Two small, bronzed leaves slowly broke away from the large bank of gold on the tree, breaking from the branches with inaudible snaps. They drifted down upon a simple breeze and rested on the gravel on the ground, catching the sunlight as they fell.
The simple breeze blew again and ruffled the leaves on the ground, creating a miniature tornado that spread across the ground and slowly settled again. Two ponies were walking through the leaves and they shifted for a third time, two leaves of gold and green broke away from a group and one landed on the nose of one Princess Luna. She stopped and crossed her eyes, looking dubiously at the leaf before blowing it upwards. It flew up and re-joined the other one in the air.
She heard a giggle from beside her and looked to see Twilight watching her with a smile. Luna joined in and her silky laugh went up with Twilight's lighter giggle.
A few seconds of silence passed between the pair before Luna spoke softly beside the purple unicorn, not wanting to interrupt the gentle flow of nature's crescendo.
"This is a really nice spot Twilight, I am glad you chose it to watch the meteor shower tonight" she said and Twilight looked at her with a smile.
"I come here sometimes and just lay in the clearing we're going to, just me and sometimes Spike, we'll just lay on the ground and gaze at the stars..." her eyes glazed and she got a wistful look on her face before she shook her head and blushed slightly before Luna looked ahead again.
"I did not know ponies still enjoyed night time like you do" she said ever so softly, and Twilight looked at her with a gentle smile.
"Luna, lots of ponies still enjoy the night, I know Rainbow Dash likes to sleep outside in the summer, don't tell her I told you this, but she told me when she wakes up, the stars let her drift off to sleep. And Applejack, well, there's a reason she has such a big orchard, sometimes she sleeps out under the trees" she said, and Luna's smile became brighter to such an extent it threatened to block out the sun.
"Thank you Twilight, it's nice to know my work is still appreciated" she said, and Twilight walked closer to her and gently nuzzled her cheek, Luna gasped quietly in shock, and internally her heartbeat raced to that of a fluttering hummingbird.
"There will ALWAYS be ponies who love the night. By the way, I liked what you did with the stars two nights ago" she said and Luna blushed deeply.
"You saw that from here?" she asked and Twilight nodded.
"Uh huh, and I was going to ask how you did it" she said with a sheepish grin and Luna smiled at her.
"If you want I can show you tonight" she said and Twilight smiled back sheepishly.
"I would like that" she stated simply, then re-directed her eyes forward towards the path. The breeze had stopped blowing, and the only leaves that moved were the ones slowly drifting down from the trees, reflecting the sun's golden glow and looking like thin sheets of gold in the sun. They walked and walked until they came to a clearing, and Twilight stopped.
"This is it" she said simply, and Luna took in the sight around her. Three logs were arranged in a triangle around a small fire pit, and the barks on all the logs were worn smooth, from many years and many ponies taking a seat upon them. The fire pit still had trace amounts of ash inside it, and the place smelled of musty autumn leaf-mould, and the smoke from many a bonfire lit.
It was beautiful.
"I can see why you have chosen this place Twilight, it's amazing here" she said in awe as a trio of leaves floated past her and onto the floor.
"It's beautiful here in autumn and spring, they're my favourite seasons" Twilight said, idly toying with a leaf in her hooves that had fallen from a nearby birch.
"As they are mine Twilight. Something about a new beginning, and a prelude to the end just appeals to me more than the stifling hot air of summer or the cold of winter" she said as she sat down on the floor next to her, there was a glimpse, a sudden glimpse of a Luna Twilight did not know, a deeper Luna, hidden beneath the surface for, well, only Luna knew how long for.
Twilight decided to dig a little deeper.
"A new beginning? Well, I was going to say the blossom's look pretty, but, I can see the thing about the new beginning, yes" she agreed, and Luna looked off into the distance as Twilight scooted closer.
