It was cold in this place, she thought to herself. Of course, it was a cave after all, so coldness was expected. Looking around she could tell that this place had been hardly touched in all the years that it had stood. At least until the events of the last few days.
Twilight Sparkle sat at the edge of what was known as the mirror pond. An ancient and, until recently, fairy tale place that dwelt within the Everfree Forest. She herself had heard of the tales, though only in passing as a child. It was not something she'd ever given much thought to. But, her friend, Pinkie Pie, had come here herself and, through the magic of the pond, made many copies of herself. She had done it in an effort to make sure that she was able to spend time with all of her friends.
The purple unicorn could not help but chuckle to herself. As always, she was just being Pinkie Pie. Only the energetic earth pony could come into a magical place like this and casually cast a spell on herself for the simple purpose of spending time with her friends. Because of this, Twilight bore her no ill will. Indeed, it was almost comforting to think that she valued her friends enough to try something like this. But still, she could also not deny that her actions had led to many issues for the ponies of Ponyville.
Fortunately, those issues, the clones of Pinkie Pie, had been dealt with. Twilight had cast a spell on them which returned them to the pond they came from. And that was why she was here now. They'd planed to seal this place away so that other ponies could not get to it. Her friends were out right now, trying to find something suitable to block off the hole that led to this place. But she needed to be down here before they did. Not only was this the only chance for her to gaze upon a magical place like this, but also because she needed some time alone with it.
Because, as much as the troubles of the day had been solved, there was something that was weighing heavily on Twilight's mind. Something she had not yet told her friends. Something she didn't want to tell them. As she gazed into the still waters of the pond, she saw her reflection. Here, with nopony around to see her, she asked her reflection, herself, the question that had been plaguing her all day.
"Was I right.....to do what I did?"
Before she could think of an answer, she heard a sudden voice from behind.
"Do what Twilight?"
Twilight practically jumped out of her skin in shock. Spinning around, she was now looking at the ever-smiling face of her friend Pinkie Pie. The unicorn let out a sigh of relief, her shock vanishing.
"Oh Pinkie. It's you. How's everything going up there?" She asked.
"It's going good! The others found a great big rock and are bringing it here now!" She answered.
Twilight nodded, giving her friend a small smile. She then turned away from her and back to the pond. Pinkie walked over and sat down next to her, looking from Twilight, to the pond, and then back to Twilight.
"Whatcha lookin at?" She asked.
Twilight's expression was thoughtful. In truth, what she was thinking about wasn't something she wanted to discuss with anypony, least of all Pinkie.
Pinkie kept looking at her.
"About.....nothing important." Twilight replied, desperately trying to get out of this line of questioning.
Pinkie started to giggle, earning a raised eyebrow from Twilight.
"Oh Twilight! It HAS to be important! Otherwise you wouldn't be thinking about it silly!" She said jovially.
On any other day, Twilight would have laughed at that. Pinkie knew her well, that much was certain. But this was not any other day. Twilight's expression was becoming one if discomfort, something Pinkie picked up on immediately. Being the kind of pony she was, she could never stand to see any of her friends being anything other than happy. And it was that desire that led her to keep asking.
"Twilight, what's wrong? If something's the matter you know you can tell me." She said.
Twilight looked at her, her mouth open, ready to say something. But she looked away, back to the pond. She knew exactly what was bothering her, something that by all rights would bother anypony. Something that made her feel terrible.
She tried to speak, but her sheer guilt was preventing her. Then, much to her shock, Pinkie finished her sentence for her.
"You're upset about my clones, aren't you?"
Twilight looked at her. Pinkie's face was an expression Twilight had never seen on her before. It wasn't sadness, but something else. A thoughtfulness that Pinkie was not known for. Still, Twilight could not deny that her friend had struck right at the heart of what was bothering her.
"Yes. You know what I had to do for us to get you back?" She asked.
Pinkie nodded, turning her attention to the water.
"You used your magic to zap my clones and send them back to the pond."
She looked at Twilight again, with a slight frown on her face.
"But there's something else, isn't there? Something about what you did that you're not happy about?"
Twilight shut her mouth and nodded. It was true. Twilight had felt nothing but guilt over what she did in the village hall. In order to separate the true Pinkie from the multitudes of clones that had been made, Twilight's magic had been applied to all who had failed the test they gave. That magic reduced them back into their original magical essence and returned them to the waters of the pond. And if a pony were to describe it as that alone, there would be no problem. But Twilight, being the pony she was, was thinking far deeper on the matter.
