• Published 21st May 2016
  • 7,227 Views, 209 Comments

Discourse on Fillies - Daedalus Aegle



Diamond Tiara and Princess Luna have a talk over tea.

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Fear

Diamond Tiara’s vision was blurry, and her snout was dribbling. She was going to wait it out in silence, but she was interrupted by Luna's voice asking, “Are you all right?” and passing her a tissue. She accepted it, dried her eyes, and loudly blew her muzzle.

“'m okay,” she said with a sniffle. “Just give me a moment.”

“Take your time.” Luna pushed a box of the soft paper tissues over to the filly. “Why don't we have a cup of tea? My sister tells me she finds this variety most calming.”

“Alright.”

Luna picked out one of the dozen pots from the tea table and poured two steaming cups while the filly composed herself.

Diamond Tiara gave a small laugh. “Funny. You know I'm not sure I've ever cried in front of anypony before. Not since I was a baby.” She picked up her glass, still half-full of juice, and spun it in her hooves.

Her reflection looked back at her. Her eyes were red and puffy, but she didn't look unhappy. “I guess because that would have been showing weakness.”

“I am glad that you feel safe enough here to show your feelings,” Luna said with a smile.

“I spent my whole life trying to seem unbreakable,” Diamond Tiara said. She put the glass to one side and picked up the tea-cup in her hooves. She smelled it gingerly, and took a small sip. “This is really good.”

“I am pleased to hear it,” Luna said. “I'll be sure to tell my sister that the next generation is carrying on her tastes. For my part, I always preferred sugary drinks that fizzed and bubbled, but my sister always hated them. I miss them so… I have not tasted any for over a thousand years. But alas, my sister tells me that such drinks have now faded from history entirely, and are no longer produced.”

Diamond Tiara paused mid-sip.

“I am joking, of course.”

“That was just mean,” Diamond Tiara said, shaking her head as she giggled at Luna's sly smirk. “I used to love soda. My mom would only let me have it for special occasions, though… Usually the special occasion was that I'd ask my dad instead. It's like having a little birthday party four times a week!”

“A birthday party!” Luna exclaimed happily. “Oh, I remember my birthdays when I was your age, in the old castle in the Everfree Forest. The castle was new back then. You should have seen it! A royal palace designed and built by two little fillies, limited only by our imaginations! Full of secret passages and traps...” Luna shook her head and sighed happily at the memory. “I read a lot of vampire stories back then. It kind of showed, in hindsight.”

Diamond Tiara nodded. “Of course, for my real birthday parties my dad would hire Pinkie Pie to put on one of her parties, and make sure it was the biggest in town that year. Or… almost the biggest. And there'd be enough cake to make everypony sick for the next week, in a dozen different varieties.”

“I used to get the royal chef to make me delicacies from distant lands,” Luna said with a laugh. “Quite a lot of different kinds of sweets were introduced to Equestria because I wanted something for my birthday that nopony had ever tasted before!”

Diamond Tiara giggled. “My dad used to let me have all the soda and candy I wanted. He'd ask what mom said, and I'd say she said it was fine,” she said. “Then she caught on to what I was doing, and she and dad had… a talk about it.”

She slowly drew a deep breath. “Dad wouldn't let me have it anymore after that. So then, when the other foals brought candy or soda to school I used to make them give it to me. It was easy, by then. They all knew me and Silver Spoon, and they knew what would happen if they said no.” Diamond Tiara spoke quietly, thinking at the memory and the emotions it provoked in her chest. “It wasn’t every day. But enough. Then, after a while, their parents caught on and they all stopped bringing any candy to school. Plus my mom got mad at me when I gained weight, and made me go on a diet.” She shuddered. “It was awful. So I stopped doing it.”

“…The ways of parents are mysterious, and often difficult for their children to understand,” Luna said. “As a rule they have your best interests at heart, even if it doesn't always seem like it.”

“It definitely doesn't seem like it when you're eating one small meal a day for a month because your mom wants you to go down two sizes in time for some party,” Diamond Tiara said flatly.

Luna grimaced, then forced her expression to go blank. There was a moment’s pause. “No, I imagine it doesn’t,” she said. “That’s… that does not sound very nice.”

“I heard them talking about it one night. I was awake in bed. I couldn't sleep because I was too hungry. Mom hadn't told dad about the diet. He doesn't bother about her party schedule anyway. So at dinner dad wanted me to eat more, but mom said no. And they were having… a discussion about it downstairs…” Diamond took a deep breath, mimicking something she had seen Princess Twilight do once, and carried on more steadily. “The dress was horrible. I hated it. After the party I never wore it again. And I made sure not to eat too much candy and ice cream again.”

“Have you tried the cupcakes?” Luna asked, proffering a platter. “Do have one, they're very good.” She put two on Diamond Tiara's plate with her magic, and took one for herself.

“Oh? Thanks.” Diamond Tiara picked it up and took a bite. “That's good… So I squeeze into that horrible dress for the party, I could barely breathe in it but apparently I looked just wonderful and my mom's friends were impressed. Or disappointed, because… you know.”

“…Because they were hoping to see weakness,” Luna finished.

Diamond Tiara stared at nothing directly in front of her. “The other foals just see the big house in the nicest part of town. You know?”

Princess Luna gave a slight, soft sigh, and turned her face slightly away, her eyes deepening as she looked back across a gulf of time. “Yes. I know.”

“My mom always said that we have to set a high standard, and be above those other ponies,” Diamond Tiara said. “She'd even get annoyed with dad when he went out to talk to the Apples about selling their apples in the store, because they're so dirty and common… He said you have to be able to talk to everypony comfortably to be a leader. Mom and I never understood that.” She sighed. “At least I never have to wear those stupid bunny ears again.”

Luna put down her cup with a click of porcelain. “Children of high standing are often envied, and resented, by their peers,” she said. “We can be bullies. We can be monsters. But children are – children. We are as confused and uncertain as everypony else. But much more is expected from us.”

Diamond Tiara nodded.

“I do not speak of my childhood much,” Luna said softly, her eyes focused on nothing, looking into the distant past. “I was the younger child of a great house, and my sister was as splendid as the sun. I had much to live up to. I tried hard, and… I did not always succeed.”

Princess Luna said nothing, but sat in her chair, looking like a statue if not for her mane which never stopped flowing of its own magical accord. Her eyes were unfocused, looking at nothing in particular while she thought.

“Princess?”

“What?” Luna asked, pulled from her reverie. “I'm sorry, I was distracted. What were you saying?”

Diamond Tiara looked up at the princess cautiously. “I was just asking if I could have more tea?”

“Oh! Of course.” Luna swiftly took the pot and poured another cup, the little filly not looking away from her the while.

“Thanks,” Diamond Tiara said. “This is nice. Just, sitting and talking. And this stuff.” She took the cup and brought it up to her muzzle, took a deep breath of the scent. “It's really good. Makes me think of… warm summer nights and clean bed-sheets for some reason.”

