• 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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6: An Invitation

Ethereal smoke wafted through the high arching window of the throne room, winding its way past the two Day Guards and over to Celestia’s throne. With a pop, it materialized into a scroll, bound in red ribbon and fixed with the emblem of her prized student’s cutie mark.

A smile played upon Celestia’s lips as she caught the scroll in her aura. Ah! Right on schedule, as usual. She couldn’t hide the excitement, the way her ears perked up at the mere prospect of reading about Twilight’s latest exploits.

Between Twilight’s decision to stay in Ponyville with her friends, Spike staying with her as the ever-faithful little assistant that he was, and Cadence moving into Shining Armor’s home in the military district, the castle almost seemed lonely to her.

She shook her head. I’m thinking about this all wrong. Cadence is but a short walk from the castle itself, one quick letter would see Twilight and Spike at my side. Not to mention that Shining Armor or any one of the guards would happily stay around after hours if I asked for some company. A warmth filled her chest, Celestia took a deep breath and sighed. And Luna has returned to me, at last.

Though her younger sister might call it annoying, Celestia had to rally every fiber of her self-control in order not to sweep Luna into her embrace and sing to the heavens.

Having successfully combated her momentary lapse, Celestia began to unfasten the ribbon, but stopped short. Twilight’s familiar wax seal was there, but something stuck out from within.

“What’s this?” Taking it in her magic, Celestia gave a little tug. A small tag, with a name scrawled on it, fell out, dangling from a string. Curious, as Twilight had never seen fit to fix such a thing to one of her letters, even as a filly. She only ever sent letters to her family or myself.

Bringing the scroll closer, Celestia peered at the tag, her eyes scanning the name written in Twilight’s neat script.

“To Princess Luna.”

Celestia blinked, shifting about in her throne. Twilight had sent a letter to Luna through her?

Far be it from Celestia to claim insult in such an action, though. Rather, her curiosity was roused. The memory of her sister’s jubilation as she told of Twilight’s declaration of friendship flashed through her mind. She hummed to herself, regarding the still sealed scroll with a calculating gaze. I could open it and read Twilight’s letter myself. Her guards would hardly go running off to tell Luna that their princess had read one of her letters. Stars, it wasn’t like she’d announced it!

But her instincts to be the ‘nosy big sister’ were trumped by something else. Trust. After a thousand years apart, she would loathe to betray the trust Luna had given her by accepting the offer of friendship and a chance to be sisters again.

At the same time, she couldn’t not know what was said…

Celestia stood abruptly, the Day Guards snapped to attention. “Gentlestallions,” she spoke softly, smiling at both in turn, “I think I may cut Court a bit short today. Something has come up that I must speak with my sister about. Would either of you mind informing Quick Quill?”

“At once, Your Highness!” The stallion on her left kneeled and bowed his head before trotting briskly out of the throne room to find her seneschal.

The remaining guard followed along as Celestia stepped down off the dais and strode toward the door, letter still floating in a shimmering, golden aura.

Celestia allowed herself a small giggle. Luna should still be sleeping, she wasn’t due for dinner for another hour or two.

She’ll wake up for this. Celestia turned left as she passed through the doorway, nodding to the guards posted outside. Her hoof steps echoed off the high walls and tiled floor. She’ll be cross for a moment at being awaken, but Luna will get over that. Another bout of giggles slipped through as she imagined the look on Luna’s face. I wonder just how wide those eyes will get… and how loud she’ll cheer this time.

As she walked down the corridor, Celestia approached the dividing line in the guard patrols. While the Day Guards were most frequently seen when their princess’s Day Court was in session and the sun hung in the sky, the Night Guard kept a fair number of its ponies stationed at all hours of the day.

The protectors of the Guardian of the Night, ever-vigilant, as always. Celestia stepped passed the first Night Guards, nodding to each as they saluted and greeted her. And respectful to a fault. The latter came as no surprise to her; after all, she had commanded of Luna’s vaunted Night Guard alongside her Day Guard for a thousand years.

A millennia of tradition was not so easily broken.

Celestia reached the end of the corridor and turned right down the hall, entering into her sister’s wing. The high arching, brightly colored stained glass windows seen in the Throne Room and Grand Hall were no more.

Images of the navy blue night sky, dotted with twinkling stars and depicting tales of an age long-forgotten were proudly displayed on each window. With each image she passed, Celestia found her mind wandering and memories coming forth; the Fall of the Crystal Empire, their battles with Discord, days when she stood beside her little sister and fought to protect her ponies.

