Author's Note: This story was written long before Season 2, Episode 4 where Luna received her canon personality. Drop what you know about her from that episode. Thank you and enjoy!
"You're going WHERE?!"
The earsplitting cry startled the birds that rested atop Twilight Sparkle's library home. Panicking, the birds rushed into the sky to find a safer place to perch.
Twilight was using her magic to pack several books and supplies into a few different bags. The books themselves covered a variety of topics, but she only packed the necessities, knowing she wouldn't need her entire library on her trip to Canterlot. The warm glow of the sun draped appealingly across the room, blanketing every surface. Certainly there was no better time to travel; the springtime aura penetrated everything, from the simplest plant to the most complex animal species. Life itself just seemed so vibrant, and Twilight was eager to return to her birth city. While continuing to pack, Twilight turned to face her little assistant.
"Spike, I told you last week that I had to go to Canterlot for a few days. Why weren't you listening then?"
Spike was mortified. "Nonono! I know for a fact that if you mentioned you were leaving, I would remember!"
"You need to calm down Spike; you'll see me again before you know it! And besides; I distinctly remember telling you a few days ago when we were gem hunting with Rarity."
"Ahhh… Rarity…" Spike sighed, his eyelids drooped as his eyes went blank; Twilight knew instantly why Spike had no recollection of her story. Twilight couldn't help but giggle, and used the opportunity to pack the final load of her books. While Spike was still in dreamland, she used magic to bring the few bags she had down towards the door. The carriage that would take her to Canterlot would be arriving any minute.
She smiled to herself, letting slip a small portion of her built-up excitement.
Finally, Spike snapped out of his love-induced trance, shaking his head. "Twilight? Twwiiilliight?"
"Down here, Spike!" She called up, giving herself an once-over in the mirror to make sure she didn't look too bad. Her purple mane sparkled in the sunlight pouring in from her window. She smiled and nodded in approval.
Spike rushed downstairs. "Okay, can you please explain why I can't go?" he whined.
"Because," Twilight began, "This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for me. A chance to compete in the Aura Bloom! You know how long I've been waiting to show Princess Celestia all I've learned about magic." The Aura Bloom was a magic competition that hosted some of the most regal, well-known magicians in all of ponydom, occurring only once every three years. The location cycled between the major cities, and it just so happened that this year it was in Canterlot.
Spike crossed his arms and pouted in frustration, glancing down at his feet. "That still doesn't explain why I can't go." He sounded hurt, and a pang of guilt itched at Twilight's side.
She walked over to the baby dragon, lowering her head down to eye level. Her eyes were soft with understanding. "Because, someone needs to take care of Owlowiscious, and I think you're responsible enough to do that. Besides, I'm going to be busy training, and I'm almost certain you would be bored."
They both glanced over to Owlowiscious, perched near the windowsill. Owlowiscious was glaring at Spike with his cold, beady eyes; it made him shiver. "Fine, but if you're making me stay here for your training, you have to promise me you'll let me come see you perform in the Aura Bloom."
Twilight smiled gently, knowing the little dragon only meant well. "Of course you can Spike. In fact, I want all my friends there! It just wouldn't be the same without you guys." She leaned down and wrapped a hoof around him, and gave him a hug. Spike returned the hug after some hesitation.
Spike broke from the embrace. "Alright, alright, enough of this mushy 'feelings' stuff. I'm still not a hundred percent on this, but I guess I can't stop you from competing. No funny business though!" He quipped, pointing at her again.
Twilight giggled, and recited Pinkie's famous promise. "Cross my heart, and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye. OW!" She always hurt herself doing the Pinkie Pie Promise. She scowled at herself and rubbed her eye. She lifted her hoof off, feeling a dull throb. With the pain already subsiding, she opened her front door with magic.
"SUUR-PRISE!!!" Pinkie yelled, hopping enthusiastically through the doorway. It was surprising; it nearly gave Twilight a heart attack! She should've learned by now to expect the unexpected when it came to Pinkie Pie.
Twilight was happy to see her friend before she left, but she was curious why she was standing outside the door. "Pinkie Pie, I'm not saying that it's not nice to see you, but what are you doing here?" She asked, her eyes following Pinkie as she bounced up and down.
Pinkie took in deep, overly-dramatic breath. "Well first I was buying confetti, streamers, and LOTS of balloons, 'cuz why not? You never know when you're going to need them, right? Then I remembered 'OH MY GOSH!! Twilight's leaving today!' And I was all sad, because you're like my bestestestestset friend EVER! And then I was all like 'how could I make Twilight really really happy before she left?' Well, I had a brilliant idea; grab the rest of the girls to come and see you!"
