sunset sank into the bed “her job” she thought to herself.


Chapter 2: Group therapy

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Sunset Woke early the next morning, she was used to waking early to sneak into the locker room before school. For a second Sunset was disoriented, she was not on the ground or in a shelter; she was in a real bed. She felt the softness of the down comforter, the percale duvet and the warmth of the surrounding room. Things were quiet—almost deafeningly so; This was not a hall filled with dozens of others, no unmedicated schizophrenic mumbling to themselves in the corner, no coarse wool military surplus blanket, no metal cot frame digging into her side through the canvas. She had gotten used to all those anoyances and had forgotten the splendor of a real bed. She lay awake and remembered where she was, rolling over on her side she grabbed the pillow and sighed.

"If this bed is so comfortable then why do I feel so horrible?" She thought to herself, she groaned and turned on her side. Repressed feelings began to spring to the surface, gritting her teeth she tried to hold back tears, she turned face down into the pillow and screamed. Everything began to bubble up; hopes, dreams, memories, her mind wandered. She thought of her mom; her smiling face, the warmth of her fur, the smell of pancakes on a Saturday morning, a short funeral with no one in attendance. She began imagining what it would be like to have a mother again, to wake up to someone who loved her. Sunset sobbed into her pillow, "Not again," She thought, "Please not again she was just doing her job it doesn't mean anything more than that."

Her thought's shifted to a library, a mirror, and an obsession; She remembered the look of anger on Celestia's face and the last words the Princess had ever said to her: "The guards will escort you out." She began to breathe slow deep breaths, "Get a hold of yourself Shimmer," she whispered, " things are better now, I'm better, I—don't need anyone, I'm fine on my own; other people just hold me back!" reality dawned on her as history repeated itself, "That's what I told myself last time too; I'm—not going to be that person again, things are different now. I can focus on my friends I’ll make things right, The elements showed me the truth—a better way—they can give me the support I need." She thought about how her friends accepted her even after the fall formal, but she still couldn't shake the feeling; She felt like she was going to throw up, "damn it" she thought to herself, "Damn it!" she shouted.

Celestia was in the hall just outside Sunset’s room when she heard the teens outburst, she pressed her ear to the door and heard the sobs. Principal Celestia reached for the handle but stopped, remembering what Sunset had said the night before regarding her relationship with the other her. She wasn’t sure what to do, the sympathetic side of her wanted to hold Sunset tight, but the rational side of her told her it would only make things worse. She sighed, moved her hand away and headed downstairs, her sympathetic side berating her, “Maybe some pancakes will cheer her up.” She thought.

Sunset lay in bed for a few minutes staring at the ceiling, she was no longer crying but still in a sorry state. She looked at the window, Light was leaking in; she didn't have an alarm clock but she knew she had to get up. She groaned and rolled out of bed. It was Wednesday but she wanted it to be Friday more than anything, there was a lot she needed to process and didn't want her schoolwork to get in the way. Sitting at the edge of the bed she looked down at herself, she was still wearing her clothes from the night before.

She got out of bed, made her way to the door, and opened it slowly, she could smell something she wasn't familiar with; It smelled awful. Heading downstairs Sunset could hear the sound of something sizzling, she entered the kitchen and was greeted by the sight of Principal Celestia at the stove, wearing a chef's apron and humming to herself. Looking to the dining room table she saw Vice Principal Luna eating breakfast; there was a stack of pancakes and a pot of something she didn't recognize on the table, "what is that smell?" Sunset asked covering her nose.

"Oh, good morning Sunset," Celestia said, "I thought I would cook some pancakes; I'm making some bacon on the side to go with it—I know you're vegetarian—I just made it for myself. Does it really smell that bad to you?"

"Um yeah, it smells pretty—horrible."

"I'm sorry, I didn't stop to consider what it might smell like to you; most people think it smells good—even vegetarians."

"It's okay, it's—not that bad," she said trying to be polite, "What's that?" Sunset asked pointing towards the pot.

"Coffee, you can have some if you want."

