• Published 18th Nov 2016
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My Only Sunshine - CoffeeBean



700 years have passed since the night Nightmare Moon defeated her sister Celestia and cast her to far off lands, stripping her of power. Now, the hate in the younger sister's heart has faded, and she has brought Celestia back to Equestria.

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Nº 4: HATING HATRED

Each tiny step was agony. She tried to make her movements shorter, lifting her hooves a shorter distance from the hardwood in an attempt to lessen the aches in each of her limbs, but it was to no avail. The only relief she found was sitting totally still. That seemed to make her limbs feel a tiny bit better, and it made the stabbing pains in her stomach fade only a little bit. Her walk from the little room she had spent most of her time in to the spa had been more painful than anything she had experienced. It seemed like it had taken a full hour to walk the distance, each step causing her to groan and whine. She had stopped twice, dropping to her haunches and sitting in the middle of the hall for minutes as she regained what little shreds of strength she could. Philomena, while being large for an avian, was lightweight, but carrying her on her back had become a chore. Though, she would never dream of dismounting Philomena; she would carry her till her legs wouldn't work.

The entire time they had walked Nightmare Moon had remained totally quiet, a sorrowful expression being almost permanent on her face. She stared at Celestia, only for a few moments had she taken her gaze to other places. Celestia occasionally returned her look, peering into Nightmare's eyes to see that her gaze was one she recognized; a look of regret. It was genuine. It wasn't a falsehood or facade put up to fool her; there was a true ache in Nightmare's heart for what she had caused. She didn't speak because her mind knew what words it came up with wouldn't ever quell the pain she had caused, and she never diverted her gaze from Celestia because she couldn't believe she was the cause of the sight before her. Maybe Luna was still alive within that body.

With Philomena now perched in the rafters of the spa and her blanket dropped beside the clear glass shower Celestia's horn sparked as she managed to swing the door open, stepping into the bright tile enclosure. She remembered times when she could move boulders and trees as if they were pebbles and twigs. Now she was amazed at her ability to open a glass door. Sighing, she dropped to her belly in the center of the shower, looking to the knobs of the shower and twisting them both to bring forth the wonderfully warm water she so needed.

She blinked, looking out across the dark ocean and several other large stone islands of her prison as the cold rain pelted her coat. Her breath caught as she stared, instantly beginning to shiver as the rain continued on, splashing the slick stone around her. She couldn't stand. She couldn't breathe. She simply stared forward, her mind failing to make sense of what her eyes saw. She was here again. She hadn't done anything wrong; why was she here again? Panic took over as she got to her hooves, her body still aching horribly as her head spun around to see the endless ocean and dark stone surrounding her. Her breaths became quicker and deeper, her eyes darting around. She was here again, and the cold rain fell as it had before. She began ranting the same word over and over, her voice starting low and gaining volume; 'why?'. She sat up on her haunches, chest heaving with hard breaths as she began a panicked sob, continuing to repeat herself until she was screaming.

She heard Nightmare Moon's voice calling to her, and she turned to see her standing right behind her. Nightmare's horn came alive, a force taking Celestia's entire body as she was pulled from the chilling, pounding rains. She blinked, her tear-blurred vision locked with the horrified look on Nightmare's face as her magic placed her to the carpet before the shower of the spa. She looked around, chest still heaving and body still shivering as she looked to the two nice fillies who staffed the spa, their expressions too showing horror and worry.

"Celestia, what's wrong!? Talk to me!" Shouted Nightmare, kneeling before Celestia and taking her shoulders.

Celestia continued staring, barely blinking as the tears of her terrified sobs disappeared in the cold water soaking the fur of her cheeks.

"Celestia!?"

"W-We were there again... thy prison... thou put us back..."

"I... I put you back? What are you talking about!?"

"Thou returned us to that place! We... we were there again!" Celestia's cries became more forceful, her head falling. "P-Please don't send us back! We shalt die before sitting in solitude! P-Please!!"

