• Published 19th Jun 2012
  • 1,757 Views, 155 Comments

Cutting Ties - fic Write Off

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Luna gave the liquid within her teacup another gratuitous swirl, ruthlessly annihilating the innocent reflection that stared back at her. She breathed a dejected sigh. All she seemed to be able to do lately was wreck things. First the breakfast table, then the library—the whole library—and now her poor, defenseless reflection. And that was just today! Just this morning, even!

Not that anyone besides Luna really minded, of course. Like her sister, she was a Princess, and the palace staff—regardless of having hardly even heard of her before two weeks ago—was all too happy to clean up after her endless string of disasters. Well, Luna wasn’t happy with it!

Without thinking, she set the teacup down on the parlor table in front of her. It touched down with a loud thud and liquid sloshed over the sides, staining the white tablecloth a dark brown. Confound these clumsy hooves!

She stowed the offending extremities on the pillow beneath her, where they couldn’t do any more harm, probably, and went back to glaring at her teacup. Taking a deep breath, she began to focus all of her will on the flowery ceramic. Lift up!

Fortunately, the cup chose simply to disobey Luna’s silent command, rather than up and explode like she’d been half-expecting. She tried again and again, scrunching up her face ever more as the inanimate object continued to defy her. After a minute or so, she finally let out the breath she’d been holding and hung her head. It wasn’t the cup’s fault…

“Luna? Is everything alright?”

Luna turned to her left and frowned at her big sister, who’d just come in from the balcony with a look of concern etched on her face. It was a look that Luna had become very familiar with over the past fortnight—just about everyone she met here in the palace wore the very same expression. She couldn’t really blame them though. In fact, she was starting to get more than a little worried herself.

“No,” Luna grumbled.

“Well, our bedroom is still intact, so it can’t be that bad,” the ever-cheerful Day Princess commented, striding over to arrange her pillows next to the hearth. Luna summoned up a glare that said this was no laughing matter and waited for her sister to turn around and see it. When she finally realized that Celestia was deliberately avoiding just that, Luna drew a resigned sigh.

“My magic still won’t work, Celly,” she pouted, letting her head flop down onto the table. “What’s wrong with me?”

“Hmm,” Celestia offered. After a long moment of waiting for her to expand upon that oh-so-insightful statement, Luna glanced over. Her sister was knelt down on the pillows she’d been arranging, her eyes closed and a faint smile adorning her lips.

Luna glowered at her. “‘Hmm’? What’s that supposed to mean?” Celestia made no response, not even a twitch. How could she not take this seriously?! It wasn’t as if Luna was fussing over a misplaced toy—her magic was gone! And she was stuck in this…this tiny, inept body to boot! How could she just— Wait a minute…

Luna’s eyes went wide. “You know something, don’t you?” she breathed. Shooting to her hooves, she hurried around the table, almost knocking it down in passing. Her attempt to tower meaningfully over her sister would probably have fared better if she wasn’t so blasted small! As it was, Celestia kneeling down put her at about head-height with Luna, much to the chagrin of the Night Princess.

“Celestia, please,” she said slowly, putting as much weight behind the words as she could. That did the trick—Celestia opened one eye and trained it on Luna, her smile faltering a little. “If you know what the problem is, please tell me.”

Moments passed in silence. Celestia’s unblinking expression yielded no hint as to what might be going on inside her head. She might have been considering it, or maybe she was just waiting patiently for Luna to drop the subject. For her part, Luna found herself shuffling restlessly in the face of her silence. After a minute or so, she couldn’t stand still any more.

“Ugh! I can’t stand this form for much longer!” she exclaimed, her wings flaring as she turned away and started towards the center of the room. “It’s so…restricted. Why can’t I use my magic?”

“Luna, your magic will come back in time,” said Celestia, mechanically.

“That’s what you said two weeks ago!” Luna snapped, rounding on her sister, who was still knelt calmly on her makeshift floor-couch. Her eyes were shut again, and she ignored Luna’s outburst completely.

In the face of her sister’s tranquil aura, Luna’s anger seemed completely out-of-place. She softened her glare and frowned sadly. “Sorry,” she muttered. “It’s harder to control my emotions like this…”

“No need to apologize,” Celestia assured her. Her eyes drew open and she turned to meet Luna’s gaze with a smirk. “I actually think it’s kind of cute.”

