• Published 26th Aug 2012
  • 17,346 Views, 466 Comments

Sabbatical - mbulsht

A centuries-old law comes into play one day mandating that Celestia take a vacation from her duties. Meanwhile, various ponies begin experiencing romantic frustration as Hearts and Hooves Day draws near

  • ...

Royal Pains

Chapter 01
“Royal Pains”


Time is such a cruel thing.

We measure it in seconds, hours. We create little machines that exist only to measure and display it. We write times down, record dates, and stress over lateness and punctuality. We obsess over it.

And yet for all we do to keep track of it, to measure it, it never cooperates with us. Time is not an even tick, as much as the second hands of our clocks might like to insist that it is. Time is malleable. And it is a pissy, fickle bitch too. When we least want time to continue, it flows quicker than we can follow. When we find ourselves agonizing over each passing second, time aggravates us by slowing itself.

But it is without a doubt the worst when you are a being who has lived for millennia and will live for millennia to come. Years and decades can pass in the blink of an eye, when sometimes it takes eons for a single second to go by.

These were the thoughts that Celestia absently entertained as she stole quick glances at a clock hanging on a wall at the far end of a room she was sitting in. Her glances were fast and furtive, so as not to alert anypony else in the room that she was carefully watching the time.

She sighed as she saw that this particular night, the second-hand was making a slow and ponderous journey around the circular fixture.

She was bored.

This was nothing new, of course. She was almost always bored the moment she set hoof in this room. The room in question being a meeting hall deep in in the West Wing of Canterlot Castle.

A sudden clearing of a throat snapped her from her thoughts and she levelled her eyes at the pony who had made the sound. She smiled.

“Yes, Mayor Mare?”

The Mayor of Ponyville was gazing at her over her glasses with a mildly disapproving look; an expression that melted away as soon as she remembered she was speaking to a Princess.

“Your Highness, is everything alright? I couldn’t help but notice you having some trouble ah... concentrating on my presentation on Ponyville’s weather patterns. Perhaps I should postpone moving my petition forward to a later date?”

“Not at all, Mayor. Forgive me, you can continue.”

The aging earth pony nodded graciously and opened her mouth to continue, only to be interrupted by a gruff voice to Celestia’s right.

“It would seem the Princess is bored, Mayor.” The voice was deep and gravelly and it was followed by a succession of coughs.

“Magus,” retorted Celestia, not bothering to turn her head towards him, “It would seem you’ve been hitting the pipe too much lately. It’s bad for your health. Not to mention it makes you wholly undesirable as a kisser.”

There was a soft *snirk* from one of the ponies in the crowd before them.

Magus didn’t bother answering to that, either out of fear he might offend the princess, or the refusal to give her the satisfaction of a rebuttal. Instead the unicorn smiled sympathetically at the Mayor. “Perhaps it would be best to postpone your petition for an extra weather team until next meeting.”

“Actually, miss Mayor,” Celestia interrupted, “I was just about to ask you to move on from your reports to your actual petition. You can ignore Magus.”

Magus coughed again. “Your Highness, if you are having trouble concentrating tonight, it might be best to end the meeting early.”

Oh, hell no. There was no way that was happening. No matter how infuriatingly slow the clock might be running, this meeting wasn’t going to end until Celestia willed it. There were plans to be made. There was a particular item on the agenda that she was absolutely positively aching to get to. And if it meant standing through an extremely boring presentation, the end of which she could probably predict anyway, then so be it.

“That won’t be necessary.”

Another cough. “Your Highness, it is well within my right as Vizier to end this meeting early. You created these monthly meetings as a way for city leaders to come together and coordinate plans for the entire country. And as your political advisor and the pony who presides over these meetings, I think it may be in our best interests to end if your Highness is unwell.”

This time she actually swung her head to look at him, staring down the gray-maned unicorn. “And it is well within my right to tell you...” To tell you to fuck off, was what she wanted to say, but she stopped herself before she could form the words. Swearing in front of her council would, more likely than not, send the wrong message. “...to tell you that your position is appointed, and thus can be un-appointed at any time.”