The ceiling arched lower, bathing the corridor in shadows, even in the daytime. It was almost as if the sun was always setting down this wing, as if one was stepping into the twilight of her sunny day, or dawn as Luna’s night ended.

From one princess's domain to the next. Celestia beamed and continued on her way, another memory coming to mind.

Luna's smile, her eyes lighting up as she first took everything in, filled Celestia's chest with warmth. During the thousand years apart, she had so longed to see that smile again, and she dared to dream that a bit of architectural flair would be an adequate welcome home present.

She approached her sister's suite, stopping just before the door. Celestia turned to greet the last set of guards. "Good day, gentlestallions," she smiled kindly, "if you would be so kind as to let me pass, there is something I must discuss with my sister."

The guard on her left bowed before offering reply. "M'lady is still asleep, Your Highness. But, if you would be willing to wait a moment, I can fetch Lady Moondancer. Perhaps she could be of assistance?"

A shake of her head. "As much as I would be happy to see one of my old students again, this is a private matter, I'm afraid." She floated the scroll in front of the guards, making sure to show Luna's name scrawled on the side. "A letter from Twilight Sparkle came for her through Spike's dragon fire. With respect, I would rather deliver this myself."

"Forgive me, Your Highness!" He bowed, an act mirrored by his silent partner. In unison, they straightened up and stepped to the side. "I meant no offense. Please, allow me." His horn lit up, a sky blue aura engulfed the doorknob.

Celestia smiled brightly as he pushed the door open for her. She nodded to each in turn before facing her escort. "I may be a while, Corporal Lighthoof. No need to wait for me, I can still find my way around the castle!"

Hiding a snort of laughter, Corporal Lighthoof bowed his head. "As you wish, Your Highness." With a nod to his Night Guard counterparts, Lighthoof departed.

No doubt he'll see Vigilance about where he should be reassigned while I am with Luna. Celestia smiled and shook her head. He's as uptight as Shining Armor.

"Shiny's not uptight! He's dedicated!" She rolled her eyes as Cadence's familiar rebuke echoed in her mind. Somehow, it seemed that those closest to her family happened to be the two most "dedicated" ponies to their respective fields.

"If I'm not careful, Twilight will have Luna adhering to a schedule." Celestia brought her hoof to her mouth to stifle another bout of giggles. "Oh, horror of horrors!"

Vibrant arrays of colors, shifting forms, muffled voices all dominated Luna’s senses.

The realm of dreams was her domain, a little world she ruled alone. In days of old, it had been her one comfort as Luna wallowed in her loneliness, searching for somepony to share the majesty of her nights with. When she was awake, it was but a whisper in the back of her mind. Like a thought that wouldn’t leave; her ponies’ dreams were always carefully minded and guarded from whatever horrors their own imaginations concocted. But when the Guardian of Dreams slept…

Luna didn’t dream, not as mortal ponies might. Their dreams, the little worlds they saw as they slept, were hers.

Watching little Pipsqueak draw his cutlass to fight enemy pirates, marveling as Rarity weaved formless colors into beautiful dresses for Canterlot’s elite, Luna shared in their flights of fantasy. By the stars and moon above, she lived it with them! Viewing it as a play, produced by the wonderful little minds of her subjects.

But it came at a price: to see into the realm of dreams, Luna accepted the nightmares that came with them…

Nights spent saving little foals from the monsters under their beds, soothing Ponyville’s worries that the Ursa Major residing in the Everfree would wander into their tiny town, catching Rainbow Dash as her wings failed her and sent her plummeting to her death. Luna was there through them all, forced to watch every second.

A blessing cherished above all others, and a curse Luna would not wish upon her most hated enemy.

Something reached out and touched her. Luna blinked, searching frantically through the realm. None should be aware of her here unless she made it so. Control of the dream realm belonged to her, and her alone—even the rare lucid dreamer could not see the Princess of the Night unless she willed it so!


Her ears perked up, Luna nearly froze in place. Who calls my name in this realm? The colors blurred as her search began in earnest, flitting through the different little worlds all at once.


Cadenza? No, she habitually stays up late to wait for Captain Armor to return from duty and spends the night together, which rules him out as well. Luna paused, focusing in on another pony’s dreams. Or rather, one that wasn’t there. Twilight Sparkle is not in this realm either; she will be up later than my niece, studying the night away.

That was it. Of all ponies, those three alone might have the power to call out to her, but only just. The remaining five Element Bearers would require aid from Twilight to complete any spell of that nature, but they aren’t in this realm either. None call me from their dreams, yet somepony—

“Wake up, sister.” Celestia’s voice whispered in her ear. A hoof softly poked into her side. “It’s time to wake up, little Lulu!”