“That is a pleasant image,” Luna said.

“Yeah. A pleasant image.”

A few minutes passed in silence, Princess Luna enjoying her tea and cake, Diamond Tiara deep in thought, feeling her pulse quicken and slow.

“I can do this,” Diamond Tiara said quietly to herself, not caring that the Princess was listening. “I can be nice. I can…” A deep inhale and exhale, inhale and exhale. “...I can be around ponies without only caring about what I can get from them.”

“That must be difficult, with me,” Luna replied. “No, don't feel bad! Listen. I have ponies come to me every night only because they want things from me. I know how it is. You're not like them.”

Diamond Tiara grunted unhappily. “Princess Twilight might disagree. One time I got a whole bunch of ponies to hang out with her just because I thought we could get something from her.”

“Princess Twilight is very forgiving,” Luna said with a smile. “Do not worry: I know you're not doing that here. I can see that you're struggling. But you're doing just fine, I assure you.”

Diamond Tiara looked down in her cup to avoid meeting Luna’s eyes. “A lot of ponies thought I seemed nice the first time I talked to them.”

“The soul is rich, and ponies are not simple things.” Luna gave the filly an encouraging smile. “All of us form tangles in our minds, and it takes work to unravel them. We can try to take one strand, and follow it to see where it leads… and perhaps loosen the knot.”

The filly only looked away, eyes unfocused, staring into the distance at nothing in particular.

Luna shifted in her seat, peering down thoughtfully at the filly. “You know that I visit ponies' dreams?”

The filly nodded.

“It is not always easy. Often ponies do not want an intruder to peer into their most private thoughts. I do not pry, and go only where I think somepony needs a helping hoof to confront their hidden fears… and is willing to receive one. Tell me, do you recall the Tantabus?”

“Of course I do. I think everypony is going to remember that thing for the rest of their lives.”

Luna nodded. “Yes, I suppose they will… I hope that it will be a fun story to tell their grandfoals in the distant future, rather than a nightmare that will haunt them.” Luna said. “The Tantabus was an extremely dangerous creature, created to be the ultimate bad dream. And yet, it could not create anything by itself. Instead, it looked inside the mind of the dreamer to find what frightened her the most. The Tantabus would take that which was most dear to the dreamer's heart – her loves, her hopes, that which was most closely tied to her sense of self – and corrupt it, in order to use it against her. It was...” She coughed. “It was a skill I taught it, I am ashamed to admit, in order to make it more efficient at its task.”

“Well, it certainly did a good job at it,” Diamond Tiara muttered.

“It did. I learned a great deal from it about my own fears and weaknesses. It was a grim work, staring into my own wounds every night, teaching the Tantabus how to rip them open…” She grimaced at the memory, her voice heavy with regret. “So, when it escaped, it was well-prepared to do harm to others.”

A shadow of old pain had crept over Luna’s face as she spoke. “Here is the thing. I combined all of Ponyville's dreams into one, but I created nothing of that dream myself. Every wonder and every peril within that dream came from the dreamers of Ponyville. Tell me, if I may ask you… were you there that night, Diamond Tiara?”

Diamond Tiara froze up completely, her whole body suddenly tense. Luna nodded. “Yes. I thought so.”

“I… ran away and hid,” Diamond Tiara whispered. “I didn't stay to help.”

Luna waved the confession away with a hoof. “Don't feel bad. With the help of my friends, I drew the Tantabus back into myself, where it belonged, and took away its power. But there is something else. The Tantabus looked into the fears of every pony in Ponyville, and brought them to life…” She fell silent and waited to see the filly's response. “Would you like to talk about it?”

A great darkness waiting, unseen. Sitting on the street, unassuming, ponies walking by every day, not knowing what lurks within the walls. A monster waiting to rise up on creaking legs, doorways turned to gaping maws, trampling across the city and tearing ponies to pieces in its paws.

Diamond Tiara nodded, and shook her head, mouthed a yes and a no.

“I saw your father in that dream,” Luna continued, watching the filly closely, speaking slowly and cautiously. “He was in one of the first houses that came alive. He was the first pony it seized.” Luna knelt down so she was at Diamond Tiara's level. “What is it about that house that frightens you?”

She couldn’t sleep, so she lay awake and listened to the shouting.

It was hours after her bedtime, hours since she should have fallen asleep. The sound rose up through the floor, muffled but sharp, rising and falling. It had been going on for a long time, keeping her at the edge of sleep, unable to cross over.

She dropped out of her bed and down to the floor, careful not to make a sound, opened the door, and crept through the shadows to the top of the stairs and lingered there while her parents yelled bitter words back and forth.

In the end she heard the front door open, and slam shut.

She was still at the top of the stairs when she realized the hoofsteps were stomping up towards her, and her not being able to run back quickly and quietly enough to reach her room in time.

She was still outside her door when her mother reached the top, and their eyes met, and she knew.

“Go to sleep, Diamond Tiara,” her mother had said, but what Diamond Tiara heard was something quite different.

'There is nothing more important than maintaining your standing in society, Diamond Tiara. You know better than to say anything that would risk that, don't you?'

She answered both questions when she said “yes, mother.”

“That's the house my dad goes to, when he's not home or at work,” Diamond Tiara said quietly, her voice hollow. “That's the house that's going to ruin my family.”

Luna looked gravely at Diamond Tiara, even her mane growing darker and heavier in its movements. “Does your father know that you know?”

Diamond Tiara shook her head.

Luna nodded silently, and waited.

“Why would he do that?” Diamond Tiara asked softly, her voice trembling. She gulped. “If anypony finds out… If they… We’ll be…”

The facade, shattered. Social sanctions. Loss of prestige and privilege. Outcast. Mentioned in hushed tones at parties they could no longer attend, would never be invited to.

Trifling things that fell away, one by one, to reveal a frightened little filly crouching behind.

“Doesn't he love me?” Diamond Tiara asked weakly. “Doesn't my daddy love me anymore?”

“Oh child… of course he loves you,” Luna softly replied. “You must never doubt that.”

“Then why?” Diamond Tiara demanded. “Why does he go away? Why doesn't he stay with us?”

“Shh.” Luna was suddenly next to her, a wing draped across the filly’s back, a warm and soft presence ready to lend comfort. “Listen to me, Diamond Tiara… I have looked inside your parents' dreams. The minds of grownups are messy and foolish things, collections of contradictory ideas forced together over a lifetime of imperfect experience. There is no malice in them but what they were taught to carry by their own elders, and none for you. They want only what they believe is best for you.”

Diamond Tiara sat silently in her embrace, not pulling away, not saying anything.

“Your mother is driven by a fear that she will lose everything she has, if anything be less than perfect – and what she loses, you will lose as well. Your father… your father struggles with his own problems, and he finds comfort in another home because he believes that if he stayed he would shatter, and cut you on the shards. He feels so guilty… and so he tries to buy your love with bits, because he thinks bits are all he has to offer. They love you very much… But over time they have blinded themselves to their daughter's fears.”

