• Published 28th Jan 2012
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No Matter How Dark - Picardy Third



Attacks and destruction in Ponyville occur on top of Twilight's recent incidents of memory loss

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Revelation

CHAPTER 6
Revelation

Twilight awoke wondering why she was on top of the covers. She quickly thought back to last night. She recalled Rainbow Dash’s flustered face and remembered most of their conversation. Twilight grimaced when she remembered that it had not been a pleasant one. She then remembered falling on the bed with Rainbow Dash beside her, but didn’t remember past then.

Twilight then closed her eyes again and turned around. When she opened them again, she was not even an inch from Rainbow Dash’s face.

“AH!” Twilight screamed, startled.

“AAH!” Rainbow Dash screamed and jumped off the bed, catching herself in mid-air with her wings, while Twilight landed in a heap on the floor with a loud ‘THUD!’.

“Oops! Sorry, Twilight!” Rainbow Dash quickly apologized, zooming through the air to help Twilight up, though she couldn’t help laughing.

“Rainbow Dash? Wha-“ Twilight said groggily. Rainbow Dash pulled Twilight up to her hooves and landed, blushing fiercely. Twilight rubbed her forehead then shook her head, clearing the sleep out of her eyes.

“Uh… sorry?”

“You spent the night?” Twilight asked. “Oh no… I wasn’t supposed to let ponies spend the night.”

“I-it’s alright, Celestia gave me permission.” Rainbow Dash somewhat lied.

“Oh, I don’t remember that… though I don’t remember most of last night, to be honest.” Twilight said. She shrugged and walked to the foot of the bed. “I don’t mind you spending the night … I’m really glad you did, actually,” Twilight said, catching a glimpse of the open doorway.

“Didn’t there used to be a door there?” Twilight asked, seeing that there was indeed no door on the frame.

“I, uh… guess so?” Dash said carefully. She didn’t want anything to trigger Twilight’s memory from last night on the chance that it could make her go crazy again. Luckily, some ponies had come into the room and cleared out all the pieces of the door and the debris during the night. There was still no door, though.

“Hm… oh now look here!” Twilight said with interest. She walked over to where there was a small, splintery piece of the old door on the ground. She picked it up and held it in her hoof, “This looks like it came from the door.”

“It could have come from anywhere…” Rainbow Dash said.

“No… this is definitely cherry…” Twilight said, examining the splinter closely.

“Well, Princess Luna actually asked me to bring the girls here to the castle for a… for a visit.” Rainbow Dash lied. “And I need to do that now.”

“You’re leaving?” Twilight said, then drooped her ears and pouted her lips.

“I’ll be back!” Rainbow Dash said, chuckling.

“But you won’t be able to stay…” Twilight said sadly.

“Hey,” Rainbow Dash said, “They can’t keep me away.”

“You don’t know the royal guards.”

“But they know me!” Rainbow Dash boasted. Twilight laughed and shook her head. “Go ahead, Rainbow Dash. I’ll see you later.”

“Later, Twilight!” Rainbow Dash called. She flew over to the window and re-opened it. She stood in the sill for a second and turned around once again, looking at Twilight. She smiled once, making Twilight giggle, then took off. As Rainbow Dash took off, Twilight couldn’t help but notice a multitude of scrapes on Rainbow Dash’s back that she hadn’t seen before. It normally wouldn’t bother her, but with her being unable to remember anything from last night…

“Twilight?”

Twilight let the thought go and turned around to see Princess Luna standing in her doorway. Somewhat surprised to see the night princess while it was clearly daytime, Twilight quickly cleared her throat, “Good morning, princess.” Twilight said. She smiled and bowed respectfully.

“There is no need, Twilight. You and I are friends.” Luna said reassuringly. Twilight blushed slightly and lifted her head back up.

“I gather your friend Rainbow Dash has left?” Luna asked.

“She… did.” Twilight replied with little enthusiasm in her words, a moment’s hesitation to consider how Luna had remembered Rainbow Dash’s name.

“That is good. She has an important message to deliver.” Luna said.

“Bringing my friends to Canterlot?” Twilight asked, recalling Rainbow Dash’s reason for leaving.

“Indeed, Twilight. I also need your approval for why I have summoned them.” Luna said.

“Approval? My approval? For what?”

