• 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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45: Her Children's Legacy

The next two days passed by in a happy blur for Luna.

Her nights were still quiet for the most part, and Night Court did lack the crowd it had drawn at the peak of its influence all those years ago, but it came with a sort of peace she had not known in over a thousand years. All of it thanks to Twilight Sparkle.

All of it thanks to her wonderful mare, now sitting on a cushion in her suite and at the tender mercies of two of her hoof maidens, Starbright and Aurora. A warm smile played upon her lips as she watched while her own maidens tended to her. Ruby Dust groomed her coat and Winter Chill aided in preening her feathers, her eyes danced with mirth as she watched Starbright fuss over Twilight. She brushed her lover’s coat until it was smoother than velvet and light played along her lovely form, highlighting every one of her curves and muscles. Luna raised a hoof to stifle a laugh as she watched her hoof maiden visit a light smack upon Twilight’s wrist when the younger mare dared to try to take another brush to work on her mane. A stern look made her cancel the spell.

Twilight squirmed, a sight which nearly made Luna’s efforts fail. As the daughter of middle-class parents, the poor dear was in truly unfamiliar territory having one mare groom her while the other came trotting forth with a pair of wooden boxes bearing the finest jewelry and ornamentation in Luna’s possession. Oh, how those tales Celestia and Cadence told all fell into place now.

A pity, really. But not an issue Luna was ill-prepared to address. Twilight would simply have to adapt to her new station sooner or later.

Three princesses with centuries of experience doting on their loved ones and wearing down any pesky hesitation to accept such affection would see to that—and none more so than Luna herself.

Seeing Twilight’s eyes go wide at the shimmering, glittering pieces Aurora presented her, the Princess of Night chose that moment to chime in, “I believe she will look quite lovely in silver, Aurora.” She hummed as Ruby’s brush ran through her starry mane. “A suitable contrast to her coat, no?”

“Of course, Princess,” Aurora replied with a little bow of her head, floating one of the boxes over to rest on the vanity. She smiled despite the blush lining her charge’s cheeks and selected a pair of earrings with diamonds that sparkled like stars and a matching choker necklace with a diamond moon set on a silver backing. “I believe these will look lovely on you, Lady Sparkle. May I?”

Twilight sputtered. “L-Lady—but I’m not—” she stopped abruptly, her head snapped around, whipping Starbright across the nose with her mane, so she could question Luna. “Am I?”

Luna maintained her smile, glancing at her love out of the corner of her eye. “Technically, I suppose that would be your title now that we are past the initial courtship stages. However, no. You are not.” She waited until Twilight dared to let out a sigh of relief and relax in her cushion before adding, “Yet.”

Yet?

“Indeed. Once our relationship is made public, your status shall change quite a bit, my love.” Fluffing her free wing, she turned to fix Twilight with a playful, wolfish grin. “Pray not tell me that you fear the limelight so much you might flee my side, Twilight. I may be wounded.”

“I wasn’t! I wouldn’t—ohhhhh, you!” Twilight huffed, puffing her cheeks up in a way that sent Luna into a bout of snickering. With another huff, she tossed her mane and glanced at the earrings Aurora still held aloft, then into the box. She shook her head, then pointed to some other pair. “I think those will look better,” she said, casting a look at Luna. One that nearly gave the Princess of the Night pause.

Twilight’s next move, however, actually did. Her horn flashed, encasing the box in the bubbling magenta glow of her magic. Her lips tugged into a sly smirk which rated high in comparison to even Luna’s Night Guard. “Not now. Bring them just before we leave.”

Snorting, Luna gave a mock roll of her eyes. “Trying to play games, love? You do know you face me, not my sister. Any retorts she may have offered for your tricks in your younger years, I assure you, pale in comparison to mine.”

Rather than flinch or avert her gaze, Twilight simply turned to aim a sweet smile her way. “Then surely you’ll have no problem waiting long enough to see what I’ve picked out, will you, O Princess of the Night?”

Cheeky. Though it does suit her. Luna arched a well-trimmed brow, but said nothing to contradict her. Twilight could have this round. It was deserved after the teasing she endured, and for being the wonderful mare she was each and every day.

For now, at least, she could revel in her little victory. There would be some consequence later, if Luna found her selection appealing.

Her heart fluttered. Luna could hardly bear the wait any further! Her first concert since the age of her Night Court, her first night back in her domain as Princes of the Night and Matron of the Arts, and with Twilight Sparkle by her side.

It was all she could do not to sing her joy to the very heavens.

