A Spell for Lyra

by Kolwynia

Chapter 1: A Spell for Lyra

A Spell for Lyra

My friend,

I hope this letter reaches you, because it is extremely important, possibly the most important thing you will ever read. I’m writing it in the attempt to right a wrong I committed years ago, a terrible mistake that cost me a friend, perhaps forever.

It all began in the Magic Kindergarten of Canterlot. We were only fillies then, but you could see in us the beginnings of everything we would one day become. I didn’t know anything about friendship in those days. If I had, perhaps things would have been different. I do not know. But you can chalk it up as my first mistake anyway.

That day, I was sitting alone on the playground, my nose in a book, trying to shut out the background noise of laughing colts and fillies, when a voice cut through the screen of my imagination and brought me back to reality.

“What are you reading?” she asked.

I threw a quizzical glance over my shoulder. An aquamarine unicorn stood over me, looking down at me with a warm smile. I cocked my head and stared up at her. Why was she talking to me? What did she want?

“Starswirl the Bearded’s Elements of the Arcane,” I answered.

“Oh, I think I’ve heard of him before,” said the unicorn.

I said nothing.

“So…do you mind if I join you? I have a book I’m trying to read, too.”

A book, huh? I gave a shrug. Inwardly, I was curious. Even though we were going to a school of magic, most of the students did not do a lot of reading during their free time. To them class time was for studying and every other hour of the day was for playing. Had I known then what I know now, I would have looked at every joke they told to one another, every game they played, every scraped knee they suffered, every tear they shed, every smile on every face and saw them for what they were.


But that lesson was for another day.

The aqua unicorn sat down on the grass next to me and magicked her book open in front of her. Not a book, I thought. A tome. It looked ancient. What could it be? My eyes wandered from my own book to hers.

“It’s a book of fairy tales,” she answered my unasked question. I felt…disappointment. Some cold part of my mind wrote her off in that moment. A few years later, the Daring Do series would capture my imagination and I would come to appreciate fictional stories. But on that day, I had what I thought were better things to do with my mind.

“Oh,” I said.

Apparently she mistook that word for an invitation to tell me more about herself. I learned that her name was Lyra and her favorite story from her book was a fairy tale about a race of creatures called humans that lived on a different world. I was annoyed at having wasted most of a recess listening to her instead of studying, but it got worse. She didn’t just like that fairy tale about humans. She actually believed it.

“One day, I’m going to find my way into their world,” she vowed.

Without my realizing it, those words carved themselves into my heart.

I tried to reason with her, to get her to see sense. Surely she couldn’t believe anything that stupid. I…may have said something to that effect out loud. I don’t remember exactly. What I do remember is Lyra’s eyes, shiny with unfallen tears, staring into mine as she asked me a question.

“Don’t you have a dream, Twilight?”

I thought of great wings spreading, ivory feathers aglow, a shadow against the rising sun, but somehow more brilliant than the dawn itself.

“Of course,” was all I said.

I didn’t make a friend that day. The truth is, for years we hardly spoke to one another. Soon after that, I got my cutie mark and Princess Celestia took me as her own personal student. The secret dream of my heart began to come true, and in my happiness, I lost track of the aqua unicorn. She was just another colorful face smiling at me from a blurry wall of faces that I never bothered to look too closely at.

The next time I saw her, really saw her, was just after graduation. Summer was just beginning, and I was spending all my time in the Archives, trying to learn as much as I could over the next few months. There were stacks of books in my room. Among them was one that contained a dark prophecy that would change the course of my life forever.

Lyra came to the Archives, and she was glowing. Literally, mind you. One of Twinkleshine’s spells had misfired and made Lyra shine like a firefly, even in the daytime. The effect lasted a whole week. But she also looked pretty happy.

“Hello, Twilight,” she said.

“Oh, hi, Lyra.”

“I’ve heard that you’re playing librarian up here in the Archives for the Summer.”

“Yeah. It’s pretty great. I get to study all day and get paid for it.”

She giggled. “That sounds like a dream come true for you.”

My plastic smile slipped a little. There were those words. A dream come true. My dreams had come true, hadn’t they? I studied all I wanted, spent time with the Princess whenever I could, was on my way to becoming a skilled wizard. The words, ‘and yet, something is missing,’ never took shape in my mind. But the feeling was there, some lingering doubt, brought to the surface by the smiling unicorn in front of me.

“Yeah…” I said. “Um…is there something I can help you with?”

“Oh yes! I’d like to borrow a book if you can find it.”

