Spike looked at the wound up ball of nerves that was Diamond Tiara as she stepped into the Royal Court, an expansive gallery lined with stained glass windows, with long red carpet leading to a massive throne made her feel smaller than small at the moment. "Hey, don't worry! Sure, Luna and I don't hang out that much, but she's pretty fun the few times we do get together."
"But what about -" Diamond started before Spike interrupted.
"Don't worry about it. She's cool, it's cool. We're going to have some fun."
"If you say so," Diamond Tiara muttered uncertainly.
"Greetings, Spike! Who is your guest!?" Luna yelled joyously from the Lunar Throne.
"Hi, Luna! This is Diamond Tiara. Diamond Tiara this is Luna." Spike introduced.
"A pleasure," Luna nodded, "Oh! Doughnuts!" She added, leaping over Spike to pounce upon the treats resting on Diamond Tiara's back.
"So Luna, I'm going to be staying here for a while, and I thought I'd bring a friend, and some treats."
"Yeah... A friend," Diamond mumbled.
Luna looked up from the doughnut she was munching on, and let it join the other sugary confectionaries that orbited her head as she rest a measured gaze at Diamond Tiara, "Do you not think of Spike as a friend?"
"Well... He just became my friend as I was waiting to leave Ponyville," She blushed lightly, "Sure, I'm thankful that you're helping me. It's just... Weird, I guess."
Luna chuckled. "Why is it weird, my little pony?"
"The world doesn't work like that. The only reason a pony helps another is because they want something in return," Suddenly, Diamond remembered to whom she was speaking, "Your Highness."
"Rise, my little pony, who told you that?"
"It's one of the things my mom told me when she was around."
Luna paused at that, seeing the demure filly scuffing the ground with her forehoof. "My condolences."
"What? Oh, no! She's still alive, she just... Y’know... Left," Diamond replied sadly.
"That's also a reason to give condolences. What of your father?"
"H-He hates me. That's why I left, at least until I can become a pony he can be proud of."
"I doubt your father hates you. But while we dine on doughnuts and these delicious cups of hot cocoa, tell me everything,” Luna said, her warm gaze lingering on Diamond, “Everything, and fear not, I will not judge thee."
"No offense, Princess, but I doubt you'd say that when I finish." Diamond replied before telling Luna everything.
Luna hummed and nodded at the appropriate parts of Diamond's story, listening as she recapped what she had been doing for the last five years of her life. All leading up to her father seeing the combined blackmail material of his wife and Diamonds, as well as his reaction. At the end, Diamond Tiara's eyes were shimmering, "I've never seen him so angry. Not even when mom left for a 'higher position'."
"I see," was all Luna said afterwards. Her left forehoof scratched her chin contemplatively.
"I-it was probably a mistake coming here. Thanks for trying to help, Spike, and thank you Luna, but-"
For the second time that night she was interrupted, this time by Luna. "It was not a mistake, my little pony. Spike has shown himself over the years to be an impeccable judge of character. If he saw something in you worth getting to know, then you must have something worth getting to know."
"You really think so?"
"I do. And it's quite lucky that you two met."
"How so, Princess?"
"You aren't the first to come to Canterlot hoping for a better life. But answer me this, how many bits did you bring with you?"
"Um... Six hundred bits."
"And what is your special talent?"
"Yes, in job interviews, most jobs are processed in priority by special talent. So what is yours?"
"I don't know," Diamond Tiara answered sadly.
"You don't? How'd you acquire it?"
"My mom and daddy got me my tiara, and they said I was their pretty princess, and that they'd always love me. It was the first time I saw them looking happy together... And I don't know, I just felt happy to be acknowledged, and this thing popped onto my flanks.
But it was a lie. Mom left for some other stallion, and neither of them showed up to my cutecenera, and now daddy hates me. So no, I have no idea what my special talent is or even what my cutie mark means. Sometimes I think it'd be better if I never got one at all."
