• 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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31: The Gift That Waited One Thousand Years

Much like Equestria as a whole, parties had certainly changed in the past thousand years.

Perhaps a bit of the blame could be placed on Luna herself, though. Her parties in the centuries her beautiful Night Court’s influence was at its peak were lavish affairs that could rival that of the Grand Galloping Gala itself. Artists of all disciplines would come from far and wide, bringing family and friend alike to join in the celebrations.

Ponyville was …

Not at all like that.

Having Twilight Sparkle close by her side—as close as she could be without having a wing draped across her back and held tight—through it was a small blessing. Small talk had changed quite a bit since she’d been vanished, and that was without accounting for the difference in trade.

Still, there was something quite fascinating to see in the small town’s fare. Just as they’d been holding their own, quieter, foal friendly affair for Nightmare Night, Golden Harvest’s party was quite tame by comparison to those she’d heard of in Canterlot.

Had any noble or governor received the chance to wear her crown, even for but a second, Luna was certain a line would have formed to shower them with praise and worship. Some might have even begun trying to cozy up to her in order to gain a bit of favor to Luna herself.

Instead, the ponies in Ponyville opted to playfully tease the birthday mare, before resuming the party. Although, with a twist: it had become a game to make sure Golden Harvest not try to sneak off and “lose” her crown.

The first time had almost seemed innocent. Golden Harvest sat down across from Luna and begun to talk about her patch of farmland. When she stood to leave, the crown was on the table.

Luna, dutifully, reminded her of her gift and floated the crown back to its place atop Golden Harvest’s head, which drew a visible blush that several around them saw.

And then everypony turned it into a game.

At her side, Twilight Sparkle tittered into a hoof as she watched Golden try to sneak away without her temporary crown, leaving it resting beside a mare of rosy mane while she chatted with fair Fluttershy. But before she could, Fluttershy raised a hoof.

“Um, Golden? Golden Harvest?” she called just above the dull roar of conversation.

Golden Harvest flinched, everypony stopped what they were doing to watch her turn and fake a smile. “Y-Yes, Fluttershy?”

Fluttershy reached over to the countertop and took the obsidian crown in her hoof. She squirmed, rolling it over between her hooves as if she weren’t sure she wanted to give it back. “I, um, I think you forgot this.” With a tiny squeak, she held it out for Golden.

The mare’s shoulders slumped, laughter swept through the crowd.

Different, Luna thought. Very different.

“Luna,” Twilight called, holding a cup of some strange, pinkish drink up to her. “Try this.”

Luna tilted her head and leaned forward to sniff at the strange drink. She wrinkled her snout. Too sweet. “What in the name of the stars and moon is that?”

“It’s punch.”

“It smells like somepony just dumped sugar in a perfectly good glass of water, then colored it with some strange potion.”

Twilight let out an amused snort. “Just try it,” she said. The cup floated closer to Luna, having just beneath her nose. “If you don’t like it, I’m sure we can find tea or something else.”

Giving a noncommittal hum, Luna let her magic engulf the cup. “Very well.” She brought the cup to her lips, but stopped just short. Her brows flatlined. “Pinkie Pie made this, didn’t she?”

The wide grin she received in reply told her all she needed to know. “It’s supposed to be cherry. Don’t tell Applejack, though. She’ll label Pinkie a traitor to Sweet Apple Acres.”

Luna took another sniff and fought the urge to gag. It smelled as though there was more sugar in the drink than water itself. Something her sister would delight in drinking again and again, despite the effect it would have on her flanks.

“Not putting on weight” my starry tail. Luna eyed the drink one last time, before giving a shrug. “If you insist. I believe the common phrase is ‘bottoms up.’”

She took a sip. Her eyes went wide as the taste of sugar—far too much to be healthy for any pony’s diet—hit her. There was a strange flavoring, nothing like the cherry she was promised. More like overly sweet medicine.

Luna screwed up her face, she tried to force herself to swallow what little she had taken in, but her throat tightened.