Luna laid a gentle hoof on Diamond Tiara's withers.

“They did not see that you had placed the burden of their relationship on your shoulders,” Luna said. “That is a far greater weight than any child should bear.”

There was a lump in her throat, aching. Tears began trickling down her cheeks as her composure finally cracked. She sank in her chair, her shoulders sagging, sniffing and sobbing. “Here.” Luna passed her another hankie. She blew her nose loudly while Luna waited beside her.

“I,” she began, and choked. “I heard them fighting for – for years. A-about the business, about mom's plans, about me… And it scared me. So I tried to make them stop. I wore the stupid dress. I went on the stupid diet. I put on all the happy faces and made them stop fighting… but they'd always start again. There was always something new.”

“It was never your responsibility,” Luna said to her urgently. “It was their job to take care of you. Not the other way around.”

“I tried so hard to keep them happy,” Diamond Tiara whispered. “I did everything they wanted. I put on all the masks and wore the stupid itchy dresses, I went to the parties and looked for flaws and weaknesses in everypony I met, to learn how to use them and make them do what I wanted, just as they said. I've been trying to make them happy for years. But it never lasts! Nothing works and I'm running out of ideas!” She slammed her hoof on the table. “I know how to make ponies do what I want,” she growled. “I learned that from my mom. I learned a long time ago how to use ponies to get my way. So once I realized they weren’t going to stop arguing… I decided I had to keep them together by other means. I took everything they’d taught me, and I used it on them.”

“You used what you had learned from Macavallo to meddle in your parents' marriage,” Luna said, feeling the truth of it in her mouth as she spoke. She shook her head in sadness. “Oh, Diamond Tiara…”

Diamond Tiara hmph-ed and scowled at the table. “I tried to think of what I could do to stop them from breaking up. And I thought, there's always more than one side to the equation. Maybe if I can't hold them together, I can take away what's pulling them apart instead. And I thought of her...” Diamond Tiara's head tipped downward, her face obscured in shadow. “Maybe if she went away, they'd finally be happy.”

“...You would hurt this other pony?” Luna asked softly, her eyes wide with shock and worry. “This is a terrible road, Diamond Tiara. No good can come of following it.”

“...I just want my family to be happy,” Diamond Tiara replied. “But no matter what I do there's her… Some stupid mare who thinks she can just waltz into my life and destroy everything. She's a threat, and…” She was whispering, her eyes clenched shut. “Identify the obstacles to your goal, and get rid of them. That's the rule. I know where she works. I know what she does. She doesn't care about protecting herself at all, and if she hurts me any more…” Her breath was ragged and unsteady. “I could destroy her. It would be easy. If she hurts me any more… I can't let her take my daddy away from me. I'd stop her.”

“You don't want to do this,” Luna told her breathlessly. “Not after coming so far. Do not let fear pull you back down into your old evils.”

“She's a homewrecker!” Diamond Tiara snapped. “She has no right to come into my house and take my family away! SHE CAN'T HAVE MY DADDY! I WON'T LET HER!”

“This would destroy you, Diamond Tiara!” Luna cried, her own voice cracking. “This will not save your parents' happiness, it will destroy them! It will destroy you, and all your friends! It will not earn you your father's love, child, it would only hurt more ponies!”

Diamond Tiara gritted her teeth and looked up at the princess. “How can I keep them together?”

Luna hesitated. “Diamond Tiara...”

“Tell me!” she demanded. “You want to help me? You don’t want me to hurt her? Then tell me how I can fix it!”

Luna pulled back, shaking her head. “Diamond Tiara, please understand… ponies are not things that you can 'fix'. Your parents' marriage is not for you to maintain. You cannot solve their problems, and you must not think that you should. That way lies madness!”

“That's not helpful at all,” Diamond Tiara spat. “Are you just here to tell me that there's nothing to do? You're useless!”

“I want to help you,” Luna said. “But this cannot be helped, Diamond Tiara. You cannot hold a failing marriage together by force!”

There was silence.

“It's true, isn't it,” Diamond Tiara said. “They're going to leave each other, aren't they?”

Luna dipped her head in what might have been a nod. “Your parents sleep without rest this night,” she began. “Both of them fear what tomorrow will bring… In the morning your father will file the divorce papers.

The empty silence of the hall felt heavy on Diamond Tiara as she listened to the princess, a cold creeping into her bones.

“Everything you fear will come true. Your family will tear apart, and you will be in the middle of a vicious struggle between your mother and father as they fight to divide their property, and to have you. The gossip-mongers will have a field day, and the invitations to garden parties will be sparse. Your father's business will suffer, and your mother will find that doors which were once open are now shut. It will all happen as you feared.”

The silence was complete, for a very long time, as neither pony wanted to face the other.

“It's not fair,” Diamond Tiara whispered, glaring down at the table. “I did everything they wanted me to. For years. I did everything to make them happy! Everypony else hated me because of them. So long as I was telling them about all the stuff I did they wouldn't argue! And now that I'm finally good and I have friends and ponies like me they're going to leave me?!”

“Child...”

“No! I want my mommy and daddy to be happy! I want us to stay together! I want them to love each other and be happy!” Diamond Tiara didn't care that she felt the hot tears streaming down her cheeks. “I did everything they wanted and everything just fell apart! IT'S NOT FAIR!”

“Calm yourself, child,” Luna said. “I know how you feel, but some things cannot be helped. What matters is how you choose to—”

“But you can fix it!” Diamond Tiara interrupted, leaning forward across the table with pleading eyes. “You can change their minds! You can talk to them, or you can get Princess Cadance to make them love each other again!”

“Diamond Tiara, stop,” Luna said firmly. “You cannot get away from this, you can't bargain your way out of it. What will be, will be, and none of us can change that.”

“You can!” Diamond Tiara shouted. “You can do anything you want – you can go inside ponies' minds and find out everything you need to know. You can probably just make them think what you want. You wanted to help me? I promise I'll be the best pony ever, for the rest of my life! I don't even care about the other stuff. Just give me this!”

“I can't do that, Diamond Tiara!” Luna yelled in response, edging back. “I cannot warp ponies to suit me, and even if I could I wouldn't. Don't you see? This kind of thinking is what makes monsters of us! This is what I wanted to stop!

“Well you tried to change me!” Diamond Tiara accused, slamming the table with her hoof, setting everything on it to clatter. “You've been sitting there all this time trying to find my weak spots! Don't pretend you haven't – you just wanted me to listen and obey like a good little pony. Well, you can't! You can't just come up with the right words and make me somepony else…!” Her face was straining with anger, tears trickling down her cheeks.

Luna pulled away awkwardly, tensely, her teeth nervously clenched as she watched the filly with wide and troubled eyes. She drew a few rapid breaths to calm herself. “Diamond Tiara – Listen to me. I understand how you feel—”

“No you don't!” Diamond Tiara screamed. “You don't understand me at all! If you did you wouldn't be telling me to just get over it because there's nothing to be done! You wouldn't be telling me that you can't fix ponies with words when that's exactly what you're trying to do to me!” She sobbed, her face locked in a tear-stained snarl. “You—you—I have had enough of you!”

