The breeze blew past Luna's ears as she enjoyed Twilight's warmth against her. Her eyes were closed, focusing intently on this feeling of closeness that was so new and terrifying to her. She didn't know if she was doing the right thing, or if she was being too affectionate or forward. Luna didn't know what being somepony's 'friend' was like, or how she was supposed to act. Luna had dreamt about this moment for so long, and couldn't pass up the opportunity, no matter if wrecked everything else. Sharing this beautiful night she had created with somepony was the only thing that she had hoped for in her long life. In this moment, she was content with just this. Under the sea of stars, with streaks of fire and waves of light challenging the daytime in pure brilliance, Luna was finally at peace. Her dream had come true. Nightmare Moon was wrong.
“Ahem,” spoke a familiar, dark voice. Luna's eyes shot wide open and she stepped back, looking around. She was in that familiar, damp, dark corridor again, with that same oval mirror in front of her. It was another dream. “Welcome back, my dear Luna,” spoke Nightmare Moon, as she stood in the reflection, with an disappointed look on her face and something in her eyes that looked almost afraid. “Having fun with your new 'friend'?”
“Stay away from me, Nightmare Moon. I did it. I proved you wrong, completely wrong. Twilight wants to be my friend. Twilight wants to spend time with me. She loves my night,” said Luna, defensively, stepping backwards. “I don't need to be afraid anymore. I don't need to be alone anymore. Go away.”
“Luna,” said Nightmare Moon, in a deadpan tone. Luna looked up into Nightmare Moon's icey-blue eyes, which shot directly into her soul. “Do you know what the pain of having your heart broken in half feels like?” Luna was taken aback by the question. It was true, she had never experienced heartbreak. She had only ever experienced longing, and loneliness. “Oh, it's quite alright. Neither do I. Do you want to find out? I've heard it's the most exquisite pain there is,” continued Nightmare, craning her neck downwards to look at Luna in the eye. “It would be a wonderful, painful new emotion to add to our repertoire, don't you think? You could do so much with it.”
Luna looked at the ground, shaking her head. How had she made somepony so evil? “Nightmare... I'm going to be Twilight's friend. She won't hurt me, I know she won't. She'll never betray me like that. Big sister told me she never betrays her friends.”
Nightmare Moon looked indignant, scoffing at the smaller mare. “So you're really willing to play roulette, willing to give our heart to the first random pony – another mare, no less – that you meet. You're certainly braver than I am. Or perhaps you’re just stupid.”
“'Our' heart?,” replied Luna, scoffing at her. “I thought you didn't want any part of that 'mushy stuff.' I thought that wasn't your 'thing.'”
“You know very well what I mean, you foal! Don't play stupid with me! If you are hurt, I am hurt. No power in all of Equestria could stop the destruction if you were to get your heart broken by your first love. The world itself would shatter under your hoof!”
Luna audibly gasped at the words 'first love,' but sharpened her gaze none the less, refusing to show an inch of weakness in front of her. “I'm not like that anymore. I wont do those horrible things. I'll never hurt Twilight, even if she ends up hurting me. NEVER! I'd never forgive myself for hurting somepony so wonderful. I won't. I just won't!”
“Do you mean that?”
“Do you REALLY MEAN THAT?!,” yelled Nightmare Moon, forcibly, filling the entire corridor with her booming voice.
“YES!!,” screamed Luna back, with all the force she could muster, countering Nightmare's voice with echoing reverberation that could have moved the walls themselves given half a chance.
“You can never trust somepony completely. If-- no, when you get hurt, I will NOT be there to pick up the pieces of your heart! I will only be there to ensure that you can do what you've always wanted to, which is to rule Equestria and its subjects. It's always been your one, true desire!”
“That's not what I want anymore! I don't want to rule anything or anypony!” said Luna, looking her demon straight in the eye. She got into an aggressive stance, her fear for Nightmare beginning to melt away. She was getting so close to her one, real dream. She would not mess this up because she was afraid of herself anymore. No more fear, ever again. “You've corrupted me, told me lies, and made me afraid of ever reaching out to anypony ever since I came back! You were hoping to USE ME, AGAIN, wanting me to snap and give in to your evilness! Never again!” Luna moved towards the mirror, Nightmare Moon looking visibly shocked and stepping away from the determined mare. “I'm going to be Twilight Sparkle's friend! That's my dream! That's what I want! And you'll never take her away from me!”