"What's coffee?" Sunset asked.

Celestia smiled, I guess you really are from another world, it's almost like a tea but a lot stronger, it's very popular I'm surprised you haven't heard of it considering your grade point average."

Sunset sat down and poured herself a mug, took a sip and gagged, "Oh, by the goddesses that's awful," She said, face cringing.

Celestia rolled her eyes and chuckled at Sunset's mannerisms, "People usually add cream and sugar, not very many people like it black other than my sister; Here, let me," Celestia took the lid off the sugar bowl, added two small spoonfuls, took a half carton of cream, poured and stirred, "try it now."

Sunset took a sip, "That's—a lot better."

"I thought you would like it," Celestia returned to the stove, removed the bacon from the pan with a fork, plotted it with a paper towel, and joined them at the table.

Luna got up and left the table as Celestia sat down, "Thank you for breakfast sister, I will meet you at school," she said grabbing her keys from her purse and heading out.

"Goodbye sister," Celestia said. The two of them were alone now, Sunset ate her pancakes and avoided eye contact with the principal. Celestia thought to herself, "I should tell her I heard her crying this morning but I don't want to push my boundaries. This is a delicate situation and I'm not sure I can help her alone, I may need to seek an expert opinion later but I can't leave things as they are," she couldn't take it any longer, she refused to turn her back on someone she knew needed her help, "I heard you this morning," she said, "I could hear you crying through the door," she looked away.

Sunset stopped eating, "I—"

"You don't have to say anything I just wanted you to know that I know that you are suffering, and I am here for you. I know you don't want to talk to me since I remind you of the Princess, but I'm still going to help you best I can, I'm going to arrange for you to see a professional."

"A professional?"

"The school psychologist."

Sunset sat up and put her fork down, "What good will that do, I can't tell them the truth?"

Celestia looked at the teen sternly, "The school counselor was a chaperone for the fall formal, she saw everything that happened, It won't be hard to convince her of your origins, and I will talk to her, I won't let anyone sent you away."

"Do I have to go?" Sunset asked.

"Yes, you need help Sunset. I will ask Luna to replace some of your after-school detentions to give you time to see her, I have no problem letting you have your privacy but you need to talk to someone."

"Okay Dr. Sonos," Sunset said sheepishly.

Principal Celestia gave a half smile, "Now finish up, I don't want us to be late for school, the shower's upstairs down the hall, if you need me to show you how to adjust the water I can, we have to be at school by eight and it's almost seven thirty." Celestia got up and started washing up the dishes, while Sunset hurridly finished her breakfast.

The bell rang signaling the end of the day. Celestia scheduled for Sunset to meet with the counselor—she wasn't looking forward to it. She packed her things and made her way to the counselor's office, she told her friends she had an 'appointment' and that she would not be able to meet them to watch them practice. She took a seat in a reappropriated desk that sat outside the counselor's office and waited to be called in. The office door was solid wood with a frosted window and a small brass name placard that read, 'Dr. Roseheart.' She sighed, the school was quiet, she could hear the sound of the Rainbooms practice reverberating from the music room. The door opened and Dr. Roseheart stepped out, "Hello," She said cheerfully. She was a tall middle-aged woman in a grey turtleneck and glasses with her hair pulled back in a bun, "It's nice to see you Mrs. Shimmer, please come in," she gestured for Sunset to enter, Sunset picked up her backpack and followed the Dr. inside.

"Dr. Sonos didn't really give me a choice," Sunset said.

"Well still, I'm used to student's getting cold feet, especially on the first session; Do you want anything, water, coffee, tea?"

"Coffee would be nice," Sunset said.

"Okay, why don't you make yourself comfortable," The doctor gestured to the couch opposite hers, Sunset sat down and placed her backpack next to her.

"I'm going to grab myself something as well, just wait here for a second." The Doctor said.

"Okay," Sunset looked around, the office was cozy, there were several framed degrees and certificates adorning the wall, the window blinds were closed and the warm glow of the afternoon sun leaked through from outside.