Thinking quickly, she brought the cup closer to her mouth and spat out the offending drink. Luna gagged, she summoned a napkin off one of the tables and tried to wipe the taste away.

The sound of poorly hidden giggling made her ears flick. She turned slowly to fix Twilight with a glare. “You knew.”

“I didn’t think you’d react like that!” Twilight replied, her voice cracking with poorly restrained laughter. “It’s just a party drink!”

“I was promised a cherry flavored drink. This—” Luna glared at the offending beverage. It began to bubble and hiss as the arcane glow of her magic flared once, then collapsed in on itself. The cup of punch vanished into nothingness, banished from her presence. “—Is not cherry flavored anything. It is colored water with more sugar than should be consumed by any pony in a week, let alone one drink.”

What little control Twilight had remaining broke. She threw a hoof over her mouth to muffle her laughter, her cheeks turned bright red as she gave into her mirth.

Luna set her jaw. Laugh at me, will you, dear? The corners of her mouth tugged into a wicked smirk, one remnant of the one her corrupted self once wore, or the one she used when playing her games with uppity visitors to her Court.

If Twilight wished to play games, then let them begin. She was playing with one who had centuries of courtship experience.

Newcomers to romance always did squirm in such a lovely manner. Luna would just have to wait for the opportune moment.

Her eyes flitted to Twilight’s lips. They looked soft, inviting even. Like they were calling out to her, begging for her to just swoop down on Twilight and kiss her until those beautiful purple eyes crossed and a deep blush colored her cheeks.

Later, Luna told herself. She allowed a small smile to play upon her lips. Good things come to those who wait.

What was a few hours to a mare who had waited a thousand years to come home?

Twilight turned and gestured toward the doorway to the kitchen. “I’ll go see about making some tea. Why don’t you stick around here for a little bit, maybe talk to somepony else?”

Luna sucked in a breath through her nose. Other ponies? As in, ponies that weren’t Twilight? “Um. Yes, of course. That would be, uh, most agreeable, “she replied with a decidedly forced smile. Though she couldn’t help but add, “Do hurry.”

“You can’t rush good tea,” Twilight said, shaking her head as she began to trot toward the kitchen. She turned over her shoulder to fix Luna with a playful smirk. “You know, this would be a good chance to practice that reconnecting thing you mentioned. It’d go great with how you played with the foals earlier.”

Luna bit her lip. She looked around the room, seeking anypony familiar to strike up a conversation.

Who, though?

No doubt if she simply trotted over to converse with one of Twilight’s friends, her girlfriend would claim it counterproductive to stay within her own circle of friends for so long without at least trying to make some of her own.

Still, where to start? Fluttershy and Rarity were talking to a trio of mares with flower cutie marks, Rainbow Dash and Applejack were locked in a heated contest of strength—a hoof wrestling contest, as Erebos called it when she happened upon a few off-duty guards taking part themselves.

Speaking of which, Erebos stood beside the table with Moondancer still under wing. A small smile played upon his lips as he sent quips indiscriminately, taunting both mares the instant either showed hint of faltering.

Rainbow’s hoof began to fall, the mare struggled to right it, she gritted her teeth and slowly forced it up until it was back at the starting point.

Erebos’ amber eyes flashed, his face split into a fanged grin as he leaned toward her and began muttering a few words that made Applejack, Moondancer, and several others around them—including Pinkie Pie, who had donned an odd white-and-black striped shirt for some reason or other—burst into laughter.

Rainbow Dash, on the other hoof, pinned her ears back and let out a growl. “Just you wait!” she ground out, throwing as much of her strength into pushing Applejack’s hoof down as she could. “When I’m done with farmer-mare here, you’re next! And I’m gonna rip that leg out of its socket!”

Erebos just threw his head back and laughed. “Have to actually win before you can do that! And shouldn’t you be focused on that right now instead of jawing back at me?” He heaved a mock sigh and turned his attention to Moondancer, nuzzling into her neck. “I swear, I’d have to make her fly laps around Canterlot if she were to try enlisting in my Night Guard, honey!”