If I can find it? I smirked. “I’ve organized this entire wing of the Archives. If it’s here, you’ll have it. What’s it called?”

Walking Between Worlds,” said Lyra. “I believe the author is named…”

“…Daystar the Luminous,” I said, frowning. “I know it.” It was a book by a unicorn that claimed to have used magic to travel to other worlds. I had skimmed it. It was full of contradictions and things that made no sense. A book of pseudomagic, like those ancient texts claiming that time travel was possible. Ridiculous. “Why would you want it?”

“Oh, just a personal project I’m working on,” said Lyra.

I peered closely at her. She was well groomed and seemed to be sensible. She didn’t look at all like a crazy pony. What was her interest in a book written by somepony who was either a lunatic or a liar?

“Is this about your humans?” I asked.

Her golden eyes widened and she took a step backward. “What d-did you…I mean h-how…do you know about that?”

“You told me about that years ago.”

“I did? Oh…I had forgotten…”

“You know they’re just a story for fillies, right?”

“Well I…of course I do,” she said, laughing. Her laugh was high and musical and completely false. She didn’t look me in the eye. Even the magical glow of Twinkleshine’s spell seemed to dim a little.

I sighed. “So…do you want me to get the book for you?”

“What? Oh, that’s okay…I’ve changed my mind about it.”

Lyra left the Archive without a book. I returned to my studies. I did notice that the Archive’s copy of Walking Between Worlds was borrowed on one of my days off and returned a week later. I did not give it a whole lot of thought.

Everything changed for me soon after that.

I moved to Ponyville and discovered the magic of friendship. My new friends and I saved the world. I’m not trying to brag. It happened and I’m overwhelmed by the role I played in it. I only mention it now because of what it meant to Lyra.

She moved to Ponyville soon after I did. I didn’t think anything of it at the time. Several of my old classmates moved there. And to tell the truth, I was glad she came to Ponyville. Now that I knew what friendship was, I wanted to get to know her as I never did back in Canterlot.

Friendship is a complex thing. Some ponies actually scoff at the idea of studying it, not realizing how deep and profound it is. I know now that I will spend my entire life studying it, and not know the hundredth part of its mysteries.

I made a friend and made a mistake.

Lyra and I finally got to know each other. She never became part of my circle of best friends. No, there were only five ponies that could ever fill those places in my heart. But that didn’t mean that she wasn’t important to me. I wasn’t her best friend, either. That honor went to Bon Bon. It didn’t matter. A heart doesn’t run out of room for friends. I have many. Zecora the zebra, Cadance, Ditzy Doo…

But Lyra was special. We could talk about magic in a way that would have bored my closer friends. She didn’t have the kind of raw magical power that I had, but she did have a unique way of looking at things.

One night, when we were both alone in the library where I lived, we had a talk. It wasn’t an ordinary conversation. There are simple, seemingly mundane moments in your life that end up leading you to places you could never have imagined. It was like the day I picked up that old book and learned the prophecy of Nightmare Moon. When I was turning the pages leading up to that prophecy, I didn’t feel the electricity of the moment, had no idea that it was going to take me away from everything I knew. What I’m trying to say is that this talk between Lyra and I was going to do the same thing for her. And this time, I felt it. I knew that something was going to happen. I couldn’t have guessed what. Nor could I have imagined my own tragic role in what was to come.

“You’ve done so much with your life, Twilight,” said Lyra. She was looking at me over a mug of warm cider, and there was awe in that gaze. I had never noticed it before.

“Oh, not that much,” I said, giggling and trying to wave away the compliment.

“How can you say that? You saved the world! If it wasn’t for you, we would all be living under eternal darkness!”

“Well…it wasn’t just me…” I could feel my face growing warm.

“Yeah, but you were there, standing at the heart of it. It must have been…amazing.”

I could never deny that moment. “It was,” I whispered.

“I’ve…never done anything special with my life,” Lyra admitted.

“Don’t say that. You are very special!”

“I know that,” she said, smiling. She wasn’t joking or being cocky. She said it as the simple truth. “Everypony is special. I’m not some blank flank filly who doesn’t know who she is. But finding your special talent isn’t enough. You have to do something with it. I haven’t. Not anything important, I mean.”

I didn’t know what to say. “You’ll get your chance,” I said. “One day.” It did feel rather like something I would say to a filly. The words sounded hollow, even to me.

“Did I ever tell you my dream?”

“Maybe,” I said. “Tell me again.”

“You’ll laugh.”

“No,” I said. “I won’t.”