The doctor returned with a bottle of water and a mug, handed it to Sunset, took a sip of her water, and sat in the armchair that was opposite the couch where Sunset was sitting, "let's get to it then shall we, I just want to say from the getgo that you don't have to talk about anything you don't feel comfortable sharing, I will be informing Celestia about our session since she is your guardian for the time being and you are not yet eighteen. If there is anything that you don't want her to know you don't have to tell me, okay?"


"So, Tell me a little about yourself?" the doctor asked, "The Principal filled me in on your backstory but I want to hear it from you."

"Did you believed her?" Sunset asked, a hint of hope in her voice.

"I've known Celestia long enough to know she doesn't lie, especially when it comes to the wellbeing of her students, and I saw what happened at the fall formal for myself; seeing is believing. I know you're scared of being institutionalized, but rest assured that is not going to happen; so please, tell me a little about yourself."

"Why do you need to know if Celestia already told you," Sunset asked.

"I want to hear it straight from the horse's mouth."

Sunset shot her a look.

"I'm sorry it was too good to pass up," the doctor said cheerfully.

Sunset smiled at the doctor's joke, she took a deep breath, "I...was born in Canterlot—the capital city of Equestria—as a unicorn to a pegasus names Sunshimmer. My mother died when I was seven and I didn't have any family so I ended up in foster care. I bounced around homes for a few years, eventually one of my guardians noticed I had a talent for magic and got me to take the entrance exam to a School for Gifted Unicorns. I got in and the Princess took notice of my skills, she made me her pupil, but I—wanted her to be more; I wanted a mother again—desperately, but she didn't want a daughter. When it became apparent she wasn't interested in me as anything more than a student, I pushed everyone away. I thought at the time that other people just held me back, I told myself that I didn't need them, that I was better than everyone," Sunset looked up to see the doctor's reaction, Dr. Roseheart looked back intently and without judgment; Sunset continued, "At some point the Princess showed me the mirror and I became obsessed with it, I knew it had powerful magic, but she refused to teach me about it. My curiosity got the better of me and I broke into the Princesses library to find the truth for myself; it was a doorway to another world. I was caught and expelled, afterward I ran away through the portal to spite her and I ended up stuck here."

"And this teacher of yours was Celestia?"

"Yes, another version of her."

"And now your living with the Principal?"


The Doctor shifted in her chair and leaned forward slightly, "Do you want her to be your mother like you did with the other Celestia?" The Doctor asked.

Sunset looked at her feet and pondered the question, wondering whether or not she should tell the truth, "Yes," Sunset forced out, "There is no use denying it, I want a family more than anything."

The doctors' expression went from one of curiosity to one of concern, "And what will you do if she doesn't share the feelings this time around?"

Sunset looked up at the doctor, "I've already accepted that. I know Dr. Sonos was just doing her job."

There would be time to deal with Sunset's issues one by one but for now, Dr. Roseheart wanted to get the bigger picture, "So why don't you tell me a bit about what it has been like adapting to our world?"

Sunset shifted in the chair, fidgeted with her fingers and contemplated the past two years, "it's was—terrifying, at least at first. This world isn't like my home; everything's different. This body isn't the real me, I've managed to adapt but there is still a feeling of—wrongness."

"How long did it take to get used to your body?"

"I never got used to it, I've just gotten better with it; remembering how to use fingers is still a daily challenge even after I took up the guitar."

"Do you want your old body back?"

Sunset looked at the doctor, "Of course, I'd do almost anything to be myself again, even just for a day," Sunset continued to fidget with her fingers, "there are a lot of things I miss about being a pony."

"Are you planning to go back to your world when you get the opportunity?"

Sunset rubbed her shoulder and looked away, "I might get arrested if I go back."

"What if that wasn't the case and you could go back—live your life in Equestria—would you go?"

