• 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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19: Love Steals In, Disguised As Friendship

The chime of bells on her old alarm clock jolted Twilight from her sleep. She stirred and opened a bleary eye, using a hoof to push against the mattress and bring herself into a seated position.

A contented smile played upon Twilight’s lips. She craned and rolled her neck, and let out a happy hum.

What a wonderful sleep.

Her dream had been sweet; a sunny spring day at the park with her family and friends, Shining rearing back and posing with Spike mounted on his back, wielding a wooden sword as though he were a brave knight, standing against Cadence—no. Twilight had to stifle a giggle at the image her mind had conjured—the ‘evil sorceress’ Allettare, who crowed over her prisoner, the ‘princess’ Rarity.

So it fell upon the noble dragon knight and his band—Applejack the Gallant, Fluttershy the Hermit, and Mageknight Shining Armor—to combat the wicked seductress and her acolytes—Pinkie Pie the Mischievous and Rainbow Dash the Swift.

Twilight the Studious, as everypony had agreed upon calling her, had rather wisely, chosen to remain neutral due to her close ties with both sides. Though, she was not above providing helpful little hints to guide the young knight on his quest, much to his nemeses’ ire.

Naturally, the day had been won by the heroes. The ever-grateful princess hugged a rather adorably blushing Spike and kissed his cheek, everypony—even Allettare and her defeated acolytes—took turns cooing and teasing him, earning a rather stern glare and a huff from Rarity as she simply snuggled him tighter.

It would’ve been perfect if the princesses had joined us, she thought as she slipped out of bed and stretched her legs. She stopped, her smile broadening. “Even more so if it weren’t just a dream.”

Perhaps she could make it reality when spring came again. Cadence and Princess Celestia were hardly shy, and more than willing to spend time when they could arrange it, and Luna seemed quite open to socializing with her friends now that she’d had another chance.

Twilight made herself a mental note to float the idea to her friends when the seasons changed. It would be nice to have everypony together in one place. They hadn’t organized such a big gathering before, at least not with her family and friends together.

She trotted over to the bathroom and stepped through the doorway. With a flick of her magic, she shut it behind her and twisted the faucet to start a nice, warm bath, but thought better of it.

“Dawn with Princess Celestia and Luna,” she reminded herself. “I don’t have time for a bath.”

Another burst of magic shut off the water. Twilight turned to the shower, instead, turning the faucets to send water cascading down.

While the water warmed up, she began to brush her teeth, letting her thoughts wander as she scrubbed away the bland taste of post-sleep mouth.

If I show up late after spending time with Luna, neither of us will hear the end of it. Twilight snorted and shook her head. Luna will go right along with it, and claim that she’s stolen my allegiance away to the Night at long last.

Clearly, the only solution was to inform both princesses that she’d prefer to remain neutral in their apparent game. After all, she could be both student and friend, couldn’t she?

Spitting out the foamy toothpaste, a thought occurred to her. Hopefully, Luna wouldn’t take the chance to demonstrate her prowess for mischief as punishment. A shudder ran from the back of her neck to the very ends of her tail. “Maybe it’s best that I just be on time and not run the risk of being caught up in whatever games they like to play.”

Whatever mischief the ageless princesses could concoct when they put their minds to it, Twilight wanted no part of. Luna’s grin when she described her antics with Tempo Rubato’s foals was enough.

With another shudder, she stepped into the shower stream. Hot water poured over her body, bringing forth a happy sigh.

Slowly, her smile returned. Their teasing aside, spending time with the princesses would make for a nice start to the day.

Breakfast with her teacher and a friend would be a nice prelude to a day full of research.

Twilight swished her tail, sending rivets of water splashing against the tiled walls. She was about to delve deeper into Equestria’s history than anypony alive today.

It took every ounce of her self-control not to do a little dance of joy.

Twilight trotted through the halls with a bounce in her step and a merry swishing in her tail. By the clock in her room, she was on time. In fact, she might even be a bit early.

