Chapter 2: Truth in Lies
I reentered the waking world slowly and in confusion. First of all, I realized that not only had I fallen asleep without realizing it, but I was not outside and uncomfortable. In fact, without even opening my eyes, I realized that I was laying on what could only be a bed, and that said bed was very soft...and warm...and breathing...
I grudgingly opened my eyes and looked around, noting that I was in a rather dark-colored room with a single bookshelf and closet in it, leaving it completely empty otherwise. The walls were painted a soft blue, and it had a short carpet of indigo. Lastly was the illusion of the night sky overhead, which meant this could only be one pony’s room.
I looked to my left to see the slumbering princess next to me, and I could only assume it had been her that found me in the gardens and brought me back to the palace. I smiled as I gazed at her, and a lovely warmth entered my chest when I thought about how much she’d come to care for me.
What began as a friendship one fateful Nightmare Night became a deep connection between the two of us. In many ways, I understood her in a way her sister never could, much as neither of us would ever admit it. Both of us were introverts by nature, loved learning and studying, and tended to think more with the mind than the heart. Luna became a strong figure to me after Celestia began to travel more and more, often leaving Luna and I to take care of state affairs while she was away. I found it odd that while Celestia was older and my mentor, her and I became close friends while Luna became the strong authority figure I needed to teach me how to be a good princess, and a good pony. Where ponies had always found her the more intimidating princess, I always found her to be a bastion of safety.
So it went without saying that waking up as I had, in her bed, wasn’t all that uncommon.
Upon becoming an alicorn and beginning my new life as a princess, I was afraid. I had no idea how to act or what I would be expected to do...for the first time in my life, I felt completely ignorant. In many ways, I emotionally reverted to a young filly, as even before the falling-out with my parents, I rarely saw them, and my friends could only visit so often. I was isolated, and I needed somepony there for me. Luna chose to take up the responsibility. Many a night would I find myself ranting and/or crying in frustration as I became overwhelmed by my new duties, and from loneliness. It became commonplace for Luna and I to stay up long into the night talking, often with us falling asleep in whoever’s room we happened to be in. It pained me in some ways that Celestia and I had drifted apart somewhat in the past few generations, but I was also happy that I could become so close to Luna, who often needed to be reminded of just how important she was.
Speaking of the night princess, she stirred next to me, and when I saw it was dark outside, I focused to sense the moon in the sky. I found the moon had risen no more than an hour ago, which meant it was still rather early in the evening. This of course meant that Luna had either finished her duties early, or had rearranged some things to allow her time to be by my side, even if just to sleep.
I turned my eyes to Luna as she murmured cutely in her sleep, her cornflower-blue mane tickling her nose, causing her to wiggle it in an extremely adorable manner. I found it strange sometimes, that where once I thought I had a crush on her, I now looked up to her in the same way a filly would look up to an older sister. It appears time can change feelings...
But I couldn’t deny how innocent and cute she looked when she was resting.
My logical mind then kicked in as I forced myself to think about earlier in the day, and the attempt at closure I’d done in the cemetery. What I found was uplifting. I found that while the pain was still there when I thought about my friends, particularly Dash, it was reduced to a dull ache instead of the icy chill that had normally accompanied such thoughts. Apparently Cadence had been right...if I wanted things to get better, they would.
“Feeling better?” spoke a gentle, yet powerful voice.
I turned my eyes to Luna, who was still resting, but had one eye open, looking at me. I nodded with a smile. “Much. Thank you for looking after me, Luna.”
She returned a gentle smile of her own as she motioned to the space next to her, and I scooted over closer before her larger blue wing wrapped around me. “Always, Twilight...always.”
I snuggled closer into the reassuring warmth of her wing and coat, relishing the comfort it brought me, and I nearly fell asleep.
“Twilight?” she asked softly.
I looked to her and smiled. “Yes?”
She suddenly looked a bit nervous as she gathered herself. “Well, I was privy to some of what you said in what you assumed was privacy...namely your last few words.” I suppressed a flinch at what was coming, and she added, “Do you truly regret what you have become? Do you regret what we have bestowed upon you?”
The question struck me hard, but while I wanted to tell Luna that I was truly honored and privileged to have been given such a gift, I could not lie to her. “Sometimes.”