She took the teapot and threw it to the floor, where it smashed with a thunderclap and stained the floor. “I hate you! You can't do anything! Everything you've told me was useless! None of it means anything and I hate it!”

Luna gasped and sped around the table towards the filly as she yelled out, “Diamond Tiara, stop!”

As Luna turned the table the filly took a silver platter full of crumpets and threw it at her head, and as it made contact with her horn there was a flash of blue and everything went dark.

“Always smile, but smile wisely. Control your emotions. Never let anyone throw you off balance. If they do, never let them know. As a leader, you must seem strong and in control at all times, even if you are not.”

“Pay attention, Luna!” her mother snapped. “You will need to know the rules of trade negotiation when you speak with the yaks, or they will tear your head off and sell it back to you.”

Luna shuffled in her chair and sat up straight, her head foggy as she tried to keep the stream of numbers and factors straight in her thoughts. Her mother, vast and unapproachable, moved behind the filly.

“Smile as if you know more than them, and when they try to outwit you, smile like a mother proud that her foal has learned a new trick. Your sister has mastered this: you should try to learn from her.”

Luna read the proclamation, her father the king's watchful eyes behind her in the shadows as she presided over her first Night Court at the age of fourteen, wearing regalia that felt too large for her still-slight body, keenly aware that everypony attending felt his authority in her words rather than her own.

She yawned, exhausted, as her sister brought forth the sun, its rays weighing the younger sister down. Celestia's chipper face glowed as Equestria came to life beneath them.

She slumped away, nursing a secret darkness inside her, to retire until ponies stopped thinking about either of them once again.

The great diplomat looked up at her through the bars of his prison, his legs manacled even in his dreams, shivering from the cold he only thought he felt. She watched from afar, not knowing if there was anything to do, unable to tear her eyes away. In the distance was the creaking of the rack, and the screams.

“Your highness. Forgive me if I do not bow.”

The prison was years in the past. But he carried it with him. As he wrote down all that he had learned, not knowing what would come of it, the memory was always with him.

“I have looked into the deepest and most secret thoughts of all creatures that can dream,” Luna said, “and I do not understand this.”

“So have I,” said the diplomat with his thousand-yard stare. “And I don't understand it either. I only know that it is.”

“I don't know why you come back here,” she said. “You could leave this all behind. You would be welcomed in any court. Yet you stay here.”

“I don't know,” he said truthfully. “I can't stop being myself.”

“I can take care of everything, sister,” Luna said as she took a bite of her pastry, Celestia over-cautiously as always behind her. “I have done this many times since I returned,” words a fog filling a vast valley of time.

“Yes,” Celestia said. “I wonder at that. I cannot follow you where you go. I worry that you might be taking on more than you can handle. I don't want to lose sight of you again, Luna.”

“You won't.”

“Promise?”

“This is my realm. I am in control.”

Help others. That is how you will pay off your debt. Do not bother others with your own problems: keep them hidden, and strive instead to help others resolve their fears. Do that enough, and your own fears will fade away.

Once there was a night that would not end.

Once there was a homecoming full of pain and regret.

There was a dream that came each night to remind her of herself.

There was a child that needed help, warded behind walls of words.

Diamond Tiara fell back into her chair.

There was silence. Across the table Princess Luna sat staring at ghosts, shivering, her dark blue coat suddenly a shade paler. “I did not mean for you to see that,” she said, her voice little more than a breath.

Diamond Tiara’s tried to speak, but found her mouth was too dry. “Was that…?”

Luna nodded stiffly, just once. “I… Hold a moment, give me leave… No, I mean…” She broke off, and the two of them sat there and waited.

At long last Diamond Tiara broke the silence. “Is that it?” She asked softly. “Is that what it's like to be a Princess? You want to help ponies, but you’re as full of doubt and fear as anypony else.”

“That is what it is like to be a grownup,” Luna said. “I have a duty to uphold… Ever since my return I have striven to put my past behind me, and not let it interfere with my obligations as a Princess of Equestria. It is my role to be the guardian of dreams, a protector of children, to preserve the last bastion of the self. When a foal knows of no place to turn, there is me.”

“And you wanted to make up for everything you did,” Diamond Tiara said.

Luna seemed to shrink, a cosmic being turning into a mortal pony before her eyes.“I… wanted to help ponies handle things… better than I did.”

Diamond Tiara stared at the princess as she tried to wrap her head around the statement. “I don’t get it,” she said softly. “Even with all your princess powers, you’re just another confused pony. Like me. I thought you didn't take me seriously. But you were really trying your best, weren’t you?”

“I wanted to still the pain in your heart,” Luna whispered. “I wanted to find out what drives your anger, and show you a better way. I thought it would be simple, heavens forgive me. I did it many times, for many foals before you. But all the while the Tantabus was gnawing on my mind, and I could not even help myself. Perhaps I could not help anypony. I thought I had learned. It seems now that I was wrong.”

“You really can’t help me, can you,” Diamond Tiara said, feeling her eyes tearing up again. Her lip trembled. “So it’s really going to happen. My family… We’re not gonna be together anymore.”

She slumped forward across the table. She heard Luna's hoofsteps step around it, and felt soft wings cradle her.

Then her face was buried in the Princess' soft coat, growing wet with her tears, Luna’s arms holding her tight.

Diamond Tiara's voice was cracked, her words wet and uncertain. “I don't want to lose them...”

“I know,” Luna whispered, stroking the filly's mane. “I know.”

“It's not fair...”

“No. It's not. There is no fairness. There are no perfect answers. There are no promises. There are only ponies. There is only...” Luna sighed, and sat down on the floor. “I don't know, Diamond Tiara. I don't have all the answers, any more than your parents do.”

Diamond Tiara’s voice was only a sad whisper. “Then what are you good for?”

“Sometimes I ask that myself,” Luna said. “So does my sister. So do Cadance, and Twilight. There are so many things that can go wrong, so many ways for ponies to hurt each other… intentionally, and otherwise.” She sighed heavily, her hoof pressed against the filly’s mane. “I am sorry for all the ways I have failed you tonight. I thought I knew what you needed – to find another perspective. That all your problems would be swept away, if you only found the right point of view. I had forgotten that sometimes… a pony needs to hear that their feelings matter. That they are not getting upset over nothing, that the challenge is not only in their heads.” The Princess closed her eyes and whispered to herself. “I understand now, sister… You tried to warn me, and I did not heed you.”

Diamond Tiara listened, saying nothing. Luna's mane was growing darker, and the glittering lights of stars grew brighter within it.

“I don't know how to heal your pain, Diamond Tiara. I'm sorry.”

Luna glanced down at the filly's face, afraid of what condemnation she would find there.

