"Nnn... " Sweetie Belle groaned as she rolled over, kicking the myriad pillows about underneath her with her hind hooves. Her hips ached, her body unused to resting on the cushiony bed she had won in the chess game the previous day. Unable to find a good position, Sweetie sighed and let her body go limp, using her nose to brush the pillows off her face and wiggle her head out from the pile she had buried herself under. No light greeted her tired eyes on the other side. Sweetie Belle blinked a few times as she turned her head to look about the almost perfectly dark room, a distant peal of thunder bringing the sound of the rain that she had tuned out many hours ago back into focus.
"Still nighttime... dumb pillows. Too stifling, too cushy..." Sweetie grumbled, languidly kicking a few of the offending cushions off the pile and onto the floor beneath her. Cold air rushed in once her insulation had been removed, shocking Sweetie Belle fully awake and making her groan again in frustration as she tucked her legs close for warmth. "Just want my old bed back..."
Digging down next to her, the disgruntled filly pulled out a large, rough-hewn quartz crystal from deep beneath the pile with her teeth and breathing warmly on it like Trixie had instructed. The crystal began to glow, illuminating the room with its soft, refracted light. Sweetie held the magical nightlight tightly in her mouth as she slid tail-end first off the tall pile of pillows to the floor, landing on her rump with a soft grunt. Creeping forward on the tips of her hooves between the fallen pillows, she slowly made her way to the other corner of the room where Trixie lay in the bed earned from her own loss in the chess game.
Sweetie slowed, approaching the older unicorn's sleeping form. There were barely enough pillows for the mare to raise herself off the floor. Sweetie's too-small blanket was tightly wrapped around her curled and trembling form, her sole insulation from the cold. All Sweetie could see was the tip of Trixie's horn and her long, icy-blue mane splayed out brilliantly in the dim light.
A pang of guilt ran through Sweetie Belle's heart, her earlier displeasure over being woken forgotten. Setting the crystal nightlight on the floor, she lifted one small hoof and prodded the pony sleeping under the blanket.
"Trixie... wake up. You can have your bed back. I don't want it anymore."
The mare tensed, her her body pulling in and shrinking away from the touch, forming deep creases in the blanket covering her. Sweetie recoiled and stumbled back, almost tripping over the nightlight. She stared at the curved shell of the blanket under which Trixie slept, waiting for some movement or sign, but the other pony did not stir. She brushed worriedly at the blanket again, trying to ease it away from her friend's face.
"Trixie? Are you okay?"
"The Guidance and Patronage of Trixie"
Chapter 4 - Interlude
An MLP:FiM fanfiction by Lounge_Lizard, aka Im_not_Sue
(Characters: Sweetie Belle, Trixie, Applejack, Rarity)
(Revision v1.1.1 - 03/03/12)
"Wow Trixie, you're amazing! I didn't know you could do that with your magic!"
"Of course! I'm great and when I grow up I'll be the best unicorn! I'll make the cooks serve us cake every day, and Hole Punch and Paper Push won't get any 'cause they're mean and I said so! And when I'm old enough to leave this dumb house I'll go to Canterlot and prove I'm better than the bestest best unicorns! I'll use my magic and turn the palace wizards upside down and shake them until they're dizzy and then make fireworks for the Princess and then everypony will say I'm the greatest!"
"Wow... I... I wanna go with you! Can I go with you to Canterlot? I wanna be your... your... assistant! And like... do magic with you and stuff!"
"Summer, you're an earth pony. Earth ponies can't do magic, stupid! And you're too weak 'cause you're sick all the time! Mama Pincushion won't even let you out of the gates to play outside the orphanage."
"I know but I wanna go too! Please? I'll pull your wagon of magic stuff and throw confetti when you get to the palace and everything. I'll even color a big watercolor of you so they can put it in the palace and the princes can look at it and want to marry you!"
"Ugh, Summer! Why are you always talking about boys! I don't wanna marry an icky prince! But okay... you can come with me when I become famous. You can be my uh... troubabdoor... thingy... whatever Mama Pincushion was tellin' us about in history class. You can come with me me and tell ponies about how great I am!"
"Really? You promise?"
"...cuse me, Miss Cloud? Hello?"
The voice of the attendant tugged Trixie out of her reminiscence as she turned from the window to face the white-coated earth pony with a wreath cutie mark.
"Her number is J-22. Please respect any other guests while you're visiting, and remember to sign out at the desk before you leave. Here's the key."
Trixe trudged along the dirt path through the grove of flowering peach trees, the gate key tucked carefully into the pocket of her purple robe. Just ahead of her was the hill she had been seeking. At the edge of the incline rested a flat rectangle of cut and delicately engraved granite; a warm stone bed overlooking a stream passing through the rest of the grove and facing west into the golden setting sun. Summer Sky lay there, sleeping.
You always did like peaches...
Trixie slowed, scanning the lengths of the grove. A few evening birds resting in trees were her only companions in the clearing. Satisfied she was alone, she moved quietly up the hill to where the pony she was looking for awaited her. Keeping her eyes averted, Trixie set a bouquet of flowers by her friend's feet before setting herself down among the grass and fallen peach blossoms beside the stone bed. Clearing her throat nervously, she began to whisper.
"Hi Summer. It's me, Trixie."
The mare did not stir from her tranquil repose.
"I know we haven't talked in a long time, but... I wanted to see you. I... I heard from Ms. Pincushion that you finally got swept off your hooves by a prince like you wanted. I guess the old fart couldn't believe it when it happened. I'm... I'm really happy for you! You must have been really been happy too. I was so worried with you... you know, getting sick all the time, that you wouldn't make it to ever have your dream come true like that! Heh..."
Trixie's chuckle trailed off, her slight smile fading away in the silence. Several minutes passed, the breeze stirring the blue-tinted hair that hung in front of the unicorn's closed eyes. Even without looking, she could imagine Summer Sky's amber curls dancing in the same breeze as she watched the sunset next to Trixie.
"Summer, I... I really screwed up." Trixie started, her voice cracking as she choked back a sob. She lifted her head and gazed up past the blossoming peach trees, blinking away the tears forming in her eyes. The sky was lonely, cloudless, and empty. Using one hoof to wipe her eyes, she took another deep breath and continued. "I did something bad, and now everything's just a mess... I don't know what to do. I was going to ask you for help but... I guess now I can't."