Through her window, she could see her stars, her old friends twinkling and dancing like little foals delighted to see their mother happy again. Her Children of the Night were watching over her still.

They knew it was time for her to meet their new brothers and sisters.


Luna was not tapping her silver shoed hoof against the tile floor. She simply was not. No matter what her smirking guards, tittering little seneschal, or her grinning sister might later claim.

In her age, it was the suitor who waited upon her, not the other way around. Her beloved’s game was cute, to a degree, but there was a schedule for the evening’s festivities. Such antics would put them quite off the mark. And besides, she was quite eager to see just which of her lovely ornamentations Twilight had selected to adorn herself with.

“Oh, I have longed to see that face,” Celestia all but crooned.

“What face?” Luna asked casually, without so much as turning to face her sister. It would not do to give the old nag any hint of an opening, for she would happily widen it and saunter right in.

A low chuckle made her frown. Her ploy had failed. “That one,” Celestia replied. “It’s your impatiently eager face. You used to wear it while you stared out the window in our old castle, waiting for whichever suitor it was you were with at the time. Who was the one you vowed to make blush like beetroot for being on time rather than early to your first outing?”

“Shimmering Quartz,” the Princess of Night answered with a hint of a smile. “And she did writhe so.” Her eyes flitted to meet her sister’s, an act of silent surrender. “Did you not teach my beloved the importance of punctuality? Or does that fall to me?”

Celestia laughed. “I believe,” she said, waggling her ears and giving her pristine feathers a merry fluffing, “she has taken a page out of your book, little Lulu. You do so delight in teasing yours, yet you get so huffy when they return the favor.”

“I am not huffy, old mare.”

“You’re wearing the face.”

“I am eager to spend my evening with the mare I love and share my return to the public eye with her. I should think that ample reason to be wearing this alleged face.” Pausing a beat, she flicked an ear toward the door, perking it slightly as the sound of hooves striking a steady cadence reached her. At last, a smile returned to her face. “T’would seem fortune smiles upon me after all.”

“Quite.” Celestia approached, her smile taking on a wicked edge only a select few could have hoped to catch. “And all of us, for you’ve finally put away that huffy face.”

Her smile ran away from her face. Luna turned to fix her sister with a flat stare. “Sometimes, Tia, you do test my patience.”

The Princess of Day and Herald of the Sun returned a smile which dazzled like the celestial body she commanded. “After our fillyhood and your antics during our early years ruling, I like to think of it as balancing the scales.”

Before Luna could voice her reply, she caught sight of movement, a flash of lovely mulberry, out of the corner of her eye. Her heart skipped a beat as she turned to greet her beloved.

Her tongue chose that moment to tie itself in a knot. Any words she might have offered failed.

Twilight stepped into the light with a swish of her beautiful tricolor mane and a dazzling smile. The glow from the flickering torches lining hanging on either side of the grand entrance caressed her form in ways that made Luna’s feathers fluff, but what drew her eye was the twinkling of silver dangling from her ears.

A pair of glimmering silver earrings adorned her beloved’s mulberry ears, bouncing merrily and sparkling in the torchlight. From each tiny chain hung a small crescent moon, fashioned in the same fashion as her own cutie mark. That much she knew for certain. Celestia had them made custom for her upon her return—a token of celebration. And the sharp intake of breath to her immediate left told Luna that her sister hadn’t missed it either.

Another flash of silver around Twilight’s neck drew her eyes south. A slender silver chain encircled her neck, hanging down to the nape where it was fastened together with a tiny silver hoop, from which hung a short, four link chain bearing a larger crescent moon, which went quite fittingly with the earrings.

Luna swished her tail as a grin tugged at her lips. Privately, she merely wished to see Twilight in her colors as a hint as to whom she was with. But this …

She stepped forward, meeting Twilight at the end of the walkway and leaning down to nuzzle her nose. “You tease,” she whispered. “Making me wait to see you wearing my mark. And how well you do wear it, I might add.”

A low hum came in reply as Twilight returned the nuzzle, her eyes closed and a contented smile spread across her features. “I thought you might like it,” she said softly. “And if this is supposed to be how you come back into the public light, I should wear something to pay my respects.”

“I do, and how thoughtful of you.” Dotting Twilight’s nose with a kiss, Luna drew back to fix her with a sly smile. “Of course, you do realize this will no doubt reveal our courtship, love.”

Twilight’s smile faltered a touch, a familiar streak of dusty red bloomed across her face. “I guess I’ll just have to suffer that tonight.”

