by Scarheart

Bonus: Expanded Third Act

Edited by Chapter 13 and TuxOKC.

I used to wander.

        The world is still quiet, but not as much as it used to be. More years have passed since Celestia brought me into her home. In many ways, it was the most difficult experience of my life. Celestia began teaching me ways to adapt my mind to this... immortality. It has been hard, adjusting to a living voice talking to me every day. There are still parts of my life during my wanderings I can’t remember, save for blurs of madness. I still think of my wife and my kids. I think of the new friends who did their best to count me as one of their own. I think of the cataclysmic loss and the silence death brings in its wake. Celestia helped me with her patience and understanding. She mentions Twilight every now and then, though avoids my questions about the long-dead unicorn.

        I used to wander.

        I buried the dead, losing myself to madness, pulling myself from the Edge on my own, albeit just. Despair pulled me back into the chaos and the sober task I had given myself thrust me from it. I had waged an inner struggle, neglecting myself in the process. I could not die, as a mad God gave me his immortality before sending himself to oblivion. Luna stayed true to her word and I began to remember my dreams. She couldn’t change them, but I learned, through our brief and infrequent conversations in my sleep, that I could control my dreams. It was hard for her to help me, and she told me so in her own words. The Night Goddess’ attitude towards me was cold and distant, but she kept her word. It changed little and it felt to me she was acting through her duty and love for her sister.

        I am where I need to be, where I can heal and recover. I wake every morning now to the sounds of new life and new hope. Old horrors still linger, reminding me of the stories old soldiers used to speak of when remembering wars fought in their youth. Post traumatic stress, I think it was called. The burden in my heart has lessened and I find myself curious to the circumstances which brought me to this point in my life. One that, as I have come to understand with reluctance, will go on for a very long time.

        Over time, Philomena warmed to me to the point where my existence was tolerable in her eyes. Celestia still has to talk to that bird. After one particular one-sided discussion the Goddess had with her pet, the phoenix became both miffed and subdued. The stares it threw at me were of confusion, which in turn confused me. I asked Celestia what she had told the bird, but there was no direct answer. A coy smile and a shake of the head was all I received in response. “All in good time,” I remember her saying.


        I think I am happy. At least happier than I have been since I could last remember. Necessity has brought me to understanding. Bouts of depression happen. Despite reassurances from Celestia, there are times I feel as though my past will find me. I still feel guilty. I always will feel guilty. A voice, her voice, now fills my day and my burden feels lighter. Celestia and I became very close. I did not hesitate in accepting having her near. It was not long before we became inseparable. It was a cure to our loneliness and I know I was happier for it.

I began to help her in her garden. Because of my newly discovered affinity to earth magic, a green thumb would come as if nature had intended it, the Goddess assured me. This was how I was introduced to this magic that had grown into me. My first lesson began with pulling weeds. Part of my future would be a study of myself in finding a better understanding of the changes I had undergone. The magic within me was a mystery and needed to be understood, lest it become a dangerous liability.

The seasons behaved as I remembered back on my world. The land, as I became aware, had gone wild. The clouds had once housed cities, and some ruins could still be seen. Cloudsdale was falling into decay, as the cloud columns were, over the years, losing their magic. I only noticed one day by looking up at hearing the Goddess make a broken sound and following her broken gaze. As the floating ruins drifted by on the winds, she told me of how it used to be a grand city, a place of proud pegasi traditions and culture.

I had a mental setback that day. The Goddess comforted, as it was in her nature. As the winds carried the once city away, Celestia spoke in a shy tone, the words falling like reluctant snow upon still air, “I love you, John. I want you. I need you.” She leaned into me, the side of her face pressed against my chest. The voice of the Goddess reverberated into my heart, “I am being selfish and I want more than just to silence the loneliness that plagued me for so long. I confess I tried to deny myself. I tried to rationalize my feelings. I tried to tell myself these feelings were borne..." Her words faded and she went silent. It was not the voice of a giddy schoolgirl professing her crush. No, this was a wounded soul laid bare for me to see in all its scarred glory. Celestia held her breath, waiting.

The Goddess —no, the mare— had made herself vulnerable to me.

I flinched at her touch. Her words rang through my head. I could not think of why I could or should be loved. “Why do you love me?” I queried, stuttering. It had come out of the blue and I don’t think I was prepared for it in any way, shape, or form.

Her features morphed through so many emotions when the question was asked. Her eyes became warm, yet sad. The voice of the Goddess was shaken and unsure. As she spoke, there was trepidation. She was uncertain, but seemed willing to brave whatever awaited in the aftermath of her words. “Because love is strange. Love knows no boundaries.” Celestia quivered, trying to look me in the eyes and blinking away tears. “Love is the one thing in my heart that has kept me going. I love you because I need you. I love you because you need me. Love is hope and without hope, there can be no love.” There was a desperation there, a need and a want. She wanted to heal. The Goddess had been hurting for as long as I had wandered.