"Those copies of you, they may not have been born of natural means, but they were still...."
Twilight turned back to the pond, her expression a pained one.
"......they were still ponies. Flesh and blood like you and me. And I.......I ended their lives."
Pinkie's expression became one of concern. She had never seen Twilight like this. Staring at the water, so distraught. Very rarely had her friend been as upset like this. She must truly be troubled by her actions if it was bothering her this much, Pinkie thought to herself.
"Twilight, you told me that they were just.....what was it? Magical constructs? They were made from magic, and when you used your power, they became magic again."
Twilight nodded briefly.
"Yes. But when they were here, moving among us, they were ponies. As real and as living as you or I. And they were like you, Pinkie. They were so much like you that turning my magic against them was like hurting a friend. I didn't want to do it. But I knew if I didn't we would never find you again."
The unicorn looked at her friend again.
"You've become important to us Pinkie. Losing you like that was not an option."
Pinkie said nothing, merely kept her eyes on her distraught friend. And she turned away once more.
She pointed her hoof at the pond, indicating the Pinkie clones.
".....they were just something that prevented us from getting to you. When they were in town, all we could think of was how much of a problem they were to us, how much we wanted to get rid of them. I kept telling myself that it was right to do what we did, what I did. But now......"
Twilight's eyes were beginning to well up at this point. The guilt over what she felt she did was becoming too much for her.
".......now I don't know. What if I was wrong? What if they could have been helped? They were ponies like us, they had the potential to go out, have lives of their own. To live happily and peacefully. Instead, I used my power to take those lives away, all so I could get back something I feared losing. I know they were copies of a pony who already lived, but doing what I did makes me.....it makes me feel like....."
Pinkie looked on helplessly as tears began to flow down Twilight's cheek.
"....makes me feel like a mur-"
Twilight was knocked out of her self-pity by the unexpected shout from Pinkie. She faced her. Pinkie's face was one of anger. But more than that, for there were now tears in her eyes as well as Twilight's.
"I know what you were going to say Twilight. And you're wrong! You did what you did because you wanted a friend back. Because you loved them! Just like I did what I did because I loved MY friends so much!"
Pinkie stood up, her face softening, as she gently placed a hoof on Twilight's shoulder.
"Yes, those ponies may have gone on to live their lives. But maybe they wouldn't. Maybe things would only get worse. You can't blame yourself like this because you were afraid of what might happen. And you certainly shouldn't go around thinking that you're a.....what you were about to call yourself."
Twilight was astonished. In the time she'd known her, Pinkie had almost never shown this much passion for anything aside from parties. To see her in this state almost didn't seem real. But as much as Twilight was shocked to see her like that, it did not match the combination of feelings she was experiencing. Lingering guilt over her perceptions of her actions. A sense of disappointment in her willingness to descend into self-pity like this. She was a wreck, and had allowed herself to become like that.
Looking up, Twilight, in spite of herself, smiled.
"Thank you Pinkie. I'm sorry for.....for everything."
Pinkie's angry face vanished and was replaced with her usual massive smile. Then, before Twilight could react, the pink pony leapt forward and embraced her in a big hug. Recovering, Twilight hugged back, and the two stayed like that for a while, as Pinkie was one to do when her friends were down. Eventually, the two were only disturbed by the sound of a voice from above them.
"Hey Twilight! Pinkie! We're ready when you are!" The voice said.
The two ponies split apart from each other and looked up at the hole in the ceiling. There, waving to them was Big Macintosh, who no doubt had the "big rock" that was mentioned earlier. The two waved back at him and he retreated out of the hole to wait for them. The two gave each other another look before making their way up the passage to the hole. Twilight stopped for a moment and looked back at the pond. She only looked away when she heard Pinkie's voice again.
"Are you going to be okay Twilight?" She asked.
Twilight considered this answer carefully.
"About this, what I did......I don't know if I ever will. But if you're willing to forgive me for it, then I suppose I can move on from this."
Pinkie gave a small smile, nodding in response. She realised that Twilight was still hurting over what happened, and in truth she could not blame her. But she also understood that it was wrong to try and push her out of this right now, that it was best to just easer her out of her guilt gradually. With that dealt with, the two mare made their way out of the whole, preparing to block off the entrance, and ensure that nopony would ever have to go through something like this.