Twilight Sparkle was startled awake. She inhaled sharply. Her eyes were slightly damp from crying in her sleep. She was definitely getting tired of waking up teary-eyed. When she sat up the room seemed off. It took a moment for her brain to register that she was facing the wrong way in her bed; her head was where she normally put her tail and vice-versa. Princess Luna was laying to her side, curled up in ball. Luna was still wearing her royal vestments, apparently too tired to be bothered to remove them before she climbed into bed. Twilight was glad that Luna still bothered to join her in bed after the events of yesterday. Come to think of it, what did happen yesterday? Twilight pondered on the events for a moment. She attempted to roll off bed but was met with a dull pain throughout her whole body. She groaned as the memories flooded back to her. Storm Dancer had surprised her in the Castle of the Two Sisters and had given her some potion. Then there were the cuts. Nightmare Moon soon followed after that, she remembered. She attempted to get out of bed again only to let out a shriek as a sharp pain tore through her sides. “Don’t move, sweetie.” Luna inhaled deeply. “You’re still healing.”
“Luna, you sound weak. Are you ok?” Twilight glanced over at her fillyfriend. Luna’s eye was half open, lazily staring up at Twilight. Her mane was flat against the bed, unusual as when they had shared the bed in the past, it would still flow in her sleep. Overall, Luna looked positively exhausted.
“I’m fine…” Luna wheezed. “Just a bit… tired….” Twilight gave Luna a frown. “The real question… is how are you feeling?”
“Luna. You look terrible.”
“Always… a pleasant… thing to hear… from one’s fillyfriend. I’m fine… I’m just low on magic… That’s all.” Luna’s eye closed and she exhaled loudly.
“Why are you low on magic?” Twilight’s ears drooped.
“Do you remember what happened yesterday?”
Twilight sighed, “Bits and pieces. More than I suspect I want to.” The lavender pony shook her head, “Storm Dancer captured me. I know I was injured. And then… Nightmare Moon was there and I have a lot of questions about that when you’re feeling better. What I want to know is why you are low on magic. You’re an Alicorn, you should have….”
“I spent it healing you. Rarity cast the spell, but I fueled it. It took most of the night.”
Twilight brought her face down to Luna’s own and examined her for a moment. “I’m not sensing any magic from you at all. That’s…. You normally are irradiating magic. You’re an Alicorn! Where’d all your magic go...?” Twilight’s face turned to horror. “Just… just how hurt was I?”
Luna lifted her head slowly and set it back down facing away from Twilight, “Seconds. A minute, perhaps if luck was on our side.”
Twilight shook slightly, “From…?”
“One of the few things even the spirit Discord can’t affect.”
“Death… I take it…”
Luna began to sob, “Oh Twilight…! I was so close to losing you….”
Twilight snuggled up against Luna and placed her head in the crook of Luna’s neck. “It’s alright. I’m fine now. I guess this makes you my hero now, doesn’t it. I should probably have Pinkie throw you a huge party or something.” Twilight started to laugh but quickly stopped, “Ow… My side is so sore….”
“It must be… you had several stab wounds there.” Luna drew in a labored breath.
“Luna… are you sure you’re…? Is there something I can do for you?” Twilight looked at her fillyfriend with a worried expression.
“Last night… was physically and emotionally exhausting. I would be very happy… if you just stayed here with me.” Luna closed her eyes and appeared to fall asleep.
“For my hero, I can do that.” Twilight scooted back in the bed. She nudged herself underneath Luna’s wing. She fidgeted back and forth as she tried to make herself comfortable and as close to Luna’s side as possible. She lowered her neck and set her head down next to Luna’s own. She kept one of her eyes watching the Alicorn, just in case Luna’s condition suddenly started to show signs of worsening. Twilight sat in silence for several minutes. Finally, Luna spoke softly.
“You can talk… just don’t expect much... of a response from me….”
“I have some questions for you… but since you’re tired, what if I just present my theories and you tell me how close they are?”
“Alright,” Luna said with a bit of strain.
