Commission by Alexwarlorn
Sunset Shimmer had seen and done many things in her life. Among them was accepting the mentor-ship offered by the Sun Goddess of her world, breaking into the Dark Magic section of the Canterlot Archives, running away from said goddess to an alternate universe that could have been inhabited by mare hating evil Caribou for all she knew, adapting to life in said universe, becoming a raging she-demon by perverting the power of a magical artifact to evil and trying to take over her home world, and facing off with and defeating a trio of ancient evil witches after becoming friends with her former enemies. And yet this moment, she was more hesitant than in any of those other situations.
Sunset Shimmer gave a deep breath to steel her nerves and slowly walked through the magic mirror.
She closed her eyes, feeling her body changing, a sensation that was not at all unpleasant. That was the most surprising part of the travel. It didn't hurt, it didn't make her shudder. It wasn't like some evil entity forcing her into a form with malicious intent. It was like both her human self and her pony self were natural, even if going from being a four legged equine to a bipedal ape took some getting used to.
Finally, a yellow unicorn emerged from the other side of the mirror and looked at what awaited her.
It wasn't Equestria under the rule of some depraved monster. It wasn't the ponies all turned into monsters or slaves. It wasn't a monster bigger than a mountain. It was...a purple Alicorn with a picnic basket.
“Hello, Sunset, glad you could make it, Cadence, Shiny, and Celestia are waiting.”
Sunset took a deep breath and sat up. “Yeah, let's go.” She got back to her hooves and wobbled a bit, falling back down. “Uh...sorry, always take a few minutes to get your footing in a new world after being in another one for a few years.”
She blinked as Twilight offered her a hoof to help her up. Sunset smiled and took it, the purple mare helping her friend get back to her hooves.
As they walked towards the door of the 'Crystal Palace of Friendship' as Pinkie dubbed it, Sunset's eyes fell on the seven thrones, each with a different Cutie Mark, except for the smaller one next to Twilight's. “Wait...seven thrones?”
“Yeah, one for me and one for each of my friends, I am Princess of Friendship after all.”
Sunset gave a small embarrassed look. “I always expected my castle to have a huge throne just for me...ugh, I really was awful, wasn't I?”
“Was awful, now you're a pony I'm proud to call my friend,” the lavender unicorn replied with a smile.
Sunset gave a small smile in return. “Thanks...”
“You're welcome, Sunset.”
“...Uh, so where's my throne? I'm your friend, right?”
Twilight looked back to the circle of thrones. “...You were in another dimension when this thing sprouted. Maybe if you keep visiting it will grow one for you?”
Sunset gave that thought. “Maybe...It would be pretty sweet.”
“...Or maybe this isn't your castle, and the Tree of Harmony knows you'll have your own some day?”
Sunset blinked, looking back at Twilight, who gave her own grin. “...Maybe...Hehe. Thanks.”
“You're welcome...Now come on, the others are waiting.”
The two trotted along the path towards the park, Sunset's eyes searching the surrounding area. This was the first time she'd seen Ponyville period, and it was just...odd to see all the humans she'd met at Canterlot High as ponies.
Especially when she noticed Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon run by towards the big building with the cupcake roof that reminded her of an ice cream parlor back home (where a lot of ponies seemed to be heading while the two ponies headed deep into Sweet Apple Acres) and gave a blink. “Wait...those two are that little here?”
Twilight gave a chuckle. “Yeah, I know. I felt the same way in your world. I have no idea how that one works. Probably the same reason we're teenagers in that world.”
Sunset gave a laugh of her own. “I know! Though high school is actually pretty fun once you get settled in and make friends,” While it wasn't a utopia, Sunset had to laugh when one of her friends asked if Sunset had been banished to their world as a punishment. Who'd consider that a punishment? “But I'm not missing the hormones.”
“Ugh, I know! It was like puberty all over again!”
The two then blinked, looking at one another just like they'd done the night Sunset had come in on Twilight trying to make the counter spell. Then gave a small smile and laugh.
The two mares turned and looked at an...unusual sight. Namely the Prince and Princess of the Crystal Empire having a simple picnic with the Princess of the Day in the middle of a simple, grassy clearing.
The Princess of the Night was scheduled to have a night with a certain colt's family later tonight as well while Celestia filled in for her.
Twilight smiled seeing her brother, giving a wave. “Hi BBBFF!”