Good. Now I won’t have to worry about missing anything. She thought about it for a moment, then snorted. And I won’t have to worry about Princess Celestia teasing Luna and me.

She turned the corner and strode out to the balcony, nodding to the quartet of guards—two in gleaming Day Guard gold, two in pure Night Guard obsidian. As per usual, the Day Guards gave small smiles and nods before resuming their stony stares.

The Night Guards, on the other hoof, grinned despite the tired circles beneath their eyes, just like they had the night before.

Giving a mental shrug, she returned their smiles. They’d probably heard from Captain Erebos about her friendship with Luna. Or those twins who pulled her chariot, perhaps.

What were their names again? Star and Strider? Something like that.

Twilight ducked through the curtain obscuring the balcony, her smile grew into a full grin as she came upon the Royal Sisters, standing close together in the dark, chill of dusk, and chatting casually.

Her eyes flitted to the immaculate white wing wrapped around Luna’s withers, holding her smaller frame against Princess Celestia’s side. She fought down the urge to coo at the scene before her.

“… How lovely. Good to hear those nightmares aren’t plaguing her anymore. And how was Night Court, sister dear?” Princess Celestia asked, her voice low.

Luna shrugged. “Empty, as per usual, save for a little incident at the base of the mountain which required my attention. Blasted diamond dogs.”

Blinking, Twilight tilted her head. That doesn’t make any sense. How would Luna know about somepony’s nightmares if Night Court was empty?

“However,” Luna continued, jolting her back to reality, “t’was better than most.”

“Oh?” Princess Celestia turned, presumably to fix Luna with a coy smile. “How so?”

Her tone made Twilight’s ear flick. It was one she’d recognized all too well from days watching her politick with delegates.

Luna, however, paid it no mind. When she turned to meet Princess Celestia’s eyes, Twilight caught sight of a warm smile, brighter than all the stars in her night sky. “I found myself content with the quiet. It gave me ample time to reflect.”

There was a moment’s pause. Princess Celestia let out a sigh and cuffed Luna with a wing. “Don’t play coy with me, little sister! Tell Tia what you have to share, or I’ll have no choice but to start interrogating Moondancer!”

Twilight stifled a giggle. It was almost a shame to interrupt them during such a lovely moment. However, she had an appointment to keep, and, if memory served, Princess Celestia could be quite creative in how she dealt with tardiness.

With no shortage of reluctance, she bowed her head and spoke, “Good morning, Princesses.”

They turned in unison, both giving bright smiles in their own way; Celestia’s that of a proud teacher and second mother, Luna’s akin to an old friend.

“Well, well! It would seem that my sister made good on her promise!” Princess Celestia unwrapped her wing and stood, sparing Luna a playful wink as she trotted and swept Twilight into a warm embrace. “Good morning, my faithful student,” she said, softly nuzzling Twilight’s mane. “I trust you slept well?”

Twilight nodded, deftly maneuvering herself to nose into her teacher’s neck. “Just like I did when I spent all those nights here; even better, I think.”

Snow-white ears perked up. “Better?” she repeated, amused. “Don’t tell me you’ve been sleeping on old bedsprings all this time, and didn’t have the good sense to send for a new mattress!”

“What? No!” Twilight laughed, shaking her head. “I meant it was…” she trailed off, rolling a hoof through the air. “Restful, I suppose. I dreamed, but I feel like I could work on Sweet Apple Acres, or conduct a full day’s worth of research!” There was no hiding joy held in her voice, nor the swishing of her tail.

From her spot by the balcony railing, Luna threw her head back and laughed. “Truly, Twilight is your student through and through, sister mine! Her love of books and study is so very reminiscent of the sister I knew so long ago!” She stood, her starry tail and mane trailed behind her as she moved to join the pair. Her mischievous smile was mirrored by her teal eyes, which danced and shone with mirth. “Why, if I did not know better, I would say I was looking at your miniature!”

