The AU is centered on a Rarity a thousand years in the future after she accidentally found a time portal and ended up in the castle of Empress Andromeda (this future’s Twilight). We follow Rarity as she comes to terms with her new reality and a completely changed (for the worse) Twilight.
In the past, after Rarity’s disappearance, a grief-stricken Twilight threw herself into magic, science, and anything to help her get Rarity back. She got obsessed, sadness blinding her, sending out search parties, anything to find a lead, and in the process accidentally neglecting her friends along the way. With time they all passed away, and in her renewed grief and regret, she turned to dark magic to help ease the pain. She locked away her emotions, unaware that by doing so, she would lose her memories and essence of who she was, leaving instead an emptiness she couldn’t place, and a burning consuming need to search the land even though she doesn’t even know what she’s looking for anymore.
Inspiration song: Graveyard by Halsey.
Warning: Suicide Mention / Contemplation! — You can hide marked sensitive content or with the toggle in the formatting menu. If provided, alternative content will be displayed instead.
It was her eyes that scared Rarity. Angry. No, not only angry. There was something else to them, something deeply upsetting that Rarity couldn’t figure out. But it—whatever it was—was there, lurking and hissing, and keeping the unicorn up at night.
Which wasn’t hard when she was already a… forced guest of the gaudiest, darkest castle she’d ever seen in her life. Dark towers, dark windows, and dark rooms, each and every last one as somber as their somber owner.
At least the bed was soft, Rarity thought, lying on it in the middle of her room-slash-prison. She’d been lying in bed too much recently, especially after the fight, but what else was she supposed to do? Explore the castle she’d aimlessly explored fifty times already and risk facing the guards’ wrath? Try to find a way to go home, perhaps? But how would she do that when home wasn’t a place she could even go to anymore?
It was gone, lost in time, the result of a time-travel accident Rarity had long accepted had been a one-way trip.
She blinked and realized she was crying, something that happened when she thought of home for a bit too long. Stars, she missed it. She wanted to go home, to her family, and her friends, and her cat, and her… her marefriend, who’d been replaced instead by a vicious, bitter empress.
She rolled to her side, her brow knitting. “Andromeda isn’t Twilight,” she thought with as much venom as Andromeda herself had hissed it to her a few nights before. That was maybe the unicorn’s only solace. That the Twilight she knew was dead and gone, unaware of the monster she’d become.
Knock, knock, knock!
Her eyes drifted to the door just as a voice spoke: “Dinner is served!”
Rarity groaned, covering her head with the pillow. In truth, she didn’t feel much like eating, wanting to stay in her room sulking instead, but… did she really want the guards barging in and forcing her to the dining room like the last time?
No, not really.
“Coming!” she called back, gathering up her strength and hoisting herself off bed, a great sigh following after. Maybe Andromeda would still be gone, still throwing a tantrum and skipping dinner for the fourth night in a row.
The walk to the dining room was uneventful, and dinner would be so as well, it seemed, judging by the lone plate set out on a table meant for twelve. A servant stood by, her expression as impassive as Rarity felt.
“Is the Empress not joining me?” Rarity asked, and rolled her eyes when the unicorn stayed mum. “She’s not here, you know? You don’t have to pretend you’re a statue.”
When again the unicorn said nothing, Rarity sighed and took her seat in front of her dinner: a plain, dull bowl of soup—again. Was Andromeda punishing her for their discussion? Oooh, you dare suggest that maybe I wasn’t a total grimalkin when I was younger? Just for that I’m going to have you eat food that will make you wish you ate grass.
Which she could, Rarity supposed. Wouldn’t that be a show of power? Well, Empress, it just so happens I rather would eat grass, you witch! Nom nom nom!
She got up and walked towards a nearby window, remorsefully looking out into the gardens and the lake in the distance. “I suppose if I asked you how can I escape this place, you wouldn’t tell me, would you?” She knocked the glass with her hoof when no answer came. “But I suppose you’d scream your head off if I opened this window and tried to jump, wouldn’t you?”
Once again, silence answered her instead.
She examined the window’s rudimentary lock. It wasn’t actually locked or difficult to open. She could, if she wanted, genuinely just push the window up and jump to her death. Maybe this time it would work, unlike her four or five attempts months ago when she thought a worse fate awaited her. Before she’d even realized that Andromeda was Twi—Had been Twilight.
Doors opened in the distance, and finally the servant spoke.
Rarity didn’t bother turning to look at Andromeda. She didn’t want to. The dear Empress didn’t deserve an ounce of her effort or attention. And yet, she knew she had to look. Not because she wanted to, but because if she didn’t…
She turned to Andromeda just as the alicorn spoke, peering over the bowl.
“Not hungry?” she asked. “You haven’t touched your dinner.”
“Pray tell,” Rarity replied, “why do you care?”
“I don’t,” Andromeda replied. “I just want to know if this is a sign of sickness, rebellion, or simple lack of hunger.”
