Author's Note: Here's a one-shot that I got the urge to write. I hope you enjoy it.
What Could Have Been
Twilight Sparkle was ready to die. She had been ready for a while now. It still impressed her how she had managed to live as long as she had. As she lay on her deathbed, her current age was that of 115. Spike had always told her how it was probably due to the amount of magical power within her. Twilight would simply smile, chuckle, and say something along the lines of, "Or maybe I'm just lucky."
The light of the evening sun was peering in through the curtains of the nearby window. The sheets of the bed Twilight was laying in had begun to grow itchy and uncomfortable. A large green and purple blur was standing next to the bed. Twilight's vision had faded rapidly since the beginning of the descent in her health. Now, without her glasses, everything looked like a blob of shady colors through her eyes. Twilight's vision cleared as the blob placed a pair of glasses upon her face. Twilight smiled weakly.
"Spike," she said. Spike the dragon smiled down at his old friend. Spike was hunched over as usual. He was certainly on his way to becoming a full-grown dragon. "I'm sorry that I couldn't get a bigger room."
"Don't mention it, Twilight. I'm a growing dragon. Everything you ponies make is small to me now," Spike replied.
"And it'll only get smaller." Spike smiled and nodded. "I bet you can't wait to return to your cave and stretch."
"Actually...I'm hoping the time for me to return to my cave doesn't come quickly; because, when I leave...that'll only be after you...you-" Spike began to sob. Large, dragon tears rolled down his cheeks and fell to the floor with several, consecutive splashes. Twilight used what little strength she had to reach over towards her old friend. Spike noticed the motion and softly clutched Twilight's hoof in one of his claws.
"Don't feel sad for me, Spike. I've had a great life; and you still have a long life ahead."
"But...you've been there for me ever since I was a baby. I can't imagine a world without you being there."
"I felt the same way when my brother and our friends passed away."
"I still can't believe they're all gone. Pinkie Pie, Applejack, Rarity, Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy...all gone." Twilight reached her other hoof over and touched Spike's claw.
"I miss them too...but the time is close for when I'll see them again."
"What shall I do after you're gone?"
"Live. That's what you'll do. Live your life. Go out there and find a mate. Have a family. The Princesses will always be here for you if you need help." Spike nodded sadly. "And, Spike, can I ask one favor of you?" Spike leaned in closer.
"Protect my family, Spike. If they need your help, help them. Keep them safe." Spike nodded with a serious look on his face.
"I will do my best to protect every descendant of yours until the day I die." Spike turned to look at a picture on Twilight's bedside table. Twilight looked at it as well. It was a happy picture from many years earlier. In the picture, there stood a younger Twilight and her husband Klaus with their three children: Silas and twins Goodnight and Ruby.
"Thank you. I love you, Spike." Spike turned back to look at Twilight. Tears were welling up in his eyes again.
"I love you too, Twilight." The dragon then leaned in further and gave Twilight a gentle kiss on the forehead.
Spike left a few minutes later to take care of something for the Princesses, once again leaving Twilight alone with her thoughts. She enjoyed moments like these. Not that she didn't enjoy moments with others but she still held an enjoyment of being in a peaceful, quiet state that allowed uninterrupted thought. She closed her eyes and felt the cool air of the room press against her face. Her aged body proceeded to grow weaker by the minute. Her time was close know. The urge to let go was strongest here than it had ever been before. Twilight slowly opened her eyes again to look at the golden evening light shining in through the curtains. A single tear formed in her eye and rolled down her cheek.
"I don't want to die alone," Twilight said suddenly. Just then, a strange orb a light appeared in the center of the room. For a few seconds, the orb simply floated calmly in the air. Then it began to spin and enlarge. Strong gusts of wind emanated from the spinning orb. The gusts grew so powerful that they blew the sheets off Twilight's bed and even blew the glasses from Twilight's face. Everything reverted to looking like blobs and blurred shapes. Then there was a bright flash of light and the wind stopped. Twilight could sense the presence of another being in the room now. This being seemed to emanate strength and power. Twilight could feel some of her own strength returning by being in this being's presence. Twilight tried to get a good look at the being but, alas, all she could see was more blurry blobs. The being approached the side of the bed and looked down at her. Twilight looked up at her visitor, squinting her eyes in a vain effort to make out the face looking down at her. Finally, her visitor spoke.
"Twilight Sparkle?" asked the visitor. The visitor's voice was female and it had a distinct tone of knowledge and royal honor. Twilight felt that she had heard the voice before but, for some reason, couldn't place where she had heard it.
"Yes. That is me," Twilight replied with a cough. Twilight heard something sit gently on the floor next to the bed. The visitor sat down in what Twilight assumed to be a chair. "Who are you? What is your business here?" Twilight was met with a warm laugh.
"I have come to see Princess Celestia's top pupil, of course."
"I hope that you have not come here with ill intentions."
"Don't worry. You have nothing to fear from me. I just want to...learn about you."
"Learn about me? Why come all the way to me when you could just as easily learn about me from a book? Not trying to brag or anything, but I have been featured in a few." The visitor gave another chuckle.