“Oh, away, cheeky little sister of mine!” Contrary to her words, Celestia’s hoof lashed out to catch Luna around her neck and pull her into the hug, ignoring the squawk and rustle of midnight blue wings. “Keep up your antics, and I shall have no choice but to relay some of your less-than-stellar foalhood tales to our mutual friend. Perhaps the one about the time one of your pranks drew Clover’s ire…”

Huffing, Luna tossed her mane. “Ha! Go on, then! Tell the tale, and I shall share one about the young mare who liked to admire Commander Hurricane’s wings from afar. What was it you used to say? Ah, yes!” She wrapped a hoof around Twilight’s shoulders, pulling her in to stage whisper, “‘My, I could lay in that stallion’s embrace all night long if he’d just wrap those wings around me’, if I recall!”

Twilight joined in her, giggling at the way Princess Celestia’s cheeks flushed red and her feathers bristled. A show of her true self, the mare behind the serene smile, wise words, and regalia.

The mare who took her golden crown with solemnity and dignity, her eternal mission to guide and love and protect her subjects.

A golden-shoed hoof left Luna’s shoulders and was laid atop Twilight’s head, covering her ears like a parent might. Though actually doing nothing to block out her playful retort. “Hush, Lulu! You’ll ruin this sweet mare with your tall tales!”

“Perhaps that is my plan,” Luna replied, smiling coyly as she reached up to nuzzle beneath Princess Celestia’s chin, her own hoof still held Twilight’s shoulders tight. “One more step to stealing your student away to the Night Court, sister dear. You understand, of course. Politics are your favorite game!”

Princess Celestia’s stern façade maintained only a split-second longer before she fell to her own laughter. “Yes, they are, I suppose.” She reached over and gently stroked Luna’s starry mane. “I’m certain we could play this game all morning, Lulu, but we do have certain duties…”

Twilight caught her glance toward the moon, hanging bright in the sky alongside twinkling stars.

Beside her, Luna gave a sigh. “Yes, I suppose it is that time,” she said, stealing one last look to the scene she’d crafted when the last edges of the sun sank below the horizon and gave way to the cool embrace of night.

“It was a beautiful night,” Princess Celestia said softly.

“You have my thanks. I shall endeavor to recreate it when the time comes.”

Twilight disentangled herself from the hug, standing on all four hooves. “I don’t suppose I could watch again. Er, if you don’t mind.”

Both princesses turned to regard her; Celestia with a raised brow and tiny smile playing upon her lips, Luna with a spark of joy and…

Something. She couldn’t quite put her hoof on it, but there was something extra in those eyes.

“I would welcome it quite heartily,” Luna replied. “If it does not interfere with your own project, of course.”

A bright grin crossed her muzzle. Twilight bobbed her head. “I’d be glad to! Just, um,” she trailed off, glancing down at her hooves, ears burning as Celestia giggled, “if you wouldn’t mind sending somepony to remind me in case I get a little wrapped up…”

“I’ll be sure to send for you if you’re running late,” Princess Celestia said, rising to her hooves. “Now, sister, loathe as I am to ask it, I must.” She turned, looking to the sky and gesturing toward the stars and moon with a wave of her hoof. “It’s time for your lovely night to end.”

Luna nodded and made her way to the balcony railing, with Princess Celestia and Twilight trailing after her.

Every step made her heart leap. The memory of Luna bringing forth the night at Sugarcube Corner was still fresh in her mind; she could only wonder what it was like for her to shoo the stars away and bring the moon to rest.

She stopped a short distance behind the sisters and stayed silent, watching as though sitting alongside her mentor in the Royal Concert Hall to take in a performance by the greatest artists of her generation.

These artists, however, were timeless. Although, one might object to being referred to as such.

The other, though, was another matter entirely.

With great solemnity, Luna raised her hoof. “Time to sleep again, my friends,” she said, barely above a whisper. “Rest well, Pansy.” Rather than jab her hoof out as she had before, Luna reached forward and pulled back quickly, as if plucking it out of the sky.