Trixie began to sniffle as tears trickled down her cheeks despite her attempts to rub them away. "And... I know you probably can't hear me, but... I..."
Trixie finally looked up at the stone bed upon which an epitaph for her friend was written. They were words that in all her life, Trixie wished she never needed to read.
Summer Sky lies here
Loving wife and mother
Taken from us young
We will miss you always.
"I'm sorry I couldn't keep my promise."
Trixie glanced nervously about the lobby of The Cozy Cushion as she entered through its finely wrought brass-plated double door. The finely dressed businessponies, equestrian nobility, and other ponies of high social stature greeted her with a cold aloofness she had come to expect. The only eyes deigning to turn her way were those of ponies without enough self control to resist staring at the dusty, cloaked stranger whose appearance was altogether more unkempt than any patron of such a higher class establishment ought to look.
Trixie felt her face burn in shame as she trotted towards the reception desk that dominated the back of the lobby. She could almost feel every pony in the room examining her. Even though they neither looked at her nor once skipped a beat in their verbal dances, she knew they were aware of her. With the barest hint of magic she tugged the draped fabric around herself tighter, taking care to ensure her flanks were both covered. It had not been raining that day; It hadn't rained since early spring and it was the middle of summer. The heavy garb was useless at protecting her from attention, but it had been the only way to conceal her appearance.
She shifted the hood back on her head as she approached the desk, revealing her face a little more. She hated wearing it, but she didn't want anypony to see her face. She hated wearing anything other than that present her dad had given her. The present she din't have anymore.
The receptionist was a tall and slender grey earth pony, sporting a finely trimmed pencil mustache and goatee that accented his short black mane and snappy uniform. He eyed the new arrival suspiciously through his monocle, more so than the other employees behind the counter who knew better than to stare at guests. The grey pony dropped the pencil from his mouth and pushed aside his paperwork with one hoof as Trixie approached, raising one eyebrow as he spoke.
"May I help you ma'am?"
"The Great... I mean, I'd like a room please." Trixie said softly, keeping her head down. Yeah just keep staring, you pretentious snob. It's not like I want to be here, to be at the mercy of some pony who doesn't care about me. It's not like I have a choice. I-
"I'm sorry, The Cozy Cushion does not offer open booking this close to the Summer Sun Celebration." The receptionist said with a sigh, pointing at the festive calendar at the wall. It was the start of June and the festival was three weeks away. "If you have a reservation we can look it up and check you in right now, or reschedule your existing reservation to another day for a modest fee if necessary."
Trixie blinked in surprise. "I don't remember this hotel ever doing that. Can't you just... check to see if there's an opening? Maybe before another guest needs their room. It would just be for a day or so. I can come back after the festival for the rest of my stay."
"We apologize for the inconvenience, but this is our standing policy." The receptionist responded, sighing disdainfully. "I can only give you a room if you have a reservation to claim, or help you reschedule or book a new reservation. You may use the facilities briefly, or visit the hotel restaurant. Otherwise I will have to ask you to leave. This is not a rest-stop for loiterers, and we have a business to run."
As the grey pony turned to go, Trixie began to tense, her sought-for sanctuary slipping away. I can't do it. I can't live on the streets anymore. I don't want to be alone and hungry and afraid anymore. I don't want to live like that anymore! I can't!
"Wait, please! I... I have a reservation!" Trixie yelled, reaching out with one hoof to stop the colt.
The grey pony stopped as he felt the blue mare's hoof on his shoulder. The whole lobby fell silent, muted by Trixie's outburst. His eye darted back to squint at Trixie doubtfully, but nonetheless he reopened the massive reservation book he had been writing in before Trixie's entrance.
"My... it's not under my name. It's under my dad's name." Trixie muttered quietly, her heart pounding in her chest. She could feel the eyes of the many ponies in the room on her now, not just the sideways looks and feigned ignorance to her presence. Even the other employees behind the large desk were staring, their accounting and mail sorting temporarily halted to observe the unfolding spectacle.
"...and his name is?" The receptionist asked impatiently.
The receptionist snapped the book closed without even looking, startling Trixie and causing her to flinch back involuntarily.
"We have nopony by that name in our reservations." He said. His voice held no uncertainty.
"Wha... you- you didn't even look!" Trixie protested.
"I don't need to, this book is for record keeping. I have every reservation in this book memorized, and I'm quite sure we have no pony by that name."
"But... my dad's name is on the special list! You have to know that!" Trixie said, panic creeping back into her words. "Maybe... maybe there's some misunderstanding. His name should still be there. If you could just-"
"I don't have any idea what 'special list' you're talking about, miss. Unless you have a reservation under another name, I'm going to have to kindly ask you to remove your hooves from my uniform and leave." The colt's eyes fluttered as he nodded to the two bellhops at the door. They dropped the luggage they were unpacking from a carriage at the door and began to advance towards Trixie.
Trixie glanced behind her. seeing the approach of the two ponies who were clearly ready to remove her from the building by force if necessary. She stepped back away from the counter, slipping the hood of her cloak off her head as she continued to plead. "Wait, please! Just ask the owner! He was good friends with my dad before he d- I mean, before he st-stopped coming here. Maybe it got erased by accident, or he stopped telling employees about it! I know it was some years ago, but back then he always let my dad stay for free a few times a year. He left my dad's name on the special list so the other employees would know! He said he would help out if I ever needed a place to stay! I'm Comet's daughter, the owner would recognize me from when I was just a filly!"
The pony behind the desk scoffed. "Ma'am, I am the owner."
The words struck Trixie like a lead weight. Realization began to sink in, even as she raised a trembling hoof to point at the colt before her.
"No, you're lying you're not... you're too young, he was-"
"I bought this establishment from the previous owner's wife three years ago, ma'am. He was quite old and was getting too senile to run the business, and he passed away shortly thereafter. I don't know what sort of arrangement you or your kin may have had with him, but I'm afraid I cannot honor them. Now if you would, I have guests waiting."
Trixie couldn't move.