Luna awoke suddenly, and she felt so very cold. The howling wind chilled her to the very bone, and she found it hard to bear. She raised herself off the ground, trying to look around, seeing nothing but a white haze in front of her. A blast of frigid air assaulted her flanks, nearly pushing her over, forcing her legs to dig into the snow for support. The giant storm, the one that had been scheduled had started early, and not a speck of the proud, beautiful vista they had shared the night before could be seen. The only visible thing was the snow, being whipped up, around and into everything. Luna was freezing, but she paid no attention to it. She was used to this kind of cold. She looked back at the tent, her ears and mane flapping in the violently. The door was open and snow was pouring in, the wind nearly tearing its supports from the ground. The pair of them had fallen asleep outside from the night before, entirely forgetting to go back inside and close it up. Luna finally came to her senses, her eyes widening. Where was Twilight? She looked beside her, and could see the purple unicorn, shivering and covered in a thin layer of snow, the violet colour of her jacket barely visible through the white powder. How could she sleep through something like this? Luna lowered her head and nudged Twilight with her muzzle. She didn't move. She was only shivering, with her eyes half-open.
“Twilight?!” yelled Luna, trying to make sure Twilight could hear her through the intense background noise. “Are you okay?!” Twilight just kept shivering. “Can you move?!” yelled Luna again. Twilight slowly shook her head, and tried mouthing something to her, as if it was the hardest thing in the world to do. Luna realized, at that moment, that Twilight was freezing to death. Luna knew what hypothermia could do to a young mare, and if that she didn't act at that exact moment, Twilight would die. Without waiting another moment, Luna lowered her body and nuzzled her head underneath Twilight, the cold, damp snow covering her face. Eventually she wiggled her away underneath, balancing Twilight's body on her neck, and then her back, spreading her wings as wide as she could to support the mare. She turned towards the entrance of the tent and began walking slowly, every step towards the tent becoming a chore. The thick snow seemed to suck in her hooves further the closer she got. Finally, she made it, stepping inside of the partially-filled tent, placing Twilight down on top of the sleeping bag. The cold air tore into the tent as if it were a wind-trap, and with great effort, Luna closed the tent door, the elements still pounding against it like a ravenous beast trying to get in.
“L-l-l...” sputtered out Twilight, who was still shivering.
“Twilight?!” exclaimed Luna, lowering her ear to Twilight's mouth. “Please, tell me what to do Twilight. Please tell me how to help you. I'll do anything!”
Twilight's teeth continued to chatter. Her body was stone-cold and the snow still stuck to every part of her. She attempted, as hard as she could, to give instructions to the anxious alicorn standing over her. “H-h-h... hot... b-bottles... i-i-in b-bag...”
“Hot bottles? Hot water bottles?” replied Luna, reflecting what Twilight was saying to make sure she understood. Twilight nodded her head. Luna magically pulled Twilight's saddlebags over towards her. She opened them, and rummaged through them as quickly as she could, throwing things to the floor, eventually finding two hot water bottles near the very bottom of the bag. She pulled them out, showing Twilight. “These? What do I use for water?”
Twilight nodded again. Twilight started mouthing something again, her breathing getting more laboured. “U-u-... use... s-snow...”
“Use... snow? But... snow is-- oh, heat up the snow!” exclaimed Luna, the adrenaline beginning to pump through her. She knew how to heat up water with her magic alone, and snow was no different. She unscrewed the cap on the water bottle, and grabbed a lump of snow that had accumulated in on the tent floor, magically heating up the crystallized water and pouring it into the bottle. She focused intensely on the task at hoof, repeating this process as quickly as she could until the bottle was completely full. She then tightened the cap, and undid the top buttons of Twilight's jacket, placing it on her chest and closing up the jacket again. Luna repeated this process with the other one. Once she was done, she looked around her. It must have been a half a foot of snow covering the tent floor.
“I'm going to move all of this snow, okay, Twilight? I'll need to open the door for just a moment, but I'm going to expel it so I can warm you up,” said Luna comfortingly, bending down to talk into Twilight's ear. Twilight nodded and closed her eyes, still shivering.
