by cleverpun

6. Intent

Princess Nightmare Moon ran a hoof along her desk. The carpenters she had hired had done a very good job on it. It looked so much like her old one, every corner and cutout and bevel in precisely the right place. It felt like she had never destroyed it, like it had sat waiting for her the entire time she had been gone. They had even put some light enchantment on it to make it feel and look older than it was. The maple felt smooth with age, even if she knew it was a lie. Her collections of mementos and trinkets didn’t match Celestia’s yet, but the desk mattered the most.

Somepony knocked on the door.

“Come in.” Nightmare looked up from her desk, crossed her forelegs stoically. Would not do for anyone to see her so wistful. They might get the correct impression.

The door swung open, and Celestia walked in.

“Si—Celestia!” Nightmare Moon stood up. “Please, come in.”

“Hello.” Celestia glanced around the room, but did not say anything else.

The silence continued. Nightmare Moon did not break it. She had said everything she could. Rushing Celestia now would only make things worse.

“I’m sorry, for attacking you earlier,” Celestia said. “I was…rather shocked…but that is no excuse.”

“It is fine.”

“I have been…processing it all. It was not easy to get my head around.”

“I know.”

Celestia took a step forward. “I came here to say that, in spite of everything, I forgive you.”

Nightmare Moon inhaled sharply. “Really?”

“I would not joke about something like that.”

“Oh, sister!” Nightmare Moon stepped away from her desk, flung herself into Celestia, wrapped her hooves around her sister. “You don’t know what that means to me!”

Princess Nightmare Moon felt it. It barely happened. It came then passed in an instant. Celestia had flinched, recoiled when Nightmare Moon touched her.

No. She must have imagined it. Everything would be fine. She pushed her face into Celestia’s body, felt her tears dampen her sister’s coat and mane. Celestia felt so warm and soft and real. Princess Nightmare felt her disguise fray slightly, but she forced more magic onto it, pressed it back into place. She wanted to hold onto the moment as long as possible, and her real form would only ruin it again.

“I know what I put you through. It will never happen again, I swear,” Nightmare Moon whispered. “I couldn’t imagine what I would do without you. What it would be like if you exiled me again.”

“I know.”

Celestia’s foreleg inched upward, returned Nightmare Moon’s embrace. She probably needed the other to keep her balance.

“I love you, sister.”

“And I love you, sister.”