Not bothering to even gauge a response from him, she swung her head back to the Mayor, who was looking back and forth at the two of them with an uneasy smile. She stole a glace over the entire crowd before her and gauged their expressions. The room was rather tense, as tended to happen when she made such remarks at her political advisor. She noted that the mayor of Cloudsdale was shuffling uneasily, but that may only have been because the room was crowded and she wasn’t used to stone walls.

She smiled, hoping to diffuse the mood. “I apologize again, Mayor Mare, please continue.”

As the Mayor of Ponyville continued her tangent about cloud formations and hay roofs, Celestia found her mind wandering once again. Drat it all, she screamed internally. Just one more presentation after this and we can finally move on to the last topic of the night.

She looked across the low thin table she was lying beside at her sister, who seemed to be listening intently. If Luna was bored, she didn’t look like it. Celestia sighed again. It seemed like the Mayor’s speech was going to go on for at least another twenty minutes. Sudden inspiration guided Celestia to scoot herself closer to the edge of the table and splay her legs beneath its tablecloth, taking on the appearance of her attempting to move to a more comfortable position. Praying that her sister was taking a similar position on the other side, she extended a hind hoof. To cover the movement, she bent her head down to meet a teacup she picked up from the table.

At last she found her sister’s legs, which were also splayed out beneath the table. There was a small gasp to her left and her sister’s eyes widened as Celestia realized she was moving too far and had tapped Luna on the flank. Luna cleared her throat softly and shot Celestia a glare. She ignored it.

Let’s hope that after a thousand years she still remembers this, thought Celestia as she tapped her sister’s hind leg with her own three times. Luna’s eyes narrowed as she was thinking. Then it suddenly dawned on her what was happening and Celestia saw a look of recognition pass her face. Luna reached out with a hind leg and returned the gesture, tapping Celestia three times.

The two of them did not take their eyes off of the Mayor as they exchanged hoof taps of varying speeds and positions. This was a language they had developed long ago; decades before Luna’s entrapment on the moon. It was a form of communication created for this very situation; the two of them, their legs hidden under a clothed table, and each bored out of their minds as they suffered through intense political banter at the weekly meetings. They could communicate magically, but if they did that their horns would glow. And it was considered rude to do so while somepony was talking to you. Celestia was glad Luna remembered this way of communicating; the meeting had just gotten slightly more bearable. She reached out with the first message very slowly. This was not a quick language. It could take minutes to say a single sentence. But at least it was better than slogging through a boring meeting alone, as she had done for a thousand years.

[By the SUN I am so bored,] Celestia tapped.

[You look it. Everypony can tell.] Came the reply. A slight smile played across Luna’s mouth.

[Screw you. I had to do this by myself for a very long time. A thousand years, in fact.]

Luna’s eyes narrowed distastefully. [Was Magus here for part of that?]

[For a few years. He hasn’t changed a bit, though. Annoying, as always.]

[Sweet stars, how can you do it?]

Celestia smirked slightly. [It wasn’t easy. I’m glad you’re here. You can stop me from strangling him.]

Luna coughed. [Now now, dear sister. You elected him. You must lie in the bed you’ve made for yourself.]

[Are you sure I can’t just send him to the moon?]

Celestia gasped as her sister’s hoof shot out and hit her in the stomach. This wasn’t part of their covert communication; it was just a kick. But she was sure that if it had a meaning in their strange sisterly language, it would have represented Luna shouting her name rather loudly.

[Kidding, I’m kidding.] She assured her sister.

[Anyways, we’d best stop. I think we’re coming to the last bit.]

Celestia perked up, her ears shooting forward as she gave her full attention to the crowd before her. She realized they were all looking at her expectantly. They had all finished presenting their petitions and were waiting for her response. She quickly cleared her throat.

“Ahem. Thank you all for your presentations. As always, I shall take the night and next morning to review all of your petitions and Luna and I will make our decisions. We will have full answers to all of you tomorrow.”

