• 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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8: Now You Teach Us to Sing

Luna’s smile broadened into a full, toothy grin as the latch clicked and the door opened inward to reveal Spike and Twilight, the very pair she’d been so eager to see again. “Good tidings to you on this eve, my friends!” She cheered. “I hope the days since our last meeting have been kind to you!”

“I’ve been well, Luna, thank you.” Twilight replied, a small smile of her own in place. “And you? You didn’t say very much about what you’d been up to in your letter.”

Shifting in place, Luna bit her bottom lip. “Ah, yes, my apologies, Twilight Sparkle. I was uncertain how to describe my, ah, activities without feeling as though I were being too—what phrase would Tia use? Ah! ‘Long-winded’!”

Spike snorted, crossing his arms over his scaled chest. “Ha! The day anything is too long for Twilight to handle is the day I dye my scales pink and sing soprano!” His smirk gave way to a yelp as Twilight reached over and lightly bopped him on the head. “Hey!”

“Smarty scales’ teasing aside,” she began, smiling as though she couldn’t hear the little dragon grumbling under his breath, “I don’t mind a long letter. As a matter of fact, I’m interested to hear about your days—err, nights, rather. Especially, the Night Court and commanding the Night—Oh!” Twilight stopped abruptly, covering her mouth with a hoof, cheeks tinged pink. “Oops. Sorry, that was a bit intrusive.”

Luna chuckled and shook her head. “Worry not, my friend, it seems that we are both guilty of assumption in this case. I would be delighted to tell you about my evenings. As for the Night Court, it has, sadly, been rather lonesome since my return. While there have been a few petitioners, there aren’t nearly as many as I had before my banishment. But,” she sighed, giving a small shrug, “that is something I shall endeavor to rectify moving forward.”

Twilight stepped through the doorway, meeting Luna on the library’s front porch. Then, without warning or prompt, she reared up and caught Luna in a tight hug. “Exactly.” She said, keeping her voice low. “And you’ll have us to help you along the way.”

Stunned by the sudden embrace, Luna could only nod as she tried to withhold a jubilant cheer. Her chest filled with warmth at the kind words, it was all she could do to keep her tail from wagging like an excited puppy. Oh, to have this young mare and her dragon at my side a thousand years ago! She sighed wistfully and wrapped a hoof around Twilight’s withers. But, then, I would not have them with me today. I cannot, as Tia says, have my cake and eat it too.

The hug ended all too soon, as Twilight pulled back, landing on her forehooves with a smile. “I seem to be making habit of forgetting to invite you in,” She laughed as she stepped to the side and gestured toward the door. “After you, Luna.”

Luna jolted out of her inner monologue, smiling brightly as she trotted past Twilight and into the library. Those thoughts have no bearing at this time. Spike and Twilight are with me, here and now, and I shall treasure the time I have with them. As she stepped past him, Luna leaned down and gave Spike nuzzle to his green headfin. She glanced around the library, humming to herself as she took in the scene.

The tea set from her previous visit was already in place, laid in the center of the table next to a plate of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. To her mild amusement, there was only the one book resting on the table, while the rest were carefully and meticulously shelved. “No tower of books this time?” Luna hummed, a coy smile playing on her lips. “I thought we might construct the ‘book fort’ young Spike mentioned during my last visit.”

She stifled a laugh at the way Twilight blushed and ducked her head into her shoulders. “N-No, I haven’t done that since I was a filly.”

“What a pity,” she teased as she trotted to the table, taking the same cushion she sat in last time. “Oh well, another time. Tea, cookies, good company and music are always welcome, in my opinion. And I cannot think of a better way to share my evening than with the pair of you.”

“Ah, actually,” Spike said, raising a claw and smiling nervously, “I had plans to go over to Rarity’s and hang out with the Crusaders—err, I mean Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo. I kinda said that I’d go over before you sent your letter, Princess. Sorry.”

Luna blinked, her ears lay flat against her scalp. “I… I see.” She shifted in place, biting her bottom lip as she looked off to the side.

