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"You're late."

A barely audible voice wafted towards Rarity through the cool afternoon wind, as well as the sound of her cloak and mane flapping to her left in the selfsame breeze. Her thoughts, however, were on neither of these things, but on the smiling unicorn waving to her from the base of Ponyville's clock tower.

Or at least, tried to wave. It was more like a singular flap of her hoof. But Rarity appreciated the gesture regardless.

"Actually, no. You were early. By two hours." Rarity caught up to the unicorn, and looked straight on at her mane, mostly covered by a hood which obscured most of her face. What was visible was dark and disheveled, but after much scrutiny Rarity could still just catch a few stray, purplish tints. "I was actually hoping you'd realize it." She paused for a second. "Meaning that I was actually hoping in general." She took out two sandwiches from the two plastic bags which had been in her cloak. "Daffodil and daisy, yes? One of your favorites, Spike told me."

The other unicorn nodded. "Thank you." She took a bite, then spoke again. "So, stop me if you've heard this one. The great and powerful jet-setting Rarity, of Manehattan's Carousel Fashions, invites a pony to a lunch date in the town where the two spent their adolescent years. Her invitee, Twilight Sparkle, experiences several emotions, the strongest of which is abject surprise." Twilight fed Rarity a wry grin. "Not that I'm not happy to see you, but it's been years."

"I know." Rarity took a bite of the sandwich, then took a drink from a levitating water glass. "Can you blame me, though? You're a near-impossible unicorn to find, playing nomad as you are. Also, I don't 'jet' anymore. I have people to do that for me."

Twilight gasped in remembrance. "Oh, yes, how is Spike? And Sweetie Belle?"

Rarity laughed and shook her head. "I think some of your genius must have rubbed off on him. Who could have guessed that that ponies were ready for dragon-flavored fashion sensibilities? Honestly, between Spike's sense of flair and my sister's downright uncanny knack for reading people, those two have taken things to heights I never dreamed--and that's only speaking on the subject of business."

Twilight giggled. "They're still together, then?"

"Couldn't pry them apart with a crowbar." Rarity rolled her eyes. "Believe me, the media's tried its fair share of times. I stop them before they get the chance, though, since if they break up, I think the business goes right along with it." She chuckled and took another bite of the sandwich, the combination of bread and flowers unexpectedly sweet in her mouth. No wonder Twilight preferred it. "But they're not the reason I'm here."

Twilight nodded. "Yes, let's get to that. So why did you ask me here? There are easier ways to catch up on old times. D-mail's worldwide now, after all."

"Yes, well. You know my penchant for the personal touch." Rarity took a deep breath, and exhaled just as sharply. "Twilight. I hate to use the word 'intervention.' I truly do. However-"

Twilight instantly shivered, and her voice voice took on an edge. "Look. I-if this is about Appleloosa? O-o-or Fillydelphia, or Los Pegasus? Right, Los Pegasus, I remember starting there. Yeah, if you're here on behalf of those places, tell them what I told everpony else--I've just been trying to help."

Rarity countered with a single word. "Canterlot."

Twilight froze. "Word's gotten as far as there, huh?"

"Come back there with me. The Princesses miss you. I miss you. You've done all you can. You've done enough."

Twilight shook her head. "N-no I haven't, Rarity! I'm Equestria's protector. I'm the Element of Magic! Celestia appointed me herself, remember? All those years ago-"

"Twilight!" Rarity slapped her hooves on Twilight's shoulders. "You just said the key words."

Twilight didn't reply.

Rarity gestured upwards with her right hoof. "Twilight. This tower we're under has been around nearly as long as we have. It is some of the finest construction Ponyville has ever borne witness to. Through the years, it has done its job admirably. We have come to respect it with all of our hearts. But in the time of its existence, new clocks, more efficient clocks with even greater potential, have been invented which could easily take its place. And it's not its fault."

Twilight remained silent, digesting the words, until she tilted her head. "Wait, Rarity. Are you comparing me to a clock?"

Rarity shrugged. "I wish I were. Unfortunately, it gets worse. Machines are built with fallibility in mind. They can also be fixed when things go wrong. That clock's had adjustments made over the years to synchronize to the exact times Princess Celestia uses for sunrise and sunset. So barring a temporary power loss, or rust which can be cleaned, it's now never wrong."