“I’m not trying to be one of your dang guards! I’m gonna be a Wonderbolt!” Rainbow snapped back. She turned to glare at him, her body shifted. And with it went her leverage.

It was all Luna could do not to bring a hoof to her forehead. “Oh, Rainbow, you brash, young fool,” she muttered. “That was exactly what he wanted.”

There was a loud thud as Rainbow’s hoof hit the table. Applejack let out a whoop and whipped her hat off her head, throwing her hooves into the air while the crowd of ponies around them cheered.

Rainbow could only stare in muted horror. She held her head in her hooves, much to Erebos’ delight.

“Gonna be a Wonderbolt, huh?” he teased. He patted her shoulder and turned to lead Moondancer away from the table. “Gotta learn to tune out the crowd, rookie. Spitfire doesn’t care for ponies botching moves because they’re distractible.”

The glare Rainbow shot him could’ve curdled milk.

Luna shook her head and smiled. “Oh, t’would appear that one of my foals in gilded dress has made himself a new friend,” she mused, chuckling as she watched Rainbow shoot up out of her chair and land in his path to demand a hoof wrestling match with him.

She turned away. Erebos could have his fun without her watching over like a nosy mother, no matter how much he felt close enough to be her foal.

He wasn’t. None of her Night Guards truly were, but they were close enough.

They were all a part of her little family. The last remnants of her Children of the Night.

Another shake of her head. Tia would tell me not to dwell on bygone days. Luna searched the crowd, humming to herself while she tried to find somepony who seemed open to conversation.

Or those who might seem worth our attention.

Luna let her shoulders slump. “You again. I thought you’d have left me by now.”

The voice in her head gave a snort. You know full well that you’ll never be rid of yourself. That aberration you were for a thousand years may have been removed, and years of your own folly in dabbling with darker magics undone, but you can’t hide from the truth. Even if you keep it locked away in your desk drawer.

Hide from it? No, I suppose I cannot. Luna’s eyes found a pair of mares standing by the snack table, one a cream-white unicorn with a mane similar to Shining Armor’s, but far more wild and unkempt, while the other a charcoal gray earth pony with long, flowing chestnut mane and tail.

Curiously, the unicorn wore purple lensed glasses indoors, while her companion wore a collar and pink bowtie as if she were ready to go to a formal event.

Well. They were certainly interesting enough.

The earth pony is quite muscled from whatever burden she bears. She would make a fine asset to the Night Guard should she join.

I am not here to recruit, I am here to enjoy the party. With a smile, Luna began to walk over to them. Besides, she thought. Who said I was hiding from you? I simply would delight in finding the deepest, darkest pit in Tartarus to throw you in.

Another snort. What a foalish thing to say. Have you truly forgotten all those years you spent protecting Equestria with the Night Guard?

Her hooves stopped moving. Luna closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She let it out. I remember a young fool of a princess who saw that her older sister had grown weary and tired of seeing death, so she decided to do something about it. That fool became you, the vision that haunted the monsters who dared threaten our ponies, and then, the same that would haunt those she loved for a thousand years.

Luna took in another deep breath, forcing herself to look ahead at the two mares a short distance away from her.

They hadn’t noticed her. The way they interacted, how happy they were together, the earth pony chattering away while the unicorn just smiled and nodded, was …


She smiled again. I have learned from my follies. I shall move forward and leave the mare I once was behind, buried in the sands of time. With an almost vindictive pleasure, Luna took another step forward and delivered the killing blow.

Exactly where she belongs.

It took all her self-control not to crow at the silence that came in reply.

Truly, a great victory for her.

She stopped within hoof’s reach of the mares. They flicked their ears toward her and turned, the earth pony gave a surprised gasp and hastily bowed. “Your Highness!” she greeted in a Trottingham accent, her voice cracking as she spoke.

The unicorn just smiled before bowing as well.

Two different looks, two different personalities. Two very different ways of greeting their Princess.

