Princess Celestia: A Brief History

by Amber Spark

Chapter 2: Sheepish in the Street

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Sunset dragged her hooves, delaying the inevitable. Well, she dragged them as much as she could. It wasn’t like one could simply stand still on the street during the lunch rush in the heart of Canterlot.

The usual semi-organized chaos surged around her. She knew she should be paying attention. She should be watching where she was going. But every time she looked up, she spotted one of the towers of the Royal Canterlot Archive at the end of Pommel Parkway and her heart began to hammer.

Why can I never simply decide not to feel a certain way? Sunset demanded. Minuette already yammered at me for over an hour about this! I should be ready! Instead, I’m freaking out even more!

A glance at a nearby bank’s clock told her it was almost half past noon. On Minuette’s insistence, Sunset had forced down a quick daisy sandwich, but it wasn’t sitting right. She was still yawning from lack of sleep. She kept thinking of Twilight’s minor freakout yesterday in the stacks and her major freakout at dinner. It just played over and over again in her mind. Things got so heated between Moon Dancer and Twilight, Sunset wasn’t sure if they were going to slap or kiss each other.

Librarians are just weird, Sunset decided. Then again, Moon Dancer’s my best friend. I already knew that.

It would be just like Moon Dancer to fall for somepony who drove her crazy half the time. Despite her constant claims she had eyes only for stallions, Sunset always wondered if the right level of nerd might get her to change her mind. Twilight just might be that level.

Okay, let’s be honest, she’s way past that level.

Sunset shook her head just in time to hear somepony shout out a warning. She looked up to see a taxipony bearing down on her…

…Because I’m standing in the middle of the street!

Before she could react, a great white something slammed into her from the right, sending her crashing to the sidewalk. Her head spun for a few moments as she tried to get her bearings, but the world had become a blur of blue and white. There were a few cries of alarm and the sound of wheels grinding to a halt.

“You okay?”

Sunset blinked a few times before her vision cleared. Her head throbbed a little and she’d earned a few scrapes and scratches, but nothing more. Definitely better off than if a Canterlot taxipony had slammed into her at full speed. When she looked up, she saw a dark blue hoof of a stallion in armor reaching down to her.

She took the hoof gratefully and let the stallion help her to her hooves, wobbling just a little before the world righted itself.

“Thanks,” she said with a sheepish smile.


“Hey, you okay?” The dark tan taxipony who had almost plowed into her stood on the side of the street, looking rather pale under his coat. His two passengers both wore expressions of shock. The stallion had a monocle hanging from his jacket, while the other—who reminded Sunset of the princess she wasn’t overly fond of—was just blinking in surprise.

“I say,” the stallion passenger said. “I said we required haste, but I daresay putting another pony at risk is a bit much!”

“She just stepped right out in front of me, officer!” the taxipony said. “I didn’t have time to stop! And with traffic at this hour—”

“No harm done,” the armored stallion said with a wave of his hoof. “Right, Miss Shimmer?”

Sunset blinked and looked at the stallion who had saved her from getting broadsided by a taxi. Unicorn, three toned blue hair, white coat and… Royal Guard armor?

“No,” Sunset said distractedly. “No harm done. Just me not paying attention.”

“Still, I’m sorry, Miss!” the taxipony said, yanking Sunset’s eyes away from the guard. “I would have stopped if I could have! I tried to!”

“Not your fault.” Sunset spared him a smile and looked up at the passengers. They look so familiar. Ugh… Sleep deprivation always does wonders for my memory. “Should’ve been watching where I was going.”

“Don’t fret, my dear!” the stallion said as he used his magic to replace the monocle. “It is far too easy to get lost in one’s thoughts for somepony of your status. Still, we must be off. Driver, if you please?”

The taxipony gave the guard and Sunset a nod before sprinting back down the street. They were gone in moments.

Oh ponyfeathers, Sunset mentally groaned. The monocle. Why didn’t I recognize the monocle? That was Fancy Pants. Great. I was almost run over by Fancy Pants because I was too busy thinking Moon Dancer and Twilight would make a cute couple.

Sunset facehoofed.

No, you weren’t thinking that, the analytical part of her corrected. But you are now.

“Miss Shimmer, you seem rather distracted,” the guard said. “Are you okay?”