Twilight sighed, “I’m sure you can guess what they are about. Nightmare Moon, of course.” Twilight paused a moment before continuing. “When we saw each other for the first time, it was the day of the Summer Sun Celebration almost two years ago. When Nightmare Moon first returned from her banishment to the moon.” Twilight watched Luna carefully for a reaction. Luna was eerily still. Twilight took a deep breath. “I first saw you, Princess Luna, after the Elements of Harmony defeated Nightmare Moon in the Castle of the Two Sisters. For the longest time I’ve wondered what exact effect the Elements of Harmony had against Nightmare Moon. Was it destruction of Nightmare Moon’s essence? Or was Nightmare Moon simply sealed away, like the Elements sealed Discord? Judging from what I saw last night. Nightmare Moon is alive and well.”
“Yes,” Luna sighed.
“So that makes the Elements’ power most likely to be that of a sealing nature. This is consistent with their effect against Discord.” Twilight shook her head as the gears in her head frantically turned. “But there are a few holes in that theory. First of all, if Nightmare Moon had been sealed, then why did she return last night? Extreme chaos combined with the passage of time and the changing of the Element bearers caused Discord’s seal to weaken one year ago. Did something similar happen with Nightmare Moon?” Twilight rolled to her side, pressing her back against Luna’s body. “It is said that you became jealous of Princess Celestia’s rapport with her subjects and that caused the essence of Nightmare Moon to be born. Could an intense emotional event have triggered Nightmare Moon’s return, despite the seal?”
Luna exhaled, “Twilight…”
“You’re right. I haven’t addressed the one key issue that brings that whole theory into question. You are clearly not Nightmare Moon at present. Therefore! Therefore we can conclude that the axiom of the Elements acting only as a sealing agent is false and disprove the whole theory in one fell swoop! If Nightmare Moon was sealed during the past two years then it would stand to reason by the principal of induction….”
“I know, deduction would be a better argument, but I’m just thinking it through right now. I’ll draw a formal proof later. Princess Celestia once said, ‘Sometimes you have to start at the conclusion and work your way back to solve a difficult problem.’ And that’s what I intend to do.” Twilight turned her neck and stared up at the ceiling. “First we need to determine the rules of a harmony seal. Assuming… I know, dangerous. Assuming that the seal on Discord, once broken, must be reapplied in order to take effect again… then if Nightmare Moon was sealed during those two years and reappeared last night we are currently lacking an explanation for why I’m not currently sharing the bed with Nightmare Moon.”
Luna sighed again. In a lot of ways, Twilight was being very cute and she decided she would let her Unicorn have some fun. “Sound logic,” she wheezed.
“Of course it is, Luna.” Twilight chuckled, only briefly, as it reminded her how much her chest hurt. “So it stands to reason that out of the two possibilities suggested for the Elements of Harmony’s effects, neither has any sound evidence supporting them. Unless, of course, their effects are unpredictable in nature, an axiom which was disproven by their effect on Discord, which was the same outcome during both uses.” Twilight hummed to herself for a moment. “The law of probability states that it is entirely possible that both uses were randomly the same. After all, when given a string of random whole numbers with a length of four, the sequence: one, two, three, and four, is no less likely than: three, eight, six, and forty-two. Common sense would say otherwise but mathematics is more trustworthy than horse sense.” Twilight inhaled sharply. “Perhaps I’m approaching this from the wrong angle. I’m focusing on the Elements too much when I should be focusing on the relationship between you and Nightmare Moon.”
“A good place to start…”
“I thought so too.” Twilight rolled back to an upright position. “First we have to consider the nature of Nightmare Moon’s appearance and motives. Her first appearance was in a time of emotional trauma for you.” Twilight glanced down and Luna. “I’m going to assume this predicate is true and that history books are accurate. I have a feeling you’ll disagree on some of it, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.” Twilight fidgeted with her hooves for a moment. “Nightmare Moon, origins still unknown, took control of your Alicorn form and proceeded to carry out your wish to be loved by your subjects. An action which ultimately backfired, but the motivation was clear. Now let’s move forward a thousand years to the present. Nightmare Moon again appears to attack Storm Dancer, somepony who was threatening somepony you cared about…” Twilight’s face flushed. “If… if I’m not running away with assumptions here…”
Luna gave a small smile. “Not in the least…”
“So the question still is… Why did Nightmare Moon leave after the events with Storm Dancer?” Twilight gasped. “Unless! Nightmare Moon lives within your mind like a split personality! Hm… Nightmare Moon, however, seems to share link to your own memories: a fact that does not often coincide with standard dissociative identity disorder cases. Normally there is more of a separation and memory loss while personalities switch sides. The inactive personalities are unaware of the active’s actions except by third party informants.” Twilight rolled on her back again. “Nightmare Moon also seems to utilize your magic in a much different fashion than you. I might even go so far to say that its source is different. Perhaps her makeup is not entirely psychological in nature. Perhaps she exists as another entity that is interlinked with your subconscious!”
