• Published 21st Oct 2014
  • 6,111 Views, 248 Comments

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 10: Gifts

Luna looked at the entrance to the Carousel Boutique with trepidation. She’d been asked to come in for something called a ‘final fitting’. It was Luna’s opinion that the word ‘final’ had an ominous ring to it.

She scowled at the door, as if she could cow it into sticking to save her from this trial.

The door gave no sign it understood or cared about Luna’s wishes.

There was little else she could do.

She opened the door.

“Ah! Luna, darling. Right on time. I’ll be with you in just a moment, dear,” Rarity said.

Luna sat patiently as she watched Rarity sweep around the shop, humming to herself.

“This way, dear,” Rarity said, ushering Luna into a back room. “Please, slip this on and stand up here.”

Luna looked the dress over before trying it on. It was simple, almost plain, lacking lace and frills. She slipped it over her head and stood dutifully on the platform.

“Hmmm…” Rarity mused, placing a pair of glasses on her face. “No, no no. That simply won’t do.”

She immediately went to work tugging and pinning fabric around Luna.

“So, tell me Luna dear, how are you doing. Twilight tells me you’re still having some trouble adjusting.”

Luna winced internally. The subject was not a comfortable one.

“More accurate to say I feel… displaced. Out of my time. Obsolete.”

“Why Luna, don’t talk like that! Trust me, some things never go out of style. Things become classics for a reason. Whether through nuance, elegant simplicity, or sheer artistry, certain styles last. We don’t always even realize why at first. It sometimes takes time to fully appreciate how deep, how sophisticated something is.”

Rarity frown at the gown, her forehead wrinkling as she peered at it speculatively.

“Mmmm… no. N- Oh! Yes! I have it!”

She danced around Luna, pins going this way and that.

“You know,” she said distractedly, “so much of the fashion industry is about the new. Forget about last year, and focus on the new thing. We spend so much time chasing after the latest trends and anticipating what will be the new style.”

“That doesn’t seem like it leaves room for the classics,” Luna observed.

“Mmm? Oh. You’d be surprised, dear. Fashions seem to come around in cycles. Mmm. No, but what I mean is I spent a good part of my early career trying to copy the hottest designers and chase the trends. Awful, atrocious work it was.”

Rarity stepped back a moment.

“Hmph. No, it should hang this way.”

Luna felt a tug at the material.

“What it took me far too long to realize,” Rarity continued, “was that I was trying to be somepony other than me, but I was the one constant in my work. It was my tears, my sweat… not that I’d admit that a lady sweats. It would be unseemly. No, what I realized is that I could really only be the best designer I could be if I stopped trying to be somepony else. I had to be the best me I could be. Once I realized that, everything else became secondary. I could try emulating a popular style, but I made it my own. It was my vision, through the lens of my own experience. It didn’t matter if it was a classic style, a modern style, the latest trend, or something completely new. It was me. I can’t help but put myself into my work. Anything less would be dishonest.”

She stepped back and looked Luna over.

“There. I think that does it. What do you think?”

Luna turned and looked at herself in the mirror.

Luna forgot how to speak.

The simplicity of the dress was deceptive. It hung on Luna just so, accentuating her features. The colors complimented her coat and mane perfectly, providing contrast and depth to her natural coloration.

Luna turned and looked from other angles.

“It’s… it’s amazing.”

Rarity blushed demurely.

“Oh. Well. We do what we can.”

“I mean it. This dress is beautiful.”

“Well,” Rarity deflected. “It’s easy to create beauty around such a remarkable subject.”

Luna snorted.

“Now, now, dear,” said Rarity. “You’re flattering me shamelessly. The least you could do is let me return the favor.”

“Return the favor. Yes,” muttered Luna. “Such an elegant gift demands like.”

“Luna, I did not make this dress just to guilt something out of you. I insist that no reward be given.”

Luna attempted a smile, but only made it as far as a smirk.

“Such is always the way with gifts from the heart. Do you give a hearth’s warming gift with the expectation of return? No, you give it out of love, but one is returned nonetheless.

“I… I…” Rarity stammered.

The bell at the front door jingled.

