A gentle breeze passed through the domiciles and wares that existed within Canterlot. Stallions, colts, mares, and fillies went about their daily routine, enjoying the freedom they were blessed with. It was understandable that the majority did not wish to remember the incident that took place a year ago, for was it an unpleasant memory to remember. It still infuriated the mare as she made her way toward the royal castle. The guards that saw her demanded that she state her business before realizing she was an element and friend to the princesses; without hesitation, the two pegasus' escorted the mare to her requested spot. It felt like hours before the small group stopped in front of a large gate with the mark of the sun and moon encrusted in the center like a key. The entrance retained its light silver color as though it was new and there was no sign of rust. Any other time, the fashionista would be entranced at seeing a magnificent artwork, but today was no acceptance.

The generous mare thanked the guards for their assistance and parted past the doorways. Upon her entering, the mare could not help but stare in awe at how lush the fields had become this time of year: the grass remained healthy, blooming flowers danced madly as there petals glided with the wind, and the trees were full of life.

Despite it being a graveyard, the atmosphere was peaceful and calm.

"Ouch!"

The snow-colored mare shrieked in pain as she stumbled over her heels and fell to the ground. Rubbing her bruised crown, the mare regained her composure and retrieved her charcoal akubra and brown bag.

"Get ahold of yourself, Rarity," she warned sternly. "It's unlady-like to keep a stallion waiting...or in this case, dra—"

The element of generosity could not bring herself to finish her own sentence. Ignoring the sore spot that ached in her forelegs, Rarity trekked farther into the graveyard, taking a moment to pay homage to those who sacrificed their lives for the ponies of Equestria. Half an hour later, Rarity came to a stop in front of a specified tomb. This mark was ivory–colored with midnight blue stripes running down the side of the walls and violet purple painted on the roof. The snow white mare looked on and read the small engraving that was written on the grave mark:

All those who hath passed from thee world

May thy souls find comfort and rest in the afterlife.

Their happiness and laughter that were blanketed with pain

May it be quenched and washed in the rivers of Elysium.

Princess Celestia and Princess Luna of Equestria.

Said tomb was a burial mark that was meant to pay homage to the family members that were part of the royal sister's clan; few that had died and the majority that were killed years ago. According to Princess Celestia, the names of all her relatives were written on the wall's interior, while only two coffins lied in the center of the small architect. One of the coffins contained the body of a creature that she considered as a second son - a very close friend that she, Rarity and everypony loved and missed dreadfully; the creature was also the same dragon that she realized too late that she loved…

…her Spikey–Wikey.

The smell of chemicals made the mare and her companions gag as they continued down the stairs that led to the basement of the castle. The air grew cold with every taken step and a painful sensation pulsed through Rarity as she followed in front of the guard that was ordered to bring them toward the castle. His body was scarred from the previous battle that took place outside the Crystal Kingdom and his eyes were weary from the conflict. The purplemane unicorn felt sympathetic toward the soldier for having suffered such misery. She and her friends have seen much blood be shed from afar and already experienced the tortures of war months ago, but she still felt sadden to see some other pony fight a battle that she, too, should be part of. However, she and the other elements were forbidden to partake in the battle until their training with the Judges were complete; there were times in which Rainbowdash and Applejack would demand participation but it would repeatedly get shot down by either the princesses or one of the Judges.

The pain that touched her heart returned with an even stronger force than before. An hour ago, a stinging sensation entered the unicorn's chest while she and the others were assisting the wounded and escorting the citizens. During that time, all were wondering the same question: How was Sombra, a monster they thought was dead, still alive? When news got out that the former dictator was defeated, cheerful cries filled the kingdom, for the fiend was vanquished once more by Shining Armor and his stallions, and the enemies retreated hastily. Even the elements couldn't help but cheer at the news of Twilight's brother defeating Sombra. It was then, however, that things took a turn for the worse.

Rarity turned back to her friend, Pinkie Pie, whose hair remained deflated and her eyes red from crying. Every mare questioned her as to what had caused her such sadness but she kept repeating the same line: 'He broke his Pinkie Promise'. Even when the guard asked them to come with them, she continued to repeat that same line. No pony understood who 'he' was but Rarity and everypony else understood it to be a bad omen. Upon reaching the final floor, the guard led them into a room where the four Judges were standing by the entrance: Thanatos, Nemesis, Deimos, and Aurei. When the guard took his leave, Pinkie jumped straight into the war-horse Deimos' chest and hugged him; he, too, was crying bitterly. She looked to her right and saw Nemesis smoking from her holder, all the while bearing a sadden expression and Aurei was going off a curse storm while throwing her heels in random direction. The only Pony that remained calm was Thanatos, who bore his trademark stone expression. Rainbowdash was the first to break the silence as she demanded to know the reason that they were brought here and what was the reason for all the crying.