Diamond Tiara wept, tears running down her face, but her mouth was curled in a small smile.

“Thank you,” the filly said in a cracked voice. “You listened. Finally, somepony listened.”

– – –

The table was filled with three dozen different desserts from all over the world. There was tea cake, crumb cake, krumkake, Saddle Arabian Delights, baklava, and pain de chocolat. There were eight different flavors of ice cream, and five flavors of pudding.

Diamond Tiara had taken a bowl of strawberry pudding swimming in caramel sauce, and another glass of grape juice, and enjoyed them immensely. Across the table Luna paced herself with a crème brulee and an Equestriano.

For a long time the only sound was the tinkling of silverware, and little moans of appreciation as the filly ate something delicious. Neither of them needed to speak.

Once the bowl was empty Diamond Tiara pushed it aside with a humble “thank you”, to which Luna gave a delighted matronly smile.

Diamond Tiara poured another cup of tea, dropped a sugarcube in it and stirred, deep in thought.

“All those things you said were gonna happen, once my parents break up…”

She looked at the Princess, leaving the question hanging invisible in the air.

Luna lowered her own cup, and considered for a moment, the filly watching her anxiously.

“I think,” Luna said, “that you will have to wait and see how much of the pain you imagine will actually come. I could tell you it won't be so, but you wouldn't believe me. I could lie to you, and swear it upright, just to try to make you feel better, just push the right buttons to make things feel all right for a time…” She shook her head. “But you and I both know it wouldn't last – that the world will break through, no matter how tall and how thick you build the walls in your mind. You would not thank me for that. Because after all we have said and done, we both want to face the truth, don't we? We have known enough of lies that even the sweetest of them taste bitter.”

Diamond Tiara nodded. “Yeah. I think we have.”

Luna leaned forward and looked the filly in the eyes. “Will you promise me something?”

Diamond Tiara blinked. “What?”

“Promise me that you won't blame yourself for your parents,” Luna said. “They made their own choices, and their feelings are their own. Not yours. Do you understand that? Because the thought can wheedle its way into your mind in a thousand ways, and it is never right.”

Diamond Tiara hesitated, then nodded.

“But more,” Luna continued, leaning down before the filly. “Promise me that when the thought comes, or any thought like it… if you feel surrender and despair closing in… do not stay silent. Speak to those who are close to you. You have friends, and no pony is unbreakable. Here is what Macavallo did not believe, what I did not believe: that when you are at your weakest, you can trust in your friends. Do you understand me?”

Diamond Tiara sniffed softly. “I don't know. I’ll try.”

Luna smiled softly. “Your schoolmates have many things to say about you, you know.”

“Yeah, I bet,” Diamond Tiara said, turning away.

“Indeed. But not all of it was bad. The school age… there is so much for a young foal to worry about. So many uncertainties, so many possible mistakes.” She leaned back in her chair. “It's true that your classmates often disliked you. But they also admired you. They thought that you alone in that classroom had it all figured out, and knew what it was all about. You were always so confident, and they were drawn to that.”

“Yeah, well… that was my mother. She taught me to do that. The truth is I'm not strong at all.”

Luna took hold of Diamond Tiara's chin and gently nudged it so the filly was no longer looking down at the floor. “I do not believe that is true.”

Diamond Tiara felt her stomach flutter as she realized she didn’t doubt it. Her eyes began to prick again as the tears came in. “Thank you.” She drew a long, slow breath. “…Is this a dream?”

Luna seemed to ponder the question for a second. “What do you think?”

“I think it is,” Diamond Tiara said. “How did I even get here? Why am I alone in Canterlot?”

“I have tried to catch up on modern life, but even I do not comprehend all the different trends in parenting techniques these days,” Luna said, and the filly chuckled.

Luna put her now-empty cup to one side. “Well, whichever it is, I only sent the invitation. I am glad you came.”

“I'm glad too,” Diamond Tiara said. “I think. I'm pretty sure. But it’s hard to be sure about anything right now.”

Luna nodded slowly. “What about this… Would you like to come back, sometimes, for more tea and biscuits, and talk to me about how you are doing?”

Diamond Tiara looked up at her. “You want me to come back? Why, so I can be rude to you some more?”

“No real reason,” Luna said. “I just thought we might have a nice time together. And besides…” She chuckled. “Us reformed fillies need to stick together, don’t you think?”

Diamond Tiara nodded, her stomach fluttering with unfamiliar emotions. She looked up at the princess with tears in her eyes. “Can… can I stay here for a bit longer? I'm… not sure I'm ready to go back yet.”

Luna smiled. “Of course. You can stay as long as you need to.”

“Thanks.”

The two ponies looked at each other, then leaned in for a hug.

Luna stroked the filly's brow. “Diamond Tiara? I need to go take care of a little thing… I'll be back in just a minute, do you mind?”

Diamond Tiara nodded and Luna stepped out the door.

Celestia dreamed of a picnic on a beautiful summer day she had once shared with her niece, when she was just a filly. Celestia lay contentedly and watched the pink alicorn chase after a butterfly.

Luna trotted up alongside her and wrapped her sister's neck in her arms, pulled her close and hugged her tightly.

“Luna?” Celestia asked, and noticed her sister's tears pressing against her fur. “Are you alright?”

“I'm fine,” Luna said. “I just wanted to tell you that I love you.”

“Young miss Rich got to you, didn't she?” Celestia asked softly. “I thought she might.”

“Oh shush. Just let me have this.”

Celestia chuckled, and wrapped her wings around her little sister and held her close.

“I love you too.”

Comments ( 149 )

This... This is one of the best things I've ever read regarding Diamond and Luna charicter-wise. Congrats sir, I take my hat off to you.

Nice story, but Luna had NO RIGHT to tell DT her parents were getting divorced the next day. That's for her mother or father to do, if a seedy lawyer isn't available.

And although your writing is hugely persuasive, I still agree mostly with DT's philosophy about the world (in the first two chapters, that is). After all, this is an extremely corrupt Earth we live in, not utopian Equestria.

Oh well. Cynicism has got me this far, lets see how much farther It can take me... :moustache:

People are just that: people. They aren't buttons to push, dolls to mold, or even damsels to rescue. People are complicated, bizarre, wonderful individuals, and they need to be treated with the respect they are due. And you did. You indisputably did.

Magnificent work with two characters I've rarely ever considered in the same thought. Thank you for it.

Aquaman #5 · May 21st, 2016 · · 2 ·

The next time I feel the need to explain Diamond Tiara's character arc, Machiavellian philosophy, or how a child reacts to and interacts with divorce to anyone around here, I'm not going to bother. I'm just going to send them the link to this story, and then wait for them to come back once the spell it leaves them under breaks.

Probably my favorite fic I've read so far in the last year, and possibly longer than that. Thanks for sharing it.

EDIT: For real, though.

7235185 7235186
This is damned high praise. Thank you both.