Luna sat down and concentrated, her horn growing brighter and brighter. One by one, all the particles of water, snow and debris collect into the air as a large mass, hovering silently around her head. Luna then quickly opened the door, and just as the wind was about to rush in from the outside, Luna created a counter-wind which expelled all of the snow in a giant wave. Her mane flapped in front of her face and the feathers of her wing were blown out of shape. After she was sure it was all gone, she closed the tent again quickly, and sighed deeply. She looked at Twilight again, who was laying on her side, her eyes still half-open and her hooves out in front of her listlessly.
“I-Is there anything I can do now, Twilight?”
Twilight only nodded very slowly, and sputtered out, “C-cov-vers...”
Luna silently understood, and nudging the other mare over, opening the sleeping bag with her mouth and then nudging her back under it. She tucked Twilight in, bringing the fabric right to her neck and covering all of her body, and then pulled the jacket's hood over her head and ears. She stood beside Twilight, her ear near Twilight's mouth again, waiting for her next order. “Is there anything else at all? Anything I can do?”
“P-p... p-please... hold m-me...” Tears came to Twilight’s eyes as she shivered, terrified. Luna immediately slid herself between the covers of the sleeping bag, and pulled in Twilight with her hooves as close as was possible, trying to sooth the purple unicorn. Luna was shocked to feel how cold Twilight had gotten, her hooves and every other bit of exposed flesh chilled to the bone. The fierceness of the wind seemed to intensify against the side of the tent. Luna had done what she could, but the knowledge that she was on her own scared her. She was terrified that she was too late to save Twilight, and held her tightly as she could. Tears formed in Luna's eyes, as she pulled a thick, wool blanket out from her own bags behind her, and placing it gently over their heads, trying to keep every single ounce of heat inside. It didn't take very long before Luna was outright crying. She felt responsible for everything, despite it not being her fault. She felt like she had hurt her one and only friend. If it hadn't been for her, she wouldn't have fallen asleep outside, and be half-dead as she was. If it hadn't been for her, Twilight would have never gotten hurt. If she hadn't been so selfish. If she--
“T-thank y-you, L-L-Lun-...” said Twilight, her eyes still closed and her voice barely audible, as she trailed off.
Luna just kept holding her, whispering into her ear. “Save your energy, Twilight. Please. Don't thank me until you're better again, and until everything is okay.” Twilight didn’t argue, and just nodded slowly. She had no energy to. The mares embraced each other for survival, with the strongest blizzard Equestria had ever seen roaring overhead, slamming against the cliff-side they were now trapped on, completely alone.
Night had fallen once again. The wind remained strong, but not to the gale-force level it had been earlier. Twilight was sitting up now, after hours of being unable to move, huddled with a blanket over her. Luna was sitting beside her, focusing intently on a spell. Suddenly, a tiny ball of energy emerged in front of the pair of them, growing rapidly until it began emitting a soft, pure-white glow which seemed to warm the air around it.
“There,” said Luna. “This should help. It's a spell I learned a long time ago. It's pure magical energy, unlike your stove, which would probably burn the tent down. Here...” She took Twilight's hooves and raised them, placing them into the small ball of energy, which hovered off the ground near their chests. “It wont burn you. You can even put your hooves directly into it.”
“I-It's warm,” said Twilight, in a subtly amazed voice, running her hooves through the wisp in front of her.
“I... I've used it to help me stay warm in the past, whenever I've been cold,” replied Luna.
Twilight couldn't think terribly well. She held her hooves in the ball of light in front of her. Luna was doing something off to the side, but she was too exhausted to pay much attention to it. She breathed deeply, staring at the light. She had nearly died, doing something so unbelievably absent minded. How had she fallen asleep outside? Why hadn't the strong winds woken her up before she was nearly freezing to death? Oh Celestia, Applejack would never let her hear the end of this.
“Here you go, Twilight,” said Luna, suddenly. Twilight snapped out of her trance, looking up at the alicorn, who had a mug hovering in front of her. “I prepared that hot chocolate mix you’d brought with you. Please, drink this. You haven't eaten or had anything to drink since last night. It'll warm you up.” Twilight tried to pick up the mug with her magic, but couldn't, no matter how hard she tried. She squinted, but was unable to produce even a spark. “Twilight, please don't strain yourself,” continued Luna, concerned. Twilight then just reached out, taking it into her hooves.