The pale stallion ignored the rainbow mare's outburst and instructed the four, excluding Pinkie Pie, to follow him. All the while, the pain continued to strike at Rarity's heart as he and the others were led to the opposite side. What she saw next disturbed her greatly: Celestia, standing beside a hole in the wall, bellowing in agony; Twilight and Cadence lied on the cold floor, both whimpering as salty liquid fell down their face; Shining Armor, bandaged and laced with battle scars, cursed loudly and struck his bloodied heels against the steel wall. The pain intensified as Rarity realized one missing piece within the room: where was Spike? Thanatos led the group toward a clear window that was plastered in the center of the room. He faced the four once more and his expression softens from stoic to regretful. Using his ears, he indicated the mares toward the window, all of whom did not enjoy the idea of seeing what set everypony off.

Cautiously, all four mares crept toward the window and saw what lied on the other side. Each mare's expression was different. Fluttershy cupped her muzzle as tears escaped her eyes like a broken reservoir; Rainbowdash's muzzle fell open in shock and disbelief at what she saw; Applejack's bowed her head solemnly, ignoring her hat that fell off her mane and the waters that were trying to leave her eyes; and finally, Rarity. The stabbing pain she felt exploded inside her as she felt her heart come to a stop upon seeing the lifeless remain of the adolescent dragon that loved her: his stallion-sized body was covered in black scorch marks, large scars remained on his lower thigh, left cheek, his right arm, and over his left eye; some of his scales were broken and his wings were tattered; lastly, the drake's purple claws covered his heart, where a hornsized hole remained station at. Denial pummeled her mind as she stared blankly at the drake that she and everypony knew personally. Try as she might, though, reality took control and she was forced to admit to herself that what she was witnessing was true:

Spike the Dragon was dead.

Rarity laid the rainbow gemstones by the tomb that contained her admirer's body. Next to them were flowers of many genus littered on the ground beside the tomb, followed by a lit bowl that burned ever so brightly-courtesy of the Judges and Celestia. A weak smile formed on the snowy mare as she stared at the tribute presents left by those who knew and cared for the fallen drake. Reaching for her bag, Rarity summoned her prized possession: the fireheart ruby that Spike had given her all those years ago. Unlike its previous appearance, the gem was now dark red and devoid of light and there was a crack in the middle of the fashioned keepsake; it was a perfect representation of her repaired, yet scarred heart. Wrapping the necklace around her neck, memories of the dragon's heroic, yet painful sacrifice flooded the now harden mare mind as she paid homage to her friend and did the best thing that helped her cope with the pain.

She sang:

"SpikeyWikey, I remember you, still

I left a couple of gemstones on your tomb today

My hooves are in the mud as I clear off all he grass

I came by to say some things;

It is dire that you know

Now that you are gone

I just long to hold you

I'd cast away a piece of my life

To see those emerald eyes staring back at me

Now that you are gone

I just long to hold you

I have to live with the choice that you made

And I can't bear to live without you."

"Dear everypony,"

Thanatos read the parchment that was discovered in Spike's room two days after his death. Realizing that it was meant for those who were close to him, the Stallion of Death, called a meeting for those who were close to Spike: Twilight and the others sat on the northern side of the table, Celestia and Luna eastward, Thanatos and his siblings were south, and Armor and Candence, stood in the west. The conditions of everyone, excluding the Judges were horrible as each one bore an expression of sorrow, misery, and hurt. Thanatos and the others did not want to read the dragon's final words, knowing the aftermath would be more severe, but it was probably for the best that they heard now and be done with it. Turning his attention back toward the letter, Thanatos read:

"If any of you have come across this paper, then I am (hopefully not) dead. I don't have much time so I will be quick as I can; before I begin, let me clarify one thing: this is my choice and none of you are responsible for the choice I made and I alone must bear the pain that I will cause you all. Some time ago, after Armor and I fought against Sombra, I have begun having nightmares of his hoard destroying everything in their path and you all being killed while Thanatos and the rest defended Canterlot (I know I must've told you about it). Anyhow, from the vision I learned that only I would be able to stop Sombra and his agents that were within the castle walls, except that I would die in the process. As I figured, you all saw to it that I would be restrained within Ponyville while you a fought a losing battle; I could've gone to Canterlot or any other location and gather help, but I knew by heart that they had their own hooves full and by the time I get help, you would all be dead. I'm not going to let that happen, even when it bites me in the rump."

