• Published 25th May 2018
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Little Consequences - Skijarama

Princess Rainbow Dash and her friends have found themselves in the newly restored Crystal Empire, and now struggle against the forces of Queen Chrysalis and the enigmatic King Sombra in an effort to reclaim Canterlot and save Equestria.

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Princess Of The Skies

That night.

“Rainbow?” Celestia called quietly as she pushed open the door of Rainbow’s bedroom. The space beyond was utterly quiet, save for the gentle snorting of the only other being in the room, Spike, who was curled up on the bed and draped in an extra blanket, peacefully snoring away. The full moon hung outside the window, casting a few pale stripes of dim white light across the bed, floor, and walls. The glass doors that lead out to the balcony were wide-open, allowing a soft and cool midnight breeze to drift in and making the curtains slowly sway and drift. Celestia could just make out a sliver of a rainbow-colored mane from where she stood now.

Being sure not to make too much noise for Spike’s sake, she approached the doors and stepped out onto the balcony. Sure enough, Rainbow was there, looking out at the city below with her hooves resting on the rail and a thoughtful look on her face. The city was alive that night, as many establishments were staying open long past their normal hours to celebrate the defeat of Sombra. If one held perfectly still and listened carefully, the distant echoes of lively music being played live by musicians were just audible alongside the happy chatter and laughter of large crowds.

None of that really mattered to the solar princess at the moment, though, as her eyes were glued on her daughter. She looked… different. Her coat had been thoroughly cleaned of dirt and muck, and the once-wild coat hairs had been brushed down. Her body was groomed to the point that it was almost shining in the moonlight. More striking than that, however, was her mane and tail. Both had been similarly washed and cleaned of dirt and blemishes, becoming vibrant and offering a pristine reflection of the moonlight. The hairs had been brushed and combed extensively by the looks of it, looking far less messy and unkempt than usual. It wasn’t styled in any fancy way, but it was much neater than Celestia was used to. But perhaps the most eye-catching change to Rainbow’s appearance was the part of her mane that hung over her shoulder. The ends of the hairs had been bound together into a ponytail, not unlike Applejack’s, with a dark blue band. All in all, she looked presentable and well maintained; far more so than Celestia had seen her be in years.

She was so enthralled by the changes to her daughter’s appearance that she didn’t even notice when Rainbow looked back at her with a large, somewhat sleepy smile on her face. “Hey mom,” she greeted quietly, snapping Celestia out of her trance. “I didn’t know you’d be coming by.”

Celestia shook herself before using her magic to silently close the glass doors. That done, she stepped forward and settled down by Rainbow’s side, looking down at her. “Luna believes she can handle what remains of the day’s matters, and I took advantage of the opportunity to come to see you,” she explained before reaching out and touching a hoof to Rainbow’s new ponytail. “You changed your mane, I see…”

Rainbow glanced at the hairs with a thoughtful look as Celestia studied them. “Yeah… I’m a princess, aren’t I? Might as well look the part. Being messy and wild like that… eh. Not to mention all the dirt and muck and… other stuff I found in there...” she gave an exaggerated and playful shudder. “Whew. It was good to take a proper bath, I’ll tell you that.”

Celestia just smiled at her before leaning down and putting a gentle kiss on top of her head. She then leaned back and released her hold on Rainbow’s mane. “I just never thought I’d see you manage your own appearance, especially not to this degree,” she commented in an impressed tone. “And for the sake of looking right for your status? It seems you’ve changed some since you left Ponyville…”

Rainbow nodded and looked down at the city again. “Yeah, I guess. you missed a lot…” she acknowledged in a solemn voice, shuffling uncomfortably on her haunches. Celestia quickly spotted Rainbow’s discomfort, and her smile was replaced with a worried frown.

“I know that look… what’s bothering you, Rainbow Dash?” she asked quietly, draping a wing over Rainbow’s back and pulling her closer.