“T-thank you,” replied Twilight, drearily. “H-how did you get the water? Didn't you put all the snow outside?”
“Oh... I teleported some in from outside, and heated it up. Didn't you notice?”
Twilight just shook her head. She was more out of it than she thought. Hadn't only a few seconds passed? “N-no, not really. Thank you, though.”
“It's alright. You’ve already thanked me,” said Luna, smiling softly. “Can I do anything else?”
“No... I don't think there's anything else. We just need to wait out the storm for now, I think.”
“Okay,” replied Luna. She sat down beside Twilight, and looked at the warm glow of the wisp in front of them. Nothing was said for a short while, as a slightly jittery Twilight continued to sip on the drink Luna had made for her. It made her feel immediately better, and reminded her of Pinkie Pie.
Twilight couldn't think of anything else at the moment. Her mind was completely clear, even with Luna sitting beside her. For quite a while, she just admired the handiwork of the warm ball of energy in front of her, as waves of energy rippled across it as if it were both a liquid and a gas at the same time. It was similar to other spells she had seen, but this one was... different, almost organic in a way. Twilight tried to strike up a conversation, to get her mind going again and to try to think about something other than her near-death experience.
“What's this spell, Luna? I've never seen anything like it before. It's very nice, and warm,” spoke Twilight, suddenly.
“This spell... is one I came up with a long, long time ago,” replied Luna, gently prodding it with her hoof. “I made it to keep me warm, when--” She paused for a second, lowering her head. “--when I... was imprisoned... on the moon.”
Twilight looked at it with a kind of fascination, almost feeling the higher-functioning of her brain return piece by piece. It was warm, but it couldn't have kept her very warm on the moon of all places. “But... isn't it even colder than it is here? How did you survive?” Twilight then frantically waved her hoof, realizing how oblivious the question had been. “S-sorry, you don't have to answer that. That was so, so very insensitive of me.” Open mouth, insert hoof.
“N-no. No. It's... it's alright. I promise,” replied Luna, laying down and folding her legs underneath her. “You get used to it. The cold, that is. Eventually you just stop feeling it. A normal pony in those circumstances would have died, of course, but, I'm not a... normal... pony. I just wanted to feel some warmth when I was up there... so I made this.”
Twilight nodded, still feeling like she was going way past Luna's comfort zone. She attempted to break up the tone of the conversation. “T-that explains why you don't need a jacket, I guess.” ‘Oh Celestia, just tape my mouth shut, please,’ she thought immediately afterwards.
“Yes, that's right,” Luna said smiling sweetly up at Twilight. “I know you probably think it's a difficult subject for me, but don't worry. I... I don't get to share things like this with anypony. It’s nice... to talk about it, finally.” Twilight just nodded, trying not to embarrass herself again. “... this might not be the right time, but I just wanted to say that last night meant more to me than you can imagine.”
Twilight could imagine quite a bit. She sipped her hot chocolate again, the warmth spreading throughout her body. She felt more and more normal as time went on, which was comforting. “It's okay, Luna. I saw one of those most beautiful things I had ever seen in my life last night. Maybe even the most beautiful thing. I honestly believe that everything that happened today was a small price to pay, really,” Twilight said, smiling. “Thank you for making something so beautiful.”
Luna blushed and looked away, smiling and giggling. “You know that... I did nearly kill you, yes?” replied Luna, playfully.
“Labour of love, I suppose,” said Twilight. She instantly regretted dropping the 'L'-word in there, and cringed.
“I suppose that makes two of us,” replied Luna, happily.
Twilight blushed and her eyes went wide. “N-no, I didn't mean it like that!”
“L-like what, Twilight?” said Luna just as startled as Twilight. What exactly did Twilight mean?
"O-oh, nothing. I'm just being weird. Must be the cold getting to my brain, haha.” Twilight just sighed at herself. What HAD she meant, anyhow? There was no helping her at this point. Twilight couldn’t tell why she was being so defensive towards Luna, either. Aside from one or two things, Luna hadn't done much of anything to suggest that romantic love existed. She just as friendly and anxious as Twilight herself the entire time. Why was she getting so afraid? She looked over at Luna, who was still eyeing her curiously since that outburst. Images of how beautiful Luna had looked the previous night entered her mind, with the sky itself reflected in every fibre of her being. Twilight remembered how calm she had been simply staring into her eyes, like she was sitting beside the sky itself, just by looking at the other mare. She knew she should have been feeling anxious around Luna at this point, especially with the notion of her loving her bouncing around in her head, but she didn't. Now she was wondering if SHE was the love-sick one. Oh Celestia.
