It was a beautiful summer afternoon in Everfree. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, and a slight breeze blew across the land, rustling the bright green leaves of the trees in the garden. Everything was tranquil as Celestia lay on the grass, her eyes moving back and forth across the pages of a well-loved book; the book was nearly falling apart due to it being read so many times. Every now and then she turned the page. It was a perfect afternoon, except for one thing: the incessant babbling of a certain younger, blue alicorn.
"Tia, are you even listening to me?" the high-pitched voice demanded. The owner of the voice was hovering over her older sister, creating a shadow underneath her.
Celestia frowned and moved her novel out from underneath her sister's shadow. "Nope," she replied, not removing her eyes from the book.
"But Celestia, mom said you have to be my mentor," Luna whined, buzzing in circles around Celestia's head. "You have to help me learn how to be a good ruler and stuff, remember?"
Celestia sighed and used her teeth to pluck a blade of grass from the lawn, gently placing it in between two pages as a bookmark before closing the book and setting it off to the side. "Fine, ask me questions."
Luna landed in front of Celestia, sitting down in front of her and looking down into her sister's eyes. Celestia was a whole eight years older than her - she'd seen so much! She probably knew everything. She was always mommy's favorite, and they had spent many a night talking about secret things that Luna was never allowed to hear. Probably grown-up stuff about being a responsible ruler.
"Why don't earth ponies have wings and horns?" Luna decided to ask.
"Because then they'd be alicorns," Celestia replied. Such an obvious question - didn't Luna know these sorts of things already?
"But why can't they be alicorns?" Luna pressed.
"Because they're earth ponies. Either way, only the most worthy ponies and descendants of the royal family may be alicorns," Celestia explained.
"But why? Isn't that unfair?"
"No. Next question," Celestia said before Luna could ask why it wasn't unfair.
"Okay... why are we alicorns?" Luna asked.
"Because mom and dad are alicorns. I'm not explaining how babies work, so next question," Celestia said hurriedly.
"That explained nothing, but whatever. I'll ask dad later. Um..." Luna looked around the area for ideas, not knowing what else to ask. Then her eyes settled on a tree. "Why are leaves green?"
"Chlorophyll," Celestia answered.
"What's that?" Luna had no idea what Celestia was talking about.
"I don't know; do you really think I pay attention in school? The tutor lets me do whatever I want if I give her some of my old jewelry," Celestia giggled.
"What's the meaning of life?"
Celestia stared at her sister for a long moment, then turned away and opened her book back up to resume her reading. "I'm done. Go bug mom if you want to ask stupid questions."
"But Tia, you promised!" Luna cried, throwing herself on the ground. "You have to! You can't just not talk to me. Put the dumb book away!"
"Luna, you're going to have to get used to not talking to me," Celestia grumbled. "Once you're old enough, you're going to start sleeping all day so that you can take control of the night. We won't see each other much then, so you may as well start getting used to it early."
"No," Luna insisted, swiping the book out of Celestia's grasp with her magic. "No more books. You'll hang out with me, and you'll enjoy it!"
"Gimme that!" Celestia snarled, jumping up and attempting to grab it back with her wing. But that was a mistake. Knowing that Celestia could easily overpower her and take the book back, Luna panicked and chucked it as far as she could. Celestia watched, mouth agape, as the book sailed across the sky and landed with a splash in the Forbidden River. Slowly she turned around, glaring daggers at Luna. "You are going to die," she calmly informed the younger filly.
"I am? Why, is this another one of the cursed books that you bought off of the zebra?" Luna asked innocently.
"Get my book. Now," Celestia commanded, roughly shoving her sister away towards the river.
"No way, are you crazy?" Luna protested, digging her hooves into the ground to resist Celestia's pushing. "We're not allowed to go to the Forbidden River!"
"Too bad," Celestia declared, deciding to use a more efficient tactic of forcing Luna to the Forbidden River. She narrowed her eyes, fired up her horn, and both princesses teleported over to the river with a flash of light.
"Get it," Celestia demanded.
"No! Stop it!" Luna tried to run away, but Celestia dragged her back.
"Get it," she repeated. Luna refused and attempted to run away again, so she tried a different method. "If you don't retrieve my book, then I'll tell mom who set fire to the drapes."
Luna's eyes widened in horror and she took a step back. "You wouldn't dare," she whispered.
"Oh yes I will, and you better believe it. Now get my book back!"
Luna gulped and glanced at the Forbidden River. It was forbidden for a reason; she couldn't go in there! But on the other hoof, if Celestia got her in trouble, things would be much worse.
"Fine, I'm going!" she squealed, quickly casting an underwater breathing spell on herself. Then she dove into the river, not giving herself time to change her mind.
