Title: Sweet Valley Twins: Friendship is Magic
Summary: All the trouble started right after Lila saw the purple Unicorn in her backyard.
Dedication: For Raven and @buffywatcher23
Timeline: Factory reset, just like almost any book.
Notes: This won’t be as aggressively meta as my last NaNo, so if you were anticipating me leaning so hard on the fourth wall that it falls over, I’m sorry. This still will be a bit sassy, but honestly, I peaked with the Hunger Games crossover. Wait. No, I lied. I couldn’t get past the first page without doing my usual thing.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.
32,750 / 50,000 words. 66% done!
Elizabeth was having quite a fun time at Lila’s party, even though it should have been Tammy’s birthday party. People kept thanking her for an impromptu Saturday party—to the point where Lila, who was hosting, was getting quite cross. That was rather gratifying. At least she could walk away from this safe in the knowledge that most of the school thought she was just wonderful.
It still bugged her that Tammy wouldn’t accept her help. Especially now they were family. Megan was actually from the Frankenhuysen branch of the family, along with Quakefield Wakefield. Elizabeth was thinking of writing a report about her exciting family for the Sixers. That might be a little arrogant. Maybe she could get Amy to write it.
“Elizabeth, I was looking for you.”
Elizabeth turned to see Twilight Sparkle behind her. In all honesty, Twilight had fallen in Elizabeth’s estimation. She clearly didn’t understand how friendship worked. Elizabeth considered offering her services as an advisor. But then again, maybe that was why Twilight was looking for her.
“Could we talk privately please?” Twilight asked.
It was beginning to look very likely that Twilight needed her help. Probably she had realized that her earlier reaction to Tammy’s surprise party was wrong. “Of course. Why don’t we talk in one of the unused rooms?”
Elizabeth led the way through the house and found a relatively small room off one of the living rooms. It could still fit her entire house in it. She took a seat and made sure she was wearing her most encouraging smile.
Twilight did not sit. She paced. She did a few back and forths before coming to a stop in front of Elizabeth. “I’ve been mulling over the best way to bring this up. It’s very awkward, but I think I really must say something.”
Elizabeth couldn’t fight the smile. “If it helps at all, the answer is yes.”
Twilight looked startled. “The answer is yes?” she asked. “What did you think the question was?”
“Whether I would be your advisor on friendship matters,” Elizabeth said. “And I’d be honored.”
Twilight looked pained. “No, that wasn’t the question. Actually, I was going to say that you seem to be struggling with the basics of friendship.” Twilight gave her a worried glance. “And that’s ok. Plenty of ponies do. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t need a Princess of Friendship.” She gave an awkward laugh. “So I was going to offer my mentorship. I thought we could be pen pals and we could talk about friendship issues, so that we won’t end up down a similar path again.”
Elizabeth felt a hot blush flood her face. How could Twilight think she needed friendship lessons? She was the Queen of Friendship, never mind Princess! Everyone in Sweet Valley knew it. Why, Elizabeth would bet her attractive split-level house on Calico Drive that even Lila would ask for her help one day.
“I don’t think so,” Elizabeth said in a tight voice.
“There’s no shame in continuing to learn, Elizabeth. I do it every day. It’s something everyone should learn more about,” Twilight implored.
“I think you’ll find,” Elizabeth sniffed, getting to her feet. “That I am the living embodiment of friendship and everyone knows it! It’s not my fault you don’t know enough about it to see that!”
And with that, she stormed out of the room.
After a bit of prodding from Rita and her new friends, Tammy decided that they might as well go up to the party and get an idea of what school would be like for the girl who nearly destroyed more than one world.
When they arrived at Fowler Crest, which Caroline told her was the name of Lila’s palatial estate, the party was in full swing. People were dancing on the terrace by the pool, Johnny Buck’s latest album was blaring at full blast, there were tables of food laid out—and many harassed-looking gardeners and maids trying to keep control.
Tammy was expecting a hostile reaction, but for the most part everyone just ignored them. It was perfect.