The wind blew past them both as Rarity worked up the nerve to say her final sentence. When she at last managed, a lump in her throat was the price. "That kind of thing doesn't apply to unicorns. Not even the most powerful or good-natured of prodigies."

Twilight shook her head violently. "Rarity, I'm not going to listen to this."

"You have to, Twilight! Going around every town and country trying to try to stop crimes, poofing in out of nowhere and trying to right wrongs and pass judgment, trying to use unreliable magic to solve problems, with no real order to your methods-"

"You sound just like everypony else! Just because I make a few mistakes sometimes! I rebuild everything I, um, break down, don't I? And I help everypony who might get hurt recover! My magic isn't unreliable!"

"Your magic wasn't unreliable. But magic is only as honed as the mind and body behind it! It's been too long. Even for you. All those problems you've solved... they don't count if you were their cause in the first place, does it?"

Twilight shrank back with a small whimper and sniffle. Rarity knew she'd hit the best and worst nerve she could have.

Rarity sighed and shook her head. "Twilight, please. I'm not here to condemn. I know it's easy to forget. But you've inspired so many ponies. And they've gone on to create wondrous things, all thanks to you. But consider this. Sweet Apple Acres is in the best of hooves, none of which belong to Applejack. Pinkie Pie's circus is a hit across Equestria. You already know about my fashion empire, Fluttershy, rest her soul, has a charity named after her which benefits the entire world, and Rainbow Dash teaches now. Teaches. Behind a desk. Rainbow Dash. So please, answer for me: which one of us is not like the others?"

At this, Twilight removed her hood, giving Rarity a full-on view of the wrinkled, violet face behind it. Her expression was worn, but well-traveled. Her eyes, however, still flashed with the energy of youth, despite the tears welling up just under them.

"I can still do this," she said in a soft, determined voice.

"Twilight." Rarity touched Twilight with a ginger hoof. "It's okay to let go."

"No! I'm still useful! I can still make a difference! And I'll start here. Without any problems!"

Before Rarity could stop her, Twilight's horn took on a glow, a violet beacon in in the darkening afternoon. Glitter of the same color swirled around her in an upside-down tornado, kicking up wind which spread outward from her. Rarity's clothing and mane now flew backwards instead of to the side.

"What are you doing?" Rarity half-yelled through the miniature storm.

Twilight's smile was hopeful and cocksure. "Just giving this tower a facelift. I'll prove to you that anything can be given a new lease on life! Just so long as somepony believes in it!"

For about ten seconds, Rarity could only gasp in awe as the glitter surrounded the tower, and it began to change. To shine. Its materials became brighter and more solid.

Then she looked back at Twilight.

Her mouth was slack-jawed. Her eyes were glazed over. It wasn't the look of concentration from an experienced mage. It was the barely-conscious gaze of someone who had become lost in her own spell.

The second Rarity realized this, she saw a shadow over them. The tower was crumbling.

"Twilight, watch out!"

Rarity grabbed Twilight, transporting the two to a safe distance just in time. A humongous pile of metal and stone collapsed in a heap, quickly becoming Ponyville's newest calamity and centerpiece.

---

It was sheer fortune that the surrounding area had been deserted at the time. Housing had moved outward the over the years. However, the peace was not to last.

As Twilight and Rarity returned to inspect the damage, other ponies came out of their houses, walking to Ponyville's old central square; some for the first time in months. Twilight looked at their faces. She recognized a few--they looked as old as she did. The large majority, however, she didn't recognize at all.

But they all shared one thing in common--the shocked looks on their faces. Twilight looked back at the rubble.

"This was me," she whispered. "Oh, Celestia, I am the problem."

The last thing Twilight saw for quite some time was Rarity's outstretched forelegs, just before she dove into them through sobs. She hoped against hope that the embrace of her old friend would be enough to dull the pain of responsibility.

Naturally, it didn't.
Original Synopsis:
Such is the law of the universe: the story of anypony's exploits eventually must end, and fade into legend.
But Twilight Sparkle isn't ready for her book to be closed. Not yet.