“Oh, who could that be? Please excuse me for a moment, Luna. You just stand there, please, and don’t try to take the dress off. I need to make sure none of the pins snag.”

Rarity turned and hurried out of the room.

“Coming!” she sang.

Luna watched Rarity trot out of the room, shutting the door behind her before returning to the mirror.

“Oh,” Luna could hear Rarity’s muffled voice through the door. “I didn’t expect such illustrious company!”

The response was lost in the walls.

Luna gazed at her reflection in the mirror. She was lovely. The dress made her so. For the first time in recent memory she actually felt princessly.

She turned, trying to find a bad angle. There didn’t seem to be one.

It was almost enough to make Luna vain.

Almost.

Of course, once she took the dress off, she would simply be Luna again, and all would return to normal, but for now, wearing this dress, Luna felt beautiful.

Luna heard some polite laughter from the other room. Curiosity got the better of her.

Curiosity was always her worst trait.

She stepped carefully from the raised platform and crept to the door.

“Oh, my,” Luna heard Rarity pouring on the charm. “Such a noble, statuesque build you have. You need something that accentuates that. Something which shows Equestria what an important role you serve in Canterlot.”

Luna’s ears perked. A customer from Canterlot?

“My duties these days consist primarily of tip-toeing around that psychotic princess Luna,” a bored voice whined. “One never knows when she might suddenly lash out and injure somepony.”

Luna stiffened.

“Oh, it can’t be that bad,” Rarity admonished. “After all, Princess Celestia trusts her implicitly.”

“History has already shown her to be a treasonous murder-mare. The Princess is simply overcome with the thought of having her sister back. It’s blinding her to the danger.”

“I must ask that you not say such things in my presence. I’ve met both Princess Celestia and Princess Luna, and I assure you such things are not true. Luna is a delightful lady.”

“Pah!” the second voice spat. “Don’t dictate terms to me! It’s bad enough I have to come to this provincial little no-place. If it weren’t for the splash I’d make with whatever kitschy thing you make, I’d never demean myself so.”

The voice harrumphed.

“The very idea that you could know the princesses. Preposterous.”

“This is Ponyville, Madam.” Rarity’s voice was cold. “Twilight Sparkle lives here, and she happens to be my very good friend. Now I must ask you to leave. You have insulted my friends and my art. I have no wish to deal with you any longer.”

Rarity’s words were met with a snort of derision.

“You’ll make my dress, and you’ll like it, or I’ll make sure your gaudy little shop is shunned from Canterlot to Manehatten. You will be blacklisted.”

“Nevertheless,” Rarity’s voice shook, “I insist you leave at once.”

Luna was angry. No, she was furious. It was a decidedly unfamiliar feeling, and she wasn’t sure she liked it; however, it demanded action.

Luna inhaled a deep breath and drew herself up. She felt herself shaking, though whether from nervousness or rage she couldn’t tell.

Being still or calm wasn’t an option. Pity.

Luna opened the door.

“WE BELIEVE YOU SHOULD SHOW RESPECT FOR MADAM RARITY’S WISHES.”

The strange mare jumped at the new arrival and booming voice.

“What?!? I... I mean…”

“IT IS TIME FOR YOU TO LEAVE. QUICKLY. UNLESS YOU WISH TO REMAIN IN THE ROOM WITH A ‘TREASONOUS MURDER-MARE’?”

The pony’s face went ashen, giving her a deathly pallor. She scrambled backwards on her hooves.

“I did try to warn you, dear,” Rarity said with a barely contained smirk.

The mare’s mouth worked, but no sound came out. Eventually a low keen came from her throat, and she bolted out the door.

Luna watched her go, feeling guiltily pleased. It would do little for her reputation in Canterlot, and Rarity’s might suffer as well, but….

“I’m very sorry, Luna. I had hoped to spare you that.”

“Rarity, I believe I know what thy gift should be.”

Rarity gave Luna a mild frown.

“Oh, Luna. I told you I didn’t need a gift. Besides, fashion is a fickle mistress. Anything you might do to try to sway opinion is as likely to bite you as not.”

