• Published 4th Feb 2015
  • 4,794 Views, 145 Comments

Keep Calm and Chaos On - Azure129

Discord calls out Celestia on the details of his initial reform. He has some interesting demands, which she gives into (but not without a few challenges of her own.) By the time Discord’s final reform comes, they're as close as two friends can be.

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Midquel 10: The One During 'Twilight's Kingdom'

“Oh ho! An official summons by Celestia to meet with her and Luna today as part of a top secret princess summit!” Discord chuckled to himself with a smug grin as he flew through the air in circles over the Canterlot castle, admiring an unfurled scroll in his hand with a golden seal. “She actually wrote up a real summons for me, she had the letters engraved into the scroll, she signed it, and she even embossed it with the royal crest. It’s so grim and sparkly and perfect, just like her actually.” The chaos master chuckled more and flipped on his back as he continued to admire the summons. “And it’s a real, official, documented, ‘part of the history books’ request for my friendly assistance in an hour of Equestria’s need. So she admits it finally—she admits on paper that she needs me, that everyone needs me, that I’m just as fantastic at friendship as I am at chaos and pretty much everything else I do.” Discord beamed as he fell back onto a cloud and held the summons high over his head. “It’s perfect. Oh, Fluttershy will be so proud!”

Discord chuckled more to himself, but then suddenly heard a clock tower chime in the distance. He blinked. “Oh dear, well, I can’t be late for my summons, now can I?” He snapped away the scroll for safekeeping and then made himself disappear in a flash of light.

Discord reappeared a second later in the Canterlot castle throne room…wearing a full medieval knight’s costume and bearing a large lance, which he held high overhead, a determined look and grin upon his features as he approached the princesses. “Sir Discord, Knight of Friendship, reporting for duty and ready to spread some helpful chaos. Ladies, please, I know you’re happy to see me and that I look particularly handsome, but try to control yourselves.” He broke into laughter.

The two sisters were standing together near the throne, and in response to Discord’s grand entrance Luna just rolled her eyes and Celestia giggled softly.

The sun princess smiled and cleared her throat. “Discord, I think you can tone it down a little. Though I appreciate your enthusiasm.”

Discord chuckled again and snapped his fingers, sending away the knight’s armor and the lance. “Yes, well, I do prefer the au natural look for performing heroic chaotic feats and of course for pleasing you, Celestia dear.” He winked at her.

Celestia blushed but just sighed lightly, her smile remaining. “Discord, please, we have a lot to discuss.”

“Indeed, Discord,” Luna added, giving a nod. “This is a serious matter. So for once, please, be serious?”

Discord sighed and rolled his eyes but did nod. “Oh very well, Luna. Thy words of great weight coupled with thine sister’s charming plea for mine attention hath swayed me. I shall be ‘serious.” He smirked.

Luna only smiled a little again and shook her head.

Discord grinned and floated up so that he was lying on the air and looking at the princesses at eye level as he rested on his stomach. “Okay ladies, so there’s clearly a national emergency, otherwise there wouldn’t be a secret princess summit and you wouldn’t have sent me some official document requesting my presence. So shoot—what’s going on, and what do you need good old Discord to do?”

Celestia and Luna’s smiles fell. They looked to each other and then back to Discord.

Celestia spoke. “Discord, there has been an escape from Tartarus.”

Discord’s eyes went a little wide and he raised an eyebrow. “Wow, impressive. I thought that place was sealed tighter than a stone bodysuit.” He couldn’t help a smirk.

However, he received no smiles in reply (which couldn’t help but make Discord’s smile falter). Instead Luna sighed and nodded. “Yes, Discord, it normally is the closest to a state of banishment that a creature can enter into without actually being banished. But some time ago a series of unfortunate magical events led to Cerberus being removed from his guard post for a short period. And during that time the escape took place.”

Discord gave a nod. “Okay then.” He rolled on his back to look at the princesses upside down. “But why is this just becoming a problem now? Certainly, the escapee must have gotten up to his old tricks right away. As soon as villains are free, they always quickly return to their villainous ways…present company excluded of course.” His smile picked up on one side.

“We did not know that his cell was empty because we rarely check in on Tartarus considering how well-guarded it is and the fact an escape from that prison has never been successful,” Luna explained.

Celestia sighed, looking to Discord as she added, “And we believe that for a while the prisoner was in a highly weakened state and needed time to gain power to restore himself. But now he has enough power to start returning to his evil ways in full force.” She looked down. “Already there have been reports of attacks in remote areas…and ponies are losing their magic.”

“…So it’s Tirek who’s escaped then,” Discord replied levelly.

The pony sisters both blinked and looked up at the master of chaos.

“How did you know?” Celestia asked.

Discord turned back over in the air and shrugged. “I know my villains, Celestia. And I knew Tirek way back in the day. And I also know he’s the only one who can actually make ponies lose their magic.” His brow furrowed, and he lost his smile completely for a moment. “You two are very aware that this is a potentially very bad situation, yes?”