Meanwhile, Sunset's heart skipped a beat looking at Princess Celestia. At the mare she hadn't seen in years. Before their eyes could meet, Sunset looked away.
And then her gaze fell on Princess Cadence who promptly tackled her and beat her up...or at least that's what Sunset had expected to happen.
Instead, the two just stared at each other awkwardly for a few moments. “Um...hello...” Sunset said, uncomfortably.
“...Hello Sunset...it's...wonderful to see you again...”
Twilight blinked, looking between the two. “You two know each other?”
“Yeah...we were raised as cousins, Auntie practically adopted Sunset...” Cadence admitted, though her tone made it obvious there was more to it.
Twilight's eyes widened in surprise. She'd known Celestia cared a great deal for Sunset, of course, but adopted? Then again, the Princess had never mentioned Sunset running from her parents...
“And I started a fight that damaged an entire wing of the caste, among other things,” Sunset said as she instinctively rubbed her foreleg in a very human-like manner, having become force of habit. “...Look...uh...about that...and everything else I did...I'm sorry...”
Cadence blinked. “Did...you just apologize?”
The unicorn nodded. “Yeah...the old me was awful, I know that now...I was just a self-entitled brat whose head got three sizes too big, you were just trying to be friends with your big cousin...I was just jealous of you having what I felt I deserved and tried to make your life Tartarus for it. I'm sorry....”
Cadence was speechless for a moment. Twilight simply smiled. “I...”
“...I get it, it's a lot to forgive me for...”
The Alicorn of Love shook her head. “No, not that...it's just...you've changed so much.”
“Yeah, turning into a raging she-demon and realizing that was what was really in your heart tends to do that to you...” Sunset admitted, looking down.
Cadence put a hoof on her shoulder. “...All that matters is you're a better pony, not how you got there...The Sunset Shimmer I grew up with couldn't bring herself to apologize if her life depended on it, let alone to me...Apology accepted...cousin.”
A smile crept it's way across Sunset's face. “...Thanks...cousin...Uh...so, you're married now?”
Cadence gave a look back to Shining Armor, who was being polite and letting her talk to Sunset for the moment. “...Yeah...you wouldn't believe how crazy our wedding was...what about you? Got a Special Somepo-er, Somehuman?”
“Technically the term over there is 'boyfriend,' and not yet...I'm still trying to understand friendship, let alone love,” Sunset said with a chuckle. “I did have a boyfriend, but it was just for popularity.”
“Doesn't mean it can't work. Lemony Gem ended up marrying the school jerk jock and making a proper stallion out of him,” Cadence explained, giving a chuckle.
Sunset vaguely remembered the sister of one of the unicorns at the School for Gifted Unicorns with a color palette and Cutie Mark matching that name. She mainly remembered it because a pony who got into the School with lemon based magic had at least been a curiosity. “Yeah, I know, but...he's kinda moved on anyway,” she said, looking over her shoulder at Twilight with a playful grin, who hid a blush.
Cadence put a hoof to her mouth to stifle a small chuckle, putting two and two together. “Oh, I see...what's his name?”
Cadence's eyes widened. “Flash Sentry? I think I know the pony version of him, he's one of my Guards...”
The yellow unicorn blinked in confusion. “Guard? Well, our Flash's kinda a white knight, guess that fits...I wonder if the human Flash Sentry wants to be a cop, never asked him.”
“What humans call Guards pretty much.”
“Actually, that's what they call Guards in Manehatten,” Twilight explained.
Sunset's mind wandered from the conversation to the nearby personification of the Sun, who she could tell was watching, but had yet to say anything. Was she waiting for something? Was she still disappointed in her? Still mad at her? Was she going to throw her in the dungeon when this ended? Banish her? Throw her in a dungeon in the place she banished her to?
Her thoughts were interrupted by her own growling stomach, earning a blush. “Sorry...I didn't eat lunch to save room for the picnic.”
Cadence nodded with a small smile. “Well there's plenty, come dig in.”
Sunset began to sweat a little as she approached her mentor. No. Not her mentor. Mentor sounded too...impersonal. Sunset had never known her real parents. The Equestrian Celestia was the only parent she'd ever known...and she'd thrown her away like trash. How could Celestia ever forgive somepony as ungrateful as her?
“P-Princess?” Sunset asked hesitantly as she set down next to the red and white checkered blanket, looking up at the Alicorn of the Day. “H-Hi...”
Celestia looked down at Sunset and gave a warm smile. “Hello, Sunset.”