“Well, let’s see,” the unicorn replied, turning back to her window in a suitably dramatic fashion, “if I say I’m sick, you’ll cart me off to a doctor to be checked up which would be a nuisance for me. If I say it’s rebellion, you’ll have your lackeys force-feed me so I can’t starve myself. So, I suppose let’s say it’s simple lack of hunger since you’d be hard pressed to find someone with an appetite for the tasteless water you call soup.”
Andromeda didn’t say anything back initially. She just stayed silent while Rarity looked out the window, her gaze lost to the distant lake.
“What are you thinking about?” Andromeda eventually asked.
Rarity nearly scoffed. How dare she? March in there and try to make small talk as if their last conversation hadn’t been Andromeda yelling and threatening her like a crazed, enraged beast.
“I’m thinking about killing myself,” Rarity replied, as casually as though she were noting the weather. She wasn’t actually thinking about it—once, she had, but now she just didn’t have the energy to go through with it—but it helped to say it. She wanted to be provocative, to show Andromeda just how little she cared for her.
Or maybe she just wanted a reaction. Rarity would never admit it, but maybe that’s what she craved still. Some stupid, sunforsaken sign that Twilight Sparkle was somewhere in there, and she would never allow the unicorn to say such terrible things.
No such luck, though.
“Ah. Still? I would have thought you’d discard those ideas after your several unsuccessful attempts. What would you gain by dying? There is nothing after death.”
“I’d see my family,” Rarity said, focusing her sight on her own reflection and the tired eyes staring back. “My friends.”
“I just said that there’s nothing after—”
“Maybe you’re wrong, then!” Rarity snapped despite herself, turning to look at the alicorn who was emotionless as bloody always. She quickly reigned herself in and turned back to her window, lest she sock the empress. “Maybe I’ll die, and I’ll see them all again, and it’ll be okay.”
Wouldn’t that be nice? She clung to that, the idea that she would still get to see everypony she loved again, even if it meant dying. She would see her sister, and her family, and her friends, but…
Her eyes welled up without her consent.
But not Twilight, of course. If there truly would be ponies waiting for her in the afterlife, Twilight Sparkle would not be one of them, and that thought alone cut her like she’d lost her beloved all over again.
Stars, she missed Twilight so much she could die, and that wouldn’t fix anything at all.
“Maybe I’ll drown myself,” she continued. “Walk into the lake and just never come back.”
“Very well, then,” Andromeda said. “Go ahead.”
Rarity turned to her, anger and bitterness turned to shock. “What?”
“You may go to the lake and end your life. I’ll go with you so the guards won’t stop you.”
“You’re not serious. Is this some kind of sick joke?”
Andromeda’s eyes pierced into Rarity. “I do not joke,” she said. “I would have thought you’d know that by now.” When Rarity faltered, the empress tilted her head and raised her eyebrow in such a Twilight-fashion that the unicorn had to look away. “What’s wrong? Is this not what you want?”
Even the tone was the same. The almost imperceptible teasing. Like they were back to before, and Twilight Sparkle was calling her out on a silly bluff.
But this wasn’t Twilight Sparkle. And it wasn’t a bluff either.
“It is,” Rarity said suddenly, and she stomped past the alicorn, determined. She was going to do it. To hell with it all.
She marched decisively, ignoring Andromeda walking behind her at a relaxed, brisk pace, the servants glancing at them every now and then. The entire walk went by fast, Rarity consumed by her thoughts. Yes, she would die, and then Andromeda would see, and feel awful and terrible and maybe for once she’d experience something close to being a decent pony.
It wasn’t until she was right in front of the lake that she snapped back to reality, distracted by the fact that, well, she’d never actually made it there before.
The sprawling lake had always looked dark and ominous from afar, muddied and murky, but staring down at it, Rarity was shocked to find it crystal clear. Pure, almost, as trite as that sounded. She didn’t even need to squint to see schools of colorful fishes swimming in its depths.
She was reminded of a time, long long ago, when she’d told Twilight that she’d only join her for a swim in the Ponyville lake if it was clear as a glass of water.
“Why is it so clear?” Rarity asked, the words tumbling out her mouth unbidden. “Is it naturally this clean?”
“No,” Andromeda replied, and Rarity’s breath caught in her throat, almost choking her when the empress continued, “It’s enchanted with a magic spell I renew every month.”
Rarity was no fool. She wasn’t about to give herself hope. And yet.
“Why do you keep it clean?” Rarity interrupted, and though that would have usually earned her a remark from Andromeda, this time… This time it didn’t.
Andromeda’s brows creased, not upset but thoughtful. “I don’t know why,” she replied. “I’ve always kept it this way for as long as I remember.” She frowned further, confusion plain in her eyes, and her nose scrunched up in a way so painfully Twilight it was almost too much for Rarity to bear. “Why do I keep it so clean?”
