• Published 9th Aug 2012
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Celestia's Daughter - The Conflicted Writer



Celestia tries to make amends with her daughter. It's not as easy as she hoped.

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The Buck

Celestia’s Daughter
Chapter Two: The Buck

The brief quiet that hung in the air was terrifying to those who would later remember it. For a span of about twenty or so seconds, many ponies wondered if they had lost their ability to hear.

At some point, Mayor Mare worked up the courage to speak from her podium. “Well… Applejack! Please, come up and speak.”

Behind the curtain, Applejack was doing what some of her friends thought to be a rather convincing imitation of Fluttershy on a bad day. She was completely frozen, head to the ground and hooves over her head.

“Go, Applejack!” Rainbow hissed, getting behind her and giving her a push.

“No,” Applejack said. “Ah must’a misheard her. Ya’ll misheard her. She didn’t say mah name.”

“Denial ain’t gonna work,” Rainbow grunted. “She called your name, you’re up. Hey, are you girls going to help?” She quickly glanced between Rarity and Pinkie Pie.

“Right, right,” Rarity said, a million thoughts running through her head.

“Okie dokey, lokie,” Pinkie said, a thought about dumplings passing through her head.

Celestia stood still on the stage, patiently waiting for Applejack to come out. She glanced at the ponies, gauging their reactions. They seemed positive, with smiles and nods and patience. Then Applejack landed on the wooden floor, being unceremoniously tossed from where she had been before. She sat up and rubbed her head, then remembered why she had been thrown. She looked out at all the ponies of Ponyville, who cheered at the sight of her.

“Applejack,” the Princess said. Applejack looked up at the serene face of Celestia, somehow bright despite being in the shadow of the sun.

Applejack’s breathing became heavy as she looked up at the ruler of Equestria. The Regent of the Sun.

Her mother.

“I know this must be a lot for you to take in,” Celestia said. “But I hope you will be able to accept this.” Her smile was warm as the day, her face a model of joy.

The mayor tapped her podium. “Welcome the newest addition to Equestrian royalty, everypony; Applejack!”

The ponies cheered and whistled in response. Applejack looked at them, her pupils practically vanished. She then turned back to Celestia

“Y-yer… yer…”

“Yes, Applejack,” Celestia said. “I gave you birth.”

Mayor Mare beamed. “To think, royalty had been serving us apples all these years. No wonder they’re so good! You must be so proud to hear that Celestia is your mother.”

Applejack’s mind screamed at her to do something. Anything. She looked at all the ponies, calling her name and wishing her well. She looked at Celestia, then at the Mayor, both of them patiently waiting for her to speak.

She thought about those ponies down there, accepting her, looking at her. With their eyes that saw Applejack, the princess.

Celestia gave her birth, she had said. Celestia was Applejack’s mother. The idea bounced around in Applejack’s head, removing any form of thought that might have helped her respond. But something had been struck when she saw all those ponies. When she heard the mayor sing praise in her name. As Celestia smiled so tenderly down at her.

“Applejack?” Celestia said, lowering her head to meet the smaller pony. “Are you alright?”

Applejack felt pure, unbridled rage.

In a flash of motion, Applejack stood up, reared around, and bucked Celestia’s face as hard as she would one of her trees. The result was Celestia being flung backward, hitting her spine against the ground.

Ponyville once more became silent.

“You ain’t mah mama!” Applejack shouted, pointing an accusing hoof at Celestia. “You ain’t her! Mah mama’s gone! Gone! Ya dun’ ruined mah life!” With that, Applejack ran away in a direction that had nopony to block her path. Everypony was too busy being shocked to take notice.

Celestia herself was in shock as well, unsure of the feelings welling up inside of her. She pushed herself up, eyes staring at absolutely nothing. He mind could hardly comprehend what had just happened, probably because of the fresh headache she was now feeling. She readjusted her jaw, feeling little hard things that hadn’t been rolling around before.

She spit out a few of her teeth.

Celestia stared at them, flabbergasted being an understatement of what she felt. Of all the reactions she was ready for, this had not been one.

Mayor Mare cleared her throat and hastily said, “Uh, back to your business, everypony. Nothing more to see.” The crowd very slowly disbursed until all that was left was Celestia, still staring at her fallen teeth.

Somepony trotted up to Celestia after an amount of time that Celestia did not pay attention to. A bowl of green goo was pushed into her field of vision, shaking Celestia out of her thoughts. She looked up to see that it wasn’t a pony at all.

