Dreams of loneliness, isolation, and the despair of a millennium-long exile gave way to a new reality and the rising of the sun. Being so intricately connected with the very essence of Equestria and it's inhabitants, Luna could not only feel it's physical warmth, but the warmth and love for all Equestrian life radiating from the alicorn who had raised it, her beloved sister, and the very personification of day itself.
Luna's mind was still thawing out, and her subconscious was still in control of her thought processes, but she was aware that her surroundings were entirely unfamiliar. She was not in her own bed nor was she at her palace chambers in Canterlot. Luna blinked twice before having the wind squeezed out of her by a pair of lavender forehooves belonging to the mare that lay beside her.
Luna turned around and faced Twilight, who was still fast asleep. She brushed away a lock of hair to get a better view of her face. The serene expression was a far cry from Twilight's panic when Celestia had "forgotten" to send word that The Princess of The Night would be visiting Ponyville for a few weeks. It wasn't so much that Twilight wasn't receptive to guests, so much as having a mental breakdown after realizing she was unprepared.
Here she lay, in the bed of her sister's favored protégé. Surely Celestia hadn't foreseen any of this. Luna wasn't sure how she would broach the subject with her sister. She had no ill-intentions regarding Twilight . . . but how does one tell their older sister that they've bedded and intend on pursuing a relationship with their beloved student?
Twilight was the nearest thing that Celestia had to a daughter. Knowing Celestia, it was likely that she would be very protective of Twilight, not least of all because in actuality, Luna was a very old mare.
Luna wondered if Twilight realized this. Truly realized this.
Twilight stirred, her eyes slowly opening. " Mm-hm . . .? " She seemed confused as Luna stared back at her, but quickly broke into a warm smile. "Good morning." Twilight kissed her nose, causing Luna to blush. "I should probably make breakfast."
"Can thou truly cook?"
"Well . . ."
"Tis what I feared. Perhaps it would be wise if I were to prepare a meal instead, if thou would permit me to use thy kitchen."
"Of course. With Spike gone, I'm afraid all I'd be able to serve you is a sandwich."
Luna had a suggestive smirk on her face as she asked, "Is thou saying that I am difficult to please?"
Twilight blushed furiously.
"A breakfast fit for royals it is, for this morning, I make pancakes!"
"Do you not like pancakes, or perhaps you do not have the required ingredients?"
"I think every home in Equestria has a box of pancake mix . . ."
"Excellent!" Luna jumped out of bed and started for the door, but she found her hooves meeting open air as a hot-pink aura enveloped and tossed her back into bed like a rag-doll.
Twilight was still barely conscious, having buried her face back into the pillow. She wrapped a forehoof around Luna's neck.
"The Princess of The Night is not used to being treated so roughly . . . or like a foal's teddy bear."
"Can't we lay here for a bit? I'm not used to getting up before noon. I doubt you're used to being up this early either."
"My sister and I are not like most ponies. If necessary I could go a week without sleep."
"Of course." Twilight rolled her eyes.
"I can postpone our meal a little longer." Luna smiled and used her wing to draw Twilight into an embrace. Her muzzle was inches away from Twilight's. Luna's ears perked up at the sound of hoofsteps. The door swung open and a white, purple-maned mare burst into the room.
"Oh yoo-hoo! Oh Twilight dear, I just found this lovely bag to go with my--" Rarity stood there and blinked. "--scarf?" Dropping her new designer hoofbag, she processed the scene in front of her. It was evident she realized that this was not a typical sleepover.
Rarity stood in shock. Luna looked to Twilight for an answer, but Twilight just shrugged her shoulders. Rarity's eyes grew wide as she fostered a gigantic smile more frightening than any Luna had ever seen.
"Oh my! You and Princess Luna"?
"Twi and Luna what?"
A small, purple dragon jumped down from Rarity's back. Twilight's eyes shrank to pinpricks and her mouth quavered. She had a visible tick in her right eye.
"Rarity! How could you bring Spike here?!"
"Well, I didn't know you two were . . . you know."
"Know what?" Spike scratched his temple with a claw.
"NOTHING!" Twilight and Luna both yelled in unison.
Spike shrugged. "Fine, any of you girls want some pancakes?"
Luna waited in Twilight's bedroom while Spike made breakfast. She was more than a little apprehensive about tonight's feast. Celestia would be there. She was certain Celestia would disapprove of her being with Twilight.
Luna was happy. It wasn't just because she'd been with Twilight these past few weeks; all of her friends proved to be so fun, open, and forgiving. She could almost forget that they had every reason to fear her. To hate her. They had seen who she was, who she could be.