"Anyhow, this is not why I'm writing this letter," Thanatos read on. "I'm writing this note to express how much you all mean to me. I have learned a lot while living with every one of you, and I want you all to know that. I learned to never abandon a comrade whenever she or he is in danger; to be honest with my feelings and to those I can trust; help those who have been hurt while fighting with laughter and kindness; to give a little to those who have lost something dear; and to treasure the bond that exist within the friends you have and make. To the Judges, I thank you four for teaching me to fight with my head, and not just my strength; to stand up boldly against those who threaten the peace; to control my rage when I fight, and finally to act with a just heart, and not a vengeful one. As for Celestia and Shinning, I thank you both for raising me up to the best of your abilities: you, Celestia, (aside from Twilight and her mother) are my mother, regardless of our blood. You taught me the difference between right and wrong, and helped me grow into a strong drake; my brother, Armor, you gave me confidence and inspired me to never give up on my abilities."

"I know it's selfish of me to act this way and I know you guys will never forgive me, but I don't care. You all mean so much to me and I will be damned to Tartarus before I let anyone of you die. You are my family and I will defend all of you, even if I have to put my life on the line. Because I know I will never have the chance to say this to any of you - Twilight, Rainbowdash, Applejack, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Rarity and everyone else: Thank you all for giving me a chance to live a blissful life. These memories, I will cherish, while on the other side.

Former Number one Assistant, brother, son, and friend,

Spike Dragon."

Rarity marveled at the grave that held her precious Spikey–Wikey. Despite his unforgivable choice, the element of generosity could understand the dragon's selfless action. To sacrifice one's life so that his friends could live was a decision that many would not be able to make without second guessing their intentions. Spike was different because he chose, without pause, to give up his life so that she and the majority of the ponies who fought would be saved. He was also there to save Armor when Sombra got the best of him. Rarity suddenly remembered the keepsake she gave Spike after he helped her during their first gem-hunting expedition: the rectangular-shaped sapphire. It was a reward for being such a gentle-drake and for helping her when she needed him. Now the keepsake laid on the other side of the architect, wrapped around the neck of the drake. Thinking about it now, the mare couldn't help but chuckle at Spike's somewhat meaningful action; if she or any other pony was in his position, would they not do what he did? Back then however, it took her a long time to realize that his death was something to honor, not to disgrace:

"Spikey–Wikey, I remembered your birthday.

I'm told that it some brings comfort to speak your name

I know you'd do things differently if you still could

However, I have these gemstones you love

But they can't take away this pain

Now that you are gone

I just long to hold you

I'd cast away a piece of my life

To see those emerald eyes staring back at me

Now that you are gone

I just long to hold you

I have to live with the choice that you made

And I can't bear to live without you."

The funeral went on as planned. Rarity told her family that she would come but didn't. Upon her sister's return, Sweetie Belle told her the place was packed because word spread across Equestria of how Spike gave up his life to save everypony in the Crystal Kingdom, the rulers of said empire, and the elements themselves. The way she described it made it sound as though Spike was a Saint (or 'Passion Bearer, as Thanatos corrected). Those who knew Spike and the elements attended the funeral to honor his valiant deed. When Rarity asked how the others acted, Sweetie Belle shifted her hooves before explaining the outcome of Spike's wake. The Judges paid their respect to the fallen warrior, all the while praising him as a symbol of heroism. Even Thanatos, who is usually cold and cynical, expressed a hint of sadness for having to part ways with the dragon. Celestia and Armor attempted to remain strong for the guest and love ones, but it was obvious that they were hurting, and badly. When she asked about Twilight and the others, Sweetie Belle gulped:

"Not good," she stated. "Fluttershy broke down and had to be carried outside. Afterwards, Rainbowdash nearly attacked Spike's coffin before being stopped by Applejack and Pinkie Pie." Rarity stared blankly at her sister before she allowed her to continue. "She was cursing at him for doing what he did and threatened to bring him back and beat him up for being stupid. Before she could even lay a hoof on his body she collapsed onto the floor and burst into tears. Applejack and Pinkie Pie forced her outside so that she could calm down; they didn't look too good, either."

