• Published 29th Aug 2012
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Past Sins - Pen Stroke



Can Nightmare Moon, reborn without her hate, ever escape her past?

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21: The End of the Nightmare

Past Sins

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Chapter 21

The End of the Nightmare

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Twilight paced anxiously outside the throne room. She could hear Luna and Nyx talking from the other side of the door but could not make out what was being said. No matter how intently Twilight listened, all the words just sounded muffled. She even tried putting her ear right up against the door, but it didn’t help.

Celestia had whispered just before shutting the door that “it would only take a few minutes.” Well, it had been a few minutes, and Twilight’s patience was wearing thin. What was Luna going to do to Nyx? She needed to know.

She was so wrapped up in her thoughts that she barely noticed the seams of the door beginning to glow, which spawned greater concerns in her mind. What was going on? Was Luna passing her judgment? What could she be doing that would be producing that much light? All these questions danced within Twilight’s mind, and, almost instantly, her thoughts flew to the worst case scenario.

They were banishing her! Luna was banishing Nyx to the moon for another thousand years!

That had to be what was happening! Twilight was sure of it, and she quickly began to buck and beat on the throne room doors, trying to get in. She needed to convince the princesses that banishing Nyx to the moon wasn’t the answer. If they locked her up in a dungeon or banished her from Equestria, Twilight could at least visit her, be with her, comfort her.

But the moon? She couldn’t go to the moon! In her panic, Twilight called on her magic and tried to teleport herself into the throne room, only to feel her spell falter. Somepony was stopping her, interfering with her magic. Twilight could only guess it was Celestia. The princess was probably standing right on the other side of the door, making sure she couldn't get inside.

With her magic blocked, Twilight resumed bucking at the door. She screamed at the top of her lungs to be let in. She assaulted the door, yet it held strong against her hooves and her voice. Still, Twilight did not relent. She fought for what felt like an eternity, stopping only when she saw the light coming through the cracks in the door grow dark.

Her blood ran cold.

She dropped to her flanks and sat there, staring up at the door she had been unable to get through. She… she had failed. She had failed Nyx again. She had let Luna take her daughter away, and she hadn’t been able to do anything to stop it. Why hadn’t she insisted on staying in the room? Why had she let Celestia lead her outside? She should have been there, should have stayed with Nyx. Why did she trust Celestia? Why hadn’t she…

Twilight jumped when the throne room doors opened and Celestia poked her head out. “Twilight, we’re—”

Like somepony had struck a match and thrown it into a tinderbox, Twilight’s anger exploded. Her mane was consumed with fire and her coat glowed white-hot. She rage-shifted, screaming so loudly that her voice echoed throughout the halls of the castle, causing anypony that could hear her to stop dead in their tracks and listen.

“You banished her! After all she’s done you banished her!” Twilight bellowed. She began grabbing at anything she could, ripping chunks of stone directly out of the walls and hurling them at Celestia.

“Twilight!” Celestia said firmly as she employed her own magic to catch the volley of stones.

“Why didn’t you at least let me SAY GOODBYE!?!”

“Twilight!”

“That’s why you didn’t want me in the room! You didn’t want me to stop you! She didn’t deserve this! She didn't deserve t—”

Celestia furrowed her eyebrows and spread her wings as her horn’s glow grew to a blinding intensity. Celestia then threw out her magic, the energies washing over Twilight like a tidal wave. Twilight’s own magic was overwhelmed, and her rage-shift ended like a fire doused in water.

“Twilight, we did not banish her to the moon,” Celestia said when she was finally able to get a word in.

“YOU… you… you didn’t?” Twilight asked, her voice changing from an indignant scream to a disbelieving whisper.

“No, we didn’t.”

“But, the light… and you were taking so long! What were you and Luna doing if you weren’t banishing her?”

Celestia let a smile blossom onto her face as she slipped back through the throne room doors. “Come see for yourself.”

Twilight followed Celestia into the throne room, and, the moment she was inside, she began to look around frantically. She wasn’t sure what she was supposed to see, but she still searched for Nyx. Her gaze, however, was quickly drawn to another figure.

At the far end of the room stood Princess Luna, but she had undergone a transformation. She had grown as tall and slender as Celestia. Her own starfield of a mane had also transformed. Nightmare Moon’s mane could be described as a dark night with a faint twinkling of stars. Luna’s old mane was a clear summer’s night. Her new mane, however, was the night sky at its finest. Millions of stars, nebulae, and other wonders that were normally only visible through a telescope could be glimpsed within her mane. It was a living tapestry.

In all, Luna truly looked like a Ruler of Equestria and the Regent of the Moon, a true equal to Celestia in both power, stature, and beauty. Twilight couldn’t tear her eyes away for several seconds. She was as dumbfounded as she was the first time she met Celestia in person. When she was finally able to look away, her gaze turned downward where she noticed the black mass on the floor just in front of Luna.

It was a little black filly with a unicorn horn, pegasus wings, purple hair, and a few lingering bandages lying lazily across her flank.

“N… Nyx!?” Twilight said breathlessly, her mind struggling to grasp what she was seeing. It was at that moment that Twilight felt a gentle nudge on her side. Looking back, she saw the nudge had come from Celestia. The princess nodded gently once, silently assuring Twilight that what she was seeing was real.

That single gesture was all Twilight needed. She burst into a full gallop, raced across the room, and dropped to her knees beside Nyx. The rejuvenated alicorn was passed out on the floor, but Twilight held her all the same. She embraced and nuzzled Nyx, all the while wearing the biggest smile that would fit on her face.

As Twilight hugged Nyx, Celestia and Luna moved closer, standing side by side. They watched the scene before them silently, sharing gentle smiles. “Careful,” Celestia said, “I think it would be wise to let her rest.”

Twilight was brought back to reality by Celestia’s words. She loosened her grip on Nyx, but she did not let go. She just held Nyx for a while, as if fearing it was some cruel joke. In time, she looked up at the sisters. “But… but I thought… how could she?”

“My sister and I, as well as Nyx, are different from normal ponies, Twilight, and not just because we have both wings and horns,” Luna explained. “We are also different for we are very closely bound to the magic we wield.

“Not only does our immortality and strength come from our magic, but so does our maturity. That was why, after I was saved by the Elements of Harmony, I was so much smaller, so much younger, than Celestia. The Elements of Harmony took away much of my capacity for magic, and thus I became a pony barely mature enough to be considered a young adult.”

“So what did you do?” Twilight asked.

“I took back what was mine,” Luna answered with kindness, rather than cruelty. “The power Nyx possessed was never her own. Nexus’s spell gave her the portions of my power that remained in the shreds and supplemented what was missing by drawing in raw magic from Equestria itself. I took most of that magic for my own, since it was mine to begin with, and dispelled what remained, leaving Nyx the way she was before the cult ponynapped her.

“I also,” Luna continued, her gaze shifting to the passed out filly, “took back the memories that never should have been hers. The memories of being trapped in the moon and everything that preceded that, when she and I were truly one and the same. She will remember the facts about our shared past, but she will no longer know the torment of spending a millennium in banishment.

“To put it simply, Twilight, I took back what was mine and mine alone.”

“Will she remember everything else that’s happened?” Twilight asked cautiously.

“Yes, Nyx must live with the decisions she made for herself. She possesses every memory from the moment she took her first breath as her own pony, until now. After all, it was the events of these last few weeks that helped her discover the kind of mare she wants to be. She’ll also retain a few key memories from the day of the Summer Sun Celebration two years ago, mostly because of how closely those memories are intertwined with her memories of her school play and the following evening.

“But otherwise, Nyx is as she once was. With her magic drained, her physical maturity has regressed. This has also affected her mind. Much like her body, it is once again youthful and innocent; it is the mind of a child.”

“But I thought you were going to punish her. Banish her to the moon, or—”

“Nyx has worked to undo the mistakes she’s made,” Luna interrupted, maintaining her gentle tone while still silencing Twilight. “That is a sign of a pony that deserves a chance to redeem herself, not one that needs to be punished.”

“But what about the rest of Equestria? They know Nyx is Nightmare Moon. If they see her—”

“Do not doubt that Nyx will have to face those she has hurt,” Luna explained as her voice took on a warning tone. “There are those across Equestria, even in Ponyville, who will strongly disagree with what I’ve done, but that is something Nyx must face. It is a consequence of her actions.”

“But what if somepony tries to hurt her?” Twilight asked nervously, once again imagining the angry mob she thought should have formed at the Spring Festival.

