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It was hard to believe that Sunset Shimmer had been in Equestria for a week now. Her days had been so busy with the hustle and bustle of running around both Canterlot and Ponyville in search of certain ponies, that it felt like the time had flown by. When she woke up in the morning on her eighth day there, she found there was no longer that pit of dread in her stomach, only anticipation for what the day may bring. Today it wasn't about her. She'd sought forgiveness and offered it to almost every pony she'd originally set out to speak with and felt, perhaps for the first time ever, almost like she was whole. The biggest thing weighing her down now was Scribes, and how the pegasus was feeling.

The revelation from the night before that Scribes was used to feeling alone and invisible had struck a nerve. When Sunset was a filly, she'd carried those exact same feelings. She'd never known her parents, having been left outside an orphanage when she was just a foal, and had been so timid that the other bolder colts and fillies found homes before she ever could. Ponies came and went, yet she was always there. Only one pony in particular, an earth pony mare by the name of Merry Treats, ever took an interest in her. She often came by the orphanage with her family to bring gifts, or food, or to simply play games. She had always been especially kind to Sunset, giving her extra attention and helping her study. She always believed Sunset was special and never held back from telling her that. There had been many a night when she'd go to bed, imagining herself a part of the Treats family. In fact, it was Merry who encouraged her to apply for the magic school in Canterlot and helped her get in, ensuring her a way out of the orphanage and onto a better life.

As Sunset brushed her mane out, she wondered what had ever happened to Merry Treats, and whether or not there would be enough time to possibly try and find her. It would be so wonderful to see her again. There was so much to thank her for. Who knew what her life would have been like if she'd never gone to Canterlot? Things would certainly be much different, of that she was certain at least.

Downstairs, she found Scribes ready to go. Sunset never told her new best friend what she had planned for the day and hoped it wouldn't backfire. She'd never really been very good at surprising people or ponies. When she did succeed there was malicious intent behind her actions. This would be something rather new for her.

“All set?” she asked as she reached the bottom floor.

“Ready as I'll ever be!” said the pegasus cheerfully. “I packed sandwiches and sweet tea, just in case.”

“I wouldn't mind a picnic in the park.” The two ponies shared a smile, then left the cottage side by side. They chatted as they walked down the long, sloping road that took them farther away from Canterlot and down into Ponyville. Sunset could sense a difference in Scribes after she'd been able to give voice to all of her hurting last night. She'd been perky and bubbly before, but something about her personality seemed a bit more genuine now. Not entirely, but she also knew that pony Scribes wanted everypony else to believe her to be had been a facade she'd hidden behind for a long time. It would take awhile before she knew how to completely be herself. If anyone knew how much of a process that was, it was Sunset Shimmer.

The day was warm and the sun was high, bringing a good portion of Ponyville's residents to the park to play, to gather together, or to go down to the beach for a swim and some sun. Scribes chose a spot on the grass under a tall oak tree and pulled a blanket from her saddlebags. Sunset used her magic to help lay the blanket flat, then the two settled down together to enjoy their lunch and watch the ponies all around them. At one point they saw Amethyst Star and a little lilac filly heading down to the beach. The unicorn waved, Sunset and Scribes waving back with friendly smiles.

“You've changed a lot since you've been here,” Scribes said after awhile. The sandwiches were gone and their bottles of tea were almost empty, but neither she nor Sunset had made any effort to move and get on with their day. Both of them were simply happy spending time together outside of the cottage.

Bemused, Sunset looked at the pegasus. “I have?”

“When I first met you, you seemed so nervous and unsure of yourself. I thought your withers were going to permanently attach themselves to your ears. Now, though...you're like a whole new pony. You're relaxed, you laugh a lot more. You look more comfortable in your own fur. You're...well, you're Sunny.”

Sunset smiled happily and breathed in deeply. “I don't know what it is. It's so strange. When I was a filly, all I wanted were friends, or at the very least, one really good friend. Then when friends were there waiting for me, I had discovered power and though it was all I needed. When I finally got that, I realized power doesn't mean anything when you end up hurting everyone and wind up all alone like you were to begin with. I just don't care about it anymore. All I want is to be happy and make others around me happy. I also want to show everyone how powerful forgiveness can be when it's offered and accepted with open hearts.”