“Oh, sorry. I was just lost in thought,” she replied, still very lost despite her reassurance. Twilight couldn’t help but think that the awkwardness between the two of them had gotten to the point she felt like she was honestly worried she was hurting Luna, and there was nothing she'd hate more. Maybe it had been that she had nearly died, so everything else seemed like a walk in the park. Twilight felt compelled to speak. “Luna... how do you feel about me?”
Luna looked at her curiously. “W-what do you mean?”
“Like... what do you think about me? Do you like me?”
Luna just blushed and averted her gaze. “I-It's embarrassing to say, and I don't know if you feel the same way, s-so it's okay. I'd rather give it time.”
Twilight could feel the anticipation start to build up in her mind and her heart. Was she... hopeful? “It'd mean a lot to me, Luna. I promise I won't judge you. It’s just that I don't know how you think of me, and, well... I don’t know why it’s important, it just to me. ”
Luna blushed and looked to the side, away from Twilight. “I-I don't know if I can say.”
“Please, I promise I wont be upset.”
Luna breathed deeply, her lip quivering, as she blurted out, “I think that you're a very wonderful pony and I want to be your friend and hang out with you.” Luna sat back up, looking into Twilight's eyes as she spoke. “I want to spend time with you, and see things with you, and go on adventures with you, just like you do with any of your friends in Ponyville. I-I w-want--” Luna lowered her voice, folding her ears back. “... nevermind. I-I'm sorry. I-I’ve probably... made you uneasy...”
Twilight's mouth stood slightly agape for a few seconds, before coming to her senses. Now she was feeling relief in a certain way, but also a tinge of disappointment. But why disappointment? The rollercoaster of emotions confused her to no end, but there was no time for that. “N-no, there's nothing to be sorry about at all!” Twilight replied hastily. “You want to be my friend?” Luna simply nodded, continuing to look away. It didn't make sense to Twilight at all. Why would Luna be so affectionate to her, if she just viewed her as a friend? Why was she so open and trusting? It boggled Twilight's mind, but it didn't take her very long before she answered that question on her own, images of the night before entering her mind again. That connection was more real and deep than she had ever felt. It's why she felt so calm just looking at Luna, just knowing that somepony understood her love of the night sky...
Twilight looked up at the ceiling of the tent. She finally understood. She remembered how she had read the passages in the book which spoke of Nightmare Moon, how nobody had appreciated her, or her night, and how the jealousy had corrupted her. At the end of it all, however, she just wanted to be appreciated, to have a friend. Luna was so afraid of scaring Twilight off, because Twilight had been the only pony in the world to tell Luna that her heart and her soul – the night she had so lovingly created – were beautiful beyond her wildest dreams. Twilight felt that she had been so stupid, so oblivious, like she had always been. “Luna,” she began. “I over-think things sometimes. Well, okay, I over-think pretty much everything all the time. But I think I understand you, now.”
Luna just looked at her, confused. “Y-you do?”
“I spent so much of my life avoiding friendship with anypony, because I thought it was a drag and that they'd get in the way of doing what I wanted to do. I eventually learned what having friends was like, and I knew then that I'd never trade them for the anything in the world.” Luna just nodded again, listening silently. “I always had ponies coming up to me and asking to hang out, but never did anything with them. You've always wanted friendship, but never had it. Friendship means everything to you. It means the world to you. I didn’t understand, until now,” continued Twilight. “Luna, I'd love to be your friend. I'd love to spend time with you, if you can put up with how absent-minded I am most of the time.”
Luna's eyes grew wide, tears beginning to fill them. “Really?” she said weakly, with so much hope and happiness in her voice.
“Really,” replied Twilight, smiling wider, with a silly grin on her face.
