Spike woke up wrapped in a blanket cocoon, a stray beam of light from the balcony shining upon his face. With a grunt of annoyance, he extracted himself and looked around his surroundings, the night theme of the room complimenting the rising sun. He saw Diamond Tiara on Luna's bed, while Luna herself was in a trance on the floor pillow they were reclining in before sleep overcame him.
Luna's wings ruffled slightly as she rose from her trance. Spike giggled as as she worked her mouth in odd contortions and stretched various parts of her body. Looking at him with her serene teal eyes, Luna whispered, "What? One's mouth always feels funny after so many hours of dreamwalking, and I always start the day with a good, relaxing stretch."
"Sorry, it's just that your mouth looked funny doing that. Like you were kissing a giant fish or something," Spike whispered mirthfully.
"Better a fish than a frog," Luna replied with a smile.
"So should we wake her?" Spike asked, gesturing to the still sleeping Diamond.
"No, let her sleep for now. I'll have one of my day aides give her orientation when she wakes. I still find it strange my sister outsources her attendants and workers through companies rather than in-castle apprenticeships," Luna said with a shake of her head. She picked up a quill and paper, writing a note as she talked to Spike, "When was the last time we had a filly or colt under hoof instead?"
"No idea," Spike shrugged, "Twilight would probably know. She read The History of Canterlot front-to-back five times now. Says it's a good story to read before going to bed."
"Probably because it's so boring. I tried reading it a few times, but it makes a better table than it does reading material," Luna chuckled conspiratorily.
"I said the same thing, and Twilight banned me from my comic book collection for a week," Spike replied.
"Well, shall we go to our sister before her day truly begins? It would be nice for you to join us for breakfast," Luna said as they snuck out of a room. A note Luna had been writing with her magic as Spike and her were talking floated down near Diamond Tiara to read when she awoke.
The dining area that the two sisters ate in was one of Spike's favorite rooms. Not because the view was stunning, with wall sized windows overlooking the garden, nor for the fact that the entire room was made of beautiful mosaic marbles traced and embroidered with interconnected patterns of pure silver and gold, nor was it the fact that it served the best food from the best chefs in all of Equestria and beyond.
No, it was Spike's favorite because of the memories the room invoked. Before Twilight got so carried away in her studies that they barely came by here. Memories of epic food fights, of Celestia helping Twilight and Spike make miniature gingerbread cities, which were ravenously devoured soon after their creation. Even memories of all the times they just sat and talked without Celestia's work interrupting, being one of the rooms Celestia mandated as a sanctuary for her and any guests.
Spike stared in awe at the tiny mountain of emerald and topaz muffins in front of him, basking in their glory. It took him awhile before he recognized that Celestia was speaking to him. "Huh? What did you say? I didn't hear you."
"I was saying, it's been too long since you ate with me," Celestia repeated.
"Yeah, the last time was when I went to Canterlot’s ComiCon, and Twilight had her first sleepover."
"And you were so stuffed from eating carrot dogs and funnel cakes that you passed out in the middle of our meal," Celestia chuckled.
"Oh! I remember that. Spike looked like an overly large berry, and we had to roll him to your suite," Luna gasped.
"Haha! Yeah," Spike replied, his face flush with embarrassment.
"I miss having you and Twilight over, truth be told," Celestia said, before cutting to the chase, "So Spike, I received a rather interesting letter from Twilight this morning. Is there anything you want to talk about?"
"What did she say?"
"You first, Spike, then I'll tell you what she wrote," Celestia replied. She leaned forward, giving Spike her full attention.
"Well, you heard about Raindrops, right? And her visit?"
"Yes, I looked into her background. She seems like a nice pony, a bit caught up in her job, but nice nonetheless. Go on," Celestia waved her forehoof for Spike to continue.
"Well, Twilight finally acknowledged me as her son, and I was ecstatic. We went to town hall so I could be officially adopted, but they said that I'm legally considered a pet."
Celestia stood up, her wings flaring aggressively. "They said what?!"
"The receptionist gave all the points on how the citizens of Ponyville think of me as a pet, and well it makes sense in hindsight in how I was treated here in Canterlot."