“I think you have been.” Scribes nodded in the direction of a small group of young ponies. Among them stood Twinkleshine, who seemed to be overseeing what must have been a heated conversation among the colts and fillies before her. Their faces were red from anger, eyes blurry with tears. Yet as Sunset and Scribes watched, Twinkleshine offered them all gentle words that couldn't be heard from so far away, but their effect was definitely seen. The young ponies exchanged a few words when she was done speaking, then closed the distance between them to embrace, ending up in fits of giggles that
continued as they ran away to play together.

“I think you've helped to start a new kinder and more forgiving Ponyville,” said Scribes as they watched the children play. “If you came here looking for redemption, I think you've more than found it.”

“Maybe that's what it was the begin with, that I came here to ease my conscience, but it's changed now. Like you said – I've changed.”

Looking down at the blanket, sadness pulled down the corners of Scribes' mouth. “I guess that means you'll be going back soon.”

Sunset blinked. She hadn't really thought of it. The first few days there she had missed her CHS friends so desperately that she felt she would burst. It would seem, however, she would soon be missing Scribes and all the friends she'd made here just as much. The thought sent a twinge of pain through her heart. A big part of her would be glad to return to the human world, to tell everyone of her adventures and everything she'd learned, but there was another part, maybe an even bigger part, that didn't want to go.

Shaking the thoughts and the sadness away, Sunset stood and held out a hoof to her friend. “Come on. Let's not think about that now.” Scribes nodded somewhat reluctantly, but accepted the hoof and stood as well. Once the blanket was folded and the trash taken care of, Sunset set off once more with Scribes right beside. “You trust me, don't you, Scribes?”

The icy blue pegasus looked at her friend with a raised brow. “That's the second time you've asked me that in as many days. I'm wondering if I should change my answer.”

Sunset laughed. “Well, I guess you'll decide that for yourself sooner or later.” They had come before Twilight's castle, pausing just outside the main door. Sunset raised a hoof and knocked, purposefully looking elsewhere when Scribes tried to meet her eyes. She didn't want to give anything away and didn't trust herself not to blurt out her plan if Scribes asked her to.

The tall doors swung open. Spike looked up at the two waiting ponies with question, grinning when he saw who it was. “Hey, Sunset!”

“Hey, Spike. Is Twilight in?”

“She's been in all morning. Actually, the whole gang has been.”

Scribes looked at Sunset with panic, but the unicorn kept her eyes on the baby dragon before her. “Well that's...convenient. Is there a friendship problem or something?” She really didn't want to have to come back. As it was, she had to get Scribes there under the shadow of mystery. There was no way she'd be able to do that again.

“Nah, nothing like that. They always crash here on hot days. Something about the crystal of the castle that keeps it nice and cool in here. Me? I prefer the hot weather.” Seemingly from out of nowhere, Spike pulled out a floating tube to stick around his belly, then drew sunglasses down over his eyes. “I'm heading to the beach. Do you know where to go here yet, or should I bring you to everyone?”

“I know my way around,” offered Scribes reluctantly.

“Great! They're in the library.” Spike pulled his glasses down just a bit. “Hey, you're the pegasus that takes note for me for Twilight when I'm sick. I don't think we've ever actually met.”

The nauseated, anxious look Scribes wore subsided slightly as she extended her hoof for Spike to shake. “I'm Scribes. It's nice to finally meet you.”

“I'm Spike. Twilight said you're writing a book with dragons in it. If you, uh, need some live subject matter to study, I know a pretty studly baby dragon who'd be more than happy to assist.”

Scribes giggled. “I'll keep that in mind. Thanks, Spike.”

“See you later!”

He rushed past the two, leaving them standing alone in the open doorway. Sunset gave Scribes an exaggerated smile, then headed in with the pegasus trailing behind her. “Sunny, what are we doing here?”

She slowed in her steps so they were side by side again, following Scribes' lead. “This is where the trust comes in,” the unicorn admitted. “I had a plan for today that didn't involve everyone being all together at once...but maybe this will work better.”

“That still doesn't answer my question.”

