• 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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27: Simplify the Equation

The morning sun beat down upon Equestria’s capital city, the gold rooftops shone with light, like hundreds of giant candles had been lit on the side of Mount Canterhorn.

Twilight’s saddlebags bumped against her side as she trotted along, weaving through the crowd with ease only a native of the bustling city could possess. She quickly moved to the side as a trio of young colts ran and played in on the sidewalk, kicking a small bean sack back and forth while they darted between ponies’ legs.

She sighed. The night before weighed heavily on her mind. From Shining and Cadence telling her about their relationship’s inner workings, to seeing a literal art gallery of Cadence’s late lovers, and, above all else …

Unbidden, her tongue ran along her top lip. She could still feel the soft touch of Luna’s kiss, her ears still tickled with the sound of her friend (slash prospective girlfriend?) whispering her confession.

“You are more precious to me than you could possibly know. So much more than I could ever put to words …”

Her cheeks burned. How in the name of Equestria had she earned such a high standing in Luna’s eyes—no, she knew the answer to that. That was an old question that Luna had given response to the night that started it all.

She stopped in mid step, blinking a few times as a thought occurred to her.

It had begun long before their late night talk. Luna impressed that much upon her as she rattled off each of Twilight’s friendship lessons she found particularly educational.

Twilight took a deep breath, bringing a hoof to her chest. She exhaled and shook her head. “Not right now,” she told herself. “I need to study Werner’s journal, and then think about all this with all of my mental facilities functioning in full. No half-asleep, still-in-shock babbles or leaps to the fact that breaking Luna’s heart could possibly lead to the inevitable destruction of our society because of an immortal’s fit of—” she stomped her hoof against the ground. “No, no, no!”

“I just asked if you were gonna come inside or stand out here and stare off into space all day! Geez!” a young colt’s voice reached her ear.

Blinking, Twilight stood up straight and turned to her left, then looked down. Before her stood a colt of sage green coat and two-toned brown mane, glaring up at her through rimmed glasses and ruffling his feathers in a show of rather obvious irritation as he held the door open with his hind leg.

“Well?” he demanded.

Her eyes flitted up to the logo displayed on the door’s window. The image of a coffee mug sitting on a saucer was proudly displayed, with the words Café au Lait written from the steam floating from the mug.

Twilight’s ears stood up. Coffee. Yes, that’s what she needed. A nice, warm cup, a place to sit, and a chance to read through Werner’s journal and take notes until she could calm herself enough to think.

With a sigh, she smiled. “Yes. Sorry, I was just lost in thought,” she said, walking toward the shop.

The colt rolled his eyes and mumbled something under his breath as he pressed himself against the door to allow her through.

Flicking her ear, she was just able to make out “Stupid adults always letting their minds wander, then complain about foals doing the same thing.”

Her smile fell. Clearly somepony had woken up on the wrong side of the bed.

Oh well. It was none of her business. She had other things to worry about, and a moody colt wasn’t on the list. As long as she got her coffee and a chance to sit and think, he could be as grumpy as he wanted.

The colt led her past another mare, who gave him a smile and a nod, before returning to whatever notes she was scribbling onto a pad with the quill held aloft in the soft pink glow of her magic. Almost dutifully, he muttered something to her as he passed, earning a laugh and a flick of her shimmering gold and pink striped tail.

He stopped and gave a dismissive wave toward the table a few feet from the other mare’s. “You can sit here, or whatever. Coffee or tea?”

“Coffee, please.” Just because he was being grumpy and rude didn’t mean she couldn’t try to make his day a little easier.

“Fine. How do you take it?”

“Cream and two sugars, please.”

“‘Kay.” With a flick of his tail, the colt walked off toward the counter, not even bothering to give his name or offer any further assistance.

Twilight shook her head and sighed as she retrieved Werner’s journal, a notepad, and a quill from within her saddlebags. Just let it go. You have other things to worry about. Studying Luna’s past and contemplating the information Cadence and Shining had imparted her with took priority.

The former would have to come first, though.

She flipped through the pages until she reached the next chapter. The title made her heart leap into her throat.

The Maiden’s Court

I don’t know what drove me to finish the new piece in such a mad dash before Maestro Bolero took me to visit Her Royal Highness, Princess Luna. None of my pieces before or since have ever managed to grab me so, the music itself seemed to flow forth from my quill as if it had a life all its own. Like it had been trapped within me for so long and took the first chance it could to escape.

