• Published 15th Feb 2020
  • 5,437 Views, 344 Comments

A Brush With Fate - RadBunny



"I just want to help." It was a simple voicing of concerns about the Lunar Princess. Steel Heart had no idea such a request would turn his life upside down in more ways than one, let alone almost give him a concussion.

  • ...
6
 344
 5,437

Chapter One: THWACK!

Her sun heralding in a bright new day, Celestia let out a soft groan at seeing the mountain of paperwork in front of her as the alicorn sat on the plush seat in her personal study.

“Oh paperwork, how I dread thee,” she muttered. With Twilight set to take the throne within the next year, things were certainly picking up in terms of legal mumbo-jumbo.

Even if we technically aren’t retiring. Poor Twilight would have a conniption if we vanished without help. A few years behind the scenes of course, but that’s for later.

A much more urgent matter occupied Celestia’s thoughts, her eyes drifting to a silly picture of herself and Luna placed on the polished wooden desk.

“Oh Lulu, I know something has been bothering you. If only you’d tell me,” she whispered.

It’s been months since you began looking more tired than usual. Something is eating at you, and rather abruptly. Is it the recent realization about Twilight? Cadence?

Was it the fact she isn’t like us? Did that realization shock you more than I thought? I know I still bear the brunt of that burden, but is it that?

Is that why you refuse to even tell Twilight your troubles? I know she has asked.

Or is it the political and safety crisis we’ve had, nobles trying to weasel their way into our lives to gain secrets, or perhaps that rogue changeling hive trying to infiltrate Canterlot? And here we thought they all were reformed, what a headache. What could…

Celestia’s thoughts stopped as a knock sounded at her door.

“Private Heart here to see you, Highness,” a secretary announced, prompting Celestia to immediate take notice.

Oh? I recall him setting up an appointment, something he’d prefer to discuss with me privately?

She had to resist a soft titter at that notion. Often times her guards came to her as they would a mother or therapist, seeking advice or simple reassurance. It was adorable really, that her ponies saw her as a parent of sorts.

Steel Heart trotted in; his grey armor shone to a bright polish that contrasted rather nicely to his dark-purple fur. The guard bowed in respect, then standing as he nervously chewed on a cheek.

Nervous? That’s odd. I don’t recall him ever being nervous in our presence. I suppose there’s a reason for that; meeting us, and Luna, under such extenuating circumstances. I have to say his ease to switch from night and day shifts has certainly helped him in the Guard. I’m slightly ashamed I don’t know his file as well as Luna does.

“Private Heart? You wanted to see me?” Celestia asked as the earth pony nodded, head devoid of any helmet as a symbol of what was to come, most likely.

“Yes, Highness. It’s a slightly informal matter, but not about me,” he explained, the alicorn then smiling at the cautious, slightly deep tone of the stallion.

Ah, there it is. What ails one of my guards?

“Just Celestia then, if it’s a personal matter there’s no need for the formalities, even if out of respect,” Celestia said, seeking to put the guard at ease.

“Erm, it’s kind of somewhat a professional issue, though.”

Oh?

“Do explain, now I’m curious, Steel Heart.”

The stallion looked up at Celestia, his bright green eyes making the Princess’s ears flick upright ever so slightly.

He’s genuinely concerned. What is worrying you?

How odd it is that your name implies a lack of empathy, yet here you are. What could be troubling you so?

“Miss Celestia, is Princess Luna alright?”

It was rare that Celestia was caught off guard, having lived for a millennium did that. Usually she was three, four, perhaps a dozen steps ahead in a conversation or negotiation, able to adapt on whim to slew of scenarios and direct social convention at will.

But this stallion’s simple question caught her utterly flat-hooved, the Princess staring at the increasingly uncomfortable guard as the silence began to drag on. She had heard that Steel Heart was quite unlike his name suggested, and it was clear that observation was rather spot on.

“My Sister?” she managed to ask, the guard now having her full attention. “What makes you ask that, if I may?”

Steel opened his mouth, then decided to close it as he thought, only speaking once he had formatted the entire thought.

“I can just see it. I’ve only been on her Guard for four months, but she just seems more tired than usual.”

Observant little pony, aren’t you? Well, it’s not my or your business, as well-intentioned as you are.

“While that is most kind of you, we all are tired, Steel Heart, myself included. It’s been a rough few months,” Celestia explained kindly with a gentle smile.

“Her mask hides the deeper stuff though. That’s what has me worried.”

Once again, the stallion made Celestia stare in shock. It was rare she encountered such honest opinion. And in this case, it was opinionated fact.

