"It's just a simple blood test, Pinkie. It would only hurt for a second." Twilight wheedled, rummaging through a black case that appeared to be a bowling bag. More likely it was a doctor's bag but it got me thinking how much fun it would be to take all the girls out bowling. We hadn't been since Rainbow Dash got us banned last year, but I'm sure Allie Way's forgotten about it by now and probably patched the back wall besides.
"Nah. No thanks Twilight." I said, warily backing away from the long, scary, pokey syringe that she finally brought out. It's hungry twinkle put me off, maybe a little, but it wasn't from any niggling fear of needles that made me nix it. Well...actually there was that too, but it's still not the main main reason, "I already know I'm an Apple, so there's no reason to go to the trouble."
"You can't know that for sure."
"Of course I can, silly. Applejack told me herself and the rest of the family agreed, I'm officially Pinkamena Diane Apple Pie." I grinned at the very thought of it and what family fun it foretold. I was already planning to help with the Apple family reunion, even though it was a bunch of moons away yet. It's never too early to start and the first thing I was planning was to ask about Ma and Pa and my sisters. If I'm an Apple, that means they are too, right? I would love to get them off the rock farm for a couple days to party in Ponyville. They can be the newest, rockinest branch on the family apple tree of the Apple family.
Twilight Sparkle gave me that sigh that said she was about to explain things in her slowest and most patient voice but instead just grumbled, "Yeah, well she can say that all she wants."
"Ooh, and she did too! That's how I know it's true, because if you can't believe Applejack, who can you believe?"
"Well, right, and I'm sure that it's true, it's just wouldn't you like to know, like for real?"
I cocked my head, letting the gears and flywheels churn in whatever direction they liked, but they didn't do much but lead me to think that Twilight's been practicing with Rainbow Dash a little too much lately because she just keeps going in loops. I must have thought too long because Twilight adopted one of her worried looks and that's when an epiphany hit me, "Adopted! That's it, Twilight, where'd that super old scroll get to?"
"Adopted? You're too old for them to adopt you."
"No no no, somepony else might be adopted! I saw it on the scroll, but it didn't make any sense and I meant to check it out later and now it is."
"What?" Her eyebrow quirked. Twilight's awfully cute when she's confused.
"Later. Now is later if you're from then, which I was, maybe I still am? I saw you there too, and now we're all back together again in the now, isn't it great?" She didn't answer except for bit of an amused snort as she hoofed over the scroll. I unrolled it out the door and down the street, bumping into ponies and stepping over a hay wagon until I found the spot I was looking for. It didn't really answer the question and I hmphed in disappointment, "Hmph." When I flicked the scroll it retracted like a windowshade, dragging along under ponies hooves and hopping over the wagon enthusiastically. It was still spinning when Twilight lit beside me.
"You didn't find what you were looking for?"
"No. It doesn't go back far enough." I hoofed her the scroll back, shrugged and smiled, giving up on the whole thing, "Guess we'll never know."
"Well, how far back do you need? I've probably got something that covers it, I've been trying to research Princess Celestia's lineage and I've got some records from clear back to the pre-harmony era. They're fascinating, really, it's a shame nopony takes much interest in such esoteric knowledge anymore. I think I might be able to prove that the Princess is a direct descendant of Princess Platinum and...."
"Did you ask her?" I interrupted. Knowing Twilight she hadn't. She puts Princess Celestia on such a pedestal, even though she's been like a second mother to her and I was sure she would have been happy to tell her if Twilight just asked.
"No, I...well to be honest, I'm a little embarrassed by the whole thing." Twilight fidgeted with the genealogy scroll, "Ponies nowadays don't even question the Princess' divinity, or that she's been given sovereignty over all of Equestria and I don't want her to think that's what I'm doing, but..."
"But, well I think she might have started out as a normal pony." She backpedaled, "Don't get me wrong, a really really special pony..."
"The super shiniest and most specialest. Gosh, she raises the sun and that's like a gold star over all of Equestria." I stood as ramrod straight and regal as I could and let my mane waggle like there was a stiff breeze and it was a hurricane flag. In my best Princess impersonation I said, "A plus my little ponies! What a tremendous effort you've all put in, I'm so very proud of you all." Then I giggle-snorted, which ruined the effect, maybe.
