A Friend of the Night

by Shotoman

First published

Luna's depressed. She needs friends.

It's been a few weeks since Luna's returned from the moon, and all is not well. She's become more introverted than ever, rarely leaving her room and obsessing over work. Celestia hopes that studying Twilight Sparkle's Friendship Reports will at least help her get out of her shell, though an unusually talkative servant may just help in that regard...and is anypony else getting strange feelings from that statue out in the gardens?

As of May 4th, now featured on Equestria Daily. *Squee*

Chapter 1

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A Friend of the Night

Chapter 1

Dear Princess Celestia,

My friend Applejack is the best friend a pony could ever have, and she's always there to help anypony. The only trouble is, when she needs help she finds it hard to accept it. So while friendship is about giving of ourselves to friends, it's also about accepting what our friends have to offer.

Your faithful student,

Twilight Sparkle.

Princess Celestia smiled slightly as she read the report; the smile evolving into a chuckle as she read the accompanying pages which gave the details of how the lesson was learned. She briefly considered creating a few “Baked Bads” of her own to sneak into the next boring high society dinner she would be forced to attend. The sheer violence of the townsponies' reactions quickly squashed that idea, though she made a mental note to coerce one of the royal bakers to sneak some chili powder into one batch of desserts next time nonetheless.

These letters from her most recent, and—if she were to be completely honest with herself—favorite protegee were sure to become a high point in her week. Young Twilight Sparkle was a rarity in Equestria, able to write to Princess Celestia in a way that was conversational, friendly, and warm. Her letters tended to be completely devoid of pomp and circumstance and even Twilight's own “devoted student” nervousness. Though Celestia had always managed to maintain a close friendship with at least a couple of ponies in any given generation, such ponies were proving increasingly more rare as time passed, and Princess Celestia cherished each and every one. She rolled up the scroll as her thoughts turned to concerns even closer to her heart.

Celestia sighed softly as she looked around her personal quarters—much more homey than most ponies would consider for their wise and beloved ruler, with high quality but simple décor and a warm and inviting fireplace. The last few weeks were some of the happiest in recent memory. After one thousand years her precious little sister Luna had finally been returned to her, and their relationship had begun the slow recovery process. And yet, Celestia was becoming concerned. Luna had always been serious and introverted, but since her return had essentially become a recluse; only leaving her room to perform her moon-guiding duties, meals, and the odd “family bonding” time with Celestia herself. She was behaving much as Twilight Sparkle herself did prior to being sent to Ponyville specifically on assignment to make friends. Remembering the consequences from the last time Luna lacked in interpony relations, one would be hard-pressed to blame Celestia, as the older sister, for concern. Celestia decided it was time to chat with her sister after she set the sun in an hour.


Silence reigned as Princess Luna worked on her latest project, the only sound the clicking of small beads clacking against each other. Her personal quarters were similar to Celestia's in that the décor was elegant yet simple—if darker and less warmly inviting. However where Celestia's quarters were almost immaculately clean, Luna's walls could barely be seen behind the sketches, paintings, and drawings pinned almost haphazardly on almost every square hoof of her walls. Luna herself sat at her paradoxically organized desk, a book open in front of her to her left, a piece of paper directly in front of her rapidly being filled with notes written by a magically controlled quill, and an old abacus floating above her head. She was so absorbed in her work she didn't hear the knock on her door, nor the door opening, nor the first three times her name was called. It wasn't until the fourth, vaguely exasperated “LULU!” that she spun around in surprise, nearly falling out of her chair in the process.

“Oh, Tia. Greetings,” Luna said, a small, violet blush appearing on her midnight blue cheeks, as she addressed Celestia with a foalhood nickname that she would never speak outside of the absolute privacy of their own chambers.

Celestia grinned a bit at Luna's embarrassment. It had only been a few weeks since the defeat of Nightmare Moon, so Luna had yet to show any signs of her true near godly power returning, her curled blue mane just barely sparkling a bit under the right lighting conditions. “You were doing it again.” The grin increased ever so slightly. Luna and Twilight Sparkle were very similar in their ability to lose themselves in a project.

Luna's blush intensified. “We... apologize. We simply desire to return to our full capacity as soon as possible.”

Celestia smirked. She had of course told Luna that the “royal we” was no longer used in modern speech, but where Celestia lived through the gradual change in linguistics, Luna, well, hadn't. And Celestia suspected that, like the scratched and worn abacus, falling into the old speech pattern was something of a comfort mechanism. “And I've always loved you for your dedication, little sister. And yet I worry that you might be dedicating yourself to your work to the exclusion of other equally important things.”

Luna raised an eyebrow. “Such as...?”

Celestia's smirk grew wry, and Luna became somewhat petulant. “We do not have the need nor the time to engage in social activities at this moment,” she huffed.

“You sound exactly like a certain young mare I know,” Celestia replied, then chuckled. “Well, not exactly...” she stifled her laughter a bit at her sister's glare and passed her the letter she had read an hour previous. “In any event, look at how far she's come in a few short weeks.”

Luna read the letter, fully understanding Celestia's mild reproach due to her own stubborn need to return to her duties on her own terms. “It is a worthy lesson for anypony to learn. Even princesses,” she admitted with a small, wry smile. “And yet we are curious. What is the point of her writing like this? It reads almost as if it were... a school assignment.”

“In truth, my student is almost woefully inexperienced at making and keeping friends. You might not believe it, but she met her friends just earlier the day of Nightmare Moon's attack. And at this point, they are her only friends.” Luna gave Celestia a clear look of disbelief, which she really quite enjoyed. “It's true. Though, that group of mares is rather exceptional. The assignment was given mostly to help ease her into a different sort of life than she's lived up to this point. She's always been a studious sort, much like you.”

Celestia softened her gaze, then leaned in and nuzzled her sister. “I won't force anything on you. It's a difficult transition for the both of us, and I only wish the best for you. And I feel making a friend besides me would be an immense boon. Part of the, ah, problem before was that you felt alone. Will you at least try to meet and befriend somepony?”

Luna hesitated. “We... I am not entirely sure how to, to befriend anypony. I do not believe I really had one even before th-the Nightmare.”

Celestia blinked. “None?” She almost could not believe what she was hearing. Luna, ever the artist, trying to make the night sky perfect. Luna with a laugh that could melt hearts if she'd let it out now and then. Luna, who was if anything more of an incorrigible prankster than Celestia herself if you could get her started. Luna had never had a friend? “Oh, Luna... I'm sorry.”

Luna flashed a look of irritation at her sister. “As I have already assured thee, apologies are unnecessary. 'Twas I that...”

“No, Luna. I think I do owe you an apology, and more. I've long thought that I somehow missed something important through negligence... and now I know I did. No friends outside of me? Ever?”

Luna looked thoughtful for a moment, then sighed and changed her story. She could never really lie to Celestia. Not for long at least. “In truth, I did have one. Or two. But, but time passed and, and so did they." Luna dropped her head at the memory. "And... and it hurt, and I did not wish to feel that again.”

Celestia stopped short. She herself had dealt with the same pain many times over the ages, but knew that the good times beforehand were more than worth it. It... somehow did not occur to her that Luna, who already had a harder time connecting with other ponies, would feel that pain and conclude it better to avoid it in the future. “It was that first time you threw yourself so entirely into the night sky... like tonight. Wasn't it?”

Luna simply gave a nod, and Celestia understood. That first night was some centuries before Nightmare Moon—a long time for ponies in general, but not an especially long time for the princesses. Luna's need for companionship and appreciation would have conflicted with her avoidance of the same and would have eventually unbalanced her enough for the Nightmare to take over.

“Oh Luna...” For the first time in a long time, Princess Celestia could think of nothing to say. Luna, however, nuzzled her.

“We shall be all right, sister,” Luna said. “We have had much time to reflect upon our mistakes. Including sacrificing the Magic of Friendship to avoid pain. We, ah, I will endeavor to take your own lessons to heart. Perhaps if you could continue to share your student's lessons with me?”

Celestia had to struggle to not let her voice crack. “Of course, sister. I... good night, Luna. We'll discuss this more tomorrow.”

Luna gave her the bravest smile she could muster and gave a small nod. As Celestia left her to her privacy, Luna attempted to get back to her project, but though her abacus clicked away, no actual calculations were being done in her head.


Once outside Luna's quarters, Celestia had returned to full “Regal Mode.” Centuries of practice would ensure that only the very, very few members of the staff who truly knew her personally would even guess at something being wrong.

“Excuse, me... Princess...” a somewhat intimidated sounding female voice asked, actually startling her somewhat. “Is everything all right with your sister?”

Celestia turned and regarded the little green earth pony in servant's attire before her. Her Cutie Mark was an image of a bottle of medicine behind a heaping spoon of sugar. If Celestia's memory served, her name was Sugar Heart. “Why would you ask that, dear?” she asked.

Sugar Heart shuffled nervously with the Princess's attention turned directly on her. She took a deep breath as she began speaking. Rapidly. “Well I know Princess Luna has not been back long and she has been hard at work in her quarters practically since she returned and the other servants tell me it's none of my business...” she stopped for breath. “But when she first got here she was so excited to be working on the night sky again she'd make these little hmm's and aaah's as she worked and ideas would come to her and she'd show the constellation sketches to anypony who'd be within reach—me often as I have been assigned her personal servant.”

Sugar Heart chuckled a little bit, now unaware of the appraising look Princess Celestia was giving her. As she continued, she spoke considerably slower and more controlled. “Reminds me of my older brother a bit. He's an artist, too—so childlike when inspiration strikes. But the last day or two, she's been... silent. Just working at her desk with that... bead thing clicking away. It's so different from before, and I know I'm just a servant and everything and I may be completely out of line asking but I'm just kind of worried about her and I miss the hmm's and the aaaah's and I just want to make sure everything's okay.”

Princess Celestia smiled down at her little pony, amused a bit at the nervous rush of words she tended to exude, but more impressed at the courage and kindness she demonstrated. As Sugar Heart herself had intimated, the staff largely tried to simply blend into the background and performed their jobs, rarely saying more than the absolute necessary to the princesses themselves. This concern she was showing for her sister was above and beyond the requirements of the station, and the fact she had mustered the courage to inquire Celestia about it spoke volumes.

It was almost exclusively through the efforts of the other five mares that Twilight learned of the Magic of Friendship. Could Celestia hope that fate was kind enough to maybe give Luna an equally impressive friend? Celestia decided that she could. “I think Luna will be fine.” Her face had a small smile, a warm, genuine smile. “It will take time, and understanding, and patience. But I think she'll be fine.” Celestia leaned down and whispered somewhat conspiratorially with the now somewhat confused servant. “I also think you should ask her yourself. She may not seem the type but she really would appreciate it. And don't get frightened if she shouts the response back. Old habits do tend to die hard.”

Chapter 2

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Chapter 2

Dear Princess Celestia,

It's hard to believe that two ponies that seem to have so little in common could ever get along. But I found out that if you embrace each other's differences, you just might be surprised to discover a way to be friends after all...

Princess Celestia was about to knock on Luna's door to deliver this week's Friendship Report when she was stopped short by a sudden, booming voice, as clear as if she were in the room herself. “WE ARE FEELING JUST FINE, WE THANK THEE. WHY DOTH THOU ENQUIRE?” Once again Celestia was glad that she'd finally discontinued the use of the Royal Canterlot Voice all those centuries ago. She had to grin to herself. It only took Sugar Heart a couple of weeks to work up the courage to actually speak to Luna herself. That had to be some kind of record. And to her credit, she didn't immediately bolt out the door after receiving a face full of The Voice. Celestia put an ear to the door and could barely make out the comparatively quiet avalanche of nervous words Sugar Heart spouted. From what she could hear, it was an explanation largely the same the one she gave a couple weeks ago. Celestia returned to her own room. The Friendship Report could wait.


Luna could not help but blink a few times in surprise. This servant... she remembered her. She did in fact share a couple of her new star charts that first week home. Her mood must have turned more deeply sour than she realized if this scared little filly felt the need to speak. She lowered her voice to a still loud, yet manageable decibel level as she asked the next question. “Are we truly so transparent?” she asked, mostly managing to keep her embarrassment from her face.

Sugar Heart kicked at the ground with her left foreleg as another stream of conversation practically erupted from her mouth. “Well it's not that you're transparent necessarily it's just that like I said you are a lot like my brother when he's happy he works hard but proud and creates wonderful paintings but when he's sad he gets kind of stuck and keeps trying to work but makes nothing and I noticed you were acting the same and I just had something to compare it to is all.”