I remember my nerves returning again. Though, this time, not out of fear of Her Highness’ fury at my presence.

Out of fear that the fruits of my labor over the course of those late nights writing music about her—all about her—would fail to meet her expectations.

Admittedly, I worried that sleep would bring the horrid nightmare back to haunt me. But each night, I found myself in a place I felt very comfortable.

A concert hall. Surrounded by ponies, griffons, and even minotaurs, while I readied to conduct my first show.

Most prevalent of all, no matter how how my dream conjured the hall for me, she was there in her balcony, seated in an obsidian throne with her crescent moon displayed above her head.

She would always smile and nod before speaking in a voice that carried across the hall, “We are ready, Werner. The Night Court awaits its newest child.”

I confess I did not understand at the time. How could I even begin to comprehend the workings of a mare as ancient and wise as the Princess of the Night?

It would be simpler to count the stars in her beautiful night sky, or describe the peace that filled every pony, griffon, or otherwise as we breathed in the cool night air, satisfied that we were as safe in her realm as we were in her sister’s magnificent days.

Twilight chuckled and scratched a quick note. Yet another example of ponies—and griffons—loving Luna’s night just as much as they loved the daytime.

A frown marred her muzzle. With yet another example came even more questions. The want to know, the itch that nagged at her each time Luna’s fall came up these days. Just how had holding the love and admiration of ponies the world over turned to loneliness, misery, and, ultimately, the burning jealousy that would eat at her soul until she decided that she alone should rule Equestria.

That daytime would forever be cast aside in favor of the night.

Her ears flicked at the sound of hoofsteps approaching her table. She looked up to meet the young colt’s eyes. “Here’s your coffee,” he said, almost bored in both tone and demeanor as he placed a cup and saucer in front of her, then turned away and began to carry his tray toward the other mare’s table. “Yell out if you need anything else, or whatever.”

Twilight blinked. What was with this colt? “Oh, um, thank you … wait, I don’t think you told me your name.”

He paused to glance over his shoulder at her, flicking his tail as he continued walking.

The other mare looked up. “Rossby! Don’t be so rude!” she chided. “She’s just trying to be nice!”

“You’re not supposed to tell your name to strangers, and I don’t know her,” he grumbled as he set a cup and saucer before her.

“You’re a waiter, so it’s part of the courtesy! And thank you for the tea.”

Rossby rustled his wings and looked away. “Yours was getting low, and I know you like tea when you do your stupid note thing,” he mumbled.

She beamed. “You’re such a sweetie even though you try to hide it!”

“Shut up, Dream!” He flicked a wing at her before walking off toward the counter again. “Just write your stupid notes and drink your dang tea already!”

Giggling, Dream took her tea in her magic and took a sip, then cast a glance at Twilight. She winked. “Don’t mind him. He likes to act like he’s a grumpy old stallion, but he’s really a sweetheart. Once you figure out how to dig through the gruffness, that is.”

Twilight forced a smile. “Right. I’ll, um, be sure to dig, then,” she said with a weak chuckle. Ducking her head, she took a sip of her coffee, then turned her attention back to Werner’s journal.

It wasn’t that she didn’t appreciate the tip.

But Rossby’s attitude or “sweetheart” status really wasn’t her business.

Werner’s insight into Luna’s past, on the other hoof, was most certainly her business. As was her curiosity on how one so loved and admired could fall so far.

Only respect and deference to Princess Celestia’s wishes kept her curiosity at bay. Oh, it still nagged at her, but she pushed it back.

Her mind wandered back to Luna again. The shine in her eyes as she told Twilight how precious she was, how warm her breath felt as it washed over Twilight’s face just before that kiss.

Twilight brought a hoof up to touch her lips. Who would have ever thought that another pony’s lips could make her feel like that? So warm and soft, so very full of emotion as they pressed against her own …

Cadence always told her that her first kiss would be special, something that couldn’t even be described. But she’d always just sighed and rolled her eyes as she dutifully intoned “Yes, Cady. Whatever you say, Cady.”

How silly she was.

It was everything Cadence promised and more.

So much more.

But a relationship with Luna would mean changing the one they already had. Could they survive such a change?

With a defeated sigh, she marked her spot in Werner’s journal and flipped it closed, then turned to a clean sheet of paper on her notepad and began to write along the top:

“A Romantic Relationship with Luna: Pros and Cons”

Her quill seemed to dance across the page—or, at least, the “Cons” section of the page. It was easy enough, almost a joke to think of all the little reasons she could possibly conjure as to why even thinking to attempt a romantic relationship with Luna would end poorly.