Luna gave him a dry look. “No, Discord, we think it’s just delightful, and in fact we’re planning to invite Tirek to move in with the three of us so that we can all bond and become even better acquainted.”

Celestia tried to smile a little at Discord as she gave her response. “Yes, Discord, we know it’s a bad situation. Tirek has hurt many ponies so far, and the more ponies he hurts, the more powerful he grows, and the more powerful he grows, the more ponies he can hurt. Which is where you come in.”

Discord grinned again. “Yes, well, I had a feeling we were getting to that.” He yawned and turned to lie on his back in the air again as he flew in a circle around the princesses, his arms behind his head. “So, what, you’re going to scramble Twilight and the girls to find and beat Tirek, and you want good old Discord to go along with them for magical support and maybe to give them some insider tips on how to take down a bad guy?” His circle complete, he yawned and sat up, then snapped up an emery board and started to file his claw a little.

Celestia shook her head. “Actually, Discord, I don’t think this is a job for Twilight and the girls at all. I think this is a job solely for you.”

Discord stopped filing. Then he looked to Celestia and raised an eyebrow so high that the effect was almost comical. “Me?”

Celestia nodded. “Yes. You can sense magical imbalances. Tirek creates magical imbalances. So I want you to sense where he is, find him, and bring him back to Tartarus. You don’t need the girls for that of course…do you, Discord?” Her inflection at the end of the question suggested that she was looking for an answer (and while her sister put this suggestion and question forth, Luna just looked on with her eyes wide with interest).

“Oh…” Discord blinked and then snapped away his emery board and flipped over onto his stomach, resting his chin on his paw. “Well…Well, no, I suppose I don’t need the girls for that. And I’m certainly more than a match magically for Tirek, especially in a weakened state.” His looked to Celestia and Luna…and to Celestia again. “So then…I’m in charge all by myself of making sure one of the greatest potential threats to Equestria’s safety doesn’t conquer the nation? It’s all up to me?”

Celestia nodded and smiled a little again. “Yes, Discord, it’s all up to you. I have great faith in your ability to carry out this mission. I know you won’t let us down and that you’ll lead Equestria to safety for the sake of all of your friends.”

Discord’s smile brightened. He nodded. “Very well then, if you insist.” He chuckled. “It’s all up to me to decide the fate of Equestria. Imagine that.”

“Discord,” Luna’s tone was level and firm, “please take our request very seriously. And please appreciate the significant responsibility this task will be.” She looked into his eyes. “We would only ask such assistance from a true friend, Discord.”

Discord met her eyes for a moment, his own eyes going a little wide, but then he cleared his throat and smiled as he floated above pony sisters. “Oh, of course, of course, and isn’t it wonderful! You two are finally realizing just how friendly I can be, and not just to yourselves but to everypony else!” He chuckled again. “Finally I get a friendship adventure of my very own, and—” Then Discord blinked…and then his eyes narrowed and his grin grew considerably. He stopped right in front of Celestia, putting them face-to-face. “Wait, wait, wait, wait…just wait…are you trying to tell me that you chose me over Twilight for a mission to preserve friendship in Equestria? Are you trying to tell me that since I’m in charge of this Tirek thing, that means Twilight is out and Discord is in?”

Celestia sighed but smiled and nodded. “Yes, Discord. I’m not giving Twilight any role in Tirek’s capture. I’ve chosen you to handle things instead, just like I said.” Her smile picked up a little on one side. “Try not to rub it in when you see her next, Discord. I haven’t told her yet, but I don’t think she’ll take it entirely well.”

Luna sighed. “You’re her mentor telling her that during Equestria’s first great trial of her princesshood, you have chosen to pass her over to assist our nation in favor of another. She’s going to take it about the same way she would take a C on one of her report cards, sister—a slight bit of shock followed by a great deal of disappointment in herself.”

Celestia looked to Luna. “Twilight needs to learn that as a princess, in times of crisis, you have to seek help from whoever is in the best position to give it even if that person isn’t you and regardless of your own personal desires to be part of saving the day.” She looked back to Discord. “Discord,” her voice lowered and she moved very close to him, “will you accept this task we’ve presented to you? Now that a moment of crisis has come, will you use your powers as our friend to help us and all of Equestria?” She sighed. “I don’t want to send the girls up against someone as potentially dangerous as Tirek if I don’t have to. And next to Luna and I, you are the strongest magical being in Equestria, or at least the strongest one on the side of good, the strongest one that I trust. We need you.”

Discord just looked to her with wide eyes for a moment. But then he smiled and nodded. “I live to serve.” He flew down to the floor before the princesses and gave a deep bow. “I’ll be glad to use my advanced magical skill to take care of your Tirek problem. Just wait until you see how effective me and my chaos are—you’ll come to me to handle major crises every time from now on.” He straightened up and gave a dramatic sigh. “Maybe I’ll even earn the right to be a princess myself one day.” With a chuckle (and a snap of his fingers) he flung himself backward right in front of where the princesses were standing, causing both sisters to reach out a foreleg and catch him on instinct. The result was Discord (now wearing a large crown, a huge pink horn, and big, fake, pink princess wings) resting the mid-section of his body in Luna’s foreleg and resting the upper section of his body in Celestia’s foreleg. He grinned up at Celestia and gave her a wink.

