• Published 13th Feb 2015
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Twilight, Good Night - Carapace



To better herself, Luna has studied Twilight's actions and friendship reports. She never expected to find herself under the microscope in turn.

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2: Enjoy the Present Smiling Hour

Luna chose her words carefully, trying to recall what sounded best during her months of drafting. So much time had gone into it, so many versions written that they ran together now that she was here, sitting at the table with Twilight Sparkle.

Her left wing twitched, and her jaw set. Damn the thunderheads! I will not turn back here because of a few forgotten lines in a speech!

She cleared her throat. “As said, I do hold you in high regard, Twilight Sparkle. But for far more than two incidents that directly involved me.”

Twilight raised her eyebrows and took a small sip. “Forgive me if I sound a bit obtuse, but I’m not sure I follow. What exactly have I done that’s worth notice?

“Save for your actions as an Element Bearer, especially those involving the Discord incident?” Luna paused a moment, her eyes flitted to Spike as she caught a small change in his attitude.

His smile had fallen. Not much, but enough to be noticed by her keen eyes. His claws drummed a beat on the table as he shot Twilight a sidelong look.

But he stayed silent, content to sip his tea for now.

“Uh, well, again,” Luna’s ruminations were broken as Twilight made to reply. “My friends were with me through - well, most of it. We all fell to his tricks. If not for Princess Celestia sending my friendship reports back, I might not have remembered everything that made them special to me…”

“True,” Luna conceded. “You were not alone, but the brunt of the blame does not fall upon you. Many a pony have fallen prey to Discord’s tricks, even my sister and I had difficulty in sealing him the first time. The fact that reminders of your friendship were able to break his influence should speak volumes of the bonds you all share.”

Based on her expression, Twilight couldn’t deny that claim. She had been backed into a corner. She would never downplay the value she placed on her friends, that much Luna knew.

Twilight bit her lip. “I - Well, yes,” she conceded. “My friends are near and dear to me, more than even I realize at times.”

“That much is clear,” Luna noted, pausing to take a sip of her tea. “The lengths you have gone to in helping them, and they to help you, speak volumes.” A beat passed, before she realized that context would help greatly here. “Your friendship reports, to be precise.”

“You’ve heard of them?” Twilight fiddled with her hooves, and her tail twitched.

Luna caught both cues. Oh, by the stars, not again. “My sister has shared them with me. I was curious as to what this ‘study of friendship’ could yield, as it is a field that I am quite unfamiliar with.”

“Oh. I see. Well, I, err, hope that you found them helpful.” There was something off about her tone, something nagging.

Uncertainty? Does she doubt that I find her work important? Or that I might find it foalish for the subject matter? “I found them quite insightful, in fact. Especially with regard to the smaller details of relationships. Such things are different now than they were in my day.”

“Aren’t you, like, pretty much immortal?” Spike chipped in with a rather cheeky smile. “So, it’s always ‘in your day’.”

“Spike,” Twilight groaned and brought a hoof up to cover her eyes. “No!

“What? It’s just an observation!”

Luna blinked, the mood suitably broken by his sudden input. “I… would suppose that is technically correct. But I believe you may be missing the point.”

Twilight cut off his reply with a stern glare. “Oh, he knows. He’s just trying to be witty.”

“Ah. I see,” she blinked again. Luna swished her tail. “Well, wit aside, relationships have changed drastically since my banishment. That being said, my sister felt that your example might help me in making that connection. I find your reports rather enlightening.”

“In what way?”

Luna lifted the cup to her lips again for another sip. “Do you recall when you helped Applejack with her harvest?” At Twilight’s nod, she continued. “You helped a friend, even when she rejected it.”

“But she was running herself ragged!” Twilight pointed out. “I couldn’t just stand by and leave her be!”

“My point exactly,” Luna did her best not to smile too broadly. Slowly making progress. Excellent. “Though it may have upset her initially, you gave her aid, along with the rest of your friends. The lesson was similar to one I was forced to learn in politics: sometimes, we hurt other ponies with our actions, even if we are trying to help.”

“I guess that makes sense. So, the similarities interest you?”

Luna shook her head. “Close, but not quite. I will explain in full later, there is still more that I wish to cover.”

“There’s more?” Twilight cocked her head to the side and perked up her ears.

“Yes, much more. But for the sake of brevity, I will pick out those that had the most profound impact on me. Does that seem fair?”

“Yes, I suppose. Though, I’m still a bit lost on how reading about my friends and I has helped so much.”

“All will be explained in due time, Twilight. I promise.” Luna’s muscles tensed. Months of uncertainty, months of struggling to find the motivation had lead her to this point. “But moving along, I found the tale concerning your interest in Pinkie Pie’s sensory ability a rather enjoyable read as well.”

