• Published 2nd May 2016
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The Trials and Tribulations of Trying to Date Twilight Sparkle - Codex Ex Equus

After many years, Princess Celestia has finally realized she is in love with Twilight Sparkle. Now all she has to do is tell her.

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Chapter One: Revelation

Celestia's desk was massive, seeming to fill her entire office despite the room itself being equally enormous. ‘Domineering’ was another word that was often applied to the desk, typically by students that had been called in to stand before it. Coincidentally, that was also the word Celestia herself would use to describe it; her entire life seemed to revolve around the desk and the mounds of never-ending paperwork that covered its surface.

Not that she was bitter; she loved Equestria, and serving as its leader was what gave her life purpose. It was just that sometimes she felt as though it also consumed her life. She never had time for the other things that were important to her. Case in point: the pony currently entering her office.

She shifted to the side, peering over the stack of papers that had engulfed her inbox so she could smile gently at Twilight Sparkle as her fellow Princess trotted excitedly into the room.

Aside from her sister, nopony in all of Equestria meant more to her than her most faithful student. She had freed Luna from the prison of her own darkness, saved Equestria (and Celestia and Luna themselves) more times than most ponies could count, and was always a big help whenever Discord caused an international incident, which was every other week or so.

It was only recently that Celestia had come to realize how deeply she felt about Twilight, but she suspected that love had been brewing in her heart for some time—perhaps even as far back as the day Nightmare Moon had been defeated. Running a kingdom was not an easy task, though, and she had been unable to find time to follow her feelings. Her responsibilities had always come first.

Today, though… she had finally found the courage to let her feelings be known, and by fortuitous coincidence this was the same day Twilight had written to let Celestia know she wished to talk. She'd found the perfect gift to give Twilight as well, to express her feelings. She glanced to the side, at the book that was just barely visible through the cracked-open drawer next to her.

"Princess, I have such exciting news!" cried Twilight, dancing in place.

Celestia smiled indulgently, leaning forward and leaning her chin on her crossed hooves. "Yes, you said so in your letter. What was so important you could only tell me in person?"

"Well, it's just… it's just I just met the most amazing pony and IthinkI'minlove!"

Celestia listened kindly, saying all the right things and asking all the right questions as Twilight gushed about her new love, and her world slowly collapsed.

Reaching out with one hoof, she gently pushed the desk door closed.

"Sister, please, come out of your room," pleaded Luna.

"No!" came the muffled response through the door. "I shall live out the rest of the days from my bed, never again seeing another pony."

"You have a kingdom to help run," pointed out Luna. "Do you truly think you can do that from your bedroom?"

"Have my advisors slip papers under my door. I can sign them and push them back out."

"What will you eat, then?" asked Luna, trying to change tactics. "I don't think we could push a cake under the door."

There was a long moment of silence, and just when Luna thought she had gotten through to her sister there was a reply.

"I shall accept the door being opened enough to allow cake inside. Or perhaps cake-flavored ice cream. I have lost my one true love; gorging on ice cream is traditional and mandatory."

"Celestia…" Luna put a hoof to her head, groaning. "For one thing, though it may be morbid, Twilight is not lost to you forever. She has fallen in love with a mortal; she will be single again one day. And second, there is no such thing as cake-flavored ice cream."

There was another moment of silence.

"Luna, gather the kingdom's food scientists and have them thrown in the dungeon for treason, due to not having anticipated the need for cake-flavored ice cream. Then send the dungeon key to the moon."

"Sister, for the last time, my moon is not where you store stuff you simply don't want to have around. I will admit that tactic worked well in dealing with my… little incident, but that doesn't mean you can use it to solve all your problems!"

"I'm sorry, sister, you're right," replied Celestia through the bedroom door. "Moon banishment is far too serious a thing to use on mere trifles such as disposing of a key."

"Thank you for understanding—"

"Instead, find the pony who has stolen my Twilight and send them to the moon."

"If you're not going to deal with this like a grown mare, than I shall no longer speak with you," declared Luna, marching away.

And thus began what became known as 'The Year of the Mopey Sun'.

Celestia eventually emerged from her bedroom, but it was clear she was not her usual cheery self, a bright shining light that inspired all her subjects. Still, though she was inconsolable, she bravely carried on, not letting her broken heart keep her from her responsibilities. Her subjects did their best to cheer her up, and while their efforts had little effect, she appreciated their concern.

Great symphonies were performed, plays and epics written, poems composed, all in her honor, all to amuse and distract their Princess from whatever unknown malaise affected her mind. Though the ponies did not know the exact reason for Celestia's mood, they still did their best for her, as she had always done for them.