Tonight? It was all Luna could do not to laugh. Even she knew better. She stood up straight, then stepped to the side and deftly swept a wing up Twilight’s back to draw her close and guide her along toward the waiting carriage. A quick stop to share a hug with her sister, then release her girlfriend so she might do the same, and they were ready to depart. Luna gestured for Twilight to climb in first, her gaze lingering long enough to appraise the younger mare.

A light bump to her hip made her stagger a step. Luna turned to find her sister fixing her with a wry look.

She rolled her eyes. “Do you wish me to promise to have her home at reasonable hour, or is this what all my suitors endured in days past?”

Celestia chuckled. “The latter,” she replied, before raising her voice so Twilight could hear as well, “Both of you behave and have a good time. Enjoy the concert.”

“We will!” Twilight chimed as she claimed her seat. She leaned over so she could grin at the sisters. “Though I think you might want to remind Luna what behaving means.”

“Oh, hush.” Luna sent a bolt of magic to pinch her thigh, smirking at the startled squeak it yielded. Satisfied, she gave Celestia another hug. “You could come, if you wish. It would be nice to enjoy music with you as we did in days past.”

Celestia seemed to consider it a moment, but shook her head. “Another time, Lulu. Let tonight belong to you and Twilight. Perhaps we may invite Cadence and Shining along as well. A family outing, if you will.”

The prospect brought a smile to Luna’s face. She drew back and nodded, turning to join her lover in the carriage. She slid into her seat, once again wrapping a wing around Twilight’s shoulders. As the younger mare leaned into her embrace and laid her head upon Luna’s shoulder, and Erebos stepped forward to close the door, Luna met Celetia’s eyes and said, “I shall hold you to that.”

The door shut with a rattle and click of the latch. After a moment’s silence, the carriage lurched forward and began its journey toward the Royal Canterlot Hall.


The splendorous houses, mansions, and theaters situated in the Platinum District made Luna hum in approval. The signs of old Equestrian influence, her day, in the architecture of these wonderful homes brought a warmth to her chest and a sense of familiarity which spurred old memories of nights spent in the ancient concert halls. Why, there was even a statue of Princess Platinum, made of pristinely bleached stone, bearing such amazing likeness Luna had to check twice to make sure it wasn’t really her.

How gratifying it was to see those relics of the old way in the style, the making of the new capital. Even if she had missed the way it all came together.

She felt the carriage slow down as they drew nearer. Through the darkness of her night, Luna could see the edges of the three story building, its windows glowing orange and the flared edges of the room standing out against the backdrop of her twinkling stars.

The carriage turned into a wide half-circle drive that led up to the main entrance. For a few seconds, Luna could hear a smattering of conversation and steady cadence of hoofsteps against the cobblestone path.

Then it all ground to a halt. Silence reigned, save for the steady rumble and squeak of wheels against the pavement.

Slowly, a murmur built, like a crowd of foals trying to hide from their mother, lest she come and find that they had snuck from their beds to play in the night. All of it held a sense of wonder—just who could be in that carriage? Who was this coming forth with guard escorts, Night Guard no less, and a carriage like Celestia herself?

A single gasp made her chuckle. There it was. The first to notice the mark emblazoned on on the side of the door.

Twilight blushed and offered a crooked smile. “Making a scene on immediate entrance,” she said, nerves tingling her tone. “All of them are going to be watching.”

Luna drew in and nuzzled her cheek. “If you are worried, remember one very important truth, my love.”

The younger mare turned to meet her gaze, curiosity written plain upon her face.

“I,” the princess murmured, “am utterly terrified that this may yet go horribly wrong. And if this does take a turn for the worst, I am not above grabbing the beautiful mare and booking it, as you young ponies might say.”

Twilight laughed. “If that happens, we could always go to Pony Joe’s. He makes great doughnuts.”

“I know not what a ‘doughnut’ is, but if it pleases you, I will make it so.”

The pair shared a weak smile before taking a deep breath and leaning in for a kiss, as if they might not make it back alive. Dramatic, yes. But nerves were funny in that way.

The latch jiggled and clicked, the door pulled open to reveal Erebos, his lips curved into his usual fanged smirk and those amber eyes shone with amusement. “Your Highness,” he rumbled. “Lady Sparkle?”

Luna lifted her wing from Twilight’s shoulders, then gave a little bob of her head toward the door. “After you, love.”

Twilight shot her a look, a nervous whine built in the back of her throat.