Luna smiled and offered a hoof. “Please. We need not stand on ceremony, friends. Besides—” she arched a brow, stealing a glance over her shoulder to where Golden Harvest stood, her cheeks flushed as the foals who’d piled themselves upon Luna bowed before her and tried their best to cajole the temporarily crowned Princess of Harvest for her freshest fares “—I believe your princess for the evening is holding court over there.”

The unicorn mare snorted and stood up straight. She nudged her earth pony friend with an elbow before making a series of rather strange gestures with her hoof: she tapped her shoulder, then her wrist, then crossed her hoof over her chest and finished by tapping twice on the hardwood floor.

“My friend says you have an amazing sense of humor, Your Highness,” her companion said with a smile. She straightened up and met Luna’s gaze. “And I must agree.”

What in Equestria? “I see.” Luna looked between the mares. “And does your friend not wish to speak for herself in my presence, Miss …?”

“Octavia Melody, Your Highness.” Octavia bowed again. “As for my friend, Vinyl, I’m afraid she can’t speak. She was born a mute.”

Luna wrinkled her nose. “Mute?” she repeated. The term was unfamiliar in this context. A pony who couldn’t speak wasn’t called a mute in her day. It almost sound like Octavia meant to call her …

Vinyl nudged Octavia again. She tapped three times on the floor, pointed to Luna, then touched the side of her head.

“Oh! Of course.” Octavia coughed. “Vinyl believes that you might have said she were ‘dumb’ in your day, Your Highness. It became mute because dumb means … well, stupid, now.”

A grimace tugged at her lips. “I see. Well, thank you for informing me of this change in vernacular. That would’ve been quite embarrassing.”

Grinning, Vinyl shrugged and brushed her shoulder twice.

“Don’t worry about it,” Octavia supplied. She relaxed a bit, her ears stood up to full height though. Luna had her attention. “How may we help you, Your Highness?”

Luna flicked an ear. “Help me? I require no aid, Miss Octavia, I simply wished to talk. Though I admit that I would like you not be so formal with me. Even simply calling me Princess Luna would do.”

Vinyl tapped four times on the floor, shook her hoof in mid air, then touched her nose.

“I am not saying ‘what’s up, home skillet’ to one of our princesses!” Octavia snapped, aghast at the mere notion. Her face contorted into an angry scowl as Vinyl fixed her with a smug smirk. “Oh, shut up! That doesn’t count!”

Her companion simply lit her horn and pulled her glasses down to the bridge of her snout so her cerise eyes showed. Vinyl waggled her eyebrows, then pushed her glasses back up.

Octavia huffed. “Jerk.”

Confused, Luna looked between the pair. So many questions came to mind, but one made it to the tip of her tongue faster than all the others.

“I do not understand. What is a ‘home skillet?’”

A groan escaped Octavia’s lips. She brought a hoof to her forehead and made a point of ignoring Vinyl as she furiously tapped out a new phrase, even making a show of pinning her ears flat to block out the rhythm.

“Please don’t make me explain it!” Octavia whined. “She’ll never let me hear the end of it if you make me the one to explain modern vernacular and how nonsensical phrases have been added to our language!”

Luna’s eyes flitted to Vinyl, who wore a grin so wicked she could have passed for Erebos’ sister. Or perhaps a very, very distant relative.

“Very well. Another question, then.” She glanced between the mares—or, more specifically, their cutie marks.

A black eighth note pair and a violet treble clef. Symbols of music.

Her heart skipped a beat. Had she happened upon a pair of music lovers by chance?

That she didn’t sing praise to whatever had blessed her with such fortune was a testament to her restraint. Instead, she managed to keep herself to naught but a small smile as she nodded to each of them in turn. “I could not help but notice your cutie marks, and your name, Miss Octavia,” she said. “Perchance, do you both hold talent in some area of music?”

In almost perfect unison, Vinyl’s smirking and Octavia’s grimacing ceased. Their ears perked up straight.