“Indeed, but friends give gifts as signs of affection, and such boundless generosity as thine should not go unrewarded. Thou undervaluest thine own work. This dress is as lovely as I’ve ever seen, and I know others will think the same. I need not endorse thy work. Thy work will speak for itself.”

Rarity gave a soft chuckle.

“It can hardly speak as eloquently as you, Luna dear. Or as loudly”

“Thou art a consummate flatterer, but I thank thee.”


The Nightmare smiled her toothy, predatory smile, her eyes wild and mad.

“SO, RARITY, WHAT WOULDST THOU BE WILLING GIVE US, OH AVATAR OF GENEROSITY?”

Rarity looked at the Nightmare uncertainly.

“There is nothing I wouldn’t give for my friends,” she said.

“THEN WE SHALL TAKE EVERYTHING.”

The smile on the Nightmare’s face was gleefully vicious. Predatory.

Murderous.


Luna rapped a shaky hoof on the library door.

She tried not to pace as she anxiously waited for a response. Her shaking had not quite subsided after her sleep-induced vision.

She couldn’t bring herself to view them as dreams anymore. They were too real, too specific. They were like messages. Warnings.

Attacks.

Luna’s shivers returned in force.

The library door opened.

“Luna!” Twilight exclaimed. “I didn’t expect you this evening.”

“I apologize for imposing on thee, Twilight,” Luna said, hoping her voice was steadier than her legs. “I… I was hoping thou m-might stand some c-company.”

“I always have time for you, Luna. Come in. Spike!” She called. “Company. Make some tea. Please?”

“Sure thing, Twilight,” the diminutive dragon replied as he appeared from the kitchen. “Who’s here- Oh. P-princess L-Luna.”

“Simply ‘Luna’, please.”

“Uh… sure!”

Spike shrugged and disappeared into the bowels of the kitchen, presumably with the intent to prepare tea.

Luna crept into the library to find a minefield of books. There were open books everywhere, covering every surface.

“Doing some research, Twilight?”

“Yep!” Twilight chirped happily. “I was reading up on Brightstar’s theory of morphic memory, and it brought to mind Trato’s Forms, so I started reading some of his philosophical essays to refresh my memory. Then I thought it might be a good idea to cross reference that with Landais’ Transformations, and things just snowballed.”

Twilight hummed contentedly, if somewhat tunelessly as she moved books off the couch to allow Luna to recline.

“Oh!” she said, stopping short. “I should have referenced Lundy’s treatise ‘The Stability of Shape-Changes as a Function of Magnitude from Baseline’.

She dropped several books on the already filled table as she trotted to the library shelves in search of her prey.

“She’ll be like that all night,” a voice said from beside Luna.

She turned to see Spike holding a pot and mug.

“Are you okay, Pr... Luna? You looked a bit shaky when you came in.”

Luna took an offered mug in her magic.

“I’m feeling better, thank you.”

It was true. The normalcy of the library, the tea, Twilight and her books, it all served to calm Luna.

She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply of the steam rising from her mug of tea.

“It occurs to me that, despite my recent association with Twilight, we have barely spoken.”

“Yeah,” Spike agreed, looking down at his feet. “When we’re in Canterlot I’m usually visiting friends, and… well… I’m not very good at staying up late.”

“Ah,” replied Luna. “That would make my eccentric schedule problematic. Well. I thank you for the tea.”

“Oh, it’s no problem. I usually make a pot about this time anyway when Twilight gets like this. It usually calms her down enough to let me clean up a bit and get her to bed before she falls asleep face down in a book.”

“SPIIIIIKE!” Twilight cried. “Have you seen my scroll of notes from this afternoo-”

Her words were cut short as she slipped and disappeared behind the large library table.

“NEVERMIND!” her voice came from behind the table. “I got it.”

Luna could only stare in bemusement and awe.

Spike chuckled.

“Believe me, it’s worth making the tea just to keep ink stains off the floor and table. Although the one time she fell asleep on her notes and had words printed across her face was pretty funny.”

Luna observed Twilight prancing around the library, books in tow. Her hair was a mess, and her eyes mildly bloodshot, but she moved with a contented air about her and a smile on her face.

