• 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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28: Of Dreams and Stolen Kisses ...

Deep breath in, hold it … and deep breath out.

Again.

Twilight ran through Cadence’s stress relief breathing exercises for what must’ve been the hundredth time since her epiphany in the coffee shop—okay, really, it was only about the twentieth, but it was starting to feel like the hundredth.

Truth be told, it wasn’t so bad as before. Talking with that foal—Rossby, if she remembered correctly—had been both helpful in cutting through her self-imposed haze and … interesting to say the least. Blunt, borderline rude, and a bit jarring to hear such attitude from a colt that age talking to a customer, but helpful in the sense of unwittingly slamming her in the face with how ridiculous she was acting with that list.

It was a nice wakeup call. Well, maybe not nice but it served to get her thinking enough to reflect on what Cadence and Shining had been trying to tell her.

She shook her head, smiling despite herself. “They must’ve gone home laughing themselves silly.”

Her hoofsteps echoed off the high-arching walls as she walked through Luna’s wing of the castle. She swallowed a lump in her throat, the feeling of the ever-vigilant Night Guards’ eyes on her back made her hair stand on end.

There was no sign if irritation or suspicion in them, though. Rather, whenever she managed to meet their gaze, she found a hint of something else.

Interest.

They were content to let her pass with little more than a bow of their heads, a slight raising of their spears, and a smile, if only so they could watch and see what she was up to in their Night Princess’ wing of the castle.

Somehow, she felt like she’d just wandered into Carousel Boutique with a new manestyle—only there were about two dozen Rarity’s watching her through slitted eyes, silently waiting for her to reveal her purpose rather than pulling her over for a full blown interrogation.

At this point, she wasn’t quite sure the interrogation wouldn’t be favorable to having so many eyes on her.

Twilight took another deep breath. She couldn’t let a silly thing like that get in her way. She had a mission, a reply to deliver after a long day of thought and reflection on some of the most intriguing and, simultaneously, confusing advice she’d ever gotten.

Her smile faltered a bit. I wish I had a better answer.

A pang of doubt shot through her chest. Twilight faltered in mid step. Come to think of it, how would Luna take her answer?

No. Twilight shook her head. It was her decision, just like Cadence and Shining told her. Luna had gone ahead and made the first move, and it was up to her to decide whether or not the relationship was to change or stay the same.

If Luna didn’t like it … well, hopefully she would respect Twilight’s reasoning.

Up ahead, she saw a door bearing the familiar image of Luna’s crescent moon emblazoned in the dark woodwork. A pair of Night Guards stood at attention on either side.

“Gentlestallions,” she greeted with a bow of her head.

“Miss Sparkle,” they replied in unison. The one on the left bowed his head in kind. “Corporal Midnight Rider, ma’am. May we assist you with something?”

Twilight swallowed a lump in her throat. Breathe. Just breathe and relax. You’re just asking to see your friend … who kissed you full on the mouth. Let’s get back to breathing. Breathing is much more preferable to not breathing. Licking her dried lips, she ducked her head. “I was hoping to have a word with L—Princess Luna.” Smooth, Sparkle.

Midnight Rider’s ears twitched, but he didn’t give any other sign of noticing. His brows furrowed in thought. “Typically, Princess Luna is awake by now and enjoying a bit of personal reading time. If you don’t mind waiting, I can check to see if she’s available.”

Her ears drooped. Of course. Unlike the rest of her friends, she couldn’t really just drop in on Luna. There was a whole layer of separation she still had to go through.

With a small smile, Midnight Rider gave another bow, then turned to enter Luna’s room.

Twilight did her best not to seem too eager for his return. She let her eyes wander aimlessly, making sure not to linger too long on the guards while she waited. She chewed on her bottom lip, unable to resist the urge as the thought of just how awkward it would be to come all the way down to Luna’s wing would be only to have herself turned away at the door.

Forcing a smile, she rubbed at her shoulder. At least I would have a funny story to tell Shiny and the girls, right?

On the plus side, though, it would give her a little extra time to reword her answer in a way that would reduce the likelihood of Luna being upset exponentially.

It might even give her enough time to come up with several options so to avoid such an outcome.

The sound of the door latch clicking brought her out of her thoughts. Twilight turned her attention forward, blinking as she was met with a rather frazzled Midnight Rider.

His ears were pinned back against his scalp as he bowed his head. “My sincerest apologies, Miss!” he said hurriedly. “Er, Princess Luna would be happy to have audience with you right now! I’ve been, um—” though it came muffled through the woodwork, Twilight recognized Luna’s voice speaking sternly to the stallion, cutting him off in mid sentence. His face paled. “Please excuse my wording, Miss Sparkle! I didn’t mean to imply in any way that the Princess might be putting a friend on a lower priority!”