You... Really are not a cynic, are you? This is your 2nd story about the fundamentally optimistic trying to "cure" the truly cynical and hardened (The Education Of Clover The Clever being the 1st of course). I remember that I read The Prince and The Anti-Machiavel in quick succession. This had a balancing effect. One argued something well, the other refuted it equally well. Reading one without the other could really make you philosophically unstable if you were to take them to heart at a young age.

I find that the only truly safe philosophy is that of the late great Sir Terry Pratchett, and is quoted thusly: “His philosophy was a mixture of three famous schools -- the Cynics, the Stoics and the Epicureans -- and summed up all three of them in his famous phrase, 'You can't trust any bugger further than you can throw him, and there's nothing you can do about it, so let's have a drink.”

You continue to be a marvellous writer, the Wordsmith would be proud of you.

BenRG #8 · May 21st, 2016 · · 2 ·

A diamond from a broken home, doing what any child would do to 'fix' the problem - anything in her power, no matter how much it hurts her. Who would have thought that such similar stories would have echoed each other, long millennia apart?

This was an excellent insight into the possible nature of Diamond Tiara but it was also an excellent Luna story. I loved every minute of this. The raw emotions and the 100%-valid characterisation.

Thank you.

this is another story, that for all rights and purposes, feels like it should be published.

it was an honor to read your poni words.

This will be going into my kindle library to be read and re-read for many, many years.

0.media.collegehumor.cvcdn.com/59/77/32a6c4b2cc9c9fa990e1b0b6a2892ead-pulp-fiction-thumbs.jpg

7235385
There are definitely certain... recurring themes and devices that tend to crop up in multiple stories. I always thought of myself as a cynic, but... I do want to believe we can learn from the past if we try, and well, if we don't look for hope, we're definitely not going to find it, are we?

Good old Sir Terry... He is sorely missed :pinkiesad2:

7235452
Those two have broken my heart many times between them, and when I brought them together they turned out to be greater than the sum of their parts.

7235143 7235476 7235485
Thank you all for reading and sharing your thoughts :twilightsmile: The response to this story has been amazing, and it's only been a few hours.

(Yes, you too deadpansnarker, and I am mildly befuddled that someone downvoted that comment.)

I... I don't even know what to say.

I've just read this through in one sitting, and, though I would have liked to see it broken up into smaller, more digestible chunks, this was still a friggin' gut punch.

Like, I pride myself on my self-recriminating protagonists, but you hit Diamond Tiara out of the goshdarn park, good sir.

I think part of it might be as you said--as someone else wrote in a different context, Diamond Tiara sounds like she's been "dug painfully out of your own guts." I wish that, someday, I can mature enough to dare to dig into my own past as you have. And, I hope that writing this has helped, at least a little.

Thank you for this.

I'll be submitting it to the RCL as soon as I can find the links. This is the first story I've ever read that I think is truly worthy of the honor.

EDIT: Done recommended. If you agree, thumb it maybe?

... This was amazing. If the story is ever continued in a sequel, or additional chapters, etc, I will look forward to them eagerly, though it has ended well enough.

You, good sir, are my hero for today.
From the beginning to the ending there was no dull moment, a lot of character analysis and development, some important lesson about life that are always good to be taught and reminded, some good philosophical and psychological talk and at the top of everything, a great message of hope.

It was incredible, thank you so much for sharing this!

7235568 Actually, I'm more surprised that you think I'd be unnerved by the sight of you thanking me for reading the story. I even gave it an upvote, and added it to my little 'Tiara is reformed' group, so I did. :rainbowhuh:

I really like it, in case I didn't comminicate that enough in my original post. It's beautifully written, has tons of great interaction between two characters who you'd never suspect had that much in common and is even very poignant in parts. :pinkiesad2:

I'm just pointing out a) I thought Luna was totally out of line in delivering such life-changing news to DT in such a brutal way, when it should have been left to her parent(s) to tell her in their own fashion (I can relate to this because I found out my parents were splitting up from my mother's best friend over a game of Mouse Trap... To say I was pissed at all parties concerned is a gigantic understatement) :twilightangry2:

b) Because DT's newfound belief in 'the goodness of ponykind' doesn't chime in with my own outlook, I can't necessarily get on board with her change of heart at the end. Of course, it doesn't help that I live in a 'scum-sucking, bleed 'em dry' society, and they reside in a fictional universe where friendship is almost universally preached. If that sound like I'd leave for Equestria tomorrow, you'd be dead wrong, Where would I be without my precious Internet?! :twilightoops:

So, in short... Me love da story, but not so much ol' Luna's irresponsible behaviour during parts of it, and the unsubtle 'kindness to all, always' mantra it preaches to the rafters. If this way of thinking is applied to real life, it would be naive at best, monumentally foolish at worst. Perhaps you didn't mean it that way, but I couldn't help but add my little commentary on the subject. :twilightsmile:

Oh, and don't worry about those two duffers who downmarked my comment (and the many more that I'm sure will do the same to it in the future, with this one soon to follow.) They probably can't see the difference between legitimate hate for a story, and someone expressing a view inspired by it, poor things. Such people are best ignored for the most part, and only acknowledged during a thesis into why public education doesn't always work... :rainbowkiss:

In other words, the Tantabus only did as Luna taught it, and did as it did, as only she made it to do. It was likely confused why its own creator was trying to stop it from doing what she ordered it to do.

I'm not sure if including a divorce in Diamond's family was really NEEDED, but this is is a solid story.

Diamond Tiara actually makes a really good point around the middle of the story. Luna keeps telling her to stop forcing other to be the way she wants, but is trying to force her to be her definition of 'good'. And then Luna acts as if the pony who wrote that one book's fate somehow embodies the entire philosophy he wrote about. And then Luna just ignores the entire rest of Diamond Tiara's former society, and acts as if she is the only pony to have ever thought this way. And then you throw in the idea that this is all a metaphor for growing up, despite it not being accurate at all. And then you introduce 'her' and promptly ignore this 'her'.

I'm sorry, but this is just bad.

7235849 Hmm... Can't disagree with much of that. I still really liked it, though. I guess some aspects of a short story bother certain people than others. :moustache:

This certainly was an enjoyable ride. There is bitter cynicism all throughout, but ultimately there is hope and optimism that things can will be better in the end, regardless of how long, and arduous the journey may be.
:twilightsmile:

7235143

Nice story, but Luna had NO RIGHT to tell DT her parents were getting divorced the next day. That's for her mother or father to do, if a seedy lawyer isn't available.

Perhaps.

Although when you are one of the nation's demi-goddess tetrarchs...

All of the praise I was going to heap on you has already been said by other commenters. Well, except for that fact that your hyper-articulate portrayal of DT, while perhaps a tad OOC, makes both her and this story seem superior.

Oh, and this is now my favorite slice-of-life fic on the site. Period.

You pull no punches.

I expected a deconstruction of the pressures of high society. I expected a girl forced to confront the prospect of a looming adulthood. I expected an ironic dichotomy of values between two players occupying the highest echelons of the Equestrian socioeconomic ladder.

