• Published 21st Oct 2014
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I Watch the Moon - zeus_tfc



Luna has been redeemed by the elements of harmony, but is finding that salvation is harder to come by. Perhaps the Moon, her prison for so very long, is truly where Luna belongs after all.

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Chapter 1: Emptiness

CHAPTER 1
Emptiness

Luna stared at the Moon.

She sat on the top of the tallest tower, the wind buffeting her from all sides, trying desperately to slice her with its unrelenting cold. Unmoving, neglecting all else, Luna stared at the Moon.

The constancy was shattered by a subtle sound. The sound of feathers, the barest rustle of wings, almost lost in the howling wind, did not go unnoticed by the Princess of the Moon, attuned to the night.

“Sister,” she greeted. “Shouldst thou not be abed? The hour grows late, and the day has faded to memory.”

“Why are you up here, sister,” Celestia asked in reply. “Why are you not holding court, or down with our subjects? Why are you here alone night after night?”

“The Court of Night has had no claimants.”

“That’s not true. The court was full when you opened it upon your return.”

“Full, yes.” Bitterness colored her words. “Claimants? No. They were there to see the Nightmare. To ogle the demon princess. I was a spectacle! Come see the cowed Nightmare Moon! The scourge now tamed and muzzled. Tea and biscuits served at eleven.”

Celestia’s heart hurt, but nothing would change without action.

“Then take time and simply be among the citizens. Show them the real you. They will come around and love you like I do.”

“I… can’t.” Something new colored her words. “It’s too… noisy. Too crowded. Too many voices clamoring for meaningless drivel.”

Fear. That was the undercurrent. She was afraid.

“Luna…”

“A thousand years, sister. A thousand years of solitude. A thousand years of silence. I was a foal to think it could be undone overnight.”

Luna’s gaze finally broke free from the Moon, and she turned her focus on her sister.

“Dost thou know what thou losest in a thousand years, sister?” Her eyes, haunted, spoke of horror and despair. “The Moon is silent. It is unnerving at first. Thou makest noise just to break the endless quiet. Eventually thou findest thyself babbling like some madpony just to hear a voice, even if it is only thine own. Eventually even the sound of thine own voice becomes meaningless. Eventually there is only quiet and madness.”

Celestia stared at her sister in horror.

She tried again. She had to try. She couldn’t leave Luna like this.

“Nightmare Moon came from your need for acceptance. You won’t find that up here. Be among the ponies. Let them in.”

“Acceptance shan’t be found there, either. No where but thy heart, dear sister. I’ll be content with that.”

“Things can change, Luna. It might take time…”

“A thousand years?” Luna asked. “I’ve come to understand much in my solitude, and one thing in particular’s become clear. The Moon’s light is only ever the reflected rays of the Sun. Without the Sun’s radiance, the Moon has no glory. I’ll only ever be thy reflection, Celestia. I’ll be thy queen, protecting the king on the chessboard. If necessary, I’ll even be thy sacrificial piece, but I’ll never rule. In truth, I no longer desire to.”

“Luna, please don’t speak that way.” Celestia pleaded.

“The hour grows ever later, sister. Go. Rest. I’ll watch the night in thy absence, and keep thy subjects safe.”

Luna returned her gaze to the Moon.

“I…” Celestia tried with all her heart. It wasn’t enough. “Goodnight, sister.”

“Goodnight, sister. Know that I love thee.”

“Love you too, Luna.”

Celestia dropped from the tower, spreading her wings to glide back to a suitable landing spot. She turned back for a moment, heart troubled, filled with worry, and for one instant saw not a pony seated on the tower’s height but a statue of obsidian.

Celestia laid herself down. Between the heaviness in her heart, and the listlessness creeping over her, she longed for sleep to take her, but her mind worked ceaselessly, driving all peace away.

She’d dreamed of this day, when Nightmare Moon would be defeated, and her dearest sister Luna returned to her.

But...

But that thing wasn't her Luna.

That statue, that self-contained entity, that distant, almost cold, pony was not her Luna.

Celestia rubbed away tears forming despite her not-insignificant will for them to cease.

She should have known. She should have at least suspected. But she had longed for her sister to be returned so badly, it had nearly consumed her.

The stars had aligned. The elements had made themselves known. Her dearest, most faithful, most beloved student had played her role well, and found a missing piece of herself in the process. This was the part where the story was supposed to read ‘and they all lived happily ever after.’