"Right, but I think even with all that she's still just a mare. A daughter with a mother and a family and I feel like maybe if I find out more I can give her a little of that back." Twilight's eyes wandered to the north and those fantastic spires that towered over our little town from the hazy distance, "It's got to get so lonely with just her sister as her only family."
"Don't forget old Blueblood."
She scoffed and rolled her eyes,"Whatever. He'd have to clean up his act pretty drastically before I'd count that sorry excuse for a prince. Anyway, I got to thinking about it when we were cleaning up the old castle. From their diary they seem so much younger, like playful foals, and there's several mentions of Queen Majesty. I'm almost certain it's her mother and a descendant of Princess Platinum besides. Proving it, though, might take a while."
I knew this one from the get-go. 'Dear Diary, today we learned that all of Equestria is the Princess' family down to the least of us and she loves even the most wayward of her foals with all her heart.' Eh, but let Twilight play with her books some more, it makes her happy and it'll be fun when she finally figures it out. I thought maybe I could finagle it into an Alicorn party of some sort, "Oh, is that what you're after? I thought you were out to prove that Discord's her uncle."
It took seventeen seconds for that thought to filter through Twilight's purple alicorn brain before it was roundly rejected, "Pinkie, that's ridiculous. Discord doesn't have any family. He's a coalescence of pure chaos incarnate, sprung to life from whole cloth and void stuff."
"Twilight," I told her flatly, "That's not where foals come from. You of all ponies should know that."
"Um, right?" She agreed noncommittally, either she was humoring me or her and her aunt Pinkie were going to need to have a long talk one of these days, "But...I'm not sure he was ever a foal in the first place."
"Oh, but even he would have been cute as a foal and that's really pretty sad if he never was a foal and isn't even the Princess' uncle. Y'know, Big Mac said he'd be a monkey's uncle this one time, which is funny because I would have figured Fluttershy for that one. Do you think they're related too? Ooh! Maybe we're all cousins besides being PBFFs, do you think?"
"Well...probably not, and Discord's a force of nature as much as anything. Him having nieces would be like the sun having a son."
"Or the moon mooning you?" I ventured.
"Well...no that doesn't really..."
"Or a bird giving you...well no, better save that one for the pub tonight." I figured Twilight would never be Princess of dirty jokes, but they're a lot of fun with the right crowd at the right time.
"Pub? What pub?"
"The one in Canterlot, silly! But first let's get back to the library and see if we can find the right book." My teeth were watering, so I knew it was in there somewhere.
With Spike's help we managed to wade through a sea of ink and whitecaps of parchment until I finally came across what I was looking for. I considered just explaining the whole thing to Twilight, I was roping her into this whole thing and it was pretty rude of me, but in the end I decided it was more fun to be cryptic. All she knew for most of the train ride to Canterlot was that it was totally about the Princess' family and that would have been fine, but Spike kept poking around, guessing and making me tell him if he was getting hotter or colder. He got on quite a hot streak and I was having so much fun and got so excited I blurted out my secret and ruined the surprise.
"There's no way that's true, where did you get that idea?"
"Oh, a little book told me." I said and produced the volume in question.
"Indubitably. Pinkie's assertions are quite correct and she's a brilliant mare besides." Mr book agreed, spurred on by only the teeniest bit of ventriloquism on my part. Twilight retrieved my traveling companion with that magic cloud thing she does and opened it up to where I'd marked it. It screamed out, "Oh! My spine, augh!"
"Get it? Spine, because it's a book?" I said, but Twilight probably didn't get it because she only shushed me and started reading, so I sat back and hummed a few bars of a new song I'd been working on while she flipped back and forth in the book. It was finally Spike, reading over her shoulder, who spoke up.
"Pinkie's right, she is adopted, I can't even believe it."
"I know!" Twilight gaped, slack jawed then turned that incredulous look on me, "Pinkie, we can't just go tell her about this, she'll be devastated."