“It's...good to see you again...” Sunset, try as she might, couldn't keep the tears from her eyes any longer. “...I missed you, Celestia...I mean Your Momjesty! I mean Your Majest-”
Sunset found Celestia's wings wrapped around her and the Princess of the Day pulling her into a warm hug. “...I missed you too, my Little Sun...”
Sunset was speechless for a moment. She looked back to see tears running down the Princess' face. “But...I...I threw you away...how can you...”
“...Because you were lost, but now you're found...I've missed you more than I've ever been angry with you, Sunset.”
Sunset froze for a few moments, before she finally returned the Princess' hug and let herself smile. “...T-Thank you...I'm sorry I was so ungrateful...you were just afraid of the monster I was becoming...became...you were right to be...”
“...I take no pride in that, Sunset...But you can't imagine how much proud I am of you...”
“...Proud of me?”
Celestia nodded warmly. “You realized how far you had fallen and changed for the better. You rose...You did become the monster I feared you would...but now you've become the hero I always hoped you would, and I couldn't be more proud.”
Sunset returned an uncharacteristically sheepish smile. “I...thank you...”
Celestia smiled back. “You're welcome...you know, you can stay here if you want to, you're more than welcome.”
Sunset shook her head. “...Sorry, Celestia...Just I feel more human than pony now...”
Celestia didn't look convinced. “What's your real reason?”
Sunset chuckled. “...The human world is where my friends are...I hope you understand.”
The Day Ruler didn't look angry or disappointed, she simply nodded with tears of joy in her eyes. “My Little sun, you've finally learned...I understand. Just as Twilight's home is in Ponyville and Cadence's is in the Crystal Empire, your home is there...But don't be afraid to visit, okay?”
Sunset gave a smile and hugged her. “Oh believe me, I will.”
Celestia shed a few tears as she returned the hug. “And I'll always make time for you, my Little Sun...now enough with the dramatics, we have a picnic to eat, there's a cake I'm very much looking forwards to,” she said, looking up as Cadence and Twilight finally partook in their normal introductions.
Clap your hooves and do a little shake!”
Sunset put a hoof to her mouth to stifle the chuckle this inevitably brought. “Now now, Sunset, don't laugh...” Celestia said, giving a small chuckle of her own. “Or are you forgetting something?”
The mare that had chosen to stay in the human world blushed. “Here? But Celestia, somepony might see...”
“Pinkie Pie is holding a large party with a friend of her's on the other side of town to draw most of Ponyville so we can have a day to ourselves, and Applejack's family set aside this area specifically for us, no pony knows we're here nor has any reason to suspect it,” the Princess of the Day replied. “And Fluttershy is ensuring a certain...friend of hers doesn't become aware of this.”
The mare still looked conflicted.
Celestia gave a comforting smile. “Sunset, let me let you in on a little secret: one of the most grown up things one can do is stop being afraid to being childish.”
Sunset gave a small sigh. “...Okay...For old times sake...” she answered, letting a small smile sneak through.
Watch the new dawn break!
Clap your hooves and do a little shake!”
Twilight's jaw nearly dropped to the ground at the sight of Princess Celestia and Sunset Shimmer doing their own version of her and Cadence's normal greeting before both mares began to laugh. Like doing it made them happier than they'd been in a long time.
Cadence simply chuckled with a smile. “And now you know where I got the idea.”
Twilight shook off her shock and gave a grin. “I never suspected...I'm glad they're having fun...”
“Uh...” Shining Armor finally spoke up, having been eating a daisy sandwich since finishing his greeting with his little sister. “Am I the only one who's actually going to be eating anything today?”
The mares blinked, looking at each other before bursting out laughing and sitting down to eat.
Sunset took a bite of a tiger lily sandwich (a favorite of hers, Celestia had ensured it'd be on the menu) and looked around, finally noticing somedragon missing. “Where's Spike?”
“Oh, he's with the Crusaders,” Twilight explained. “We thought it'd be good for him to make some friends his own age.”
“That's good...though I shudder to think what those three can do with a fire breathing dragon if they're half as much trouble as they are back home,” Sunset joked, taking another bite of her sandwich. “Mmm, forgot how good Equestrian food can taste. Been awhile since I've eaten any.”
That wasn't entirely true, she'd tried it once in the human world, but the human body wasn't made to eat that kind of stuff, so it'd tasted awful. So had hay.