So why was she crying? Why was it all wrong?

Tears she thought long spent after a thousand years of grief flowed freely, but silently.

Princess Celestia cried. Silent sobs wracked her shoulders. Tomorrow she would plan. She would scheme. Tomorrow she would devote all her considerable resources developed over millennia of politicking and maneuvering. Tonight she allowed herself to cry.


Luna stared at the Moon.

She sat on the top of the highest tower, feeling, though not feeling, the wind buffeting her, cutting cruelly at her.

Luna stared at the Moon, but tonight there was something new.

There was a sound. There was a scraping, walking sound of hooves on stone. There was a gasping sound, of a pony out of breath from tackling many steps.

“P… Princess Luna?” a timid voice called out.

Luna tore her gaze away from the Moon to regard the new arrival.

“Twilight Sparkle, Element of Magic, and my… redeemer. What brings you to this place?”

“I… wanted to see how you were.”

“I am well,” Luna answered, directing her gaze back to the Moon.

“Just ‘well’? Not happy or sad? Just well?”

Twilight waited, but the dark pony merely stared into the sky, unmoving.

“Princess Luna-”

“Luna,” the princess interrupted.

“I beg your pardon?”

“Simply ‘Luna’ will do.”

“Oh… okay. Well then, Luna, I was hoping we could get to know each other. I’ve been Princess Celestia’s student ever since I was little. I’d love to get to know you too. I’d be really interested in hearing about what you two were like before… you know. And you must know so much about Princess Celestia. I’d love to hear your insights, and-”

“BE SILENT.”

“I… I’m sorry?”

“Be silent, Twilight Sparkle. Your words are like shards of glass. Do you do nothing but prattle on?”

“Oh… sorry,” Twilight dropped her head. She sat in silence, the wind piercing her.

The minutes passed.

Twilight shivered in the wind.

Her teeth began chattering.

Luna looked down at new noise.

“S-s-s-sorry,” she chattered. “‘s c-c-c-cold.”

“Give yourself a century. You won’t even feel it anymore.”

Luna stared back at the Moon. She inhaled deeply, closed her eyes, and exhaled a deep sigh.

“Go home, Twilight Sparkle,” she said, opening her eyes back up to the Moon. “Go home to the warmth of your hearth, and the hearts of your friends. Leave this place.”

“C-c-c-can’t. P-p-p-promised.”

“Promised to whom?”

“P-p-p-p-p… Celest-t-t-ia”

“Promised what?” Luna demanded, glaring down at the unicorn.

Twilight Sparkle huddled in on herself, shaking violently, and barely able to keep her head up.

Luna shook her head. She extended her magic, and encased Twilight in a protective bubble. Hoisting her aloft, she launched herself into the air, and glided down to the lower levels of the palace in a loose spiral. Half way down, she realized she didn’t know where Twilight usually stayed in the castle. The thought of trying to hunt down and gather such trivial information repulsed her as a waste of energy. There was one easy solution. One solution which was expedient and efficient.

With this knowledge, she altered her course.

She landed delicately on a balcony. The window responded to her almost without effort.

Luna stepped into her room. With a twist of her magic, a fire roared into existence in the fireplace. She pulled back the covers on her bed, and gently lowered the still-shivering Twilight Sparkle into its depths.

“L-Luna?” Twilight asked through chattering teeth.

“Silence. Rest. And don’t do that again,” Luna warned, pulling the covers up on the shivering Twilight. “Don’t blackmail me with your safety. Next time I may let the cold take you. Now sleep.”

With that, Luna turned and left. She pushed the door to her room open with more force than she’d intended. It slammed against the wall, causing a passing Chamber-filly to yelp in surprise.

“Twilight Sparkle is in my room. She has exhausted herself in the cold. See to it someone brings her a hot water bottle, and some hot tea or soup. Don’t let her leave until morning.”

“Y-yes Princess Luna,” she stammered.

Luna shut the door to her room softly, and walked away down the hall. Twilight’s actions troubled her somewhat, but she paid it little mind.

In her heart, she still held the Moon.


Twilight Sparkle was there again the next day. Luna kept her gaze on the Moon, and said nothing. When she thought Twilight wasn’t watching, she did spare a glance in the unicorn’s direction. She was relieved to note that Twilight had dressed for the cold. More relief flooded her when Twilight left once she began shivering, and didn’t stubbornly try to push past her limits.

Luna watched the Moon.