Even the food scientists, after being released from the dungeons, did their best to serve the Princess. They toiled mightily for many days and nights, doing things with food that no mortal pony had ever considered. Finally, at the end of their trials, they had produced a cake-flavored ice cream, and while it was terrible and the food scientists were ultimately banished to the moon, their efforts had made sure that someday Celestia would consider forgiving them.

Only her sister didn't seem to truly understand her pain, regarding Celestia's journal of heartbreak with skepticism, and openly mocking her when she tried to dye her hair black in order to fully express the depths of her loss. Celestia forgave her, though, because she was a kind, goodhearted pony and the best Princess, and she understood that Luna could be impatient and often lacked empathy.

Just when it seemed Celestia had come through her time of darkness and emerged a better pony, tragedy struck. Twilight's lover betrayed her, just as Celestia had known they would. Their entire relationship had been a lie, a mere ploy for political power, and once that pony had what they wanted they had discarded Twilight like so much as dead weight.

Celestia rushed to Twilight's castle as soon as she heard the news, wanting to comfort her friend and love. But when she opened the doors, she found only an empty castle, bereft of any other ponies.

The Royal Guard was mobilized, and all across Equestria ponies looked for their wayward Princess. No sign of her was found, though, and Celestia became nearly frantic with worry. She spent every night hoping and praying Twilight would return… until the day she did.

Something was wrong.

Celestia looked up from her desk as she felt it. Normally these days she left lowering the sun and raising the moon to her sister, while she herself did the opposite, but today the sun wasn't setting.

She moved to a window and looked out; there, on the horizon, sat the sun. She tried to lower it, but it stubbornly refused her attention, leaving the world cloaked in... twilight.

The doors to her office crashed open the merest second before she passed through them, her wings folding closed and then springing open again to push her forward through the air.

She flew by instinct, drawn to her own throne room by some premonition, some sixth-sense. Luna felt it too; as Celestia made a turn in the corridor, one wing tip scraping at the floor, she found herself flying just ahead and to the side of her sister. She took a glance back at Luna, who gave a tight-lipped nod as their eyes met.

Wings flaring wide, the Princesses came to a halt in front of the doors to their throne room, floating softly to the ground. Throwing the doors open, they trotted forward a few steps and then stopped, staring in shock.

An alicorn stood at one of the windows by the throne, staring out at the dimly-lit land. She was as tall as Luna, her coat a deep purple, her horn long and pointed. Her mane flowed down across her back, fluttering gently in some invisible breeze. It was a deep navy blue, dotted with stars that glittered dimly. The only other color came from a bright stripe of purple and magenta that slowly drifted up and down across the mane's length.

Even as she took in the scene, Celestia refused to believe it, rejecting everything before her. At least, she did until the alicorn turned to meet their gazes with her own serpentine eyes, and then she could deny the truth no longer.

"Hello, 'Princesses'," snarled Nightmare Sparkle, slowly ascending the steps to the thrones. "What do you think of my new kingdom? Do you like what I've done with it?"

Celestia, frozen in horror at what had become of her love, had no reply, but Luna strode forward irately.

"Twilight Sparkle!" she bellowed, stopping a dozen feet before the steps leading to the thrones. "What is the meaning of this?! Thou knowest that Equestria is not meant to be ruled by a single Princess! Did thou learn nothing from our own experience?"

"Oh, I learned, Luna. Trust me. That's one thing I've always been good at, at least." Wings still held firmly at her side, she began to lift off from the dais, dark magic swirling about her body. "And that's why I made sure not to return until I could deal with all of you!"

She fired a beam of energy from her horn, thick and black, straight at the other Princess. Luna managed to get a shield up around herself, but only barely. And in the end, it didn't matter; the bolt hit the shield, which bowed for a moment, then melted, and Luna was enveloped by the beam of energy.

When the dust and light faded away, Luna still stood there, but as a stone statue.

Celestia stared at the statue of her sister for a moment, shock and dismay on her face, then trotted forward determinedly to stand at the bottom of the dais Twilight floated above.

"Well, well, well, if it isn't my old teacher. Looks like I've learned some new tricks, doesn't it?" sneered the Nightmare Princess. "I'll tell you what, I can turn you to stone too, and keep the both of you in my garden. At least you and your sister can be together that way."

"Twilight… Twilight, why? Why do all of this? What reason could you possibly have?" pleaded Celestia.

"You know exactly why," growled Twilight in a low voice, eyes narrowed. "They used me, made me just a means to an end. They never loved me. No one did, and no one ever will. And so, none shall feel the light of the moon or sun, or any love at all!"