She looked at me. I felt myself being studied, weighed in a set of scales against who knows what standard. And it seemed I was found worthy.

“I want to see another world,” she said.

I did not laugh. In fact, I had to fight not to cry. After all these years, she still believed in that old mare’s tale.

“What’s wrong with this one?” I asked.

“Nothing,” she said. “That’s why I want to see another one.”

I shook my head. “Lyra Heartstrings, sometimes you make no sense, even to me.”

“Twilight Sparkle, sometimes you fail to realize that the things that make no sense are the things that are most important.”

“Okay, what do you want to do in a world where something is wrong?”

She frowned and looked into her cider. “I’ll tell you later,” she murmured.

“What? You can’t leave me hanging like that!”

“It doesn’t matter anyway,” she said, tossing her mane. “I can’t get there.”

Of course not,’ I would have said before I learned the magic of friendship. ‘Everypony knows it’s impossible.’

“Why not?” I asked instead.

“I don’t know the right spell. I’ve read every book I can on humans and on traveling to other worlds. I’ve studied your teleportation spell and every kind of magic that can transport a pony anywhere at all, and I’m still no closer to finding it.”

There are words that, once you say them, cannot be unsaid. ‘I love you.’ ‘I’m sorry.’ ‘I will never forgive you.’ ‘Don’t go.’ Beautiful words. Terrible words. Words that change everything. I said three of them right then.

“I’ll help you.”

Lyra was glowing again, lit by magic of a different kind.

What was my mistake? Did you spot it? I have turned that conversation over in my head countless times, wished I could have done things differently. From that night on, I had the feeling that we were moving along some inescapable current, our destination veiled by a shadow I could not penetrate.

I kept my promise to Lyra and tried to help her. We studied together. I had to brush up on my fairy tales. Why humans? I never understood that. I tried to ask her.

“I’m surprised you, of all ponies, don’t already know,” she replied.

And yet, I didn’t know. Whatever Lyra saw in your race, I couldn’t see it. All I saw was a grim fairy tale about a broken world where the power of friendship was a frail thing and the sad, frightened, and cruel race that never did anything to change it. I pored over books of mythology with disgust.

“It would be so simple,” I told her in frustration one day. “I mean, their world doesn’t have to be that way at all. If they could just see the magic of friendship, even just a glimpse…”

Lyra had smiled. “Spoken like somepony who goes around saving the world for a living.”

This was just after the Discord incident.

I never quite believed in Lyra’s humans, or that it was possible for her to travel to their world. I searched for a spell that I didn’t even believe existed. But along the way, doubt crept into me. What if we found it? Lyra would actually go to this other world, leaving all her friends behind. I would lose a friend. Now that I knew what friendship was, the very idea terrified me.

One night, I accused her of being selfish.

Of course it wasn’t true. I knew that. In fact, I was the one being selfish, trying to reign her in, pull her away from a dream that would take her away from me. Some part of me realized this, but it didn’t stop me from saying what I said.

Lyra went very pale and just looked at me for the longest time without saying anything.

Then she spoke in a strained voice, “I’m not. I’m really not…”

I apologized and we went on like nothing had happened. But it was different between us after that. I don’t mean that she pulled away in our friendship. No, we were closer than ever. But I got the feeling that there were things about her project that she wasn’t telling me.

We encountered…distractions. My brother was married. At the wedding, Lyra was a zombie bridesmaid. Don’t ask. Our search for her spell seemed to be going nowhere.

By now, I had no wish to continue our project at all. I did not believe in humans and I did not believe in their world and, most of all, I did not believe that it would be a good thing for Lyra to go there even if it was all true. If things hadn’t happened the way they did, I’m sure I would have told her I was done and begged her to abandon her silly dream.

We finally come to the heart of my story. Have you seen the seeds of my great mistake? Have you guessed the purpose of this letter? Besides a confession, of course, which it is, especially from this point on.

I was jerked from the book I was reading by a frantic pounding on the door of the library. It was Bon Bon, Lyra’s friend.

“Twilight, you’ve got to come quick!” she cried.

“What is it?”

“It’s Lyra, she…oh, I don’t know! She said ‘goodbye’ to me. I think she’s trying to do some kind of dangerous magic. And you know all about that kind of stuff…”

I felt something squeeze my chest. Black, oily dread coated my insides. I did not even wait for Bon Bon. I teleported to Lyra’s house in a flash.

Some part of me knew, even before I opened the door, what I would find. But knowing and seeing are two very different things.