Celestia couldn’t help smiling down warmly at him. “Discord, I know you’ll do well. But I think a title might be a ways off for you yet.” She shook her head.

“Discord, get out of that outfit and don’t make me drop you,” Luna chided, though she too was smiling.

Discord got himself standing upright and snapped the princess garb away. “All joking aside though, ladies,” he placed the palm of his paw and the palm of his claw together and gave a slight nod of his head, “I’ll start roaming around a bit to get a sense of any major magical imbalances. And I’ll personally escort Tirek back to Tartarus. And I’ll make sure you two and our friendship princess never forget what I did. And I’ll make sure Fluttershy knows about the honor I’ve been given with this mission and how graciously I accepted the responsibility for the sake of my friends.”

Celestia smiled and nodded. “Very good, Discord.” She sighed. “Now, if you wouldn’t mind, Luna and I have to meet with Cadance in here in a few minutes in private to discuss some very important business regarding Tirek and how to handle keeping the ponies calm. And Twilight will be coming soon too, and we’ll have to inform her of our decision about you handling Tirek. Please don’t mention anything about your mission to her or anypony else for now.”

“Want to drop the bomb yourself, eh?” The chaos master crossed his arms over his chest, grinning more, and gave a shrug. “Very well, I can accept that.” He flew up again. “Well, I’m off to think about where to begin my search for Tirek. I’ll see you shortly, ladies. Luna, try not to let the stress of this incident make you slip back into the royal we, and Celestia, try not to pine for my company or fret too much over my safety while I’m gone—I’ll be back to fill your life with joy and mirth and companionship for midnight snacks of cake soon enough.” He chuckled and then snapped his fingers and disappeared.

Luna and Celestia watched the spot where he had been and then took in and let out a deep breath each.

Suddenly, though, there was a flash and Discord was back again for a moment. He looked from one sister to the other, his eyes a little wide and (in a rare moment) the smugness gone from his features and tone. “Ladies? Uh…you’re…you’re really leaving me to this on my own, huh? Something this important and dangerous…it’s all my responsibility to make sure it comes out right in the end?”

Luna raised an eyebrow. Celestia smiled softly and nodded. “Yes, Discord. All of our trust is in you. Luna, Cadance, and I have our own affairs to see to here—we won’t be tagging along after you. And I already told you that I’m telling the girls to please stand down. You’re the one we want to handle this, Discord.”

“Yes, Discord,” Luna added with a nod. “We believe you are our best hope. We are looking forward to…how well you shall fulfill those expectations.” She smiled a little though her gaze softened in care and concern. “We have great hope for you.”

Discord blinked a few times and looked down. He nodded. “Very well, then. Just…Just checking. Well, bye again for now.”

And with that he snapped himself away for good.

Celestia and Luna’s eyes left the spot Discord had occupied. The sisters looked to each other and then shared a warm smile.

A moment of silence passed. But then something pensive came to Luna’s gaze. She addressed Celestia in a soft voice. “Sister, do you think that…”

But at just that moment there was a knock on the throne room door, which then magically opened revealing Cadance. The princess of love entered the room with a smile on her face, letting the door close behind her. “Hello, Celestia, hello, Luna.” She gave a bow.

The sun and moon princesses reciprocated her gesture and then approached her. “Cadance,” Celestia started with a smile, “thank you for coming. It’s so good to have you in Canterlot again.” She put a foreleg around the pink alicorn and gave her a hug.

Cadance hugged her back, then smiled up at Celestia as the two parted. “Of course. I’m so glad to be here.” Her eyes turned to Luna. “Luna,” she hugged Luna with her foreleg now, which Luna likewise reciprocated, “we don’t get to see each other enough. I hope all of this commotion during the daytime hasn’t upset your sleep cycle too much.” She pulled back, still smiling but her gaze now softened with concern.

Luna smiled down at Cadance. “Nay, I am fine. I do not mind losing a little sleep for the sake of our subjects. But thank you for your concern, Cadance.”

Cadance nodded, smiling more. “Of course.” She looked to both Luna and Celestia, and frowned. “So this is really happening then—this Tirek person is loose and stealing magic?”

Luna and Celestia nodded, their expressions turning grave.

Cadance’s brow furrowed as she looked down and considered. “Twilight should be here. She’s the best one to handle this.”

“Twilight will be joining us soon, Cadance,” Celestia assured with a soft smile. “For now though, I’d like us to discuss the best way to keep the news of Tirek from spreading among the ponies and causing panic, and also how to help the ponies who have already been affected by his actions.”

Cadance nodded. “Yes, you’re right of course. We have to make sure the ponies are caused as little distress by this as possible.”

Luna nodded as well. “Indeed.”

“Besides the ponies that have been affected and the guards and the visiting dignitaries, does anyone else know about Tirek’s escape?” Cadance asked.