“Drink fast, while the wounds are new.

After that, figure out what to do.”

Celestia realized she wasn’t necessarily in a position to ask any questions as her mouth throbbed, and so bent low and drunk the goo down. It tasted the way grass smelled, she thought. A jolt passed through her skull that made her want to gasp, but she held her composure. Immediately, the pain stopped and Celestia ran her tongue across her new set of teeth. She smiled.

“Thank you very much. You must be Zecora, the zebra. Twilight has written to me about you.”

Zecora bowed her head.

“An honor to have you know me before we met.

But I ask; for what reason is this stigma set?”

Celestia blinked. “I’m not sure that I understand your question. What do you mean?”

Zecora turned to her side, her cutie mark on display. Celestia’s eyes widened a little at the sight of a Zebracan styled sun.

“I feel honored that you knew of me, but do you know why it is this I say?

It is not you being a princess or sun bearer that makes it this way.

“While these things are special and all well and good,

They are not reasons that you deserve respect, or anypony should.”

Celestia frowned when she realized she was getting cryptic advice. That was supposed to be her job. “You aren’t honored by my being a princess or moving the Sun. What are you honored by?”

“Twilight felt it was important to share her knowledge of me.

So it’s all because of your student Twilight, you see.”

Celestia tilted her head. “And your point is?”

Zecora chuckled.

“I find myself very amused.

The all knowing Princess is actually confused.”

She pointed her nose skyward, closing her eyes.

“The sun takes but a single path, as there is only one it can take.

For all to survive, this is the journey it must make.

“It has been this way long before you were here,

Back when unicorns did it out of anger and fear.

“It gives light and protection, life and safe haven,

For growing our food and keeping away beasts most graven.

“Yet the Sun is so far. It is indifferent to our woes.

To pain, to joy, to friends, to foes.

“You have become like the Sun, from your perch so high,

Up on your throne, like the light in the sky.

“While you provide guidance, and sometimes protection,

It is for these reasons things pass you without detection.”

Zecora lowered her head back down, her eyes opening halfway.

“My words might not make much sense at this time,

But at least I gave them so that you might find reason and rhyme.”

Celestia stared intently at the zebra, feeling irritation. It couldn’t be read in any of her features, but she was irritated. Nopony had given her advice in countless years. Except maybe Discord, and that advice wasn’t taken into account in the least. More than that, though, Celestia felt as if she had been insulted.

“I am not far away from my ponies,” Celestia said, her face calm in a rather stony way. “Any of them can talk to me.”

Zecora chuckled.

“I cannot tell you what it is you must do.

It shall be your heart that decides what is true.

“One last thing, before I forget to tell;

Don’t forget to listen to your body and mind as well.”

With these words spoken, Zecora hopped off the stage, leaving Celestia alone once more.

“Preposterous,” she said. “I’m not like the Sun. I am not distant from my subjects. I care about them, and I am not unfeeling.” Celestia stood up. “It is no matter, anyway. I must speak to Applejack.” The Sun Princess spread her wings and took off into the sky.

Her thoughts kept wandering back to the things Zecora said, feeling more and more anger rising in her. She was not the Sun, she kept telling herself. She was there for her ponies, for whatever she could provide. She gave everything of herself. How was the Sun like that? Actually, the Sun gave its light and power to the earth. Celestia did that. So, yes, she was just like the Sun. Celestia smiled to herself, finding this answer acceptable.

She landed in front of the entrance of Sweet Apple Acres, a sense of dread entwining with her insides and fighting with confusion for dominance. Her good feelings suddenly left her as she walked the beaten path to the home that had existed in Ponyville longer than any other. Memories of directing the original Apple Family to this land entered her mind, and she wondered how Granny Smith was doing these days. The trees that seemed to go on forever made her remember how much time had passed since then and she suddenly felt—

*KONK*

—felt like she had been hit on the head with an apple. Celestia rubbed her head, a brand new headache forming as her eyes spun.

“Get the heck outta’ here!” A shout from above her said. Celestia looked up just in time for another apple to bean her between her eyes.

“Applejack,” Celestia called. “Please, we need to talk-” *KONK* “-talk about this.”

“Ah ain’t got anythin’ to talk about with you!” Applejack shouted. She tossed another apple, but Celestia moved her head this time. “Get offa’ mah property! Ah didn’ invite’cha an yer trespassin’. Don’t make me call the authorities on ya!”