What Is This?:
My silver-medal-winning entry into Everfree Northwest's Iron Author Writing contest! Special ingredients: a fall from greatness, Ponyville's clock tower, and lunch, all within 2.5 hours.

Dear Princess Celestia:
I guess it's been made clear by now that Season 2's gone into overtime. For how long? Who can say...? :O

Text by Bookish Delight, 2011-2012. My Little Pony belongs to Hasbro, not to me. This is done completely bereft of profit.
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:iconregreme:
Regreme Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2013
Amazing chapter again. Finally got the chance to read more. The last few days being sick has made it hard to catch up on things.@_@
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:iconclockworkdawn:
ClockworkDawn Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2013
Finally! A damn good fanfic! Really well written and all these characters fit really well into there positions! just great!
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:iconbookishdelight:
BookishDelight Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2013   Writer
Awww, thanks!
Reply
:iconclockworkdawn:
ClockworkDawn Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2013
Its fine just i havent had a good fanfic in while, Fimfic is basicly all shippings. Kinda annoying.
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:iconnikki-nicole-p:
Nikki-Nicole-P Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Very nicely done; it's rare I've seen such a story handled well, and you've certainly done it. Believable with all characters, with sweet notes on what those not present are doing, and with an ending both satisfying and open. <3
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:iconbookishdelight:
BookishDelight Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012   Writer
Thanks so much!

...oh, hey, I know that name! I usually see you around Goji's neck of the woods. Hi! (waves) ^_^
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:iconnikki-nicole-p:
Nikki-Nicole-P Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
He sent me. ^^ I was complaining about losing patience with Ponyfic. Xe3
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:iconbookishdelight:
BookishDelight Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012   Writer
Oooh, yeah. That's a thing that'll happen. ^^;

Well, um, no clue if I'd prove to be a sufficient brand of therapy or not, but just the same, great to have you here. ^_^
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:iconnikki-nicole-p:
Nikki-Nicole-P Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
So far so good! I will read more soon.

Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow....but soon.
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:icontenrahsoj:
Tenrahsoj Featured By Owner Aug 24, 2012
Absolutely loved it. The only problem I have is that it doesn't feel complete. I don't quite feel like Twilight has come to terms with the fact that it's time to move on. Like she's about to get there, but hasn't yet.
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:iconbookishdelight:
BookishDelight Featured By Owner Aug 25, 2012   Writer
Thanks! :)

And yeah, I was running out of time about when I got to that ending, so I decided to cut it off at the point where Twilight just starts to understand the gravity of the situation. The rest is officially for you wonderful readers to expand on! Kickstart the imagination, that's my motto. ^_^
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:iconburstingseas:
BurstingSeas Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
that was bauteyfull {tear of joy }
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:iconbookishdelight:
BookishDelight Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2012   Writer
Awww, thanks! ^^
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:iconburstingseas:
BurstingSeas Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
no problem
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:icongojira007:
Gojira007 Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2012
(Question rescinded; dA seems like the best spot for me to comment on this story, though I remain curious if you have a particular preference where I leave my comments on your work. X3 ^_^)

I don't usually say "I told you so", but dammitall I so told you so: given a fairly cliched and over-done scenario-one of the Mane Six is getting old and dealing with mortality-, you took it and found a spin to it that I've never seen or thought of before, but feels entirely sincere and true to the characters and is absolutely arresting to read.

Right off the bat, the Twilight/Rarity dynamic is fantastic. Much like your take on Rainbow/Twilight in "To The Future", the baseline of their original, younger relationship is clearly present, but the inevitable tide of changes brought on by the years makes itself equally clear at every turn. Their dialogue together just sings throughout the story; Twilight's opening "stop me if you've heard this one before" in particular stood out as an excellently-realized bit of characterization, serving not only as a smoothly expositional way to set up the story but also as Twilight's own way of setting the pleasant, elegant tone Rarity values so highly. Likewise, the ways in which they gossip and try to catch up with each other radiates with both creativity (Spike and Sweetie Belle? Never considered it before, but you make it irresistably intriguing....) You just plain do a great job of reminding us who these characters are and the particular nature of their connection, and given what the story is ultimately about, that is of crucial importance.
Indeed, I think one of the absolute strongest moments of the story is Rarity's attempt to argue her case to Twilight. Everything about it clicks: Rarity's particular framing of the issue, her use first of the Personal (examples of Ponies they know and are close with) and then the more technical (the clock tower), gets right back to that keen grip of Relationship you always showcase in every story you write, showcasing her keen understanding of who Twilight is and how she processes things. That it is clearly such a struggle for her to say something this difficult to somepony she cares about so much makes it all the more powerful; when she lays flat what she's trying to say, you just nail it so perfectly.