She wanted to hide behind Luna, no doubt. The Princess of Night laughed and kissed her nose. “Yes, I am afraid you will have to suffer being seen by everypony, my dear. You will persevere, I am sure.”

“You owe me a trip to Pony Joe’s regardless now,” Twilight muttered out of the side of her mouth as she rose and began to make for the door, though not without casting a quick look back. “Are you ready?”

Luna took a deep breath and closed her eyes, nodding solemnly. “I have dallied long enough. If they do not accept my return to the arts now … then they likely never will.” With a sigh, she looked over to Twilight and offered a smile. “I am ready to face them.”

Twilight simply returned her nod, then turned and took a deep breath before ducking under the door and descending the steps. A wave of gasps and renewed murmurs swept over the crowd.

Princess Celestia’s student? she could almost hear them saying. What’s she doing riding in a carriage bearing Princess Luna’s mark? Being escorted down by the Captain of the Night Guard, no less! What in the name of Equestria was going on?

It was at that moment, when the hushed murmurs and whirlwind of gossip reached the peak of its fervor, that Luna chose to rise. The showmare in her, the one who swept through the legs of partygoers in a cloud of stardust, and set a flurry of bats to chase and play with young foals, picked the precise instant to rise and make her way to the door, affording those near enough to see the opportunity to gape in awe.

Perfect.

The instant the first of her silver-shoed hooves touched the top step, it built. Luna ducked under the door and raised her head as she felt the cool touch of evening breeze, giving her starry mane a little toss to send it into an elegant flurry.

All around her, she saw shock written plain upon her little ponies’ faces, their colorful eyes wide, and mouths hanging open. One older stallion’s monocle hung askew, dangling limp from his lapel.

Well, at least they are not shrieking in horror. An improvement from Nightmare Night, if anything, Luna mused. With a practiced smile, small, but with all the love and kindness her sister showed, she offered her wing to Twilight in silent invitation.

Though her beloved did blush and glance to the crowd, she needed no further prompting. Twilight stepped close, ducking under her wing and pressing their sides together, her warm velvety coat played delightful sensations against Luna’s, and a lash of her tail tickled her flank.

Fluffing her feathers, Luna nodded in thanks to Erebos and the twins, then turned to lead Twilight through the crowd and into the Royal Canterlot Hall.

The sea of ponies parted before them as if she had cast a spell. They gave the pair a wide berth, some scrambling and bumping into one another in their haste to clear a path for their princess—albeit their lesser known princess of dubious repute. Still, the respect was appreciated, and more so as they righted themselves and, in near unison, bowed low before her as she and Twilight passed them by.

No striking. No cowering. Just momentary shock, a bit of a scramble, and then a crowd of deep bows.

Not quite like the days of her Night Court, but close enough to warrant a smile that dazzled like her stars and a little bow of her head in return, just as her sister would.

Respect, as Celestia would so often repeat, was a two way road.

A pair of ushers in black jackets and red ties hastened to open the double doors, then gave sweeping bows as they muttered their humble greetings and welcomed her to the hall.

Now, that was familiar.

Luna strode toward the front counter, matching pace with Twilight despite her longer legs as they approached an older couple, a mare and a stallion, each dressed in a flowing emerald gown and a smart white tuxedo with a lavender kerchief folded neatly in his breast pocket, their eyes as wide as dinner plates behind thick-rimmed glasses.

The Princess of Night did not so much as blink at their hesitance. She stopped a step and a half from them and inclined her head. “Good evening,” she greeted warmly. “I wish to take in the night’s festivities with my—” she paused to spare Twilight a fond look, smiling at the way she squirmed “—lover. The balcony is available, yes?”

The mare jolted out of her stupor, nearly dropping her glasses in her panic. “O—of course, Your Highness!” she stammered, giving the stallion beside her a rough shove behind the counter. “Get the key!” she hissed, her eyes darting between he and Luna, and a nervous smile spread across her face.

He scrabbled beneath the counter, his hoof thudding against the wood as he rummaged about in search of the key. His eyes flitted between Luna’s face and whatever drawer he was searching in.

The stallion’s ears perked after a moment. He held up the key, giving a nervous smile as though it had taken the better part of an hour, prompting a relieved sigh from the mare. His shoulders relaxed, he trotted around the counter and bowed his head, muttering his apologies for the momentary delay, and bade them to follow him to the balcony.

Luna chuckled. She shared an amused look with Twilight as they followed along in his wake, down a long corridor lined with pictures and paintings, then up a flight of stairs hidden behind a curtain before they came to another, more narrow hall. Her eyes traced along the paintings and pictures lining the wall, each of them fitted in beautiful polished wooden frames. Scenes of Mount Canterhorn at sunrise, portraits of master musicians and composers, many unrecognizable faces that could only have come after her banishment.