This is it. I'm going to be homeless. I don't have any money. Nopony who knows my name will take me after what I did. Mr. Cushion, Summer Sky, Dad... all gone. This was the only hope I had left...
Tears formed at the corners of Trixie's eyes as her hoof sank back to the floor in defeat, her lip quivering as she stammered so softly she could barely be heard. "No... please, I-I'm his daughter... dad's supposed to be on the list..."
The hotel owner nodded wordlessly to the two ponies waiting behind the blue unicorn on the other side of his desk, and then turned and walked away. The two colts took hold of Trixie's sides and lifted her on their shoulders as they carried her towards the door. She didn't have the will to resist.
Trixie felt her hindquarters sink onto the hot sidewalk outside the hotel, the two burly bellhop ponies leaving with their duty complete. Her cloak was in disarray, leaving her visage dangerously exposed to public scrutiny, but she couldn't muster the strength to cover her face again. She sat there staring into the empty and lonely cloudless sky, her tears drying in the dusty breeze before they could even trickle down her cheeks.
I... I can't do this. I don't know what to do.
Dad... help me...
"Whats the meaning of this! Trixie didn't ask you to come back with some stupid letter, you numskulls!" Trixie shouted, throwing the unfurled parchment to the ground in front of her and grinding it into the dirt with her hoof. "Ugh, I can't believe I trusted you two after what happened last time."
"I-I-It's not our fault! Really!" Replied Snips, cowering in front of the blue unicorn. "Tell her Snails, c'mon!"
"Uh, yeah! Sheeee just gave us this letter and uh, told us to take it back. Honest!" The taller of the two colts said, nodding his head enthusiastically.
Trixie groaned, turning her back on the two and striking her forehead with one hoof . "Fine, fine! Just get out of my sight, and don't you dare tell anypony that Trixie is here here, or you and your cutie marks will be trading places. You understand?"
The plump-cheeked colt jumped a foot in the air, his eyes going wide in shock. "Y... you can't do that... you couldn't beat the Ursa so there's no way you could turn us into-"
Trixie rounded on the two, an angry fire burning in her eyes as she loomed over the cowering unicorn. "Are you sure you wish Trixie to test that theory?"
Snips began to back away slowly behind his taller friend. Snails was lost in thought, a dopey grin coming across his face. "Actually, being a snail would be kinda cool, dont'cha think Sni-"
Trixie snorted as the two colts raced out of the clearing at the edge of Whitetail Woods and back towards Ponyville. She glanced back down at the note on the ground, reading the hastily written words one more time with a resigned sigh.
Please meet me at the Ponyville Library at midnight. There is something I wish to discuss with you..
"Hey Twilight, I found that copy of 'Frilly Fern's Guide to Finding Forest Fauna' that you wanted to take with you to Zecora's last week? And boy you won't believe where it was hiding."
"Thanks Spike, you're always a big help. Just leave it on the podium. You can go ahead and get to bed early if you like, I'll be finishing up here soon."
"Huh...? Bed? But it's not even midnight yet! You never go to bed this early. What gives?"
"I just want some quiet while I finish writing some notes up on this astronomy manual, and I thought you could use a break, that's all."
"Oh c'mon, I'm not that noisy! And you don't need to baby me all the time either! You know I'm ready to pull an all-nighter at the drop of a hat, just say the word!"
"It's alright, Spike, really! Just leave the rest of the reshelving for tomorrow and get in bed. Besides, Rarity told me this afternoon that she needed help cleaning her boutique again. She said something or other about Sweetie Belle and Applebloom trying to bake mud in the oven to get a cutie mark for pottery... anyway, I volunteered you for the job. You can finish the rest of the work here after you get back tomorrow."
"Fiiiiine, sheesh... Yes! I get to help Rarity again! That's the third time this week!"
"What was that, Spike?"
Trixie waited patiently outside the door of the Ponyville Community Library listening to the muffled banter of the occupants inside, the moon shining brightly in the clear night sky. She recognized their voices, from the fateful day that turned her life upside down. One had been cajoling, pleading, and whiny back then; but the other... the other was a voice Trixie would not soon forget.
The noises inside the library quieted down, the windows becoming dark as the lights inside were snuffed out. Her heart picked up a little in her chest, the hair on her neck standing in nervous anticipation. Trixie took a deep breath and closed her eyes, focusing on the cool night breeze moving through her mane and across her coat.
It's mine, not hers. I won't let her keep it. No matter what she says.
Many minutes passed until finally she heard the click of the door unlatching behind her, followed by creaking as the heavy door swung open. The moonlight shining through the door revealed the face of the library's occupant, Twilight Sparkle.
"It's safe now, you can come in."
Trixie stepped over the threshold and followed the other unicorn into the library, taking careful note of her surroundings. A few candles provided flickering light, casting long shadows from the two ponies across the many bookshelves that lined the walls. An owl sat perched on the windowsill by the door, its eyes staring unblinkingly at Trixie as she walked past. Twilight shooed it out the door before she could question its presence, the purple unicorn calling a soft apology after it as she closed the door.
"Sorry about that, I forgot about Owloysius. Anyway, I'm glad you decided to come." Twilight said, turning back to her guest.
Trixie sat down on her haunches, averting her eyes from the other unicorn. "Skip the formalities. I'm here for one thing and one thing only, and I'll not listen to some incessant babble about 'the destruction I caused' or 'what a horrible pony I am to lie to so many' or whatever else you have planned. You have something of mine that doesn't belong to you, and I want it back."
Twilight frowned, her brows furrowing. "It's not like that. As hard as it may be to believe, I didn't ask you here so I could lecture you about what happened with the Ursa. Yes I have your hat and I will give it back, but I want to talk first."
"Fine. What do you want to talk about? I'll tell you whatever you want to hear." Trixie sneered. "You want me to praise you? Tell you how I'm so grateful that The Great and Powerful Twilight Sparkle is willing to return my hat and not turn me over to the citizens of Ponyville?"
"No, Trixie. I would never do something demeaning like that to anypony." Twilight replied, shaking her head. "I'm not out to get you, I'm concerned for you. I want to talk because I want to help!"
Spike's voice suddenly cut into the conversation, the baby dragon peeking out from behind the bedroom door. "T...Twilight? Is everything alright? Isn't that- why is she here?"