A star from the upper left corner of the hexagonal constellation blinked out of existence, like a candle flame snuffed out.

Twilight started, blinking her eyes a few times. Again and again, she watched Luna repeat the gesture, each time whispering to the star as if shooing a little foal to bed before she plucked it from the sky.

She can bring a beautiful night sky, and take it away just as easy, she realized. A hoof leapt to her lips. Her relationship with them is so different from Princess Celestia’s—she treats them the same as Princess Celestia does the sun.

When the last star was plucked from the sky and Luna wished her friends long-passed a peaceful rest, she lit up her horn in a teal glow of pure moonlight.

At her side, Princess Celestia smiled, her horn wreathed in magnificent gold, as though rays of sunlight wrapped came forth from the princess herself.

“After you, sister,” she said.

Luna nodded and slowly closed her eyes. She bowed her head, as if yielding to her elder sister, ceding the cool night sky she so lovingly crafted. “The night ends, its Princess passes dominion to the Princess of Day.”

“The day begins,” Celestia replied. “Its Princess extends her gratitude to the Princess of Night for watching over the land they share, as they vowed ages ago.”

Raising her head, Luna opened her eyes and took a deep breath in unison with Princess Celestia. Slowly, the moon began to sink in the sky, as though Big Macintosh and Applejack were easing a great burden down to rest.

At the same time, Princess Celestia unfurled her snow-white wings and raised her head as if stretching early in the morning. The magic wreathing her horn flared, forcing Twilight to avert her eyes for a moment lest she be blinded—as though she were staring the very majesty of the sun itself.

The golden glow of the morning sun peaked over the horizon. It raised from beyond the farthest reaches of Twilight’s sight.

It was familiar, but different. A new way of looking at such a magnificent dawn.

From twinkling stars and the deep, endless blue of the night to a fiery blend of oranges and yellows—the change came over the sky like a fusion of two polar opposites come together.

For a brief time, night and day were one.

They were in unity, as their princesses stood side-by-side a thousand years after they’d come into conflict.

Warmth rushed over her as the sun reached its zenith and the moon retreated behind the horizon, taking the gentle cool of night with it until Luna called again.

With their work done, the sisters turned and embraced one another. Twilight felt her breath catch in her throat at the sight.

Just like when Luna first returned.

“Good morning, Tia.”

Her ears perked up at Luna’s murmur, Twilight had to bite her lip to withhold a happy sigh as she watched her friend lean up to nuzzle Princess Celestia’s chin, drawing a tiny smile, full of fondness and the same warmth as the sun in the sky.

Princess Celestia drew back and, with a glance to Twilight, smiled. “Yes,” she said, turning back to Luna, “I do believe it will be. Come. Breakfast awaits—and, yes, Twilight, you may have pancakes.”

Both sisters shared a laugh at the happy squeal that escaped her lips.

They ate on the same balcony as the night before—Princess Celestia insisted that they spend a bit more time in a less formal, more intimate setting. And why not?

Canterlot’s weather team had created a wonderful, cloudless sky to enjoy; blue jays and finches flitted from branch to branch in the garden below, trilling and singing a song only they could understand; and, of course, the company was wonderful.

Twilight sat to Princess Celestia’s right, Luna’s left. There had been some playful complaining from her teacher when she’d unconsciously scooted a bit closer to Luna, which was then followed with Twilight wrapped in a midnight blue wing and pulled closer to a mischievously grinning Princess of the Night, who crowed, “Yes! I have achieved my ultimate victory and stolen away your student!”

Princess Celestia simply rolled her eyes and took hold of the tea pot in her magic. “If that is so, I suppose I shall settle for relieving you of this, little sister,” she said sweetly, waggling the pot in the air.

The horrified gasp that tore from Luna’s throat and sudden release of her embrace made Twilight start. Glancing between Luna and the pot, she squinted, noticing the tiniest image of a crescent moon and splash of darkness.