“I think it acceptable that your closest friends know of your condition. It will put their minds at ease as well as yours.” Luna said. Twilight’s face paled and she shook her head.

“Tell them?! I could never tell them! I…” Twilight stammered. She fought to find words as Luna simply frowned and listened, “How would I tell Applejack that not only did I burn down her farm, but I was the one that sent her to the hospital?!”

“Your friends will understand, Twilight.” Luna suggested, “They will understand.”

Giving her trust to the princess, Twilight nodded and allowed silence to fill the room. She knew that the truth would have to come out eventually. She just didn’t want it to. What she really wanted was a change of subject, something to put her mind at ease. She had just woken up, after all.

“Luna?” Twilight asked.

“Hm?”

“What, um… what do you think of Rainbow Dash?” Twilight asked.

“What do I think?” Luna asked, surprised. She looked as if she were contemplating her answer, then spoke, “I haven’t known her well, but from what I’ve measured, she is spunky and energetic, if not a little big-headed, perhaps annoyingly so at times…” Luna mused, recalling that fateful Nightmare Night, when her only encounters with the pegasus were Rainbow Dash’s pranks. “But, she embodies one of the elements of harmony. She is strong-willed and courageous, and a more loyal friend, there is none.”

“I agree.” Twilight said. Luna’s poetic speech somehow put Twilight’s mind at ease, and she simply nodded and continued staring out the window, where Rainbow Dash was now hardly even a dot on the early morning landscape.

“I must be off, Twilight. The day is here, and I must enter the void of slumber until my night returns. I shall see you this evening.” Luna left Twilight at the window, still staring off into the distance.

“Princess!” Twilight then called, whipping around suddenly. Luna stopped in the open doorway and shot Twilight a look. “L-Luna, I mean…”

Luna smiled and nodded.

“Thanks.”
***
***

Come evening, Celestia had retired to her quarters and allowed Luna to take Twilight into the throne room once Luna had woken up and raised the moon. Rainbow Dash had brought Applejack, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, and Rarity to the throne room to wait as Luna retrieved Twilight. Celestia was unhappy with the idea of telling Twilight’s friends about her condition. The sun princess believed that it would be unwise to concern them with the unhappy news, but could not argue that keeping them in the dark was fair at all.

So, in accordance with Luna’s promise to Rainbow Dash, Twilight and Luna emerged into the throne room to a jubilant greeting from her friends. Each expressed their worry for Twilight’s well-being and their distaste at Twilight leaving Ponyville. Applejack had been outfitted with a thick cast around her hind leg which, despite the doctor’s warnings, allowed her to walk somewhat, if not a little sluggishly. In addition, she wore a large bandage on her flank where the magical burn was.

Every time one of her friends told her how much they missed her, Twilight swelled with happiness. She had truly grown from the filly she was while living in Canterlot. She now had all these great friends that truly cared about her, and it was a great comfort in such a dark time. The brief distraction was enough to keep Twilight’s mood positive, despite the grave news she and Luna were soon to deliver.

After the greeting, Luna asked the gathering of ponies to move into a more secluded area of the castle, for privacy. This was a sign to the ponies that the dealings at hand were serious matters. All but Pinkie Pie seemed to display this on their faces. Pinkie Pie just bounced along as always, continuing to lighten Twilight’s heart with her carefree nature.

Through large corridors and winding halls the group travelled. The distance they covered was massive. Not even Twilight had seen this part of the castle. Twilight didn’t even know the castle was so large! A good number of minutes passed before they were nestled soundly within the bowels of Canterlot Castle. A great wooden door stood open before the ponies, revealing a large room meant for the royal assembly in days of old, when all business was conducted in private.

The stone room had a fifteen foot ceiling, very tall for a world of four-foot equines. A large, polished wooden table took up most of the room, with chairs situated all around it and two at the head, presumably for Celestia and Luna. The walls were decorated with the ancient flags of the pony tribes. The earth pony flag hung above the door, the unicorn and pegasi flags were to the left and right, and the equestrian flag hung above the head of the table.

“This room was the first part of Canterlot Castle to be built.” Luna said, walking around the room and toward her place at the head of the table with interest, “It is never used now, but in the time millennia before my banishment, it was where all royal business was conducted.”