“She is like us, Twilight. Even as a filly she is much more durable than most ponies. However, if anypony gives you too much trouble, I am simply a letter away,” Celestia assured calmly.

“And, for the moment, let me and my sister worry about what Equestria thinks,” Luna added. “If there are any ponies that do not agree with what has been done, then they can come and voice their concerns to me. It was, however, my decision to make, and I stand by my belief that this is for the best.”

“So you’re going to let her go, just like that?” Twilight asked, finding the situation almost too good to be true.

“No,” Luna stated firmly, her lips bending down in a frown. “There is one other part of her punishment, and it involves you, Twilight Sparkle.”

Twilight winced and held Nyx tightly against her chest as she dreaded what the now-much-larger Princess Luna was going to do. Luna’s gaze was harsh, and she stared Twilight down for a few moments before leaning in to speak. Yet, as she spoke, the tone of her voice was serious but not threatening.

“Twilight Sparkle, I hereby place Nyx in your care. You shall be her legal guardian, and it will be your responsibility to ensure that she never again repeats her crimes. You shall watch her as she grows up. I want you to ensure she laughs, learns, lives, and has friends. I ask that you help her enjoy the childhood that was almost lost to her and make sure she becomes the mare she wants to be.”

Luna let her voice slip into a more pleasant tone, and she smiled mischievously. “Think you can do that?”

It took a moment for Twilight to process the order she had been given, but, the moment her brain connected the dots, she nodded her head furiously. She proceeded to hold and nuzzle Nyx while her face remained locked in a huge smile. Tears rolled down Twilight’s cheeks, and she made no effort to stop them. She was too happy to care.

It was then Celestia leaned in close to Luna and whispered quietly, “Good job, sister.”

~~~

Celestia and Luna departed for Canterlot soon after, planning to announce their return to Equestria in the morning. News would spread across the kingdom quickly and, if Twilight knew anything, Pinkie Pie would probably throw a “The Princesses are back” party as soon as she found out.

Despite that small, lingering concern, Twilight chose to focus on one thing: going home with Nyx. The Golden Oaks Library had survived the attack and, at the moment, Twilight wanted, maybe even needed, to have Nyx to herself for a little while.

After sneaking out of the castle, Twilight quickly strode through the empty streets of Ponyville. Upon entering the library, Twilight was thankful to find Owloysius wasn’t there. She did see Spike, but he had fallen asleep in the middle of the floor, dozing off during his chores with Peewee asleep on top of his head. It was a sight that really made Twilight feel like she was home: a single, simple familiarity. Taking a moment, Twilight levitated Spike’s basket down from the bedroom, ensuring that both he and Peewee were sleeping comfortably before she took Nyx upstairs.

Having her magic drained away had knocked Nyx out, something Twilight was a little thankful for. If Nyx had woken up at the castle, it would have been more difficult to get her back to the library without drawing attention. At the moment, however, she was still asleep, and Twilight carefully levitated her into bed. She then gently nuzzled Nyx, intending the touch to be a good night gesture.

Nyx, however, stirred and groaned a little as she opened her eyes. Confusion flashed across her face as she looked about the room. When she noticed Twilight and how big she seemed to be, Nyx looked down at herself, gaping in disbelief at her tiny body.

“How are you feeling?” Twilight asked.

“Okay… kind of—” Nyx began to answer, only to squeak a little and lift a hoof to her throat. Her voice was back to the way it was, something that only confused her further.

It was no surprise that Nyx asked what had happened, and Twilight was more than happy to tell her everything. It was an explanation that Nyx listened to intently. She hung on Twilight's every word until the very end, when she asked, “So, Princess Luna took it all back?”

“What was originally hers, but you should still remember everything that happened since I found you in the forest.”

“I… I do remember,” Nyx admitted, “but it’s weird.”

“How is it weird?”

“I can remember. I remember how I used to think, how I used to know all sorts of things, and I remember what I did, but it feels like it was a nightmare. It’s like I went to sleep, dreamed all those things, and now I’ve woken up.”

“But you do know that everything really did happen, don’t you? You do realize that it wasn’t a nightmare.”

“I know what I did,” Nyx said before looking up at Twilight nervously. “So, what happens to me now? Are the princesses going to take me away again?”

Twilight shook her head. “No, they aren’t.”

“Then… are they going to banish me to the moon?” Nyx asked as she tried to imagine what punishment awaited her.

“No, they aren’t,” Twilight said again, beginning to smile.

“Are they going to punish me at all?”

“Yes, they are.”

“W-what are they going to do?” Nyx asked with a small tremor in her voice.

“They are going to make you stay here and be my daughter,” Twilight answered, offering a big, toothy grin.

The words made Nyx’s eyes light up in disbelief. Unable to contain her joy, she leaped out of bed and tackled Twilight. The pair was soon lost in a fit of giggles, for Twilight was taking her revenge for being tackled by playfully tickling Nyx.

It was the kind of fun both of them had been missing. Twilight knew Nyx would grow up eventually, that someday she would once again become a tall, regal alicorn with enough power to move the sun and moon. But for the moment, she was just happy to have her daughter back, to be able to enjoy raising and caring for Nyx for longer than just a few months.

After Twilight finished tickling Nyx, she helped her back into bed. Like the many nights before Nyx had been taken away, Twilight carefully tucked her in and kissed her on the forehead.

“Welcome home, Nyx,” Twilight spoke sweetly, sneaking another kiss on Nyx’s cheek before she crawled into her own bed and extinguished the lights. As her eyes adjusted to the now dark room, Nyx yawned and snuggled into the covers of her bed. It was strange to be a filly again, for her mind to be like it had been before.

In the dark of the room, her eyes were once again playing tricks on her. Nyx noticed strange shadows around the room that caused a twisting sense of fear to build in her chest. She felt defenseless again. Without all the power she’d had as a grown-up, the world was once again a threatening place.

It was a lot easier to be brave and courageous when one possesses enough magical power to fry almost anything with lightning.

Despite the fact that the world was a scarier place than when she was an adult, Nyx still found a reason to smile. She turned her gaze over to Twilight, who was lying in her own bed. She had a mother that loved her more than anything, one that she knew would never abandon her. It didn’t matter anymore that she was Nightmare Moon. That didn’t mean she had to be a monster or a bad pony. She didn’t have to be a tyrant or a queen. She could be a normal filly just like her friends and just be herself.

She could just be Nyx.

Yet, as Nyx watched Twilight, a thought crossed her mind. It was a silly thought, a stupid thought, but one that made her anxious all the same. It was a thought that came from her younger mind, and it made Nyx worry, even though it was a concern that an older mare would be able to disregard.

“Um…Twilight?”

“Yes, Nyx?” Twilight asked as she lifted her head off her pillow.

“Can I ask you something?”

“Of course.”

“I know Princess Luna already gave me her judgment, and I'm glad to be a filly again, but… well… I did do a lot of really bad things. So, I was wondering, and if you say yes I promise I won’t get mad, but… am I grounded?”

A snort of laughter escaped Twilight’s throat before she could stop it. While Nyx wasn’t sure what Twilight found so funny, she regained her composure quickly and said, with an assuring tone, “No, you’re not grounded. You’ve been through a lot, and I think you’ve learned your lesson. Now don’t worry about it anymore and go to sleep.”

Nyx stifled another yawn, laid her head down, and shut her eyes. “Okay, Twilight,” she muttered out as sleep began to overtake her. Going from being a full adult mare back to a filly was a tiring experience and, with her fears sated, Nyx soon drifted off to sleep.

~~~

BURRRRPPP

Twilight’s eyes slid open at the familiar sound of Spike burping up a letter. It was a sound Twilight had longed to hear for the several weeks she was locked in the castle’s dungeons. Sitting up, Twilight yawned before slowly slipping out from her covers and making her way to the staircase.

Both Spike and Peewee had been abruptly woken up by Spike’s belch. By the time Twilight had arrived at the library’s main floor, Spike was already out of his bed and reading the note with Peewee perched on his shoulder.

“Good morning, Spike,” Twilight said as she began crossing the room in the direction of the kitchen.

Spike visibly jumped at the sound of Twilight’s voice and spun on his heels to face her. After he had seen that it was just Twilight, Spike was able to calm himself and say, “Hey Twilight, I thought you were going to stay at the castle last night.”

“I was, but… a couple things happened. Now, what does the letter say?”

“It’s great news! Princess Celestia and Princess Luna are back!”