Luna’s cutie mark.

“Sorry! I let her go, please let me have it back!” Luna cried, her horn flickering to life.

Teal flashed around the edges of the golden glow, but fizzled out.

Princess Celestia’s smile broadened. “Yes, you may have your friendship with my dear student, but remember that I know how to make you squirm as well.”

With a brief raise of her eyebrows, she lowered the pot to rest before Luna, who quickly snatched it up in her magic and poured herself a cup.

“Hmph! I was only jesting! I would not sink so low as to steal away your favored student to be some acolyte!” She flicked her tail and glanced sideways at Twilight. Smirking, she leaned over to say, “You see? Ponies of old may have called me the trickster, but your beloved teacher has not wasted her chance to practice all these years.”

Twilight suppressed a giggle, instead keeping her focus on the pot of syrup she was levitating over the stack of pancakes on her plate. Four pancakes. A rather sizable part of her held a suspicion that Princess Celestia had alerted the kitchen staff that she was losing weight, and one of their number saw fit to verify her claim.

Naturally, whoever it was reported back, and the staff saw fit to aid their princess in her mission.

However, she was not one to complain about extra pancakes, even if it meant a few extra calories on top of her dietary allotment. Twilight was all too happy to slather rich maple syrup over her delicious pancakes, half listening while the princesses bantered back and forth.

“… Even so, my dear Twilight would never leave my side.” Princess Celestia gave a firm nod. “We share a very special bond as teacher and student, one that won’t be so easily broken by your little tricks and offers of first edition records!”

Luna threw back her head and laughed. “Is that so?” she mused, her mug of steaming tea floated to hover before her lips, doing nothing to hide the smirk she wore. “True, I will admit that if I wanted to steal her away, t’wouldn’t be an easy task. However, there is one thing I should warn you of.”

“Oh?” Snow-white ears perked up. “Do tell.”

Twilight found herself the focus of a sly glance and a rather toothy grin, one that gave Luna an almost sharklike appearance.

Teal eyes met purple, dancing with amusement. “Nothing too distressing, merely an observation.” She took a sip of her tea and gave a contented sigh. “Only, I feel it necessary to inform you that your dear student—my friend—” the added stressing on the word ‘friend’ made Twilight’s ears twitch. How interesting it was that teasing from two of the wisest ponies alive would resemble such a thing as politics. “—Has been showing me a new side of herself. One I find quite endearing.”

Now, it was Princess Celestia’s turn to stop in place, blinking and letting her eyes flit between her sister and student. “Pray tell, what side might that be?”

“Just that you claim to see her as a mother sees her own daughter, while I enjoy a more relaxed, intimate relationship with Twilight Sparkle.”

A silence fell over the table. The mug in Twilight’s grip dipped in the air before she managed to catch it, just before it hit the table. Her muscles in her neck tensed, the tips of her ears burned.

If Cadence were here—oh, heavens, how fortunate she wasn’t—she would have the biggest grin on her face, the only warning sign Twilight would get before she was whisked away for interrogation.

That wasn’t what she meant, she told herself. Luna is referring to our closeness as friends, the closest she’s had since her return.

Still, unfortunate word choice or not, it was a thought she found quite pleasing; if Luna felt their friendship had grown so close in such a short time, who was she to complain?

The silence persisted a moment longer, Luna’s mischievous grin only seemed to broaden. Her feathers fluffed, as though she were preening in quiet victory at having rendered her sister speechless.

Twilight, on the other hoof, knew better.

She licked her lips and dared to glance at her teacher, curiosity and trepidation mixing within her heart. Never before had she actually watched the sisters tease and banter with one another.

Nor had she experienced one claiming intimacy.

The corners of Princess Celestia’s mouth tugged into a tiny smile of her own—the very same Twilight knew all too well, from days of little teases and games played with arrogant nobles.