Lois nudged her. “You travel with a fatty, a gossip and a nerd, and it’s like you’re invisible. Isn’t it great?”
“It’s amazing,” Tammy said.
The four helped themselves to snacks and punch and found a table in the shade where they could watch the party unfold.
“Unless you’re the subject of a Wakefield Crusade, you can get through school pretty much unscathed,” Caroline added.
“Don’t forget to use your power for good though,” George said. “For example, you see a Wakefield staring at someone—if it’s Elizabeth, she wants to help, if it’s Jessica, she might be mean—and you know that if you just distract the Wakefield, she will lose her concentration. Then you can bump into her, or knock her books out of her hands or something like that.”
“Doesn’t that put you back in her crosshairs?” Tammy asked.
“No, they don’t often loop back to people they’ve fixated on before, unless it’s a member of their group—the Sixers, the Unicorns or the Boosters.” Lois said. “Once you’ve got the Wakefield’s attention, Elizabeth will smugly smile and remember the time she saved you, or Jessica will scowl and remember that you’re not Unicorn material, and then they’ll move on.”
Tammy exhaled slowly. “Boy, do I wish you guys were in Ms. Arnette’s class!”
“Hi, I hope I’m not interrupting,” Twilight broke into the group, with a bashful smile. She eyed Tammy carefully. “I’ll go away if I’m not wanted.”
Tammy smiled at Twilight—genuinely, probably for the first time in her life. “No, it’s fine. How are you, Twilight?”
“Hey, Caroline,” Lois said. “Why don’t we three go and start that rumor about Johnny Buck moving to Sweet Valley?”
Caroline nodded. “Yes, that sounds like fun, come on, George.”
The three of them quickly left the table, leaving Twilight and Tammy alone.
“I’m sorry,” Tammy said. “I’m so sorry that I hated you and your people so much. It wasn’t fair. I was blaming you for something that was nothing to do with you.”
“I’m sorry too. If I’d have gotten to know you, instead of taking Elizabeth’s word for it, I would have known better than to be a part of reuniting the two of you. I wasn’t sure of this world and its customs, and…” Twilight sighed. “I didn’t do my research. And that’s so unlike me. You should see my research! It’s usually well-organized with an extensive cross-referencing system… I’m sorry, you probably don’t want to know about my flash-card system.”
Tammy leaned forward. “Oh, believe me, I do. You should see my filing system to log which birds I’ve seen. I have it logged by location, species, color, even the weather that day. I love birdwatching.” She blushed. “And I love the admin I can do afterwards.”
“Oh! Would you like to see my library? I have such an extensive system you wouldn’t believe!” Twilight offered.
Tammy paused. Part of her really did want to go to Ponyland and see what it was like. And to meet a fellow nerd with a filing system was tempting. Given how Twilight was geeking out, Tammy was inevitably going to pick up some tips, but… “My mother never recovered from going to your land.”
Twilight nodded, suddenly somber after her animated talks of filing. “I know. I can’t imagine what that was like for her or you. I can’t say that visiting my world wouldn’t affect you, but the situation would be different. I wouldn’t be taking you to save my world, I would be inviting you as a friend to visit my home.” She met Tammy’s eyes. “But I understand if you would rather not.”
Tammy really wanted to want to say yes—but she wasn’t really sure that she wanted to go. What if it brought back all of her anger and bitterness? What if she stepped into that world and suddenly hated everything again. Being that angry had been exhausting. The only thing she knew she wanted for sure was to extend her friendship to Twilight. “Why don’t you come to my house and see my filing system? Even if I’m not ready to visit your home, maybe you visit mine?”
Twilight brightened. “I’d like that.”
Tammy looked around the party, and saw that pink pony was entertaining a crowd with some wacky dance moves, the white unicorn was talking to Applejack, Lila and Melissa, the blue pegasus was talking to Billie Layton, the yellow pegasus was sitting beside Spike the dragon, having a conversation with Amy Sutton. “And maybe you could introduce me to your friends? I think I’m ready to be friends with ponies now. Actually, could you introduce all of my friends? I’m sure Caroline, Lois and George would like to meet them too.”
