Made For Another World

by Spark Plug

Chapter 1: The Wrong Sky

The night sky was, for lack of a better term, wrong.

Sunset Shimmer sat on the grass near the lake, not trusting herself to get anywhere near the thrice-rebuilt Camp Everfree dock. She wasn't entirely sure how long she'd been out there, but it was long enough to lose track of time.

She heard someone walk up behind her and sit down next to her. She didn't take her eyes off the sky.

"Couldn't sleep?" Twilight Sparkle asked.

"Something like that," Sunset said with a sad smile. "Did Spike tell you I was out here?"

"Yeah; he said since he told you where I was, it was only fair if..."

Sunset chuckled. "Good dog..."

Twilight leaned forward. "What's wrong, Sunset?"

Sunset briefly contemplated giving a pat answer like "It's nothing," "Stretching my legs," or "Just enjoying the fresh air."

"I miss hooves."

Twilight blinked. "Hooves?"

Sunset nodded. "I miss the sound they make on the cobblestone streets. I miss the feeling of a breeze blowing through my fur. I miss going muzzle-deep in a plate of hay fries." She sighed. "I miss hay burgers and fries. I miss the way the grass smells, the way the apples taste, I miss–"

She broke off, and Twilight noticed the tears at the edge of her eyes.

"I miss taking the driest textbook in the library out to the courtyard. I miss how the grass felt, the rough bark of the tree, the way the book smelled..." She blinked some tears away. "Theoretical Application of Thaumatic Resonance."

Twilight placed her hand on Sunset's shoulder. "Sunset... I..."

Sunset shook her head and smiled sadly. "It's okay, Twilight. I just miss home." A pause. "Some times more than others. I thought being out here in the camp would help, but..." She motioned at the sky. "Everything either reminds me of home or reminds me of how this isn't home."

Twilight looked up. "The stars are different?"


Twilight hung her head. "I'm sorry, Sunset."

"Hey," Sunset said with a frown, "this isn't your fault." She put her arm around Twilight's shoulders and hugged her close.

"I'll be all right," she said. "I'm just a little homesick."

The night sky was basically invisible thanks to the light pollution from the city. But that didn't mean Sunset didn't know how wrong it was anyway. It was the hour of morning where it was either too late or too early.

Sunset sat on the dingy carpet, well aware of every one of the five hundred square feet of studio apartment she had. She leaned back against the wall and tried to muster up some feeling. Any feeling.

She hadn't lied a week ago when she had told Twilight she'd be all right. But she wasn't all right yet.

Princess Twilight's last message through the book had been a few days ago, congratulating Sunset and the girls on their adventure at Camp Everfree. Sunset hadn't had the heart to write back yet.

She looked at the bed. A twin-size thrift store mattress on the ground. The sheets stretched her budget when she got them, and now she'd stretched and worn them beyond recognition. Even on a good night, the lumps and bad springs were hard to ignore; tonight they practically screamed at her.

The fridge was understocked; easy to do that when it could barely keep a temperature. Or maybe there was some hidden piece of human wisdom she never really caught on, or missed out on because she wasn't. Either way, there wasn't much to eat here except the processed, plasticy snacks she had stocked up on when Rarity had taken her to the warehouse store. They had been so tasty when she first came to this world; now she could taste the factory they had come from.

She wasn't hungry anyway.

The stove was clean only by virtue of not being used. The card table and chairs had been a lucky find; even luckier they had lasted the years since. There was no television since she had never seen the need or been all that interested in the first place. Her internet connection was a pile of gadgets and wires on the floor in the corner. Her dresser was a set of plastic drawers. The walls were beige.

If she had been in a lighter mood, she would imagine the pictures she could hang on the walls. Rarity would easily find some area rugs to help break up the drab carpet, and Pinkie would know the up-and-coming artists at CHS. Fluttershy and Applejack would know the right natural elements to bring in: maybe some decorative branches or even a houseplant. And Twilight would mock the whole thing up in SketchUp and plan everything down to a nail.