But then there were those she knew.

Tempo Rubato. Bolero. Werner. Fortissimo. Sforzando. So many more. All of her friends, all her Children of the Night, still remembered and revered to this day.

It brought a feeling of warmth to her chest and a bright smile to her face. Their little outing, her first night back in her second domain, was going better than expected thus far.

The stallion stopped at a polished oak door with a brass handle. Upon its face, a single mark was carved in the very center—a crescent moon. Her mark. He inserted the key into the hole and turned it, there was a thick ker-clunk as a heavy deadbolt latch retracted. He pulled the door open with a tug of shimmering green magic and stepped to the side, bowing low and beckoning them in with a polite gesture.

“Your Highness,” he murmured, “and Lady …”

“Sparkle. Twilight Sparkle,” Luna supplied, trotting passed him. She paused to meet his gaze, a tiny frown marred her face. “And your name is?”

“T-Timpani Timber, Your Highness,” he stammered, hastily adding another bow. “And you’ve met my wife, Prench Horn, just a moment ago.”

The Princess of Night inclined her head, the corners of her mouth twitched. That did explain some of their interaction. The shove, at least, along with her tone.

Luna hummed idly. “Who is the owner of the Hall?” she asked.

“Him,” Twilight hissed helpfully.

“Er, yes, that would be me, Your Highness. My wife curates the art and helps coordinate the events. I mostly manage the building and oversee maintenance and management during …”

“I see. Well, inform your wife that I find her taste in decoration quite lovely. I look forward to seeing the Royal Symphony perform for the first time in generations.” She paused in thought, then turned to regard him for a moment. “I do not suppose the Hall provides refreshment of some sort?”

“Of course! Anything from soda to wine,” Timpani replied.

Unsure of what soda was, Luna rustled her free wing. “Excellent. Wine, then, I believe. Whichever you believe would go well with the music.” She leaned down to nuzzle Twilight’s cheek. “Do you partake, or would you prefer not?”

Twilight gave a sort of half, crooked smile. “I don’t make a habit of it, but I don’t mind either.” She ducked her head, her cheeks coloring. “I wouldn’t mind drinking with you.”

“Two glasses then,” Luna said to Timpani. “And I believe we should be able to take care of the bottle. I have no intent of walking home, nor of letting my lover.” Another nuzzle, couple with a fluffy kiss had Twilight sucking in a deep breath and nearly bouncing on the tips of her hooves.

The poor mare had no idea how in for it she was after her little stunt earlier.

Timpani bowed and scurried away, eager to fulfill her wishes. His hooves thudded against the wooden stairs with each step.

More and more familiar with each passing second. Luna shook her head as she guided Twilight through the door and out onto the balcony. Had Celestia not made mention of such eagerness to please her in our subjects before?

All thoughts of that, however, faded into the background when she saw the balcony. The balcony itself was situated nearest to the stage, off to the left where she could get a perfect view of the conductor and each of the players. She had expected there to be bright colors—purples and golds, or soft pinks and lovely cream in the cushions to pay tribute to Cadence and Celestia, the most typical visitors. And those colors were indeed on proud display.

But they were not the focus. They were fitted to suit the tall throne and accompanying seat, but placed off to the side, behind midnight blue curtains. No doubt awaiting some forewarning that royalty might grace the hallowed halls. In the throne and seat, however, were cushions of midnight blue and silver trim, and, as Vinyl Scratch affirmed that night in Ponyville, Luna’s crescent moon cutie mark had been carved into the face of each. Even the black cloud, a nod to her lovely nights, had been done to perfection. Each curve was as it appeared upon her flank.

Luna sucked in a breath. There was, perhaps, only one who would go to such lengths to perfect its depiction. She closed her eyes and bowed her head in solemn silence.

“Is something wrong?” Twilight asked. “I thought you’d be happy to see how they displayed your mark.”

“I am happy, my love,” she whispered. “I am happy that my sister gave so much to ensure that which I held most dearly did not disappear from this world, yet saddened that she still regrets it all.” With a sigh, she opened her eyes again and turned to give a happy grin, brighter than ever before, then leaned down to dot her love’s nose with a kiss, then another to her lips. “But enough melancholy and reflection for one evening. We are here together. Please, sit with me.”