"Well, every cutie mark is special, and I think I can help," Luna replied matronly.
"But why? You heard the things I've done, why would you want to help me?"
"Because, Diamond Tiara, I know what it's like to make a mistake so big you think it's unforgivable. But I also know that Spike sees something in you worth being a friend over. So if you'd like, I can help you, and together, we can discover what it is that makes you special."
"A-alright, um... What will I be doing, Princess?"
"How would you like to be my gopher, and junior assistant-in-training?"
Spike laughed, "You mean go-for?"
Luna's eyebrows rose, and she gasped. "That makes so much more sense! I was wondering why my sister's advisors called their interns ground burrowing rodents. Yes, go for."
"That'd be... Good? I think I can do that," Diamond replied in confusion.
"So Diamond, most of my staff works during the night, but I have a few who work during the day while I'm up, similar to the few who work for my sister at night. Tomorrow morning, that will be the shift you shall start.
"But tonight, we shall talk. It has been too long since Spike and I have had time to enjoy some time together."
After the Royal Scribe told everypony that Night Court was closing early (yet again), Luna walked with Spike and Diamond Tiara to her chambers. Like her sister’s chambers, Luna's Royal Apartments were comprised of many rooms to fit whatever needs may suit her.
But unlike the whites, golds, and burgandies of Celestia’s chambers, Luna's tile and bricks were a deep grey, her ceiling molded from slabs of obsidian enchanted with mage fires, giving the appearance of a starlit sky regardless of the time of day. The rest of the room was decorated with royal purples, deep blues, and black, from the carpet depicting a stylized night sky, to the dark embroidered couches in her reading room that they passed through to reach her living room.
Which was the other key difference between their rooms. Celestia's apartment opened into her bedroom (something Luna found most bizarre), and had a rather simplistic layout. Which, thankfully for all living things within the city proper, excluded a kitchen. Whereas whomever designed Luna’s rooms made them as compartmentalized as possible, and her kitchen wasn't anywhere near the banned rooms list, unlike her sister's Room of Infinite Cakes, or the gold pool, or any of the other mind boggling rooms of folly that had yet to be safely decommissioned and rebuilt.
Luna shook her head to break from her revery as they turned into her reading room, that also led to her much larger gaming room. Which, incidentally, doubled as a room to test newer forms of entertainment. After getting comfortably cocooned in a rather thick downy blanket that she used when getting comfortable before reading, and Spike and Diamond comfortable on pillow couches, similar to the ones Celestia had dotting her reading room. Luna struck up the conversation.
"So Spike, what brings you to Canterlot?"
"Well... It's kind of a long story," Spike blushed.
"The night is young, my friend, and so are we. Well, young for an alicorn. So we have plenty of time for long stories."
"Alright, so there's this caseworker for Foal Protection Services, and you know about that bit, right?"
"Ah, yes. Raindrops, was it not?"
"Yeah, her. She had some concerns about me and brought them to Twilight's attention. And I thought things were going to finally go right for me, you know?"
Waving her forehoof, waving her forehoof for him to continue, "Well, first me and Rarity had a talk that was a long time coming. She said she didn't know how she felt about me, and she needed time to think.
"I agreed, and honestly, after five years of waiting... If it doesn't happen, at least I know that we'll still be friends, which I guess I'm lucky to have that, at least."
"Spike!" Luna interjected, "That is drivel and you know it. Anypony would be lucky to have such a devoted and loyal gentledrake like yourself as a friend. Not the otherway around."
"Yeah, what she said!" Diamond added with a huff, "I can't think of a single pony who'd go through half the trouble you've gone through for me! And you only just met me, me of all ponies." Diamond Tiara added with a huff.
"Thanks, but that's only one reason why I'm here. The other one was an eye opener. Twilight and I went to Town Hall to officially adopt me. I'm telling you, there was no greater feeling than Twilight actually thinking of me as a son after all these years, and wanting it to be official. It'd be like having two moms," Spike sighed wistfully.