She grimaced slightly and sighed as she leaned her head against mine. “I know how you feel, Twilight...truly I do. While it is true that Celestia and I were created as alicorns, we did not know our true nature until much later in life. I came to find that after my sister had fully matured as an alicorn, she no longer aged. Recently, the scientific community has been rather interested in us.”
I nodded. “So I’ve noticed.”
Luna smiled softly as she continued. “Through tissue samples and magical scans, the experts have found that where a pony’s cellular division rate would decrease with age, ours has stayed the same or even increased, and this trend shows no signs of ceasing. What this means is that-”
“Our bodies grow stronger as we age, not weaker.” I interrupted. I looked to her and said, “What you mean to say is that it is very likely that we truly are eternal...but what does this have to do with how I feel?”
Luna smiled sadly. “Let it be said that you are not the only one who has wished for death...not by far. We have all wished for such a thing, for different reasons and at different times. Even the mighty Celestia has fallen to such temptation, and once spent several decades searching for a way to remove our apparent immortality.”
I raised my eyebrow and asked, “When did this happen?”
“Shortly after Clover the Clever passed on...she was Celestia’s first lover.” Luna explained placidly. “Sister was distraught of course, and began to seek a way to make us normal ponies.”
I thought it pointless to ask, but I did so anyway. “Did she find anything?”
Luna shook her head. “No...nothing. What we are is irreversible, Twilight. I am sorry to disappoint you.” She then brought her hoof up to stroke my cheek gently. “And for what it is worth, I am sorry for having this thrust on you without adequate knowledge. We should have told you exactly what the spell would have done and what this life meant.”
I shook my head. “I would have convinced myself that the positives far outweigh the negatives...that it was still worth it. I seem to have lost that through the years.” I sighed and lowered my head to rest against Luna’s side. “There just seems to be so many negative effects when compared to positive is all. I mean, I don’t even know why you and Celestia need me. I don’t control the sun or moon or anything.”
She smiled warmly and countered, “That is where you are wrong, Twilight. You are far more important than you believe.”
“How so?” I asked curiously, now genuinely interested.
Again Luna smiled. “Magic, Twilight...magic. You see, ponies believe the planet is what generates the magic that makes our world go round, and this is true, but where does the planet’s magic come from?”
I shrugged. “Nopony knows. It seems to be perpetually creating magic and feeding it to every land in the world.”
Luna shook her head gently and said, “Perhaps it is time for you to learn just how important you are.” Her eyes stared powerfully back into mine. “You are the source, Twilight. You are the source of the planet’s limitless magic.”
I frowned. “Me? That doesn’t make sense though, because a unicorn merely channels the magic around them through the body and horn.”
“Yes, but you are not a unicorn anymore, are you? And even when you were, you were far from normal.” she explained.
I shook my head. “N-no, that doesn’t make sense. What would the source have been before me?”
Luna smiled. “You always wondered exactly what made your family so special among ponies. It was in fact your ancestor, Lilith, who served as the previous magical conduit. She was a primordial pony however, very powerful, but very unstable. Her essence became one with the planet, and has been feeding it over the millennia, until recently. It was why we were so desperate to find you Twilight, and I am so sorry for rushing it all.”
“You act as if it’s all your fault or something, Luna.” I observed.
She nodded as her smile slipped away. “Because it is. Celestia wanted to wait, for she felt you weren’t ready...but I knew that replacing the magical conduit couldn’t wait any longer. I practically forced her to send the unfinished spell to you...the spell we were so sure you could complete.”
I then realized my error in the past. Though I never said so, I had blamed Celestia for what I was, more so after all of my friends had passed on. I even cursed her sometimes because of it, and even though I should have felt bad for bad-mouthing my longtime mentor, I needed someone to blame. She forgave me for my outbursts of course, being the amazing mare she was, and after letting my frustration and anger out, I also felt better.
The fact that Celestia had taken on all of the blame to protect her younger sister made me feel horrible, though.
“Why would she let me say all those things to her...” I whispered harshly, more confused than angry. “Why didn’t she tell me the truth?”