"How were you treated as a pet here?"
"For one, most of the nobles tossing me table scraps and asking me why I wasn't on a leash. Then there was when a lot of ponies that treated me like they do in Ponyville, not badly, but kind of like a puppy. The biggest one, though, comes with a question. How many of my graduations did you go to?"
Celestia's, whose wings were twitching irritably, stopped as she tilted her head in thought, Celestia gasped, her eyes widening, "Oh Spike, I didn't go to any of them! I'm so sorry!"
"Well, there weren’t any anyways. They mailed honorary diplomas to Twilight," Spike said glumly.
"Honorary?" Celestia asked.
"Yes," Spike said, slouching into his seat.
"But you did the course work! I remember Twilight drilling you with questions that she felt would come up in your exams. I even proofread several of your theses!" Celestia exclaimed angrily, "Why didn't you tell me you didn't get recognized for your work?"
"Well... Until yesterday, I didn't think it meant anything. After all, I did the work, and it was like proof that I was worthy of Twilight. But now... It just hammers in the point that they didn't see me as an equal. Other than a few of my friends... Well, my friends before Ponyville."
"Why wouldn't they be your friends now?" Celestia asked concernedly.
"I haven’t had much free time to talk to them since we moved to the library, even though a few of them spend most of their time in Ponyville since we moved there."
Celestia got up from her spot and wrapped Spike in a tender hug. "Oh Spike! I'll have a talk with the dean at the college, and a few words with your instructors. Just remember, you were never a pet to me, Spike."
Luna coughed. "Now you've got some explaining to do dear sister."
Celestia looked at Luna incredulously. "Can't you see I'm having a moment?"
"You'll either having a bigger one, or you'll facehoof yourself hard enough to make another Ghastly Gorge," Luna retorted.
"We promised never to talk about that again, sister," Celestia replied, glaring at Luna, "Or should I tell everypony what's on the dark side of the moon?"
"Stop deflecting, Tia. We all know that we have enough dirt on each other to fill Twilight's library house. Now as I was saying, do you remember when Spike was young and he gave you and Twilight, Mother's Day cards?"
Celestia smiled and chuckled lightly, giving Spike a squeeze. "It was adorable. Why?"
"And how you two laughed at it, somewhat akin to what you just did?"
"Well, yes, but Luna, you have to know it was the most endearingly adorable thing he made..."
"Yes, Tia?" Luna retorted, goading that trail of thought to complete itself.
Celestia backed up and looked at Spike. "You told Twilight that you viewed her as a mother yesterday?"
When Spike nodded, Celestia looked back and forth between Luna and Spike as it sunk in, and as Luna predicted, Celestia facehoofed.
Spike was sure that facehooves weren't meant to create sonic shockwaves, nor were they supposed to make the ground feel like an earthquake as the room practically exploded. He was glad Luna had the foresight to place a shield around him, as he looked at the aftermath of Celestia's facehoof. Celestia looked at the obliterated room, the sudden flood of guards that burst into the room, and the tremors outside. Looking at Spike, she sighed, "I'm an idiot."
"So what's the damage?" Luna asked.
"I didn't make another gorge," Celestia retorted.
"Well you did make an avalanche."
"It wasn't a big one... It wasn't a big one, for the city of Canterlot. Most of the damage is located in the Everfree forest below the mountain, so that's a plus." Celestia sighed.
"It was still an a~va~lanche," Luna sang, "But on a more serious note, what about Spike?"
The two sisters were sitting in the gardens while chunks of the castle that were publicly accessible were being repaired. This gave them plenty of time to talk, and for Spike to wander the maze while they did so.
"How was I supposed to know he was being serious? I’ve received tons of letters from colts and fillies over the years. I thought it was like Twilight's Hearts and Hooves day letters; A sweet, innocent gesture from someone who didn't grasp what the concept of that day means," Celestia groaned.
"Sister mine, my most favorite living relative, you know I love you, right?" Luna said, patting her sister's shoulder.
"Yes," Celestia asked looking questioningly at Luna.
"But you are the most daft, blind, thickheaded pony I've ever known when it comes to those close to you. And that's saying something, since I've been regrettably introduced to Blueblood."