Luna’s looked down and then to her sister. Celestia looked to Cadance. “Discord knows the situation, Cadance. I filled him in just before you arrived.”

“Discord?” Cadance blinked and tilted her head to the side. “And…how did he respond?”

“With humor and jests mostly,” Luna supplied. “But also very seriously toward the end.”

“Really?” Cadance’s eyebrow went higher. “But wait…seriousness about what exactly?”

Celestia smiled. “We’ll explain everything once Twilight joins us, Cadance. But don’t worry, there’s no threat from Discord knowing about Tirek. He won’t spread the information. I made him promise not to even mention it to the girls until I had talked to Twilight in person.”

Cadance let out a sigh of relief. “Well, at least there’s that.” Then she couldn’t help smiling a little and addressing the two elder princesses again. “Has he really been living here with you two ever since his reform?”

“Don’t remind me,” Luna replied with a small grin.

Celestia just sighed softly but smiled as well. “It’s been a long and complicated situation, Cadance. Let’s just say that for now.”

Cadance couldn’t help smiling more and raising an eyebrow again at the pony sisters.

Meanwhile, Discord was now just flying over the outskirts of the Canterlot area trying to pick up any slight sensation of magical disturbance. “Once thing I know for sure,” he mumbled to himself, “Tirek will stay clear of this area of Equestria in the state he’s in. He’s no match for the pony sisters right now. I’d better look in distant, isolated areas.” He nodded to himself at the idea. Then he grinned a little. “Hmm…I bet Celestia’s back at the castle right now telling Cadance all about how special I am and how she and Luna picked me for this important job. And then she’s going to tell Twilight too—ooh I can’t wait!” He clapped his paw and claw together.

Then suddenly Discord stopped flying forward. His smile brightened. “Say, I’d love to see that actually. Just a peek wouldn’t hurt. At the very least I owe Cadance the courtesy of a greeting. And I’d love to see the look of shock on Twilight’s face when she hears the big news if I could manage it. Very well, back to the castle for the moment it is.” And with that he snapped his fingers and teleported himself away.

Discord reappeared just outside of the throne room door. Luckily, he noticed that while the door appeared closed, the lock hadn’t clicked into place. He was able to gently push the door open just a crack to observe his chaotic prey with a grin.

There sat Celestia, Luna, and Cadance in a circle together at the center of the room, and they were talking…about him, he quickly realized.

“…And you haven’t felt worried or unsure at all having Discord staying here so close to you?” Cadance asked.

Luna glanced to Celestia and then back to Cadance. “At first, yes, we were…somewhat concerned. Not that his spark of friendship with Fluttershy did not seem genuine, but still…having him in such close proximity to ourselves was worrisome.”

“But we’ve all learned to make compromises together,” Celestia added. “I think it’s been good for us overall.”

“And it’s allowed us to monitor the progress of Discord’s reform,” Luna supplied with a smile.

Celestia nodded and smiled as well. “Yes, that too. And it’s also given me a chance to get to know him better and to consider more closely how his powers can best be used to serve the nation.”

“That’s very good, Celestia,” Cadance replied with a smile. Her look became a little hesitant again though. “I have to admit, after my experience with him while visiting Ponyville a few weeks ago, I was a little worried about whether or not he might still be a threat to Equestria, but I’m glad he seems to be settling into his reform better.” Her smile returned.

“Indeed,” Luna nodded. “I was surprised at first to see him showing such restraint in the spreading of his chaos. In the past he wielded it like a mighty tool across all the land. But now he seems content to keep it to himself or at worst to joke and jest with us and the rest of his friends in small ways.”

“It’s true,” Celestia added, looking down a little, her smile softening. “He’s not the same mighty lord of chaos as I remember. He’s more of a prankster, a trickster…. He’s still just as powerful but not nearly as selfish about it. He accommodates his chaos to us now. And it’s a role I’m happy he’s settled into.”

“Yes,” Luna continued, “which is why we feel comfortable now asking certain favors of him, even in times of crisis as this one. We trust that he has become acclimated enough to our new mutual relationship of friendship to carry out our orders without fail.”

Cadance considered and then nodded to the two elder princesses. “I think it’s a good strategy, reforming him and having him available to help us as our friend instead of just sealing him away again. I’m very glad you both were willing to give Discord a chance like that and that Twilight and her friends were able to succeed at showing him the magic of friendship. And it sounds like the reform is making Discord happy.”

Celestia nodded, and her smile grew. “Yes, I think he is happier, though he can be a little guarded about his true feelings.”

“He…finds contentment in his new life, even despite the doubts some of the ponies may express about his reform.” Luna chose her words carefully and did not look at her sister as she delivered them. “Of that I am certain.”

Celestia raised an eyebrow at her sister, but when Luna didn’t look to her or go on, the sun princess turned back to Cadance with her usual warm smile. “And Fluttershy’s been especially helpful for him. She’s put so much effort into making it possible for our plans for Discord to work out. I’m very proud of all the girls but especially of her. Discord wouldn’t be as kind and caring as he is now if it wasn’t for their friendship.”

