The first thing that Celestia had done the moment she and Luna arrived at their new home (upon giving up the throne to Twilight Sparkle) was sleep in early. Having spent a thousand years being forced to wake and sleep at very specific times, it was a relief to sleep at her own pace. Since banishing Nightmare Moon, she had to wake up and go to sleep at certain hours so she could raise and lower the sun and moon at their proper times. It got to the point where she needed to consume coffee daily to keep herself going. When Luna did return to her, things had gotten a bit easier with the moon and that night was being taken care of. However, it was still a busy schedule for Celestia. Everything was still synchronized down the second. From when to eat, when to sleep, and even when to use the bathroom. Now that she was free from any responsibility and duties with Twilight on the throne, Celestia would sleep for as long as she wanted. Now she can eat whatever and whenever she feels hungry. Do any activities at any time, day or night. It was something she had wanted to do for so long and yet, was denied it until recently.
Complete and utter freedom.
Of course, she wasn’t unaware of the appeal of being a royal. Ponies had often wished for having a similar position of power in real life. For Celestia, however, who had pretty much the longest reign than any other pony in history, the freedom of having a normal life was a blessing. Still, this too took some time to get used to her new stress and work-free lifestyle. In the early days of her retirement, she often woke up early, out of force of habit, to raise the sun; only to see it already be up there thanks to Twilight. The feeling of sleeping past 5:30 AM and waking up at eight in the morning was a feeling Celestia never got tired of experiencing.
Her sister was in the same boat; now able to share the day and night together without their duties getting in the way of social interaction. Not just having more time with each other, but with other ponies as well. Nearby their estate was the busy town of Buckton with a crowd of warmhearted, hardworking, and friendly ponies that reminded her of Ponyville back west. They had, naturally, treated the sisters like royalty at first, but over time they began to understand that they were now normal ponies like them. Normal ponies who just happen to have powerful magic, a grand estate, and a small group of servants to help, but still.
Rising from her bed, Celestia smacked her lips a few times before summoning her morning robe with a yellow smiling sun on the back to decorate the soft sky-blue fabric. Putting on her yellow slippers, she made her way to the bathroom to refresh and tend to her morning needs with a whistle in the air.
While doing so, she thought about what to do today. Check the orange farm? Continue writing her memoirs? Go into town and chat with Lay Leaf and the others over some tea? There was also the fact she needed to get something for Flurry Heart’s birthday in three weeks.
‘Mmhm Hmm… Maybe I’ll just be lazy and read comic books. I really should thank young Spike for getting me into those,’ Princess Celestia thought as she spat out her mouth wash.
Walking out of her chambers, she looked across the hall to see Luna’s door already opened. ‘Guess she’s already awake. I haven’t seen much of her for the past few days. I guess that gaming club she joined is really making her busy. Not that I blame her, I should come by one of these days. It looks fun.’
Passing a few servants who bowed, Celestia made her way to the stairway for the main floor before turning right into the dining room where breakfast was already laid out. Eggs, hay bacon, toast, pancakes, and fresh fruit with milk, juice, and coffee on the side for her and Luna to enjoy. Speaking of which, she spotted her younger sister looking down at her eggs in thought while turning them around with her fork.
“Good morning, Luna,” Celestia greeted, sitting down with her magic already grabbing a bit of everything for her stomach to enjoy.
“Morning, Sister,” Luna whispered, not taking her eyes off the plate.
“It’s a nice morning, isn’t it?” Celestia said, buttering her toast.
“I’m thinking of taking the day easy and just enjoy myself.”
“Twilight’s sent a letter yesterday. She says that Discord’s ten-year community service for his actions is going well, despite his complaining.”
Celestia raised an eyebrow. “Have I mentioned the Griffins decide to go to war with the Diamond Dogs recently?”
“I’ve been told by Dr. Inkwell I have brain cancer and I have only days left to live.”
“And before I forget, Spike has come out saying that he is in love with Prince Blueblood. They’re getting married next week and using your old room for the honeymoon.”
“Hmm-wait?! Young Spike is gay?! And with that brat of wasted space you call your adopted nephew?!” Luna shouted; eyes widened in alarm.