“Princess?” He called. Luna looked up just in time to see Spike beginning to shuffle his feet, his tail flicking behind him. “It’s okay if I go… right? You’re not upset?”

Oh, now look what you’ve done. She scolded herself. Smile, be happy that he is spending time with his own friends. Like Tia would. “Of course not, little one,” Luna replied, smiling brightly at him. “I am, admittedly, a bit disappointed that you will not be joining us, but far be it from me to keep you from your friends.”

Spike grinned and pumped his fist. “Thanks, Princess Luna!” He cried, bounding over and hugging her around her barrel.

“No trouble at all, young Spike,” Luna smiled, again nuzzling his headfin. She pulled back and regarded him with a raised brow. “As I have told Twilight, you may call me by name as well, little one. We are friends, yes?”

“Yeah, definitely! Thanks, Luna!” Giving her one last squeeze, Spike let go and scampered over to Twilight, throwing a quick hug around her neck. “See you later, Twilight!”

Twilight wrapped a leg around his back and held him close. “I’ll come by and pick you up later tonight. Be good for Rarity, okay?” She drew back, giving him a pointed stare. “If the Crusaders try roping you into some crazy scheme—“

“Say no and go find Rarity, or come straight home.” He said, rolling his eyes as though he’d been forced to repeat himself a hundred times. “I know Twilight. Really. I’m not gonna make a big mess! Can I go now?” Spike paused and let go of his hug, dropping down to the floor. He clasped his claws together and looked up at her, widening his big green eyes and sticking out his bottom lip. “Please!”

“Oh, put those away, you cheeky little dragon, I already said yes!” She cried, quickly averting her eyes. From where Luna sat, she could see the playful smile on Twilight’s face, poorly hidden as she played up her act. “Get out of here before I think twice about it, you little troublemaker.”

Spike needed no further prompting. He bolted out the door, hastily calling his thanks back over his shoulder as he bounded off into the night.

Twilight nudged the door closed and shook her head, a fond smile playing on her lips. Turning away, she walked toward the table, muttering under her breath. “Just like a little colt, bouncing around as soon as he gets to go play.”

Laughing to herself, Luna grinned as Twilight sat down across from her. “He is rather young, is he not?”

“He’s really still a hatchling in dragon years, but a bit older than most of the foals in the area.” She took her seat, shifting around a bit to find her comfortable spot. With a happy sigh, Twilight met Luna’s gaze and continued. “Neither of us had many friends back in Canterlot—mostly because I always had my nose deep in a book and he was following me around. So, I’m just glad he connected with them. He needs to make up for lost time.”

Before she could think twice, Luna reached over, taking Twilight’s hoof in hers. “It speaks volumes that you can look back and see your mistakes, my friend. But we cannot change what already is, we can only move forward to better ourselves, now and in the future.”

“That sounds like something Princess Celestia would say.”

“Indeed,” she nodded, eyes twinkling. “Though she has a talent for making me want to tear my mane out, my sister has always tried to make time to impart her wisdom on others. Even though some might be too lost to hear her words.” Luna grimaced inwardly, swishing her tail at the bitterness that had snuck into her voice. Now is not the time, nor the place.

Fortunately, Twilight either didn’t notice or chose to pay her sudden shift no mind, nodding along with Luna’s words. “Yes, I used to love sitting in on the Day Court; she always tried so hard to make ponies accept a solution that benefitted everypony, rather than just take one side. It led to some... interesting discussions.”

Luna snorted. “If there is one thing I can say with certainty, it is that my sister has not changed her style of ruling much. Well, not in the past millennium, I should say.” Shaking her head, she channeled her magic and levitated the saddlebags off her back, depositing them gently on the table. “Perhaps that is for another day. I believe you were interested in some of my preferred musicians, correct?”