Nightmare pulled Celestia's chilly, damp body into her chest as she hugged her tight, Celestia shivering and heaving as she sobbed. Nightmare began petting down Celestia's back to try and console her, her hoof moving from her neck to her wings in a gentle motion.

"Never. I will never send you back to that horrid place, and I will never do another thing to hurt you."

"Why? Why hurt us to start? We... we doth not understand!"

Nightmare tightened her embrace, her own tears now falling, "I don't know... I don't know why I ever hurt you."

Celestia offered no words in response as she sunk into the embrace. She imagined Luna holding her. She imagined that when she opened her eyes she would see her sister. She tried to block the pain in her body from her thoughts, trying to forget about the pain and cold she felt. She wanted to no longer be cold or feel pain; she wanted life to not hurt. Every waking moment was a pain she couldn't avoid, and even in sleep, she felt that pain as it echoed through her dreams.

"Please... may we return to the bath? M-Make it warm..." Whined Celestia after a time, not moving from Nightmare's hug.

"Of course, dear Celestia,"

She felt her heart stop. That deep voice somehow sounded gentler; it sounded so much like Luna's. She opened her eyes to see her head was still buried in the black fur of Nightmare Moon's chest, her ear listening in on her big heart pound away. Luna was in there. Nightmare Moon finally released her as she stood, stepping to the door of the shower as she poked her hoof into the cascade of cold water coming from the showerhead, her magic adjusting the knobs to bring the hot water Celestia wanted.

"Do you want me to leave?" quietly asked Nightmare, looking down at the soaked, shivering Celestia, who still stared off into nothing.

"Nay..." She slowly rotated on her haunches, looking to Nightmare, "Place us back inside... our limbs pang in agony."

Nightmare's magic lifted Celestia from the carpet back into the shower, gently placing her right at the center of the toasty stream. She tilted her head down, welcoming the water to seep into her mane and tail. Once more, the warmth was wonderfully soothing, washing away her shivering as it seeped past her cold fur into her muscles. She groaned as she unfurled her wings, her feathers now too welcoming the water. Her stomach still felt as if blade after blade had been driven into it, and her legs still seemed to ache to her bones, but she felt better; so much better. As the warmth continued its embrace fear of her condition began taking her mind. Never before had she felt so terrible, and never before had she had her stomach empty itself. She couldn't help but wonder what was wrong with herself.





"I know you said you didn't want any food, but you really should eat," spoke Nightmare over the gentle serenades of the music.

Celestia brought her head from the pillow one of the spa staff had given her, looking from the world beyond to the bowl of steaming potato and carrot soup floating in Nightmare Moon's blue aurora. The bowl was placed beside her on the carpet, Celestia eyeing the soup for a moment before looking back out the low sitting spa windows, her hoof continuing to pet Philomena's soft feathers as she lay at her side.

"Maybe our stomach will not refuse soup."

Nightmare sat by Celestia's side, scooting herself to where they lay side by side. She unfurled her right wing, draping it over Celestia's back, which; as always, was covered by her blue blanket. Celestia only continued to look out across the night-time lands beyond, deep in thought.

"Do you feel any better? You haven't been groaning,"

"Stillness quells some pain."

"Would you like me to leave so you can get some sleep?"

"We wish not for sleep." Celestia's eyes turned from the window to Nightmare. "We shalt rather lie awake than live in the taunting dreams thou create."

"Taunting dreams? I... I haven't touched your thoughts since the night you returned..."

"Thou could at least not lie. We did enjoy the memories of our old home and our old friends, but we hath heard what thou think while crafting such dreams; thou dost it to taunt us, we heard thy words spoken with Iris nights ago."

Nightmare's expression went to one of worry. "How did you hear our conversation?"

"That matters less than what we heard. 'You can't turn on somepony you were never with'."

Nightmare sighed, "You didn't stay after hearing me say that, did you?"

"Nay... but we think it shant matter,"

"I explained to Iris that you wanting to take the day back was totally justified. You striking me down and restoring Equestria to how it once was wouldn't be turning or betrayal."