Celestia frowned and dodged another apple. “Applejack, this is important. We really must-” this time an apple hit her right on the tip of her horn, lodging itself there. “Applejack, please.”

“No!” Applejack shouted back down. “Ah got mahself a heap ton of apples, an’ Ah’ll keep chuckin’em at ya ‘til you leave. Ah ain’t got anything tah say tah ponies like you.”

Celestia caught the next apple with her magic. “Ponies like what?” Celestia implored. Her voice was actually starting to crack. Try as she might to not allow it, this… this… hatred Applejack was showing shook Celestia to the core in a way that Celestia had not felt for a thousand years.

“Liars! Swindlers!” Applejack punctuated each word with an apple. “Weaklings! Ponies – without – integrity! Where’s – yer – respect!? Yer – honor!?”

Celestia stood where she was, listening and catching each piece of fruit as they came.

“Ya’ll have ruined mah life an’ Ah bet ya don’t even know how!” Applejack yelled, though her voice was losing strength. She had an apple in her hooves, but it stayed put. “Jus’ leave. Don’t come back until ya get a spine. Maybe we’ll have somethin’ tah talk about.” Applejack pulled herself back into the house, slamming the window behind her and closing the curtains.

Celestia sighed, furrowing her brow and floating the apples she magically held (and the one on her horn) over to the porch of their home, piling them neatly next to Granny Smith.

“Ah’m sorry about mah granddaughter, Princess,” Granny Smith said, her legs shaking as she slowly began to walk. “Ah’m sure she didn’ mean any of it. She’s jus’ confused about this whole thin’.”

“Thank you, Ms. Smith,” Celestia said, turning around. “I will… I will try to talk to her later.” Celestia flared her wings and took off.



Celestia stood in front of the same window she had been in front of that morning and gave it a gentle tap. A much more pleasant looking Spike opened it and smiled. “Hello, Princess. How may I be of service?”

“Greetings, Spike,” Celestia said, her calm face smiling right back. “Is Twilight awake yet?”

“Nope,” Spike replied, pointing at the bed a unicorn lied in. “Considering all the late night studying she’s been doing, I wouldn’t be surprised if she went into hibernation.”

Celestia chuckled. “She’s still the little Twilight I knew when she was a filly.” Celestia sighed. “Might I trouble you for somepony to talk to, Spike? I could use a friend.”

Spike nodded. “Sure. Come downstairs and I’ll make us some sandwiches.” Spike lead her to the library’s center room, quickly bringing out a daisy sandwich for Celestia and a ruby one for himself. He set them down on the table that was almost too large for him and almost too tiny for Celestia.

“So, what’s on your mind?” he said before taking a bite.

“Do you know why I came earlier?” Celestia said.

“Sorry, I zonked out before I could. What’s up?”

“Well, Spike, I have a daughter?”

Spike raised a brow but remained silent.

“And she didn’t know until earlier today.”

“I see. You came to tell Twilight and her friends because…?”

“It’s Applejack.”

“Applejack?” Spike asked, moderate shock on his face.

“You don’t sound as surprised as everypony else that found out today.”

Spike shrugged. “Well, I’m not surprised that Applejack is your daughter. I’m more surprised that she’s your daughter. Does that make sense?”

Celestia gave a small laugh. “I believe I see what you’re saying. But her… conception is a much longer story.”

“So, she found out, huh?”

“Yes. I had meant just to tell the Elements, but family members were harmed and we were distracted. I had hoped to wait until- well, just about now, actually, to summon them again. But somehow word spread of why I had come and a ceremony was hastily put together for the announcement. I couldn’t say no to their enthusiasm, but Applejack didn’t like it very much.”

“How bad?”

“She bucked me in the teeth.”

Spike cringed. “Yeouch. How are you still talking?”

“Zecora brought me something that fixed the problem. She’s kind, but a little cryptic.”

“That’s Zecora, alright.”

“She said something rather insulting, though. She said I was like the Sun, far away and without knowledge of ponies' troubles. That’s not true.”

Rubbing his chin, Spike said, “That’s weird. I wonder why Zecora said that.”

“It doesn’t matter, I suppose. I tried going to talk to Applejack. All I received were apples thrown at me.”

“Wowzers. She sounds mad.”

“Spike… is she quick to anger?”

“Applejack? She loses her temper from time to time, like anypony else.”