“Yes, yes,” Sunset muttered and rubbed her head. “I’ve just spent way too much time in my head these last few days. I’m sorry for the bother, Lieutenant…”

Spending the last decade or so around Princess Celestia had taught her plenty about the guard. The blue accents on his armor told her everything she needed to know about his rank, but for reasons Sunset had never figured out, guards never had names on their armor.

“Armor, Miss Shimmer. Shining Armor.”

Years ago, Sunset had given up on everypony around her seeming to know who she was. At least for a member of the Royal Guard, it was expected that they should know who she was. Honestly, the only reason they wouldn’t was if they’d either never been on duty at the Castle or they were brand new.

“Well, I’ll make sure to tell your captain you heroically saved me from my own distracted thoughts,” Sunset said as she brushed off some of the dust.

Lieutenant Armor nodded and wore a faint smile. “Would you mind if I walked with you, Miss Shimmer?”

Sunset blinked. “Uh, I guess not? But only if you stop calling me Miss Shimmer. Call me Sunset. I hate it when people call me ‘Miss Shimmer.’”

The lieutenant smiled cheerfully. A smile Sunset recognized, but couldn’t put her hoof on.

This whole ‘Twilight’ thing has really got me distracted so badly I can’t think straight. Ugh, I need sleep.

Despite this, she started heading up the street. She wasn’t going to worry about her complete inability to put muzzles to names right now. She had other things to worry about.

“You’re heading to the Archives, right?” Lieutenant Armor asked.

“How’d you know that?”

“Because you’re going to visit my sister.”

Sunset stopped dead.

Oh, this day just gets better by the second.

“Twilight Sparkle is your sister?”

Lieutenant Armor nodded. “I was hoping to run into you before you met up with her. Though not quite so literally.”

Suddenly, Sunset had a bad feeling about this. She thought about what she’d put Twilight through. It was unintentional, but still, she did not want to deal with an overprotective brother right now. A Royal Guard wouldn’t do anything to her in broad daylight on the streets of Canterlot, though.


“And I wanted to thank you for what you did last night. And what you’re doing today.”

Sunset blinked a few times. She seemed to be doing that a lot lately. “I’m sorry, but you’ve totally lost me.”

The stallion continued walking forward, and Sunset trotted to keep up. She kept staring at the guard, trying to figure out what was really going on. Princess Celestia had put her through plenty of lessons on diplomacy and reading other ponies’—and griffons’, zebras’ and other races’— body language. While she may have passed some of those classes adequately, she was by no means an expert. Lieutenant Armor seemed genial enough, but she still had a nagging suspicion she was missing something.

“I visited my parents last night, after you walked Twilight home.”

“Hey now!” Sunset protested. “You’re making sound like—”

“No, no, not like that.” The guard laughed. “Nothing implied.”

Sunset breathed a sigh of relief. The last thing she wanted was to give the wrong impression. So, her traitorous mind immediately brought up the thoughts that had passed through her head upon seeing Twilight for the first time back in the lobby of the Archives.

Ugh, make up your mind! she mentally shouted at what felt like fifteen voices in the back of her head. First you’re having fun shipping Twilight with Moon Dancer and now you’re—

You know what? I’m not thinking this. Nope. Not thinking it. Talking to Lieutenant Armor now.

Lieutenant Armor hadn’t noticed the little trip into her own head.

“—seen her quite so happy.”

“I’m sorry.” Sunset laughed nervously. “Can you say that again? I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night.”

“Neither did Twilight from what my parents said.” The stallion chuckled. “I said the last time I remember seeing Twilight so happy was when she was hired into the Royal Canterlot Archives.”

“She… was happy?”

“Very. Why? Didn’t she seem happy?” It was Lieutenant Armor’s turn to stop and stare at her. “She talked nonstop about what happened yesterday. First, it was mostly about you reintroducing her to her old friends. She then went on forever about you introducing her to Princess Celestia today.”

“She… she didn’t really act all that happy,” Sunset muttered, rubbing the back of her head. “She… honestly… um… it was probably the most awkward time I’ve had in forever.”

The guard’s laugh boomed out over the street, catching the attention of a few passing ponies. They looked less than impressed with the officer’s decorum. Sunset ignored them.