Rainbow looked back up at Celestia for a few seconds before sighing and closing her eyes. She was silent for a few moments before opening her eyes again. “I guess I just want all of this to be done so I can go home, be with Twilight and the girls, and just let things go back to normal… but…” she shook her head slowly back and forth before looking at her hooves. “I don’t think they ever can go totally back to normal… A lot of this was my fault, to begin with.”

Celestia’s frown deepened at that, and she gave Rainbow a firm squeeze with her wing. “No, it’s not. Whatever mistakes you might have made along the way have already been made up for.”

“Maybe, but the changelings attacking when they did was kind of my fault,” Rainbow refuted with a frown of her own. “From what I know, they had been spying on Equestria for a long time already. They were just waiting for a good opportunity to strike. When I let my fear and anxiety get the better of me and dragged the girls to Manehattan without telling anyone, I gave the changelings the window of attack they needed.”

Celestia shook her head firmly. “You had no way of knowing they were ever even there,” she scolded Rainbow, although her voice was still gentle and comforting. “You can’t blame yourself for that.”

Rainbow puffed out a breath. “Maybe not... but I can blame myself for going after Starlight as I did,” she noted before going quiet. A gentle breeze washed over them, quietly whistling and ringing in the various spires and sharp edges of the Palace exterior. Rainbow let the sound die down before she spoke again. “It was stupid and reckless. Innocent ponies got hurt because I let myself get paranoid. I let Discord trick me into thinking Starlight was a threat. I violated her privacy, I stalked her, I attacked her in public… I hurt Twilight...”

Celestia looked away, her own ears drooping as Rainbow recounted the tail. She thought of what to say for several moments. “Nopony is telling you that you are free from guilt, Rainbow. You did make big mistakes, and there were consequences... But wasn’t it Starlight Glimmer herself who vouched for how hard you have been trying to make amends?” she finally settled with her smile returning.

Rainbow shifted in place, not quite looking at her mother. “I mean… yeah, but…”

“But nothing,” Celestia interrupted her before reaching out to tilt Rainbow’s chin until they were eye-to-eye. “You made mistakes, Rainbow. You made mistakes so meaningful to you that you fell into the deepest, darkest pits of despair and self-loathing. Most ponies in your position would have cracked under the pressure, buckled under the weight and allowed themselves to be buried by their own failures…” Celestia then leaned down to give Rainbow an affectionate nuzzle. “But not you, my daughter. Though it hurt, no matter how hard it was, or how many times you slipped, you did not give up. You fought with all of your might to pull yourself out of that pit in an effort to seek redemption. You escaped its depths, and you climbed to the highest peak I could have ever hoped to see you reach. You saved Equestria and an entire Empire from two evils at once, and you did so despite carrying the weight of your own past mistakes on our back.”

Rainbow returned the nuzzle happily, and as soon as Celestia finished speaking, she reached out to wrap her forelegs around her mother in a tight hug. She buried her face into her mother’s neck and let out a quiet sniffle as a few tears formed in her eyes. “Mom… can y-you please stop bringing o-onions to our talks? I-it’s getting o-old.”

Celestia just laughed quietly at the return of the onion excuse, while returning the hug and holding on tight. “There is nothing wrong with feeling, Rainbow…” she whispered, squeezing Rainbow even closer. “I am so proud of you, Rainbow Dash… and I want you to know that you are not the only one who has made mistakes in all of this…”

Rainbow’s ears stood tall at that, and her own outpouring of emotion ground to a halt. Slowly, she leaned back to look into Celestia’s eyes. She was surprised to see that Celestia had a timid and regretful look in not just her face, but her entire posture. Blinking, Rainbow cleared her throat and spoke. “Huh? What do you mean, mom?”