“Quite the claim you make. I must admit, you do bring up a rather fair point,” she said, bringing her cup full of hot tea to her lips and taking a long sip. “Of course, this could also be of my own design. Perhaps it is my intent that my darling sister find friendship with my ever-faithful student, so I may hold them both as close to my chest as I can in the warm glow of the sun.”

As Luna stared, blinking and trying to form words to reply, Twilight allowed herself a smile. The idea itself—herself, standing together with her friends, family, and Princess Celestia—was certainly nice.

Who was she kidding? It was one she’d entertained with fond smiles and wistful sighs for quite some time. Perhaps even since the first day she’d officially become “friends” with the girls in Ponyville.

Taking her knife and fork in the magenta glow of her magic, she made to cut into her pancakes, but stopped short at a snort from Luna.

“I am still not certain I like this ‘mischievous Tia’,” she mused. “T’was much easier to tease you before you acquired this playful streak of your own.”

Princess Celestia’s lips twitched. “I suppose you’ll simply have to step up your game, my dear. Worry not, I have faith that you’ll have me bemoaning my misfortune and ready to tear my mane out soon enough.”

Snorting, Luna selected a fresh-baked blueberry muffin from the tray in the middle of the table and brought it close for inspection. It met her approval, as she smiled, nodded, and took a bite.

“Delicious,” she praised. “As per usual. You will give my compliments to the kitchen staff, of course.”

“I’d be happy to,” Princess Celestia replied. “Chef Al Dente loves to hear that his staff has sent one of his princesses off to her duties or rest with a wonderful meal.”

Luna chuckled and shook her head. “That stallion treats his cooking like Tempo did his music. Though, perhaps not as much throwing his failures into the fire.”

Twilight giggled. “Oh, I don’t know about that!” Upon seeing Luna’s gaze flit to her, she grinned and took a bite of pancake. “The first time my mom taught him her secret recipe, he threw out the results because they didn’t taste like hers.”

A slender eyebrow raised, Luna waggled her ears. “Is that so?”

“He did the same with several batches.” Princess Celestia shook her head, pausing to nibble on a muffin. “Unfortunately, my dear Al Dente is quite the perfectionist. Much like another I know.”

Deep purple eyes locked with Twilight’s, she felt a prickle at the back of her neck, as though somepony else’s gaze was boring into her as well.

Twilight flicked her ear, catching a little titter from Luna.

Caught between both sisters. Oh dear.

A nervous smile tugged at her lips, she gave a tiny chuckle and tried to hide behind a forkful of pancake.

And then another.

And another.

Princess Celestia’s eyebrow arched. “Enjoying your pancakes?”

“Yes. Very much so.” Twilight took her time chewing, trying to stall as long as she could before she’d be forced to answer.

The smile on her teacher’s muzzle was far too knowing for her taste. It seemed to say “I have all the time in the world” in ways that no pony else could.

She swallowed. “So, what’s everypony got planned for today?”

Arching her brow higher, Princess Celestia replied, “As you very well know, I am due to sit in Court in about an hour or so. If memory serves, I have a rather lengthy meeting with the mayors of Manehattan and Fillydelphia.”

“Are those two still arguing about the choice of venue for the next Summer Sun Celebration?” Luna asked tiredly. “Why do you not simply tell them that it is you who decides where to perform the ceremony?”

“I’m trying to handle the situation with a sense of delicacy, Luna.” She sighed, bringing a hoof to massage her temple.

A lasting argument it seemed. Another remnant of Luna’s more antiquated views.

With a snort, Luna shook her head. “Were it not for you deciding on your own we would not—” she stopped, her gaze flitted to Twilight and then back to her sister. “I believe I have said enough on the matter. The Summer Sun Celebration is your day, of course. How you plan it is entirely up to you. Please forgive my complaints.”

“No apology is necessary,” Princess Celestia replied with a wave of her hoof. “Your input is more than welcome.”

“I appreciate your patience in that regard.” Luna gave a nod, then turned her attention to Twilight. “To answer your question, my friend, I will be resting until late afternoon. Watching over Night Court requires a different sleep schedule, I fear.”