“I’d be happy to.” Twilight nodded, then she gave a small shake and turned to look at her flank. She had a symbol of purple and white stars on her flank, and they were kind of vibrating and shining.
“Is that normal?” Tammy asked.
Twilight beamed. “Yes, it happens whenever I’m sent somewhere to help somepony and the job is finished.”
“So you’ll be shutting the gate between our worlds?” Tammy said. She wasn’t sure how she felt about that. Relieved mostly. Relieved that the choice of whether or not to visit their world had been taken from her. But she also felt… concerned, maybe? There was an odd feeling inside she couldn’t quite put into words. The ponies came, they did something, and they left, and it was all over. While Tammy felt relief, maybe others would not. Others would miss them, and wish they could see the ponies again. “Maybe—” Tammy blurted, and then pushed on before she could logic herself out of it. “Maybe you could take Megan to Ponyland to visit before you shut the gate? She never said a word against the ponies, but I think it broke her heart that one day all links between worlds were just cut off. Maybe it would help her heal if she knew that this visit is her last one.”
Twilight gave her a very serious look. “Are you sure about that? Do you think it would help her?”
Tammy shrugged. She found that she could be a little empathetic to Megan’s life when she was certain that it was no longer going to impact her own. She didn’t want to reconnect with Megan, and she would probably always feel let down by her as a mother, but objectively, Tammy could see that the ponies had made choices that separated Megan from her own world. “I honestly don’t know for sure. Megan’s spent her entire life dreaming about your world. She didn’t leave any room for anything in this world. If she knew for certain, and saw with her own eyes, maybe she could build a life in this world that isn’t about ponies.”
Twilight nodded. “I’ll ask her.”
Tammy gave a small laugh.
Twilight gave her a questioning look. “What’s funny?”
“I was just thinking that even though I’m glad you’re going, I sort of wish we could be friends here? I’m not ready to go to your world—and with the gate shutting, I think that’s ok—but it’s not often you find someone who thinks filing systems are fun,” Tammy said.
After a moment’s consideration, Twilight spoke up. “How do you feel about being pen pals? I have some books that connect worlds. You write in one, and the person with the book’s twin receives the message.”
Tammy gave her a big smile. “I could go for that.”
Megan stood at the base of a marble statue in the back garden of her daughter’s schoolmate. Her heart tugged painfully just looking at the statue. It was Firefly. The statue might not have a symbol on its flank, but Megan could see echoes of the cheerful pegasus she had known so well, even rendered in cold marble.
Her fingers flew to the locket around her neck and thoughtlessly worried the clasp that held the Rainbow of Light in.
She was surrounded by ponies, and they all reminded her of a pony she had known and loved in her childhood. The white unicorn with purple hair—Rarity—reminded her so much of Glory. Twilight Sparkle herself looked like Twilight. Rainbow Dash may not have replicated Firefly’s pink and blue colors, but the fearless spirit reminded Megan all the same. Fluttershy, the quiet yellow pegasus, looked like Posey. Pinkie Pie was neither white nor a pegasus, but her infectious enthusiasm and joyful outlook had shades of Surprise all the same.
And Applejack. She the same color, the same name, the same symbol on her flank—though this Applejack had fewer apples, and the ponies overall looked different. Several thousand years of evolution, she supposed. And Spike was just the same too—same color, same name, slightly different, but the same. It broke her heart to look at them both and see something so close to her old friend, but a complete stranger.
She almost wished Danny and Molly, her brother and sister, were there to see. But they had put the ponies behind them in a way that Megan never could. They told themselves it was just a game they played, it was all make-believe. They never went to Ponyland, the meadow behind their house became Ponyland when they played the game.
“That’s just a dumb locket, Megan. It’s not the Rainbow of Light!” Molly had once yelled when Megan had pleaded with her sister to admit that it all happened. Megan had opened the locket to prove that the Rainbow still lived, but it had only given a feeble glimmer, a small splash of color that never moved away from the locket.