Twilight paused, glanced at Spike, and said, “Oh, I already knew that.” She then continued walking towards the kitchen.

“Yeah it’s—” Spike began, only to stop and look at Twilight quizzically. “Wait, you know? How do you know?”

“I’ll tell you over breakfast, Spike,” Twilight replied. “Now, would you go upstairs and wake Nyx?”

“Nyx is upstairs!?” Spike exclaimed before he turned to look towards the library staircase.

“Don’t tell me you’re scared of her, Spike.”

“Twilight, she’s an alicorn ten times my size that shoots lightning! She locked you in a dungeon and did a whole bunch of other stuff!” He looked back over his shoulder anxiously. “Can we really trust her?”

“Spike, she’s just our Nyx. The princesses let her go because they think she deserves a second chance. You don’t have to be scared of her,” Twilight assured him.

“I’m not scared,” Spike argued before he lowered his head and looked at his claws. “I was just… really worried about you and what she was going to do to you. I didn’t know where you had gone until I found out you were in her dungeons. And then… then you almost got hanged and… and…”

“Spike,” Twilight said quietly. She rested her neck on him in a close embrace, and he returned the hug warmly, wrapping his short arms around her neck. “I’m sorry I worried you, but, I promise, you don’t have to be scared anymore. I’m not going anywhere anytime soon.”

Spike nodded and pulled away from Twilight, rubbing his eyes to fight back the few tears that were trying to form. “I guess I should go get Nyx now, huh?”

“Only if you feel up to it, Spike.”

He waved Twilight off, turned, and began walking towards the stairs. “I think I can manage. I just hope she doesn’t wake up on the wrong side of the bed.”

Twilight laughed a little and watched Spike until he disappeared up the stairwell. She then turned and made her way into the library’s kitchen. With her magic, she began drawing out ingredients for a nice, hearty breakfast. It would be Nyx’s first breakfast back at the library, and Twilight wanted to make it a good one. That, and she’d missed dinner the evening before, so she was looking forward to enjoying a big meal.

Opening the cupboards, Twilight levitated out some bowls and basic ingredients. “Let’s see, I feel like pancakes,” Twilight thought out loud to herself as she remembered the recipe and looked over what ingredients were available in the library. “We have flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, milk, vegetable oil, water, vanilla, butter. Good, looks like I have everything I—”

SLAMMM!!!

Twilight almost dropped all the ingredients she had been levitating, but managed to keep a hold of everything… except the bag of flour, which dropped to the floor like a rock. It threw up a huge white cloud upon impact and filled the air with a smoke screen of white powder.

Twilight hacked and coughed as the flour settled, the front of her body covered in white dust, as was much of the kitchen. It was a sizable mess, one that Twilight could only frown at before turning her eyes to the kitchen door where Spike was smiling back sheepishly.

“Oh… uh… sorry Twilight.”

“It’s fine,” she huffed, “though I would like to know why you just burst through the door like that.”

“Twilight, Nyx is a filly again!”

“Yes, I know, Spike,” Twilight replied as she shook her body, trying to throw off the flour that was covering her.

“Wait, you knew that too? When did all this happen?”

“Yesterday evening,” Twilight answered. “Princess Luna was the one that changed her back.”

“But why would the princess—”

Twilight cut Spike off by putting a broom and dustpan into his claws. “I’ll explain while we clean up this mess.”

Spike nodded and, as the pair worked together, Twilight filled Spike in on everything that had happened. There were a couple times she had to back up and repeat herself, but, by the time the kitchen was clean, Spike had a fairly strong grasp on what had transpired.

“So… Nyx is mostly back to the way she was, but she still remembers everything that’s happened? And at the same time, Princess Luna’s now as big and tall like Princess Celestia, because she took back the power Nyx had?”

“Pretty much.”

“Wow… a lot happened yesterday.”

“Yes, it did,” Twilight agreed as she threw the last bit of the spilled flour away. “Now, would you please go upstairs and get Nyx while I start on these pancakes?”

Spike nodded and scampered out of the kitchen while Twilight turned her levitation spell on the ingredients. She began to carefully measure out and pour them into a mixing bowl. Soon, the batter was perfect and Twilight was cooking the first pancake on the stove. Feeling just a little adventurous, Twilight chose to forgo using a spatula and tried to flip the pancake with just her magic.

SQQQQUUUUUEEEEEEE!

The sound of Nyx’s voice made Twilight jump a second time that morning. The half-cooked pancake, which was being lifted by Twilight’s magic, soared skyward, flipping and turning in the air before it came back down. With a thick splat, the uncooked side landed on Twilight’s head, splattering white batter across her face while she furrowed her eyebrows in annoyance.

“Twilight, Twilight!” Spike chanted as he and Nyx came running through the kitchen door, only for both to come to a stop dead in their tracks.

“Whoa, Twilight, you trying to cook that pancake on your head?” Spike joked, which only drew a frown and an annoyed glare from her.

“No, I’m not,” Twilight grumbled as she levitated the pancake off her head and grabbed a wet rag from the sink to clean herself. “Now, why did I hear a scream?”

“Nyx has her cutie mark!”

Twilight’s annoyance disappeared, and she lowered the washrag from her face. “She does!?”

“Yeah!” Nyx chirped back, turning to the side. “See?”

Twilight leaned forward a little and focused her eyes on Nyx’s side. Her cutie mark was a single, simple image: a night-blue kite shield which tapered off to a single point at the bottom and crested to a single point on top. The blue color was steely, with a slightly lighter-toned metallic highlight that, if Twilight wasn’t mistaken, almost looked like a narrow crescent moon.

“Isn’t it amazing?” Nyx asked.

“Yes, it is,” Twilight answered. “Did you just get it?”

“No, and that’s the thing we couldn’t figure out,” Spike explained. “I saw it when Nyx climbed out of bed, and I’ve never heard of a pony getting a cutie mark while they were asleep… well, unless their special talent is sleeping. Anyways, that means she had to get it before she went to sleep last night, but she doesn’t remember seeing it before she woke up.”

“We were wondering if you know when it showed up and if you know what it means,” Nyx added.

“I’m sorry, but I don’t. Maybe Princess Celestia knows.”

“Why would the princess know?” Spike asked.

“She stayed with me and Nyx most of yesterday, so maybe she saw something. Spike?”

The baby dragon smiled, slipped out the kitchen, and appeared a few moments later with quill and paper in his claws. “Ready.”

“Dear Princess Celestia, I hope you are having an easy time settling back into Canterlot,” Twilight began as Spike wrote. “I know you must be busy, but we discovered this morning that Nyx has her cutie mark. We do not, however, know when it appeared. I was wondering if you, by chance, noticed anything yesterday, since we know that Nyx did not have her cutie mark before the attack. Your Faithful Student, Twilight Sparkle.”

“Twilight… Sparkle,” Spike echoed as he finished the letter. Then, in a flash of emerald fire, the letter was sent to Canterlot by Spike’s magical dragon fire.

With the scroll gone and a little encouragement from Nyx and Spike, Twilight began a third attempt at making breakfast. As Twilight cooked, Spike and Nyx tried to guess what Nyx’s cutie mark meant. It was a conversation Twilight joined once she had three plates stacked high with light, fluffy pancakes.

“You really think that’s what it means?”

“Oh yeah, that has to be what it means,” Spike assured as Twilight placed a plate in front of him. “Twilight will back me up.”

“Back you up on what?” Twilight asked as she set down Nyx’s plate.

“I think Nyx’s cutie mark means her special talent is being tough.”

“Really?” Twilight said, making no effort to hide the skepticism in her voice.

“Well, think about all the stuff she did when she was Nigh—, I mean… when she was big. She fought back a bunch of monsters and beat Celestia. A pony has to be tough to do all that, and shields are tough.”

“But Applejack, Pinkie Pie, and Fluttershy helped me fight all those monsters, and Celestia wasn’t really trying to beat me when we fought,” Nyx pointed out as Twilight sat down at the table with her own plate of food.

“But you still beat her,” Spike argued.

“I’m sorry, Spike, but, if you’re right, then wouldn’t Nyx’s cutie mark have appeared after she defeated Princess Celestia?” Twilight asked as she watched Spike drown his pancakes in maple syrup.

“Well, I guess you’re—” Spike began, only for his cheeks to puff out. A moment later he belched out a cloud of smoke, which swirled and materialized into a scroll. The letter dropped out of the air a moment later, and Twilight had to use a quick bit of magic to keep it from landing on top of Spike’s syrup-drenched pancakes.