"Does that little filly even know what monster lurks behind your benevolent facade?" When Luna turned, her reflection stared back at her. It was all wrong: black coat, razor sharp teeth and her eyes slitted like a snake's. She stared in horror. Nightmare Moon let out a sinister chuckle. "Just what do you think you're doing with this mare?"
"I've fallen in lo--" Luna stopped just short of saying it. "I've fallen in . . ."
"You'll fall. You have fallen. I am your fate. I am your destiny. You can't control your emotions. Cannot control me."
Angrily, Luna threw up her forehooves and brought it down upon the mirror. "I. AM. IN. CONTROL."
Moments later, there was only sadness as Luna realized the irony of her words and actions. She fixed the mirror with her magic. Before going downstairs to join her friends, she stuck her tongue out at her reflection.
There were more ponies in Twilight's kitchen than just Twilight and Rarity. The entire gang was present. Amazingly, everyone was distracted and didn't to seem to have noticed Luna's outburst. Rarity was with Fluttershy and Applejack at the table, while Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie were going through Twilight's cabinets. Twilight yawned and made herself a cup of coffee, ignoring the others as if this were a common occurrence.
Had Twilight or Rarity said anything? No; Rarity had more sense than that.
"Twilight and Luna are an item!"
Twilight sputtered droplets of coffee on the floor. "R-Rarity!"
"Oh, I'm sorry, dear, but they were going to find out eventually. I just couldn't help myself . . ."
Rainbow Dash stopped pillaging Twilight's kitchen and arched an eyebrow at her. "Wait, you and Luna are hooking up?! You know things don't exactly 'hook up,' right?" Rainbow Dash made crude, yet ambiguous gestures with her hooves as she spoke.
Luna could almost swear she saw steam leave Twilight's ears. The blue alicorn glared daggers at Rainbow Dash. True to her nature, Dash was either completely oblivious to Luna giving her dirty looks, or she didn't care.
Applejack raised an eyebrow at Dash. "You might want to show a little more tact when addressin' the princesses, Sugarcube."
"I already knew!" Pinkie Pie bounced circles around Twilight and Luna until Spike shoved a plate of pancakes towards her face.
"How did you . . . never mind." Twilight held her face with her hoof. "Can we not discuss this?!"
"I reckon that ya'll want a little discretion on this matter then."
Luna was surprised when Fluttershy, normally too timid to even speak to Luna, placed a hoof on her shoulder. "Don't worry, this will stay between us girls . . . isn't that right, Rainbow Dash?"
Rainbow didn't respond, too busy burying her face in a giant stack of pancakes.
"I said, isn't that right, Rainbow Dash?"
Rainbow finally looked up, syrup dripping from her muzzle. She found herself staring into Fluttershy's stern, soul-gazing eyes.
"Agh! Yes, whatever, just stop staring at me!"
Luna found herself in front of Carousel Boutique after spending three hours trying to find a gift suitable for Twilight. It was customary, at least during the old days, to exchange gifts during The Wizard's Feast. It dawned on her that she didn't know Twilight as well as she thought.
The first thing that came to mind was a bookstore. That immediately struck her as idiotic when it took all of two seconds to remember that Twilight lived in a library. Even if Twilight had read every book, she could always order more.
She thought perhaps she should take Twilight back to the ruins she once called home. There were books there that were older than those in the Royal Canterlot Archives; many were hoof-written. The books were worthless rotting in that decrepit castle.
Luna didn't look forward to going back there. It was where she first succumbed to the darkness in her heart, and in her madness, attacked her own sister. It was also where she first faced off against her sister's protégé. Ironic, that she held a gift for that very mare. She put the trinket back into her saddlebag and stepped into the boutique.
"Oh! Princess Luna! Do come in."
The boutique, while small, was impeccably ornate. "You have a lovely home, miss Rarity."
"It's rather humble, I must admit, living in one's place of business."
"You forget that I live where I work as well. Is Twilight in? Can I speak with her?"
"Of course, darling. I'm already finished with her . . . attire. It's a shame, I wish she had let me make her a gown for the evening."
Rarity was renowned for her designer dresses. Luna thought this was why Twilight had rushed off to the boutique; she was a little disappointed that she wouldn't get to see her in one of Rarity's gowns.
Luna entered the dressing room. A wave of nostalgia hit her as she beheld a bearded pony in a blue robe adorned with bells. This was the second time since her return that Luna saw the likeness of the long-deceased wizard. Twilight looked ridiculous, and adorable at the same time.
"So, what do you think?"
"I think that I've already seen you wear that costume, though miss Rarity obviously had her hooves on it. So are you going to dress like that crazy old mage every single holiday? I'll have to forbid it on Hearts and Hooves Day." Luna smirked.