“It’s so grand!” Rarity exclaimed, “I feel as though I’m walking in the footsteps of our ancestors!” Rarity admired one of the chairs, running her hoof along the elaborate carvings. “And the intricacy of the furniture is simply divine!”

“If memory serves, it was in that very seat that Princess Platinum served after her father’s passing.” Luna said. She put a hoof to her chin, “Though at that point, she was known as Queen Platinum, I suppose.”

“Amazing!” Rarity exclaimed, now hovering over the chair with extreme interest, letting her eyes take in every detail. Rainbow Dash had flown up to the flag of the Pegasus tribe and was admiring it in all its glory. Fluttershy soon joined her, and for a moment the two pegasi enjoyed a moment of togetherness with pride for their kind.

“Pretty cool, huh Fluttershy?” Rainbow Dash remarked.

“It’s lovely.” Fluttershy said. She flew in for a very close look and admired the intricate stitching of the flag, “Such detail…”

“Princess Luna?” Twilight asked Luna in a hushed tone as her friends admired the room. She spoke to the princess, but her eyes were focused on a spot on the ground. She seemed distracted, distant, like she would rather be anywhere but here right now. Luna understood Twilight’s concerns all too well, but asked anyway.

“What is the matter, Twilight?” Luna asked comfortingly.

“Luna… I don’t think I can do this…” Twilight said quietly, her voice wavering.

“Do not be afraid, Twilight.” Luna said, “Besides, I have already agreed to do most of the speaking.

“So what is this serious news you need to tell us?” Rarity asked. In her typical fashion, Rarity was not one to wait around. Luna and Twilight looked forward to see the group of ponies had now gathered around where they stood, right by the head of the table. They looked at each other nervously and gave Twilight scattered worried glances.

The five visiting ponies formed an arc in front of Luna and Twilight, who were side-by-side. Twilight’s heart raced. Her face must have shown her fear, because the ponies each looked more worried by the second.

“First of all, I have brought you down here to ensure that we are completely alone.” Luna started. “It was the wish of my sister that no chances be taken concerning the issue at hand. Royal guards are stationed all over the castle, but their patrol does not extend down here for most of the day. My sister is correct about the need for secrecy. The safety of Equestria is concerned.”

I am a threat to Equestria… Twilight thought. She gulped and looked down sadly, which didn’t go unnoticed by the friends. Their moods took another small hit at Twilight’s little display of unease.

“What’s wrong?” Applejack finally asked.

“Your friend Twilight Sparkle is unwell.” Luna said. Twilight internally approved of Luna’s word choice, “She has been afflicted with a condition of a most unfortunate kind.” Luna began. Twilight’s heart rate quickened.

Here we go. Twilight thought. She kept her gaze fixed on the ground. Her friends were trying to digest this information.

“She’s sick?” Pinkie asked innocently, though it was obvious that even she wasn’t quite as happy as she was before.

“Not… exactly.” Luna replied. Pinkie gave her a quizzical look, so Luna continued. Her tone shifted slightly. “It is widely believed that curses are nothing but pony lore and mare’s tales, but Twilight indeed has found herself the unfortunate bearer of a curse.”

“A curse?!” The chorus of ponies shouted in unison, their eyes growing wide. Twilight expected that the friends would be surprised, but she knew for sure that the girls had no idea what Luna was implying by telling them that she had a curse.

“What kind o’ curse?” Applejack asked. Before Luna could answer, she was cut off.

“Twilight said that there are no such things as curses!” Rainbow Dash exclaimed, then to the group, “Remember?”

“Yes, of course.” Rarity agreed, “When we were all frightened that Zecora had cursed us!”

“The kind of curse Twilight has,” Luna said, addressing Applejack’s question first, “I will get to. And, Twilight was right. There is no such thing as an artificial curse. One cannot lay a curse upon another’s head, but one may find themselves afflicted with a curse through natural causes.”

Twilight grimaced, still not allowing her gaze to rise to the ponies in front of her. Of the ponies, Rainbow Dash was the only one that seemed to understand what was going on. She found it hard to look away from Twilight.

“Now, before I go into detail about Twilight’s condition, I must assure you that nothing is Twilight’s fault. This curse upon her has done terrible things, but none could have been prevented.”

“What are you saying, Princess?” Rarity asked. Luna looked down at Twilight once before turning her attention back to the five ponies. As she opened her mouth to speak, Twilight suddenly interrupted.