“So, does Princess Celestia know?” Nyx asked, the letter completely distracting her from breakfast.

Twilight laughed and waved a hoof in Nyx’s direction as she unrolled the scroll. “Just a second, let me read.”

To My Faithful Student,

Things are busy around the palace, mostly because everypony wants to celebrate that Luna and I have returned. Still, it is good to be home and we are settling back in.

As to your question, I do believe I know when Nyx gained her cutie mark. It was yesterday, when she was surrendering herself to me and Luna. It was just after she finished speaking that I noticed a flash of light coming from her side. I was unable to see the mark at the time, due to Nyx’s bandages, but I do believe that was when Nyx’s cutie mark appeared.

Hopefully you find that helpful, and I offer my congratulations to Nyx.

Sincerely,
Princess Celestia of Equestria

P.S. Luna offers her congratulations as well.

Twilight’s mind slipped back to remember that moment in time. She had wanted her to stop, but Nyx had surrendered herself to Celestia and Luna all the same. It was then, at the end, that Nyx had spoken what could have easily turned out to be her final words.

“I can be bruised, battered and beaten but, as long as there is still breath in my lungs, I will continue to protect ponies. I will protect them, because what can kill them I can survive, because what hurts them is but a scratch for me, because it’s the one thing I’ve been able to do right.”

“So, what did Princess Celestia say?” Spike asked through a mouthful of food.

“She remembered seeing a flash of light, and she thinks that’s when Nyx got her cutie mark. If she’s right, then I think I know what your special talent is.”

“What is it?” Nyx asked anxiously.

“I think your special talent is protecting other ponies.”

“Protecting other ponies?” Nyx echoed quizzically.

“Yes, like how you protected Ponyville from the monster attack. Like how you were willing to surrender yourself not only to make up for what you had done, but also for the things done by the Children of Nightmare. Like a shield,” Twilight continued, pointing at Nyx’s cutie mark, “you are willing to put yourself in danger to protect other ponies, no matter who they are.”

Nyx glanced down at her cutie mark and then turned to look at her pancakes. She stared at them while the thought of her special talent rolled around in her head. Nyx then looked back at Twilight, obviously a little worried. “Um… Twilight? If my talent is protecting other ponies, does that mean I have to fight monsters now?”

Twilight chuckled before shaking her head.

“No, you don’t have to worry about fighting monsters right now. You’re just a filly, and Luna took away most of your magic. Even if you did have all your powers, I still wouldn’t let you fight anything from the Everfree Forest.”

“Why?”

“Because I don’t want to even think about you fighting anything until you’re at least my age. But don’t get me wrong, I still think it’s a wonderful cutie mark.”

A smile spread across Nyx’s lips. Despite wanting to jump out of her seat from having both a cutie mark and Twilight’s approval, she managed to keep herself contained to her chair. She, however, quickly began expressing her joy through other means. Each forkful of breakfast was consumed with a huge smile, and even her chewing seemed happy.

“That is a nice special talent,” Spike commented after taking a drink of water to wash down a bite of pancake, “but I think that makes me kind of right.”

“Right about what?” Twilight asked.

“Well, Nyx’s special talent. I mean, to be good at protecting ponies she has to be pretty tough.”

Twilight laughed a little, about to take her first bite. “Well, I think it takes a little more than just being tough, but—”

KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK

Twilight sighed, wondering if she would ever get to eat breakfast that morning through all the interruptions. Twilight had every intention of ignoring the pony at the door, but a second set of knocks forced her to set her fork down and step away from the table. She walked to the front door, and, upon reaching it, Twilight opened it to reveal a pink earth pony with bright blue eyes.

“Hey Pinkie Pie.”

“Twilight, what are you doing inside?” Pinkie Pie asked with her usual level of energy.

“Trying to eat breakfast,” Twilight answered before cocking an eyebrow. “Why?”

“You silly filly, if you want to eat breakfast you should come to the party!”

Twilight cocked her head in confusion, but Pinkie Pie just responded by pointing down the street with her hoof. Twilight followed Pinkie’s point and stuck her head out of the library door to see that, a few blocks away, the streets of Ponyville had been transformed. Every lamppost, store front… basically anything that could be decorated had been decorated with banners and flags that featured suns and moons. Ponies were outside, laughing and dancing in the streets, and Twilight could even hear music in the air, though it sounded like it was coming from several blocks away.

“What’s all that about?”

“It’s my ‘The Princesses are back’ party!” Pinkie Pie answered with a bounce. “A pegasus came from Canterlot this morning and told the mayor that Celestia and Luna were back, and then she told Ditzy Doo, and Ditzy Doo told Carrot Top, and then Carrot Top told Mr. Cake, and then Mr. Cake told Mrs. Cake. Then Mrs. Cake told me. Now, since everypony knows the princesses are back and I don’t have to keep it a secret, I threw together the biggest, most exciting block party ever!”

“Wait, so you threw a party together already?”

“Of course!” Pinkie Pie replied. “I mean, I put together a party just as big for when we saved Princess Luna, and I barely had any time then! This time I actually had ponies to put up decorations, and I’ve got punch made, and I have five cakes baking!”

“Wait, how do you have five cakes baking? There’s only one oven at Sugarcube Corner.”

“That’s easy, silly! I just used other ponies’ ovens.”

“I guess that would make sense,” Twilight replied, though she was honestly expecting a much stranger answer.

“So,” Pinkie Pie began as she leaned in to Twilight, “are you going to come to the party?”

“Actually, I may not, Pinkie Pie.”

“Awwww, why not? I mean, it's going to be so terrific and I’d think you, more than anypony, would be happy that the princesses are back!”

“I am happy, but I wouldn’t want to make Nyx stay here at the library by herself, and it’s probably not a party she would like to go to. While it is a party for Princess Celestia and Princess Luna, there have to be some ponies out there celebrating the fact that they think Nyx is gone.”

“Oh, everypony already knows about Nyx.”

Twilight’s eyes widened and her mouth hung open slightly. “They… do?”

“Yeah. The message the princesses sent out said that Nyx let them go, that they punished Nyx by taking away her powers, and that they had put her in the care of a pony that would make sure she wouldn't be a threat to Equestria ever again, a pony Princess Celestia trusts completely.

“And,” Pinkie Pie continued, “Princess Celestia doesn’t trust anypony more than you, so I knew Nyx was staying with you. That, and a couple of ponies saw you leaving the castle last night with a little black filly. Still, Princess Celestia’s punishment sounds so silly. Anypony that knows you and Nyx would know that the idea of her living with you isn’t a real punishment!”

Twilight found herself smiling as she silently thanked the princesses. They had told Equestria the full truth about Nyx, but had done it in such a way that most of Equestria would believe Nyx was actually being punished. To the common pony, it sounded like she was being carefully guarded and that her powers had been taken away by force.

Yet the residents of Ponyville, who knew Nyx better, could see the full truth. Most would be angry that she got off so easily, but some would be happy to know she was back with the unicorn that cared about her. It was probably a foal's hope, believing all of Equestria wouldn’t find out the full truth sooner or later, but Twilight was thankful for what the princesses had done all the same.

“It does sound like a lot of fun, Pinkie Pie, but I think Spike, Nyx, and I should just spend today together.”

Pinkie Pie smiled knowingly. “Okay, Twilight, I hope you three have fun! Oh, and, if you change your mind, you’re welcome to stop by the party and get some cake.”

“I’ll keep that in mind,” Twilight replied. She was about to slip back inside the library when a thought struck her. “Hey, Pinkie Pie?”

“Yeah?”

“Do the Cakes have any parties planned in Sugarcube Corner over the next few days?”

