• Published 29th Aug 2022
  • 1,020 Views, 33 Comments

Dream A Dream - TCC56

Part of Luna's retirement is handing off her duties in the dream realm to another pony. She has chosen Rarity - but not for a reason Rarity is happy with.

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Chapter 1

Languidly, Rarity stretched out on her favorite chaise lounge. The day had been just perfect - a wonderful trip to the spa with good friends, a glowing review of her latest line in Vanity Mare, dinner at the most exclusive restaurant in Canterlot and now to end things off? A quiet evening, relaxing by a romantic fire in comfort.

Her magic reached out to the snack bowl beside her, picking up one of the marshmallows within. The tiny treat cheerfully waved to her, chirping out a high-pitched "Darling!" before she popped it into her mouth.

About four chews later, Rarity slowed down as it dawned on her something wasn't quite right.

A glance to the bowl of marshmallows - of tiny little Rarities that were cheerfully waving at her and squeakily babbling the word 'darling' at each other.

A glance to the crackling fire in the fireplace - which didn't seem to actually have any fuel it was burning, merely existing as a free-standing flame.

A glance to the window - alright, no, that was perfectly normal. A beautiful starscape against an inky night sky, full of twinkling and shimmering starlight around the beautiful eye-like moon. Full and--

The moon blinked.

Rarity shrieked.

Opening the window, Princess Luna stuck her head inside and brought the beautiful starscape of the inky night sky (which is to say, her mane) with her. "Rarity."

Rarity continued to shriek.

Luna entered as the walls split open to accommodate her, allowing her the chance to sit down on a similar chaise that hadn't existed a moment before. Then Luna placidly waited through seven minutes of constant high-pitched screaming before she finally clamped Rarity's mouth shut with her magic. "Dream," she very firmly stated.

That calmed the unicorn… slightly.

"Or had you not noticed that you have been screaming for minutes on end without taking a breath?"

That managed to get through Rarity's horned skull, transforming her expression from utter panic to confusion.

The alicorn's droll smirk spoke volumes. "Thank you for joining me in the here and now." She paused. "Though I will say that was actually impressive. I don't believe I managed such a response even when I was Nightmare Moon."

"Yes, well…" Rarity flushed with embarrassment. "I was already a bit primed for panic." She motioned at the bowl, which now had several of the micro-Rarities swarming out of it so they could chirp 'Darling!' at Luna.

Smugly, Luna poked Rarity with a hoof. "This is your subconscious. Do not complain to me about its contents."

Rarity took another look at the bowl and then blindly tossed it aside into the dreamy nothingness. "So! Princess Luna, to what--" She stopped and shook her head. "No no, I apologize. You've stepped down, I'm certain you're tired of the title."

Luna waved her concern off. "It is fine. I understand that habits are hard to break, particularly when they have been ingrained over the course of forty or so generations." She paused. "Even if I was absent for many of those."

It drew a small grimace from the unicorn - one of sympathy and prompting her to change the subject swiftly. "As I was saying, to what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?"

Luna opened her mouth to speak - then stopped. A little smile flickered over her lips at the pause. "I wish to speak with you on a matter of some importance and sensitivity, Rarity. But I know you are very much a stickler for proper protocol - if not royal protocol, at least that of good taste and manners." She motioned with her wing at the space between them. "Would you care to set some tea for us?"

"Oh! Yes, certainly, how rude of me! I'll just pop to the kitchen and… and…" Rarity frowned, looking around. It was a room, but only half-formed. The dream had only given substance what was needed - the chaise, the fireplace, a small table the bowl of marshmallows had been resting on. The remainder of the room barely existed, more implication than fact. There were walls and a rug underhoof and other objects within the room, but all of them were insubstantial. Vagaries that existed only out of the corner of your eye. They were non-essential to the dream Rarity had been having, and so didn't quite exist. "Dear me, I fear I didn't dream of a kitchen."

"That's alright." Luna's smile sharpened a hair. "Just dream one up. Or skip that and simply dream us a table with the tea on it."

Rarity blinked. "I, ah… I'm afraid I can't quite do that, Pri– Luna." She laughed uneasily. "It's my dream, but I'm hardly in control. That's what one's subconscious is for, after all. Your sort of magic within dreams is rather unique to you."

Luna sighed before - with a slight motion of her head and a brief light of her horn - she formed a table, two chairs, and a full formal tea service for them.

Instinctually, Rarity could tell the difference in skill. Her own chaise - the most solidly-formed thing she had made in the dream - was still somewhat unreal. A glance told her that it was comfortable, soft, and a pleasing emerald green. But so many of the other details were missing: the legs were wood, but they didn't seem to exist beyond the implication of 'furniture leg', for example. It had a hazy quality to it, as though she were missing her glasses.

But Luna's work… the table was sharp and defined, made from white-lacquered rattan. Rarity could see each individual stem in the weave and how they wrapped through one another. It even seemed to have personality to it - a tiny glob here where the paint had dripped when it was made; a bit there where time had taken a toll and one of the rattan stems had splintered slightly.