The heat rising to Luna’s face would probably have been enough to bring water to the boil in a matter of seconds. “C-Cute?” she stammered. At the sound of Celestia’s tinkling giggles, Luna leant forward and narrowed her eyes aggressively. “I…I am not cute! I am the Princess of the Night! I am graceful and mysterious and—”

Celestia’s giggling just grew louder and louder, the fire in Luna’s cheeks growing with it. She wisely stopped talking, as to avoid embarrassing herself further and perhaps even damaging her sister. Instead, she hung her head and pouted. Celly could have just been teasing, or she could have been trying to step away from the conversation by changing the subject. Luna knew that she should be able to tell one way or the other—having known her sister…well, forever. And that, for the two of them, was a very long time.

But she couldn’t. She told herself that was because they’d been apart for so long—it would take some time to readjust—or because her weakened form was hindering her intuition somehow. Why not? It messed with just about everything else.

Suddenly, she felt a hoof under her chin, lifting her head to meet her sister’s gaze. She’d stopped laughing, but her disarming smile remained, as always.

“Luna, do you really wish to know what I think the problem is?” she asked. Luna ignored a fleeting urge to make a snarky comment and nodded her head, prompting her sister to continue. “I think that, perhaps, you don’t want your magic back.”

“I…what?” Luna furrowed her brow in thorough confusion as Celestia gently withdrew her hoof. “What do you mean?”

“Just what I said,” Celestia confirmed. “It’s just a thought, but maybe some part of you doesn’t want your powers restored. Do you think that might be the case?”

Luna frowned at her sister. Cogs and gears turned frantically within her brain as she tried to comprehend Celestia’s logic. In the end, though, she came up blank. “I don’t understand,” she admitted finally with a shake of her head. “Can you explain it?”

The Day Princess gave another chuckle. She casually brushed a hoof through Luna’s mane, causing her to shrink down a little. “Sister, I think this is something you need to figure out on your own.” She pet Luna’s mane a couple more times and offered a last smile before turning to resume her post on the floor-couch.

As she watched her sister settle down and close her eyes, Luna pondered quietly. Don’t want my powers back? That’s silly—of course I want them back! She shook her head. While she might not have understood exactly what Celestia was getting at, she had a distinct feeling that she was on to something. Clearly, though, her sister wasn’t going to offer any more help on the matter. She probably thought that she was doing Luna a favor…and she was probably right, as usual.

Luna huffed and turned towards the door. If Celly wasn’t going to explain her theory, then Luna would have to go to the one place that might be able to do it for her. She just hoped it would survive another of her visits…

Luna leant forward to take another bite from the apple between her hooves, chewing passively as she studied the tome in front of her. Surprisingly, the author of this particular book seemed to have found a way to explain unicorn psychology even more drearily than the last dozen she’d read. And, not surprisingly in the slightest, it held slim to no information on the topic she was researching.

Gulping down her mouthful of fruit, Luna breathed a tired sigh—something she’d been doing a lot over the past five or six hours. She decided to give her stinging eyes a little rest, mercifully tearing them away from the text and surveying the library. It had, for the most part, been put back together after her earlier mishap—the cleaning staff certainly did work quickly.

The librarian was no-where to be seen.

“Have you found any more texts regarding magical seals?” Luna called out loudly, scolding herself immediately afterwards. There might not have been anypony else reading here, but that was no reason to forget her library etiquette.

A moment passed before a bookish unicorn mare leaned out from behind a bookshelf and frowned apologetically. “Um, just one, your highness,” she said quietly. “And I don’t think it will be of much help.”

“Please bring it anyway,” Luna said, in a tone more appropriate for the setting. Nodding, the librarian disappeared behind her shelf and emerged a moment later, hovering beside her a thin book. After timidly setting it down in front of Luna, the librarian stepped back and gave a quick bow.

Luna’s eyes fixed on the volume. It was different than the others—not only was it much thinner, but its cover was a great deal more colorful. The title shimmered in large, bold lettering on the front. “Larry the Enchanted Sea-lion,” Luna read slowly, measuring every word. What a strange title, perhaps it was some kind of clever metaphor?

