• Published 7th Sep 2014
  • 10,524 Views, 272 Comments

All for One - One for Luna - Wodahseht

A strange condition has Twilight courting death in the wake of her battle with Tirek. Now her life depends on Luna, and both lives will be affected. Hopefully for the best.

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04: Seeking Understanding

Twilight woke first that evening. For a short time she simply lay still and enjoyed the feel of Luna's side pressed against her and the wing over her back, but slowly the memory she had seen demanded her focus. She tried to think of any historical references to an Ursa threat so that she could place when or where that confrontation had occurred, but came up blank. While she could recall reading of cases where individual ponies had angered an Ursa, it was usually only the Ursa Minors which would follow the unfortunate individual any great distance. An Ursa Major was usually content to chase the pony, or ponies, out of their immediate territory.

She shifted slightly so that she could see Luna's face. She looked tired, even while asleep, and perhaps a bit haunted. The glow of moonlight from her made it difficult to read the smaller signs of the face though. That glow...

She really is quite beautiful when radiating moonlight, but I think I like her better when she's not.

Twilight had been in awe when Luna first showed her. The dark blue, star-speckled mane and tail framed her form like the night sky around the moon. It truly was as though the moon itself had come down and taken pony form. But, as lovely as the sight remained, it made Luna seem just that much more unattainable.

Which may not be a bad thing given how much trouble I've been having keeping my imagination in check lately...

It was clear enough that Luna harbored no such feeling toward her. The straightforward reply of "no point risking another rude awakening" in response to Twilight questioning the bedtime cuddle Luna had initiated said that. As if to enhance that point, Luna woke and flipped her wing closed, then stood and made her way toward the balcony to raise the moon. All without looking at Twilight or saying a word.

Twilight heard the knocks signaling their breakfast and, sighing internally, rose to bring in the meal while Luna stood at the balcony bringing up the moon.

Luna had decided to rest on the balcony this night. There wasn't anything else that currently required her attention, and she was tired. But more, she was scared. Now Twilight knew. Would she decide to no longer be her friend? Twilight hadn't said a word to her since they woke, and she was afraid to say anything herself without having an idea about how the purple alicorn would react. Breakfast had taken place in silence and afterward Twilight had immediately begun working through a pile of scrolls from Ponyville which had arrived with their meal.

What if she only stays here because it is necessary?


She looked over to see Twilight had come to join her on the balcony, though she remained standing. She seemed hesitant about something, but Luna could read nothing in her face and feared to hear what she would say.

"Do you think-? Could you tell me what happened?"

Well, that wasn't quite what Luna had been expecting. "The Ursa?"

Twilight nodded and finally sat down facing her. "I missed parts and still don't understand when or how it happened. I can't recall any mention of it in the Equestrian history books I've studied."

A tinge of amusement crept in around her fear as Luna noted that Twilight looked almost insulted (at least thoroughly annoyed) that her beloved books had failed her. There was an urge to smile and tease her about it, but Luna didn't have the heart for it at that moment. Instead, turning to the moon for calm, she replied, "There are reasons for that. Primarily the fact that if it had been known it might have resulted in a war with the griffons."

"How would knowing that you defeated an Ursa Major have started a war with the griffons? From what I know of them, they would have respected such a show of might."

"True enough, and they did. However, I meant that it may have provoked our own ponies to demand war. You see, it was a griffon that had provoked the Ursa into its rampage. We were in the middle of negotiations for peace between our two nations, but many griffons felt that we were weak and should look to them as betters, not equals. So, one of the envoy's entourage learned of an Ursa within our lands and decided to drive it into a rage. He thought we would be helpless against it and then the griffon army could step in to save us, proving that we were the weaker."

Luna finally tore her gaze from the moon and back to Twilight, who was sitting with a look of shock on her face. She could understand that, a similar look had rested on her own face when they learned these things after the fact. "The plan backfired though. We defeated the Ursa without even one pony or village taking harm, without calling out the army, and without using the elements. Just two ponies had succeeded where their entire army would have struggled. They agreed to peace so long as we did not enter their lands, and we kept the matter a secret so that no pony would know that a griffon had nearly been responsible for major catastrophe."

Twilight shifted out of her state of shock into one more akin to excitement. "You mean the First Griffon Peace Compact? That explains so much! None of the books ever explained how the deadlock had been resolved, just that after extended talks the agreement was finally formalized." She started clapping her hooves together, "Do you think that any of their history books would explain in more detail? I wonder how hard it would be to get them to share them. Oooh, I should get other of their history books too, who knows how different–"

"Twi-light," Luna drawled slowly – trying, without much hope of success, to break the trance. According to her sister, when Twilight got this way it could take a few tries to get her attention back.

Surprisingly, just the once was enough to draw the babbling alicorn's gaze. Almost as soon as her eyes met Luna's, Twilight's jaw snapped shut, her cheeks turned a mid-crimson, and she became very interested in the surface of the balcony. A smile finally broke through to Luna's face as she heard an almost inaudible mumbling she took to be an apology of some sort.

I can see now why my dear sister refers to these bouts as 'adorable.'

Minutes passed while Twilight got herself back together, and Luna pondered how difficult it might be to acquire a photograph of post-bout Twilight. Of course, knowing Celestia, one might already exist - though that didn't necessarily mean it'd be easy to get...

