A Breakfast of Time Loops

by Obselescence

Chapter Four: Ourobor-O's

Princess Luna had had enough. She had tried to be reasonable. She had tried to be understanding. She had tried everything short of the five-hundred pound vat of green slime. She hadn’t yet figured out how to get a vat that large into her sister’s chambers, but in every other respect, nopony could say she hadn’t tried.

The time for trying was over. It was time now to end this.

Determined, she marched through the corridors of Canterlot Castle, glaring icily at each and every Celestia as she passed them by. A few brave Celestias simply tried to ignore her, but the rest knew enough to get out of her way. An entire crowd of them dispersed as she stomped through the Dining Hall, sweeping up a couple servants—those few who had not been put on paid leave—in their panicked stampede.  

The Future Celestias were not the object of her anger, though. At best they were distractions. Errand-ponies who merely happened to resemble her true target, who was even now lying soundly asleep in her tall tower. It would not save her, though. If before the excuse of exhaustion had been enough for Celestia to avert her wrath, then no longer.

Not even the thousand steps of the staircase to her sister’s chambers could stop her for long. Doggedly, she climbed, taking only a short break every hundred steps to catch her breath. She could feel the tension thickening in the air, the sense that each and every step brought her that much closer toward finishing this foolish time travel business. Ironic, in a way. The entire affair had started with the long and arduous climb to her sister’s chambers.

And soon enough things would end with it too.

Eventually she found herself standing before Celestia’s bedroom door. She took a deep breath, steadied herself, then shouted at the top of her lungs, “Sister, I demand to speak with you this very instant! Open your door now that I may do so!

From under the doorframe, a flash of white light. Luna’s eyes narrowed.

“Luna!” said Celestia, yawning as she opened up the door. “What a... surprise.” She blinked slowly, her tired eyes bleary and bloodshot. “I’m sorry, but can’t this wait? I just got back from Ponyville and I'm thoroughly exhausted. I need at least a little beauty sleep now so I can look rested for the—”

“No, Sister, this cannot wait,” said Luna firmly. “I have waited for quite long enough, and I shall wait no longer. You have earned a piece of my mind and I fully intend to deliver it unto you without further delay.”

Celestia frowned. “Well, okay then. Let’s hear what you have to say, Luna.” She added something under her breath, so lightly that Luna could hardly hear it. It sounded very much, though, like, “Again.”

Luna took a deep breath, trying her very hardest not to scream. “It is exactly this that is my problem, Sister,” she said, as calmly as she could. “You have so often dismissed my objections, time and time again, without giving them even the slightest consideration. Can you not see I persist only because I am so concerned for your safety? Have you truly grown so blind?”

“My safety?” Celestia laughed, but it sounded strained. Forced. “Luna, I’ve already explained this to you. There’s no other way I can address all the concerns that get sent to me without a little cheating. It’s for my—our subjects. Nothing more.”

“Only a little? I do not think so. Our subjects have done well enough without your ‘cheating’ for centuries. I can assure you now, it is not worth working yourself to death, simply to satisfy their every last demand.”

“It’s hardly that bad, Luna.”

It was Luna’s turn to laugh now. “There are more of you in this castle than there are servants. A Celestia now haunts every city and town in Equestria—do not think our subjects have not noticed. Even now, you spend most of what time you have in the present in bed, pushed beyond even your limits. If that is hardly bad, then I shudder to imagine what you would find worse.”

“Maybe...” For a moment, it seemed as though Celestia was faltering, but she quickly reasserted herself. “No. No. I’ve told you before, Luna, I can handle it. Equestria needs me to do this, and I’m more than capable of it. What will it take for you to understand that?”

“I—you—what it will take for me to understand?” spluttered Luna. “It is clear to me that you are confused. I do not obsess over the opinions of our subjects, I have not flooded Equestria with my own future selves, and I... I have not turned my back on my own sister! You have.

“You know, Luna,” said Celestia. “Much as I would love to hear this argument again, I’m quite busy, so kindly get to the point soon. I don’t have time for this.”

That was the final straw. Luna could no longer see straight, could hardly still think straight—but she heard what happened next. The animalistic scream of rage. The shriek of surprise.

The whiplike crack of her hoof against her sister’s face.

“If I have but one point to make, it is this,” said Luna, her voice low and dangerously soft. “You are too sure of yourself and too willing by far to sacrifice for our subjects’ approval. I have walked down this very path. I know where it will lead you. The last time this happened, you begged me to turn back, and I did not. It ended with one of us banished for one thousand years. If there was one thing I had expected of you, Celestia, it was that you had learned from my mistakes, Sister, so that you would not repeat them.”

“You... you hit me.” All the color drained from Celestia’s face. “You actually hit me.”

“And I shall do so again if you insist on ruining yourself,” said Luna. She meant it too. She had tried so very hard to be a good sister again, to make up for a millenium spent as a bad one. She had stood idly by for so long, hoping that Celestia would make the right choices, would know to turn back, would be wise enough to see what was staring her in the face... But sometimes a good sister must stand firm and say no, because she can see what is best for her sibling, even if they cannot.

Celestia herself had taught her that much.    

For a long while, Celestia stood silent. For the very first time, she had no rebuttal, response, nor witty remark, and she made no effort to manufacture one. Then, a moment later, she finally spoke. “No...” Celestia croaked. “I... yes, you’re right, Luna. I’m—I’m so sorry, I didn’t realize this had meant so much to you. I’ll fix it. Everything. I’ll clear my schedule right now, in fact.”

The air around her began to crackle and spark with the familiar energy of gathering magic. Celestia’s horn glowed, softly at first, then slowly brighter... and then faded away altogether when she saw Luna’s glare. “Sorry,” she said, smiling guiltily. “Old habits die hard.”

“Quite all right, Sister,” said Luna. And for the first time in a long while, she gave Celestia a genuine smile back. “I understand completely.”

“I’ll call my steward to make the necessary arrangements,” said Celestia. She opened the door to her chambers a little wider, making way for Luna. “Would you like to keep me company until then?”

“I... would like that, yes.” Luna felt surprisingly light as she stepped into Celestia’s chambers. She hardly even noticed that the room had turned into a mess, or that the chair Celestia had found for her to sit in had been buried beneath a pile of unopened letters. What mattered most of all was that Celestia had listened to her. Whatever else Luna had told herself before the confrontation, she’d never really, honestly expected to succeed. But she had. By her own efforts, she had managed to save Celestia from herself, and all her future selves too.  

She had been a good sister.

“You know I still have some work cut out for me,” said Celestia, working her way back under the covers of her bed. “I’ll need to make a few more trips back to account for all the Future Celestias in Equestria right now, else there might be a few—”

“Explosions,” finished Luna. Suddenly, she grinned. “And yes, Sister. I understand. Just so long as you make no more of yourself in the future.”

Celestia laughed, head nestled snugly in her pillow. “I promise, Luna. I’m past that.”

“Then everything shall be fine for the present,” said Luna, stifling her own laugh. She stood up and walked over to the door, carefully navigating a path through the letters that littered the floor. “I think, to celebrate, I shall call upon the kitchens to bring us some food. Are you hungry also, Sister?”

“Oh, sure, why not?” said Celestia. “It’s been ages since I last had breakfast in bed.”

Luna nodded and shut the door behind her as quietly as she could. She whistled to herself as she skipped down the stairs. At the end of it all, it had proven a good morning. Better than good, even. Among the best she’d ever had. And it was about to get even better.

There was, after all, no better way to greet a new day than a Sisters’ Special Breakfast Together.