Twilight looked quizzically at Pinkie. "'rest of the girls?" She quoted questionably as she walked over to the doorway. She took a peek outside and instantly saw Fluttershy, Rarity, Rainbow Dash, and Applejack standing on the porch.
"Oh! Hi everypony, this is a bit unexpected." Twilight greeted warmly.
Rarity approached her and gave her a hug. "Well of course, darling! It wouldn't be much of a surprise if you were expecting it! We just wanted to show our support for Team Twilight!" The group of ponies cheered, including Fluttershy who added a very subtle, yet noticeable, yay!
Rainbow flew overhead and landed near Twilight. "You know we got your back, Twi."
"I know you'll perform wonderfully." Fluttershy added, joining the group.
Applejack leaned in towards Twilight. "True enough, Fluttershy. But it's ah mighty shame that we won't get see ya perform…" Applejack uttered with a note of glum in her voice.
Twilight observed her friends' reaction. Between them they look dejected, even Pinkie had stopped bouncing. "I don't know what you mean Applejack. What kind of friend would I be if I didn't invite you to see me in the Aura Bloom?" She laid a hoof on her friend to add a measure of reassurance.
"Ya mean we get 'ta go to Canterlot!?" Applejack asked excitedly.
Twilight nodded with a smile. "Of course! I've already made arrangements for you to be picked up a few hours before the competition."
Rarity lit up. "Picked up, as in a royal carriage?! How absolutely divine!" She exclaimed, clapping her hoofs together.
Just as they all moved in for a group hug, an elegant, white carriage with gold trimming sped overhead, startling Fluttershy, who promptly bolted into a nearby shrub. Twilight walked over to her. "It's okay Fluttershy; it's just my ride to Canterlot."
Slowly, Fluttershy crept out of the bushes, her face burning red. "I'm sorry. I-It just took me by surprise." Fluttershy murmured quietly, kicking a patch of dirt, then squeaked as she feared she had accidently kicked an ant.
The chariot landed gracefully on the dirt road outside Twilight's home, glistening in the afternoon sunlight. Four white, colt pegasi dressed in gilded armor were strapped to the chariot. Their eyes frowned unbreakably forward, an obvious result of their rigorous training. All and all, it was an intimidating sight to be sure.
One of them detached from the carriage and approached Twilight. "Good afternoon, Miss Twilight Sparkle," The royal guard stated in a highly professional manner, "We are under orders to escort you to Princess Celestia. Are you ready to go?"
As he said this, two of the other guards went to work packing Twilight's bags into the back of the spacious carriage. She turned to her friends and gave them each one last hug. "Thanks for coming out girls, it meant a lot to me. I'll see you all soon!"
"We better!" Applejack joked, "Or we'll have'ta hunt ya down!"
Twilight hopped into the carriage, and within a few seconds the colts raced forward, gradually gaining speed as their momentum increased. Simultaneously, they kicked off from the ground and flapped their powerful wings until finally they were soaring in the sky.
The purple unicorn gave her friends one last wave before she disappeared into the clouds.
The flight to Canterlot was uneventful albeit beautiful. The warm sun shone upon the many lakes and foliage that dotted the land, adding a vivacious glow of color to everything around her. Her favorite part however, as always, was when Canterlot could first be seen in sight. The giant, white towers breached the cloud limit giving Canterlot an almost infinite appearance. The city itself was perched flawlessly on a mountainside; as if it had been built right out of the stone of the mountain.
The royal guards flew at a break-neck speed. In a mere 20 minute ride, Twilight had already reached the city of her birth. The carriage came to a halt on a runway right outside the city gates. The massive walls surrounding the city seemed impenetrable, excluding a single portcullis-style entrance. As soon as they landed they marched in formation towards the shining city, leading Twilight, who was in the middle of the two columns of guards.
The contingent walked down the street without stopping. Twilight looked around with nostalgia as she remembered many places she knew from her fillyhood. In the distance, the grand palace could be seen, puncturing the sky with two mighty spires. They entered the royal courtyard and were quickly welcomed inside.
"Princess Celestia!!" Twilight shouted in excitement. She dashed past her guards, who gave an annoyed glance, angered that she broke their ranks; she was too happy to care. She galloped so fast that she practically flew down the aisle towards the throne, where her majestic mentor sat.