“Mask? Do explain.”

The Guard looked at Celestia with almost amusement, gesturing towards her.

“My dad is a politician, as you know. I’ve been around Manehatten nobility and political circles my entire life, unfortunately. I know when someone is wearing a mask. My father has one, my mother, not siblings, thankfully, but they’re not in that business,” he mused. “But you and Princess Luna do, obviously. You can’t be tired for everypony. You get to be tired when it’s just your guard, but even then, it’s muted. That’s what I’ve heard aplenty since being here at least, and I’ve seen enough to back it up.”

“But Luna’s ‘mask’ you say, hides deeper troubles?”

Steel Heart frowned, the novice guard sighing.

“It has me worried, Miss Celestia. I know I’m technically on your guard schedule, the temporary ‘loan’ to the Night Guard as it were, and perhaps it isn’t even my business. But just…I’ve seen at times she just looks so sad,” Steel whispered, seeming to think to himself. “But we all have those moments of course. This seems different though. I can’t remember the last time she took a break for herself; those scheduled ‘have a fun event once a day’ things you used to do just disappeared from her schedule. It’s starting to show more and more, but I don’t think anypony else has noticed.”

“Hmm. I doubt they would,” Celestia remarked. “You have a unique perspective, Steel Heart, having grown up around politicians and masked individuals. Do others know about this?”

“No, Miss Celestia, just me. I voiced a general concern to my superior, but he reassured me that she was just tired. And that’s not wrong, it’s just not complete,” Steel replied, frowning as he spoke. “Princess, I was on a patrol and saw her crying off in a side hallway, just looking out at the night’s sky. I know it isn’t my business, but she helped me when I needed it most. I just want to know if I can help, even if it’s in a small way.”

You want to help; that’s quite a repetitive theme in your file. Luna did mention very briefly about your troubles but clearly, she was understating your good intentions. From what I know of you, Steel, I have to say you are quite the interesting pony, and I think you’d be floored if you knew who asked for the ‘loan’ of your time.

Hmm. I think this will work out quite nicely. Sorry Lulu, but your concerned sister needs to help you whether you want it or not. All in love of course, and I’ll tell her promptly.

“You are correct in what you are stating, Steel Heart, and I’d like to be completely honest with you,” Celestia began, removing her crown as a gesture and setting it aside, much to Steel’s surprise.

“I…of course, Princess.”

Back into formalities; but you still insist on that ‘Miss’ bit. You are polite to a fault.

“Something has been troubling Luna for some time, and I don’t know what it is,” Celestia admitted. “I’d like to help her, but I am unsure how to do that. As her sister, I'm in a unique stance of being very close to her, yet far, in some aspects. However, you are in a different position in that regard.”

Steel’s black-tipped ears shot straight up, the pony shaking his head.

“I don’t- I don’t want to pry into her life, Highness, even to help! I’m not that-” he paused as Celestia held up a hoof, barely containing her laughter at the false insinuation. His distaste for political and noble clock-and-dagger was clearly just beneath the surface.

“Not pry, Steel. What I mean is, you’re in a different social situation. Sisters are more open but also more guarded at times. You’re a guard, one who she knows from…well, you know what I mean. Even if as an acquaintance from before, you’re more familiar than others. I want your help to find out what it is that bothers her so. To do that, you need to be on her personal guard.”

The stallion stared, jaw dropping nearly to the floor as Celestia bit back another laugh.

“Oh dear, too much too quickly? Perhaps a better tile, her personal Courier maybe? Personal Assistant? Both? This is a request, not assignment or order. This is only how you could help, since you asked. My sister needs a break, and I need you to convince her to take one, and if she’s willing, to have her tell me what is the matter. I don’t expect you to solve her problems or be her therapist; that’s not your job nor should it be. I just want somepony to help her understand it’s ok to seek help, and that she’s just as appreciated as ever before. Can you do that? Will you do that? The change would take place immediately.”

Steel heart thought about it for all of two seconds, then nodding with the first smile Celestia had seen that day.

“Of course! Just tell me what to do!”

Celestia took out a bit of parchment and scrawled some orders down, sending it off to processing with an affectionate smile at the thought of her sister.

“Be her friend, Steel. Not only as Private Heart, but as a pony who is willing to see us as more than a Goddess. That’s what made us remember you from training, by the way, among quite a few other things.”

Steel stared in surprise, head tilting in recollection of the incident.

“Where you stubbed your hoof on a concrete pillar after the Guard evaluation? Erm, shattering the pillar I might add?”