"Stay in the bedroom, Spike. This doesn't concern you." Twilight responded coldly. She summoned her magic and pulled the door tightly shut, cutting off Spike's muffled protest. Her gaze remained focused on Trixie the entire time.
"You? Want to help me?" Trixie had not even so much as acknowledged the interruption, and began pacing angrily in front of Twilight as she spoke. "You're the reason I get spit on if I walk down the street without covering my face; why I can't find anywhere to sleep at night that isn't a back-alley trash heap or a ditch on the side of the road; why every time I scrape up enough money to buy myself something to eat, I have to pray to Celestia that the pony I buy it from doesn't recognize me so I can sleep in that ditch without an empty stomach!"
Twilight flinched, Trixie's accusation stinging her conscience. "I didn't have a choice. I had to do something to stop the Ursa or somepony could have gotten hurt. Not because I wanted to hurt you!" The purple unicorn replied, struggling to keep her voice calm and controlled.
"So you expect me to just forget it? To let you drown me in your 'mercy' because you think I'm helpless and need somepony to save me? I'm not going to lay down at your or anypony else's hooves with my face in the dirt and beg for forgiveness!" Trixie continued, her anger rising with every word. "You can't just give me a hug and say you're sorry like that fixes everything! I don't want your damn pity! My life was ruined because of you!"
"No, that's not what I'm saying at all! Will you stop fighting me for just one second and listen? I know its my fault and that's why I want to help you! I want to make things right!" Twilight shouted in frustration, stamping her hoof on the ground and inwardly cursing at herself. She realized she was quickly losing her composure as the calm, thoughtful discussion she had planned began to turn into something much more unpleasant. "I know this isn't the first time life has been cruel to you, but it doesn't have to be that way anymore if you let me fix it!"
"Shut up! You know nothing about my life, about the suffering I've been through! NOTHING!" Trixie spat, beginning to pace about the library again. "I'm not going to listen to another word! Give me my hat back now, or I'll tear this place apart to find it!"
Twilight let the other unicorn circle around her menacingly, mentally steeling herself for what she knew was about to come. "I know your father's name is Comet Cloud. I know he worked at the Canterlot Royal Observatory before he moved with you to Manehattan, and that he d-"
Trixie spun about, glaring at the other mare in resentment and disbelief. "NO! Don't you dare talk about my dad! You don't know anything about the kind of pony he was, you weren't his daughter! You have no right to even speak his name!"
"That photo in your hat? I found it." Twilight said, standing her ground. "I tracked down the photographer who took it, and he told me who your father was. I already knew his name, Trixie. Comet Cloud wrote 'Change in Solar Bodies Since the Time of Legend.' I'd know that book better than anyone."
Trixie stopped in her tracks, her head sinking down until Twilight could no longer see her eyes. She began to tremble as Twilight continued, each word making it that much more difficult to keep her rising anger bottled up inside her.
"Stop it..." She whispered, her voice so quiet that Twilight could not hear it over her ongoing speech.
"Nobody believed him when he first published it, but your father was one of the few ponies who noticed that the sun and stars were behaving differently after Nightmare Moon was imprisoned a thousand years ago. But last year I was the one that petitioned the Canterlot Royal Observatory to have the book re-added to their catalog. I went to Canterlot myself to talk to the astronomers there, and they all remembered you and your father. They told me what happened to your apartment, and how you were sent to the orphanage. They spoke very highly of him, Trixie. They could tell how much he cared for you."
"No... stop it...!" Trixie said, her voice building dangerously. She sunk down to her knees, holding her head in both hooves as she struggled to contain the rage bubbling up inside her like magma.
"A few years after the accident, you ran away from the orphanage and disappeared. Then one day you show up in Ponyville and... well, we know what happened next." Twilight said, stomping her hoof on the ground decisively. "I don't know why you started going around lying about yourself to other ponies, and I may not have known your father, but I don't think Comet Cloud would have wanted you to have ended up this way."
"Stop! Stop! STOP IT!" Trixie's head shot up, her horn glowing and sparking with jagged arcs of arcane energy as her magenta eyes bored into her antagonist's violet ones. Twilight's last sentence was the final straw, and she could no longer contain herself. The searing, bitter anger boiled up from her gut and spilled out through her voice, every word dripping with animus.
"You shut your mouth! Who are you to tell me what he would have wanted! You're NOTHING like the pony he was! If you say another word about my father I'll kill you, Twilight Sparkle! Now give me my hat back!"
"No Trixie, I'm not giving it back! Not until-"
"NO! GIVE IT BACK! GIVE ME MY LIFE BACK!" Trixie screamed. Her horn surged with light, and Twilight had only seconds to react to the jagged and terrible bolt of of electric energy that exploded from the tip of Trixie's horn and cut through the air towards her.
The resounding echoes from the clash of magical power finally faded into silence. Trixie lay still and unmoving in the settling dust and rubble that had once been the east outer wall of Twilight Sparkle's library, demolished by the battle between the two unicorns. Thick splinters and broken furniture lay scattered out into the street, many burned and singed. Pages from tomes almost as old as the tree itself rustled amongst the debris, or blew away in the wind.
Twilight stood panting and gasping for breath inside what remained of her home, no more than a half-dozen feet away from her fallen opponent. She stared intently at the pile of rubble that Trixie lay against, a glowing nine-tailed lash formed from her magic floating above her head in readiness. Minute lines of electricity sparked from Twilight's horn, running across her face and through her hair, crackling and smoking with dispersing energy that stung her cheeks.
The door leading to her bedroom creaked open behind Twilight, breaking the silence. A pair of green eyes peeked out from inside, their owner shivering in terror as he surveyed the destruction. One hand, purple, scaled, and trembling slid through the door and began to pull it wider before the voice of the one unicorn still left standing stopped it in its tracks.
The purple dragon yelped and leapt back from the door, landing on his back. Even in that one word, he had never heard Twilight speak with such force of presence before. He had also never seen Twilight actually fight another unicorn before, but somehow her calm, deadly determination terrified him much, much more.
"Get Fluttershy. Tell her that me and another pony are hurt badly. Hurry."