“That’s just Twily being Twily,” Lieutenant Armor said with a shrug. “You might think she’s acting awkward, but she’s having the time of her life. It’s just something special about her. Honestly, I always thought she would grow out of it, but she never really did. She always was a bit of a recluse.”

“No thanks to me,” Sunset muttered.

“Hey, I didn’t come here to remind you of the past, Miss—sorry, Sunset. I came here to thank you for helping my sister.”

Sunset didn’t meet his eyes. She didn’t have a clue what she was feeling at the moment. As if sensing this wasn’t the time for words, Lieutenant Armor continued down the street. Sunset fell into step beside him. One o’clock rung out across the city as they arrived at the enormous elaborate gates of the Royal Canterlot Archives.

“Look, I need to get back to my post,” Lieutenant Armor confessed. “But I meant what I said, Sunset. Thank you. Twilight’s never been good with other ponies. She needed somepony to reach out to her.”

“You have to know it was me who took her friends away.” Sunset finally dared to meet his eyes. “You do know that, right?”

“No.” Lieutenant Armor’s expression softened. He was actually quite handsome. Sunset found herself blushing a little, and hating herself for it. “From what Twily said last night, she was just intimidated by you. She also said you practically had to force her to go out last night.”

“You know, everypony trying to be nice to me is really starting to…”

“Get annoying?”

“Maybe a little?” Sunset laughed nervously. “I don’t know, I keep expecting the other horseshoe to drop.”

“Well, if it helps any,” Lieutenant Armor said with something approaching an mischievous smirk. “Cadance says you used to be a…” He coughed and muttered something Sunset could only barely make out.

“Well, I was—”

She blinked.

“Did you say Cadance?”

“Sorry.” He grinned. “Time to head back on duty. Thanks again!”

“Now, wait just a minute!” Sunset protested, but Lieutenant Armor was already lost in the bustle of the street.

Sunset sighed, rested her head against the brick base of the wrought iron gates of the Archive and proceeded to bang her head against the wonderfully hard surface.

This was the exact state Twilight Sparkle found her in less than a minute after Lieutenant Armor had disappeared.

“Um… Sunset?” Twilight asked. “Are you okay?”

Sunset stopped banging her head against the bricks and instead just let out a long, low sigh, her eyes closed and her head resting against the convenient bricks.

“I just happened to run into your brother!” Sunset said in a voice so cheerful it would have made Minuette recoil. “And my poor sleep-deprived brain didn’t actually realize that I’d met him before until the very last second!”

“You met Shining Armor? And… you know him?”

“Oh yes,” Sunset chirped. “Oh, yes indeed. I don’t think I’ve ever actually spoken to him, but I’ve definitely seen him. He’s been dating Princess Cadance for what? Ten years now?”

“Technically, I believe the correct term is ‘courting’ at this juncture. After all, a princess doesn’t just go around ‘dating.’ It would be improper.”

Sunset turned her head toward the sound of Twilight’s voice and popped an eye open. The lavender unicorn was there, her head cocked and an eyebrow raised above her glasses. She had on a pair of thick tan saddlebags, both of which filled to the bursting with books. The saddlebags were positioned so Twilight’s cutie mark was visible: an oddly-familiar-looking book floating in a field of raspberry-colored magic.

She was also vibrating ever so slightly, either from excitement or anxiety. Probably both.

“So sorry to be improper,” Sunset muttered.

“Why does this bother you? Did Shining do something to upset you?”

Sunset lifted her head. “Nope. Perfect gentlecolt.”

“Then why would it bother you if they were together?”

Why does it not surprise me that Twilight isn’t making this connection? Sunset sighed. Am I going to have to spell out everything for her?

“Princess Cadance and I have a… complicated history,” Sunset admitted.

“Really? Want to talk about it?”

Do I sound like I want to talk about it? It took a lot of effort to prevent Sunset from snapping at Twilight, but Twilight’s face was a picture of honest curiosity and only vaguely ignorant interest. She didn’t know. She simply couldn’t know. No reason she would.

Didn’t make it any less annoying.

She heard rattling chains as her angry little pony tried to rear up and get a few choice words in. In all honesty, Sunset had been surprised she’d been able to keep the thing quiet for most of the day.