"Spring is the birth of the year Twilight Sparkle, a time for new resolutions and promises made" she said, mostly to herself, then added in a scant whisper so only she could hear; "and Autumn is the premise for death"
Twilight furrowed her brow, able to hear her perfectly even over the cacophony of noises in the woods, the chirping of insects and woodland creatures, and the rustling of the trees as they swayed in the wind. There passed a few minutes of silence, descending upon the pair like a blanket. Not entirely un-awkward, though mostly welcome, as Twilight had no idea what to say to that last piece of information.
Twilight decided, against her inclinations to the contrary, to break the stifling silence.
"So uh, I think that this would be the perfect spot to watch the shower" she said, and Luna turned to her with a smile, it held depths of serenity, and gratefulness.
"I agree Twilight, it'll be positively magical here under the stars, and perhaps you can put your new spell to good use in the fire pit?" she said with her signature smile, and Twilight nodded.
"Yeah, it'll serve me well" she stated simply before they resumed their silence, this time more comfortable, listening out to the orchestra nature was performing. Before Twilight could restrain herself, she leant her head on the Princess' shoulder and sighed, obviously content. Luna tensed up for a minute before she relaxed. It was a simple friendly gesture, nothing more, and before too long Luna relaxed and rested her head atop Twilight's.
After a while they realised they could not stay there for much longer, Twilight had errands to run, so she merely sighed in resignation.
"As much fun as this is, I need to go see everypony, to make sure they're coming. I guess I can go to Pinkie's first to get some lunch. Are you hungry Luna?" she asked, craning her head to look at Luna.
The Princess had a contented smile and sighed, nodding, mostly to herself, and Twilight shifted in her seat.
"Well then I guess we should head back then" she said morosely almost, and Twilight nodded before she got up to her feet, waiting for Luna before she turned and walked back down the gravel path. Luna took one last look around the clearing and followed, leaving behind the scene, where two leaves were blown by a breeze, shifted in the air and ran spirals around one another, then settled back to separate positions on the ground.
The walk back into town was a pleasant one, and then they got back into town proper. Luna was still getting the looks, though not quite to the same extent as before, at least now they weren't bowing. They trotted idly along, Luna growing uneasy under the scrutinizing gaze.
Twilight noticed her discomfort.
"Nervous, Princess?" she asked and Luna looked at her, chuckling before shaking her head.
"Not at all Twilight, and I told you to call me Luna, it's simply that I am not used to this much attention from ponies that aren't either royal guards or foreign dignitaries" she said with a nervous smile. Twilight gave her a sympathetic smile in return.
"Don't worry Luna, we're here" she said, pointing to the large bakery in the style of a large piece of confectionery; Sugarcube Corner.
She walked up to the wooden doors and opened them, a bell tinkered loudly and immediately the pair was assaulted with various scents of baked goods. Behind the counter was a pink pony whose face lit up when she saw them.
"Hey you two! I was wondering when you would show up here, but you sure are early, the party doesn't start for another 8 hours you know! Unless you're here for a lunch time treat?" she asked, and Twilight took the fast dialogue in stride, whereas Luna was left reeling from the haste of the words.
"We're here for lunch Pinkie, what have you got?" she asked, and Pinkie disappeared under the counter, coming back up three seconds later with a tray of cupcakes, a basket of muffins, another tray of apple turnovers, and a second basket of layer cake, with and without frosting.
"This is what's fresh, we have some stuff from this morning left, but they've been out for too long, and nothing but the best should be sampled by the princess" she said with her signature grin. Luna blushed.
"Please, call me Luna" she said sheepishly, and Pinkie vaulted over the counter and grabbed her hoof and shook it.
"Pleasure to meet you Luna! I'm Pinkie Pie, we met at Nightmare Night last year remember? Of course you do, you offered to be my friend but then Rainbow Dash played a prank that was super scary and scared me away remember?"
Luna blinked twice as she processed the information, and simply nodded.
"Ah, yes, Pinkie Pie, I remember you, the ring-leader of the frightened children" she said with a half-smile, and Pinkie giggled at her.
"And Ponyville Prankster!" she said as she finally dropped her hoof to the floor of the bakery rather suddenly, so suddenly that Luna executed an ungraceful half stumbled, then righted herself abruptly. Her crown had come loose of her hair. Twilight supressed a giggle.