Celestia stood up off her throne and prepared herself. "Twilight Sparkle." She responded lovingly. Twilight ran up and gave Celestia a big hug, clutching tightly.
"It's so nice to see you, my star pupil! I'm also glad you accepted my invitation to the Aura Bloom." The Princess's embrace mirrored her truthfulness of the statement. It was that warm, caring hug that truly showed how much Princess Celestia was happy to see Twilight. They stayed that way, silently, until the urge to prolong the conversation hit them, at which point they parted.
Twilight finally replied. "I wouldn't miss it for the world! Thank you for inviting me."
A short time passed where Twilight and her mentor talked about the basics of their lives. How they were, how they've been, and what they've been up to. Twilight was eager to explain in greater detail her studies in magic and friendship, and the Princess was likewise eager to hear them. For Twilight, it was always a breath of fresh air to be in Celestia's presence. Being the fervent student she was, Twilight never had to hold anything back from her teacher, knowing Celestia could not only comprehend it, but debate and encourage her findings.
A flash of movement out of the corner of her eye caught her attention. She turned her head towards Celestia's throne, and to the right of it, nearly invisible in the shadows of a curtain-blocked window, was a dark, night-sky blue alicorn.
"Oh my," Celestia gasped, "Where are my manners? Twilight, you remember my sister, Princess Luna?"
The stillness in the room gave way to an awkward trepidation. Twilight was inclined to keep her stare on the other princess, but a fire in her chest eventually forced her to look away. It wasn't an emotion Twilight was akin to feeling... Anger.
After a few more moments of silence, Celestia interjected. "Luna, why don't you greet our guest?"
After a few moments pause, Luna spoke. "Hi..." The forced greeting came out quietly.
"Hello." Twilight responded curtly.
Twilight didn't like the feeling she was having. It was hard not to feel that way though; Princess Luna had done some horrible things in the past. As Nightmare Moon, she used devious, devilish tactics against Twilight and her friends, and in her opinion it was understandable why she didn't trust the Lunar Princess. The purple unicorn just couldn't believe someone could just let go of a thousand years of resentment so easily, so around Luna, she'd be cautious.
Celestia analyzed both their greetings. "Interesting…" Celestia whispered. Although Twilight didn't think she was supposed to hear that, she couldn't stop herself from asking.
"What's interesting, Princess?"
Celestia snapped back, as if she was in deep thought. "Nothing, my dear pupil. Now, would you want to see the facility where you'll be performing?"
Twilight wanted no less. Any excuse to leave the room was fine by her.
Twilight had never performed for a crowd before. She'd never even done a show for anypony before, unless it was to show what she had learned. Thoughts of stage fright circled in the back of her mind, and the unnatural dread kept making her gulp with anxiety. Twilight did the best she could to block out such thoughts as the Princess was showing her around. It was a quick walk from the Palace to Canterlot Stadium, where the Aura Bloom was to be hosted.
Magnificent columns darted evenly around the whole structure, leading to several marble-like rings that made up parts of the roof. The arches themselves were artistic creations for all seasons, and blended seamlessly with the Gothic features of the roof and ambiance. The wide path was obviously made to herd hundreds of ponies at once, much like any regal attraction. Elegant, green bushes ran down the perimeter of each side. Fountains, flowerbeds, and trimmed trees gave a very festive environment in an upper classed 'look but don't touch' way.
Walking through the arches, Celestia quickly ran over the rules of the competition. Each contestant would have five minutes to show off a remarkable display of magic. Most everything was allowed, so Twilight just had to think of something that would 'wow' everypony. She mentally patted herself on the back for bringing so many magic books; it should be a cinch to find something she could do!
There was also a panel of three judges, each mediating a different concept of the performers and their acts. Celestia was more than happy to run over the identities of the judges so Twilight would know what to expect.
There was Tira Gwuh'Vire, a deep lavender-shaded pony famous for making beautiful art with magic. Her artwork now hung in the most lavish museums in all of ponydom. Her most famous work, "Glimpse of the Moon", depicted Princess Celestia and Luna and their respective solar cycles. Twilight had read many books about her, and some even by her! From the books she read, she knew that Tira was sometimes overly critical with her work, and a true blue perfectionist. She will be looking for creativity and originality.