Poor stallion, Twilight thought with a wince. Even if she knew for fact that some duties would have to come before her visits, it was nice to know Luna didn’t want her to think so.

Bowing her head, she stepped through the door, pausing to smile at Midnight Rider. “Thank you, Corporal. And don’t worry—” She glanced into Luna’s room, taking note of the distinct midnight blue walls and more darkened décor “—I’m not at all offended. The princesses have many duties that require their attention, Princess Luna is no exception to that.”

A huff and grumble, followed by a stallion’s laugh made her flick her ear. No doubt Luna heard that she’d been addressed by title, and Erebos had no intent of hiding his amusement.

Midnight Rider bade her to follow, his ears still drooped low as he turned to lead.

As Twilight followed Midnight Rider into the room, she couldn’t help but let her eyes wander over the paintings hanging on the walls. There were so many styles, so many works of Equestria’s most famous artists, she just couldn’t stop herself from staring.

She’d have to ask how and where Luna had gotten them. There was little reason to believe they weren’t originals, but there had to be a story behind them, just like with the music they shared in Golden Oak Library.

Twilight turned her attention to the room itself. It was different from Cadence’s—both in her wing and in the house she shared with Shining—in more ways than she could count. While Cadence preferred things bright and chipper, with pinks and purples lighting up the room like her smile, Luna seemed to enjoy her surroundings to reflect the same awe inspiring darkness of the night, but with a hint of the beauty of its works as shown through the paintings of scenery and ponies dancing with fireflies.

Or laughing and squealing as they were chased by dozens of dark shapes that looked suspiciously like bats, much to the delight of a much younger Luna as she stood with, presumably, their parents.

But at the center of it all was Luna herself. Sitting at her desk in a cushioned swivel chair, she was turned to face Twilight, an small smile graced her muzzle.

Twilight met her eyes and felt all the feelings from the night before flood into her chest. The warmth, the way Luna’s breath ran over her face, how soft those lips felt …

At her side, Midnight Rider saluted. “My Princess,” he said, “announcing Miss Twilight Sparkle.”

Luna broke eye contact with Twilight to shoot him a look. “Yes,” she replied, a note of lingering sternness tinged her voice. “Thank you for admitting my friend to see me, Corporal. That she took time out of her evening to come and visit fills me with great pleasure, and I should be most displeased if I hear one of my Night Guard ever implying otherwise again.”

He sucked in a breath. “Yes, My Princess. It won’t happen again.”

“See that it doesn’t. You’re dismissed.”

Midnight Rider was gone from Twilight’s side before she could blink. The corners of her mouth tugged into a grin. “You didn’t have to be so hard on him,” she said.

“I heard your comment as you entered,” Luna replied with a smirk. “I was attempting to engage in my old manner of rebuffing through addressing two ponies while only speaking directly to one. A hobby of Tia’s these days, or so I hear.”

Twilight felt her cheeks heat up. “I suppose that means I’ll be hearing it for how I addressed you, then?”

Luna’s smirk faded into a small scowl. “You would, if not for Erebos—” she paused to gesture to a darkened corner of the room, where the mischievous captain stepped from the shadows and nodded his head “—informing me that other ponies might be taken aback by such familiarity.” The scowl slipped from her muzzle. Slowly, Luna seemed to try and make herself smaller, ducking her head and furling her wings against her sides. “I, er, hope that was the case, at least, not that my actions last night have led you to reevaluate our, um, standing as it had been prior to my … um … yes.”

The kiss flashed before Twilight’s eyes again. The burn in her cheeks spread throughout her face, to the very tips of her ears.

Oh dear. “No! I didn’t mean that at all!” She waved a hoof back and forth as if to shoo the mere notion away. “It was just the familiarity thing! Like Erebos said!”

Silence hung over the pair, broken only by a Twilight giving a little cough and the squeak of Luna’s chair as she shifted in place.

Fortunately, Erebos seemed to take their silence as a cue. Clearing his throat, he drew luna’s attention. “My Princess, perhaps you might prefer that I be dismissed and take post outside of your suite while you discuss this matter with Miss Twilight?”

Luna sat up straight and glanced between Twilight and Erebos. “That may be for the best.” Her gaze lingered on Twilight, those teal eyes seemed to light up. “Would that be agreeable to you, or would you rather not be—”

“I’d like that,” Twilight said in a rush. She gave a big, forced smile. “I, um, think it would help us sort things out.”

Erebos returned her smile. “In that case, I will take my leave.” He bowed to each in turn, then trotted briskly from the room.

The door shut behind him with a click. Then the oppressive silence returned in full.