She looked up at the librarian for some kind of clarification. The mare offered no such thing, instead choosing to purse her lips in a most unusual fashion. After that, it didn’t take very long for Luna to put it together. She looked to the book, the librarian, then the book again before finally adopting a thoroughly un-amused expression. “Oh,” she muttered. “I get it.”

The librarian, who seemed to be starting to quiver a little, offered a prompt bow before rushing off behind the bookshelves again. Luna silently blinked after her for a moment. When it passed, she shook her head and went back to her psychology book. Unless the librarian came up with another real book on the subject, then this one was her last hope…

She took a deep breath, found her place within the section titled ‘Magical Seals’ and started reading.

…Due to the rarity of psychologically-induced magical seals (otherwise referred to as ‘blocks’ or ‘locks’) there is very little information available as to how to break or counteract them…

That was not encouraging. Sure enough, the rest of the small section told her nothing bar the base definition of the term ‘magical seal’—which was, shockingly, a sudden inability to produce unicorn magic in any way, shape or form. She groaned loudly and slumped down on top of the open book.

That made a grand total of twenty books and only five or six hours utterly wasted. Reasonably speaking, she had actually made some progress—for one thing, she was now almost a hundred percent sure that she was suffering from this ‘magical seal’ thing. Knowing that did her absolutely no good though, since none of the books had mentioned anything of recorded causes or cures. Somehow, that—coupled with the knowledge that what she sought would not be found in this library—didn’t feel like very much comfort.

Absent-mindedly opening her mouth to finish off the last of her apple, she felt a loud yawn escape her. Another drawback of this form—she needed sleep. Daily. Anything less than that and Luna tended to become increasingly slower and clumsier, and she didn’t think the palace would last very long if that happened.

“I suppose a few hours sleep wouldn’t go amiss…” she reasoned to no-one in particular, closing the open book with her horn. After bidding a farewell in the vague direction of where she thought the librarian was, she tossed the apple core into her mouth and began crunching loudly as she sauntered towards the door.

About half-way there, she stopped, swallowed and turned around. She trotted back to her pile of books and picked up the Sea-lion picture book in her teeth. “I’m checking thish out,” she announced, figuring that she might as well walk away from today having read something at least mildly engaging.

Lightning crashed down around Luna, causing her to jump in fright. She found herself in some kind of rustic town, Ponyville perhaps? It was the dead of night, and one would expect most of the townsfolk to be in bed at this hour. Why was it, then, that there were dozens of them all running around in panic?

Luna’s head swirled a little as she tried to figure out what was going on. She could make out individual shouts and screams on the air, saying things like “Run away!” and “Somepony help!” Something told her that they weren’t just overreacting to this storm.

A quick glance around the area led her eyes to a young colt, who was pointing his quivering hoof up towards the sky. Following his gesture, she looked up and beheld an ominous mist hanging overhead. It was an unnatural, shadowy expanse, and Luna felt a shiver run down her spine at the mere sight of it.

She gasped as a dark figure emerged at the forefront of the fog, flicking its horn from side to side and sending magical lightning bolts crashing down behind the poor ponies who fled from it. The figure cackled maniacally, and Luna’s body froze up. No, no it can’t be!

As if sensing her terrified thoughts, the dark figure turned in midair and faced Luna, affixing her with an icy glare from those piercing, catlike eyes. Luna wanted to run, or to scream, but nothing would work. She was stuck, helpless!

With no warning other than a wicked grin, the Nightmare flicked its horn downwards violently. There was a blinding flash.

Luna smirked down as her lightning bolt struck its mark—just a few inches from where the petrified earth pony stood. To her great satisfaction, the target pony jumped high into the air with a scream before shooting off in the opposite direction. Luna let out another laugh.

Below her, ponies ran every which way, terrified of her power. It served them right! They had dared to forsake her beautiful night, to squander the hours of the starlit skies and the glowing moon that she worked so hard to give them. They slept through it. Many of them even feared it! Well, if fear was what they wanted, then fear was what they would receive!

Grinning madly, Luna cast bolt after bolt of lightning down to the ground. She would make them see how wrong they were to shun the night! A cackle built up inside her and she was forced to turn her head to the sky to release it. The night would last forever!