"This feast is in honor of Starswirl's pilgrimage. He's the most influential wizard in Equestrian history; he's made more discoveries in the fields of magic and science than the most prominent figures of the last few centuries combined!"
"I knew him. I think you would have found that the pony could not stand up to the legend. The real Starswirl was an arrogant hermit who couldn't spend two seconds without insulting the intelligence of anypony around him."
Luna wished Starswirl could have met Twilight; he'd be jealous. Twilight would have been starstruck, and completely oblivious to the fact that she was smarter and more powerful than he ever was.
"Well, the validity of your slander not withstanding, that doesn't change the fact that ponies are supposed to wear blue on this day. If you don't wear blue, you get pinched." A devious smile crept along Twilight's face.
"In case you haven't noticed, I am blue."
"You're no fun." Twilight pouted.
"Be that as it may, I have something for you."
"Really? What's the occasion?"
"Well . . . it's tradition, or at least it was. I'm not certain as to what tradition is any more."
"Oh . . . I didn't get you anything. It's customary on Hearts and Hooves day, but it's been centuries since ponies exchanged gifts during the feast."
"Think nothing of it. I want you to accept this, I think it will go quite nice with your . . . outfit," Luna deadpanned. "So what is tradition?"
"Just as well, I think I'll need a little bit of liquid courage to get me through this night."
Twilight allowed Luna to fasten the amulet around her neck. Both mares faced a mirror on the wall. Luna not only could see their reflections, but could peer into their souls. She was astonished at how brilliant Twilight's inner-self was, as if Twilight held the makings of a goddess. Luna's own reflection was dark and foreboding, reminding her of what she was capable of if she were ever to lose herself again.
"Is there something wrong? You look . . . sad."
"The personal problems of immortals aren't solved in a fortnight. I fear that my relationship with my sister may topple at any moment. I had been exiled to the moon, Twilight, and it was my dear sister who had sent me there."
"Luna, she had no choice! I saw what happened, I've seen the past. You were possessed by Nightmare Moon--"
"Scattered, fragmented, insane, but not possessed, Twilight Sparkle."
". . ."
"I know deep down that if anypony is to blame . . . it Is I. I forced my sister's hoof. She acted as mercifully as I allowed her, but I am still left bitter--bitter, but full of love."
"Luna, I'm not sure what I'm supposed to say to that . . ."
"I am Nightmare Moon. If you're to understand anything, understand this."
Twilight gave an amused snort, which bewildered Luna. "I'm not afraid of you. And I want to keep seeing you. So . . . "
Luna blinked for a moment, but a smile started to slowly creep over her lips. "Then . . . " Instead of finishing her thought, Luna leaned in toward Twilight, who met her the rest of the way to share a tender kiss.
"I love you, Twilight Sparkle."
"I love you too, Nightmare Moon."
Luna blinked, then deadpanned as she noticed Twilight's cheeky grin. Inappropriate, given how much it haunted Luna, and yet the tasteless joke brought her relief.
Now there was just the part where she tells her sister that she was dating her favored protégé.
"You know, we don't have to tell her," Luna suggested.
"Who? . . .Oh no, you're not getting out of this. Celestia loves you, Luna. Your return was the happiest I've ever seen her. By comparison, our relationship isn't even an issue. I think you should talk to her about a lot of things. Just talk to her? She's your sister and you've been bottling up all your worries and fears. Do you honestly think that it will help matters if you lie to her?"
Luna knew well enough that this was one of those occasions where one doesn't argue with their lover. She wasn't much for drinking, but she was suddenly glad that alcohol was a new past-time for this holiday.
Luna was surprised at the hustle and bustle in Ponyville that evening. She suspected that ponies from neighboring villages came to see the Royal Pony Sisters. Rarity and Pinkie Pie had done a superb job decorating the town with lantern strings and ribbons. From every building and lamppost hung banners celebrating Starswirl the Bearded.
Luna arrived to find several tables set up as if the entire town square was some sort of high-class, outdoor restaurant, with ponies sitting around chatting, dressed in classy attire. Strangely, there were few Canterlotians in attendance; most in the crowd were middle-class to poor ponies who couldn't afford what they were wearing.
Luna had noticed Rarity was unusually busy for a pony that normally made designer clothes for a decidedly small demographic; even incorporating the help of Fluttershy and a seamstress from Manehatten. She must have made clothes for almost the entire town.