Sunset looked at the doctor, "I don't know, I wouldn't know what to do, I never graduated from school, I wouldn't have any money or anywhere to stay, Here I have friends, not very close friends but friends none the less, but I'm undocumented; I don't have any sort of valid ID or birth certificate—even Illegal immigrants have those—I won't be able to go to college or get a real job. I managed to forge some documents to enroll but those won't pass serious scrutiny. The truth is I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place; I know I shouldn't stay but I can't leave either."

"Does this uncertainty bother you?"

Sunset looked down, "Of course! I don't even have a universe I can call home!" Sunset began to tear up, "I—I'm terrified, I don't know what's going to happen to me when I graduate. I—" She paused.

The doctor reached across the gap between them, rested her hand on Sunsets knee and slid her a box of tissues, "Well at least now you have people you can trust, we can figure things out together. I'm sure Celestia can pull a few strings, I know she has friends at city hall."

Sunset whipped her eyes, "Thanks, It's good to be able to tell all this to someone."

"Glad I could help," the doctor said patting Sunset on the leg and standing up, "I think we covered a lot this session, why don't we call things a bit early today—unless there's more you want to talk about. We can meet on Thursday, is that okay with you?

"Yeah, that's fine. How often do you want me to come in?" Sunset asked

"I think Twice a week would be preferable. I'm not going to sugar coat it Sunset you have a lot of issues that we need to work through."

"Will it cost Principal Celestia anything?" Sunset asked. She didn't want to feel she was in the Principal's debt more than she already was.

"The school is paying me, don't worry about that. Officially I'm only supposed to see a student no more than 5 times a semester but I won't be keeping any official records of our sessions; no one has to know. I want what's best for you."

Sunset felt reassured, "Thanks, that means a lot."

"No problem Sunset," The doctor opened the door, Sunset grabbed her backpack and exited the room, "See you next Tuesday," the doctor said.

"Okay," Sunset replied smiling.

The doctor followed Sunset and closed the door behind them. Sunset began to head to the music room to see if she could still catch her friends. They said their goodbyes and doctor Roseheart headed the other direction towards the Principal's office. She knocked on the door, heard Celestia say to come in and entered, "Hello Celestia," she said.

Celestia slid her work aside and straightened up, "Hello Dr. Roseheart, how did your Session go with Sunset Shimmer?"

"That's what I wanted to talk to you about," The doctor said taking a seat in front of Celestia's desk, "Sunset has been through a lot in her life, I wanted to brief you on everything, give you my professional opinion of her, and my personal opinion, since you are acting as her guardian for the time being." Principal Celestia sat up a bit, eager to hear the doctor's evaluation, "Sunset has had a rough life; she lost her mother at a young age, has been living alone for the past two and a half years, has been separated from her kind and has been forced into a body that isn't hers, all this has culminated in a severe state of dysphoria."

"So what do we need to do?"

"This is a difficult situation Celestia, she isn't even human. I don't know to what degree my expertise will help, but assuming her psyche is similar to a normal high school student I would start by revoking her punishments; She's been through enough and I see no reason to add insult to injury. Sunset needs to learn to open up, she's kept her origins a secret for so long she's forgotten how to trust people; She needs real connections. I think seeing me twice a week will help with that, also I want to meet with her friends, Sunset's recovery needs to be a group effort and we have to help her realize that she has people who care about her."

"Understood, I'll have Luna revoke her punishments and call her friends in."

"Good, the sooner the better." The doctor said.

"So what can I do?"

The doctor sighed and looked away, "Honestly I think that you need to stay out of her life best you can. Considering Sunset's past with the other you keeping her in your care is just going to re-open old scars."

Principal Celestia crossed her arms, "So I should let her go back to sleeping in the school library!?"

"I never said that. There's a youth shelter not too far from the school, I'm sure you're aware, I've worked with the people there in the past; they can give Sunset the care she needs."

"An orphanage!" Celestia stood up, planted her hands on the desk and looked at the doctor, " I'm sorry but that's out of the question, I made a promise to her the day I took her in to never sent her away; If I do what you're asking she would lose what little trust in others she has left!"