Twilight rubbed her head, wincing in what seemed to be phantom pain. “Which part of it? That whole day was just me messing up and making judgements on Pinkie. Not a good example of friendship at all!”

“Ah, but afterward, you learned something, did you not? Your report mentioned that you had doubts in Pinkie’s ability to sense little disasters, but you were able to accept it in the end.”

“Yes, that’s true,” she admitted. “But I wasn’t a good friend up to that point. It was then that I realized that I needed to stop being so snippy and try having a more open mind.”

Luna paused to take a quick glance at Spike again. Specifically, she noted the expressions on his face as Twilight replied. He frowned at Twilight’s initial assessment of herself, but seemed to relax and give a small nod to himself as she finished up and made mention of how she went about improving.

Luna made note to find time to speak with Spike at a later date to investigate further. The way he reacted to Twilight’s observations seemed to suggest that he found it aggravating when she spoke lowly of her accomplishments, more so when she spoke similarly of her value as a friend.

Luna returned her focus to Twilight and smiled. True, Twilight still put herself down somewhat, but some progress was made. “Acknowledging prior shortcomings takes a great deal of strength, especially if one wishes to improve upon them.”

“It was difficult to come to terms with, but well worth it—I find it easier to understand and talk with them when I’m not being so snarky, though it does slip out from time to time.”

“Old habits die hard. Especially those we have held for most of our lives. I am just as guilty of that, as you witnessed months ago.” She smiled wryly, mentally giving herself a pat on the withers as the two across from her shared matching grins. “I find your ability to notice those flaws in your character quite admirable, a quality many ponies would do well to take note of and use as an example.”

Twilight hummed and flicked her ear. “Well, I can’t argue with that. Everypony could always improve on something. It’s a lot like learning magic, actually, you never really stop.”

“Very astute observation.” Luna praised, pausing to take a sip from her cup. “And in rather fitting terms, if I do say so myself.”

“Thank you. I've since tried to adopt that attitude. It’s helped quite a bit, especially in my study of the magic of friendship."

“Excellent, most excellent. What say you, Spike? You have been particularly quiet this eve,” She stifled a giggle at the way he stiffened up, nearly dropping his cup.

Spike sent a crooked smile in her direction and shifted in place. “Yeah, I see a difference.” Luna quirked an eyebrow at his haphazard reply, but motioned for him to continue. “Uh, no offense, Twilight, but you could be kinda mean with your comments. I could tell that you were joking because I’ve been around you for a while, but everypony else seemed a bit leery of it at first."

“It’s fine, Spike. I know.” Twilight sighed and closed her eyes. “I realized that not too long after. My attitude—well, I knew I had to make a change.”

Luna easily caught the shift in Twilight’s mood. Her ears were pinned back, her shoulders slumped ever so slightly. She was slipping back into those negative thoughts again.

Yet another thing to look into. For each of Luna’s silent questions she answered in this conversation, Twilight raised two more with her actions and tone.

Later. I shall address that later. She needed to steer the conversation back on track, back towards the more positive subjects that made Twilight see the good pony she was.

“Perhaps it is not my place to say, but I believe this change you speak of is something to look back at with a measure of happiness.” Twilight’s ears perked up, her posture straightened as she was drawn out of her self-examination once more. She took a sip of her tea as Luna continued. “You were able to recognize your shortcomings and took steps to improve your character. When I noted that yours is an example to be followed, I was not ‘blowing smoke’—I believe that is the saying. As I sit across from you this eve, I am honest in stating that your experiences, the lessons you’ve learned in your time spent here, they have a profound impact on how I wish to improve upon my faults.”

Twilight inhaled her tea. She coughed and gagged, wincing in pain as her sinuses burned. “What—hack—I do what now?”

“Simply put, you inspire me, Twilight Sparkle.” Butterflies took wing in Luna’s chest. “As you are more than aware, I do not have the most… positive relationship with my subjects. Not that I can truly blame them, as my actions a thousand years ago more than earned their distrust and fear.”

“But the ponies here were okay with you on Nightmare Night!” Spike pointed out. “Once they saw that you were trying to be nice and have fun with them, everything was fine! Pip even liked you, and he was terrified at first!”

Luna smiled, the butterflies in her chest gave way to warmth. “Yes they did. Though I have not visited in some time, so I am unsure if that is still the case. More to the point, while you are correct, Ponyville is but one small town—not to take anything away from the ponies here, but they are in the minority on the matter.”

