• Published 27th Dec 2014
  • 2,182 Views, 104 Comments

Laughter or Darkness - Starlitomega



It seems like an easy choice, doesn't it? However, when you've spent a thousand years away from other ponies, the darkness can be comforting. It will take a lot of work to drag Luna out of the darkness, but one pink pony is up to the task.

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Jolity Forever Shown, Path of Joy, So Few Have Known

"Should I send the salad back to the kitchen, Your Highness?"

Luna looked up from her plate at the hoofmaiden hovering over her. Gingerly, she pushed it away and sighed. "Yes, please. Offer an apology to the chef on my behalf as well."

The hoofmaiden nodded, gave her a sympathetic smile, and removed the plate. Luna turned and stared out the windows at the early morning sun.

"I assume things are still not well between you and Pinkie Pie," Celestia said.

Luna frowned, but kept her eyes on the window. "Am I really that easy to read?"

Celestia nodded, eyes closed and head held high in a stoic manner.

"No... no they're not." Luna's head hit the dining table. "As ridiculous as it sounds, I have begun to lose sleep over this."

"I don't think it sounds ridiculous at all," Celestia stated, pushing her empty plate to the side. “These last few weeks showed a remarkable change in you. To be truthful, I was quite happy to see you so... so lively."

Luna held her hoof up above the table. "Indeed. As we both know all too well though, I found a way to mess it up." She whistled, and her hoof slowly came crashing down upon the table as she mimicked the sounds of an explosion with her mouth.

"There’s really no need for dramatics. Nopony's perfect. Remember when I reprimanded Twilight for trying to point out the false Cadence's behavior?" Celestia asked, wiping her mouth with a napkin.

"Peh. A mere bump in the road for a perfectionist like you. Now I, on the other hoof… I know how to royally screw something up."

"I think you're being a bit too hard on yourself.” Celestia raised an eyebrow curiously. “How exactly did you end up driving Pinkie away?"

Luna started tracing circles on the table with her hoof. "It wasn't hard, really. I just said that smiles were useless."

"Oh... I see..."

"And that she was useless..."

"Anything else?"

Luna covered her face with her hooves. "I had the guards drag her out."

Celestia whistled. "You don't do anything half-way, do you?"

"No," came the muffled reply.

“You did offer an apology…” Celestia leaned across the table, narrowing her eyes at her sister. “didn't you?”

Luna nodded and lifted her head from the table. "She said she needed time to think. Can you believe it? She's making me—a princess—wait!"

Celestia chuckled. "I thought you would have learned by now that titles are meaningless to her."

"Sister," Luna began, clutching her chest, "I think my heart hurts."

Celestia disappeared in a wink. Luna sat up and looked all over the room to see where she had gone. A bright flash from her left and a soft hoof upon her shoulder gave away the answer.

"Come, little sister. I have procured us a bucket of cookie dough from the kitchen. I decree that we shall go to my quarters and demolish it together," Celestia announced, holding her hoof out in dramatic form.

Luna rolled her eyes. "It always goes back to dessert with you, doesn't it?"

Celestia lightly bonked Luna over the head with a wooden spoon. "Hey! Enough chit chat! Are you coming or not?"

Luna snatched a nearby spoon with her magic, as well. "Can't let you eat all of that by yourself. The tabloids would start calling you the Roly Poly Princess."


Much of Luna's week had been spent moping around the castle. She kept busy when she could, but oftentimes her mind would wander back to Pinkie Pie.

The weekend had finally come. Luna eagerly awaited what would surely be a quick exchange of apologies, and then another adventure. The minutes ticked by, soon turning to hours. Having already finished her reports, she switched to crossword puzzles... which quickly devolved into nervous pacing around her quarters.

With each hour that passed, so too did Luna's optimism. She couldn't recall exactly when she had decided to lie down. In truth, she didn't even feel the slightest bit tired. She simply lay there, staring blankly at the ceiling.

This is nonsense. I've not really gotten to know her. I shouldn't be afflicted like this!

Tossing and turning, Luna couldn't seem to find a sweet spot that would let her rest.

The heart doesn't need to make sense. That's not it's job, an old voice echoed in her head.

Long ago, when she and Celestia ruled together without a thousand years keeping them apart, Luna confided in her sister about a relationship she had with a mare working in the castle.

She was a simple earth pony, gifted in the ways of gardening and song. Luna often stared at her from a courtyard window, offering the occasional smile. The two of them hit it off, and they quickly became good friends.

As time went on, their friendship started to blossom into something… more. Luna wrestled with herself, trying to untangle her own emotions but finding that it became harder the more she struggled. In her mind, being in a position of royalty, becoming romantically involved with one of her own subjects could hardly be considered appropriate.