"But that's not true, Twilight," Celestia said softly, moving one hoof up to the first step of the dais. "I love you. I always have, and I always will."

"You… you what?" Twilight blinked, her normal eyes fading back into existence as she floated back down to the dais. "But… but you can't."

“I do, Twilight. I've loved you for years. I never said a thing, but whenever you were around I never stopped watching you, never wanted to let you out of my sight. It crushed me when you said you loved another, but I kept going, for you, and did my best to be happy for you. And it broke my heart when you ran away after your own heart was broken, rather than letting me comfort you. Rather than... letting me love you.”

"But… but after everything I've done… after what I did to get this power, what I just did to your sister… no, no, you can't! No!"

Twilight threw her head back in a scream, and the dark power swirled off her body, forming into a cloud that twisted above her. Then that power crashed back down, turning Twilight into a stone statue just like Luna. After a moment, the statue began to crack and crumble, falling to pieces.

"NO!" cried Celestia, dashing up the stairs. She ran as fast as she could, faster than she had in centuries, but no matter how quickly she moved she felt like she was stuck in molasses, and there were always more stairs before her. By the time she made it to the top, all that was left of Twilight was a pile of dust and stone shards.

“No...” she moaned, falling down and beginning to weep softly. “Please, no. Come back to me, my love. Please...”

Her sobbing was interrupted by a laugh from above. Looking up sharply, she spotted Luna, standing upon the ceiling.

“My, my, my,” the Night Princess said, eyes flashing as she looked down—or up, depending on your perspective—at her older sister. “Now this is an interesting development.”

As Celestia watched, mouth hanging open, Luna pushed off from the ceiling. Tumbling lazily, she drifted down, landing lightly next to the statue of herself.

"Is this really how you see me?" she asked critically, inspecting the statue as she circled it. "My nose is not that big."

"What, but you're…" Celestia closed her eyes momentarily, shaking her head.

As she did, Luna rolled her eyes and sighed. "And now the statue is gone…" she said, casting a glance to the empty spot next to her for confirmation, "because when confronted with a contradiction the easiest solution is to make the least favorable option be the one to disappear."

She laughed, beginning to trot idly around the room, inspecting the architecture. "It's been a long time since I've come to see you like this, but it's always fascinating how much of a pony's personality I can learn about during these visits. For example, all the frescoes in our throne room that you don't like? Completely gone here! Oh, and that bit where you were sad that Twilight was in love with somepony else, and all of Equestria tried to cheer you up because you're so self-sacrificing and nice and perfect? I always knew you liked to play the victim, but that was a bit much even for you."

Luna chuckled as Celestia looked on in confusion and anger. She opened her mouth to reply, but before she could berate her sister for treating her grief as some kind of joke, she woke up.

Groaning, Celestia fought her way up and out of her quicksand-like bed and pillows. Sitting upright, she checked the time in her head, found it should be sunrise, and made it so, quickly, quietly and without fuss. Her duty rarely required any actual ceremony.

That done, she took in a deep breath, and let it out in a long sigh that made the unkempt strands of hair hanging from her head ruffle with a breeze that had nothing to do with their normal ethereal waver.

“I guess that's it, then,” she said into the silence of her royal bedroom. “I... I am in love with Twilight.”

That thought took a back seat as another realization about her recent dream hit her, and her eyes widened.

“Crap, crap, crap, crap, crap!” she yelled, springing from her bed with such force that, had she not years ago invested in a frame reinforced with titanium for just such occasions, it would have collapsed.

She telekinetically ripped her regalia from the ponnequin where it spent the nights, took a precious second to consider trying to put it on, and near-instantly rejected that idea. Every moment counted right now.

Flipping a mental coin, she galloped to the balcony and flung herself off into the air.

The barest fraction of a second later, the doors burst open and Luna trotted in, face full of all the mischievous teasing she had planned. Finding the room empty only put the tiniest moue of disappointment on that face before it recovered, and she turned around and raced back out.

Author's Note:

And we're off!

I'll do my best to provide a fun fact for each chapter at the end, either my thoughts about part of the story, alternate versions I went through, or just fun behind the scenes stuff. Here's yours for this chapter...

Fun fact:

I originally conceived of Celestia in this fic as being extremely foulmouthed, at least while in private. That ended up not really fitting too well into the story so I dropped it, but I did keep the 'crap, crap, crap, crap, crap!' here at the end. It at least seemed appropriate.

**Edit 8/18/2016**
Most of this chapter was rewritten, on advice from the EQD submission reviewer.

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