“Not that I can think of. Why?”

~~~

“Spike… Twilight!?” Nyx called out, slowly descending the stairs of the library’s main floor.

It had been a few days since the princesses’ return, a few days of fun for Nyx as she got back into a normal routine with Twilight, Spike, Peewee, and Owloysius. It hadn’t all been peaceful; a few ponies had come to the library to argue with Twilight that Nyx needed to be locked up or even taken away. Twilight, however, proceeded to chew out and slam the library door in those ponies’ faces, and afterward she always reassured Nyx that she didn’t deserve any of the punishments they were demanding.

It had been okay until three ponies came at once with every intention to take Nyx by force and lock her up until they could convince Celestia she needed to be banished. It had been a tense evening, but with her magic and Spike’s help, Twilight chased those three ponies off. Then, to make Nyx feel better, Twilight broke her usual rule and read two stories before bed.

Nyx had been so excited that she made herself stay up for both stories, which resulted in her sleeping in. It was almost ten in the morning and, while Nyx wasn’t surprised to see Twilight and Spike weren’t in bed, she was surprised to find they weren’t in the kitchen or the library’s main room.

“W-where is everypony?” Nyx asked herself after checking most of the library. For a brief moment, a flicker of fear sparked inside Nyx as her more youthful mind betrayed her. She couldn't stop herself from wondering if she had been abandoned again, but she dispelled the thought with a firm shake of her head.

She knew Twilight wouldn’t just leave her like that. Not now, not ever.

That still left Nyx wondering where everypony was, and she began to search the library. It was when she was in the library’s basement that the rapping of a hoof on wood reached her ears.

Somepony was knocking on the front door, and, for a moment, Nyx wasn’t sure whether or not she should answer. The ponies at the door could have easily been some of the ponies from town that wanted to take her away. On the other hoof, Nyx realized that the pony at the door could be Twilight or one of her friends. So, she decided to at least see who it was.

Nyx galloped to the door and reached out her magic to open it. She, however, couldn’t help but fumble with the handle for a few moments. Her magic was much weaker, and she was still getting used to it. It was even weaker than it had been when Twilight first found her for some reason. Still, with some effort, Nyx got the door unlatched and pulled it open with a hoof.

“There you are!”

Nyx jumped back, and a small “eep!” escaped her throat as she retreated into the library. The party pony of Ponyville, Pinkie Pie, had been standing right on the library doorstep, catching Nyx off guard. Yet, even after startling her, Pinkie Pie quickly zipped inside and got right up beside Nyx, giving her a playful noogie.

“I was so worried you were going to go and sleep through the party, but Twilight said I couldn’t wake you up until it was eleven. I thought that was kind of sad, since you’ve missed so much fun already, but then I heard somepony moving around. So, I guessed you were awake, decided to try knocking on the door, and I was right! Now you can come to the party earlier and have so much fun! I bet if we really try really hard, we can make up for the hour you were being a sleepy McSleeperhead!”

“Pinkie Pie, stop it!” Nyx half-giggled, half-whined. She escaped Pinkie’s relentless, but playful, noogie, and stumbled back a few steps from her. “What’s going on? What party?”

“Oh, my ‘Thanks-For-Saving-Ponyville-From-A-Bunch-Of-Scary-Monsters-party. Hey, can you guess who the guest of honor is?”

“Twilight?”

“Nooooo~.” Pinkie Pie replied with a sing-song voice.

“Rainbow Dash?”

Pinkie Pie giggled. “No!”

“Applejack?”

“Not even close.”

“… Fluttershy?”

“Wow, you really need to practice at guessing games. It’s you, you silly filly!”

“Me?”

“Well duh. Yeah, Applejack and Rainbow Dash and Twilight and Fluttershy all helped, but you were the mare that really saved the day. You went and broke yourself into all those clones, and then you flew around helping ponies like an army of super heroes! You brought lightning down with big KA-CRACKS, and you bucked with some KA-POWS, and threw some of the monsters back into the forest with a NEEERRR-THOOOOM!!! It was so totally amazing!”

A smile slipped onto Nyx’s face. “You really think so?”

“Yep! Now come on, everypony we know is over at Sugarcube Corner, and they’re going to be so excited to see you! Well, it’s actually more everypony you know. I know everypony in Ponyville, and Sugarcube Corner is too small to really fit them all. That, and a lot of ponies I know are being mean-meanie heads. Some actually heard about the party and came to tell me I shouldn’t be throwing it. They said that you didn’t deserve a party. How mean is that?

“Anyways,” Pinkie Pie continued, “all of my friends and all of your friends are there, and there are some other ponies too.

“Now, come on!” Pinkie Pie chirped. Before Nyx could react, Pinkie Pie had slipped a hoof under her belly. All it took after that was a single, swift, upward motion from Pinkie’s hoof, and Nyx found she had been popped into the air. She yelped, waved her limbs, and fluttered her wings as she toppled through the air. Nyx landed on Pinkie Pie’s back, and, before she could get her bearings, Pinkie reared energetically.

A moment later, Pinkie was charging through the streets of Ponyville while Nyx held on for dear life.

~~~

“WE’RE HERE~!!!” Pinkie Pie sang as she burst through the doors to Sugarcube Corner, startling a number of ponies around the room with her sudden arrival. After barely dodging a few ponies unfortunate enough to be in her path, Pinkie Pie skidded to a stop in the center of the room, a slightly shell-shocked Nyx holding tightly to her back.

When Nyx dared to open her eyes, her vision was met with a Sugarcube Corner decked out in party decorations, complete with streamers, banners, and balloons. Nyx could even see a cake, which had been decorated with a simple but recognizable rendition of a grown-up version of herself standing over a defeated Lupus Major, which had X’s over its eyes and its tongue sticking out comically.

Most importantly, Nyx saw the friendly, smiling faces of ponies, something she had sorely missed during her time spent as Nightmare Moon. There weren’t a whole lot of them. The room was maybe halfway full, but there were still more than Nyx expected. Twilight and her friends, Cheerilee, Sweetie Belle’s parents, Scootaloo’s parents, and a few other mares and stallions from the community were in attendance. There were even a few faces Nyx didn’t recognize, but even those ponies seemed happy to see her.

It wasn’t just the adult ponies though. Before Nyx could really recover from being whisked through Ponyville by Pinkie Pie, she found herself at the bottom of a pony-pile. Apple Bloom, Scootaloo, Sweetie Belle, and Twist had jumped up, clearing Pinkie Pie’s back and tackling their friend in a fit of laughter and giggles.

“Guess Twilight was tellin’ the truth! You are back to normal!” Apple Bloom cheered as she pulled herself out of the pile of equines, the others quickly getting back to their hooves as well.

“Must be weird not being all grown up anymore,” Scootaloo noted, “but it’s good to have ya back, Nyx.”

“Th-thank you. It’s really good to be back. I missed you all so much,” Nyx said with a smile, though it was a grin that quickly withered into a frown as she hung her head. “Listen, I’m so sorry that I locked you in the dungeons. I really didn’t want to, but Spell Nexus convinced me that—”

“We know,” Apple Bloom reassured while she placed a hoof on Nyx’s shoulders. “It was scary, but Twilight told us why you had to lock us up.”

“I’m still really sorry, girls. I promise, I didn’t want to do it.”

Sweetie Belle was the next to come up beside Nyx, and she was wearing a comforting smile. “It’s okay, we’ve all forgiven you.”

“Yeah, it’s totally— HEEEEYYYYY!” Scootaloo zipped over to Nyx’s side and pointed a hoof to her hips. “Since when did you have that?”

“Have what?” Twist asked, tilting her head quizzically to the right side.

“Nyx has her cutie mark!” Apple Bloom chirped with a bounce before she, Twist, and Sweetie Belle moved over beside Scootaloo to inspect the new mark. “What is it, a shovel?”

“No, it doesn’t have a handle. I say it’s an arrow head,” Sweetie Belle argued.

“It’s not shaped right to be an arrow head. Uh, maybe it’s a… uh…” Scootaloo began, only to be cut off.

“It’s a shield,” Nyx said with a proud smile, despite the quizzical looks from her friends.

“A shield? What kind of special talent do you have that gives you a shield for a cutie mark?”

“Twilight says my special talent is protecting other ponies, even when I have to put myself in harm’s way, like how I protected Ponyville during the attack.”

Scootaloo nodded her head. “That’s pretty cool. It’s not as cool as Rainbow Dash’s cutie mark, but still cool.”

“But… I can still be a Crusader, right?” Nyx asked.

“Of course!” Sweetie Belle chirped. “After you made Twist a Cutie Mark Crusader, we’ve started a new membership policy. Ponies who already have cutie marks are allowed to be members as long as they help members who don’t have cutie marks discover their special talents. Though, you’ll have to work pretty hard to keep up with Twist. She’s been helping us out a whole bunch.”

“Aw, I just bring snacks,” Twist admitted while rubbing the back of her neck.

“But the snacks you bring are great, and you also help us find more things to try out for our special talents,” Apple Bloom pointed out.

“Hey,” Scootaloo began, “maybe one of our cutie marks are like Nyx’s! Maybe we should try defending other ponies.”

“But, what can we defend ponies against?” Sweetie Belle asked.