Twilight chuckled. “I know the feeling. Human food tastes different. Though I think everything in Equestria tastes sweeter.”
“It's the all sugar,” Sunset explained. “Humans have different biology than ponies. If a human ate as much sugar as a pony, they'd be as big as a whale,” the mare replied with a chuckle. “I think it has to do with pony magic burning up the excess sugar a lot faster.”
“Oh...is that why I've been getting hungrier since I became an Alicorn?” Twilight asked, raising an eyebrow.
Celestia gave a smile of her own, as if proud of both of them for figuring it out. “It is, didn't you three ever wonder why I can eat so much cake and never get fat?”
The two Princesses and one alternate universe Element Bearer all gave a laugh. Shining Armor merely gave a flat look. “And now all the midnight royal cake runs make perfect sense.” The Prince then joined in the intensified laughter this revelation brought.
“Oh! And sorry, I didn't bring anything, I haven't exactly checked how the portal's magic would affect human food. Last thing we want is a tofu burger turning into a frog or something,” Sunset explained after the laughter died down.
Twilight gave an interested look. “We should probably test that some time...”
Sunset gave a laugh of her own at Twilight's expression. The mare was similar to her (they were both Celestia's pupils after all), but they also had their differences. For Sunset Shimmer, research had always been a means to an end. She'd wanted knowledge as a means to get stronger, not for it's own sake. Even after she turned over a new leaf, she still rarely researched purely for the joy of researching, more out of her pride in her intelligence and wanting to keep herself smart (her pride may have been deflated, but it still existed, her friends had told her wanting to stay smart was nothing to be ashamed of so long as she didn't lose control of it). Twilight on the other hoof didn't seem interested in power at all. Success, yes, but there was more to it than that. She seemed to research for the sake of research and learning. Getting knowledge was Twilight Sparkle's end, not a means for it.
“Kind of a shame though,” said Cadence, seeming interested in the conversation. “I like trying food from different places. It's always such an exciting experience.”
“There isn't that much there we don't have here,” said Sunset, thinking about it. “Just humans tend more towards omnivores.”
“Ah, so their diet is somewhere between Griffins and Ponies?” Cadence asked, showing a genuine intrigue in it.
“Yeah. I normally stick to the vegetarian menu since I'm more comfortable with it even after all this time,” Sunset explained. “One interesting thing though is humans don't eat hay, their meat substitutes are stuff like soy or tofu.”
“Hmm, that is interesting,” Cadence said, her expression giving Sunset a good idea of why she and Twilight were inseparable.
The two heard Celestia give a small, but warm chuckle and turned to her. “Seeing you three all here together makes me realize how alike you all are.”
Sunset blinked. “How?”
“You all three have a passion about you and a desire to learn more than you already have. Yes, for different reasons, but you do all three share that. And it's something I adore in all three of you. That passion.”
The trio of mares looked at one another, a slow blink cycling through the group before they finally smiled. “I...I guess that's true...It's why me and Cadence go to museums when we get to hang out,” Twilight said.
“Well I might not be a museum pony,” Sunset explained. “...But I do like being top of the class. I still have my pride.”
“Hey, I know how that is,” Cadence said, putting down the haydog that she'd been eating. “It's kind of boring living in the Crystal Empire. With King Sombra gone, there's not much TO do. Holding the Equestrian Games was the most action we'd had in forever and I wasn't even a competitor!”
“Wow, I thought you'd be a lot more 'prim and proper,' then again I did used to have a mental image of you being a spoiled girl who got everything I wanted...sorry.”
Cadence chuckled. “So did Blueblood. At least you had the excuse of not wanting to get to know me. I mean I used to play roller derby for Auntie's sake, what was he expecting?”
Both of Celestia's former students (Twilight had graduated after all) did a synchronized jaw drop. Shining Armor just gave a knowing chuckle.
“I've still got the regional trophy,” said the Princess of Love, finishing off her haydog. She secretly wondered how they'd react if they knew she disguised herself with a spell her auntie taught her and still played from time to time. “What? Team spirit is love too.”
“...I think you should get to know Rainbow Dash...” was said, with an echo.
Twilight and Sunset stared at one another with a blink, both having spoke at the exact same time. They both finally chuckled. “Well, either of them.”
“Oh yeah, alternate universes,” Cadence reminded herself, then hovered some watermelon out of the picnic basket, something the Crystal Empire had to import and all the train lines weren't set up completely yet, so it was at a premium there. “...Oh! I almost forgot to ask! What am I in your universe? I'm curious.”