“That is correct.”
Twilight clapped her hooves together, “I knew it!” Twilight rolled her head over to face Luna. “Then that only leaves the mystery of how the switch takes place. Oh and how much communication there is between both entities. Oh! And how the other entity came into existence!”
“Then there’s the Elements effect on this entity! Perhaps the Elements simply cut off the link between the two sets of consciousness?”
“That’s not a bad guess.” Luna let out a weak chuckle. “It’s wrong, but it’s not a bad guess.”
Twilight squealed, “You have to tell me everything!”
“You’re not upset that Nightmare Moon still lives?”
“Nightmare Moon saved me last night. She showed mercy to a pony that did not deserve it in the least. There must be more to her than eternal night.”
Luna inhaled deeply, “You’re right. Nightmare Moon is not gone. She never will be. She and I are bound together… forever. You were also right about memories.” Luna whimpered a bit, she was clearly still not feeling well. “It’s hard to explain to another pony that doesn’t have an Affixed. We share memories and moods but not thoughts.”
Twilight looked up at the ceiling. “So… she’s separate but aware while you are active?”
“Is she aware now? Can she hear this conversation?”
Twilight’s speech became drawn out as she processed the full ramifications of Luna’s statement. “Could… she hear… all… of our conversations? Does she share other senses like sight and touch?”
“So when we kissed on the balcony?”
“Yes. She was aware of that.”
“And… what exactly does she think of me?”
“I told you… perhaps I’m not explaining this well. We are separate but largely the same. We share memories and moods. Therefore, if I have strong feelings for a pony, she shares them. Nightmare Moon is… in many ways, the embodiment of my deepest desires. That’s not what she is actually, it’s much more complicated than that, but that’s the simplest explanation I can give. You know how someponies have the drive to succeed in anything they want?”
“Well… Rainbow Dash and Applejack are kind of like that…”
“Nightmare Moon is that drive. If I truly want something, she takes control and uses her strength and power to obtain it. It’s like a reflex. One that with enough concentration I can keep in check, but not always. She exists with only one purpose, to fulfill what I want most at the time. Things get complicated if I want two things that I can’t have at the same time…. That’s when things like… well Nightmare Night happen.”
“I see. Can I talk to her?”
“No. I mean, you currently are talking to her, this conversation has her full attention right now, but I know you are asking for me to transform and I will not.” Luna coughed and groaned loudly.
“Luna! Are you alright?” Twilight trembled, “Luna… What happens when an Alicorn loses her magic? I know it’s not healthy for Unicorns to be low on magic. They get light headed. But…”
“I’m fine Twilight.” Luna stopped breathing for a second and sat motionless. Twilight gasped. Luna exhaled painfully, “I’m fine. It’s actually Nightmare Moon who’s in pain…”
“She survives on magic, doesn’t she?”
“And you share pain?”
“We are intertwined, if she were to perish, then I would as well….” Luna sighed, “I have a question for you now…”
“Now that you know the truth, what happens to us?”
Twilight twisted her neck to face Luna. “Nothing? I don’t understand what you are asking, Luna.”
“Surly by now you’ve pieced together that Nightmare Night, was me to an extent. And attacking you and your friends was again, me. Not some evil entity that’s now banished. It was me, Twilight, and I’m sorry.” Luna began to sob. “I’m so sorry. I’m so very sorry…. I’m…”
Twilight wrapped her hooves gently around Luna’s neck. “Shh… It’s alright. I forgive you.”
