Some weeks passed since Luna and Selene's picnic together. Luna paused her weekly visits to Selene's dreams while she worked in secret with Melodía and Ivory. At home, Celestia and Sombra made preparations to lift some of the work off Luna's shoulders. For the time being, the matter was kept between the three of them, per Luna's request because she didn't want it to be announced to the rest of their family yet.
Unaware of what was in store for her, Selene went about her days as she normally did: attending school, playing with the other fillies of her foster home as they came and went, and practicing reading a little before going to bed. The last one in particular was more for Luna than her. Learning to read was hard, but she wanted to surprise Luna the next time they visited each other.
Between taking care of the other fillies and helping them find permanent homes, Melodía and Ivory tried to spend some extra time with Selene when they could manage. She had been in their home longer than most of the fillies who came to them, and they inevitably became attached to her and almost didn't want her to go. At the same time, they knew from the beginning the time would come for her to leave, though they didn't discover until much farther down the road whose hooves she'd be in. In a way, it almost seemed like an honor of some sort, or perhaps they should've seen it coming all along.
On Selene's second-to-last night in their home, they gathered with Luna to talk while Selene and the other fillies slept soundly. One would imagine the discussion taking place would be a little awkward, yet the two friends felt comfortable in the night pony's regal presence, and vice versa.
Luna started off with a heavy sigh.
"I must admit I don't do this without a twinge of guilt," the princess confessed. "I know you love her as much as I do, and I feel I am tearing your hearts out."
"Please, Your Highness, don't feel like that," Melodía pleaded, giving her a sincere smile. "Ivory and I have fostered young ponies for a long time. We experience this with every filly, little and big, who becomes part of our home, no matter how short the stay."
"And we know how you feel too," Ivory added. "You didn't expect to feel this way about her, but it happened. When Melodía and I first became foster parents, we didn't believe we would love them so easily."
"Then," Melodía continued, "we naively believed we'd get used to the heartbreak of watching them go. That it'd someday become so normal, it'd pass without us feeling it. We were so wrong. We are used to it, but it never passes without hurting. But it also makes us happy because we are doing what we feel we're meant to."
"To know she's going with somepony she has already become close to makes us feel that much better," Ivory assured. "It makes seeing her go that much easier because we know for certain she's in the best hooves."
"I must admit I am curious. Has she really never been considered by another potential parent?" Luna asked, genuinely finding the idea unbelievable.
"The way our process works is we allow the potential parent supervised time with the filly they're considering," Melodía explained. "Either Ivory or myself makes the arrangement. We skipped that with you because you've already spent ample time with Selene, not to mention saving her to begin with. A few ponies who've come to our home have considered Selene, but in the end, they've opted for another of the fillies in our home each time."
"Selene has never told me of this. Only about other fillies leaving. Have those ponies ever explained why?"
"For some, the reason is as simple as it was a bad day," Melodía answered. "For others, the reasons boil down to they didn't believe they could really support her."
"Selene is a delight, Princess, but I'm sure you can't disagree she can occasionally be a handful," Ivory said.
"Indeed." Luna thought back to the night she brought Selene to the foster home and, more recently, their picnic. "But 'tis not true of all fillies? Nopony is perfect, especially not the young ones."
"Of course, but some are tougher to care for than others," Ivory explained. "Melodía and I love what we do, but if we told you we didn't have our challenges with some fillies, it'd be a lie. Many ponies interested in adoption don't see a filly Selene's age as their first choice, and fillies with a history like hers make finding a permanent home even harder. We can count how often we come across an unbiased pony like you, Princess."
Luna was uncertain she deserved that compliment. "I couldn't call myself unbiased. Our first meeting was in her dreams, after all. Even my sister would admit to personal bias. That is how our Princess of Friendship came to be her private student so many years ago, and that is still less bias than I have."
"That kind of bias is acceptable," Melodía said. "What we mean is many of the ponies who say they want to adopt are looking for a "perfect filly". Ivory and I have turned several ponies away because we could see they looked at adoption no differently than casual shopping. There have also been times we misjudged a pony and allowed an adoption, only to learn down the road it was a mistake. We would fight hoof and nail to get that filly back."