A demure smile spread slowly across Octavia’s muzzle. She gave a little cough. “Yes, indeed,” she said, holding a hoof up to her chest. “As a matter of fact, I’m the first chair in the Royal Canterlot Symphony’s cello quartet and a graduate of Canterlot University’s School of Fine Arts and Music.”

Luna perked up. “Oh?” There was a school for musicians? Why had no pony thought to inform her? What had Celestia not told her the instant she returned? “Forgive me if I may sound presumptive, but I detect a note of pride in your voice. I take it the University is quite prestigious?”

Octavia bobbed her head. “Very much so! And very selective!”

At her side, Vinyl began furiously making a rhythm of four quick taps and a single stomp, then repeating it again and again until Octavia gave her a flat look, then added, “Yes, Vinyl, I was just getting to that.”

“What does she say?” Luna chuckled.

“She says, and I quote, ‘Me, too! Me, too! Me, too!’” Octavia raised a hoof. “To the Canterlot University portion. She does not play the cello, nor is she in the Symphony with me.” A frown marred her muzzle. “Though, if she would apply her talents toward a more classical genre …”

Rather than reply with her tapping, Vinyl simply favored to stick out her tongue and waggle her ears.

“She plays electronic synthesized music,” Octavia said after a moment, taking an extra second to glare at her friend. “Her stage name is—and yes, this is really it—DJ Pon-3.”

Vinyl tapped five times on the floor, then jumped and made a quick beat with all four hooves, and finished by brushing her right hoof against the side of her nose thrice.

Octavia let out another groan and brought her hoof to her forehead once again. “She says ‘top DJ in the house, homeslice’—oh, Celestia, did you have to say it like that?”

It was all Luna could do not to snicker. She felt light! Giddy, even!

A pair of musicians of high regard, right before her in such a small town!

Memories of her former Night Court flashed before her very eyes. Werner and Tempo’s faces made their way to the forefront—the closest of friends, yet the fiercest of rivals who would spend days bickering over time signatures and music theory.

Octavia and Vinyl were almost similar. One from the classical school, one from the more modern school Cadence might favor.

How very interesting.

“I have yet to have the opportunity to take in a performance by the Symphony. Or any of your genre, Miss Vinyl,” Luna said, choosing her words carefully.

The mares regarded her with confusion. Vinyl touched her shoulders, then tapped her chest, then she shrugged.

“No worries,” Octavia translated, then added, “Princess, you’ve been gone quite some time. It’s no small wonder you haven’t had the chance to take in a concert yet. It’s best you go at your own pace, I would think.”

Luna gave a rueful smile. “Too true it is. Though, I must confess, I have delayed quite a bit on getting myself back into the public eye, as it were. For—” she looked away, searching the crowd for any sign of Twilight’s tricolored mane. “Various reasons.”

There she was, stopped just a few paces from the kitchen door to chat with Pinkie. A bright smile graced her muzzle, those brilliant purple eyes were lit up, full of so much life and happiness.

Yes. Various reasons centered around the wonderful mare on the other side of the room.

She returned her attention to the pair of musicians. “Yes, various reasons. But I would like to resume my old practices. The art community was always an interest of mine, and I enjoyed being a regular fixture at the old concert halls.” Pausing a beat, she bit her lip. I wonder. “Tell me, do the modern halls still hold to the old traditions?”

Octavia’s eyes lit up. “There are many traditions we still hold dear, Princess,” she replied in a rush. “There’s the introduction of the conductor, who then proceeds to introduce the lead chairs and tell a bit about the pieces we’ll be performing.”

Luna hummed and gave an approving nod. A rather nice spin on how conductors—then composers—would take time to introduce their pieces by title and even tell a little bit about how they came to write it. Whether their discussion came before or after it was played was entirely up to the pony—or griffon—behind the stand.

But Octavia had yet to finish.

“Though, I would have to say the most important I can think of is that, if Princess Celestia or Princess Cadence are present, the conductor will wait for them to give their permission to begin.” Octavia beamed. “I’ve been privileged enough to play for Princess Cadence on many occasions, Princess Celestia doesn’t appear as much as she once did, or so I’m told.”