“You’ve more than made up for it. We all make mistakes. I once hypnotized an entire town for homework. Like your sister says, we just need to keep moving forward. If anything our first encounter shows how much we’ve progressed.”
Luna smiled and let out another sob. “Oh, Twilight…” Luna pulled herself closer to the Unicorn and kissed her. Twilight giggled as she returned the kiss.
The door to the bedroom opened with a creak, “Twilight, I… oh my…” Fluttershy blushed heavily. It might have been possible that she was blushing so much, she could have been mistaken for Miss Cheerilee. “I didn’t realize you were being intimate… I’m so sorry….” The yellow Pegasus closed the door and let out a small cough. From behind the closed door, Fluttershy spoke very softly, “Um… Twilight… your brother wants to speak to you…. If that’s ok… whenever you two are done…. Um… if… you... the thing… um… ah… Shining’s downstairs… so when… you two… um… if that’s ok… I’ll be down stairs….”
Twilight rolled to a sitting position, “I should probably go and see what he needs.”
Luna coughed; her voice slightly higher in pitch than she wanted it to be, “Yes… Ahem. He probably wants to see that you’re alright. You gave him quiet a scare yesterday. I’m going to stay here and rest. You go see him.” Twilight got out of bed with a groan and hobbled over to the bedroom door. “Don’t overexert yourself. You’re still healing.”
Twilight nodded and made her way down the hallway with a slight shamble. Fluttershy had already disappeared back to the first floor of the library. From down below she could hear most of her friends talking. Had they stayed the whole night? Twilight reached the top of the staircase and took a step down. She tripped and began to tumble down the flight of steps before she was caught in the hooves of somepony. “Careful, egghead. You’ve got some real battle scars there.”
“Thanks, Rainbow Dash, nice catch.” The Pegasus set Twilight down at the base of the staircase. She patted Twilight on the head and gave her a big smile. All around her friends were smiling just as largely, which was about the only thing distracting Twilight from noticing all of her books strewn across the floor.
Rarity placed her hoof on Twilight’s forehead. “Are you feeling well, darling?”
“What a stupid question. According to Fluttershy, she and Luna are doing just…”
From the reading couch, Shining Armor groaned, “I don’t want to hear this!”
Twilight hobbled over to her brother. “Armor, are you ok?”
“Well, I’ve been much better. But thanks to your friends, especially Fluttershy, I think I’ll pull through.”
“We’ve been looking up everything we can find on the Mangus Thief potion!” Pinkie Pie smiled as she began to point to books on the ground. “There was something in that book! And that one! And that one! And that one! But not in that one. And that one!”
Rarity shook her head. “The poor dear still doesn’t have his magic back yet, but he’s at least not suffocating anymore.”
Shining Armor smiled, “Your big brother should be well and up on his legs again in a day or so. It takes me longer because I don’t have an Alicorn pouring unthinkable amounts of magic into me. Speaking of which, I need to report to Princess Celestia on my whereabouts and the events that happened. Not to mention Cadence is going to kill me.”
“Armor, you can’t do that. Luna wants to…”
“I know what the princess wants. But the fact of the matter is, I’ve been gone for a day now and there’s the matter of Storm Dancer that needs resolved. He’s a dangerous pony and he’s still out there. Then there’s the issue of Nightmare Moon. I don’t even know what to do about that one.”
“Nightmare Moon isn’t evil. She’s just…”
“Don’t say misunderstood. I’m not in the mood for clichés right now, Twily. I just thought I should talk to you about what I’m writing in this letter before I send it to the princess.”
“Armor, I really…”
“I’m going to keep it vague. I’m not going to mention Luna being here or Nightmare Moon. That’s Celestia and the Element bearer’s problem any way. I am however going to inform the princess of Storm Dancer’s treachery and attack against myself. I will leave you out of it because of the details behind it. Storm Dancer and I never really got along at the castle. Celestia will probably think he just snapped or something.”
“Armor, thank you so…”
“However! Once I return to Canterlot, Princess Celestia is going to want a full report and I am going to tell her everything. You have until then to figure out how to tell Celestia about your relationship otherwise I’m going to tell her.”