Celestia's outburst surprised the doctor, "She never told me any of that—I'm sorry," The doctor paused, looked away and thought for a second, "If foster care is out of the question then I don't know what is best for her. What she needs right now is a foundation—a physical and emotional bedrock—With time her friends may fill that role but as for her living situation she needs something more than just a guardian, she needs a family. By taking her in you've dredged up her old hopes of having a mother again. She told me she wished you to be her mother and If you have no intention of stepping up to that role then I don't think it's a good idea for Sunset to be in your care. "

"What if—I did step up to that role?" Celestia asked, awkwardly rubbing her shoulder and looking at the wall.

"Celestia?" The doctor said concern in her voice.

"I'm almost forty years old, If I'm going to have a family now is the time. I have more than enough experience with teenagers and I'm sure I can get Luna on board. I care about Sunset truly I do."

The doctor removed her glasses, sighed and looked on in thought, "Well, if you're really serious about adopting Sunset and you have the right intentions I think it would be the best option considering the circumstances, but it's still not great. I think you should join us next session maybe we can work some of this out, ease into your relationship before either of you make any sort of decision. Sunset needs to learn that you are a different person than the Princess and stop associating the two of you before we broach the subject of adoption; whatever you do don't bring up the m-word for the time being."

"The M-word?" Celestia asked tilting her head.


"Pinkie Pie Please report to the principal's office," a voice called out over the loudspeaker; The class looked at her.

"Whaaat," Pinkie said guiltily, "I'm sure it's nothing," she waved her hand dismissively. She got up packed her bag and slipped out of class awkwardly.

Pinkie Pie entered the principal's office, "Okay, principal Celestia, I know I messed up but I can explain; the vodka gummy bears were mine but I'm not the one who baked those weed cupcakes I swear on my life!" Pinkie said.

Celestia facepalmed, "I will just pretend I didn't hear anything," she said to herself, "That's not what I called you here to talk about."

"I'm not in trouble?"

"Not at the moment, if you were you would be dealing with my sister. No, I needed a favor from you, I would like you to gather your friends together; Applejack, Rarity, Rainbowdash, And Fluttershy, but not Sunset Shimmer okay, I need to talk to you all in private."

"Um okay, why are you asking me?"

"You organize parties, you're the most qualified and I don't have their phone numbers, but I take it you do?"

"I have almost everyone in our class filed away in this little bad boy," she dangled her smartphone in front of her.

"Good, do you think you can get them here today after school?"

"I'll make sure of it Principal Celestia, why don't you want Sunset to meet?"

"I want to talk about the friendship you share with her, but I don't want her present."

Pinkie Squinted at the Principal, "Not suspicious at all."

Celestia got up and opened the door, "Thank you Pinkie, and don't worry I won't tell my sister about your gummy bears," she smiled and Pinkie left laughing uneasily and started walking down the hall.

Pinkie pulled out her phone and started texting, "Emergency girls, the Principal want's to talk to us after school today in her office, and no it's not about Fluttershy's birthday party, but whatever you do don't tell Sunset Shimmer about this, Celestia doesn't want her to know."

The 5 of them gathered in front of the Principals office, Pinkie had reassured them they were not in trouble but they still felt uneasy, they had no idea what it could be about, "you said this is about Sunset?" Applejack asked Pinkie Pie.

"Yeah, she said she wanted to talk about our friendship with her."

"Maybe she doesn't want us hanging out with her; like she thinks Sunset will be a bad influence on us," Rainbow Dash said.

"Well, if that's the case we will have to just tell her off, we made a promise to Princess Twilight to look after her and she's not as bad as the rest of the school thinks," Rarity said crossing her arms.

The office door swung open, Celestia stepped out, and clapped her hands together, "It's great to see you could all make it on such short notice, please do come in," The five of them filed into her office. Dr. Roseheart was already there standing by Principal Celestia's desk.

"So now that you are all here it's time to talk about the issue at hand," Celestia said.

"Do you not want us to be friends with Sunset?" Rainbow Dash asked.

