• Published 14th Nov 2011
  • 27,961 Views, 472 Comments

Hiatus - Vargras



Redeemed, Luna finds she must spend a year in order to recover. But how will she pass the time?

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August

Equestria currently found itself locked in the worst drought it had in ages, and ponies all over the kingdom were suffering for it - even within the stone halls of the palace, Luna found the heat to be sweltering. Her sister had been busy for the latter half of July and all of August thus far, trying to negotiate an end to the drought - apparently, many of the pegasi at the Cloudsdale factories thought they were no longer being paid fairly, and decided to strike. No ponies at work in Cloudsdale meant no storms. No storms meant no rain. No rain meant that crops had failed, and the heat had risen to unbearable levels. Farms throughout the land had protested fiercely, with Sweet Apple Acres leading the pack - from what Luna understood of it, the mare that ran it was something of a hero in Ponyville. She had never heard of her, though, and wasted no more time thinking about it.

Luckily for her, there were some areas of Canterlot that stayed much cooler than others. Even now, Luna carefully stepped down the stairway leading to the old playroom she and Celestia had used when they were younger. The stone floor and walls, as well as the underground location, kept it much cooler than the rest of the building. Some of the servants knew of its existence and simply never went for reasons unknown, and others didn't know about it at all. The room was in a dismal state, however - the paint had lost its bright and cheery hues over the hundreds of years of neglect, and the pattern of angelic ponies had begun to chip and flake away. The toys themselves were in far worse shape. Most had simply sat where she and Celestia had last left them - stuffed animals lay flattened, their cotton filling gone. Building blocks had lost their paint and instead gathered dust, and the ink of the coloring books had long since faded, the crayons having slowly turned into dull and muted shades. Part of Luna silently wept for such decay. After all, this had been their childhood. With the death of their parents, they had inherited an entire kingdom at an extremely early age, and this playroom was often the only thing the two of them had that reminded them they were still children. It had been a sanctuary of sorts from their royal duties, and the two sisters had spent countless hours down here, laughing and enjoying themselves. As with all things, though, time passed - the sisters grew, and one day, they no longer had an interest in playing anymore. To see the state it was in now, though... Luna began to regret ever leaving. This was her one and only link to the past, to her life from before.

There was one toy that stood out from the others, even in all the gloom. The Princess' eyes went wide upon seeing it, and she slowly approached it, her hooves clacking upon the stone floor.

"I-it can't be..."

Sitting in the corner, amidst the other stuffed animals, lay what appeared to be a stuffed bird - it was a phoenix, based upon Philomena from when their parents had owned her, and had been a gift to Luna from their mother. It had been well over a thousand years, and many hundreds since she had last seen it, and yet it still had the same fiery and vibrant colors it had on the day she received it. It was also all she had left of her mother. Luna gently grabbed it in her mouth, slowly lifting it by the wing - the stitching, torn and frayed by the passage of time, sent the doll plummeting to the ground. Tears slowly welled up in her eyes as she tried to pick it up, and despite her best efforts, she felt herself wobble on uneasy footing. Her legs gave out from under her, and she winced as she landed upon the cold floor - all that mattered to her at that moment, though, was the doll. She had already lost so much, and she wasn't about to lose her only remaining link to her parents.

"D-don't worry, P-p-philomena. I'll f-fix you up, good as new."

Luna gingerly picked up both pieces and wordlessly left the playroom. She would be back another day, she told herself. She just needed some distance for a bit.

-----

"You're taking on an awful lot of hobbies, Luna. First drawing, and now sewing? I didn't know you liked either."

"Yeah, well... things change, 'Tia."

"Looks like it. May I see what you're working on?" Celestia tried to peek over Luna and get a glimpse into her room, but the younger sister seemed to always be in front of her, blocking her view.

"Uh... it's a surprise! So... no, you can't see it. Yet, anyways."

Celestia knew she was lying, of course. She had known her sister for eons, and knew she was notoriously bad at lying - it almost had good intentions though, and for that, Celestia was quick to let it slide. She smiled at Luna and gave her a poke before leaving. "Just don't forget to show me later, little sister."

"Don't worry, I will!" As soon as she was out of sight, Luna slammed the door shut and ran back to her desk. Her horn glowed faintly as she picked up the thread and needle with her magic and set about the delicate task of repairing the doll. Philomena had been in far worse shape than she initially realized, and so it took far longer for her to repair the toy, but the end-result was worth every hour of effort. Setting the needle aside, Luna looked fondly at it and picked it up, giving it a test hug of sorts - she found herself being pulled back to when she had first gotten it. Memories raced through her mind as she began to recall all those lost years. She remembered how happy she had been when her mother gave her Philomena for her birthday and how she had slept with it every night - she remembered the stories and adventures she would often make up with the doll, and how she began to avoid playing with Philomena after their parents had passed away. Now, though... it was the most priceless thing in her possession.

"...Luna. Is... is that what I think it is?"

She turned and held the doll in front of her for Celestia to see. The elder sister almost always had a smile or expression of neutrality upon her face, but to see this again after all those years... she found it difficult to keep her composure. "You fixed Philomena up and everything! It doesn't look like she's aged a day! Where did you manage to find her?"

"Down in our old playroom, 'Tia. She was down there with all our other old toys."

Princess Celestia sighed sadly and looked out the window of Luna's room. "I haven't been down there in ages. How is it?"

"...do you want the honest answer?"

"Yes."