“I… suppose that’s fair…. Luna isn’t going to be…”
“I honestly don’t care. I’ve had my magic and strength sapped from me, I’ve watched Applejack get beaten to a pulp and I had to watch my sister get stabbed nearly to death. I’m in no mood for this buck.”
Fluttershy winced. Twilight shook her head. “Armor!” Shining Armor gave Twilight a stern look. “Alright. I understand…”
“Good. Spike, you can send the letter now.” Spike nodded and inhaled deeply. With a puff of green flame the parchment he was holding vanished.
Twilight sighed, “I’m going to make some tea…”
“Armor, I understand, it’s…”
“No. I…. Well… I just want you to know I’m not doing this because I disapprove of your relationship. I…. Well, Princess Luna obviously cares a lot for you, and you seem so happy around her. I just want you to know that… I approve. Not that you were going to take that in to consideration, but just so you know.” Shining Armor blushed slightly.
Twilight gave her brother a hug, “I’m still going to make some tea.”
Pinkie Pie jumped into the air with inconceivable height. “I’ll help!”
“No, no,” Twilight said as she entered the kitchen. “I’m perfectly fine making it by myself.” Twilight closed the kitchen door behind her. To be perfectly honest, Twilight was starting to get a headache from all of the noise in her library. She set the teakettle on top of a set of firerocks and waited for the water to come to a boil. She retrieved a package of earl gray tea from the pantry and dropped the bag into the kettle. She walked back over to the cupboard and picked up a tea cup with her teeth. As she turned around she was startled and dropped the teacup. The cup shattered into tiny fragments and she glared at her teakettle, which had changed shape while her back was turned.
Rarity voice rang through the door, “Everything ok in there, darling? We heard a crash.”
Twilight sighed, “I’m fine, just dropped a teacup, that’s all.”
The Discord teakettle laughed, “Oh, nicely executed Twilight Stumble.”
“You startled me. Go away.”
“Never tell somepony to go away when they have a perfectly legitimate reason to start singing ‘I’m a little teapot!’ That’s just rude. I think somewhere it’s actually a law of the universe.”
“One you no doubt made up.”
Discord laughed. “Now you’re catching on.”
“Is there something you need?”
“Oh yes, there is. I just thought you’d like an update on our little dilemma. You see, I’ve been thinking about it all wrong. I was so focused on trying to turn things into things that I completely overlooked the fact that a field trip is a concept, not a thing. So if I want to turn a field trip into an avocado, I need to figure out how to turn a concept into a thing! Now it’s taken quite a bit of work, but I think if I reinvent physics I can just pull it off. Might have to get rid of the third dimension though. A tad shame, but worth it in the end, after all that pesky z-axis is just messing everything up right now. Flat-world should be new and exciting.”
“Is that all?”
“Yes pretty much… Oh! Wait, now I remember. Chrysanthemums.”
“Must I spell it out for you? Chrysanthemum tea. Bring that mare of yours some chrysanthemum tea.”
“Ugh, that stuff is disgusting. The only reason I have it in the pantry is because Fluttershy likes it. Luna will hate it. Go away.”
“Fine I’m going. I have a lot of things to do anyway. I have to figure out how sound waves are going to work in this new flat-world. Why, it would be a crime against the universe if my sweet and mellow voice couldn’t be heard. Just get the mare some chrysanthemum tea. She saved your life. You owe her that much.” There was a flash of light and the teakettle returned to normal. Twilight shook her head and walked back up stairs with two teacups.
“Luna?” Twilight said as she entered the bed room. “I brought you some tea…” The Alicorn sat up. “It’s… chrysanthemum…”
“My favorite. How did you know?”
“I guess, I just… knew? How are you feeling?”
“About the same. You don’t have to worry about me. Once the moon comes up, Nightmare Moon will draw power from it and I’ll be right as rain. Until then I’m afraid I’m going to have to spend the day in bed.” Luna gave Twilight a worried look, “What did your brother want?”
“He wrote Celestia about Storm Dancer. He says we have until he gets back to Canterlot to tell your sister about us.”
Luna rolled away from Twilight, “I might as well not draw power from the moon and just die instead.”
“It’s not going to be that bad, Luna.”
“No… it’s going to be much worse.”