"It doesn't make sense!" was Luna's objection to Celestia. "She's just an earth pony, and I'm a princess!"

Her sister had laughed. Not the usual reserved laughter, which she saved for nobles and the like, but a more casual, filly-like chuckle that had always slightly irritated Luna.

"The heart doesn't need to make sense. That's not it's job."

Luna stewed on her sister’s words, mulling them over in her head.

"Lulu, are you alright?"

Upon hearing Celestia’s voice, Luna slowly sat up in bed, letting the memories fade. "I'm fine. Why do you ask?"

Celestia pointed her hoof toward the open window.

"Oh, ponyfeathers!" Luna exclaimed. She focused on the moon and lit her horn, demanding it give way for the sun.

"She didn't come tonight, I assume."

Luna shook her head.

Celestia crossed the room in two elegant strides and pulled her sister into a hug. "Give her time. It's not like we're going anywhere."

Luna smiled a fragile smile and looked up at her sister.

"Here, I brought you a glass of milk. I thought it might help you sleep," Celestia said.

"You know milk doesn't actually help ponies fall asleep, right?"

"This one will," Celestia said, exuding an air of confidence.

Luna rolled her eyes, tipped the glass back, and took a few sips. "Before all of this, I had never heard of fondue; I didn't realize ponies volunteered at hospitals, brightening the days of sick foals; I certainly had no clue that ponies packed themselves into a building and danced until morning," Luna said, leaning into her sister's broad and strong side.

"There are many things you have yet to experience. That's why I hated seeing you cooped up in the castle for so long—never leaving your room, always writing reports or fiddling with your telescope," Celestia rattled off.

"Ugh, is this going to turn into a lecture?" Luna asked, covering her face with her hooves.

"No, no lectures," Celestia giggled. "I just wish to see you live life a bit more."

"I understa—" Luna's words were interrupted by a mighty yawn. Suddenly, she felt a little dizzy and decided to lay down. "Why am I so... sleepy all... of a sudden?" Luna asked, slurring her words quite a bit.

Celestia stood up and pulled out a green leaf with blue tips. "It's called 'Luna's Yawn', and it's another wonder of this world you have yet to experience... until now, of course."

Luna's eyelids drooped lower and lower, until they softly shut. "Get you back... for this..." she mumbled, as the world slowly faded away.


Luna stood up against her own volition. Once again, she found herself in a dream. Given the events of the past two weeks, it wasn't hard to tell whose dream it belonged to.

Hmmm. I wonder...

Focusing on her form, she melted into the floor. In a split second, she reshaped herself back into usual self.

So, I'm not stuck this time. I should probably see why I was summoned here before leaving.

With a spark of the horn and nary a second thought, she teleported herself to what should have been the host of the dream. Instead, she found herself in darkness. The murky nothingness was so thick, she couldn't see her own hoof in front of her face. Even igniting her horn caused no change in the darkness.

"Hello? Is anypony there?" she called out as she stepped forward through the fog. From behind her, a light started to glow. She turned, hoping to find its source.

What in Equestria?

Before her were three rooms floating in the darkness, and inside each one, a small pink filly with straight hair. Despite being the same pony in each room, their faces told very different stories.

Three scenes. Three Pinkie Pies. Three emotions.

Knowing her task, she stepped toward the room to her left. The distance between her and the room seemed to lengthen until finally the entire world disappeared in a brilliant flash of white. When Luna opened her eyes, she realized she was now inside the scene.

It was a classroom with all the trappings necessary to teach young foals. Several small wood grain desks lined the room. Bookcases and posters covered some of the walls, and on the opposite side, a window where the sun shined through.

None of this however, was as prominent as the angry filly sitting by the corner with her hooves crossed. Luna had never been great with children, but it wasn't by choice. She had always wanted to be a mentor to younger ponies. Doing so is a bit difficult though when you are, for all intents and purposes, a literal bogeyman.

"Hello there, little one. What's your name?" Luna asked as she approached the filly.

"My name's Pinkamena, and I'm mad!" the tiny pony squeaked out. It took every ounce of willpower for Luna not to laugh or smile at the very non-threatening filly.

"Pinkamena? That's a pretty name. You’re mad? Is there something the matter?" Luna asked.

The little filly nodded furiously. "You bet there is! Two jerks called me names during recess and pushed me into the mud. All because I'm pink instead of gray like the other rock farmers around here! I'll get them back somehow!"

Ahhh, I see. Pinkamena has been shattered. The anger here represents the anger she feels toward me and my callous actions. I suppose I inflicted more harm than I intended.

