• 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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4: Monuments More Lasting Than Bronze

Luna trotted through the large wooden doors, nodding to her sister’s Day Guard as she passed. Tia had beaten her to the table, despite having raised the sun after the moon had been lowered. Yet again.

There was a joke to be made about how swiftly the elder alicorn moved when food was mentioned. However, Luna allowed her ever-faithful captain of the Night Guard, Erebos, to make that little quip.

She bit the inside of her cheek as she approached the empty seat across from her sister, doing her very best not to give any sign of amusement. Explaining her guard’s sense of humor was not on her list of things to do.

Though the look of abject shock on both ponies’ faces would certainly be worth it—especially if she could catch sight of a blush on her bat pony companion’s cheeks—their complaining would be most unpleasant.

Perhaps I shall save this for the next time he tries to sneak a glance at my poetry book.

She pushed those thoughts aside for later as she came to a stop by her seat. “Good morrow to you, sister.” Luna bowed her head to Celestia. She waited by her seat as Erebos dutifully pulled it out for her. Whispering her thanks, she took her seat before addressing her sister again. “I hope your rest was well.”

Celestia beamed as bright as the morning sun. “I slept very well, Luna, and enjoyed yet another of your beautiful nights before I retired. Thank you. I missed the way you painted the night sky, almost as much as I missed your company those thousand years.”

A flash of pain flared in her chest. Memories of darkness, despair, loneliness, and that helm flashed before her eyes. But Luna maintained her smile, both for her sake and her sister’s. “As I missed you, sister. And as we have said to one another every morning, noon, and night since my return.” She kept her tone light and cheerful throughout her reply.

“Yes,” Celestia sighed heavily, as had become habit whenever these talks came up, “but I can’t forget such a long time without you. No matter how tiresome it may seem.”

Luna nodded once, and her smile faltered. “We have all the time in the world, Tia. We never stopped being sisters, no matter how far apart we drifted.” She shook her head, dispelling those memories of years gone by. She paused for a moment, toying with her napkin absent-mindedly. Slowly, her smile began to return. “But, what’s done is done. We are together again, let us focus on what is most important: the future.”

“Indeed. To the future, then!” Celestia raised her glass, the radiance in her expression shining as bright as the sun.

Stifling a laugh, Luna returned the gesture. “Hear, hear! To the future! Tea, mead, and cake for all!”

Celestia quirked an eyebrow. “So chipper at this hour? I must’ve missed something interesting last night! Speaking of which,” her tone shifted from light teasing to casual business in an instant, “How was Night Court?”

Luna’s ear flicked at the change in demeanor, rather sudden for her taste, and for going from such a fun little exchange to this tired old thing. “Empty, as per usual. Though, I should be thankful. I was able to take care of a personal matter and managed to address an oversight. A productive evening, if I may say so.”

Celestia raised an eyebrow, though her expression betrayed no outward sign of emotion—just the mask she wore whenever they played chess together. That same calculating stare that always managed to pierce through her, peering into her soul. As a filly, Luna hated that stare; she couldn’t hide anything from it.

Finally, her sister broke her silence. “Miss Moondancer, made mention of your sudden trip.” Her façade broke, a smirk playing upon her lips. “I don’t recall any official appointments last night.”

Moondancer... Moondancer... Luna resisted tapping her chin as she tried to place the name with a face. My hoofmaiden! She glared at Celestia, then schooled her expression to calm again. Of course her sister would place one of her own students in among the staff. She snorted. It figures the mare would be a gossip, too.

Making a note to have words with Moondancer after breakfast, Luna pasted a smile on her face. Her tail twitched behind her as a servant levitated two plates of food over to the table. “That was an error on my part. One which has, unfortunately, plagued me since my return.”

“How does that apply to the lack of scheduling? Surely, a bit of notice wouldn’t have caused issue?”

“Yes and no. A set date would have been a welcome goal to strive for, a deadline, if you will. But I found myself unable to prepare sufficiently each time I tried to set one. I believe the senechal spoke to you on the matter.”

“Did she? I don’t recall any mention of a meeting, perhaps you are—oh!” Celestia brought a hoof to her mouth. “The paper you were using; it was for this meeting?”

Luna nodded once. “I struggled for quite some time to get my thoughts down on paper. When I finally managed to write something that I felt was adequate, I found myself unable to act on my desires to speak with the pony it was meant for. I believe the term ‘stage fright’ is still used in this modern age, yes?”

“Quite frequently, yes.” She raised a glass of orange juice to her lips, sipping lightly before continuing. “Might I ask who would make you so nervous as to delay for so long, and then take a trip in the middle of the night? That’s not the Lulu I remember.”