But she wasn't in a lighter mood. All she could see was the plain, stagnant space. The feeling of being alien weighed on her. The memory of her room in Canterlot Castle weighed even more.

She was tired, but not enough to sleep. She was sad, but not enough to cry. So she sat on the dingy carpet, well aware of her five hundred square foot kingdom.

Sunset stared at the textbook, willing the words to make sense. She'd lost count of how many times she'd read the same sentence. The words were simple enough; she recognized every individual one. And then she got to the end of the sentence and didn't understand what she had just read.


Sunset started and looked up. Twilight was leaning over the table towards her, concerned. "Are you okay?" she whispered.

Sunset looked down at the page, then back up to Twilight. With a sigh, she shook her head. "Tired," she whispered back.

Twilight nodded with a frown. "Still can't sleep?"

Sunset blinked in shock. "You can tell?"

Twilight looked away. "I know the signs." She rummaged in her bag and pulled out a sealed tea bag. "Chamomile tea helps me sometimes," she said.

It took Sunset until 10:00 that night to finish her homework. An hour later, Sunset sat by her bed again. Twilight's tea sat half-finished and room temperature off to the side.

It was such a strange sensation, Sunset mused, that she was so tired but unable to fall asleep. Instead of her mind taking a cue from the silence around her and winding down, it was taking the opportunity to consider everything.

Absolutely everything.

She wondered if the reason her refrigerator couldn't hold a temperature had something to do with the dials and knobs she'd messed with once and forgotten about. She thought about getting up and checking it. She didn't.

She wondered how her recent dip in class participation would affect her grades for this term. If they would affect her grades. Or if her grades even mattered at this point, as long as she passed.

Her phone buzzed: Twilight had texted her. "Still up?"

Sunset sighed again. "Yeah"

"Sorry the tea didn't help..."

"Well, I only drank half of it, so... :/"

A pause. "Homesick?"

Sunset blinked a tear away. "Yeah"

A longer pause. "The girls and I will understand if you need to visit."


Sunset got an idea. It was a horrible idea. But at this point, she couldn't bring herself to care.

The night sky was... different. Yet familiar.

In the back of her mind, Sunset reminded herself that Princess Luna was back and therefore in charge of the night sky, so she might have been making changes. But the constellations she had grown up watching were there, nonetheless.

She lay on the grass, facing away from Ponyville and the Castle of Friendship, relishing the feeling, the sensations of having four legs again. Of magic. The tiny echo that she and her friends had gotten at Camp Everfree was like a glass of water in the desert. But being back in Equestria, where magic was infused into her very blood was like diving into the deep end of a pool.

Idly, she wondered if it was really a good idea to sneak through the portal. Without telling Twilight. Either Twilight. Or any of the girls.

On a school night.

She shook her head, partly distracted by the way her mane felt. Sure, this might not have been the smartest decision. But with how she had been sleeping, she could hardly be blamed for a few bad decisions, right?

She sighed and fell onto her side. This was feeling less and less like a good idea. But maybe it wouldn't hurt to sleep for a little bit before heading back...

She was startled awake by something poking her flank. She vaguely saw a white blur in front of her, not sure who but definitely somepony else. Forcing her muscles to work, she pulled herself to her feet, blinked slowly a few times to focus her eyes, and looked up–

At Princess Celestia.

With a start she scrambled back a few feet. "Princess, I..." she stammered.

"Sunset Shimmer?" Celestia said. Her voice was small, questioning.

Sunset could only nod.

Celestia took a tentative step forward. Her head lowered to Sunset's level, her face a strange mixture of shock and... fear? She took another step forward...

And suddenly Sunset was against her chest, held fast in place by her forelegs, her wings draped over her, her muzzle nuzzling her with some ferocity.

Sunset was at a loss for words. She opened her mouth to speak, but all that came out was a strangled whine.

"It's really you" Celestia whispered, her voice cracking. "You're alive."

The voice crack got her. Sunset buried her muzzle in Celestia's chest and sobbed, barely noticing the wet feeling on the back of her head she was sure wasn't from Celestia crying.