Luna shot her an arched-eyebrow glare, righting her crown with all the authority she could muster, and Twilight turned back to her browsing. Silence filled the room.
Twilight suddenly cleared her throat.
"I would love an Apple turnover please Pinkie, and Luna?" she turned with an apologetic smile and Luna trotted back up to the counter.
"I'll take a muffin, let us put your bakery's reputation to the test Pinkie" she said as she was handed the muffin, and Twilight put the bits on the counter. Pinkie smiled at them from behind the counter.
"Enjoy your treats!" she chirruped merrily, and Twilight offered her a smile before she walked towards the table by the window. Twilight sat down with a small sigh and waited for Luna to do the same. Luna pulled out the seat and sat silently, placing her muffin down on a napkin. Luna idly gazed out the window at the passing ponies and various market stalls.
It was a nice town, not too small, but not metropolitan and crowded. It had the right balance of the two, and that made the place all the more appealing. Luna could honestly see herself setting down here, if only she wasn't a Princess, she could move into a vacant house, see her friends every day, she could attend concerts and go 'clubbing', she could have fun.
Alas, she had to return to Canterlot, if not tonight, then tomorrow evening. She could not abandon her sister, nor could she abandon her duties as Princess of the Night.
"You're not angry at me are you Luna?" Twilight asked, and Luna suddenly turned towards her, shaking her head and blinking rapidly, broken out of her thoughts. She looked at Twilight confusedly.
"Angry? Why would I be angry Twilight?" she asked, and Twilight shrugged.
"Well, for laughing at you back there" she said and Luna giggled at her expression, a mixture of fear and sorrow, then morphing into confusion.
"Twilight, I'm not mad, if anything it was warranted, I can take a joke Twilight, and I enjoy pranks, as long as I get to play one on the prankster" she said with a wink, and Twilight smiled at her, glad what she had viewed as a faux pas didn't affect her.
There was a period of comfortable silence between them as they both stared out of the window. Luna let out another sigh as her train of thought resumed is inexorable journey towards a place she did not want to go; a place filled with regret and childhood memories she preferred to keep hidden.
Though she left her smile on her face, she felt like a dis-honest liar, and when Twilight looked at her with a genuine smile of her own, it became harder for her to maintain her brave face.
When she was a filly she learnt how to control her feelings, and a thousand years on the moon had done naught but strengthen that will, no, the skill she had developed for doing so. Twilight had begun to look at her with concern.
"Princess, are you okay?" she asked, and Luna sighed yet again, her smile instantaneously fading away to nothing.
"It's nothing important Twilight, let's just enjoy our lunch" she offered, finally taking her first bite of the treat Twilight had brought for her. It was good, the chocolate chips were still warm and melted instantly, and at another time, maybe in another place it would have been enjoyable, but at that moment, at that time, with concerned violet eyes trying to reach into her soul and search out her problems, she couldn't help but partially want to open up two thousand years of her emotions to the lavender mare sitting across from her.
Twilight finally gave up her searches and started her apple turnover, turning her attention back to the streets.
"It is beautiful here" Luna commented, and Twilight nodded.
"You should see it in winter. It's like something out of a storybook, the snow glistens like diamonds. And in the moonlight the snow become fallen stars. You should book some time off in winter" she said almost wistfully, and Luna smiled at her.
"Twilight, you may be the only pony I know who can find something nice to say about the night sky at any time of year"
Twilight merely looked at her.
"It's only because you do a good job any time of the year" she commented, eliciting a blush from the Princess. Another silence invaded the picturesque bakery, but this one was comfortable, serene almost. They were content, any thoughts Luna had before were washed from her mind at the prospect of being able to send more time with Twilight, maybe even during Hearth's Warming!
The thought made her excited, she had a friend, and if she could spend one of the best holidays of the year with that friend, then it would be a tremendous leap for her.
Then that niggling voice was back, saying to her; You don't want to be just friends.
Then she grew sad again.