“Oh, yes! Let me just get my gramophone, it should be in the storage closet.” She watched as Twilight leapt to her hooves and bounded over to the aforementioned closet, horn glowing magenta as she pulled it open. The telltale tinkling of telekinesis echoed through the room, Twilight began pulling items off the shelves, muttering under her breath. “No, that’s not it. No. No, that’s Spike’s ‘secret’ gem stash. And—aha! There you are!” Luna’s ears perked up at the triumphant cheer, her tail wagging excitedly as the familiar machine was levitated out of the closet and into view. “I knew it was in there! I’d put it back after Rarity and I listened to a couple of her Sapphire Shores albums—she’s a rather big fan, especially since they started working together to design Sapphire’s ensembles.”

“Oh? Was she a ‘fan’ of Miss Shores’ music prior to their partnership? Or is this a case of admiration coming after their joint venture?”

Twilight cocked her head to one side and brought a hoof to her chin. “I think so, Rarity certainly seemed excited when she got the news.” With a shrug, she trotted over, the gramophone hovering in her wake. “I’ll have to ask when I pick Spike up later on.”

“Well, please do not badger her on my account. ’Tis only the idle musings of an old mare, I fear.” A wry grin crossed her face, Luna hummed to herself. “I forget, as much as I love to tease Tia, that I am not so much younger than she.”

In spite of her respect for Luna, Twilight was forced to hide a smile of her own. “Well, they say you’re only as old as you feel, right?” She trotted over, deftly placing the gramophone on the table. “So, what’ll we listen to first?” Her eyes lit up, her felt purple ears standing erect.

“I thought we might start with Tempo Rubato, if that is acceptable,” Luna replied as she levitated a record out of her saddlebags. She floated it over to Twilight, flashing the label to the young mare. “Since you seem familiar with his works, I thought you might enjoy this; it’s an original recording, one from my private collection. I do not mean to sound too biased, as it may be nostalgia, but I find it to be a bit more… whole than some of the modern renditions. There is a bit of emotion in the original that they just have not been able to capture since.”

“Oh? Why do you say that? Is it a difference because of the change in style since the original was written? Or do you find musicians of today lacking?”

Luna held up a hoof to forestall any further questioning. “Neither, actually. I do believe it is more my own preference, rather than the talent of the musicians, that drives my inclination to the original. There was just an added emotion when it was first played, as if they put their very souls into it…” She trailed off, cheeks coloring as she smiled sheepishly. “Am I being too vague in my answer?”

“No, not at all!” Twilight beamed, quickly scribbling out a few notes on a pad that she’d produced seemingly out of thin air. When did she… “I’ve always wondered how past audiences might react to today’s entertainment fare, so really, this is all quite interesting! Princess Celestia always mentioned that her tastes were a bit more toward the classical genres as well, but she just couldn’t put her hoof on exactly why.”

“I would suspect her reasons are similar, though our preferences in style differed. I actually spoke with her on the matter recently,” Luna paused, bringing a hoof to her chin. Her eyes, however, wandered to Twilight’s notepad, watching carefully as the quill darted across the paper with every word she spoke. “We were discussing a performance done by the Royal Canterlot Orchestra—a fine ensemble, if I do say so myself. They are certainly very skilled and they put forth an incredible amount of effort to do justice to the original, but sometimes, I wonder if the emotion is there. Certainly, they put their hearts into showing respect to the composers and musicians before them, but… well, never mind,” her lips curved upward into a playful smirk, an idea coming to her.

A chance to see if she could be the mare from ages long gone. Let us see if you’ll write this bit down. “Perhaps my sister and I are just being a pair of old fuddy-duddies, longing for our younger years.”

She grinned as Twilight was forced to stop writing in favor of stifling a laugh. Huzzah! Success! Luna did a mental jig, putting up a point in her favor. Much better delivery than last time. With her little joke made, she carefully floated the age old record over to the gramophone, gently lowering it onto the turnstile. “I recall you mentioning Song of the Meadowlark during our previous conversation,” Luna began, “so I thought we might start there. This is a recording of one of the earliest playings of the piece—if I recall correctly, Tia and I were hosting the Premier of Stalliongrad and his wife at the time.”

“It must have really been something to leave that much of an impression.” Twilight’s horn lit up, a magenta aura engulfed the handle and began turning it, slowly winding it into gear. As the record began to turn, she lifted the pin and dropped it onto the track.