Luna frowned slightly. “Because we are sisters, and that is what sisters do. Had she been in the same situation and I could find a way to make sure she did not find out about it, I would likely have done the same thing. No matter the cost, we will look out for one another, for in the end, we are all we have. Ponies come and go, civilizations will rise and fall, and one day Equestria itself may cease to be...but Celestia and I will still have each other,” she then gently placed her hoof on mine, “and you will have both of us.”
I looked away from her in shame. “I have to tell her, Luna...I have to apologize for all that I said to her...all that I did.” I took a deep breath before asking, “I really hurt her, didn’t I?”
“Do you want the truth?” Luna asked carefully.
Her question already answered my own, but I urged her to continue. “Yes...I want to know everything.”
I heard and felt her take a deep breath before she said, “It hurt her Twilight...more than I ever thought possible. After Clover I truly believed she could never connect with another mortal after that.” Luna then pulled my face to look at her as she smiled gently. “But you...you were the one pony she could not distance herself from, no matter how much she tried. Make no mistake Twilight, she did try, but you embedded yourself in her heart in a way no other has. You are truly unique in so many ways. It was because of this bond with you that she allowed herself one selfish act...”
I raised my eyebrow questioningly. “What act?”
Luna sighed gently. “She named you the next princess, and the only created alicorn in hundreds of years. No matter what you may believe, when we sought out the new Princess of Magic, many candidates were available, even after you became the Element of Magic. Still, much as I wish it otherwise, Celestia focused on you because of her emotions, and threw her objectivity to the wind. However, I could not allow it...and so I devised a plan to choose the proper princess.” She nodded softly. “The incidents with Discord, King Sombra, and even the ancient spell which you completed...there was a reason you and the other Element-bearers were chosen to handle those. It was not because my sister and I could not, it was because I had to test you to be sure you were the princess we were looking for. Celestia would have let her personal emotions cloud her judgement, and so I had to be the objective eye that saw your actions and behavior logically. It was to my sister’s great joy that I found you worthy to be as we are, and she felt that with you now unchained to death, she could allow herself to be happy again, no longer fearing that you would one day leave her.”
It felt as if a knife was twisting in my heart. “So when I shouted at her...when I cursed her name...”
Luna nodded. “You broke her heart in a way no other could in thousands of years. And yet, her love for me was greater than her pain, so she bore it proudly and forced me to be silent.”
Again my eyebrow raised. “She forced you?”
She grimaced. “Think what you wish, but she can be very persuasive.” Luna then brushed her soft blue mane out of her eyes with a hoof. “Anyway, it is part of the reason she spends so much time abroad lately, doing diplomatic work in the other territories and making sure our allies and enemies are kept in check. She believes you hate her for forcing you into this life.”
The knife in my heart seemed to begin twisting the other way and a sickening feeling spread through my stomach. “So this is all my fault then.” I swallowed thickly and added, “You know, the one thing I kept thinking throughout all of it was, ‘I thought I knew her better than this. It doesn’t make sense.’” I chuckled darkly. “I guess I was right...she just loved you too much to let you take the blame. She reminds me of my own brother in that sense.” I then looked nervously at Luna. “What um...what else happened?”
She looked away, suddenly nervous herself. “I am not to say. I made a promise.”
My mind began work immediately, analyzing all of the possible things that the Guardian of the Day would wish for me not to know, which narrowed things down a bit. In truth, there was not much I did not now know about my mentor...I even knew about the fact that she hated hay with a passion. And so, instead of generalizing the idea itself, I focused it on me...and what happened between us. What would Celestia not want me to know happened because of what I’d said?
It only took a few seconds before it hit me...hard.
“I made her cry.” I muttered in shame.
Celestia was a powerful ruler, known by her subjects far and wide to be kind, fair, and strong. One of the many things she had learned to use was a static mask that revealed nothing of her true feelings...it allowed her to deal with political matters unbiased. Still, I had seen her cry only once before when Luna was cleansed from the curse of Nightmare Moon...but those had been tears of joy. It occurred to me that I had in fact never seen her cry out of sadness, and the only time I knew she had done so was immediately after Luna’s banishment to the moon.
I had done what many had thought impossible...I had made Celestia, the unshakable Alicorn of the Sun, cry.