“And with that,” interjected Magus, “We come to the final part of tonight’s meeting. As you all know, the Spring Festival is coming up in just a few days. This will be our last meeting before then, so it’s in our best interest to begin our celebratory coordination now.”

This was it, thought Celestia. The moment she’d been waiting for. Her favorite time of the year. The Spring Festival. There were many things she enjoyed about her duties as a Princess, but planning and celebrating the Spring Festival was by far one of her favorites. She felt anticipation building in her as she reveled in the prospect of decorating the castle, attending festivities in Ponyville, and discussing the menu for the castle staff.

“...however,” continued Magus, “There is one more item to discuss.”

Celestia felt her eye twitch. She couldn’t bear the thought of another interruption keeping her from her delicious Spring Festival plans.

“And what would that be?” Celestia’s voice cracked as she addressed her Vizier.

“Well there’s a royal mandate that comes into effect on this very date.”

“A royal... mandate?” Celestia had a hard time forming any kind of response. The plans, though! Who cared about royal mandates? There were colors to pick for banners! Cupcakes to sample for receptions!

“Yes, your Highness. A royal mandate.” He flicked his head to the side, his horn glowing with magic. From beside him he pulled a large thick tome and flipped it open, ruffling through the pages. “In what appears to be your horn writing.”

“And where did you get that book exactly?” Celestia was quite sure she didn’t recall giving him any materials like that when he was appointed.

“Oh this? This old book was buried in the Canterlot Archives. Law section.” He stopped on a page. “Ah, here it is. Princess, don’t tell me you’ve forgotten about the mandate you wrote to be activated this month, this meeting, did you?”

“Of course not!” exclaimed Celestia. “But... why don’t you read it aloud for everypony to hear?” She had no clue what he was talking about.

“Of course, your Highness.” He levitated a pair of glasses onto his face and bent low to blow a thick layer of dust off the page. The book was clearly very old. He spoke aloud what he read:

“Royal Mandate 17712A
I, Princess Solestia Sun-Bringer do hereby decree that on the coming of the first end-of-week of the second month of the year 1012, I will take a mandatory Sabbatical.
The purpose of this two-month break will be rest and recuperation away from the constant stress of royal duties. During this time, my rule shall be passed to my sister. Should my sister be unable to perform her duties, rule shall pass to my parliament of city leaders.
This Sabbatical is MANDATORY, and shall be repeated once every 1000 years.”

Magus snapped the book shut.

There was a dead silence in the room as everypony stared expectantly at the Princess.

Celestia wore nothing but an amiable smile as her eyes flicked back and forth. She was at a loss for what to say exactly. She struggled to find some words, but failed, and the silence wore on awkwardly.

“Princess?” spoke up Magus.

Yesss?” She swung her head the unicorn, the smile not leaving her face and in fact intensifying as she ground her teeth.

“This is your hoofprint here.” He tapped the cover.

“Of course it is.” Her voice was strained.

“And exactly 1000 years have passed since the original induction of this mandate.”

“Indeed they have, Magus.”

The room was silent once more. Nopony was sure what to say exactly. Celestia had quite a few things she wanted to say, of course. She was beginning to remember the fact that she may have signed such a mandate a thousand years in the past, though her memory on why and when was a tad fuzzy. And she was rather interested in how Magus had found such an old document that had been written centuries before he had been alive. Furthermore she was curious as to why exactly he had decided to bring up this obscure mandate at such an inopportune moment. However she couldn’t really begin to think of a way to address the situation. She was a bit at a loss to explain anything.

And what of Luna? Celestia felt unease rippling through her. Apparently she’d have to relinquish her throne to her younger sister for two months. How would Luna deal with that?

Thankfully, it was Luna herself who broke the silence by clearing her throat. “Perhaps we can postpone the effect of this mandate but one more day this year, so that we can finish with this meeting? If Celestia were to take a Sabbatical right this very moment, that would leave me to make all these decisions myself. Not that she hasn’t properly briefed me on the situation already.” She said the last part through slightly clenched teeth and provided Celestia with a rather off-putting smile. “And this meeting seems to have an extra large load of petitions. I require her assistance in the deliberations.”

