by RadiantBeam

Chapter 1: Reclaimed

It had seemed like a good idea at the time.

In retrospect, Sunset suspected that was going to be what would end up engraved on her tombstone when she died. Pretty much every decision she’d made in her life had started with the thought that, at the time, it had seemed like a good idea. And to her credit, most of those thoughts had been right! Many of them had been good ideas. Some of them had even been great ideas.

But one of them had been to steal one of the Elements of Harmony for herself, and while the end result had been good, overall it had been a bad idea. And it had all started because it had seemed like a good idea at the time.

Sunset prided herself on the fact that after her fall, she didn’t immediately jump forward with her ideas. She was still trying to find the perfect balance, of course; the incident with the Dazzlings had demonstrated the flaws in keeping your thoughts to yourself until it was almost too late. But these days, it took more than the thought that something was a good idea for Sunset to immediately go off and running with it.

No matter how much Rainbow tried to goad her into it. That girl could be oddly convincing at the best of times.

But she’d come home riding high from a good practice session with the Rainbooms and an excellent test score for one of her classes. She hadn’t been thinking clearly. So when her book had glowed and vibrated with a message from Twilight and she’d realized it was a request, she’d said yes without even thinking about it.

It had seemed like a good idea at the time.

And it probably would have kept seeming like a good idea, until Sunset actually read what Twilight had sent her once she’d come down from her emotional high.

Dear Sunset Shimmer,

I’m glad to hear things have been going so well for you and the girls! And I’m sure you’ll do just fine on your test. Believe me, I know a thing or two about worrying when it comes to tests, but I have faith in you. I can’t wait to hear about how well you passed!

There’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you, though, and you don’t have to say yes! I don’t want to pressure you or anything. But I was thinking, it’s been some time since the Rainbooms defeated the Dazzlings, and Princess Celestia was really worried about you when I first told her what had happened. I assured her you were perfectly fine, but I think she’s still concerned about it. Do you think there’s any chance you’d be willing to come through the portal and tell her yourself? I don’t think she’ll believe it until she sees you with her own eyes.

You don’t have to say yes, again. Just… think about it.

Your friend,

Twilight Sparkle

And she’d said yes.

Well. It had seemed like a good idea at the time. And she’d already said yes, so it was decided. Sunset was many things, but she wasn’t the kind of girl—mare—to go back on her word. As long as she remained convinced that this was a good idea and that it would all end well, she could get through it without a problem.

She could.

And the thought had actually worked. It had been enough to get Sunset in front of the school and through the portal, though having her friends supporting her on one side and Twilight waiting with a smile and kind eyes on the other certainly hadn’t hurt. It had even gotten her through the trip from Ponyville to Canterlot, Sunset listening with half an ear as Twilight went on and on about showing her the small town once she was actually visiting properly.

All things considered, the belief that she could get through this without a problem—that this was a good idea—had gotten her surprisingly far.

So of course, because life had a cruel sense of humor, it abandoned her the moment she was standing right outside familiar doors.

It had seemed like a good idea at the time, but it wasn’t. It really, truly wasn’t. It was a bad idea, it was a horrible idea, and Sunset needed to leave now. She needed to go back through the portal—go home—and hopefully Celestia would never even realize this had happened.

She stood right outside those doors, and she was terrified.

“I can’t do this.” Her voice didn’t shake, and she was proud of that; her voice was soft, though, and there was nothing she could do about it. Sunset had gotten this far, but it was like her legs had frozen, her ears flat against her head. She lifted a hoof, gestured helplessly, and lowered it without ever touching the door. “Twilight, I can’t do this.”

“Yes, you can.” It took a moment longer than it probably should have—Twilight was still learning the finer mechanics of her new wings, even now—but Sunset felt warm feathers brush against her shoulder, before the alicorn inched closer and nuzzled her reassuringly. “You’ve come this far, Sunset.”

Sunset inhaled, exhaled. Never once took her eyes off of the door. “You said she was worried.”

“I think concerned was the word I used.”

“Details.” Sunset flicked an ear, and Twilight chuckled. The unicorn took a moment to compose herself, but it still took far more energy than she would have liked to tear her eyes from the door, to look to her fellow student. “That’s…. that’s good, right? That means she doesn’t hate me.”

Or it means she doesn’t completely hate you, a nasty little voice whispered in the back of her mind. Sunset tried to do her best to ignore that voice.

“Sunset.” Twilight’s voice was gentle, and infinitely patient. “She doesn’t hate you, and you can do this.”

Sunset scuffed a hoof against the floor. “I’ve thought that before,” she murmured. “That I could do something, anything. I’m starting to learn it doesn’t always mean I’m right.”