"F... Fluttershy? But what about-"
Spike threw open the door, stepping out into the wreckage of the library next to Twilight. She stood completely still, her stance one of a predator ready to strike. Burn marks and bruises adorned her body despite the thousands of fragments of magical glass that lay evaporating at her feet, a testament to her skill at shielding herself during the fight. Only one attack had made its mark; a splintered spear of wood jutted from her left hind leg, just above the knee. The bloody spar stuck out the other side, piercing completely through the flesh of her thigh. The wound glowed with a weak purple light as she magically kept pressure on the area, but blood was still slowly leaking out and trickling its way down her leg. Spike stomach turned, and he gulped to keep his dinner from leaving him right then and there. Closing his eyes to block out the sight, he leapt out into the street and ran. He dared not think of what would happen if he did not make it back in time.
Twilight shuddered and closed her eyes and let her head sink down, the glowing lash above her head fading from existence once she let go of the spell binding it together. She took a deep, pained breath and let it back out between clenched teeth, her sigh sinking into a whimper. Her leg burned like fire, the pain greater than any she had felt in her entire life. Nothing in her medical texts had prepared her for this. It had taken all her willpower to not break down screaming in front of Spike.
Glancing up, she could see Trixie still laying on her side just a few feet away amongst pieces of the sundered library. With great effort, Twilight pulled herself closer, her wounded leg dragging limply behind her. Craning her neck down along the way, she plucked the precious hat that Trixie had come so far to retrieve from the floor and carried it over to the fallen unicorn. Dozens of shallow lacerations crisscrossed the blue unicorn's flesh. Shoulder, flank, and chest all bled from where the lash had stuck. They had been attacks meant to impair and debilitate, not kill, but it hadn't quite been enough to stop her. Trixie's chest still rose and fell with breath. A huge electrical burn marked her belly, a bloody mess of melted hair and cooked flesh where Twilight's final spell had struck her down.
Twilight finally limped close enough to see Trixie's face. Between the scattered strands of ice-blue hair, Twilight could see Trixie's eyes glaring back up at her, the same burning anger still present in those eyes even now. Twilight opened her mouth, panting from her exertion as she let the star-covered hat fall from between her teeth to the ground next to Trixie's face.
"Here. It's yours. Take it. It was wrong of me to... to..." Twilight's paused, her voice trailing off as she grasped for the right words. "...to treat your past like one of my history books. I'm sorry."
The blue mare's eyes flicked up. Sure enough, tucked away inside the rim of the hat was the precious photograph of a young filly and the pony she had loved more than any other in the world. Trixie looked back up at Twilight, grimacing and shaking her head wordlessly. Still, she closed her eyes and reached out with her front hooves, pulling the hat close to her chest.
"When Fluttershy gets here... she'll... she'll treat you. But you'll have to... rrgh!" Twilight said, interrupted from a wave of vertigo that unbalanced her and threw too much weight onto her hind leg. Her muscles seized up around the splintered wooden stake causing it to twist cruelly in the wound. Twilight screamed out in pain and doubled over. Looking back over her shoulder she could see she had left a heavy trail of blood along the floor. Her wound was bleeding more profusely despite her efforts to staunch it. The amount of blood she had lost already was starting to frighten her. She could feel herself becoming more light headed and dizzy with every passing moment.
Gritting her teeth, she closed her eyes and turned back, concentrating on her words through the haze and pain. "You'll h-have to leave. Right after. Get out of Ponyville. I'm... not going to be awake for much longer, and the others, they... they won't understand."
"Why?" Trixie croaked, her voice hoarse and weak.
"W... what?" Twilight replied, confused. The magic holding her wound closed began to flicker and fade. She tried to focus, to stay awake, but the world was already becoming incoherent.
"Why am I never good enough?"
"I... I don't know. I'm... sorry..." Twilight said, her voice trailing off. The purple unicorn finally ran out of strength, her mind slipping into unconsciousness. Her eyes rolled back in her head and she crumpled to the floor with a muffled thud.
Trixie lay there in silence, once again alone. The numbness in her limbs was fading, replaced by aching soreness. Her skin still burned where her own ball lightning had stuck her, but the pain was not as great as it should have been. It had not been deflected back with full force.
Trixie struggled to her feet, favoring her wounded side as she lingered for just a few moments longer besides the limp body of her nemesis. The distant sound of pegasus wings accompanied by the wailing of the little baby dragon echoed in her ears, both growing steadily louder. Lights appeared in the windows of nearby houses as well as other ponies began to rouse from the commotion. Lifting her hat back into place on her head, Trixie gazed down upon Twilight's face.
You knew you were better than me, didn't you. That's why you didn't challenge me when I first came to Ponyville. Why you didn't try to kill me even though I would've killed you. Why you're letting me run away again, just like you did before. You always knew...
"I hate you, Twilight Sparkle." Trixie whispered as she turned away, limping out into the empty streets and away from the town of Ponyville.
"Let go of me! You have no right to even TOUCH me! I'll make you regret-"
The blue unicorn mare's furious shrieking was cut short as she struck the wet cobblestones behind the The Haystack Diner, the blow to her ribs knocking all the breath out of her. Muck and decomposing food scraps from the piled garbage bags smeared into the homeless pony's already filthy coat as she curled up on her side, pulling her legs in to protect her sore chest.
"I have every right ta toss you out, you good fer nothin' scumbag!" The mare's escort out of the diner retorted as he wiped his hoof off on his apron. His two other companions appeared behind him in the back door of the diner, tossing a saddlebag and torn star-adorned purple robe into the trash heap with the mare as their boss turned away. "Thanks for helpin' me take out the trash boys. Dumb broad, wouldn't think she'd weigh so much being that scrawny."
One of the assistants, a shorter pegasus with a pale olive coat, a fan-blade cutie mark, and a condiment-stained apron, stepped out into the yard. "Do you need to be that rough with her, boss? I mean, she just said she wanted some food. You didn't have to cuss her out in front of the customers like that. Couldn't we just given her somethin' and sent her on her way?"