Luna sat bolt upright, pressing her fore-hooves up against her eyes to block out the images. No, no! I’m not Nightmare Moon again, I can’t be! She mentally repeated that over and over as she rocked there, sobbing. If she kept her eyes shut, it wouldn’t be real—she could still be Luna…the real Luna…and Nightmare wouldn’t be able hurt anyone.

Tears flowed in streams down her face, her efforts doing nothing to stop them. There came the faint sound of hoofsteps from beside her, but they only served to make her hunker down tighter.

“Luna?” came a familiar voice. Celestia… No, she didn’t want her sister to see her like this. And yet, she couldn’t help but trust a tiny hope that Celestia might be able to help her.

“…Who am I, sister?” Luna found herself asking. She wasn’t sure that she wanted to hear the answer. Scratch that—she was absolutely sure that she didn’t want to hear the answer. Celestia would tell her that she was Nightmare Moon, a cruel, wicked pony. But that would be the truth, and hearing it from Celestia would make it easier to accept…

As Luna braced herself for her sister’s words, she felt pressure on the bed next to her and something warm pressed up against her side. Following that, somepony draped a familiar, feathery blanket over her back and tucked it around her. Celestia’s gentle voice cooed into her ear.

“You are Luna—my sister, whom I love more dearly than anything in this world.”

In an instant, everything began to wash away. “Sister…” Luna repeated quietly, letting the word sink in. Yes…Yes, she was Celestia’s sister, Luna. She was who she wanted to be, and Nightmare Moon was nothing but a bad dream. It’s just a dream…

Luna withdrew her fore-hooves and wrapped them slowly around the warm something that was her big sister, keeping her eyes closed all the while. Celestia’s wing tightened around her, and Luna felt a familiar bubble of comfort settling around the two of them. A smile crept onto her lips as she nuzzled into her sister’s sweet-smelling coat.

“I love you too, Celly,” she muttered, though she wasn’t sure if Celestia heard. She would’ve tried again to make sure, but it just seemed like so much effort to even open her mouth again. So she kept it closed and simply smiled, cuddling with her big sister.

Sleep claimed her quickly.

“Nightmare Moon is gone. She’s gone, she can’t hurt anypony anymore,” Luna mumbled to herself as she trotted down Canterlot’s ‘Mane Street’. As many times as she told herself that, something in the back of her mind just kept on worrying. She was convinced that her troubles last night were more than just delirious ramblings, and the fact that Celestia didn’t even mention it when Luna awoke that morning made her all the more certain that she was right.

Okay, perhaps that was a tiny bit illogical, but who was counting?

Most of the ponies on this street were going about their daily routines, far too busy to notice Luna’s passing. That was, perhaps, one of the few benefits of this form—it was relatively inconspicuous. Still, she would sacrifice that little convenience in a heartbeat if it meant getting her magic back…right?

A newspaper stand caught her eye and Luna was suddenly overcome with curiosity. There didn’t seem to be anypony operating the stand, so she simply trotted over and leaned in to get a look at the headlines. ‘Princess Luna redeemed!’ it read. Directly below were two pictures—one of Nightmare Moon and one of Luna, in her current form, wearing a wreath around her neck. She frowned. No, both are of me…

Shaking the thought from her head, Luna turned her attention to the bulk of the article. It gave a brief summary of the events leading up to her banishment, ‘which many believed to be nothing more than an old pony’s tale’. The record was understandably quite sketchy—this had happened a thousand years ago, after all—but the important bits were all there.

The rest of the article detailed Nightmare’s…her return on the day of the Summer Sun Celebration and how the Elements of Harmony were used to ‘vanquish Nightmare Moon and return Princess Luna to her former self’.

Luna backed away from the stand and stared vaguely down at the pavement as she turned to continue down the street. She dearly wanted to believe that Nightmare was gone forever, but the undeniable truth was right in front of her. She was Nightmare Moon. Maybe not at that very moment, but she had been, and she had to believe that—as long as there was that kind of power within her—she could be again… That thought sent shivers down her spine.

Luna’s ears perked up at the sound of running water. Lifting her head, she beheld a large fountain in the middle of the street, adorned with a statue of her dear sister. It seemed as good a place as any to take a break from her walk, and she was feeling rather fatigued.