Celestia gave the slightest of sighs. “When she is angry, does she say things she doesn’t mean?”

Celestia felt her hopes crumble as Spike spoke. “Oh, no way. If anything, Applejack is even more honest when she gets mad. She’s careful to never say anything she doesn’t mean.”

Celestia looked down at her uneaten sandwich. “I was afraid you would say that.”

Spike paused a moment. “Uh, why? What did she say?”

“She called me a liar, a swindler, and a weakling. She also said I have no integrity, honor, or respect. And she said I ruined her life.”

“Ooh boy, she’s really mad at you.”

“I think she hates me.”

Spike made no attempt to argue.

“What am I going to do? I need to speak to her. Something might happen to her soon, and if she isn’t prepared for it, she could be hurt.”

“Hmm…”

“Spike? Is there something you want to say?”

“Princess… I’m sorry, but you kinda did just ruin her life.”

Celestia bounced back from the bluntness of Spike’s words. “Bu- huh? How?”

“Well, everypony’s going to be terrified of her now. She can’t work the apple stand because everypony will either avoid her or buy everything she has. She won’t be able to walk around town and talk to anypony because they’ll be trying too hard to please her. They won’t see Applejack anymore; all they’ll see is Celestia’s daughter.”

Celestia blinked. “But why? Why would they be scared of her?”

Spike blinked. “You don’t know? I thought…” Spike gave a much too large grin and rubbed the back of his head. “Well, Princess, they’ll be scared of her because… because they’re scared of you.”

The Princess felt her brain creak to a stop upon hearing this. “Spike, what are you talking about?”

“Uh, heh, heh, ponies. You know. They’re scared of you. Terrified of you. They think you’ll *gulp* destroy them if they displease you.”

Celestia’s heart pounded in her ears. She tried to rationalize what she had been told.

It was coming from a baby dragon; he wasn’t worldly enough to understand these things.

You raised him. You know how intelligent he is.

Ponies love Celestia. They always have. That’s why they try so hard to please her.

They trip over themselves to do so. They struggle, even if it means going out of their way. Even if it causes them harm.

They know she would never use her power to hurt anypony. She never had.

They know you can, though. If you wanted to, it would only take a thought. The

tiniest

little

thought.

“Spike!” Twilight shouted as she ran down the stairs. “Why didn’t you wake me up? The Princess came back and you didn’t tell me!”

“But Twilight-”

“No buts, mister. I need to know these things. And look at this!” Twilight floated the sandwich that Celestia hadn’t touched. “She hasn’t taken a bite! She isn’t pleased! Get back to the kitchen and make something better!”

“Twilight, I-”

Twilight gave him a hard stare.

Spike groaned. “Yes, Twilight. Sorry, Princess.” Spike stood up and walked away.

“I am so sorry, Princess,” Twilight said. “I’ll have a talk with Spike later about proper conduct with royalty.”

Celestia’s mouth hung slightly open, not truly believing what she had seen. It was the same Twilight she had always known.

But it’s not.

It was the way Twilight always acted around her.

Around me. Always around me.

Did Twilight know that back when she was directly under Celestia’s wing, she would talk with Spike just to talk? Not just about magic and the like?

What if… what if this isn’t what she’s like when I’m not here? What if nopony is like what they act like while I’m there?

“Twilight,” Celestia said, hoping she still had that gentle tone and her cracking voice was her imagination.

“Yes, Princess?” Twilight said dutifully.

“Are you scared of me?”

The question made the air around them freeze. Twilight blinked. “W-what do you mean, Princess?”

Twilight’s eyes betrayed it all. But Celestia wanted to hear it herself. “Be honest with me, Twilight. Are you scared of me?”

Twilight gulped and took a hesitant step back, smiling. The same, overly large smile Spike made when he had been nervous. “I… I’m not…”

“You are.”

Twilight chewed on her lips.

“Those times you stayed up late to make your assignments perfect. The way you work Spike to the death. The ‘tardy’ incident. It was fear that drove you, wasn’t it?”

“Princess… I’m sorry,” Twilight said, tears forming.

“It’s true, then,” Celestia mumbled. “I am just like the Sun.” Celestia stood up and walked past Twilight. “Do not give Spike a lecture on proper conduct. I want him to give you a lecture.”

“H-huh?”

“And after he is done, I want you to send me a scroll about what he taught you.” Celestia opened the door and stepped outside. “Goodbye, Twilight.” In a flash of light, Celestia vanished.