"No, quite the opposite as a matter of fact, I want to talk about Sunset's wellbeing. Sunset has been living with me for the past week now; I found her living in the school library one night and took her in. The school counselor has been working with her, she's been through a lot—more than the fall formal; She's an orphan and has been homeless for the past two years, I want to help, and the school counselor said to include you as well. Sunset needs us and we need to work together to give Sunset the support she needs."

"I know this is a lot to throw on you girls but if Sunset is going to get over her inner demons she is going to need friends," The doctor said, "You have only been friends for three weeks and I think it has already done wonders for her wellbeing."

"So what do you want us to do?" Fluttershy asked, "We're already her friends."

"Right now we just wanted you to be aware of Sunset's situation. I can't tell you everything because of doctor-patient confidentiality, but I wanted you to know there is more going on with her than meets the eye. I was hoping you would be willing to join me, Celestia, and Sunset for a group therapy session to let Sunset know she has more support then she realizes."

"We're glad to help Principal," Applejack said, "just tell us when and where."

"The rest of them voiced their agreement."

"Excellent, Sunset is lucky to have friends like you, how about tomorrow after school, that's when Sunset's normal counseling session is scheduled?"

"That's when we normally practice so it should be fine," Rarity said.

"Do any of you have any objections?"

They all remained silent.

"Great," Dr. Roseheart said.

Sunset turned the corner of the hall to head to the counselor's office, when she did she was greeted by the sight of all her friends waiting outside the door. she paused for a moment, "Sunset Shimmer!" Pinkie yelled waving a hand in the air.

Sunset smiled uneasily and walked up to them, "What are you all doing here?"

"Principal Celestia and Doctor Roseheart said she wanted us to come to help support you," Fluttershy said.

Sunset was off-put; she was glad to see her friends but she didn't like that the doctor didn't ask her first, she never told her friends about living with Celestia, her therapy sessions, or her past in Equestria. "

The door opened, "Oh great you're all here, come in please." The Doctor said.

They all piled into the cramped office. Sunset took the chair, and the rest of them sat on the floor around her, Celestia was there too, she took a seat on the floor next to the doctor.

"Welcome all of you, I'm glad to see you were able to make it. I'm sorry for not asking you before inviting your friends but I knew you wouldn't have approved, I did it for your sake," Principal Celestia said.

Sunset smiled uneasily; Having her friends there made her uncomfortable but was glad they were there none the less.

"So Sunset, I wanted to invite your friends to a session because I want you to broaden your circle of trust, you're not alone anymore, you can talk to us and we will listen, no judgment here," Dr. Roseheart said.

"Um, thanks."

"I haven't told them anything other than I thought you needed there support, if you want me to fill them in I can, or you can do it yourself, but the option is up to you; I won't tell them anything without your permission."

"Well—I don't feel comfortable talking about myself in front of them but letting them in would probably be best."

"Okay great," Doctor Roseheart looked at Sunset's friends, "How much do you already know about Sunset's origins?"

"We know she's a pony from Equestria," Rarity said, "At least that's what we assumed, that's what Twilight was, but Sunset never told us and we never pushed."

"Sunset, would you like to expand on anything?"

Her friends turned to her, looking up from their seats on the floor. Sunset took a second to think how much she was going to say, "I—you're right, I am—like Twilight, we both went to the same school in Equestria and we were both students of the Princess, but she was a couple year behind me," Sunset looked up awkwardly to avoid eye contact and fidgeted with her fingers.

"How did you end up here then?" Applejack asked.

"I—" Sunset paused.

The doctor could tell Applejack's question hit a nerve, "You don't have to tell them everything, only what you feel comfortable sharing."

"Sorry if I asked something I shouldn't have, I was just curious," Applejack said.

"It's okay, I guess I could at least give you a short version; the princess had a magic portal that went to another world—this world—the two of us had a falling out, she expelled me from her school, I went through the portal to spite her and now I can't go back."

There was a pause in the conversation; No one asked any more questions, Sunset clearly becoming more and more uncomfortable.