Knowing what she had to do, Luna walked to the angry little pony's side and sat down next to her. "I see. I don't think you should do that at all."

Pinkamena stared at her suspiciously. "Why not? You're not trying to trick me, are you?"

Luna shook her head. "No. Not at all. You see, Pinkamena, anger is like fire. You can put it out, or you can make it grow. Sure, making them pay might make you happy in the short term, but in the end, all you're doing is spreading anger and hate. Do you feel good right now?"

Pinkamena shifted nervously and shook her head. "No. I feel bad. It hurts."

"Exactly. Spreading anger and hate feels good at first, but in the end, it just feels bad because you have to be angry to spread anger."

"So... what should I do?" the filly asked, tilting her head in confusion.

"Spread happiness instead. Try to make everyone happy."

Pinkamena looked up hesitantly. "Even to jerk ponies who don't deserve it?"

Letting out a small giggle, Luna draped a wing over the little filly. "Especially to jerk ponies who don't deserve it. It might put out the anger in their hearts, too."

Pinkamena's frown softened, and soon formed a thin line. "Okay... I'll try."

Luna stood up against her will. Turning away from the filly, she walked to the opposite side of the room until it faded into darkness. Once again she turned around only to find that the leftmost scene had vanished. Now only two remained. Wasting no time, she walked to the middle scene until it stretched out once again. Once the flash of light vanished, she found herself in Sugarcube Corner—the lobby, to be specific. Luna approached the sobbing filly sitting in the middle of the room.

"Hello there, little one. What's your name?"

The little filly tried her best to stop sobbing long enough to answer. Gently rubbing her eyes with her tiny hooves she looked up at Luna. "M-my name is—hic—Pinkamena,” she stuttered, hiccuping through her words.

Luna knelt down in front of the filly and tried her best motherly voice. "So tell me, Pinkamena, why are you crying?"

Pinkamena started again, this time a little softer. "I told everypony I was going to throw a party for them, and they all said yes, but nopony came!"

Rejection. That is the curse I have stricken this one with.

Luna sat down next to Pinkamena and lay a wing over her back. "Sometimes, Pinkamena, ponies say or do things which aren't very nice. That doesn't necessarily make them a bad pony. Sometimes... we all make mistakes," Luna said with a twinge of guilt.

"Bu-but how will I know if they're good ponies or not?"

Luna knelt closer to the filly and stroked her mane. "Trust in yourself to know the difference in real friends and fake friends. Real friends should be forgiven. Fake friends should avoided."

Pinkamena's crying slowed."O-okay..."

Luna smiled at the filly. "In the meantime, it seems since nopony showed up, you have these cakes and pies all to yourself."

Pinkamena managed a smile and a giggle. "I guess you're right. Do you wanna stay?"

The alicorn shook her head. "I would love to, but I have to help another little pony much like you."

Pinkamena nodded. "Okay. Good luck!"

Once again, Luna stood up and walked to the back of the room as darkness took hold. Turning around once more, she saw the final scene. Anxious to repair the damage she had caused, Luna turned and walked into the room as white enveloped her.

Another room, another Pinkamena. It was clearly a bedroom, given away by the large bed in the middle with a balloon engraved on the headboard. She could see little else except a wardrobe and a nightstand with a lamp on it, thanks to the nearly pitch black room.

Slowly she walked over to the bed and saw a small pink filly lying under the covers. Her mane was straight and her mouth formed a frown. "Hello, little one. What's your name?"

"Pinkamena," the pony answered lifelessly.

"Is there something wrong, Pinkamena?" Luna asked.

The filly turned over, away from Luna. "I don't want to live anymore."

Luna's eyes widened and she gasped out loud. "But... why not?"

Pinkamena sighed and turned back to face the alicorn. "Because I'm worthless. I don't do anything. I don't have a talent like other ponies. I just throw useless parties."

Despair. I had hoped to have alleviated this one with our last conversation.

Looking at the lifeless pony lying in bed brought a tear to Luna's eye. "Parties aren't useless, and neither are you."

Pinkamena turned in her bed again. "You seem like a nice enough pony, but you're wasting your breath. I'm just a worthless party animal, and it's all I'll ever be."

Luna pursed her lips in frustration.

Nothing is ever easy with her, is it?

Words weren't enough the last time she saw Pinkie Pie, and it was clear they wouldn't be enough here. She had to find some way to show the filly what she meant. Glancing around the room, she couldn't spy much of anything that would help make it clear to Pinkamena. She continued scanning the room until her eyes rested upon a window.

Ah-hah!