"Rarity?" Luna paused, halfway into sitting.

The unicorn straightened up with a beatific smile. "Apologies. I simply can't help but be distracted by the work of an artiste."

Respectfully, Luna gave a small nod and a bashful smile. "Coming from yourself, that is quite flattering."

The two took their seats and tea was poured - Luna, it seemed, favored a robust black tea as opposed to Celestia's more floral fare. Her skill with dreams showed once more here as each pour filled the space with rich scents. (Her handling of liquid physics, as well, was quite masterful.)

Both sipped.

Both relaxed.

Luna revived the conversation. "As Princess of Equestria," she firmly stated, "I always had to put the needs of my subjects first. Thus I do not respect 'dibs'."

Then she went silent to sip her tea.

Two minutes passed.

"...and?" Rarity attempted to spur things forward once more.

Luna sipped the tea. "And I do not respect 'dibs'," she repeated.

Rarity's eye twitched.

Luna frowned, then lit her horn.

Beside them appeared a phantasm of Rainbow Dash as she had appeared in the throne room earlier in the year. "Nope! Makes perfect sense. We're awesome." She gasped. "Does this mean we get all your powers? Ooh! Ooh! I call dibs on showing up in everypony's dreams!"

The pegasus vanished and Luna shrugged with embarrassment. "Apologies, I thought you would have remembered."

"In my defense," Rarity pointed out, "That was several months ago. And they have been rather busy months, what with helping Twilight take over, the coronation, nearly having Equestria plunged into eternal winter, and at least two major dress lines." She paused for a brief moment. "Though even with being reminded, I confess I'm not certain why you feel this is relevant to bring to my attention."

There was a slight glimmer in the air between them - a shield spell. "Because I have decided to offer it to you first," Luna stated with the simplicity of obvious fact.

Rarity froze.

Luna frowned and dispelled the shield. "Hm. My timing is off. I had anticipated a spit-take."

"D– Dreadfully sorry to miss my cue." Rarity fumblingly set her teacup back down. "I'm afraid you have me off-guard. You want me to what?"

Princess Luna straightened her back - and she certainly felt like a Princess once more when she did so. "Twilight Sparkle is a highly capable mare and has exceeded every expectation set before her. Yet even she requires rest - if not to sleep, at least a moment to take her mind from her duties and relax. Patrolling the dreams of Equestria is taxing. Even at her height, my sister could not rule and do such a thing at the same time. So it is a separate duty from that of the Sun, the Moon, and the Throne. And I have chosen you, Rarity Belle, as my first choice to take up that task."

Rarity's jaw worked without sound as her mind grasped wildly to find any word. Even a syllable would be a start. But even that eluded her.

For her part, Luna simply waited it out with no action more decisive than dreaming up a few scones to go with her tea.

Finally, Rarity's mouth closed with a click. She pinched her eyes shut, took a deep breath to calm herself, and then – recomposed - opened her eyes and smiled. "I'm sorry. While the offer is flattering, I think you may be overestimating me. I am no great mage and as much fun as it is to dream of being a Princess, I lack the wings to be an alicorn."

With a quiet frown, Luna set her tea aside. "You underestimate your abilities, Rarity. And beyond that, the spells are more obscure than difficult - they are practically unknown as I have never written them down and only rarely teach others. But," she acquiesced, "If you decline I will respect that and go to my second choice. I expect Trixie will be far less humble."

Rarity sputtered. "Trixie?! That charlatan? Why, she's nothing more than a blowhard! An egotist! A–"

"An artiste," Luna interrupted. "It is not power I seek. Dreamcrafting requires finesse and imagination rather than brute force. If I simply needed a sufficiently powerful unicorn, I would have gone to Starlight Glimmer. What I require is a pony who has a creative soul, the adaptability to work on the fly, and a dedication to patrol the dream world all night, every night."

The unicorn hesitated, squirming under the full force of the compliments. "That last one doesn't sound like Trixie," she offered up as a delay to the conversation.

Luna paid it no mind. "But if it is truly power that has you worried, I will point out that you have more than you admit. And I know this, Rarity Belle. Because there is something we share that no other pony can claim."

She knew what she was talking about - and a single glance at Rarity's face made clear that the unicorn did, too. Rarity's eyes were locked firmly on the teacup before her, her lips pulled razor-tight, and every muscle tensely braced for the coming blow.

"I should have spoken to you sooner," Luna admitted quietly. "In the aftermath, I was so caught up in handling the moon creatures that I… Well, once I returned, I found you in the care of your friends. Interposing myself into that seemed… wrong." She shrugged with a sigh. "But from how you sit now, I know that I erred. You needed my assistance because while those five are amazing mares, they do not understand what you went through. What we went through."

Rarity stayed tensed. But she did manage to speak - quietly enough that it would be lost were they not in a dream with no background noise. "I didn't want to talk about it. I wanted to forget it. I've– It's been years since I let myself think about what happened. Can we simply… not?"