Twilight’s smile faltered. She closed her eyes and took yet another deep breath, trying to will herself to talk. Her lips simply wouldn’t cooperate.

Just relax. We’re going to get through this, and then everything will be just dandy. Licking her lips to wet them, she made to speak, but Luna caught her eye.

Fear shone in those brilliant teal eyes as easily seen as the obsidian tiara on Luna’s head. “How have you been?”

The words died on the tip of her tongue. “H-Huh?”

“Since we—well, I, really, but it happened.” Luna’s wings rustled as her gaze fell to the floor. “I did not intend to cause you distress with my confession last night, nor with the kiss.” Her ears drooped, she heaved a heavy sigh. “It was not the time or the place for such a thing. You were already quite vexed with the knowledge you had acquired from Werner’s journal.”

“I wouldn’t call it vexed, just …” Twilight trailed off, shifting in place as she searched for the word. “Surprised. And a bit concerned.”

Luna raised a brow. “Concerned that I might use the contents of somepony’s dreams as ‘blackmail,’ as it is called?”

With a wince, Twilight nodded. “Yes. Among other things.”

“A rather logical concern, I will admit.” Sighing, Luna let her shoulders slump. “You ponies these days are very protective of your privacy. In the age before my banishment, the notion of a guardian mare keeping watch over the realm of dreams was a source of comfort, not fear. But, given that I was the only to wield such power and with respect to my later monicker of choice, I cannot say that I blame you.” She shook her head and looked up to meet Twilight’s eyes. “Nonetheless, we are here in present times, and I must respect that. You have my sincerest apologies for manipulating your dreams, Twilight Sparkle. If it would please you, I will renew an old vow in front of you this very eve.”

An oath?

Twilight blinked. “What sort of oath would that be?”

“When I first began exploring the dream world, I made a promise that I would never betray the privacy of my ponies by revealing what transpired in their dreams.” Luna gave a small smile and offered a hoof. “Would it ease your mind if I were to renew it?”

Eying Luna’s hoof for a moment, Twilight stepped forward until she was close enough reach out and accept the gesture. Then she pushed Luna’s hoof away. “I’m not as afraid that you can dream walk,” she said. “What caught me off guard was that you admitted to manipulating my dream specifically. Not just watching it or checking in on me, but crafting something you knew I’d love.”

Luna drew back, regret written plain upon her face. She hung her head and let her ears lay flat. “I realize that now. I did not think that you would learn of it so soon, nor did I anticipate such an averse reaction afterward, but that is no excuse.” Again she offered Twilight her hoof. “Would you prefer it if I stayed out, then? I will not manipulate your dreams without your express consent again. Nor will I—” she looked away, grimacing as though in pain. “If it will put your concerns at ease, I shan’t look in on your dreams again either. To ensure that your privacy is maintained.”

Twilight breathed in through her nose, a rebuttal was fresh on the tip of her tongue.

But she stopped herself.

The pain on Luna’s face gave her pause. The dream realm was important to Luna, sacred even. Offering to cut a connection to a pony she cared for because of a want for privacy would, logically, have meaning behind it.

In simple terms, she wanted Twilight to know how much she valued her opinion and feelings on the matter.

“That … might tie in with what I wanted to talk about.” She took a shaky breath. Time to see where this takes us. “I’ve taken time today to really think on last night.”

Luna looked up so fast her tiara fell to the floor with a clatter. “You have?” she asked, a note of hope in her voice. Her ears stood up straight before she managed to school her expression into a small, reserved smile. “I, er, I mean, that is wonderful.” She brought her hooves together, tapping them nervously. “I don’t suppose you’ve come to some sort of decision on the, er, ramifications of my actions?”

Ramifications? “I’m sorry. What do you mean ramifications?”

“I caused you distress,” Luna said slowly. “Are you not here to inform me that my actions have consequences that I, as both an adult and a friend, am required to take responsibility for what I have done?”

It took a moment for the words to register.

Slowly, Twilight closed her eyes and smiled. Consequences? Oh, heavens, we’re both just terrible at this.

She took a deep breath. She was ready.

Pausing a moment, a thought came to her. The smile on her muzzle grew into a smirk Cadence would’ve been proud of.

Then again, “consequences” is such a lovely way to put it.

“After careful evaluation of the severity of your actions and hours of reflection, I’ve determined that there’s only one course of action to appropriately address the issue at hoof and ensure that you face the consequences you so rightfully deserve.”

I’ve made my decision. Twilight opened her eyes and leaned in before Luna could react.

Their lips pressed together in a warm, tender kiss. Their second in as many nights.

I came to terms with it in the middle of that coffee shop.

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