The taller earth pony turned his head and sneered at his subordinate. "Chopper, you're new here so I'll cut you some slack, but you best shut your trap when you're talkin' bout things you haven't the slightest clue about. I wouldn't serve this mare if my own momma came back from the great beyond and begged me to. I said I was only gonna tell her once, and she ignored me, and I will not have her in my diner. Now you get inside and get back to work, we have paying customers with good reputations to take care of. Not scumbags like her."
The pegasus took a step back from the mare lying prone in the cold muck, her breath steaming as she clutched her chest, coughing heavily. "Wow boss... is she really that bad? I mean she just looks like every other homeless pony who hasn't eaten in a week. What did she do to... uh..."
The pegasus' sentence trailed off as his attention was drawn by movement from the unicorn mare. Her voice slowly built from a ragged groan in a strained shriek as she push herself up from the ground on shaky hooves. For a moment she stumbled, but then her horn began to glow, her magic flickering weakly as she used it to help lift herself from the ground. She turned around to face the three earth ponies who worked the diner, peering past the strands of her long-unwashed mane as she caught the gaze of the one who had just spoke.
Chopper stood there dumbfounded as the mare crossed the few feet between them, spinning in place just before him and bucking out with both rear hooves. The blow caught the unsuspecting colt right in the face. His nose broke with the ugly crunch of cartilage under the impact, his head colliding with the wall of the diner and knocking him out cold. Blood trickled from his nostrils as he slumped down to the ground, tongue hanging out from his open mouth. Trembling as she turned back around, the mare glared at the other two ponies, her eyes seething with anger and resentment. The other two diner ponies stared back incredulously.
"Trixie d-doesn't need... rrgh... T-Trixie..." The mare shouted, overexertion amplifying the pain in her bruised ribs. Her voice became more halting and strained with every word, her legs trembling as she struggled to speak. "Trixie doesn't NEED your worthless PITY! I'm... better than any of you! I'm the... the- greatest -!"
The unicorn's voice broke into whimper, and then an agonized shriek through her clenched teeth as she sunk face-first to the ground. Her horn dug into the dirt as she clutched at her body, every strained breath making her whimper from the searing pain in her chest.
The boss reacted to the blue mare's outbust and sudden seizure first, roaring out loud and charging straight into the unicorn, knocking her down with the force of his tackle. His other assistant was not long behind him, kicking her back legs out from under her and knocking her onto her side before savagely beating into her exposed stomach and chest.
"You little piece of trash! Who do you think you are? You think you can just walk into my diner like you own the place and then start a fight? If Chopper's hurt bad I swear you're dead, mare! You hear me!" The boss of the diner yelled, rearing up in front of the blue mare and smashing his feet down on her front ankles, grinding his hoof in with increasing pressure.
The mare screamed as the two ponies struck her over and over, the pain intensifying with each blow. She felt her front left ankle bend the wrong way before dislocating under the hooves of the earth pony in front of her. A kick to the face came next, bludgeoning her cheek just below the eye, followed by a crack as one of her already bruised ribs was fractured. All thought fled her mind, the vision of her own dirt-smeared blue snout in front of her fading away as she lost consciousness.
"Trixie, what's wrong?"
The voice is unmistakable.
"D...dad?" Trixie says in a ragged voice, her heart contracting painfully with hope as she turns her head to look up. She's on the ground, laying on her side. The world is hazy, difficult to see. She's outside a red and white building that seems familiar somehow, under a cloudy sky that sprinkles a light rain she cannot feel. Her body aches, but it is a distant ache, as if the pain came from something she had suffered a long time ago in a place far away from the world she is in now.
In front of her stands a cerulean unicorn, his grey-brown mane brushed away from his yellow eyes in an old-fashioned haircut that he has worn every day of his life. His eyes are framed by a pair of worn, green rectangle glasses, and draped across his back is familiar purple cape adorned with shining stars of many shapes and sizes. On his flank rest a trio of blue comets, their tails stretched long across a night sky. Trixie begins to cry out loud as she looks up at him from the ground, her lip quivering. She struggles to lift herself from the ground on weak legs, to pull herself closer to the pony in front of her, but there is no strength left in her. Just the distant ache that doesn't fade.
The familiar pony bends down in front of Trixie and twines his head under her neck, lifting her up from the cold hard ground into a hug. His body feels warm against Trixie's cold one. His touch is strong and gentle like she remembers. His coat is smooth and soft like she remembers. He even smells faintly of old cologne just like she remembers.
It's him. Comet Cloud. Her father.
Every pain and anguish she has every felt from being without him wells up in her tired heart, the chains of hubris and disdain she had tried to wrap around it to keep the pain locked away disintegrating in an instant. Trixie leans deep into her father's shoulder, closing her eyes tightly as she cries into his blue-green coat.
Comet Cloud shushes her softly and affectionately, curling one hoof over her back to pull himself closer to his daughter.
"Shh... it's alright. I'm here."
"Why did you have to leave me, dad? Everything's gone wrong since you... since..."
"I know. I'm sorry."
Trixie sobs, clinging tightly to him as best she can with her weak body. Comet Cloud looks up at the sky and continues to stroke his daughter's neck. The rain continues to fall from the grey clouds above, but it does not reach him. Only Trixie is soaked by the rain.
He holds her there for a long time.
Trixie's tears slow, and so Comet Cloud eases himself back. He reaches back with his mouth and tugs the cape off his back, draping it around his daughter's shoulders. He smiles and reaches up to brush away the wet spots under her eyes with his wrist. She sniffles and smiles back, but his smile isn't the same. It's melancholy and sad.
"I'm sorry... but I can't stay here with you, Trixie. You have to be strong, and keep going."
Trixie shakes her head from side to side. "I-I can't anymore dad. I tried, I really did. It's too hard, and I s-sc-screwed everything up. I can't make it right again."
"You have to."
"Why?" She yells angrily, her tear-stained face twisting into a pained and bitter grimace.
"Because one day you're going to be the greatest unicorn in all of Equestria, remember?"
"I can't... I'm not like you dad! I'm nothing without you! I can't do it on my own, I don't know how. Without you it... it hurts too much." Trixie responds, staring pleadingly into her father's yellow eyes.
Trixie's father smiles sadly again, tilting his head in next to her ear to whisper in it as he hugs his daughter close one last time.
