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My Past is Not My Today

by Celestias_Paladin

Night fell over the campus of Canterlot Academy; the grounds were empty save for squirrels and birds that called the trees home. No one was around except for a lone student curled up in a second-hand sleeping bag, tossing and turning as she tried to sleep. Sunset Shimmer mind was awhirl with thoughts of past and future actions, judgments, etc.

Ever since she woke in the crater that was once the main entrance to the school, since she had to face the consequences of her actions, ever since she nearly lost her very soul, she has been unable to fall to a peaceful sleep. While her new friends, and Princess Twilight Sparkle, may have forgiven her, she has yet forgiven herself.

She ran through the garden’s labyrinth, trying to chase the elusive gate that would lead to the outside. She herself was being chased as well, statues of some of the greatest threats of Equestria followed her. Tirek the Abomination, the Chaos Tyrant Discord, the Dark Queen Nightmare Moon, Master of Shadows Sombra, Doom Bell Grogar, and so many others, and worst of all was the one she only caught the barest glimpse of: bone white coat and pale rainbow mane, shrouded in a dark cloak, Princess Celestia.

“Come now my dearest student, do you not want to join my garden? Be with me for all eternity,” the princess’ voice had the same soft and calm tone that Sunset remembers.

“NO,” she shouted.

She kept running, while Celestia and the statures kept to their slow and steady pace. Her breath grew heavy, and her legs started to cramp, but she kept running. To be caught means dying, to die means she had truly failed.

A root caught her foot, and Sunset tumbled to the ground. She tried to stand back up, but her foot remained caught in the root. She tried to tug on her leg, and then the root, to break herself free. Cyan eyes widen in the fear as the root pulled tighter to her foot, and the statues continued their steady progress.

“NO! NO! NOOOO,” she screamed as the statues caught her, “NOOOOO…”
“…OOOO,” Sunset shot up, slamming her head on the bookshelf above her. Her left hand flew to her head, while her right grasped at her chest. “Why, why can’t I move past that, why can’t I just sleep?”


Time passed and lunch came. Sunset sat with her friends, nibbling at her food, barely making eye contact or conversation with any of them. They all noticed of course, while Sunset wasn’t the most talkative of people, her being this quiet was odd. But none knew how to broach the subject. Attempts in the past caused Sunset to pull even more into herself, and if Sunset didn’t want to talk about it then the stubborn girl will not talk.

Unfortunately for her, one of her friends can be just as stubborn if not more so.

“Girls, y’all go on ahead,” Jaqueline “Applejack” Malus said, “I’ll help Sunny put everything up.”

There was a mutter of agreement from the rest of the group, while Sunset protested.

“AJ, I can handle this.”

The blond gave her a glare, “sugarcube, you look like death warmed over and is about to fall, y’all need some help.” She grins slightly, “we all do from time to time.” Applejack picks up the lunch trays, “and we need to talk anyway. I know you don’t have class immediately after lunch, and neither do I, so we should talk.”

Sunset looked around, trying to find a way out, “look, Applejack you don’t need…”

Applejack cuts her off, “yes I do, and yes we do.”

She puts the trays on the return and pulls Sunset by the arm out of the cafeteria. The former unicorn protested weakly but didn’t try to pull away. Exhaustion, acceptance, or simply knowing that she does to need to talk to someone, she let herself be pulled along towards the counselor’s office.

Applejack opened the door to the office and pulled Sunset in before closing the door. She then maneuvered Sunset to sit down of the couch while she pulled up a chair.

“Look sugarcube, we all know something is wrong with you. Our friends, Principal Oliver, and even the counselor can see it, but we also know that you are too darn stubborn to ask for help.”

“I don’t need help,” Sunset protested, “I am fine.”

“No, you’re not, we can all see it, and while you are stubborn, so am I. Everyone figured that I can out stubborn you and figure out the puzzle that is in your head.”

“No way to talk my way out of this?”

Applejack grins and shook her head, “enope.” Her expression softened, “look, we all want to help you, and we know that only you can let us. Please Sunset, please.”