For the next several minutes, Melodía and Ivory told Luna incidents of turning away potential parents and reversing adoptions they handled across their years of being foster parents. As they expected, Luna reacted with shock and disgust at each tale until they finally stopped out of fear of making the night princess genuinely physically ill from the growing sick feeling in her stomach. Melodía made her a small cup of tea to ease her a little, which she thanked her for, but many moments still passed before Luna could find her voice again.
"The two of you are truly to be respected," Luna praised. "You do work I'm uncertain I or even my sister could stomach. Know I will always think of you with the highest honor. The fact remains you were truly Selene's parents after she lost her birth ones, and I will keep contact with you. After all you have done, and all you continue to do, that is the least I can offer you."
The caretakers couldn't prevent themselves from tearing up at the princess's words. A brief, friendly silence followed until their eyes were cleared and all three spent the remainder of their time chatting casually until Luna finally had to return home for the night.
The next night, Selene's final night in her foster home, Melodía and Ivory allowed her to stay awake later than usual for them to play with and talk to her while the other fillies slept. They read her stories, played games with her, and made her favorite treats. Finally, they tucked her into bed and told her the news.
"What's the really special thing happening tomorrow?" Selene asked.
"How do you know something really special is happening?" Melodía asked teasingly.
"I didn't. I guessed," Selene laughed. "Because you made my favorite treats just for me."
"And we let you stay up past your bedtime. Or do you stay awake without us?" Ivory teased as she pulled out a hidden flashlight from beneath Selene's pillow.
"What's going to happen?" Selene asked excitedly. "Tell me or I won't go to sleep!"
"You probably won't if we do tell you," Ivory said, glancing and smirking at Melodía for a second before turning back to Selene.
"Selene, we love you and we enjoy having you here," Melodía began. "But tonight is your last night with us."
"You mean I... can't be here anymore? Did... did I do something bad?"
"No. Not at all," Melodía assured her. "Remember how sad you feel when the other fillies find new families because you miss them? And sometimes, you ask us if you'll ever find a new family?"
Selene quickly caught on, but she wasn't so quick to believe them. "Everypony loves the other fillies better. You're the only ones who love me. And Luna. Luna loves me."
"Yes, Luna loves you very much," Ivory agreed.
"And I love all of you too!" Selene exclaimed.
"We know," Melodía told her. "We love having you here, but tomorrow, it's time for you to go to your new family."
"But what if they don't really love me?"
"But you just said it. She does love you," Ivory replied.
"I said Luna loves me."
"Yes!" Melodía and Ivory said in unison, smiling at her. Selene thought about it. She thought and thought until it finally clicked.
"Luna is... Luna's... Luna wants to adopt me?! You mean it?"
The two friends nodded, causing Selene to feel a wave of excitement and confusion.
"But why didn't Luna tell me?"
"It wasn't planned," Ivory explained. "When Luna first met you, she didn't know she would love you so much. But it's true."
"And she's promised to write letters to us to let us know how you're doing," Melodía added.
"Can I still visit you?" Selene asked.
"Of course," Melodía answered. "Just like Luna visits you. Tomorrow, after we drop the other fillies off at school, we are taking you to Luna."
"But for now, it's time to go to sleep," Ivory said. She and Melodía gave Selene a good night hug and left her to fall asleep. But Ivory was right. After hearing that, Selene was too excited to fall asleep. At least, at that moment. After Melodía and Ivory were gone, she switched on her flashlight and hugged her treasured blanket like it was trying to escape from her.
"I can't believe it, Blankie! I really, really can't believe it! Luna's going to be our new mommy!"
Out of her bedroom's window, she caught a glimpse of a speeding, bright flash. She gasped happily, remembering the last time she saw a shooting star. It was the same night she met Luna in her dreams for the first time.
"Blankie, my wish really did come true!"