The first thing Rarity noticed as she sunk into the lake was how warm the water was. How could something in a world so awful be so warm and inviting? Maybe drowning wouldn’t be so bad in a place like that. Maybe, maybe, maybe. To take a final breath and have the water fill her lungs and… and… and…
She re-emerged half a minute later, not with a gasp of air, but an exhale of everything she felt. She brushed the hair off her face with a wisp of magic and then proceeded to do nothing but float in place and stare up at the sky.
“What happened to your death wish?”
“I changed my mind. Drowning sounds unpleasant.”
That wasn’t necessarily a lie, but it wasn’t entirely the truth either. The truth, which Rarity knew and had known since the moment she’d learned who Andromeda used to be, was that she couldn’t bring herself to end her life while under the alicorn’s watch.
Out of love and respect for what they once were, she would not further taint what remained of Twilight’s soul by letting her be the driving force behind her death.
“Are you going to force me back to the castle?” Rarity asked.
“Do you want to go back?”
“No.” She exhaled the longest breath she could and sunk into the water a few inches. When she breathed in again and held it, she floated up. “I want to stay here, and… And I want you to tell me a story.”
If Rarity dared to hope for better, she would say Andromeda sounded amused. The entire scenario was amusing, if she really thought about it. Not even ten minutes ago she was saying she’d kill herself, and now there she was, floating in the water and moving her hooves in long, relaxed strokes like a foal on a summer day.
I’m making water angels, she would have said if her friends or Twilight were there.
“A story,” Rarity repeated. “Or something. I don’t know. Tell me about the last book you read.”
“Why should I?”
Rarity’s eyes met the alicorn’s. “Because you owe it to me to be nice for once in your life.”
Now some emotion underlined the empress’ voice, her wings flaring. “Because I owe it to you? You are the one that infiltrated my bedroom castle, bypassing all my security, and sticking your nose where nopony’s nose should be. Just because I’m willing to entertain the idea that you somehow time-traveled into my castle doesn’t mean I owe you anything, much less being nice.”
Rarity held her gaze and then looked back to the sky. “Then do it because I’m asking, Empress Andromeda. Just talk. I don’t care about what, I just want to listen.” Her voice fell to all but a whisper. “Please.”
After a moment’s silence, Andromeda spoke:
“You are a strange pony, Rarity.”
And then she continued, indulging the unicorn and speaking about her designs for a new magical device. Andromeda spoke and spoke, and as she did, Rarity closed her eyes and fell prey to the one thing she’d kept trying to avoid.
Listen to Twilight speak, not Andromeda.
It was stupidly easy to do when her eyes were closed and she couldn’t see Andromeda. Her voice hadn’t changed, it was still the same, still Twilight Sparkle—she just had to imagine Twilight was too tired to have much emotion, and there it was. That was all.
She floated in the water for what felt like hours, not paying attention to the meaning of the words, but just to the sound that kept going and going right up until…
Right up until Rarity strayed a little too far away, and Twilight’s magic wrapped her and floated her back with such care and gentleness that suddenly it was all too much.
Rarity suddenly sank into the water, as deep as she could go, rubbing away the tears with her hooves. Celestia, she thought, holding her aching chest. When will this end?
Andromeda seemed annoyed when she re-emerged.
“I was talking,” she pointed out in a huff, watching as Rarity swam ashore, her wet mane plastered over her tired, puffy eyes.
“I apologize, Empress,” she replied, walking past the alicorn. “But I think I would like to go back to my room now.”
Rarity walked a few steps more before abruptly stopping and turning to the empress, who was busy looking down at her reflection in the water.
Andromeda didn’t turn back, but her suddenly upright ears signaled her attention.
Rarity was no fool, but… that didn’t mean she couldn’t pretend she was one.
“Thank you,” she said, aching chest and aching heart.
“For keeping the lake clean.”
She wanted to say it, just in case Twilight could hear, even if it meant Andromeda would reply back with some rude remark. I don’t do it for you, or something of the sort.
“You’re welcome, Rarity,” the empress said instead, still staring at the water and missing the unicorn’s shock. “I will have the servants take you dinner to your room. Something more appetizing than soup.” Her ears lowered. Minimally, but they did. Even her tail moved, wrapping around her body like a shield. “As my… guest, you shouldn’t feel inclined to starve.”
Rarity swallowed the knot in her throat. “…Thank you. I appreciate that.” After a pause, she tried to say more, but Andromeda got there first.
She finally turned, their gaze met, and it was then that Rarity understood why Andromeda’s eyes kept her up at night. She had known all along, she just hadn’t wanted to admit it. It was because those were Twilight’s eyes. Hers, through and through, troubled and hurt and distant, but still the same piercing eyes she’d had centuries ago.
She was still in there.
“I hope you have a good evening,” Twilight Sparkle said.
And for the first time in what felt like eternities, Rarity smiled genuinely. “You too.”
If you find any typos, feel free to comment and I’ll get to them asap!