“And let loose a few lovely curses to nobles and construction workers? Yes. You didn’t gasp, or fall flat on your face when we turned to look at you. Instead, you smiled, politely bowed, and went on your way. In those moments, you saw me as a pony and continued to see me as such, and that, Private Heart, is a rare thing indeed nowadays,” Celestia explained. “And I think that is exactly what my sister needs, if nothing else. You’ve spoken with her in an informal manner a few times, and I think that’s a blessing. As her personal assistant, I give you full reign to be somewhat less professional in your conduct if Luna is alright with it. No saluting, treating her as a friend rather than a boss. I’m leaving that statement purposefully open-ended, by the way.”

Putting his helmet back on, Private Heart’s colors dulled as the enchantment activated, the stallion clearly having been put at ease.

“I’ll do my best, Princess Celestia.”

“Then off you go. You’re free until nightfall, so get some sleep.”

As the pony trotted off, Celestia couldn’t help but smile as she drafted a letter to Luna.

‘Dearest Lulu

You’ll be pleased to know I’ve assigned a guard as your own personal courier, personal assistant, and general helper. Goodness knows you need just as much help with paperwork and errands as I do.

No this isn’t optional.

Yes, I will make it up to you in form of those raspberry shortcakes you adore. I’m just worried about you, Luna.’ She paused, quill hovering over the paper as she pondered of what to say next.

‘I promised to be honest with you, Lulu, and so I will be. No behind the back meddling. I want to help you. I know there are things bothering you that are getting worse, as they have been these past months. Just know I’m here for you, be it if past doubts are returning or if something else looms. My hope is that perhaps if I can’t reassure you that you’re loved, and indeed cared about, perhaps someone not related to you can show that sentiment carries beyond immediate family and friends.

For the record, this guard is not operating under my, or anyone else’s orders. He specifically came to me asking if you were ok, because he could see you clearly were not even under that mask we both wear. He wanted to help as you aided him a few years ago. So, I’m letting him.

Yes, it was Steel Heart.

Love you,

-Celly

p.s. As per our ‘don’t assign others to meddle in our lives’ rule, you are entitled to three thrown pies that can be used at any time to douse me in in a sugary mess, since I did this without your permission.

But I did do it out of love.


Luna stared at the letter with a sigh, flopping across a cushion with a grumble. It was obvious of course that Celly would notice such things.

Oh sister, I do appreciate you looking out for me, but I can’t voice these concerns to you. They’re too painful, too close to the surface.

For both you and me.

Looking over Steel Heart’s file a final time, Luna couldn’t help but chuckle to herself, clearly remembering the guard from a little over four years ago.

We have met a few times, have we not? I helped with your nightmares after that office building fire, and then after applying, you just seemed at ease in the guard. Not every recruit passes boot camp and then volunteers to stay behind and train two more sets of green guards.

All to help, you said. And now you want to help me as I helped you? That’s incredibly sweet, even if I know you can’t possibly understand my challenges. Your name and cutie-mark hide your empathy. It’s a shame that has been taken advantage of at times. Yet it still shines through even now…

Glaring at a stack of papers, Luna retrieved a brush from her desk and began to scratch at an itchy point between her wings.

I know my problems are quite out of your league, Private Heart, but you are quite noble to ask. Upper-class prying, changeling spies, all on top of realizations that a mortal can’t understand…

Ugh. I’ll think about that later.

She couldn’t help but now smile slightly, removing a bit of bunched up feathers and fur at the itchy point on her back. The downside of wings? Where feathers met fur was a constant point of irritation. Such personal spa treatments could be improvised with a certain large brush.

And it most certainly worked. Like a massage, but not as good. It still was a nice relaxing feeling though, the alicorn letting out a relaxed hum.

Luna was fairly certain her tongue had lolled out of her mouth in enjoyment of the brushing when a soft noise brought her back to reality. Standing in front of her with a formal scroll, an earth pony stood expectantly.

The surprise coupled with the fact her door most certainly had been closed yielded the most prompt and appropriate action Luna could muster born from years of combat training. Swinging the brush like a saber, the Alicorn let out a single battle cry.

“SPY!”

*THWACK!*

Author's Note:

Hello! Welcome to this installment of adorable fluffy romance! This idea seriously just popped into my head after seeing the cover art, and I rolled with it! No huge plans for this, just a fun, lighthearted read. It won't be a long, epic saga like my other stories, just a simple fluff-and-feelings-filled story =)

There are elements taken from the Radverse (as it hath been dubbed), namely slight tweaks to canon material and other, familiar aspects. This story does, however, stand completely on its own, separate from any of my other works.