Luna cocked her head a bit. “Why doth thou speak in that manner?”

“Huh? Why do I speak... what?”

Luna chuckled a bit in spite of herself. “Thy words. It is as though thy mouth is a dam that once opened can no longer hold back the deluge of words.”

Sugar Heart blinked a bit herself and released a wry chuckle of her own. That was a very flowery way of saying "you talk really fast." When she spoke again, her words had slowed down to a more listenable speed, though it obviously took some effort. “I'm sorry, Princess. It's a nervous tic I got. I talk really, really fast whenever I get scared or nervous.”

Luna gave Sugar Heart an ironic smirk “Are we really so terrifying?”

Sugar Heart jumped a bit at the question and her words sped up again. “No well yes well...” Deep breath; slow down. “It's just that... I'm a servant of the house. Yours specifically. I'm, well, not sure if it's entirely proper for me to converse with you so freely.” A slight blush made itself visible through her green coat.

Luna blinked in surprise. She hadn't expected that answer. “Is that the only reason?” she said.

Genuine confusion crossed Sugar Heart's face. “Well... yeah. I mean, what else would...?” Comprehension suddenly dawned. “Oh. Oooooh. Well, that has nothing to do with it, really. I mean, you're not her anymore, right?”

Luna felt a smile form on her face. It was a small smile, but genuine. “No. No we are not. And in truth, we do not know what propriety demands with regards to a servant's relationship to the princesses. However, you will discover that neither our sister nor ourselves put much importance in such things.” Luna stood up from her desk and paced in front of her wall of art. When she turned back to Sugar Heart, her smile had grown. “We truly are feeling fine now, thanks to you. We... we hope to be able to speak more with you in the future?”

Sugar Heart's smile threatened to split her face in two. “Well... I, I mean yes. Of course. Good night, Princess Luna.”

“Good night, Miss Sugar Heart.”

Before exiting the room, Sugar Heart turned and hesitantly asked, “Er, um. If I may... why do you speak the way you do? With the yelling and calling yourself 'we' and all that?”

“'TIS TRADITION!” Luna bellowed with a smile. It took a brief moment for Sugar Heart's eyes to shrink back down to their normal size after the sudden return of the Voice, but as she was leaving, she was laughing softly to herself.

Luna trotted out to her balcony to gaze up at the night sky. Tonight's sky was... fine, but as she looked at it, she realized she could do better. And so she went to work, brightening a few stars here, dimming some there, adjusting the visibility of the Milky Way. And as she worked, she began to mutter to herself, the words indistinct but animated.

From a balcony of her own across the courtyard, Celestia smiled to herself. Luna had ever been an artist, constantly trying to perfect her work. Celestia performed her duties more on instinct, and could never get a night sky quite as beautiful as her sister. Yet, tonight was the first night since Luna's return that she really threw herself into her work. In a positive way, at least. A way that created rather than distracted. It seemed that her sister had finally come home.


The Canterlot Royal Gardens were a beautiful sight, with many rare and beautiful plants, animals, and statuary. However, after spending days on end marching the maze of flowers, the guardponies who worked there didn't really notice anymore. Especially when one of the visitors was being particularly irritating. Like now. The current guard, Night Watch, rolled his eyes in annoyance. “Hey, you," he shouted. "The gardens have been closed for an hour now. If you don't leave on your own we'll have to make you leave.”

The brown earth pony with the hourglass cutie mark looked up from his own hastily scratched out sketches. “Oh, so sorry,” he said to the guard with a notable Trottingham accent. He turned back to the statue and sighed. “There just doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day,” he said as he gathered up his drawings and placed them in his saddlebag.

Night Watch rolled his eyes at that. The chestnut colored weirdo had been visiting the gardens dawn to dusk for the last week, gushing over and drawing the various statues, but paying particular attention to the mismatched dragon... pony... goat... thing. The guard had actually overheard the nutter call the statue “beautiful” at least once. There really was no accounting for tastes, sometimes.

"Well then. All packed and ready to go," the odd colt said with a laugh. "Onward and upward, allons-y, and all that." With that he obediently followed Night Watch on his way out of the garden. He did stop for a brief moment as he could have sworn he heard a low chuckle emanate from his favorite statue. After a brief moment of consideration he dismissed the idea as lunacy and continued on his way.

Chapter 3

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Chapter 3

I'm sorry you had to see us being such poor sports, Princess.

That's all right, Applejack. Anypony can get swept up in the excitement of competition.

It's important to remember that the friendship is always more important than the competition.

Celestia sighed with contentment as she settled in her bubble bath. While she usually avoided an overt display of finery, her bathtub was a sole exception. It was big enough for three ponies her size (not that she'd ever met that many), heated internally, and stocked with the finest of bath salts. She was a princess, after all. She could allow herself one luxury for luxury's sake. And she needed this bath today, that much was certain.

Attending the Running of the Leaves of Ponyville was an enjoyable experience to be sure, and it was quite entertaining indeed watching a pair of her faithful student's best friends make foals of themselves while caught up in the heat of competition. There was even a valuable lesson to share with Luna tonight, and she was sure to get a laugh out of the attending story. But it was still a very long, rather tiring day, even if it was an enjoyable one. This bath was just what she needed to recover from the rigors of the trip.

Yes, all was right with the world today. At least it was until she finished her bath, dried herself off and looked in her full body mirror. What she saw staring back at her caused her jaw to drop and her brain to stop working for a brief moment. She was pink. Bright bubble gum Pinkie Pie pink! Why was she pink? Of course, there was only one logical answer to that question: the bath salts had been tampered with. And seeing as how it was one of the most sealed off sections of the seat of the Equestrian government, there were few ponies who could access her private bathroom.



Later, in Celestia's private room, a pair of ponies sat in front of an irate Princess of the Sun. One of them, the green servant Sugar Heart, wore on her face a humorous, if slightly worrying, combination of amusement and abject fear. The other, Luna, her hair slightly longer, darker, and straighter than before, sat tall, wearing her most smug I-am-so-totally-guilty-but-try-and-make-me-confess smile on her face.

“Well,” Celestia began. “Do either of you have anything to say for yourselves?”

Sugar Heart opened her mouth, and she was going to offer profuse apologies, she really was. However, what she found herself saying was “W-well, it's a very nice look for you, Princess.” She instantly shoved her own hoof into her mouth and her eyes widened in shock. Where did that come from? Maybe Princess Luna really was a bad influence on her.

Sugar Heart's unexpected snark seemed equally surprising to the Princess Sisters; Celestia raised an eyebrow as she looked upon the cheeky little servant in front of her while Luna's smile was now showing teeth. “Oh yes, sister,” Luna continued, barely missing a beat. “We are certain thou will be quite the trendsetter in Canterlot now. Why, it will only be a matter of time before the nobility will begin dying their coats pink in order to emulate their wise and powerful Sun Princess.”

Celestia coolly regarded Luna for a moment. “And I suppose the two of you will still find this whole thing equally amusing when you are sending me weather reports from the moon?”

Sugar Heart's eyes almost doubled in size, while the pupils shrank into tiny pinpricks and her jaw dropped so far it almost seemed to have come unhinged. Luna, however, simply lost it. Between the sight of her festive looking sister, the over-the-top threat, and the look on her accomplice's face, she couldn't help it. She collapsed on the floor and began laughing. A long, loud laugh augmented by The Voice. Sugar Heart was certain she could hear thunder from somewhere outside, despite the Canterlot pegasi having cleared the sky earlier that night. She could feel herself beginning to hyperventilate. How in the name of Celestia had she allowed herself to be talked into this?

“Princess I have a few words I would like to say in my defense that I hope might possibly allow me some small mercy in the coming sentence and those words are shemademedoit!” Sugar Heart pointed a hoof at Luna's giggling form next to her.

“TRAITOR!” Luna managed to bellow before erupting in laughter again.

Celestia's expression remained stern for a moment, but a her mouth did twist itself into a smirk. “I assume, then, dear sister, that the gauntlet has been thrown?”

Luna could only hiccup in reply, wiping a tear from her eye.

Celestia leaned down to look Luna in the eye, her face now fully alight with a smile, though Sugar Heart had to admit it was a smile that she didn't much like. “Then, dear sister, you may consider this a formal declaration of war.”

Though Luna required a few moments more to compose herself, she was eventually able to stand and look Celestia dead in the eye with a similarly frightening smile on her own face. “We shall gladly accept thy challenge, sister,” she replied with great confidence.

“Uh, Princess Luna?” Sugar Heart said, with a nervous shift of her eyes. “When you say 'we', do you mean the 'royal we' or 'we' as in 'you and me'?”

“Yes,” Luna said, even as her smile widened.

Sugar Heart facehoofed. She felt about ready to die of a heart attack just from the one prank. She simply could not imagine what a full on prank war would do to her. “This will not end well....”


Sunrise. Luna had managed to make it through another night without running afoul of one of Celestia's pranks. That was more worrisome than anything, though. Celestia hadn't even been trying, which could only mean she was saving up for something truly devious. Still, all Luna had to do this morning was return to her securely locked room and she'd be safe for another... "HI LULU!”

“GUAH!” Luna jumped several hooves in the air as a pair of blue eyes framed in bubble gum pink suddenly took up her entire field of vision. Upon recovering, she could see that a pink on pink young earth pony with a mane and tail like cotton candy was sitting in her room. “WHO ART...”

“Well hiya there Lulu do you mind if I call you Lulu it's such a cute name and you are such a cute princess I'm Pinkie Pie remember me we met at the old scary castle when we blasted you with that rainbow and it went whoooossh and you went aaaaaaaaaah and we went yeaaaah and then you came to Ponyville where we had that party so that means now we're friends and your sister sent a letter saying you've been down in the dumps and I can't let that happen to a friend of mine so I came right over to cheer you up is your favorite color blue maybe it's black do you think you have any kumquats in the royal kitchen I've never had a kumquat before I just like to say it so....”

Luna was struck speechless as the pony's stream of consciousness continued to roil and boil past her. The last thing she could remember thinking before her brain decided to shut down as some kind of fail safe was that declaring a prank war with Celestia was a very bad idea indeed.

Chapter 4

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Chapter 4

“This is such a bad idea,” Sugar Heart moaned as she looked up at her 'handiwork.'

Luna laughed in rare unbridled glee. “Oh, do not be such a poor sport,” she said. The two ponies were standing in the middle of Celestia's bed chambers, though the room at first glance appeared completely bare. That was, until one looked up. Then one would find every piece of furniture perfectly arranged on the ceiling. The bed was made, with the blankets tucked in extra tight. The bookshelf was just as meticulously organized as before. Everything was in its proper place—except that everything was now hanging upside down above the ponies' heads. As an extra touch, Luna had enchanted all the nails used so that they could only be removed one at a time and only by an exceptionally talented magic user.

“I still can't believe we were able to pull it off without Princess Celestia showing up,” Sugar Heart admitted while the beginnings of a smile began to tug at her mouth.

“'Tis midday, when Celestia is at her most busy. Also, it is amazing how simple it is to find other ponies willing to participate in our frivolity when given an opportunity.”

“You gave some poor ponies royal commands to keep her busy, didn't you?”

Luna's smile turned mischievous. “They were but small commands,” she said. “Now, let us leave. It is quite late and I must get at least a few hours sleep before the night falls.”


The Canterlot Royal Gardens were quiet this early afternoon. Finally. That brown pony finally seemed to have completed what he had been coming for—whatever that was—and, with the Running of the Leaves having been just a few days prior, the gardens were now at the beginning of their off season. The guards were able to, if not relax, then to at least perform their duties in peace. The hours passed in near silence, so one of the guards was quite surprised when his partner tapped him in the side.

“What the hay are you...?” He stopped when his partner pointed up a the sky. He looked in the direction that was being indicated and gasped. From the mountains past Ponyville, a dark black cloud was spreading, threatening to cover the entire sky. At the moment, it had yet to reach Canterlot, but even from the distance, the two guards could see that it was spreading quickly. After a shared glance and a nod, the first guard spread his wings and flew off to warn the rest of the squad, while his partner, as per protocol, stayed on course.