Another flash of memories. Lavish parties, art galleries, crowds of ponies in fancy dress smiling and laughing. Luna shook herself again to escape the pains of yesteryear. “That was long ago. Far too many years to count.” She grimaced, narrowing her sea blue eyes. She said it again. Perfect time for a distraction and quick subject change. “I thought I requested that you not call me ‘Lulu’ in public.”

“Oh, come now, Lulu.” Her grimace set into a steady frown. “Our guards don’t count as the public and you know it.” Celestia tittered to herself, pausing to take a bite of her pancake. Her eyes lit up at the taste. “Oooh! I really must speak with Pan Fry! He always manages to make these just right.”

Luna snorted. “You and your pancakes.” She paused to take a sip of her juice to disguise her smirk. “With such talk, one would think they are a major staple of your diet, sister.” One look at her sister’s cheeks puffing up and turning red nearly made her inhale her drink. Luna bit her lip, fighting in vain against a fit of giggles.

“Oh, hush, you!” Celestia shot a mock glare in her direction. “I’ll have you know this exact meal was a weekly tradition between Twilight and I while she lived here!”

That was enough to stop Luna’s amusement in its tracks. Her full attention caught at the mention of Twilight’s name. “Really? When did this start?”

“Years ago, when Twilight first arrived in the castle.” Celestia’s eyes looked off into nowhere. She closed her eyes and sighed to herself, lost in the memories of yesteryear.

Luna took a bite of her own pancake to disguise the smile that flitted across her face, humming to herself as she savored the taste. The sweet taste of daisies worked in odd compliment with the typical biting taste of dandelions. A peculiar, yet pleasant combination.

And judging by the nostalgia her sister was lost in, past breakfasts with Twilight Sparkle had certainly left their mark in her long life. They were memories that Celestia definitely cherished, even missed if Luna would be so bold as to assume.

“Pray tell, what started this tradition?” Luna inquired, waving her hoof in a circular motion.

Celestia flinched, jolting out of her haze. “Oh! Sorry. I lost myself for a moment!” She cleared her throat, adjusting herself in her cushion. “When I first began teaching her, Twilight alternated between staying here and returning to her family’s home—usually, she would stay the night on days when we had our later lessons. Understandably, she was rather homesick those nights.” A wistful smile crept across her face again. “So, I asked her mother if there was something I might do to make her feel welcome.”

“Only welcome?” Luna’s ear flicked at the choice in words. “Not ‘at home’ in the castle?”

“No.” Her sister shook her head. Luna caught a noticeable tinge in her voice, hinting at something behind her answer. “Not at home. I wanted her to feel welcome, not as though she was leaving her family. Twilight moved into her tower after she graduated from my school and chose to continue on in her studies.”

Luna wasn’t sure what to say. The tone she caught was not Celestia’s typical even-keeled lecturing manner. As her sister continued, her ears perked up to their full height.

Celestia either didn’t notice her change in posture or chose to pay it no mind. “When I spoke with Velvet, she mentioned that their family had a lot going on, what with Shining Armor enlisting in the Royal Guard Academy, Twilight’s schooling, and their own work. So, they made it a habit to have daisy and dandelion pancakes together once every week, no matter what they had going on.”

“Really?” She would’ve given her tiara for a quill and pad of paper at this moment. Free information was never easy to come by, she knew that for a fact. Any of the sort was always valuable. But insight on a friend’s habits was worth its weight in gold. “How does this translate to us eating them now?”

“Well, Velvet and I hatched a plan together,” Celestia leaned in, her muzzle breaking into a sly smirk, “while Twilight was still sleeping, I had her family brought over to join us for breakfast. Velvet went into the kitchen and showed the cook how to make her pancakes. So, when Twilight woke up and came out to eat, as shy as ever, she found me sitting at the table with them.” She chuckled to herself. “Oh, you should’ve seen her face! She sat right down on the floor and rubbed her eyes to make sure she wasn’t sleeping. Then she asked what everypony was doing here!”

Luna was on the edge of her seat. “And then what?”

“Velvet looked at her, smiled and said ‘I’m eating breakfast with my family and a friend!’” She nickered at the tales of years gone by. “Oh, that was the start of her finally opening up and relaxing. Though,” her smile slipped from her face, falling into a deep frown, “I never could get her to stop walking on eggshells around me. Twilight still worries so much about impressing me… And still fears disappointing me.”

Silence reigned over the sisters. Luna watched as her sister picked at her food, a far cry from her usual self. She hadn’t dallied over a meal since they were foals.