I was troubled with seeing such a profession of love from Celestia. She seemed so sure of herself and so strong in her convictions. Losing her ponies had left deep scars indeed. Was she afraid of losing our friendship? The fear I once had of her had all but vanished.

What could I do? What could I say to that? I think it was the loneliness and her fear of losing me. Did she only love me because I was all that was left? Such words would have been hollow, but… they weren’t.

Then, she kissed me. A pony kissed me. Though it was unexpected, I found I was not repulsed by her lips pressed against mine. It was strange and my mind tried to process what Celestia was doing. At first, I backed away from her, my fingers to my lips as I stared at the mare. The Goddess wore surprise from her own action, turning into dejection as the distance between us grew. I stopped, thinking of her kiss. For an eternity, it seemed, we matched eyes. There was want there, a hunger. Needful thoughts and wanting flashed through the twin portals to her soul.

Could I do this? Why was my heart pounding so hard? As we stared into each other’s souls, I came to realize here in front of me was my future. Here was the most understanding and patient creature I had ever known. Her beauty was unique and she had gone from the ruler I had met so long ago to an image as down to earth and… human in my eyes.

She was a woman in my eyes. When did this happen? At what point did I stop looking at her as a pony and seeing her as a woman? I think I saw my wife in her, in certain ways. Maybe it was just wishful thinking on my part. Was it my own desire to not be alone anymore? Maybe I was trying to see the love of my old life in the Goddess before me. Behind the image in my mind were the children I had with my wife. That image blurred and reformed into the fallen princess before me.

I reached out with a hand and my fingers caressed her cheek. Touching her pelt was electrifying. When did she begin to feel so soft and supple? Something clicked in my thoughts and I made my own decision in a war I had not known had been waging in my heart. Cupping her face in both hands, I returned her kiss, weeping as I did so. Yes, I did love her. She was as broken as me. She was my Goddess. I could no more deny her as she could no longer deny me.

But was it genuine? I was afraid it was the fear of being alone, masking itself under the guise of love. “I’m afraid of what I feel,” I said to her. “I’m afraid I’m going to live a lie and hurt you. I don’t want to hurt you.”

The Goddess —no, the lady— fluffed her wings and shook her mane. “Time will tell,” she replied with a nuzzle. “For now, this moment is all that matters. We might stumble. We might fall. I don’t care, because I know we will be there for each other. I have you here, in front of me in this moment and that is all that matters to me.”

Luna came to me in my dreams that night and, in her own terrifying way, congratulated me in the form of a nightmare. There was no place I could hide if I broke Celestia’s heart, she was telling me. I woke up from the experience frozen half to death, but determined.

We said our vows beneath the silver moon and Luna’s approval and blessing. She still did not come down from her moon, but the light of her moon seemed to me warm and welcoming. It was a short-lived experience as the moment the ceremony was done, her presence was gone.

Celestia was disappointed. She had hoped to convince her sister to come down from the moon and rejoin her. Rejoin us. The Goddess of the Night would not listen. At night, I often caught the Goddess of the Day pleading up to her sister. Celestia had become the Goddess of my heart. My thoughts of how I perceived this Paragon of life as an immortal being had changed. It went from seeing her as an all-powerful immortal being to the ruler of my heart. When had that happened? When had the word changed from someone to fear to someone I love? Maybe the sisters needed each other. I do know Celestia had been without Luna for a thousand years. She was keen on having her near, but Luna had been traumatized.

When I asked her about it in my dreams, she stopped visiting me.

“When I am ready,” her growling voice followed me to wakefulness. Luna terrified me in ways Celestia could never dream of. I did my best to appease the moon and I washed my hands of the issue, leaving one Goddess to deal with the other.

The small, round cottage Celestia had built was expanded and I learned carpentry. My Goddess was very knowledgable in what she was doing. With her guidance, I learned how to build walls and thatch a roof. It felt good to build instead of bury. I asked the mare why she wanted to add to her quaint little home. Her answers were elusive, but she assured me it was necessary.

I have done things I would have never dreamed of. The results have been little voices and little hooves and a mare who has newfound meaning in her life. I am a very confused man at times, but I do not think I am unhappy. The old wounds are still healing, but I am where I need to be. There are still questions and I still do not understand this newfound magic of mine. My wife is doing her best to help me understand what is in me and progress is slow, but not boring. Luna still has not come down from her moon, but she watches and with great interest. I think she will be coming home soon. I have hope now. It is still a fragile thing. I cling to it, knowing I have someone who will hold on to it with me.

Discord’s words still ring in my mind. I think a part of him came with his immortality. His madness was not needed. I had plenty of my own. But there was now a Goddess —my beautiful Goddess— in my life and she was so humble and strong. It occurred to me at some point she might have been manipulating me to her own ends. I can’t bear to think of questioning her about that. I’m surrounded by good things and I’m afraid to ask. It’s not fear I have of her anymore, rather it’s the risk of making her sad. A happy Celestia is a beautiful Celestia. Some things, well, perhaps they are best left alone.

        I am John Bane, and I will wander no more