“Remember how we were talking last night about letting go of your anger? I know better than anypony how hard that is, and I also know that you can't do it unless you face the source of that anger. You admitted that each one of these ponies have hurt you in some way, yet you've never talked to them about it. How do you know they even know they hurt you if you've just bottled it all inside? How will anything ever heal that way?”

Scribes turned down a hallway to the left with a heavy sigh. “It's what I've always done.”

“Well not anymore, sister.”

They walked on in silence, Scribes brooding and Sunset praying everything would go well. If she was going to be leaving soon, this was something she had to make sure happened. “You know I love you, right?”

Scribes slid her a look of irritation. “Uh huh.”

They reached the closed door to the library and the pegasus stopped, sweeping a hoof in the direction they needed to go next. Taking a deep breath and wearing her best smile, Sunset pushed the door open and headed inside. The atmosphere was very casual, with ponies doing their own things even while together. Rarity was buffing Fluttershy's hooves, Pinkie was coloring nearby on the floor, while next to her, Applejack was carefully sewing up a burlap sack that seemed to have developed a tear. Rainbow, on the other hand, sat listening intently as Twilight read aloud to the group a Daring Do novel. As soon as they heard the door open, however, they all paused in what they were doing to look up and see who was causing the interruption.

“No!” Rainbow groaned, dragging her hooves over her eyes. “We were just getting to the good part!” Seeing Sunset Shimmer standing there, the rainbow maned pegasus gave a half-hearted wave. “Hey, Sunset.”

“Hey, girls. Sorry for the intrusion.”

“Think nothing of it, darling,” insisted Rarity, returning to her buffing. “I'm
fairly certain Rainbow Dash has read this book enough times already to be able to act out the rest of the scene for us.”

“You bet I have!” Rainbow did a flip in the air, then landed in a crouch, slinking her way across the room. “All of the sudden, Daring Do feels something brush past her leg. She looks down, ready to pounce, but there's nothing there!” Getting close to Fluttershy, Dash turned around and flicked her tail, brushing it slowly down Fluttershy's back. “That's when she felt the beard of the domovoi on her back.” Fluttershy squealed and jumped, causing Rarity to give a heated scowl to Rainbow, but the pegasus was unaffected. “Any second now, he'd drop down from above and all would be lost.”

“Look!” Pinkie cried, holding up her drawing. “This is what he looks like!”

Applejack inspected the picture with narrowed eyes. “It looks like somethin' covered in hair with nothin' more than arms an' legs.”

“And a nose,” Pinkie insisted, pointing to a spot on the page only she could see.
“He's got a nose.”

Twilight closed the book and tilted her head. “Actually, Pinkie Pie isn't that far off. The domovoi is said to be a spirit that can take on many shapes, specifically that of a cat or a dog, but it's true form is little more than a small creature covered in hair, most of it being from it's beard.”

“Sss-spirit?” questioned Fluttershy. She darted for cover under the bag Applejack had been sewing. The farm pony only rolled her eyes and gave her friend's head a kind pat.

Laughing, Twilight turned to Sunset. “I'm pretty sure Sunset Shimmer didn't come here to hear stories about imaginary creatures though.”

Sunset chuckled. “Not exactly. Actually, I brought a friend with me. You remember...” She turned to look at Scribes but the pegasus wasn't there. “Scribes?” Sunset trotted back out into the hallway to find there standing there, that nauseated look back on her face. “Hey, it's okay. Don't be nervous. I wouldn't have brought you here if I didn't think this was going to help.”

“Is everything okay?” Twilight poked her head out into the hallway, curious. When she saw Scribes, she smiled. “Oh, hey, Scribes! Come on in. How have you two been getting on?”

A silent exchange passed between Sunset and Scribes, beginning with a nasty look from Scribes. Sunset returned with a pleading look of her own, to which Scribes, after a second, looked defeated, making Sunset ultimately smile in relief. “Hi, Twilight,” replied Scribes through clenched teeth. “We're getting on great!”

They followed Twilight into the library where Twilight looked at her friends. “Everypony, this is Scribes.”

A round of greetings went up around the room, causing Sunset to give her friend a nod of encouragement. When all Scribes could bring herself to do was look at her feet, Sunset cleared her throat. “Actually, you've all met her at one time or another before.”

Fluttershy crawled out from under Applejack's bag. “We have?”