"And Twilight?"

"Her parents are just as depressed, stating that they had lost a son and that they regret never considering him as one until now. And Twilight is extremely unhappy: she won't talk, respond, or anything. She just stares at Spike's body and her eyes are dull and lifeless."

Rarity remained silent; pondering over what her sister told her. Several minutes later, the white mare bid her sister farewell and escorted her to the door, but not before handing her Opalescence.

"Rarity" Sweetie Belle questioned.

"I need some time alone, darling," Rarity whispered. "Please, take care of Opal."

The generous mare closed the door and slowly made her way to her room, ignoring the concern cries of her sister. Wobbling her way onto the bed sheets, Rarity placed her head on her pillow and sighed in defeat. All she could think about was Spike and what he had done for her: their times hunting gem, his assistance while she worked on her client's design, and the day he gave her his fire ruby. She shifted her head when more memories began to fill her head. One in particular, was the day that the drake confronted the mare and told her that he wants to remain friends with her because she was probably pursuing other relationships and it wouldn't be fair if she had to stop just to spare his feelings; and the fact that he was growing older, thus it's best that he attempts to pursue other relationships as well. The mare, though somewhat hurt at the revelation, understood the dragon's reason and they remained friends ever since. Another memory was of him three days before his death: He hosted a party and all six girls were invited; wasn't anything special, just a gettogether to calm their nerves with the ongoing war. They laughed, reminisced and enjoyed each other's company. Spike, especially, put in an effort to see to it that everypony was happy. Twilight and Pinkie thought it a bit weird that Spike would go through the trouble, but he assured the mares that all was well with the 'Pinkie Promise' ritual.

Seeing the way the dragon acted, the mare could have sworn that he was trying to hide something but she shrugged it off and went about the party. How wrong she was. From her bloodshot eyes tears began to form and fell onto her already damp pillow. Burying her face into the soaked fabric, Rarity cried out in misery as the same question continued to pop in her head: Why Spike?

In that moment of despair, Rarity realized her feelings for the drake—feelings that she had discarded as a mere crush until now. From it she was able to put the pieces together: his sudden change of feelings toward her and the party — it was a ploy, so that when he died, then they would at least have happy memories of him. He even went as far as intentionally breaking a 'Pinkie Promise' to assure them that all would be well. It tore her heart to pieces to finally understand that she had fallen in love with the drake that died before she could even confess her feelings to him. Any potential future they would have was now gone: the mare and drake laughing together, going on dates, sharing kisses…maybe start a family. Those dreams, added with the memory of Spike's final battle nearly sent the snow mare to the breaking point:

"Here you are, standing by my side

(Your scaly claws embracing me)

Here you are, with your nose toward mine

(Our lips connecting passionately)

You and I walking hoof and claw

You and I full of joyous life

Now you're just a memory I truly crave

I'll see you on the other side

In Elysium, where we never say farewell."

Complete darkness engulfed the generous one's psyche as memories of Spike's death filled her mind. Flashing back to the dragon's final words written via letter, she remembered the parchment bursting into green flames and scattering across the room. When the room was fully enveloped with neon green coloring, an unfamiliar scene appeared before them. To everyponies horror, it was none other than Spike facing off against Sombra and six other fiendish characters. The drake charged boldly toward the enemy group, as Sombra stood by and watched his followers fight against the aggressive reptile. The battle proved to be a violent battle indeed.

Spike, the victor of the fight, stood over the corpses of those he fought, his body damaged. Sombra, however, remained in peak condition as he faced off against the ponyraised serpentine. The second battle commenced, with Sombra gaining the victor over the half-dead Spike. Nevertheless, the dragon, to every viewer's deaf cries, pushed harder and eventually got a few critical blows to the fallen unicorn. Lying on his side, Sombra glared venomously before delivering a fatal horn thrust into the drake's heart. Everypony cried out their comrade's name as black aura passed through the dragon's scales and out his back. Spike, though near the end, refused to give up. Using the last of his strength, unleashed a massive fire blast onto the dark stallion, with his screams being the last thing he heard.