Luna instantly tackled Twilight and wrapped her forelegs around Twilight's neck, her wings unfurling, hugging her as tight as she could while giggling happily. Tears of joy fell from her face and onto Twilight’s jacket, as she snuggled against the other mare. “Oh, thank you Twilight! Thank you so much! Thank you thank you thank you!” Twilight hugged the other mare back, smiling. She felt just as excited as Luna, although she didn't really know why, but didn't much care for a reason, either. They had found a connection between them, the likes of which Twilight had never felt before. She didn't know what it was or what it meant. Luna began sobbing, whispering ‘thank you’ into Twilight’s ear repeatedly. Twilight just held her as closely as possible, almost able to feel Luna’s pain lift from her heart. Twilight was happy, in that moment, that she had made such a close friend. Maybe she wasn’t so bad at this ‘friendship’ thing after all.
“Twilight?! Sister?! Where are you two?!” said a voice, bellowing from outside. Dawn had broken and light flooded the walls of the tent. Luna and Twilight both awoke with a start, the pair of them embracing each other closely under the cover of the sleeping bag. Both of them instantly knew whose voice that was. It was Princess Celestia herself.
Luna instantly got up, shook off the sleeping bag and opened the tent door. A small bit of snow poured in from the two-foot high swell that had formed at the entrance. The storm had passed, and the sun shone brightly, low on the horizon. “Big sister?!” Luna yelled out into the blinding light.
“Oh thank heavens, are you alright?! Is Twilight Sparkle with you?”
“W-we're both okay! She's with me!” replied Luna. Her eyes tried to focus on what was outside, always taking a bit longer adjusting to the brightness of the day. After a few seconds, she could see Princess Celestia standing on the cliff side. Her mane was waving in the wind as it usually did, as her regular two royal pegasus guards at her side stood watch. Luna also noticed a familiar golden carriage parked precariously on the cliff-side. Twilight slowly got up, feeling exceptionally sore this morning, as Luna galloped out to meet her sister, the snow providing no hindrance to her. Upon reaching her, she nuzzled her sister's neck affectionately. “I'm so glad to see you, big sister!”
Celestia bent her head down and nuzzled her little sister back in a loving embrace. “And I am as well. I'm so glad you're alright. The Pegasi weather crew informed me last night that the storm had ended up getting much bigger than they had initially planned, and was nearly beyond their control. I would have come sooner, but the winds prevented us from coming all the way out here. Are you two okay?”
A groggy Twilight emerged from the tent, stepping out into the crisp morning air which burned her eyes. It was, thankfully, nowhere near as cold as the night before, with the rays of sunlight hitting her face and warming her up. “We're okay, your highness.”
Celestia's eyes widened as she looked at the state Twilight was in. “Dear heavens Twilight Sparkle, you look like a mess! What happened here?”
Twilight's hair was completely messy, tangled and unkempt, she had giant black rings under her half-opened eyes, and she was hunched over in pain with a blanket covering her shoulders. “O-oh, do I really look that bad?” replied Twilight, laughing pitifully at herself.
“Well, let's get you two home safe and sound,” said Celestia, the guards departing from her sides.
Twilight sighed happily, walking towards her wonderful mentor and Luna. “O-okay. If you could drop me off at home, that'd be gre--”
Luna stepped in front of Celestia, abruptly cutting Twilight off before she could finish. With a determined look on her face, Luna began speaking very sternly. “Sister, I want Twilight taken to the castle and looked at by the royal physician IMMEDIATELY! She was seriously hurt and I want to make sure there's absolutely nothing wrong!”
Celestia was taken aback for a moment, before speaking to Twilight. “Is this true, Twilight Sparkle? Were you really hurt?”
“Well... I did kinda almost, uhm, freeze to death,” she replied, grinning sheepishly.
“It's settled then. Twilight, you'll accompany us to the castle and be looked at by the attending royal physician. Until they say you are fit to leave, you’ll be under their direct care.”
“No 'buts',” replied Celestia, in an authoritative, caring tone.
Twilight lowered her head a bit, her sheepish grin widening. “O-okay, your highness. But we still need to get all my thing's pack--” Twilight looked behind her, and noticed that the royal guards had somehow managed to pack up the entire campsite, only finishing on rolling up the tent. How had they packed up things so fast without magic?
“We're done here, my lady,” spoke one of the stallions, briskly.