Each slid onto their cushion, only after Luna opted to make a quick adjustment to the arrangements, tugging Twilight’s seat closer so she could maintain her feathery embrace. A move, she noted with no shortage of delight, which brought a smile and renewed blush to the younger mare’s face, to say nothing of the merry swish of her tail.

All the right notes, all her favorite tunes. And a lovely finale that saw Twilight lean over enough to lay her head upon Luna’s shoulder.

They sat together quietly, idly chatting as they watched the seats throughout the Royal Canterlot Hall begin to fill up, all the balconies lining the walls. Some of them stared back at her, their eyes still wide and jaws agape or moving at blinding speeds as they gossiped with one another.

Adorable, really.

Timpani Timber returned in short order, nearly dropping a tall bottle of wine as he skidded to a halt before her, a tray bearing two glasses, the bottle, and a small table to rest it all held aloft in his magic. He bowed, his glasses nearly tumbled from his snout, and set everything up, nearly popping the cork with practiced ease and pouring their glasses. “Your Highness, Lady Sparkle,” he said gravely, floating it all into place. “Is there anything else I can bring for you?”

After a quick glance to check with Twilight, Luna shook her head. “That will be all. Thank you, Timpani.” As the stallion scuttled away to take care of the other concert goers, Luna floated the glasses over and offered one to Twilight, who accepted it with a polite smile and nod of thanks. The pair clinked their glasses together and each took a drink. The princess licked her lips to catch the last remnants, humming as she savored the sweet, almost floral taste.

Unfamiliar to her palate, but enjoyable. Definitely one she would have to keep in mind for a later date.

She and Twilight nursed their glasses as the crowd took their seats. The lights dimmed, a hush swept over the hall. After a moment, the overhead lights lit and shone down on the red curtain, just as somepony began to pull back the curtains. A low rumble of polite applause sounded out as the entirety of the Royal Canterlot Symphony was revealed, all seated at the ready with their instruments, looking out toward the crowd.

An elderly stallion with pewter coat and slate gray mane strode onto the stage, nodding to the crowd when they renewed their applause. He approached the music stand situated at the center of the grand stage, plucked a conductor’s baton from the ledge, then he bowed to his players, and turned sharply to greet the crowd. He introduced himself as Staccato, then gestured to the Symphony themselves and began to introduce the first chairs of each group. Luna could scarcely withhold a smile as she watched Octavia rise when her name was called, nodding at the applause she garnered. Then, Staccato turned to gaze up.

At her balcony.

The Royal Canterlot Symphony stood in unison and turned to face the same direction, all eyes followed theirs until they landed on one stricken Princess of Night.

Luna blinked twice. Her eyes flitted between the crowd, the musicians, the conductor himself, and Twilight, lingering an instant longer on her young lover, and the way her purple eyes danced.

“Looks like they remember enough,” Twilight said softly. “Or Princess Celestia and Cadence kept it alive.”

Her words jolted Luna out of her stupor. Licking her lips, she replied, “So it would seem.” She swallowed a lump, then turned to look down at the musicians and conductor, all still waiting her permission.

She nodded once.

They bowed. In the crowd of performers, Luna spied out Octavia, the mare’s eyes wide and ears perked, her gray-brown tail swishing eagerly as she took her seat. She looked as though she was gripping the neck of her cello a bit too tightly.

But who was Luna to judge?

The Royal Symphony took their seats and readied their instruments. The conductor raised his baton and, with the slightest upward flourish of his hoof, he coaxed forth a sweet sound that surely filled the hearts of everypony present with unparalleled glee. The melody was light and jubilant, with the slow-building rumble of timpani and strings. A song Luna knew from the first note.

The only piece Tempo and Werner ever collaborated on. Those two, always bickering and bantering, came together for one piece.

Soothing violin strings joined together with the deep, almost throaty purr of cellists, Octavia the lead, to set a lovely mood. The beauty of her nights, together with the looming darkness. Mysterious, yet not without a sense of whimsy. A gift to her ponies every night. A chance to play and laugh and bask in the cool air.

Luna Perigeum,” she murmured softly, closing her eyes.

“I’m sorry?” Twilight asked, confusion tinging her voice.

Luna felt tears well up in her eyes. Her throat tightened and choked her voice as she whispered her reply, “The name of the song. Luna Perigeum.”

She could almost hear Twilight’s mind whirring into gear. “Luna perigee is the point at which the moon is closest to the planet. It’s supposed to happen only once in awhile, Princess Celestia taught me that she usually timed it in winter as a day of remembrance.”