There was a light crackling as the pin began to read and play the track, a moment of static filled silence before the light hum of the violins echoed through the sitting room.

Two sets of ears perked up, matching smiles crossed their muzzles as the soft, soothing melody played. Twilight’s horn shone bright, the teapot and two cups levitating into view. “Care for a cup?” She offered, tilting the pot to pour the steaming hot liquid.

“Yes, of course. Thank you.” Luna replied, taking the cup in her aura. She brought it to her muzzle, inhaling deeply to savor the herbal scent before taking her first sip. A familiar warmth filled her chest, the smooth taste and soothing aroma bringing a sense of calm. Her eyes wandered to the plate of cookies laid out before her; it would be rude not to try them if Spike had gone through the effort of cooking.

Taking one of the cookies in her telekinetic grip, Luna floated it over to herself, nibbling curiously on the edge. Her eyes lit up. “Twilight.”

“Yes?” Came the reply as she picked one for herself, happily taking a bite.

“Spike made these cookies himself, correct?” At Twilight’s nod, she folded her hooves, giving a calculating stare. “I see. If that is the case, I am afraid that I may very well have to steal your young assistant. Between the tea and his cooking, I fear he may have ruined me.”

Twilight laughed, shaking her head as she brought her own cup to her lips. “I’d say that I would have to stop you, but you’re the one who would have to deal with a grumpy dragon.” Her eyes twinkled brightly, her smile broadened into a mischievous grin. “I wish you the best of luck in figuring out how to appease him.”

Luna wrinkled her nose, grimacing at the visions of a once beautiful royal kitchen was engulfed in green dragon fire flitted through her mind. Or, more to the point, how she would explain such a mess to her sister. “After careful consideration, I think I will retract my statement.”

“That’s probably for the best. You’ll just have to visit more often if you want to sample Spike’s cooking.”

She huffed good naturedly at the triumphant grin on her friend’s face, taking another sip of her tea as the music began to crescendo. As if the meadowlark had taken wing, gliding through the bright blue sky. Ah, here it comes. “What do you think so far?”

“It’s just as beautiful a sound as I remember,” seeing Twilight close her eyes and fully pricking up her ears to take in the music, a bright smile crossed her face. “But there is something else. I feel… Light. Like I’m flying.”

And now she begins to see, Luna crowed inwardly. “Listen carefully, it gets better.” She gave an excited flutter of her wings, her hoof tapping against the table in time to the music. “Tia used to love this part, it drove her to tears the first time she heard it.”

Before Twilight could pause to ask, it hit. At the top of the crescendo, starting off as nothing more than a low rumble, came the percussions. Light, brushlike strokes against the snare drum sounded out, like the cadence of tiny wings beating against the wind to keep the tiny bird in flight. The violins changed tempo, the long, even strokes of the bow quickening and becoming shorter and sharper.

Then came the flutes. Short, sweet and nimble, they joined in with the strings, played quickly as if chasing along, darting in and out between the strokes of the violins. Almost as if a tiny chick, fresh out of the nest, flying with its parents for the first time.

Luna closed her eyes, letting her mind wander back millennia to her foalhood days. Those days of summer spent playing in the fields with her sister, under the watchful eye of their mother and father. Celestia’s laughter echoed fresh in her memories, like the tinkling of bells. I was the little chick then. She furrowed her brows and corrected herself. Actually, I am still the little chick to her, always pulling me under wing whenever she feels I need protecting.

Oh? That traitorous little voice spoke up, whispering to her for the first time in days. But there was a time you would have killed for her to give you such attention, wasn’t there? One little hug, one night spent snuggled safely under her wing would have made it all better, wouldn’t it?

Be silent. I will not be swayed by the likes of you. Begone! Luna shoved the little voice into a mental closet and slammed the door shut. She took a deep breath, slowly letting it out as she tried to refocus on the music. The flutes have joined, next they will begin a staccato, furthering the contrast.