The pleading tone struck Sunset, Applejack did not plead or beg. It wasn’t in her nature, yet here she was.

“Alright,” Sunset sighs, “I’ll talk.”

The other girl nods, “good. So, what is eating you up so bad that ya can’t sleep?”

“I’ve been having dreams, nightmares, for nearly every night since the Fall Formal.”

“Since the dance? God Almighty, no wonder you always look exhausted, it’s been months since then.”

Sunset nods, “yes, and its always the same too.”

Applejack leans forwards, resting her elbows on her knees and chin in her hands, “go on.”

Sunset took a deep breath, “I’m in a labyrinth, a hedge maze, specifically the one on the castle grounds back in Equestria. It’s night, though there are no stars in the sky and no moon either. I’m running, fast as I can, and being chased. I can see the exit, but it’s always moving away from me.”

AJ interrupts, “being chase by what?”

“Statues of past evils, and Princess Celestia herself. They always catch me in the end, tripping over a root, turning me into one of them.”

“Into a statue? Odd that.”

“Kind of, there were rumors that the princess would turn anyone who opposed her into statues, or sent to the Moon, all horse apples of course, but guess it stuck with me. Fearing that if I returned, she would do the same to me.”

“Why then?”

Sunset raised an eyebrow, “why what?”

“Why would she turn you into a statue, assuming the rumors are true of course.”

“Because I did horrible things! Dabbled in forbidden magics, fled through the Mirror, attempted to raise an army to overthrow the Diarchy, stole a powerful magical artifact. Why wouldn’t she punish me?”

Applejack shrugs, “maybe because she doesn’t seem like that kind of person. Twilight did say the Princess was a rather forgiving person. Sure, she might punish you, but turning you into a statue? Seems a bit much.”

The two sat silent for a moment.

“I know,” Sunset replied. “But I just can’t help but to think it. Princess Celestia would forgive me in a heartbeat, but…”

“But maybe its your mind telling you to forgive yourself.”

“How? How can I forgive myself for all that I have done?”

The blonde shrugs once more, “don’t know, only you know how. You’re a smart girl Sunset, I’m sure you’ll figure it out, but also know that if you need help, just ask any of us.”


Night fell and once again Sunset Shimmer ran. The gate, the threshold remained ever distant, and the statues and princess forever gaining. This time though, Applejack’s words echoed in her mind, but like before her foot caught a root and tripped.
This time though she didn’t struggle, “please help.”

Five ghostly figures shimmered around her and charged after the statues. They were her friends, helping her just as Applejack said they would. They held the statues back, though the shrouded princess still moved forward. Sunset ignored her, concentrating on the root that held her foot. It was like one of those Chinese finger puzzles, tightening as she struggled to pull free. She eased the foot out, careful not to struggle. As she stood up, she found herself face to face with Princess Celestia.

“Princess,” she said.

“My student,” Celestia replied. “Finally decided to join my garden?”

“Maybe,” she answered. “I messed up, I messed up a lot and deserve some form of punishment. I don’t deserve forgiveness, I won’t even ask for it, but I need to forgive myself and if being in your garden can help, then so be it.”

A moment passed, neither speaking. Sunset’s heart beating heavily in her chest.

“Perhaps then one day you will come to my garden for tea,” Celestia replied. “But not this day, the threshold waits for you my dearest student… my dearest daughter.”

Around her the labyrinth, the garden, even the statues, ghosts, and princess faded into a white void. And behind her, Sunset heard the heavy iron gates open behind her. Closing her eyes, she turned around and walked through the gates and over the threshold to peaceful dreams.


The day dawned over the school, and like many others before Sunset was alone. Unlike before she stood on the roof the main building and watched the sun rise over the city. She breathed in the cool morning air and basked in the warm rays of the sun. For the first time in a long time she felt at ease, at peace with herself. She knew that not everyone has forgiven her, and she knew that she had a long road ahead of her before she felt comfortable crossing the threshold to Equestria.

But that is the future, and that can wait.

My past is not my today,” she sung.