It wasn't hard for Luna to pick her marefriend out of the crowd. Twilight stuck out like a sore thumb, even next to somepony as radiant as Celestia. Luna's attention immediately drew to the heart-shaped sapphire around Twilight's neck, a small bit of femininity that clashed with the rest of her attire. Luna really wished that Twilight had opted for something more alluring to go along with it. Then again, being distracted by her marefriend wouldn't get her through this evening with any sort of grace.
Luna stood across from her sister. With Celestia at the head of the table, and Twilight and her friends all sitting peculiarly on one side, the scene looked eerily familiar to a famous painting that Luna was quite fond of.
"Are you ready, dear sister?"
Celestia nodded and looked up to the sky. The sun was already waning, but it stubbornly hung over the edge of the horizon, awaiting command. The light from Celestia's horn was sure to blind any pony foolish enough to stare directly at it, but Luna was not only able to keep her gaze, but she could still see Celestia smiling.
Next was Luna's turn. She lit her horn, but instead of staring at the rising moon, her eyes were fixated on Twilight's face. She couldn't help but be a little smug to hear some of the 'ooh's and 'ah's' in the background, but cared little for that. Her pride swelled, not from the awe of the crowd, but because of Twilight's fascination, and the reflection of that silver moon in her eyes.
It was then Luna realized that Twilight's face was brighter than it should have been. All of Twilight's friends were in various states of shock. Somewhat bemused, Luna turned around to see what she had done.
The moon shone brighter than it had any right to, rivaling her sister's sun. The Stars demanded attention and the sky was alive with a meteor shower that refused to end.
"My, my." Celestia propped her head up with one hoof. "I wonder what has you in such a good mood. I've never known you to be that enthusiastic about the feast."
"I suppose that getting out and mingling with our subjects was exactly what I needed."
"I trust that everything is going smoothly in Canterlot?"
"I've managed for a thousand years. I can certainly manage a few weeks."
Luna bit her lip, and there was a long pause before either of them spoke.
"I am sorry, I wasn't thinking. In time, I think we should be able to talk about that. Come, sit with me."
Luna took her place between Celestia and Twilight. She wasn't able to meet her sister's eyes. Twilight placed a hoof on her shoulder and offered an awkward smile.
"Luna, I would like to hear about what you and Twilight have been doing for these past few weeks."
A squeak came from none other than Fluttershy. The blushing pegasus fell out of her chair.
"R-really?" Both Luna and Twilight shot each other panicked glances. Luna could hear Rainbow Dash snicker. This time Luna managed to shut the obnoxious mare up with a glare. Luna steeled herself. It was rather silly to fear her sister's reaction like some little filly. An almost nostalgic feeling, but those days had passed millennia ago. "Actually, Tia, I think that there's something that we need to discuss.
Twilight picked up her wine glass and downed it's contents.
Celestia looked bemused. A small glint in her eye gave Luna the impression that Celestia knew something. "Can it wait? I am hungry, and I believe the guests are waiting for us. Would you do the honors this time? I'm a little out of practice when it comes to addressing a crowd properly."
Luna was irritated that she'd been robbed of her moment. "Of course." she stood from her chair, and whispered in Twilight's ear, "I would advise that you hold your ears," before letting lose an ethereal bellow.
"CITIZENS OF PONYVILLE! IT PLEASES US TO ANNOUNCE THE FEAST OF THE WIZARD, COMMEMORATING STARSWIRL THE BEARDED'S PILGRIMAGE TO THE CRYSTAL EMPIRE, LET THE FEAST COMMENCE!"
The roar of the applause was almost as loud as Luna's voice. As it died down, the town square filled with chatter as ponies began to eat and converse amongst themselves.
"You know, I had an ulterior motive for suggesting that Luna stay with Twilight.
Luna's brow raised. "You did? Pray tell."
"I know that she has parents, but Twilight Sparkle and Cadance are the closest I have to daughters. They are dear to me, and now that Twilight is out on her own, I fear for her."
"Of course . . . "
"I worry about you as well, dear sister."
"Wait, you see me as a daughter?" Twilight asked.
"Does that offend you?"
"Of course not, Princess, I'm just surprised."
"Twilight, you're doing it again."
"Yes. Exactly. Cut it out."
"Uh . . ."
Celestia started to chuckle. "Your own title negates the need for you to call me, 'princess', even in public. More importantly, I would have none of you refer to me as such in private."
"Oh . . . right. I'm sorry."
"No need to apologize. However, I find it odd that you don't have the same reservations in regards to my sister."
Twilight downed another glass of wine.
"Oh, if you would excuse me, I have to take care of something."
Luna and Twilight both watched Celestia leave. When she was out of earshot, Twilight pulled Luna by the ear and whispered to her in a volume that could be heard by everyone.