Nyx felt a bit of unease rising up in her chest. She did not want to let her friends go running into the Everfree Forest to try and defeat one of the monsters she had chased away. It was then, however, she noticed a hydra-shaped piñata hanging off a hook in the ceiling.

A sly smile formed on her face, and she pointed in the direction of the piñata. “You know, that big hydra looks pretty mean and scary. We wouldn’t want it hurting any ponies here at the party…”

“Yeah, it is pretty big and nasty,” Scootaloo agreed, rubbing her chin. The other four fillies soon caught onto Nyx’s idea and, with large smiles, the five friends shouted out in unison, scaring half the ponies at the party.

“CUTIE MARK CRUSADERS PIÑATA MONSTER SLAYERS!!! YAY!!!”

The Crusaders, now numbering five energetic fillies, quickly ran off to find a blindfold and stick so that they could crack open the piñata… or, rather, defend the innocent party goers from the paper-mache monster that just happened to be filled with candy.

~~~

“No cutie marks, but this candy is great,” Apple Bloom said as the Crusaders sat at a table. Nearby, the broken remains of the piñata lay scattered across the floor. Scootaloo had been the one to bring down the brightly colored paper-mache hydra, which had been such a threat to the party and all the ponies in attendance. It was a glorious explosion of candy, and the few other fillies and colts that were at the party cheered and scrambled to get their share of the bounty when the beast had been slain.

“So, Nyx,” Sweetie Belle began after she swallowed a piece of chocolate, “what was it like to be queen?”

Nyx stuck her tongue out at the sour memories. “I honestly didn’t like it that much.”

“Really? I mean, wasn’t it cool to live in that big castle and have all them servants workin’ for ya?” Apple Bloom asked. “I bet the food was good too, like those desserts we ate.”

“Sometimes, but the castle cook always made my food too fancy. I’d ask for a sandwich and the chef always turned it into an art project.”

“But those pastries he made were really good!” Scootaloo exclaimed, “They were good even after Sweetie Belle sat on one.”

“I still can’t believe you ate that,” Sweetie Belle commented.

“What? It was still good, just a little squished,” Scootaloo defended before popping another small candy in her mouth. Sweetie Belle wasn’t ready to drop the issue so quickly, and, within moments, she and Scootaloo had gotten into a discussion about when it was and wasn’t okay to eat a dessert. Apple Bloom, Twist, and Nyx weighed in from time to time, but the trio mostly just sat back and grimaced as Scootaloo openly admitted that she would eat a pastry even if it was dropped in the mud, at least after brushing most of the mud off first.

It was during this conversation that Nyx noticed a glint out of the corner of her eye and looked to her side. A familiar pair of fillies was coming in the front door of Sugarcube Corner, the shimmer of light coming from the tiara that one of the fillies was wearing.

“Isn’t that right, Nyx?”

Nyx shook her head and looked back at her friends. “What? Sorry, I wasn’t listening.”

“I was asking if it was cool to have a mane like Princess Celestia’s,” Sweetie Belle repeated.

“I thought we were talking about what Scootaloo is willing to eat.”

“We were, but then Apple Bloom said something about the mane and tail you had when you were all grown up, and we started talking about that. Weren’t you listening at all?” Twist asked before taking a bite of taffy.

“Sorry, I got distracted, but, yes, I guess it was pretty cool.”

“I wish I had a mane like that,” Sweetie Belle admitted. “It was so pretty.”

“Pretty nothin’!” Apple Bloom argued. “I just wish I could get my mane to do things. I could get to the cookie jar Big Mac hides on the top shelf if I had a mane like Nyx did.”

As her friends shifted into a conversation about the benefits of having a magical mane, Nyx excused herself a moment. After trotting around the party for a while, Nyx found Twilight talking with the mailmare, Ditzy Doo, near the punch bowl.

“Are you sure it’s okay?”

“I don’t mind at all,” Twilight assured. “I’d be happy to help Dinky with her magic.”

“Thank you, Twilight. My little muffin has just been so excited about magic since she played you in that spring play. Sparkler’s been trying to help her learn but she’s just had her heart set on learning from you. I know she’ll be so excited to hear you’re willing to teach her.”

“Um, Twilight?” Nyx quietly interrupted, seeing a small break in the conversation.

“Oh, hey Nyx, are you having fun?”

“I am, but—” Nyx paused and glanced over her shoulder to look at two fillies who were standing in the corner, who weren’t playing or talking with anypony else at the party. “Why are Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon here?”

“I know you don’t like them, Nyx, but I asked them to come.”

“Why would you want them here?”

“Do you remember what you did to them when you first became an adult?” Twilight asked, her tone becoming more parental and stern.

Nyx flattened her ears against her head, remembering how she had singled out the pair of fillies and practically blamed them for her completed resurrection. “Yes… I remember.”

“Don’t you think they deserve an apology?”

Nyx frowned and glanced a second time at the pair of fillies that had been the bane of her existence when she was in school. “I guess, but what if they don’t want to accept my apology?”

“Then that’s their loss,” Twilight answered before she gave Nyx a gentle nudge with her hoof. “Now, go on.”

Nyx pouted, but she started to walk across the room all the same. She was not looking forward to the conversation at all. She couldn’t foresee the apology turning out very well. Still, Twilight was right; she needed to apologize to everypony for what she did, and that included Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon.

“Oh look, Silver Spoon, it's Equestria’s ‘glorious’ queen,” Diamond Tiara mocked as the pair noticed Nyx walking up to them, her words dripping with sarcasm. “What do you want, Your Majesty? Oh, wait, let me guess. You want to humiliate us in front of everypony in town, again. Or maybe you want to take my dad away, again.”

“I… I…” Nyx fumbled under Diamond Tiara’s accusing gaze. Once again, Nyx had to deal with her younger mind. When she was Nightmare Moon, she wouldn’t have taken that kind of lashing, but as a filly…

Well, as a filly she didn’t want to take it either. She felt guilty, Diamond Tiara’s words were scalding, and she couldn’t deny that part of her wanted to break down. Still, that didn’t mean she had to. She was a filly again, but that didn’t mean she had to wilt and wither like she used to. She would be brave and face Diamond Tiara. After all, if she could face a bunch of big monsters, then she could handle a couple of bullies.

“I wanted to say I’m sorry.”

Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon glanced at each other. The two obviously had not been expecting that to be the reason why Nyx had come over to talk to them. Still, Diamond Tiara’s mouth quickly bent down into a frown. “Sorry? Sorry!? Like, who do you take us for? We’re not stupid! You hate us almost as much as we hate you, so why would you be sorry?”

“Because what I did wasn’t right, and… and it doesn’t matter if I like you or not. You still deserve an apology.”

“Well, thank you sooo much. That makes things, like, sooo much better.”

Nyx felt herself bristle. “I was just trying to be nice. Why did you two even come anyway?”

“We just wanted to see how lame this party was going to be and get some free cake. Now, why don’t you go and be nice with your blank flank friends?” Diamond Tiara dismissed, waving Nyx off with a hoof. “We don’t need your sympathy, Nightmare Moon.”

Nyx furrowed her eyebrows and tried to fight the urge to flip Diamond Tiara upside down with her magic. It was a part of her old personality, her Nightmare Moon side, that remained despite her return to fillyhood. It was the same temper that made her lash out at her guards and servants when they disobeyed or questioned her. It was the same temper that made her want to strangle Spell Nexus’s scrawny neck for almost killing Twilight.

It was a temper that now remained with Nyx, but one she managed to wrangle before she did something she’d regret. She had given her apology, and, if those two wanted to be snooty and mean, then that was their business. Turning on her hooves, Nyx began walking away, doing her best to remain calm. She wanted to deny the bullies the pleasure of knowing they had gotten under her skin, yet she couldn’t keep herself from stomping a little and fluttering her wings.

Nyx was so wrapped up in being angry at Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon that she almost walked right past Twilight. Twilight, however, stepped on Nyx’s tail before she could and asked firmly, “Did you apologize?”

“Yes,” Nyx replied with a mixture of a grumble and whine, “but they didn’t accept it.”

“That’s fine,” Twilight said before she released Nyx’s tail and let her turn around. “What matters is that you did the right thing. Now, why don’t we go cut the cake?”

Nyx smiled as her anger over Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon subsided. She didn’t need them to like her; she had Twilight and her friends. She knew that was all she needed.

That, and the cake looked delicious.

~~~

“Well, sister, it seems that most of Canterlot is taking your transformation well,” Celestia commented as she and Luna strode through the royal castle, having a short respite between meetings and announcements. It had been very hectic for the Royal Sisters, trying to balance the work that needed to be done with the number of public appearances they had to make.