What I did not expect was probably the finest character study of Diamond Tiara that I have ever seen on this entire site. This takes her arguably lazy/rushed redemption arc from the show and gives it incomparable depth.

There is no magic cure-all to the bitter struggles of life, or the insurmountable damage inflicted upon a child raised wrong. That your story acknowledges these realities of our world and even indulges in the resulting maelstrom of those emotions for just a moment, while still maintaining an enduring sense of hope despite it all, makes it a lesson worthy of any person whose life circumstances have led them astray.

A powerful bit of writing, and fan-fiction at its finest. You've earned my highest praise and a spot on a bookshelf that I reserve for the most timeless experiences I've discovered on this site (though my own personal pedigree does not make this amount to much).

Someday I hope I can achieve even a fraction of your capacity for storytelling. If I may be so bold to say: you walk among giants.

P.S. If I have one critique, it'd be directed at the cover art, particularly your font choice. The whimsical goofiness of Equestria Medium/Celestia Redux/Generation B does not do the tone or themes of your piece any favors. It's like using Comic Sans to announce a funeral. I would aim for something serious but bold, such as Didot, News Gothic, or Bourgeois. Or perhaps a handwritten script or decorative to match the high society themes of your story, like Coneria Script or Parisian. I'd maybe even seek to emulate a popular cover of The Prince, considering its import to your story. A strong Roman typeface, like Trajan Pro or Pacioli, would go a long way in this regard. Perhaps even some combination of the above.

You made me like Diamond Tiara. You bastard! :pinkiehappy:

Beautiful work!

First off, well done. I'd picked up on 'This is probably a dream' a while earlier; there was just a vibe going on, somehow. It was interesting to see it validated at the end. This is an overall fantastic piece. There is a small stumble here and there - though not so major I can point to any off the top of my head - but it is only the faintest of ephemeral shadows amidst the light that is the tale.

7235686

I don't agree here, and I don't think you do either, based on your bit about 'seedy lawyers' in your first comment. When it comes to children, what is right and wrong? Typically yes, we value parental autonomy - but I would wager that's less out of respect for parental autonomy and more out of a shared acceptance none of us truly know what is best for children and so we are all experimenting en masse to try and find out.

But sometimes? Sometimes, someone else can do something better for the child. And in those circumstances, they probably should. This is one of them, here, as portrayed; Luna, I would say, is fully in the right, because bringing it up here allows Tiara to begin healing whereas if her parents had delivered the news it is almost certain she'd have fractured further.

7235849

Luna keeps telling her to stop forcing other to be the way she wants, but is trying to force her to be her definition of 'good'.

Okay, I just need to say I hate the shit out of this any time someone thinks this is a good counterpoint. Sure, there are things that are off by social or personal definition. You shouldn't follow the crowd, after all. But if someone's doing legit wrong, it's not being hypocritical to push them to do right. Someone willingly doing wrong will continue without some earth-shattering revelation or force of some nature. Since the former is something that happens more or less naturally, if at all, usually as a consequence of hurting too many other people, then the only option an outside party has is force.

"I'm just using and abusing people, making them do what I want. If you try to make me do good, then how are you better than me?" Is a washed-out argument I've seen from many a pseudo-intellectual who thought too highly of themselves and thought it'd get them out of whatever jam the situation happened to present. What are the other options? Force them out of the society in question, or allow them to continue hurting people unchecked. Entire argument is thus pointless and falls apart. People who choose to do these things are not some lost and wayward creature waiting for a patient hand to grant them redemption... that's left for the people who simply never knew better, the ignorant and blind, usually by the manner they were raised in. Artificial sociopathic views on people and the world in general, cultivated by others in a sheltered environment.

But the people who know there's a better way and make the choice to do it the way that hurts people for their own pleasure? They're usually the type I see make this argument, so I cannot consider it any sort of 'good point', because the entire thought behind it is a farce, a trap for people who think shallowly. Can't agree.

Easily the most powerful of the chapters.

These are the raw, bloody wounds in Diamond Tiara's and Luna's psyches. There is no quick fix. Mere power can't help you. You can't just talk it away. And the worst thing is having your pain dismissed.

That's why, whenever one of my friends comes to me with their pain, I never ever tell them 'there there' or 'cheer up' or 'it could be worse'. That's not helping. They want, they need to be listened to, to be taken seriously. To not have the weight on their shoulders be made light of.

By the way, a very clever use of Filthy Rich's sequences in Luna's dreamscape. Kudos.

Quite the amazing story. It's great to see this atop the feature box.

7235686 I'm inclined to think that her parents had already told her in the waking world and Diamond Tiara was having an anxiety dream because of that that attracted Luna's notice. When Luna describes the consequences of divorce, she is merely describing what she saw in DT's dream and those of her parents. In her role as vigilante psychotherapist, Luna isn't telling Tiara something she doesn't know. She's just bringing up the subject that Diamond Tiara is trying to avoid thinking about (as well of course as telling the reader what this is really all about.)

There is a balance, I believe, between the two warring perspectives of cynicism and idealism. Such a balance is hard to come by, for this scale that we live and breathe and exist in does not carry equal weight for both sides.

The cynic looks at the world through a narrowed lens. They can see the most minute of details and correlate them to a greater conclusion. They are the analyzers of raw nature data, able to conclude with great accuracy the effects and course of actions. Yet the cynic suffers from inherent fear, the inherent dread of the unknown and known. The coldness spreads, and they become blind to the little things that matter the most.

The idealist has a broader lens. They see everything and everyone, and they want everything and everyone to be everything and everyone. They hold onto hope beyond hope and act when they think they need to; or when the world needs the push. More often are they the shakers of the world. But they suffer from blindness that comes from being too optimistic. A false sense of security and reality is theirs to bear. They are both intelligent and ignorant; a terrible combination.

To be both of these is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing, because it allows one to act on both's biased methods, and ultimately reach the best conclusion. Yet it is a curse because one encounters both's problems.

But the blessing and the curse cancel; they balance out. And this balance is what truly makes life a harmony, in that sense.

A royal palace designed and built by two little fillies, limited only by our imaginations! Full of secret passages and traps...” Luna shook her head and sighed happily at the memory. “I read a lot of vampire stories back then. It kind of showed, in hindsight.”

That explains so much, it almost isn't even funny anymore.

Well, that was an interesting one. Aside from the admittedly somewhat superficial discussion of Macchiavelli, I thought this was a nice, if dramatized, discussion of the life of a child in a divorce situation. I admit, it doesn't reflect mine very much, but from what I know, it's a very good effort.

Dan

7235385
Did you read Discourses on Livy?

Even if you subscribe to the belief that The Prince was written as satire (which is bullshit), the Discourses give a much wider and balanced idea of Niccolo's true personality and beliefs.