“See! Just a hologram! Grow up!” Molly said.
But Megan was already grown up. She had to be. She was the savior of Ponyland. She was the person they fetched when things became difficult. She took her responsibility very seriously. She stayed in the old house when her brother and sister moved away. She raised her child there alone, when Tammy’s father wanted to move away. She had waited. They needed her.
And now finally, after twenty years of waiting, they had invited her back.
But they didn’t need her. She was being politely asked back, probably so they could reclaim the Rainbow of Light as their heirloom. Which was their right, but Megan had a childish urge to run away and keep it—just so she had that one speck of proof that she wasn’t delusional like everyone thought.
“Are you ready?” Twilight asked.
Megan didn’t trust her voice, so she gave a nod.
“If you’re not ready, we can wait—or you don’t have to come, this is just an invitation, not a demand,” Twilight said. “Tammy was invited, but she declined. We weren’t offended.”
Megan shook her head. “I can do this,” she said. It came out shaky. So she did what she always did when she was frightened. She acted. She stepped straight through the portal in three large strides.
She found herself in a tall crystal room. Bookshelves lined the walls to an impossible height. For a second she wondered how anyone reached the top shelves, but then she remembered, she was no longer in a world that required ladders. There were pegasi and magic for that.
Before she could stop herself, Megan ran for the nearest window, she wanted to see Dream Castle and Paradise Estate once more. She knew it wouldn’t be the same, but just to see a ghost of her childhood haven would be—
Nothing outside the window was familiar. When Twilight said she lived in a castle, Megan had assumed it was Dream Castle, and when she saw the crystal rooms, she thought maybe it had been changed over the years, but somehow she would see something she remembered.
Outside the window was a small but bustling village. Some kind of gazebo marked the center of town. To one side she could see shops and small houses, and in the distance she saw an orchard, but it was all wrong.
She was expecting to be at the base of a waterfall, to look out along the stream and see Lullaby Nursery, Paradise Estate and the Baby Bonnet School of Dance. Ponies didn’t live in separate houses back then, they shared a single building—Paradise Estate.
She ran down the corridor, opening doors and running through rooms, checking the windows but no matter which angle she looked at this world from, it was wrong.
Megan gasped as the weight of realization hit her: everything was gone. There would not be echoes of her friends because it was thousands of years ago. Nothing in this world related to Megan.
And nothing in her own world did either.
She felt a shuddering sob wrack through her, and the weight of her sadness nearly knocked her over. She leaned against a wall and let the tears fall. She hadn’t cried when the path between worlds had been severed. She hadn’t cried any of the following nights. She hadn’t cried when her brother and sister denounced Ponyland as a childish game. She hadn’t even cried when Social Services had taken her daughter from her.
She’d held back every single tear with a force of will backed by the determination that one day she would get back to Ponyland and everything would be worth it.
But it wasn’t. And the grief was crushing.
“My dear little pony, what’s wrong?”
Megan looked around and through the blur of her tears saw a large winged unicorn. Her coat was a pure and dazzling white, and her hair seemed to flow like a river, with pink, blue and green hair, all moving as if she was underwater. Megan wiped her eyes and took another look. The pony’s hair continued to move. She had soft pink eyes that looked at Megan with such kindness that she was reminded very strongly of Majesty, the queen of the ponies.
“You’re May-Gahn, aren’t you?” the pony asked.
“Megan,” she corrected. It was flattering that she had been remembered as folklore, but it was weird when ponies got her name nearly right.
“Allow me to introduce myself, I’m Princess Celestia.” She looked concerned. “Can I do anything to help? Would you like a glass of water?”
Megan wiped her face again and shook her head. “No thank you.” She gazed out of the window again and took a deep breath. “It’s all so different. It was a shock.”
“Did nopony warn you that thousands of years have passed since your time in our world?” the princess asked in a soft tone.