“I’m hurt that my fake potential death isn’t serious enough for your attention, but I’ll ignore it for asking you what’s wrong,” Celestia answered, smirking at her sister’s glare. “And don’t try to lie to me. You haven’t been this deep in thought since we tried to figure out what to make on our first cooking experience.”
‘And not to mention the last, if the cooks had anything to say about it,’ Celestia thought.
Luna sighed and her cheeks began to turn red as she muttered something that Celestia couldn’t hear. “What was that?”
Luna elevated her mumbling to a whisper about something and Celestia rolled her eyes. “I’m afraid you’ll have to speak up again, Sister. I don’t have the hearing of a bat pony.”
“I said I got asked out!” Luna shouted, blushing her face up while squirming in her seat.
Celestia stared at her sister and blinked a few times before the words her sister spoke were fully comprehended. In a split second, stars shined in Celestia’s eyes as she squealed and rushed over with a big hug. Luna choked as Celestia’s bone-crushing embrace started turning her purple from her face to her tail end. The former sun princess twirled around with her sister as she continued the laugh with pure joy and amusement. “Really! Ohhh! My little baby sister has found a special somepony! This is great! It’s a celebration! Oh, we must tell the others! We must invite him over! Or her if it’s a mare! I won’t judge, Luna! This is the greatest day of my life!”
Finally, Luna teleported out of her sister’s grasp and gasped for air before hacking, “It…will be…my last…if you…don’t control yourself…Celestia!”
“Oops, sorry,” Celestia apologized before putting her hoof on her wincing sister. “But, in all seriousness, who is it? Luna, I have to know!”
“It’s Nightwing,” Luna answered, her blush returning with her answer as she looked away. However, Celestia could see her sister’s eyes were still giving a bit of a twinkle to them. “He’s… that pegasus who works for the Night Guard in the area? He’s one of my gaming friends and… well, he asked me out yesterday after our last session of Secret Sombra.”
Celestia remembered seeing him a few times. A good-looking pony with a very soft and yet, handsome face. Good muscle tone with a firm behind that even Celestia may or may not have given a look at once in awhile. He was kind, funny, witty, and took his duty to protecting other seriously. ‘A fine choice. And to ask my sister out? This one’s got courage.’
“Luna this is great! I’m so glad you found somepony you liked and-“
“I didn’t say yes! Sister…I…I kinda didn’t give a clear answer,” Luna said, walking back to her seat and sitting down. “And I might have…messed up? I don’t know. And I don’t know what to do.”
Tilting her head, Celestia walked over and smiled at her little Luna. “Luna, I doubt there’s much to think about. Just go out with him.”
“Oh, and that’s your big advice? Just go with it? Sister, this is more serious! It’s not just the fact that I’ve been asked out! It’s because I’m now realizing things that I never thought possible now that I am no longer a princess!” Luna explained, sighing in discomfort.
“I…I don’t understand?” Celestia asked, tilting her head again.
“Celestia… when was the last time you have ever been asked out?” Luna asked, narrowing her eyes.
Celestia opened her mouth but then stopped. Eyes widened; she went back hundreds of years to see if anypony has ever asked her out before. An ambassador? One of the guards? A former apprentice? Even a stuck up noble who dared to advance his status? “N-No…nopony has ever…” She took a moment to sit down on her seat. “I…I hate to say it, Luna, but I have never courted or been courted before.”
“Exactly, and do you know why?” Luna said, raising an eyebrow. “What was one of the rules that our teachers told us when we were learning from them during the early days of Equestria?”
Now Luna was going way far back. Those memories of their training days were very hard to remember, but she was surprised that Luna remembered them at all. Being taught by Starswirl, The Pillars, and the six founders were the days that seemed so long ago to the point where they were only whispers in her mind. There were some lessons and events she remembered here and there, but not too many.
“I’ll give you a reminder. When Starswirl gave us the lesson on the uh… birds and bees,” Luna blushed a bit before refocusing, clearing her throat. “We asked if we would ever have to do such a thing. Do you remember what he said?”