“They take it as a sign of Nightmare Moon’s defeat, that I ‘conquered’ the great monster and reclaimed my power. It may not be the proper truth, but I see no point in correcting them.”

“An honorable motive, sister, but I fear that the ‘proper truth’ will come out in time. Some ponies from Ponyville have already sent letters to me about the fact that Twilight isn’t punishing Nyx as they think she should. Shining Armor has been surprisingly vocal, and a letter from one Filthy Rich complained about the fact that his daughter, Diamond Tiara, was invited to a party for Nyx.”

“A party?” Luna echoed quizzically.

“From the invitation I personally received, it was a ‘Thanks-For-Saving-Ponyville-From-A Bunch-Of-Scary-Monsters’ party, thrown by the bearer of the Element of Laughter, Pinkie Pie. If memory serves me right, the party is going on right now.”

A small chuckle escaped Luna’s lips as she thought back to her own encounters with Pinkie Pie. “She does throw very grand parties. I hope Nyx enjoys it.”

“Speaking of Nyx, I must admit I was curious about something. I feel you made the best decision for Nyx and Twilight, taking back your power and memories, but—”

“You want to know how I did it?” Luna interrupted.

Princess Celestia nodded her head. “Yes, it isn’t a spell I’m familiar with.”

The smile slid from Luna’s face, and she choose to focus on the corridor ahead. “It was a spell created out of dark jealousy and ill-intentions. My plans to try and keep the moon in the sky began before I properly became Nightmare Moon. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to resist you and the sun for long, considering back then you were my elder and superior in terms of age and power.

“So I studied and developed a spell that allowed me to steal magic. Flowers, trees… ponies… I stole not only their magical power, but, if I came across a pony with a unique knowledge of magic, I would steal that as well.

“I used the spell to build up my power,” Luna admitted with hints of disgrace within her words. “When I had enough knowledge and magic gathered, I used it to transform into Nightmare Moon. I infused myself with the power and became a mare that could easily stand against the pony you were a thousand years ago. It… it is a horrible and dark art.”

Celestia shifted, gently nudging up against Luna as the pair continued to walk down the hall. “Do not worry yourself, sister. All that is in the past, and you found a way to take that spell and put it to good use.”

“I’m glad you agree. I didn’t want Nyx to have to live with the mistakes I made. I wanted to take it all back from her, and that desire made me think of that spell for the first time in centuries. I had almost forgotten it completely. It hadn’t crossed my mind since I became Nightmare Moon. Perhaps that is why Nyx does not know of the spell. It is a small miracle that she only knows the things I thought about when she and I were one and the same.

“Still, once I did remember the spell, I knew that was the best thing I could do for her.”

“It was the best outcome we could have hoped for, I believe,” Celestia agreed. “Many in Equestria may still fear and despise Nyx for what she did, but, as long there are those who see the good in her, I’m sure she will be able to find her way.”

“That, and you didn’t mention to Twilight you’ve put a couple royal guards undercover in Ponyville to make sure Nyx doesn’t get attacked by an angry mob,” Luna added knowingly.

“Just a precaution, nothing more.”

“Don’t worry, sister. Your secret is safe with me,” Luna assured her as the pair reached their destination. It was the castle dining hall, which was already filled to the brim with ponies. The occasion was another celebratory meal, hosted this time by the elite of Manehattan, who were more than eager to welcome back the Royal Sisters.

Celestia and Luna took their seats at the head of the table. The Mayor of Manehattan, along with a few of the city’s biggest businessponies, had the privilege of sitting right next to the Royal Sisters, and, after the princesses offered some welcoming words, lunch was served.

The businessponies around Celestia and Luna were soon lost in a discussion about the economic impact of Nightmare Moon’s short-lived reign. It was a conversation the princesses only half-listened to, Luna eagerly digging into her food after the long morning while Celestia picked and nibbled at her meal.

“What’s wrong, sister? Aren’t you hungry?” Luna whispered quietly before putting a forkful of food into her mouth.

“I am starving, but I already ate too much at breakfast,” Celestia whispered back, not wanting to draw the attention of the nearby ponies. “After what we've already eaten today, I honestly shouldn’t be eating anything more than a green salad. Otherwise I’ll have to skip dinner.”

Luna laughed to herself. “I still say you worry too much about your weight, Celestia.”

“You may be able to eat whatever you want, but, as you may recall, I’ve always had to be a little more conscious of my figure,” Celestia snipped before she glanced to her side. A servant had come up beside her. He whispered something into her ear and then retreated as quickly as he had approached.

“What’s wrong?” Luna asked, pausing with a fork in front of her mouth.

“It’s Spell Nexus,” Celestia whispered. “He’s broken into the castle dungeons.”

“Broken in?

“He’s distraught because of the role he played in Nightmare Moon’s resurrection, even though it is my understanding that he and all the other Children of Nightmare were being influenced by parasitic magic.”

“So he broke into the dungeon to reprimand himself?”

Celestia nodded, taking up her napkin and gently cleaning her mouth. “Yes. Spell Nexus has always been a little over-dramatic. You should have seen him this one time when he was still my student. He accidentally broke a vase in the castle and was sure I needed to banish him from the kingdom. He can be such a drama queen at times.”

“Don’t you mean ‘king’?”

“No, queen,” Celestia corrected with a small grin. “Don’t tell anypony else, but he has a very high-pitched scream.”

Luna chuckled a little at the thought. “I’ll take your word for it, sister. Still, what are you going to do?”

“I am going to leave you to entertain our guests while I go convince Spell Nexus he does not need to imprison himself in the dungeon,” Celestia answered as she stood from her seat. “That, and, if I know him as well as I do, I’ll also need to convince him that he doesn’t have to resign from his position as headmaster of my school.”

“Do you want me to save you a piece of dessert? It’s supposed to be cloud cake, your favorite.”

Celestia winced, coming to a stop just a few steps away from her seat. After a few tense moments, she cast a glance back at Luna. “Save me one small piece… a small piece, Luna.”

Luna nodded, watching as Celestia left before returning to her meal. Then, when a servant drew close, Luna waved the mare over, leaned in, and whispered quietly as she smiled devilishly.

“Please be sure to save my sister a large, corner piece of cloud cake with as much frosting as possible. Actually, why don’t you just set aside one of the cakes for her, and make sure it’s delivered to the bed chamber this evening.”