"Why didn't you tell her?! The suspense is killing me!"
"Thou could say something--"
"Oh no. You're not getting out of this. You're going to tell your sister that we are dating, and you're going to do it as soon as she gets back!"
"Very well, but I would appreciate it if thou would not pull my ear so hard . . ."
"Oh, sorry. I guess I got carried away." Twilight grinned sheepishly.
Luna and Twilight sat in silence while everyone chatted among themselves. It was a good thirty minutes and Celestia hadn't returned. Luna knew full well how royal duties could hi-jack one's time, but this was getting irritating; worse still, the wine was rather weak.
"I fink we should go find 'er," Twilight slurred.
"Can you walk? I somehow doubt that you're able to handle the amount of wine that you've been drinking."
"You're not my mother," Twilight said with a slightly dopey grin.
"That would be strange on many levels."
Luna had to agree with her slightly-sauced girlfriend; they needed to find Celestia. It took a bit of pressure to convince a guard, who had been entrusted with Celestia's privacy, to give up her whereabouts. He pointed them towards a secluded gazebo adjacent to a field where many ponies danced.
As they both neared the gazebo, Luna froze. There, her sister sat on a bench-swing with none other than Pinkie Pie. Celestia was holding Pinkie's hoof in her own, while cupping the smaller mare's face, leaning into a kiss. Pinkie's eyes were half-lidded, her expression void of her characteristic absurdity.
"Pinkemena Diane Pie, what in the name of Harmony are you doing with my mentor?!"
Pinkie's eyes and smile immediately bounced back to their usual jubilance, as if she'd been caught acting in a manner not meant to be seen. "Oh, hiya Twilight! What are you and Lunie up to?"
"What are we up to? What are you up to?!"
"Oh, Gee Twilight, I don't think I can answer your first question, I can't very well know what you're up to anymore than you and Lunie, so I think that the only pony that should answer that is you. Oh! But I CAN answer your second question; I know exactly what I was up to. I was about to kiss Celesty!"
Twilight's eye twitched and her mouth quavered as her attention darted back and forth from Pinkie, to Celestia, who smirked at her former student.
"I can't deal with this right now . . . there has to be another glass of wine around here somewhere."
"Ooh, We should go dancing!"
"You've had a little too much to drink, I know 'cause I've been watching you. I found it funny at first, because you were all worried about Celesty finding out about you making kissy-faces with Lunie, and you didn't know that I'd been making kissy faces with Celesty, but it's not funny if you pass out, but it is funny to watch you dance, and drunk Twilight is probably a much funner dancer; and besides, it looks like Lunie and Celesty want to talk, so lets go!"
"Fine--hurk!" Pinkie dragged Twilight back towards the party.
Luna just stared as Pinkie dragged Twilight away. "Well, that was . . . interesting. Of all the ponies . . . really, Tia? Her?"
"I don't think I could explain even if I had a whole century . . . but I probably will at some point. Would you care to explain what you are doing with my student?"
"You already knew."
"Of course I knew."
"And you've been messing with me the whole time . . . how typical of you. How long have you been aware? You didn't plan this, did you?"
"No, I didn't plan it, but I can't say that I'm displeased either. You managed to catch me off-guard, Luna. I had my suspicions, but I only truly put the pieces together when I saw Twilight wearing that amulet."
"What of it? Anypony could have bought it. Such gestures don't necessarily mean anything."
"Part of you must remember. That amulet is a replica of one that our mother wore."
" . . . ."
"Did you honestly think that I'd be angry? Is there no longer any trust between us?"
"For what I've done? I can't see why there would be. I, myself, have been bitter for far too long."
"I built a statue of us."
"I beg your pardon?"
"From moon-dust and rocks I created a monument to how we once were. Even in madness, I loved you. I was bitter because and alone. Coming back from that is almost surreal."
Celestia crossed necks with her sister. "It would seem that some things will take time, but time we do have.
"Do you not fear me? Do you not suspect that I may relapse?"
"The burden of eternity is heavy. Even the best of us can lose our way, but I doubt that you would allow for that now. Regardless, I simply do not care. Worrying about that is not worth losing you even after you've returned to me. Besides, even if you were to lose your way, I'll not be alone in helping you to find yourself."
"You speak of Twilight."
"Yes, The elements are strange that way. I'm sure you've noticed it by now."
"She is." Celestia looked toward Pinkie Pie and Twilight. "She also needs dancing lessons."
Luna looked into the crowd and Facehooved. Twilight was still dancing with Pinkie-- erratically, without any regard to the ponies that were giving her a wide berth. Celestia and Luna burst out into uncontrollable laughter.