Luna’s smile returned. “Yes, seeing them together is a very uplifting experience. It’s truly been amazing to witness Discord’s transformation. He no longer requires stone to keep himself under control. Instead, his growing love of friendship does just as well at it now. And now he is more than happy to serve the crown.”

“Still…” Cadance’s smile wavered, “just please keep an eye on him, Celestia, Luna. I know he’s trying, but he might not be able to handle too much responsibility at once just yet. It’s probably been very overwhelming to him trying to get used to being on the side of good. ”

“We are very aware of his potential limitations.” Luna’s tone was solemn. “But Celestia and I have every intention of taking things as slowly with him as circumstances permit. We know we cannot expect him to take to his new lifestyle perfectly. And we have to be sensitive to Discord’s wants and needs along with our own.”

Celestia bowed her head. “I’m glad we’ve all reached a mutual understanding, and I’m glad friendship has come to have such a strong hold on Discord. But I know that despite how close we’ve gotten, I have to keep in mind his former villainy for the sake of the ponies.” She took a breath. “But I think we’ll be okay. I have faith in the future of our friendship.”

Cadance nodded, and her brow slightly furrowed. “It’s a delicate situation.”

“Exactly.” Celestia raised her head. “We’ll just have to hope our bonds of friendship hold.”

“And that we have not been misguided in our efforts,” Luna added.

The princesses sat in silence for a moment together.

It was at this point in the conversation that Discord decided to leave—no jokes, no grand entrances, no greetings, no little calling card pranks to leave on…He just left.

And as he left, he flew at an average speed through the air, but he wasn’t focusing on magical imbalances or the bright day or hearing himself talk. He just looked forward, his brow furrowed and his mouth nearly pulled into a frown, lost in his own mumblings and thoughts.

“They still don’t trust me in a way. And maybe they never will. And I guess I still don’t know, especially now, if I trust them yet. But all I do know is that…without trust, you can’t have friendship.” He nodded. “Fluttershy’s at least taught me that much.” But then the thought of Fluttershy made him cringe a little. “Maybe she doesn’t trust me either…. Maybe she’s just been doing what they expect her to do to keep me in line.”

Discord sighed though and quickly shook his head. “But…no, no…she’s not like that. She’s the most sincere person there ever was. The princesses though on the other hand…” He almost scowled a little though it appeared to be more like a pout. “I know I’ve done bad things, been a bad person. I don’t blame them for taking things slowly with me. But we’ve gotten so close. I know most of the other ponies don’t entirely believe in me yet, but I thought princesses at least…” He sighed. “What if our friendship doesn’t mean more than just a way to make sure I do good?” Then another thought occurred to him. “But then again, haven’t I been using our friendship in some ways to make sure that they don’t do ‘bad’ by putting me back to stone? But…no!” He shook his head again, scowling. “We’ve gone beyond that, at least a little…right?”

Discord sighed, a look of determination coming to his features as he flew forward into the sunny sky. “No one may think any better of me for the efforts I’ve made, but no one can think any worse of me for how I’ve changed. And no one can think any worse of me for how much farther I might have to go, even despite what the princesses might say. I’ve done a good job! I-I’ve done a great job at friendship!” His frustrated scowl and pout grew. “I’ve done things I could never imagine I’d do and all for them…okay, maybe a little for me too, but also for them! I actually sort of like the pony sisters now! And I’ve become dear friends with Celestia of all ponies, for chaos’s sake! If that’s not an accomplishment for me, then I don’t know what is!”

Discord closed his eyes for a moment. He spoke quietly. “I know I’m not like them, I’ve never been like them. But isn’t that what friendship’s supposed to be all about—coming together over differences because you care about each other…because you love each other?” His eyes opened: he was blushing slightly.

Then he blinked a few times and crossed his arms over his chest, scowling and pouting again. “Oh Discord, really…you know what you’re problem is? You’ve been taking the friendship thing far too seriously! It’s not some perfectly happy thing with unconditional support and forgiveness. It’s just one more relationship, one more way of dealing with ponies. It doesn’t mean…nearly as much as you’ve been letting it come to mean to you.” His frown faltered for a moment and then a half grin came to take its place. “So I’ll go off and I’ll find Tirek and bring him back to Tartarus just to prove a point—that I, Discord, can save the day just as easily as I can lead the day into chaos. Not because I’m bound by friendship and not because I’m not bound by evil anymore but just because I’m free and I can make my own choices. And I’ll show them all just how much I deserve to be trusted as a person—how I, Discord, am great and powerful and still as unpredictable as ever! A villain doing a surprise take down of a villain—what could be a more chaotic outcome for this day?”