Slowly, Luna shook her head. "Rarity. You are stronger than you know, but it cannot be avoided. I should never have allowed it to fester for this long. And now it is immediately relevant. Because while your artistic skills and your dedication do make you an excellent candidate for crafting dreams, it is your connection to the Nightmare which truly sets you apart."

Luna said the name, and Rarity broke.

The tea table disappeared, replaced in an instant by a large, comfortable couch. There was no transition at all: it simply was, just in the same way that Rarity simply was in Luna's embrace. The Princess of the Night held the Unicorn of the Boutique as she cried ugly tears. No words were exchanged - the dreamspace was full only of Rarity's crying as the weight she'd buried for nearly a decade finally resurfaced.

Behind her - and in front of Luna - an image came into solidity from the stormy, roiling dreamstuff. Not a dream but a traumatic memory, it took a shape like but unlike Rarity's: tall and lithe, coat blacker than the deepest midnight and mane flowing with nebulae. While lacking an alicorn's wings, she had the proportions of one and the bejeweled diadem of a ruler. Fell and beautiful, the dark form of Nightmare Rarity towered tall amidst a storm of darkness and lightning, cackling with mad laughter as she prepared to vanquish both the hated day and the sad alicorn that had rejected the Nightmare's gifts.

Luna obliterated the specter with a slight motion of her horn, dispelling it to dust in the non-existent wind before her companion could notice it.

In time - much needed time - Rarity's weeping faded off to wet sniffles and shuddering breaths.

And when they finally came to a stop, Luna nudged Rarity's chin up so that their eyes could meet. "I admired you for this," she noted with a wan smile. "I had thought you simply so much stronger than I that touching the Nightmare had left you unaffected when it threw me into the abyss. But now seeing you in this way? Instead of admiration I feel kinship - you have hurt in the same way I did. It is our shared scar that no other can truly understand. An ugly sisterhood born out of our mutual tragedy."

Tear-stained cheeks rose slightly as Rarity's smile flickered. "I'm not sure I like that. I know how difficult it has been to be Sweetie's older sister - I dare not think what being my older sister would be like to you."

Luna laughed. "And I have always been the younger sister. I have no idea how to be the older one."

It was a stupid joke - but it was enough to raise Rarity's spirits and let her begin rebuilding her emotional walls. Two tissues materialized from the ether - one for Rarity to wipe her face and the other to blow her nose. Once that was done, she wriggled in place to remove herself from Luna's grip, sit up straight, take a steadying breath, and then resume as if nothing had happened. "I suppose there is something in what you claim, Luna, even if I don't like it."

"If you did, I would be gravely concerned for us all." Luna's tone made clear she was not joking about that. "But it is now a boon rather than simply calamity. You are a strong mare with firm morals. You are an artist of the highest caliber. And through the Nightmare, you have touched the dreaming world in a way no other save I has."

Rarity bit her lip. "Yes, I– I suppose that's true. But I don't know if I can handle it. Particularly in light of…" She waved her hoof vaguely in the air. "You know. Everything that happened."

Luna nodded respectfully. "And you are well within your rights to feel so. This is an offer, Rarity, not an order. Even if I could still do so, I would never consider forcing a pony to take up this burden. It is a task in need of passion, not drudgery and obligation."

That, Rarity considered. "Perhaps I could… apprentice? Spend some time trying it out. I admit, the flexibility of the dreamscape is rather enticing as an artistic medium."

Smiling, Luna nodded. "I would be most amenable to that. A trial run, so that you can understand the task more fully." She paused. "And perhaps, should you wish it? We could discuss our shared experience more deeply. When you are ready," she added quickly.

"When I'm ready," Rarity agreed. "But not yet. I think I need a little more time."

"Of course." Luna let the subject drop.

Rarity wobbled slightly as she got off the couch. Said couch ceased to be a few seconds later as Luna got to her hooves as well. "Now!" Rarity rolled her shoulders. "If that's the end of the drama for tonight, I will be quite relieved."

"Actually…" Luna grinned playfully. "This is perhaps the perfect time for a quick lesson. A chance for you to touch the dreamscape and get a taste of what perhaps lies ahead for you."

Rarity rolled her eyes - but it was a fond eyeroll. "Well, I suppose. We're both here. A little experimentation couldn't hurt."

"Wonderful!" Luna clapped her hooves. "I shall guide you through a simple manipulation - one of the most common scenes within a dream for ponies."

A dozen ideas of just what that could be leapt to Rarity's mind. "Winning the lottery? Or perhaps finding love?"

Luna shook her head. "Close your eyes, Rarity. Concentrate and do as I instruct, and I shall teach you how to raise the sun."

Rarity startled, breath stopping for a moment at those almost literally divine words.

"In a dream," Luna smugly corrected.

Rarity stuck out her tongue at the alicorn. "Cheeky."

Luna's eyes glittered with unapologetic mischief.

Author's Note:

For the third year in a row, a special thanks to Damaged, who found the exact time and date of my first FIMFiction publish so I could publish this one at the same timeslot for my anniversary.