Possibly clingy? Certainly. Luna herself admitted that she was more than a bit possessive of what she considered “hers.” Cadence had even confirmed it as a trait all three princesses shared. On the list it went.

Jealous? Twilight couldn’t help but cringe and pin her ears back at the mere thought. It almost seemed unfair to label Luna such these days, but … if she wanted to think through this objectively, she had to face facts. Luna had more than just a history of fits of jealousy.

It was a centric part of her being and mythos thanks to the old story. Her name had been synonymous with the very notion that ponies’ could fall to their vices and become monsters—though, perhaps not in such a literal sense.

Though it pained her to do so, Twilight wrote it down.

And then the floodgates just seemed to open.

The way Luna and Celestia both seemed to hide details of her past. Dream walking and alteration. Her penchant for mischief—though, if she were honest, that one wouldn’t bother her so much. After all, she was friends with Rainbow Dash and Pinkie, and even Applejack had her moments of smugness or snark.

Thus, “mischief/playfulness” was moved over to the “pro” side. The first so far.

Something told her that Cadence and Shining would happily be in favor of a little more mischief to pull her away from her studies now and again. And Celestia, too.

Her ears stood up. Mischief would surely distract from studying the magic of friendship, but it could also make her get out and enjoy herself—as Pinkie and Rainbow were so wont to do whenever she sequestered herself away. Did that make it a con or a pro?

Shrugging, Twilight opted to move it to the middle. She was allowed to do that.

It was her list, after all.

More followed, with the notion that Luna could just as easily conjure nightmares as she could dreams joining the others in the con section of the list.

Then came her immortality …

Twilight stopped, her quill hovered over the page. Where did that fall on the list?

She brought her hooves up to massage her temples. “Dang it, Cadence! And you too, Shiny!” she grumbled. “The things you said didn’t make this any easier at all! All they did was put everything on me to decide!”

Logically, the idea that one of them might die before the other would be prevalent even if Luna were mortal, like her. The whole “alicorn immortality/agelessness/longevity” deal just meant that there would be no question which of them would pass on first.

A bit of a morbid thought, but something to acknowledge. It didn’t quite answer where all that fell, though.

So she went ahead and put it down in the middle.

Still, though, there were a few pros.

Luna was kind, thoughtful, and willing to teach those who wished to learn. A smile made its way across Twilight’s muzzle as she thought of the wondrous display Luna gifted her friends that night she first showed them how she put the stars in the sky.

And then there was her want to belong. How she laughed and played with the foals of Ponyville once the town warmed up to her.

More and more pros joined the cons. Everything was starting to balance out.

It all came down to what she felt weighed more heavily: what a wonderful mare Luna was, or what aspects of her might cause the most trouble.

Twilight sighed and let the quill fall to rest on her notepad. “Princess Celestia would laugh and call me silly for even thinking such a thing,” she muttered to herself. “I can already hear her telling me that half of the cons I’ve put down could easily apply to my friends—though the immortality thing would be more about her and Cadence.”

Letting out a groan, she held her head in her hooves. “Why can’t this just be an easy question?”

“I don’t know. Do you want something to eat or is coffee all you’re having?” Rossby’s voice nearly made her jump out of her seat.

She looked up, flinching at the way the grumpy colt’s eyes seemed to bore into her. “Um …” Twilight let her ears droop. “No. I’m just … I’m sorry, no. I’m just here to waste time and think about things.”

Rossby rolled his eyes. “Of course. Leave it to adults to tell foals we can’t waste time or anything, but they get to do it whenever they want.” Glancing at her paper for a second, he scoffed. “You know that’s just a way to procrastinate more, right?”

Twilight recoiled as if struck. “Excuse me?”

“That list.” He tapped her notebook. “You’re just pushing whatever it is you’re thinking of back as much as you can with a list like that.”

Furrowing her brows, Twilight leaned forward. “What do you know about dating, young colt? You don’t look to be any older than—”

“I’m fourteen,” he said before she could finish. “And I’m …” Rossby coughed and looked away, a blush tinged his cheeks. “Whatever. Not interested in that sort of thing.”

“Oho, yes you are!” Dream spoke up, smirking at him. “Who always asks me about love stories?”

His wings flared out wide, his ears laid flat against his scalp. “I just like the stories! Good books are hard to come by! Shut up!”