Celestia held her speech, looking back outside as Nightmare used her wing to pull her a little closer. "Your dreams weren't my work, sister. Your mind created those realities, not me. I know of them because I watched them, and I could feel just how much you missed what the past was like... that's why I said what I said. I don't want to taunt you, or hurt you, or make you feel sorrow." Nightmare craned her head to nuzzle Celestia's neck. "I want my big sister back."

Still, Celestia was speechless. She wanted to lash out and continue arguing, making her points and rebuttals, spitting the venom she had gathered over 700 years, but she couldn't. For the first time, she felt love; the love she remembered from Luna. More and more she doubted her own declaration that Luna has no more. Every minute it seemed less and less true. Every second it felt like Luna was at her side, simply in a new body. Celestia's mouth came open, muttering half a word before Nightmare shushed her, pulling with her wing and pushing her cheek into Celestia's neck.

"You don't have to say anything. I know you hate me. Please, for a moment; let's just sit... and be sisters."

That happiness in Celestia suddenly faded entirely as it was replaced by frustration. "Thou care not for our true feelings; much as we hath suspected. Thou hast returned us to make thyself feel happiness, not to make us happy."

Nightmare brought her head up, looking at the blankly staring Celestia. "That... that isn't true at all. I've done lots to try and make things better for you, but..."

"But thou cannot give us everything, for thou art too scared we shalt take thy throne from under thee."

"I'm not scared you'll take my throne, sister... I'm scared to lose what I worked to create."

"Thou did not create a thing!" Celestia boomed, glaring at Nightmare, "Thou art a betrayer, thief, and traitor! Thou hast stolen all but our life, and that statement may prove false within the next day!"

Nightmare remained quiet as Celestia pushed herself away, distancing herself from Nightmare. "Thou care not for how we feel or what we think! Thou art as selfish today as thee were when thou saw fit to ruin our life!"

Silence reigned supreme, Celestia glaring into the hurt eyes of Nightmare Moon.

"If I cut down the walls holding you from your magic would you raise the sun?"

"Aye."

The answer had been instant. No hesitation to think.

"Why?"

Celestia's face contorted with rage, her mouth slowly opening. "Why?! Thou ask why?! Tis what is right, that is why! Thou hath created disharmony and unbalance in the world! Did thee not pause to consider creatures who live during the day!? Hath thee not thought of far off lands that now sit under a permanent day or dawn!?"

"Every day of my life. Places adapted just how our ponies did. It took a while, yes, but now the world and Equestria thrives once more; our nation has never had so much power and wealth."

"That is not justification for thy actions! 700 years ago thou saw fit to change the entire mechanic of our nation and world out of simple jealousy!!" Celestia screamed, tears forcing their way through her shut eyes, the volume of her voice straining her throat.

"Isn't that exactly what you want to do? Equestria is used to the night now, it is the norm!

Celestia's lip quivered, her chest shuttering as her rage-flaming eyes still dug into Nightmare's.

"There is a grave difference between something being normal and something being forced. Equestria did not 'adjust', it was forced under a rule it did not want! Those who hast been under our previous rule did not accept thy night, and we art sure of it!"

"You're right; they didn't. Some of them never looked me in the eye again. Sometimes, change hurts for those who are around when it happens. Now; you stand where I stand. You want to change Equestria back, but you don't realize that Equestria doesn't want to change."

"And how art thee so sure of thy words? Hast thy subjects so kindly told thee about how they love thy night?!"

"Yes, they have. As I-"

"Do you fail to see they lie to you!?"

Nightmare paused, trying to remain calm in the face of her sister's berating.

"They don't lie to me-"

"How art thee so sure of thyself? What if thou art wrong!?"

"I am not wrong!" Boomed Nightmare, her own volume surprising her, "the world I've created is a great one, and it has surpassed every standard you and I once had! I was right to be jealous of you, because I took our world and I made it greater! You call me selfish, but you are no better than I am! You want to make the day reign again simply to get revenge on me for something that happened 700 years ago!"

Silence fell over the spa. Celestia's eyes shut as she did her best to suppress her want to burst into tears. The little shreds of hope she had gathered that Luna was still alive in that body were burnt away; before her was the same, blindly jealous mare that had cast her away 700 years ago.