Perhaps the greatest masterstroke of the story, however, is the angle you've taken on the premise. Like I said, seeing one of the Mane Six struggling with age and mortality, of the Glory Days of youth giving way to the not-so-Glorious Days of old age, is a story premise I've seen used before, and in many cases to great effect. But this particular idea, that Twilight simply can not let go of the responsibility she feels is hers alone, is one I have never seen before. Now that you've brought it up, I can think of no progression more natural. Twilight's obsessive tendencies have always been her achilles' heel, and you've also been doing a great job in your other stories of showcasing how her sense of Duty, to Celestia and to her friends, likewise can often put a vice-grip on her thoughts. So when the Magical abilities that have defined her for so long begin to fall apart, it only makes sense she would go into denial and begin a futile quest to show she's still got it. For herself, for her Princess, for her friends...it makes a terrifying kind of sense, and it hits with all the force of a jackhammer the more it becomes clear.

I'm not at all surprised you pulled this off so well. Like I said, you have a gift for finding the emotional truth at the heart of any Story Idea, no matter how cliched, and I'm likewise happy but again unsurprised to see that Silver Medal you won. :+favlove: all the way. ^_^
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:iconbookishdelight:
BookishDelight Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2012   Writer
Once more, you flatter me almost to excess.

In all seriousness, this actually was one of the best exercises I could have ever taken part in as a writer. My futile and oxymoronic aversion to "cliched" or "already done" story premises is something I've long needed to confront, and this flashfic contest, where I was essentially forced to stop second-guessing myself in the interest of time, was exactly what I needed.

Not that the story's premise didn't change three times in those near-three hours, but you see what I'm getting at. Still, this is a huge turning point in my hobby--perhaps even a new writer's power! The sooner I can stop shooting down ideas I know I'd genuinely love to write just because they've been "done already" who knows how many times or because the certain prereaders would likely turn a blind eye to the premise on general principle, the more comfortable I can be with myself, and the more fun I'll have with this.

Because no matter how many times an idea's been done, my flavor will make it unique to some degree. Besides, people tend to look for stories "like" the ones they've already read and liked before, so...

COMING 2013
TWILIGHT MESSES UP A SPELL WHICH CAUSES RAINBOW DASH TO LOSE HER WINGS
WATCH FOR IT
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:icongojira007:
Gojira007 Featured By Owner Aug 24, 2012
It's not flattery if it's true. Or, to put it in LESS flattering terms, I wouldn't say any of it if I didn't think it was true. ^_^

Yes, I'd taken notice of your tension around "been done" story premises more and more the last few months, and as I think I've told you before, I always felt you should not have let that factor scare you off. As the saying goes, there are only so many stories in the world, and the value of each new one we tell isn't whether or not it's been done before, but whether there is something real and compelling to still be found with the version you tell. I think you more than adequately demonstrated that here. :)

And ugh, I know you struck out the line, but...well, I'll Note you my feelings on the matter when I can (which admittedly might be a bit; busy, busy, busy I am XD; ), lest my airing of grievances were to prove inappropriate in a public forum. Suffice it to say, ugh. lD;

COMING 2014
SOMETHING TO DO WITH APPLEJACK'S PARENTS
WATCHING FOR IT 8B
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:iconlurks-no-more:
Lurks-no-More Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2012
A sad and unexpected, but terribly plausible, view of the future.

I hope for Twilight's sake that she learns to unwind a bit better before this happens...
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:iconbookishdelight:
BookishDelight Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2012   Writer
Indeed.

I've thought about having this be canon to the little universe my stories have set up here. Still undecided, though.
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