Celestia softly sighed and brushed away Rainbow’s hooves with her own. “Do you remember what I told you? Years ago on Highblood’s manor. and on the day you and your friends became linked to the Elements of Harmony?” she asked in a hushed tone. She shifted and looked out at the Empire, deep in thought. “I told you that whatever else may have spurred me on to adopt you, whatever reasons I had, you would always be my daughter first. Anything else was secondary…”

Rainbow’s eyes widened as she thought back on both events. “Yeah… I remember,” she nodded before putting a hoof on Celestia’s back and offering her a reassuring grin. “And you’ve done a good job, I think.”

“No, I haven’t,” Celestia replied with a shake of her head. “Far too often I chose my duties as a Princess over you, my only child. There were so many times where you might have benefited greatly from my guidance or advice where I just... left you to your own devices,” she sagged heavily and screwed her eyes shut. “When I went to Cloudsdale to bring you into my life, I swore that I would love and care for you as any mother should. But… I fear that I haven’t honored by word as well as I should have…”

“Mom…” Rainbow breathed out, taken aback by the emotion in Celestia’s voice. Sure, she had seen her mother get emotional before. Specifically, when Rainbow had woken up after her shared flash with Twilight in Cloudsdale when they were fillies, and when Rainbow had confronted her about keeping secrets after Twilight’s first coma. Both times she had been distraught, tense, sad, or even angry. But this…? This was new, and she couldn’t find anything to say. So she opted to be quiet, for now, and just listen.

Celestia didn’t keep her waiting long. She sucked in a breath and sat upright to look at the heavens, the stars reflected in her eyes. “I should have known you were disturbed after Discord’s rampage. When I saw how heavily you were drinking Applejack’s cider, that should have tipped me off that something was wrong. I had never seen you so intoxicated before, but I wrote it off as you just celebrating after a stressful day…” her eyes locked onto the moon, and her ears slowly fell to rest flat against her skull. “And… I made a similar mistake with Luna. Whenever she was jealous or angry or bitter, I just dismissed it as a mood swing, or chalked it up to her being stressed by her duties, that she would be fine without my intervention…”

Rainbow gasped when she saw a tear slip out of the corner of Celestia’s eye.

“And so it was that Nightmare Moon came to be…” she continued before wiping a foreleg over her eyes and taking several shaky breaths to calm herself. Eventually, she set her hoof down and continued. “I should have done more. I should have been there for you more than I was. Both of you. But, perhaps, with as old and patient as I have become, I have lost sight of the ponies around me,” she closed her eyes and lowered her head.

“I neglect those who need me the most because I can no longer see things as they do. I have lived for over a thousand years. I have seen cities rise and fall, kingdoms flourish and decay, families grow and dissolve…” Celestia finally managed to look at Rainbow again with a trembling smile. “I let my view of time trick me into thinking I wasn’t needed. But I won’t keep making that mistake. I have seen what happens when I neglect those I love. So…” she suddenly reached out and pulled Rainbow against her side again. She then leaned down and nuzzle Rainbow atop the head. “So here I am, Rainbow Dash…”

Several long moments passed in silence, with the two of them just sitting there and sharing in their embrace. Eventually, they separated and looked out at the city together, both of them lost in thought. Of course, Rainbow broke the silence with a small chuckle of amusement as something occurred to her. “I’m gonna be honest, here… I never thought I would hear you say anything like that,” she admitted before nudging her mother in the ribs with an elbow. “I keep telling ponies you’re not perfect, you know, but none of them believe me. It’s all ‘You’re just trying to be humble for her’ or something.”

Celestia rolled her eyes at that. “Why am I not surprised?” she asked with her own giggle before, again, they passed into a peaceful calm. The sounds of the various partying establishments reached their ears for a long time, and the distant howls of the snows beyond the Empire’s protected borders helped add to the calmness and serenity of it all. Eventually, though, Celestia decided to break the calm again. “There is one thing I have been meaning to ask you…” she began before looking down at her daughter. “Storm clouds… with fire in them. How did you come up with that?”