Celestia just held her tighter. "My dear little Sunset," she said.

They stayed that way for several moments, Sunset finally able to release everything that had been weighing on her, Celestia holding tight and reminding herself that this was real.

"I'm sorry," Sunset finally whispered.

"I forgive you," Celestia said.

Sunset shifted. "Just like that?" she said, daring to hope.

Celestia released Sunset and sat down in front of her, looking her in the eyes. "Yes," she said firmly, "just like that."

"But..." Sunset steeled her resolve. Part of her was screaming to just shut up and not ruin an obviously good thing, but a larger part of her craved absolution.

"I betrayed you," she said, willing her voice to be steady. "I was arrogant. I thought I deserved things I didn't, and I got angry when you didn't give them to me. I turned friends against each other. I stole Twilight's crown, and..." She swallowed. "I was going to invade. I was going to take what I wanted by force, put myself in your place, show you that I deserved to be a princess."

She looked up at Celestia. "How can you forgive that?"

Celestia smiled. "I cannot judge you for things you may have done," she said. "We all have thoughts and desires we regret. I can only judge what you have done. And for all those things you have done, Sunset Shimmer, I forgive you."

She stared Sunset in the eyes. "Never forget this, never doubt this: I forgive you. I have forgiven you. I will always forgive you. Because you are my little pony."

Sunset blinked away a tear. "I..."

Celestia's face fell. "Now, I do have one thing to ask of you."

Sunset nodded. "Anything."

"Can you forgive me?"

Sunset frowned. "What–what for?"

"For not being patient. For expecting you to understand what I never told you." She bowed her head. "For wanting so badly to see my sister again that I shouldered you with impossible expectations."

Sunset wanted to deny everything. None of those were nearly as bad as what she did; how could she possibly equate the two?

And then she saw that Celestia was asking for what she had: absolution.

Sunset walked to her and nuzzled her neck. "Yes, I forgive you," she said.

Celestia pulled her in for another hug; Sunset didn't resist.

Suddenly, Celestia tensed up. "Excuse me," she said, suddenly businesslike. She shifted herself so she was facing east, and her horn and wings faintly glowed yellow...

As the sun rose.

Sunset Shimmer had seen her fair share of sunrises in the human world, but there was nothing like the manual sunrises in Equestria. The dawn broke, and Sunset basked in the glow, feeling the invigorating start to a new day with new possibilities and n–


Sunset's eyes went wide and she inhaled sharply. "Oh, hors..." She trailed off, suddenly remembering she was in the presence of royalty.

Celestia smirked. "Horseapples?"

Sunset turned away, blushing. "I... I have class."

Celestia frowned slightly. "You're not here to stay?" She shook her head. "No, of course; Twilight said you had responsibilities."

Sunset smiled sadly. "I'll... I'll come back to visit, though!" She started backing toward the castle. "But this was really just a spur-of-the-moment thing; I need to get back..."

Celestia nodded and started walking toward the castle. "I'll escort you to the portal," she said regally, though Sunset could see the mischievous glint in her eyes. "It has been some time since I've checked in with Princess Twilight."

Sunset fell into step. "Thank you," she said. "But what were you doing out here anyway?"

Celestia shrugged her wings. "Sunset, nothing happens within my realm that I am not aware of." She glanced down at Sunset. "The Night Guard had told me of a pony in the fields near Ponyville. When it matched your description, I had to investigate."

She blinked. "Please understand, Sunset," she said softly, "I had heard of your deeds through Twilight, but it had still been so long since I had seen you myself. It was so easy for me to think you were... gone."

Sunset bumped against Celestia affectionately. "I missed you too," she said.

"She's going to be late!" Twilight said, a few hairs popping out of place.

"Breathe, Twilight!" Spike said from inside her backpack.

Twilight glared at her backpack but took a couple of breaths anyway.

"Spike's right, darling," Rarity said. "The warning bell hasn't even soun–"

A shrill bell rang from the school. Across the courtyard, the students started (slowly) making their way inside.