“Oh, you're the school guidance counselor,” the yellow mare explained. “Good one too.”
Shining Armor put a hoof to his chin. “Hmm...so, Cadence's job in your world is to help ponies deal with their problems...that fits her,” he said, smiling to his wife.
The Princess of the Crystal Empire gave a chuckle and sharing a nuzzle her husband. “Nothing I'd rather do.”
Twilight gave a big smile. Sure, her brother was a goofball sometimes, but his relationship with Cadence had always been healthy, when an evil queen wasn't involved. Then again, what did anypony expect? For one of them to be abusive to the other? That just wasn't Equestria's way. And that wasn't her brother or her sister-in-law!
“So...” Shining Armor said, tapping his chin. “What am I like in your world?”
Sunset rubbed the back of her head. “Uh...sorry, I've actually never met you...probably because I've never met human Twilight. But if I had to guess, you're probably either a cop or Counselor Cadence's husband.”
“Oh...” Shining replied in disappointment.
Cadence simply nuzzled him. “Don't worry dear, you're the only Shining I need to know about.”
As the married couple shared a tender moment, Twilight turned to Sunset. “So, speaking of your world, how are things going since I left last?”
Sunset finished her sandwich and tapped her chin. “Let's see...well, the school has pretty much forgiven me for...past booboos as Rarity puts it, Rarity is making the costumes for the school play, Fluttershy's pet adoption drive went off without a hitch, Rainbow Dash has been MVP for the past five games, Applejack's most recent harvest went off went great, and Pinkie Pie is still Pinkie Pie.”
“Random, fun loving, and being the life of any party in fifty blocks of her?”
“Exactly. She wouldn't be Pinkie Pie if she wasn't.”
“And I wouldn't want her any other way,” Twilight replied, Sunset giving a nod in return before pouring herself some ice tea from a jar. “I can't even imagine Pinkie Pie being mean on her own. It just isn't her.”
“Tell me about it, I'm honestly surprised anybody bought the lies I told about her,” Sunset replied, downing the tea and giving wondering if she'd had a sugar rush when she got back home.
“Considering they didn't last long once I revealed them, I don't think they would've lasted long term...” Twilight replied, then giving a thought. “Oh, and speaking of past foiled plans...have the Sirens been causing any trouble?”
To Twilight's surprise, Sunset gave a laugh. “Oh you won't believe what happened! The Sirens got arrested afterward...until Principle Celestia decided to bail them out for community service working around the school and put Fluttershy in charge of them. I think Adagio was trying to use her at first, but well Fluttershy's also Fluttershy. So long story short, the Sirens are Fluttershy's friends now...also, those three are sisters apparently. Sonata actually makes pretty good punch after she's had some tutoring.”
Sunset got the expected reaction, that being shocked stares for a few moments.
“Punch? She took martial arts lessons?” Shining Armor asked, scratching his head.
“Hehe, no, I mean fruit punch, she stunk at it before.”
Twilight finally snapped out of her shock and gave a look to Celestia.
“I swear, Twilight, I didn't influence my alternate self's decisions. Though she does certainly sound wise.”
Sunset raised her eyebrow. “Uh, am I missing something?”
Twilight gave a chuckle. “Sunset, that's the same way Discord got reformed! Our Fluttershy befriended him!”
Sunset's eyes went wide...then she just laughed. “That definitely sounds like Fluttershy. She was the first of the five to try and befriend me after my defeat too. I don't think it's possible for her to hold a grudge on anycreature in existence.”
“Well it's certainly the pony way,” Celestia remarked, quietly taking a cup of coffee. She truthfully didn't like tea too much, something Twilight was aware of and thus had made sure to pack other options for her Princess. “We might not be soft, we're might not be stupid, and we don't fall, but we're foremost merciful and kind...And I'm so proud of you all for taking that to heart, my little ponies.”
After that, the group moved on to desert, which involved cake. Lots and lots of cake.
Twilight raised a hoof. “Um...Princess, should you really be using your hooves? I mean you're...you...”
Celestia chuckled goodnaturedly, cleaning her hooves off gingerly, frosting on her muzzle. “Twilight, I appreciate the concern, but I don't get to do this that often. I just want to enjoy the opportunity.”
Twilight nodded and looked down. “Alright. I'm sorry Princess. I just want you to have a perfect day when you visit. You and Cadence both. So I worry...”