Midnight blue feathers fluffed. Luna felt her breath hitch in her throat.

“And the balcony?” She asked hastily, a grin spread across her muzzle. “They have the balcony, yes?”

“Of course.”

Her heart raced. Calm. Calm down. It will not be the same. She took a deep breath, schooling her expression to a more reserved smile. “I suppose the balconies are decorated with purple satin and adorned with my sister’s sun then, yes? Or perhaps my niece’s crystal heart, since she has been more present in recent years?”

Vinyl snorted and shook her head. She waved her hoof from side to side. Then she went into a rather complicated pattern of touching a hoof to either ear, then quickly touching her ear then her nose before drawing a circle in the air. To finish up, she sat back on her haunches and placed her hooves together, leaning her head on them as though she were laying down to sleep.

As had been the routine, Octavia was ready to translate. “No. Vinyl has been with me to many concerts in many different cities. She says—and I can confirm—that each is decorated with blue satin and bears a crescent moon above the throne.”

They kept it.

A hoof leapt to her mouth. Her vision blurred as her eyes brimmed with tears.

Even after all this time.

But did they know why?

“Would I be pressing too far in asking whether or not you might know why the crescent moon remains on display?”

Vinyl bobbed her head and signed a few things for Octavia as fast as she could.

“She says—oh, would you slow down! I can’t translate that fast!” Octavia scolded her. Sighing, she took her work back up. “She says that there was a time nearly a thousand years ago when the newer concert halls were being built when the architects weren’t certain if it was acceptable to continue decorating the Royal Balcony with the image of a crescent moon, so they went to ask Princess Celestia and, her understudy at the time, Princess Cadence …”

The rest of her explanation fell upon deaf ears. Luna blinked a few times. She brought up a hoof to chase away a few stray tears.

My niece.

My sister.

All those years spent hating Celestia, all the time spent looking down her nose at Cadence … Why did hindsight hurt her so?

How can I ever repay them for keeping some small part of me alive for a thousand years, even though I betrayed my ponies? How can I ever tell Tia how much it means to me?

They still loved her.

“I’m back!”

Twilight’s voice nearly made Luna jump out of her coat. She turned, flaring her wings out wide to steady herself. “By the stars, mare!” Luna held a hoof to her chest to soothe her racing heart. “Do you mean to make mine heart burst from my chest?”

Purple eyes danced with mirth. “Coming from the mare who delighted in scaring the foals on Nightmare Night and just made it a point to pull her dissolve into stars trick to surprise Pipsqueak?” Twilight retorted. “I don’t think you have much room to talk, Luna.”

Any other night, Luna would have been all to happy to turn things around. Instead, she pushed her thoughts of Celestia and Cadence aside and pointed at Octavia and Vinyl and said, “These lovely ladies were just telling me about the balconies in the concert halls. And the traditions from my day still remain!”

“Oh?” Twilight floated a cup of steaming tea over. “Which ones?”

Luna accepted the cup, her giddiness made her magic flare around it, the tea bubbled and sizzled in her grasp. Her wings fluttered, she had to fight every urge to prance in place as she did the night after her first visit. “They still wait for the princesses to begin the show! The balconies still bear my mark!”

Twilight’s ears perked up, the teasing smile wiped from her face, replaced by a more warm, genuine grin.

“Your mark, Princess?” Octavia asked before Twilight could give a reply.

They both turned to face her, Luna sucked in her lips at the way Octavia furrowed her brows as if unsure to believe her.

Several taps on the floor cut through the air as Vinyl began saying something to her friend.

Octavia turned toward her and frowned. “What are you laughing at me for? It’s a legitimate question!”

Vinyl grinned. She sat back on her haunches so she could sign freely, her hooves moved so fast Luna could barely track them.

“I did not fall asleep in art history class! Just because you took one of the most obscure subjects doesn’t mean I was a bad student! And claiming something should’ve been obvious isn’t explaining!”