“Let's go home, Twilight,” said Luna, smiling brightly as she stood beside her taller sister. Twilight could feel her muscles become more sore as all of the stress finally released. They were safe now. Everything was going to be okay.
“Y-yeah, let's get out of here.”
“Luna really is an artist, isn't she?”
Twilight and Princess Celestia were walking down a hallway of the royal castle. Only a couple of days had passed since they had left the cliff-side vista. Twilight had fully recovered with good nights sleep, and the doctor gave her a bill of good health. The sunlight peered in through the windows, illuminating the beautifully crafted stone walls. These hallways were familiar to Twilight. It had been so long since she had last been here, when before it had practically been her home.
“Yeah, she really is. I've never seen something so beautiful in my life. N-not to say your sun isn't very beautiful, of course!”
Celestia smiled warmly. “No, no, I completely understand, Twilight. My artistic skills are nothing compared to that of my sister. I felt the same way the first time I saw Luna's creations fill the night sky. She's only gotten better and better over time, like a painter perfecting their technique. There's really nothing quite like it.”
“Y-yeah, definitely!,” replied Twilight, smiling.
“I'm glad you two had fun together out there, even if it did get very dangerous. Did you learn anything on your trip?”
“Oh yes. I learned something very important about friendship, naturally. I learned that even when you have your heart set on something, that if your friends are really worried about you, that you should listen to them more closely, even if you think they just sound like worry-warts.”
Celestia smiled warmly. “Very good, Twilight Sparkle. Don't ever forget that your friends are always looking out for you. That's what having friends is all about, after all.”
Twilight smiled to herself, remembering how everypony back home in Ponyville was so worried about her, and how she should have listened. She felt so stupid now, having brushed off all of their concerns all at once, just so she could go without feeling guilty. She also remembered Luna, and how she had been there for her when she needed it most, saving her life and nursing her back to health. That reminded her of something important. “Oh, Princess...”
“Yes, Twilight Sparkle?”
“Is it alright if Luna came to visit me in Ponyville? Regularly, that is.”
Celestia's eyes lit up, as if she was intensely excited at the prospect herself. “Why certainly! It is, of course, up to my sister, but I would have no problems with her regularly visiting Ponyville at all.”
Twilight smiled, “That's good. Her and I talked a lot about doing astronomy together when we got back. I promise that I'll try my best not to get her into any more dangerous situations, okay?”
“I'm certain you wont,” replied Celestia, smiling. She then quickly lowered her head to face Twilight, as if to talk a little more privately. “She's so very sweet and loyal as can be, as long as you treat her with kindness and love. She's a very... 'passionate' mare, as you can probably tell – maybe even a little intense at times – but she's so wonderful and caring.”
Twilight was a little confused at why Celestia was telling her this, and just nodded. “I... I understand...”
“I'm just so worried about her. She hasn't made a single friend since she came back to Equestria. I just want her to be happy, and to enjoy life, after everything that’s happened,” said Celestia, looking down at the ground, with obvious concern for her little sister written across her face and demeanour. “I have complete faith in you, Twilight. She's just so fragile. Please promise you’ll take care of her?”
Twilight nodded solemnly. She had never seen Celestia so worried about anything, which shocked her just a little. “I'll be sure to take good care of her, Princess.”
“Good. I hope you two have many wonderful times together,” replied Celestia, smiling softly. The pair of them continued walking, discussing various subjects and catching up on all the little things that couldn't be fit into their letters to each other.
“Are you sure they'll like me?”
“I'm positively sure. They're very friendly. You'll see.”
“I'm just so scared... I’m afraid I’ll upset them, because of last time...”
“You wont upset anypony, Luna. I promise. Everything will be okay.”
”O-okay, Twilight. I trust you.”
“Here she comes now!” exclaimed Applejack, who pointed up at the sky with her hoof. The golden carriage began to descend from the sky over the main road, where it usually landed. Everypony was anxiously waiting for Twilight to return after Celestia had written them, telling them what had happened on the mountain. The carriage finally landed and the royal pegasi guards came to a halt, the snowfall crunching under their hooves.
The door swung open and Twilight stepped out outside, smiling. “Hey girls, did you miss me?” The entire group of her friends huddled around her, all of them voicing their intense concern. She felt overwhelmed and embarrassed. What an idiot she had been.