“Yes. T’was a tradition we put together to remember the endless winter which ravaged ponies before we came to power, back in the days of the founders, our old friends.” She paused a moment, then bowed her head. “The song was a gift.”

“Oh? I’d heard it before, but I didn’t know that.” If they had not been in the middle of the concert, Luna would wager the mare would have summoned a pad and quill. “What for?”

It took several moments for her to reply. Not until the last note died and tears began to roll down her cheeks, did Luna open her eyes and try to blink away the bleariness which obscured her world.

“Winter Solstice,” she said, her voice strained. “My birthday.”


Her hooves struck out a sharp, steady cadence as she trotted through the backstage area, passed the stagehooves working to change things about for the next performance, with Twilight still under her wing, a happy smile spread across her features. Quite the stark contrast to the dampened tracks which lined her cheeks. Happy tears. Delighted tears. For the first time in centuries, music had moved her so!

Twilight nuzzled into the crook of her neck. “I’ve never seen you so happy,” she said. “You’re practically glowing.”

“There are two things which have made me so. One is music.” Luna paused to kiss her cheek. “The other is under my wing, the love of my life.”

Ducking her head to hide a blush, Twilight swished her tail. “Flatterer. Aren’t you supposed to be saving that for your Children? Octavia, especially?”

“You underestimate the depth of my affection, both for yourself and my Children of the Night. But worry not, you will learn in time.” Luna pecked her lips, drawing away just enough that she could speak, hers still tickling against Twilight’s, “Lady Sparkle.”

Twilight wrinkled her snout. “I’ll never get used to that,” she murmured.

“Ah, but you will. In time.” Standing up straight, Luna continued on her way, tugging Twilight closer, so she was nearly squeezed against her side.

A show of jealous protection to some, but to her? Complete and total love and affection for a mare worth far more than gold.

Ahead, she found Timpani Timber and Prench Horn. Luna smiled and trotted over, nodding when they bowed.

“Y-Your Highness,” Prench Horn greeted nervously. “I hope you found the night’s entertainment to your liking. Had we known you were coming we would have seen to it your accommodations were more—”

“Peace.” Luna waved her off with her hoof. “I bear no complaint to my accommodations. The wine was delicious, the décor of the Hall lovely, my cushion softer than cloud, and the smile on my lover’s face throughout brighter and more radiant than the stars in my sky.” Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Twilight duck her head once more to hide a wobbly smile. “I wish to visit with the Symphony so I might pay my compliments in person. One in particular, who invited me some time ago. And whose lover visited me in Night Court to remind me so.”

The elderly mare’s ears went ramrod straight. She shared a quick look, an excited grin, with her husband before she remembered herself and assumed a more proper, reserved expression. “Of course, Your Highness,” Prench Horn demurred. “I’m sure they’d be happy to meet you. Who should I fetch?”

“Octavia Melody. And, if her lover, Vinyl Scratch, is nearby, I would see her as well.”

Prench Rose gave another low bow and scurried off to find the mares as requested. It seemed only a few short seconds later before she returned, with both mares in tow.

Octavia looked exhausted, her coat matted and glistening with sweat, her pink bow hanging loosely around her neck, and the top buttons of her white shirt undone to allow her room to breathe. The product of her efforts. Her eyes, however, were alight with attentiveness and told the tale of a mare nervous, yet eager. Like so many of those young Children of the Night upon their first arrival to Night Court. At her side, of course, was Vinyl, though not in her typical purple lensed glasses. No, the mute mare with perplexing vernacular had forgone her glasses, revealing a pair of lovely red eyes, and adorned herself with a beautiful blue dress and choker—with a purple treble clef mark.

Ah, it appears that custom is still quite present. How delightful. Luna greeted the pair with a smile. “Octavia,” she said warmly, “when you informed me that you would be playing Tempo and Werner’s work, you never told me how splendidly your ensemble could pay tribute to them. Let alone their collaborative efforts.”

The cellist gave a nervous, breathy laugh. “W-Well, Maestros Rubato and Werner are always high on our list of composers to pay tribute to, but there’s been a bit of an upswing of interest in the art community in that particular period since your return, if you don’t mind me saying. Quite a few have gone back to see what sort of inspiration they might draw from that age, to mix in with that of Princess Celestia and Princess Cadence’s over the centuries.”

Happy coincidence. An approving nod came in reply. “Well, wherever your inspiration was derived, I thank you for the lovely evening. Tempo and Werner both would have been pleased with the performance.” She paused a moment to take a step close so she might look into Octavia’s eye, so to emphasize her point. “They would have been delighted with yours in particular.”