More signing. Vinyl waggled her ears and stuck out her tongue.

“And just which of us showed up drunk to an exam, hmm? I was a model student, you were the party animal!” Octavia huffed. “Explain, or I’ll take a bloody hatchet to that detestable turntable of yours! And you’ll be on the couch!”

Luna brought a hoof to her mouth as she watched Vinyl shrug, her grin never faltering as she did just as Octavia demanded. She cast a sidelong look at Twilight and raised a brow.

Twilight giggled. “They always banter like this. It caught me by surprise the first time too—I thought Octavia was talking to herself.”

“Had they not explained Miss Vinyl being a ‘mute’, I would wonder the same,” Luna replied, her eyes flitted back to Octavia, watching closely for the mare’s reaction when Vinyl finished by pointing very emphatically at her. Several times.

It didn’t disappoint.

Violet eyes wide and jaw hanging low, Octavia took a step back from Vinyl as though she had been struck. She turned to Luna, then Vinyl, and back again several times.

“I—oh, goodness—I never even …” Octavia brought her hooves up to her mouth. “I didn’t even think to put it together with your return.”

Luna gave a wan smile. “I would think it justifiable, Miss Octavia. I have not been as active in the community as I was once.” Pausing to take a sip of her tea, she let her ears droop. “I shan’t pretend it does not pain me to be so widely forgotten, but it is nice to find that my happier influences on the land still linger. Even if they do seem obscure.” She looked between Vinyl and Twilight. “Though, a few seem to have sifted through the sands of time to find me before I became Nightmare Moon.”

Twilight blushed. “I’m a very curious pony.”

“To my benefit, it seems.”

Vinyl signed a few things out, then shrugged.

“She was bored in senior year,” Octavia translated with a heavy sigh. “But she remembered upon seeing you on Nightmare Night and put two and two together, as it were.”

“I see.” Luna frowned. “Then why did you not approach me?”

With another shrug, Vinyl signed out another reply.

“She says, and I do quote, ‘for the same reasons I don’t waltz up to Princess Celestia or Princess Cadence and ask them to join me for a beer when I see them backstage at Tavi’s shows—you’re a Princess. I’m not meant to act casual unless you say.’”

Luna flicked her tail. Her Children of the Night had never shied away from talking to her about the arts before, even when they sat in her Night Court. If anything, they flocked to her like, well, her own foals.

While the pair before her grew up without her acting as their Matron, Luna was not one to take a perception that she desired distance.

Stealing another look at Twilight, she gave her reply, “I have desired to return to my former station, but I know that will take time. I do miss the concert halls, and my sister has said that she would like me to take in a performance or two.”

Octavia’s face lit up. “The Royal Symphony has a performance coming up at the end of the month!” she replied, a quiver of giddiness tinging her tone. “It would be an honor if you’d join us!”

At her side, Vinyl smirked and added her own quip.

“Oh, shut up! I can advertise and be helpful!”

Luna gave an amused snort. Truly, they are quite the pair. Her eyes darted toward Twilight again. An idea came to mind. “I think I just might.”

A grin bright enough to light up the deepest, darkest night spread across Octavia’s muzzle. She bowed low and hurriedly babbled out her thanks and promises that the Symphony would not disappoint her.

Much to Vinyl’s amusement, of course.

Fortunately for Octavia, Twilight chose that moment to steer the conversation away from the concert before Vinyl could tease her further. Instead, she stepped closer to her fellow unicorn and began prodding for details on what class she’d taken to hear about Luna, what she found, and all sorts of other things.

Humming to herself, Luna sipped at her tea. Her mind centered less on her own history, more on the mare she fell for.

I did promise to take things slow.

A smiled played upon her lips. The concert would make for a lovely little night together.

Still, that would take a bit of time to figure out how to deliver her invitation. Courting had changed since her last relationship, no doubt. Perhaps she would have to consult Cadence on the matter.

Speaking of whom …

Luna closed her eyes and took a deep breath.

I must have words with my sister and niece.

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