Just as she predicted, the recorded flutists abruptly changed their playing style, playing each note as short puffs of air, making them more pronounced, standing out against the music. The little bird was showing off now, excitedly bobbing up and down as it fluttered alongside its parent.

A troublesome little bird, just like she had been.

“It really is something else.” Twilight’s voice cut through Luna’s musings, jarring her out of the scenery her imagination crafted as the music played.

Blinking a few times, she took note that Twilight’s ears were still perked up, erect to hear as much as possible, and her eyes were shut tight. A smile crossed her face, Luna gave a little ruffle of her feathers. She is as lost in the music as I was. “You see what I mean, then?” She asked, voice tinged with excitement. “The feeling in the music seems more real, no?”

“It really does!” Twilight agreed, bouncing in place. Perhaps unknowingly, she managed to bounce in time with the music; the bright smile and exuberance in her tone fitting with the very image of a meadowlark flitting through the sky. “I mean, I grew up on the version done by the Royal Canterlot Symphony, lead by Treble Clef—which is hailed as one of the most talented pools of musicians in the past century. But this, it’s,” she trailed off, waving a hoof in a circular motion as she struggled to think of the proper word. Twilight stopped abruptly and smiled before finally speaking again. “It’s like nature made musical.”

“Quite so! Actually, I am glad you mentioned it. There is a bit of a story behind it.” Luna’s tail flicked excitedly. “You see, Tempo spent countless hours looking for a muse while writing that piece. He had gone through a rather melancholic period in his music, and produced several fine works with that particular tone. But, he grew a bit bored with it and decided to write something lighter, more cheerful. However,” she broke off, grimacing at the memory, “the creative muses does not work on command, especially for one such as Tempo Rubato. If he did not feel the joy or sadness in his piece, there simply was no point.”

“I’ve heard artists struggling with inspiration, something they say doesn’t just come on demand.” Pausing to take a bite out of a cookie, she screwed up her face, looking off in thought. “In fact, Rarity has said something similar. If her heart isn’t in the dress she’s making, she usually has to walk away until inspiration hits or start over.”

“Indeed, such is the nature of the muse; fleeting, but beautiful when it comes. Ah! A moment!” She held up a hoof. “The end is nearing, always a favorite.”

The pair fell silent, content to nibble on cookies and sip at their tea while they took in the last bit of the music. Finally arriving at the top of its crescendo, the flutes, horns, violins joined together in harmony—the little chick had joined its parent in flight, staying side by side, beating its little wings in time.

Falling into line at last. Again, Luna let her mind wander back, to the first time she had taken flight with Celestia. Bobbing and weaving, excitedly beating her wings to her own cadence as she darted to and fro, much to her sister’s amusement.

The tune trailed off, slowly, fading away as though the larks flew off into the sunset. Luna inhaled deeply, allowing herself a rare moment of utter relaxation. She took a deep breath, a broad, toothy grin working its way across her muzzle. “As beautiful as the first time…”

Twilight didn’t reply at first, instead letting the final note hang in the air before even so much as moving. After a moment of heavy silence, she wiped her hoof across her face, chasing away a stray tear. “That was… Amazing.” She met Luna’s gaze, smiling brightly. “Thank you for sharing this with me. It really was an experience. Beautiful really is the only way to describe it.”

“I am always happy to share music with a friend, especially that of such quality.”

“All the same, bringing a record from your private collection was nice, especially one that meant so much to you. Oh, wait a moment!” Her eyes lit up suddenly, her aura engulfed the quill and brought it back up again. “You mentioned a story behind Tempo Rubato’s inspiration!”

Luna face hoofed. “Oh, dear! I seem to have—what is the phrase? ‘Left you hanging’? Yes, I believe that is correct.” She nodded to herself and gave a mental pat on the back for remembering the turn of phrase. However, upon looking back at Twilight, she noticed something off about her smile. It had broadened considerably, almost to the point of being unnatural, strained even. “Is something the matter?”

“I just… never would’ve thought that you’d use that turn of phrase.” She replied, shuddering visibly. “Never mind. If you don’t mind too much, I’d love to hear the story.”