"Leave. Leave us..." Her eyes shut, tears flowing as she turned away from Nightmare.

"Celestia... I didn't mean to shout at you..."

"We care not that thou hath shouted." Celestia slowly got to her hooves, her limbs shaking horribly. "We care that thou think we art similar to thyself," she stood before the still sitting Nightmare, raising one of her pained front hooves to jab it at her side, her chest heaving as she cried. "W-We care that thou care not for us in the slightest!"

"You only want to change Equestria because you miss how it used to be..."

Celestia brought her hoof into Nightmare's side with great force, a quick grunt escaping her lips, "Leave!!"

Nightmare's expression was now one of pain; not physical pain, but emotional pain. The two stared at each other as Celestia's enraged scowl turned to a look of slight horror. Realization of what she had done began setting in, the anger and hate burning in her mind melting away as she stared into Nightmare's azure eyes, a tear rolling down the black fur of her cheek.

"Celestia... what happened to us?"

Celestia dropped to her haunches, her chest heaving as she began crying, her head held low. Nightmare got to her hooves, sitting before Celestia and taking the smaller Alicorn with a loving hug, allowing Celestia to bury her head in her chest.

"W-We hath become a monster! Our mind is filled with so much hate!" blurted Celestia, her words hardly making it past her cries.

"You aren't a monster. You have every right to hate me. Celestia, I-I'm sorry..."

"W-We do not want to hate anymore!" Celestia's sobs came harder as she pushed herself away from Nightmare. "We want our sister back!"

Nightmare scooted back, her heart aching as Celestia looked away from her. Philomena, who had been standing a little away from the two, approached Celestia, nuzzling her crying friend in a feeble attempt to calm her. Celestia dropped to her belly, taking Philomena as if she were a toy and hugging her against her chest.

"L-Leave... please, leave."

Silently, Nightmare Moon got to her hooves, not looking over her shoulder as she walked to the spa's exit.





The same mental process went on just as it had done every other time Celestia had woken up. Her eyes open, her dreams fade into the back of her mind and she remembers where she is, what she is, and who she was. That constant ache in her heart returned, and her eyes fluttered open to see the moonlit interior of her room. She moved around a tiny bit to find one of the big pillows from her bed held tightly by her front hooves. She had cried herself to sleep while hugging the pillow; normally, Philomena was what she held while falling asleep, but the pillow had been made a substitute, as Philomena couldn't be squeezed. Her forelegs released the pillow, her head coming up a bit to see Philomena was currently nowhere to be seen. She knew well that Philomena would trek out on her own business when she slept, but not waking up to see the Phoenix was a little disheartening. The horrible pain in her heart seemed worse than ever before, but the pain in her legs and wings was the opposite. As she moved around her limbs did not scream at her, they simply groaned, however; her stomach was louder than ever. She didn't feel the need to vomit; she felt the need to eat.

After Nightmare Moon's forced departure Celestia had thought to eat the soup she had been given, but by time her attention had been given to it the meal had cooled to match the air's temperature and had formed a thin skin, making it totally inedible. With a groan, she got from bed, hoping that the castle beyond was not in its down time so she could find something to eat. Almost forgetting her magic was defunct, Celestia tried to take her blue blanket from her bed and drape it over herself... and succeeded. She looked back at the blanket as it embraced her figure. She took a corner of the blanket with her magic, lifting it without a hitch. Her horn didn't seem to pulse or spark, and the yellow aurora of her spells seemed quite healthy, albeit still weak. Had Nightmare Moon done something to give a fragment of her magic back? What could she have done? As she had explained to Iris; it was an all or nothing affair. Maybe she had spent long enough without using her magic to where the shattered remains of her abilities had gotten some time to heal. Certainly more likely than the latter.