"Two?" Luna and Diamond Tiara asked simultaneously.
"Yeah, Twilight hatched me, and her and Celestia raised me since I was a hatchling," Spike replied.
Luna blushed at that, "Have you ever told Tia?"
"Not really. I mean, I wanted to, but after they laughed at the Mother's Day cards I gave them, I really didn't have the heart to try it again. But stuff happens."
"Well, we'll talk to her about her misunderstanding. If you want my opinion, you'd make an adorable nephew."
Spike's blush was bright enough that he looked like an overgrown chili pepper, "It's not that simple. When we went to the Town Hall, we were told that you can't adopt pets. They had a very detailed reason why dragons aren't civilized enough to be considered one of the races that can be adopted. And if she wanted to adopt a pet, she'd have to go to one of the bigger cities."
Seeing Luna and his new friend speechless, he added, "They're right, you know. It opened my eyes to how many ponies see me. Heck, I have a wall full of diplomas that outright say I'm not equal to ponies."
"And how is that?" Luna inquired with a stormy undercurrent in her voice.
"Two words. Honorary Diploma."
"Yes. I went through the same classes, took the same courses, put in the same hours as anypony else would for a diploma. But I got an honorary one instead. I didn't really think anything of it until today. But you know what an 'honorary diploma' means?"
"I don't," Diamond replied.
"It means that you are considered good in a field, or even contributed to that field, but haven't done the work to have an official diploma in it. It’s basically saying that all that I did makes me good, but not worthy of being a 'professional', or an 'official member' of all the things I got diplomas for."
"Wait, how old are you?" Diamond Tiara asked.
"About as old as you and the Crusaders."
"And how many diplomas do you have?"
"Fifteen. Eight of them were necessary for me to help Twilight in her studies. But seven of them were just for fun."
"For fun? Are you, like, a genius or something?"
"Well, dragons do develop faster mentally than the other races. And technically I've been an adult twice... For a few minutes each time... Dragon aging is weird."
Luna came out of her stupor and commented in a few decibels beneath Royal Canterlot Voice, "We shall help thee, young gentledrake, to correct those grievous wrongs, as well as ask our dear sister why a bunch of plotheads are in charge of her schools."
"I was actually planning on doing that tomorrow. But without damaging anypony's eardrums. Although I need her help with some stuff I'm going through."
"But what’s the fun in that? And what stuff?" Luna blinked in confusion.
"Well, not as fun, but I can't really pull off that, as for the other stuff I really don't want to burden you with it," Spike admitted.
"Well, your aunt,"Luna said regally, before squeaking adorably, "I'm an aunt! And not to a baboon's rear end.
"Ahem! Anyways Spike, your aunt can pull it off quite admirably, and you aren't a burden. You can tell me anything."
"I always wanted an aunt! We can speak to Celestia tomorrow. But I guess I just needed to get away, kind of like Diamond Tiara. And I thought I could come here, and see if I really can find a place here among ponies. Ever since the Dragon Migration, I decided that in my heart, I'm a pony and belong with ponies.
"But how can I have a place with ponies if no matter what I do, I'm seen as a pet? And I guess I was hoping that some of my old friends who still live here in Canterlot could help me see if I really fit, or if it was just a pipe dream like the time I gave them Mother's Day cards." Spike finished dejectedly.
"Worry not, nephew," Luna squee’d, "We shall help you! Then we shall spoil you rotten... In a way that won't end like three birthdays ago... But spoiled you shall be! Now let's do something a bit less gloomy. We, Princess Luna! Doth challenge you two to a game of Obelisks and Ogres. But I shall be the Dungeon Master this time, Spike. Dost thou accept?"
"Verily," Spike replied, a small smile adorning his face at Luna's antics.
And so until Spike and Diamond drifted off to sleep. They played an epic game that ended several character levels in, and a discreet sleep spell cast by Luna. Tomorrow was going to be a very busy day.