The way Octavia’s face lit up and chest filled with pride brought forth a warm chuckle. Oh, how little the young ponies changed. “Th-Thank you! Oh, thank you so much, Your Highness!”

“Please. It is I who owe you thanks for treating Twilight and I to such a lovely night. I look forward to seeing more of your performances, and hope you will find time to visit me in Night Court in the near future. You and all who share in an appreciation for the arts are always welcome in my home. Along with another who reminded me so I would not miss it.” Luna turned to meet Vinyl with a smile that was one part gratitude, two parts mischief. One that made the mute mare raise her brows. “While you may not know of the hectic nature of the past several days, your reminder came at a most opportune time. For that, you have my gratitude, and to you I say thusly—” she extended her hoof gravely, her smile spread into a vulpine grin “—well met by moonlight, homeslice. You and your strange taste in music are welcome in my Night Court anytime you wish.”

Everypony around her gaped in stunned silence save for Vinyl. A slow grin, as bright as the sun at noontime, spread across her face, her eyes danced with unhidden glee. She turned to Octavia and plopped down on her haunches, signing and tapping out rhythms faster than Luna could follow.

Octavia groaned and screwed her eyes shut. “Shut up. Just … shut up. Right now. I can’t believe you taught the princess that stupid word!”

A few more signs and an insistent waggle of her ears, then a crossing of her hooves over her heart earned Vinyl a sigh and rueful smile in turn.

“Yes, I love you too, you idiot,” Octavia replied, the venom gone from her tone. “Now behave and shut up before you corrupt her further.”

Vinyl did no such thing. Instead, she turned to Twilight and signed out something different, her grin nearly splitting her face.

At Luna’s side, Twilight fought down a sudden bout of giggles, hiding her grin behind her hoof when Octavia’s eyes found her. “She says—pffft!” Her shoulders shook, she ducked her head to hide from the fuming cellist. “She says ‘aw, yeah! DJ-Pon3’s gonna be mixing and wubbing it up in Night Court with Princess Luna and Tavi! Best concert ever!”

“Ah. Quite.” Luna nodded. “The four of us shall be there, if I have my say.” She turned to fix Twilight with a fond look. “If you are able to make the trip.”

Twilight pulled away and gave her an incredulous look. “You’re my girlfriend. Why would I not be able?”

“I find it most impolite to assume, my love. Asking is always preferred.”

They conversed back and forth, laughing and bantering with one another well into the night. Luna found herself feeling more alive, more herself for the first time in longer than she could remember. With no treacherous voice, no shadows of her past hanging over her head, and such a lovely mare at her side, she had all she could truly ask for. And more, with the welcome reception of her ponies at the hall.

This new generation of artists and musicians had not grown up with her. But they held onto those old ways.

They remembered. Even when Equestria did not. All it took was a moment to step out of the shadows and back into the light.

Yes.

Just as Celestia had been trying to coax her to do for so long.

It was time.

Without so much as a hint that she was fading out for a moment, Luna took a deep breath, rallying her thoughts and guiding them to connect with her sister as they had done for ages beyond memory. Sister, she whispered. Celestia, I would speak with you.

Lulu? came the stunned reply. Aren’t you at the concert? What do you call for, Sister?

Peace. I bring good tidings. The evening has gone well, the concert magnificent, and the company of my love and this generation of my Children more delightful than I could possibly imagine.

She could almost hear the relieved sigh, and pictured the smile that no doubt spread across Celestia’s face, hinted by a sense of sunny warmth through their bond. I’m glad. Then what is it you need from me? I can hardly hold you to a curfew at this age, she teased.

Luna had to fight the urge to roll her eyes. But she managed. Nothing could take her smile away. I am ready.

Ready for what, pray tell?

Ready to do as you and Twilight have advised. Another deep breath. Luna bowed her head and gave her answer, I wish to hold a Dusk Ceremony. If you would allow it.

There was a moment’s pause. Stunned silence.

Then a note of … something she could not quite read. Sadness? Joy? Both? An image of Celestia’s face flashed through her mind. She sat before Cadence and Shining Armor, in their lovely home, her eyes wide for an instant, then slowly closing to blink away the telltale glimmer of unshed tears. A slow smile began to spread across her cheeks.

Tomorrow. If there are any you would like to be present, let me know tonight. I’ll see to it everything is arranged.

The warmth from before returned, wrapping around her like Celestia’s embrace on those cold, stormy nights when they were but fillies.

Welcome home, Luna.

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