The grounded guardpony thought he caught movement out of the corner of his eye and quickly turned to face the threat. All he found was that creepy statue. Just looking at the thing rather unnerved him, if he was honest. Not that he'd ever admit that aloud, of course. It was just... unsettling. It was such a chaotic mismatch of so many different animals that even in this land of manticores and griffons it looked fundamentally unnatural. And its pose—standing on its hind legs, one arm thrown up dramatically, its mouth open in a wide grin, as if performing for an audience—somehow managed to add to its unsettling appearance. Unnerving though the statue was, however, it was hardly a threat to anyone, and there did not seem to be anypony else around. So the guard continued with his rounds, his back turned when a circle of red light throbbed into being briefly in the center of the statue's chest before burning out like a snuffed candle.


Luna burst into the throne room and almost slid across the well-maintained tile flooring as she came to a stop in front of Celestia's throne. “Why Luna, this is a surprise,” Celestia—her coat once again its usual brilliant white—said. “Why ever are you still awake? It's two hours past midday.” Celestia bore a smile that suggested she could at least guess at the reason and was already formulating countermeasures. Oh, it had been so long since she had a willing opponent in these games.

“Never mind that, sister,” Luna gasped. “What of this foul cloud that covers the land?”

Celestia's smile shifted slightly, but only from that of mischief to one of understanding. “It's a dragon, that's all. A dragon has taken up roost and has begun one of those century long naps they are so fond of.”

Luna sighed with relief. “Then the solution is simple, is it not? Between the two of us there should be little difficulty in excising the threat.”

“I have already taken measures, sister. I have sent my student and her friends to take care of him.”

The look on Luna's face was, in Celestia's honest opinion, priceless. If only she had a camera. “Ti—ahem. Sister. They are barely older than fillies!”

“And yet they have already accomplished some rather remarkable things, haven't they?”


“Don't worry yourself, sister. I'm monitoring the situation very closely.” This was when Luna noticed the special full body mirror that Celestia had hovering next to her throne. Instead of a natural reflection there was an image of six little ponies climbing a sheer mountain face. “I will intervene before anypony gets seriously hurt.”

“But... why wouldst thou send these ponies in rather than remove the threat thyself?”

Celestia smiled. “I could certainly do that. In the short term it would solve the problem quickly and cleanly. However, in the long term—both for Equestria and these mares in particular—this is the better choice.”

Luna raised an eyebrow, but she chose not to question further. Celestia had always been a rather insufferable manipulator at times, though Luna knew that she always had her reasons, and they were always good ones, so she let the matter drop. “If thou art certain that the situation is under control, we will retire for the day. HOWEVER! If the situation should sour, we expect to be awoken to help deal with the threat!”

Celestia nodded. “Of course.”

With the matter settled, Luna left to find her bed. It was far too late for a nocturnal pony such as her to be awake.


The Castle of the Royal Pony Sisters lay in ruins. Nightmare Moon stood triumphantly as her gaze shifted around the group of ponies around her. Some were hurt, others were lying motionless on the ground, but most of them were just afraid. Afraid of her power and majesty. There was one, however, that was none of the above, and the type of hurt in her eyes was most satisfying indeed.

“Remember this day, little ponies," Nightmare Moon bellowed. "For it was your last. From this moment forth, the night will last forever!”

Celestia stood before Nightmare Moon defiantly, the Elements of Harmony floating around her head in formation. “Do not make me do this, sister! There is still time for you to concede. We can work this out!”

“There is nothing to 'work out', 'dear sister!' The day has ruled over and above the night for far too long. The time has come to usher in ETERNAL NIIIIIIIIIGHT!”

Celestia let a single tear fall, before her expression hardened. “Very well.”

There were no more words to share. The two goddesses charged each other, discharging enough magical energy that the Everfree Forest would be wild for generations to come.


Luna screamed and bucked her leg hard. She made solid contact against something, and heard somepony grunt in pain. This was enough to make Luna fully awaken and her eyes shot open. She was back in her room. The one in Canterlot. In bed. Luna sighed in relief, but then remembered that she bucked somepony and quickly spun to see what she'd done. What she saw was her sister, a bruise forming on her shoulder, hunched protectively in front of Sugar Heart, whose green mane was disheveled and whose eyes were pink and bloodshot. Older sister and loyal servant both were staring at Luna, nothing but concern in their eyes.

“Oh, Tia!” Luna leaped out of bed to examine the bruise. “We are so sorry!”

Celestia smiled. “It's okay, really. It's only a bruise. What's more important is you. Are you okay?”

The panic was already beginning to die down and her breathing had already slowed down to a normal rate. “Yes. We are, ah, fine. It was simply a nigh... bad dream.”

“Oh, Luna...” Celestia wrapped her wings around her little sister in a hug, just like she used to do all those years ago before the Nightmare.

“... but enough about us,” Luna said after a moment. “Is the dragon still there?”

“Yes, but...”

BUT NOTHING! The dragon represents a problem for the whole of Equestria. It is far more important than a foal's nightmares. Even an immortal one.”

“Are you sure?”

Luna smiled. “Yes we are. It was a bad dream. Nothing more. Go. Take care of our subjects.”

Celestia hesitated for a moment more, but Luna was right, so with a nod she left. Luna crawled back into bed and prepared for a long day of tossing and turning. She felt a presence still in the room, looking on her in concern. “Thou shouldst go as well, Miss Sugar Heart. We both have a long night ahead of us.”

“Actually, Princess, no offense, but I think this is more important.”

Luna curled up in a ball, her back to her servant. “No, Miss Sugar Heart. It is nothing. We had a simple bad dream.”

Sugar Heart walked around Luna's bed and put her face inches away from the princess's. “Princess Luna. I could hear you screaming from my room. It was not 'just' a nightmare.” Luna shuddered at the word. “That was a full blown night terror. There's no way you're going to get back to sleep at least until you talk it out with somepony. Well, I'm somepony, and I'm here to listen.”

Luna opened one eye and glared at the impertinent little pony in front of her. “Thou art, without a doubt, the least proper servant in this entire castle.”

Sugar Heart grinned. “Princess, you held me in a levitation spell for over two hours so I could nail another pony's bed to the ceiling. 'Proper' has been thrown out the window.”

Luna smiled as she sat up. “Thou does have a forked tongue on thee when thou desires it.”

“You should see me when I'm really cranky.”

Luna's smile deepened for a moment before dropping to a frown. “We are not sure if thou would be able to understand our fears or even if we could properly give voice to them. It... has to do with our time as her. We are not even sure if Celestia would be able to truly understand, though she has suffered a different kind of pain as a result of it all.”

Sugar Heart harrumphed with a playful smile. “Well, at least your greatest fear isn't something ridiculous. I'm afraid of clowns.”

Luna laughed. “No.”

“Yes. My parents hired one for my cutesinera. I hid under my bed for the whole day.” Sugar Heart sat down on Luna's reading couch. “C'mon. Tell me about it. I might not be able to understand, but I can provide a shoulder to cry on, and we have the whole day ahead of us.”

“Thou wouldst tarry the entire day? For us?”

“Sure. What are friends for?”

Luna's eyes widened for a second. “Friends? Yes. We are friends. We are friends!”


It was now an hour before sunset, and Celestia sighed with relief. The dragon had been dispensed with no real harm done, and from the looks of things Twilight Sparkle and her friends had learned a valuable new lesson that she was certain write about upon their return. For now, however, it was time to check in on her little sister. When she reached the door to Luna's chambers, there was a surprise waiting for her, pinned to the door. She removed the note with her magic and held it up to her face to read it. It said:

Princess Celestia:

I really really really apologize for asking this. I know it's an entirely improper thing for a simple servant such as myself, but do you suppose you could raise the moon on your own? Just for tonight. Princess Luna, as you might imagine, had a very long day, and I think she might do with a few extra hours of sleep. If you could do that I would be eternally grateful.


Sugar Heart

P.S. If you've already seen your room, she made me do it.

Celestia read the note and pushed open the door, just enough to peek in. The sight made her smile. Luna was curled up on her reading couch, fast asleep, Sugar Heart curled up on the floor, her back against the chair. Both ponies were breathing in synch with each other. Celestia chuckled to herself and closed the door. Now she just had to see what damage those two did to her bedroom.

Dear Princess Celestia,

I am happy to report that the dragon has departed our fair country, and that it was my good friend Fluttershy who convinced him to go. This adventure has taught me to never lose faith in your friends. They can be an amazing source of strength, and can help you overcome even your greatest fears.

Always your faithful student,

Twilight Sparkle.

Chapter 5

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Chapter 5

Dear Princess Celestia,

Winter Wrap Up was one of the most special things I've ever been a part of here in Ponyville. It helped me to learn that we all have hidden talents, and if we're patient and diligent we're sure to find them. And as always, with good friendship and teamwork, ponies can accomplish anything...

“Winter Wrap! Winter Wrap Up! Let's finish our holiday cheer! Winter Wrap Up! Winter Wrap Up! 'Cuz tomorrow Spring is here...”

“Miss Sugar Heart, what art thou singing?”

It was a testament to how used to Luna's idiosyncrasies Sugar Heart was that she didn't even react to the her sudden appearance from behind. “Ah, Princess Luna!” she said, turning as Luna entered her room from her balcony. “How was the moon-raising?”

“'Twas the same as always, Miss Sugar Heart. We will admit that we will miss winter. The sky is rarely clear, but when it is, it looks ever so crisp and clean. Also, as we have already asked, please just call us Luna.”

Sugar Heart grinned. “Sorry, Princess Luna. I may be the least proper servant here, but there is a limit, even for me. Besides, I notice you're still calling me 'miss'.”

Luna sighed. “Thy point is irritatingly valid. But, back to the subject at hoof, where hath thou learned this song thou art singing?”

Sugar Heart shrugged her forelegs dismissively. “I really don't know. Happens every year at Winter Wrap Up, and a couple of other events. Everypony just feels compelled to sing a song to celebrate and help focus. The song's different every year, yet everypony seems to know it. Wasn't it that way before, ah, the moon?”

Luna shook her head. “Nay. In those days Equestria was darker. Wilder. The country was peaceful enough, but it had not been so for terribly long. 'Twas the first time of uninterrupted peace since the three tribes defeated the windigos. The Magic of Friendship had not yet permeated the land sufficiently to effect... spontaneous singing. In truth, during those times, we never would have imagined Equestria would have become such a wonderfully peaceful land. A land where ponies engage in song, simply for the joy of it.” Luna's expression turned wistful. “'Tis a glorious thing. So glorious. And you do not even know, having never known what it was like before. We think, back then, Celestia knew. Or at least could dream. She always lived more for the future than us.” Luna noticed Sugar Heart's smile and stopped. “What art thou smiling for?” she asked.

“Nothing, Princess. It's just...” A brief huff of a chuckle escaped Sugar Heart's lips. “I've never pictured you as the whimsical sort.”

“Still thy tongue. We are Princess of the Night. Those dark hours just before morning light make for the most wistful of moments, after all.”

“True, I suppose, but the Princess of the Night tends to yell in ponies' faces and causes thunder to strike when she laughs.”

“As we have told thee, 'tis tradition!” Luna smiled at Sugar Heart's incredulous look. “And we enjoy it as well,” she admitted.

The conversation paused as Sugar Heart began to cough. Luna looked upon her friend with a raised eyebrow. “Art thou all right?” she said.

“Yeah, just a little bit of a cold. No big deal, really. You, however, have an appointment with the head of the Cloudsdale Weather Bureau in less than ten minutes, and if you don't leave now you'll be late.”

Luna sighed, with a roll of her eyes. “How our sister was able to deal with all the bureaucracy of ruling the country for so long is beyond us. Is it truly necessary for us to officially give permission for every little night storm and overcast night?”

Sugar Heart smiled with a bit of irony in her expression. “Organization is what separates us ponies from the lesser animals, or so I'm told,” she said. “Though I think that's just an excuse the bit counters say to feel better about themselves.”

Luna laughed. “We suppose we should not keep the good stallion waiting. We shall return by midnight.”

“Looking forward to it,” was the reply, though Sugar Heart was glad her friend had already left when another coughing fit took her.


Luna was surprised a few nights later to find her room empty of company when she returned from the moon-raising. As her best friend and devoted servant, Sugar Heart was almost always there waiting for her, usually with the bed already made and the miscellaneous clutter from Luna's various projects removed from the floor and either organized on her desk or thrown away. Sugar Heart had developed quite the sixth sense when it came to what Luna might wish to keep and what was truly garbage.