Settling down on her haunches, she peered over the fountain’s edge and stared down at her reflected self. The little Luna gazing back at her had droopy eyes and a solemn frown adorning her face. She dipped a hoof into the water, sending out ripples to distort the reflection.

She tried to picture what her mirror image would look like if she was able to regain her true form. She imagined a tall, strong mare with a flowing, cerulean mane, dark as night, and a midnight coat, darker still. This Luna was smiling.

This was Luna as she had been before, without the magical seal that was now holding her back. This was Luna as she wanted to be…

Suddenly, the image in her mind’s eye began to twist and turn atop the water, until Luna was staring down at a completely different version of herself. This Luna was also smiling, but her smile was nothing like real Luna’s. It was dark, sinister and cold. Above the smile was a pair of glowing, cyan eyes that seemed to burn with bitterness and spite. A thick mist began to rise up behind the Nightmare…

Shaking her head vigorously to remove the image, Luna found herself staring down at…herself, as she was now. She breathed a sigh of relief and rested her head on the fountain’s side. She’d given herself a lot to think about.

Luna poked her nose in through the bedroom door. “Celly? Can we talk?” she asked timidly.

“Of course, Luna,” came her sister’s immediate reply. Luna pushed the rest of the way into the room and allowed the door to slide shut behind her. Celestia was stood above her floor-couch, smiling at Luna and gesturing for her to take a seat. The two of them knelt down facing each other.

Luna stayed silent for a moment, collecting her thoughts. Celestia didn’t pry, she just waited, patient and calm as always, for her sister to begin. To be honest, Luna wasn’t quite sure why she was here…maybe she thought that Celestia could offer some advice, or maybe she just needed somepony to talk to. It didn’t matter, she was here now.

Luna looked her sister in the eye. “I know why my magic is sealed,” she stated firmly.

“Oh?” said Celestia, curiosity creeping onto her face as she cocked her head. “Do tell.”

Objections against continuing were already beginning to rise within Luna, but she promptly gulped them down. “It’s because…I’m scared,”

Celestia nodded slowly, her smile fading a little. “Of Nightmare Moon?”

“Of me,” Luna quickly clarified. “I’m scared of all the things I did, all the ponies I hurt and scared…”

“Luna, you know that wasn’t—”

“It was me!” Luna suddenly found herself on her hooves, standing barely an inch above Celestia’s eye level. Even in the face of Luna’s eruption, her sister remained completely calm. Luna coughed nervously and fixed her gaze on the floor. She shook it off and settled herself on the pillows again before continuing more quietly. “It was my fault, my choice. It wasn’t somepony else and I wasn’t forced to do it. I…I am Nightmare Moon, sister.”

“No, Luna.” Celestia shook her head. “You were Nightmare Moon. You aren’t anymore.”

Luna breathed a heavy sigh. “I know…but I could be again. And I don’t wanna be.” Heer, she forced herself to meet her sister’s eyes, making sure to hammer her point home. “I don’t want to hurt or scare anyone ever again.”

In the silence that followed, Luna’s gaze found its way to the floor again whilst Celestia closed her eyes, apparently deep in thought. After what seemed like minutes, Luna suddenly felt a nuzzle against her ear.

“Tell me, sister,” came Celestia’s gentle voice. “What do you want?”

Luna shook her head again. “It doesn’t matter,” she replied hopelessly. “I can’t risk becoming Nightmare again…”

“Luna.” Celestia’s tone was suddenly firm, though somehow still calm and soothing. She repeated Luna’s name until the Night Princess would look up and meet her eyes. “What do you want?” she repeated.

Luna sighed, but didn’t break eye contact for more than a second. What do I want? Well, that’s easy. “…I want to be myself again…”

“…I want to stand with you at dusk and help you paint the twilight. I want to light up the dark sky with stars and I want us to stay up all night, until the dawn, just like we always used to.” Luna found herself smiling. That was what she wanted most—for them to stand side-by-side and light up the world together. “But—” Her smile faded, just as Celestia’s did the moment she uttered that last word.

“No buts, Luna.” Celestia was staring at her very severely now, though there seemed to be something glistening in her eyes. Luna imagined that hers looked very similar. Celestia got to her hooves. “If that is what you want, then that is what we shall do.”