The sunset had just begun, and a fusillade of colours had painted themselves to the sky above the small town. against the dirt track sat the trees that had seen them hours before, the same pair of leaves sat on the floor, one atop the other. A small breeze once again lifted them into the air and into the bank of trees as a trio of figures traversed the dirt road.
The Princess and Twilight had spent more than what Twilight had deemed "Allotted time" in the bakery, they had only been reminded of what they were doing by Pinkie Pie reminding them that if they were to get the party started on time they would have to leave rather soon. They had been sitting and talking for nearly 5 hours. TALKING.
Twilight knew she couldn't do that with any of her other friends as either they, or herself would eventually grow bored without an additional somepony there to keep the conversation flowing.
Now they walked with Pinkie Pie bouncing alongside them, talking about whatever random things bolted to the front of her mind. Twilight had wondered time and time again whether it was some kind of impossibility for the pink mare to have a coherent conversation rather than blurting something out waiting for a brief answer before talking about something off topic.
They had arrived at the clearing early, yet there, set around the fireplace trying to get said fireplace to produce any hints of warmth, were her remaining four friends, Fluttershy was seated away from the main group, seemingly conversing with a squirrel and occasionally giggling, Rarity was seated on her own attempting to open a bag of marshmallows, Rainbow Dash was flitting about and arguing with Applejack on the best way to get a fire going.
Pinkie Pie bounced into the clearing, over the fire and landed next to Rarity, causing her to yelp and drop the bag, Pinkie erupting into a fit of giggles, joined soon after by Rarity. The chaos had frightened the squirrel that had dashed off into the bushes, and Fluttershy was the first to notice Twilight and Luna as she looked around.
"Oh! Twilight! We didn't see you there, and Princess Luna, it's so lovely to see you again" she said with a shy smile, retracting into her mane, the rest of the friends stopped what they were doing and looked at the pair.
"Princess Luna! Ah didn't actually think y'all would come, what with being a princess an' all, don't ya have more important things to do?" Applejack asked, and Rainbow swooped in low to add her own comment.
"Yeah, shouldn't you be in Canterlot presiding over some royal business?" she almost challenged, and Luna shrugged.
"My sister says she can handle it, and besides, Twilight wanted me to come, how could I say no?" Luna said to them and everypony apart from Rarity accepted the answer. Rarity's gears were already turning, processing the information for any hidden meanings, being a fashionista, and a self-proclaimed expert of love she could spot it a mile away, so when these two show up, clearly thick as thieves, she couldn't help but engage the romantic portion of her brain.
The two took their seats while Applejack and Rainbow resumed their fight over the fire. Twilight watched for a little while before turning to Luna.
"Do you think I could show them my new spell?" she asked and Luna smiled.
"I think now would be a good time yes" she whispered, and Twilight smiled.
"Applejack, do you need some help?" Twilight asked, and Applejack stopped, turning towards Twilight with an incredulous look on her face.
"Uh, Twi, do you actually know how to light a fire?" she asked, causing a snicker from Rainbow Dash and an indignant look from Twilight.
"Yes, actually, I learnt a new spell from Luna that allows me to create and control a fire, it'll be quicker than you banging rocks together" she quipped with a grin and Applejack regarded her with a look, but the hint of a smirk at her lips before she shrugged and sat down on a log, soon after joined by Rainbow.
"Fine, let's see yer new spell Twi" she said with a smile and Twilight nodded.
"Alright" she said simply before she turned towards the pit that held logs and twigs ready for burning. She decided she would confuse them and perform a bit of a show. She levitated the sticks out of the pit and discarded them towards the trees behind her.
She closed her eyes and funnelled the required magic to her horn, then thought of the thing she loved most, once again, she tried to think of the library, her parents, Celestia, even her friends, but all that came to mind was a pair of blue eyes, star-filled mane, elegant wings and a compassionate smile.