Why would the phrasing be an issue if it is correct? Shrugging, she opted to address the issue at a later date. Yet another question she would have to ask Celestia about modern norms. “Well, the way he told the tale, Tempo was so frustrated, he threw his notes into a fireplace and joined his young children out in the fields one day, watching them play so he could distract himself. The tune came to him while watching his youngest son galloping around his oldest, laughing and taunting his brother to try to catch him.” Luna broke off, smiling and shaking her head. “I met the pair at dinner later that night; little scamps, the both of them. Always playing little jokes on one another and feigning innocence whenever an adult looked their way.”

“They sound like they were quite the pair of troublemakers.”

“Oh, far from it, they liked to have fun, much like your friends, Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash. In fact,” she chuckled, “some of your letters to my sister show a great many similarities between they and Tempo’s foals. Tricksters, the lot of them! Though, neither Fortissimo nor Sforzando were prepared to face the consequences when they tried to slip a bit of extra pepper into my soup.”

Twilight’s magic gave out for an instant, nearly dropping her cup. “They did what?” She cried, hastily relighting her horn and engulfing the fragile glass in her aura, just before it hit the table.

“You heard correctly, my friend. They slipped a bit of pepper into my soup, at a formal dinner, no less! Cheeky little foals, they had no idea with whom they were dealing!” She lightly rapped her hoof against the tabletop to accentuate her proclamation.

“Oh, dear, what did you do to the poor foals?”

Luna widened her eyes, smiling as innocently as possible. “No, Tia, I had nothing to do with it,” she replied, repeating her exact words from that night. “I would never cast a palette swap spell on a pair of foals for something as trivial as a little giggle fit at their princess’s expense! Why, the very idea!” A groan and matching facehoof from Twilight broke her facade, sending Luna into peals of laughter. “That was my sister’s exact response! She gave me such a scolding for that one!” She sat upright, giving Twilight a mock glare and changing her voice to imitate Celestia’s low, stern tone. “I expected such behavior from the foals at the table, not my millennia-old little sister!”

Another groan from Twilight, accompanied by the young mare thumping her head against the table, only served to further Luna’s amusement. Snickering, she chose another cookie from the plate, happily munching on the tasty treat while her friend grumbled something unintelligible. ’Tis almost as if looking at a younger Tia.

Slowly, Twilight sat up, fixing her with a deadpan stare. “You are never allowed to be alone with Pinkie and Rainbow. The last thing Ponyville needs is those two with the backing of a princess to keep them out of trouble!”

“You seem to forget that my older sister hardly endorses my antics—well, in the past, at least. She seems to have adopted a bit of a mischievous side in my absence.” A wicked grin crossed her face, Luna steepled her hooves. “I do believe I may have the advantage here, Miss Sparkle.”

“Wonderful.” Twilight rolled her eyes and heaved a sigh. “This poor town will be the site of a pranking battleground before long—oh, don’t you get any ideas!”

“I would never dream of it! But, we are getting off topic. What do you think? Does the music match the muse in this case?”

Bringing a hoof to her chin, Twilight’s nose scrunched up, her eyes again looking off. “Well, it was inspired by his sons playing in the field, so the light, cheerful tune definitely fits. But… I honestly expected you to tell me that his inspiration came from birdwatching.”

“Tia and I felt similarly, but then we met his foals.” Luna sighed wistfully and closed her eyes, picturing the pair of grinning colts. “We had Tempo and his family over several times, I daresay I watched them grow up before my eyes. They never lost their talent for mischief, even as they became professional musicians themselves.”

“Always the life of the party, huh?”

“Quite so, they were that and more.” Shaking her head, she brought herself back to reality. “But, I mustn’t dwell too much on the days of old. I will lose myself otherwise.”

“I don’t mind at all.” Twilight replied, hastily jotting down a few notes before directing a bright smile at her. “The story wasn’t quite what I expected, but it was still fascinating! I had no idea that you and Princess Celestia were so close with Tempo Rubato!”