Twilight blinked, finding Celestia's wing over her. “And it is perfect, Twilight. I'm having a wonderful time, and I do appreciate everything you do for me. I couldn't be more grateful for all you do for me. Just try not to worry as much, especially now that you're a Princess, alright?”
Twilight blinked for a moment...then gave a small smile. “...Of course, Princess...thank you.”
Sunset watched the two hug. Celestia's voice and actions were the same motherly affection she'd shown Sunset herself. The same kind reassurance. She didn't feel jealous (Celestia had already given her more attention than she'd come expecting or could have ever hoped for). But it did feel strange. Seeing the mare she'd always seen as a parental figure treating the pony that, until very recently, she'd viewed as having stolen her life (she now fully accepted that Twilight couldn't steal what she'd thrown away) like...well, her child. Even with Twilight now her close friend.
Her eyes wondered to Shining Armor, who was currently gorging himself on apple-fritters. She had the feeling the stallion was chaffing under how nobility ate and was gorging himself while he had the chance. A thought occurred to her. “Um...excuse me?”
Shining jumped slightly, cleaning a bit of food from his face. “Oh! Sorry...Yes?”
Sunset nodded. “You're Twilight's big brother, right?”
The stallion smiled with pride. “Yeah, her 'Big Brother Best Friend Forever,' as she likes to say.”
Sunset put a hoof to her chin. “Hey, uh...if Cadence is my adopted cousin, and you're married to her...doesn't that mean me and Twilight are cousins?”
Everypony paused, Cadence doing so mid bite.
“Yeah...I...I guess you're right,” Twilight said in surprise. “...I never thought about it, but I guess we are family...”
Sunset gave it thought. “...I never thought about it either. Before I would've been furious at that but now...” The mare gave a smile. “I think I like it...”
Twilight trotted over and hugged her. “I feel the same way...cousin.”
Cadence quickly joined in. “Part of the reason I agreed to marry Shining was I got a great sister out of the deal...Love can never have too big of a family.”
Sunset looked around the ponies hugging her. She couldn't help chuckling. “...Thanks...cousins...To think, a little while ago I didn't want anypony...”
Twilight chuckled. “Believe me, I know how that feels.”
The group then found two large white wings draped over them. “Celestia?” Sunset asked, looking up to see Celestia with tears of joy in her eyes.
Princess Celestia gave a warm smile. “...Sunset, Twilight, Cadence...you don't know how long I've wanted to see this...” she explained, backing up. “...My Little Sun in the Day, my Diamond at Night, and my Heart to the North...getting along and being one big family...”
Sunset blinked, then gave a gasp. “...That's why you tried to get me and Cadence to get along when I was little?”
Celestia nodded. “Yes, exactly...Trust me when I say that I know how it feels to have your family divided...I care for you all and seeing you in conflict...”
“...Broke your heart?”
The Day Princess nodded. “Yes...But now, that's not the case...Seeing you like this...it's as much a dream come true as my sister's salvation.”
This time the Princess was the one who was hugged. There were no words spoken, simply a hug shared between family.
Shining Armor rubbed his head, watching the hug for a second. “So...uh...what about brother-in-laws?”
Without another word, Shining Armor was pulled into the group hug. “I thought you already knew you were welcome, Shining Armor,” Celestia explained. “You were already my nephew the day you married my niece. And before that you were one of My Little Ponies.”
Twilight nodded. “And you're always a part of any family I am, BBBFF.”
“Or me, hubby,” Cadence replied, nuzzling him.
“And I'm way past being a lone wolf,” said Sunset added, giving a smile of her own. “Cousin-in-law.”
Shining Armor gave a chuckle and returned the hug. “Yeah, I know, I just wanted to hear it.”
This earned a laugh from the group.
Shortly, the family hug finally broke up and the group finished eating their desert. “So...now that we've ate, what should we do?” Shining asked.
“Well...uh...back in the human world, we normally play games during a picnic...” said Sunset, looking uncertain. “...But that also doesn't involve royalty...”
Cadence gave a competitive smirk and took off her regalia. “Games? I'd be fine with that.”
Twilight rubbed her head, looking at the crown on it. “Well...I don't know...”
To her surprise, Celestia took her crown and regalia off. “I took today off to spend it with the ones I care about, not to worry about rules and regulations of being a Princess. And besides, my sister gets to spend Nightmare Night enjoying the festivities with our Little Ponies, I don't think there's anything wrong with me spending time with you four.”