Rainbow raised an eyebrow shrugged absently. “Well, while we were booby-trapping the city, I kept calling the clouds ‘landmines.’ Real landmines tend to explode with fire and stuff, so I got the idea to have Twilight and Starlight infuse fire into the clouds,” she explained before putting on a small, cocky grin. “I think it worked pretty well.”

Celestia tittered and nodded in agreement. “Yes, so I have heard. That is quite an ingenious use of your knowledge of the weather, I must admit. I never would have thought of that,” she admitted while reaching over to ruffle Rainbow’s mane.

The pegasus squirmed out from under her mother’s hoof and shot into the air. “Ha!” She pumped a hoof in the air in victory before striking a cocky pose that made it look like she was taking a nap with her hooves behind her head. “I knew I was a genius!”

Celestia openly laughed at that. “Yes, yes, quite a genius indeed,” she stated between chortles. Her laughter persisted for a short time before she was able to calm herself down. Catching her breath, she looked at Rainbow for a few more seconds before looking down at the city again. Her smile grew softer and more thoughtful when she saw a couple starting to dance together outside of one of the more formal establishments. “Oh… look at all of them. All of these ponies, safe and sound, happily celebrating…” she looked up at Rainbow. “And it’s all thanks to you.”

Rainbow came out of her pose and settled back down on the balcony, looking a little sheepish and unsure of the praise. “Eh, I mean, I guess… I still think they’re giving me more credit than I’m due,” she reiterated with a shrug of her shoulders.

“Yes, Cadance did tell me that you plan on passing the crown and throne to her as soon as Twilight is ready to leave,” Celestia mused with a curious look on her face. “It is a good thing to admit when something is beyond you, to know your limits… something I am not sure you would have been quite so able to see a month ago.”

Rainbow shrugged again. “Meh. I had some good motivation. Like you said; deepest, darkest pit of self-hatred or whatever.”

“Yes, a pit you climbed out of,” Celestia repeated before a soft smile crossed her face. She looked up at the sky again for a long time before her smile grew. “You fell to your lowest point… bur from that darkness, you climbed and climbed, never giving up until you were touching the sky itself. You then used the sky itself to protect innocent bystanders, yourself, and the ponies you hold near and dear to your heart…” she looked at Rainbow Dash with a shimmer of admiration in her eyes. “Rainbow Dash… I do believe you have found your domain as a princess.”

Rainbow, if she had been drinking something, would have just spat it out. She perked up and gave Celestia a wide-eyed look of shock while her jaw fell open. “Wha, seriously?!” she asked, her wings twitching on her back in excitement.

Celestia nodded sagely. “Of course. Here you stand as a shining beacon to anypony who has fallen on hard times or made mistakes. Here you are, a shining prismatic standard of what can be accomplished if those ponies never give up, if they push beyond their failures. You rose above your mistakes, and you did incredible things,” Celestia than stood tall and spread her wings wide open the way she did whenever she was to make an important royal decree. “If you accept, then I would be honored to name you Rainbow Dash: the Princess of the Skies. For both your ascension from your lowest point to your highest...” she then gave a sly wink. “And your incredibly creative use of the weather to protect the innocent.”

Rainbow stared at Celestia with wide-eyed shock for several seconds. She gaped like a fish, she shifted on her haunches, she fidgeted with her new ponytail. For a moment, Celestia was starting to get worried that Rainbow might refuse the promotion. But when the pegasus let out a happy laugh and launched herself at the alicorn’s chest, knocking her onto her backside, she was pretty confident that the offer was accepted.

Her confidence was proven to be well placed when Rainbow spoke again in a hushed whisper. “Of course… of course, I accept… It’s my honor, too…”

Celestia smiled and returned the embrace, holding her daughter close. “Very well… Princess.”

The two remained embraced for a long time, allowing the sounds of the night to wash over them. Over time, the celebrations in the city began to dwindle and fade as ponies went home to rest up for tomorrow. As the true silence of the night fell over the Crystal Empire, the mother and her daughter soon fell asleep together on that balcony under the watchful vigil of the stars.

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