She nodded sagely. “Of course, of course. And how is your boyfriend?”

“He’s just in my book club! We just read together! A lot!”

“Oh, really? I’m sure I could just ask Pirouette about that when she gets here—”

“Shut. Up!” Rossby huffed and turned his attention back to Twilight, flicking his tail almost dismissively. “Anyway, my point is don’t be like that dummy—” he gestured toward Dream, earning a rather stern glare at the back of his head “—and sit around all day freaking out over stupid things and waiting for everything to be perfect. Either do it, or don’t. But if you decide you’re going to be stupid like her—”

Dream pouted. “Hey!”

“—Then at least don’t do it here while I’m at work,” he finished without missing a beat. “I get enough lovey-dovey-smoochey-cutsie stuff when that stupid boyfriend of hers is with her, and I got enough ‘woe is me’ from her when he was still being dense.”

“Why, you—listen here!”

“Oh, shut it. You know I’m right.” He trotted past her table, rather deliberately clipping her over the head with his wing, and earning a pink bolt of magic that tweaked his ear and made him yelp, then beat a quick retreat behind the counter.

Twilight allowed herself to consider Rossby’s point. True, he was a grumpy little colt, with all the subtlety and grace of a rampaging manticore in the castle china closet—which brought on a rather comical image of Chef Al Dente having a hissy fit at seeing the carnage—there was a point buried underneath the bluntness.

Buried quite deep, just as Dream promised.

Twilight glanced at her list again. Truth be told, everything on it would come into play regardless of whether or not she allowed their friendship to transition into a more romantic relationship. She would deal with all the intricacies of Luna’s personality, as Luna would hers, and, ultimately, she would die.

Luna would have to find a new friend. Or lover. Either way, Twilight would not be there for her forever.

Her mind wandered back to Cadence’s beautiful gallery—all the faces of the ponies her longtime foalsitter loved, each of them smiling back at her, flashed before her eyes.

Slowly, her lips tugged into a small smile. I might not remain, she thought. But Luna will always have the memory of the times we shared together.

Who cared about mortality, really? Cadence didn’t seem to be bothered by allowing herself to become close to ponies, even after centuries of loss. Princess Celestia even less so!

She could only imagine how many the sisters had watched live and die after growing close to them.

Grim as it might sound, she would be another name no matter what she chose.

So why let that affect her choice?

“There’s no reason for it to,” she said, her ears stood up as comprehension dawned on her. She liked Luna quite a bit, and she was sweet in her own way. Not to mention, the kiss was just …

Wow.

The taste, the smell, the way it just felt to have Luna wrap four limbs around her and pull her in tight for such a soft kiss. And so much passion behind it all.

A shiver ran down her spine. She found her eyes fluttering shut as her smile widened. Twilight let out a little hum to herself.

Goodness, did it feel so right. Up until she panicked, Twilight could’ve just stayed there and savored every second of her first kiss.

So why force herself to ignore her own feelings?

Everything Cadence and Shining had told her the night before finally clicked into place. Worrying about the inevitable was silly.

If it felt right, go for it.

Twilight looked up to find Rossby, but he’d disappeared to the back. Perhaps to stock, or simply because he’d just grown bored.

“He does that,” Dream said, drawing Twilight’s attention to her again. Rolling her eyes, she shook her head. “My little cousin likes to pretend he’s a grumpy, crotchety old stallion who sees things better than most adults, but deep down, he’s a sweetie who loves a good romance story. And he hates sad stories.” She paused, allowing a little smirk to cross her muzzle as her eyes flashed with a mischievous light. “He’ll never trust my recommendations again!”

Bringing a hoof to her mouth, Twilight stifled a laugh. Something told her that Rarity would get on just famously with this mare. Or infamously, if they got to gossiping.

Rossby’s advice was perhaps a decent kick in the rear to get her going. But that still didn’t mean he wasn’t a rude little punk with the way he acted, both toward Dream and Twilight herself.

She hummed as an idea occurred to her. So he doesn’t like tragic love stories, huh? There were more than a few that came to mind, she’d read most of the classics. It was all just a matter of guessing which he hadn’t read.

Taking her cup in her magic, Twilight drank the remainder of her coffee. It’d be a good enough reason to coax Rossby over for his comeuppance. With a bit of an assist to Dream.