This seemed to diffuse the situation and all ponies present nodded in agreement. Many were as surprised as Celestia at the unexpected call, but all seemed to settle down.

Celestia rubbed her head with a hoof. It was one of those nights, it seemed. All of a sudden planning for the Spring Festival didn’t seem so fun anymore. More than anything, she needed to get out and get some fresh air.

Once more, the second hand of the clock seemed to slow down.


Things were tense with Celestia and her sister the next day at breakfast. She didn’t like it when things were tense with Luna. It reminded her too much of their last fight; the one that had ended with Luna imprisoned. Whenever things were awkward like this, she tried to find a witty way to break the ice. But this time she was at a loss for words. She didn’t really know what to say.

She knew exactly what Luna was probably thinking. She knew her sister was probably apprehensive about having to take control. She was sure Luna was probably angry that she had never told her about the mandate; one that she admittedly had forgotten about. And she knew Luna was most likely more than annoyed that the previous night, Celestia had taken to the skies in flight immediately after the meeting without a single word or backward glance.

She’d needed that flight, though. Flying helped her clear her head. It helped her think. And tracing the stars of Luna’s beautiful night with her wingtips had calmed her down from the shock of embarrassing herself in front of her council by neglecting to put a very important mandate on the meeting schedule. It also allowed her a moment of thought as to how exactly Magus had found that old tome, and what his motives were behind bringing it up. Though she put those thoughts off for later. It was more important to consider how her departure would affect Luna. It wasn’t like she could ignore the mandate either. She’d made it, and refusing to stick by it could incense parts of the population. After all, what good were laws if even the lawmakers didn’t abide by them?

She’d finally remembered then, while tracing the various constellations that dotted the night sky, why exactly this mandate had been made. Why she had signed that silly law into place a thousand years ago. Remembering it made her blush, despite the age of those memories. Luna would not be happy about the reasons. Of course, if she was lucky, Luna wouldn’t ask. But her luck seemed to be running out as of late.

So she stayed out all night, finally falling into a fitful sleep atop a cloud above Ponyville

But now it was morning. And here she was, at the breakfast table in the Princess’s private dining room, sitting across from her sister. She stole a glance at Luna over the issue of the Canterlot Times she was hovering in front of her face. Her sister seemed calm and collected. Luna was staring at her small handheld gaming device, splitting her magic between pressing buttons on it and levitating a spoon to her mouth from a cereal bowl.

crunch crunch

The sound of Luna’s chewing on her breakfast cereal was unnervingly loud in the strangely silent room. Most days, the room was filled with Luna and Celestia’s sisterly banter. And Luna was rarely seen at meals with her video games, partly out of common courtesy, and partly because breakfast was one of the rare times they were alone together. Today, however, Luna seemed to be pointedly ignoring her.

crunch crunch

The sound seemed to echo. Celestia almost jumped at it. She was unsure of how to start a conversation and the sudden noise was actually frightening in the oppressive silence. Celestia put her newspaper down. It was time to talk, she decided. But what to talk about? Of course! The petitions. They’d have to discuss the petitions put forth at the previous night’s meeting. She cleared her throat and took a breath.

“One. Year.” Luna spoke before Celestia could even open her mouth, and Celestia actually jumped at the noise this time.

There was a pause.

Celestia smiled brightly and made an inquisitive, “...hmmm?”

“One year,” repeated Luna, as though saying it were the most obvious thing that one could ever think of. She levitated another spoonful of her cereal and chewed louder this time, almost as if she knew the sound was grating on Celestia.

“I don’t follow.” Celestia’s smile didn’t disappear.

“I’ve been back for a whole year.” Luna put her handheld down, paused the game, and leveled a very calm demeanour at her sister, though her words held the weight of somepony very angry. She smiled as well, though her smile was very off-putting.