Oh! Oh, of course. Luna let out a breath, laughing to herself. Silly Luna. ’Tis but your sister waking you. With a wistful sigh and one last look at her private little world, Luna severed her ties with the dream realm and opened her eyes.

Luna’s eyes fluttered open. Sitting up and blinking rapidly until they focused and her vision cleared, Luna shook her head. “What is it, Tia? Am I late—wait.” Her face screwed up, a small frown adorning her muzzle. “No. It’s not yet time for dinner, I’ve another hour before that. Two hours before nightfall as well.”

“Yes, I woke you up a bit early.” Celestia nodded as she sat down on the edge of the bed, floating a scroll over and dropping it in front of Luna.

“Is something the matter?”

“Not that I know of. I just wanted to deliver something to you—you have mail, Lulu!”

Blinking owlishly, Luna looked down at the scroll. She stared, staying silent as she read her name, written in neat script, on the side. I have… mail? From who—

Then, the seal caught her eye; a six pointed star, set upon one of similar size and ringed with five smaller bursts. Twilight Sparkle’s cutie mark?

Her eyes went wide, everything clicked into place as if she’d been hit by a bolt of lightning. “She wrote… Me?”

Laughter came in reply. “Yes. Fancy that!” Luna looked up into her sister’s eyes. They were alight with amusement and a bit of humor as Celestia spoke.

“You find my surprise funny?”

“Only a little. But I’m more interested in what Twilight might have sent you.” Celestia nudged the scroll closer. “Well, go on! Read it!”

Luna’s gaze fell to the scroll again, almost unsure whether to believe it real. But it would be a rather cruel prank, far too cruel for Tia. Her hoof brushed against the ribbon, trailing up to the fastening that bore Twilight’s mark. She is many things: compassionate at best, irritatingly suffocating at worst. But never cruel. Not then, and certainly not now.

Her tail twitched as she took the scroll in her magic. Luna deftly slid the ribbon off and levitated the scroll in front of her. Unrolling it, she ground her hoof into her midnight blue bedding. Relax. It’s only a letter from your friend. Nothing to fear.

Inhaling deeply through her nose, Luna began to read through the neat script.

“Dear Princess Luna,

How have you been? It’s been a few days since we last saw one another. You haven’t sent anything to me through Spike yet, so I can only assume that you haven’t asked Princess Celestia for the spell signature. Like we said, please feel free to do so! I’d be happy to hear how you’ve been doing! Also, it would be a bit easier than using her as a go-between.

Which reminds me, if she’s there with you, please let your sister know that I’m sorry for the inconvenience.

More to the point, I wanted to ask if you’d like to come over and visit sometime next week. Maybe we could talk about the kind of music you like, since you mentioned a couple of your favorite composers on your last visit. Whatever night works best for you is fine with me, though I would prefer that you come earlier in the evening—it would give us more time to discuss and get to know one another!

I hope to hear from you soon! And that you’re well!

Your faithful subject and friend,

Twilight Sparkle”

Everything stopped. Luna’s breath caught in her throat, her eyes scanned the page a second time. A third. A fourth!

The wording didn’t change, no hint of illusionary magic weaved over the page. Twilight Sparkle had indeed written the very letter floating just in front of her muzzle.

Luna’s hooves shook, her left leg began to bounce in place. “She wants…” The words were right there in front of her, as plain as the crescent moon cutie mark on her flank. A smile crept across her face, her breath came in short pants. “She really invited me over…”

“What was that?” Celestia shuffled closer, draping a wing across her withers. “Lulu, what did Twilight want?”

With a flick of her magic, Luna thrust the letter under Celestia’s muzzle. “She wants me to come over to visit!” She wrapped her sister in a tight embrace, snuggling against her alabaster coat. A squeal slipped through her lips as her hind hooves kicked against the mattress. “Twilight really invited me over! She truly thinks of me as a friend and—and—“

Celestia covered her mouth with a hoof, chuckling “Lulu, breathe! Goodness, gracious! I haven’t seen you this excited since we were but fillies!”

“Fie on thee!” Luna slipped briefly into her more classical speech before sticking her tongue out. “I am excited and none of your silly sensibilities shall dampen my mood!” She floated the letter into the air, as though she were raising a victory banner. “Twilight Sparkle has seen fit to invite me over to her house! She took the initiative, which means—“

“—That she values the time you spent together. Which, in turn, means that she does, in fact, see you as a friend. Just as you told me the other day.”