Maybe yesterday had more of an impact than I thought. The Princess seemed to think so. Wish I had her confidence.

“No, Twilight,” Sunset said, surprised at how calm her voice sounded. “That is a very long story, and one I would really rather not go into right now.”

First, Minuette brings up my parents. Then, I run face-first into a reminder of Cadance. All this after everything that happened yesterday. It’s like somepony’s out to get me this week.

“Oh, okay,” Twilight said, suddenly sounding very unsure. “I’m sorry if—”

“Nothing to apologize for,” Sunset interrupted. “I’ve just had a bit of a long day. Now, we should get going. I’m sorry I was running late.”

“Oh, it’s okay,” Twilight replied. “I… um… I was running a bit late too.”

Sunset noticed a strange little hop in her step as lavender unicorn fell in beside her. Like she was sidling closer to Sunset, while trying to avoid actually getting closer.

“I got a little lost in my reading,” Twilight admitted.

“What could distract you from this? After all, you nearly had a panic attack when I suggested meeting the Princess yesterday.”

Twilight’s ears flicked back as she blushed. Her horn glowed, and a book floated out of one of her saddlebags. She levitated the tome up for Sunset to catch in her magic, though Sunset noticed Twilight dropped her levitation aura before Sunset took over this time.

Princess Celestia: A Brief History?” Sunset asked. “Are you… researching meeting the Princess?”

“I have to be prepared!” Twilight squawked. The vibrations suddenly increased exponentially along with her speech rate. “I need to have proper speaking points, and to make sure I’m well-read on all recent civic and diplomatic decrees made by her or her adjutants in the last ten years, not to mention that I also need to know what topics to avoid after all I don’t want to cause aninternationalincidentbecauseIputmyhoofinmy—”

Sunset shoved her hoof in Twilight’s muzzle, saving Twilight the trouble of doing so.

You’re an idiot for doing this.

Sunset mentally sighed. The silence in her head had been nice while it had lasted.

“One: under no circumstances can you actually cause an international incident in a private meeting with Princess Celestia.” Sunset rolled her eyes. “To have an international incident, you need to actually involve other nations. Two: this is not a quiz, a test, an exam or any other form of evaluation as to your knowledge of the Princess. Three: I’m going to remove my hoof now. Can you please not immediately go into a rant?”

Twilight nodded around her hoof. Sunset removed said hoof, making sure that she did not note Twilight’s blush, despite the fact the other unicorn appeared to be in danger of spontaneously igniting.

You’re an idiot for doing this, her angry little pony repeated. And you’re an idiot for deciding not to notice when somepony’s blushing. Seriously? What’s up with that?

I don’t remember you being so sarcastic yesterday, Sunset muttered in the relative privacy of her own head.

I don’t remember you being a bucking idiot yesterday… no wait, I do!

After Sunset was sure Twilight wasn’t about to launch into another panic attack, she floated the book back to Twilight, and they walked down the street together once more.

“Um…” Twilight adjusted her glasses. “I wanted to say… I’m sorry about last night.”

Sunset cocked an eyebrow at Twilight. Twilight just shrugged, not meeting her eyes.

“The whole thing was sort of surreal for me, I think. I just don’t have a lot of experience with…”

“Other ponies?”


“Join the club.” Sunset chuckled. “If it helps, that’s actually what your brother wanted to talk to me about.”

“About… last night?”

“He wanted to thank me,” Sunset admitted.

“He wanted to thank you?” Twilight wrinkled her forehead as if trying to figure out some particularly complex alchemical composition. “Thank you for what?”

“Apparently, for last night. And today.”

Out of the blue, Twilight suddenly let out an enormous yawn which was instantly infectious. Before she realized what she was doing, Sunset was mimicking her yawn. Sunset blinked, and gave Twilight a little scowl.

“Sorry,” Twilight muttered. “I was up late last night.”

“That’s what your brother said. I can’t blame you, though. So was I.”

“Studying?” Twilight asked. “I’m sure you pull a lot of all-nighters as the Princess’s personal student.”

“Yeah. Studying.”

More or less. It was easier than having another panic attack of my own.

“I was kinda doing the same thing… and just thinking a lot about everything that happened. And how I was going to apologize.”