Luna smiled. She felt almost pony-like again.

“She is something, isn’t she?” Luna asked.

“Yeah.”

The tone drew Luna’s attention.

Spike was watching Twilight rather misty-eyed.

Luna cleared her throat.

“You are always welcome to accompany her when she visits me,” she said. It was not my intent to exclude you, o-or to take her away from you.”

“Huh?” Spike asked, turning back to Luna. “Oh. Nah, don’t worry about it. Canterlot is home turf for me. There’s lots to keep me busy. Besides,” his gaze landed back on Twilight, “she enjoys spending time with just the two of you. I wouldn’t want to take that away from her.”

They watched Twilight scribble notes on a scroll. She paused for a moment, looking at the ceiling in thought. She tapped her quill against her nose, and ink dripped from the tip onto the scroll.

“If you wish to protect the furniture, you might wish to give her the tea soon.”

Spike chuckled.

“Yeah. She’s already going to gripe about having to recopy her notes.”

Spike poured another mug from the pot.

“Twilight,” he said. “You’re ignoring P- Luna. Sit and have some tea with her while I clean up a bit.”

“Uh?” Twilight looked up from her scroll. “Oh, Sorry! Sorry! I didn’t mean to ignore you, Luna. I just got caught up in my research, and…”

Luna silenced her with a wave of her hoof.

“There is no need to apologize, Twilight,” she said. “I understand what it’s like to get absorbed into something. Sit. Drink. Tell me of thy day.”

Twilight accepted the mug of tea as she trotted over. Spike slipped away with practiced ease.

“Oh, there’s really not much to tell. I started doing some reading, and well… I guess I sorta lost track of time,” she said sheepishly.

Luna managed a smile.

“Don’t be embarrassed,” Luna told her. “There are those who would envy thy ability. Never be ashamed of it.”

“Oh, I’m not really…. Okay, maybe a little,” Twilight admitted. “I’ve always been better with books than ponies. At least now I have you and Spike and all my other friends.”

Twilight took a sip from her mug and sat by Luna.

“What about you? Are you okay?” Twilight frowned slightly as she looked at Luna.
“You look a bit….”

“I am well, I assure thee. I… I simply did not sleep well, and awoke feeling unsettled.”

“And you came to see me?”

“My sister was unavailable.”

It was partly true. Celestia was involved in some minor dispute, but nothing she couldn’t step away from. In truth, Luna was afraid she’d start asking questions. Their last discussion on Luna’s unusual dreams hadn’t gone well, and Luna was not eager to repeat it.

“Besides, I enjoy thy company, and wanted to spend time with thee.”

“Oh.”

Twilight smiled and sipped from her mug.

“I met with Rarity earlier today to do a final fitting on the dress she is making. She impressed me. Her focus on appearances belies profound insight.”

“Oh,?” Twilight asked. “What happened?”

“I… There… was a… confrontation. A pony of noble blood and arrogant demeanor arrived and demanded attention. She insulted me before she was aware of my presence. It… it resolved itself, but not without cost to Rarity.”

Luna took a sip of her tea to ease her throat and calm her nerves.

“That was probably the cause of my restless night,” she lied.

Luna shivered as chill washed over her. It was as though the lingering ghosts of her dreams passed through her.

She rose, dragging her mug with her to the window. She peered out into the streets of Ponyville and watched the ponies going about their business. They strolled up and down the street, blissfully unaware of the aged alicorn observing them from the confines of the library. She watched and felt alien.

“You know,” Twilight said, walking up to stand beside Luna, “I wasn’t joking about being better with books than ponies.”

She took a sip of her tea and nestled up to Luna, sharing her view out the window.

“It wasn’t too long ago that I avoided other ponies like the plague. I didn’t know how to talk or act around them, and, of course, I had plenty of studying to keep me busy. I… I was looking something up and… and I found a name for what I was doing. Avoidant Personality Disorder.”

Luna looked down at Twilight. Twilight stared out the window, a melancholy look on her face.

“I never really felt like I belonged,” Twilight said. “I never really understood anypony else, and I never understood why.”