Like a bolt of lightning, the memory of that day did come. One hardly forgot the day you learned what a stallion and mare were supposed to do to create life, but even Celestia needed a kick in the old memory bank sometimes. She remembered what he had said, and she muttered it, “We would never have to worry because we can’t fall in love due to our duty.”
“Exactly!” Luna said, shaking her head. “Starswirl said that having mates or even children would complicate things and could invoke problems among the nobility, if not with entire nations. We all know the stories of the inner politics of the Unicorn Empire before the unification of the three tribes. The various rivalries between branches of bloodlines from the royal family to the nobility had resulted in bloodshed, death, and coups in its four-hundred-year history. It was one of the reasons we were told to deny ourselves having lovers so that history could not be repeated.”
“…I see,” Princess Celestia said, with realization. “Now that we are no longer the rulers of the nation, should such a rule even be applied to us anymore? I suppose we must be. We now have the option of having lovers, families, even children... but should we even take it?”
“That is what I wonder,” Princess Luna said with a sigh. “Even if we have surrendered our positions of the throne to Twilight, we still ruled for over a thousand years. We still have noble blood in us. Who is to say somepony will not try to marry us for power or political favors? What if Twilight, heaven forbid, was to meet an unfortunate end and we would have to resume our duties once more?”
Now Celestia was biting her lip. It seemed, even in retirement, she was not fully free from the chains of the hallowed crown. She could not deny that Luna’s fears had some weight to them. Despite having faith in most of her ponies, there were still those that have been greedy, hateful, and power-hungry who lived among Equestria. Gladmane. Cozy Glow. Lighting Dust. These were only a few names that Twilight had given to Celestia in the letters of her adventures. Even before Twilight, there had been those who challenged the harmony of Equestria.
Perhaps there always will be.
Although Twilight had survived challenge after challenge in her lifetime, nothing was ever certain. Anyone could meet their end in an unfortunate way. Her mind returned to the day her sister turned into Nightmare Moon and how they fought for the fate of Equestria. A hoof made its way to the area where Nightmare Moon’s near-fatal magic blast struck her and nearly sent her to the grave. If it wasn’t for the fact that some part of Luna held off at the last minute, she would have died that very night. There were also the chaos vines of Discord that had both her and Luna in their grip. Sucking the magic right out of them. How long could they have been trapped there without food or water? It may have been a slow and painful end for sure. There was also talk among Tirek, Chrysalis, and Cozy Glow of what to do with her and Luna once they were sure Twilight was defeated back when she and the others were their prisoners. One of the options, from Chrysalis no less, was to straight-up execute them.
Yes, alicorns were powerful, but they were not invincible.
“Your fears are not without merit, Sister,” Celestia said with a heavy sigh. “I guess I haven’t realized that our new freedom gives us options that are open to us, yet the consequences still remain.” She paused and then leaned forward with some measure of hope in her tone. “Still, isn’t it worth it now? I don’t want you to miss this chance to be happy. Perhaps I will find somepony as well in the future. Isn’t it time we took control of our own happiness?”
“Yes, I-I-I do but,” Luna answered, tapping her hooves together. “I… I do like Nightwing. He is a good friend, and I can tell he really likes me…if I had to be honest, I think I might feel the same way. But…” She closed her eyes. “Let’s say I do… get together with him, I mean. And we become a married couple down the road. This brings me to another question.” Taking a deep breath, Princess Luna asked, “Are we still ageless, Sister?”
That made Celestia take a gulp of water while wondering if it was the wrong time of the day to go get the wine. It was a simple question, but it carried the weight of a thousand. When she was little, Celestia was overjoyed at the thought she would never have to grow old and always remain young and beautiful. That was all gone when her earliest friends had grown old and were laid to rest in their coffins. It was the one thing, the only thing, she hated for a long time about her destiny as the raiser of the sun and ruler of Equestria. To see all the ponies she had formed bonds with, loved closely, and even raised like children to eventually die without her to follow after. It never stopped hurting. There was a time when she and Luna tried to not connect with others, but her own nature couldn’t help herself. Even if it was a heartbreaking farewell at the end of the road, Celestia treasured each minute with those closest to her from her guards to the servants and even her apprentices.
