Cover art by Conicer
Twilight Sparkle sat bolt upright, blankets falling off her tousled purple mane. She had awoken suddenly from a deep sleep, and dreams she curiously had no recollection of. She turned and looked up at the wooden clock perched on her wall.
“Bleh, three in the morning,” she grumbled.
Twilight suddenly spun her head around - she could have sworn she saw something dark move in the corner of her eye. She cast a nervous look around her bedroom, drawing her warm, velvety blankets emblazoned with stars and moons closer to her. She had the most peculiar feeling that somepony was watching her, with friendly eyes or not she could not tell.
On closer inspection, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. There were books everywhere: books on shelves, books stacked haphazardly in piles, books laid open at her writing desk amongst many scraps of parchment with abundant scribbles of notes, essays, pending letters to Princess Celestia, and the rare doodle. Considering that Twilight lived in a library, books are to be expected, but the books in her bedroom were her own personal collection, the majority of it collected during her childhood days growing up in Canterlot.
Everything seemed normal in Twilight’s room, though outside seemed to be a different affair. She suddenly noticed how unusually bright the moonlight spilling into her room was. Never being able to resist a bit of stargazing, she pulled her covers off herself and got out of bed, her hooves striking the ground with a slight clop. She crept across her room, trying to keep as quiet as possible. An abrupt snuffling sound made her stop dead. She looked around, eyes wide in alarm. She heard it again and she relaxed, it was only Spike’s snoring coming from downstairs.
“Keep it together Twi’,” she said, as her heart slowed down to its normal rate and she continued creeping to the balcony doors on the opposite side of the room.
Her horn glowed an ethereal purple as she used her magic to open them. She walked outside, reared onto her hind legs, rested her forelegs on the balcony’s ledge and looked up.
Twilight gasped. She had rarely seen a night as beautiful as this one. The arena of the heavens was laid out with the constellations blazing brightly and lanes of stars swirling and curling deep in the abyss. Twilight picked out her favourite constellations and star patterns: Nimbus, the pegasus with wings of stardust who brought the rains in ancient Equestrian mythology; Orion’s Hoof, the Bridle, the Draconequus. Twilight shuddered a little, remembering those dark times. Her eyes drifted to the Plough. She thought of her industrious friend Applejack, and imagined a starry version of her dragging the Plough across the skies, shouting at Big Macintosh behind her to hurry up. She smiled to herself. Finally her attention was drawn to the centrepiece of the sky, the full Moon. It was a circle of perfection; its cold silvery light seemed to emanate from it in waves. Twilight was entranced by it - this was why she loved stargazing. The grace of the heavens never ceased to captivate her. She made a mental note to congratulate Princess Luna the next time she saw her. All of this must have taken her much time and effort. Twilight gazed for a little while more, drinking in the night air and scenery, until she started shivering. A shooting star flashed across the sky as she made her way back to the warm embrace of her bed. When she rolled her blankets back over herself she smelled something.
Was that stardragon? She wondered. Such flowers were rare in Equestria and only bloomed at night; but she was too sleepy to satiate her curiosity. She rolled over, gasped at what she saw and fell backwards off the bed.
“Good evening to you too, Twilight Sparkle,” said a soft, sad voice. The Princess of the Night herself, Princess Luna, was lying casually in Twilight’s bed.
“P-p-p-p-princess!” Twilight spluttered, shocked by her sudden appearance, and the fact that there was royalty in her bed, “I’m so sorry for reacting like that!”
“Oh, that’s fine,” said Luna glumly, holding a hoof up and examining it with a bored expression, “was it presumptuous of us to expect a warmer reception?”
Twilight just stared at her, lost for words, slightly panicking that she had offended the timeless alicorn. Luna glanced at Twilight, saw her agitation, and a small smile curved her muzzle.
“Oh Twilight Sparkle!” she said, amusement evident in her voice, “Don’t take everything so seriously, we were just playing with you.”
Twilight felt relief wash over her. The Princess always had a somewhat odd sense of humour and a mysterious personality. Twilight put it down to the thousand year banishment in the Moon that her sister Celestia had punished her with. Luna was still adjusting to her newfound freedom and the world that was so different from the one she remembered.