“Luna, I…” Twilight said, then her words got caught in her throat. The ponies all looked at her and Luna looked down with interest.

“Yes, Twilight?” Luna asked.

“I think I can like to continue from here.” Twilight said, holding her head up and looking at her friends with a sudden burst of confidence. Luna bowed her head in respect for Twilight’s courage.

“As you wish, Twilight.” Luna said, taking a step back. Twilight sighed and looked into the eyes of her best and only friends. The reality of the situation began to sink in, and as it did, Twilight became less afraid. Everything Luna had said was true, they were just concerned for her safety. All they wanted was answers, and Twilight knew that now. Still, as she looked at the cast that covered Applejack’s leg, she couldn’t help but hesitate.

“Within the past month, Sweet Apple Acres has burned down, Carousel Boutique has been attacked, and Applejack has been hospitalized.” Twilight spoke solemnly. The ponies listening all looked downtrodden at the mention of the dismal events. Twilight paused in order to find her words. Her heart hammered against her chest.

“All of these, even the fire, were done by a mysterious attacker.” Twilight said, ready for Applejack’s retort.

“But Ah thought…” Applejack said.

“The fire was no accident.” Twilight quickly said. She closed her eyes and allowed the weight of the words to sink in. “Arson. It was another attack.”

The ponies gasped quietly. Twilight felt like she was going to cry. She didn’t want to tell her friends the truth, she really didn’t, but she had already gone this far. There was no way to go back, and lying was not an option.

“And… we didn’t know who the attacker was.” Twilight said, her voice wavering and her breathing became ragged. She reached up to her face and wiped away a tear that was ready to fall. “We were frantic for answers, to know who the culprit was.”

Twilight sniffed and shook her head, “But now I know.”

“Twilight…” Rainbow Dash muttered, shaking her head. Rainbow Dash now knew exactly what was going on.

“It was me.” Twilight said, the last word caught in her throat. Her friends gasped again, this time taking a step back collectively. Twilight continued, a little more urgently, “All the attacks! They were me…”

“T-Twilight?” Applejack asked. “N-no… no, yer lyin’… the pony that attacked me was black as the night… I saw it!”

“Twilight, you would never do anything like that.” Fluttershy said.

“No, I wouldn’t.” Twilight said. “But… when I’m under this curse I would.”

Silence enveloped the great hall. Looks of confusion were spread across the ponies faces, but they slowly began to understand. Rainbow Dash looked at the ground solemnly, Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy were horrified, Rarity looked as if she were going to be sick, and Applejack still stared at Twilight with a look of pure disbelief.

“So… this curse o’ yers turns ya evil?” Applejack asked, trying to understand. Twilight gulped and nodded.

“Why… how could you keep this from us, Twilight?!” Applejack suddenly shouted.

“What?” Twilight asked fearfully.

“If y’all knew you had burned down mah farm, why didn’t ya say somethin’ before ya sent me to the hospital!?”

“Wha… I…” Twilight stammered, more tears beginning to form.

“And what about my boutique?” Rarity asked, “Couldn’t you have prevented that?”

“What if more ponies got hurt, Twilight?” Applejack demanded. “When would enough be enough?!”

“I’m sorry, girls, I…” Twilight choked out, tears streaming down her face. Twilight fell to her knees and buried her face in her hooves. The friends were now talking over each other, their noise filling up the space and driving Twilight farther and farther into her hooves, trying to separate herself from her friends.

“Enough!” Luna shouted forcefully. All the ponies silenced immediately and looked at Luna with fear in their eyes. For long seconds, the only sounds that were heard throughout the giant room were the echoed cries of Twilight Sparkle. Luna calmed down and bent down to Twilight, “Come now, Twilight, please get up.”

Twilight nodded and stood again, wiping away more tears with a hoof.

“Now, the reason why Twilight didn’t inform you of her actions was because she didn’t know.” Luna said.

“How in the hay could she not know!?” Applejack demanded. Luna’s patience was running thin with the stubborn farm pony, but thankfully Rainbow Dash chimed in.

“Her memory loss.” Rainbow Dash brought up. The four other ponies looked at her, surprised, but did recall that detail.

“Exactly.” Luna said as Twilight nodded. “She is not herself when the curse overtakes her body. She has no recollection of the events.”