"Oh. Why's that now?" I quirked a brow and waited.
"If she finds out she's adopted after all she's been through, I don't even know if she'll be able to take it, and why should we even tell her? This is by far the worst idea you've ever come up with Pinkie Pie." Twilight told me, but I think she neglected the tomato egg drop soup I'd come up with last month. Tasted great, but it totally looked like barf and it pretty much put an end to the Cake's short lived experiment with having a soup and sandwich of the day.
"If that's what you got out of that I don't think we were reading the same book." I flipped up the cover just to check, but it was still 'Concise Pre-Harmony Era Unicornian Lineage and Selected Anecdotes' so I don't know what to say.
"Pinkie! Be serious, this is a terrible thing to spring on the Princess like this!" Twilight said, but I was being serious and I was above all certain that this was a good idea which could in no way go wrong.
"Yeah." Spike said drolly, "Because finding out you're adopted is the worst possible thing that could ever happen, right?"
My face fell, a deep a sullen sadness overtook me, "Oh, Spike. Twilight never told you that she's not your real mother did she?"
"What? C'mon Pinkie, I'm a dragon, of course I know that."
"Oh, okay, I wasn't sure for a second there." Dodged a bullet with that one, "It's just that when I was a filly I didn't look like my parents, or my sisters and the whole time growing up I thought I was adopted."
"Huh, come to think of it you really don't look much like your folks, so were you really a Pie?" Spike asked.
"Silly, I'm a Pie just as much as my sisters are."
"So you're not adopted?" Twilight asked and I shook my head, mane flopping every which way.
"Dunno, but I'm a Pie and now I'm an Apple too! An Apple Pie who lives with the Cakes! How lucky can one filly be?" I grinned because it was true, then I hugged Spike and Twilight tightly to me because the sheer joy would have made me burst if I didn't let it out somehow. Twilight grunted in protest when her ribs started to creak and I let her loose, a bit.
"So does that mean you are adopted?"
"Twilight, for such a smart pony you sure are silly sometimes."
"Sure, sure, just, maybe let me talk to the Princess about this first, okay?"
I really meant to let her, too. Seriously. But when we got to Canterlot and got close to the castle I got excited.
"Pinkie, you've seen the castle dozens of times, why are you getting so loopy over it?" Spike demanded in irritation as I bounced alongside, telling him about all the fun we were about to have and planning out our choreography for the song, "And what song? I have no idea what you're even talking about."
"I guess since we grew up here it's not so exciting, it's just a regular old castle to us." Twilight rasped from behind, she was struggling to keep up with my pace so I slowed just long enough to run a ring around her and make a flying leap over her.
"But this is no regular old castle, no matter how many times you see it, Canterlot's something special. It's like this, there's three types of castles. One's to keep ponies out and that's an ugly castle meant for bickering and fighting. Another's a castle made to show off what you've hoarded up for yourself so nopony else can have it, and those are impressive a lot of times, but deep down they're ugly because they're made of greed. Canterlot, though, oh majestic Canterlot Keep its very self is friendship and love and benevolence and do you know what it looks like?"
"That?" Spike guessed, pointing at the castle. It was a good guess because it happened that it did, but wrong.
"Like post banishment unicornian gothic remodeled in the fifth century with heavy reneighssance influences?" Twilight posited.
"No, silly. It looks like a party made of marble and gold!"
"Really?" My two purple friends asked in unison.
"Yupper scupper! Why...." This is the part where the band started up from wherever it is that bands spontaneously start up from and since I'd just put the finishing touches on the score I set to work hoofing it and singing praises of Equestria and it's Princesses and didn't stop until I came up for breath. Literally. I came up for breath in a huge lukewarm bubblebath and was greeted by a dulcet voice.
"Pinkie Pie! It's so good to see you. If I might ask, what's the occasion?"
