'Four Leaves'

Inspired by image #266156 on the image site Derpibooru.

If you're interested in more of my Pony fanfiction, I usually post stuff on FIMfiction first (and reply to comments there too). You can follow me at FIMfiction dot net / user / Emperor

It was rare for it to rain at night in Canterlot. With the number of evening outdoor parties that occurred in the Equestrian capital, nopony wanted his or her planning work to go to ruin. As a result, the weather corps tended to schedule a few heavy days of rain a month, and let the sun shine on the mountain city the rest of the time.

Tonight was one of those rare exceptions. The pegasi had limited control over the winds, and a heat wave had swept through Canterlot. A warm shower was just what was required to temper the heat, but as a result almost nopony was out on the streets, hunkering inside their dry homes instead.

She didn't care about being drizzled on. After all, she had traveled in wild conditions across lands untamed by ponykind, through rain, sleet and hail, not to mention the accursed snow, snow and more snow. A light spattering of water was nothing in comparison.

How long was it since she had last been to Canterlot? She had stopped measuring in years long ago, but she didn't think it had been more than a few decades. Maybe. It was funny, time was something she had bent to her whim, surpassing even her master in. Yet, in the end, time had gotten the better of her.

She surveyed her surroundings. Rows and rows of gravestones stood next to one another in solid formation, like the tight ranks of a disciplined platoon of Pegasi soldiers. Some of those buried here dated back to before Canterlot became Equestria's seat of government, back when Celestia and Luna ruled from the castle in the Everfree. Some of those buried here had only passed away in the last few years.

The blue-coated unicorn who had wandered the rows, memories of individual ponies flitting back and forth, faces and voices long since forgotten, was looking for one marker in particular. After a few minutes, she had located it, at the front of the plot allocated to the dynasty of the House of Twilight.

"'Lest We Forget', hmm?" She said aloud, reading the epitaph engraved on the tombstone, only the falling rain bearing witness to her words. Above the words there was a carving of a six-sided star, a crude representation of the Cutie Mark of the pony who was buried here. "After her lifetime, that was the best they could come up with? Or was it something she requested? I suppose modesty would have suited her, even in death."

She sighed, unsure and uncaring if those were tears coming from her eyes, or water dripping from the side of her snout. After so many years, she had resorted to more and more undignified ways to inject excitement into her life. For a brief blip in time, Twilight Sparkle had entered her life like a shooting star, a brilliant beacon of light and fire that had drawn the unicorn to Twilight as if she was nothing more than a moth following a flame.

Unfortunately, like a shooting star, Twilight's time had burned up all too soon, her lifespan snuffed out in the blink of an eye. Now she was back to wandering the world listlessly, her final destination never in sight. Even the thrill of the journey was losing its luster.

She felt, more than heard, the hoofsteps of another pony entering the cemetery. Had it been anypony else but for this pony or her sister, she would have fled by now.

"While it behooves the younger generation to pay respect to its elders, you shouldn't do it in the rai-Oh. It's you," Princess Celestia said. "It's been some time since we last met. Er, what name were you going by in this age again?"

The unicorn turned around, holding her head up eye, violet eyes shining with intensity, "These days, I go by Trixie, The Great and Powerful. Although, tales of Trixie's exploits in Ponyville still linger enough that I will soon have to leave her behind, not to mention how old she should be by now."

"Ah," Celestia nodded, looking past Trixie to the gravestone of Twilight Sparkle. "I had always wondered if you had met my faithful student, but I have heard of The Great and Powerful Trixie's 'exploits' in Ponyville. Didn't we nearly meet the one time, when Twilight invited me to come meet her new student?"

Trixie wracked her memories, before she at last recalled what Celestia was talking about, "Ah yes, Starlight Glimmer. I found a kindred soul in her, even if she only knew Trixie's secrets, and not my own. No offense, but Twilight Sparkle was ill-equipped to help that pony work through her deeper issues. Friendship is not a salve-all."

"Like teacher, like student," Celestia said, staring past Trixie again. This time, Trixie knew Celestia wasn't looking at the marker where Princess Twilight Sparkle was buried. "I should have taken more care when Twilight was my own student. Even in her last days she still had panic attacks. But then, age doesn't always bring with it maturity. The way I heard it, you were jealous of Twilight Sparkle and sought to win the affections of Starlight Glimmer from her."