“Yes! She does! She truly does!” Slipping out from under her sister’s wing, Luna leapt to her hooves. She pranced and bounced on her bed, giggling with each bounce and step. “Yesyesyesyesyes—“

“Oh, sit down, you silly little filly!” Celestia rolled her eyes and tugged on Luna’s blue, sparkling tail, bringing her back down to sit on the mattress. “My word! I’d forgotten just how excitable you can be!” Dodging a swipe, the elder alicorn caught her sister and pulled her into another hug. Laughter slipped through. Celestia sighed and held Luna close. “You really are alike, you know—you and Twilight. She did a… similar dance when she earned her cutie mark.”

Luna’s ears perked up. “Did she now?” How interesting. She didn’t seem the type to jump about and sing—least of all in front of a princess! “That is most certainly a tale I would be interested in hearing. Perhaps I might ask Twilight to share it with me someday.”

“Why not just ask when you see her?”

“Excuse me?” She froze, her ears swiveled back to lay flat. “Tia! Is that not a personal thing to ask? A pony’s marking day is a special event, a time of discovery of oneself! Surely, you don’t mean to say that I should trot right up and ask her without so much as a by your leave!”

Celestia held her tight, heaving a sigh. “I think we’re missing one another, Lulu. You’re thinking of how things used to be again.”

“Then kindly clarify! You know full well that I still struggle to adapt to these modern norms!”

Breaking the hug, her sister held up her hooves and gave a lopsided smile. “I’m sorry! I let that slip my mind. Again.” Luna grumbled as Celestia fidgeted in place, a drastic change from her usual composure. A sigh escaped Celestia’s lips. “I truly do apologize. I will try to remember from now on, Lulu. I just… I get caught up running things. Just like—“

Luna cut her off, placing a hoof over her lips. “No. Just… Let us move on. Preferably, to happier things.”

“Lulu, I—“

“Please.” Her chest ached. A thousand years of loneliness, of nothingness, flickered through her mind. She had nothing, she was no pony. Luna—No, Nightmare Moon was naught but an old wives’ tale used to frighten naughty little foals into behaving.

Eat all your dandelions or Nightmare Moon will visit your dreams. Did you brush your teeth? Don’t lie! Nightmare Moon likes to eat foals who lie!

It was always some variant of the same thing: if a foal was bad, Nightmare Moon brought pain. Nightmare Moon brought nothing but pain, nothing but malicious intent in all her dealings.

And Nightmare Moon was Luna. Before the Elements of Harmony, before Twilight Sparkle, she was the Mare of Darkness. Every fiber of her being had been devoted to bringing harm upon her sister and any in her path.

I would have destroyed everything. Luna closed her eyes and tried to push the thought away. Nay. Cease this line of thought and move forward, one step at a time. I am not the Nightmare anymore.

A smile played upon her lips. Yes. That is the key. “You said once that I needed to move past my guilt for what I had done. That you wished me to smile again.” Luna reached to take Celestia’s hoof. “Would you not join me? How can I be your smiling little Lulu again if you will not be the happy Tia I loved?”

For once, Celestia didn’t simply brush it off and smile back. “The same one who failed to notice her Lulu’s smile fall?” There was a heavy pause as she snorted, muttering under her breath. After a moment, Celestia sighed and shook her head. “Very well. We’ll move forward. But,” she paused to level a stern gaze at Luna, “we will be open with one another from now on. No hiding these feelings, or any anxiety from here out. Understood?”

“Of course.” Once her sister set her mind, there was no arguing with her. It seems that some things will always stay the same. Luna rubbed Celestia’s hoof, just as she once had when Luna cowered from booming thunder as a young filly. “Now, tell me. Why is it not rude to inquire as to how somepony gained their cutie mark? If I recall, it was once considered quite rude. Vulgar, even!”

“At one time, yes, but that changed… oh dear, I think it was two or three centuries ago. I can’t recall exactly…” She brought an alabaster hoof to her chin, looking off into one of the darkened corners of Luna’s room. “There was some change in the culture, cutie marks became more of a badge of honor rather than something shared between family or lovers. But, perhaps that’s a tale for another day.” Celestia’s gaze returned to Luna again, the smile finding its way back onto her face. “You are going to answer her, yes?”