Discord smiled brightly to himself and nodded as he started to soar with more purpose over the landscape. “Hmm, for now though, before I travel too far, I think I’ll mentally prepare my strategy for luring and capturing Tirek (and the parade I’ll be throwing for myself once I’m successful)…and that’ll also give me some time to linger around Ponyville and rub in Twilight’s face once she gets back from meeting with the other princesses the fact that in this one case Celestia has come to me over her.” His smile grew a little, and his voice lowered to an intrigued mumble. “And perhaps, despite any secret doubts she still might have about me, Celestia choosing me to handle this mission alone really is a good sign that our friendship is strong underneath all of the concerns of the past…and if it’s potentially that strong with her, perhaps the same goes for my friendship with Luna and Fluttershy and all the rest too.” He sighed softly, his voice barely above a whisper. “Celestia let’s me get so close to her…very close. And she’d never do that unless at least part of her trusted me completely.” His light blush returned…but then a frown came along with it. “In a way though, they’re right. I’m still not sure of the kind of person, the kind of friend I’m going to turn out to be in the end. I’d ask Twilight for her advice on the matter, but I guess I’m too proud. So for now it’s up to me. It’s really up to me…”

Discord did spend the time before going to tease Twilight thinking about his plan of approach for Tirek, but he also spent a fair amount of it contemplating this final thought and just how much power his sudden duty gave him once again in his life over himself and others…and how strange it felt to have so much power again and yet technically not to have any control over how he would use it since he only had one option, of course—doing his best to save his friends and Equestria.

Or at least, that was the only option that the side of good and the magic of friendship would permit him.

Meanwhile, back in the throne room, the continuation of the conversation of the three princesses continued…and it would have done Discord well to hear everything else they had to say about him if only he had continued to eavesdrop.

“I’m so proud of him though, Cadance,” Celestia added after the princesses had shared a moment of heavy silence regarding the question of the potential failure of Discord’s reform. The sun princess looked up and smiled over at her niece. “Discord has accomplished so much and worked so hard and proved himself trustworthy in so many small ways that I don’t think I’ve ever been as proud of anybody as I am of him except perhaps Luna when she overcame Nightmare Moon’s hold and returned to me, or Twilight when she ascended to her princesshood, or you when you took charge of the Crystal Empire. He’s learning and trying and doing wonderfully—it’s like friendship comes naturally to him despite how much he resists it.” Her smile warmed and her eyes brightened. “And regardless of the risks or inconveniences of having him live with us these last few months, I’ve been so happy to be allowed to watch his transformation taking place. And I’ve been happiest of all that he hasn’t done anything warranting a return of his banishment.”

Luna smiled warmly and nodded as well. “I agree completely. I know Discord continues to doubt himself and to feel confined in his chaotic nature at times, but there has been a sincerity underlying all of his efforts at friendship, however apparently selfish and silly those efforts may appear.” She sighed and looked to her sister. “Sister, he keeps some things private, as you said. But I must say I know this reform has been a struggle for him at times…more so than he’s even shared with you. Yet, his concern with trying to engage in the magic of friendship despite any difficulties has impressed me greatly. I’ve found myself honored to call him friend.”

Celestia blinked and looked to Luna again. Her sister did meet her gaze this time, and something in Luna’s eyes made Celestia’s eyes widen. But then the sun princess smiled, to which the moon princess smiled in return. Celestia turned back to Cadance. “Discord is an amazing person when you get to know him, Cadance. I only wish I could be as close to him as Fluttershy is just to know him all the more.” Her gaze softened. “He really does keep certain things to himself—certain feelings and emotional experiences. But I hope one day he will be comfortable enough to share all of them with all us.”

“Wow.” Cadance smiled. “It sounds like him living here has actually been a very positive thing for all of you. But still, I imagine it can’t be easy dealing with that chaotic attitude and odd sense of humor of his all the time even while he’s trying to be friends with you.”

Luna shrugged. “Oh, it hasn’t been so bad. He mostly just teases me for my archaic modes of speech.” She grinned a little, unable to help herself. “Celestia, on the other hoof, really gets the worst of it. You truly would not believe Discord’s tactic for bothering her.

Celestia’s eyes went a little wide and she blushed distinctly and then cleared her throat and glanced away. “Luna…”

Cadance grinned and tilted her head to the side. “Celestia…are you blushing?”

Luna smiled all the more as the touch of scarlet in Celestia’s perfectly white features only grew. “Celestia, the princess of love asked you a question. I believe you should answer her. Or I can explain to her for you.”

Celestia cleared her throat and did her best to smile normally. “There’s nothing to explain though.” She rolled her eyes and laughed softly. “Discord just likes to tease me and make me uncomfortable in a…special way. It’s part of how we relate, it seems, as two people with a complicated history together.”

Luna leaned toward Cadance. “He flirts with your Auntie Celestia shamelessly until she barely knows how to respond to him—that is how he spreads chaos to her.”

Cadance’s jaw fell and she looked to Celestia again. “Auntie Celestia, is this true? And if it is, how could you not have told me?” She clapped her hooves together, her eyes wide and shining.

Celestia just sighed, then smiled a little and shook her head. “Because I knew you’d react like how you’re reacting now, Cadance. Besides, it’s really not worth mentioning. He, erm…flirts with me to make me uncomfortable and to amuse himself, that’s all.”

“Do you flirt back?” Cadance asked, leaning in close.