Looking back at the bed, Luna flared up her horn and plucked Pinkamena from it. She expected a struggle, but received none. The filly sat limply in Luna's magical grasp as she trotted to the window. Slowly, Luna lowered the pony to the floor. Pinkamena made no attempt to run or even move. She was content to sit there and stare sadly at Luna.

"Why did you pull me out of bed?"

Luna threw open the curtains, letting the moonlight pour into the dark room. "Tell me, what do you see?"

Pinkamena rolled her eyes. "The moon, duh."

Shaking her head, Luna pointed out the window. "What else do you see?"

Biting her lip, Pinkamena stared out once more. "The stars?"

Luna nodded. "Exactly. Now, follow my hoof carefully."

Slowly, and with expert precision, Luna moved her hoof across the night sky until it rested upon one star in particular. "This one. What is different about this star?"

"Ummm..." Pinkamena stared at the star closely, her eyes twinkling in the moonlight. "It looks brighter."

Nodding her head, Luna smiled at the filly. "Exactly. This star is actually the brightest one in the sky. Seaponies, explorers, griffons, any number of creatures who might find themselves lost know about this star. It's very important, because they know this star always leads north. Pinkamena, you are this star."

"Huh?"

"Your spirit, your happiness, your cheerfulness, it's a light that others look to when times seem their darkest." Luna placed a hoof on Pinkamena's back, edging her closer to the window. "When ponies are down, when they have a bad day, or maybe when they just feel bored, you act as a guiding light for them. Pinkamena, you are their brightest star. It's a big responsibility, and not one somepony would take lightly, but it's the one you were destined for."

Luna reached down with a hoof and slowly pulled the filly's head until their eyes met. "Always shine, Pinkamena. Everyone is counting on you, even if they know it or not."

The little filly stared at her in reverence. A small thin smile graced her lips and bright blue eyes twinkled in the moonlight. Once more did Luna stand to leave. As the room faded, this time it went white, her hooves making no sound upon the stark floor.

"Thank you, Your Highness."

The familiar voice called out from behind Luna. She turned and saw Pinkamena once more, this time a full grown mare once again, standing in what appeared to be a sanctuary of sorts. Gilded tapestries hung from the walls and pews lined the room from front to back.

"I'm... sorry I hurt you like that," Luna said.

The pink mare stepped forward, still wearing the blindfold from the first time they met. "I... no, we would have healed over time, but your efforts have greatly expedited the process. At least now, I can help Pinkie again."

Having said her peace, Pinkamena walked to a nearby pew and sat down. Luna watched patiently as the pony started humming a soothing melody. The alicorn's eyes wandered around the room. She had seen a sanctuary like this before once or twice. "Where am I?"

Pinkamena abruptly stopped her humming. "This is the spirit cradle. Pinkie's essence lies behind the doors to the front."

The spirit cradle. Of course. There wouldn't be many barriers right now, given her vulnerable state.

"Are you going to see it?" Pinkamena asked.

Luna bit the inside of her cheek. When she was first learning about dreams, Starswirl cautioned her not to approach a pony's spirit. Despite the wizened pony's advice, Luna had, on a few occasions, observed a few. She took a few hesitant steps to the door.

Relax, Luna. You've done this before.

Her self assurances were hollow in the fact the Pinkie was an Element of Harmony. Each time she had seen a spirit, it had been quite an experience. With a spirit as strong as Pinkie or her friends, it might be dangerous. Giving one last look to Pinkamena behind her, Luna turned and pulled the heavy double doors open, revealing a light brighter than any she had seen before.


The light faded from view and darkness took hold once again.

Amidst the blackness stood out a colorful pink. In the middle of the room, held aloft in a sphere of energy, Luna saw a pink shadow. Approaching the sphere, she found it hard to keep moving. It felt like a fire which burned too hot, holding her at bay. Unlike a fire, the sensation holding her back was not pain. It was, instead, a power the likes of which she had never felt before.

A nova of energy exploded outward from the orb without warning. The sheer power and suddenness of the energy blast threw Luna back on her hind legs. Summoning all of her strength, she held fast through the barrage and planted her hooves back onto the floor. Her stomach lurched and her head swam while she tried to regain her focus.

Perhaps this wasn't a good idea, after all...

Another nova fired from the sphere. Luna leaned forward, anticipating the blast. Right before impact, Luna felt something call out to her. It wasn't a voice; there were no words. Luna simply felt the plea.

The ring of energy hit her again. Her mane flew about wildly and her knees buckled, but she remained steadfast. The blast simply wasn't as powerful as before.

"Wha-what?"

The plea came again. Her ears swiveled as she tried to understand what was being asked of her.