Concerned, Luna opened the door out to the hallway with the intent of finding her friend. She did not have far to look, as it turned out. Sugar Heart was already on her way to Luna's chambers, albeit not with her usual cheerful gait. She seemed to be stumbling down the hallway, her head drooping toward the floor. Upon closer inspection, Luna could see that her eyes were bloodshot and baggy and there was a definite flush to her cheeks. “Miss Sugar Heart,” the princess gasped. “Thou looketh... terrible!”

Sugar Heart grinned a bit. “Thanks for that, Princess Luna. Just what anypony wants to...” She stopped as a midnight blue foreleg placed itself upon her forehead. After a few moments, Luna removed her foreleg and placed her ear up against Sugar Heart's chest, causing the latter to blush furiously. “What're you doing?” Sugar Heart asked, getting shushed in response.

“Deep breaths, please, Miss Sugar Heart,” Luna said, in a tone that brooked no argument. Sugar Heart complied, breathing in long, controlled repetitions. Luna's eyes narrowed as she listened; the sound she was hearing in Sugar Heart's chest was akin to a ball bearing bouncing around a fluid filled container. “Miss Sugar Heart,” Luna said sternly as she straightened back up to her full height. “Whatever ails thee is much more than a 'mere cold'. Thou shouldst be home in bed or, preferably, at the medical offices.”

Sugar Heart became petulant. “It's not really that bad, Princess. I can work just fine, and you need me.”

It was Luna's turn to roll her eyes. “The kingdom will survive if we lack thee to remind us of our schedule.”

“That's not what I mean and you know it.”

Now Luna smiled. “We understand what thou meant, and we agree. However we would rather miss out on thy companionship for a few days in order to keep thee with us for many more years yet. And as such, thou art taking a trip to the royal doctor.” Sugar Heart yelped as she was magically lifted off her feet and placed her on Luna's back. “And thou mayst consider this a royal order.”

“Hey, I may not be feeling well, but I can still walk.”

Luna began trotting in the direction of the medical offices in spite of Sugar Heart's complaints. “It is an odd coincidence, then, that we are able to as well.”

“Ponies're gonna stare...” Sugar Heart was somewhat despondent.

“Let them,” Luna replied without hesitation.

Sugar Heart snorted, but she still allowed herself to relax so she could be taken to the doctor.


Hours passed before Luna was able to return to the doctor's office—she attended to fewer meetings and other duties at night than Celestia did during the day, but was still responsible for ruling an entire country during her waking hours. The doctor almost seemed to materialize at Luna's side moments after her arrival, and he was more than eager to relay his findings to his dark princess.

Luna looked over Sugar Heart's chart as he prattled on. “It's nothing too serious—her chest congestion is the worst of her symptoms—but it is a good thing you brought her here when you did. It could have gotten worse very fast.”

Luna nodded. “What was the cause of her illness?”

The doctor shrugged. “It really did start as a simple cold and, like so many ponies, Miss Sugar Heart ignored it and decided to power on through. Without giving herself the proper rest and care, her immune system was weakened enough to let something considerably worse affect her. Still, now that we've caught it, a few days of bed rest and a prescription should be sufficient to get her back on her hooves and right as rain.”

“We thank thee, doctor,” Luna said with a smile that actually passed as a good impersonation of her older sister's calm expression. “If thou would allow, we would like to see to our friend.”

“Of course, Princess. She is just down the hall. First on the left.”

Luna nodded and followed the instructions. When she opened the door, Sugar Heart instantly raised her head from her pillow and smiled. “Hi, Princess,” she said with an ever so slight slur. Luna guessed that she'd been given some medicine that, either as a side effect or through design, made her drowsy. Luna would have to keep this visit brief.

“Hello, my friend Sugar Heart,” Luna said. She actually managed to keep her voice down to a respectfully quiet level.

Sugar Heart, though tired, was not so dulled in the mind to miss the change in tone, nor the different title in which the princess had addressed her. “Princess Luna? 'S something wrong?”

Luna sighed softly. “In truth, we feel we have failed thee as thy friend.”

Sugar Heart raised an eyebrow incredulously. “How d' you figure?” she asked, mentally kicking herself over the medication-induced slurring.

Luna sighed. This was actually more difficult than she thought it would be. “We knew thou was ill days ago, yet did nothing. Only once the illness had affected thee in a most adverse manner did we intervene. As well...” Luna lowered her head in shame. “It appears that we have given thee the impression that we are dependent upon thee and thy companionship to the exclusion of all else.”

Sugar Heart was quick to try to reassure her friend. “Oh, no, Princess. You shouldn't feel like that at all! I always get like that when I'm sick. Anything short of tossing my apples I just try to work my way through. I don't like hospitals, and I don't like doctors. And I need to be with you as much as you need me.”

Luna was not yet entirely convinced. “We also feel somewhat bad that we could do nothing directly to help with thy illness.”

“Why?” Sugar Heart asked.

“We are unique, our sister and I,” Luna said. “Even beyond this...” Luna spread her wings and her horn glowed briefly with her magic. “We are different. Exceedingly rare though they are, other alicorns do exist. In this generation we have a niece, many times removed, who shares that particular gift with us; however she is still mortal, and her magic is but marginally more powerful than most unicorns. We, on the other hoof, have been alive for thousands of years—thousands, plural—and have the ability to affect the heavens themselves. We have been thought of not as simple princesses, but deities as well. Yet despite our power, we—that is, I—know very little of the healing arts. We have tried to learn, yet healing magic is so fundamentally different from our own that we cannot. For all our power, we can do nothing to heal a pony with a common illness.”

Sugar Heart said nothing for a moment. It was a strange occurrence, hearing one of the princesses—headstrong Luna in particular—admit to weakness. Sugar Heart admitted it never occurred to her that either of the princesses would have any. Yet she found herself smiling anyway. “Maybe that's one of the reasons you need a friend. It keeps you from falling for your own hype.” At Luna's confused look at the more modern turn of phrase, Sugar Heart clarified. “Friends help each other stay humble.”

Luna chuckled at that, though her expression turned sad. “We expect thou art correct in that regard. Had we friends back in the bygone days to keep our vanity in check...” Luna shook her head as if to forcibly remove such thoughts. The past was the past and nothing could change it now. “Rest now, dear Sugar Heart. Thou art a precious friend, and we wish to see thee well.”

Sugar Heart responded with a jaw crackingly wide yawn. “Yeah. 'll see you tomorrow.” As she began to curl up to sleep, a sudden thought caused her to come back to full attention, if only for a moment. “Don't let any of the other servants touch your papers. They wouldn't know what to do with 'em." With a chuckle she added, "But don't make too much of a mess for me, either.".

Luna smiled at that. “We shall keep that in mind. Good night, Sugar Heart.”

“'Night, Luna,” Sugar Heart murmured as she fell into a deep, healing sleep.

Chapter 6

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Chapter 6

Luna let loose a wide, unprincesslike yawn as she and Sugar Heart climbed the stairs leading up to her tower. Sugar Heart grinned. “Busy night again?”

Luna glowered at the entirely obvious question. “How is it possible for one single party to take up so much of our time? We have spent more time and energy on this 'Grand Galloping Gala' over this last month than all other matters of state combined. Our sister has been in the exact same situation from what she has said to us. And we have another month to go.” The frustration in Luna's voice was almost palpable. “What we do not understand is that if this is a celebration of our sister, why is it so contrary to what she would prefer to do?”

Sugar Heart laughed. “You know, I've had to work the Gala before. Catering.” She shuddered. “From what I saw, the party is less about celebrating Celestia's reign and more about the upper crust phonies finding an excuse to show off for themselves.”

Luna raised an eyebrow. “Then why does our sister put up with it all?”

“Because... she's Celestia, I guess?”

Luna actually laughed. “Yes, we suppose that may just be the answer.” She nodded at the two guards standing on either side of her door as she and Sugar Heart entered her chambers. A few moments passed uneventfully before the peace was interrupted by a loud “fwoosh” sound that ripped through the hallway and a flash of red light which erupted from the room. This was followed shortly by one very scared green pony scrambling out of the room for her life and skidding to a stop in front of the guards.

Sugar Heart looked in the general location of the guards, but the pinpricks that her irises had become did not seem to focus on either of them. “Well I just learned something interesting just now did you know that when a pony gets mad enough fast enough her mane and tail will actually spontaneously combust I didn't by the way Luna wants to see the two of you.”

The guards shared uncertain glances, but immediately complied. When they saw the room, it took the considerable willpower trained into the Royal Guard to keep their jaws from dropping. Apart from the Princess Luna herself, the room was completely bare. Not one piece of furniture, paper, or personal effect was to be found, except for the single paper held in Luna's magical grip. Visible on the page was a beautifully rendered letter 'C'.

Luna's expression was unreadable as she turned her gaze to the guards. “We have a few questions for the two of you, and we expect them to be answered honestly. Do you understand?” The guards nodded simultaneously.

“Did our sister appear before the two of you and give an order to leave her alone?”

One of the guards answered in the negative.

“Did you hear or see anything throughout the day that may have caused suspicion?”

Again, negative.

“And you two performed your duties as was expected of you?”

An emphatic positive.

A smirk began to appear on Luna's face. “Thank you. You may go.” As the guards turned to leave, she chuckled to herself. “She is good. SUGAR HEART!” she called with the full force of The Voice. “IT APPEARS AS THOUGH WE ARE GOING ON A SCAVENGER HUNT!”


Dusk was settling over Canterlot a few nights later as Luna cheerfully entered the dining room she shared with Celestia. True, Luna was going in for breakfast, while Celestia was having dinner, but it was the time spent together that was important, not the meal itself. The shared meal time was so special to the two of them that even Sugar Heart did not join in. “Good evening, Tia,” Luna, completely ignoring the fact that where Celestia normally sat was now a large pile of whipped cream which was glaring at her with one visible violet eye.

Several minutes passed in silence, as Luna ate her simple oats and apple. Finally, from within the sugary mound, Celestia's voice asked, “Where did you even get one hundred gallons of whipped cream, Lulu?”

Luna finally smiled with unrestrained glee. “'Twas a small pink earth pony from Ponyville. We do not know where she got a hold of the cream, and we decided it best not to ask.”

“A pink earth pony.”


“From Ponyville.”



Silence reigned for another few minutes, until Luna began to chuckle. Celestia then joined in. Moments later, both princesses were sharing an almost hysterical laugh.


Several nights later, the peace of the castle was shattered by the sound of several explosions which tore through the hallways. The guards scrambled every which way trying to find the source, while the visiting nobles dove for cover. Just a couple of minutes later, the guards found the source of the noise in Celestia's day study. No amount of trained discipline could keep the guards' jaws from dropping this time. The walls of the study, not to mention the pair of princesses that were occupying the room, were splotched with every color of the rainbow, as if one had exploded in the room. The most startling sight, however, was the fact that Luna was stuck, upside-down, to Celestia's side by a sticky pink substance, her legs wheeling about in the air. The shocked expression on their faces indicated that they were rather taken by surprise as well.

A second or two later, several servants, Sugar Heart included, came running into the room. All the servants except for Sugar Heart dropped their jaws. She just laughed. “Let me guess—two pranks went off simultaneously?”

The two princesses looked each other in the eye and laughed themselves. “Yes, that is indeed what happened,” Celestia said, her smile widening. “And it does appear as though we've escalated far beyond the time to call a cease-fire. What do you think, Luna?”

“We most certainly agree,” Luna replied. Sugar Heart had to stifle another laugh. Luna's dazed but delighted smile, coupled with her face flushing from the blood rushing to her head, was simply adorable. The guards and servants, however, released almost comical sighs of relief.

Celestia resumed her regal facade—or as close to it as she could reach with her sister stuck to her side. “Well, then,” she said to the guards in the calming tone she almost always had when in court and other such affairs. “Could the two of you set things in motion to delay my appointments for a half hour? My sister and I quite obviously need some time to be presentable.”

As the sisters left to clean up and the guards left to fulfill their orders, Sugar Heart and the other servants were left in the study. Sugar Heart sighed and chuckled at the same time—a rather impressive feat to be honest. She turned to the still shell-shocked servants. “Well, what are we standing around for? Cleaning messes like this is in our job description, isn't it? Let's get to work.”


The days passed peacefully from then on, and soon enough the night of the Gala had arrived. As it was one of the biggest nights of the year, Luna's approach at building the night sky was a bit more hooves on than usual. Her large elegant wings beat furiously as she gained ever greater altitude, then she tucked them to her sides and launched into a spiraling dive that would have driven any pegasus—legendary fliers like the Wonderbolts included—green with envy. She pulled out of the dive and turned to give a critical eye to the mists and clouds she was manipulating. Satisfied that all was as she wished, she flew off to the next portion of her current project.