The fire burned inside her, greater than before, and she felt her magic reach its apex. She let it go, and, like before, blue tendrils of magical fire shot out of her horn and danced around the clearing, her friends watched her intently with wonder as the fire danced around them, weaving between them like intricate ribbons, Fluttershy traced one of them as it came up close to her and giggled when it twirled around her thrice before rushing back towards the others, who were now swirling above the pit in the centre of the clearing.
They started to combine with the sounds of sparking and crackling, spinning around each other to create a ball of energy that, while still spinning, began to take a more sophisticated shape, that of a blue unicorn.
Luna watched with wonder, again Twilight had surpassed herself, but when the magic started taking on the form of somepony she thought she should recognize, she grew intrigued. Who was this unicorn? Why did she, or he, seem so maddeningly familiar?
She watched as the fire began to trickle towards the pit and land with a soft rustling of leaves, and Twilight's eyes opened again.
Her friends regarded her with a shocked expression before clapping their hooves together and cheering.
"Wow Twilight, we knew you were good at magic, but that was cool!" Rainbow said. and the others agreed. Twilight smiled at them sheepishly, but accepted the compliments. Luna placed a hoof around her shoulder and hugged her, much to Twilight's embarrassment.
Luna let her go and stood up.
"I have to raise the moon, would anypony care to watch?" she asked and they all nodded.
"Yeah sure, it's been too long since we've seen a good magic show" Pinkie Pie said excitedly, and Luna smiled.
"Very well, but it is a very powerful spell" she admonished before standing away from the group and closing her eyes.
"Keep your eyes on the skies" she said finally before focussing on the feeling of her moon yearning to rise, she willed her magic to surround it and slowly pulled it upwards in time with the sun's descent, the process was quick, and Celestia must have been lowering the sun quickly so as to not interrupt her night. She made a mental note to thank her sister when she returned home.
The stars bristled in her mane as the moonlight fell on the clearing, and she decided to let them out the way she did the previous night. Her mane rippled with energy before the boundaries broke and starlight flooded the camp, individual stars rushed past the six friends and leapt into the skies, at exactly the same time as the moon was put on its correct course.
She opened her eyes and sighed, setting herself down on the log again, exhausted. She looked up at the night sky. Another job well done she thought to herself, and was roused by a slow clapping. The six ponies were clapping much like they had with Twilight, who was herself clapping her hooves and staring at the sky still with wonder.
"Oh, there was something else I was meant to do, something important" she said out loud, placing a hoof to her chin in mock thought, then she pretended to have a revelation.
"Oh! Yes that was it" she said before closing her eyes again and willing the rocks in space to come closer and fall towards the ground, the first meteor streaked across the sky and the rest soon followed.
"Look! The meteor shower is starting!" Twilight said, and Luna opened her eyes again to see the sky full of white blurs as the rocks burned in the atmosphere. She smiled to herself and let them do their own thing, should one get out of hand she would stop it, but for now she was content to just watch her work unravel by itself.
She looked over the Twilight and thought about what it would be like to be a normal unicorn, or indeed, a normal pony, just enjoying the night without the responsibility of controlling it.
She made a mental note to ask Twilight what it felt like to have her responsibility as Element of Magic, to safeguard the Elements of Harmony, as indeed was her destiny. Maybe they weren't so different, they both had their destinies chosen for them by others. Maybe Twilight knew how she felt.
That would have to wait for later however, as for now, it was her time to enjoy her own night like that of a normal pony, and she shifted closer to Twilight, resting her head on her shoulder like they had hours before. Twilight jumped slightly before smiling and resting her own head atop of Luna's, sighing deeply. Rarity watched them and pieced everything together, hiding a smile in the dim lighting, before returning to watch the skies.
The stars twinkled, reflected in the eyes of the two resting on each other on the log by the fire. Twilight almost lost control of the fire in the hearth, it spluttered and waned in the air, and the leaves continued to fall around them.
The remainder of the evening was spent talking and watching the skies before they headed back into the town proper, and towards the bakery for Pinkie's after party.
Luna laughed and joined in, feeling accepted in the circle of friends, if her parents could see her now they would be proud, she had emerged from her reclusive shell and made friends.
She felt happy.
Any errors let me know guys :3