“Well, Tia was close with a few. I used to frequent the art galleries and concert halls, you see. In fact, I might have spent more time there than at the palace.” Luna furrowed her brows, drumming her hooves on the tabletop. “Hmm, if I recall correctly, the community used to call me the Matron of the Arts, but I may be wrong. Memory is a funny thing…”

Twilight’s quill danced across the page, her ears stood up straight. “Really? That sounds interesting! Was that just because you were a constant presence or were you in some administrative capacity? Oh! Did you function as a sort of a judge of talent?”

“A bit of the first and third, the second, only because I am a princess—one of the authorities of the entire realm.” Luna bit her lip, struggling to come up with the proper means to describe her old position. “I suppose an informal judge would be the best way to explain it; I was often invited to opening performances, as a sort of tribute to the dual crown. Tia would join when she wasn’t so busy with the courts, but, more often than not, it fell to me. Not that I minded.” She paused, waiting for Twilight to finish jotting down her notes. “I am not giving too much too quickly am I?”

“Oh, no, not at all! I’m used to taking a lot of notes, really, it’s no bother!” She replied, waving off her concerns with a hoof. “Though, I was curious about how you might feel on some modern music.”

Humming to herself, Luna took a sip of her tea before replying. “Are there any particular genres you had in mind, or just in general?”

“Well, why don’t we stick with orchestral music? Since you shared an original Rubato recording, I’ll share something Cadence sent me.” Twilight’s horn lit up and floated a record out from within the same closet she’d pulled the gramophone. She brought it to a hover, flashing the title for Luna. “It’s called Jubilation, a piece by Allegreto. He’s one of Cadence’s favorite composers, if I remember correctly, he’s been praised for innovation in his music.”

Allegreto, Allegreto… Luna frowned, tapping a hoof against her chin. I do not recall Tia mentioning a musician by that name. “I am not as closely tied with musicians as I once was, though I do wish to change that. With that said, however, I have not heard much by Maestro Allegreto. In fact, I dare say I have yet to sample any of his work!”

“In that case, let’s not wait any longer.” Twilight’s aura enveloped Luna’s record and switched it with hers, before carefully floating it back into Luna’s saddlebags. “I, uh, should give you fair warning: Cadence’s tastes in music can be a bit eccentric. She tends to be a bit of a free spirit on these things.”

Shrugging, Luna settled in and nodded, raising her cup to her lips. ‘Eccentric’, she says. That hardly bodes well. Truth be told, she had not spent much time with her niece. Looking at Cadenza—Cadence, rather—and forcing a smile as they were introduced… It hadn’t been easy.

“She isn’t your replacement, Lulu! I would never dream of something like that!” Celestia had assured her. “I love Cadence like the daughter I never had, but that doesn’t change the fact that you are my sister!”

Luna shook her head, dispelling that thought. Give it, and your niece a chance, you think-headed mare! “If Cadenza—err, Cadence—recommends it, then I shall trust her judgement. Play on, Twilight Sparkle!”

Nodding, Twilight dropped the pin into the track. Again, there was a crackle of static as the gramophone began to read the recording.

Luna’s ears perked up as a familiar tune began to play, the rich sounds of the string section playing proudly. Beethooven’s Fifth Symphony? Hardly contemporary… “This is actually an old favorite of mine, Twilight, I fail to see how this qualifies as—” Without warning, the music changed. A steady beat against the snare drums and symbols joined in at a lively pace, joined by an electric keyboard. Her feathers ruffled, her ears lay flat against her scalp to block out the sound as best they could. “Twilight… what… in my mother’s name is this?”

Rounding on her friend, Luna narrowed her eyes as she noticed Twilight doing her best to bite her lip to hold back laughter, her purple coated cheeks puffing out. “Oooooh, you cheeky mare!” Luna huffed, folding her hooves. “You tricked me into listening to this—this—” She tailed off, wrinkling her nose and glaring at the gramophone. “Thing!”