Watching over a Night Court that hasn’t seen many visitors. Twilight held her tongue, maintaining her smile as best she could despite her want to discuss further. Wait until after I finish researching the loss of the Night Court’s influence, then address it. “Then, I suppose it’s my turn to wish you a good rest and sweet dreams.”

Luna smiled, her eyes gleaming with a strange light. “Yes, I believe that would be fitting.”

There it was again. That same smile, just like the one she gave the night before when she said “enjoy your dreams”.

She paused in mid bite, tilting her head in curiosity. It was familiar. Much like the way Princess Celestia smiled at her when playing word games or chess.

Her gaze flitted to her teacher. Twilight nearly started at the sight that greeted her.


Princess Celestia’s eyebrows had risen, nearly touching the edge of her mane of flowing rainbow. Those deep purple eyes narrowed, boring into the side of Luna’s head as a tiny frown marred her muzzle.

Just as quickly as it came, it was gone.

Her typical smile was back in place. “Wishing my student ‘sweet dreams’, Luna? My, perhaps I shouldn’t have left you two alone. You’re clearly maneuvering to take her from me after all!”

“Oh, hush, ancient one!” Luna flicked her tail. “The time for jokes has passed, as you would say in our younger days. My interest lays less in our game and more in our mutual friend’s mysterious ‘project’.” Her teal eyes met Twilight’s, she folded her hooves atop the table and gave a smile. “Pray tell, what subject has caught your eye that leads your search here?”

She started, a bit of fluffy pancake nearly went down the wrong way. A hoof flew up and pounded against her chest, Twilight coughed and sputtered. “Sorry, just took that in wrong.”

“Quite alright. Here.” Luna floated a cup and a jug of water over to her side, pouring a generous amount into the cup. “Drink.”

Twilight took a generous sip to wash down the offending morsel.

“Better?” Luna asked.

She nodded in thanks. “Yes, much better.”

“You are welcome. Now, my question?”

Her tail flicked. Really should’ve come up with a cover. Twilight wracked her brain for something to appease Luna’s curiosity; something that wouldn’t give away her goal, but wouldn’t give everything away.

“Art history,” she said, settling on a half-truth.

Luna’s ears perked up and waggled. “Oh?” Her voice was tinged with excitement, though she tried in vain to make herself appear casual. “Is there any, er, particular age that piqued your interest? I would be happy to assist with—” She trailed off, bringing a hoof to her mouth to stifle a yawn. “Forgive me. As I was saying—”

“Perhaps,” Princess Celestia cut in, “it would be better if you were to rest before offering your assistance, Luna.”

“I am perfectly capable of staying up a bit longer!”

“You know full well you need your rest as much as anypony,” came the reply, coupled with a look rather similar to one Cadence and Shining used on Twilight when she argued about her bedtime.

The patented “stern older sibling” look; though, in Princess Celestia’s case, it was reminiscent of the “stern teacher” look she was known for.

Midnight blue ears drooped. Luna looked down at her plate. “I cannot argue that I may feel a bit drowsy.”

“A bit?”

“Very well, I am indeed exhausted. Although, I maintain that I can be of help if needed.” She turned her gaze to Twilight again.

Glancing back and forth between the two, Twilight offered a crooked smile. “It might be best if you rest. I can always bring any questions I have to you at dinner, or I can spend some time in Night Court if you’re not busy.”

Luna beamed, her ears stood back up. “I would be quite happy to oblige.”

“Then it’s settled,” Princess Celestia said, quite happy that the brief debate had ended. “Just try not to keep her up too late, Lulu.”

“Fie on thee!” Luna shot back. “If you can ask that she rise early to view your dawn, then she may stay awake as long as our talk takes!”

As the sisters fell to their banter once again, Twilight withheld her laughter and happily nibbled on her pancakes. Not quite the image of the princesses sharing a breakfast that she’d always imagined, far from it in fact.

It was better.

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