“Is that true, darling?” Rarity asked.

“Of course!” Twilight said pleadingly, “Why would I keep something so important from my best friends?”

“Ah suppose you’re right, Twilight.” Applejack said, “Ah’m sorry fer yellin’ at ya.”

“And… Rainbow Dash…” Twilight said, turning her attention to the pegasus, “Last night… I had no memory of it. The door to my room was missing and I found a piece of it on the floor… and your back…”

Rainbow Dash had completely forgotten about the scrapes that had covered her back from her short scuffle with Twilight the night prior. Pinkie Pie peered over to Rainbow Dash’s back and looked at the small injuries.

“Where’d you get the scratches, Dashie?” Pinkie Pie asked innocently.

“Oh no…” Twilight muttered, taking two steps back, “No… no…”

“Twilight, I’m not hurt, it’s okay.” Rainbow Dash said calmly.

“I attacked you, didn’t I?!” Twilight shouted. “And I hurt you!”

“Twilight, you must calm down.” Luna said. Twilight breathed heavily and buried her head in one of her hooves. Luna continued, “It will comfort you to know that it was Rainbow Dash’s decision to stay by your side last night, even after the attack.”

“I still attacked you…” Twilight said to Rainbow Dash. “Everypony… I can’t begin to express how sorry I am…”

“Don’t you worry yourself, Twilight, we understand.” Rarity said.

“All’s fergiven, Twi.” Applejack said happily.

“Besides,” Pinkie Pie chimed in, “You went through the trouble of fixing everything up!”

“That’s right, you fixed everything!” Rainbow Dash echoed, “So what’s there to worry about?”

“Thank you so much, girls…” Twilight said. “It means a lot that I’ll know that you won’t hate me while I live here in Canterlot.”

“We could never hate you, Twilight.” Fluttershy said sweetly.

“Wait, live in Canterlot?” Rainbow Dash asked. “She still has to stay here?!”

Twilight looked down sadly, “As long as I have this curse, I’m a danger to everypony.” Twilight sniffed, “And… so far, no cure has been found.”

“Do not fear, for you will be able to visit her as much as you like.” Luna said, “But for the safety of others, we have decided to keep her here, at the castle.”

“Oh Twilight!” Pinkie Pie shouted in despair, leaping forward to hug Twilight around the neck. Fluttershy and Rarity soon joined, followed by Rainbow Dash, and finally Applejack, the wheelchair making the maneuver more difficult. For a long time, the six friends remained in that hug, unwilling to part. And, for the next few minutes, an eerie silence crept into the great chamber, almost as a reminder of the dark times soon to come.

Shortly after, Luna led the ponies out of the great meeting hall and back into the main part of the castle. Rainbow Dash walked next to Twilight the entire way back to the throne room. She had flown with the group the entire way to the great meeting hall, but this time she walked. In fact, she wasn’t the only one who was down, the entire group had lost its happiness and levity. The casual joy that was present when they first arrived was now gone.

“You mind if I hang back for awhile?” Rainbow Dash whispered to Twilight, noticing that they had drifted behind the group a little bit. Twilight was pulled out of her thought and hadn’t quite heard Rainbow Dash.

“Hm?” Twilight replied.

“Can I stay here for a bit?” Rainbow Dash asked again, a little louder, “Keep you company?”

“Sure, Rainbow Dash.” Twilight said, smiling, “I’d like that.”

“Oh, Twilight!” Rarity suddenly called back.

“Yes, Rarity?”

“Wherever is my little Spikey-wikey? It has been ages since I last saw him!” Rarity asked.

“Yeah, where is Spike?” Applejack asked.

“Oh, he’s around.” Twilight said, “I didn’t want to have to drag him into all this unpleasantness.”

“Oh dear, you have told him, haven’t you?” Rarity said with a slight edge of worry.

“The princesses took care of that one.” Twilight said, looking at Luna.

“’Twas mine sister, Twilight.” Luna said. “It was upon her insistence that I agreed to tell Spike.”

“Well it’s not fair! I didn’t get to say hello.” Rarity pouted.

“I’ll make sure you get to see him if you visit again.” Twilight said. They had reached the throne room now and the group was separating. Twilight, Rainbow Dash, and Luna stayed put while the rest of the ponies began to leave.