Also among the judges was Cosmo Soderberg. Twilight knew he was someone Rarity would just die to meet. Cosmo was a light-brown earth colt, well-known in the fashion world as one as the most stylish people in all of Equestria. Less known about him, however, was he enjoyed critiquing magic as a side-profession. Most ponies who are into fashion don't read Cosmo's books about magic, but Twilight has. They were all extremely fascinating, covering subjects from healing to allowing earth ponies to walk on clouds. It was his trick she used so she and her friends could cheer on Rainbow Dash in her flying competition.
What was more impressive was that Cosmo couldn't actually perform any of these types of magic himself, and it was all based off study and hard-work. It was something Twilight thought was truly incredible. In the Aura Bloom, Cosmo would be looking for professionalism of the performer, as well as the mastery of the certain type of magic the performer would be doing.
The final judge was someone who most ponies thought was just a myth, but he was real. Madican Twizzle was a jet-black, elderly colt whose accomplishments led him to achieve hero standings. His story has become a bedtime tale read by many parents to their fillies. A brash saga of an adventurer from a faraway land who came to ours simply to find work as a farmhand, and ended up saving everypony from a horrible drought that lasted many years. The spell he casted, which nearly killed him in the process, made it rain across the land from Canterlot to Sunnyside Bay, hundreds of miles away.
Well past his prime, the feeble pony couldn't do much more than walk from place to place. In his time though, he was the greatest magician in the world. It was an incredible honor to even be in the same room as him. Although she was eager to perform for someone as noble as Madican, she wondered how she would impress a pony that has most likely seen it all…
Celestia assured Twilight that although Madican's mind was as sharp as ever, he was a kind and gentle colt. She promised he would judge fairly, and it helped set Twilight's mind at ease. Twilight also learned that Madican will be judging based on the difficulty of the magic performed.
With Twilight's mind in unrest, Celestia bid her student a good evening and had her escorted to her royal guest room for the night. It was located in one of the three towers outside the palace, and it gave an unlimited view of the entire city, and Twilight was surprised to find the room decorated to suit her.
She took a cursory glance around her bed chamber. The bed - elegantly furnished with gold trim that resembled vines entangling the bed posts - was large and comfortable, if not too big for her. The deep lavender sheets complimented her very personality, as if the room was made for her. The more she looked around, the more she was sure of the fact. Even the rugs that lined the wooden floor were shades of purple. In the corner, there was a suitable desk and chest where she could store all her belongings. Taking care not to damage the bindings, she unloaded the books into their new temporary home.
Although the sun was nearly out of view on the horizon, the thoughts wrestling in her mind kept her from feeling even slightly tired. She was wide awake, and buzzing to keep busy for fear that she might explode with anxiety. She glanced at her books momentarily, wondering if some good old fashion studying would set her mind at ease, but she decided first to get some fresh air, because although the room was nice, it was a bit stuffy from lack of a draft.
She approached a glass door that led to the balcony. On either side, there were ornate curtains blowing in the gentle breeze, making it seem like the room housed royalty, and not a simple purple unicorn. The view itself was breathtaking; she could watch the bustle below for hours. The city worked like a well-oiled machine, with ponies walking every which way with great purpose and pride. It was so unlike Ponyville, where everything happened relatively slow and simple. The complexity to run a city so large was lost on Twilight's gaze.
A flowery aroma halted any thoughts. She closed her eyes and enjoyed the earthy smell. Determined to find the source, she peered downwards. She was surprised to see a garden below her on a hillside, protected behind several buildings and hidden masterfully. From her vantage point, the array of deep colors and geometric pathways looked stunning. Twilight concluded that it was the perfect activity to clear her head.
She was at the bottom floor of her tower in a matter of minutes. It took her a bit longer to find the secluded garden. After some weaving through labyrinthic hallways, Twilight finally stumbled upon an old wooden door with the faint carvings "Moonlit Garden".
She scrutinized the name. Whatever she had seen from far above, it was obvious that the garden's intent was to be viewed at night. She pushed on the door with magic, and it opened with a crrrrreeeaaaaakkkkk. Twilight couldn't help but think the door must be ancient; a hundred years old at least. Color flashed as her mind went blank. The sight from her room did not give the stunning beauty of the garden justice. She found herself staring at a masterpiece of gardening. Smalls trees were trimmed delicately into artisic shapes. The flowers on either side of the small pathway were completely symmetrical. The distant sound of water running echoed off the walls that enclosed the mystical garden.