Twilight was there again the next night.

And the night after.

And the night after that.

And again. She said nothing, but simply sat, looking out into the night, keeping company with Luna.

And again the following night.

“Why are you here, Twilight Sparkle?” Luna finally asked, glaring at the unicorn.

“I’m here to see you, Luna.”

It was either the wrong answer to the right question, or the right answer to the wrong question.

“I’m entertainment for you? Sitting there watching me?”

“No, that’s not what I meant. I… I mean, I…”

“Why are you here, Twilight Sparkle? Why have you come night after night to sit there as I watch my Moon?”

“I might ask you the same question!” Twilight retorted. “Why do you sit here night after night? You’re free. Free of the Moon, free of the nightmare. Why do you sit here and stare at your prison? Do you want to go back?”

“Perhaps… perhaps it would be better for everypony,” Luna said.

“I… what?”

“Perhaps I should go back. Lose myself in the endless oceans of dust. Quietly fade away, eventually forgotten by the land that has no use for me.”

“You… you can’t

“Nor shall I. It would break my dear sister’s heart. She means more to me than life itself. Even so, I wonder if it would simply be the right thing to do.”

“B-but!”

“Go home, Twilight Sparkle. Go home to your family and your friends. Pay no more mind to the Princess of the Moon.”

With that, Luna launched herself into the air. Flapping her wings, she pushed higher and higher, leaving the ground behind, and losing herself in the clouds.

Twilight Sparkle was there the next evening.

And the evening after that.


Luna finish lowering the Moon, and watched respectfully as her sister finished raising the Sun.

Celestia took one last look, casting a professional eye on her craftsmanship, before nodding to herself in satisfaction and turning to go inside. Luna fell into step beside her.

“Thy student is most… persistent,” Luna observed.

“Is she bothering you?”

“What bothers me is her reasoning. She claimed she promised thee something.”

“I coerced no promise from her, I only made a simple request.”

“What request?”

“Perhaps you should ask her.”

“I’m asking thee, Celestia!” Luna stomped a hoof.

Celestia stopped and turned to face her sister.

“Luna, I only asked her to talk to you. You looked like you needed a friend, and she knows what that’s like. Everything she’s done, she’s done on her own.”

Celestia leaned forward and nuzzled her sister affectionately.

“I’d hoped you two could be friends. She’s almost as precious to me as you are, and there’s no guile to her. Anything she says you can take at face value.”

Luna nuzzled back ashamedly.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to snap at thee, I just….”

“I understand, and I’m sorry too. Perhaps I have gotten a bit too high-hooved. It won’t happen again, I promise. Rest well, sister.

“Good day to thee, sister.”


Luna stared at the Moon.

Twilight Sparkle was there.

“Here again, Twilight Sparkle?” Luna asked, eyes never leaving the Moon.

“Yes.”

“How long will you maintain this farce?”

“For as long as it takes.”

“It takes for what?” Luna rounded on Twilight. “For me to be your friend? For me to give up my Moon and pretend to be a good little pony like my sister? For what?”

Twilight sat there, a sadness marring an otherwise pretty face. Luna remembered what her sister had said, that this was a pony without guile, without agenda. Honest. Open. Trustworthy.

“Why do you sit there and stare at the Moon?”

“You’ve asked me before.”

“You never answered me. You said you thought it might be better if you went back, but you won’t. So, why stare at the Moon?”

Luna turned back and stared at her Moon.

“I spent a thousand years on that Moon, Twilight Sparkle. A thousand years. I know every inch of that barren, lifeless rock. A thousand years of quiet impotent rage. The rage is gone now. I have you to thank for that, and my thanks are yours, but…”

Luna turned to face Twilight.

“The rage, the hate, the jealousy are gone. Now I’m… empty.”

“Empty?”

“There’s nothing there, just dust and cold, like the Moon.”

Twilight cocked her head to the side.

“It sounds lonely.”

“It’s all I’ve known for a thousand years. I don’t know what that means anymore.”

“I think you need to make a friend.”

“Twilight Sparkle,” Luna’s shoulders sagged. “I’ve been alone for a thousand years. Even if I thought that was the case, I’m not sure I know how anymore.”

Twilight smiled sweetly.

“Then you’re in luck! I’ve done extensive research on the matter.”

Author's Note:

And so it begins.
Special thanks to BlackRoseRaven for helping me refine this story into something I'm rather proud of.

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