"He's not that bad, he just sometimes ... Doesn't use the right words when in public."
"When I first arrived, he told me Nightmare Night was months away, and that I should have somepony make my alicorn outfit look more realistic."
"In his defense, you were a surprise for most of the world when you got back."
"Then he wandered into my chambers drunk, and asked why my moon was always mooning him."
"You know how drunk ponies can be."
"After the last Grand Galloping Gala, he asked why I haven't gotten my visa like the rest of the foreigners in our country. The mare that was stuck to his side bolted with such speed you'd have thought the gates of Tartarus were about to open before her."
"Alright, I'll need to talk to him about not roping you into his mare scaring schemes. Honestly though, you should speak to him privately at some point. But I suppose, in bringing this up, you have a point."
"A few. First, other than Twilight, when was the last time you've personally interacted with the young?"
"There was Sunset Shimmer!" Celestia stated triumphantly.
"And what happened to her?"
"Oh," Celestia's face fell, "Yes, that was my bad."
"Yes, it was, and what about before that?"
"Well... About eighty, eighty five years before that... Around the same time I stopped the practice of bringing fillies and colts into apprenticeship positions at the castle. The nobles were making a stink about it, and there were citizens trying to make things all PR-y, and the whole thing of a castle being unsafe for foals to work in. Then the whole thing with fair wages. After it was cut, it saved the castle nine thousand and fifty bits a month in costs on the average, as well as increasing efficiency by a whole twelve percent."
"Alright, so you cut out children from your daily life to save bits and increase work efficiency. When's the last time you've connected with the citizens of Equestria?"
" I try every few years, but other than judging a few competitions, or in some ceremonial capacity, ponies freak out when they see me. I simply can't do that anymore, after a few centuries of being met with fear and awe. I simply let them view me as some type of perfect being, and they are happier that way," Celestia said sadly as she summoned a tea set to start up a cup for the two of them.
"That's silly talk. I remember when we used to have massive feasts where we mingled with the ponies of our land... Well, you mingled. I either got lucky or ended up stuck in the corner by the bar," Luna reminisced, "But still we were rulers who were of the ponies, not some porcelain goddesses to be viewed from afar. What happened?"
"Well after you ... were away. For the first two hundred years I was either doing nothing but paperwork, or locked in my room grieving. Then the next three hundred years, I basically threw myself into work and was public only enough to attend various ceremonies and events that my ... our little ponies needed to be happy. Then there was the three hundred years where I worked to make the world something you'd be proud of, and working on keeping on top of tons of growth. Both economically, and technologically. It's only these last fifty years where I tried to be more approachable, but at that point ponies saw me as somewhat unapproachable. A paragon of virtue to be admired from afar, or blamed when things go wrong in their lives.
"So by now, well. You've seen how quickly ponies freak out when I simply stop by for a friendly visit," At the end of her spiel Celestia rested her head on the table wearily.
Luna reached over and gave her sister a much needed nuzzle. "I was sad, I must admit, from all the things I've missed. But I'm here now, Tia. We, and I do mean we, don't need to be alone anymore. And I know for a fact that there is a little purple alicorn out there who loves you. I'm quite surprised you didn’t make a move the second she ascended. And now you also have a son, and in all my long years of life, I am finally an aunt."
"Lulu, you shouldn't play match maker. After all, the last time you dated, soap was just being invented."
"To my knowledge, when you last dated, the rope was called a passing fad," Luna teased.
"And your last romance caused the word lunatic to be invented," Celestia retorted playfully.
"Well you're the one who invented the food fetish, and that thing about socks, with your last lover."
"Well at least she was warm and well fed," Celestia harrumphed.
"I love you Tia," Luna laughed, "Now go talk to our nephew, and think about Twilight."
"I'll think about it, but I think she and Trixie are going to start working things out between them."
"The showmare? Hmmm... You know that I can't blab about what I see in others dreams. It's rude, but I don't think she'd object to being in a princess sandwich."
"Shoo! Off with you! I need to find Spike and have an honest heart-to-heart."
"Then I am off to either clear the air with Blue Blood, or banish him to a distant star for a timeout until he learns to mind his Ps and Qs."