I let loose a shuddering sigh, fighting back shameful tears. “I’m a horrible pony.”
Luna pulled me closer with her wing and stated, “No you are not...and you know that. It is simply a fact of life that the ones we care about the most hold the power to do the most harm to us.”
I shook my head as I gritted my teeth. “No...I wish she didn’t care about me.”
“Many times, she has as well.” Luna answered. I looked up and met her gaze, and she smiled sadly. “What nopony knows is the fact that many a night she would come to my quarters, stressed beyond measure for one reason or another. More often than not, however, the reason had to do with you in some way. Also, quite often, it was simply her missing you. Even without directly asking, it became apparent that as a young filly, the two of you were very close. I cannot count the times that she had in the past mentioned to me how much she missed you and cursed the fact she had so little free time available that she could not simply visit you not as a princess, but as a friend that missed you dearly.”
“Why didn’t she ever just tell me?” I asked, now seeing my past in a new light.
Luna shook her head. “You were still growing as a pony, and as a future princess. She believed it would do no good for you to have knowledge that your princess had the very mortal emotion of loneliness.”
I felt my head automatically tilt a bit as I thought in confusion for a moment before asking, “But she had you, didn’t she?”
She smiled gently and let a nearly-silent giggle escape. “Dear Twilight, I am no replacement for you. True that my sister had missed me greatly, but the bond she shared with me was not the same as the one she had with you.” Luna turned her gaze to the ceiling for a moment before asking, “You deeply loved Rainbow Dash, yes?”
I nodded without hesitation. “Of course.”
Luna smiled gently before continuing with, “Well, should you ever find love again, could that new pony ever replace what you had with Rainbow Dash?” I shook my head in realization, and Luna smirked in triumph. “There you have it. While we are both loved by my sister, neither can replace the other. The difference between us was the type of bond we held with her. While mine was that of a sister, whom she told everything, yours was of a young student in need of somepony to look up to...somepony to aspire to. She could not in good conscience tell you of her own burdens without adding to your own stresses that come with life.”
I sighed in annoyance. “Well I’m not some young filly anymore, so why doesn’t she tell me these things now?”
Luna again smiled a little sadly as she answered, “Habits are very difficult to break, Twilight. You of all ponies should know that.”
I scoffed. “So she let me be angry with her...for you.”
“Exactly. Her love for me goes beyond what most mortals can fathom, for it is tempered with thousands of years instead of less than a hundred.” Luna replied gently.
I shook my head with self-loathing and said, “I have to fix this...I have to apologize to her when she’s back.”
“She will return in four day’s time, hopefully with an alliance with the Crystalhide Clan.” Luna stated.
I huffed, again in shame. “Spike’s still mad at me, hm?”
“You spoke many hurtful things.” Luna commented. “Though your dear friend, words can still hurt him Twilight...more so because of how much you two care for each other. When the Winter Solstice passes, you should make a trip to Spearhead Plateau to apologize to him.”
I nodded. “I should. It’s been years since we’ve last spoken.”
Luna chuckled lightly. “All the more reason to refresh that bond then. Because he is the current alpha, it could only help our diplomatic relations.” Her expression then turned serious as she said, “But first, you must make things right with Celestia. I fear that it will weigh on you until you do.”
I nodded again. “Yeah. I can’t afford to treat the few friends I have like that. You four are all I’ve got really, and I think I’ve been a little cold in the past.”
“At times the wastes of the Frozen North has had more warmth.” Luna commented dryly.
I glared at her as I pulled away, looking out the window. “Dawn will be coming soon, and I have tax records to go through and optimize.” I then looked back at Luna with a softened expression. “Thank you, Luna...for all of this. I promise I’ll make things right.”
She nodded with a small smile. “I know you will, Twilight. I have faith in you.”
I watched as she stood and stretched out her legs, wings, and neck, and then a soft blue glow encompassed her figure. Her coat changed to a darker blue, and her mane and tail changed from normal hair to the starry ethereal mane and tail that she “wore” in public, a side effect of the magic of the night that ran through her. She then smiled towards me and nodded before we left her room side by side, ready to begin the early morning together...with a new future in my mind and forgiveness in my heart.