Miles down below, perched on her princess's balcony, Sugar Heart watched in awe. From where she sat, it was as if a shooting star had taken up a mind of its own and was painting the sky. It was one of the most beautiful things she'd ever seen.

“I haven't seen Luna paint the sky like that in ages!” The sudden voice behind Sugar Heart made her jump. She turned to find Celestia herself standing behind her.

“Oh ah Princess Celestia what are you doing here shouldn't you be down at the gala oh it's not gonna start for another hour yet is it ahahahaha.”

Celesita could not help but smirk. “You are so comfortable with my sister, yet I still cause you to ramble?”

Sugar Heart blushed. “Ah, well, er...”

Celestia chuckled. “I'm teasing, Miss Sugar Heart. You of all ponies should know I do that. You and my sister share something very special and I have to admit I'm a bit jealous.”

Sugar Heart raised an eyebrow. “Jealous? Of us?”

Celestia smiled, though there was some sadness there. “Yes, just a bit. Friends like you are a rare thing. Especially for princesses.” Celestia paused for a moment, as if considering whether to say what she had on her mind or not. “While we are here alone, I would like to thank you for your influence on my sister. Do you have any idea how long it had been since Luna and I engaged in one of our little...” Celestia's smile grew mischievous. “...competitions?”

“Uh, a thousand years?” Sugar Heart guessed.

Celestia shook her head. “Much, much longer than that. Luna's fall was a gradual process. We had drifted apart some time before Nightmare Moon's attack. You were able to do something I do not think I ever could have. The Elements of Harmony may have freed Luna from the Nightmare, but it was you who brought her home to me. And for that I am eternally grateful.”

Sugar Heart lowered her head as her blush intensified. “I haven't done anything all that special, your highness.”

That sadness returned to Celestia's smile. “You call Luna by her name. You have no idea how special that is.” She turned to leave. “As you said earlier, I really must go report in on the Gala.” Sugar Heart noticed the smile became slightly strained. “I don't suppose you can convince her to join me?”

Sugar Heart laughed. “After all the complaining she's made about it just this last month? I really don't think so.” A sigh escaped her lips. “Besides, she still seems a bit reluctant to make any public appearances yet.”

Celestia nodded, and left without another word. Sugar Heart looked up and saw that the shooting star that was Luna was now heading straight for the balcony. Sugar Heart retreated back into the room, though she should not have worried. Luna came to a perfect, graceful landing moments later, ruffling the feathers of her wings for a moment before folding them to her sides. Her mist-like mane waved in a nonexistent breeze, a field of stars glittering from within. “Sugar Heart,”she asked. “Was that our sister just now?”

“That it was, Luna. She wanted to invite you to go down to the Gala. Again.” Luna made a face that made Sugar Heart laugh. “That's what I kind of figured.”

Luna sat down at her desk and dipped her pen into the ink well. “There's no reason for thee to miss out just because we are not going. We are sure it will be more enjoyable than just sitting here while we plan out next month's meteor shower.”

“Luna. I've been, remember? I'd have no reason to go if you weren't there.”

Luna simply smiled.

The Gala that year was, of course, a complete disaster. Priceless pillars and sculptures were broken, an animal stampede somehow happened in the ballroom, and a far distant nephew was covered in cake—something Luna would admit the little cad probably deserved upon having the story related to her. Luna would not learn of any of this until the next morning, over the dinner table with Celestia. And though the story would eventually cause her to consider attending the next year, she and her best friend enjoyed a perfectly quiet, mundane night to themselves and let the Gala go on without them.

Pardon me, Princess, but tonight was just... awful.

Oh, Twilight. The Grand Galloping Gala is always awful.

It is?

That is why I was thrilled you were all attending. I was hoping you could liven things up a bit. And while the evening may not have gone as you planned, I'm sure you'll agree that in the end it didn't turn out so bad for this group of friends.

You're right, Princess. Friends have a way of making even the worst of times into something pretty great.


The Gala had been over for weeks, and life at the palace had returned to normal. The gardens, however, were a bit busier than usual this fine afternoon. It was field trip day for a certain class of school foals from Ponyville.

The grape colored teacher of the class, Miss Cheerilee, stood before a strange and unnerving statue which was posed as if singing opera. “This creature is called a draconequus. He has the head of a pony and a body of all sorts of other things. What do you suppose that represents?”

A yellow earth filly with an apple red mane piped up her guess: “Confusion!”

A pretty little unicorn threw in her two bits: “Evil!”

Not to be outdone, an orange pegasus filly tried: “Chaos!”

“It's not chaos you dodo!” the unicorn snapped.

“Don't call me things I don't understand and it is too chaos!”

“Is not!”

“You're both wrong!”

Cheerilee rolled her eyes as the three rambunctious fillies began tussling with each other in the grass. Calmly splitting the trio up she explained, “Actually, in a way, you're all right. This statue represents 'discord', which means a lack of harmony between ponies. In fact, you three have demonstrated discord so well that you're each going to write me an essay explaining it.”

As the class moved on to discuss the other statues and what they represented and symbolized, a red light began throbbing on the draconequus's chest, beating out the rhythm of a heartbeat. A crack appeared, running up the statue's chest, and if anypony had been there to listen, they would have heard a deep, ominous chuckle.

Chapter 7

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Chapter 7

For several hours after the school field trip, the draconequus statue continued to crack until, late that afternoon, it finally shattered and released the mismatched creature within. “Surprise!” he shouted as he leaped into the air, threw out his arms laughed. Then he saw that he was completely alone, and his expression turned dour. “Well I must say, this is just disappointing,” he said. His face twisted even further in displeasure as he took in his surroundings. “They stuck me in the gardens? Seriously? That just reeks of hubris. I really should give those princesses a good talking to. Or am I not one to talk?”

“Stop where you are!”

The creature turned calmly toward the voice and found himself looking at a pair of ponies—a pegasus and a unicorn, both stark white and wearing heavy plate armor. “Can I help you gentlecolts?” he asked politely.

“You are trespassing on royal property,” the unicorn said in an authoritative tone. “You will come with us immediately.”

The seemingly unreal being just laughed and began to float away, but the guards leaped around him to block his way again. The unicorn's horn began to glow with his own signature blue magic and the pegasus floated several feet off the ground, his wings spread in a way to make him look bigger. The creature's expression changed from amusement to mildly irritated boredom. “Yes, yes, you are a most intimidating pair of red shirts,” the draconequus said in a long suffering tone. “But I really do have things to do and ponies to see. So scram.” The guards refused to move and the creature rolled his eyes. “Oh, put those away before you hurt yourselves.” He snapped the birdlike claws of his left hand, and with a flash, the unicorn's horn and the pegasus's wings vanished, depositing the pegasus face first in the grass. The two guards gave each other a worried look before turning and glaring at the thing in front of them.

The creature chuckled and shrugged. “Sorry, fellas. I'm in a bit of a foul mood this afternoon. Untold time turned to stone would do that to anybody.” He lowered itself to the ground, the sound of his feet hitting the ground sounding like a loud "quack", and he began to pace around, each step making an increasingly ridiculous and impossible noise. “After all, I've been left here, on public display, for school foals to gawk at and birds to... well the less said about that the better. But these princesses of yours. I'm their arch enemy. Is it too much to ask they greet my return with their armies ready for a gruesome battle to the death? Or maybe a pie eating contest. I haven't decided which would be more entertaining. What do you two think? Aw who am I kidding? No one cares what you think. But I digress.”

With another flash, the draconequus suddenly appeared between the two guards, arms wrapped around their shoulders in a strangely friendly manner. “I do suppose it's terribly unfair of me to take out my frustrations on the two of you. After all, I was imprisoned during your great-great-great-many-times-great grandfathers' time. It's not like it's your fault, right?” He rose back into the air and began to chomp on a stick of cotton candy he was suddenly holding. “So I'm going to cut the two of you some slack. Go away now and I won't bother you two specifically anymore. I'll even give you a five minute head start so you can warn your princesses I'm coming, and I'm going to vent my bad mood on them. Just tell Celestia that Discord says 'hi'. She'll know who I am.”

One of the guards mustered up his courage to ask, “And if we choose instead to stay and fight you?”

Discord took another bite of his candy before responding. “Oh, well, that would be a commendable choice. Very brave. Heroic even. After all, I did just remove your wings and your horn with but a snap of my fingers. Why, just imagine what I could do if I really tried!” The tone of Discord's voice never varied off of friendly conversation, and even now his face held a happy, almost dopey smile. Somehow this made his threat even more sinister, and after a brief glance at each other, the two guards decided it best to exercise the better part of valor and make sure the princesses were warned of the coming danger. Around yet more of his cotton candy, Discord said, “Smart ponies.”

After a moment of thinking and eating, Discord tossed his cotton candy into the air and, after a snap of his fingers, watched as the ball of pink fluff separated into innumerable pieces, which grew into clouds, then flew off in all directions. It was a small gesture—mostly just saying 'hello' to the land he'd been gone from for so long. Still, between the chocolate, cola, coffee, tomato soup, and just plain normal rain, there would be a lot of general confusion and chaos from just the one stunt. After waiting another few moments, he summoned a pocket watch and checked how long he'd been waiting. The answer was thirty seconds. “Oh, well,” he said, tossing the watch over his shoulder, where it somehow exploded backwards—the cloud starting large and shrinking down to nothing. “What good is being able to make the rules if you can't break 'em?”

Another snap of his fingers, and Discord now held a one bit coin. “Now, which one of my little princesses am I going to visit first?” An expert flip sent the coin flying into the air, and less then a second later, he had the coin balanced on the back of his lion paw and was grinning madly. “Oh, this is going to be fun.” A flash of light later, and Discord was gone.


Discord reappeared in a surprisingly small, darkened room, the walls covered with star charts, drawings, and paintings. The large, ornate bed by the far wall was currently occupied by a soundly sleeping, and very familiar, midnight blue alicorn. At the sight of her, Discord's face twisted in a cruel smile. “Aw, isn't she just the cutest thing? “Wakey wakey, widdle Woona.” With a snap of his fingers, Luna's bed vanished, dumping her unceremoniously on the ground.

Luna's eyes immediately popped open and darted around in surprise and confusion, until they locked onto Discord. She leaped to her hooves, glared at the intruder, and her horn lit up with her magic's signature cobalt blue. “DISCORD!” she shouted, The Voice fully active.

Discord showed just as little concern over the powerful princess in front of him as he did the two guards earlier. “Aw, my Loony Little Luna, is that any way to greet an old friend?”


Discord covered his chest with one hand in feigned pain. “Oh, you wound me. After all the time we spent together—all those games we played.”

Luna's eyes narrowed. “GAMES? 'TWAS A WAR!”

Discord shrugged. “Eh, to-may-to to-mah-to. But you've not exactly been a good little girl yourself, have you?”

Her eyes widened. “How would thou know such things?”

Discord smirked. “Give me some credit at least. I'm more powerful than you and your sister combined. Do you really think being turned to stone would keep me out of the loop entirely? I also know, for example, that the two of you are no longer bound to the Elements of Harmony, so there's really nothing you can do to me, now is there?”

Discord teleported next to Luna and draped an arm around her shoulders. “But enough about me, let's talk about you, you bad, bad girl. I must say I'm quite impressed. Endless night? Something of an amateur plot, honestly, but very nice for a first attempt. You have all the makings of a great chaos-bringer.”

“THOU HAST NO RIGHT TO JUDGE US!” Luna wrested herself free from Discord, spun to face him and let loose a terrible bolt of magic, which he was no longer there to take, and which blasted a hole through the wall of her room.

“Hmmm...I suppose not.” Discord was now hovering above Luna, reclining as if laying on a hammock, a bored expression on his face. “But what about your precious subjects? Do they have the right?” Suddenly, Luna's bed chambers seemed to melt away, leaving the two age-old enemies in a black void. But they were not alone. They were surrounded by ponies, many of which were staring at Luna in abject fear. Others, mostly of the so-called noble class, were jeering in her direction, whispering unflattering comparisons between her and her sister. Most hurtfully, a large portion of ponies were simply ignoring her, acting as if she didn't even exist.