Clearly, the topic was a sore spot for her sister. But why?

A connection with what Luna had witnessed last night, perhaps? Each of Twilight’s little ticks, every time she shied from the praise levied on her, flitted before Luna’s eyes. Curious, both Twilight’s ticks and Celestia’s apparent lamentation. The two ponies who most heavily influenced her life in this modern age weren’t happy. Both for their own reasons.

This is the perfect chance to talk with Tia. Luna adjusted her posture and sat up straight. “I am sure that Twilight only wishes to prove that the knowledge you instilled in her is being put to good use. Quite evident in the lessons she has learned with her friends.”

“Hmm, true.” Celestia nodded. Her ears perked up a bit as her frown evened out. She looked up at Luna and sighed. “And you seem to enjoy her friendship reports, don’t you?”

She couldn’t help but grin. Fortune smiles upon me this morn. “Indeed. In fact, this brings us back to your original question.”

An eyebrow was raised. “How so?”

“My evening meeting, the one I did not schedule as an official visit.” Luna raised her head, standing proud in the face of her sister’s questioning. “Twilight Sparkle was the pony I visited.”

Celestia stared, blinking her eyes several times. Her even keeled expression slowly morphed back into a small smirk—the very smirk Luna foresaw last night. “Really?”

And here we go…

Luna swished her tail. “Yes, yes, I took an evening flight in secret to visit your prized student. There was a matter that I wished to discuss with her.”

“Oh? Pray tell, what might that be?”

“Her friendship reports.” Her hoof fiddled with the edge of her cushion. “You know how they inspire me to… to better myself.”

A single nod in reply. “Yes,” Celestia paused to take a bite of pancake, “I believe that you may be the only pony more excited than I when one of her letters arrives. But why the sudden decision to visit again? You saw her on Nightmare Night, didn’t you?”

Luna hummed in assent. “Yes. But, I had still yet to properly thank her for everything. Freeing me from my corruption, her inspiring letters, and then her help that night. All I had done was nearly deafen her by shouting.” She grimaced. In spite of her conversation with Twilight, memories of ponies fleeing as she bellowed in the old Royal Canterlot Voice. “It took me so long to pluck up the courage to meet her one on one…”

A white hoof reached across and took hold of hers. Luna caught a flash of concern in her sister’s eyes. “I’m sure she didn’t hold it against you, Lulu.” Celestia’s tone carried a warmth and hint of fondness that had become typical of any conversation centered around her student. She retracted her hoof and sat up straight. Her cup floated up to hover near her lips. “Now, tell me about your visit! How did it go?”

“Very well!” She couldn’t hold back her excitement. Luna beamed, bouncing in place. She pointedly ignored Erebos’s suspicious coughing fit, too lost in her exuberance. “We spoke over tea, both with her and young Spike, and had a most satisfying discussion!”

“Well, out with it mare! Don’t keep your poor, aging sister in suspense!”

“You forgot ‘heavy-set’.” Luna shot back, ducking a light bolt of golden magic. “Really, now? Quite rude of you, sister! What would our ponies say if they saw that?”

Celestia scoffed and waved a hoof. “They would agree with me and demand to know how last evening went—no dodging the subject, little sister!” Her grin betrayed the stern tone she tried to pass off. “As my little ponies would say: spill it!”

“Oh, very well!” She huffed, holding her nose up like some of the prim and proper nobles she’d seen around Canterlot. The facade dropped almost instantly as she opened an eye and stuck out her tongue. “It was… nice! I spoke with her and thanked her for all that she’d done for me—both in how she influenced me directly and indirectly—and told her that I hoped that we might be friends.”

That certainly got Celestia’s full attention. She beamed and clapped her hooves. “Wonderful! I’m so proud of you, Lulu! She said yes, I presume?”

"Well, not at first... she seemed surprised. She stared at me a moment and then…” Luna trailed off, letting out a cute little squeal. “She said that she considered us friends already!"

"Splendid!" Celestia cheered. She let a tiny nicker escape her lips, her own hooves drumming lightly on the table. "I'm so glad to hear you've found somepony to share your companionship with!"

"Yes! She—oh, Tia, she even agreed that we might spend more time together! I haven't had a friend in so long, I... I forgot how wonderful it feels!"

Again, her sister patted her hoof. “I know, little sister. I sympathize with you. The ones we knew in those days are…” She looked off to the side, the slightest shimmer of tears welling up in her eyes. Celestia took a deep breath and resumed her kindly smile before turning back. “Gone. But, we can honor them in our memories and by doing our best to learn from the past while moving toward a better future.” Her smile turned teasing once again as her eyes took on a familiar twinkle. “In your case, it seems that means that you’re going to steal my student right out from under my nose!”