Thinking of the other mare a moment, her ears twitched. Twilight slowly brought a hoof to her forehead. “I’m sorry,” she said, earning a confused look from Dream. “You must think I’m so rude. I didn’t even give you my name.”

Dream laughed and shook her head. “Not really. Neither of us introduced ourselves. Rossby and I just sniped at each other like we always do.” She turned in her seat to face Twilight fully and beamed. “I’m Dreamweaver. Mister personality—” she pointed toward the back room “—is my cousin, Rossby Waves.”

Almost on cue, the pegasus poked his head out from the back room. “You’re not supposed to give my name to strangers!”

“She won’t be a stranger if you wait three seconds for her to introduce herself!” Dream shot back.

Goodness, they were just ridiculous! Twilight did her best to swallow down her laughter, instead favoring to smile and nod in kind. “I’m Twilight Sparkle. It’s nice to meet you Dream.” Giving a little cough, she called to Rossby, “And you as well.”

Rossby mumbled something under his breath before disappearing into the back room again.

Again, Dream laughed, waving a hoof dismissively. “Don’t worry about him. He’ll perk right up once my friend gets here with—oh!” She looked through the shop window, her smile widened into a full grin. Her horn flashed pink, she leaned back as her coffee cup floated up to her muzzle. “I take it back,” she whispered. “The show’s about to start right now!”

Perplexed, Twilight followed her gaze until she caught sight of a mare of pink coat and mauve mane trotting alongside a—bouncing? Skipping?—rather excited young colt with a coat and mane the same color as red velvet and cream icing cupcakes.

Both walked (or skipped, in the colt’s case) with their eyes half closed and had knowing, almost mischievous smiles gracing their muzzles.

They were up to something.

The shop door opened, the pair entered with little fanfare aside from the other mare sidling over to Dream and taking her seat, propping her elbow up on the table as if this were practiced routine.

The colt, on the other hoof, moved to press himself against the wall by the counter, his violet eyes danced at the sound of Rossby huffing and grumbling in the back before he made his way out.

“Welcome to Café au Lait,” he intoned, boredom thick in his voice. “How can I—oh, it’s you, Pirouette. Hi.” Upon noticing everypony staring at him—or rather just over his shoulder where the other colt was starting to creep up behind him—he tilted his head. “Is there something on my face?”

“No,” Dream and Pirouette sang in unison, the latter adding, “But there’s about to be something on your lips!”

His brows knitted together. “What in Equestria are you talking about, you crazy—”

Before Rossby could finish, the other colt grabbed him by the shoulder and darted around, his other hoof came up to cup Rossby’s cheek. “Hi, sweets!” he chirped. Then, when Rossby leaned back and opened his mouth to reply, the colt darted forward and captured his lips.

Rossby stiffened a moment. Slowly, his posture began to relax as he seemed to just melt in the other colt’s embrace. His feathers fluffed as he tilted his head to the side, knocking his glasses askew as the colts wrapped their hooves around one another and enjoyed a long, deep kiss.

The sound of sniggering made Twilight’s ear flick. “Told you he wouldn’t bother waiting ‘till Rossby was off the clock!” Pirouette said.

Dream gave a playful huff. “Yes, yes, coffee is on me. You put him up to that, didn’t you?”

“Would I really do that?”

“Yes. Yes you would.”

“Fair point. But no, not this time. This one’s all Roux.” She glanced over at the pair and raised an eyebrow. “Hey! At least come up for air! You see each other all the time!”

The colt—Roux something, apparently—pulled away from Rossby just long enough to stick out his tongue, cross his eyes, and waggle his ears at Pirouette, before turning right back to the stunned pegasus in his hooves and catching him in another kiss.

Laughing, Pirouette shrugged. “Well, I tried!” She plopped herself down in the seat next to Dream and snatched her notepad. “Oh, is this your thinly veiled story about you and Sleepy?”

“It’s not about us!” Dream yanked it right back, her cheeks flushed as pink as her magic, much to Twilight’s growing amusement.

As the pair fell to their own banter (and the colts kept acting like as much a lovestruck pair as Shining and Cadence), Twilight shook her head. Maybe she would just let Rossby enjoy his—ahem—moment with his boyfriend. They were a cute little pair, after all.

Besides, there were more productive things she could be doing. It was a darn good thing the coffee was good. She’d need every bit of her wits to help her solve this puzzle.

With a flick of her magic, she opened her notepad to a fresh page and jotted down a new title.

“How to Reply to an Immortal’s Courtship Request.”

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