“Twilight, you don’t need to apologize.” Sunset was pretty sure that wasn’t a lie. Well, mostly. Okay, maybe more in the realm of ‘hopefully.’ “Despite your little—ahem—fracas with Moon Dancer, the rest of the girls had a good time. Actually, I think Moon Dancer had the most fun of all of us.”

“Really?” Twilight blinked. “She seemed really angry at me. Especially after the whole ‘Morari the Maneless’ thing. She wasn’t like that back when I knew her.”

“I think that’s my fault.” Sunset laughed, wincing. “At least according to Minuette and the rest of the girls. From how they tell it, Moon Dancer picked up some… heh… bad habits from me.”

“Bad habits?” Twilight’s brow wrinkled once more. “Like what?”

“Mainly me being sarcastic and snippy. Minuette likes to use the word ‘sassy,’ but frankly, I think that’s just sugarcoating it.”

They turned a corner. At the end of the broad cobblestone street ahead, was the towering gate of Canterlot Castle. The enormous white and gold structure dominated the mountainside. Twilight took one look at it, squeaked slightly and looked to Sunset. Sunset could see the panic attack start, but somehow Twilight held it back. But a moment later, Twilight’s gaze dropped.

“The Moon Dancer I remember was really shy,” Twilight said, staring at her hooves. “I don’t know how you tutoring her would have made the two of you so close.”

“Well, we didn’t exactly get to swap stories a lot last night,” Sunset said with a little smirk. “Thanks to two particular librarians.”

“I’m sorry, I really didn’t mean to fly off—”

“Twilight, I’m trying to tease you.”

Twilight’s eyes went from her hooves to Sunset. “Why?”

“Because it’s what friends do. So I’ve been told, at least.”


“It’s okay. Anyway, Moon Dancer and I… I didn’t think we were that close, honestly. But the Princess thought it would be a good idea if I spent more time with her. So, I’d occasionally go with her to a book reading or something. I didn’t really think anything of it. Though I’d stopped the whole ‘reign of terror’ thing, I wasn’t on the lookout for friends. At that point, I really didn’t think I would ever make any friends at Gifted Unicorns.”

“What happened?”

“Cinnamon Tart happened.”

“Wait, I know that name,” Twilight stared into the sky as if trying to find the answer in the clouds. “Wasn’t she that filly with the short-cropped red mane?”

“It was more of a purple,” Sunset corrected absently. “The only reason I remember is… well, that’s not important.”

“I don’t understand. I do remember hearing about something happening at the end of that first term and Dean Slate ended up retiring, but Professor Inkwell pulled me aside for some special classes with Jade Singer at that point. I was kinda thrilled about it. It was... a pretty big deal to me. What happened to you?”

Oh yes, please pour out your life story to this stupid filly, this little wannabe. She’ll love to hear all about how the great and mighty Sunset Shimmer who abandoned her birthright was brought low by a trio of fillies barely old enough to have their cutie marks!

Oh, go find somepony else to annoy! Sunset snapped back. I’m busy!

“The details aren’t really important,” Sunset admitted and pointedly ignored the laughter in the back of her head. “What matters is that… I was accused of something. Something that would have forced me to leave the school. Probably would have ended up with me being dismissed as Princess Celestia’s student, too. And the worst of it was... Dean Slate was at the center of it all.”

“The dean? He was behind it? What in Equestria did he accuse you of?” Twilight squeaked.

“It’s not important,” Sunset repeated. “It wasn’t true, but it was my word against Slate, Cinnamon Tart and her friends. At least, I thought it was.”

Sunset looked up and spotted the Princess’s balcony. To her surprise, the Princess was actually standing there, and though it was hard to tell at this distance, Sunset was almost positive she was watching them.

Sunset flushed. The sun seemed a bit brighter.

Twilight hadn’t noticed. She was too busy staring at Sunset in rapt attention, eager to hear how this story played out.

Once upon a time, you loved working in front of an audience. This is no different, Shimmer. Come on! Dance, like the little puppet you are!

“The last week before term ended, Cinnamon and her friends accused me in front of Professor Polish, Professor Clear, and the entire class. Professor Polish was shocked. Dean Slate was quick to back her up, too. She didn’t know what to say. I… I couldn’t say anything.”