"Oh, hi Princess! The occasion is that I promised that I'd let Twilight tell you that Luna's adopted, but when I was singing the verse about a boat in the moat, a moater boat, if you will, I must have gotten mixed up somewhere because I ended up here." Here was a tiled in bubble bath of alicornian proportions in a fancy bathroom I hadn't seen before, probably the Princess' private bath. With a start I realized I'd completely forgotten to bow, so I apologized and bowed deeply, which put my head under the foam. When I emerged again I had gained a bubble beard and eyebrows and Twilight Sparkle was standing there with a panicking dragon running around and flailing his arms. The Princess is always a remarkably good sport even when everypony interrupts the sanctity of her bath.
"...And then she just disappeared and, Oh Princess! Maybe we can still save her if we can drain the moat before..." Twilight stopped and went through the stages of grief in reverse order, then coolly nodded to me, "Pinkie. In future, could you try not do that sort of thing?"
"Oh, gosh I'm sorry Twilight. I didn't mean to leave you to finish the song. Did it turn out okay without me?"
"Well...it's always better when you're there," Spike critiqued, "But it went well enough until the crescendo on the observatory tower when we realized you never came up out of the moat..."
"The song wasn't what I meant." She grumbled.
"Twilight." The Princess finally greeted her now calm protege, "I was just asking to what we owed the pleasure of your company. She mentioned something about my sister?"
"You told?" She spun on me, eyes flashing.
"It...It slipped. I didn't mean to Twilight."
She sighed, shrugged, and let her annoyance drift away, "You told. Okay, that's okay." Then she turned to the Princess, "So, is it true?"
"Yes." Princess Celestia replied simply.
"Does she know?" Twilight said grimly, "Does Princess Luna know that she's adopted?"
All of our attention was drawn by a clunk and a startled whinny by the door.
"I...I heard a commotion..." Princess Luna explained.
"I guess she does now." Spike blurted and was silenced by a little kick.
"Well this is awkward." I whispered to Spike who nodded sullenly.
"Sister, I...I always knew somehow that I wasn't really like you, but adopted? I never even imagined. All this time and when my jealousy got the better of me, what a foal I was to think I could have ever been your equal." Luna's head hung and a starlit tear began to form. I could see she didn't understand either that this was a time to be happy. Luckily Princess Celestia finally rose from the bath and was cooing calming words to her sister. She enfolded her, wings and all, into a beautiful hug. Sadly, Twilight saw me moving to join in and stopped me, telling me to let them have their privacy.
"Give me a moment to compose myself. We can reconvene in my outer chambers and I'll tell you a little story and give a little confession that's been too long coming."
They talked for a long time about history and research and the history of the research of stuffy old unicorn researchers. It turned out Twilight had been right too, in a way.
"The fact is, Luna, that we're both adopted. Mother, Queen Majesty, took us both in and raised us as her own. You were too young to remember, I suppose, and I never really mentioned it. I never wanted you to think you were anything other than my true sister."
"But if she wasn't truly our mother, then where did we come from?" Princess Luna glowered from a dark nest of quilts and pillows she'd confiscated from her sister's bed and shrouded herself in. I tucked myself in beside her because respect for the diarchy or not, I'm not likely to miss out on some good pillow fort action.
"In truth, I don't know who your parents were and I have none myself." Celestia continued serenely, "I control the sun, that's true, but it wasn't always this way. Long ago, before harmony blossomed in the hearts of every pony I was the formless aimless will of the heavens themselves, a fleetingly aware creature languidly observing all of creation from my perch within the fiery orb itself. The unicorns held me in their thrall and I danced a perfectly synchronized waltz for them."
"You're an elemental, then?" Twilight asked.
"Perhaps, I've never seen much need to explore the subject too deeply. I am what I am whether I can define it or not." The Princess continued, turning a loving gaze on her sister, "One day, however, I saw a Pegasus foal, in the shadows, hiding from my light and I was quite vexed for day after day I saw her slipping into the deep shadows, shunning the warmth and light I provided."
"You must have really good eyes." I said, and Twilight shushed me.
"Indeed, and I was quite irked at this little fillies rejection of my gifts. Thinking about it as days slipped by, forever searching for that inky coat hiding just beyond my view, it gave me something to think about and my consciousness coalesced in that search."
"You couldn't find me because the shadows are, by definition, out of view of the sun, yes?"