“We most certainly will!” Rarity said, “But ta-ta for now!”

“G’bye, Twilight!” Applejack said.

“Bye!” Fluttershy waved.

“Goodbye, Twilight! Goodbye, Rainbow Dash!” Pinkie Pie said enthusiastically, “Wait, why is Rainbow Dash staying?”

Rainbow Dash stopped waving and winced. She had hoped they wouldn’t notice, but knew it was unrealistic to have that hope. They would have definitely noticed that she was gone when they had gotten to the train.

“She’ll just be here for a bit, girls.” Twilight said.

“Well, we’ll see ya back in Ponyville then.” Applejack said, “Bye, girls!”

And they were gone. Twilight sighed and turned to Rainbow Dash. “So now you know.”

“Know what?” Rainbow Dash replied.

“About everything! About the curse, about the memory loss… and you still want to be here with me?”

“Twilight, it wasn’t you that attacked me!” Rainbow Dash said, “I knew that even then. You didn’t even sound like yourself.”

“But I’m… dangerous.” Twilight said uneasily.

“A little curse isn’t going to keep me away from you.” Rainbow Dash said. Twilight smiled and went to walk up to her chambers with Rainbow Dash beside her. Luna remained in the throne room, which actually caught Twilight’s attention.

“Not coming upstairs, Luna?” Twilight asked.

“First of all, my chambers are that way.” Luna said, then pointed in the opposite direction, “Up those stairs. Also, I have not spent my time in this throne room in too long. I think I’ll actually do what I am supposed to tonight.”

Twilight giggled and led Rainbow Dash up and into the castle. As they walked, Rainbow Dash moved closer to Twilight, only a few inches away. Twilight noticed this. Had she been Rarity, the small gesture probably would have caused a scene, but since Twilight was completely indifferent to Rainbow Dash’s spatial relationship to herself, she didn’t pay it any more mind.

“So where is Spike?” Rainbow Dash asked.

“Probably in his room.” Twilight said.

“Spike gets his own room too?!” Rainbow Dash asked in disbelief.

“Well, the castle really isn’t used much like it used to be.” Twilight said, “The princesses, a few scholars, and some of the royal guard live here, but that’s it. There are dozens of empty rooms.”

“But to live so close to the princesses…” Rainbow Dash continued.

“Spike and I grew up with Celestia.” Twilight said, “She’s more of a friend to us. Of course, I still see her as my princess first and foremost, but… she’s also more than that.”

“Kinda like a big sister?” Rainbow Dash suggested.

“Yeah, kinda like a big sister.” Twilight agreed.

Silence crept between the friends again. Twilight’s door came into view as they rounded a corner. Twilight let Rainbow Dash in then followed her. It was night, so the room was pitch black. Twilight did a quick spell and all of the candles in the room erupted in flame. The soft light illuminated Rainbow Dash’s form as she explored the room a second time.

“So what now?” Rainbow Dash asked.

“Uh… well, we can sit on the rug, and I can have somepony get us some hot chocolate or something…”

“That’s not what I meant.” Rainbow Dash said, then laughed, “I mean what now, what now? Like, what happens next?”

“Oh!” Twilight replied, then blushed a bit at her mistake, “I’m going to help the princesses research my condition in the archives. We’re gonna dig through scrolls, historical accounts, anything that can help.”

“You’re just gonna have a blast, aren’t you?” Rainbow Dash asked, “Heh, whaddya need me for?”

“Rainbow Dash…” Twilight said in a condescending tone, as if she were about to lecture her friend, “I need you for every reason. Even after you’ve been gone for five minutes, I miss you. I’m so glad that you like visiting me, because I really like it when you visit. I need it…” Twilight trailed and blushed fiercely. Rainbow Dash walked right over to Twilight with an easy smile on her face.

Rainbow gave Twilight a little peck on the cheek, then walked over to the carpeted rug and curled up on it. Twilight was stunned. The place where Rainbow Dash’s lips met her cheek tingled. Twilight resisted the urge to lift a hoof to her face and touch it.

Rainbow Dash nervously cleared her throat, “You said something about hot chocolate?”

Twilight looked up and smiled, her heart now beating quickly, “Coming right up!”