"There's something I still don't understand." Twilight had finally gotten herself organized again, and the history lesson had failed to explain something rather important in her eyes. "Why did you get so distraught from the memory? It's not like killing the Ursa was intentional. Neither of you knew what would happen, but it was important to stop it somehow. It's sad, but you were devastated."

Luna winced almost as though struck, the small smile she'd had vanishing in an instant as she sucked in a breath that was almost a sob. Immediately Twilight cursed herself for blurting that out so bluntly. She couldn't help herself though, there had to be something beyond what she'd seen in the memory to explain why it affected Luna so.

She moved to lay beside Luna and covered her with a wing, deciding to let the matter drop and simply do what she could to provide comfort. She didn't get a chance to say anything though as Luna began to answer.

"I know," she whispered. "I know that the mother's death wasn't really our fault. Celestia could have tried a weaker exposure first, but I don't blame her for that. She didn't know. Neither of us knew. We still had a responsibility though. Intentional or not, we orphaned its helpless cub. We stood together against the mother, though I was never required to act, and so the responsibility belonged to both of us to care for the cub. Celestia was the one with the power to stop the mother, but I was the only one with the power to keep the cub alive."

"And you did, I saw."

Luna shook her head and tear-filled eyes met Twilight's. "You saw me accept the burden. Did you see me complete it?"

Twilight thought back to the dream-memory and had to admit she didn't. "But you wouldn't have just stopped caring for it... would you?" The last was a whisper of her own.

Luna buried her face into her hooved and Twilight had to strain to hear the whispered reply. "I did. I did not intend to, but..."

Twilight couldn't make sense of it. She knew Luna, or she thought she did at least, and the Luna she knew wouldn't do such a thing. The thought suddenly struck her, she didn't intend to. Something must have happened to make her, but what?

"What happened?"

The response was so long coming that Twilight began to wonder if Luna had changed her mind or fallen asleep. Finally, "Just over one thousand years ago, not long after a peace treaty was signed with the griffons, a young alicorn gave in to her dark side and tried to bring about eternal night. For this she was imprisoned in the moon, locked away from Equestria for a thousand years."

Luna rolled her head to the side so that she could look at Twilight without lifting it from its resting place on her hooves. "Do you see? It wasn't simply jealousy for my sister which allowed the darkness to take me over. Her sunlight had killed. Unintentional, but it had killed. My moonlight was keeping a creature from dying. Jealousy and self-righteousness. Ponies adored her sunlight which brought death, and ignored my moonlight which brought life. It sickens me now, but such were my thoughts at the time. I thought that eternal night would make the world a better and safer place. I was wrong of course, but worse: because of my actions, that helpless cub - which was my responsibility - was left to die. The blame for that can be considered no one's but my own."

Luna turned away and the silence of the night embraced them. Twilight lay against her searching for words to say, but none would come.

Luna startled awake to the sound of the dinner knocking and was somewhat surprised that Twilight still lay beside her with a wing over her back. She thought perhaps her fellow princess had simply fallen asleep as well, but the scattered books and scrolls spoke otherwise. As she stretched and yawned Twilight folded back her wing and she immediately missed the warmth, the night was cool.

And, she admitted to herself, it was nice being held like that. She and Celestia rarely had time for such things any more.

Twilight brought in their food and whisked the books and scrolls inside at the same time. As with the majority of their meals there was little discussion, though Twilight did ask whether she'd been working in the dreamscape. When she replied that she'd just fallen asleep Twilight actually seemed relieved and let the subject drop.

Later, once the day had begun and they were preparing to sleep, Twilight spoke up again, "You know. I've been thinking all night trying to come up with something, anything, to say about what you told me that would help you feel better." She gave an exasperated shake of her head. "Nothing. I couldn't think of anything. But I just remembered something Princess Celestia once told me. She said: 'Regret is an anchor that keeps you from moving forward. It's okay to remember the mistakes you've made so that you don't make them again, but the past is past and cannot be changed. Don't waste time wishing you could change it, instead focus on making a better future.'"

Luna was staring at her pillow and felt Twilight gingerly rest a wing over her again. "Please don't let memory hold you back either Luna. I can't talk away what happened with the Ursas. I learned the hard way that we can't change the past, but the Luna I've come to know would never make those same mistakes again."

She was emotionally too tired to censor herself, too tired to care why she should, and so the words spilled out without conscious thought, "I'm just scared. Scared of being feared again, scared of being hated..." The tears returned and she could barely get the words out through a tightened throat, "...scared to be trapped and alone again."

Twilight pulled her closer and pressed a cheek against her own damp one. "You won't be," Twilight assured her, "I promise, you won't be."

"Twilight... Thank you." Then she closed her eyes, leaning into her bedmate's embrace, and cried herself to sleep.

Author's Note:

I actually worried I wouldn't get this done in the time-frame I said I would. School really kicked up a notch overall so I've had less time than expected. Because of that, I'm not going to make any guesses right now on the next chapter. Instead, I'll just work the story as I get the windows of opportunity.


(Random thought: It is remarkably difficult to write extended interactions between two individuals of same gender without tripping all over who which pronoun is suppose to refer to.)