"It doesn't matter if everypony else is better at letters or numbers, or has more friends, or even that they are better at magic. What matters is that what you do is important to someone special, no matter how big or small. You were the only thing that was truly special to me, and that is why you will always be the best unicorn in the world. Because you were my daughter, and I always loved you."
Comet Cloud steps back, leaving Trixie sitting on the ground alone. She looks up at him, confused and worried by those familiar words that strike deep in her heart. The ache in her body feels stronger and not so far away anymore. Her eyes grow wide as she realizes what is about to happen.
"No... dad, please don't go..." Trixie pleads, feebly reaching out to her father with one hoof that doesn't seem to bend quite right. She can hear a peal of thunder somewhere far away. Her skin begins to tingle from the drops of rain falling from the sky, rain that she is no longer numb to.
"Wake up, Trixie."
"I can't do it! I need you!" She shouts desperately. She frantically tries to pull herself closer to him, but her body won't listen to her. The dim sunlight shining through the clouds is growing stronger with every second, casting the world in a glow that is washing everything away, not so different from the one that consumed her life so long ago.
"Wake up, Trixie."
"Don't leave me alone again!"
Despite the burning white light, Trixie can still see her father's yellow eyes glisten, a single tear running down his cheek before falling to the wet ground below.
"Wake up, Trixie."
"Dad... " Trixie whispered under her breath, her mind dragged painfully back into consciousness. She tried to open her eyes but she couldn't see, couldn't feel anything but wracking pain and numbness. Her chest felt like it was flimsy fabric being torn apart every time she took more than the slightest breath. Her face was battered and swollen like a lump of meat. Her limbs didn't seem to want to move where she wanted them to and her front left leg refused to move at all, like she was a marionette whose strings weren't quite attached properly. The rest of her body she couldn't feel at all.
She lifted her head and tried to focus on her mangled left foreleg, tried to lift it an inch, even a centimeter. It felt like trying to lift a boulder. wiggling it back and forth, to break the feeling like it was stuck the wrong way. Nothing.
Trixie let her head fall back. She could barely make out some light now coming in past her swollen eyelids. She stared at it for some time, unable to do anything but let the gentle raindrops fall against her bruised face.
The light was suddenly blocked out by a shadow looming over her, the silhouette of a pony looking down at her slowly coming into focus. His lips were moving, but Trixie's mind was having trouble following what he was saying, something about staying still until help arrived. He seemed worried. Trixie blinked as she looked back up in hope, trying to focus on the pony's face, but it wasn't him.
Trixie closed her eyes once more, blotting out the cruel reality she had returned to. A small sob wracked her chest, despite the pain it caused her. She would've cried if she could, but her eyes didn't have any tears left. She knew deep down that he was gone forever.
Dad... come back... I didn't get to say I love you too...
Trixie wakes up in her own bed.
It is dark. Trixie looks down, holding one hoof in front her face, but there is no light underneath the covers because it is still night. She pulls herself out of bed, hooves brushing across the rough carpet on the floor, carpet so rough it feels like dead grass. A wisp of cool breeze drifts past her face from the window, but it feels stagnant, stale, dusty. The room is stifling.
Trixie tilts her head and looks up. The ceiling is black like the night sky. Daddy painted it that way, and he put little plastic stars that glow in the dark so she wouldn't be scared of the night. He even painted a moon. But tonight there's weird dark clouds near on the ceiling too, making it hard to see. It stings Trixie's eyes, so she looks away. She can see an orange light flickering under the door, casting an eerie glow against the mural on her wall. It's the forest next to the house where daddy first met mom, he said. He'd painted it when they first moved in. The light is growing brighter as time passes, but it's hard to tell. It is the only light Trixie can see.
Something is wrong. It hurts to be here. Trixie's chest feels tighter every second, like she can't breathe, like there isn't any air for her to breathe at all. Trixie doesn't want to be here anymore. She's terrified, but there's nowhere to run. She tries to lift her foreleg and take a step towards the door, but she can't move. She's too afraid. She feels something brush her side, holding her back. The touch is paralyzing. It makes her scared, scared that something is terrible is going to happen.
Trixie turns to see what it is. A pair of yellow eyes looks down at her. They are her dad's eyes, but they seem afraid. When they blink, Trixie's heart lurches in her chest because they look sad, like they do when daddy tells her he has to go away on a trip for a long time. Trixie begins to cry. That's not fair. Daddy can't leave when she's scared.
It's getting so hard to breathe. Daddy's telling her to do something but Trixie doesn't understand. She just woke up and it's hard to do what daddy says when she's so scared. Someone outside the window is telling daddy that he has to hurry, that there's not much time left. Trixie can see the orange light is getting ever brighter.
Daddy yells and tugs at her insistently before reaching down and picking her up. His eyes are filled with so much fear, so much pleading. He carries her to the window and lifts her out into the arms of a pegasus who is waiting there. She sees the orange light surge up behind her father as her bedroom door falls down, as part of her wall crumbles away and falls through the floor. The light is filling the hallway, those dark clouds that stopped her from seeing the stars billowing out into the room. The pegasus starts to fly up and away from the building with Trixie in his arms.
Why is daddy staying behind? Why isn't he coming with her? Daddy's supposed to stay with her! Trixie opens her mouth. It's the voice of a child only a few years old that speaks.
"Please don't leave me alone!"
Her father smiles. It's a sad smile.
Trixie can't breathe at all anymore. She begins to panic as she watches the floor of their upper-story Manehattan apartment crumble away beneath her father as the fire consumes it. Trixie sees him lose his footing, slipping backwards and plummeting headfirst into a roaring orange abyss. The arms of the grey pegasus hold the filly tightly like chains as she struggles to escape from his grasp, to try and reach her father, but they are her only tether saving her from falling into the vanishing world below. She can only watch as the orange glow consumes him, the sparkling stars of his yellow eyes winking out as they are devoured by the hideous light.
She has been torn away from her father. It feels like her heart has been torn out instead.
Trixie screams, it hurts so much.
"Trixie, wake up! It's just a bad dream!" Sweetie Belle yelled, fighting to keep her hooves on top of Trixie's chest despite her friend's desperate flailing.
Trixie's eyes shot open wide as she struggled against the filly's tiny hooves holding her down, the words reaching her from deep within her nightmare. Her pupils were contracted down to tiny points that stared unseeing through the pony on top of her.