It was often mistaken into thinking that those who became alicorns were immortal, free from the grasp of time, but that was not true. Celestia and her sister were the only alicorns that were ageless. There had been alicorns who had come and died of old age, each remembered in history. It had been magic, and destiny itself, that had allowed both sisters to live longer than the average pony. Glancing at her cutie mark, Celestia couldn’t help but wonder if such power was needed anymore. They were immortal because they were the only ones who could move the sun and moon; to let life continue on while carrying the traits of all three races without letting racial prejudice get in the way of judgment. Before they were alicorns, Celestia was once a unicorn while Luna was once a pegasus. Both share the traits of their respective mothers while being raised by their earth pony father. Back then, herding was more common, and siblings were considered full siblings in the eyes of the family, despite having a different half parent. Even if they were only half related, Celestia never once thought of Luna as her half-sister, but just simply that, her sister. It was because of being raised by loving parents of all three races and coming into their powers during the event that took them away forever, that they had awakened their destiny to rule Equestria.
But now destiny had spoken once again. It had released them of that fate and gave it to Twilight Sparkle. She was now the ruler of Magic, Friendship, and Equestria. She was the raiser of the sun and moon. Not even Cadence or Flurry Heart had the granted immortality that destiny had given the two former royal sisters. She had known, all those years ago upon meeting the tiny and power alicorn, that Celestia had at long last found her successor. The dreaming visions that came to her at night, from destiny itself, only reinforced it. So she did everything she could to prepare her beloved student.
That included the immortal talk. It had been a very rough conversation featuring her, Luna, Twilight, and Twilight’s friends to have. There were yells, crying, and hugs all around, but in the end, Twilight accepted her fate with her friends promising that they would wait for her on the other side. Even if it took thousands of years or the end of time. After all, eternity would always be there.
Now it is over. Her task was complete. It made her realize that there was a chance. A good chance, she was no longer immortal.
Or was she?
“I…I don’t know, Sister,” Celestia answered with pure honesty. “I suppose we will have to see if we start looking older. Grey mane, wrinkles, and all that.”
“I suppose,” Luna said, but unconvinced. “Still, if I am not going to die of old age despite no longer tasked with bringing the moon into the world…what if Nightwing was to die of old age with me still kicking? I have handled loss because of our situation before sister, but they were friends and comrades in arms. To lose my husband; my special somepony? How do I know I’ll be able to move on?”
“And children, good Goddesses Celestia! Foals!” Luna shouted. “What if I give birth to another alicorn like Cadence did with Flurry Heart?! Or what if they aren’t alicorns and die of old age too?! What if I go mad or something because I outlived my child?! I’ve seen the eyes of parents who outlive their offspring and something in them dies, Sister. I don’t know- no! I know I cannot go through with that!”
“Luna, please!” Celestia shouted as he stood up and closed her eyes.
One of the things Princess Celestia had often wished secretly was that she was a mother in her own right. Her apprentices throughout history had been like sons and daughters to her, including Twilight. She even adopted them at times like Sunset Shimmer before she left over their dispute. The Blueblood family were the descendants of Valor Blueblood who she formally adopted. Princess Cadence was adopted by her after her parents passed in order to help her come to terms with her alicorn status. Even Spike would have been her adopted son if the Sparkles hadn’t agreed to raise him as one of their own.
Yet, she never had a child of her own blood. A foal to give birth to and love until the day she died. The idea of her outliving her own child? No, it was hard enough to outlive those she thought of as children. To outlive any real children was too much.
“…. I am afraid, Sister,” Luna whispered, lowering her head. “I want to think that…this can all work out…but I am afraid. I want to think that I can be given a chance to love, marry, and have a family. To join all we lost to time when I take my final breath on this world and my spirit leaves for the afterlife.” She looked at her sister with her eyes misting up. “But I am afraid I am giving myself false hope.”
Celestia did nothing but stare at her sister. The fears that the former moon princesses had poured out had begun to creep into Celestia’s mind as well. Were the chains to their former duties and destiny ones that they would never escape from? Would they been doomed to still not fully live the lives of normal ponies; lives that Celestia had been dreaming off for years? ‘Am I still a prisoner to fate despite all I have given?’
The answer didn’t come.