“We are sorry, Princess Luna, but she said to allow nopony to enter.”

“She meant ponies who aren’t me, you halfwits! Now let me in!”

“Her words were ‘nopony is to disturb me.’ We are sorry, my liege, but orders are-”

The door slammed open and the guards bounced back. Celestia stood in its wake, her ornate garb long since removed. “Can’t you guards think for yourselves?” Celestia said. “Please?”

The guards said nothing, returning to their stock positions.

“Sister,” Luna said, “The Sun is off kilter quite a ways. Did something happen?”

“Oh, sister mine, sister mine,” Celestia said before a tissue floated to her and she blew her nose. “I’m an idiot of the highest proportions. In all of existence, you’ll never find a pony as foolish as me.”

Luna didn’t talk for a moment as she looked Celestia over, finally noticing her eyes and frosting smeared snout. “Let’s… let’s talk in your room.” She walked inside and shut the doors, Celestia slowly making her way to bed. Luna grimaced at the multiple empty boxes that looked just the right size to hold generic store bought cakes. Celestia was on her bed, a chunk (not a piece, as that would require care) of cake being stuffed into her mouth.

“Sister, what has gotten into you? Aside from an unhealthy amount calories.”

Celestia sniffled as she chewed and swallowed. “I’m sorry, my dear, precious, honest sister. I’ve been a fool for over two-thousand years and I hadn’t the slightest idea. I should have listened to you.”

“About…?”

“That night. The night. The one where a wedge was placed that separates us even now.”

“You mean the first time I tried to bring Night Eternal.”

“Yes.” Celestia blew her nose again. “You told me how ponies don’t care about you, how ponies don’t love you. I thought you were wrong. But you were right.” Celestia gave a few coughs before eating more cake. “They don’t love you. They don’t love me, either. They’re scared of me. They’re s-s-s-scared of me!” Celestia began to sob loudly, pathetically beating her hooves against the bed.

For a long while Celestia just cried and Luna listened. Listening, of course, being coming close to Celestia and letting her cry into her embrace, covering her in cake.

Luna pulled back, her frown gentle. “Feeling better?”

Celestia sniffed and nodded.

“Now, can you tell me how you came to the conclusion that ponies fear you?”

“It’s all so confusing, but it makes sense. I can’t believe I never saw it before. Twilight… she doesn’t view me as a friend. I am a teacher, a princess, and maybe even a god, but never a friend.”

“Elaborate, please.”

“Her eyes. The look she gave me. It’s the same look she gives me all the time. It’s the same look all ponies give me. And do you know what else? She admitted it, while giving me that look. She admitted that she’s scared of me. All the ponies must be scared. Their favors and their gifts aren’t out of love, they’re out of fear. I had thought my kind and infallible appearance would make ponies look up to me, but they only cower at my hooves.”

“…”

“… Well? Isn’t this the part where you tell me I’m wrong and try to make me feel better?”

Luna once again went close to her sister, nuzzling her sticky cheek. “I’ll do that second part, but I can’t do the first.”

Celestia wiped some tears away. “I’m such a fool. Years and years and I never noticed. I’m just like the Sun, far, far away, unable to comprehend the matters below me.”

Luna pulled Celestia’s head up in her hooves. “Sister, you sound like you’ve had a very long day, made longer by the fact that you haven’t lowered the sun yet.”

“I’m sorry. I should-”

“Stop, I already took care of it.”

Celestia blinked and looked out the window. Indeed, it had become dark outside without her notice. “Thank you. I’m… I’m so confused.”

“Start from the beginning, Celestia. The beginning is always where one should start.”



“And I told her to have Spike give her a lecture on speaking to me. You should have seen her, that surprise on her face was priceless.” Celestia smiled just a little bit.

Luna smiled and poured another cup of tea. “Hmm, I can imagine. Twilight is such a stickler for control.”

“So I’ve learned,” Celestia mumbled, taking a sip and dabbing her dry tears with a handkerchief. “I realize now that it’s my fault. I gave her freedom, thinking she would use it. Instead, she found peace in absolute order and I did nothing to stop it.” Celestia furrowed her brow. “Just like the Sun.”

“Mayhap one lesson Discord taught us that was worthwhile; without change, there can be no harmony.”

“Hmm…”

“All that aside, I am disappointed in you.”

“Huh?” Celestia said, her eyes a little wider.