"I change my mind!" she shrieked as she made contact with the water. But it was too late. She was already under.
The water was cold, but not too cold. It felt kinda nice, actually. When she finally got over her terror enough to open her eyes, she was amazed by the beauty of the river. It wasn't too deep; she could see the bottom of the river. The sun rays shining in from above made it easy to see, and what a sight there was to see! Aquatic plants gracefully danced at the bottom. Colorful fish swam around her, occasionally nuzzling up to her cheek. A few seaponies looked on curiously, but they minded their own business. This river was amazing. Why was she forbidden from going near it?
Then she saw the octopus. Oh right. That's why.
His name was Gpyrdcn Jerncskniow Egrithyuil777, although Luna had heard Celestia's friend Discord call him "Kawaii John Rutter" for some reason. Personally, Luna preferred to call him Bob.
Bob was an... interesting character, to say the least. The river was his domain, and any trespassers were severely dealt with. If he caught anyone snooping around, he'd force them to endure a 24-hour lecture on how to properly care for a mustache. If someone fell asleep during the lecture or insulted his mustache, then he'd force-feed them a smoothie made with cabbage, bananas, prunes, strawberries, and daisies.
And Bob had noticed her. As he began making his way over to her, Luna said some words that would most certainly have gotten her put in the dungeons as a punishment if Tia or her parents had heard. "Nonononononono," she muttered to herself, backpedaling as fast as she possibly could. But it was to no avail; Bob had spent his whole life swimming, whereas Luna rarely ever had the opportunity to swim. He caught up with her in a very short amount of time.
"Bonjour," he greeted her in his thick accent.
"Hello," Luna responded nervously, forcing herself to stay still and not bold away.
"What are you doing in my river?" Bob always got straight to the point. There was never any casual talk with him.
"I-I'm not d-doing anything bad, I promise!" Luna stuttered, trembling as he raised an eyebrow at her. "See, my sister's book fell in here, and I just came here to get it back for her. Nothing else!"
"Hm, interesting," Bob mused, stroking his mustache. "The book fell in here, you say?"
"Yes, that's what I said," Luna confirmed.
"Well, I've seen a book around these parts, but it didn't fall in here. It came soaring out of the sky and into the middle of the river, and there were no pegasi in the sky to have dropped it. So I don't think it's your book." Bob presented Celestia's book to Luna, who tried to grab it, but he snatched it back. "If it's not your sister's, then you can't have it."
"But it is Celestia's!"
"Is it now? Then, would you mind telling me how it actually ended up in here?" He had Luna trapped.
"I... kinda threw it in here," Luna admitted. "She was ignoring me in favor of her book, so I got rid of it."
"That's a rather silly reason to throw a book in here, no?"
"You haven't met my sister. You'd understand if you knew what she was like," Luna explained.
"I may not have met your sister, but I have met your mother," Bob informed her, "and I know for a fact that she would not approve of your behavior."
"Oh no, please no!" Luna pleaded, grasping one of his tentacles and attempting to make him submit to her puppy dog eyes. It didn't work. Bob's face remained as straight as ever and he showed no sign of wavering. "I'll do anything!"
Bob paused and thought about this. "Anything?" he asked slowly.
"Yes, anything!" Finally, Luna was getting through to him.
"Give me tentacle massages and I won't tell your mother," Bob offered.
"...What?" Luna asked, incredulous.
"Oui. For a whole week."
"You're not serious, are you?" Luna exclaimed, releasing the octopus.
"Would you like to make that two weeks?"
"Fine, I'll do it," Luna grumbled, "but not right now. I have to get the book back to Celestia or she'll send the guard after me, which I really don't want. I literally just managed to convince mom that I was responsible enough to go out on my own without an escort, and I don't want to go back to how things were."
Bob nodded. "That's understandable. You can start your job tomorrow." With that, he handed her the book. Luna muttered a thank you and quickly swam back up towards the surface with the book in her mouth. When she broke the surface of the water, she was immediately pulled up and out of the river by a yellow magic aura.
"There you are! What took you so long?" Celestia demanded, unceremoniously depositing Luna on the ground and taking her book back. As Luna lay there, uncomfortably trying to readjust to breathing air, Celestia opened her book to continue where she left off. Her face fell, and she groaned in disappointment.
"What's wrong?" Luna asked.
"It's ruined," Celestia said in a monotone voice, turning the book around to give Luna a better look. The pages were soggy and torn, and the ink had run off.
"Can't you just fix it?" Luna really hoped so; she had risked her dessert privileges for this.
"Nope," Celestia declared. And with that, she chucked the book back into the river.