“Twi', when ah told ya t’stay home because ah was worried about y’freezin' t’death, ah didn't mean that t’be taken as a challenge.”
“I know, AJ. I'm really sorry. I should have listened.”
“Ah heck, all's well that ends well, right? Ah'm just glad yer back home.”
“Yeah, you egghead! Don't scare us like that again!”
“We were so worried about you, Twilight... I feel just awful not going with you...”
“I feel just dreadful that my jacket didn't keep you warm enough. I really ought to have made something much better for you, darling. Can you ever forgive me?”
“Did ya get to see the stars? Did ya did ya did ya? Huh huh huh?”
“G-girls, please,” said Twilight, exasperated but happy none the less. “It's okay. I'm perfectly fine. We'll all talk about what happened when I get a chance to settle in, okay?” The five other mares just nodded and smiled. It was good to be home. “However, I must to introduce somepony first. Luna, you can come out now,” said Twilight, calling into the carriage. After a few seconds of hesitation, Luna finally appeared, stepping down and smiling meekly, looking at the ground.
“H-Hello, everypony. It's nice to meet you, under better circumstances this time.” The five of them all stood there with their mouths agape for a moment, before all bowing to Luna in succession. Luna waved her hoof, embarassed. “N-no, it's okay, you don't have to do that. I promise. Y-you don't have to be so formal.” One by one, they all got up and approached Luna, still somewhat weary of the royal alicorn. It didn't take long, however, until they were all giving their introductions. Luna smiled, shaking hooves with everypony in the group.
“Come by Sweet Apple Acres whenever you'd like, yer highness. We’ve got the finest apples in all of Equestria!”
“You should also visit Sugarcube Corner, too! I'll throw an awesome party for you, Luna!”
“If you'd prefer some more... refined and elegant tastes, you can come by my boutique at your leisure, my lady. We could chat and have tea, and it'd be simply wonderful!”
“Or if you’d like an aerial tour of Ponyville, Cloudsdale or wherever, just come find me! I’m always around!”
“Or if you'd like to come by and see the animal hospital I run, I’d love to have you over! I mean, if that's okay... if you'd like to...”
Luna looked confused, taking in their hospitality and friendliness. She couldn't believe how open they were all being with her. “I-I can try to visit you all, although it might take me some time.”
“Weeee! Awesome! I'm definitely throwing a party for you, then!” exclaimed Pinkie, bouncing up and down in glee.
“Yeah! How else are we gonna celebrate Princess Luna visiting Ponyville! It'll be so super-awesome-amazing that everypony will want to come to it just to meet you!”
Luna smiled nervously, finding it difficult to take it all in. She glanced over at Twilight in an oddly confused but distinctly happy way. Twilight decided that she'd better give Luna a bit of reprieve from everyone's prodding, so she could get used to it. “Okay girls, you can all swarm Luna once I get home. I’ve got to see what Spike has been up to,” said Twilight, smiling. Luna was going to love it in Ponyville, if this was any indication.
“Oh, him? He didn't even bother to show up to meet you here because he let Sweetie Bell and her friends make a complete mess of your library, AGAIN,” replied Rarity, sighing heavily.
“Oh geez, I better go rescue him then,” laughed Twilight.
Everypony began walking back to town, as the royal guards took off with the carriage up into the sky. Luna was beaming as they walked into town, trotting along beside Twilight as the others continued on a few paces ahead. She leaned her head against Twilight's neck and nuzzled against her softly as they walked together, which made Twilight blush. Twilight didn't mind, though. Every time she looked at Luna, that beautiful vista of dusk entered her mind. She could only hope that Luna enjoyed Ponyville, and that they could be the best of friends as time went on. She couldn’t wait to show Luna the intricacies of the night sky she had so lovingly created.
Luna was overjoyed and terrified. Her long, immortal life had taken a sharp turn in a direction she didn't understand. Half of her was convinced that it was too good to be true, the other half uncaring and willing to throw caution to the wind. She could only hope that Twilight and her friends accepted her, and learned to forgive her for all the things she had done to them as Nightmare Moon.
Despite these fears and reservations, the pair of them knew something for certain. That bond they felt between them would only get stronger. There was something intrinsic and wonderful about it. They were brought together by a common sky, together forever in that simple, lonely darkness of the brilliant night that they had shared.
TO BE CONCLUDED...