“Of course, Your Majesty,” the servant replied, quickly scuttling away while Luna placed a forkful of food in her mouth, imagining just how Celestia would react when she found a whole cloud cake in her bedroom. She couldn’t help but wonder if her sister would be able to resist eating it.

~~~

Twilight had a weary smile on her face as she walked back to the library. Spike and Nyx were passed out on her back, the all-day party having utterly worn them out. Beside Twilight strode Rarity, who was carrying a dozing Sweetie Belle on her back.

“I think that even Pinkie Pie is tired after today,” Rarity said, her own exhaustion apparent in her voice. “I, for the first time ever, saw her walking up to her loft instead of bouncing.”

Twilight laughed and nodded. “Yeah, but it was still a lot of fun.”

“That it was, Twilight, that it was,” Rarity agreed. “Still, there is something I wanted to tell you before I forget.”

“What is it, Rarity?”

“Well, at the beginning of all this, I thought you were crazy taking care of a filly that turned out to actually be Nightmare Moon. And not just because of Nyx, but because of you as well. I know you’ve taken care of Spike, but I always assumed you got help raising him from Celestia.”

“Well, from her and some of the professors at the school.”

“Exactly. I was worried about what Nyx really was and for your safety, but I was also worried that you didn’t realize what you were getting yourself into. Taking care of a filly is a lot of responsibility, and Spike is really more of an assistant since he’s capable of taking care of himself.

“I wanted to say that I’ve never been happier to be proven wrong. You’ve done an amazing job taking care of Nyx. I mean, you helped Nightmare Moon change. Not many ponies can boast their parenting skills reformed one of the most feared villains in Equestrian history.”

“Thanks, Rarity. That means a lot coming from you.”

“Just don’t let it go to your head,” Rarity warned. “You may have done well so far, but you can’t let your guard down either. Trust me, if you don’t keep an eye on a little filly, she’ll get into trouble faster than you can imagine. I still can't believe Sweetie Belle was able to get into my gold silk to make her crusader capes without me even noticing.”

Twilight giggled a little, having heard more than once about the kind of trouble Sweetie Belle could cause for her sister. “I’ll be sure to keep that in mind.”

“I hope you do,” Rarity remarked as the pair reached an intersection in town. “Unfortunately, it would seem this is where we part ways for now. I need to take Sweetie Belle back to my parent's house. So, I must bid you adieu, Twilight.”

“Night, Rarity,” Twilight replied with a small chuckle. She watched Rarity take a few steps down the other street before she turned and continued on her way. It only took a few more minutes for Twilight to reach The Golden Oaks Library, and, after she tucked both Spike and Nyx into bed, she slipped downstairs. She summoned a scroll and ink jar to her side and began to write by light of the candle on her writing desk.

Dear Princess Celestia,

I just wanted to thank you and Luna again for letting Nyx stay with me. While most of Equestria may not be as welcoming to her, I can assure you that, after today’s events, Nyx has friends among the ponies in Ponyville. Ponies who are willing to see her for who she is, not who she was.

The one thing that I’ve learned from raising Nyx is that if anypony wants to change for the better, they can, especially if they have help from good friends. When I first saw Nyx, I was, just like you, afraid that she was Nightmare Moon. Even after discovering her, at the time, timid personality, I was still afraid of the truth, and I realize now that I was actively denying all evidence that pointed to who she really was just to alleviate my own fears.

And yet, despite all that happened, things didn’t turn out as dark as they could have. From what I’ve heard, even when she was fully resurrected, Nyx didn’t act like Nightmare Moon from the legends or the books. The time she spent with me as my daughter, the time she spent with her friends, had changed her for the better.

And if Nightmare Moon herself can become a better pony, then I think anypony can.

Your Faithful Student,
Twilight Sparkle

=====================================================================

The End

=====================================================================


[/hr]

Pen Stroke and Batty Gloom would like to extend special thanks

to the following people

- For their efforts pre-reading and editing the story -

ActionScripter - Nightsong - Lightsideluc

Kim Fluttershy Dykas - Vimbert - Var/Varanus - Cloudvent/Filler

All others who devoted anytime pre-reading

- For their efforts helping with editing the Season 2 update and getting Past Sins fit to print -

Boris Zhou - Alexstraza - Kevin Heller - Kirk Heller - Trivial - Trinity

Frederik Jacobsen - PoldekPL - Valor_Force - Nekomata - Trivial

Dave - Aengieth - Pencraft - Trillo

- For making the story’s beautiful artwork -

Valcron

- For hosting the story -

Equestria Daily

Fimfiction.net

We would also like to extend a special thanks to everyone who made fan-art, fan-music, and any fan-content for the story. You honor us with your creative talents.

To see Fan-art, check out the

To hear fan-music, check out


[/hr]
From The Desk of Pen Stroke,

I hope everyone enjoyed Past Sins. This story became much larger and more popular than I could have ever hoped or imagined, and it’s been a learning experience having something garnering this much attention. I’ve never rewritten a story, never updated a story to keep it consistent with a show’s canon, but with so many readers I wanted to make sure Past Sins was the best it could be, and I thank you all for being patient as Batty and I have done our best to take your comments and use them to improve the story.

Still, the journey of Nightmare Moon finding her redemption, beyond being zapped by a rainbow, is over… for the moment. Batty and I both realize there are more stories that could be told in this alternate version of Equestria that has taken shape, though like the show itself this long, more dramatic story will likely yield short, one-shot, slice of life kind of stories if he and I decide to continue things.

And to everyone reading the story now, online or in printed form, I just want to say thank you. Thank you for reading, thank you entertaining the crazier notions of this author, and thank you for making Past Sins as well-known as it is.

So, again thanks for reading, and keep your eyes on the horizon. There will be more stories about Nyx fairly soon.

=====================================================================

Questions, Comments, Concerns?

pen.stroke.pony@gmail.com

My Little Pony, Friendship is Magic © Hasbro

I do not own the intellectual properties this fan-fiction is based on.

=====================================================================

Author's Note:

Want more Past Sins?
Check the links below for more stories in the Past Sins continuity.


In The Family Trilogy
A three part mini-series about Nyx, Twilight, and what it means to be part of a larger family.
Trinkets
Nightmare or Nyx
Winter Bells


The Road Home


Comments ( 2194 )

O
MY
FUCKING GOD

Im going to admit it
i cried a little bit

OMG! It's here finally!
Look out feature box, you are about to be destroyed!
I cannot tell you how much I love this fic.. nah, this should be called a epic!
Can't wait for my copy of the hard back to arrive!
Now If you excuse me, time to celebrate
media.tumblr.com/tumblr_luyvdgHcLs1r1cj3m.gif

IT BEGINS

And here comes the horde

The feature box will never be the same...

Kitaaaaaaaaaa

Oooh, you brought it here!

The Feature Box will be broken for a month now. :rainbowlaugh:

Hmm... I've heard of this story before...

Sequel please? :twilightblush:

Dear god........:yay: Also We are going to need a new featured box.....

YES!!!!!!! I'VE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS!!!!!!

Oh, God I have waited for this moment! NOW TO READ AND NOT LEAVE MY ROOM! :rainbowwild::rainbowwild:

YOU STOLE THIS STORY!!!

R.I.P Featured Box :ajsleepy:

Glad to see it finally up here Pen Stroke, sorry I kind of dropped off on helping with it :pinkiesad2:

Well, it'll be good to finally read this one.

This story is one of my favourite fim-fictions and I enjoyed reading it immensely. I'm very pleased to see it here! :twilightsmile:

I love this story!! I listened to it of youtube from Vozdesuenos, and when he hasn't updated, I pretty much read the rest of the way. Bravo my friend, bravo!:rainbowdetermined2::eeyup::ajsmug:

YES! I have been waiting for this!

And there it is, the perfect excuse that I needed to read this again. THANK YOU! Take it, take them! all of my yays!:yay::yay::yay::yay::yay::yay::yay::yay:

I still haven't read this...

IT IS TIME!

OH NOES... All those other stories I have to read are gonna get pushed back in the queue, just so I can reread another. :yay:

Just to be sure... This is the FINISHED version, right? No more being told we need to re-read chapters...

(Also, Everfree 2012 writing panel shoutout! Woo!:pinkiehappy:)

IT BEGINS

Promised myself to reread this when it would be posted here. Looking forward to it...

Huzzah! I was wondering if this ever would make it on this site. Time for a reread!

1181047 Actually, this is the guy who wrote it, Pen Stroke. He just finally decided to bring it here. dl.dropbox.com/u/31471793/FiMFiction/emoticons/misc_Colgate_beam.png

Been meaning to read this ever since I finished Fallout: Equestria. Needed a super epic fanfic to read.
This one I think I can and need to manage. Background Pony's chapters are just too long...

Time to become even more well-read!

oh god, there goes my social life

O my....Past Sins here? Instant Fave!!!:pinkiehappy::pinkiehappy:

I've been waiting for a chance to celebrate something Fanfiction related so here's to Past Sin on FimFiction commence the fireworks
fc03.deviantart.net/fs70/f/2010/136/9/6/Fire_Works____by_MattTheSamurai.gif

This story took me around 18 hours straight to read. Meaning I read this for 18 hours straight. I loved every bit of this story on Google Docs, so I will do my part and like and favorite this story to help the cause of getting this story to the Feature Box. :ajsmug:

>71 likes
>4 views

Seems legit. dl.dropbox.com/u/31471793/FiMFiction/Fluttershy_lolface.png


Anywho, now that this is finally on fimfiction, I shall read it for the first time. Time to initiate Operation: Ignore Hype.

For all the controversy around this fic, I personally find it quite enjoyable.

Well, I'm taking shelter for the rest of the day.

I hope the world is still there when I return.

Within five minutes it's already taken over the feature box

Ivan receiving the impression that this story might be worth reading. I suppose I shall read it then.

1181110 I know, it's crazy, it's almost like it's been around for months and people who've read it before are pre-emptively liking it. MADNESS.

1181088 Agreed, and not just cause that Colgate is creeping the everything outta me...

I can't believe it's finally here! I loved this story and my favourite OC is Nyx!:pinkiehappy::pinkiehappy::pinkiehappy::pinkiehappy::pinkiehappy:

1181124

That's crazytalk! Crazy!

Esplin #49 · Aug 29th, 2012 · · 23 ·

Time to read about a shitty OC again! Hoooooray!

Is this a rewrite or otherwise heavily edited? Might reread it if it is.

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