"Let go?"

Another ring of energy fired from the sphere. This time, Luna focused on the plea. As the shockwave closed in, she clamped her eyes shut and placed her trust into Pinkie. Judging where it was when she shut them, Luna knew when the nova would hit.

Three…

Two…

One.

Fighting the urge to brace herself, Luna gritted her teeth instead.

But the blast never came.

Opening her eyes, she realized that the shockwave had already passed. The sphere dimmed slightly, and the erratic pulsing slowed. Step by step, Luna approached the sphere. With each pulse, she felt an odd sensation. With each step, her fear dwindled. Layer by layer, she felt her personality strip away. Her doubts, the paranoia she had regarding other ponies, the latent feelings of resentment, they all sloughed off like broken armor.

Luna came to a halt within hoof’s reach of the sphere. Some part of her—the last rational voice she had left—warned her she may never come back from this. At this point, however, that voice was but a whisper. Observing a spirit and touching them are two completely different beasts, yet she had ceased caring.


Slowly, she raised her hoof and touched the sphere.


I was born a vibrant speck of pink

Among the dismal gray,

Hoping for a smile,

Praying for the day

Joy would come my way

With a small yawn, Luna's eyes fluttered open. Surrounded by warmth, she couldn't help but smile. The soothing lullaby being caused her to shiver in delight. It slowly dawned on her that she was quite small. A fact made clear by the large pony holding her gently in their hooves. She raised her eyes until they met with her caretaker.

Pinkamena.

A scant few minutes ago, Luna helped put the broken guardian back together, and now she herself lay nestled in those gentle hooves. Raising a hoof toward Pinkamena's face, Luna realized it belonged not to a full grown mare, but to a foal. Looking down, she finally noticed that she had, in fact, been transformed into a foal—something that would have bothered her in any other situation. At this moment, however, she was content to simply enjoy the experience.

Well, she was, until she noticed her own swishing tail. She studied its movements, watching it sway left, then right, and then left again. Quickly, she snagged it and dragged it into her mouth, chewing on it contentedly. Sitting in Pinkamena's embrace and listening to her gentle humming made her feel safe… protected. All of the barriers which had been erected over the years were gone, leaving Luna at her most vulnerable.

And yet, she had never felt safer in her entire life.

Letting out another, smaller yawn, Luna felt her eyelids droop as Pinkamena continued her song. Through the haze of comfort and joy, Luna thought the song sounded very similar to the one Pinkamena hummed in their previous encounter. The last thing she felt was a gentle hoof stroking her head as sleep overcame her.


"Wake up, little sister..."

Feelings of comfort and joy echoed in Luna's mind as her eyelids slowly rose. Celestia sat at the foot of her bed, bearing a serene smile.

"Good morning, big sister."

"Evening," Celestia corrected her. "I didn't really want to wake you, but sundown is coming soon. You seemed like you were having a wonderful dream."

Realizing she was still wearing a dumb grin, Luna blushed. "Oh by the stars, sister, it was absolutely wonderful. She let me touch her spirit."

Celestia's eyes widened in shock. "But I thought Starswirl said never to do that!"

Luna nodded. "He did, and I know why. It was... powerful. Stronger than any spirit I've ever encountered. It sheared away every vestige of my personality until naught was left but a foal. She cradled me, protected me. It felt like true freedom."

"I see. That does sound wonderful. I hate that I had to wake you." Celesta looked out the window at the lowering sun. "Do you think she will forgive you?"

"She already has."

Still overwhelmed by the experience in her dream, Luna reached over and pulled her sister close, wrapping the elder alicorn into a hug. "It's been awhile since we've had time to ourselves, away from our responsibilities. I never seem to have time to say how much I love you, big sister. Thank you for watching over me since my return to Equestria."

Luna's heart fell as Celestia looked away. "Sister, what's wrong?"

Tears started down her sister’s face as a small sob escaped her lips. "How can you say that after I sent you away for so long?"

Luna reached out and pulled her sister's head back. "Because you had to do it, and let’s be fair here: I was no longer in control. You held the rule of Equestria for a thousand years in my absence and still welcomed me back. That is why I can say how much I love and admire you."

A smile broke through the tears as Celestia hugged her sister back. "I love you too."

Author's Note:

The chapter title is a reference to a video that helped inspire some of this chapter. I'd highly suggest checking this song out if you haven't.

I wanted to portray Pinkie's spirit as extremely powerful, yet somewhat vulnerable given her dependency. The idea of touching someone's very spirit intrigues me, especially one of the Elements of Harmony which would have to be a life-changing experience given the power of their spirits.