“You certainly have!” agreed Celestia. “And you’ve picked up modern speech very well, too. No more unnecessary royal ‘we,’ and I hear you’ve been brushing up on your modern colloquialisms as well” Celestia laughed nervously.

“That’s not what I meant. I meant I’ve been back for over three hundred and sixty-five days, and during any one of those you could have told me about this ‘sabbatical’ business. Yet you’ve somehow neglected to.” Luna gave her a pointed look and took another spoonful of her cereal.

crunch crunch

Celestia tittered. “Well, you know, things get hectic quite often here, and it must have slipped my mind. Every day.”

“Cut the bullshit, Tia,” spat Luna. “I’m sitting over here, looking at the prospect of running a country almost entirely by myself for two months. Don’t sit over there with that stars-damned dumb smile and think that I’m going to take this calmly. I’m nervous, angry, confused, and all of those emotions are running wild because you forgot. Admit it, you forgot! Probably a couple hundred years ago.”

“Such language!” scolded Celestia. “Really, where did you learn to talk like tha-”

“Been brushing up on my modern colloquialisms,” shot back Luna. “Now shut up and just tell me what’s going on.”

Celestia frowned. “A princess should know what kind of language is appropriate and what is-”


“Really, Luna, this is immature, I am trying to-”


Celestia sputtered. “Is this your way of getting back at me for-”


“Deluna Night-Giver!” Celestia nearly shouted, using Luna’s ancient full title. “I may have made mistakes last night involving ancient laws that yes, I have forgotten, but this silly display is going to get us nowhere! You are starting to make me very, very angry.”

“No, thou hast made us angry!” raged Luna, her eyes alighting with sparks. Her mane billowed out behind her, growing darker as she slipped into the old tongue, in her anger forgetting modern speaking. “We have a burden placed upon our shoulders now because of thy negligence. We are being thrust into a political world we do not yet fully understand, forced to provide a force to rise the sun on our lonesome, and asked to remain in a place to make decisions for a nation that still fears us! And that thou wouldst sit before us and pretend all things art so calm and quiet that thou could lecture us on our language, is, as thou wouldst speak, immature!”

Her royal Canterlot voice echoed throughout the entire room, and Celestia heard a guard outside the door shift nervously. Luna calmed herself then, her mane lowering and flowing outward as it did normally. Her expression, however, did not change and she continued to glare at Celestia.

Celestia sighed. “First of all, I’m sorry. Yes, I should have remembered this and been ready to prepare you for it. That is all entirely my fault. Secondly, you won’t be entirely on your own. You’ll have the council, and Magus will be here to advise you as he has advised me for many years now.”

“Wait, what?” Luna ceased to be angry, and now she just looked horrified. “I’m going to have to deal with that old grandpony by myself for two whole months?” She was calm now, slipping back into modern speak.

“Look, I don’t like his tone any more than you do, but he has a good head on his shoulders and his advice is always sound.”

“Celestiaaaa....” Luna whined.

“I’m sorry, sister. That’s just the way it is. Continuing from where I was, the nation will be fine. Yes, there are things to deal with between you and the common ponies, but it will be fine. Everything will be fine. And I know you can handle the sun. I raised both the sun and moon by myself for a thousand years. You can do it for a couple months. After all, the sun is only a few thousand times bigger than the moon.”

“It’s sixty-four million times larger.” Luna sighed.

Celestia raised her morning brew tea to her lips and blew on the top of it. “Well, don’t give yourself a hernia.”

That isn’t funny!

Celestia giggled then, a wholly un-princess-like sound. At the very least, the tense mood was almost diffused. “Everything will be fine, Luna. I promise. I’ll take this little break, and then I’ll come back, and everything will be as it always was.”

“Well, what about the policies we discussed at the meeting last night?” Luna protested. “We still have to decide those. I’m going to have to present those to the council soon, and you won’t be around to back me up.”

“Oh come now, Luna. Let’s be honest. This is easy. Tell me, what did you decide on the propositions?”