Celestia blinked several times and actually scoffed, the most amused smile upon her face. “Cadance, no, of course I don’t flirt back. What an idea.” She shook her head. “It’s really not that kind of a situation anyway. And it’s just some remarks from him, nothing more.”

Luna chuckled and leaned toward Cadance again. “You should see them getting into amusing conversations and even dancing together at Discord’s housewarming party—on two hooves! And they have ‘cake dates’ in the kitchens together almost every night.”

“Luna…” Celestia couldn’t help smiling more as she looked to Cadance again. “Discord and I are just…good at getting close. And as for our 'cake dates', we discuss friendship over a snack once I’m off duty for the day. That’s all. They’re not actual dates.”

Luna, however, went on to Cadance. “She lets him get away with suggestive remarks about her the likes of which you would not believe, Cadance. I’ve always known she’s been more prone to allowing subjects to take liberties with her than I’ve been, but it’s gone quite far with Discord.” The night princess grinned. “I’m really starting to think she likes all of the attention, regardless of the fact that Discord expresses all of it in the form of jokes to make her uncomfortable.”

Cadance giggled, and she grinned just a little at her ‘auntie’. “Celestia, no wonder you’ve liked him living here. I’ve always told you that you should get out and socialize more.” Her eyes narrowed as her smile grew. “How exactly did these cake dates start anyway?”

A smiling Luna opened her mouth to offer an answer. “Well, you see, the first night Discord came to live here, he needed a place to sleep, and so your Auntie Celestia decided—”

Celestia quickly cut off her sister with a clearing of her throat and smile of her own. She addressed Cadance once more. “They started because Discord and I weren’t sure how to talk to each other, and having a snack of cake together seemed a good ice breaker. And yes, I’ve grown accustomed to his odd way of teasing me now that he’s reformed. And perhaps it’s even made me think of socializing on a personal level more with the ponies as you’ve suggested before that I do, Cadance. But regardless I think the three of us are overlooking the big picture. Discord’s teasing is a positive way of exercising his chaos, and one that he invented all on his own. It causes no harm and somehow has helped to spread the magic of friendship among us.” Her smile brightened. “He’s proven he can use his chaos in ways that make others happy besides himself…and I think he’ll learn even more ways of doing so as time passes.” She sighed. “Sometimes, at least when he was first released from stone, I think he’s believed that we wanted him to stop being chaotic as part of his reform…and maybe we did want that way back in the past when we first battled him. But what I want now is for him to find ways to use his chaos that help him feel good about himself for the goodness and laughter he can spread among his friends.”

Luna’s smile softened, and she nodded. “Indeed, yes…asking Discord to abandon chaos for our convenience is like asking me to abandon my moon or Celestia to abandon her sun or like asking you, Cadance, to abandon your connection to the magic of love. It has been fascinating to realize how we can all live together in relative peace. And while we’ve accepted that there may be bumps in the road regarding the success of Discord’s reform as it progresses and as the challenges he faces become more difficult and complex, we believe he will rise to the occasion and prove to us chaos’s natural place in the magic of friendship.” She held her head high.

Celestia nodded. “Cadance, we know that your brief experience with Discord was a trying one, but we hope you’ll trust the great faith we have in him, and especially regarding the current crisis. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed in the role he ends up playing in this moment in Equestria’s history and in all of our lives in general.”

Cadance took in all of these observations with great interest, then nodded and smiled. “Of course, Celestia, Luna. If he’s been a good enough friend to earn your trust despite your history together, I know we can all have faith in him and that he’s worth our respect and love.” She glanced down hesitantly for a moment and brought a hoof to her chin. “I have to admit, when I thought the tatzulwurm was part of his plan for Twilight and I a few weeks ago, I really thought he might still be a threat to everyone.” She looked up. “But once I realized he hadn’t meant for things to go that far at all, I could see his desire for love deep down under all of his obnoxious actions.” She lowered her hoof and smiled a little. “He just wanted to feel cared for and to know that he has friends besides Fluttershy would truly do anything for him. And even if it takes him a while before he learns to pursue those emotions in better ways, it’s wonderful that he at least has a connection to those emotional experiences and wants to be accepted and part of relationships with others so much.” Her smile grew.

“Exactly.” Celestia nodded, her own smile growing.

“But it’s good that you’re letting him take things gradually even if you are pushing him here and there.” Cadance’s smile took on a touch of concern. “I know the situations aren’t exactly the same, but when I first became a princess and especially when I first took command of the Crystal Empire, it was overwhelming for me. It was a major life change, and I only got through it and learned to embrace my new place in life through the support and love of my friends and Shining Armor. I can imagine that Discord has similar feelings about his reform.” Her smile picked up on one side. “But if he can trick Twilight and I into flying him in a chariot half way across Equestria, I think he’s smart and strong enough as a person to do anything he chooses to put his mind to.”

Celestia smiled brightly, and Luna nodded.

“…Even if that something is making a pass at you, Auntie Celestia.” Cadance giggled, unable to help herself.