The doctor broke the silence, "well I think that's enough of your history, for now, let's move on to why I asked you all to join us. Sunset I'm not going to lie to you or talk down to you, you're practically an adult and I think you're more mature than most. You have been through a lot, you're suffering and I can see that; the loss of your mother, your falling out with the princess, losing your—equinity, and living a lie. You have a lot of issues that you need to work through and you need as much support as you can get, you need to let people in, if you do I don't think there is anything that we can't overcome together, but I don't see you reaching your fullest potential while keeping everyone at a distance."

"Okay," Sunset said, "I'll—try my best to be more open with you, but it's going to take a while."

"That's fine, it's making the choice to change that is important," The doctor said, "I think that is all for today with your friends, I'd like to continue the session with just you and Celestia if that's okay."

"Okie Dokie doc," Pinkie said.

Sunset's friends all got up and filed out of the room, voicing their support to Sunset as they went, the three of them were alone now.

"I wanted to have some time with the two of you. I think that you need to get to know the Principal better so you can learn to differentiate this Celestia from the one you knew. With any luck we will be able to work through some of your issues and living with Celestia won't turn out to be too painful for you. She may even be able to act as a surrogate to help you work through your issues with the Princess, but to be honest I think that is wishful thinking."

"Okay," Sunset said.

Celestia got up and moved to the other side of the room, sitting across from the Doctor. The therapist looked at the two of them with a sympathetic yet concerned look, "Sunset, I want you to know I told your guardian that I don't recommend that the two of you live together considering your past with the princess, but when I suggested seeking a new residence in the local youth shelter Celestia was vehemently opposed to the idea."

Sunset looked towards Celestia, surprised.

"I won't break the promise I made when I took you in," Celestia said.

"Thanks," Sunset said with a half smile.

Celestia, why don't you start by telling us your thoughts about Sunset's situation, let Sunset in on your perceptions of her and her past?"

Celestia took a deep breath, "I feel sorry for you Sunset, you've been through a lot, and if you asked me for help sooner I would have given it to you. You shouldn't blame yourself for your mistakes, you were led astray by a teacher who—in my honest opinion—lacked in sympathy and theory of mind; Any half decent school administrator should be able to spot a student who is suffering, and I don't see how this princess of yours could miss your cries for help."

Sunset was taken aback by Celestia's condemnation of her double, Sunset had always blamed herself for everything; hearing the blame shifted to the Princess made her uncomfortable. Sunset had put the Princess up on a pedestal; She was perfect, a goddess, she could do no wrong, but now an alternate version of that goddess was giving her idol a piece of her mind, "Don't blame the Princess for my mistakes, it's not her fault, I—It was me, everything. How can you even forgive me for what I did, any normal person would have turned me over to the police, not taken me in to live with them!"

"I guess I'm not normal then," Celestia said, "The French have a saying, 'To understand all is to forgive all,' I understand why you did what you did, you were crying out for help. This Princess of yours couldn't see that, but I do. I want to help you, I don't blame you for anything; I forgive you Sunset Shimmer."

Celestia's words struck Sunset like a bolt of lightning, she began to cry. The doctor reached over with a box of tissues and handed them to the student, Celestia got up off the floor, scooted onto the arm of the couch and leaned down to hug the sobbing teen, "It's okay, Sunset, I'm here for you," she said softly, her heart aching.

"Thank you," Sunset forced out through her tears as she accepted Celestia's hug.

Seeing the sight of the two of them embracing each other Dr. Roseheart gave a soft smile and started to think that this might work out, she glanced at the clock and sighed, "Okay, you two I think that is enough for today, we can meet again on Tuesday?"

"Okay," Sunset said.

Celestia pulled away from her hug got up and collected her purse, Sunset grabbed her backpack and followed her.

They made there way to Celestia's sedan—Sunset still recovering. The school was almost empty, there were still a few lingering teachers. Sunset was thankful, she didn't want her classmates to see her in her current state. The two of them got into Celestia's sedan and drove home a little more at ease than before.