Luna thought for a moment, chewing and then swallowing. “Mayor Mare’s petition is solid; they need help with their weather team and Cloudsdale can pick up the slack. I’ll deny Cloudsdale’s petition for more funding because that money needs to go into the Canterlot Fund for Homeless Foal Education. Magus can claim all he wants about our social security plan, but we’ll go forward with it anyway. And lastly, the bill for military expansion is denied.”

Celestia nodded. “See? You’re doing fine.”

“But we have to make these decisions together!

“And everything you’ve said is something I agree with,” assured Celestia.

Luna sighed again, returning to her cereal. She pouted as she spooned another mound of the no-doubt over-sugared substance into her mouth. The meal went on in silence for a moment, and Celestia picked her newspaper back up to peruse the gossip section that was running a piece about a local DJ who had been outed.

It was Luna who broke the silence again.

“What in the world pulls you away from your duties, anyway?” she asked.

“...hmmm?” Celestia didn’t take her eyes of the paper.

“Oh come on, sister. Everypony knows you love your job. You take pride in your fair ruling, and joy in running the country. I’ve never heard of anything that could take you from your Pride and Joy, Equestria.”

Celestia cleared her throat. “Well, sometimes you get tired, and you need to take a break.”

“You never get tired of being Princess. You love your people. You’d betray even your closest kin for them.”

The jab stung, but Celestia knew it was just a jab. Her sister had slipped back into the normal routine of banter. “I got tired,” she answered. “I needed a break. It was a year after we’d had our little fight, and I felt drained.”

“And why at this time of the year? You absolutely love planning for the Spring Festival.” Luna continued, disregarding her sister’s excuse. “Nothing can tear you away from that.”

“It just happened to be around this time that I got tired, that’s all.”

“The timing is curious.”

“It’s just your imagination.” Celestia didn’t really like the direction this particular conversation was going.

“Wait...” Luna’s ears perked up and she dropped her spoon.

Celestia’s heart sank. She set down her paper.

“Wait...” Luna repeated. “... I think I got it now...”

“You have nothing.” Celestia was beginning to get very nervous.

“What’s that holiday that happens on the last day of the Festival? The one with all the pink and red decorations, with that heart that is shaped nothing like an actual heart?”

“You’re thinking of Hearts and Hooves day, your Highness.” It wasn’t Celestia that answered, but a voice beside them.

The two of them jumped at the sudden intrusion. It was just a server, come to refill Celestia’s tea.

“Yes, that’s the one!” exclaimed Luna. “The one where they celebrate love! Lovers gather and admirers drop love notes anonymously! Strange that your sabbatical should coincide with this holiday.”

“Pure coincidence, sister..”

“Oh don’t give me that,” Luna shot back. “Come on, tell me. I’m starting to get an idea.”

Celestia coughed into her hoof. “I just needed a break, that’s all. Nothing more.”


“What have we said about language, Luna?”

“You owe me the truth, Celestia.” Luna rested her chin on the table “Please?” Her pupils widened and she pouted, giving Celestia a look she hadn’t seen in over a millenium.

Celestia sighed. She knew she wasn’t going to get away from this. Her sister would hound her mercilessly if she never got a straight answer. “Fine,” she said. “Fine. You’re right, there was more to it. For once in my life, I needed to get away for this particular holiday. I wanted to take a vacation for the Spring Festival and Hearts and Hooves day, so I created a silly mandate and set the renewal date for every thousand years, hoping everypony would forget about it afterwards. And everypony did, except that I forgot it had been written down. I really should have secretly burned that book sometime in the past couple hundred years.”

“So why did you need Hearts and Hooves day off?” asked Luna. She was grinning now, still resting her head on the table and looking up at her sister

“You know exactly why.” Celestia sniffed and sipped her tea.

“Tiaaa...” Luna’s expression was aggravatingly happy. She probably knew how much it was pissing her sister off.

Celestia frowned “Ugh, don’t make me say it.”


“Okay, fine! So I had a lover and I wanted to spend a few private months with them, and kicking it off with a festival geared towards lovers and a holiday created to celebrate love seemed like a really romantic and amazing idea! I’m allowed to fall in love every few millennia, am I not? I’m still a pony with feelings like love and lust and I am entitled to act on those, okay? Gosh.”