"Yes, I wouldn't doubt that for a second." Twilight watched something levitate over her and land in one of the visitor's hooves.
"Ah, you're a unicorn. My assumption was right. Sorry, dear. I can't see anything without my glasses."
"Is this your family?" the visitor asked suddenly.
"I can't really tell what you're looking at, as I don't have my glasses on at the moment," Twilight replied with a weak smile.
"Forgive me for looking, but I was just curious in this picture. It shows you with a stallion, a colt, and twin fillies."
"Ah, yes, that's my family. The stallion was my husband. Klaus, his name was. Wonderful stallion. Kind, caring, strong, and a love for books."
"It looks like you two were perfect for each other."
"Yes. We were."
"Where is he now?" Twilight let out a sigh and looked up at the ceiling.
"Gone. He passed about sixteen years back."
"It's all right, my dear. I'll be seeing him shortly."
"Yes. I'm dying. I figure that I won't last beyond the sunset."
"Don't worry about it. I've lived a full life. I've had wonderful friends and family alongside me for the journey."
"That's good. What of your children?"
"Silas is the oldest. He's the Captain of the Royal Guard now. A bit old but he's still going. He has a wife, Snowy Day, and child of his own: Ebony Frost. Goodnight is the elder twin. She's running the library in Ponyville now. Expanded it quite a bit since the days when I used to live there. She's unmarried but has adopted a griffin named Francis. Ruby's the younger twin. She's currently a healer who travels the world in order in help ailing creatures. She has a husband, Rolf, and two children: Iris and Duncan."
"You must be very proud of your children."
"I am immensely proud of them."
"I never got around to having children."
"You sound like a young mare with a long life ahead of you. I'd say that you still have time." The visitor gave a sad chuckle before levitating the framed photo back to Twilight's bedside table.
"No. I don't have time. I'm much older than what I sound like...and...I can never have children or find a mate."
"It's because I don't want to go through the pain of watching them grow old around me."
"Everypony grows old and passes on."
"Not everypony." The visitor let out a heavy sigh. "I think you're ready to know."
"To know? Know what?"
"The real reason for me coming to visit you."
"And that would be?"
"To see what could have been."
"I don't understand." A bright, purple light began filling the room.
"You will." The visitor then tapped something against Twilight's face. It felt as if a river of cold water were washing over her. This sensation lasted for only a few seconds. As the bright light faded away, Twilight noticed that everything around her began to grow clearer.
"What did you do?"
"I healed your eyesight by decreasing the age on your eyes a bit."
"But that's incredibly difficult magic!"
"I know. I'm the only one in my Equestria who can perform such feats of magic."
"Wait a moment. Your Equestria? What do you mean by that?"
"Look at me and you'll understand." Twilight turned towards her visitor. Her eyes widened in shock. Standing next to her bed was what appeared to be a younger version of herself with a pair of wings sticking out of her back, an assortment of royal clothes covering her body, and a golden crown resembling that of her own Element of Harmony perched upon her head.
"You...you're me!" Twilight gasped. Alicorn Twilight smiled and nodded.
"Yes and no. I'm you from another timeline," replied Alicorn Twilight. "In my timeline, the Princesses gave me the highest honor they could offer: making me a Princess of Equestria." Princess Twilight fluttered her wings a bit and chuckled. "The wings came with the job." Twilight was still in shock from seeing the alternate version of herself standing before her.
"Why have you come here?"
"I already told you. I came here to see what could have been." Princess Twilight took one of Twilight's hooves and held it tightly. "I wanted to see how my life would have played out if I had never become a princess. I can't even begin to tell you how many years I've spent perfecting this spell." She looked at the picture of Twilight and her family and sighed. "I can see that there are several more differences here than I expected."
"You never tried to have a family?"
"I almost did. In my reality, I did know Klaus and did date him for a time. He even proposed to me. I desperately wanted to say yes...but I couldn't. I was an Equestrian Princess now. An immortal Equestria Princess. Equestria was going through some tough times when Klaus proposed to me. As their sole ruler, I had to put the needs of the citizens of the Equestria before my own needs, so I declined his proposal."
"What do you mean by being Equestria's sole ruler? What about Princess Celestia and Princess Luna?" Princess Twilight shook her head in response.
"I quickly grew well-learned in Equestrian politics and how to guide the country through the dark times and into its golden times. Celestia and Luna one day told me that they realized that Equestria needed me more than it needed them. Thus, they granted the powers over the Sun and the Moon to me. Then, they allowed themselves to expire." Twilight gasped.
"Yes. Thankfully, I am not alone. Shining Armor and Cadance are there with me as well as Spike."
"Shining Armor and Cadance?"
"Yes. Being a Prince and Princess of Equestria respectively they were granted immortality as well. I think they deserved it. They do a great job of ruling the Crystal Empire." Twilight could feel her alternate self examining her sad expression. "Let me guess, they're not alive in this reality, are they?"
"No. They declined the offer of immortality and died several years back. Their grandson, Shining Armor III, is currently ruling the Crystal Empire." Princess Twilight clutched Twilight's hoof a bit tighter.