"I-" Trixie cut herself off, feeling her cheeks burn with embarrassment. She looked Celestia over. The alicorn wasn't using magic to protect herself against the rain. Rivulets of water pounded Celestia from head to tail, dripping down her muzzle and barrel.

In this cemetery, they weren't ponies who had to outmaneuver the other with words. They were two beings battered about by time's cruel passage, each needing the other to commiserate.

Trixie took a deep breath, and she said, "Yes, I was jealous. To hear that somepony had improved on one of his spells, and in so doing achieved apotheosis. Even when I met her twice before, Twilight Sparkle never struck me as the one. It was only later that I learned Starlight too had done much the same, even if she didn't achieve ascension. But Starlight Glimmer, she was different than Twilight. She might not have had the same spark, but there was something special about her, too. I was attracted to that."

"I can understand that," Celestia said. "I'm not surprised you felt kinship with Starlight. To find another pony who had tinkered with Star Swirl's time spells, I'm surprised you didn't drag her off with you once you left Ponyville."

"I don't like dragging others into my life, or others dragging me into their lives. I had a purpose a long time ago, and I lived up to it."

"Yes, and Equestria still owes you its eternal gratitude."

"But I accomplished it. I should have died long ago. I don't know why I still live through every day, when it's been a struggle."

"You went through this before," Celestia noted. "At the time, you said you wanted to explore new lands, and await what the future would bring."

Trixie nodded, "And I have, yet there's still so much more to explore. One of these days, I think I'll cross the ocean to the Western lands. Nowadays however, nowadays I feel like I'm in a rut. Luna's return brought a new age to Equestria, and the return of several of history's monsters with it, but now it feels like everything has settled. Not that I'm saying I want Grogar to return from beyond the veil, or even worse, for the Windigos to emerge again, but in those few years there was a dynamism in Equestria that I haven't felt in a long time. Now, now it feels like Equestria is merely cruising along again."

"I'm actually envious of you," Celestia said.

"Oh?" Trixie asked. She wasn't honestly surprised. There were a number of things each had that the other didn't, but each of them also had several lifetimes' worth of baggage.

"For a thousand years after my sister was banished, I had to stay strong, keeping my little ponies safe and holding this nation together. Ever day, I regretted not paying more attention to Luna. I could never leave Canterlot to meet ponies in an informal environment. Even the alicorns that appeared throughout the centuries, sharing my rule with me, were only temporary salves," Celestia said, sighing. "After all, none of them had the immortal lifespan of my sister and I."

"I'm not teaching anypony. I reverse-engineered his spell and came up with something different, but the sacrifices I made to do it...no, I won't let anypony else even know it exists."

"I didn't think so. But still, you were about the only constant I had, and your visits are rather infrequent."

"But now Celestia and Luna are reunited again."

"Even now, you don't call me Princess," Celestia observed.

Trixie gave her a piercing look, and she said, "You know I'll only ever swear fealty to one Princess, and she's been dead for a long time."

"Not even to her descendants."

"Not even. Half of them lack her strength of will, and the other half are fops."

"Yes, yes. Speaking of my sister and I, you should see Luna again. You've only seen her, what, twice since her return?"

"Three times," Trixie corrected her.

"Ah yes, I forget you encountered her in Griffonstone the once. She has asked after you on occasion, but you are difficult to get a hold of."

"I'll tell you what my new identity is once I come up with it, how's about that? It should be easier to trace me once you know what name I'm going under these days."

"That would be nice to have," Celestia said, sensing she wasn't going to get anything more. "Do you think Twilight ever had any suspicions about who you were?"

Trixie furled her eyebrows, and said, "I'm not sure. She was only in middle-age when I last visited her. Twilight might have noticed I wasn't aging at the time, but we saw each other so infrequently she may not have realised it. She might have figured out I wasn't just Trixie, but I doubt she ever had a clue who I truly was."

Celestia nodded, "That would make sense. She never did ask me about you. If she had mentioned a blue-coated unicorn mare who seemed to be as young as the day Twilight first met her, I would have known who you were in an instant. Ah, something just came to mind. Do you know where the actual Alicorn Amulet is?"