Her voice cracked a little. Her eyes fell from the Princess to the well-worn cobbles beneath their hooves.

“In all honesty, a lot of it is a bit fuzzy. I hadn't gotten more than three hours of sleep in the last two weeks. I wasn’t exactly thinking clearly. But I do remember the Princess just... nodding at Dean Slate as he prepared to... expel me.”

Twilight didn’t interrupt as Sunset slowly came to a halt just before the guard booth. The two stallions inside glanced at her and shrugged. Sunset didn’t even bother looking either in the eye.

Twilight was staring at her with an expression of dumbfounded shock.

But then, a slow smile spread across Sunset’s muzzle.

“I remember... I remember Slate asking why anypony should believe I was innocent. It was dead silent. Then… out of nowhere, another voice piped up. She ignored the looks of everypony else, stood up, and pointed her hoof at Cinnamon, telling everypony she was the one behind it all.”

“Moon Dancer?”

“Moon Dancer.” Sunset nodded. “She called them out on it. Revealed the truth. She’d known. She’d actually known the whole time and hadn’t said anything. Cinnamon had been using her the entire time, but I don’t blame her for it.”

Sunset’s voice caught. “Then she said something. Something I’ll never forget. ‘You’re right. She was a force of destruction. Sunset Shimmer isn’t a saint. She isn’t perfect. In fact, she’s screwed up a lot!’—I kinda wanted her to stop helping me at that point—‘I barely know anything about friendship, but I’m pretty sure real friends tell you to support your other friends. Help them! Not hate them! Now you’d better sit your tails down and stop lying about my friend before I knock you on your tails!’”

Twilight stared at her with enormous eyes.

“She… Moon Dancer actually went off on them?”

“I’d never seen her so peeved.” Sunset laughed. “She was a little ball of furious, righteous indignation. It was actually pretty awesome. I just gaped at her as she turned to face the Dean Slate, and told him in no uncertain terms I was innocent. I remember a lot of arguing. A lot of fighting... only to reveal it was actually Slate pulling the strings the entire time. It's all really complicated and like I said, I don't remember it all that clearly from the sleep deprivation. But she did declare she would stand by me against anything anypony threw at me.”

If anything, the expression of wonder on Twilight’s face simply grew.

“At the end of it all, she turned, apologized to me, and asked if I would forgive her. If I would still be her friend.”

“What did you do?”

“Um…” Sunset felt her face nearly combust. “I… errr…”

“Sunset?” Twilight prodded. “Come on, you can’t end the story there!”

“I may have… I may have passed out from shock.”

You fainted?” Twilight squealed so loudly they probably heard it in Manehattan. “You actually fainted?

Sunset facehoofed.

“Yes,” she muttered. “Yes, I did. And Moon Dancer has been teasing me about it mercilessly ever since. I’m actually surprised she didn’t bring it up last night.”

“Sunset Shimmer fainted because somepony stood up for her.” Twilight was actually bouncing up and down now. “I don’t believe it. This is the greatest thing ever!”

“If that’s the greatest thing ever…” Sunset scowled. “We could always just leave now, and forget about seeing the Princess.”

Twilight froze in mid-bounce, landed on her hooves and grinned sheepishly. “Um… sorry?”

The expression of chagrin and embarrassment on Twilight’s face was simply priceless. Sunset used every bit of willpower at her command not to fall over laughing.

In the end, even her willpower wasn’t that strong.

Author's Notes:

Not noticing somepony else blushing is weird. Especially when done intentionally. :twilightblush:

Also? Moon Dancer as a little ball of furious, righteous indignation? Adorable. Terrifying. Both? Maybe? :rainbowderp:

And if Jade Singer sounds familiar, yes indeed. She should. :trixieshiftleft:

And yes, sleep deprivation can screw with your memory pretty badly, which is why Sunset's recollection of the events is a bit wonky. If you haven't yet read it yet, you can get the whole story in The Alchemy of Chemistry.

In case you're wondering, when Sunset faced Twilight yesterday, it helped jog her memory (just a bit). It's why she didn't remember Twilight at the beginning, but did toward the end of the book.

If you come across any errors, please let me know by PM!

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