***
***

Twilight had been staring out her bedroom window for the past few hours. Rainbow Dash had left now, leaving her alone in the dark. The place where Rainbow Dash had kissed Twilight’s cheek was still tingling, driving Twilight crazy with assumptions as to the meaning of what should have been a simple gesture. She wished that Rainbow Dash could have stayed the night again. She could use the company. It wasn’t until she got to see her friends again that she realized how lonely her room was.

As if it were an answer to her plea, there came a knock on her bedroom door. Without waiting for consent, it then opened and Princess Luna stepped in.

“Good evening, Twilight Sparkle.” Luna greeted “I see your door has been replaced.”

Twilight cringed a little at the reminder of her struggle with Rainbow Dash the night prior. “Evening, Luna.” she replied. She turned to see the princess of night standing in the middle of her room, admiring its contents. After a few seconds of silence, the night princess spoke.

“I must apologize, it was I who destroyed your door… it was in the way, you see, and-“

“I’d… rather not talk about it.” Twilight said quietly. Luna nodded and continued her observations, quickly thinking of a subject change.

“Are you satisfied by how tonight’s events unfolded?” Luna asked tentatively.

“I am.” Twilight said, then actually smiled. She looked back out into the night, “You were right, they did accept the truth for what it was. I am so lucky to have friends like them.”

“So you are not upset that I asked you to tell them?” Luna wondered a little hesitantly. Twilight chuckled on the inside at the display of insecurity coming from one of the most powerful beings in Equestria.

“Of course not.” Twilight assured the princess. Luna smiled and joined Twilight by the window. It was just big enough for the two mares to comfortably stand beside each other and admire the night. “The night is beautiful, Luna… “

“I’m glad you think so.” Luna replied.

“The ponies of old don’t know what they were missing.” Twilight mused, “I’ve always loved the night… the stars have a serene beauty about them unmatched by none but the moon.” Twilight recited poetically. Luna smiled and swelled with a small amount of pride. The sounds of crickets and cicadas filled the air. Indeed, this was a beautiful summer night.

“You are a very brave pony, Twilight Sparkle.” Luna said. Twilight didn’t answer right away. She didn’t think of herself as brave. She wasn’t Rainbow Dash. Luna continued with a slight downcast tone, “You are braver than I ever was.”

“Now, Luna, you know that’s not true.” Twilight said, “I could never run an entire land.”

“I think you don’t give yourself enough credit, Twilight.” Luna said. “When Nightmare Moon threatened to take over my soul, like a coward I turned and allowed her to have her way.” Twilight now had her full attention on the princess. She had never heard Luna speak so openly about her time as Nightmare Moon before.

“You bravely tackle this predicament in a way that I truly admire.” Luna observed. “And in that way, I am envious of your spirit.”

“Luna, if you don’t think I’m afraid then you would be very wrong.” Twilight pointed out.

“I would believe you to be a fool if you weren’t afraid, Twilight.” Luna said lightly. Twilight simply grimaced and turned her attention back to the landscape. Luna sighed and looked out the window again.

“Had you been in my shoes…” Luna said dolefully, “You would have fought back the anger… the jealousy… Nightmare Moon would not have stood a chance.”

“Luna…” Twilight stopped her. She looked over at the princess. Luna’s eyes were drooping and she looked out on the darkened landscape with a sulky demeanor. Twilight sighed, “Nightmare Moon was in the past, and that is where she will stay.”

“You are right, young Twilight.” Luna said, straightening herself up, “Dwelling on the past only hinders one’s progression toward the future.” Luna chuckled once, “I find it silly that I have to be reminded of that.”

“Princess or not, we’re all ponies, and ponies aren’t perfect.” Twilight said. She found that she would have never said something like that to Celestia, but Luna truly was more of a friend than a mentor, even if she were the Princess.

“’Tis true.” Luna added. “Now, I remember that I really had a reason for visiting you at this hour.”

“Hm?”

“Celestia and I have been researching this curse of yours for about a month now, and we will need your help.” Luna said. “Whatever the cure is, we need to find it.”

“Assuming there is a cure…” Twilight said flatly.

“Thinking optimistically is all we have right now.” Luna told Twilight, “If we lose our confidence, then we can forget about finding a cure.”

“You’re right.” Twilight agreed.

“Do you remember how to find the castle library?” Luna asked. Twilight perked up a little and just laughed.

“Do you know me?”

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