7236724 But neither of these philosophies are objectively good or evil. Sure, you might like to think so just because you want to see the 'good' one win, but this is a debate over worldviews, not whether to be good or evil.

Maybe the answer is balance. At the very least, understand the why of your actions, and understand that sometimes despite everything, things will still go wrong. Learn to recognize what IS in your power to change, and ask yourself if you're ready to accept the consequences of doing so.

7236724 Hollow as it sounds, it's truth. No matter how you want to slice it, Luna is trying impose her ideals on DT and is using her personal interpretation of a written work as justification for it. It's not an excuse for those actions, but a statement of fact. That's what it is to have any kind of discourse; it's to clash your ideas and ideals against another's. No one likes having their viewpoints challenged, but that's how we grow and change. Should she do it? Arguably yes. DT's interpretation of The Prince is arguably equally as shallow and self-serving, and using it as a rulebook for life is incredibly cruel for a mother to do to a child, whatever her intent.

It's still Luna forcing her views on DT. Does it need to be done? Sure. DT has proven incredibly resistant to subtlety and being presented with views free for the taking, and she needs to change before something gives (DT or the people around her). But it's important to remember that it's all the same thing in different directions, for varying reasons.

Man, there are some cynical people in this comment section. I for one liked the story and the point it is making. Unless you get off on power, kindness, courage and trust is necessary for you to have any meaningful relation to anyone. And anyone that thinks social relations built on fear are any more stable than something built on trust and kindness, don't quite know how varied interpersonal relationships are.

Well done. One thing though: There might be a bit too much yelling.

wlam #36 · May 22nd, 2016 · · 1 ·

The funniest part about the comments to this story is how many people think that the whole crud about Machiavelli is actually the point of it rather than simply the backdrop against which it explores DT's fears about her parents' impending divorce.

Very good. Maybe this happened the day after DT had the dream I wrote...:pinkiehappy:

This was truly amazing. Thank you for writing it. :fluttercry::heart:

Yes. Just... yes...

That was a very compelling read. It's amazing how much you managed to put into that story. It plays out like a two-person stage play.

Towards the middle, I was getting a little worried that it might get a little too philosophical. (Not that there's anything wrong with that. I enjoyed the viewpoints put forth about Machiavelli immensely, probably because it reminded me of a lecture I attended during my university days. And it almost makes me wish their discussion had continued on to include later state philosophers like Hobbes, Marx and Weber, and how their pony counterparts might fit into the societal development of Equestria. But that would have probably rendered the story unreadable.)

So I was glad to see Act 3 bringing things back to a personal level, capitalizing on the more detached discussion that came before. Your handling of both characters was superb, but expecially Diamond Tiara. You managed to not make her an adult in a tiny body, even though part of her character is built on having to grow up long before anypony else. But there was still the child-like outburst, and that single-mindedness of thinking any problem must have a perfect solution.

If there's one thing I had to criticise in this tale, it's the reveal that they were in a dream. It's kinda wasted. Because, with all that the story revolved around, it really doesn't matter whether they're actually in Canterlot or the Dreamscape. It doesn't change anything they discussed or the nature of the personal revelations they both had. (I'm assuming the dream explanation is basically just a convenience to explain the plot hole of DT being alone in Canterlot and to get that quick hug between Luna and Celestia in the end.)

Oh, and the cover turned out really well, I think.:twilightsmile:

I liked it, largely because DT doesn't feel like the only one who's learning from this conversation.

7237000

No. I considered it at the time, but decided to buy Candide instead, as I prefer Voltaire to Machiavelli. Now THAT is a satire, and a very good one. Speaking of Voltaire, have you read this: The Best Of All Possible Worlds, By McPoodle? It's about Voltaire in Equestria, and it's very good.

Am I the only one who half expected/wanted Diamond Tiara to follow through on her threat?

Very good!

I caught the bit with Mr. Rich and wondered if that was supposed to be his house or not during the dream. Clearly that was not his wife. What was up there, I wondered. This is a good explanation.

Edit: Looks like you and I aren't the only ones to pick up on it...
http://ipandacakes.deviantart.com/journal/Filthy-Rich-is-a-Naughty-Pony-562405410

My God, This story is truly from the heavens.:pinkiesad2:

Bless you, I needed this story in my life for a long time, I will remember it dearly.

So, I woke up this morning to see that the story had hit the top of the feature box overnight. I've been sort of stunned by the response it's gotten ever since: I don't think any of my stories before have seen this kind of spirited discussion in the comments, and it's blown my mind to see people recommending it on their own blogs.

I want to give a personal response to everyone, but damn me if this didn't turn into quite a lively thread. I don't even know where to begin :twilightoops:

To 7235586 7235792 7236748 7236072 7236775 7237333 7237376 7237679
Thank you everyone for your kind words :twilightsmile:

7235582
That is awesome... Oh, you're an English professor? I'm an English Lit graduate myself. Nice to meet you :twilightsmile:

7235684
This was arguably my most ambitious story simply because it wanted to do so many things in such a short time. I'm glad it all fit together in the end.

7235686
Oh, I didn't think that you disliked the story from the first comment. I just thought it might look strange to thank someone for disagreeing with something I wrote :rainbowlaugh: I actually thought it was a good sign that a reader thought the philosophy was worth arguing with, and not in a dismissive way.

I totally get where you're coming from with Luna telling DT what's going to happen. I do think 7236411 has a good point though. My feeling is that Luna needed to take Diamond Tiara's feelings seriously, and that meant being straight with her, even knowing that it would hurt.

7237762

Well--mostly. I just graduated with my Master's, and I'm hoping to get an actual teaching job in the fall.

7237774
I was just about to ask at which university you teach. The differences between the continental academic system and the American are kind of funny sometimes, it always trips me up. By our conception, a professor means holding at least a doctorate and lecturing at a university. I believe to actually hold the title proper, that is to say as a legally recognized prefix to your name, you even need to have tenure.

We really take our academic titles seriously here.

7237890
I studied/taught at a university in Northern Utah, USA. And, in the US, at least, I think it varies? At my previous school, I was told that calling myself Professor before getting my Master's was unprofessional; however, the school I'm hoping to apply to encourages all of its faculty, including student, to use "Professor," as a mark of respect for the teacher's position.

Enh, when in Rome, I guess...

EDIT: Plus, it's a little easier to say "I was an English professor" than "I was a graduate instructor teaching English," etc.

7237910
Interesting to know, thanks. Yeah, that's something that's just not done here. My university is one of those thousand-year-old ancient European places with more history than some countries and/or than you could shake a metric stick at. We do have our own student aides, tutors, mentoring and lecturers here, of course, but people would frown upon it if they/we ever went around calling ourselves professors. As you can probably vividly imagine, it can be rather hidebound when it comes to things. Actually, I believe legally, it may even count as a form of imposture, but don't quote me on that. I'm aware that in the English-language cultural sphere, even high school teachers will sometimes be addressed as professors, so this is always a little strange to me.

I wish you the best of luck with your new position there.

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