Spike made to object further, but stopped short. He puffed smoke through his nostrils and folded his arms over his chest. “I guess that makes sense. Still isn’t right.”

“Calm down,” Twilight scolded, having managed to fight off her coughing fit. “Take a deep breath and stop puffing smoke.”

Fine. Still seems like a load of horseapples.” He grumbled. Spike huffed and slouched in his seat, but managed to withhold any further comments.

“In a fantasy world, one night of goodness in one town may have restored my reputation.” Luna chipped in. “But we do not live in such a world, young Spike. I have a great many things to answer for.”

“Repeated examples of change would help in that regard.” Twilight placed her elbows on the table and brought her hooves together, her eyes narrowed. Luna could see the wheels in that sharp mind whirring at full speed. “The question, though, is exactly what reputation you are trying to restore. That might help determine how you could go about fixing it.”

Her comment made Luna’s ears twitch. “I do appreciate the concern and support you both have shown, but that is my problem. Please do not burden yourself with cleaning up after my messes.”

“With respect, Princess, I can’t ignore this.” Luna blinked rapidly. Didn’t history suggest that Twilight was almost devotedly loyal and obedient to the Crown?

“So, how would we make that happen? Have Luna write ‘Princess Reports’ on what she does and hopes to do now that she’s back?” Spike drummed his claws on the tabletop.

“Not quite, though I do like the idea. Maybe something similar.”

Luna nearly choked on air. That wasn’t part of her plan at all! “Just a moment! I appreciate the gesture, but this is hardly something for the two of you to get involved in.”

“I understand, but I choose to do so. I can hardly sit by idly twiddling my hooves while a friend needs help.”

Any notion of refuting Twilight’s declaration died in Luna’s throat as she took note of the change in posture and attitude.

No more was Twilight slouching, shifting in place, twitching her tail or ears. Gone was the uncertainty in her eyes and no more did she avoid Luna’s gaze.

She sat up straight, ears perked up, and purple eyes locked with Luna’s.

The nervous, stammering mare who had greeted her at the door and offered her tea was gone. In her place was the pony who tamed an Ursa Minor, defied Discord, and stood up to Nightmare Moon.

Twilight’s eyes seemed alight with fire, just as they had on the night of Luna’s return from her thousand-year banishment. But this time, the reasons were different.

She calls me ‘friend’. Luna fought every urge to leap to her hooves and cheer. She had a friend. She had confirmation, straight from Twilight Sparkle’s mouth.

She quickly raised her cup and took a sip. The warmth and herbal essance flowed through her. Luna closed her eyes and breathed deep. Do not lose your composure. Dancing about like a foal would be most unsightly, especially in present company.

Still, no matter how much Luna tried to rein herself in, she couldn’t stop her hind legs from shaking or her ears from standing ramrod straight.

Luna breathed in deep, running a tongue over her dry upper lip. "You have no idea how much that means to me. For you to call me friend after the trouble I've caused this land, the trouble I've caused you..."

Twilight reached across the table and laid a hoof across Luna's. "Like you said, we all make mistakes. It's how we improve upon them that shows our character. You say that you want to reconnect with the ponies? Let us help you. Please."

"I-I suppose it would be prudent. After all, you know a great deal more than I when it comes to modern Equestria. And I think I speak for everypony when I say that I could use... all the help I can get." Luna did her best to keep her voice level, despite the uplifting swell in her chest.

"All you had to do was askwell, accept, at this point. Besides, you'll get my help," she paused to throw a hoof around Spike's shoulders, "along with the best number one assistant Equestria's ever seen."

Spike's cheeks flushed red, but he managed to brush it off long enough to raise his cup in salute to Luna. "Yeah. I'd be up for that!" Luna caught his tone: jubilation at the praise he received and excitement.

He was happy to be included. They both actually wanted to help her get through these problems.

Twilight blinked and covered her mouth before letting out a rather big yawn. Luna scrunched her nose and checked her internal clock. It was midnight, much later than she’d thought.

Luna stood and cleared her throat. “I should go. The hour is late and you likely have a full day of study and work, not to mention any plans you may have with your friends.”

“What? No, you don’t have to—” another yawn escaped before Twilight could stop it. “Oooh, I suppose it is late. And I do have work in the morning…”

“All the more reason that you should rest. I shall take my leave. Thank you for the tea and the company. It was quite enjoyable.” Luna bowed her head to Twilight and Spike in turn, before turning to walk to the door.

They followed in her wake, though Spike lagged behind a pace as he fought down a yawn of his own.

Luna gripped the door handle in her magic and pulled it open before stepping out and into the night air.

“You don’t have to go,” Twilight called as she followed behind. “You could always rest here for the night.”