“Things haven't changed for you in these last thousand years,” Discord said, a hypnotic tone to his voice. “You're still the second string sister. Still lord over a time most ponies sleep right through, and many openly fear. You will never be as loved as Celestia, though you will always wish it. Whether it's today or a hundred years from now, you will snap again. It's really only a matter of time.”

Discord was beginning to get to Luna, but she was too familiar with his methods to allow herself to be taken in that easily. “Thou thinkest thou knows us so well, does thou?”

“I 'knowest' I do, Little Luna. We've been at this little game of ours for so long, I know everything of any value about you.”


The shout interrupted Discord's spell, and Luna's room popped back into focus as Sugar Heart came skidding to a stop at the doorway. “I heard you screaming with The Voice and then there was an explosion or something and what the hay is that!?

Discord was notably unimpressed by the new arrival. “And just who is this little peon?”

Luna placed herself protectively between the two of them. “THOU WILT NOT HARM EVEN A HAIR IN HER MANE IF THOU KNOWS WHAT IS GOOD FOR THEE!”

Discord had to admit he was rather taken aback by his Loony Little Luna's sudden change in demeanor. Did he miss something somewhere? Still, he grinned. “And even if I wanted to do something as boring as torment a little servant pony, who'd stop me? You?”

Luna's eyes began to glow the cold color of moonlight. “SUGAR HEART, RUN!” she instructed as she charged at Discord. She fired off another white hot bolt from her horn, which uselessly burned another hole in the wall. Anticipating Discord's move, Luna bucked both hind legs behind her, catching only air, but the popping sound let her know her instincts were correct. Instantly she retaliated by flaring her wings in a devastating slicing motion, and she smirked as she made contact with Discord's face.

Discord rubbed his nose with a mildly irritated look on his face. “That actually stung a bit.” His face lit up into a smile a moment later. “Ah, there she is. I was wondering what was keeping her.”

Luna turned to see Celestia and several guards, including Captain of the Guard Shining Armor, charging down the hallway in a battle formation. They were unable to react when a red, semi-transparent wall appeared directly in front of them. The wall briefly gave to the force of the ponies ramming into it, before bouncing them all back on their flanks.

Discord laughed. “I was hoping to pit you two against each other in a nasty little civil war, but I suppose Plan B will have to do.” He snapped his talons and launched a small blue light in Luna's direction. She dodged the perceived attack, but became confused when it spread out in a perfect oval of light upon hitting the wall behind her.

“What art thou...?”

“Ah, ah. Wait for it.” Discord said as he snapped his lion claws, producing another light—this one orange—which he sent flying out the window. “Trust me, it's going to be hilarious.”

Luna didn't have time to make a retort as the oval behind her suddenly opened like a doorway and began drawing her to it with an immense force of suction. “WHAT DID THOU DO!?” Luna cried as she tried in vain to fight against the increasingly powerful vacuum.

“You'll see,” was her reply, as Luna finally lost her hoofing and flew backwards into the oval doorway. Discord by this point was doubled over in laughter and didn't notice the green blur dive from behind Luna's reading couch and into the portal before he snapped his fingers again and caused it to vanish.

Discord casually leaned up against the pliant red wall separating him from all the other ponies and smiled congenially. “Why hello, Celestia. It really has been too long.”

“What did you do to her?” Princess Celestia said, with a deadly calm in her voice.

“Sorry, what was that? You'll have to speak up. The gelatin wall muffles sound a bit.”

“MY SISTER!” Celestia's rare display of anger brought with it an equally rare demonstration of The Voice. “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH MY SISTER!?”

“Oh, that. Don't you worry your pretty little head about your pwecious widdle Woona.” Discord grinned. “I didn't do anything to her you didn't do first.”

Celestia's eyes widened in horror for a brief moment, then narrowed to dangerous slits. “You didn't,” she said, a steel to her voice that could cut down the oldest tree in Everfree.

“Oh, Celestia, Celestia, Celestia. My dear sweet Celestia. Remember who you're talking to. Of course I did.”


Luna groaned as she got to her hooves. When she opened her eyes to take in her surroundings, they widened and her pupils shrank to a pair of desperate little dots. The sky above was black, the ground was gray and featureless. There was nothing living, plant or animal, as far as the eye could see. “No. No no no no nononono! Not here! Not AGAIN!” Light hit Luna from behind and above, and she turned to face it. Rising above the horizon, was a large, beautiful orb, mostly blue, with large patches of green and brown, covered by a veil of white wisps.

Luna's anguished wail echoed for miles.

Chapter 8

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Chapter 8

Discord could not help but smirk. These six little ponies were the only ones capable of stopping him? What a laugh. While completely hidden from view, both mundane and magical, he did a quick analysis of his opponents while they were filled in on the situation by his favorite little alicorn.

First there was Twilight Sparkle, bearer of the Element of Magic. From the feel of things, she'd earned it. Discord couldn't remember any ponies from the times before even approaching her level of magical power apart from the Princess Sisters. Mostly level headed, and as such the unofficial leader this little group, though not without her moments of neurosis. The glue that held this group of six together, while simultaneously being kept in check herself by the other five.

Applejack, Element of Honesty. Probably more level headed than Twilight Sparkle, and honest as the day was long. Strong, dependable, hard working. Boring. Still, as the one most likely to keep the others from... falling... it would probably be best to focus his efforts on her first.

Rainbow Dash, Element of Loyalty. Brash and headstrong. Smarter than she let on, but prone to leaping before thinking. She took a lot of pride in her skills as a flier, but even more in her never-leave-a-pony-hanging attitude. A move-in to Ponyville, with loyalties to both her hometown and her current friends. That was something worth looking into.

Fluttershy, Element of Kindness. Weak, helpless, pathetic. Next.

Rarity, Element of Generosity. A walking contradiction. On the one talon, she primped and preened herself more than most peacocks. Her gem obsession was on par with that of dragons. Getting herself dirty? Unthinkable. On the other paw, she cut off her obsessively preened tail just to calm a rampaging dragon, buried her stifling jealousy of a friend's success for that friend's perceived happiness, and those gems she obsessed over generally went to her clients. So which was the true Rarity: the greedy one or the generous one? Discord suspected the former, but he thought that about all ponies.

Finally, his favorite: Pinkie Pie, Element of Laughter. She'd make a great harbinger of chaos, if not for that pesky morality held in her center. Of all the ponies present, she was the one that seemed to appreciate the fun Discord brought to Equestria. He almost felt bad about the need to break her with the others. Almost.

Oh, oh, wait. The best part was coming up. Celestia had opened up the safe containing the Elements of Harmony and was just about to open the fancy box they were in. Not surprising to Discord, the box was empty. Oh, the look of surprise on her face was priceless! Then Celestia had to give him the perfect opener by saying “This doesn't make sense.” Who was Discord to deny his audience?

“Aw, make sense? What fun is there in making sense?” Let the games begin.


Luna was breathing in long controlled breaths, desperately trying to calm down, which was unfortunately her sister's strength rather than hers. She knew Discord was using her own fears and insecurities in order to turn her to his way of thinking. This particular stunt was a perfect two for the price of one, as it no doubt rattled Celestia almost as much as it did her. She knew this was no thousand year banishment—that if she could remain calm, either she, Celestia, or the Bearers of the Elements would free her from this trial.

Knowing this and believing it were, unfortunately, two very different things, and the panic and despair were creeping up on her, as evidenced by the tips of her mane and tail turning a dull gray color. Her breathing was beginning to speed up at that particular realization. She closed her eyes and slowed her breathing again. She knew what her enemy was up to. She could beat this. She had to. She didn't believe a word of it.


Celestia watched as Twilight Sparkle led the charge out to the now rearranged gardens, full of confidence and vigor. Discord had left a ridiculous riddle as to the location of the Elements, and Twilight had figured the answer lay in the massively expanded hedge maze. Celestia could only hope she was correct—Twilight was a most intelligent pony, after all—but something was nagging her that the quest would not be nearly that easy. “I know you're still there, Discord. You might as well show yourself.”

Discord popped into being in front of her, that infuriatingly happy smile on his face. “Am I really getting that predictable, Celestia? I should work on that a bit, what with my job description and all.” Her silent glare could almost have turned him back to stone on its own, if he didn't relish the reaction so much.

“You really are so grim, Celestia. I think it's gotten worse over the millennia. I suppose you're wondering what your role is in this little game of mine? Isn't it obvious? You are a non-participant this time around.” A snap of a talon later, and the two enemies were standing in Celestia's private chamber. Another snap, and the door to the room vanished, leaving a solid wall.

“Oh, but don't worry. You've got ring side seats.” Using his talon, Discord drew a large rectangle in the wall facing the bed, and with a snap, the rectangle became a window of some sort, with a black frame, and written in silver lettering upon the lower middle of the frame was the word "Pony." Through the window Celestia could clearly see Twilight and her friends approaching the entrance to the maze. “Oh, my,” Discord said in mock surprise. “They reached the entrance already. Looks like I gotta go. Ciao.” And with a pop of magic, Discord was gone.


How long had Luna been here? Hours? Days? Probably not days yet, but time on the moon was nonetheless always difficult to gauge. She was losing this battle of will and she knew it. Her previous imprisonment on this desolate rock was still too recent, the scars running too deep. No matter what she told herself in order to stay calm, an irrational despair simply kept running strong in her heart, and the gray was slowly creeping along her body.

Then she heard something, and the gray stopped. It couldn't have been real. She had to have been hearing things. But then she heard it again, and the gray began to recede ever so slightly. It was a voice, calling her name. A voice she knew. Luna spun in all directions, looking for the source, and found it—far off in the distance, visible only due to the flat terrain and dull colors, was a speck of green. Luna laughed a hysteric laugh as tears came unbidden to her eyes, and tried to take off in flight after the green glimmer of hope in front of her, but the air was too thin to keep her aloft for more than a couple of wing beats. She simply resorted to galloping, the gray in her coat receding further as she did.


Discord was thoroughly enjoying—how had he put it?—the “New and Improved Ponyville.” These ponies had lived in relative peace, harmony, and order for so long that they simply didn't know what to do with themselves when true chaos and disorder came along to mess with them. That dark purple one with the berry cutie mark in particular was most fun to play with.

Breaking the Bearers of the Elements of Harmony had been child's play. He simply had to divide them up, prey upon their own hidden fears and weaknesses, add a little Discord magic to the mix, and viola! Instant victory. The only difficult one was, much to his surprise, Fluttershy. He was embarrassed to admit that as weak as she seemed, she was completely unflappable where it counted. He'd had to change her mind through stupid brute force, and where was the fun in that? It still irked him, to be honest. Oh, young Twilight Sparkle was still putting forth a brave front, still trying to fight on, but one last push would be all she needed to see things his way. Speaking of... Discord checked his watch. “If my calculations are correct they should be coming out of the library right about...”

“Look out! Here comes Tom!” The shout was followed by the sound of glass shattering and a loud 'thud.' Discord floated over to the library to find the Element Bearers, minus one, gathered around a large boulder just outside the tree that formed the library. Each one was wearing the tacky piece of jewelry that actually was their respective Element of Harmony, though the indifferent looks on the grayed out ponies' faces made it clear how this confrontation was going to go.

“Well, well, well. I see you managed to find the Elements of Harmony. How terrifying.” Discord didn't even bother hiding his smirk.

Twilight stood straight, an almost convincing look of triumph on her face. “Discord! I've figured out your lame riddle. You're in for it now!”

“I certainly am. You've clearly out dueled me, and now it's time for me to meet my fate.” Discord created a pair of sunglasses for his eyes and a large red and white target for his chest to emphasize his sarcasm. “I'm prepared to be defeated now, ladies. Fire when ready.”

Twilight Sparkle glared at the,,, the thing in front of her that turned all her friends into complete jerks. “Formation, NOW!” she ordered, the dull ponies complying with less than enthusiastic mutterings. The unicorn glared back at the library. “Rainbow Dash! Get over here!” It took considerable self-control for Discord not to burst out laughing then and there. Instead of Rainbow Dash, Twilight's little baby dragon emerged from the library, wearing the Element of Loyalty around his neck.

Really now, was it that much of a surprise to anyone when the Elements failed so spectacularly?

Discord's sheer glee was fit to burst from his body as he watched the Element Bearers continue to turn on each other, as Twilight could only stand in stunned disbelief at the center of it all. “Bravo, ponies, bravo!" he said. "Harmony in Equestria is officially dead. Discord rules, Celestia drools.” Discord continued to laugh, watching as harsh words were shared and friends deserted friends, until only one shocked, angry, and devastated little unicorn was all that remained.