"Once again, I'm sorry."
"Thank you...and...what of your friends?" Princess Twilight sighed.
"They all passed away peacefully with their dreams met." Twilight smiled up at her alternate self.
"Same here." Twilight let out a weak groan. Her strength was quickly fading away. "I don't have much time left."
"What does it feel like: knowing that you're going to die?" Princess Twilight asked. Twilight looked up at the ceiling as she decided her answer.
"Saddening...but relaxing," Twilight replied.
"Yes. I've lived a full life and have made several accomplishments. I am ready to move on and be reunited with those I lost." Twilight slowly turned towards Princess Twilight. "Are...are you as old as I am?" Princess Twilight nodded.
"Yes. I am 115 also. I will exist far beyond this age, though."
"Do you want to? If you don't want to go on, why stay immortal?"
"Part of me wants to pass on...but I still have friends and family that I care for. Also...Equestria still needs me. Until the day comes where Equestria can function without a ruler such as myself...I shall remain." Twilight looked through the curtains of her window as the sun began to sink below the horizon.
"My last request was that I didn't die alone...and it looks like that I got my wish," Twilight said with a sad smile.
"I will remain with you, sister, until you draw your last breath," Princess Twilight stated.
"Thank you. Princess Twilight, can I ask you something?"
"Are you happy?" Princess Twilight was silent for a moment.
"Before I came here, I was wondering whether this reality would be better or worse than mine. Even now as I look upon you, my alternate self, upon your deathbed...I still cannot find the proper answer. However, I know that one thing is certain: I am happy with my life as you are happy with yours. I'm happy with the friends I've had, the friends I have, and the friends I'm going to make. I'm happy with being able to keep Equestria in a state of peace and harmony and I'm happy...that I was able to meet you, Twilight Sparkle." Twilight gave a weak smile in return.
"I am happy that I was able to meet you as well, Princess Twilight." Twilight looked up at the ceiling and closed her eyes. "And now...I think I truly am ready." The sun finally sank below the horizon. "Tell Spike and the Princesses goodbye for me." Twilight proceeded to give one last breath. Everything faded away one last time. Then...she finally let go.
Princess Twilight felt a tear roll down her face as her alternate self passed on. She placed Unicorn Twilight's hoof back on the bed and calmly stroked her gray and white mane.
"Rest happily," Twilight said before giving Unicorn Twilight a sisterly kiss on the forehead. Just then, there was a knock at the door. Twilight turned around to see Spike the dragon enter. At first, he was shocked upon seeing the two Twilights. He then looked at the aged Twilight in bed.
"What's going...Twilight?" Spike asked.
"I am sorry, Spike. She's gone," said Twilight.
"I am not your Twilight. I am a Twilight from an alternate timeline. I came to visit my alternate self and...she just left." Spike slowly put the pieces together as he walked forward and carefully hugged Unicorn Twilight.
"Oh Twilight!" Tears streamed down his face. "I should have been here with you!"
"Do not feel bad for her, Spike. She is happy now. She loved you in life and she still loves you in death." Spike wiped the tears from his eyes as he placed Unicorn Twilight back in the bed. "She wanted me to tell you and the Princesses goodbye for her." Spike turned to look at Twilight.
"Thank you for being there for her." Spike looked down towards the floor. "The world seems so uncertain now."
"Don't dwell on her passing forever, Spike. What you should do is live. Live your life, find a mate, have a family, and be happy." Spike chuckled sadly as he looked up.
"That's almost exactly what she told me during our last conversation." Twilight smiled. "And I'm not going to let her or you down. I'm going to live my life! I'll live every day in her name! Then, one day, I'll reunite with her and have a bunch of stories to tell her!"
"I think she'll like that." Just then, a bright light began encircling Twilight's body.
"What's happening?!" asked Spike.
"The spell's reversing! I'm going back to my timeline!" Twilight exclaimed. The world around her began to slowly fade away. "Take care, Spike."
"You do the same." There was a flash of light and a powerful tug and everything disappeared.
Princess Twilight opened her eyes and gasped as her journey between the dimensions came to an end. She was back in her throne room. No time seemed to have passed since her departure.
"Home," she sighed as she took a few steps forward. She approached one of the colored windows, this one depicting her and her friends using the Elements of Harmony to defeat Nightmare Moon. For a moment, she closed her eyes and thought back to the many memories she had of her friends: the adventures they went on, the fun they had, the friendship that never died.
"Hey, Twilight," said a sudden voice. Twilight turned around to see her own Spike walking towards her. "Shining Armor says that the King of Saddle Arabia wants to have a meeting with you to discuss the raids in his country and-" Twilight flew forward and gave Spike a big hug. Spike was surprised by the unexpected sign of affection. "Whoa! What's this about? You're hugging me like you haven't seen me in years." Twilight giggled as she looked up at her old friend.
"I just wanted to remind you that I love you, Spike," Twilight replied. Spike smiled and proceeded to hug her back.
"I love you too, Twilight," he said warmly.