Lyra stood at the center of a magic circle. Its lines and symbols were glowing with sunset-colored magic. I recognized some of the symols, enough to be terrified. I tried to approach, but was pushed back by a wall of force. Lyra looked at me. A wind was blowing through her mane.

“Lyra, what are you doing?!” I cried.

“I’m sorry, Twilight. You weren’t going to let me go.”

“Go where?”

“Earth. The world of the humans.”

“It’s a fairy tale! Lyra, please…listen to me. You don’t know what you’re doing. This spell could send you anywhere. It might even send you nowhere! It’s not worth the risk!”

“It is to me, Twilight!” she cried. “This is my dream!”

I tried to press forward again, summoning my magic to help me. “Your dream is too dangerous!” And if it’s true, I’ll never see you again, I did not say.

“Please stop, Twilight. Please just let me go. This is what I want. All my life I’ve been searching, trying to find the spell that would take me there. And I have, at last. I just couldn’t tell you because if I did you’d try to stop me.”

I stood my ground. “Why? Just tell me that. Why was this your dream?”

In that moment, she reminded me very much of Princess Celestia. The same warm light radiated from her. She smiled beatifically.

“I want to save a world, Twilight.” Tears were shining in her eyes. “Not just go to one, but to save it. I want to go to a place that is not beautiful and kind and bring the light of friendship to it. You of all ponies should be able to understand that. You’ve already done it for Equestria. I want to do the same thing for Earth. The humans need me. They need somepony to share friendship’s magic with them.”

I tried to argue. “You’ll be a freak to them.”

“No. I’ve woven this spell perfectly. I will be transformed into a human myself. I won’t even have my unicorn powers anymore. But I’ll have the only kind of magic I need to save their world.”

“What about Bon Bon?” I tried. “And the rest of your friends!” What about me?

“I told you before I wasn’t being selfish.” Her voice was cracking. “It will break my heart forever to lose you. But I have to go.”

The light from her spell wove itself around her body. Pieces of her hooves broke off into the light. It was taking her apart. Taking her away.

“Lyra, stop!”

The wind picked up. The house trembled as if in an earthquake. I couldn’t let this happen. My horn glowed with blazing power.

“No! Twilight, don’t!” Lyra screamed.

What I did next is my greatest shame. I had learned so much about friendship, but there is one lesson that nopony could have prepared me for. Sometimes, to keep a friend you have to let her go. I didn’t understand this. I begged her to stay and she wouldn’t. So I tried to make her.

I will regret that moment for as long as I live.

When it was all over, Lyra was gone. But I knew I had done something terrible. I had broken her spell. The sound of her scream echoed in my ears. What had I done? It was months before I had unraveled Lyra’s secrets enough to understand. And when I did, when I realized what my trespass had done to her, I wept like a filly.

Lyra meant to go to Earth as a human, to bring with her all the love and light of our world and to pour it into yours. She was in the process of being transformed and transported when I ruined everything. The spell still worked, but…not the way she had intended. Lyra’s transformation went wrong and she got lost on the way.

I’m so sorry.

You wondered why I was writing this letter to you. It is a friendship letter, after all. But you won’t remember that we were friends once. You won’t remember anything at all. I have tried to reach you, even used magic to make sure the story of Equestria and your friends comes to your world. But you still don’t remember that it’s real, and it’s all my fault.

This is all I can do to try to make up for my mistakes.

All your life you have felt it. That something was missing. That you didn’t quite belong. Sometimes it felt like you were from another planet. And there was that feeling, like a shadow in your heart, that somewhere you had friends that you had been separated from. Somewhere they were calling your true name.

I have tried to undo what I did to you. I can’t. I have tried to bring you back to Equestria. Maybe I will succeed one day. I’m still searching for that spell. Even Princess Celestia is helping me. You will come back, won’t you, if I find it? Your friends are waiting for you.

And if you won’t, or I can’t find a way to bring you back, what then? I stood in the way of your dream once before. Not this time. Now I just want to remind you who you are. You didn’t end up in the human world with the body you wanted, or even with your memories. But you are still you.

I know it’s a lot to ask you to believe. The human world has spent years trying to quench the flame of magic in your soul. This letter must read like a fairy tale. I don’t know if it will even reach you or what form it will take if it does. But if you are reading this, remember who you used to be. For me.

You came from another world, a world of magic and pure friendship. You chose to step into this dark place because you thought you could save their world. It was your dream. And I tried to take it from you. But I was wrong. So go. Do what you came for. Show your humans what the power of real friendship can do. And remember, somewhere you have friends that are cheering you on.

Your friend,
Twilight Sparkle

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