“FINE! Leave!” Twilight shouted at the retreating forms of her former friends. “See if I care! I don't need you guys either! With friends like you, who needs...” Twilight's voice broke ever so slightly. “...Enemies...?” Discord watched with pure delight as Celestia's prized and faithful student turned from brilliant purple to dull gray before his very eyes. It was a double victory in his eyes, for he knew back in her little tower in Canterlot his hated arch-enemy had watched every second. With this game finished and out of the way, perhaps it was time to make a couple of house calls.


Though running had become difficult—the air was as thin as the top of some of Equestria's highest mountains—Luna sped up when it became clear her target was who she thought it was. “SUGAR HEART!” she shouted, The Voice echoing throughout the plains. Sugar Heart herself was already running toward her, but sped up upon hearing her call.

When the two ponies met, Sugar Heart buried herself in Luna's front legs, as Luna gently rested her head on her young friend's back. Sugar Heart was struggling for breath, very nearly hyperventilating. After a moment, she began one of her fear-induced ramblings. “Omigosh omigosh omigosh we're on the moon aren't we we've been banished to the moon how did we get on the moon what are we doing on the moon?

Luna shushed Sugar Heart as gently as she was able—she was still rather unused to gentleness. “We are fine. This is no permanent banishment. It is an enemy from the times of old wreaking petty revenge. This was a punishment aimed at us. Not thee.” Sugar Heart's breathing slowed to normal and Luna stood straight and looked down upon her sternly. “Speaking of, what art thou doing here? We told thee to run.”

Sugar Heart shrugged. "You told me to run, but needed me to stay.”

Luna blinked in surprise. Sugar Heart had spoken so frankly, so immediately, as if it was the most natural thing in the world. Luna smiled as she lowered her head to resume her equine hug. “Dearest Sugar Heart. Whatever are we to do with thee?”

Sugar Heart chuckled. “Not much left to do, is there? I'm already banished to the moon.”

Luna laughed. She actually laughed. “What is it about thee that makes everything seem better?”

“Oh gag me! Get a room you two.” Luna quickly spun to face the mocking new voice as Sugar Heart stumbled behind her protective form, blushing furiously.

Hovering in front of the pair was an ornate body mirror, but instead of reflecting naturally, a face that could be one of a pony if one squinted real hard was smirking back at them. “DISCORD!” Luna shouted.

“'Discord!' 'Discord!' Anybody ever tell you that you sound like a broken record, Little Luna?” He removed himself from the mirror, that smile plastered on his smug face. “You're looking good, by the way. Much bluer than I was expecting.” Discord's gaze shifted to Sugar Heart. “Ah, it's the little servant filly from before. That is a new variable.”

Luna narrowed her eyes dangerously. “What does thou want? Art thou here to gloat?”

Discord shrugged. “A bit. A bit. I thought you'd be interested in seeing how your dearest big sister was doing.” He gestured to the mirror, and Luna gasped. The image in the glass was that of Celestia, lying on her bed looking at something hanging from the wall, tears streaming down her face. Most distressing was the gray that had crept through two thirds of her body.


“Do? Do? I didn't do anything.” Oh, how Luna would have loved to buck that smile right off his face. “You know as well as I do that the two of you are too powerful for me to corrupt directly, even if doing it that way wasn't completely boring.” Discord tapped the glass with a talon. “But those little fillies the Elements of Harmony have bonded to? Simple as pie. I just let Celestia watch as I did my thing. You know how... invested Celestia gets with her personal students.”


Discord smirked. “Well, honestly it's supposed to be eight. You're looking awfully chipper for a pony who's been spending the last day suffering her greatest fear.” He pulled at his goat's beard thoughtfully. “Oh. OhohohohHO! This is perfect! Little Luna's made a friend! That makes things so much easier.”

Luna placed herself protectively in front of said friend. “We know thy tricks, Discord. Thou will not separate us to face thy challenges alone.”

“Oh, dear,” Discord said, sarcasm dripping off his voice. “Without separating you, my games are simply more trouble than they'd be worth. Too bad I can't just change a normal little earth pony's mind with a snap of my fingers. Oh wait! I can.”

With a pop, Discord vanished, appearing behind Sugar Heart, and tapped her upside the head, before zipping straight up to avoid Luna's magical blast. “Oh, no,” Luna said under her breath as she saw her friend go wide eyed and slack jawed. Her heart dropped to her hooves when Sugar Heart's color changed from brilliant green to dull gray. “Sugar Heart?” Luna asked, for once her voice barely above a whisper.

Sugar Heart, her coat now completely gray, looked up at Luna, her expression completely dispassionate. “Was there something you needed, Princess?” she said in a clipped, professional tone. Princess. Sugar Heart had not called Luna just "Princess" in almost a year.

Discord's grin grew into a smile of pure delight when he saw Luna's head drop. Any moment now and he should be seeing gray creep along her body. Wait a second. That wasn't supposed to happen. Her mane and tail were supposed to be drooping and listless, not swirling around above her head as if caught in a violent storm. Eyes closed, Luna raised her head, and Discord could see that tears were indeed streaming down her face. But when her eyes snapped open, they were glowing with the intensity and malevolence of a nightmare.

Chapter 9

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Chapter 9

“Oh,” was all Discord had time to say before being blinded by a flash of magic from his opponent. When the flash died down Luna was nowhere to be seen. “Where are you my Loony Little LuGURK!” A sharp blow to the top of the head sent Discord crashing to the ground. He scrambled out of the way just in time to dodge a midnight blue blur, which caused a small explosion of moon dust as four hooves hit a single point on the ground at once. He rubbed his head and winced. “That actually hurt, you little...”

“WE HAVE YET TO EVEN BEGIN HURTING THEE!” Luna roared as her eyes and horn glowed with even more intensity.

Discord suddenly found himself floating in the air against his will a brief moment before his world became a blur. “Woahwoahwoahwoahwoahwoahwoah!” he shouted as he was spun around like at top. Then he was hurled through the thin air and felt himself hit something very solid that gave way with a shattering sound, and he bounced off the ground once on the other side before recovering enough to snap his talons and stop himself—and everything else for that matter.

Discord actually needed to take a second to calm himself down after that close call. Though it was only for a brief moment, Luna in her rage had actually managed to overpower him. That did not happen often. It elicited a feeling in Discord's chest that was so rare for him to feel that he had to consciously quantify it for a moment. Oh, it was fear. So that's what it felt like. Interesting.

Discord calmly lowered himself down to the ground and took in his time-stopped surroundings. He whistled at what he saw. He was in Celestia's bed chambers. There was a hole seemingly hovering in the middle of nothing in front of him and shattered glass littered the floor. Luna had already leaped through the shattered mirror and was frozen mid air, eyes still glowing. His composure regained, Discord smiled widely as he snapped his talons.

Luna yelped as her forward momentum was completely negated, but still managed to land on her hooves. Before she could continue her attack, Discord stuck a cork on the end of her horn, cutting off her flow of magic immediately. “That'll be enough of that,” he said. “And to save my eardrums...” A black strip of tape slapped itself over Luna's mouth.

“I must say I'm very impressed. Surprised even. That is something that doesn't happen often. I mean, look around you. You actually got yourself off the moon! By throwing me—me!—through my own magical mirror. Did you do that on purpose or was it just a fortuitous accident?” Discord stopped to give Luna a chance to respond, with which she took the opportunity to give him a glare that might actually have killed a lesser being. “Oh, right. I forgot. Anyway,” Discord said, putting an arm around Luna, causing her to shudder. “Do you know why you're the only one I always call little pet names, my Loony Widdle Woona? Because you're the fun one!”

Discord popped next to Celestia, who was still frozen in time, her gaze locked on the window past his shoulders. “Your sister here has always been so boring. So prim and proper and... calm. Always in control, even when angry. I think today was just about the angriest I've ever seen her and do you know what she did? She yelled at me. With that lovely Royal Canterlot Voice. That's it. Ah, but you. You've got a fire burning in there somewhere. Makes you unpredictable. My kind of pony. Your sister may have more raw power than you do—don't look at me like that; you know it's true—but you are the one who actually managed to overpower me for a moment. I'll even admit that you put some fear in me for the first time in... well, ever. Congratulations. That puts you in a very exclusive club.”

Discord's face suddenly appeared uncomfortably close to Luna's. “So, since you've impressed me so, I'm going to give you a reward. I'll let you stay here, with Celestia. You worked so hard for it after all. I'll even let you keep your little servant pony, just because I like you. Of course, I'm no fool. There is a small cost to my generosity. No more magic windows, no more links to the outside world. No more me. Fair deal, right? I think so anyway. I've got more fun waiting for me over in Ponyville anyway. Ta-ta, my Little Luna!”

A flash of light later, and Discord was gone. As was the cork and tape, the shattered mirror, and the window Celestia had been using. Luna quickly looked around to make sure Sugar Heart had indeed been brought back, and sighed with relief to see her calmly standing in an out of the way corner, unobtrusively waiting for an order. Luna turned back to see that Celestia's movement had been restored as well, though her despairing gray form brought that fire back to Luna's eyes.

“What does thou think thou art doing?” she asked as she approached her sister.

“Luna?” Celestia said in a tiny voice, as tears streaked down her grayed-out face.

“WE ASKED THEE WHAT THOU ART DOING!” Luna repeated, The Voice in full force, shocking her older sister into paying full attention. “THOU ART CELESTIA OF THE ETERNAL SUN! THE VERY HEAVENS BEND TO THY WILL! THOU HAST DEFENDED EQUESTRIA FROM DESTRUCTION SINCE TIME IMMEMORIAL, NO MATTER THE PERSONAL COSTS! INNUMERABLE MONSTERS AND THREATS, FROM DISCORD TO THINE OWN SISTER THOU HAST FACED IN DEFENSE OF THY KINGDOM! THOU HAST RULED THIS LAND ALONE IN WISDOM AND GRACE FOR ONE THOUSAND YEARS! AND AFTER ALL THAT—ALL THAT—THOU ART NOW GOING TO JUST GIVE UP!? WE SAY THEE NAY! THOU DOES NOT GET TO GIVE UP!” The light in Luna's eyes dimmed back down to normal as new tears pooled in them, even as her expression remained resolute. “If you give up,” she said, her voice almost tiny in comparison to before, “where does that leave me?”

Celestia's face remained frozen in it's shocked expression for several moments, though the gray was quickly receding. Her expression changed to the motherly expression Luna had not seen since they were half-grown. “Oh, Lulu,” she said as she wrapped her expansive wings around her little sister, the last of the gray vanishing as she did so, leaving her once again a resplendent white.

Suddenly surrounded by the comforting presence, all the fear, anger, sadness, and hurt Luna had been experiencing, not just the last day but over the course of a thousand years, found escape. “Tia!” she cried, a whine entering her voice that had not been heard since she was a filly. Luna buried her face into her sister's chest, as Celestia brought her head down to her sister's level. For several minutes, the only sounds in the room were Luna's muffled sobbing and Celestia's gentle shushing.

When Luna finally calmed down some time later, Celestia disentangled herself from the hug. “Feel better?”

With a rather un-princesslike shnlork, Luna wiped her nose with a foreleg and nodded. “Yes. Yes we do.”

Celestia smiled a small smile as she nuzzled her sister one last time. “Then we've got work to do. Since we're not giving up, we'd best search for something we can do for our subjects from here. After all, neither of us became rulers by being pretty.” Celestia's smile turned teasing and she winked. “Pretty though we are.”

Luna giggled just a bit at the return of her sister's impish behavior. “Then, sister, the first thing we must do is look into our resources. What has Discord left us?”

Celestia closed her eyes in concentration, scanning the room with her magic. “Nothing much. It appears he was serious when he said he was leaving us here with no way out. Hold on a moment.” Her eyes then opened a moment later, and there was an almost wicked look in them. “He always was sloppier than he thinks he is. All of my means of magical correspondence have been left unmolested. We can at least communicate with the outside. But how to use it...?”

Celestia noticed that Luna wasn't quite listening, followed her gaze, and finally saw, standing unobtrusively in a corner, the grayed out form of a little pony. “Oh,” she let out softly.

“What is it, sister?”

“Is that... Sugar Heart, over there?”

Luna started a bit at the question, then dropped her head a little and answered. “Yes, it is. She has become a good and proper servant, thanks to Discord,” she said, with only a touch of bitterness creeping into her voice. As Celestia's eyes widened, Luna gave her sister a sad smile. “Let us deal with a single crisis at a time, dear sister.”