Luna sighed and set her cup down on the little stand they had made a table. “When I said don’t let anything get in the way, I didn’t mean for you to tell all of Ponyville at once. I can see what Applejack means about integrity.”

Celestia lowered her head. “I don’t understand.”

“One thousand years ago, the world was very different. But it’s not the ponies that are different or their terms of phrase. It is not the technology or castle, even. It’s you.”

Celestia said nothing in reply.

“I remember a Celestia that, while maybe not as kind or gentle as the one before me, was a strong leader who knew how to say no. You were not like the Sun right then when you walked onto the stage. The Sun would have told those ponies that it did not concern them and was only her matter. But not only did you give in to their fear and feed it, you let them control you.

“I may not be up to date with the current affairs of the world, and perhaps you think you garnered some wisdom that makes you think letting ponies believe what they want or do what they want makes things better. Maybe you’re right. But that doesn’t mean Celestia should be compromised.

“You lost your integrity a while ago if you thought what you did to Applejack would have no repercussions to her. How you are like the Sun is that you didn’t think about the ponies at all or think about Applejack. You know that ponies have their noses pointed high up here in Canterlot, but you didn’t seem to take notice of problems ponies face even closer to the ground. This is especially so if it took you this long to realize they are scared of you.”

Luna sighed once she was done with her monologue. “Forgive me, sister, but if you wanted the truth, there it was.”

Celestia’s frown only deepened. “I wanted it. I imagine all that’s why Applejack hates me.”

Luna tapped her chin. “Maybe. Maybe not.”

Celestia raised her head to meet Luna’s.

“Remember, sister, honesty is not the same thing as truth. I believe there is more here than you know.”

“You’d know that better than me, wouldn’t you?” Celestia said sorrowfully.

“Do you want my advice or not?”

“Yes,” Celestia pleaded, her eyes about to leak again. “I can’t stand this hatred she’s feeling, or the fear the ponies have for me. What can I do?”

Luna closed the eyes for a long moment before opening them and responding. “As Zecora told you, you are far too much like the Sun. You need to go out and find the pony that you actually are. Go out and see the ponies for themselves, get to know them. I get the feeling Applejack would appreciate a mother who understands the world much closer to the ground.”

“You sound so sure,” Celestia replied, the slightest tinge of resentment present.

“I have been amongst them, on a night I once despised. I discovered something very curious about ponies, something I had not realized.”

“What?”

Luna shook her head. “It is such a simple lesson, one that is easily learned and just as easily forgotten. It is best that you see it yourself, though, out there.”

Celestia gulped another slice of cake (not a chunk, as there’s a difference). “You’re right,” Celestia said with finality. “I’ve spent a lot of time in this castle. Too much time, in fact. Luna… I want to break from it. I want to go out and experience what it is regular ponies experience. If I do that, maybe they’ll see that I’m just like them. Maybe I can make Applejack understand.”

Luna nodded. “I suppose that means you’ll be…”

“Yes, take the Sun and my Divinity. I’m going back to Ponyville, and I’m not coming back until I have worked things out with my daughter.”

The two sisters hugged. “Good luck, Celestia. In Ponyville, you’re going to need it.”



“So, when a princess asks you if you want to talk, what should you think?”

“I should calmly remain calm and calmly assume that we’re going to just calmly talk in a calm fashion.”

“Good. Now, if a princess mentions that there was something strange about your last assignment–”

“Ohmygosh! I made a mistake, she’s going to disown me and she’ll take away my friends and I’ll be–”

*ZRRT*

Twilight groaned as she her mane smoked and her nose filled with the scent of freshly fried pony. “Ugh, those stupid joke buzzers.”

“How funny that there was one in the potted plant for joke buzzer emergencies,” Spike taunted as he paced around where Twilight sat on the floor. “I had a nap today, so I can keep this up all night if I need to. Now, if a princess asks you for something to eat, what should you do?”

“Calmly offer her something to eat in the calmest way that I can,” Twilight said begrudgingly. “Calmly.”

“We’re getting somewhere. If you don’t have what she wants?”

Twilight scrunched her lips, her whole body shaking as though about to explode. “I sh-should politely t-tell her we d-don’t h-have w-w-what sh-she w-wants.”

“Oh, ho, that looked like it hurt.” Spike sauntered in front of her, a cruel grin on his maw. “The princess decides she’s fine with that and decides to eat whatever you make. You make her a daisy sandwich and bring it to her. She takes a bite and acts disgusted because she hates mustard. What do you do?”