With her blanket Celestia walked from her bed to the double doors of her dim room, the moon's light coming in through the window reflecting around on the white walls to give the place a hint of vibrancy. She looked down at her broken lantern, effortlessly taking the extinguished light with her magic. Another disadvantage of Philomena's absence; no one to light the wick. She looked up to the door; Philomena was almost certainly in the gardens hunting or faffing about as a bird would, and she could easily have a guard escort her along to the garden's archway so she may call forth her friend and part-time lantern lighter. With a quick spell the horribly heavy door no longer felt heavy as it opened with ease, Celestia staring at the door for a time before continuing into the hall.

Compared to how she had felt when Nightmare Moon had guided her to the spa, she currently felt almost normal. The ache in her legs and wings was the feeling one would experience after a long day of flying or running instead of the bone-deep pain that had previously plagued her. She wished she could have said the same for her stomach, however; her insides grumbled and panged with an agony worse than what a knife or spear could bring. As she moved further into the dark hall, she noticed no guards were stationed at ground level, meaning the castle was in its down time. She dreaded not being able to tell how long she spent sleeping. Her eyes were drawn up to the partial abyss of the ceiling as she searched around for one of the strangely hung Nocturn guards. With a little bit of looking she found a guard's post, his polished armor barely shining through the darkness.

"You there, guard! Might thee direct us to a meal? Hunger hast stricken us quite hard," she called, seeing his head turn to address her.

"The dinner service concluded about two hours ago..." The guard paused as he released himself from his upside-down perch, his wings catching his fall and bringing him into a vertical descent. "But, I think some of the chefs might still be in the dining hall's kitchen cleaning up and prepping for tomorrow." The armored shoes adorning his hooves clacked to the tile. "If you'll follow me, your Majesty; if the chefs are still in, they'll have no problem making you something."

"Wondrous. Please, lead the way."

He bowed, beginning down the hall with Celestia trailing a distance behind.

"Permission to speak freely, your Majesty?"

"Granted."

"Why carry a lantern if it's not lit?"

"Our Philomena is absent, and she is the one to light our lantern, as our magic hast not the power to do so."

"I did see your Phoenix leave your chambers recently, your Majesty. Normally she goes to the gardens; shall I escort you there first?"

"Is it far out of the way of the kitchen?" returned Celestia after having her stomach growl at her.

"Not by much, your Majesty. It's part of the dining hall, which is fairly close by."

Celestia looked to her damaged lantern. "Aye, thou shalt lead us to the gardens."

"Understood."

As if on queue, Philomena's screech echoed into the hall, the sound bringing Celestia's eyes up to see her friend gliding down the hall towards her.

"Ah, Philomena! What coincidence!" called Celestia with a smile, stopping to allow Philomena to gracefully land on her back.

Knowingly, Philomena held out her wing, the very tip of her feathers igniting to allow Celestia to light her lantern.

"Guard," Celestia looked away from Philomena, who was currently preening her formerly outstretched wing. "Shalt thee tell us how we should find our way to the dining hall from here? We vaguely remember the path."

"Follow this hall until you find a four-way intersection; turn left, then left again the first chance you get."

"Excellent. We thank thee for thy short-lived assistance!" chimed Celestia as she continued on, leaving the guard to return to his post.




Celestia's hoofsteps echoed into the quiet dining hall as she entered through its double doors, which now came closed with a thud as the two guards posted above had come down to open and close them. She looked around the placid room, seeing a door at the left wall of the room she hadn't noticed during her somewhat dramatic visit some time ago.

"We think that be the kitchen. Thou hast eaten before arriving to us, aye?" Celestia asked to Philomena as she approached the door.

Philomena nodded.

"And what did thee find?"

Philomena squawked, flapping her wings.

"Avian, aye? Let us guess... another Blue Jay?"

Philomena shook her head, prompting Celestia to hum thoughtfully.

"Possibly a Starling? We know not what variety of birds live within the garden."

She shook her head once more.

"Well, we shalt guess another time." Celestia looked forward at the closed kitchen door, which had a placard of brass and wood mounted upon it reading 'Kitchen Staff Only'.

"Rules shalt wait for when we art not starving..."