There was a moment of silence and then, “No.”

One of Luna's ears twitched at that. “No?”

Celestia smiled. “No. Tend to Sugar Heart. That is the first thing you must do.”

Luna fidgeted, uncertain. “But... but Discord. And Equestria...”

“Yes, the big picture, 'the needs of the many,' and all that. I know. But can you honestly, truly give your all to the big picture with this looming over your heart and head?” Luna sighed, her eyes squeezed shut, then cast an almost desperate look back at her sister, to find that Celestia had a small, kind, knowing smile on her face. “Trust your elder sister on this one,” she said softly. “Go to her.” And she gave Luna a little push for emphasis.

Luna took a deep breath to steel herself. By Tartarus this was going to be hard. But Celestia was right. She needed this. “Sugar Heart,” she called. “We would have words with thee.”

Sugar Heart obediently stepped out of the shadows and trotted up to her. “Yes, Princess. What is it?”

There was a silence, as Luna had little idea where to start. “What wouldst tho... you say you are to us?” she finally asked.

Confusion crossed Sugar Heart's face. “Your personal servant. Your hoofmaiden, I think the term was in the old days. Why do you ask?”

Luna couldn't help but snort out a brief huff of bitter laughter. “Because, Dear Sugar Heart, in addition to being our servant, you are also our most dear friend.”

Sugar Heart cocked her head slightly. "I'm sorry if I ever gave you that impression, my lady. But such a... relationship would be most improper between a princess and a servant."

That hurt, it was true. Sugar Heart was nothing but polite, apologetic, even, but she was still baldly refusing what had grown over the last year, and it hurt. Deep breath, 'tis no fault of her own. She is merely ailing, again. And this time... “Nay, Sugar Heart. A servant does not offer comfort to her charge because she senses loneliness. A servant does not accompany her princess on such improper activities as sabotaging bath salts and nailing furniture to the ceiling. A servant does not offer to stay up all day with her princess because of bad dreams. These are things that a friend does.”

For a moment, a brief moment, Luna thought she had gotten through to Sugar Heart, but...”I am sorry, Princess. But you've just got it wrong.”

Luna sighed. “Right.” Her frustration had reached a peak, and one new tear managed to trickle down her face. “Very well, then,” the disheartened princess said. She honestly had no idea where to go from here. Once again, she had failed as a friend. Once again, a malady had infected the second most important pony in the world to her, and she could do nothing against it. Once again, her friend had been struck down due to her own incompetence. What good was she anyway?

“Princess?” Sugar Heart's voice spoke up again, stopping Luna cold. “Are you...crying?” Luna turned to see tears streaming down Sugar Heart's cheeks. “Am... I...?” Sugar Heart squeezed her eyes shut and brought her forelegs to her head. Dull gray began to be replaced by vibrant green before Luna's eyes, and her heart skipped a beat. Could it really be that simple? Why would it not? a strangely logical corner of her brain asked. Was it not thine own dark mood which prompted her to approach thee in the first place all those months ago? After all, Discord may distort, but he cannot destroy that which makes a pony who they are.

“Ugh... What happened? Who's the jerk who bucked me in the head?” a once again green Sugar Heart muttered before falling to the ground and rubbing her temples. “Oh, never mind. He's in my head trying to get out.” After a moment, she opened one eye to see her friend Luna standing over her, a strange look on her face. “Luna? Are you okay?”

Luna's face split in a smile of absolute happiness. “SUGAR HEART!” The pony in question suddenly found herself wrapped up in Luna's forelegs in a spine cracking hug.

“Luna? Luna!?” Sugar Heart gurgled. “Can't breathe!”

Luna loosened—but did not relinquish—her hold. Sugar Heart cast a confused look at Celestia, who gave a small smile in return. “She's had an extraordinarily difficult day,” was all that she said.

After a few moments, Luna finally let go of her friend, who was blushing tremendously. “Er, I'm kinda, sorta... lost. Weren't we on the moon?”

Luna laughed, in spite of herself. “'Tis a long story, dear friend. For now, suffice it to say we are glad thou art back among us.”

Celestia had joined the other two in the middle of the room. “Yes, it is a relief for me as well. Well done, Luna. I've never seen Discord's influence on a pony broken so quickly. What was the secret?”

“Secret?” Luna asked, a thoughtful expression on her face. “In the end, there was no secret. Sugar Heart simply required a...” Luna's eyes widened here. “...reminder.”

Suddenly, Luna dashed off to Celestia's closet, rather startling both the other ponies present. Celestia maintained her serenity as a number of rather alarming crashes resonated from within, even as Sugar Hearts eyes widened in slight panic.

“Luna?” Celestia called, her smile still on her face, though Sugar Heart could see there was an ever so slight strain to it. “What are you doing?”

“We have an idea,” Luna called from within. “Our best hope even still remains the Bearers of the Elements of Harmony. Discord may have made them forget about the Magic of Friendship, but he can not destroy their friendship entirely, no matter what he believes. If we can but give them a reminder...” There was a brief silence, then...

“Oh, but there are a lot of them!” Moments later, a stack of papers floated out upon the winds of Luna's magic and settled in front of Celestia. She read the first page and smiled.

I have learned a very valuable lesson about friendship: I was so afraid of being thought of as a showoff that I was hiding a part of who I am. My friends helped me realize that it's okay to be proud of your talents, and there are times when it's appropriate to show them off... Especially when you're standing up for your friends.

“Lulu, you're a genius!” Celestia exclaimed.

Luna poked her head out of the closet and shook her head. “No, sister. 'Tis but a desperate gamble made by a pony with no other options. Yet how does that saying go we read? 'Any port in the storm?' Yes that is it. And our idea hinges entirely on our ability to get these letters to your student.”

Celestia smiled. “That will be no issue. I have access to little Spike's dragonfire.”

Luna nodded. “Then as our times are most desperate, we suggest sending them all.”

“Poor Spike,” Celestia said as she rolled up the first of the scrolls before making it vanish in a puff of green. “This is going to be most unpleasant.”

Luna, already vanished back into the closet, called back. “If we make it out of these dire straights, we will make recompense. SUGAR HEART! WE HAVE NEED OF THY ASSISTANCE!

“Right, okay. Coming, Luna!” Sugar Heart said as she dashed into the closet after her friend.

Moments later, Luna and Sugar Heart both came out of the closet, each hauling another stack of parchment. Luna sat next to Celestia and began rolling them into scrolls, to speed the process up a bit. Sugar heart dumped her pile and ran back into the closet to fetch more, which caused a small twitch to Celestia's eye. “There really are a lot of them, aren't there?”

Luna could only grin as she rolled up another scroll.


The once peaceful town of Ponyville was not even recognizable anymore. Between the purple skies, floating buildings, giant card castles, dancing buffalo, and flying pies, it was safe to say that the town had been completely overrun by the forces of chaos. In the center of it all, lounging on a throne of his own design, Discord laughed with wicked glee as he filled a glass with the chocolate rain that he'd become quite fond of. “Chaos is a wonderful, wonderful thing,“ he toasted to himself as he brought the glass to his lips.

“Not as wonderful as friendship!”

Discord was again given a mild surprise when he saw the six young mares once again gathered in front of him, the Elements glittering on their necks and Twilight Sparkle's Big Crown Thingie. “This again?” he scoffed before he drank the glass from around his chocolate milk and threw the chunk of chocolate behind himself where it exploded in an impressive display.

“That's right!” the orange one—Applejack, if memory served—said. “You couldn't break up our friendship fer long!”

Discord rolled his eyes. “Oh, Applejack. Don't lie to me. I'm the one who made you a liar.” With a flick of his talon, he pulled five of the six mares through the air to face him. “When will you ever learn?”

Twilight Sparkle suddenly popped into the center of the group, surrounding them in a bubble of protective magic that actually negated Discord's. When the bubble landed, depositing the mares on the ground, the checkerboard pattern beneath it transformed back into healthy green grass. Really, in hindsight, that should have been a hint. “I'll tell you what we've learned, Discord!” Twilight said in her best lecture voice. “We learned that friendship isn't always easy, but it's always worth fighting for!”

Discord stuck his tongue out in disgust. “Ugh, gag. Fine, go ahead. Use your little Elements. 'Friend me.' Just make it quick. I'm missing some excellent chaos here.” Also in hindsight, Pinkie Pie taking one last slurp of chocolate rain before gathering with the other Element Bearers should have also been a clue. Still, Discord was taken completely by surprise when the elements actually worked this time. As the rainbow engulfed him, fear overtook him, and when the stone statue that once was Discord fell over and hit the ground—well, this time its face was not smiling.


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The celebration was more grand than any Grand Galloping Gala, yet far less exclusive. Ponies from all walks of life crowded the grand hall to see the six mares that saved all of Equestria from the ancient threat of the draconequus Discord. Even more resplendent than usual, Celestia beamed down upon the six relatively plain ponies before her. Luna, however, was nowhere to be seen. Most of the ponies in attendance barely even took notice of her absence; after all, in the months since her return, she had yet to make a public appearance. One unassuming pony within the audience took notice, however, and quietly left before the ceremony had even completed.

Sugar Heart knocked on Luna's door, though she received no response. This didn't surprise her—there was a meteor shower scheduled in a about a week and Luna had a tendency to become fully absorbed in her projects. Sugar Heart tried two more times before nudging the door open and peeking inside. She expected to hear the clacking of beads and the scratch of pen to paper, but there was only silence. Luna was not at her desk. Curious, Sugar Heart entered and looked around. She couldn't imagine she would be anywhere else—except possibly in the sky. Sugar Heart parted the curtains that led out to the balcony and stopped short in surprise. Luna was sitting there, her back to her, gazing up at the stars. “Luna?” Sugar Heart asked. “Are you okay?”

Surprised, Luna turned to face her, and Sugar Heart gave a small gasp at the expression on her face. Though Luna hadn't been crying, there was a definite melancholy there. “Oh, Sugar Heart,” she said, giving a none-too-convincing smile. “What art thou doing here when there is a celebration happening?”

Sugar Heart sat next to the princess. “Well, I did go, but my best friend didn't show up, so I left early.” She laughed a bit at Luna's quizzical expression. “I'm talking about you, silly.”

“We knew that,” Luna said, a small blush appearing on her cheeks.

Sugar Heart turned serious again. “Luna? What's wrong?”

Luna sighed. “Nothing we wish to discuss at this time. Discord brought many old hurts to the surface—and generated a few new ones as well.”

“Do you... want me to leave you alone?”

Luna opened her mouth and closed it several times, apparently having trouble deciding exactly what she wanted. Finally she spoke. “No. Thy company would be most welcome.”

The two ponies sat together in silence for a time, gazing at the stars. For the first time since they met roughly a year back, Sugar Heart was struck with a sense of just how old Luna was. The two princesses who ruled the land were timeless, ageless even. This was of course common knowledge. Yet the weight of those years never seemed to show on either of their countenances. At least, until now.

Sugar Heart began wracking her brain on how she could possibly help her friend through this black spot in her life. Somehow, simply "being there" didn't seem like enough. Luna needed something more. Something to bring her natural smile back. And then suddenly, inspiration. Oh, it was a bad idea, a small portion of her brain reminded her, especially if others found out it was hers, but what were friends for if not to take a few risks for each other now and then? “You know, Luna, it occurs to me that with the big celebration and all, that a good ninety percent of all the castle staff and guards are in the lower levels of the castle.”

“Hmm,” was the only response she got out of Luna.

“Well, that leaves very few ponies up here. Nopony to even suspect if you were to be... up to something?”

Luna gave another noncommittal hum, but then her eyes widened and her mouth made a little 'oh' as the possibilities began to run through her head. She shook her head violently. “No. No. No no no no no. Out of the question. We couldn't possibly... after all that has transpired, 'twould be in terrible taste.”

“You're right, of course. Forget I said anything.” Sugar Heart watched Luna out of the corner of her eye, smirking as her friend's face twitched as more ideas continued to enter her head; ideas which she kept trying rather unsuccessfully to quash.

After several minutes, the two ponies made eye contact with each other again, and this time no words were exchanged. Instead, they shared with each other identical, wide, toothy smiles—complete with the sound of a rubber bath toy being squeezed—before scrambling back inside. After all, there was mischief to be done and a friend to share in it. Who had time to mope?