When the dust cleared, all that remained was a giant scorch mark of where the tyrant once laid. Reveling in his victory, Spike walked away with a smile before coughing up a large sum of blood and collapsing onto the floor. Though it was painfully clear to the viewers that it was a memory technique that was somehow connected to Spike's, it didn't change the reaction the majority was experiencing: Celestia and Luna's eyes were as wide as dinner plates, Fluttershy and Twilight looked as though they would vomit any moment, and RD, AJ, Deimos and Aurei snarled at their inability to help their friend. Armor, his wife, and Nemesis looked on, petrified as to what they were being witnessed to, Pinkie and Rarity kept repeating 'no' as they looked on, and Thanatos remained silent. Spike crawled his way on the floor, and more blood oozed from his body. Lying on his back, the purple dragon's breathing began to weaken and grow short, and yet he smiled. A weak chuckle escaped his bloodied muzzle as he spoke toward the skies:

"Looks like this is it," Spike whispered. "Pinkie everyone...forgive me for breaking my promise." The dragon spat some blood onto the floor before regaining the smile. The six elements, mainly Pinkie, looked on in horror as their friend was fading away; tears began to well from the mares eyes as Spike uttered his last sentences toward them and every living creature he befriended.

"You're all alive, right," Spike questioned, unaware of the viewer's looking at him. "That's all right with me, solongasyou'reokay..."

The next thing Rarity heard was a heart monitor going off. It sounded frail but it was pulsing at a slow, rhythmic pattern. Her eyes began to flutter and she was surprised to find herself in what appeared to be a hospital bed. Squinting, she saw an IV therapy bag full of blood standing by her bedside, with a needle stuck on the upper part of her forearm and her cannons bandaged tightly. A pump was connected to her stomach and another needle was connected to her forearm. She felt lightheaded and extremely ill. Unable to talk, the white mare moaned in agony, hoping that somepony would hear her. She paused when soft cries struck her ears. Standing before her was her younger sister, her head napping gently beside her bead and her mane was jumbled together. Upon closer examination, Rarity saw that her sister's eyelids were wet and dried snot remained station on her nose. If she could, the white mare would hug her sister and beg her forgiveness for hurting her and her friends. The choice she made was a selfish one and it wouldn't be fair if she were to make her loved ones relive the same pain all over again.

Spike would never approve of it.

After her near-suicide attempt, Rarity had changed drastically, and for the best. She was no longer angry, bitter, or miserable, but stronger of heart, mind, and soul. After the long and verbal lecture she received from Celestia and Twilight, both of whom berated her for acting foolishly, Rarity (with the support of her loved ones) was able to get back on her hooves and live through this war. The left side of the unicorn's face tingled as she recalled the moment where Twilight slapped her; the alicorn's statement was clear: 'Do something like this again,' she threatened. 'You'll be praying to Gaia that your death is swift and painless'. She was absolutely right. What Rarity was trying to do was stupid and no good would come from it. It would mean that Spike's death was all for none; if she truly loved him, then she would continue to live.

That was all a year ago and the war still went on. She was no longer some weak mare from before, but a unicorn who contributed to the effort in any way she could. She and the others have already been scarred by the traumatic events of war: tears were shed, names were cursed, and blood was spilled. Nonetheless, they continued on, praying for a better tomorrow and with the idea that no more loved ones would have to fall victim to this necessary evil. She wanted to cry whenever she pictured his face, but she did not. Rarity decided long ago to not cry for him, but to smile. To let him know that she forgave him and that he would always think positively of him:

"Now that you are gone

I just long to hold you

I'd cast away a piece of my life

To see those emerald eyes staring back at me

Now that you are gone

I just long to hold you

I have to live with the choice that you made

And I can't bear to live without you

Here you are, standing by my side

Here you are, with your nose toward mine

I have to live with the choice that you made

And I can't bear to live without you

You and I walking hoof and claw

You and I full of joyous life

I have to live with the choice that you made

And I can't bear to live without you."

The mare's ears twitched and she stood up. From afar, she could see her friends walking toward her - each one sporting a tribute gift for their fallen friend. Even though they all had a smile on their face, she knew it was a fake one. Despite being able to move on, each mare bore a scar that would never leave them. Nonetheless, they continued to support one another and think positively; to live on, if not for themselves, then for those brave souls who sacrificed their lives defending their home and loved ones from those who wish to cause harm. Rarity faced the tomb once more and smiled weakly before galloping toward her friends, all the while wishing that her fallen love was all right on the other side:

"SpikeyWikey, I remember you, still"

MLP copyrights belong entirely to Hasbro. Lucy belongs to Skillets. Story and Judges mentioned belong to me