Twilight gasped. “Quick, quick! Get her another one! Get rid of the mustard, get rid of all the mustard!” This earned Twilight another vigorous shock on her forehead. Spike fell onto his back laughing as Twilight growled.

“Oh, man, this is too awesome.”

“Come on!” Twilight yelled, slamming her head onto the floor. “What do I have to do to end the torture?”

Spike stood up and dusted himself off. “Sorry, Twilight, Celestia’s orders. She wants a report on talking to princesses, and we had to start all the way at level one. You need to get over this fear of her, she’s not going to banish you and/or lock you in a dungeon because you made a typo in a friendship report.”

“Ugh. Just ugh. That would be easier to deal with since I can expect that.”

“You need to learn you can’t control things, Twilight. Unless you have a joy buzzer!”

*ZRRT*

Twilight leaped back up. “Hey, you didn’t even ask me anything!”

“I know.” Spike crossed his arms. “That one was for making me help you try out that weather control spell the other day.”

“Fine, whatever. Just get on with the pain.”

*ZRRT*

“Not like that!”

Then, there was a knock at the door. Twilight and Spike glanced at each other, a silent mutual agreement to temporarily stop their shenanigans forming. Twilight still looked worn down, however. “Visitors at nine thirty-nine at night. It’s not like this day can get weirder.”

“Did you have to say that?” Spike made his way to the door. “Everytime somepony says that, stuff happens. It’s like karma, or something.” Spike opened the door and gasped.

“I think you have karma mixed up with something else, Spike,” Celestia said. “May I come in?”

Spike’s jaw hung open as his mind tried to comprehend what he was seeing. “Sure, Princess.”

“Thank you.” Celestia walked inside.

“Hello, Princess,” Twilight said, not turning around. “As you can see from my burn marks, Spike has been giving me a vigorous lecture on talking to Princesses. I might be a little tardy with the report, since I seem to be… far behind.”

“I’m glad to see you are studying, my faithful student. But I’m afraid it might be for nothing at the moment. You see, I’m not Princess Celestia right now. I am merely Celestia.”

“What do you-” Twilight began, but would not finish. “P-P-Princess?”

Celestia giggled. “Just Celestia, please. No Princess of the Sun nonsense. I am but a pony.”

“Your… your mane.”

Celestia kept her smile. “Yes?”

“It’s… pink. And not-floaty.”

“So it is,” Celestia said coyly.

“And you’re shorter.”

“That made getting through the door easier.”

“What… I mean…”

“Twilight,” Celestia said, becoming somber. “You are scared of me.” She raised a hoof. “Don’t deny it. You aren’t the only one who sees me this way. I intend to change that, though. I’m going to do what I couldn’t do when you spent all your time in the library back in Canterlot.”

Twilight gulped, trying to shrink herself as much as she could from Celestia’s gaze. “What’s that?”

Celestia lowered her head, the journey being much shorter than it had ever been in the past. She softly nuzzled her student. “I want to be your friend, Twilight Sparkle, if you’ll allow it.”

“I… but we’re already-”

*ZRRT*

“Honesty, Twilight, honesty,” Spike chastised.

“Right. Of course, Princ- Celestia.”

Celestia smiled warmly. “We’ll get there eventually. But I could actually use a place to sleep for the night, if that’s alright. You have a spare bed, correct?”

Twilight nodded with enthusiasm. “Yes Pri- Celestia. But you can take my mattress, it’s-”

*ZRRT*

“The spare mattress is upstairs across from mine.” Twilight huffed and puffed.

“Thank you very much, Twilight. I’ll turn in for the night while Spike continues his lesson. Good use of conditioning, by the way, Spike.”

Spike gave a salute. “Just applying what I know, ma’am.”

Twilight grimaced in response.

“Good then,” Celestia said as she made her way up the stairs. “I still expect that report soon.”

“Yes, Prin- Celestia,” Twilight moaned, not unlike a colt told to do his chores, Celestia thought with a chuckle.

Celestia yawned, glad the day had come to an end. She crawled into the first bed she had laid in that wasn’t made from hundreds of swan feathers (obtained via gift) in over two-hundred years. She sighed and lay in the relative dark, thinking about her plans for the next day. She pulled a flyer out of thin air.

“I’ll show you my integrity yet, Applejack,” Celestia said to night. “You’ll see. I’m not the Sun; I’m a pony.”