She looked up at Luna and smiled.

“Then came the Summer Sun Celebration, and I found all these new friends! Now I know I belong, and I know I’m not alone. Especially now.”

Twilight turned back to the window.

“Not that it was easy. Therapy helped.”

Luna looked back out the window silently for a moment.

“Thou didst have my sister,” she said, “even before those singular events.”

“So do you,” Twilight replied before returning to her seat.

Luna stared out the window a while longer, unsure of what she felt.

It didn’t matter how she felt, she decided. It mattered what she did.

“Twilight, what is thy schedule for the coming days? Wouldst thou consider a trip to Canterlot?”


Twilight entered the now-familiar Sisters’ common room with a smile.

What was she going to find, she wondered. What did Luna have planned? Increasing her curiosity was the fact that the Sun was high in the sky, an unfamiliar position for it to be in while she visited Luna.

“Oh, hello Twilight,” Luna greeted from her seat. “Thy trip was pleasant, I assume?”

Twilight nodded as she headed for her usual spot.

“So… what did you have planned?”

Luna smiled mysteriously.

“All in good time, Twilight. All in good time. Some tea, perhaps?”

Twilight quirked an eyebrow at Luna, unsure what to make of her friend’s deflection. She had air of Rainbow Dash in full prank mode. Twilight sat gingerly in her chair, as if afraid there might be a whoopee cushion hidden under a magical cloak.

The common room door burst open, and Princess Celestia barged in at full gallop.

“LUNA!” she yelled. “What’s the meaning of- Twilight?!?“

Celestia actually skidded to a halt when she saw Twilight. She stiffened and Twilight saw her take a breath and regain her composure before her eyes. The transformation from sister to Princess was remarkable. Twilight had never witnessed it before.

Luna hid a smirk behind a raised hoof.

“Luna,” Princess Celestia said in measured tones, “why has my court been canceled?”

“I thought thou wert in need of a rest, dear sister,” Luna said with an innocent smile. “In that spirit, I canceled it for thee.”

Princess Celestia’s left eye twitched.

“You… canceled… court.”

“Indeed! And look who had the good fortune to arrive this very morning! It is thy student, Twilight Sparkle!”

“YOU CANCELED COURT?!?! This is a disaster! What about all the decisions that were waiting for me? The diplomats! The Nobles! What have you done?”

“Hast thou no Chancellor?” demanded Luna, “No Seneschal? No Chamberlain? Delegate thy tasks.”

“But… but…”

“Wilt thou cook our food next?” Luna asked pointedly. “Clean our chambers?”

Luna rose and closed in on her sister.

“Thy time with her is precious and fleeting. Utilize it while it is afforded thee.”

Celestia looked back and forth between Luna and Twilight uncertainly.

Her shoulders sagged in defeat.

“But what if they won’t talk to anypony but me?” she tried one last time.

“On my honor, they won’t make that demand more than once,” Luna said with an evil smile.
Twilight would have sworn Luna’s teeth were pointed and sharp for just a moment.

“Oh, Luna,” moaned Celestia.

“Enough,” said Luna gently. “Twilight? Thy beloved mentor. Celestia? Thy favored student. Now I must beg thy leave. I must maintain order in mine own unique manner. Shouldst thou have need of me… watch the shadows.”

And with that, Luna left.

Twilight looked at Princess Celestia nervously.

“P-p-princess?”

Celestia sagged into her favorite chair with a sigh.

“Twilight,” she said with a wry smile, “just for today, why don’t you just call me Celestia.”

Twilight felt her heart swell so much that it threatened to burst from her chest.

“Of course, Pr… Of course, Celestia.”

Luna closed the door quietly, smiling at the scene she was leaving. Generosity was right. Sometimes all you needed was to give a gift to the ones you love.

Author's Note:

Perhaps Pinky was wrong. Perhaps Twilight understands better than she lets on.

We are now 10 chapters in, with only 3 chapter left. I hope the way the story has progressed has not disappointed.

I'd like to thank everyone who has commented on my story. The comments have been encouraging, insightful, and generally awesome. Thank you all.