Megan shrugged. “They did, but I couldn’t comprehend it. I haven’t been here for twenty years, and that feels like forever to me. I couldn’t imagine how long several thousand years was when twenty was so hard.”
“I want to apologize that you were brought here, May—Megan,” Celestia said. “Majesty was born brilliant and kind, and she was eventually wise, but she lacked wisdom when she allowed her little ponies to bring you here.”
“I did my best!” Megan snapped with more volume than she’d intended. “I saved everyone!”
Celestia reached out a hoof to Megan, but stopped short of touching her. “I’m sorry, I wasn’t clear. You were a true champion of the ponies, and I’m certain our civilization wouldn’t be here if you hadn’t come to their rescue. My remark was that Majesty didn’t consider the effect it would have on a child to be thrown into a strange world and forced to save the day over and over. It must have been very hard on you.”
Megan felt another surge of tears—not as devastating as the first wave, but just as unstoppable. It had been hard. She’d had to balance being the savior of the world with being an average student (not a cheerleader, not a brain, just a regular B student). When she first returned from Ponyland, she told her family about it, and her mother had just ruffled her hair and said, “My, my! What an imagination. And you did all this in five minutes?”
Because time moved differently in Ponyland. She and her siblings could spend days there and only be gone a few minutes. And then they would go back to their regular lives. Danny would play baseball, Molly would play with her dolls (but she would kick anyone in the shin if they mentioned it in public), and Megan would wait.
And one day, nobody came. And Megan thought the ponies would visit the next day. They didn’t. Around the second month, Molly and Danny gave up hoping, but Megan never did.
She waited for twenty years.
She pushed her daughter into waiting.
And all that time was wasted!
“Why did they drag me into their world?” she burst out.
“Because Majesty didn’t have the wisdom to see how it would affect you,” Celestia said gently. “She let it happen because she didn’t know any better. By the time she realized that you were choosing this world over your own, she didn’t know what to do. She reacted, rather than planned, and she just cut the link between our worlds.”
“It’s not fair,” Megan said. Her head was beginning to ache from all the crying. All the colors in the room were too bright and perky.
“It wasn’t. And that’s why she laid down rules that we would never bring people from other lands to ours again.” This time Celestia did reach out and touch Megan’s shoulder gently with a hoof. “By the end of her reign, Majesty was as wise as she was brilliant and kind. I’m sorry you had to be a learning experience for her.”
“I’m sorry too,” Megan whispered. And she was. She was sorry for everyone involved. Her world had been shaped by a leader without the wisdom to foresee problems. She had built a life around a civilization that no longer existed. She had spent every moment with her daughter preparing her for something that would—could—never happen.
“Oh! There you are—” Twilight stopped abruptly, halfway into the room. “Uh, if now’s a bad time, I can…”
“No.” Megan shook her head. “I’m fine.”
Twilight looked doubtful. “Well, I thought I could show you around Ponyville and introduce you to the local ponies, I’m sure everypony is excited to meet the all-seeing, all-knowing May-Gahn.”
Megan thought about it. She could see how it would go—just like last time. She would meet a gaggle of ponies, all with their own quirks, wants and fears, and they would all become important to Megan in some way. Every piece of her life, in this world or her own, would start to link up with the ponies. Swimming would be preparation for visiting sea ponies, homework would become strategy for invading threats.
Birthdays would become Sun Tuesday.
Megan ripped the Rainbow of Light locket from her neck and set it down on the window sill. “Actually, I think I want to go home. I think I want to find out what I like that isn’t about ponies. I want to see what’s in my world and not compare it to this one. I’m not a real person—I haven’t been since I was a kid. I’ve been half in my world, waiting for a way back to this one. I want to go home and see what that’s like.”
Twilight looked pleased—maybe even proud—as she said, “I’ll show you the way.”
As Megan crossed the room, she pulled the pink ribbon from her hair and let it flutter to the floor.
And maybe one day, she thought, when I’m a real person again, I’ll get to know my daughter.