"Fleeting glimpses only, at first. That was when I abandoned my sun and stole away to the moon, a principality I still held sway over in those days. Then I saw a very different filly indeed. A filly who frolicked and gamboled under the twinkling of the stars and slept rough beneath them every night. That was when I realized it, you weren't hiding from my light as much as you were seeking the calm serenity of the night and as I watched you from above my affection for you grew."
"Creepy." Spike whispered.
"I know, right?" I agreed.
"It was soon thereafter that I noticed something else about you. All the other ponies moved in little groups and in herds. You were invariably alone, an orphan before I knew what it meant and each day you scavenged for food and browsed on the tough grasses of the meadow like the ponies of old. Only at night did I see you truly happy and it made me happy in turn, so one night I descended from my lunar observatory and lit beside you."
Luna's eyes went wide, "I...I kind of remember that. You weren't a pony, then, were you? Just a splash of color in the sky, like the aurora with such a slow, pretty voice and I asked you..."
"You asked me what I was, and I said I didn't know. Then you asked if I was a pony."
"...And you asked if I wanted you to be, and I said yes."
"I'd seen many ponies and for you I'd become one of them."
"Then you asked what kind of pony, earth, pegasus or unicorn..."
"Yes, and you said all of them,"
"All these years I thought that was some sort of dream."
"...And so I became the first alicorn filly, a big sister for you. You laughed and laughed and we played in the meadows and the towns. After a few days, however, I came to understand that you slunk from shadow to shadow habitually invisible to the rest of the world. Ponies don't like to see homeless little foals scrounging through their bins for food and I came to realize that I was homeless too. 'What should I do?' I asked. 'We'll have to get jobs.' you answered, but the world was new to me. There was nothing I knew how to do that needed done, except for that one little thing."
"'A little filly like you can move the sun and moon all by herself, huh?' The village shaman didn't believe me, but told me jokingly that I should go see Queen Majesty, so we set out. It was a long way to Majesty's castle, too long for a regular little filly and by the time we got there you were so sick and thin, Queen Majesty took you right to the infirmary and wouldn't leave your side before she even knew what I was, what we were to be. She was as charmed by you as I was, but when she wept over you I knew that your bright little fire was burning out."
"My soul was crushed as your little heart petered out and your lungs drew their last few shallow breaths. It's not fair, I thought. She showed me love and joy and taught me how to be a pony. She has to leave and I keep on when she's tried so hard for all her sweet little life and I've done nothing with all this power I have, so I came to a decision that I hoped you might find equitable. I took my being and all my power and split it right down the middle. I kept half for myself and my warm golden sun and I gifted you with the velvety calm of the night and the moon to reign over it, because I knew you'd come to love them. On that night the second alicorn was born unto the world, every bit her sister's equal."
"After that?" Luna asked, spellbound.
Celestia shrugged, "Queen Majesty took us in, raised us as her own, groomed us to preside over her kingdom when the time came, that part I'm certain you remember."
"Indeed. As the years turned to decades we buried mother in the courtyard near where the tree of harmony sprung forth all those years later when we needed it most." Luna sniffled, "Oh, I haven't thought of her in so long. Sister, why did you never tell me this before?"
"In the beginning I never thought to do so and after it just never seemed to matter. Regardless of our origins, we're sisters. There can be no doubt about it."
"But...if Luna came from mortal ponies, that means she could have..." Twilight started.
"Relatives!" I finished, "That's what I was trying to tell you. Luna had a sister, a unicorn named Galaxy who had a daughter, who had a daughter, who had a daughter, who had a daughter..."
"Pinkie! Get to the point." Spike impatiently said.
"Etcetera, until somepony had a daughter named Twilight Velvet who..."
"Is my mother? Really?"
"Yup." I closed my eyes and nodded my best paint shaker nod, "You're Luna's great something something grand niece."
Much cheering and hugging ensued and Twilight sheepishly thanked me.
"Well I told you it was a good idea, and now we celebrate with an alicorn party."
That's how we ended the night in a Canterlot pub, trading dirty jokes with the Princesses. Incidentally, I was wrong about Twilight. She knew a few doozies of her own.