“Oh thank goodness!” Twilight said.
Luna rose and offered the bed back to Twilight. As she got back into it, she realised where the flowery scent of stardragons was coming from.
“Was it you in my room earlier?” Twilight enquired, “I had a feeling somepony was watching me.”
“Yes, that was I. I often reside in dreams, observing and influencing them, but you woke so quickly, we were caught unawares and could not leave as fast as we would have liked.”
“I didn’t know that,” said Twilight.
“Yes, I was helping steer thy mind away from nightmares.”
“Huh,” murmured Twilight thoughtfully.
“I also saw you admiring my night,” Luna said.
“Oh yes!” she gushed, forgetting her other trails of thought, “It’s amazing!”
“Well, at least somepony appreciates the beauty of the night,” Luna said sulkily, pawing at the floor. “Most ponies don’t give it a second glance…” she seemed suddenly put out and she hung her head sadly.
“That’s not true,” Twilight said, “almost everypony loves the serenity of your nights, even if not as much as somepony like me.”
Twilight didn’t think she did a very good job of trying to cheer the Princess up.
“Maybe,” Luna said, “besides, I have another reason to visit other than discouraging bad dreams.”
“Yes,” A grin flashed across her face, “and it concerns my sister.”
“Your-your sister?” Twilight was confused.
“Yes, Twilight, my dear sister.”
Twilight waited for her to explain further, but when nothing was forthcoming, she grew a little annoyed. Luna was always like this; she delighted in elusiveness and mystery, and didn’t often speak bluntly. Just as Twilight was about to speak, Luna began again.
“Twilight, what date is it today?”
“The Seventh of June,” said Twilight, completely bemused.
“And what date is it in two weeks today?”
“The Twenty-First… The Summer Sun Celebration!”
“Yes, do you happen to know what other occasion it is that day?”
Twilight was puzzled again.
“Let me help you,” smiled Luna, “what connection might my sister and the longest day of the year have?”
“Well, I know the Princess raises the Sun in public…” Twilight said slowly, “but apart from that, unless it’s her birthday or something,” she joked.
“It is her birthday,” Luna said.
“What?” said Twilight, surprised; in truth, she was expecting Luna to have said something a little more grand and impressive.
Do immortals even have birthdays?
“I say birthday,” said Luna, as if she had read Twilight’s mind, “it is more of a day to celebrate her arrival into this world. Also, this year it will be the second year since we returned and thou freed me from the Nightmare.”
“Hmmm,” said Twilight thoughtfully.
“My sister’s birthday is a fact that she prefers to keep private, because as she constantly says to me--” Luna raised her head tall and proud and in an uncanny impersonation of Celestia she said, “Now, my dear sister, you know how I dislike formal affairs as it is, imagine the number of events I would have to attend for my own birthday! No, no, I like to keep it nice and quiet.”
“But this year Twilight,” said Luna in her normal soft voice, “my sister is celebrating her five thousandth year, and we ask you to help prepare a little surprise party of her good friends and myself in the palace gardens.”
“She considers us her good friends?” said Twilight in awe.
“But of course, she speaks of you and your friends fondly and often.”
“Really?” Twilight’s eyes were very wide.
“Yes Twilight, I just told you,” Luna grumbled.
“Sorry,” said Twilight hastily, “what can we do to help organise this party?”
“We understand that your friend Pinkamena Diane Pie is quite adept at social occasions, and I’m sure your other friends’ talents will be necessary.”
“Pinkamena? Pinkie? Is that Pinkie’s real name?”
“We believe so, she never told thou of this?”
“No - can’t imagine why not,” she said, grinning, she planned to tease Pinkie about this.
“Neither can I,” said Luna, smiling.
Twilight suddenly realised how rude she had been, she never even offered the Princess anything to eat or drink!
“Princess, sorry for not asking earlier, but would you care for some tea? Or biscuits?”
“We shall decline thy generous offer, Twilight Sparkle, it is late and you need your rest.”
“You sure? I have lots of--”
“We are quite sure,” Luna cut across her, but she spoke gently. “I shall come by next week to see how you are getting on. “Farewell Twilight Sparkle, ‘til we next meet.”
And with that Luna shrank back into the shadows, and melted away into them.