Luna flicked a droplet of juice at her giggling sister. “Away with your teasing, you wicked mare!” She levied a glare as Celestia only broke into full-blown laughter at her demand. “You know that is not my intent in the slightest!”

“I’m sorry, I just couldn’t resist!” Celestia’s horn flared. In a flash, she was at Luna’s side, wrapping her in a tight hug. “I’m so happy for you both, Lulu! Truly, I am.” Luna giggled as she was pulled in and kissed soundly on her cheek.Celestia’s happy sigh ghosted against her face. “Two of the ponies closest to me finding friendship together. My happiness knows no bounds.”

She couldn’t resist snuggling into Celestia’s side, finding warmth in her sister. Luna had to withhold sigh as a wing was wrapped around her withers, bringing forth memories of foalhood days spent in the warm meadows gone by.

Luna leaned up and nuzzled under her cheek. “Thank you, sister. This means so much to me.”

The sisters held their embrace, savoring the little bit of free time they had to just be together before going back to their duties.

But something nagged at the back of Luna’s mind. A tiny voice, disrupting her happy state with it’s treacherous whisper.

Twilight Sparkle shied away from praise she rightfully deserves… Your friend is not well. Celestia knows something.

Luna rested her head against her sister’s shoulder. Thinking back, Celestia had given some hint of experience on the matter. Or, at least, her experience in teaching Twilight had given her insight into her student’s psyche.

I must know. Luna pulled back to look into her sister’s deep purple eyes. “Tia… There is something I must ask.”

“Oh?” Celestia drew back and blinked, confusion visible in her eyes. “Is something the matter? You seemed thrilled that Twilight accepted your offer just a moment ago.”

She jolted and spoke out, cutting her sister off. “I am!” Luna winced at her own volume. Again, she made note to break that habit as soon as possible. She fluffed her wings, looking down at her feathers. “I just… When speaking with her, I noticed something that troubled me about her demeanor. Twilight seemed a bit put off...”

“By your visit? Or do you mean she was hesitant when you asked to be her friend?”

“No, neither of those.” Luna shook her head firmly. “It was when I spoke with her about her achievements, and in how she aided me. Twilight Sparkle seemed…” She paused, waving her hoof in a circle as she tried to bring the word to mind. It clicked. “Troubled when I expressed my appreciation for all she has done, more so when I informed her that I held her in high regard. I… I am confused. And with what you mentioned, about how she always sought to impress you...”

“Ah.” Celestia let her hooves slacken. “I see.”

“Oh, thank the stars!” A happy laugh came forth from her lips. “I was worried that I was alone in noticing! Please,” she shifted closer to her sister, “explain to me. Help me understand what makes Twilight Sparkle turn away from the praise she has rightfully earned!”

If she was expecting an immediate answer, an easy fix to her question, Luna was sorely mistaken.

Celestia released her grip, her hooves fell to the floor with twin clacks against the floor. She inhaled deeply before sighing and shaking her head. “There are some lessons I may have taught her a bit too well…”

“Tia?”

“Oh, sorry, Luna. Just thinking aloud.” Luna blinked, her keen ears catching the sudden change from her pet name. Though she had been gone for a thousand years, she could tell when her sister was trying to hide something.

Celestia’s eyes looked to the side, breaking their gaze. She chewed on her bottom lip and shook her head. There it is. “Tia?” Again, she leaned in close, rubbing her cheek against her sister’s. “Talk to me, please. What is wrong? Was it something I said?”

“No!” The outburst made her ears lay flat. Celestia closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “No, Luna. It wasn’t you. I just… Twilight has always been rather humble, but I may have had a hoof in pushing her more toward fearing her own pride.”

Luna’s tilted her head. “I’m not sure I understand. What could you have done to drive her to that?” Her sister wasn’t making any sense! “You have always spoken with pride whenever we have discussed Twilight Sparkle’s growth—in magic, in scholastics, and as a pony. Where, then, would this ‘push’ be found? Pray tell, for I cannot see it.”

“It wasn’t deliberate. I was… when she reached a certain age, I let her sit in on Day Court with me.” Celestia hung her head low. “It was just to show what it was like.”

“Would I be correct in assuming that the nobles acted in a manner ill-fitting to their station?”