Trixie scrunched her nose, thinking of when she had last seen it. At last, she answered, "No, I do not. The last I saw it was in the North. I had a lead on it in Salamagne during the salamanders' civil war, but wasn't able to find it then."

"Ah. After your 'reign' over Ponyville, I went to retrieve the Alicorn Amulet. It had been an enduring mystery to me why the Amulet was a fake. I was incredibly worried someone had snatched it from the zebra shaman who was safeguarding it and replaced it with something that looked very similar. Another one of my students once attempted to do the same with the Element of Magic, though she failed. I had been expecting somepony to use the Amulet any day now, but it seems it is still lost to us."

"That's probably a good thing," Trixie pointed out. "The last time somepony used the real Amulet didn't end well."

Celestia's eyes were sad, her face for once showing her many years of living. "Even the Elements of Harmony aren't all-powerful."

"Master did tell you that before, many times," Trixie said, but then she backed off, not wishing to reopen the other pony's old wounds. "But Twilight Sparkle made a good effort out of it, didn't she?"

Celestia's eyes refocused, honing in on Trixie. "Yes. Her and her friends, the new generation of the Element-Bearers. She changed so many lives, and her friend Fluttershy even managed to reform Discord. Discord! I had thought we would forever be at odds, but then, I never knew until then that friendship and chaos were compatible."

"Fluttershy passed away years ago," Trixie said. "Do you still trust him?"

Celestia frowned, "I am sorry, but it would be inappropriate to discuss such a thing with somepony else."

So she didn't trust Discord. Well, Trixie wasn't too concerned, in any case. Discord had been fairly tame since his freedom. Outside of his betrayal during the Tirek incident, the draconequus hadn't kicked up too much of a fuss. If he were to pose a threat to the peace again...well, Trixie was no alicorn, and she hadn't been an active war magician in a long time, but the winds of time and wave of change hadn't yet worn her down. She was stronger than any cliff face. In the past, serious opposition to Equestria had refocused Trixie, breathing new life into her as she fought to protect the homeland she had once forged long ago. Another go would be no different.

"But, Twilight Sparkle. She was something I think we'll never see again. She saved my sister, and she saved my last student before her. In a few decades, only a handful of us will remember her as a living, breathing pony than a pony who is present in history books. I hate to think the day will eventually come to pass that I forget what her voice was like, or the colour of her eyes, and someday even the color of her coat," Celestia continued talking. "She admired you, you know. I suppose Twilight Sparkle will never realise how ironic it is that you were a pony on the stage."

"Which me?" Trixie asked.

"The real you."

Trixie didn't know what to say to that. Instead, she settled for reading Twilight Sparkle's epitaph, "Lest We Forget, indeed."

The two fell silent at those words. There was no more that needed to be said.

Minutes or hours passed. Trixie was certain it wasn't days, the sun hadn't risen yet. At last, Celestia bowed her head to the gravestone, touching her horn against the top, before raising her head again. "I hope to see you at the palace soon," Celestia said. "We really do miss you."

Celestia waited for a few minutes. Not getting a verbal response, the regal alicorn at last walked away, leaving Trixie behind in the cemetery.

"I didn't think much of you when I first saw you on that day in Ponyville," Trixie said, keeping her eyes straight forward on the tombstone. "Imagine my surprise when you actually managed to get rid of an Ursa Minor, all on your lonesome! I researched you, found out you were Celestia's student. I gave you a test, one you passed with flying colours. You became a Princess, something I could never have predicted. When you took on a student, I attempted to nudge you as hard as I could without creating a schism between us."

Trixie sighed. The rain was falling harder now. "You have your legacy, Princess Twilight. I have mine, the legacy of the greatest, but until I die it'll never be complete. Celestia envies me sometimes. I envy her sometimes as well, but I think I envy you even more. You took with you to the grave a legend that will likely surpass my own. This world doesn't need me anymore, but here I am. I still endure."

Giving the Cutie Mark engraved into the tombstone one last sigh, Trixie turned around, leaving the cemetery.

Originally, I intended to leave Trixie a complete blank. After a little bit of brainstorming, I actually came up with an idea for who or what she is. You can suss it out of the text, but I'm not sure how subtle I made it.

The answer will be posted in the first review for this story.