“I’m sorry!” Twilight tittered. “I had a feeling you’d react that way, but I wanted to see what you thought of classical music with a modern twist. It gets better though, trust me.” She reached across and patted one of Luna’s hooves. “I actually reacted the same way the first time Cadence had me listen to it. It has a sort of… odd charm. I really can’t explain it. The additions make it a bit more lively.”

“T’was lively enough when Beethooven first wrote it! I hardly see the point in adding to such a piece!”

“Just give it a chance. Please?” Luna blinked as Twilight’s expression changed. Holding her hooves together, the little mare looked up at her with wide eyes, like a little foal asking a parent for seconds.

This mare does not play fair. “Fine. I will withhold judgement until the piece is complete. Just… stop looking at me like that.” She grumbled, a stark contrast to the bright smile Twilight directed at her in reply. Cheeky, just like Tia. But, then again, only fitting that she would have picked up on my sister’s tricks. Luna paused and shook her head. Well, she is not as overt as my sister, so perhaps it is merely through example that she learned it.

Slowly, Luna unpinned her ears, wincing slightly at the intermixing of the snare and keyboard with the sounds of Beethooven’s symphony. Granted, the tune was certainly upbeat and fitting, but… did Allegreto have to choose such a famed and beloved piece to alter?

“It is… well, I do not believe it is something that I would listen to on my own,” she admitted. “However, given that Beethooven was considered innovative in his time… he, most likely, would have been honored to have inspired somepony in such a manner. All the same, it just is not for me, I fear.”

Twilight sighed and shrugged. “It’s not for everypony, I know. It took me a while to get over the change, too—really, if it hadn’t been for Cadence begging me to sit and listen with her, I would’ve walked away as soon as I heard it change.” She broke off, shaking her head and chuckling to herself. “She always had a way of convincing me to try things I said I wouldn’t like. Those darn eyes of hers…”

“Oh?” Luna raised an eyebrow. So, not Tia? Interesting. Though, that does not mean that Cadence did not learn if from her.

“Yeah, she’d always give me those big, teary eyes when she wanted me to put away my books and spend time together. Especially when I moved into the palace.” She sat up and widened her eyes, sticking out her lip and pouting pathetically. “Twily! Won’t you spend just a few minutes with your favorite foalsitter? Pretty please with sugarcubes on top?”

A bout of laughter escaped Luna’s lips. “Really now? It seems that my niece has no issue with using such means to achieve her goals!” She grinned broadly, ears perking up as a thought came to her. “Cadence will be a useful ally, then, if I am to engage in my jokes with your friends!”

“No!” Twilight blurted, waving her hooves in the air. “Not allowed!”

“Twilight, my dear, forgetful friend! I am a princess! There is very little that I am not allowed to do!” On a whim, Luna cast off any semblance of propriety and gave into her own mischievous nature, sticking out her tongue and crossing her eyes, like a little foal might.

Twilight moaned piteously and thumped her head against the table for the second time in the evening. “I regret everything!” She grumbled into the wood.

Oh, Tia would loathe to hear she missed the chance to take part in this! “There, there.” Luna chuckled, reaching across and patting her head. “I’m sure you will live.”

“If you can call residing in a Ponyville where Rainbow and Pinkie have cart blanche living…”

“Oh, I am quite certain you will learn to appreciate the new age of silliness we usher in. Now, what shall we listen to next? Though, if we could avoid any more… of that sort of music, it would be very much appreciated.”

“All right. I do have some of my own Canterlot Symphony records, some show tunes, one Sapphire Shores record from Rarity and a couple of rock records. Rainbow insisted that I listen to something that I could ‘jam out’ to while studying. It’s different than what I usually prefer, but it does make for a nice change of pace every now and again.” Twilight paused, tapping her hooves on the tabletop. “Or we could switch back to one of yours and alternate. Whichever you’d like.”

Luna smiled and lit up her horn, pulling another record out of her saddlebags. “I believe that the alternating idea would be best. A chance for us to share a bit of each type. Now, this piece was written by Fil di Voce, a student of Fortissimo, actually. Ironic, given how her quiet nature contrasted his, now that I think about it. Anyway, she had several rather wonderful works, but this is my favorite above all others...”

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