The mood at breakfast didn’t escape Celestia for the rest of the day. She was too busy inside her thoughts to do anything but stay in her room. Luna had not gone out the rest of the day either, but Celestia could tell her heart was in two. When she was napping, Celestia walked over to put her to bed and overheard her whispering Nightwing’s name in her sleep. It broke Celestia’s heart that she could not put her sister’s fears to rest, but how could she when she still had her own?
Looking at the stars, Celestia wondered if destiny or fate even cared about her or Luna anymore. Did they not sacrifice so much to complete the task that magic itself had given them? Did they not rule with wisdom, courage, and honor for nearly fifteen hundred years before handing it over? “Are we not entitled to be free?” Celestia asked, bitterly.
Getting up from her seat on the outer balcony, Celestia glared at the heavens as if she wanted to set them aflame. “Have we not done enough? Have we not done as you asked? You made us and guided us to become what we are, and then guided me to your newest charge. Have I not done all that you asked? All that was asked?” Lowering her head, Celestia muttered before wiping a tear away. “You haven’t spoken to me in my dreams or visions since the night you showed me Twilight sitting on the throne. Can you not give me an answer just one more time? Just one more time?” She hesitated for a moment, looking up to the sky as if to ask a parent: “Can I not be free?”
“Sister! Sister, wake up! Wake up!”
“Ugh, Luna? What are you… wait…” Celestia opened her eyes and felt…weird? Very weird. Like missing something on her back weird. That wasn’t just it. Her bed felt much bigger. Or had she gotten… smaller? Levitating her covers off, she turned to look for Luna only to shriek at what she saw. “Luna?! What…what happened to you?!”
“I don’t know!” shouted the dark blue Pegasus with her sister’s voice. A Pegasus that was no longer taller than the average Pegasus mare, but just above the normal height. It was her sister, Celestia knew it, but it couldn’t be. Her horn was missing, and her wings were shorter. Her cutie mark was still there, but her mane had been turned from the floating ethereal form into a simple solid blue state. “I woke up to find myself like this and I thought something was wrong so I can to you and…and…look at you!”
Celestia now jumped out of bed and dashed to her mirror only to find herself in disbelief. “Is this… me?” She was no longer tall. In fact, she was just barely taller than Twilight was. Her horn was still there, but unlike her sister she didn’t have her wings. Her cutie mark was the same, but like her sister she no longer had her normal mane. Just a simple pink color like… like…
Like she used to have. All those years ago. Her mother’s mane.
“I’m…I’m not an alicorn…” Celestia stated in shock. “We are no longer alicorns.”
“Then…that means…” Luna walked over to her sister and they looked at each other in the mirror.
Destiny had given them the answer during the night.
They were free.
Celestia could see tears forming in Luna’s eyes and felt her own eyes begin to water as well. The two sisters looked at each other with such happy smiles their cheeks threatened to rip. With a loud happy cry, they hugged one another and wept. Not in sorrow, but in joy.
“We’re normal! We’re normal!” Luna cried out, sobbing with a smile on her face. “But… but how?!”
“I guess,” Celestia sniffed and wiped away a few tears before looking upward. “I guess someone… something heard us.”
The two sisters looked upward, silently giving thanks in their hearts before looking at each other with silly fueled grins. “Twilight and the others are going to be so surprised when they see us next time,” Celestia said with a chuckle.
“This is so amazing… I… I don’t know what to do!” Luna said, fluttering her wings in joy.
“I think someone should fly straight away to a certain night guard and tell them a certain word beginning with the letter ‘y’,” Celestia teased which made Luna blush, but the smile on her beaming face didn’t fade.
“O-of course! Right away!” Luna said as she closed her eyes and stood still. She stood there for a few seconds before opening her eyes and looked around. Rubbing the back of her head, Luna laughed, “R-right. No horn. No teleport. This is going to take some getting used to.”
Celestia giggled as Luna flew out of her room in a flash. She looked at herself one more time in the mirror before muttering two words. “Thank you.”
Collecting herself, Celestia made her way towards the hall before stopping and clopped her hoof on the floor. “Shoot. I should have asked Luna if Nightwing had a brother…”