“And we came all the way from the Crystal Empire just to spend time with you, Twiley,” Shining Armor added, having not even come wearing any armor to take off. “And I know you miss us playing together like we did before.”
Twilight's apprehension quickly turned to a smile. “...If you're fine with it, I guess I am too. Besides, we did choose a secluded place specifically so we could have a day together as ponies...so I guess it's okay...” she said, taking her crown off and laying it aside.
Celestia looked to Sunset. “What do you say, my Little Sun?”
Sunset looked at the group around her and then back to Celestia, giving it thought. “...We've lost enough time, let's make some of it up...” she finished with a smile.
The Day Princess nuzzled Sunset. “Then let's play some games...oh! One moment!”
Celestia focused and concentrated, her form shrinking down until she was roughly Cadence's size, her mane and tail becoming pink and losing their energy form. “I am rather tall, and playing games wouldn't be fun if I had an unfair advantage, would it?” she asked with a smile.
Shining Armor blinked. “Uh...you're still a Goddess...in fact me and Sunset are the only ponies here that aren't.”
“And you and Sunset are still two of the most powerful Unicorns alive. Besides, I'm no stronger than Cadence or Twilight in this form.”
Shining blushed a little. “Thanks...okay, let's play.”
“Everyday begins so bright.
Amber glows over all in sight.
What new adventure comes today,
As you live life the pony way?”
With a little bit of rope (an abundant resource on the Apple Family's property), the ponies split up into two groups, Twilight paired with Cadence and Celestia with Sunset, and prepared for a five legged race. Shining Armor stood by with an improvised flag (made from napkins) and waved it, starting the race. And drank some lemonade from the picnic itself as he watched.
The two sets of two raced down a makeshift path, neck and neck until they crossed the finish line, Celestia and Sunset winning by a nose. The two smiled to each other and hugged, just enjoying having fun together. The losers held no hard feelings and merely laughed and enjoyed themselves, Cadence giving her cousin a hug after.
“As the sun comes up to start it
You know your heart awaits expectant.
You can't wait to see where it leads.
A fun day with friends is all you need.”
The next game was exploiting the fact they had watermelons present for the picnic and doing a small eating contest after working up a small appetite with the last game.
The end result was Celestia winning by a landslide, with Twilight in second place, Cadence in third, Sunset fourth, and Shining in last.
Shining then won the following watermelon seed spitting contest and happy hugs followed both.
“Days spent being with those you love
Just make your heart soar high above.
Friendship and love are here to stay,
Because we're living the pony way.”
Using the same ropes as with the five legged race, Cadence and Shining began a tug of war with Celestia and Twilight on the other, Sunset keeping an eye on the little flag in the middle (actually a napkin).
Celestia herself used a little bit of magic to create a mud pit between them, giving a mischievous smile.
Ironically enough, she and Twilight went into the mud. Both sides had experienced Alicorn strength, but the stallion that could throw his wife like a javelin just barely edged out.
“You start at dawn and end at dusk
When you're with them, time's not a must.
Giving your time's planting a seed,
And love and friendship's all it needs.”
Sunset ran in to check on Celestia and offered a hoof to pull her out...and was pulled in herself, and followed by Twilight doing the same to Cadence and Shining, turning the tug of war into an impromptu mud fight that Sunset managed to win. Not that anypony cared, they were too busy laughing and having fun.
“Even as night falls on today
We still live life the pony way.
Let's all forget any greed
Love and friendship is all we need.”
As Celestia lowered the the Sun and, in Canterlot, her sister rose the moon, the five ponies laid on the picnic blanket, eating the rest of the food left over and watching fireflies dance in the sky.
Fireworks suddenly went off in the distance, much to everypony's surprise.
“CUTIE MARK CRUSADERS FIREWORK TECHNICIONS YAY!” echoed from the distance, a little dragon's voice joining them.
Sunset blinked for a moment...then chuckled. “I guess we didn't have to worry about them having a dragon with them after all.”
The group laughed as the fireworks continued going off in the distance. Sure, Sunset would be returning home soon and in the morning all royalty involved would go back to being royalty, but all that mattered was they'd spent the day together and enjoyed every moment of it. Celestia, her Heart to the North, her Little Sun in the Day, Her Diamond at Night, and the Diamond's BBFFF, having had a day of innocent fun and games.
“Oh to what fun today did lead...
Love and Friendship...is all we need...”