“Yes, actually.” Scribes lifted her head, reluctant, meeting Fluttershy's inquisitive gaze. “I had an article published in the Ponyville Gazette this spring about the monarch butterfly migration. I was talking with somepony about it in town and you came over to tell me that some of my facts were wrong. Right there, in front of this pony I had just met. I've never been so embarrassed in my life.” Her voice was quiet, unaccusing but full of sadness. With Applejack right beside Fluttershy, Scribes' attention fell on her next. “You sold me a bushel of apples this past autumn. When I got them home, I found out some of them had worms in them. When I brought them back you pointed right at me and said I must have put them there.” Her voice was rising now, getting a little louder with each accusation.

She looked at Pinkie next, her eyes lingering on the pink pony for a moment before moving on to Rarity. “One day I went into your shop to look for some new bows for my mane. I was trying on some green ones when you came over and told me they looked dreadful. You used your magic to untie them and take them out off of me, then left me standing there.” Twilight was the second to last to have attention brought upon her, and Scribes looked at her now. “You act like I'm invisible every time I'm around. Honestly, I'm surprised you even know my name.”

Rainbow had landed while Scribes accused Twilight, but the pegasus was not exempt from the anger and bitterness now showing its full self in Scribes. “And you. You were the worst of all of them. Don't you remember me from Flight School? I was that short pegasus with the blue bows just like the ones I have now. I was the one you never wanted on your team, the one you always complained about when I was.” Her anger had reached its breaking point and tears spilled from her eyes. “You all hurt me so much that I realized it was better to be on my own than to try and have any friends. After all, they only hurt you.” She felt Sunset Shimmer's hoof on her withers and sniffled. “I guess not all of them.” Looking up, she returned her attention to Pinkie. “And actually, Pinkie Pie was always nice to me when I saw her.”

The pink earth pony's cheek colored and she gave an awkward smile, the others still motionless, in shock over what had just transpired. “Actually,” Pinkie drawled, “I think that may not really be true.” Pinkie's ears drooped. She glanced at Applejack, but quickly returned her attention to Scribes. “That day you thought Applejack was yelling at you...she was actually yelling at me.”

Scribes' brows came together. “What?”

“She's right, sugarcube,” offered Applejack. “I nearly forgot about that day. I reckon it was because we talked it out an' everything was fine in the end.” She chuckled. “I was so mad at you.”

“I made holes in some of the apples and put gummy worms in them,” Pinkie Pie confessed. “Some ponies realized what had happened and thought it was super duper funny!”

“But most didn't,” Applejack added darkly. “I can't tell you how many ponies brought their apples back to me, all of 'em thinkin' I'd sold 'em rotten apples.”

Pinkie sat, an apologetic smile on her face. “I was standing right behind you when you brought your apples back. I remember because your hair kind of looks like toothpaste and I was wondering if it tasted minty. I was going to see for myself but then Applejack saw me and realized it was my prank, so she was pointing at me standing directly behind you. She was yelling at me, not you.”

Scribes made a face. “You were going to lick me?”

“Really?” Sunset asked quietly. “That's all you got out of that?”

“I didn't realize you thought I was hollerin' at you,” said Applejack, “else I would've come after an' set things right.” She tilted her head and touched a hoof to her chin. “Come to think of it, I might not have. I was wound up tighter than a yoyo on an elastic.” Together, she and Pinkie looked at Scribes. “We're both real sorry you got mixed up in it all.”

“And we're sorry if we hurt your feelings, even though we didn't mean to.”

Scribes looked as though she didn't know what to say, her expression timid and unreadable. Her lack of response caused Sunset to look around the room at the others, hoping someone else would have an explanation to offer and fill the uncomfortable silence.

“I didn't mean to embarrass you,” Fluttershy said meekly after a moment. “I didn't even think about it at the time. I enjoyed your article so much and thought you were a very good writer, I just thought you would want to know that there were a couple of tiny little facts that weren't quite right. I'm so sorry for making you feel like...well...” She dipped her head so that her mane fell and covered half of her face. “...how I feel most of the time.”