“Your offer is much appreciated, but I must return to Canterlot. While the Night Court has been mostly empty since my return, I do have to be present in the unlikely event that a petitioner visits. I specifically set this time aside so that I could visit you. I did not think time would pass so quickly, though it was quite enjoyable.”

She was met with a tired smile. “It was nice, even if unexpected!” Twilight’s vibrant purple eyes lit up, her exhaustion briefly vanishing. “You can visit anytime you like, especially since we’re helping you.”

All self control nearly vanished. Luna’s front hoof twitched, she forced weight upon it lest she give into the urge to bounce in place. “I would like that very much, Twilight Sparkle. As long as it is no inconvenience to the two of you.”

“Oh, it isn’t! Right, Spike?” She turned slightly to her left to check, noting the smile and shake of his head. “We’d be happy to have you, Luna. I’m always happy to see my friends!”

There it was again. The word that made her want to cast off all of the courtly manner that had been drilled into her head over the years in favor of snatching the pair before her in a tight embrace and shouting her jubilation to the heavens.

With great effort, she managed to control herself. “You—” her tone would have betrayed her joy had Luna not quickly squashed it in favor of her typical manner. “You have no idea how much that means to me. I am happy that you include me in the company you already hold.”

Twilight blinked and cocked her head. “Actually… I’m glad you mentioned that, I nearly forgot to ask you why you said that you ‘hoped’ to call me friend.”

“Yes. I do recall saying that. Is there a problem?”

“It’s just that I thought we were already friends.”

Luna’s ears burned and her cheeks tinged red. “I hadn’t thought that we—that you already…” She stopped to close her eyes and take a deep breath. “Thank you,” she opened her eyes and beamed at Twilight. “Just thank you, Twilight Sparkle. And you, Spike. This is something I’ve not felt in more years than I care to count.”

She stepped forward, despite that traitorous little voice in her head screaming that what she had in mind was a terrible idea.

Right now, Luna didn’t care. She gave the voice a mental buck to the muzzle and committed to her next action…

She hugged Twilight Sparkle.

It wasn’t as tight as the hug that had nearly broken poor Fluttershy in half, it didn’t involve cuddles or nuzzles like some of the affectionate ponies she’d seen around Canterlot park. It was just a hug from one friend to another.

Twilight stiffened in her grasp, but didn’t object or try to pull away. To Luna’s relief, she relaxed and returned the gesture after a moment of hesitation.

She caught the scent of thick, metallic ink and dry, musty book pages—telling of just how much time Twilight had spent at work today.

And she had another full day ahead of her.

Luna pulled back and released Twilight from her embrace. “I believe I will take you up on your offer at a later date. Though, I will be sure to ask in advance rather than show up in the middle of the night again.”

“That would give us a chance to get ready.” Twilight giggled. “I’m sure Spike would appreciate the lack of heart attack!”

“You’re one to talk.” He teased back before turning back to Luna. “If you really want, you could probably get my firespell signature from Princess Celestia. That’d be easier and a lot faster than courier.”

“Perhaps I shall, if you’re certain it wouldn’t be an inconvenience…”

Spike shook his head. “It’s not. I mean, so long as you’re not planning to send a flood of scrolls through at once, I don’t see a problem with it.”

“I shall keep that in mind.” Luna stifled a giggle behind her hoof. “For now, I shall take my leave. I hope your sleep is restful and grants you the strength to meet my sister’s day. Farewell.”

With one last bow, she spread her wings and gave a mighty flap to launch herself into the air. Luna flew north towards Canterlot, glancing back at the library until it was but a small dot in her vision.

As soon as Luna was certain that she was out of view, that she would be just a dot against the night sky, she banked sharply to the right, weaving between the tree tops until she was able to find a clearing. Upon finding one she landed. With a quick look to check her surroundings for anypony, she found nothing but a few woodland creatures, which scattered and hid in their trees to avoid her gaze.

She was alone, no pony was there to see her. So no pony would judge her for dropping all pretenses. She pranced in place, doing a sort of jig as she let out a rather unprincess-like squee!

“Yesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyes!”

Twilight was her friend! Her first in over a thousand years!

Luna closed her eyes and tilted her head upward, basking in the light of the moon and the chill of night. Darkness, cool air, the soft light of the celestial bodies above, it filled her with that comfort from before. But it wasn’t just comfort anymore. She wasn’t just “okay”.

She was happy.

Luna opened her eyes to behold the moon above. It shone brighter than ever before, the night’s guiding light was more vibrant and magnificent than it had been in centuries.

“Twilight Sparkle,” she whispered. “You make me shine brighter than ever. You are my guiding light!”

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