She shook her head. “No. Not all of them. Fancy Pants visited often and was a gentlestallion, as always. Each time, he would make sure to greet us both before asking Twilight about her studies.” Celestia chuckled. “Oh, you would’ve loved how excited she got whenever he came around. She always jumped on any chance to talk about magic with the big ponies. And, well, you know how enthusiastic Fancy can get when somepony catches his eye.”

“Yes, he was most… exuberant, when you introduced us.” Luna’s ear flicked. Yes, exuberant in the sense that he talked my ear off and insisted that I must join him for dinner one night. “Quite the interesting fellow, if a bit too enthusiastic. But I hardly believe interaction with Fancy Pants would affect Twilight so.”

Celestia gave a humorless laugh and rested her head atop Luna’s. “You always were so perceptive, Lulu.” A soft kiss was planted between Luna’s sea blue eyes. “Of course, you recall some of our old dealings with the nobility. Not all of them bad, but those tend to be the ones we remember most.”

Luna frowned, drawing back to look meet her sister’s eyes. “Yes, I remember a few. But what do they—oh! Oh!” She brought a hoof to her mouth, understanding dawning on her. Luna leaned in and nuzzled Celestia’s cheek. “Oh, Tia. She was there for one, wasn’t she?”

The only response was a deep, mournful exhale and a single nod, rubbing Celestia’s cheek against Luna’s muzzle. “Twilight saw several. At the time, I… I never thought to take her aside and explain the difference between being proud and being arrogant.” She hung her head. “Almost like how I missed your loneliness until it was too late. Another failure—OUCH!”

Her sister’s ear gripped firmly in her teeth, Luna twisted her head to the side. She let go, her eyes narrowed and brow furrowed. “Nay!” Her hoof cracked heavily against the stone floor. The guards jumped at their post as thunder boomed in the distance. “If I am to move forward, then so shall you! If my healing begins through finding friends,” Luna gave a light lick to Celestia’s cheek, “then yours begins by accepting that you are not perfect.”

Celestia snorted and swished her tail. “I have missed your candor, Lulu.” She returned her sister’s gesture with a kiss to her muzzle. “Very well, I will stop being so self-critical. However,” she paused to lean in to whisper to Luna’s ear, “I expect to see my little sister happy with her new friends.”

“Happy with the first friends I’ve made in over a thousand years? How ever will I survive?” Luna winced as her sister’s teeth bit down on her ear. She squirmed free, rubbing at it with a free hoof. “You react as well to my humor as ever.”

Another nip made her jump in place. Celestia brought a hoof up and wagged it under her chin. “I’m serious. I want to see you happy, Luna. This is no laughing matter.”

She makes a point, Luna sighed as she rubbed her ear again. “I apologize for my sarcasm, I thought it would ease the mood.” She leaned into Celestia’s side and sighed. “Though, I would be far happier if… never mind.”

“I will mind. Speak up. What is it?” A wing was wrapped around her once again, cutting off any chance to slip away.

Curse my traitorous mouth. “I still find it troubling that Twilight diminishes herself, especially in how she helps others.” Luna’s wings twitched at her side. “I wish to help her see just how much an influence she has. I want… I want to help her see her worth.”

There was a moment of silence. Celestia unwrapped her wing, smiling as brilliantly as very the sun she moved. She stood, turning and making her way toward the door where her guards snapped to attention.

She stopped a few paces from the door. Turning her head to look over her shoulder, Celestia brought a hoof to her chin as if in thought. “I seem to recall a mare from many moons ago. At one time, she could walk into a room full of the highest dignitaries with her head high and a spring in her step, the room was hers as soon as she set hoof in it.” Her eyes flitted to meet Luna’s, a coy grin spreading across her face. “Perhaps she could help our Twilight.”

“That…” Luna swallowed. She shook herself to dispell the memories before they could engulf her. “Those days are gone, Tia. I don’t know if I can be that mare again.”

Celestia’s lips curved upward. “I think you just need a little push. But, no rush. I can wait patiently until that day comes.” With her piece said, she bowed her head to Luna and turned to trot out the door. “Oh, be sure to see Quick Quill about getting Spike’s spellfire signature. You’ll want that, I’m sure.”

Luna’s eyes went as wide as dinner plates. She sat in stunned silence as her sister vanished through the door, flanked by her Day Guards. How had she known I would… Oh, confound that mare.

She shook her head and turned her attention back to her plate. With a roll of her eyes, she levitated her fork and picked at the remains of her meal.

Sometimes, it was better just not to ask how her sister knew things.

As she paused to savor the taste of daisy and dandelion pancakes, Luna hummed a happy tune—a melody of a song written long ago.

Perhaps I can return your favor after all, Twilight Sparkle. We can help each other.

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