Twilight walked down a cobblestone pathway, curving around several different types of plants and shrubs. Flowers in shades of blue, black, and white weaved in and out of each other making a symphony of color which seemed to sparkle in the cool night. In the near distance, as she rounded another turn, she saw a stunning marble fountain; its centerpiece was raised on a pedestal depicting four ponies flying around a central glass orb that was bigger than Twilight.
Several sweet breaths were indulged upon. Every time she inhaled, a new fragrance would make her legs weak. The combination of colors, sights, and perfumes was enough to relax her, and she knew that it was the perfect idea to come down here.
As she got a closer look at the fountain, the moon began to rise and fill the looking glass at its heart. She gasped in amazement as she realized the ponies were flying around the moon. It was a humbling sight; the stone ponies seemed to relish the cold glow of the moon.
Once again, movement out of the corner of her eye caught her attention. Twilight caught her breath as she caught site of a black, silhouetted figure on the opposite side of the fountain sitting in the grass. A slight breeze rustled the stranger's mane, and through the moonlight, it sparkled cerulean blue. It was one of the most enthralling sights she'd seen so far, more than any of the flowers in the garden.
The figure turned, and a sudden stumble made Twilight know that the stranger caught sight. Twilight froze, not sure if she should be afraid. The pony got up off the ground and gradually ambled towards the fountain where the moon ignited the colors of the mystery mare.
Twilight stood on edge, her mind rushing into overdrive trying to gain all the information it could about the pony. She was taller than Twilight by about two inches, which didn't seem like much, but Twilight was already averagely tall. Not many ponies could boast such a height difference, except Big Macintosh and Princess Celestia. Her coat was a soft purple-bluish color, as if the pony was covered in the night sky itself. Her long, flowing mane reaching half way down her back, the color making her silver eyes sharpen and glimmer.
"Hi Twilight..." Came the quiet, hesitant voice of the stranger.
"Nightmare Moon." Twilight growled, narrowing her eyes. In an instant, her demeanor shifted from fear to anger. Her own response surprised her. She wasn't usually forthcoming when it came to anger, letting it usually simmer out before it could cause damage. Though, much like Pinkie Pie knew when she tried explaining her Pinkie Sense, Twilight knew she was prone to sudden outbursts if left to pent up after a while. It was happening in this very situation; the past had come back to haunt her as memories of that fearful night left her scarred. The passion she felt that night - Loyalty towards her missing mentor and fear for her friends' safety - boiled to the surface.
Silence rang out louder than a train. It was an internal sound that left both ponies apprehensive.
"M-My name's Luna." The mare corrected timidly, taking a slow step back. Her eyes were still on the ground, afraid to meet Twilight's gaze.
The uneasiness and hesitation in Luna's tone reminded Twilight of Fluttershy, which caught her completely off-guard. This wasn't how she imagined confronting Nightmare Moon would go, especially after defeating her so spectacularly. The last time they had spoken, Nightmare Moon was screaming about how Twilight would never be able to defeat her, right before Twilight united the elements of harmony and overpowered the wicked mare.
Twilight didn't know what to say. She scrambled through her brain to come up with anything that could present her emotions. "What you go by now doesn't change anything," Twilight began. "It's inexcusable."
The Princess fidgeted unevenly, keeping her gaze lowered... those silver eyes hidden by her mane.
"Um… I'm not the same. I-I was consumed by anger," Luna quickly responded, almost pleadingly, "I mean, you didn't know what it was like." She blinked once, drifting off into unnerving silence. Twilight saw a water droplet fall from her eye. The realization of why the Princess was looking down hit her…
Luna was trying to hide the tears falling from her eyes.
Immediately Twilight softened, knowing that she could never be mad at a crying pony. "Well… why were you angry?"
For the first time, Luna looked up to meet her stare. Twilight couldn't help notice that her silver eyes now looked cloudy, like rolling fog. Her heart unexpectedly fluttered.
"I was…It's just…" Luna began, but couldn't find the right words.
Twilight could physically see the mental conflict going on inside Luna. The Princess held her mouth opened as if trying to form words, but unable to. She lowered her head as more tears filled her eyes. "I…I just wanted to be loved." Princess Luna whispered in a passionate, defeated tone.
Luna couldn't handle anymore, and with a sudden outburst of speed, she ran past Twilight to find somewhere she could be alone.
Twilight tried to stop her. "Luna, Wait!" She called out; dashing after her, but the lunar pony was already almost out of sight.
Just as Luna was nearly gone, Twilight heard something so quiet it could have been the wind.
A soft breeze carried a single message. "I'm sorry…"