"It's pretty bad, 'Tia. It'll take a bit to fix up again."

Celestia lowered her head a bit. "I assumed as much. Sometimes I wonder what it would have been like if we had been lucky enough to have normal childhoods."

"I'm gonna fix it up, Celestia."

The elder sister looked up and over her shoulder at Luna. "It's a noble goal, little sister, but that's an awful lot of work for one pony."

"I know it is, 'Tia, but I still want to do it. A lot of our past is still down there, and I want to try and save what I can."

"...I understand. If any pony can do it, Luna, it's you."

"I know! That's why I volunteered for it!" Luna grinned ear to ear, though she was quick to wipe it off her face when Celestia turned around, sporting one of her own.

"Hey Luna, guess what?"

"...tickle monster?"

"Tickle monster."

-----

It was beginning to be a recurring dream. Each night, the dream varied ever-so-slightly, but for the most part, it was the same - 'The stars will aid her escape' and the Elements of Harmony, over and over. The mare from before was not alone this night, and Luna found herself surrounded by the figure and five others. No matter how hard she tried, the other five simply remained shadows, and she had no way to identify them. The figure stood her ground the entire time, staring within Luna and repeating a new phrase.

"The connection runs deeper than you realize."

Connection? What connection? The dreams constantly spoke in riddles, and no matter how much research she invested into things, she never could solve them - instead, they continued to pile up, threatening to bury her. Part of her felt disconnected from the rest, yet she still heard herself plead with the figure, begging it to tell her just what 'the connection' was. As before, any attempts at a clear answer resulted in the figure telling her that she needed to solve it herself, and not long after, she would wake up in a sweat. Given how the weather had been, though, she wasn't certain if it was a result of the heat or the dream itself. Regardless, it had become a nightly ritual: an incredibly vivid dream, more riddles and fewer answers, and then she would wake up, her body shaking and gasping for breath. She had tried not to let it bother her, but it became increasingly more difficult for her to get a decent night's rest. Fortunately, though, Celestia had yet to notice.

-----

8/12

Celestia still hasn't been able to negotiate anything between the pegasus workers and their employers. All of Equestria feels like it's about to riot over this heat - and my dreams aren't making it any better. They're getting increasingly more vivid and bizarre, and each seems to end with me having more questions than answers.

Planning on working on our old playroom today. It's been a long time since I've actually painted much of anything, but hopefully I'm not too bad at it.

She quickly set the quill down and hopped from her stool, her destination clear in her mind. The clatter of her hooves rung out as she followed the staircase down, going through passages that few had ever traveled through. Celestia had been by earlier and had dropped off several paint cans and brushes for Luna to use - in addition, the candles had been relit and enchanted to never burn out. It was slowly beginning to feel like the playroom for her childhood. With her horn aglow, several of the brushes came to life and dipped themselves into different cans, flying towards the walls and painting at an unnatural speed. Ever so slowly, the decay that had built up over a millennium began to fade away, and the vibrant hues that lay buried underneath began to show once more. She worked at a frenzied pace, and she found herself painting things she didn't think she was even capable of - she painted ponies and animals, towns and castles, and even a dragon here and there. Luna smiled as she continued to work, delighted that it was beginning to feel just like that same room of yore.

The paintbrushes came to a rest, laying themselves in the bucket of water, and Princess Luna sat down to admire her work. It sounded silly, but it felt like a small part of her childhood had been regained. She had initially hated the idea of a year-long break, but she began to think of everything she would have missed out on it if she hadn't been told to rest. Philomena potentially would have been lost to the ages, and it had been worth it just to save that small part of their past - she had managed to save much more than that, though. Yet, despite how happy she was, she felt... odd. Looking down at herself, she quickly realized just what it was.

"...Paint? Really? I didn't even physically pick up the brushes, and I've got paint on my coat."

Luna sighed to herself, picked up her mess, and headed back up the stairs. Play time would have to wait another day. Right now, it was bath time.

-----

8/24

They say you do your best thinking while in the bath. I have to say that, after rigorous testing, it's a load of cow dung - every time I've taken a bath, I've hoped that maybe, just maybe, it would give me the breakthrough I need to get rid of these dreams. I'm still no closer though. It always feels like two steps backwards and no steps forward, but that completely kills the saying. At the very least, it seems like Celestia was able to sort things out. It's been getting much cooler, but the farmers still don't seem happy. I can hardly blame them.

Luna heard her sister outside her room, though it hardly sounded like she was coming to chat with her sister. Curious, she hopped off her stool and walked as quietly to the door as her hooves would allow it - just outside, Celestia was in talks with a lavender mare. Lavender mare! Luna gasped and was quick to muffle it with her own hoof, spying some more and learning what she could. A lavender coat, purple mane... she even had the pink streak. She had fit the bill so far, but there was one last detail. If only she would turn, just ever so slightly...

Outside, Twilight Sparkle was deep in talks with her mentor. She had decided to hand-deliver the latest friendship report and quickly found herself discussing it with the Princess. She had the strangest feeling she was being watched and briefly turned to investigate, but soon stopped herself - giving Celestia her undivided attention was much more important.

Within her room, Luna was speechless. She saw the mare's horn! Everything fit her to the T - it just had to be her! Still, she knew she was overreacting, and rightfully so. All of this fuss was over a dream. It would be for the best if she simply took her time digesting this piece of knowledge. Maybe the dreams would stop once she did.

Not surprisingly, they didn't.