“Tiaaaaaaaaaaaaa...” Luna’s voice was starting to break up into laughter as she lifted her head from the table.


It was Luna’s turn to giggle now. “I’m sorry sister, but it’s just too funny.”

“Well at least you’re happy now.” Celestia was more than a little annoyed.

“So why’d you need to create a fake mandate, anyway?” Luna asked. “You’re the princess. You can do whatever you want, go wherever you want. I’m sure the populace would understand if you felt the urge to go on a romantic retreat with your husband.”

“W-well...” Celestia stuttered. “We weren’t married, first off. And it was kind of sort of a secret. In a way. A little bit.”

Luna rose a hoof to her mouth. “Ohohoho, an undercover romance? How unlike you, Celestia. What was it like? What did you do?”

“I’m not even going to answer that.”

“Oh come now, sister,” goaded Luna, “You owe me here. Tell me what you two did for two months.”

“Dear. Sister. Luna. Disabuse yourself of the hope that I will ever recount any of my romantic escapades to you.”

“At least tell me if he was gorgeous or not.”

Celestia cleared her throat. “She was quite beautiful, and let me assure you, the time off was well spent.”

“A mare?”

“Yes, and now you understand why it was kept a secret. Relationships like that were not exactly common in those days. And they were frowned upon.”

Things were quiet for a few moments as Luna processed this.

“What was her name, if I may ask?”

“Amber Skye, with an ‘e’ at the end.”

Luna giggled. “That sounds like a pornstar’s name. Actually...” She thought for a moment. “... it is a pornstar’s name.”

“I will not have you sully the name of my former lover with such accusations. And why exactly do you know that?”

“You have your secrets and I have mine.” Luna looked like she was about to burst into laughter.


Celestia went back to her tea and newspaper, every once in awhile looking back up to see that Luna was still staring at her with an expression of contained mirth. She shook her head disapprovingly and raised her cup to her lips, taking a long sip.

“So I guess this is a good time to mention that I might be pregnant,” blurted Luna.

Celestia spat out her tea all over her newspaper and doubled over, coughing. “WHAT!

Luna burst out into laughter, pounding the table with a hoof.

“Luna, that isn’t funny,” scolded Celestia as she wiped her mouth off with a foreleg. “Don’t wait until I’m drinking to do that.”

“Pure coincidence,” answered Luna, still shaking with laughter.

“The timing was curious.”

“It’s just your imagination.”

Celestia sighed and stood up from the table. “In any case, it’s time to get moving. We have things to do. You have to present your decisions to the council, and I have to get working on a disguise so I can move about freely and unnoticed while on my little forced vacation.”

Luna turned to her half-finished bowl of cereal. “You are right, I’ll finish up quickly.” She began shovelling food into her mouth at an alarming rate.

Celestia rolled her eyes and turned to leave.

“Oh, wait! One mo’ fing!” Luna called after her with her mouth full of sugary cereal.

“Hmm?” Celestia turned back

Luna swallowed. “I looked up the word ‘sabbatical’ in a dictionary last night. Interesting definition.”

“What about it?” Celestia asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Well it said it was basically a vacation, though the word ‘sabbatical’ is usually used to describe a break that a college professor takes to get away from constant teaching, or one a scientist takes to get away from their research work. It also said that usually during these vacations, the pony makes use of their vacation to finish up personal research, or a book they’re writing. I was just wondering why you used the word ‘sabbatical’ instead of ‘vacation.’ I figured it was to make it sound more businesslike or official. To make it sound like you were still getting work done or something.”

Celestia smiled warmly. “As a matter of fact, I did finish up a research paper during that time. It was never published though, for various reasons.”

“Oh? What was it about?” Luna looked at her sideways and shoveled a ridiculous amount of cereal into her mouth, chewing slowly.

“It was a dissertation on esoteric sexual positions between two mares.”

Luna choked on her food.