"She's going to be late!" Twilight yelled, grabbing Pinkie Pie by the shirt. "She's going to get a tardy, she'll fail the class, they'll send her back to kindergarten!"

"Oh, no!" Pinkie yelled back, grabbing Twilight back. "And she'll be the oldest one in there which means she'll accidentally step on one of the kids and she'll get in even more trouble and go to jail and we'll have to bake a saw into a loaf of bread so she can break out and..." She inhaled, and Applejack took the opportunity to cover her mouth.

"I don't think any of that's gonna happen," she said with a patient smile. "She's probably just running a little late. Twilight, y'all tried calling her?"

"I have; her phone's off. I also tried texting, but the messages aren't being delivered." She bit her lip. "This is all my fault."

"What?" Applejack raised an eyebrow. "What are y'all tal–"

She was interrupted by a multicolored glow from the former Wondercolt statue behind her. It shone for a full second before Sunset Shimmer stumbled out of it, carrying a thermos and looking slightly disheveled.

She looked around. "Hey, girls," she said with a smile. "What's..." She looked up to the school. "Wait, what time is it?"

"The warning bell just rang!" Twilight ran up, grabbed Sunset's free hand and started pulling her toward the school.

"But I don't have my stuff!" Sunset said, pulling out of Twilight's grip. "I thought I'd have more time."

"On it!" Rainbow Dash yelled. And she was gone.

The remaining girls stood around in a daze. "That helps," Fluttershy muttered.

Rainbow returned empty-handed, standing in front of Sunset. "Can I borrow your key?"

Sunset smiled and fished her key out of her pocket. "All my stuff's in my bag next to the bed."

"Cool." And she was gone. Again.

"Well, while that happens," Rarity said, "let's get you fixed up a bit. Hold still, dear." She busied herself combing some of the frizz out of Sunset's hair and straightening her outfit. "That's the most I can do; sorry."

"It's fine, Rarity," Sunset said, still smiling. "Thanks."

Rainbow reappeared, this time holding Sunset's backpack. "Got it!"

"Thanks," Sunset said, taking her back and heading toward the school.

"So..." Applejack said, catching up to her, "wanna tell us why y'all stumbled out of the portal instead of taking the bus?"

"Just..." Her smile faltered a bit. "Was feeling a little homesick. But I–" She stopped as the group reached the atrium of the school building. This was the break-off point as they went to their respective classes. "I'll tell you at lunch, promise."

"Promise?!" Pinkie yelled, suddenly in Sunset's face.

Sunset answered her with a smirk. "Cross my heart, hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye."

Pinkie nodded and walked off to her class. The other girls followed suit, and soon it was just Sunset and Twilight on the way to their homeroom.

"So..." Twilight said as they sat down. "When I said you could visit, I didn't mean right then."–

Sunset had the decency to look chastised. "I am sorry for worrying you," she said.

Twilight smiled back at her. "Did it help?"

Sunset nodded. "I ended up running into the one person I needed to." She smiled. "It's like... I lost a burden I didn't even know I had."

She held up the thermos. "Plus, Princess Twilight gave me some of her private reserve. Good thing too; I didn't get much sleep last night."

Twilight eyed the thermos with a gaze somewhere between thirst, mania, and reverence.

Sunset rolled her eyes and poured some into the cup. "Yes, I'll share. And I'll get you a bag when I go back this weekend."

"You're going back?"

"Yeah... Celestia wants to catch up, Twilight–Princess Twilight wants me to meet her student, and..." She smiled sadly. "I didn't realize how much I missed being a pony."

Twilight nodded. "It's what you are," she said.

Sunset looked at her urgently. "But I'm not leaving you girls!"

Twilight shook her head. "I know that, and they'll know that too." She took another sip of the coffee. "But you can't deny what you are, Sunset, for everyone's sake."

She took another sip. "Wow," she breathed, "that is ridiculously good."

Author's Notes:

Title is from my favorite C. S. Lewis quote:

If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.

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