With a spell the door was pushed open, the lantern held in her magic flooding the cramped and well-equipped kitchen space with it's bright yellow light, overpowering the fair amount of moonlight pouring in through the windows along the right wall. A few nearby cooks drew their eyes to the bright intruder, each of their figures adorned with white, long-sleeved chef's jackets.

"Oh... uh, hello, your Majesty..." stumbled a stallion who had been stood before what appeared to be a stove, his green magic holding on to a cleaning rag.

"Apologies for our intrusion, but we art horribly hungry."

"Aye, hungry, ya say?!" Called an unknown female voice, the voice holding a strange accent with rolled R's.

Celestia peeked around at the many different large pieces of kit in the middle of the room to see a purely white mare with deep blue eyes dressed in a sleek black chef's coat trotting down the isle, "Hungry is something I can help ya with, yer Majesty!"

Celestia raised a brow at this chipper mare, her unknown accent bringing many questions, "We... would like that very much. We hath not had a proper meal in quite some time..."

"Oh, tha' won' do. Please, fallo' me, yer Majesty; I'll whip ya up somethin' nice!"

Celestia shared a glance with Philomena, who shrugged her wings.

"We assume thou art the head of this kitchen?" Inquired Celestia, taking note of her black jacket as she followed the mare further into the kitchen, the remaining staff members eyeing her and her Phoenix curiously.

"Aye, been head fer a lon' 8 years now." The head chef turned into a deeper part of the kitchen and continuing towards a door which lead to a strange, secluded dining room with a single table and single large chair; a place most certainly specially constructed for Nightmare Moon. "So, what does yer stomach crave?"

Celestia looked around this strange room for a moment before looking to the head chef, who stood beside the open door as if to invite her into the wonderfully decorated room, the two large windows behind the chair casting enough light into the room to where her lantern was barely needed.

"Anything. We hath not eaten in three night's time."

The chef's jaw fell open. "Three nights?! Lassie, tha's a travesty! I will personally prepare you something right this moment. I can' have anypony in this here castle go hungry fer tha' lon'!"

With haste to her step, the head chef exited the strange dining room, leaving the door wide open as she moved to the equipment just outside of the door. Celestia looked on for a moment as she watched her blue magic working before looking back into the room, her eyes falling to a door at the other end of the room. Curiously, she went to the door, finding that it lead to the same hall she had been in to take her to the normal dining hall.

"Strange little place..." she whispered, closing the door and turning to the large, dark wood table as she placed her lantern and Philomena upon it, sitting down at the only chair with her blanket wrapped around herself.

"Her Highness was here only las' night sayin' ya were feelin' under the weather, an' she had me make ya' some soup. Did ya' no' eat it?" inquired the head chef, pots and pans clanking as she worked.

"We did not. We had no appetite then, our stomach would have rejected the soup with haste."

"I'm sorry to hear ya' were feelin' so bad, yer Majesty. Wha' prompted ya' to not be eatin' in th' first place? Ya said yer las' meal had been three nights ago..."

Celestia sighed. "We do not know. Lack of appetite, we suppose. We hath had nay energy since our return, sleep consumes most of our time..."

"It soun's like yer depressed, yer Majesty," returned the chef with a sympathetic tone.

Celestia sighed once more, "aye..."

"Yer the only other pony I've ever hear' usin' 'aye', yer Majesty," the chef peeked into the dining room, meeting Celestia's gaze, "I quite like that."

"Was how one spoke in our time... we hath taken note of thy accent, chef; where be thee from?"

"Glascow, yer Majesty. A bit north an' a bit east. Yer not th' first to take note of my accent, I can assure ya that."

"Aye, we remember Glascow. That town existed before our castle."

"This castle, or th' Castle of the Two Sisters?"

"The latter."

The chef hummed, the sizzle of ingredients being sautéed now singing from the kitchen.

"What be thy name, chef?" Celestia inquired after a moment, anxious to keep conversing with this uniquely-worded mare.

"Name's Cold Cut. Ya can call me 'chef' as most 'round here do. Wha' would ya prefer for me to call ya? I hear' ya don' quite like 'yer Majesty'."

"Princess Celestia. That is our name; Princess Celestia."