"No, no, no no! Don't die, please don't die! I can't, I can't! Not again!'
"I'm not going to die, so please wake up! You're scaring me!" Sweetie yelled, desperately shaking the pony underneath her.
Trixie's struggling suddenly slowed and stopped. She turned her head, eyes focusing on Sweetie Belle past limp strands of her disheveled mane, her face a mixture of terrified uncertainty and despair. Slowly she lifted one trembling hoof up to Sweetie's small face, placing it on her pale white cheek. Sweetie held still, nodding her head at Trixie's touch and smiling reassuringly.
"It's me, Sweetie Belle."
"Please, no more... Can't take it. It hurts too much." Trixie whimpered, her face contorting in sorrow and tears leaking from the corners of her tired and pleading eyes. "Should have died too... I wish I had..."
Sweetie Belle's smile faded into a hurt frown. She lifted her hooves and brought them back down on Trixie's chest, hitting her friend weakly in protest. "No Trixie! Don't say that! I don't want you to die! I need you!"
"Can't save him. Can't ever save him." The blue mare slowly shook her head from side to side, letting her hoof slide off the filly's face. She sunk back down to the floor, her tortured eyes drifting away from Sweetie's and staring off into the distance.
"Who?" Sweetie Belle asked, hesitantly.
"Dad." the other unicorn whispered, her voice cracking. "I'm sorry... I'm just... not good enough." Trixie pulled her legs inward and buried her face behind her hooves, gradually curling into a feeble shell just like when Sweetie Belle first found her. She began to sob, each cry wretched and weak as she shivered in the cold night air.
"Y-your..." Sweetie Belle stammered. stepping back and falling on her rump. The filly frowned, rubbing her chin with one hoof thoughtfully as she pondered what to do.
She had a nightmare about her dad and now she's crying. She's never talked about her dad... is he okay? Rarity wouldn't ever talk about mom and dad either but... she's always been like other pony's moms are, to me I hate having dreams about Rarity getting hurt. They always made me cry too...
Sweetie trotted over to the crystal nightlight where it had been knocked away by Trixie's panicked struggling and carried it back over to the bed of pillows, dropping it on the floor again. With a grunt she jumped up onto the pile and began to dig with her small hooves, kicking pillows off as she gradually made an indent in the mass. Satisfied, she hopped back down to the floor and picked the small nightlight back up once again, walking back to where Trixie still lay curled on the floor. The small filly's chest swelled as she took a deep breath and let it back out again.
I hope this helps...
Sweetie extended her hoof once more and brushed it softly at the blue mare's exposed side. Across Trixie's chest and belly she could feel a scarred swath of skin that she hadn't been able to see before under the mare's thin blue coat. Trixie flinched inward at the touch, making Sweetie cringe in sympathy.
For a few moments the other unicorn lay still, but then slowly her forelegs parted, the glow of the nightlight revealing her face. She stared up at Sweetie Belle, her eyes no longer focused in panic but lonely and afraid all the same.
"Come sleep with me." Sweetie whispered, offering her hoof for Trixie to take.
Trixie look away, glancing about the floor uncertainly.
"Please... I don't like being alone."
Trixie chewed at her trembling lip for a few moments before looking back up at the small filly in front of her, nodding her head slowly. She reached out and took Sweetie Belle's hoof in one foreleg, rolling onto her stomach and shakily lifting herself from the ground on her three other hooves.
Sweetie Belle guided Trixie across the room, kicking the dimming nightlight across the floor ahead of her as she made her way to the bed of pillows. Once there, she tugged Trixie over to the front of the pile and gently pushed her down into it.
"Is everything okay? Are you comfortable?" Sweetie asked.
"Cold..." Trixie replied, shivering in the night air as she pulled her legs up off the floor and tucked them into the pile with her.
Sweetie Belle looked around for a moment, running back and retrieving the blanket that Trixie had wrapped herself in and dragging it over to her friend. She draped it over Trixie's shivering form and then started picking pillows up off the floor, placing them over the blanket until Trixie was lightly buried in the pile with only her head sticking out.
Trixie nodded, watching as Sweetie Belle jumped up onto the pile next to her and dug her face into it, her back legs kicking out awkwardly as she wiggled her way into the cushions.
Sweetie Belle snuggled underneath the blanket and pressed her warm body against Trixie's colder one. She felt the older mare startle and try to pull away. Quickly she reached out with her legs and clung to Trixie tightly, burying her face in the soft coat of Trixie's chest.
"Don't go. Stay with me."
A few seconds passed in silence, until Sweetie Belle felt Trixie's legs circle around her and rest against her back, holding the filly close to her. Sweetie lay still in the shared embrace, the minutes slowly passing.
"Trixie?" Sweetie Belle asked, hesitantly.
The unicorn looked down, her hooves brushing across Sweetie's back.
"Can... I sing that song to you?"
Trixie remained silent for a few moments before nodding her head in assent.
Sweetie Belle cleared her throat nervously just as Trixie had, and began to hum the notes of Trixie's lullaby. She wanted to sing her friend to sleep, but old habits kept the words inside. The song was muffled underneath the blanket, but Trixie could feel Sweetie's soft voice resonating in her chest.
The rise and fall of Trixie's chest began to gradually slow as Sweetie neared the end of the song, her long legs resting limply against the filly's back. Sweetie looked up through the cushions and saw that Trixie's tired eyes had closed, the mare fast asleep once more. Sweetie Belle scooted up through the pillows, careful not to wake the sleeping mare. She placed her lips against Trixie's forehead beside her horn and gave her a gentle kiss. Slipping back down under the blanket, she rested her head back against Trixie's chest, her own eyes drooping as she quietly sung the last words of the lullaby.
"And when I'm singing to them, tonight
I shut my eyes."
-To Be Continued-
You can find me and my other work at -
FiM Fiction,, FurAffinity, DeviantArt, GoogleDocs, and Tumblr.
I would like to thank BrokenHero, aka Mahogany, for all the help with this chapter. Without his assistance with editing and many suggestions this chapter would not be nearly so polished, nor would it have been completed nearly so quickly. Thank you.