Twilight didn’t say anything, but her wing draped over Sunset and gently squeezed the unicorn close before pulling away. She rested a hoof against the door; she didn’t need to push it open, considering her horn, but using magic would have opened the door entirely and exposed Sunset before she was ready. “I’ll go in first,” she said. “She knows I’m visiting today. Come in when you’re ready.”

Sunset swallowed, flicked her tail. “And if I don’t come in at all?”

Twilight simply smiled. “Then I’ll look forward to your next letter through the book. If you aren’t ready yet, you will be one day.”

And with that, she tapped her hoof against the door to be polite before pushing it open just enough to pass through.

Sunset stared dumbly after her friend, ears swiveled forward. So Twilight—Twilight was trusting her with this, huh. Twilight was putting all of this into her hooves. She’d come this far, and now the purple alicorn was letting her decide if she was willing to take the final step. If she was willing to continue believing that this was a good idea.


That wasn’t fair at all.

“Twilight, it’s always such a delight to see you again.”

Celestia’s voice drifted through the opening in the door, and without realizing it Sunset moved closer, pressing as close as she dared. She hadn’t heard Celestia’s voice in years—her Celestia, her mentor and her mother figure—and she was shocked to find that just hearing it had something hot and sharp stinging at her eyes. She hissed out a breath, rubbing at her eyes. Now wasn’t the time to cry.

Now was the time to make a decision.

But still, she didn’t move. For a long moment she simply stood there, eyes closed, listening to Twilight and Celestia speak. The princess of the sun was so close, and finally Sunset took a deep, shaking breath as she opened her eyes.

It had seemed like a good idea at the time. Now she needed to see if she was right.

She hesitated, then lifted her hoof to knock; silence fell on the other side of the door before Celestia called, “Come in.” If she was surprised, her voice didn’t give it away.

Sunset took another deep breath, and pushed the door open with her hoof, stepping into the princess’s chambers for the first time in years.

Twilight was smiling. No, Twilight was grinning, bright and blazing like the sun. If it was possible for a pony to burst from pride, Sunset was fairly certain that in that moment her friend would find some way of doing it. The unicorn gave her a small, slight smile back before she turned her gaze to Celestia. “Princess,” she said.

Anypony else wouldn’t have seen the change in Celestia; during the whole thing, the princess had remained seated. But Sunset remembered her mentor, even now. She could see how she’d straightened up subtly, ears flicking forward and eyes widening ever so slightly. Those same eyes were on her now, and didn’t move even as the guards stirred.

Sunset’s heart sank. Right, the guards. She’d completely forgotten about the guards.

Thankfully, Celestia hadn’t. Her eyes remained on Sunset, even as she cleared her throat. “Please leave,” she said, her voice ever soft and kind. “I’ll call for you if I need you. Thank you.”

There were bowed heads and murmured words of agreement as the guards moved to heed their princess’s command. Sunset paid them no mind as they filed out of the room, the door closing behind them with a click that felt incredibly final. Any last chance Sunset had had to turn and run was well and truly gone now.

And whatever courage had allowed her to meet Celestia’s gaze fled the moment the princess stood, making her way down from her throne and across the floor towards her former student. It wasn’t nearly as much distance as Sunset would have liked, and for a moment her gaze darted about for Twilight to try and ground herself.

The purple alicorn was literally standing on the tip toes of her hooves, watching the scene intently. So she was going to be absolutely no help at all. Still, seeing her friend so eager for reconciliation seemed to do the job, and Sunset was able to lift her eyes to meet Celestia’s gaze as the larger mare stopped in front of her.

“Sunset Shimmer.” Her voice gave nothing away.

Sunset swallowed hard. She was pretty sure this was the point where she was supposed to say—everything, really. To apologize for what she had done, to say that she had seen the error of her ways. She’d certainly thought about it enough; the words were there, they simply wouldn’t come. For the third time, Sunset took a deep breath.

“I’m back,” she choked out, and squeezed her eyes shut, waiting for whatever Celestia saw fit to do to her.

She didn’t know what she was expecting, but her eyes snapped open when Celestia’s foreleg draped over her and pulled her closer, and then up, the princess’s wings curling tight around her in the warmest hug Sunset had ever gotten in her life.

“Welcome back, my dearest Sunset,” Celestia whispered, and it wasn’t until she felt the warmth in her fur that she realized the princess was crying, even as she heard the smile in her voice.

Something in Sunset crumbled and she hugged Celestia back, as tight as she could as her own tears finally spilled free. They didn’t break apart even when Twilight left the room, closing the door behind her as gently as possible.

Author's Notes:

Written for the one word prompt in the SunLight club, "Reclaimed". Sadly has very little actual SunLight in it, but I had a lot of fun with the writing. I doubt we'll ever actually see Sunset and Celestia reconcile in either continuity properly, so it's fun to write about.

Also yes, I said no MLP stuff until next week. I am a lying liar. Who lies. And is easily inspired.

Return to Story Description


Login with