“I remember you now!” burst Rarity, drawing the attention of everyone in the room. “Of course, the green tinsel ribbons. Why, darling, those WERE terrible on you, but only because of your coloring. I had some absolutely gorgeous one in the same style but with gold and silver. They would have been stunning with your coloring. I went out back to look for them but when I came out, you were gone. I thought you'd simply changed your mind.”

Twilight stepped forward and placed a hoof on Scribes' withers. “I never knew you felt invisible, Scribes. You were always writing away when meetings were over and I thought if I interrupted you for any reason, you'd lose your train of thought. I never want anypony to feel like that, especially here.”

“I didn't like you,” Rainbow Dash affirmed after a moment. “I never wanted you on my team because I liked flying against you. You definitely weren't the fastest pegasus in our class – let's face it, it was always me – but you were small and you were tricky. When you were on my team, I couldn't fly against you and try to outwit you. That's why I groaned whenever I had to pick you. I didn't like you because I knew you could beat me when it came to courses that required creativity...but I definitely admired you.”

Scribes swallowed hard, uncertainty in her orange eyes. “You did?”

“Totally! I never meant to make you feel bad.”

“None of us did,” Applejack agreed.

“I wish you would have talked to us, Scribes,” Twilight coaxed. “We never knew we'd hurt your feelings because we never meant to. It was all just a big misunderstanding.”

“Can you ever forgive us?” Fluttershy asked.

The question was enough to send Scribes over the edge. Tears ran down her cheeks again, but this time they were happy tears and not full of anger. “Of course. Of course I forgive you. I'm so sorry for letting this fester for so long!”

“Group hug!” Pinkie screamed before launching herself at Scribes.

Sunset Shimmer backed away as all the girls converged on Scribes to embrace her. The unicorn laughed to herself as she watched and shook her head. “Glad to see some things are the same no matter where I am.”

“Oooh, you do taste minty!”

“Pinkie!” shrieked Rarity.

Poking her head out from the mass of colorful bodies, Scribes looked for Sunset and waved her over. “Get over here, Sunny!” The unicorn beamed and rushed into the group, throwing her hooves around whoever was closest.

Like the group of school children in the park, the ponies ended up falling all over one another and dissolving into fits of laughter. This was the moment Sunset had been waiting for, the one she didn't even realize she'd needed. She had helped restore relationships that had nothing to do with her, and it left her feeling happier and fuller than any of her own apologies had.

“You know what we should do?” Twilight asked when the laughter subsided. “We should all go get ice cream like we should have the other day.” Looking specifically at Scribes, she repeated, “All of us.”

“I'm getting chocolate peanut butter!” cried Rainbow Dash.

“Funfetti!” Fluttershy added.

Pinkie Pie licked her lips. “Blueberry swirl!”

Laughing, Twilight headed for the door. “Come on, girls. We can all decide on the way.” In giggling groups, the ponies followed Twilight out of the library and down the hall. Sunset started after them, but paused when she saw Scribes hadn't moved.

“You okay?”

Scribes nodded, a watery smile on her face. “I'm better than okay. Thank you, Sunny. You've done so much more for me than you will ever know. I can't...” A final tear trailed down her face. “I'm really going to miss you when you're gone.”

Feeling her own heart break, Sunset trotted back across the room and threw her forelegs around Scribes. “I'm going to miss you, too.” She sniffled. “Hey, maybe you can come visit me sometime.”

With a little laugh, Scribes hugged her tightly in return. “I have always wanted to see humans for myself.”

“Hey girls, are you coming?!”

The two ponies pulled away from each other but didn't move to follow the others just yet. “We're friends for life,” Sunset said quietly.

“You better believe it.”

“Thank you for helping me see what a true, deep friendship really is. And thank you for always being here for me as I learned what forgiveness was.”

Scribes smiled and opened her mouth to reply, but a sudden burst of magic surrounded the unicorn before her, and with a POP! she was gone.
Probably one or two more chapters after this! If I'm lucky, I'll be able to get them both done and uploaded in the same day, but no promises.

Part One: phasingirl.deviantart.com/art/…
Part Two: phasingirl.deviantart.com/art/…
Part Three: phasingirl.deviantart.com/art/…
Part Four: phasingirl.deviantart.com/art/…
Part Five: phasingirl.deviantart.com/art/…
Part Six: phasingirl.deviantart.com/art/…
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July 7, 2016
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