“No!” Luna yelled suddenly, kicking off from the ground and viciously beating her wings to keep herself aloft. Celestia wasn’t listening! Luna wanted them to be together—more than anything—but she couldn’t let it happen… She narrowed her eyes at Celestia meaningfully. “I won’t let myself become the Nightmare again!”

Silence fell over the room again, broken only by the rhythmic beating of Luna’s wings. Even that began to slow and eventually stop as Luna’s own words began to sink in. I won’t let myself… she repeated mentally.

“No,” Celestia said, her smile returning twofold whilst her proud eyes threatened to overflow with moisture. “You won’t.”

And Luna understood…albeit very vaguely. It was her fear of becoming Nightmare Moon that kept her magic sealed up inside of her. She was afraid that unleashing her power would give Nightmare a chance to come back. But, if she understood Celly correctly, it was that same fear that meant that she could take up her power again, because it would always be there to warn her against making the same mistake twice.

Luna stepped forwards, trying her best to blink the tears from her eyes as she pressed her head up against her sister’s warm, fluttering chest. Celestia gratefully returned the hug.

“I do want my magic back, sister,” Luna choked, smiling into Celestia’s coat. She felt her sister’s head rub against her in a nod, but neither of them was in any hurry to move.

When the long moment finally passed, the two of them drew back and met each other’s smiling eyes. Celestia gave a simple nod and turned to trot over to the balcony door. She held it open, allowing a chill, night wind into the room.

Luna felt the breeze wash over her, and a strange impulse suddenly began to stir. She trotted across the room and through the open door. Stepping out onto the moonlit balcony was like walking into a cloud of gentle, tickling electricity. The air itself was charged with energy, waiting for her to take it—to mold it.

Celestia closed the door and stepped up beside her. “Can you feel it?” she asked. Luna could. She could feel the Moon, reaching out to her. All she had to do was stretch up and touch it.

Slowly as she dared, Luna unfurled her wings and flapped them a few times for good measure. She threw Celestia one last smile before turning her attention skywards, gradually hovering higher and higher into the air. Stopping a fair distance above the balcony, she spread her arms wide and fixed her gaze upon the wondrous, full moon.

She hovered there for a few moments, just reveling in the touch of the magically-charged atmosphere, before smiling to herself and closing her eyes.

Warmth began to well up inside of her chest. She could feel the light of the moon embracing her, she could sense the new patterns the stars twinkled in—heralding the return of their Princess. All the power of Night poured into her and, when it touched that warmth in her chest, it culminated in a bright, white flash that Luna could see even through her eyelids.

In that instant, all of her senses became hazy and blurred together. She didn’t even know if her wings were still beating and, at the same time, she didn’t care. It was the most wonderful thing she could remember feeling—as if she’d been blind to an entire world of beauty, but now she could see.

And then the instant was over.

Luna’s eyes flashed open. She was hovering in the air outside their bedroom, though she was putting hardly any effort into keeping herself up there. Turning to left, the first thing she noticed was her mane—twinkling the deepest blue and flowing in perfect harmony with the night breeze. Huh, it worked…

She held a hoof in front of her face and, sure enough, found her coat to be as dark as midnight, just like she remembered. And, naturally, she didn’t forget the most important test. Luna’s horn lit up the instant she willed it to, and a second breeze manifested—reinforcing the first one and whipping Luna’s mane into her face. She smiled contently and released the spell a moment later.

It was magnificent—all this power at the tips of her hooves… And the best part? She didn’t even have the slightest inkling of an urge to use it to abolish daytime and banish her sister to the Sun. Quite the contrary, in fact—she planned to keep Celestia as close to her as possible. After all, that’s why she had wanted to come back in the first place.

As soon as Celestia had taken her place at the forefront of Luna’s mind, the newly restored Night Princess stopped checking herself out and relaxed her wings, allowing herself to float gently down and alight upon the balcony. Touching down, she drew a deep, soothing breath of the night air.

She turned on the spot and offered an honest smile to her sister. Celestia looked right back at her, mimicking her expression to the letter.

“Welcome home, Princess Luna,” she chuckled, tipping her head forwards. Luna took a step towards her and did the same, pressing her forehead against her sister’s and closing her eyes.

“It’s good to be home, sister.”

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