Luna’s eyes flitted to the letter again, her wings drooped. “I… It took me so long to prepare myself adequately for my last visit. I’m not sure if I can ready myself that quickly…“

“Then don’t prepare anything! Pick a night, any night next week, let her know that you’d like to visit, and just go!” A nudge to her side nearly sent Luna toppling off the bed. She aimed a glare at her elder sister, but melted at the sight of Celestia’s concerned frown. White ears swiveled back to lay against her sister’s scalp. “Lulu, please don’t do this. Don’t make this into some sort of duty.”

“I am not—“

“You are.” Luna winced at the tone. A mix of the stern older sister she was so familiar with and that of a mare looking at a broken friend. Celestia pulled her in close once more, resting her chin atop Luna’s. “And you’ll make it worse on yourself if you continue. I don’t want to watch you do that to yourself, I can’t.”

Luna let out a low whine. “I know. I know. I remember how… how I used to be. But, I am afraid of ruining things. Again.” Her ears drooped low and her gaze fell to the floor. “I planned everything out for our last meeting and still struggled through it. I forgot everything I meant to say…”

“Then don’t plan it this time.” Celestia bumped her nose against Luna’s cheek. “If organization failed you when you had months to prepare, it won’t serve you well here. Accept her invitation, pick a day, and just go. Don’t plan out your what topics you’ll cover, don’t rehearse your words, just go and have fun.”

“But… But… Oh, very well!” Flicking her tail, Luna glanced out of the corner of her eye, like a shy little filly. “You… You would not be averse to helping me write a reply, would you?”

Rather than reply immediately, Celestia simply smiled, her horn glowed a brilliant gold. A roll of parchment, quill, and inkwell floated over, wreathed in a matching aura, and, finally, came to a stop just in front of Luna’s muzzle. “I would like nothing more.”

No words were needed to convey her thanks. Luna snuggled into Celestia’s side as her own horn lit up with a shimmering blue glow, wrapping around them. For a brief moment, the sisters’ auras flashed together, flickering from gold to blue and back again as control was wrested from Celestia to Luna.

Luna was forced to compensate for the loss of support as Celestia ended her spell, the parchment dipped slightly before she managed to catch it and bring it back to eye level. Her nose scrunched up, Luna brought a hoof to her chin. How does one reply to a letter such as this? It had been some time since she’d last written anything but an official address—and even those were different nowadays. Well, I requested that Twilight speak to me as she would Applejack or one of her other friends, and she certainly wrote her invitation in a rather casual manner…

Dipping the quill into the inkwell, Luna began to write, speaking aloud for Celestia’s benefit. “Dear Twilight Sparkle,” Addressing her so familiarly seems… odd so soon after making friends, but quite satisfying, knowing that she considers me one. “I was overjoyed to receive your letter and have been doing quite well since we last spoke. You are correct, I have not yet asked Celestia for young Spike’s fire spell signature—“

“I’ll give it to you when you’ve finished.” Celestia cut in. “So you won’t forget to ask again.”

“Oh! Thank you! That would be most helpful! Now,” she grinned broadly, forgoing her usual restraint in the privacy of her room, “let me think. Ah! I have not yet asked Celestia for young Spike’s fire spell signature, but she has assured me that we shall take care of that soon. As to your invitation, I would be most pleased to accept! If you would like, I may be able to find some old records—if they survived the test of time. If they are not in working condition, then perhaps a more recent rendition would suffice. I do believe we spoke of Tempo Rubato, so perhaps you might be interested in discussing his works.”

Luna stopped short, once again bringing her hoof to her chin. What day would be most convenient for her? Perhaps something closer to the weekend again? “I believe, for our purposes, that Friday evening would be best—“


“E-Excuse me?” Turning so quickly that her neck popped, Luna gaped at Celestia. “Monday?”

Celestia nodded once. “If your recent track record is anything to go by, you’ll spend your time worrying more and more if you have a longer wait. Go Monday, so you don’t have empty time to fill in fretting and trying to make everything perfect. Believe me,” a sheepish grin crossed her muzzle, “it’ll go much smoother if you let this happen naturally.”

“But,” Luna bit her lip, her gaze flitting from the letter to Celestia and back again. “Oh, very well! Monday it shall be!” A few quick strokes of her quill finalized it. Flipping the parchment around, Luna presented it to her sister with a flourish. “There! Are you now satisfied?”

“Very much so!” Her horn wreathed in gold again. A red ribbon wrapped its way around the scroll, binding it together. Celestia floated a silver clasp, adorned with Luna’s crescent moon cutie mark, over and fastened it on. “And I’m sure Twilight will be just as excited as you! Now, let me show you how to send Spike a letter. It’s quite simple, really…”

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