- "I’m staying, Thorax. We're in this together now."
“Because you’re my friend. And good friends stick together. No matter what.”
“…even at great cost to themselves?”
Grief is the Price We Pay is a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic by Scyphi. You can read it at Fimfiction.net.
The fanfic proposes the idea that, instead of everyone believing and accepting Throax's attempt at friendship, what if he was instead demonized and banished from Equestria, with Spike willfully following suit in order to protect his new friend. From that point on, the story follows the duo as they attempt to continue their lives in hiding while Twilight and company adamantly searches for them.
This Fan Fic contains examples of:
- Adaptational Villainy: Twilight and company are pictured as aggressive xenophobes and go so far as to throw Thorax in prison, before ultimately banishing the changeling. Somewhat downplayed in regards to their behavior towards Spike, who they view as being a victim of mind control; Twilight's goal is to safely get Spike home and away from the "dangerous monster" who is obviously altering his mind. banish Spike for supporting Thorax. As the story goes on, Twilight gets the most of this, with the others beginning to recognize her bias against the shape-shifting species and her being the very last individual to accept that mistakes were made.
- Bittersweet Ending: Scyphi's version of To Where and Back Again does still end in the dethroning Chrysalis and the reformation of the changelings... at the cost of Thorax's death, meaning that while the changelings are reformed, they are now leaderless. There are nine more chapters after this event. By the final chapter, an internal investigation of Equestrian government affairs leads to all the royals having their autonomy stripped to various degrees, with Twilight losing all of her political power outside of friendship-related duties due to effectively being the starting point of the entire mess. While still hopeful for peace, relations between the dragons are still strained, to say nothing of the situation between Equestria and the newly reformed Changeling hive, which becomes a source of political and social unrest everywhere in Equestria outside of Ponyville and Vanhoover. Speaking of, Spike chooses to permanently reside in the city, with him and Twilight's relationship still incredibly strained, though his relationship with the others manages to improve. The story ends with Spike publishing the events of the fic in-universe, while Twilight receives a map mission to read a copy of the very book that he mails to her, with said copy having an ambiguous thank-you message to Twilight, leaving both her and the audience wondering whether or not Spike has or will ever forgive her for everything that happened.
- Black-and-White Insanity: Ponies believe that all changelings are evil.
- Dramatic Irony: Fluttershy tries to comfort Twilight that Thorax would have died whether or not he got accepted in the Crystal Empire on that fateful day. Readers know very well that this isn't the case.
- Dramatically Missing the Point: Shining Armor understands that Twilight is upset about banishing Spike alongside Thorax and he says that Princess Celestia must have felt the same after banishing her sister. Of course he is missing or ignoring one important fact: Nightmare Moon was a direct threat to Equestria and tried to kill Celestia. Thorax's only "crime" is belonging to the same race as Chrysalis and Spike was merely defending him.
- In fact, it could be said that Shining Armor and Twilight are acting more like Luna as Nightmare Moon. Much like Celestia, Spike tried talking to them, but they are so blinded by hatred and racism that they don't even consider listening to him.
- Evil Is Petty: Twilight and Shining are not evil, but all of their hatred towards changelings results from their grudge against Chrysalis.
- Fantastic Racism: The ponies refuse to believe that Thorax is a good changeling, simply because to them there is no such thing as a good changeling.
- Thorax lampshades it to Twilight. They will never believe in anything he might say simply because he is a changeling. Twilight denies that she might be a racist, even though minutes before she just claimed that Thorax belonged to a race of born deceivers and liars.
- Foreshadowing: The three dream sequences and Thorax's sick and delusional rambling during "Getting Worse" all reference future events both minor and major, including his own death.
- Friend to Bugs: Spike is quite literally a bug's (Thorax's) best friend.
- Good Versus Good: Spike just wants his friend to be accepted and Thorax just wants to be accepted, yet they are both forced on the run by Princesses Cadence and Twilight and Shining Armour, who just want to keep Spike and the Crystal Empire (and by extension Equestria) safe.
- Hidden in Plain Sight: Spike and Thorax spend four months living in Vanhoover, where they get a job working in a bookstore and trying not to be noticed.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: Spike and Thorax just want to blend in and live their lives.
- Knight Templar: Twilight. She is so obsessed with tracking down Spike and Thorax that she commits far worse crimes than Thorax is accused of, but still believes that she is right and everyone else is being manipulated.
- My Species Doth Protest Too Much:
- Thorax is the Token Good Teammate to the Changeling race.
- Fly and Princess Luna at least try to give Thorax a chance, unlike the rest of the ponies.
- Never My Fault: Both Twilight and Shining Armor keep saying that they did the right thing, but it is pretty clear that everything that has occured could have been avoided if they let go of their grudge towards Chrysalis and actually considered the possibility of Thorax being good.
- Twilight later goes on total denial that she might be wrong and either gives proofless justifications for her actions or ignoring accusations made to her. She goes as far as attacking Princess Ember, fully aware that it could lead to war, and later tries to justify herself by acting like Ember was the one who started it.
- Finally leads to Twilight still attempting to deflect blame for the situation onto Spike and Thorax following the latter's death, refusing to even say the changeling's name, causing a still grieving Spike to become enraged and hurl a stone at her.
- Only Sane Woman: Inverted with Twilight. As the story goes on, everyone around her can clearly see that she is going too far, with the tipping point being her nearly starting a war with the dragons when Ember refuses to divulge Spike and Thorax's location. Her friends sans Starlight stop speaking to her, and she's forbidden continued involvement with the search for the duo by the other princesses.
- Run for the Border: Spike and Thorax's escape from the Crystal Empire and their plan to get out of Equestria altogether.
- She Who Fights Monsters: Twilight begins turning into this after the encounter in Vanhoover.
- Tautological Templar: Twilight. She is 100% sure that all changelings are evil. Anyone saying otherwise is clearly brainwashed or being deceived.
- Tempting Fate: In "Radio Dramas", Spike is hopeful that he and Thorax can see the day that they no longer have to hide and get accepted by Equestria together. Come "Give or Take", Thorax dies in the battle against Chrysalis.
- Wham Episode: "Give and Take" has Thorax bleed out and die in the final battle against Chrysalis.
- What If?: The premise of the story; what if Spike failed to convince those in the throne room to give Thorax a chance?
- What the Hell, Hero?: Twilight receives this from Fly, Princess Ember and her friends as they notice that she is clearly going too far to capture Thorax, even without any clear proof that he is planning something.
- You Can't Go Home Again: Spike realizes this rather quickly after he helps Thorax escape from the Crystal Empire's dungeons. Also happens to Thorax earlier, when he runs away from the hive. The story ends with Spike permanently living in Vanhoover.