Luna broke into chuckles as Celestia’s eyes went wide. The sun princess then blushed again and sighed as she brought a hoof to her forehead. “Cadance…”

Cadance giggled more, her grin growing. “Oh Celestia, I’m just teasing. Think of this as revenge for the number of times you found Shining Armor and I courting around the castle grounds when we were teenagers and you giggled and told us how cute we were and how you hoped you could perform our wedding one day.”

Luna grinned and rolled her eyes. “Yes, that degree of sentiment does sound like Celestia.”

Celestia rolled her eyes to the side and opened her mouth, about to respond to their teasing, when suddenly a coronet sounded in the distance. Her eyes went wide. “That means Twilight has arrived.” She cleared her throat. “This has been fun, but now we have serious business to attend to…so let’s return our focus to Tirek. And let’s specifically not bring up the more colorful aspects of Discord’s time residing here. It, um…might make Twilight uncomfortable.” She blushed just slightly and looked down.

Cadance and Luna each nodded to Celestia.

“Of course, sister,” Luna replied, her tone regaining some of its royal poise.

“Yes, Celestia, we’ll focus on Tirek,” Cadance seconded with sincerity.

Celestia nodded in return to them. “Thank you.” She smiled…but then the smile fell for a moment. “I hope we can resolve this issue very quickly. And I was hoping a crisis this extreme wouldn’t come along until more time had passed for Discord’s reform. It’s a shame that the development of our friendship has to be interrupted like this.” She sighed. “I just hope I’m doing the right thing.”

Luna’s smile fell, and she put a hoof to Celestia’s shoulder. “You are sister, we all are. Have faith. The magic of friendship has worked many wonders.”

Celestia nodded, smiling faintly, and Luna smiled again too.

Cadance watched them both with a raised eyebrow. “Celestia, Luna…what exactly is going on with Tirek’s threat and Discord? And why again did you say you told Discord about Tirek’s escape?”

Celestia took a breath and straightened up. She smiled at Cadance warmly. “I’ll explain everything when Twilight’s with us, Cadance. It’ll be better that way. Trust me.”

Cadance nodded. “I do, Celestia, and I’ll follow whatever lead you think is best. I’m sure everything will be all right.”

Luna nodded. “I agree. Everything will be all right as long as we trust in each other and our friendships.”

The three princesses smiled softly to each other.

Inside, Luna knew Discord might slip up a little but had faith he could overcome the demons of his past.

Inside, Cadance sensed Discord’s desire for love and felt her belief in his ability to find that love grow.

And inside, Celestia had great hope and belief in Discord…but also felt herself trying to deny a twinge of passive concern brought on not only by the fear of what would happen to her subjects and to Discord himself should his efforts at friendship fail during this trial…but at how deeply it would hurt her to lose him as a friend after all they had been through and the friendship they had made.

The three princesses waited in a weighty silence until the entrance of Twilight and Celestia’s explanation of her intended role for Discord in this particular fight against evil.

Well, they waited in weighty silence except for Cadance smirking just a little and whispering to the sun princess, “So, Celestia…after this is over, can I help set you up with Discord?”

Celestia let out a small sigh and smirked a little too. “Not unless you want Equestria declaring war against the Crystal Empire, Cadance.”

Cadance giggled. “I’ll take that as a maybe.”

Luna chuckled. “Perhaps we shall have another royal wedding soon. Celestia and Discord reposing in a tree, k-i-s-s-i—

Celestia sighed deeply and tried very hard not to laugh. “If we weren’t having a national crisis, I’d bury you two in trivial paperwork for days just to teach you both a lesson. Now, please, really, Twilight’s coming: let’s be serious for now.”

The three princesses took deep breaths and managed to put on serious faces (though they all hoped the time would come again very soon when they could joke and tease without other serious worries getting in the way).

Finally, Twilight Sparkle entered the throne room, and their earnest discussion of the Tirek situation (and Discord’s intended role in it) commenced.

Author's Note:

Hi everypony!

All right--final midquel posted, and I hope you all enjoyed it :twilightsmile: I know, I know, it's a little bittersweet...but that's why there's also going to be a small sequel chapter posted to finish this story up :pinkiehappy:

Sequel: The One with the Milkshake (with Two Straws?)

Set after the end of season 5, Discord has of course moved into his cottage in his chaos dimension now, but he still hangs out at the castle frequently enough, and Celestia likes to invite him over (especially after the Gala incident) to make him feel included and to get his opinion on major happenings in Equestria. So one day as Celestia and Twilight are discussing matters of minor importance and Discord's there listening, he suddenly asks Celestia a very odd question. (Odd enough for Celestia to blush and politely ask Twilight to leave the room while she and Discord discuss the matter). But after all they've been through, Discord is just plain curious about something and he has to have an answer (no matter how awkward any response Celestia gives is going to make him feel). :trollestia:

The final chapter of this story will be posted sometime next month. In the meantime, I'm shooting for an update to MCNE by the end of the week. Take care for now, everypony, and thank you all for your reviews and support, I appreciate it :twilightsmile: