Keep Calm and Chaos On

by Azure129

First published

Discord calls out Celestia on the details of his initial reform. He has some interesting demands, which she gives into (but not without a few challenges of her own.) By the time Discord’s final reform comes, they're as close as two friends can be.

“Yes, Princess, I’m ready to use my magic for good instead of evil…most of the time.”

“I’ll leave the Elements with you, Twilight…just in case.”

Directly following the events of “Keep Calm and Flutter On” Discord and Celestia call each other out on these little ‘disclaimers’ and try to explain their words while still maintaining their new friendship. They soon agree on some interesting conditions for Discord’s recent reform, leading to the castle, some Royal Canterlot Voice from Luna, cake, and an interesting night and morning as Discord figures out how to relate to his former princess foes in a much less evil (if as obnoxious as ever) sort of way. He especially enjoys his new ‘friendly’ way of bothering Celestia.

Later, following Tirek’s defeat (and Discord’s final reform), the chaos master and the sun princess assess how their friendship has gone and where it might go from here. Luna throws in her two bits as well. Naturally, cake is eaten. And, of course, no matter how reformed he may become, Discord ‘loves’ teasing Celestia as much as ever…and it’s sort of grown on Celestia too.

(Rated Teen really only because of some suggestiveness, and I just want to err on the side of caution :) )

Food, Clothing, Shelter...

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A very quick note about reading this story. The chapters of this fic weren't written/posted in chronological order. If you read the A/N's, I think what happens in the story and when it all happens is very straightforward and easy to follow if you just read the fic chapters in the order they were posted (and I think it's a more fun reading experience than reading the chapters in the order in which they occur. :raritywink:).

However, if you'd like to read the story chronologically at any point, this is the order in which to read it :twilightsmile: :
"Food, Clothing, Shelter...", Midquels 1--10, "Flowers, Pillows, and Cake Makes it All Complete!", Sequel, Bonus Story!

Take care, and please enjoy the story :scootangel:

“I’ll leave the elements with you, Twilight,” Celestia whispered to her faithful student, a wary look in her eyes, “just in case.”

Twilight, of course, nodded to Celestia in full understanding.

As Celestia raised her head, she caught sight of Discord blinking and then glancing away a touch hesitantly, clearly having heard her words as well.

Then, as Discord might put it, Twilight went on to explain to everypony in almost excruciating detail every conceivable sappy moral dimension of the draconequus’s sudden reformation, paying excessive compliments to friendship’s magical capabilities and showing off just a little more than she needed to even if her wise teacher was watching her at the moment.

Eventually, however, Twilight had finished, and Discord admitted friendship’s magic for the first time, causing Fluttershy to remark on how her friend could be a real sweetheart once somepony got to know him—a comment which prompted looks of concern and doubt from everypony else, even the normally accepting and smiling princess Celestia herself.

Now, however, the girls had all said their farewells to Discord and Celestia and had dispersed, as had Discord after a snap of his fingers and a dramatic flash of light. So Princess Celestia found herself alone and free to head back to Canterlot Castle, having successfully completed her personal mission of encouraging the spread of the magic of friendship even among the least likely of takers.

Celestia smiled to herself as she trotted along through some of the side streets of Ponyville. ‘I might as well walk for just a little while—it’s such a nice day, and I’m not due back at the castle for at least half an hour. I thought confirming Discord’s reform would have taken much longer. And if I stay out of the main streets, I’ll have some privacy at least.’ She smiled to herself and continued along.

“I’ll leave the elements with you, Twilight…just in case.”

Celestia paused entirely and her eyes went wide at the sound of her voice saying these familiar words—but the words weren’t coming out of her mouth. She looked around in confusion.

Then suddenly with a flash a certain new ‘friend’ appeared before her, his mismatched arms crossed over his chest and a bushy eyebrow raised. He snapped his fingers, causing a little cloud to appear next to him in which replayed a scene from mere moments ago—Celestia leaning down and whispering to Twilight, “I’ll leave the elements with you, Twilight…just in case.”

Celestia blinked but then smiled, her usual poise returning. “Hello again, Discord. What are you doing here?” She raised an eyebrow.

“Oh, just wondering what the meaning of this is.” Discord gestured with his head to indicate the bubble behind him. “That’s all.” He pouted and frowned at her a little. “I didn’t want to call you out on it in front of our little element bearers and especially Fluttershy since she hates confrontation, but, really, Celestia—my new, dear friend Celestia—what in hay was that supposed to mean?” He jerked his thumb right at the bubble, which replayed the scene once more.

“I’ll leave the elements with you, Twilight…just in case.”

Celestia considered carefully for a moment and then answered simply, “You mean me leaving the Elements of Harmony with Twilight? Well, she and her friends are the element bearers, Discord. It seemed like a sound thing to do. Do you not agree?” She smiled.

“Ha!” Discord scoffed, grinning and flying up to rest on his stomach in the air before her. He snapped to make the bubble disappear. “It seems like a ‘sound thing to do’—seems more like an ‘awfully threatening thing to do’ regarding someone who is supposed to be your friend now, hmm?” He grinned at her smugly. “I mean, if you can’t take our friendship seriously, Celestia, how am I supposed to take it seriously?” He put his arms behind his head and turned over on his back to glide backwards through the air in circles. “Of course, not that I’d ever take anything 'seriously', but for the sake of argument, let’s just go with that word for now.” He flew right in front of her again and frowned once more. “The point is, I agreed to be good, and your response was to indirectly threaten me with the Elements of Harmony. And for this I demand an apology!” He held up a hand dramatically and looked down at her with such satisfaction, like he had just come up with the grandest chaotic puzzle of all and knew she couldn’t solve it.

Celestia, however, just smiled up at him as serenely as ever. “I see. Hmm…very well, I apologize for my expression of distrust. It was wrong of me to suggest a threat to you like that, Discord, and I’m sorry.” She gave a slight bow of her head.

Celestia looked up, and her suspicions of what might happen now were realized—Discord blinked, raised an eyebrow, and then all of his pomp deflated from him. “Wait, you mean…you agree, and…you apologize, and…I win?”

Celestia nodded. “Yes. Although, I don’t think I’d call it ‘winning.’” She put a hoof to her chin. “We’re friends, Discord—there’s no winning or losing, that’s for heroes and villains. You brought up a concern to me, told me your feelings, and made a reasonable request—why wouldn’t I agree to do what it takes to uphold our new friendship?” She smiled at him.

Discord blinked a few times now and put his feet back on the ground. “So it’s that simple then?” he asked cautiously.

Celestia nodded. “Yes, it is. Congratulations, Discord, you’re well on your way to having honest, open, reasonable relationships with everypony. I’m very proud.”

Discord blinked at the compliment and looked down, pouting a little in some frustration, his claw coming to his chin. But then he considered…and then his grin returned. He stepped aside and gestured forward with his paw. “Very well. I should probably let you get back to your walk then.”

Celestia, trying not to smile too much, nodded. “Yes, I would like that very much, Discord. I get so little free time, and I do have to be back in Canterlot soon. Please enjoy your afternoon.” And with that she started to trot forward again.

“Of course, though…” Celestia heard Discord go on, and she blinked as he slid up right beside her, matching her pace, “I might be inclined to join you for a little bit. And as a friend I’m sure you won’t turn me away, right?” He eyed her with delightful satisfaction.

Celestia sighed softly but managed to keep up her smile. She nodded to him. “Of course not, Discord. If you would like to join me, I would be very happy for the company.” She continued forward.

Discord beamed. “Excellent, excellent.” He clapped his claw and paw together. “So, regarding our little ‘issue’ just now, I suppose everything’s all settled then—you were wrong to suggest threatening me with the Elements, you apologized, and by now, of course, I’m sure you’ve magicked-away those pesky little enchanted jewels from the girls and back to Canterlot as a sign of your true faith in me.” He grinned widely.

“Oh, of course not, Discord,” Celestia merely replied brightly. “The Elements are still with the Twilight, and that is where they’ll stay for now.”

Discord blinked, his grin falling. “But you just said—”

“I said,” Celestia interrupted, but in the politest tone, “That I was wrong to make you feel threatened by the Elements. But I’m still keeping them with the girls. Oh it’s not really a matter of not trusting you, Discord, it’s just…evil can strike in Equestria at any time, and it’s much more efficient for the girls to have direct access to their Elements than to have to travel to Canterlot for them or for me to have to bring the Elements here, don’t you think?” Celestia shrugged, and her smile grew just a little.

Discord blinked, opened his mouth as though about to protest…but then just sighed very deeply and crossed his arms over his chest with a dull, defeated look. “Oh, I suppose.”

Celestia laughed softly. Then she looked forward, considered for a moment, weighed the potential consequences of the idea that suddenly occurred to her, but finally pursued the topic anyway. “You know, speaking of unnecessary comments regarding your reform…back with the girls when you promised to use your magic for good, you mumbled a little something yourself…. What was it? Oh yes—you said you would use your magic for good instead of evil, and then you added ‘most of the time.’ ” She raised an eyebrow. “And what was that supposed to mean exactly?” She mimicked his words about her own little qualifying statement as their walk continued.

Discord blinked. Then he grinned smugly again. “Well, it means, of course, oh observant Celestia, that I can’t literally spend twenty four hours a day making and spreading goodness—I do have to sleep sometimes and eat sometimes and take personal time sometimes. And of course I have to make time for dear Fluttershy.” He shrugged, clasping his hands behind his back.

“Mmm hmm…” Celestia’s grin grew slightly at this cagey response. She continued to eye him. “So you and Fluttershy really have hit it off then? That’s wonderful. Her friendship must be very special to you.”

Discord rolled his eyes to the side. “Oh, well, you know…she’s all right.” He cleared his throat and looked down, and Celestia suddenly realized with interest that he was feeling awkward…and he would only feel awkward if his care for his friendship with Fluttershy really was sincere. Something in her smile warmed.

“Anyway…” Discord went on, trying to resume his usual confident tone, “Getting back to my point—as I said, now matter how much I want to help you, I can’t be expected to just be out snapping up goodness and joy all the time.”

Celestia nodded. “That’s a fair point, Discord.”

“So, during all of that downtime, since you’re the one who brought me back into this world to help you out, I think that makes you responsible for making sure all of my basic needs are met while I’m waiting to assist you with my phenomenal powers.” He grinned as smugly as he ever had at her.

Celestia blinked. “Discord…I’m sorry, I’m afraid I don’t understand.”

Discord shrugged. “Allow me to explain then.” He pointed at her with his paw. “You see, you let me out—I didn’t ask to be let out, you let me out and for your own convenience. You took me from the continuation of a thousand year stone prison nap complete with occasional waking moments to mentally mock all of your Equestrian harmony around me, and have now permanently shoved me out into a cold, cruel, modern world that I have no place in and know nothing about. I’m your responsibility a lot more than I am the girls’ responsibility, Princess. Therefore, I think that means you should be in charge of making sure that the basic needs of my life are met as a ‘reformed’ ” he made air quotes, “being of chaos. Simple as pie.” He snapped and made a large pie appear in front of him, which he held and started eating with a fork, pie tin and all.

Celestia still looked rather confused though. “Discord…I’m sorry, I’m still not entirely sure what you’re getting at.”

Discord sighed deeply, magically dabbing his mouth with a napkin. “You have to make sure I’m provided for, Celestia. Food, clothing, shelter.” He smiled brightly.

Celestia raised an eyebrow. “But…you can make your own food appear, Discord.” She gestured with her hoof to the pie in front of him.

Discord glanced at the pie and then just snapped the remains away. “Sure, but why should I HAVE to, hmm? I think I should have some access to food prepared for me while I go through the trying task of learning how to harness my chaotic powers for good.” He put a hand to his forehead dramatically.

“Okay…” Celestia sighed but maintained her poise. “As for clothing, though, once again, not only can you snap up your own, but it’s not really a requirement around here, Discord. Most ponies only wear clothes for fashion or formal occasions,” she explained.

“Well, I’m not a pony, but thank you for so insensitively comparing me to the dominant species in Equestria.” Discord turned his nose up in a huff.

Celestia sighed, her look going a touch dry. “Discord, that’s not what I—”

“No, no!” He held out his paw, still acting insulted. “The damage is done. Let’s just move past it for the sake of our friendship.” He smiled to himself. “Fine, though, I actually don’t need to wear clothes, but sometimes I might like a coat to keep out the harsh weather or a big floppy hat to protect myself from all of the gaudy sunlight around this place.” He smirked, putting his hands on his hips. “But why should I be responsible for whipping up those things? I wouldn’t need them if I were stone. Therefore I think the task must again fall to you, Celestia.” He pointed at her.

Celestia took a deep breath and did her best to maintain her professional, calm tone still. “I’ll consider the problem, Discord, though I think you have to admit it’s not the most pressing issue right now considering the temperate weather and the partial cloudiness.”

“Well, while you’re considering the issues of food and clothing for me,” Discord went on, gesturing to himself with his paw, his cockiness only escalating, “You can consider my final problem, my biggest problem—shelter. Just where in the world am I supposed to live now, Celestia?”

Celestia actually stopped walking. And her eyes went wide.

Discord stopped too. Then his grin quickly became as wide as could be. ‘Got her.’ He turned to face her, arms crossed over his chest, eyes narrowed a little. “You see, my home before was that pedestal in the garden…but now I have no home.”

“But…” Celestia tilted her head to the side, looking up at him, “Surely you have some old haunt from the past to go to? Or some place in mind to make with your magic? Any free space in the land is open to you to use.”

Discord just shook his head though. “Celestia, it’s been a thousand years—if I had any old haunts, either they’d be rubble now or I would have forgotten about them. I didn’t have a staff maintaining my house for the last millennium like you did. And as for rebuilding, Celestia, I am surprised at you.” He frowned, holding out his arms for emphasis. “Do you know how traumatic the last few months have been for me? I was just minding my own business in stone, then you go disconnect yourself from the Elements all willy-nilly, and suddenly I’m free, I’m finally getting everything I’ve ever wanted, all of my chaos dreams come true, and then boom, your little element bearers come along, and I have to go through the trauma of getting turned back to stone again.” He scowled. “And since I was surprised, the pose wasn’t exactly flattering this time.”

Discord huffed a little, pacing before her now, getting a bit caught up in his own dramatics. “Then, fine, I’m back to stone, just enjoying being free of your nagging when all of a sudden you show up at the statue garden with a bunch of guards, toss me into a chariot, and fly me to Ponyville to make me a friendship report project for your little ponies.” He rolled his eyes. “And okay, maybe it worked out, maybe I made a friend, maybe I’ll admit there’s something to all of that ‘loving and caring for each other being the most magical thing of all’ malarkey you were always spouting. But now,” Discord paused and turned toward her, raising his paw high, “Now to keep my freedom I have to repress my evil tendencies, clean the very blackness from my heart, and manage to do good! Do you know how stressful that is going to be on me?! Do you have any idea the degree of recalibration I’m going to have to do to my magic?!” He threw his arms in the air. “You might as well ask Twilight Sparkle to abandon her studies of boring books and take up a study of wild parties and spontaneous vandalism!” He rolled his eyes and sighed, putting his arms on his hips again. “My point is, I am going to be going through a lot now, and more for your benefit than mine—I don’t have the time or energy to scout around for prime real estate and start building some kind of chaos chateau from scratch. There are more important things to do. And you’re the one who has left me in this predicament, so why shouldn’t you be the one to get me out of it?”

Celestia blinked, an actual touch of guilt coming to her features. She knew he was exaggerating the distress of his circumstances a little of course, and yet…he made a valid, true point. She had thrust him into the world now, and if whatever home he’d had before was gone… “But,” she put a hoof to her chin, trying to come up with some suitable solution for this pressing issue, “maybe Fluttershy or one of your other new friends would let you stay with them until you had time to find a new, permanent home for yourself?”

“Hmm,” Discord put a hand to his chin, “That’s an idea, yes….” He shrugged and smiled. “But unfortunately it won’t work. You see I’ve already put out poor, dear Fluttershy enough for the last few days. It would be rude of me as her friend to impose further, especially since her house is so small.” His grin picked up on one side. “And as for the other girls, we really haven’t broken the ice very well yet—I just don’t feel comfortable asking them to take me in.” He slid up close to Celestia. “Still, I do need a place…. But where oh where will I ever find a friend I’m familiar enough with who has room to spare and who will take me in?” His smirk grew to its fullest extent, his eyes narrowed, and he looked right down at Celestia.

Celestia blinked. It took her a minute to accept the reality of what he was suggesting. And then she took a step away before replying with a lot more surprise than she had wanted to betray, “You want to stay at the castle in Canterlot?”

Discord’s eyes lit up. “Ooo what a novel idea, hadn’t even crossed my mind!” He floated up, lying on his back, looking up in thought. “Well, we have known each other for quite some time even if it hasn’t been on the best of terms…and your castle certainly has the room available…and you have a kitchen staff so that would take care of my food dilemma…and I’m sure there are plenty of things that I could wear and use for warmth and protection around the castle. Hmm…yes, this does sound like a perfect plan for everyone involved.” He chuckled and grinned down at Celestia again.

Celestia’s eyes were still very wide. “You want to move into the Canterlot Castle…” she repeated once more, “…with me and my sister.”

“Temporarily—sure, why not?” Discord shrugged, landing beside her. “Unless, of course we aren’t really friends….” His eyes narrowed playfully again.

There was a momentary stand off at this point.

Discord wondered if he finally had the upper hand. If she uncaringly refused his request or claimed she didn’t feel safe having him around, it would be a perfect excuse to put into his back pocket should a situation ever arise where he felt like breaking this little deal of ‘do good and help me, and you won’t go back to being stone’ that Celestia had set up with him. He would have the ideal defense for resisting her commands, fighting her desires, and shirking her order because he would be able to claim all the while that her lack of faith in their friendship was the cause for any bad behavior on his part. He would be the one in charge of their relationship rather than having the balance of power split between them.

Meanwhile, Celestia was considering very carefully.

Then the sun princess looked into Discord’s eyes and smiled. “Why not indeed. Discord? What a perfect solution to your problem. I’m only sorry I didn’t think of it myself.” She nodded her head. “You may stay at the castle for as long as you feel the need.” And with that Celestia just looked forward and started walking along again, her usual content smile upon her features as though nothing in the world was wrong.

Discord’s jaw actually fell—all confidence and arrogance evaporated from his look. “Wait, really?” He dashed up beside her.

“Of course.” Celestia nodded, glancing at him. “You’re right, I’m the one who decided to free you, so I should take some responsibility for your welfare now that your reform has occurred. You are welcome as our guest, friend Discord.”

Discord, for just a moment longer, looked at her with utter confusion. But then he blinked and grinned. “Really? Hmm…fantastic.” He chuckled, looking smug as ever again. “So who do I get to bunk with, you or Luna? I promise, I’m much less messy of a roommate than my reputation would suggest, and I don’t snore nearly as loudly as I used to—something about being stone really clears up the sinuses.”

“Bunk with—Discord!?” Celestia’s eyes went wide, and she almost tripped forward. The faintest blush came to her features. “I really don’t think…. Erm, you’ll have your own room of course—I insist.” She looked forward again.

Discord just chuckled more. “Oh, but don’t you think I’d learn more about friendship by sharing a room with someone? Come on, Celestia, we’re all mature adults, we can handle something like this without being so dramatic!” He waved her off and snapped his fingers, suddenly giving himself a frilly white collar and holding up a skull in his claw in a Shakespearian way before laughing again and snapping his new accessories away once more.

Celestia just sighed and nodded. “Yes, that’s true, Discord, you do learn the most about friendship by spending as much time as possible with your friends, but Luna and I are very busy. We need our privacy. And besides….” she took in and let out a breath, returning to her normal, poised tone (for the most part), “I-It just wouldn’t be appropriate.”

Discord sighed and rolled his eyes. “Oh come on, Celestia, I’m asking to put a cot near your fireplace, not to curl up at the end of your bed.” He raised an eyebrow at her in amusement. “Even a thousand years in the future you’re still this old fashioned about gentleman visitors? Seriously?”

Celestia gave him a look, blushing just slightly again. “You will have your own room, Discord. I insist.” She took in a deep breath and added much more calmly, “But if you would like to stop by my room anytime to talk or visit, I would like that very much. We can discuss more about your future.” Her normal smile returned.

Discord smiled back at her and opened his mouth like he was going to agree…but then he paused and shook his head. “Hmm, no, sorry, can’t agree to that just yet. I’d like to run my ‘bunk with someone’ idea by Luna first, just to see if she’ll go for it.” He grinned again and leaned in close to Celestia, speaking to her in a loud whisper. “You know, just between us, I was probably going to pick her over you anyway even if you had wanted to be in the running for my new roommate. You may be the more popular princess, but word on the street is your sister is the fun one, and I always felt like that was the case myself.” He pulled back, laughing to himself.

Celestia stopped walking and raised an eyebrow. “The fun one?”

Discord nodded, stopping as well. “Of course. You’re so stuffy all the time, Celestia, so predictable, so grim and boring. Luna’s a pony you’d like to party with though. I mean, think about it, when do ponies have more fun—during your holiday, the Summer Sun Celebration, where they all sit around and gawk at you raising the sun yet again, or during Luna’s holiday, Nightmare Night, where they all run around in costume and play games and scare the candy out of each other?” He shrugged. “I’m afraid when it comes to fun, Luna rules, Celestia drools.” He stuck out his tongue pompously.

Celestia just looked at him for a moment. “Celestia…drools.”

Then she got an idea—a wonderful, awful, ‘fun’ idea. Celestia smiled at Discord in a special way. “Well, you may have a point, Discord. Luna always was the more playful of the two of us. You know, come to think of it, for all I know she might actually like your proposal.”

Discord smiled to himself proudly. “Oh of course she would! What’s not to like? I mean, I was fantastic enough when I was evil, but now that I’m reformed I’m just that much more amazing, you know?” He brushed his paw against his chest and held it out in front of himself. “I’m sure we’d have a grand, old, chaotic time rooming together. After all, it must have been her idea to reform me too since you’re sharing your rule again. So she must be looking forward to establishing a friendship with me just as much as you are, right?” He glanced at Celestia smugly.

Celestia blinked but then nodded without hesitation. “Oh, of course, yes—Luna and I talked everything over last night about your reform and about how all three of us could become friends once you were ready to use your magic for good.” She smiled more. “And in fact, speaking of the night, it’ll be time for sunset in about an hour. Why don’t we teleport back to Canterlot Castle and you can just make yourself at home in Luna’s room?” She shrugged. “Don’t worry, she’s a deep sleeper, and she likes surprises. I’m sure she’ll be very happy to see now that we’re all friends. When she wakes up just let her know why you’re there. And on the off chance she does have any issue with ‘bunking with you’, she’ll just let you know, and we can all discuss the situation together later. What do you say?” She smiled brightly at him.

‘I say you have gotten far too trusting in your old age, Celestia dear, and now I’ve got an in at the castle, and I have direct access to at least one princess, and I’m at a safe distance from the Elements of Harmony. Oh you are going to make it too easy for me to set up some fall backs just in case this whole reform thing goes south…and even if it doesn’t go south, the chance to bug you in your own home is well worth all of my planning,’ Discord thought to himself smugly. Then he clapped his paw and claw together and replied aloud to Celestia, “I say it’s an excellent plan! Oh I’m so glad we’re getting along as such good chums now.” He leaned over and put an arm around her neck, pulling her close. “You’ll just love living with chaos in your pretty castle, Celestia—truly ours will be a friendship for the history books!” He smiled up at the sky, holding up his claw. Then he glanced down at her again and quickly added, “Incidentally, you’re insured, right?”

Celestia just sighed deeply, putting a hoof to her head and trying very, very hard not to laugh. “I’m sure the experience will be very enlightening, Discord,” she merely replied. Then she smiled warmly at him. “Now, let’s go to the castle, shall we? I have some affairs to take care of before sunset, and I’m sure you don’t want to be late for surprising Luna. I’ll also want some time to explain our new situation to the staff of course.”

“Ooo, yes, the staff!” Discord let her go and clenched his hands into fists in excitement. “Butlers, maids, footmen, chefs...finally I get to live in the lap of luxury like I’ve always deserved! I think I’ll commemorate my first day with a hooficure or maybe a nice massage or maybe I’ll just raid the royal fridge after dinner. The chao—er, the ‘friendly’ possibilities are endless!” He chuckled to himself and then looked to the princess, holding up his paw to snap. “Race you there, Celestia—last one to the castle is an overbearing alicorn. Oh wait, you already are!” He laughed raucously and then snapped his fingers, making himself disappear in a flash.

Celestia just smiled after him as the smoke of his disappearance cleared. And then her smile grew, her eyes narrowing playfully. “Hmm…Celestia drools, huh? I’ll show you who doesn’t know how to have fun, ‘friend’ Discord.” And with that and a small laugh she teleported herself back to Canterlot as well.

About an hour later, Celestia stood on the balcony of her tower preparing to lower the sun…and she was also listening very eagerly for any particular sounds that might come from the tower across from her as she awaited her sister’s awakening and exit to her own balcony to commence raising the moon.

Celestia sighed to herself, her smile faltering slightly. “Maybe I shouldn’t have done this. It was a little immature.” She looked down. “I really did let him get to me too much. And, all of this might cause problems more than anything else.” Her smile became sheepish. “Then again, I’m sure Luna probably won’t react too badly to finding him in her room…although,” she put a hoof to her chin, “just because she knows I was planning to have the girls start reforming Discord today doesn’t mean she knows that he is in fact reformed now.” Her smile couldn’t help growing. Celestia laughed at herself and shook her head. “Still, I don’t know what pushed me to…” She sighed, recalling Discord’s words. “Celestia drools. And he’s going to be living in my house now. And he’s interpreting being reformed in a very purposefully chaotic way. “ She held her head high. “No, this might be good for him—it’ll let him see that living with the pony sisters isn’t going to be a situation that he can take advantage of nearly as much as he thinks he can.”

Celestia looked to the sky. “There’s only a few minutes left.” Her eyes went back over to Luna’s tower. “She should be getting up any moment now…”

A peaceful silence reigned over the castle.


And then Celestia heard her sister’s loud gasp.

There was a moment more of silence during which Celestia raised an eyebrow and considered going over.

Then the fun began.

Celestia couldn’t make out everything her sister bellowed in her Royal Canterlot Voice, but suffice it to say at least this much got through before the sun princess finally flew over to intervene lest Luna’s yelling shatter more than a few windows and lest Discord’s body on the receiving end of a magical blast take out a wall or something—


“Hold still.”

“Mmm…but it hurts!”

Celestia sighed and smiled a little. “Discord, please stop whining and just let me finish.”

Discord and Celestia sat together in Celestia’s study. Discord had his arms crossed over his chest, and he was pouting. There were several scuffs all over his body…and he had a large black eye slowly forming. Celestia, meanwhile, was patiently using her magic to apply some soothing potion on a rag to the wound.

“I know it stings,” Celestia went on, “But this will help keep your eye from getting worse. In fact, as long as you get a good night’s sleep, it should be all better by tomorrow morning.” She smiled.

“You know…” Discord scowled a little, looking right into her eyes, “After this whole little gag of yours, it would serve you right if I snapped my fingers and went back to being as evil as ever.”

Celestia paused in applying the potion. She looked back at him.

There was quiet for a moment.

“I’m sorry,” Celestia said softly, her tone all sincerity. “I’m sorry I played a trick on you like that, and that you got hurt. It was wrong.”

Discord’s harsh look remained for just a moment…but then she watched almost with fascination as it started to fade little by little.

And now he just sighed, all malice gone from his features as his simple pout returned. “I forgive you…I guess.” He rolled his eyes.

Celestia smiled. “Thank you, Discord.” She went back to applying the potion. Already his eye looked almost back to normal.

Discord remained looking sullen for a little longer. Then he sighed. “You know…I really hate to give you the satisfaction, but for what it’s worth, that was actually a very funny and well-played practical joke from you Celestia—tricking me into suffering Luna’s wrath. I’m even mildly impressed.” He grinned just a little. “What exactly was it that I did that put you over the edge?”

Celestia smiled just a little, looking down. “The Celestia drools comment. Telling me I wasn’t any fun got me close but…I’m afraid the ‘Celestia drools’ thing sealed your fate.”

Discord chuckled. “I should have known something was up when you practically started giving me instructions on how I should go about setting up camp in your sister’s bedroom. Well, just so you know, Luna might be the more fun sister, but you are definitely the more beautiful sister when you’re angry.” He gave her a dry look with a grin. “And by ‘more beautiful’ I mean ‘less lightning-producing’.”

Celestia blinked and raised an eyebrow at this comment, magically pulling back the potion-covered cloth for a moment.

Discord noticed and shrugged. “What—I’d rather look at your perturbed scowl than her ferocious glare, that’s all.” He raised an eyebrow. “Incidentally, where’s Luna now, and…is she all right? And I don’t just mean is she all right after this little stunt, I mean is she all right in a general sense? I don’t know if you know this, but your sister has some anger issues, Celestia dear.” He grinned a little more.

Celestia sighed, smiling again. “Oh, Luna just went to go get started on her nightly duties and maybe for a nice flight first to calm herself down. I suggested it after I told her I’d take care of you and explain everything to her later. And she’s perfectly well, Discord—I promise she didn’t mean to cause you any serious harm. Luna’s just not a morning person…er, an evening person.” She chuckled. “I mean, she’s always cranky when she wakes up…and she hates surprises…and she’s never been the biggest fan of you…and also she didn’t quite know you were reformed so much as she just knew I was intending to reform you…and she really doesn’t like anyone in her room.” Celestia smiled sheepishly, finishing up with the potion and putting it aside. Now she just used her magical aura to add a small healing spell to his eye.

“Wow,” Discord grinned, “You had a perfect storm of a prank, didn’t you? Okay, I really can’t blame you now for going through with it—no one could have resisted all of those ideal circumstances coming together.” He leaned back in his chair a little, glancing up in thought as Celestia finished her spell. “I’ll have to remember to keep on my toes then around you while I’m living here. Can’t afford to get surprised again—that would entirely destroy my reputation.”

Celestia blinked and looked at him with interest. “You’re still staying?”

Discord sighed and was about to look down at her and assure her that, while he knew she must be disappointed, she couldn’t get rid of him that easily.

However, when he looked down, he was surprised to find that Celestia had an almost relieved look on her face about the prospect of him sticking around.

Discord smiled. “Why of course I’m still staying, my dear princess.” He nodded to her. “I still need a place to live after all, and besides how poor of a master of chaos would I be to let one little bump in the road derail my plans—and a prank no less? Why, if anything, what you did makes me want to stay even more.” He grinned. “We really must be friends if you’re willing to engage me in such risky, potentially chaotic behavior as practical jokes.”

Celestia blinked. “Discord…” she looked at him very seriously, “This can’t turn into some sort of prank war. Luna and I have a castle to run. Harmless jokes are fine, but I admit, however well things turned out in the end, I went too far today, and I do not want you going that far. Please.”

Discord just grinned all the more back at her though. “Oh sure, Celestia, no problem.” He winked and chuckled to himself.

Celestia’s eyes went a little wide. Then she looked at him a touch sternly. “Discord.” She used her magic to pull his chair a bit closer, catching his attention. “Listen to me—the castle simply cannot handle that much chaos. I want you to stay here with me and Luna—I actually think it’ll be good for all three of us. But if you insist on potentially destroying our home and keeping us from doing our jobs with your chaotic jokes, I will have to ask you to leave, friends or no friends. Luna and I have to be able to work, without question. Do you understand?”

Discord just looked back at her with wide eyes. “Uh…” then he raised an eyebrow, “If I say yes, does this mean you’re offering to let me bunk with you as long as I behave myself?” His grin picked up on one side and his eyes brightened. Then… “Ow!”

Celestia had used her magic to toss the used potion rag at him. She sighed deeply and rolled her eyes. Yet she couldn’t help smiling just a little as well. “Very funny.” She looked to him. “Just save any big pranks for outdoors. And try to spend a lot of time with Fluttershy. I think it’ll help you.” Her own smile picked up a little on one side. “And I’ll have some of the staff set up a proper room for you as soon as possible. Now, come on…” she stood up and walked past him, magically opening the door of her study, “You were very understanding about my prank, and I did accidentally get you hurt by Luna’s temper—would you like to join me for a nighttime snack in the kitchen?” She tired not to laugh as she added, “You said you needed food as part of your demands, right?”

Discord stood up and followed after her. “Yes, I do, and especially after the harrowing ordeal I’ve been through at the merciless hooves of you and your sister today.” He chuckled. “And fine, fine, you win…I’ll go play in my own room. But I reserve the right to visit and play ‘harmless’ little tricks on you and Luna whenever there’s not a national crisis going on and the mood strikes me.”

Celestia laughed softly and nodded, leading them down the hall. “Agreed, Discord.” Then Celestia raised an eyebrow and couldn’t help asking a certain curious question. “So…how did Luna give you that black eye anyway?”

Discord sighed. “She…” his voice lowered to a mumble, “She…might have thrown a stuffed animal at my face.”

Celestia’s eyebrow raised more. She was trying so very hard not to laugh.

Discord could tell, and he rolled his eyes. “What?! She threw it with her magic! And she threw it hard! And I wasn’t ready! And it was big! And did I mention I wasn’t ready?” He held his head high, trying to maintain his dignity for a moment. But then finally, out of the corner of his eye, seeing Celestia struggling so hard not to laugh, he had to smile. And then he started laughing all on his own, Celestia quickly joining in with him.

Still laughing together, the two friends turned a corner, went down a flight of stairs and entered the (now empty) kitchen—an immaculate-looking room of white walls and silvery steel appliances and wooden tables. Celestia walked inside, Discord glancing around as he came in behind her. “The staff all leave not long after moonrise,” she explained. “Usually dinner is complete by then, and they’ve already set up a lunch for Luna if she wants it during the night. Then the staff returns for breakfast. So if you want anything prepared and brought to your room, it just can’t be during the middle of the night. But feel free to come down here and make yourself a late snack any evening you want to. I frequently do that myself. And if you’d ever like to join me, I’d be glad for the company.” Celestia opened an icebox and levitated out a chocolate cake. She also used her magic to bring forward two plates and some forks and a slicer from a drawer. “Cake, Discord?”

Discord smiled, snapping himself up a chair and sitting down at the nearest wooden table. “Don’t mind if I do, thank you.”

Celestia nodded and cut and served them both slices. Then she magically created a chair for herself beside Discord and took a seat as well.

For a while the two of them just sat eating together in the quiet of the empty kitchen.

Then… “Huh…” Discord suddenly said almost absentmindedly, picking up some of his plate now on his fork to eat it along with the cake he had already consumed.

“Something on your mind, Discord?” Celestia raised an eyebrow.

“It’s just…interesting.” He glanced around. “This is how it is to be friends with you instead of mortal enemies—just sitting in a kitchen at night eating cake.”

Celestia smiled. “Do you like it?”

Discord grinned and shrugged. “It’s a little low on the chaos-side for me but…you know, it does have a merit all its own. I don’t know about you, Celestia, but frankly I’m not sure if I even have it in me anymore for the constant conflict and dramatic stand offs and ceaseless witty quips and puns between us like in the old days. I mean, none of us are as young as we used to be, right?” He nudged her a little. “So as an alternative, this right here really isn’t bad—we had some playful banter, a few tricks were pulled, and now at the end of the day we can just rope it in and have a snack before hitting the hay.” He finished another bite of cake. “Reminds me of staying at Fluttershy’s actually.”

Sighing (and letting the age comment go), Celestia smiled and nodded. “Yes, this is much more peaceful, isn’t it, Discord? I’m sure you’ll enjoy even more things about being reformed as you go along.” She finished another bite of her own cake.

Discord just shrugged. “Eh, we’ll see. So far I’m just enjoying the cake part. Mmm…” He put another chocolately bite into his mouth. “Honestly, Celestia, never getting to taste a good meal, and especially a good dessert, was one of the worst parts of that stuffy stone imprisonment of yours.” He smiled in total satisfaction as he swallowed. “Delicious. Not quite as good as something I’d whip up, but still, definitely royal quality.”

Celestia’s eyes went a little wide and her smile picked up on one side.

Discord noticed. “Something on your mind now, Princess?”

“You meant it.” She smiled more as she explained. “About deserving and wanting ‘food’ as part of your request now that you’re free. You weren’t just saying that to make me feel guilty or to get me to agree to let you live here. It’s something you’ve genuinely missed.”

Discord’s eyes went a little wide. Then he sighed and rolled his eyes, playing with his cake a little. “Oh Celestia, stop being so wishy-washy about everything. And yes, shockingly enough, I can mean things sincerely. And I can have my own wants and needs just like a real person.”

“That’s why you living here for now is an excellent idea,” Celestia encouraged, eating another bite of her cake and dabbing at her mouth with a napkin. “We can find out all those things and more about each other by staying together.”

Discord grinned at her, finishing more of his cake. “Can I find out one thing right now regarding this new ‘reformed’ arrangement we’ve agreed to? Just for the sake of my curiosity?”

Celestia nodded. “Of course, Discord, what is it?”

“What is this ‘good,’ exactly, that you want to use my powers for?”

Celestia blinked. Then she looked down to her cake. “Honestly…I don’t know all the details yet myself. I’m afraid you’ll have to be patient with me, Discord.” She glanced up at him.

“What?!” Discord’s jaw dropped! “What do you mean you don’t know yet?! You drag me out of that statue garden, risk letting chaos reign over Equestria again, put your favorite six little mares in danger, nearly subject poor timid Fluttershy to my wanton destruction, finally convince me not only to do good but to let me do you the honor of being your houseguest, and now you’re telling me that you did all of this without exactly knowing WHY?!” He threw his arms in the air.

“Discord, please,” Celestia soothed. “Don’t get yourself so worked up. It’ll counteract the healing spell and potion. Now, just listen…” She cleared her throat, looking at and speaking to him very sincerely. “No, I don’t know specifically what it is I’m going to need your help with, but I do have a good feeling I’m going to need it. But if I had waited until a threat was upon us, there wouldn’t have been enough time for you to be any help at all. I had faith in the girls and Fluttershy, but for all I knew it could have taken them days or even weeks longer to reform you. And even now I want you to have time to get used to your new relationship with everypony before I have to ask anything of you. And maybe I also just…wanted you to be free, Discord.” Celestia looked down. “There’s been enough of imprisoning people for a thousand years for one lifetime, at least for me. Maybe I felt it was wrong to just leave you trapped like that when for all I knew there was a chance you weren’t really evil, just misunderstood…as was a sister of mine so very long ago.” She had put down her fork by now, and she sighed softly.

Celestia heard nothing for a moment. Then she gasped just a little at the feeling of something (she quickly realized it was the end of Discord’s tail) brushing up along the side of her face and raising her chin to make her look up and meet Discord’s grinning gaze.

He chuckled once. “Aw, and here I just thought you were swayed by my charm and good looks.”

Celestia’s eyes widened a little at the odd comment, and she tried to open her mouth to speak but couldn’t think of anything to say. She settled on just sighing in a touch of frustration and glancing away, effectively slipping herself from the touch of his tail.

“All joking aside though,” Discord suddenly added, looking down and going back to the remainder of his cake with a small smile. “You really must love that blue pony terribly, don’t you? I mean, for that love to spill over into concern for me in any way…you must be nuts about that little sister of yours.”

Celestia blinked and looked down at her plate again and what cake remained there. She nodded, and her voice was soft as she spoke. “She’s the best person I know. What Fluttershy is to you, Luna is to me.”

Now Discord was the one who put down his fork for a moment. Celestia listened and heard him sigh deeply.


She glanced at him. “Yes?”

He was resting his head on his paw, almost trying to seem bored, yet there was something deeper in his eyes and tone. He barely turned his gaze to her. “I will not be destructive…but I reserve the right to take this reform thing as slowly as possible. Frankly, I still don’t entirely trust you.” His gaze was a little stern for a moment. But then it softened again. “But I do trust Fluttershy, and for her sake, I’ll make the effort to please you as well. Deal?” He turned and held out his paw to her.

Celestia looked down at the gesture and then smiled up at him. She reached out her hoof to take his paw and shake. “Deal—Ow!” She pulled back, shaking a little, her eyes wide and her hair suddenly looking a little static-y.

“Ha ha!” Discord laughed. “Joy buzzer!” He showed her the silver disc on the underside of his paw. “Celestia, you always were a sucker! And now we’re even for the prank you played on me with Luna, okay?” He snapped the joy buzzer away and then crossed his arms over his chest and gave her a grin.

Celestia just sat there with a hoof to her chest, still trying to catch her breath a little. She gave Discord a very dry, displeased look for a moment…but then, maybe it was something about the simple joke, maybe it was that indomitable grin of his, maybe it was the knowledge that she had technically started things, maybe it was the late hour and the cake or a combination of everything…but Celestia smiled now. And she even gave a small laugh. “Yes, we’re even.” She straightened her hair a little, standing up. “And take your reform as slowly as you want, Discord—I can be patient.” She began to magically gather their nearly empty plates for the sink. “Come on, it’s been a long day for both of us. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to go to bed.” She yawned, placing the plates in the sink and putting the remainder of the cake back in the icebox. “We can work out more details about your reform later. For now though,” she turned to him with a smile, “why don’t you just take a few days first to explore Equestria, get to know the girls, think about your own plans for your life? You’ve been gone for a while, and I want you to have as much time as possible to feel comfortable in our world now.”

Discord grinned, standing up and putting a hand to his chin. “Hmm, well, I did always love to travel and to socialize. Yes, I could see doing that, stretching these wings a little.” He grinned at her. “But don’t think you’re going to get rid of me for weeks at a time. I have every intention of returning to this Castle and to you and your sister ever single night to take full advantage of my new home here.”

“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Celestia assured with a nod. Then she yawned again. “Now come on, we really should get some sleep. Breakfast tomorrow with Luna will probably be…awkward at first.” She rubbed the back of her neck, heading for the kitchen exit. “We’ll need all the rest we can get.”

“And speaking of rest,” Discord chimed in, heading out right behind her, “Where is this room I was promised?” He raised an eyebrow and smiled as they began to head down the hall together. “Did you magically send a summons to one of the maids or somepony to prepare it for me while we were having our little snack and chat?”

Celestia smiled but shook her head. “No. I wouldn’t feel right asking that of any of the maids to do that on such short notice, especially at this hour. I’ll give the order first thing in the morning after I explain our new situation to the staff, so your room should be ready by tomorrow night.”

Discord’s eyes went wide, and he immediately opened his mouth to protest with a smug grin. “But I thought we agreed—”

Celestia held up a hoof and explained. “As of tomorrow you will have your own room. For tonight you will stay with me in mine as my guest. I insist.” And then she lowered her hoof and just continued onward. (She could only imagine the look on his face, and tried not to giggle at the thought).

Discord stopped walking for a moment, but then Celestia heard him dash forward to catch up with her. She glanced over to see him smiling to himself with a very satisfied grin. “Well, now,” he started, “it seems I made a mistake earlier with that comment about royal social policy still being so uptight about gentleman visitors in this day and age. I like this modern ease about fraternization.” He shifted just a little closer to her as they walked together, his smile growing and his eyes playful.

Celestia let out a breath, blushed just slightly, and raised an eyebrow at him. “I hope your sense of humor is a little more ‘lighthearted’ with the girls, Discord.” She cleared her throat.

Discord laughed. “Oh, of course it is—they’re barely more than fillies.” He waved her off. “But all the kids are asleep now, Celestia, I think we can joke a little more intimately for the moment. Besides, you know you love my sense of humor—and you know you love the idea of having someone around who you don’t always have to be so perfect and poised for.” He nudged her a little.

Celestia rolled her eyes to the side, considered giving him a firm if fair reprimand, but then just smiled, unable to help herself. “I…think this reform is going to be a very good thing for everyone, Discord.” She glanced up at him. “And I think you and I and even Luna can get along just fine. I’m glad you’re here.” She looked forward again, leading them around a corner.

Discord nodded. “Yes, if were you, I’d be glad I was here too.” He clasped his hands in front of himself and rolled his eyes to the side innocently. “Incidentally, you know, I know I mentioned a cot before, but really if that would take up too much room, I’d be more than happy to take the ‘curled up at the end of your bed’ option when it comes to our sleeping arrangements…or any other option that comes to mind.” His smirk grew to its fullest extent. “I promise I’m very generous with the blankets…and I’m a cuddler! And it has been a thousand years thanks to you…” He laughed quite smugly.

Celestia, starting to understand exactly how he was going to go about bothering and teasing her in particular this time around in their lives now that he didn’t have evil to fall back on, just sighed, her look becoming a little dull and her tone a touch firm. “Don’t push it, Discord.”

Discord just chuckled in even more satisfaction to himself. “Oh, this friendship thing is more fun than I realized—I can’t wait to see how this plays out for us, Celestia, good buddy, I just can’t wait!” He swung and arm around her and pulled her close, still laughing as the two of them continued down the hall, Celestia only letting out a deep sigh and shaking her head as they finished making their way to her room.

“Celestia, I want more pillows!”

“You already have four, Discord. If you want any others though, feel free to snap them up yourself.”

“Fine. The fire’s not warm enough.”

“Use your magic to add an extra log to it. They’re right next to the fireplace.”

“Hmm…. Oh, I know, I want a glass of water!”

“There’s already a pitcher right behind you and a glass.”

“Darn…. Oh, read me a story! Something with me in it, and make me come off really good!”

“Discord!” Celestia opened her eyes and sat up in her bed, looking down at him with a smile but also a touch of firmness. He was resting in a makeshift bed on the floor by the fire, all tucked in with blankets and pillows, and smiling at her innocently. She let out a breath and spoke calmly. “I know you’re excited from your day. But it’s time for bed, and I have to wake up early tomorrow. Please go to sleep.”

“Hmm,” Discord huffed and rolled his eyes. “Oh what kind of excuse is that—you always have to wake up early. And besides, I really can’t take your replies seriously when you’re not wearing the shoes and the yoke and the gaudy crown.” He grinned at her a little.

Celestia, shifting her mane back on her (indeed bare) head, just sighed once more. “Discord, is this going to go on much longer?”

“Just trying to be sociable.” Discord shrugged, then raised an eyebrow. “Hey, another question—since your sister rules the night and you rule the day, does that mean at each dawn and dusk one of you is actually symbolically overthrowing the other? Like some kind of perpetual coup?” His grin brightened. “And if it is, can I play? You know, win rule over Equestria but fair and square this time? Or I could even just cover a day shift for you, if you’d like, good friend.”

“No. Definitely not. Absolutely not. And no thank you,” Celestia quickly answered his questions going down the line. “Now Goodnight, Discord.” she finished firmly. Then she laid herself down again and closed her eyes, letting out a sigh and smiling. Her horn lowered the light of the lamps along the walls.

“Fine, fine…goodnight, Celestia.” She heard Discord yawn in the dark. “If your sister comes for me in my dreams, I blame you.”

Celestia smiled a little more and let out a deep breath, ready to fall into sweet slumber.

“Celestia…?” she heard from across the room.

Celestia sighed, but still smiled and kept her tone kind (if a little sleepy sounding). Her eyes remained closed. “Yes, Discord?”

“I just thought I should let you know that all of these nice, cushy blankets and pillows are acceptable as a start to fulfilling that ‘clothing’ requirement I brought up. I like feeling warm and comfortable again…and having a friend nearby instead of being left cold and alone in a garden all the time. It was nice at Fluttershy’s, and it’s nice here too.”

Celestia’s eyes opened. Only the fire gave any light to the room now, but she could see Discord laying before the fireplace in his bed, facing away from her, the end of his tail occasionally twitching out from under the covers. He seemed and sounded casual enough, but his words touched her and made her frown. She raised her head. “I’m glad your experiences now are happier, Discord.” She smiled, concern still pulling at the corners of her mouth though. “When you have your own room, you can have as many blankets and pillows as you want, and you can sleep as late as you want, and you can have visitors as often as you want as well. I’ll let the staff know.”

A large yawn met her ears, and she watched Discord turn onto his stomach. He was still looking away from her. “Yes, well…it’s the least you could do,” he replied, some of the normal sarcasm returning to his tone.

Celestia smiled a little more. But then she swallowed and frowned. “Discord?” left her softly.

“Yes?” left him in return on the end of another yawn.

“I’m sorry your time as stone took so much away from you.” Celestia lowered her head to her pillow, looking down in a touch of shame.

Discord was quiet at first. Then he sighed, turning on his back to look up at the ceiling. “Celestia?”

“Yes?” Celestia replied softly. She could see the firelight glinting in his eyes.

He glanced a little toward her, an eyebrow raised. “Do you honestly trust having me here alone with you all night long? After everything that’s happened and only one day of reform?” There wasn’t any sarcasm in his tone—the question was genuine.

Celestia smiled softly. “Is there any reason I shouldn’t trust you?”

For a moment they just gazed at each other with interest across the room.

Then Discord sighed and smiled to himself, shaking his head. “Fine, Celestia, I’ve always liked a challenge—let’s give this a shot. Who knows? This reform thing might actually take, though I shudder to think of the friendship-loving sap it’ll turn me into.” He turned toward the fire, burying himself a little more deeply under the blankets with a yawn. “Now good night, Celestia. Sheesh, all of this nocturnal chit-chat—you’d think you’d be polite enough to just let one of your honored guests sleep already.”

Celestia’s gaze and smile softened, and she cuddled into her own blankets more as well. “Good night, Discord, and sweet dreams.” Her response was only answered by a single loud snore from Discord, which made Celestia smile a little more. Then she lightly yawned herself and, eyes closing, soon started to drift off, finding it surprisingly easy to do so despite having an only recently reformed arch-villain barely more than a few feet away from her.

Celestia felt like she had dozed for a while. But then she became aware of something pulling her out of that dozing…a strange sound. She heard something like scratching…and then a laugh? And then a little more scraping and scratching.

Celestia shifted in her bed. ‘That doesn’t sound like Philomena. And, either way, didn’t I leave her in my study so she could have privacy for her next molt? Hmm…’ The sounds came again. They seemed more distinct now: a bit of scraping, a bit of scratching and then laughter. ‘What in the world…?’

“Ah!” Celestia sat up with a gasp, her eyes wide. She had recalled her situation, recalled her companion for the evening, and realized now that she might be waking up to the most nefarious chaotic secret plot ever for all she knew!!! She looked out to the room, powering her horn to let the lights come up a bit and also so that she would be ready to defend herself from anything. “Dis—!”

Celestia stopped herself mid-word and was very grateful she had.

There before her was no chaos, no calamity, no danger…just her room as it normally was, Discord on the floor. And he was deep asleep.

She smiled as she realized what the sounds had been about now.

Discord was just smiling and chuckling lightly in his sleep, as Celestia now realized any being of chaos might do in response to his chaotic dreams (and if Luna was visiting him at all, he might even be laughing at getting the better of her somehow in his dreams too). And she also saw that in his chaotic tossing and turning in the night, Discord had pushed almost every blanket off of himself. So he was shivering just a little and kicking in his sleep as the shivering got worse, causing his hoof and dragon claw to scrape the floor and carpet below. Celestia also saw now that another problem was that the fire was going low again.

Smiling, the sun princess stood up from her bed and walked over to Discord. First she moved a few more logs onto the fire and used her magic to help bring up its flame a bit. Then she magically raised all of Discord’s blankets and straightened them, then covered him completely once more. She even took an extra blanket and laid it over him.

Instantly the kicking ceased and Discord let out a deep sigh. Then he just smiled so warmly and cuddled into his bed, his sleep becoming peaceful once again.

Celestia smiled warmly as well and leaned down a little. She whispered softly. “Goodnight, Discord. Sleep well.” Then she gave him the lightest nuzzle before raising her head again and departing back to her own bed. She lowered the lights and fell back asleep soon enough.

Discord slumber had indeed become uncomfortable at this point in the night, though that slumber had remained deep as ever. When the lights had come up a little and Celestia had made some kind of gasping sound before then walking across the room, he had only barely regained a flicker of consciousness. His sleep became deep again though until a vague awareness started to come over him about two things—he was cold and Celestia was near him.

And then, as the seconds passed, he slowly started to understand that, along with strengthening the fire now, Celestia was covering him and tucking him in.

As soon as the blanket had come over him, Discord had felt himself sigh and smile in the relief of the feeling, already drifting completely back into his deep sleep.

However, he did finally (and rather suddenly) regain full consciousness though when Celestia leaned close to him, whispered a good night, and then nuzzled him of all things before returning to her bed and lowering the lights once more.

Discord had waited a few minutes since then before opening his eyes in the dimness of the room. He looked at Celestia’s sleeping form for a moment, the rise and fall of her breathing, and he thought to himself quite a bit. Then he turned in his once again very warm and cozy bed to look up at the ceiling. He took a deep breath, his voice a mumble. “The odds are highly likely that I am going to royally screw this up.” Discord sighed and shook his head to himself, trying not to smile as he turned and nestled back into his pillow, closing his eyes. “But I can at least fake it for now. Not being stone anymore is a nice perk…and so are tea parties with kind Fluttershy.” His grin picked up a little on one side as he added, “And some close, personal quality time with the sun princess isn’t bad either. She may be the bane of my existence…but she’s also the only one around here who’s a challenge for me. And as I told her before, I have always liked a challenge.” His mumbling done and a satisfied smirk coming to his features, Discord drifted back off into his chaotic dreams and restful slumber.

The next morning, naturally, Celestia woke up at dawn to raise the sun…and Discord didn’t wake up until the sun was finally so far above the horizon that it was shining directly into Celestia’s easterly facing window and right onto his eyelids.

Discord cringed and turned in his bed. “Ugh, someone turn down the spotlight—chaos needs sleep, you know!” He blinked a few times and sat up. Then he yawned, flew out of his covers, and elongated his body for a great stretch. When he was done, he stood by his former bed and scratched his side, just taking in his surroundings for a moment.

He noticed Celestia’s bed was unmade but that Celestia was nowhere in sight.

Discord sighed deeply, a dry look coming to his features. “If she got herself kidnapped last night or something by some new evil villain in town, I do not even want to hear it.” He put a hand to his chin. “I’m really going to have to start working on securing alibis all the time now just to keep my good name clear.”

“So, I might be kidnapped, and your first concern is to make sure that no one will have any grounds to suspect you?” Celestia’s voice suddenly announced from behind him.

Discord turned to see her emerging from her bathroom, a puff of steam coming behind her and her mane in a towel, her shoes, yoke and crown still lacking. She was smiling at him in a touch of amusement as she came forward and let the door close behind her.

Discord blinked and rolled his eyes to the side with a sheepish grin. “Oh come on, I was going to go look for you of course right after I established some sort of alibi.” He chuckled, smirking at her. “And besides, if anyone’s going to kidnap you, you have to know that it’s going to be me.”

Celestia’s eyes narrowed a little but her smile remained and grew. “Very funny.” She went over to her bed. “Did you sleep well?” While she spoke, her magic proceeded to unwind the towel from her hair and to commence making her bed.

“In comparison with being stuck on a pedestal in the same upright position for a thousand years? Yes, quite well, thank you,” Discord replied with a grin. “I appreciate your hospitality, Princess. Hopefully, even if I’m going to have my own room as of today, we can do this again sometime soon.” He flew above his own bed and snapped his fingers, causing the blankets to start magically folding themselves up.

“We’ll see.” Celestia, finished with her own bed, turned to him. She tried not to let her smile grow too much at the sight of the orderly, considerate, quite friendly thing his magic was doing (and without even being asked) as she added, “And good, I’m glad you had a nice night. And as for your own room, please make yourself at home and decorate it completely to your liking.” She went over to her vanity and stood in front of its mirror, starting to magically put on her shoes, yoke and crown.

“You know I will.” Discord’s blankets were set in a nice pile by the fireplace now along with his pillows. He flew near the vanity mirror, checking his own (now black eye-free) reflection cheekily and smiling at Celestia’s reflection as her crown came to settle upon her head. “So, breakfast now? I’m famished. And I’d love to get things completely cleared up with Luna so that I don’t have to fear her wrath anymore.”

Celestia nodded, glancing over her shoulder at him. “Yes, breakfast should be ready by now. And Luna is probably already at the table. She likes to eat as early as possible so that she can get to bed for the day quickly.” She went by her bedroom door and opened it, gesturing outward. “Guests first.”

Discord’s look brightened at the compliment to his importance. “Why thank you, Celestia, what a friendly gesture.” He floated himself past her and landed in the hallway just outside her door as she came out too, closing the door behind them.

“Sister! And Discord!”

Celestia and Discord looked forward and blinked at the sight of Luna standing before them, wide-eyed, her mouth agape.

Celestia smiled at her sister. “Luna, what a pleasant surprise. I thought you would be at the breakfast table already. We have much to discuss.” She raised an eyebrow. “Luna, are you all right?” Her sister continued to have a look of shock on her features, which was starting to concern Celestia a little.

“I…ah…” Luna raised a hoof to point at the two figures before her. “Celestia…Discord! He…you…in your room….” The lightest blush came to her features. “Celestia, you actually allowed him to…and all night?!”

Celestia’s eyes went wide now and a blush came to her features as well. “Oh! Oh, no, sister…well, yes, but…I can explain easily. You see—”

“Oh, now, now, there’ll be time for explanations over breakfast,” a smirking Discord suddenly announced, cutting her off and stepping forward. “For now though,” he stretched and turned to Celestia, giving her a slight bow, “let me thank you for a lovely night spent in your gracious company. You certainly know how to make a guest feel welcome.” He chuckled. “I haven’t had such a cozy evening with a lady in, oh…at least a thousand years.”

Celestia’s jaw actually fell. The first thing she did was look to Luna. “Sister, he…he’s not serious. He’s just joking. “

“Oh don’t be so shy, Tia—I can call you Tia now, right?” Discord grinned, putting an arm over her and pulling her close (her eyes went wide as possible). “I mean, we practically had a date last night, so I would hope so.”

Celestia just shook her head, still looking to Luna. “Luna, that did not hap—”

Discord sighed, interrupting and counting on the fingers of his paw as spoke. “You took me back to your place. We shared an activity in the form of a very unfair prank you played on me.” Celestia blinked, suddenly realizing that this was his final revenge for that prank. “Then we shared food in the form of a midnight snack of cake. Then you ‘insisted’ on inviting me back to your room. Have I said anything that’s false?” He raised an eyebrow, grinning brightly at her.

Celestia had to shake her head. “No, but—”

Discord shrugged, cutting her off once more. “Sounds like a date to me. Anyway, my point is, we certainly enjoyed ourselves. And you are certainly a very generous hostess.” He winked at her.

Celestia just closed her eyes and sighed deeply, bringing a hoof to her forehead.

“Hmm,” Discord released her from his hold and stretched again. “Well, off to breakfast then. I’ll see you two girls there.” He raised his fingers to snap them, but then paused. “Oh, and Tia…?”

“Yes?” Celestia lowered her hoof and gave him a very flat look.

Discord just grinned all the more. “Now we’re truly even.” And then, laughing raucously, he snapped himself away to the dining room.

Celestia just sighed deeply again, her head hanging a little low. When she looked up she saw Luna still looking at her in wide-eyed, mouth agape confusion. Celestia headed forward past her toward the dining room. “Luna, of course you know he was joking. There simply wasn’t a room ready for him last night, and he insisted on spending the evening with someone. So I made him a bed on the floor by my fire.” She paused, glancing behind her to her sister sheepishly. “I’m sorry for sending him to you first, by the way. He was bothering me, and I knew you would get angry and teach him a lesson, especially since you didn’t know yet about his reform being successful. I suppose I let things get carried away. That’s why he was in your room yesterday…and that’s also why he just said all of those things, I think—to get back at me a little.”

Some of Luna’s look of confusion subsided. “I see…” She stepped forward, raising a hoof to her chin. “But, pray tell, why does the reformed Discord require a room here?”

Celestia rolled her eyes to the side. “It’s sort of a long story. We can discuss it over breakfast. Discord actually explains the logic behind it better than I could…probably because his reasoning is a bit illogical, but still he did make a valid point and as his friend I wanted to be supportive.” She smiled. “He’s promised to use his magic only for good, and I really think he means it. It just might take him a while to get used to being reformed though, so he’ll be staying with us until he gets settled into his new life.” A touch of hesitance came to her features. “As long as you approve as well, sister. It is your home too. But I do hope you will. I think this might be the best place for him—we can learn a lot from each other and also keep an eye on him, and…he won’t admit it, of course, but I think he actually sincerely likes the idea of staying with us. It’s important to him.”

Luna was quiet at first as she thought over her sister’s request, but then nodded. “If he will not disrupt our conducting of the day and night, I am willing to let him stay with us.” She hesitated, then raised an eyebrow. “As long as he proved a good living companion. Did he, sister? And…” her eyes narrowed in interest, and she moved closer to her sister, “did you actually have fun letting Discord take all of these apparent liberties with you last night?”

Celestia blinked, then sighed and smiled a little, shaking her head. “Luna…”

“What?” Luna held up a hoof and smiled in a playful way. “After all, you admitted that you ‘insisted’ he stay with you after your ‘date’—I’m just curious about this adventurous evening you shared.”

At least grateful to see that her sister was joking now, Celestia smiled a little more. “It was not the worst sleepover I have ever had. And absolutely not the worst one I could have imagined with a former foe. Except for a few obnoxious jokes and the occasional prank, yes, he was very well-behaved last night actually.” Her smile picked up a little on one side. “The evening was fun, in it’s own way. I’m very surprised at how well he’s taking the idea of being reformed. I think he’ll be a fine guest for us to have around here for now.” She began to head forward toward the dining room.

Luna sighed, shaking her head and following alongside her sister. “And, might I ask, what did you do last night exactly to give him the idea that such liberal jests as the ones he was making regarding the both of you were appropriate?” She raised an eyebrow, still smiling very much.

Celestia sighed and rolled her eyes. “I think extreme ‘flattery’ is just his new favorite way of bothering me without being evil, Luna.” She eyed her sister, smiling more. “You just wait until he finds a special way of bothering you.”

Luna shrugged. “I do not think it will be as bad for me. He certainly must be wary of me now considering the strong effect our magic and our Royal Canterlot Voice had on him yesterday evening.” She grinned proudly, then pointed at her sister with her hoof. “You however are too easy of a target, sister—you are too soft and accepting. I would not be surprised if his efforts in this area only escalate with you.”

Celestia laughed softly. “Yes well, he at least seems willing to tone down the more extreme comments in front of the girls. And he did say he would be travelling a bit during the days while he was here, so I shouldn’t have too much exposure to his antics. And since he’ll be sleeping at night, neither will you. We’ll get through this Luna.” A concerned if determined look came to her features. “Just think of him as our new temporary obnoxious older brother.” She shrugged.

Luna just smiled more. “I still can’t believe you let him spend the night in your chamber.”

Celestia smiled quite a bit too. “I still can’t believe you gave him a black eye and sent him running from yours.”

The two sisters suddenly burst into warm laughter, unable to help themselves. They had just come around a corner and were now in the hallway leading to the dining room.

Suddenly, one of the chef ponies burst out from the dining room doors at the end of the hall, panic in his eyes. He caught sight of the princesses and raced toward them. “Princess Celestia!” he cried out, coming before them both and stopping to catch his breath. “Is…Is it true…that Discord…will be making his home here now?”

Celestia, eyes wide, nodded to the question. “I was going to announce it to the staff later today but yes, he is.” She raised an eyebrow.

The chef, still trying to catch his breath and seeming more panicked now, managed to get some more words out. “And is it true that…we will have to provide for him…and fulfill all of his requests?”

Celestia tilted her head to the side now. “Yes, you will have to cater to him as though he were any other guest, if that’s what you mean—he does live here now.”

The chef seemed even more panic-stricken as yet another terrified question was answered in the affirmative. And then finally, almost entirely crestfallen, he looked desperately to his princess and asked, “And are all of those things true because you have freed Discord to marry him and now he is our new Prince of Equestria?”

Celestia’s eyes went perfectly wide, and her jaw fell open.

Luna remained standing in shock for several seconds, after which she then burst into almost Royal Canterlot Voice-level laughter, practically dropping to the floor in her mirth.

Celestia instantly ran forward toward the dining room at full gallop, her tone a mixture of embarrassment, anger and reprimand. “DISCORD!”

“And that’s one ahead for me in the pranks!” was heard yelled from the dining room followed by tons of Discord’s wild laughter in response to her cry. “Oh, I never realized how much fun innocent, non-lethal gags could be, Tia! Priceless!”

“Oh dear!” The chef, meanwhile, brought a hoof to his forehead. “What will we do? He’s already levitated the dining room table into the air and made the food trays starts dashing around it, and every liquid in the kitchen has suddenly become chocolate milk, and the ceiling’s covered with a portrait of him in frosting—he says that’s how meals will be from now on!” His eyes went wide, one of them almost twitching a little. “I’m an earth pony—I can’t serve food in the air! And I can’t get frosting off of a ceiling! And I can’t disenchant food! What’ll I do?!”

Luna, her laughter finally under some degree of control, got herself upright again and cleared her throat. “Nay, good chef, do not fear,” she assured him. “Discord and my sister are certainly not married. He is just playing a prank on you and all the other staff.”

The chef turned to Luna, still in despair but clearly grasping at this new hope that had been put before him. “But Princess Celestia said—”

Luna held up her hoof and smiled. “Discord has been reformed thanks to our Elements of Harmony. He poses no threat. And my sister meant that he will be staying with us for the time being as a guest. But I assure thee, no matter what he says, he possesses no royal authority. And if he does prove bothersome to you or other workers, please just let me or my sister know, and we shall deal with the situation. You have no new Prince—please relax, good chef.”

The chef looked at Luna with wide, confused eyes for a moment…and then he just lunged forward and hugged one of her legs. “Oh thank you, thank you, Princess Luna! Thank you for delivering such words of salvation!”

Luna just raised an eyebrow, at first in surprise but then in amusement as the chef stood up from the floor now and dusted himself off.

He cleared his throat. “I will return to my post now.” He looked to her warily. “Both you and Princess Celestia will be staying around for the whole breakfast, right?”

Luna nodded. “We shall do our best to have at least one of us supervising him during interactions with the staff at all times.”

The chef’s eyes practically lit up and such a relieved smile came to his face. “Thank you, Princess.” He bowed low and then dashed off to the dining room.

Luna just watched him go with an eyebrow raised. Suddenly several loud sounds came from the direction of the dining room, and she heard her sister and Discord once more.

“Celestia, sheesh, take a joke!” Discord laughed. “You know, not to slip into ‘Luna-speak’ but me thinks the lady doth protest too much.”

(Luna rolled her eyes at this jest).

“That is it,” Celestia announced levelly. “I’m sending a letter to Fluttershy.”

“What?!” Discord cried out, all smugness dropping from his tone. “Wait, no, no, don’t do that! Look, see,” there was a pause and a snapping sound, “it’s all better and back to as boring as it ever was.”

“Good. Thank you. And while you’re at it, I think you owe me an apology for all of this distress and for bothering our staff.”

“An apology?!”

“If you’re questioning my right to one, I can always send that message to Fluttershy, and she can judge for us.”

“Oh…Oh fine, I’m sorry.”

“Good. I forgive you, Discord. Now let’s just have a nice breakfast together.”

“Fine. But I make no promises about lunch!”

As their conversation finished for the moment, Luna chuckled more. “Oh, I may grow to like this new living arrangement very much.” She raised her hoof to call out as she approached the dining room door. “Sister, you should reform villains more often! It brings much amusement!” And then she trotted into the dining room herself to watch the rest of the morning’s fun before bed.

Flowers, Pillows, and Cake Makes It All Complete!

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Princess Celestia entered her room, smiling happily as she magically raised a colorful bouquet of flowers up in front of herself and gave them a gentle sniff. As she lowered the flowers again, her smile became warm. “These deserve a special place in here.” She glanced over to the mantle above the fireplace and then used her magic to summon a vase, fill it with water, set it upon the mantle and place the flowers inside. “Perfect.”

Celestia took in and let out a very deep breath and then walked over to her bedroom window to look out upon the castle grounds and Canterlot and also Ponyville way off in the distance. The sunset she had just finished commencing was beautiful, the air was clear, and though bits of destruction from Tirek dotted the landscape in the form of some blackened areas and a few curls of smoke, overall the scene appeared so hopeful and happy. Equestria had weathered another storm, peace was restored again, and the shining proof of that return to goodness stood out straight ahead in the twinkle of Princess Twilight Sparkle’s Friendship Castle, which Celestia could see glittering off in the distance in all of its crystal wonder.

A deep sigh left Celestia. “Everything’s going to be just fine. Thank goodness.”

“And I found the sixth key to the chest—who would have guessed, huh?”

A familiar voice saying these words behind her made Celestia’s eyes go wide. She instantly turned around.

There sat Discord on the edge of her bed, smiling happily, if also a touch sheepishly, and giving her a little wave with his claw. “Erm…if the flowers didn’t say it well enough—and by the way, I like what you’ve done with them…” he quickly added with a gesture in their direction before clearing his throat and going on, “Congratulations on saving the day, even despite, you know, um…my shortcomings.” He gave a little shrug. “Can’t blame a spirit of chaos for trying, right?” Despite how flippant the comment sounded, the slight cringe in his features and the awkward quirk of his smile clearly suggested he was just trying to lighten the mood in his own strange way.

Celestia’s gaze and smile became as warm and inviting as ever. “Discord…” She approached him. “How nice of you to pop in. Thank you very much for the flowers—I’m happy you like where I’ve put them. I like it too.” She sat down on the floor at the edge of the bed near him. “It was very kind of you to think of me and give them to me.”

“Oh, um…” Discord smiled more, any hesitation in his gaze starting to slip away, “Well, you’re welcome of course.” He rolled his eyes. “Heh, back at Twilight’s castle, everyone was singing and dancing and celebrating friendship…I thought a bouquet might add a nice touch, and I figured you especially deserved one for all you’ve been through with me.” A touch of pride started to come to his features at the idea of her liking his lovely gift so much.

Celestia’s smile grew, and her gaze appeared to be even warmer and more full of emotion than before (though, if one looked at her closely, it almost seemed like her eyes were narrowing). “What a selfless act, Discord. Truly we can all learn a great deal from you about friendship now.” She leaned just a bit closer to him.

“Uh, we can?” Discord blinked and raised an eyebrow (and the eyebrow went a little higher as he noticed Celestia’s new closeness). “I-I mean, um…I’ve been working on it of course—apparently not enough to get a throne in Twilight’s castle, but still…do you really think so?” His smile started to return.

“Oh yes.” Celestia nodded. “In fact, I have to say that I’ve never seen anyone wield a command over the magic of friendship quite like you have.” She leaned in closer still, looking up into his eyes. “It was very captivating to behold, Discord.”

Discord actually had to lean back a bit now, she was leaning in so close to him. “I…um…” He blinked several times, feeling a light blush building in his features. “Well, I-I tried, heh.”

“You tried and you succeeded most wonderfully.” Celestia’s smile grew even more, her eyes seeming to haze further (though, again, the gesture was suspiciously akin to a narrowing). “I’m very…very…impressed.”

Discord blinked just one more time, but then he swallowed and an intrigued smile came to his lips. His own eyes hazed just a bit now. “Really? Well, perhaps I’ll have to help save Equestria more often then. If I’d known mastering friendship was this ‘impressive’ to you, Celestia, I would have put more effort into it from the start. In fact, maybe you and I can go somewhere private sometime and discuss your feelings about me and my friendly ways?” His grin picked up on one side.

Celestia just chuckled lightly but shook her head. “Oh, no, no, we don’t have to go anywhere special. Here is just fine—we have plenty of privacy. In fact, I have something for you—sort of a gift in return for the flowers, and also something to let you know how deeply I feel for all of your actions in this epic chapter of Equestria’s history.” She leaned in closer still. She was practically nose-to-nose with him now.

Discord’s grin widened, and he perked up quite a bit at this news. “A gift? And all to celebrate me? A token of your…affections, dare I say? Ooo, well, then, let’s have it, Tia. I can still call you Tia, right, even after all of that unfortunate peril from today?”

“Hmm, sure….” Something about Celestia’s smile was just a little too plastered on, though Discord was too wrapped up in her attention to notice. “And there are a few things I’d like to call you as well,” she added as ‘sweetly’ as possible.

Discord just chuckled deeply. “Oh in time, Tia, in time. For right now though, I’d really love that gift from my favorite pony princess.”

“Of course.” Celestia nodded, and her voice softened. “Close your eyes…”

“Hmm…” Discord chuckled again and shut them accordingly. “Can do.” Then he pushed himself back just a little more on the bed and actually slightly puckered his lips.

Celestia blinked and decided she would be furious or confused or amused or some mixture of all three of those later in response to this response of his to her ‘advances’. For now, the affectionate look returned to her features—she had him right where she wanted him. “Okay, Discord,” she cooed, her eyes really narrowing and her smile really growing now (and she was using her magic to levitate the largest pillow of all from the head of her bed). “Here you go…!”


And now Celestia was using her magic to whack Discord with the pillow firmly several times, feathers flying out here and there! As Discord held up his arms to defend himself, eyes definitely open once again, Celestia frowned sternly at him and spoke to him in a very firm tone. “That is for betraying all of your friends, betraying me, putting my sister in danger, putting my niece in danger, and for putting my faithful student and her best friends in danger!”

“Celestia!” Discord tried his best to stand and move away but couldn’t escape the wrath of her pillow. He ended up collapsing back onto the edge of her bed, still holding up his arms and just doing his best to keep the worst of her surprise attack at bay. “I thought…. And you said…. But the girls forgave me! Come on, you know I didn’t mean to…Celestia!

“You still lied to me—to me!” Celestia gestured to herself with her hoof, the pillow continuing to go at him. “After I let you out of your stone prison, put up with all of your shenanigans, gave you a place to live, shared cake with you, didn’t reprimand you when you had dark magic vines kidnap Luna and I in the hallways of our own home, and assured all of the citizens that you were a good person! I sent you out alone ahead of Twilight to help us, but instead you betrayed my trust. Somebody could have gotten very hurt!” She gave him a few more firm whacks with the pillow.

“Hey!” Discord tried, doing his best to speak through all the feathers flying out of the pillow. “I’m getting hurt right now! And I apologized! And remember the flowers?! Okay, okay, along with being sorry to all the ponies in general for acting like a selfish jerk, I’m sorry specifically to you for letting you down! Now please just stop this madness!”

And finally, though the stern look was still upon her features, Celestia did cease hitting Discord with the pillow. She floated the item back over to the head of her bed.

It took Discord a moment to brush away the pillow feathers and get himself siting up straight and reoriented again. He looked to Celestia to see her still eyeing him with disapproval. “Sheesh,” Discord rubbed the back of his neck, an eyebrow raised, “Forget the Elements of Harmony or that Rainbow Power—next time a bad guy attacks let’s just send you out there with that pillow. It’s effective.” He dramatically shook off the last of his trauma.

Celestia just sighed and put a hoof to her head. She lowered it and looked at him once more.

Then something of the sternness broke from her gaze, and before Discord knew what was happening now she suddenly reached out and wrapped an arm around him in a firm hug.

Discord’s eyes went wide in utter shock. “Um…I know I’m chaos, so this should never happen, but…I’m really confused.” He raised a finger and an eyebrow.

Celestia just let out a deep sigh and hugged him a little more, trying not to laugh. “This is for doing the right thing in the end, and for helping Twilight find her purpose and her castle, and for actually sincerely caring about others over yourself for once…and this is for the flowers too.”

Discord just blinked several times, still seeming unsure. But then he smiled hesitantly. “Oh, um…all right.” He carefully lowered his paw to her shoulder and patted it lightly. “You’re welcome, Celestia.” He raised an eyebrow. “Just so I know, am I going to have to go through an emotional roller coaster like this with Luna later? I’ll want to brace myself.”

Celestia just smiled, raising her head but still hugging him. “Oh, Luna will probably make it much simpler—one clear, stiff blow aimed right at you followed by one meaningful nod and a hoofshake. It shouldn’t take more than five minutes. But wear a helmet.” She chuckled softly.

Discord chuckled too and winked. “Can do.” He snapped his fingers, making a gaudy medieval knight’s helmet appear on his head, and then cleared his throat, speaking in a dramatic tone. “I’ll brace myself for thine valiant sister’s most deserved attack upon my humble person.”

Celestia sighed, shaking her head. “Yes, Discord, tease her about how she speaks like you usually do. I’m sure that won’t make her go harder on you.”

Discord’s smile warmed. “I can handle myself—besides it’s always worth her wrath to get her to crack a smile about that old-timey tick of hers. I’ll be fine.” He snapped his fingers to make the helmet disappear and then sighed. “I’m just glad the worst seems to be behind us in a lot of ways.”

Celestia nodded. “Yes.” She pulled back and smiled up at him. But then her look grew a touch stern again for a moment and she gave him a firm nudge with her hoof against his shoulder. “But so help me, Discord, if you ever worry me again like how you did with Tirek, I will just…” She sighed and shook her head, at a loss for words.

Discord couldn’t help smiling, and he held up his hands. “Easy there, princess, easy—no need to lose your poise all over little old me.” He grinned. “And I understand. I upset you a great deal. But you have my word I will never betray you or my friends again. Chaos’s honor.” He moved back a little to give her a deep bow and then glanced up, smiling as confidently as ever.

Celestia was smiling back at him but not as completely as he had expected.

Discord straightened up and raised an eyebrow. “What?”

“Discord…” Celestia sighed, a touch of sadness coming back to her features, “It’s not just your betrayal of all of us that I was upset about. It was your betrayal of yourself. That is something I never want you to think of doing ever again.” Her smile started to return. “You’d come so far, doing your best to be chaotic but kind, and then you sold yourself short and hurt yourself by hurting the people you care about. And you deserve better, Discord—you’ve proven that and so much more by befriending the girls and by befriending Luna and I as well.” She sighed and shook her head. “I hated to think of you abandoning everything you’d worked so hard for. It made me very sad.”

Her words made Discord frown a little, his eyes wide. A flash of guilt came over his features, and he looked down.

Celestia smiled and put a hoof on his arm, causing him to glance to her again. Her voice was soft and kind. “Please don’t feel bad about what you did anymore, Discord. Just remember how much we all believe in you and how much you believe in yourself, and do better next time. All right?”

Discord smiled a little and nodded. “All right. But if I do ever seem like I’m slipping up, feel free to sic Luna on me with her Royal Canterlot Voice or you can just attack me with your mighty pillow or something.”

The two beings smiled and shared a warm laugh. Celestia removed her hoof from Discord’s arm.

Then Discord let out a sigh and looked at Celestia curiously, still smiling. “So…what now?”

Celestia raised an eyebrow. “What do you mean?”

“Well,” Discord rolled his eyes to the side, crossing his arms over his chest, “I’ve never been on the good guy side of the fall of a major villain—I’m assuming there’s a ton of clean-up and paperwork and pep rallies for the sake of morale. Whatever it is you all do now that happy days are here again, I’d like to contribute if you’ll just let me know what I might be needed for.” He shrugged. “It’ll be a chaotic contribution, but I think I can tweak it to be helpful as well.” He grinned.

Celestia’s smile brightened. “I think everypony would appreciate your help, Discord. Your magic could assist in repairing the damage caused by Tirek very much. I’ll work up a list of some tasks for you tomorrow and we can go over them. For now though feel free to go around Canterlot or Ponyville and help out as needed.” She yawned. “I’d come up with something more specific for you right now, but frankly Discord I need some rest before I get started on fully restoring the peace of Equestria.” She stretched her head a little to the side. “I haven’t actually fought in a battle in a very long time. And even though Luna, Cadance and I didn’t ‘fight’ in the sense that Twilight did, we still had to give up all of our magic. I’m afraid it’s taken quite a bit out of all of us.” She blinked a few times, smiling at him.

Discord nodded. “I’ll say. I mean, for a while there your hair actually stopped flowing in the non-existent breeze. Not to mention, there was just something missing without that gaudy cutie mark of yours along your side.” He pointed at the bright sun on Celestia’s flank, smiling a little more.

Celestia rolled her eyes and tried not to laugh. “Yes, well, we all had to make sacrifices—though I’m pretty sure the sacrifice of our magic in general was the more significant loss for myself and Luna and Cadance.” Then Celestia considered, putting a hoof to her chin. “But, speaking of what’s next…what are you going to do next now, Discord? I mean, after you help clean up? You’re completely reformed…you could go anywhere you want, explore as much as you want, make as many new friends as you want, and I’m sure people all over Equestria would warmly welcome you.” She smiled.

Discord’s smile brightened at the idea, but then he looked down and shrugged a little, trying to seem as casual as ever. “Oh, I don’t know if I’ll blow this cider stand that quickly. I’d…kind of like to work more on the friendships I already have here as long as I’m doing so well with them already. You know, I’ve never stayed in one place too long, at least not unless I was installing myself as evil overlord over everything. It might be nice just to stick around for a bit as an average person, enjoy the sights, work on fine-tuning and expanding my chaos for the greater good instead of for my own selfish ways.” He held up his chin proudly.

“So I guess this means you’ll be staying with us a little bit longer in the castle then?” Celestia’s smile grew, and she raised an eyebrow.

Discord’s grin picked up on one side, and he looked down at her. “Hey, betraying all of you to Tirek might have been bad, but depriving you of my delightful presence—now that would be just cruel.”

Celestia couldn’t help laughing a little. “Whether you’re staying around here or off travelling and finding new places to spread chaos, I just want you to know that your room will always be here for you, Discord. No matter what.” Suddenly another yawn came over Celestia. “Speaking of rooms though, if you don’t mind, Discord, I’d like to get started on a very long night’s sleep in mine now that I’ve started the sunset for the evening. I’m very exhausted.” Celestia used her magic to remove her shoes and yoke and crown, setting them over on her vanity, and for a moment she let her true fatigue show.

Discord was surprised at the sight of her now that he looked closely—eyes blinking to stay open, hair shimmering and waving just a little less forcefully than usual, and she seemed a little less regal than usual as well even regardless of the loss of her normal regalia. “Yeah, you do look like you could use sleep…or some relaxation.” He raised an eyebrow. “And, possibly a stupid question but, Equestria will be fine if the princess of the day dozes off for a bit before the sun goes down entirely and Luna officially takes the political reigns with the night, right?”

Celestia smiled a little and climbed up to sit beside him on her bed. “Equestria can govern itself better than it realizes, at least for a short time. Besides, the castle staff have all been given instructions, and either way Twilight is on duty as well at the moment. And Luna will awaken and her night will begin very soon. Everything will be fine, Discord, don’t worry. I don’t need you to ‘cover for me’ or anything.” She winked at him, recalling some of the first conversation they had ever had in his room together.

Discord chuckled. “Very funny.” Then he sighed. “I think I could use a good night’s sleep too. Going from good guy to bad guy to super good guy and getting attacked by a princess pillow—this day has been chaotic even for me.”

Celestia nodded. “I think that’s a very wise course of action, Discord.”

“I couldn’t take my nap here with you, could I?”

Celestia raised an eyebrow, but then just sighed and shook her head with an amused smile. “Discord…”

Discord instantly held up his hands though and explained, smiling. “I’m not joking—I’m serious.” He snapped his fingers, and instantly a familiar makeshift bed appeared on the floor by the fireplace (and now with the addition of a little nightstand complete with a Discord lamp and a familiar framed picture of himself and Fluttershy). Discord’s smile fell a bit, and he looked into Celestia’s eyes sincerely. “Can I stay? Please?”

Celestia still looked at him curiously. “Discord, I do enjoy your company, but I really do need some nice, quiet, private rest for now….” And then her gaze caught sight of the master of chaos’s nightstand, which distracted her for a moment to say the least. “Did you bring that from your room?” She tried not to smile too much.

Discord blinked, glanced to the nightstand, and then nodded to Celestia. “Oh yes, I always bring it with me now wherever I go and sleep. I find it comforting—homey, you know? I’ve really made my room here my own with things like this.”

“I can only imagine,” Celestia had to remark, her smile growing.

Discord raised an eyebrow. “Wait, you mean you and Luna have never snuck into my room for a peek?”

Celestia shook her head. “No, I’m afraid not,” she replied simply, glancing at him. “Luna and I respect your privacy, Discord. Though are you sure you still don’t want the maids to visit your room sometimes, especially if you’re going to be staying here for a while now?” She raised an eyebrow.

Discord grinned but shook his head. “It’s better they don’t. I opened up a few pocket dimensions in there, there are three or four trap doors—I can never remember how many exactly, sometimes pies rain up from the floor, and every once in a while the gravity reverses just for fun. If a maid goes in there, you might not get her back. Though I personally find the whole set up very comforting.” He chuckled a little.

Celestia tried not to laugh herself. “Very well, Discord. But if you do find it so comforting, why would you want to stay in my orderly room? You haven’t spent the night in here since you first came to the castle.” She raised an eyebrow again.

“Honestly?” Discord shrugged, smiling a little sheepishly.

Celestia’s smile picked up on one side, and she nodded. “Honesty would be refreshing, yes.”

Another chuckle left Discord, but then he sighed and finally admitted, “I want to make sure you’re okay.”

Celestia blinked, her eyes going wide and staying that way at this unexpected response. “I…but…” she tilted her head to the side, “I’m sorry, Discord, but what exactly do you mean?”

Discord sighed now, putting his hands in his lap and looking forward like he was saying the most causal thing in the world. “Well, Luna’s gearing up to guard the night, so between her duties and her night guards she’s more than looked after…and either way she doesn’t like bedroom visitors as I recall.” He chuckled a little more. “And Twilight’s got her friends staying over at her castle for now, so they can look after her. And Cadance has her hubby to tend to her needs in the Crystal Empire. But you wouldn’t have anyone looking out for you for the whole night. And after all you’ve been through, I mean, what if you go to sleep and slip into a magical coma or something with no one around to notice and do something about it?!” He held out his arms. Then he gestured to himself with his paw. “But at least if I’m here to watch over you, I’ll know you’re okay…okay?” He sighed almost in a touch of annoyance as he tried to play off the big, sappy admission to her. “Also, in my experience, you’re not the worst roommate possible to have—give yourself a little credit, Tia,” he had to tack on, just for good measure.

Celestia just smiled so very warmly at his explanation. Then she nodded to him. “I would love for you to stay for the evening Discord. And thank you for thinking of me.”

Discord beamed, looking to her and clapping his hands together. “Really? How excellent!” Then he blinked, seeing Celestia notice his enthusiasm, her smile only growing. “I mean, erm…” he cleared his throat and shrugged, putting his usual playful smug grin onto his features. “Sure, no problem. Besides, you do have the warmest and most luxurious room in the castle, and I think I deserve a top notch night’s sleep after all I’ve been through.”

“Yes, I’m sure we both do.” Celestia nodded, smiling more up at him…and he smiled more down at her.

For a moment they were just sitting there, gazing warmly at each other. Then Celestia finally raised an eyebrow. “Discord?”

Discord nodded. “Yes?”

“You can go over to your own bed now.” She gave him a little playful nudge.

Discord blinked. “Oh!” He stood up, almost stumbling forward a little but righting himself quickly enough. “Yes, yes, of course.” He cleared his throat, rolling his eyes as he went across the room. “Sorry. All this final reform stuff has me a little giddy.” He lay down on his back in his bed and pulled up a blanket.

Celestia shook her head but smiled. “It’s all right. And I’m glad to have you here. I feel safer already.” She lay down as well and covered herself with a blanket, then used her magic to undo the curtains and cover the last of the daylight still coming into the window.

“You should,” Discord smirked, settling against his pillows. “Just think of me as your own personal chaotic body guard.” He yawned. “Now, if you really want to make me happy, as a ‘bodyguard’ and as master of chaos, once a few days have passed and you’ve gotten things relatively back to normal with yourself and Equestria, you’ll let me take you and Luna and even Twilight if she’s up for it out on the town for an evening, just to really let you all relax and loosen up and have fun. Trust me, they could use it, and you need it.”

Celestia sighed but smiled so much that it was really an effort not to laugh. “Discord, somehow I don’t think our subjects would take a great deal of comfort from seeing three of its princesses dealing with the aftermath of a near defeat by gallivanting to every dance club and cider press in Canterlot and leaving a stream of amusing chaos in their wake.”

“Hey, who says that’s all we’d do together, and who says we’d stay in Canterlot?” Discord grinned. “I meant let me take you girls away for a day—as long as we get back before sunset or sunrise or whatever, no one’ll notice. Fluttershy and the girls and your staff can handle everything.” He eyed her with amusement. “Come on, we’ll go get a bungalow on Horseshoe Bay, and you can sip a fruity drink, go swimming, work on your tan—I never want to say anything, but for the sun princess you are just white as a sheet, Celestia.”

Celestia did have to laugh now. She smiled, shaking her head. “While that sounds fun, Discord, I’m just not sure that’s something we could work out anytime soon. Maybe in a few months or next year after everything’s settled and Twilight feels more comfortable with her role in Equestria, but not right now. Though the offer does sound nice, I’ll admit.”

Discord sighed but then turned in his bed to look up at her with a grin. “So then I guess my suggestions of skiing in the Switzerhorse Alps and going to a resort in Buenos Pegasaires and touring the Riviera in Prance are all out too, huh?”

Celestia shrugged, glancing down at him over the edge of her bed. “I’m afraid so, yes. For now, at least.”

“And no chariot joyride to the Crystal Empire to pick up Cadance and throw the biggest party Equestria has ever seen in her crystal palace, huh?” He chuckled.

Celestia shook her head again. “No, I’m sorry, we couldn’t manage that either.”

Discord raised an eyebrow. “Would you at least agree to letting me take some of you princesses on a walk and picnic in the Everfree forest one evening?”

“That might actually be nice, Discord. Thank you.” Celestia nodded with an appreciative smile. “I’ll mention it to Luna and Twilight.”

Discord nodded in return. “Good. You guys really do need to relax more. None of us are getting any younger.” He grinned. “I mean look at you and me—Luna’s at least dragging herself through preparations for her night watch, and Twilight actually had a major battle but is singing and dancing and she’ll probably stay up giggling with her friends all night long, and Cadance seemed chipper as anything when she boarded her train to go back home. But you and I—all we did was lose our magic for a bit, and now we’re passing out for bedtime before it’s even dark out.” He shook his head, and then snapped up a pink sleep mask for himself. “We used to be able to go at each other for days, maybe catch a few winks on the sidelines, eat an apple or some chocolate milk, and get right back to glorious combat and witty banter with one another. Now we need naps, days, and the promise of a picnic to get back to normal. I’m almost a little embarrassed.” He chuckled. “Oh well, ‘sunrise, sunset’ I suppose, right, Tia?”

“Yes…” Celestia’s eyes closed, and she cuddled into her pillow. “The time’s do change, Discord. Getting to bed as early as possible is just the most sensible plan right now to make sure you and I are perfectly refreshed and ready to face the tasks we have ahead of us in the coming days.”

Discord raised an eyebrow, peeking out from under his sleep mask for a moment. “Oh yes, yes, of course… ‘makes sense’, I suppose.” He rolled his visible eye and tried not to chuckle.

“It’s the most sound and the most comfortable choice.” Celestia turned a little, her face becoming hidden by her hair. She yawned.

“Yes, yes, truly the safest course of action.” Discord snapped away the sleep mask entirely and sat up, smiling fully.

“We’re just being…responsible.” Celestia yawned.

Mmm hmm…”

There was silence for a few moments.

And then with a deep sigh Celestia raised her head from her bed. “I have not gone to bed before dark in…I don’t know how many moons.” She almost laughed at herself. Then she used her magic to reopen her curtains again. “You know what, Discord…perhaps going to bed early can wait. This has been one of the most harrowing days in Equestria’s history, but I can sleep on that anytime. I think something else is called for.” She raised an eyebrow. “And since when do you go along with plans that are ‘sensible’ and ‘responsible’ and that ‘make sense’?” She glanced at Discord and then blinked at the sight of him floating over his bed at this point and just trying not to laugh.

Discord shrugged at her confusion and explained. “Oh, I was just waiting to see how long it would take you to figure out for yourself that the ‘going right to bed like a good little pony’ plan was boring even for you—sheesh, you’re the oldest pony in Equestria but you’re not an old nag, Celestia. Rest can come later—relaxation is what you need first, even if it’s not in the form of one of my brilliant vacation suggestions from before.” He laughed. “Now, what reasonable yet fun thing shall we do together to really tire ourselves out for bed?” He crossed his arms over his chest, raising an eyebrow and giving her a grin.

Celestia rolled her eyes with a smile and then sat up completely, letting her blankets fall away. “Do you want to sneak down to the kitchen for some cake? The kitchen staff’s all gone home early for the evening.” A touch of sheepishness came to her features. “And also I had them prepare half a dozen different kinds this morning. I thought they might come in handy.”

Discord landed on his feet, putting his paw to his chin. “Well, it’s not gallivanting through the streets of Canterlot in an uproarious celebration of victory, but one of our famous ‘midnight’ snacks together is a start.” He nodded and headed toward her door. “Come on, we’ll stay up for hours working our way through that emergency dessert stockpile you planned in your infinite wisdom—we’ll giggle, we’ll gossip, we’ll swap secrets and share stories, I’ll make plenty of good-natured jokes at your expense. And maybe Luna will join us at the end of things if she has a spare moment.” He pushed open the bedroom door.

An amused Celestia climbed out of her bed, gave a small stretch, and then headed over to him. “That sounds like fun, Discord.”

“Oh everything with me is fun, Celestia—you know that.” He chuckled and then gestured forward with a dramatic bow. “Ladies first.”

Celestia nodded in return and headed out into the hall. “Thank you, Discord.”

Discord nodded and followed after her, closing the door behind them. The two headed toward the kitchen, a peaceful silence between them for a moment.

“So…” Discord then started as they continued forward together, “Speaking of giggling and gossiping and swapping secrets…maybe while we’re sharing this cake you can tell me what was up with that ‘come hither’ bit you used to lull me into a false sense of security back there for your pillow attack?” He raised an eyebrow, smiling but mostly eyeing Celestia very curiously. “That did not seem like you, Celestia, not at all.”

Celestia shrugged, smiling a little sheepishly. “Well, as I said I’m very tired, Discord. And I really was very frustrated with you for what you did. That might be affecting my behavior and my patience a little. I’m sure after a few days of rest and routine though that I’ll be feeling just like my old self.” She looked down, smiling but seeming unsure. “I suppose I might have gone too far though with the suggestion that I…I mean, when you closed your eyes, you seemed like you thought I—”

Discord cleared his throat, moving things right along. “Hey, so I misinterpreted a signal— you’re not the only one who’s a little tired, Tia. And either way, I’m not used to you exercising a sense of humor.” He sighed and rolled his eyes, his grin picking up on one side. “You were surprisingly good at delivering that kind of joke. You pick and choose your moments, but you really are secretly funny, Celestia.”

Celestia couldn’t help but smile at the compliment (a big one coming from him considering his pride in his own sense of humor). “Well, you’re not the only one of us who can use extreme flattery to their advantage. I’ve spent the last few months learning from the master, after all.”

Discord’s smile grew, and he had to chuckle a little. “Yes, well, I suppose that’s true.” He looked forward in amusement.

“I’m just surprised you responded to everything so well. I honestly thought I would have to work much harder to get you to go along with it.” Celestia raised an eyebrow, glancing at him hesitantly out of the corner of her eye. “Discord?”

He seemed very casual…too casual. And that fact concerned Celestia a little more as he feigned a yawn and replied, “Yes?”

She looked forward and brushed some of her mane back a little with her hoof. “As long as we’re talking now, I’ve always wondered…why do you use that kind of flattery to joke with me and bother me? All you do to bother Luna is make fun of her old-fashioned way of speaking. And…why did you let me go so far with things back in my room?” She raised an eyebrow again. “You never used to behave like that with me in the old days.”

“Well,” Discord cleared his throat, “In all fairness, during the old days we usually didn’t have time for more than a few angry quips before you and Luna would try to stop me and I would try to stop you, yada, yada, whereas now we’ve actually been living together and being friends. But, really Celestia dear, I’m surprised it isn’t obvious why I tease you so much and why I’d go along with watching you actually take up the mantle yourself.” He glanced at her and grinned very smugly (even more smugly as he noticed her eyes widen a little). “It’s because I know that kind of ‘flattery’ is the thing that personally ruffles your perfect pony feathers absolutely the most.”

Celestia raised an eyebrow at this statement.

Discord chuckled and explained, crossing his arms over his chest. “Look, consider Luna—when she talks in that old-fashioned way she has, yes, in part it’s because she’s not used to modern speech. But she also does it to set herself off from the crowd, because it makes her feel regal and important to address others as ‘thee’ and ‘thou’ and to refer to herself as ‘we’—it’s a point of pride. So when I mock her about it, it undermines the effect she’s going for and takes her down a few pegs.” He rolled his eyes. “I’m actually probably doing her more good than harm when I tease her, but I work with what I’m given.”

Celestia smiled in understanding but of course still continued to pursue her question. “Yes, I understand, but still, the way you bother me still seems so much more…extreme than the way you like to bother Luna.”

“I know, I know…I’m getting to that,” Discord assured. Then his eyes narrowed playfully, and he focused in one Celestia again. “And as for how I like to ‘tease’ you, Tia, what you pride yourself on is your poise, your grace, your professionalism—always being taken seriously and always being on friendly terms with everyone. When I flirt with you—and yes, we’re adults, so let’s just use the term already—it buckles that poise, makes you question your grace, totally shatters your professionalism, actually makes you drop the seriousness and laugh or smirk for a moment, and of course it takes your right out of your ‘friendship’ element and into something a little less cut and dry and simple.” He chuckled in triumph. “I knew from the moment I was first reformed and I suggested bunking with you or Luna and you practically tripped over your own horseshoes in Ponyville that I’d found the perfect way to get on your nerves without doing evil or doing anything you could call me out on, as long as I didn’t push it too far of course. It was like a perfect chaos storm of amusing commentary all for my taking.” He looked forward and grinned proudly to himself.

Celestia was just smiling warmly now. She shook her head in amusement. “Only you would put so much elaborate thought into bothering another person in the friendliest possible way, Discord.”

“Yes, well,” he shrugged, brushing his curled paw against his chest and then holding it out to admire it, “As I said from the start, reforming my chaos required a lot of recalibration on my part. I still had to be the same old obnoxious and insulting Discord you and everyone else has always known and loved, but I had to do it in a way that wasn’t mean or evil. And I succeeded, and brilliantly I might add.” He crossed his arms over his chest. “Of course, outside of that, I have always just been a natural at charming the ladies.” The smug look remained on his face, though he blushed just slightly.

Celestia sighed, smiling more to herself. “I don’t doubt it, Discord.” She laughed softly. “And I’m glad you finally explained things to me now.”

Discord chuckled, his grin picking up on one side. “Really, Tia, I’m surprised you just didn’t figure it out for yourself—I mean, what else could my reasoning be for ‘flattering’ you all the time?” He put his arms behind his back and raised an eyebrow at her, almost suggesting that he was looking for an answer to the question.

Celestia blinked. “Oh, well…I don’t know. I just…knew it might be part of your chaos, but I wasn’t really sure why exactly you were choosing to handle things in that particular way.”

“Hmm…” Discord’s eyes drifted forward, “Did you ever consider the possibility that, Celestia forbid, maybe all of this time I haven’t been joking and egging you on? Maybe I just think that you’re cute, but I’m too insecure to ask you out for a milkshake or something, so gags and off color comments and the occasional bouquet all work just as well for now?”

Celestia stopped moving forward.

Her violet eyes were wide, and she was blushing considerably.

Discord stopped and (of course) noticed. And Discord smiled. He leaned down close to her, the end of his tail coming around her other side to brush back a bit of her mane. “Oh Tia, my dear, dear friend Tia…you are just too fun to play with. And now that I know that you’ll blush for the rest of eternity wondering about what I just said whenever you go into your room and look at those flowers I gave you, truly I may die a completely happy and fulfilled being of chaos.” A low chuckle escaped him which then grew into a steady snicker and finally full laughter as he straightened up and walked ahead of her, turning to open the kitchen door which they had just come upon. “There’s nothing quite as chaotic as the sight of a powerful woman in a romantic fluster.” He grinned, getting his mirth under control. “But for now I’d like my cake buddy back, and when bedtime really does come I am not carrying you petrified like this all the way back to your room, so if you could snap out of it and quite flattering yourself so much, I’d appreciate it.” He leaned back against the doorway, arms crossed over his chest. “Come on, Celestia. Sheesh, don’t just stand there—you look like a statue.” His grin rose up as high as possible on one side. “Believe me, I’d know.”

Celestia blinked, and then she just couldn’t help herself. She smiled and laughed. And Discord laughed too.

Celestia let out a breath and headed forward, shaking her head as she entered the kitchen. “Discord, sometimes I have no idea what to make of you.”

“Good,” Discord headed inside after her, “then as master of chaos, even fully reformed, I’m still doing my job right.”

They went to their usual table, and Discord snapped up some plates and chairs side by side and silverware while Celestia magically took a chocolate cake out of the icebox.

“Hey,” Discord smirked, taking his seat, “If Luna joins us later, want to have some fun and tell her that after the whole ‘bouquet and a wink’ thing, you and I got to talking and we just got back from a quick elopement to Las Pegasus, so welcome home new brother-in-law?” He laughed, grinning at her playfully. “I could easily snap up a wedding cake for us to complete the effect.”

Celestia’s gaze went a little dry though her smile remained as she set out their snack upon the table. “She wouldn’t believe that, Discord. She knows me too well. You may be a very nice friend and…very interesting, but there is a limit—I’d certainly need more than flowers and a wink to run off with anypony.” Celestia sat beside Discord at the table and smiled more as she served them slices and added, “But she might believe we were suddenly courting. We could tell her that.” She laughed a little, taking her first bite of cake.

“Ooo, exhausted Celestia has a sense of humor—I like it.” Discord laughed as well, eating a bite of his own piece of cake. “Okay, we’ll tell Luna we’re ‘courting’ then.” He rolled his eyes, and the two shared a warm chuckle at their plan. Then Discord sighed deeply, looking to his nighttime companion as they both happily consumed their snacks side by side. “Celestia, this is off the record, but I really was the biggest idiot for bothering with Tirek…letting him get under my skin about my reform, going along with his idea that somehow I was weak for liking you and Fluttershy and the other ponies and had to prove I could still be a notorious master of chaos. So what if I don’t spend all of my life in strife anymore? I would give a thousand chaos empires that I had to spend all of my time magically fortifying and maintaining by doing evil for the dozens of the good chaotic times I’ve had with the girls and Luna and you over the last few months.”

“Really, Discord?” Celestia smiled at him, magically lowering her fork for a moment.

Discord smiled and nodded. “Yes. Besides, I already gave up a thousand years to reach this point—why not a thousand hypothetical empires too?” He laughed a little and so did she, and then he sighed again and added, “In fact, I can’t think of any other place I’d rather be or any other thing I’d rather be doing than sitting here having cake with you right now.”

Celestia smiled so warmly. “You know, Discord…I feel the exactly same way.” She finished another bite of her cake and then yawned a little. “Let’s not stay up too late though. I really do have a lot of work to start tomorrow.”

Discord sighed dramatically and rolled his eyes. “Boring!” He chuckled and ate more cake.

Celestia’s smile picked up on one side as she looked at him out of the corner of her eye. “And besides, I’m quite looking forward to our sleepover, my old friend. Once we turn in for the night, perhaps I’ll keep the fire bright and we can talk and joke more until we fall asleep. After everything that’s happened, that sounds like the most peaceful night I could imagine.” She savored another bite of her cake.

Discord’s eyes brightened, and something about his smile perked considerably. “Oh, well, um…” he played with his cake on his plate, “all right then. That doesn’t sound like a half bad night at all come to think of it.” He looked down, and for the moment the usual mirth and cheekiness and arrogance all faded from his features. He was looking at the cake but he was clearly deep in thought about something else. “Celestia?”

Celestia glanced at him. “Yes?”

“You really do forgive me about Tirek just like that?” Discord snapped the end of his tail and looked to her. “After only a few hours, some flowers, an apology, and cake?”

Celestia smiled softly, her voice lowering. “Yes, Discord. I do.” She touched her hoof to his arm on the table. “Friends don’t need much more than that to forgive each other. And especially not friends as old as we are.”

Discord’s smile grew. “I see. I’m…glad I’ve gotten a lesson as good as that one out of this whole experience then.” He ate another bite of his cake with satisfaction. “And I’m glad I understand now why it really is better to use my powers for good instead of evil.”

“I’m proud of you.” Celestia let her hoof linger for a moment longer and then removed it from him. “Can you make us some chocolate milk to go with the cake?” She magically served them both another slice each.

Discord nodded. “Of course.” He snapped his fingers and made chocolate milk appear in front of them both in two long stem glasses. “To chaos?” He held up his glass with his tail.

Celestia smiled more and nodded, holding up her own glass with her magic. “To chaos...and to friendship.” Discord nodded too. They clinked their glasses and drank together.

They lowered their glasses, and then Discord sighed, grinning as he dug into his fresh piece of cake with his fork. “Now about my role in future government affairs—”

Celestia’s magic dropped her fork with a clatter right in the middle of bringing a fresh bite to her mouth. “Your what in what?” She looked at him with wide eyes.

“My role in future government affairs.” Discord chuckled and shrugged as she continued to look at him in such confusion. He explained. “What? I’m an immortal, all-powerful being of good living in a castle—I must have the right to some direct say in how this land of ours is run. I’m not asking to be made a prince necessarily—you could just make me a duke or a knight or baron or something. Anyway, whatever you pick, as I said, my credentials—magical, ageless, castle-dwelling—are in order, so I’m guessing we’ll be seeing a lot more of each other at council meetings and dinners of state and grand treaty signings and whatnot.” He smirked, though there was an unusual touch of sincerity in his tone as he added, “Seriously, Celestia, I want to help. Chaos can have something to contribute. And I think, after all we’ve been through together, you know that just as well as I do.”

Celestia eyed him curiously for a moment, but then finally she couldn’t help a smile coming back to her lips. She considered and then nodded to him. “You may attend a few assembly meetings and also be present at my side when I hold court as a guest and an observer. We’ll start with that for now. And if you have any suggestions for anything regarding Equestria’s government, you’ll have to write up an official proposal for your idea, I’ll look it over, and then we’ll see about putting it through the proper channels, all right?” She smiled more.

Discord practically beamed. “You have got yourself a deal, Celestia.” He winked. “So now that that’s settled, when do I get my obnoxious royal title and my gaudy crown and the chance at a castle?” He crossed his arms over his chest, leaning back confidently in his seat.

Celestia just sighed and gave him a light nudge, eating another bite of her cake. “Don’t push it, master of chaos.”

Discord just chuckled, eating some more cake as well. “Now, see, this is what I’m talking about—this is conversation. Tirek was dreadful at this, but you are truly a delightful companion, Celestia.” Discord smiled more to himself and more at Celestia. “Oh I think I’m going to like being fully reformed even better than being ‘kind of sort of’ reformed. It’s truly given me a new appreciation for everything and everyone in my life.” He took her hoof and raised it, gazing into her eyes with a smug (if not somewhat charming) grin.

Celestia blinked and couldn’t help smiling back at him hesitantly at first but then with a touch of familiar playfulness.

“Hello, sister, Discord. Am I interrupting anything?”

Both Celestia and Discord blinked, and their attentions turned to Luna who was now standing in the doorway of the kitchen, an eyebrow raised and a somewhat amused smile on her features.

Celestia blinked a few times and then smiled, taking her hoof from Discord’s paw and returning to her cake. She let out a small sigh. “Hello, Luna. Of course not. Would you like some cake?” She used her magic to make a fresh plate and fork appear.

Luna approached and magically made herself a seat at the table opposite from her sister and Discord. “Actually, yes, I wouldn’t mind a slice. It really was such a long day, and I do have such a long night ahead of me.” She began to magically serve herself.

Discord, meanwhile, just grinned as he finished a bite of his own cake. “Always good to see you, Luna. And of course you weren’t interrupting anything, just two friends sharing a late snack….” He used his tail to dab at his mouth with a napkin. “Now, if you had come around earlier back when we were in Celestia’s room and she threw herself at me and teased me with a kiss, then you would have been interrupting something.”

Celestia almost spit the sip of chocolate milk she had just been enjoying clear across the table. Her purple eyes perfectly dilated.

Luna just sat there wide-eyed, a hoof to her mouth…an almost imperceptible smile of intrigue on her face.

Discord then spent the next several minutes lost in convulsive laughter while Celestia put aside her glass and blushed considerably and looked down. Eventually, she cleared her throat and finally tried to explain. “Luna, that is not…. The context of…. I didn’t really mean….” And all the while she could see Luna sitting there trying very hard to take things very seriously but losing as a smile pulled more and more at the corners of her mouth.

Finally Luna just nodded to her sister’s efforts, taking up a forkful of cake. “Of course, sister, of course. I understand completely.”

Celestia just sighed but couldn’t help starting to smile herself. She looked to Discord (who had barely gotten himself back under control now) and tried to seem stern, but her smile was winning out. “Discord…why?” She rubbed one of her temples, shaking her head.

A few more chuckles left him as he sat up completely again, wiping a tear from his eye. “What? I thought we agreed we were going to pull a gag on Luna and tell her that after the flowers thing, we’re dating now. I was just setting us up for it. That’s how you get people to believe jokes and lies, Celestia. You sprinkle in a little bit of the truth to make them seem more real.” He snapped, magically making some sprinkles fall on all of their cake slices, and then shrugged, a smug grin on his features.

Celestia blinked, her eyes going a little wide in understanding. “Oh. Right, yes, we said we’d…I see.” She smiled softly. “I’m sorry I ruined the joke then, Discord. Though I wish you could have found a less…a more ‘subtle’ way of putting your introduction to our prank.”

“Hmm, and miss the look of shock and shyness on your face? Never.” Discord raised his glass high and took a large swig of chocolate milk.

Luna blinked, lowering her fork after finishing a few more bites of cake. “So then something did happen in Celestia’s room?” She looked to both of them.

“Nothing happened,” a slightly blushing Celestia assured her sister before Discord could add more. “I just said some things to make Discord happy so that I could get him comfortable and close enough to reprimand him for his grave slip-up regarding his friendship studies before I expressed my gratitude that he came to his senses and is now our close friend again. That’s all.”

“Yes, she lulled me into a false sense of security with her feminine wiles and then she struck a mighty blow of disapproval against my ne’er-do-well shenanigans.” Discord chuckled. “What can I say, I have a weakness for ‘flattery’.” He made air quotes around the word, specifically eyeing (a still blushing and now rolling her eyes to the side) Celestia. Then Discord turned his attention across the table again and raised an eyebrow at Luna. “Incidentally, I’m assuming I should expect a little blow-up from you about what I did too and all the stress it caused, etcetera, etcetera. When’s good for you?” He snapped, making an open datebook appear in his claw and a quill in his paw. “I could pencil you in sometime before dinner tomorrow or early Tuesday morning. The weekend’s are just no good for me at all.”

Luna just grinned at him. “No need for that, Discord. I’ll just pop by your dreams some night. There’s less of a risk to your safety if I lose my temper in your dreams. Believe me.” She laughed a little, and Celestia smiled more.

Discord just sighed, snapping away his datebook and quill. “Very well. I’ll await thine wrath—I mean, the firm hoof of thine justice, fierce Luna.” He gave her a dramatic mock bow and chuckled.

“Hmm, laugh while thou can, bold draconequus,” Luna replied, finishing another large bite of her cake, a confident look on her features. “I only just regained dominion over my moon little over a year ago—I was displeased to have to relinquish it to Twilight Sparkle, even for one moonset, and you shall hear all about it. And in my own impressive Royal Canterlot Voice too.”

Celestia and Luna shared a warm laugh at the idea.

Discord just rolled his eyes. “Very well, I suppose I deserve that much.” He smiled. “But, for now, shall I summon another cake from the ice box?” He held up his fingers to snap. “We seem to have polished off this one very thoroughly.” And indeed only crumbs were left on the cake platter now.

Luna nodded, dabbing at her mouth with a napkin, her own piece already fully devoured. “Yes, please do, Discord. I need all of the energy I can get to make it through this night before I can finally rest again. “

Celestia nodded as well, her own plate nearly clean again. “I wouldn’t mind another slice or two as well, Discord, thank you.”

“Of course, my dear friends.” Discord nodded and snapped, and instantly a fresh cake (apple spice with vanilla frosting) was floating itself over to the table, slicing itself up, and serving the three friends. “And a glass of chocolate milk for Luna too.” He snapped once more, making a normal glass of his famous brew appear before the Princess of the Night. Discord smiled, digging into his fresh slice with his fork. “Now, you know, as long as the dust has settled on my reform and it looks like we’re going to be castle-mates for a while longer,” he flashed a grin at Luna, “by the way, I’m staying indefinitely—your sister said it was fine.” He chuckled as Luna rolled her eyes but nodded to him, then went on. “Anyway, as long as we’re going to be stuck together for a bit, I think we should start acting like real castle-mates instead of just like three incredible magical beings who happen to dwell under the same roof. I’m thinking game nights, taking photos together for our own Hearthswarming cards, putting my name on the mailbox finally, engaging in various madcap (and of course chaotic) misadventures that ultimately end up all right and teach us all valuable lessons about togetherness and having fun—what do you say?” He looked to both girls.

“I say after everything that’s happened lately, this castle needs all of the fun and friendship the three of us can manage. And we would certainly welcome you playing a central role in those efforts, Discord.” Celestia smiled warmly, and she noticed Discord’s grin brighten at her response. She looked to Luna. “Do you agree sister?”

Luna nodded, finishing a large sip of her chocolate milk. “Yes, sister. The fun around here could certainly stand to be doubled, and Discord is indeed skilled at creating fun.” She laughed warmly. “I think I understand what must be done.” She straightened up in her chair and looked to Discord with a regal smile. “Discord, I believe it is official—thou shall now be our new court jester! We formally bestow the honor upon thee!” She bowed her head (and used her magic to make a large purple and yellow jester’s hat appear on his head), then looked to him again. “We welcome thee for our amusement.”

Celestia burst into laughter and Luna quickly followed. Discord blinked at first at the joke but then couldn’t help smiling and admiring the hat and then laughing heartily as well.

All three of them continued to enjoy sharing the happy moment together in the kitchen, surrounded by warmth and friendship and cake. And as their brief time together this evening went on, and the jokes and memories and eating continued, they almost forgot about all of the strife they had endured recently and even that they had ever been enemies at all—they felt like a group that had been friends forever just enjoying one of countless nights spent in the natural happiness of each others’ company.

Unfortunately, though, the night could not go on forever, at least not for all three of them. Indeed, eventually Luna found herself finishing her last bite of cake alone (this one a slice of lemon with coconut frosting—the group had gotten through three cakes in total impressively enough) while she tried not to smile at the sight before her. Across from her, near their own empty plates, Celestia and Discord had dozed off with their heads on the table and leaning against each other a little, smiles upon their faces.

Luna’s smile picked up just slightly on one side, and she whispered softly to herself. “They do seem to get on rather well. Though I do believe my sister still hasn’t realized yet that he truly may have developed an odd if somewhat sweet preference for her after all this time. It makes their relationship very interesting to observe.” She closed her eyes, shaking her head in amusement, and then pushed back her chair and stood up from the table. “I am just glad their friendship has survived the events of today. I have grown rather fond of Discord’s presence myself, and I know Celestia would have missed him terribly if his villainy had taken him out of our lives again.” Luna magically placed all of the dishes into the sink and swept up the cake crumbs. Then she used her magic to make a large blue blanket with moons and stars appear, which she laid over her sister and Discord who only sighed in their sleeps and moved a little closer together to share in the warmth of covering.

Luna smiled to herself and was about to depart to see to the rest of her nightly duties when suddenly the sound of a loud yawn made her pause at the kitchen doorway and turn around.

Discord was sitting up a bit underneath the blanket, stretching his arms and blinking his eyes. “Hmm…what’s…” His gaze fell to Celestia at his side, and his eyes went very wide for a moment. Then he swallowed and paused, seeming unsure of what to do.

Luna cleared her throat lightly. “Discord? I’m sorry I woke you.” She nodded her head in apology. “It’s all right—you and Celestia fell asleep while we were all talking, so I covered you. I have to return to my nightly duties now. But as long as you’re up, perhaps we should carry my sister off to bed. She has been through much, and I would rather not wake her to have her walk back to her room or risk waking her with the suddenness of a teleportation spell. However, if we both use our magic to carefully suspend her all the way to her room, I don’t believe she wouldn’t notice being moved at all. Then you could go to your room to sleep as well.” She smiled.

Looking to Luna, Discord blinked a few times at first, but then his normal smile returned to his features. “Oh,” he kept his voice low, “Erm, don’t worry about it, Luna. You go off to your nightly duties, I can take Celestia back to her room on my own. I promise I won’t wake her. Besides, I’m sleeping there tonight myself.” He shrugged.

Luna raised an eyebrow, losing her smile a little.

Discord sighed, explaining. “I set myself up that little bed on the floor that she made me once when I first came here to live. I explained to her my reasons for wanting to stay with her tonight much more sappily than this, but the short version is…I just want to make sure she’s all right. You’re going to be awake while your magic recharges tonight and you’ll have your night guards to look out for you, Twilight’ll have her friends, Cadance will have her husband…. I just don’t want Celestia to be left alone in case there’s some kind of problem. And I can sense magical imbalances, so I’ll be the first to know if there is one and I’ll be right there if she needs any help.” His smile fell a little. “I feel responsible. Spending one night making sure the mess I got us all into doesn’t keep having bad consequences is the least I could do.” He took a deep breath and his smile returned to normal. “Besides, she said it was okay. I promise.”

Luna considered for a moment but then finally gave Discord a nod. “Very well. I will leave my sister in your care.” She smiled softly at him.

Discord’s smile brightened. “Thanks, Luna.”

Luna nodded again. “Have a pleasant night, Discord.” She turned to leave.

“You too, Luna,” Discord called back quietly.

But then Luna stopped in the doorway. “Discord?” She turned her head to face him again.

“Yes?” He still smiled back at her.

“I just wanted to say that I think I approve…” She noticed him raise an eyebrow, so she smiled more and added, “…of the fact that you gave Celestia flowers. I think I approve.”

Discord still looked at her very curiously for a moment. But then his eyes went a little wide, and he blushed slightly. “Oh! Oh, well, it…like I already told your sister, it was really no big deal. I was just trying to show I’m sorry and that I care.” He rolled his eyes off to the side. “Why must you ponies get so dramatic and read so much into everything?” Then he blinked, and suddenly his usual confident smirk was back. He snapped his fingers. “In fact, right now there’s a huge box of dark chocolates waiting for you on your bed in your room courtesy of me.” He snapped again. “And now Cadance has a big pink stuffed dragon doll in her room with a card that says ‘I’m sorry’ taped to it.” He shrugged. “So you see, nothing special to remark upon about me giving flowers to Celestia—I’ve given something to each of you now to make up for what I put you through with losing your magic.” He flexed his fingers, seeming very satisfied with himself.

“Of course, Discord.” Luna tried very hard not to laugh. “In that case, thank you for the chocolates, and I’m certain Cadance will like her gift as well. I’ll see you later, dear friend.” And with that she turned and finally left the kitchen.

Discord’s smug look remained until he was sure she was quite gone, and then he let out a deep breath. “Whew…Okay, Discord, maybe you need to tone down how thickly you’ve been laying on the ‘flirting Celestia into embarrassment’ bit. It’s not only starting to get to you, it’s starting to get a little too much attention from others now.” He rested his head on his paw and smiled again. “Still though, today was a special day, she deserved a bouquet. And who was I to deny her one? Dear annoyingly perfect Celestia….” He glanced to the sun princess who still slumbered soundly next to him under their blanket. His smile picked up on one side and his gaze warmed. “Okay, let’s get you to bed then, my cake-loving lady. You’ve had a very long day. You deserve the comfort of a downy pillow and silk sheets and cozy covers.” He snapped his fingers, and now he was standing and Celestia was floating right near him, supported by a large cotton candy cloud and still covered with Luna’s blanket. She continued to sleep soundly. “Let’s go, Tia.” He went to the kitchen exit, and the cloud following along. The pair left the room and proceeded down the hall together.

Discord began to speak softly partly to himself, partly to Celestia, unable to help doing so as they made their way back to Celestia’s room. “We really did stay up too late.” He yawned deeply. “But it was worth it—talking with you and Luna is always so much fun.” He smiled. “I’m glad you both forgive me. I think I’ll even be able to forgive myself entirely soon enough. And I hope Fluttershy will forgive me completely too eventually.” He wrung his claw and paw together a little. “I know if you were up, you’d assure me she will. And I know she will too…it’s just I also know it might take a while for her to trust me completely again. But it’s okay, I can wait. I know we’ll be best friends again soon just like before.” He smiled a little again. “Actually, if you two princesses can forgive me so easily, it should be a cinch for Fluttershy to forgive me too—I don’t bother her nearly as much as I bother you two, and I’m far less obnoxious to her than I am to the two of you.” He chuckled a little.

For a moment Discord glanced back at Celestia, almost like they really were in conversation, but Celestia just continued to sleep nestled on her fluffy pink cloud and covered in Luna’s blanket. She smiled as she slept—she seemed perfectly peaceful.

Discord smiled softly at the sight but then turned forward again. “Yikes, I really must like talking to you to be doing it even when you’re sleeping.” He chuckled more. “But then again, I’ll admit, these past few months…you have grown on me.” Discord sighed, looking down a little. “Not a ‘ton’ or anything. I mean, I-I could quit this place any time I like, I just don’t want to, is all. But, well…don’t let it get around, Celestia, but despite all the orderliness and how often you reprimand me and the uncanny fact that somehow, no matter how sneaky I am, you almost always know when I’m up to a trick or stretching the truth or trying to distract you…despite how much of a wet blanket you can be on my amusement each day…I like you. I think your sister’s noticed.” He cleared his throat. “Oh, of course I like Luna too. But I think you and I have a special rapport. We’re a challenge for each other. I really like challenges.” He chuckled softly once more.

Discord heard Celestia yawn in her sleep, but then she grew silent again.

Discord smiled to himself and nodded. “Yes, yes, I know you’re sleepy, Celestia. Don’t worry, soon we’ll be in your cozy room and you’ll be in your nice warm safe bed.” He sighed, shaking his head with a grin. “You really do need me on the side of good—who else is going to be around when Luna’s off seeing to the night to make sure that you end up tucked in after too much midnight cake?” His smile picked up a little on one side. “Still, the two of us staying under Luna’s blanket in the kitchen and then waking up together in the morning did have a certain appeal. It certainly would have startled you in the most hilarious way possible.” He stifled a laugh, shaking his head as they came to her bedroom door now. “And there I go getting carried away with flattering you again—when will I ever learn?”

He used his magic to open the door, and still Celestia slept so soundly upon the pink cloud. Discord entered with her and closed the door behind them. Then he used his magic to draw the curtains and light the fire.

“You know, since you like cake so much, I’d really like to whip you up a fantastic birthday cake one of these days.” Discord grinned a little as he pulled back her blankets and then had Celestia’s cloud lower her to the surface of the bed. “Of course, first I’d have to get Luna to tell me when your birthday is. That shouldn’t be too hard, though. She’s quite talkative once you get to know her, and much less often in her old-timey way once she gets comfortable around you.” He pulled up the blankets to cover Celestia and added, “But then, for the sake of the candles, I’d have to get one of you to admit your real age to me. That information’s hard enough to get out of a normal pony mare. But one who’s got at least four digits to her age—even I’m not sure if I can pull off such a stupendous feat.” He grinned more, looking down at her with interest and then giving into a small compulsion and gently tucking her in using his tail. “And then maybe for your birthday, along with the cake, you’ll let me take you and the other princesses on one of those madcap adventures I suggested earlier.” He considered and then waved her off. “Oh please, forget ‘maybe you’ll let me.’ It’s a birthday, birthday’s are for surprises—a trip like that will be your present, and I just won’t take no for an answer.” He chuckled warmly, unable to help himself.

Discord quickly made himself grow quiet though as Celestia yawned and turned in her sleep. He watched, waiting to see if he had accidentally woken her up.

Celestia gave a deep yawn again. “Mmm…Discord?” Her eyes barely opened to look at him.

Discord sighed, smiling as he looked down at her. “My apologies, Celestia. I didn’t mean to wake you. But everything’s all right, you just go back to resting. You’re all nice and safe in your bed now.”

Celestia blinked again and glanced at her surroundings. “Oh. When did we leave the kitchen?” She smiled a little.

Discord grinned. “We didn’t—I did. You fell asleep full of cake, and your charming prince Discord scooped you up and carried you all the way here.”

“Hmm…” Celestia yawned again. “Oh, that’s…” Suddenly she blinked and blushed. But then she just sighed deeply, closing her eyes and trying not to smile too much. “Oh Discord, tell me you didn’t—if any of the guards saw that…if Luna saw that…” She had to laugh a little, nestling against her pillows once more and looking up at him again.

Discord just laughed softly along with her. “Relax. I was just kidding. I mean, I am rather charming and princely of course…but I floated you along on a cloud behind me. Like I could have actually carried you here—that flowing tail of yours is so absurdly long that it would have tripped me up before I got even one a step forward. Carting you back here asleep was Luna’s idea by the way—she even tried to cover us in the kitchen before I woke up and finally just offered to bring you back here myself so that she could get on with her nightly duties.”

Celestia smiled a little more. “That does sound like Luna, yes….” Another yawn escaped her. “Thank you for bringing me here, Discord. And thanks for tonight…staying up and talking with me, and talking with Luna too. I think she and I needed that.”

“Yeah. Me too,” Discord agreed, walking around her bed to go to his own. “It feels good to have things back to normal.” He pulled back his blankets and climbed into his bed, lying down and covering himself. “And it feels good to have my friends back.”

“It feels good to have you back too, Discord,” Celestia said softly, turning and sleepily looking down at him.

Discord yawned too now. “Just try not to actually have anything bad happen to you this evening that you’ll need me for, Celestia. I could use a full night’s sleep myself. And I’m a little concerned about letting Luna take over the sun temporarily if you were out of commission. I think thine sister might accidentally scorch the land with her passionate ways instead of just providing we poor citizens with warm days.” He grinned.

Celestia laughed softly. Her eyes were peacefully closed now. “I’ll do my best to stay well, Discord. Don’t worry, I may not be as young as I used to be, but I’ve been through worse than this. I’ll manage. Though it’s nice to have you here just in case anyway.”

Discord nodded. “Good.... And, yes, I’ve always found my presence a great comfort as well.”

Celestia laughed a little more, sleep starting to overtake her.

There was silence and the sound of the fire crackling in the room.

Then a deep sigh left Discord in the semi-darkness. “Tia? ...Tia?”

“Mmm hmm?” Celestia acknowledged, coming a little back to awareness.

“I…I love you.” Discord was quiet, and then he sighed very deeply. “I mean, I think I’m at the point where I’m starting to understand just how deep the emotional experience of friendship goes. And, don’t let it get around, but I think I’m starting to remember how to…love people. I love Fluttershy…and I love Twilight now…and I love our dear Luna, so…I just wanted to tell you. I love you.”

There was a lot of quiet.

Discord, already sounding pretty uneasy, swallowed and sighed again. “It’s okay if you don’t love me yet exactly or anything. I’d understand. I—”

He heard the sound of Celestia climbing out of her bed.

Discord sat up, his eyes a little wide. He watched as the firelight revealed Celestia suddenly coming close and sitting down right next to him. She was smiling a little, her violet eyes glowing in the golden light of the flames.

Discord wasn’t sure what to say or do.

Then Celestia leaned in and gave him a small kiss on the forehead. She pulled back with a warm smile. “I love you too, Discord. And no matter what happens, I always will.” She gently touched her hoof to his paw on the blankets.

Discord blushed softly, still looking into her eyes. He reached up and lightly touched his forehead with his claw for a moment.

Then he blinked and, though his blush grew, a smug grin came to his features and he opened his mouth.

Celestia instantly lightly put a hoof over that mouth. She smiled more. “Discord, don’t make a joke about what just happened. Just…enjoy the moment. It’s okay to…okay?” She raised an eyebrow as she lowered her hoof.

Discord’s eyes went a little wide again but then he smiled slightly and shrugged. “Well…I suppose, just this once…. Very well, no jokes.”

Celestia smiled in approval.

“…Until breakfast at least.” Discord grinned more. “Yes, no jokes until then about the sun princess approaching my bed in the dead of night…about you finally not being able to resist me anymore and just giving me a kiss…about how stunning you look in firelight.” He chuckled with such playful satisfaction.

Celestia just grinned in return. “No jokes like that at all. Not unless you want Luna and the staff to find out that you blushed as much as a little filly on Hearts and Hooves day from a simple kiss on the forehead.” She raised an eyebrow, her look playful yet serious.

Discord blinked.

There was a silent stand off between the two magical beings for a moment.

Then Discord smiled in interest and nodded. “Well played, Celestia, well played. We’ll just keep this special ‘moment’ to ourselves then.” He gave her a slight bow.

Celestia bowed slightly in return. “I think that would be nice. Just a private moment between friends.” She yawned, holding a hoof over her mouth to cover it. “Oh!” Suddenly Celestia felt herself levitated from the floor and then brought over and placed upon her bed.

Discord’s grin picked up on one side. “Now get back to bed and go to sleep. Nothing will probably happen with your magic tonight, but you still need rest just the same. I’ve kept you up enough for one evening, however fun it’s been.”

Celestia looked at him with pleasant interest, then nodded and laid down, magically pulling her covers over herself. “Goodnight, Discord.”

Discord sighed, resting back in his bed again as well. “Goodnight, Celestia.” He yawned, pulling up his own covers again. “If you need help with anything tomorrow just…” another yawn, “let me know. I’ll do what I can for you before I got out spreading my chaotic assistance among anyone else.”

Celestia just nodded, her head nuzzling into her pillow as she did so. “Mmm hmm…” was all that left her softly in reply. Her eyes were closed.

Discord smiled at the faint response—it meant she really was finally drifting off into a deep and well-deserved night’s sleep. “Sweet dreams, Tia.” The last sight he saw was an image of Celestia’s flowers over the mantel above him. He closed his eyes. “See you at sunrise.” And then Discord started to nod off as well.

High across the sky just barely visible through an opening in the curtains of the room, a pony figure streaked past the moon, guarding the night as two very special slumberers each found their way into the land of good dreams together.

Midquel 1: The One with the House Party

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“Hmm…” Princess Celestia frowned and sighed deeply in her sleep, tossing and turning yet again this night. Something had been bothering her slumber, something had been disrupting her dreams…. Was it a sound that was doing it? Yes, a very loud sound, though muffled—some distance away yet capable of almost vibrating the floor beneath her bed with its intensity. Still, she tried to go on sleeping as best she could, shifting beneath her covers some more, but then finally…


Celestia’s eyes flew open as her restless movements suddenly caused her to fall out of bed and land on her bedroom floor tangled up in her blankets. She blinked several times and looked around, yawning. “What in Equestria…?” Then as wakefulness came more to her, she realized the vibrations pulsing through the floor as well as the loud yet muffled sounds causing them were indeed very real and very intense. In fact, one of her vases on her mantle was actually about to fall to the floor, her room was shaking so badly. Celestia quickly caught the vase with her magic and set it safely upon the floor. She glanced around in confusion again, then finally stood up, shook off her blankets, and went toward her bedroom door. “One of the guards must know the meaning of this. I—” As Celestia opened her door however, she was cut off (and pushed back) by the distinct sound and pulsing beat of dance music definitely coming from somewhere in the castle. The sun princess quickly shook off her surprise and then dashed over to her bedroom window. Celestia opened it wide, made her horn glow with a magic that would help connect her to her sister, and called out into the night. “Luna! Luna, please come home! I think we might have an emergency of some kind!”

Suddenly, Luna cleared her throat and entered Celestia’s room from the hallway through the still ajar bedroom door. “Oh, it’s no emergency, sister, but it is an interesting situation!” she called out over the music with a half grin.

Celestia jumped a little in surprise as she turned to Luna. She raised an eyebrow. “Luna!” she called out. “So you know what’s going on then? Where is that awful music coming from? I feel like I’ve barely slept all night.” She rubbed one of her ears with her hoof.

Luna sighed, her look growing a little dry as she approached her sister so that they could hear each other better. “There is a major inconvenience in our house—Celestia, taketh a wild guess what the source is.”

Celestia blinked…and then her look went dry too. She brought a hoof to her forehead. “It’s the middle of the night. What could Discord possibly be…”

Luna sighed, smiling a little. “Come with me, sister, and I shall show you. And here, you will need these.” Luna used her magic to create ear muffs for herself and Celestia, and then she teleported them out of Celestia’s bedroom and to the next wing of the castle…specifically just outside of the ballroom doors.

Celestia stood beside Luna, wearing earmuffs (as was her sister) and looking at the ballroom doors…which were literally almost bursting open with the sounds of pounding club music coming from the other side of them. Not to mention the strobe lights and fake fog Celestia was catching glimpses of as well.

“What is going on here?!” Celestia yelled out to her sister.

“What?!” Luna yelled back.

“What?!” Celestia yelled back in return. “Luna, for Equestria’s sake!”

“What? Cake?” Luna blinked. “Celestia, I really don’t think we have time for cake!”

Celestia gave a deep sigh. “Luna, I think we need to go away from here to talk without the music!”

“What??” Luna held a hoof to her covered ear. “Hold on, let me get the music turned down so we can talk!”

And then Luna turned toward the ballroom doors, cleared her throat, braced herself, and called out in her loudest royal Canterlot voice, “DISCORD! I HAVE RETURNED AND I HAVE BROUGHT CELESTIA! OPEN THIS DOOR AND TURN DOWN THE MUSIC SO WE MAY ALL SPEAK!”

Nothing happened for a moment. Then one of the doors opened a bit and suddenly Discord could be seen fighting his way out of the room despite the music and fog and the lights and what seemed to be a lot of people in there with him (if all of the voices shouting and cheering were any indication). He got out into the hall, shut the door behind him and looked to the sisters. “Sorry, girls, let me do a little soundproofing!” he yelled with a smile. Then he snapped his fingers, and suddenly the hallways of the castle were silent as ever and it only sounded like a low hum was coming from inside the ballroom. The doors even stopped seeming ready to burst off of their hinges. Discord grinned and snapped away the earmuffs of the two princesses. “There we go, now we can talk.” He crossed his arms over his chest and looked to Luna. “Luna, back again I see.” And he turned to Celestia. “And Celestia…” his eyes narrowed and his grin grew as he leaned back against the door, “Oh dear, I hope I didn’t wake you.”

Celestia just raised an eyebrow. “Discord, what is going on?”

Luna sighed. “Discord is throwing a party apparently, Celestia…a sort of housewarming festivity to celebrate his new accommodations with us.” She looked at her sister with a plastered-on smile, tilting her head to the side slightly. “He has been throwing this party since midnight. And I have been dealing with him throwing this party since midnight. It has been a most…challenging evening of friendship.”

“And she hasn’t been doing too bad at trying to manage me actually,” Discord added with a chuckle. “She’s been very firm but hasn’t completely lost her temper once yet. Though I’m still trying to understand what all the complaints are about.” He shrugged and smiled ‘innocently’, tapping his fingers together. “I’m just providing the castle with some free night music like any considerate friend might do as part of enjoying the ‘shelter’ you’ve been providing me here. If anything, considering your pony obsession with music and breaking into song, I think I ought to be reward and encouraged for my efforts, not yelled at and interrupted.”

Luna’s plastered on grin of impatience for her sister grew. She gestured to Discord with her hoof. “This has been the last six hours of my life, Celestia: pounding music and impish responses such as these. And now it is time for day, and I have already set the moon to lowering. So if you could commence raising the sun so that I can be off duty finally, I would most appreciate it.”

Celestia looked from her sister to Discord and back a few times and then just blinked in confusion. “But…where are the guards? Certainly they’ve heard all of this ruckus too and should be here addressing the situation and helping you, Luna.”

“Well, I can’t name names, but…” Discord started, rolling his eyes to the side with a particularly proud grin, “Most of the off duty guards might be in here enjoying the party and the on-duty ones might be suffering from a teeny weeny sleeping spell I put on them.” He shrugged, feigning innocence again. “I was just trying to be more friendly to the staff, Celestia. You have been telling me to try getting along with them better after all.”

Celestia just sighed so deeply again and put a hoof to her forehead once more. “And who else might be in there besides some of my guards, Discord?”

Discord chuckled. “Oh it’s quite a guest list—there’s some griffins in there, some of the ‘cool kids’ from the unicorn academy, a fair number of Las Pegasus citizens, every party pony I could get a hold of on short notice, a few dragons, a few inter-dimensional acquaintances of mine, some great historical figures courtesy of a little time travel on my part…I think there’s even a minotaur in there somewhere. Oh and Sapphire Shores is playing a few sets!”

The sun princess took in and let out a very deep (and necessary) calming breath. “And can I ask who gave you permission to throw this party?” Celestia smiled up at him as professionally as possible.

“Oh you’re going to love this response, sister,” Luna remarked with a grin.

Discord just chuckled. “Why, you did, Celestia dear.” He snapped his fingers and suddenly there was a little magical projection before them all of Celestia in her bed and Discord in his makeshift bed on her floor from his first night in the castle.

Discord, when you have your own room, you can have as many blankets and pillows as you want, and you can sleep as late as you want, and you can have visitors as often as you want as well. I’ll let the staff know…” the projection of Celestia said in a very sincere tone to the projection of Discord.

Discord snapped and made the whole projection disappear as he resumed eyeing Celestia again. “You said I could have guests, and you have been telling me to socialize as part of learning about friendship. See how good I am at listening, my dear friends?” He laughed.

Celestia frowned, scowled, and in her tiredness opened her mouth and was about to reprimand him, plain and simple.

However, Luna suddenly held up a hoof. “Sister,” the moon princess spoke calmly, “Please, first, put the sun to raising. Then we shall deal with this.”

Celestia sighed in a touch of frustration but nodded calmly to her sister. She raised her head high and then set her horn glowing. A few moments later, the glow left her horn and she looked to her sister again with her usual calm smile. “It’s done, Luna, the day is starting.”

“Excellent!” Luna’s eyes lit up. Then suddenly she trotted forward to the ballroom doors. “In that case, Discord…” she looked up at the party host, and then announced with a smile, “I formally request entrance to your party.”

“What?” What?!?!”

Celestia exclaimed with a dropped jaw and Discord exclaimed with a grin and an eyebrow raised, both at the same time.

Luna just shrugged, still looking up to the draconequus. “What you said to me earlier when I first came to complain to you about the noise and your actions—about how parties are built for nighttime, and so it seems like it should be in my nature to enjoy them…it made me think a bit. And a simple celebration regarding a major event in a person’s life really is harmless enough. And I suppose you really are trying to socialize in your chaotic own way. So, after considering all of these points and now that I am off duty, I would like to attend the party and find some enjoyment in it as long as it’s happening here anyway.” She smiled again.

Discord eyed her with pleasant surprise a moment longer and then opened one of the ballroom doors (the sound remained trapped inside though by a magical barrier in the doorway.) “Go right on in, Luna.”

“Luna, you cannot be serious,” Celestia, stunned beyond expression for a moment, finally found some words and took a step forward toward her sister.

Luna merely shrugged though and glanced at her over her shoulder. “Oh no, I’m quite serious sister. I have been fighting this chaos all night long. And I’m tired of doing so. A party actually sounds like fun about now. And it has been nice having some activity involving people during my night. Besides, you are the one who first condoned Discord coming to live here and you are the one who condoned him having guests. So I’m sure you can handle the consequences of the rest of his party for yourself.” And then with a laugh the night princess turned forward and trotted into the ballroom.

Discord used his tail to shut the door behind her. Then he looked to Celestia, his grin growing to its fullest extent. He crossed his arms over his chest. “So then…it looks like the responsibility for me has fallen to you once more, Celestia. How, oh how, will you handle this one? Will you condone my wild party, which will clearly only encourage me to spontaneously throw other wild parties in the future? Or will you shut down my whole little expression of friendship, effectively hurting my very sincere attempts to spread goodness and joy to others? What would a real friend do, hmm?” Discord eyed her with a chuckle.

But Celestia just took in a deep breath, smiled up at him, and kept herself poised as she made her response. “Of course I won’t discourage you from socializing, Discord. But part of friendship is also being able to compromise and showing consideration for others, especially when you live together. Wouldn’t you agree?”

Discord rolled his eyes. “Oh I suppose. What did you have in mind exactly?”

Celestia smiled a little more. “First of all, if you throw parties or events like this in the future, I want you to mention them to Luna or I first, whoever is on duty. We deserve the courtesy of knowing what’s going on in our own home after all, just like we’ll give you the courtesy of letting you know if we’re going to have other guests or be throwing functions here. And we especially deserve to know if you’re going to be having people over outside of your room. All right?”

Discord sighed but nodded. “Fine, I suppose I can slip you or Luna a memo about my plans. I can’t guarantee ‘two weeks notice’ or anything like that, but I’ll try.”

“Thank you.” Celestia nodded in return. Then she went on. “Second, if you’re going to throw parties like these, I want the rooms soundproofed all of the time. You woke me up early, Discord, and gave me a very unpleasant night’s sleep before that, and I don’t appreciate it. Luna and I allow you the courtesy of sleeping in as late as you want. Please extend us the same consideration.”

“Sure, that’s easy enough.” Discord shrugged.

Celestia cleared her throat, going on. “Good. And third, I want these parties over before sunrise each time you have them.”

“Sunrise?!” Discord blinked. “Oh come on, Celestia—over before sunrise? What are we, only a hundred years old? Let’s live a little! Besides, I’m Discord, people expect beyond a good time of epic proportions from parties I throw! We were going to try and keep this up from midnight to the next midnight or at least until sunset!”

“Sunrise…” Celestia insisted calmly.

Discord considered…then smiled. “What about breakfast?”

Celestia raised an eyebrow.

“I promise any parties will be over by breakfast,” Discord explained. “That’ll at least give me a few more hours after sunrise. What do you say?”

Celestia took a moment to consider as well. She looked up at him again, nodded, and summarized their agreement. “You must let Luna and I know about the parties in advance, you must soundproof the room you have the party in, and your parties must be over by breakfast. And by ‘over’ I mean the guests are gone and the room you’ve used has been cleaned. Okay, Discord?”

Discord grinned down at her and reached out a paw. “I believe we have an accord.”

Celestia smiled and raised her hoof to shake with him…but then she hesitated. Her look went dry. “So help me, Discord, if you’re wearing a joy buzzer…”

Discord chuckled and showed her the palm of his paw…which indeed possessed of a joy buzzer. “Oh, you’re already starting to know me so well, Celestia. Very well.” He snapped, making the buzzer disappear, then took her hoof and shook it heartily.

As they released, Celestia smiled up at him. “Good, Discord. I think this can work. And Luna might actually appreciate a little nightlife around here. But, as for tonight, you did inconvenience both of us very much, Discord.” She grinned just a little, her eyes hazing all-knowingly. “And I think an excellent way to make it up to us would be for you to mop and polish the ballroom floor after you’re done cleaning up after your guests.”

Discord sighed dramatically but nodded. “Oh fine.” He snapped, making an enchanted mop appear in the air. “It’ll take an extra ten seconds at most…”

“You didn’t let me finish, Discord,” Celestia went on. “I want you to mop and polish the ballroom floor…by hand.” She smiled. “I think it’ll be character building for you.”

Discord blinked. “Oh, no no.” He grinned and shook his head. “I don’t do ‘by hand.’ For anyone. Ever. Even you, Celestia.”

Celestia grinned just a little herself. “Well, if you don’t think you can do it…”

“Oh do not try using reverse psychology on me.” Discord rolled his eyes to the side and crossed his arms over his chest stubbornly. “And besides, of course I could do it. I’m Discord, I can do anything.”

“Mmm hmm…” Celestia rolled her eyes to the side too. “Sure, whatever you say, Discord.”

Discord pouted just a little. But then he considered…and then he grinned again. “Still though…I might be willing to make a deal regarding this ‘doing it by hand’ proposition.”

“What kind of deal?” Celestia raised an eyebrow, her smile still present.

Discord’s grin grew. “I’ll mop and polish by hand later after the party…if you’ll dance with me at the party right now.” He held out his paw.

Celestia’s eyes went wide. “Dance?” She looked down at his paw and then back up at him. “Discord, I don’t…I’m not really sure if I…”

“Unless you don’t think you can do it, that is.” The master of chaos chuckled. “Too out of sync with the times to get the vibe for this new fangled pony dancing music? Sheesh, Celestia, I like it, and I was a statue for a thousand years. Unless of course you just don’t know how to dance in general….”

“I can dance, Discord,” Celestia assured calmly. “I just…Discord are you serious?” She eyed him curiously again.

“Are you kidding?” He chuckled. “It would be a crowning chaos achievement for me not only to get you to come to one of my parties but to be seen dancing with you at one. And besides, you’re not so terribly boring to hang out with, Tia.” Discord bent down a little, moving his still extended paw closer to her, his eyes hazing in his own all-knowing way and never leaving hers. “Come on, say yes—you’ll get to see me toiling away on cleaning a floor all morning. And in return I get a rare chance to finally see you stop being so grim and loosen up.”

Celestia bit her lip…but then sighed and smiled and nodded (of course). She put her hoof in his paw. “We cannot make this a regular thing, Discord. I really am busy each day, so I can’t stay up too late, let alone to dance…though I still might stop by from time to time at these celebrations of yours if I’m up when they start. I really do love a good party.” She laughed softly.

“If you love a good party, you’ll be blown away when you get done with one of mine.” Discord, leading her along, opened the door for them and then turned to Celestia with a grin as they stood before the entrance to the ballroom. “Now, Tia, shall we dance?” He gestured forward with his claw, bowing slightly.

Celestia sighed and smiled more as she headed forward toward the soundproofing bubble. “Just one song, Discord.”

“Okay.” Discord chuckled, following after her (and still holding her hoof). “But we’re listening to dub step remixes by DJ Pon3 right now—one song is a good twenty minutes or longer. But I’m sure we’ll make it work out.”

Celestia just smiled and shook her head. “Oh, Discord…”

And with a chuckle they passed through the soundproof bubble and Discord let the door close behind them.

The next morning, Celestia found herself looking into the ballroom to behold a truly interesting sight—Discord, with a dull pout on his face and frequent sighs of frustration, was indeed cleaning the ballroom floor by hand (and wearing a scarf tied over his horns, rubber gloves on his paw and claw, sponges tied to his hoof and dragon foot, and an apron to complete the ensemble as he pushed a mop over the last corner of the floor).

The hour was starting to get a little late in the day, but considering the fact that his experience doing anything by hand let alone something as large scale as cleaning a ballroom floor was probably minimal, Celestia wasn’t surprised that it was taking Discord this long to finish his task. Still, he appeared almost done now, and she figured he deserved some praise and a little help finishing up from a good friend.

Celestia cleared her throat and took a step into the ballroom with a smile. “You’ve done an excellent job cleaning, Discord. Would you like any help finishing up?”

Discord blinked and looked to her with wide eyes. “No, no, no, don’t step on the floor, Celestia, it’s still wet and you’ll ruin it! Honestly, were you raised in a barn?” He used his magic to gently nudge her back to the door threshold (while Celestia tried not to laugh). Then Discord sighed deeply. “And what I would like,” he started haughtily, his nose in the air, “is a chance for an open debate on the nature of cleaning.” He shook his head, leaning against his mop. “You ponies always bend things to your desire for order. After all, the basic concept of ‘cleaning’ suggests taking a space from being in a less desirable state of existence to a more desirable state of existence. That might mean taking it from chaos to order for you, but it would mean taking it from order to chaos for me. If I had my way, floors would naturally end up bright and shiny all on their own as you used them each day, and you’d have to regularly push up your sleeves and try to make them dusty and scuffed and stained and as chaotic as possible, not the other way around. Besides…” he glanced at her dryly over his shoulder, “We had an agreement, and I’m just stubborn enough to want to prove to you that I can do this silly task without my magic even if it kills me…which incidentally it very well may.” He sighed dramatically, suddenly snapping his fingers and flinging himself back on a fainting couch in the air. “A being of chaos just naturally needs his magic—this whole experience would take at least a century off of my lifespan if I hadn’t secured that chaotic dance with you last night to make up for it.”

Celestia just smiled warmly from her place at the doorway. “Yes, I suppose our time together last night was a little chaotic. I never tried dancing on two legs before…or for that long with anybody.”

“Did you like it?” Discord grinned very playfully, sitting up a little now on the fainting couch, his melancholy miraculously all gone.

Celestia tried not to blush at the response and the memory. “I was…glad for the experience, Discord.” Her smile grew.

“Mmm hmm, right….” Discord’s grin grew, and he eyed her a little more. “Well, if you ever want the experience again, just come find me during the next house party. My dance card’s usually full, but you can have first priority.”

“I appreciate that, Discord.” Celestia nodded. “And I promise that if we do dance again, it won’t be to get you to clean anything or do anything orderly. It’ll just be as something fun between two friends.”

Discord chuckled and shook his head. “Oh Celestia, if you really want to be that way, I suppose it’s fine, but you shouldn’t be so hesitant to make a guy work a little for your favor. I mean, I make my new friends work ridiculously hard all the time just for my friendship, as you well know. Nothing wrong with making a charming bachelor go through a few hoops,” he snapped, making a few hoops appear in the air which his couch glided through, “for you.” The hoops disappeared with another snap of his fingers.

Celestia chuckled. “I know it’s nice having people do things for you, Discord. But friendship’s not really about that. So if you just want to dance with me without anything else being involved, that’s fine. And you don’t have to prove anything to me with this floor—the effort you’ve put into it already is more than enough to show me how much you value our friendship. So please least let me use my magic to dry it. Then I thought we could set up a table and have breakfast together in here. I haven’t eaten yet—I wanted to wait for you to finish.” She smiled.

Discord’s eyes went wide. “You want to eat on a table over my nice clean floor?! Absolutely not, Celestia, really!” He rolled his eyes, then snapped his fingers, making his cleaning gear disappear. He crossed his arms over his chest, snapping himself over to her in the doorway. “But if you feel guilty about putting me through all of this manual labor, then feel free to dry the floor magically yourself. Then perhaps we can try breakfast in the garden…especially since you waited to eat all for me.” His chuckled and eyed her again.

Celestia just sighed and rolled her eyes in amusement but nodded. “Fair enough, Discord.” She used her magic to spread her aura over the room, which instantly went around in a quick wind, leaving everything dry. “There we go.”

“And now for the garden,” Discord added, snapping his fingers.

Instantly Celestia found herself and Discord seated at small table in the garden just outside of the castle. Discord was resting his head on his hand, his elbow on the table, as he grinned over at Celestia, who just blinked a few times at their sudden transition but then smiled at him. “I think it’ll be nice to have breakfast out here for a change, Discord, don’t you?” She used her magic to create two covered platters in front of them.

“Oh yes. And, speaking of, may I ask what’s for breakfast, chef Celestia?” Discord glanced at the platter before him with amusement.

“What else—pancakes.” Celestia smiled brightly, magically lifting and setting aside both platter covers to reveal a tall stack of pancakes for each of them. “Chocolate chip, to be exact.”

“Ah yes, pancakes—the cake of breakfast. Especially when you add chocolate chips.” Discord chuckled. “How very you, Celestia. Well, then, let’s dig in, shall we? Friendship leaves me famished, and I really do have to keep on top of making sure you’re fulfilling the ‘food’ part of our little bargain along with the ‘clothing’ and ‘shelter’ parts, after all.” He snapped up a fork for his tail to hold, and proceeded to eat.

Celestia used her magic to delicately cut her pancakes with a knife and fork, starting to eat as well. “So…” she began after a few bites, “Did you have fun with your housewarming party, Discord?”

Discord nodded. “Oh yes, just oodles. But that kind of party was a lot more exhausting than I remember it being. And now that I have to be friendly and clean up after myself, it’s even more tiring.” He yawned, snapping up a small pink cotton candy cloud to rain down chocolate syrup over his pancakes. “Besides which, I’m really not as young as I used to be anymore.” He grinned and gestured to the cloud with his paw. “Syrup, Celestia?”

Celestia was about to smile and politely shake her head no, but then she paused, eyeing the little cloud dripping with chocolate. “Well…it really was a long night. Maybe just a little.”

Discord nodded and snapped. The little cloud floated over to Celestia’s pancakes and rained some chocolate syrup on them before disappearing with a small burst.

Celestia smiled, taking a bite of the now chocolate-covered pancakes. “Thank you, Discord.”

Discord grinned. “You’re quite welcome, friend Celestia.” He ate some more and shrugged. “Anyway, maybe I won’t have parties like that too frequently after all—just around the holidays or something, you know?”

Celestia nodded, dabbing at her mouth with a napkin. “If you’d like. But if you really do want to socialize more, Discord, I’m sure the girls would welcome you spending more time with them. And of course you can feel free to spend plenty of time with Luna and I when we’re not busy with our royal duties. My sister and I try to spend as much time as possible together when we can. It might be nice to spend some of that time with you as well.“

“Really? You’d let me infringe on your special sister bonding time?” Discord raised an eyebrow, intrigued.

Celestia nodded, finishing another bite of her pancakes. “Of course. Like I said, you’re our friend, Discord. We’d love to have you around…at a reasonable hour…and at a reasonable level of sound…and with a reasonable amount of chaos.” She gave him a bit of a dry look but couldn’t help smiling all the while.

Discord chuckled and nodded, finishing more of his pancakes as well. “Oh, we might be able to work out something like that.” He snapped, and instantly two tall, cold glasses of his signature chocolate milk appeared hovering in the air between himself and Celestia. “And as long as you put chocolate chips in the pancakes, and I put chocolate syrup on the pancakes…how about some chocolate milk to go along with the pancakes, hmm?”

Celestia laughed warmly. “For breakfast?”

“Oh, come on, Princess, live a little!” Discord grinned. “I know now that you know how to—don’t deny it. Otherwise you never would have made it through our dance last night…all of the twirling and dipping and how I caught you in my arms in the air at the end and you laughed.” He chuckled.

Celestia blushed lightly but couldn’t help laughing too and giving a light sigh. “Very well, Discord. Chocolate milk sounds like a lovely start to the day.” She magically took the glass as Discord wrapped his tail around his, and the two friends drank. Celestia put her glass down and sighed. “Delicious as usual, Discord, thank you.”

Discord nodded as he set his glass down as well. “All in a morning’s chaotic work.” He laughed to himself, then went back to his pancakes. “You know…” he started, playing with his food a little with his fork as he glanced to her, “for what it’s worth, you really aren’t a bad dancer, Celestia. I was almost a little impressed.”

Celestia looked down, smiling more as her magic made her utensils continue delicately cutting her food. “Thank you, Discord. It’s been so long since I tried, I was afraid I’d be rusty actually.”

The master of chaos shook his head though. “Not at all. You were the star of the party for our time together.”

Celestia sighed, trying not to laugh. “Yes, I’m sure it’s a memory the guards and quite a few other Equestrian guests of yours will never forget.” She looked up and considered, admiring the table and her companion for a moment. Her smile grew. “And for what it’s worth, Discord, I think we’re all going to work out as roommates, even if it does take some getting used to.”

Discord nodded. “I couldn’t agree, more, Tia.” He winked. “And speaking of roommates, I’m guessing our third roommate already partook of breakfast and then went straight to bed?”

Celestia nodded. “Yes. Luna wanted to wait for you too, Discord, but she was very tired. I’m afraid you wore her out quite a bit with the party, which is an impressive feat. But despite the extra work it gave her, I think she enjoyed having something so exciting going on during her nights. It really was nice for her to see ponies enjoying things and celebrating so much at that hour.”

“Hmm…” Discord’s grin picked up on one side, and he raised an eyebrow to himself, “Funny, when I planned the party and even when I was making excuses to her earlier in the night about why she should be enjoying a little nocturnal soiree instead of trying to stop it, I was much more focused on others getting to appreciate my chaos than on anything else. But very well, then…” he nodded, his grin growing, “since she’s my friend, perhaps I will throw a few more spontaneous night parties around here for her sake. Then we can both enjoy being appreciated.”

Celestia’s smile warmed considerably. “That’s very considerate of you, Discord.”

“Oh, don’t rub it in, Celestia, honestly.” The master of chaos waved her off. “And I can’t help if pleasing myself happens to please Luna too.” He rolled his eyes, glanced to the side awkwardly, but then cleared his throat and changed the subject with an attempt at a dry look. “So, any exciting plans for saving Equestria today?”

Celestia held back a soft chuckle and shook her head. “No, I’m afraid not—just a lot of meetings and busywork.” She sipped her chocolate milk.

“Ugh,” Discord cringed, finishing another bite of pancake. “We really need to shake up your schedule a bit, Celestia.”

Celestia smiled a little more. “Believe me, Discord, just having you here in the castle is doing that without you even trying.”

Discord beamed a little at this news.

Celestia did her best not to laugh at the sweet reaction. She magically made a napkin dab at her mouth and then smiled at him again. “So, tell me all about your party guests from last night—are you considering any of them as potential new friends?”

Discord chuckled and shook his head. “One step at a time, Celestia, one step at a time. For now, you’ve got me playing nice with your little pony element bearers and tolerating the pony sisters for the mutual amusement of us all—let’s just be happy with that and see where it goes, hmm?”

Celestia nodded. “Fair enough, Discord.” She swallowed some more pancake. “So, any chaotic plans for today?”

Discord chuckled, now using his fork to eat some of the plate his pancakes were on. “Well, I was planning to decorate my room actually. It’s quite a bit of a smaller space than what I always pictured I’d use for the location of the chaos capital of the world, but I’m excited to work with it.”

Celestia’s smile brightened. “Can I ask what some of your plans are? I’m sure it’ll be the most interesting room in the castle once you’re done with it.”

Discord’s smile brightened and he nodded. “Well for starters, I’m thinking neon green and grape purple checkerboard patterns all over the walls…when there are walls in there, of course, as opposed to swirling vortexes of glowing ultraviolet chaos magic all around…”

Celestia laughed and then listened intently as Discord described his chaotic plans and the two continued their late breakfast together after a surprisingly enjoyable late night of partying and dancing in each other’s company.

Midquel 2: The One with the Royal Bathroom

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It was early evening in the Canterlot castle, a usually peaceful time…except that this particular evening had featured Princess Luna banging with her hoof on the door of the large bathroom she shared with her sister for the last twenty minutes, a pout and a scowl clearly present upon her face. “Celestia! By the stars, you’ve been locked in there for over an hour! I want to wash up so that I can get started on my nightly duties. I pray thee, come out already!”

Suddenly, the sound of a yawn met Luna’s ears from behind her. “Luna? What in Equestria? Has that been you making that knocking sound for so long? I fell asleep in my study and wanted to wash up before heading to bed.”

Luna turned in a great deal of surprise to see her (somewhat sleepy-eyed) sister behind her. “But…Celestia?” She blinked in perplexity. “I thought…and you…that…I’ve thought that you were in the bathroom for the last hour.”

Celestia raised an eyebrow at this information, growing more alert. “No, not at all, Luna. I’ve been in my study ever since dinner ended.” She approached her sister and the bathroom door.

Luna gestured to the door with her hoof. “But the water’s running in our bathroom and there’s steam coming out from underneath the door, and I swear can hear someone in there though no one has answered my calls.”

Celestia blinked then smiled. “But Luna, if no one’s answered you then maybe it’s just a problem with the pipes or something.” She turned to the door again and knocked with her hoof. “Hello? Is anyone in there? This is the private bathroom of the princesses.”

“Oh great, now you’re out there too? Celestia, I’ll just be five more minutes, I swear.” These words (of course said in Discord’s voice) followed by a low chuckle suddenly sounded from behind the locked bathroom door.

Celestia smiled. “Oh, very well,” she replied. The she yawned and turned to Luna. “Discord will only be five more minutes in our bathroom, Lu—” Suddenly, her eyes shot open wide and Celestia finally fully woke up. “Discord!” She looked back to the door. “What are you doing in there?”

“Training parasprites and baking a soufflé,” he replied. “What do you think I’m doing in here, Celestia? Sheesh, you’re not the only one who prides themselves on looking stunningly gorgeous all the time.” He chuckled again.

“Discord!” Luna yelled at the door, scowling. “Such behavior is unacceptable! Thou hast a perfectly good bathroom right next to thine own bedroom. We will not allow this invasion of our privacy.”

Discord sighed. “Luna, we’ve really got to start looking into some speech lessons for you. Lesson one: you are the only person left in Equestria who uses the word ‘thou’—consider dropping it.” Discord laughed more and now he could be heard gargling.

“Discord,” Celestia’s tone became a bit firmer. “I’m sure you’re enjoying yourself, but I have to insist that you open this door. Luna and I have work to do, and we need full access to this bathroom so that we can transition between our daily and nightly tasks smoothly. It’s a private space for us, and as our friend you should have asked before using it. Now please, be our friend and return it to us.”

There was silence for a moment (except for the continued sound of running water), and then Discord sighed deeply. “Pulling the friendship card… You know, one day that tune is going to get old, Celestia. But fine, fine…I’m almost done anyway.” There was quiet for another moment, and then finally the lock unbolted and the door opened. There stood Discord, leaning against the doorframe with a towel over his shoulders and wearing a pale green facemask and spritzing himself with the contents of a dark blue perfume bottle. “Come on in, ladies—this bathroom of yours is practically Olympic-sized. There’s plenty of room for everyone.”

Luna just looked at him with wide eyes, and her jaw suddenly dropped. “Discord…tell me that is not my Midnight Zest Eau de Cologne you are spraying upon yourself without a care in the world. My favorite scent, and only bottle I have left since they stopped producing it during my banishment…”

Celestia held up a hoof to stop Luna just as her sister scowled darkly and took a step to approach Discord. The sun princess let out a deep breath and did her best to smile at Discord and speak calmly. “Thank you for coming out, Discord. But in the future, as I said, we would appreciate if you would come to us before you make use of our personal spaces or our personal items for that matter, like Luna’s perfume or…” She blinked a couple of times and it was her turn to have her eyes go wide now. “Discord, is that my daylily face mask you’re wearing…?”

“Hmm…” Luna couldn’t help but smirk a little, giving her sister a sideways glance. “Oh dear, isn’t that the mask that Starswirl specially prepared for you for your first birthday as a princess, sister? And aren’t you almost out of it and only now use it for the most special of occasions?”

Celestia pouted for just a moment and gave Luna a slight nudge but then cleared her throat and managed to remain at ease (while Discord just continued grinning away casually as could be at the two princesses). “Yes, well…as I said, Discord, please do not make use of our personal items without consulting us first from now on. All right?”

Discord chuckled and nodded as he stepped aside and gestured forward. “Oh, of course, of course, you’ve got it, ladies. Sorry, I’m still working on the finer points of ‘sharing’ as part of friendship. Now, I know it’s getting late for both of you, so please come on in.” He lingered in the doorway as the sisters went past him. “I was just finishing polishing my horns and giving myself a final rinsing off, and then I’m sure I’ll be out of your ethereal hair. Ugh, and I must say, I know me being in here bothered you, but it was sort of worth it—this is the most luxurious bathroom in the kingdom, I swear.” And indeed, it was a rather stately room with marble floors, a large silver and gold accented bath at the center, silk curtains in pinks and teals, two crystal sinks, and a large mirror in a gilded frame along the wall above the sinks.

Celestia just sighed, her poise returning more and more. “Yes, we enjoy it very much, Discord. And it helps having a space like this to go to after our busy days and nights.”

“Yes, that is why we keep it as our private bathroom,” Luna made sure to emphasize as she and her sister took their usual respective places in front of their separate side-by-side sinks in front of the large mirror.

Discord just chuckled as he shut the door behind all three of them and floated up into the air. “Oh stop acting so miffed, you two. This is hardly the worst thing I’ve put you through since I got here. Besides, I really did just want to take part in true sharing in action as part of my reform and friendship studies, especially since neither of you (particularly uptight Celestia) will let me practice it by having me as your roommate. I’ve never had to share before, you know.” He shrugged, smiling smugly.

“And you’re still not sharing now,” replied Luna, making a fresh towel appear over her shoulder as she sat down on the floor. “Sharing implies you relinquishing some control to others over something that is personally yours. Celestia and I have shared just now by having you in our bathroom and continuing to tolerate your presence here for the moment. You, on the other hand, have just simply…barged in.”

“Luna, at least he’s trying,” Celestia had to encourage with a small smile, making a towel appear for herself over her shoulder and likewise sitting down. She glanced over her shoulder at their still aerially suspended draconequus friend. “Discord, we appreciate you putting some thought and some friendly intentions into the matter, but maybe next time we’ll discuss the best way to go about sharing before you actually try it, all right?”

Discord sighed dramatically and rested his head on his paw. “Oh, all of these intricacies of friendly relations—however shall I keep them all in mind?” He chuckled to himself in amusement.

Luna sighed deeply in response, and Celestia just smiled a little and rolled her eyes, then looked to her mirror. She magically removed her crown as Luna did hers, both sisters setting them aside.

“Discord,” Celestia sighed, magically setting the water in the large tub behind to run, which quickly started filling the room with thick steam, “Luna and I are going to take a hot bath now, I think, to unwind. We’ll see you at breakfast in the morning, and then I’m sure we can talk more about the ‘intricacies of friendship’ you seem to be having trouble with.” There was no response to her words however (except for the sound of a snap), which made Celestia blink and look behind her and then over to the bathroom door. “Discord?” She peered through the rising steam as best she could—however, Discord no longer appeared to be in the room.

“Good, he has left us alone,” Luna announced with a deep sigh, holding her head up high as she looked to the mirror and brushed aside some of her hair with her hoof. “Honestly, I’m getting used to his shenanigans, but not at this hour when I have a full night’s work ahead of me.” She stood up and removed her yoke and shoes and wrapped up her mane in her towel. Then she turned and approached the tub, climbed over the edge, and lowered herself into it with a relieved sigh.

Celestia smiled, glancing over her shoulder toward the tub and her sister (though she could barely exactly make out either, the steam was growing so thick). “He’s just pushing his boundaries, Luna.” She removed her yoke and shoes too, likewise wrapped her mane in her towel, and walked over to the large tub as well. Celestia then entered the water and set herself resting against the edge of the tub a few feet away from Luna. “Try thinking about him like he’s a colt we’re foalsitting. There may be a lot to put up with, but I think we’ll be rewarded with a good friend in the end for our efforts.”

Luna inhaled and exhaled the relaxing steam deeply. “Perhaps you’re right.” She smiled. “And at least we staked our claim to this space well. That’s a small victory.” She sunk just a little more into the tub. “Will you pass the bath salts, sister?”

Celestia nodded and used her magic to pass the vial of pink salts to Luna. Then she too settled in to just enjoy the soothing steam as well. “Sister, do we have anymore of those lovely herbal oils the traders from Saddle Arabia gave us?”

Luna nodded. “Of course, Celestia. Here you go.” Luna floated the oils over to Celestia.

Celestia let her magic guide them to the rim on her side of the tub and smiled more. “Oh Luna I know we’re both busy, but we should really do this more often. It’s really so peaceful in here.” She closed her eyes.

“Indeed,” Luna sighed, closing her eyes now as well. “I am getting far too old to keep myself under the stress of our duties without taking time for relaxation and pampering.”

Celestia almost scoffed, her chuckle was so great. “You think you’re getting old? Sometimes these days when I raise the sun I get such a crick in my neck and wings.” She stretched her neck to the side. “Honestly, that’s why I take the chariot whenever I go travelling these days—flying long distances is just too much.”

Luna nodded. “Flying is still fine for me, but when I head out over the Everfree forest, wrangling manticores and timberwolves to keep them away from the pony populated areas is not as easy as I remember it being in the past.”

Celestia smiled a little, inhaling the steam deeply, her eyes still closed. “Maybe we should retire? Sell the castle and buy a nice bungalow in Acapulcolt—what do you say?”

A scoff and a chuckle left Luna at the same time. “With Discord as an arguable heir apparent considering his residence in our castle and his magical ability? I think not.” She grinned a little, her eyes still closed as well. “And who says we’d go to Acapulcolt anyway? That’s far too warm and sunny, sister. I was thinking of a place with a little nightlife. Perhaps Manehatten? Or Paris, Prance?”

Celestia laughed softly. “For now, I’ll settle for the peace and quiet of this bathroom.”

“Indeed,” Luna agreed with a nod.

“Luna, will you pass the bath salts back?”

“If you will pass the bath oils back.”

Celestia reached to the side with her hoof and poured some of the oil into the tub as Luna reached out with her own hoof to take out some salts for herself. And then both sisters (eyes still peacefully closed) went to pass each item to each other.

Something at the backs of both of their minds found it odd that as they handed off each item, they did not touch each other’s hooves. Yet, they were both so relaxed at the moment that they chose to barely notice the slight strangeness.

“Say, could I take some of those salts and oils from you ladies when you get a chance? I’m sure you’d be more than happy to share with me since I’ve asked so nicely this time. And besides, I haven’t been able to do a thing with my coat ever since spending that millennium in a stone body suit.”

Discord speaking in their bathroom and right near them, though, followed by one of his signature chuckles…yeah, that got their attention pretty quickly.

Celestia and Luna’s eyes popped open wide, and then the sisters made their horns glow, effectively dissipating some of the steam. And lo and behold, there sat Discord in the tub between them, leaning back against its edge with a shower cap on and a bath brush in one hand and a rubber ducky in the other. He grinned. “And by the way, ladies, you really did have the right idea—a good soak is just what I needed too.” He chuckled lightly, looking to Luna, his eyes narrowing playfully and his grin picking up considerably on one side. “Now, thou hast thyself in a precarious position, fair Luna. Thou clearly must want to chastise me in thine firmest Royal Canterlot Voice, but what wouldst that do to the structural integrity of thine precious bathroom? Thine voice truly is a weapon, after all.” He laughed (while Luna just looked back at him first with eyes full of shock and then a gaze full of rage that she couldn’t even begin to articulate yet). Discord yawned and stretched, turning away from her and using his brush to scratch his back a little. “Yes sir, nothing like three close pals bonding over a good steam. A bath with the pony sisters—definitely not something either one of you (or even I) ever saw coming, I’m sure.” He grinned and turned to the sun princess. “And as long as we’re sharing, want to play with my rubber ducky, Celestia? It was a present from Fluttershy, you know.” Discord held up the duck and gave it a squeeze.

But then Discord blinked and his smile fell away.

In all the years he had known her, in all of the battles he had faced her in…Discord had never seen Celestia look back at him so seriously or so grimly (which was an accomplishment considering how unintimidating a pony could look with her mane wrapped up in a towel). He actually felt a little overwhelmed.

Celestia spoke, her voice calm but low. And despite the ‘please’ her words ended with, she was clearly giving an order to him in the ‘friendliest’ possible terms. “Get out. Now, please.”

Discord raised an eyebrow and hesitated. “But I just thought—”

“Out. Now. Please.”

Discord blinked and gulped but then managed to fake a grin again. “Okay, okay, sheesh…I-I’m going.” Discord went to snap his fingers, actually fumbled for a moment, but then finally managed to snap them and disappeared in a burst of bubbles.

As soon as he was out of sight, Celestia let out a deep sigh, smiled peacefully again, and settled back deep into the water again.

“Wow…” This remark of exclamation from Luna caused Celestia to raise an eyebrow at her sister. Luna looked back at her in pleasant surprise. “Sister, that was incredibly effective. And you did not even use your Royal Canterlot Voice. I cannot believe he actually listened to you—I’ve never seen him respond so quickly to an order.”

Celestia just laughed softly and shrugged. “Oh Luna, it wasn’t an order. It was just a very, very firm friendly suggestion. And besides, I’m willing to grant him some leeway in his actions while he gets used to his reform, but not about this. As I said, I love the privacy of this space for us. And either way,” she blushed lightly, “he really shouldn’t be here bathing with us. His joke went a little too far, Luna. I just drew a line in the sand. But it’s only because he values our friendship so much that he’s willing to respect that line, and that’s progress.”

Luna nodded to herself. “I suppose you’re right. And I’m glad you took care of the situation, sister. I really was about to use my Royal Canterlot Voice on him no matter what it might have done to our bathroom. Though I know such yelling would not have been nearly as effective as your approach. He always does love to get a rise out of me, after all.” She grinned. “But at least considering his response to how you handled things, I doubt we’ll hear a peep out of him until breakfast tomorrow.”

Celestia nodded. “Let’s hope so. And let’s hope this incident shows Discord that friendship is just as much about healthy boundaries as it is about compromises.”

Suddenly there was a knocking at the bathroom door. And then Discord’s muffled (and dramatically miffed) voice followed. “Just so you two know, kicking me out when all I was trying to do was find a little relaxation with my two princess pals was very unfriendly. I’m quite disappointed in the both of you.”

Celestia just sighed and rolled her eyes. Then Luna’s eyes brightened and she leaned over and whispered to her sister. Celestia giggled, then she cleared her throat and addressed the door. “Oh Discord, this has nothing to do with friendliness. It’s just a matter of simple social policy.”

“Oh yeah—how do you figure, princess?” Discord retorted.

Celestia tried not to laugh. “This is a mares only bathroom. Simple as that.”

Then Luna used her horn to make some magic.

Outside of the bathroom, Discord (still with his bathroom paraphernalia) blinked as suddenly a sign written up in blue ink on a scroll reading, ‘Mares only! No stallions or boys of any kind! Thou hast been warned!’ (along with a little cartoon picture of Luna sticking out her tongue) appeared hanging on the door.

Discord pouted at the sign and then held his head up high. “Gender discrimination, that’s what it is! Hmph!” he announced, crossing his arms over his chest and turning away. “No respect in this gynocracy for the hard working male friend, none at all! I swear, I have half a mind to lead a patriarchal revolution of some kind!”

He heard laughter from within the bathroom. Then Celestia sighed distinctly.

Suddenly there was another burst of magic, and this time a scroll appeared in Discord’s hands. He looked down at it. ‘A peace offering from Celestia and Luna,’ it read on the outside. Discord unfurled up the scroll and read it out loud. “It is decreed by the princess pony sisters that the bathroom in the hallway near Discord’s room shall be for his private use only and deemed a ‘males only’ bathroom. This gift is a symbol of our friendship and our desire to have him share equally in the benefits of our home.”

Discord grinned. He actually found himself turning around and possibly about to heartily thank the pony sisters…but then he cleared his throat and resumed his casual demeanor as he addressed them through the door again. “Yes, well…I suppose a bathroom exclusively for my own use is an acceptable arrangement. But don’t think this is the last time I’m going to knock on yours requesting some of that night princess Eau de Cologne or Celestia’s face mask—you two aren’t the only ones who like to feel pretty. By the way, can I request the installation of a sauna and a jacuzzi in my new bathroom?” He grinned.

“Do not push it, Discord,” Luna offered dryly, which was quickly followed by more laughter between the two sisters.

Discord just rolled his eyes. “Fine, fine, I’ll make do with whatever’s up there for now. Come along, rubber ducky, we have a bathroom to explore and make chaotic.” And with that he snapped himself (and his rubber duck) away upstairs while the sisters laughed and continued to enjoy their relaxing time together.

And thus Discord’s place in the castle became just a little more permanent.

Midquel 3: The One After 'Magical Mystery Cure'

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In a quiet hallway in Canterlot castle on this late evening there suddenly occurred a bright flash of light and a puff of smoke, signaling the flashy magical entrance of none other than Discord. “Attention, everypony! Discord is back in the castle, and he is better than ever!” announced the master of chaos with a grin (holding some suitcases in his hands and wearing a straw hat, big sunglasses, and a red and blue Hawaiian shirt). “I know, I know, everyone must have missed me terribly during my little diplomatic assignment in Acapulcolt for the last week, but I assure you I’ll be spreading enough chaos around here to make up for it and then some.”

Discord chuckled and finally put down his bags and removed his sunglasses to glance around the empty hallway. “You who? Tia? Where are you? I came back specifically after sunset to catch you when you might be free so that we could discuss if you have any other cushy ambassadorial assignments in tropical vacation spots that you might need me to take on. Incidentally, the prime minister of Mexicolt was very impressed with my presence—I used my magic to introduce upside down limbo-ing to the country. It’s all the rage now.” Discord chuckled again, then took a few steps down the hall, still calling out for his sun princess friend. “Oh Celestia, your favorite roommate is—”

Suddenly a very distinct wiggle went through Discord.

He paused, his eyes wide. “What in the…. That feels like residual chaos magic. I’d say…three, four days old at most. And I’ve been away for eight days, so that means…”

“Discord, you’re home. Good,” Celestia’s voice suddenly announced from behind him.

Discord turned at the sound to see the princess approaching him from up the hall with her normal poised smile upon her face. She continued speaking. “I’m glad it seems like you’ve enjoyed your trip. And now that you’re back, we, um…we have some things to talk about.” Celestia looked down a little sheepishly.

Discord approached her, an eyebrow raised. “I’ll say we do. Celestia, do you realize that—” But as Discord got close to her, another distinct wiggle went through him. He paused after it was over, and now his eyes were wide as could be. Then those same eyes focused back on the sun princess again and narrowed very suspiciously. Discord instantly snapped away all of his effects and crossed his arms over his chest. “I should have known you sending me off to the tropics for a week wasn’t right. I thought you were just trying to get some time in the castle to yourself, but that wasn’t it at all, was it?” He leaned down closer, looking her over, frowning more. “What in the world have you been up to while I was gone, Celestia? And who in the world was making chaos, or at least enough crazy magic that chaos couldn’t help but be an outcome? And how exactly are you so connected to it? Don’t deny it, I can sense it.”

Celestia raised an eyebrow. “You can sense it?”

“Do not change the subject,” Discord replied dramatically, holding a finger high in the air. And then he resumed speaking in the firmest tone Celestia had heard him use since before his reform. “I want to know who’s been playing with chaos while I’ve been gone, and I want to know right now. Everything.”

Celestia sighed deeply. “Discord…come into my study for some tea, please. There have been some changes we have to discuss.” She headed down the hall toward her study.

Discord floated along after her, still looking perplexed. “What kind of changes?”

The pair paused as Celestia magically opened her study door and glanced at Discord over her shoulder, smiling a little. “Changes to one of our friends. I’ll explain, Discord. I promise it’s nothing bad. I just felt you’d take it better if it didn’t occur while you were around. It’s been a busy week, Discord.” And then she headed inside.

Discord just sighed and followed her into the room. “All I know is, whatever’s going on had better live up to the hype you’re giving it…and I’d better get another cushy assignment somewhere balmy and warm again soon.”

Celestia only nodded. “Just take a seat, Discord, and we’ll discuss everything.” And then she closed the study door behind them.

Fifteen minutes later…

“You decided WHAT??? Her magic did WHAT??? She became a WHAT???”

“Discord please, calm down,” Celestia smiled as the two sat across from each other at the table in her study with cups of tea before them.

The sun princess had (of course) just explained to the master of chaos the details of Twilight’s ascension to the throne. And the master of chaos was still in the middle of expressing a very great deal of surprise regarding the situation.

Indeed, Discord just sat there before a poised Celestia with wide eyes and a dropped jaw. “But…But…But…But that’s not FAIR!” he whined loudly with a pout.

Celestia sighed deeply, still smiling. “Discord, please, I—”

Suddenly there was a tap at the window, which then opened, allowing Luna to pop her head in from the darkening night with a smile. “I hear many exclamations coming from this room, Celestia. I take it you told Discord of Twilight’s promotion to a princess and her change to an alicorn.” She glanced at Discord, grinning more. “By the way, Discord, excellent near-use of the Royal Canterlot Voice in your reaction. We are impressed.”

Celestia smiled a little and nodded to her sister. “Yes, Luna, I told Discord about Twilight, and now I’m going to answer any questions or concerns he has.” She glanced to Discord again. “His first concern seems to be a general remark that it’s unfair that Twilight gets to be a princess.”

Discord rolled his eyes and scoffed at both sisters. “Oh I don’t care who’s princess! I care about the fact that I’m already outnumbered two to one against both of you! Cadance is in the Crystal Empire with her hubby so I don’t really consider her much of a challenge, but now to have Twilight here as yet another princess I have to be on the lookout for and be on my best behavior for—well, this is just poor sportsmanship!” He nodded his head firmly, crossing his arms over his chest. “And I also meant that it was unfair of you to keep me out of so much chaos reigning around here! Twilight switched people’s destinies, you gave her a biological makeover, Tia, and somewhere in there you popped yourself into a dimensional pocket outside of reality for a slideshow about the past and a musical number.” He pouted and scowled a little again. “I don’t like being pushed out of my element—it’s like you sending Pinkie Pie out of town and throwing a party, or collecting for a charity and keeping Rarity from donating.” For a moment Discord was silent, and then he half grinned a little and looked into Celestia’s eyes, tapping his fingers together. “What? Did you think I might…take advantage of the momentary confusion and instability, and maybe go back on our little bargain of reform? Tia, Luna, I’m wounded that your trust in the sincerity of my newfound goodness is so flimsy after all of our time and experiences together. Why, it’s enough to…give a former ne’er-do-well a legitimate reason for getting back up to his old tricks.” Discord chuckled, his grin growing all the more.

Celestia just sighed, giving him a bit of a dry look (but holding back just a little bit of a smile). “Are you done with the cryptic double talk, Discord? Can I go on now?”

Discord blinked and then broke into full laughter. “Ooo, you’re finally picking up on my sense of humor regarding my ‘reform.’” He made air quotes and rolled his eyes. “Very well, continue, Celestia. So Twilight has wings now and alicorn powers.” He shrugged. “Eh, honestly I’ve done worse chaos without even trying. I think I can get used to this.”

“Can you also get used to calling her Princess now?” Luna asked with a cheeky grin.

“Oh please,” Discord waved her off. “I only even call you and Celestia ‘princess’ just to be ironic sometimes. The only way Twilight’s hearing that title from me is to mock her.”

Luna sighed dryly. “Yes, that sounds about right.” She rolled her eyes. “Well, anyway, I must be off to tend to my nightly duties.” She looked to the chaos master. “Discord, have a good night and stop acting so traumatized.” Then she glanced to her sister. “And Celestia, whatever you do please don’t promise him the ambassadorial trip to the Isles of Greece coming up next month. I have dibs on that one.” She winked and then flew off with a laugh.

Discord grinned and then turned his attention back to Celestia. “So anyway, as I was saying,” he cleared his throat and announced with a touch more drama than was necessary, “I am willing to accept alicorn Princess Twilight as a thing,” His look went dry. “Unless she’s moving into this castle too. Then I’m just dropping the reform entirely and declaring chaos war right now.”

Celestia had to laugh. She shook her head. “Don’t worry, Discord, Twilight isn’t moving in, I promise. Though she will be stopping by for a night in a couple of weeks to assist Luna and I with the Summer Sun Celebration.”

“And she’s also not going off to some new Empire made of quartz or polished glass or whatever like her pink sister-in-law did?” Discord also added dryly.

Celestia shook her head again. “No. Why? …Would you miss Twilight if she did, Discord?” She tilted her head to the side, her smile picking up on one side.

Discord blinked and then scoffed. “Yeah, like an apple tree misses a vampire fruit bat sucking all of the fun out of its soul.” Celestia raised an eyebrow, and Discord just shrugged at her. “What? Applejack makes you pick up countryisms if you spend too much time around her.”

The sun princess couldn’t help laughing again. “Yes, well, I promise, everything is going to be fairly the same around here, even if some things are going to be just a little different, Discord. We’ll all get used to it.”

“Fair enough,” Discord mumbled. Then he smiled to himself, taking up his teacup in his tail again. “Actually, I can probably have a lot of fun with this: teasing Twilight about her changing role, making gags about her wings, really rubbing into your modest little element of magic’s face her new royal status.” He chuckled. “I’ll have to make a visit to Ponyville soon—a nice long on to see all of my friends.”

“Discord, don’t be too hard on Twilight.” Celestia magically sipped her tea. “She’s self-conscious enough as it is.”

Discord just grinned and waved her off. “Oh come on, she’d be more freaked out if I didn’t tease her mercilessly. Besides, I’m not the one who started this whole situation. What I might do won’t effect her nearly as much as what you did.” He looked down into his tea, trying to grin, but his eyes were a little far away. “You know, when you suddenly change a person’s entire physical existence, it does take a little getting used to, Celestia.”

It took Celestia a second, but then her eyes went a little wide in realization. She lowered her teacup and frowned. “Discord…I…”

Discord sighed and glanced up at her again. “Tia, let’s not turn this into a big emotional, ‘analyze Discord’s transformation as it reflects on Twilight’s transformation’ thing. It’ll bore me. And believe me, you and I are not ready for that conversation anyway.” His look got a little dark for a moment, but then it lightened once more as he sipped more tea. His tone was quite professional and aloof-sounding as he went on. “Just make sure you’re there for her and that you grant her whatever liberties she needs to get used to things. Don’t leave her to fend for herself and then ‘magically’ expect her to respond well when you suddenly come around wanting to chat and be close again. That way of going about things rarely works.”

A touch of pain came into Celestia’s eyes and she nodded. “I understand, Discord. And I’ll keep your advice in mind.”

Discord took another sip of deep and let out a deep breath. “Good, thank you, Celestia.”

There was quiet between them for a few moments. Then eventually Celestia tried to smile again. “Did you have fun in Mexicolt, Discord? And did you maintain relations well enough that we’re not going to war or anything?”

Discord smiled more and looked up at her again. “Hey, you gave me a job to do, and I did it well. Oh sure, I had a lot of fun when I was there—I mean, so much fun that it might actually overwhelm you and your grimness streak if I told you about it all, Celestia. But I also got those papers signed you gave me, met dignitaries and shook hands, talked up our beautiful land run under the guidance of pony goddesses. I especially emphasized to the Mexicolt Prime Minister and his delegates how fascinating you and Luna are visually.” Discord grinned fully. “I mean, I raved on and on about how images and descriptions could not do justice to your divine and desirable beauty, and how even just looking at you for too long could drive stallions mad with affection…especially in your case.” He winked at her. “I was also very certain to add that if someone brings it up to you and you act modest, you’re just playing hard to get. You really, really, really should be expecting a return visit soon.” Discord broke into a bout of amused laughter.

Celestia smiled more and just sighed and shook her head, trying not to laugh too. “Thank you for trying to handle things so well, Discord.”

“You are quite welcome,” the chaos master replied with a nod and other sip of his tea. “But please don’t send me off on little errands like that again just to distract me, hmm?” He gave her a bit of a look. “I’m a great big grown draconequus, I can handle being in the thick of some changes. And I would have enjoyed watching the chaos unfold much more than I would have wanted to spoil the fun by taking advantage of anything. You should know that, Celestia.” Something in his irrepressible grin warmed, and his eyes met hers again.

“Of course, Discord.” Celestia nodded, unable to help smiling more as she looked back into those eyes. “I know you’re our friend now and wouldn’t take advantage. Like I said, it was just a long week and a big change. I did what I thought was best at the moment.”

Discord nodded. “Fair enough.” He reclined back in his chair a little, taking his teacup in hand. “So did you just give Twilight wings or did you go the full alicorn package—twice as tall and flowing hair and a horn that could spear a manticore?”

Celestia smiled more. “She just has wings for now. Other slight changes will follow.”

“Good.” Discord sipped more of his tea. “I think Luna and especially you are the only ones who can really pull off the full-blooded alicorn look anyway.”

Celestia grinned a little. “Yes, I make having a mane and tail like mine look much easier than it actually is.”

“Laughing at yourself?” Discord chuckled. “Oh, I really am having a good effect on you, Celestia. And nice one, by the way.” His gaze grew a little warmer, and his grin picked up on one side. “Your hair is one of my favorite features of yours, you know. It has a certain chaotic appeal—quite mesmerizing actually.” His eyes narrowed playfully. “It’s the part of you that I played up the most to the prime minister and his delegates, by the way. Oh, you’re going to break so many hearts when they come here and all you want to do is extend your ‘friendship’ to them.” He chuckled more.

Celestia sighed deeply, trying not to blush (and trying not to glance too much at her hair). “Thank you for the compliments, Discord. And for making sure that Mexicolt’s next visit to Equestria will be an…interesting one for me handle.” She shook her head, smiling more.

“You’re quiet welcome,” Discord nodded. “In fact, speaking of chaos and you, your whole participation in this chaotic mess with Twilight and successfully tricking me into staying out of it is impressive. Part of me always hates being bested, but another larger part of me really loves finding someone who can challenge me from time to time…and especially in a situation involving chaos too.” His smile grew and he raised an eyebrow. “I’m going to have to keep an even closer eye on you, I think.”

Celestia shrugged and sipped her tea with all of her usual poise. “If you’d like, Discord. But I promise you, there’s nothing terribly special about me.”

“You keep me amused and from making this castle explode with chaos all at the same time, and you do it all while looking stunning—believe me, only a very special pony could accomplish that.” Discord sipped more of his tea.

“Thank you, Discord.” Celestia nodded. “I try.”

Discord nodded in return. Then… “So…” the master of chaos grinned, putting down his cup and leaning in just a little closer to her, “Did you miss me?”

Celestia looked up at him and blinked. “I…yes, a little actually.” She smiled sheepishly. “Luna and I have such opposite schedules—we get to spend time together occasionally but never enough. But with you around, I’ve had a friend to talk to around here during the days, and a friend to always have a midnight snack of cake with if I want. And Luna’s had a friend who could stay up late with her until all hours and who’s a bit more of a night person than I am. I hope you’ll stay around for a while now that you’re back from your trip, Discord.”

Discord’s whole look perked up considerably at this information. “You really did miss me then?”

Celestia nodded. “Yes, Discord.” And then she couldn’t help herself… “And did you miss Luna and I?” Her smile picked up on one side and she raised an eyebrow in interest.

Discord blinked. “I…well…” he quickly looked down into his tea, “I missed Fluttershy…and…maybe you and Luna too a little.” He rolled his eyes. “Don’t take it personally, it’s just that you all provide great conversation and laugh at my jokes and kind of give me someone to ‘perform’ for. And I haven’t had that in a really long time, being stone and everything.” He did his best to resume a casual, aloof smile.

Celestia’s smile softened. “I see.” She considered for a moment, and then put aside her teacup. “Discord, would you want to go have some cake together now? As I said, it’s been a stressful week…and so I may have instructed the kitchen staff to bake as many of them as the icebox would hold. There’s probably at least a dozen cakes in there ready to go.” She rolled her eyes at herself.

Discord chuckled warmly and nodded to her. “Well, I do love our cake dates.”

The sun princess just blushed a little and shook her head with a sigh.

Discord laughed again. “Come on, then, let’s get to it, my dear Tia.” He snapped, making their tea things disappear, and then stood up. “And while we’re eating, you can give me a play by play of the cutie mark switching shenanigans that I missed.” He laughed to himself as he strolled to the door. “Rainbow Dash trying to do Fluttershy’s job…Priceless! I really should have thought of that whole concept myself.”

Celestia smiled as she stood up and followed after him. “I’d be happy to share the details of what happened with the girls, Discord. I have to admit, however dangerous the whole problem was and necessary to correct…it did still have a sort of chaotic humor to it.”

“Ah, I always knew you were secretly a woman of excellent taste.” Discord turned to her as he opened the study door and then stepped aside. “And speaking of which, ladies first.” He gave her a smile and a bow.

Celestia blinked, smiling more. “Oh. Well, thank you, Discord.” She bowed her head in return and the trotted out into the hall, Discord following behind her.

Chuckling, Discord closed the study door (and snapped his tail) and then joined Celestia in walking down the hall toward the kitchens (one of his arms inconspicuously hidden behind his back).

“I really think we can expect great things from Twilight, Discord.” Celestia remarked, holding her head a little higher. “There will be some changes, but I think they’ll be for the better.”

Discord nodded. “Ah, yes, but still, some things will never change of course, good buddy, for Twilight or anypony else.” Discord put his hidden arm around Celestia’s neck for a moment, gave her a playful hug, and then let her go. Stuck on Celestia’s back now was a sign reading, ‘I love my cake dates with Discord!’

Celestia laughed softly (totally unaware of the sign). “Yes, I suppose that’s very true, Discord.”

Discord chuckled again. Then his eyes lit up. “Say, does this mean that if I find a student that I’d like to teach in the ways of chaos, I can turn them into a draconequus if the mood strikes me?”

Celestia sighed deeply. “Discord…” She shook her head and tried not to smile too much.

“Just a thought.” Discord shrugged with a smirk. And with that, the pair (and Celestia’s sign) proceeded to the kitchen for cake.

Sometime later, long after the cake date (and also long after Celestia had discovered the sign on her back, removed it, crumpled it into a ball with her magic, and tossed it at Discord’s face with a warm laugh), Discord was leaving his bathroom upstairs with his rubber ducky in one hand and a towel over his shoulder, and heading to his room…when suddenly a very, very distinct magical wiggle went through him.

Discord’s eyes shot open wide, and his rubber ducky dropped to the floor. He was perfectly quiet for a long moment.

Then the master of chaos started mumbling softly to himself in the empty hallway. “That can’t be right. Or…can it?” He smiled…his eyes narrowed. “Unless…perhaps it can be right. Yes, perhaps it can be right indeed! Hmm…” he tapped his fingers together in a devious gesture, “Oh, I knew that harmony tree would be weakened all of those years ago when the sisters removed the elements, but I just figured my plunder seeds weren’t strong enough to attack it regardless. But that little bit of chaos Celestia and Twilight went through…and now the return of my own chaos…the sister’s disconnection from the elements…. Yes, yes, maybe all of that’s finally done the trick.”

Discord’s grin had grown to its fullest extent by now. He put a paw to his chin and considered very carefully. “Now, your basic responsible and good friend would give everyone some warning about this whole mess before it even starts.” He chuckled. “But how boring would that be, hmm? No, no… Twilight wants to learn how to be a princess? Very well, let’s see her handle a crisis all on her own right off the bat. And besides, Celestia sent me away on a little unexpected vacation…the least I can do is sort of return the favor for her and Luna.”

Discord chuckled and snapped away his towel and ducky as he resumed his stroll to his room. “Oh, everyone’s going to be so mad. And who knows, if the seeds do work out…if they really do, then…” His devious grin grew…but then faded just a little. “But…no, no, I suppose Fluttershy would be very upset with me if I took advantage of that.” He shrugged. “Still, at least this whole thing will remind everypony that I’m still not to be trifled with, that I’m still a formidable foe. And it’ll also show Celestia and Luna that when it comes to moments of instability in the nation, I really can be trusted to stay good…for the most part.” He clapped his claw and paw together. “Oh this is just too perfect, I can’t wait. Truly this will be the best Summer Sun Celebration ever. And I’ll plan a little visit to Ponyville right before it happens…. The timing should be perfect then, just perfect.” And thus, chuckling to himself almost evilly but still distinctly humorously, Discord snapped himself straight to bed to await the ideal time for his plunder seeds (and his own dubious friendship tactics) to strike.

Midquel 4: The One After 'Princess Twilight Sparkle'

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“Luna…” Celestia sighed and shook and her head as she and her sister briskly walked along a corridor in their castle following a very harrowing adventure involving being kidnapped by dark magic vines and dragged to the Everfree forest for a day thanks to a thousand year old prank from the master of chaos. “I know you’re joking, but please calm down.” The sun princess raised an eyebrow at her moon princess counterpart.

“No, sister, really and truly, tis a perfect plan.” Luna’s eyes were piercing as she proceeded forward. “You see, I destroy Discord now, we blame it on a ‘Nightmare Moon relapse’, and then I just go into hiding in Horseshoe Bay or Acapulcolt for a thousand years. And when I come back we can try this whole ‘reformed Luna’ thing again. Or you can even send me back to the moon if you want for the millennium. Either option is acceptable to me. The point is, I am going to destroy Discord now.” She smiled a little to herself, her eyes still bright with passion.

Celestia smiled a little too, unable to help herself. “Luna, really, be serious. I know we have to talk to him about what happened today and we have to make sure he knows that nothing like it can ever happen again, but I’m afraid making threats and yelling the entire time isn’t going to help. Let’s just think this through with cool heads. And remember,” Celestia had to point out, “Discord did help clean up the vines and the damage in Ponyville.”

“And he did cause us to be kidnapped and dragged to the Everfree forest!” Luna countered, scowling. Then she cleared her throat and proceeded in a mocking Discord voice. “Oh Luna, Celestia, you’ll be happy to know I’m spending a day or two in Ponyville, so you’ll have the castle to yourself!” She scowled more, her normal displeased tone returning. “He KNEW this was going to happen, and he still had the nerve to mock us with the idea of a respite from his presence in our home knowing full well we wouldn’t be here to enjoy it!”

“I know, I know…” Celestia’s look went dry as she recalled that particularly cheeky part of his antic from a couple of days ago. “And we’ll be firm with him, Luna. I promise.” She raised an eyebrow. “I wonder why the guards told us he was in the ballroom though…”

“Oh, if he is throwing another one of his parties, so help me…” Luna’s eyes flashed and a bolt of lighting and thunder occurred outside as the sisters reached the ballroom doors. Luna sighed, observing (and listening to) the doors for a moment. “Well, no music—that is something, at least.”

Celestia moved forward and knocked. “Discord, are you in there? Luna and I would like to talk to you.”

“Oh, uh…” Discord called from inside. “Sure, sure…come in, ladies!”

Celestia took a deep breath and then magically opened the doors.

The ballroom was completely dark as she and Luna entered, causing both sisters to look around in confusion.

When the doors suddenly slammed shut behind them though, that action made both sisters actually jump a little in surprise. They both lit their horns to see by.

“Celestia…” Luna whispered, leaning close and looking around warily, “I don’t like this.”

Celestia nodded, likewise looking around with concern. “I know, Luna. I don’t either. But…certainly there’s an explanation.

Luna scowled again and raised her voice. “Discord, enough games—show yourself!”

Then suddenly all the lights went on in the ballroom, causing both sisters horns to stop glowing and their eyes to go wide.


Instantly, Celestia and Luna found themselves in the middle of a beautiful surprise party with tables of food and tons of streamers and balloons and cake, and many of the staff and guards smiling at them, and even Twilight and the girls smiling at them (and Pinkie Pie shooting herself out of a party canon overhead, causing confetti to go everywhere).

Celestia and Luna just blinked several times, their jaws fallen open.

“I, uh…” Celestia didn’t know what to say. “What’s all this?”

Pinkie Pie dashed up to the princesses and took a deep breath before proceeding to explain with a big smile. “Well, you two went through so much with the magic vines, and the staff of the castle missed you two so much when you were gone, and Twilight and the rest of us are so happy to have you back that a party seemed the best way to celebrate both of you finally returning home safe and sound!” She smiled, making a little squee sound.

Celestia and Luna blinked a few more times…and then the pony sisters smiled.

“Oh Pinkie,” Luna started, stepping forward, her smile growing, “How wonderful. Thank you! Was this your idea?”

Pinkie smiled but shook her head. “Nope! I just helped with the planning and the decorating and the party canons.” She leaned in close the princesses, whispering loudly. “I’m not supposed to tell you whose idea it was.” She pulled back. Then she leaned in again. “But I didn’t Pinkie Promise on it.” She pulled back. Then she leaned in again. “It was his idea.” She gestured upward with her hoof…and the sisters followed her gesture until they saw Discord hanging out on the top of a disco ball that was now in the ceiling in place of the usual chandelier, eating cake and grinning to himself.

Celestia’s eyes went wide and then her smile brightened considerably. Luna blinked and her jaw dropped, but then she gave a pleased smile as well.

Celestia looked down again to the pink pony before her and smiled warmly. “Thank you for letting us know, Pinkie Pie,” she replied softly. “We’re very glad to hear that.”

Pinkie winked and then went bouncing off into the party.

Celestia cleared her throat now and addressed the guests. “Everyone, thank you so much for coming! It’s so kind of you all to care so much about the safe return of my sister and I. So without further ado, please let the partying commence!” And with that Vinyl Scratch popped up in a corner behind a DJ booth, a few records were put on, and the party broke into full swing!

“Princess Celestia, did you really like the party?” A concerned but smiling Twilight asked (again) as the final guests cleared out of the ballroom a couple of hours later. “I tried to make sure things stayed organized, and I tried to make sure everyone felt welcome, and I tried to make sure there wouldn’t be too much cleanup for the staff.” She glanced around sheepishly—though the party hadn’t made a Discord class mess, there was still quite a bit of cleaning up to do. “Sorry, I guess I could have done a better job about that last item.” She rubbed the back of her neck and looked up to the sun princess. “I’m just so happy to have you back, Princess Celestia—we all are.”

Celestia just smiled down gratefully at her former faithful student. “And I’m very glad to be back. And, Twilight, really, it was a lovely and very well organized party and also very fun. I enjoyed it very much. And don’t worry about the mess—Luna and I will be cleaning up the party ourselves.”

Twilight blinked. “But Princess Celestia, you shouldn’t have to do that. I…”

Celestia held up a hoof though, smiling more. “But we want to, Twilight. And it’s the least we could do after such a lovely event was thrown all in our honor.”

Twilight smiled. “As long as you’re sure. Do you need any help?” Her horn glowed.

Celestia smiled but shook her head. “No, thank you. Go enjoy spending some relaxing time with your friends, Twilight. After everything you’ve been through today, you’ve earned it. Besides, I’m sure we can get Discord to give us any extra help if we need it. After all, the castle is his home for the time being, and I’m sure he regrets any stress he might have put Luna and I through with his prank and wouldn’t mind a way to help make it up to us.”

Twilight blinked and then glanced away. “Oh, yeah…that’s true. Heh…” She smiled very awkwardly, trying to seem like she wasn’t keeping a secret but of course failing miserably at the attempt.

Celestia’s smile picked up on one side and she looked at Twilight meaningfully. “This whole party really was Discord’s idea, wasn’t it, Twilight?”

Twilight blinked and looked back up at her. “How did you—”

“A little pink bird told me.” Celestia chuckled softly.

Twilight sighed and nodded, lowering her voice. “Yes, it was Discord’s idea, the whole thing. Everyone was happy to be part of putting it together, but he’s the one who came up with the idea and insisted we do it in the first place. Actually, his exact words were ‘I can’t help it if the pony sisters deserve a little something for putting up with my shenanigans, especially since we’re friends—but just don’t go spreading it around and ruining my reputation. And I still don’t do windows.’ He was in a French maid’s outfit at the time. The whole thing was a little confusing.” Twilight scratched her head with her hoof.

Celestia just laughed. “Yes, I imagine it was. Don’t worry, I’ll see to it he doesn’t get upset with you or anypony else about Luna and I finding out the truth. Besides I think he knows my sister and I are smart enough to have figured it out on our own anyway even if we hadn’t spoken to the six of you.”

Twilight smiled and nodded. But then she had to raise an eyebrow again and ask, “So…if he knows you that well and even cared enough to throw a party for you, then him living here really has been working out?”

Celestia shrugged. “It’s been interesting, Twilight. But yes…I’ve enjoyed his time here. And I think he enjoys it too. I think we’re all growing quite fond of each other, actually.” Something in her smile and gaze warmed.

Twilight nodded, her own smile growing. “I think that’s great, Princess Celestia. Especially since we don’t have the Elements anymore…” She frowned a little and her voice lowered. “Princess Celestia, considering the situation with the Elements and not having direct access to their powers anymore, I’m not sure what we should do if Discord…I mean…if his reform doesn’t…” She looked down, clearly in a touch of distress about how to professionally put what she was trying to say.

“Don’t worry, Twilight,” Celestia assured with a touch of seriousness, knowing where her former faithful student’s observations might be taking her. “If anything, what happened with the Elements might be the best thing that could have happened regarding Discord. Friendship means less if someone always has a threat hanging over your head to make it work. From now on Discord will be choosing friendship over evil of his own free will instead of choosing friendship in part to avoid being turned to stone. I think we can expect good things overall.”

“I hope you’re right, Princess.” Twilight smiled and nodded. Then she gave Princess Celestia a slight bow. “Well, I should get going. Have a good night, Princess.” She waved.

Celestia smiled and waved too. “Goodbye, Twilight. And thank you again for your help with the party.”

Twilight smiled over her shoulder. “Of course, any time!” The purple alicorn began to head over to the doors…but then she paused…and suddenly she zipped back over to Celestia and hugged her around the neck, shutting her eyes tightly. “Princess Celestia, I’m really, really happy you’re back and safe. Really. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

Celestia’s eyes went wide for a moment…but then they hazed and a warm smile spread across her face. She put a hoof over Twilight and hugged her back gently. “And I’m very happy to be back, and very happy you made it through such a trying and dangerous ordeal today, and very proud of how well you took command during such a crisis—Spike told me how you led the guards. You’re growing into an excellent leader already, Princess Twilight Sparkle.”

Twilight pulled back a little, smiling up at Celestia. “Thank you, Princess.”

Celestia smiled down at her. “You’re very welcome, Princess.”

Twilight laughed softly and stepped back, wiping a small tear from her eye. “Goodbye, Princess Celestia, and say Goodbye to Luna and Discord from me.” She gave her mentor a final bow and then turned and departed the room.

Celestia watched her go with a warm smile, reflecting on the events of the day regarding herself as well as the destiny of her young protégée.

Her thoughts were broken though as a familiar voice coming up from behind her met her ears.

“So then we are agreed, Discord,” Celestia turned at the sound of her sister’s voice, and indeed Luna and Discord were now walking together across the empty ballroom toward her and talking. Luna went on. “To make up for the severity of your transgression today, you shall assist me with my patrols over the Everfree forest and borders of Equestria tonight, and you shall help my sister by assisting her in her affairs at the unicorn academy tomorrow.”

Discord sighed and rolled his eyes to the side but did nod. “Yes, yes, fine, if you insist. I admit, however fun it was to let the prank with the vines play out, I probably could have shaved a few hours off of how long I let you two stay kidnapped. Or at least I could have given you both a heads up from the start and just left Twilight in the dark to learn her important princess lesson about her ability to lead and not letting others treat her like she’s better than anypony else, yada, yada.” He chuckled and shrugged, his arms behind his back. “I guess all of that just never occurred to me.” He grinned cheekily.

Luna eyed him but sighed with a small grin of her own. “Right. Well, then…almost everything is settled.” They paused in front of Celestia, and Luna came beside her sister.

Almost everything?” Discord raised an eyebrow, looking from one princess to the other.

Celestia smiled at Luna and then smiled up at Discord. Then Luna smiled up at Discord as well.

Discord looked from one sister to the other again, his look of confusion only deepening. “What?”

The two sisters just smiled more at him.

“What??” Discord’s eyes went wider and his eyebrow arched even higher.

Celestia and Luna were practically beaming now.

“It really was a lovely party, Discord…” Celestia couldn’t help herself.

Discord blinked at this comment, and then sighed and rolled his eyes in realization. “Great, this is what I get for hanging out with six gossipy mares all the time.” He smiled a little and crossed his arms over his chest. “So who told you both it was my idea to throw the party?”

Celestia smiled more and brought a hoof to her chin. “Well, I promised not to name names but…I distinctly recall a princess and a very happy pink pony.”

Luna chuckled and nodded. “And a blue pegasus and orange earth pony may have accidentally slipped up in front of me…and then a white unicorn couldn’t help gushing about the decorating and how she loves a good royal soiree and was so grateful you gave her the chance to throw one.”

Discord just grinned all the more. “So Fluttershy’s the only one who kept my secret? Yeah, that figures.” He shrugged. “Well then, my cover’s blown. But we all knew already that I love a good party, so no harm done. Now, shall we get to the cleaning up?” He held up his fingers to snap.

The sisters just kept looking at him with beaming smiles though.

Discord raised an eyebrow again. “Girls, seriously, what??” A little grin picked up on the side of his mouth. “Oh wait, is this about the fact that I technically threw another party but I didn’t give you two weeks notice like we talked about? Ladies, it was a surprise party and in your honor, and I’m helping clean up—cut me a little slack about the house rules, okay?” He chuckled to himself.

Luna and Celestia giggled softly, and Celestia shook her head. “No, I’m afraid it’s not about that, Discord. But I’m happy to know you’re keeping our deal in mind about the parties.”

Discord tilted his head to the side and grinned a little more and looked at the two sisters so curiously. “Okay, then…But seriously, what is it??”

Luna grinned all the more and finally told him ‘what’ exactly was on their minds. “You like us, Discord.”

Discord blinked, his hand lowering a little in midair. “Huh?”

Celestia laughed softly. “You like us, Discord.” She explained. “Even if you did let us get kidnapped by those vines and even if you do play pranks on us and even if you do invade our privacy and even if you like to pretend that you’re just living here for fun…you like us, don’t you?” She moved a little closer to him, her smile growing and her eyes hazing.

A rare thing happened then: Discord blushed quite distinctly. “I-I…” he blinked several times, then instantly shook his head, “N-No, of course not, don’t be ridiculous! I don’t like you at all! I-I’m just here for the free food and the roof over my head and…uh, what was that third thing? O-Oh yeah, clothing or something.” He leaned back and crossed his arms over his chest, pouting a little in his fluster.

Luna giggled, coming closer to him as well. “No, you’re not—or at least you’re not here only for those things anymore. You really like my sister and I, and you only let those vines take us because you knew nothing bad would happen to us, and you helped Twilight set us free, and you wanted to throw a party to make up for our harrowing experience but you didn’t want us to know it was all your idea…. You really, really, really like us.”

“That is absurd, I am clearly just using you to get the royal treatment!” Discord rolled his eyes, blushing and scowling and pouting all the more. “A-And stop smiling and getting so close. Celestia, you’re the grim one around here—make this sappy emotional moment go away.” He looked to the sun princess for support, but then his eyes only went wider in surprise.

Celestia was blushing just a little herself now. She looked up at him, her gaze very warm. “If it makes you feel any better, despite everything, Luna and I really, really, really like you too, Discord.” And the sun princess came forward and gave the master of chaos a hug with her foreleg.

Luna stepped closer and hugged him from the other side with her foreleg as well. “But even if we didn’t, today proves definitively that you like us! Discord likes the pony sisters and wants us to be safe and happy! We shall commission a stained glass window in honor of this glorious event!” The moon princess smiled brightly as she finished her grand announcement.

“Oh come on, no, not hugs!” Discord squirmed a little in their grasp, blushing all the more. “And, no, not a commemorative window! Oh, I hate how I come out in those gaudy things!”

“Maybe we should just sing a song then?” Celestia suggested brightly, grinning up at him. Then she cleared her throat. “Long ago we may not have been friends…

Luna took up the tune. “But all of that has now come to an end…

For the magic of friendship has brought us together…

And now we’ll stay side by side forever and ever…

The sister’s sang together now for the ‘big finale’. “The pony sisters and Discord through all kinds of weather!

Discord scoffed and his eyes flew open wide. “Oh, you two are off key, and I’m going to my room! Clean up the ballroom yourselves! I hate making things orderly anyway—honestly!” And with that announcement, a stern pout, and the strongest blush ever, Discord snapped his tail and disappeared from their grasp and their sight.

As he left, Celestia and Luna fell forward into each other a little and then just burst out laughing.

“Oh Sister,” Luna stood up and wiped a tear from her eye, “We have to keep in mind how effective that much affection is at lowering his defenses.”

Celestia nodded as she tried to get her smiles and laughter under control. “Yes, it certainly was interesting to see. He really must like us to get so flustered.”

“You know, I’m really starting to think he does.” Luna nodded as well. She sighed, glancing around the ballroom. “It’s a pity we won’t have his help for cleaning up now, but I think it was worth it.”

Celestia nodded again. “I absolutely agree, Luna.”

As the two sisters commenced cleaning, Luna glanced over her shoulder at Celestia. “Sister, what do you make of the other events of today—Twilight’s discovery of the harmony chest, and somehow through Discord’s efforts no less?”

Celestia smiled to herself as she used her magic to move aside some rubbish. “I think solving the mystery of that chest will lead to a great moment for Twilight. And I think Discord’s involvement won’t end here. His actions led to the production of that chest—his actions somehow will lead to it opening. I can feel it.”

Luna considered and nodded, using her magic to take down some streamers. “Somehow I think you are right, sister.” She smiled more. “And somehow that fact does not make me nearly as uneasy as I feared it would.”

Celestia smiled more as well. “Discord’s really becoming a good friend, Luna. I hope he stays with us for a long time.”

Luna nodded. “Me too.”

The two sisters proceeded with cleaning up the rest of their party followed by a nap together before going on with the rest of their duties for the remainder of the day and the start of the oncoming night. And Discord did indeed assist Luna then Celestia with some of their duties as he had promised to do regarding his punishment for the vines and the kidnapping (though he was distinctly pouty and awkward as he did so, much to Celestia and Luna’s silent amusement.) Their friendship was growing more complicated…and also stronger…every day.

Meanwhile, as Celestia and Luna went about cleaning the ballroom, Discord was lying on his bed in his room, staring up at the ceiling with a very grumpy (and slightly embarrassed) expression upon his features as whirlpools of glowing color spun all around him, and assorted fish with legs drifted by, and a few cherry cola clouds had a rainstorm in the corner, and the pinwheels sticking out of his bed turned, and a herd of living dust bunnies burrowed beneath his lop-sided sofa (his nightstand with his Discord lamp and picture of Fluttershy being the only normal-looking things in the room).

The master of chaos sighed and grumbled to himself. “I do not ‘like’ them—that is outrageous. Fluttershy—okay, fine, I do like her, I admit that freely. She’s…kind to me.” His frown fell away into something softer for a moment but then quickly resumed. “But I do not like the pony sisters! So what if I threw them a party? I was just trying to get on their good side so that they wouldn’t get angry about my prank!” Something in the tone of this last statement though suggested that Discord wasn’t making an observation so much as trying to convince himself that what he was saying was true.

He tossed upon his bed and ended up facing his window overlooking the orderly normalcy of the castle grounds and Canterlot beyond them. “Oh okay, fine, and maybe I did think Celestia and Luna deserved a little something nice after putting up with my shenanigans, especially this time around. So big deal—I was just trying to be a…good friend.” He seemed satisfied with this argument for a moment, but then his eyes went a little wide. “Of course, friends usually do like one another. Even with my limited understanding of the magic of friendship, I get that simple fact. So then, I like them. Well, that’s not such a big deal either.” He reached out into the chaotic atmosphere as a flock of donuts floated past, and grabbed one to snack on. “They’re not so bad, after all. I’ll never tell them that, of course. But they’re not so bad. And even if I have developed a liking for them, I’m still the same old chaotic me, otherwise I never would have played such a grand prank on them like I did even if I did indirectly apologize for it in the end with that party.”

Discord finished his donut and then turned away from the window and snapped, making a multi-colored patchwork quilt appear over him. He yawned and smiled to himself, closing his eyes and settling in for a nap. “Yes, it was a great prank, I’m glad I let it play out, and I have no regrets!” He chuckled. “And there are no more Elements around now. How very, very interesting…” He yawned. “Clearly I’m going to deserve serious bonus points from now on whenever I’m a good friend since there’s no more threat of being turned to stone hanging over me. I’ll have to mention that to Celestia during our next cake date.” He smiled more to himself. “But the bottom line is, reformed or not, I’m still the master of chaos even if some of the ways in which I’m chaotic have to shift a little to accommodate my friends. I’m very proud of myself for coming to such a great insight. Perhaps I’ll throw another party in my own honor very soon. Or at least a special tea party with Fluttershy. One good thing about friendship, after all—I’m having a lot more fun socializing these days.” Discord’s smile grew and he settled into his bed more. And soon the master of chaos had drifted off into a chaotic nap following his tireless efforts to pull off one of the greatest pranks in Equestrian history and to thoroughly make up for it all in the same day.

Midquel 5: The One with the Tea Party (and French Maid's Outfits!)

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“Luna, what are you doing?” Celestia asked, an eyebrow raised, as she approached her sister on this fine mid in-morning. The sun princess had just been walking down a hall of her castle and suddenly had spotted Luna standing before the dining room entrance and clearly (if oddly) peeking through a crack between the room’s closed doors. “It’s almost noon, shouldn’t you be in bed?”

Luna turned to Celestia and raised a hoof to her mouth. “Shh…” she advised. Then she smiled and gestured for Celestia to approach.

Growing even more curious, Celestia came up close to her sister and lowered her voice to a whisper. “Luna, what is it?”

Luna likewise whispered to her sister. “Celestia, do you recall how Discord said that he was going to spend today with Fluttershy?”

Celestia nodded. “Yes, of course, he mentioned that over breakfast.”

Luna’s grin grew. “Well, apparently he meant he was going to spend the day with her here.”

“Oh.” Celestia raised an eyebrow again. “And?”

And…they’re having a tea party together in the dining room right now.” The moon princess’s cheeky grin grew to its fullest extent.

Celestia just smiled and shrugged at this news. “So they’re having a tea party in the dining room. Luna, I don’t see what the…” Then Celestia blinked and her eyes widened. “Discord and Fluttershy are having a…tea party?” She tilted her head to the side.

Luna nodded, her eyes hazing in a mischievous way. “And in case you were wondering, sister, it is an event just as adorable as it sounds. Oh you were right, Celestia, he really must have embraced friendship truly. Just look.” Luna gestured with her head toward the crack between the doors.

Celestia came forward and looked inside.

In the dining room, Discord had removed the long table usually there and instead had set up a low, small round table with two chairs. Fluttershy sat in one chair and Discord sat across from her in the other. On the table between them were various pastries resting upon pink and white dishware which matched the teapot that Fluttershy now had in hoof. And in front of Discord and Fluttershy sat a cup and a saucer each. Fluttershy had just finished refilling their cups now, and she set the teapot back on its cozy at the center of the table.

“Thank you, dear Fluttershy,” Discord remarked with a grin as he reclined back in his chair a little and raised his teacup. “I do love this blend of green tea you brought.”

Fluttershy smiled. “You’re welcome, Discord.” She took up her own cup to sip.

Discord lowered his cup and took up a pastry with his tail to eat. “So, now, you were telling me what’s new and saying something about Rainbow Falls and the Equestria Games…”

Fluttershy nodded, smiling more. “Oh, um, yes. Our team qualified to compete in the games at the Crystal Empire. So I’m looking forward to that even if I am a little nervous. But I know Rainbow Dash will be there for me, and Bulk Biceps too.”

“Hmm…” Discord finished off his pastry and magically made two sugar cubes come bouncing across the table into his tea, “Now, Rainbow Dash I know, but who is this Bulk Biceps character?”

Fluttershy blinked and smiled a little more (and blushed just a little too.) “Oh, well, um…he’s just another pony on our team. You’ve probably seen him before, Discord. He’s kind of tall and strong and white and a pegasus…and every once in a while he yells and gets excited, but mostly he’s really quiet.”

Discord raised an eyebrow and almost smiled a little. “Well, if he’s caught your eye then I’m afraid he’s in for some disappointment—you see, no one could possibly be good enough for you, Fluttershy.”

Fluttershy smiled and blushed, looking down entirely into her tea. “Oh Discord, that’s not true.”

“Oh, but it is,” Discord insisted with a grin and another sip of tea. “You’re the kindest, most nurturing, most affectionate pony there ever was. I barely feel good enough to be your friend half of the time. I can’t imagine a pony that could be good enough to be a little more than a friend to you.”

“Discord, thank you.” Fluttershy smiled up at him. “But of course you’re good enough to be my friend. You make everything so lively, Discord. And I’m very glad we got to know each other.” Then she leaned across the table and gave him a gentle hug with one of her forelegs, her eyes closed and her smile bright.

Discord’s eyes went wide and then a warm smile came over his features. He looked down and gently patted Fluttershy’s head with his paw. “I’m glad we got to know each other too, dear Fluttershy.” He swallowed and raised an eyebrow and added, “And do you really think I’m turning out to be a good friend?”

Fluttershy pulled back and nodded up at him with a warm smile. “The best.”

Discord beamed a little at this information and then the two friends separated went back to enjoying their tea party.

Out in the hall, Celestia had to pull back from the door for a moment. She put a hoof to her mouth.

Luna turned to look at her, still grinning, an eyebrow raised. “Celestia?”

Celestia took a breath to get her bearings and then couldn’t help herself. “Luna…they’re so cute together. And he’s so sweet with her.” A small giggle escaped her. “I thought Fluttershy’s kindness might bring out his kinder side, but I never knew he had that gentleness in him.” She sighed. “Oh, but we really shouldn’t be peeking in on them like this. This is their private time together, and Discord really is a very private person.”

Luna just rolled her eyes and nudged her sister. “Oh come on, Celestia, you already made me promise not to go snooping into his chaotic room for the sake of privacy. At least give me this. Listen, they’re talking again.” Luna peeked back through the door and Celestia hesitated but then couldn’t help looking in too.

“So, any progress with the keys and the harmony chest?” Discord sipped his tea again.

Fluttershy smiled but sighed and shook her head, looking down at a pastry she had just put on her plate. “No, I’m afraid not. No one’s found any keys yet. And we haven’t had too much time to look with everything that’s been going on lately. We’re not even sure where to start.”

“Hmm…” Discord twirled his beard around his fingers to ponder, “well, I’m assuming the keys will be related to each of your elements somehow. So I’m sure you ladies pretty much won’t be able to help finding each of your keys—and you might even come across them when you least expect it. I can almost feel the magic of it waiting to happen, really. Did I ever tell you that I’m an expert at sensing magical imbalances?”

“Really?” Fluttershy smiled in interest.

“Really?” Celestia whispered to herself, raising an eyebrow. “An expert at it?” She recalled how after Twilight’s ascension to princesshood, Discord had mentioned at least having the ability to sense shifts in magic, but to be an expert at it was another matter. Celestia listened even more attentively now as the conversation progressed.

Luna, meanwhile, was still much more concerned with resisting the urge to giggle at the tender sight before her of a former villain having tea at a little table with one of the shyest little ponies around.

“Oh yes,” Discord grinned proudly at Fluttershy and nodded. “All part of being the master of chaos. I can feel when there are wacky disruptions in the natural order of things and track the source based on the nature of the chaos the imbalance causes.” He sighed as he sipped more of his tea and added, “And trust me, however much I don’t care to admit it, you girls are closer to opening that chest than you realize.”

Fluttershy finished a nibble of her pastry and tilted her head to the side. “Do you not like the harmony chest for some reason, Discord? I’m sure whatever’s inside will help Twilight and the rest of us save Equestria whenever we need to again now that we don’t have the Elements.”

Discord nodded. “Yes, whatever’s inside probably will, but it’ll also probably stand a pretty good chance of being able to turn me to stone again if all of you feel like it.” He pouted and looked down into his tea. “Probably some big anti-chaos canon made especially by the tree to get back at me for the vines thing…” He rolled his eyes.

Fluttershy pouted but then smiled again. “Discord, even if whatever’s in there could turn you to stone, I won’t let that happen. I know being a statue upset you a lot.”

The master of chaos sighed, crossing his arms over his chest and glancing away…something a little dull in his gaze. “Yeah, well, you know…chaos just doesn’t like stone body suits, is all.”

Fluttershy nodded and took up her teacup again. “Well, you’re a good person now and all better. Ever since Princess Luna came back from her banishment and stopped being Nightmare Moon, everyone’s been so happy and no one would dream of sending her away again. And I’m sure no one would dream of ever imprisoning you again either, Discord. You…might be a little hard to understand sometimes, but we love you. And we want you here.” She smiled up at him, her eyes twinkling with sincerity.

Discord just looked back down at her with wide eyes. “You…love me? And you want me around and you’re happy I’m here and…you love me?”

Fluttershy nodded. “Very much, Discord.”

Discord looked down into his teacup. He started to mumble softly to himself. “No one ever told me they…” He took a breath and cleared his throat, speaking up again. “Yes, well, I…I-I’m just glad there’s no more stone to look forward to. It’s freezing in the winter and chafing in the summer. And it’s such a bother not being able to plug up my ears whenever Celestia starts yammering on about friendship. That’s all.” He sipped his tea, still looking down, eyes still quite wide, and a faint blush now upon his features.

Fluttershy smiled in an all-knowing way. “Of course, Discord.” She sipped more of her tea.

Discord swallowed and played with another pastry on his plate. “I’ll try to help you girls with the keys thing, if I can.”

Fluttershy beamed a little. “Thank you, Discord. We’d appreciate that very much.” She picked up her pastry to take another bite.

The two friends continued on with their tea party.

At the door, Celestia and Luna stepped back for a moment, eyes wide…and lightly glistening with tears. They looked to each other but didn’t know what to say.

Then Luna blinked as Celestia suddenly came forward and hugged her very, very tightly with her foreleg.

Celestia, eyes closed, took in and let out a deep breath. “I was almost starting to forget, but what happened with you is half the reason I wanted to bring him back. You’re better now and I missed you, and…I love you so much, Luna.”

Luna blinked but then closed her eyes and hugged her sister with a foreleg in return. “I missed you too…and I love you too, big sister.” She sniffled and pulled back with a small laugh. “Oh we can’t ever send him away again. Not after all of this. I’d burst into tears if we even tried.”

Celestia laughed softly as well, wiping the tears from her eyes. “Me too.”

Luna nodded. “Shall we leave them to their privacy now?”

Celestia smiled but glanced at the crack in the door. “Maybe we could watch for just a few more minutes. Luna, I’ve never seen something so heartwarming. And I think having this memory will be good for us for the next time he’s obnoxious or rude or plays a prank on us. We’ll remember that deep down inside he’s just happy to be here and a better friend than he wants to admit sometimes.”

Luna nodded. Then sisters shared a smile and looked back inside to Discord and Fluttershy again.

The tender moment between the draconequus and the pegasus had passed now, and the two friends were drinking tea and eating together like normal once more.

“So Discord, how are you liking living with the princesses?” Fluttershy asked, adding some cream to her teacup. “It must be wonderful to live in the castle.”

Discord chuckled. “Living in the castle? Yes, that part is absolutely wonderful between the servants and the food and the accommodations. Living with the princesses, however…” he sighed and rolled his eyes to the side, “well, it’s got its ups and downs. Luna can be very bossy to me.” He pouted.

Back by the door, Luna pouted and raised an eyebrow, and Celestia tried not to chuckle.

At the table, Discord went on. “And Celestia’s always smiling sweetly and batting her eyelashes trying to get me to do her bidding.” He laughed.

By the door, Celestia gasped and blushed (and Luna had to stifle a laugh).

Back at the table Fluttershy smiled up at Discord and shook her head. “Oh now, Discord, I’m sure they mean well and that they have a lot of good qualities as friends that you’ve come to appreciate.”

Discord sighed and shrugged, eating another bite of pastry. “Well, I suppose they’re all right sometimes. Or at least they’re all right to prank.” He chuckled and leaned in closer, though his voice remained loud. “You know, don’t tell anyone, but lately I’ve been magically making all of Celestia’s mid-afternoon cake sugar free—she has no idea, but it’s so funny to watch her almost nod off during important meetings from the lack of a sugar rush.”

Back at the door Celestia’s eyes went wide and her jaw fell. Beside her Luna snickered.

At the table, Discord smiled more. “Oh and Luna’s been fun to play with too. You know, she loves being taken very seriously by the staff. But lately I’ve been distributing little head shots of her grinning and wearing clown make up to all of the guards and maids and stewards…”

Luna gasped! “You—that is why the night guard has been snickering so much!” As Luna lunged forward with a scowl, fully ready to confront Discord, Celestia just barely held her back and kept her quiet as Discord finished his sentence.

“…And so no one will suspect me or even say a word to her, I’ve been signing the pictures ‘From Celestia’ and adding in a postscript saying that my actions are all part of helping dear Princess Luna relax in our modern society!” Discord burst into such laughter that he had to wipe a tear from his eye! “Oh I knew learning how to expertly forge Tia’s signature would come in handy one day. I’ll have to put it to use on some good, chaotic decrees soon.” Discord got his laughter under control and shook his head.

Celestia gasped and nearly tripped forward over Luna. “My signature!?”

Fluttershy tried to smile supportively. “Well, I’m glad you three are…doing your best to find a way to relate.” Then she blinked and glanced around (part of which included glancing to the door). “Discord, did you hear something?”

Discord blinked. “Hear something? I—” And indeed suddenly the sound of a faint gasp or two met his sharp chaotic ears. Discord carefully looked up, looked around, looked to the windows…looked to the door. Then he looked away from the door, blushing slightly at first and then scowling…but then resuming a smile (though a much more cunning one now). His gaze went back to Fluttershy. “Oh, probably just mice—this castle is lousy with them, you know. Celestia and Luna may put on a good show out in public, but really they live quite deplorably. Messes everywhere and no picking up after themselves, and I’m pretty sure Celestia just plain keeps a cake bunker under her bed.” (Discord’s tail snapped—a large bucket containing some kind of liquid positioned itself floating high just above the entrance to the dining room). Quite a few more light sounds of indignation were now heard from behind the door meanwhile.

Fluttershy glanced at the door again but then shook her head and looked to Discord again with a smile. “Oh Discord, I’m sure the princesses do their best. It’s a big place to keep tidy, after all, and they are busy, and every house is messy sometimes, even mine.” Her smile brightened. “If there really are so many mice though, I’d love to meet them. And if they’re causing a problem in the castle, maybe I could help convince them to leave.”

Discord smiled but shook his head. “Thank you, but that won’t be necessary, Fluttershy. I have plans to deal with any ‘pest’ problems on my own.” He sipped his tea.

Fluttershy pouted a little. “You won’t distress the pests at all, will you, Discord?”

Discord shook his head. “I won’t cause them any harm, Fluttershy, you have my word.”

Fluttershy smiled. “Thank you, Discord.” She sipped more tea. “But I’m sure you must at least get to see some interesting things and hear some interesting stories living with the princesses.”

Discord chuckled. “Well, I get to hear all about how perfectly wonderful of a houseguest I am. I’ll really have type up and send a transcript to the Canterlot papers about it—the two sisters going on and on about the joys of living with a gentleman friend unsupervised.” He started munching on another pastry and leaned back in his chair a little. “You know, they won’t admit it, but I think these princesses of yours have been severely lacking in male companionship for some time. Now Luna, she at least has an excuse—she was on the moon for a thousand years, not much opportunity to socialize. But Celestia, really…when I first suggested coming to live here just as friends you should have seen her response—she blushed like a little filly.” He laughed, finishing off his pastry with a satisfied smirk.

“Discord, don’t tease Princess Celestia,” Fluttershy chided with a smile and a shake of her head. “Not everypony is good at dating.”

“I know, but Celestia’s clearly abysmal at it.” Discord rolled his eyes. Meanwhile, some more sharp sounds came from behind the door. (Discord’s tail snapped again, and the floor right in front of the door became covered in super sticky taffy.)

“Discord…if we can’t say something nice…” Fluttershy began with a smile and a look.

Discord sighed. “I know, I know, say nothing at all.” He sipped his tea again. “But let’s see, what were we talking about—oh yes, the interesting things I’ve heard and seen around here. Hmm…well, there’s Luna in the morning before her coffee—not a pretty sight. Celestia after her annual Monday night cake binge just before the sugar coma makes her pass out—also not a pretty sight. And I’ve been poking around in their bathroom—you should see how much enchanted hairspray those to girls have for keeping their manes as insane as they look. Of course, that’s nothing compared to how stocked up Celestia is on anti-aging cream—I think a large part of the Canterlot area taxes must go toward keeping her supply fresh.” He chuckled. “Oh, and once I saw the two sisters get into a tantrum with each other over a late night game of chess—something about Luna accusing Celestia of always having to topple Luna’s black queen with her white queen.” He smirked, his eyes narrowing. “And once, just once (so far, at least), I caught them hiding behind some hedges in the courtyard during a surprise Royal Troops Inspection Day clearly just to check out all of the stallion guards in secret. They were smiling and whispering and giggling and blushing and everything.” (He snapped his tail again, and suddenly beside the levitating bucket of liquid by the door was a levitating sack of rainbow colored feathers.)

“Oh my,” Fluttershy gasped in surprise.

“Oh!” Definitely a distinct ‘oh’ from behind the door. “Out of context, I—” The voice was stifled.

Fluttershy’s eyes went wide and she looked over to the door again. “Discord, what was that?”

Discord smirked more and waved her off. “Oh, pfft, probably an echo—I tell you what, why don’t I open the door, and that should take care of the situation!” And suddenly his tail snapped once more.

The next several seconds featured the dining room doors entirely disappearing, the reveal of Celestia and Luna (faces full of indignation and shock, Celestia barely holding back Luna (again) from trying to burst into the room), and then the two sisters getting a bucket of chocolate milk dumped upon them, stumbling forward only to find themselves stuck on taffy, and then having the bag of rainbow feathers dumped all over them.

Celestia and Luna just stood there, eyes wide, unmoving and unspeaking as the prank finished playing out.

Discord grinned so very much. “Oh, and would you look at that, Fluttershy—I’ve taken care of two pests already with barely even trying.”

Fluttershy gasped and instantly dashed forward. “Princess Celestia! Princess Luna!” She looked back to Discord. “Discord, please…”

Discord sighed and stood up, strolling forward to join her. “Oh all right.” He snapped his fingers, and instantly all of his chaos was gone and the princesses were clean again. “But it’s not my fault—consequences happen when you spy on other people.” He glared at the sisters a little.

Fluttershy blinked and looked back to the two princesses. “Is that true, Princess Celestia, Princess Luna? Were you spying on our tea party?”

The sisters blushed.

Then Celestia took a breath and came forward. She looked down at Fluttershy with a slight frown. “Yes, Fluttershy, I’m afraid we were. And I apologize. To both of you.” She bowed her head low. “It was wrong of us to spy on you.”

Luna nodded and stepped forward as well, likewise looking a touch sheepish and sad. “Yes, we are sorry, Fluttershy.” She bowed her head too. “I hope you are not too disappointed in us.”

Both sisters then met the gaze of the little yellow pony.

Fluttershy just smiled at them though. “I’m not disappointed in you. It’s your own house, after all, and everyone get curious sometimes. But…next time if you want to join in, please just ask. There’s plenty of tea to go around.” Her smile warmed.

Celestia smiled warmly in return. “Thank you, Fluttershy. We’ll keep that in mind.”

“Yes, wise Fluttershy, your advice is sound,” added Luna with a slight bow of her head.

Fluttershy smiled more. Then she turned to Discord. “And Discord, I’m sorry the end of our tea party got interrupted. Maybe we’ll try again tomorrow at my house?”

Discord smiled warmly down at her and nodded. “And I’ll bring the cucumber sandwiches as usual?”

Fluttershy nodded in return. “Yes, please.”

“You’ve got yourself a deal then, my dear.” Discord gave her a dramatic bow.

Fluttershy laughed. Then she sighed, glancing down in shyness. “Well, um…I should probably get going now. It’s getting a little late, and my train’s leaving soon.” She looked back up at him. “Discord, I just want to say that I’m so proud of you and I’m glad you’re having a good time getting to know the princesses. I think you’ll end up the best of friends.”

Discord couldn’t help but smile in a touch of pride and almost shyness in return, but he just cleared his throat and shrugged, glancing away. “Yeah, well…we’ll see. I’ll keep trying, I suppose.”

“I know you will.” Fluttershy smiled warmly. Then she came forward and gave him a hug. “Goodbye for now, Discord.”

Discord blinked and glanced awkwardly at the two sisters for a moment (who blinked as well and then made a show of looking away). Then Discord sighed and finally put his paw arm around Fluttershy to give her a little hug in return and patted on the head. “Er…goodbye, Fluttershy. Have a pleasant trip home.”

Fluttershy pulled back and smiled up at him. “Thank you, Discord.” Then she turned and headed over to the princesses. “Goodbye, Princess Celestia and Princess Luna.” She bowed. “Have a nice day.”

The sisters nodded in return.

“Goodbye, Fluttershy.” Celestia smiled.

“Farewell.” Luna gave her a wave.

Fluttershy straightened up and then departed through the empty dining room doorway.

The three ‘roommates’ were left in awkward silence for a moment.

Then Discord looked to the sisters, crossed his arms over his chest, and glared at them. His tail snapped, and suddenly the doors to the room returned…and they were closed. “I think we need to talk,” he said calmly if with a clear hint of annoyance underneath his tone.

Celestia’s frown grew and she sighed and came forward. “Discord, we’re so sorry, we—”

“Completely unacceptable!” Discord cut her off, starting to pace (and he was blushing a little). “You know, I get it, fine, technically this is ‘your’ house, technically I’m just a long term guest, but how dare you invade my privacy! My special time alone with my friend!”

“Oh, you invade our privacy all the time, Discord,” Luna countered with a pout, unable to help herself.

Discord rolled his eyes. “That is different, and you know it! Sometimes I might stumble upon you ladies in awkward moments, or pop in and ask to join your sisterly fun, or even make note of something you’re doing out in the open that’s embarrassing, and I might even eavesdrop a little on communal conversation. But I certainly don’t sneak peeks behind closed doors! Just like we talked about with your bathroom—remember? And haven’t I not popped in their when one of you is in there ever since?” He turned forward and glared at both sisters. “And Luna, I know you don’t like anyone going near your room from our little misadventure when I first came to live here—do you think I sneak in there anyway or spy on you when you’re in there? Absolutely not! And Celestia, I know that when the door to your study is open during the day that it’s fair game for me to enter, but when it’s closed or you have a private meeting with a dignitary in there, do I barge in anyway with colorful jokes and chaotic antics? Absolutely not! And half the time it’s because I know if I’m good and leave you alone, maybe you’ll actually have time for one our cake midnight snacks.” He blinked as he suddenly realized the last thing that had left his mouth and then quickly cleared his throat and went on. “Anyway, my point is, the dining room door was clearly closed, I was clearly having a friend over for a private party, and you two spied on me and ruined the end of Fluttershy’s visit. And even I’m friendship savvy enough now to know that is not how friends behave at all.” He sighed and glanced to the side, looking a touch distressed and blushing again and mumbling. “My friendship with Fluttershy is our own business…. It’s not some spectacle for you to gawk at because you’re bored.”

Celestia and Luna had just listened to his rant with wide eyes and growing frowns.

Luna came forward now, all sarcasm and anger gone from her tone. She sighed. “Discord, you are absolutely right. And please accept my most humble apologies.” She bowed low. “This is all my fault. I’m the one who discovered you were having tea together and decided to spy. And I brought Celestia into it. Please forgive me.”

Celestia came forward too and shook her head. “But I shouldn’t have gone along with her. It was unkind of me, Discord, and unfair.” She bowed too. “If it’s any consolation though, we didn’t spy to tease you. We just thought it was so wonderful to see you so close with a dear friend. But that doesn’t change the fact that we had no right to do it.”

Discord was quite for a moment. Then he sighed, still glancing away, still blushing a little. “How long were you two here exactly?”

Celestia and Luna raised their heads, glanced at each other uneasily, and then looked back to Discord. Luna cleared her throat. “The last fifteen minutes or so.”

Discord blinked. Then he swallowed and blushed more. “I only knew you were here for about the last five. Great…” He sighed, and then seemed like he wasn’t sure what to do.

The sisters looked to each other again and then to Discord. Celestia spoke. “Discord, we won’t ever share with anybody anything we saw. And if there’s any way we could make it up to you, anything at all, we’ll do it. Just name it.” Luna nodded in agreement.

Discord was quite for a moment. But then he raised an eyebrow and his grin grew, and he moved very close to them... “Anything?

The sisters frowned in a touch of unease for a moment but then they nodded. “Yes, Discord,” Celestia replied, “anything.”

Discord’s eyes shone, and his grin grew to its fullest extent…

Twenty minutes later...

Discord rested on a large, cozy chair set at the tea table where he could overlook Celestia and Luna who were currently taking care of the tea things and dusting the room’s random furnishings and cleaning the windows by hoof…all while dressed in adorable French maid’s outfits.

“I think you missed a spot!” Discord remarked with a chuckle as he sipped some more tea from his cup which was currently suspended in the air by his side.

“Yes, Discord,” Luna put down the feather duster in her mouth and replied dryly, interrupting for a moment her cleaning of a picture frame on the wall.

“What was that?” Discord held a paw to his ear.

Luna sighed deeply, her voice going even flatter. “Yes, Discord…master of chaos, greatest comedian in the cosmos, and finest draconequus in all the land.”

Discord chuckled. “Better. I only have about ten minutes of this left until you’re done, so I want to savor every moment.” Discord took another sip of his tea and kicked back again.

Luna lowered her voice and came alongside her sister who was in the process of polishing a glass pane of one of the windows with a rag. “Let’s have Discord live with us, you said. It’ll be fun, you said. It’ll be an adventure in friendship, you said.”

Celestia sighed but couldn’t help smiling just a little. “Well, as Fluttershy puts it, our lives certainly are more...lively this way, heh.” She gave a small shrug and a sheepish grin. “Besides,” Celestia rolled her eyes, “at least you’re not the one he has on call for—”

“Oh, Celestia! I’m feeling peckish again! Another cupcake please! And I need a refill!” Discord’s voice suddenly rang out across the dining room.

Celestia sighed deeply and put down her cleaning rag. She approached Discord and made a cupcake platter appear in the air and then held out one to him with one hoof while she used her other hoof to refill his teacup. “Here you go, Discord.”

“Uh, uh, uh,” Discord shook his head, “what do we say while we’re serving me?”

Celestia tried very hard not to smile too much. “A cupcake and tea for your pleasure, oh brilliant and ever-entertaining Discord, spirit of chaos extraordinaire.”

“Thank you!” Discord nodded with a satisfied smile and then took the cupcake and ate it happily.

Celestia smiled a little and shook her head. Then across the room she caught the sound of Luna yawning. She glanced to her sister and then looked to Discord again. “Discord, if I stay to finish up serving you tea for both of us, can Luna leave early? She’s really supposed to be asleep now, and I don’t want her too tired for her nightly duties later.”

Discord sighed but nodded as he finished his cupcake. “Oh very well, as long as you stay, I suppose that’s fine.” He cleared his throat and addressed the night princess. “Luna, your sister has sprung you, you’re free to go! And I hope you’ve learned your lesson about the consequences of invading others’ privacy!”

Luna beamed and instantly made the feather duster and maid’s outfit disappear. “Most certainly! Pleasant afternoon, everypony!” And with that she dashed out of the dining room.

Celestia just shook her head and laughed softly as she watched her go. Then she lowered the cupcake platter to the table and looked to Discord with her usual pleasant smile. “What should I do next, Discord?”

Discord sighed, sipping his tea and glancing up at the ceiling. “Oh…I don’t know. It’d be nice if you could find this whole thing I’m putting you through more annoying for starters.” He looked to her and raised an eyebrow. “Luna was clearly perturbed by my demand for this maidservice/ ‘make up tea party’ thing. But you’re just as calm and pleased as ever. You really make annoying you a challenge, did you know that, Tia?” He grinned a little.

Celestia laughed softly. “But why be annoyed, Discord? It’s such a negative emotion. I’m sort of enjoying this actually. Maybe it’s a little inconvenient and embarrassing but…it’s nice in it’s own way.” She looked down. “I missed having a sibling to talk and tease for so long, and now I not only have Luna but you’re here too—kind of like the obnoxious older brother I never knew I wanted.” She looked up again.

Discord just eyed her curiously. “Ugh, you are far too forgiving,” he finally pronounced with an eye roll. “But fine then, if you insist on enjoying my pranks, I guess I can’t stop you…though I can work on other ways to annoy you.” He grinned a little more.

“Feel free, Discord,” Celestia smiled a little more in return. Then she moved closer to him, her voice lowering and her smile falling a little. “Discord, I just wanted to say again how sorry Luna and I are about spying on you and for interrupting your private time with Fluttershy. We promise, it will never happen again—you have our words.” She bowed her head.

Discord sighed and shrugged and placed his teacup down. “Yes, well…it’s fine, water under the bridge now. Just don’t let it happen again, like you said.” He rolled his eyes to the side. “And for the sake of diplomacy, I suppose I’m sorry about all that stuff I said about you and Luna during the five minutes when I knew you were there and wanted to bother you…. You know, the stuff about your castle being mice infested and you and Luna looking ghastly sometimes and the stuff about anti-aging cream and little spats…and spilling a little embarrassing moment or two that I’ve caught you two girls in.” Despite the sincere tone of the apology, at this point in delivering it he couldn’t help smirking at her a little.

“And the stuff about us lacking male companionship?” Celestia blushed slightly and glanced at him with a touch of amusement.

Discord’s smirk grew. “Well, I suppose I could have given you a little more credit. Dating isn’t everything, as Fluttershy pointed out, and besides Luna really was stuck on the moon for a thousand years so of course it’s understandable if it takes her a while to acclimate herself to the modern courtship scene. And as for you, you’ve done your best over the centuries, I’m sure. You at least seem to be getting more comfortable having me as a live in male friend. And since you almost always manage to stay poised around me even though I’m the most attractive and charming guy I know, I think that qualifies as a great accomplishment for you.” Discord chuckled.

Celestia just smiled at him more and shook her head (her blush persisting, though faint). “Discord just let me know when my time is up so that I can take off this outfit and go back to my duties, please.”

“Hey, you really want to have some fun?” The master of chaos smiled more. “Leave the maid outfit on all day while you’re doing your duties. Then you won’t have to be the one secretly watching the guards—the guards will be the ones secretly watching you. I mean more so than usual.” His laughter grew.

Celestia blinked and blushed distinctly. “Discord…! I-I really don’t think that’s ever the case.” She cleared her throat. “And besides, that day you saw Luna and I secretly looking over the guards, whenever it might have been—that’s just how Luna and I have chosen to start surprise inspections of the troops. There’s really nothing more to it than that.” Blushing entirely now, she finally just sighed and shook her head, bringing a hoof to her temple and trying not to smile. “Discord, why do you say these things?”

Discord just chuckled again. He was leaning over the table and practically gazing at her with interest now. “I say them because they’re true, dear Celestia. I personally think you and Luna have some more selfish motivations for randomly staring at a group of armored stallions from the secrecy of the hedges in your courtyard, even though I can’t prove it. And as for what I said about you keeping the maid’s outfit on, well, Tia, you can’t think you and Luna are the only ones I catch around here in candid moments. Of course the guards ‘notice’ you, of course everyone ‘notices’ you, Celestia…. Along with being the second nicest pony on the planet next to Fluttershy, you’re a not entirely unattractive mare. And by ‘not entirely unattractive’, I mean—”

“I-I have an idea of what you mean, thank you, Discord,” Celestia quickly managed, doing her best to keep poised though her features were flushed scarlet by now no matter how simple her smile was or how easy she had made her tone again.

Discord just grinned all the more and leaned back in his chair. “If it makes you feel any more comfortable, the guards pretty much evenly divide their time between noticing you and noticing Luna. If you both walked around in the maid’s outfits, no work would get done at all around here. Cue the changeling invasion and Sombra’s shadow ponies rising again and my return back to power.” He chuckled.

Celestia finally had to laugh a little too.

“Of course, personally, I think I pull off the look best of all.” He snapped his fingers, and suddenly Discord was wearing a French maid’s outfit too.

Celestia glanced at him and then couldn’t help bursting into warm laughter. Discord laughed too. Then he sighed. “By the way, I hate to admit this, but you time of servitude is up. You’re a free princess, Celestia.”

Celestia nodded. “Thank you, Discord. I have to go hold court soon anyway.” She turned toward the door but then paused and glanced over her shoulder, raising an eyebrow and grinning a little more. “But after I’m done, you wouldn’t to join me when I when I observe the changing of the guard today in the courtyard, would you? Somehow I think I’ll find it a little awkward today, and somehow I think you being there will help make it a little more amusing.”

Discord grinned and winked. “Can do.” He snapped, making the table and all of the tea things disappear and making a general’s outfit appear on himself complete with medals and a crop. He stood up straight and gave her a salute.

Celestia laughed more. “I’ll see you then, Discord.” She nodded her head and then she proceeded out of the dining room.

In the hallway, Celestia closed the doors behind her and then let out a breath, smiling to herself. “What am I going to do with him?” Suddenly she caught sight of a guard coming around the corner. Celestia smiled and approached him. “Oh excuse me, guard? I’m afraid I may be a few minutes late to court today. Will you kindly let the staff in the throne room know please and extend my apologies?”

Celestia was used to her guards nodding to her requests, saluting, saying they would be taken care of, and giving her a small bow before departing. She was not used to a guard nearly tripping over his own hooves, staring at her with wide eyes, and letting his jaw fall open as a dark blush stained his features.

Celestia raised an eyebrow, her smile falling. “Guard, are you all right?”

“I, um…” the guard swallowed and quickly shook his head, “Y-Yes, of course, your highness, I just, um…” He sighed and looked away. “I-I’ll take care of it.” And then his eyes hesitantly came back to her.

Celestia’s eyebrow went higher and she looked down at herself. “Is there something wrong? I—” Instantly, her eyes widened—she was still in the maid’s outfit. “Oh.” The sun princess blushed a little and looked to the guard with a small smile. “This outfit. My apologies, my sister and I were just playing a little game in the dining room, and…” From inside the dining room (right behind the doors actually) Celestia could hear some of Discord’s unbridled laughter…and it didn’t help that the guard’s jaw fell again at her attempt at an explanation, which she quickly realized wasn’t helping at all. Celestia sighed deeply. “Never mind.” She used her magic to remove the outfit. “I’ll just head to court now, I think. Thank you anyway for your help though.” She moved past the guard.

The guard nodded and cleared his throat. “Er…yes, whatever you say, your highness.” He managed a shaky sault.

Celestia smiled more, then paused and glanced at him over her shoulder. “And guard?”

He looked to her, eyes still wide in some disbelief, awaiting what she would have to say.

“Hmm…” Celestia’s eyes hazed playfully, “jaw closed please, posture straight, and I know it’s not part of your normal training etiquette, but please don’t stare. There’s going to be another surprise troops inspection sometime soon again, after all, and you’ll want to be prepared.” She smiled softly, doing her best not to blush.

The guard blinked and then instantly straightened up, closed his mouth, turned his sights forward, and gave a proper salute. “Yes, your majesty, a thousand pardons.”

“Not to worry.” Celestia nodded. “Good day.” And then she departed.

When she was gone, the guard couldn’t help blushing and shaking his head in disbelief.

Then suddenly with a snap and a burst of light and smoke, Discord appeared floating by the guard with a grin. “See, and you and the other guards probably thought it would be dangerous for me to live here with the princesses. But look how much I’ve loosened things up, even Celestia.” He chuckled and turned on his back. “Well, anyway, I’m off to make some chaos. Ta ta. And have fun serving your sun princess for the rest of the day.” Then he snapped his fingers and was gone.

The guard just stood alone in the hallway for a moment with wide eyes. And then he sighed very deeply and turned to go back to his rounds. “None of the other guards are going to believe this one—and considering some of the thing’s Discord’s put us through so far, that’s saying something.” His look went a little dry, and he mumbled to himself. “I wonder if we can negotiate a ‘cost of living with Discord’ raise.” And with that remark and a slight smile and shake of his head, he went along on his way to see to his duties (fighting back a very strong blush for the rest of the day).

Midquel 6: The One with the Poker Game

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The time was right around dusk, which not only meant a change in shift for the pony sisters but a change in shift for the guards and staff of the Canterlot castle as well. And with a long day’s work behind them and a full free evening being ahead (and it being a Saturday night), naturally a fair amount of the guards were getting together in their barracks for their weekly poker game to relax from the stresses of their job, share a little castle gossip, and just have some fun together.

The castle troops all knew each other pretty well—few guards ever requested transfer away from Canterlot, and the princesses rarely took on new guards except of course during the yearly assignments given out to fresh troops from the military academy…which was why it was definitely going to seem a little strange to the guards tonight when a new pony soldier showed up to their poker game.

However, this particular new soldier had already decided that the risk was worthwhile. But just to be absolutely certain that he wouldn’t be too questionable as a new stallion recruit, he moved away from the soldiers descending to the nightly poker game in the barracks and examined his appearance in a mirror down another hallway.

The stallion grinned—grey coat, darker grey mane, respectable unicorn horn, a cutie mark like a tornado whirlwind, some gold horseshoes and a gold helmet, perfectly proportioned flanks and legs and eyes and…

The pony (who was Discord in disguise, of course) blinked at the sight of his eyes—they were still yellow with red uneven pupils. He raised his (apparently) prehensile pony tail and snapped with the end of it, shut his eyes, then opened them to reveal a set of perfectly normal looking dark grey eyes.

Stallion Discord smiled and mumbled to himself. “Excellent, excellent…they’ll never realize it’s really me. Hmm…bit of a shame I have to make do without wings though, but I’ll live with it for a couple of hours. After all, I’m already living with changing my naturally dashing good looks for that long.” His grin picked up on one side, and he gave his reflection a suave look. “Still, I should keep this look in mind—maybe use it to bug Celestia a bit one of these days. If she thinks she’s confused when I flirt with her as myself, imagine how confused she’d be if I flirted with her as a member of her own species.”

Discord chuckled to himself but then noticed out of the corner of his eye that the last of the guards had now disappeared from the main hallway and into the barracks. He quickly turned and followed after them. ‘This is going to be perfect,’ Discord thought to himself as he trotted along. ‘I get a nice guys night out and I get to secretly pump the staff for feedback on how wonderful I’ve been doing at mastering the magic of friendship. Luna’s too stubborn to give me praise, and Celestia doesn’t want to contribute to my ego so she’s very modest in her compliments to me, and I don’t get to see Fluttershy nearly often enough to hear her tell me all about my wonderful progress. So won’t it be great to hear how impressed these little guard ponies must be with me? Imagine winning them over after only a few months—oh Discord, was there ever any doubt you’d be just as brilliant at friendship as you are at everything else?’ He chuckled to himself as he finally descended some stairs and entered the barracks.

The room was large with a roaring fire giving a bright, cheery glow to the high ceiling and the big round wooden table with chairs at the center of everything. Discord suppressed his normally attention-grabbing personality and did his best to linger in the shadows until the other guards had all found seats and set themselves up with some cider bottles and snacks. Then he casually shifted himself into a free spot at the table and started to gage the room as some general chatter went on around him. ‘Celestia, Luna, and the girls are pretty sharp—they’d spot me in a second as an imposter here. But after a long work week of saluting and marching I’m sure these muscle heads won’t even notice that there’s a new pony hanging around—

“Hey, haven’t seen you around before—are you new?”

Discord blinked and looked to his side to see a pegasus stallion guard looking at him with an eyebrow raised. Discord then glanced around at several other guards who were also now looking at him. He took a deep breath and then smiled and spoke casually, lowering his voice to disguise it a little. “Oh, yes, yes…my name is…” He glanced around, glanced down at himself, caught sight of his tornado cutie mark, and then looked back up again with a smile. “My name is Dizzy. Private Dizzy. I’m a new transfer from the reserves near Horseshoe Bay in the south. Just arrived today.”

Most of the guards smiled and shrugged at this reply, but one (clearly of a higher rank—a Captain), raised an eyebrow at Discord. “I don’t remember getting any notice about a new transfer—are you supposed to be with the nightshift maybe?”

Discord just shrugged. “Oh, well, you know, the whole thing is a little confusing—first Celestia wanted me, then Luna wanted me, but then Celestia really, really, really wanted me.” He tried very hard not to chuckle. “And eventually they just decided to bring me here and sort it out later amongst themselves. Heh…things have gotten kind of crazy ever since Equestria went from a land of one immortal princess to a land of two, am I right?” He glanced around to the other guards with a grin.

The other guards couldn’t help glancing at him and at each other and then chuckling a little.

“Yeah, that’s a good point.”

“It has been a big change.”

“And now there’s Princess Twilight Sparkle on top of it all.”

The Captain finally relaxed a little and smiled. “Well, anyway, welcome, Private Dizzy. We’re always happy to have a new stallion around to help us guard the princesses.” The Captain started dealing the cards for the first game.

Discord smiled and nodded. “Thank you.” Some bottles of cider started to be passed around, and Discord used his magic to take one, then added, “And, uh…I hear that master of chaos fellow, Discord, is living here as well?” He glanced at the other guards as casually as possible.

And the other guards responded with general sighs and eye rolls, a few shakes of the head and a few chuckles as well.

“Yeah,” nodded the guard to Discord’s left, “He’s living here. So you’re definitely going to have to brace yourself for that.”

Discord tried not to pout, but couldn’t help his tone sounding a tiny bit defensive as he replied, “But I heard he was reformed now and that he was learning to be a very excellent friend—even the princesses have been impressed with him.” His proud smile returned.

“The princesses encourage him,” another guard replied, finishing a sip of his cider. “But Discord doesn’t make it easy for them, and he can make things difficult for us too with how inconsiderate he can be about the use of his powers and with how many liberties he takes with the princesses.”

“Yeah.” Another guard nodded. “We know if the princesses really wanted our help with him, they would ask, but still it makes a pony uncomfortable watching a former villain get so close to Celestia and Luna and use his magic so freely near them.”

Another guard sighed. “I guess he’s trying, but he really needs to stop being so selfish in how he goes about the whole thing. It makes it hard to tell if he really is taking this reform seriously.”

“Oh…I see.” Discord just looked down at his cider bottle, trying to avoid a deep scowl coming to his features. ‘Inconsiderate? Liberties? Selfish? Oh, even if I was entirely faking this reform, I’m far too good an actor to make such an obvious show about it! And who cares what they think anyway, they’re just a bunch of silly ponies. It’s not like their opinions matter to me. It’s not like I maybe hoped they might like me because it’d be nice to have a few stallion friends to go along with the princesses and the girls.’ “Well, I’m sure he’s trying…” ‘Dizzy’ finally mumbled, slumping down in his chair and taking a swig from his bottle.

A guard sighed and picked up his now complete poker hand to glance over it. “Yeah, I ‘m sure he is. But that’s what worries us—if this is the best he can do, it might not be enough to let the magic of friendship help completely reform him. And if he ever had to go back to stone…” He frowned a little and lowered his cards. “Well, it’s one thing for us guards to discipline him or to set boundaries, it would be another thing after everything that’s happened for us to have to be part of imprisoning him like that again.”

Discord raised an eyebrow at this remark and waited for the others to go on. Meanwhile, cards were discarded and chosen by all of the players, including Discord despite how distracted he was.

Another guard nodded. “Yeah, I mean…he’s obnoxious, but we’ve gotten to know him now, and it would feel pretty bad if we had to be part of sending him away again. And it would upset the princesses a lot, especially Celestia. And especially that Fluttershy pegasus.”

The other guards all nodded and made remarks of agreement.

Discord looked around at them all, his eyes wide with interest. “I, uh…I understand why Fluttershy would be upset—I’ve heard they’re best friends. But do you think Celestia would be very upset too?”

The Captain nodded. “Of course. She’s tried so hard to be friends with him, she knows him better than any of us. I think it would hurt her a lot to have to send him back to stone.”

The other guards all muttered replies of agreement.

Discord looked down at his poker hand. “Yes, well…I’m sure he doesn’t want to hurt her…or Fluttershy or anybody else. I’m sure he’s just getting used to being free again even if there have been some snags in his reform. Besides, I’d imagine his chaos is difficult for most ponies to understand. Even Celestia doesn’t seem to understand it entirely, and she’s known him for forever practically.”

The other guards all shrugged and nodded and murmured general replies of assent. Then their focus started to return to their poker hands. The Captain pushed some bits forward on the table. “I’ll start the betting at ten bits.” The other guards began to place bets as well. Discord did the same, though with his brow furrowed in an expression suggesting he was a little lost in thought.

“Discord’s not so bad though,” one of the guards then added with a small smile and a shrug “He definitely needs some improvement in the friendship department, and his powers are a little scary sometimes, but he’s also kind of funny in a weird way.”

“Yeah, and he did throw those two great parties so far,” another guard chimed in.

All of the guards nodded and smiled in agreement.

Discord perked up considerably. He looked from guard to guard at the table. “You really liked his parties then?”

“Yeah, sure!” The guard to his right shrugged. “Usually the only parties that ever get thrown around here are high society teas or the Grand Galloping Gala, and mostly we’re working those or they’re way too stuffy to be enjoyable at all. It was great getting to have a couple of real blowouts here.”

“I’ll say one thing—that guy really does know how to throw a party.” Another guard laughed, and the others joined in.

Naturally, Discord was beaming at this point.

“And that party he threw for the princesses to make up for everything that happened to them with the vines really was fun.” Another guard sighed and smiled. “I guess he does care, but maybe it’s just taking him a while to show it completely.”

“Oh.” Discord blinked. “So everyone knows that he threw that party to make things up to the princesses then?” He swallowed and glanced to the side uncomfortably.

The Captain nodded. “It ended up being pretty obvious. At first we thought he was just doing it to get in good with the princesses after the vines thing, but he put so much effort into it, and he did help Princess Twilight rescue them. I think Celestia and Luna enjoying the party and continuing their friendship with him must have meant a lot to him.”

The other guards nodded.

Discord glanced around quickly and then cleared his throat. “Well, er...just remember that Discord also just really likes a good party. I mean, he might be reformed but I’m sure he hasn’t gone soft enough to actually do something like throw a party for a totally selfless reason.” He tried not to blush, and just hoped his dusky coat might hide some of the color if he was. Just in case though, he hid himself behind his cider bottle to take another swig.

“Maybe not,” one of the guards offered with a smile. “But he might be getting there, at least with the princesses.” He glanced down at his hand and sighed. “I fold.” He glanced up as some of the other guards either likewise folded their hands or started to throw in bits for betting. “It would just be nice if Discord wouldn’t mess with the staff here so much though. He’s always spying or playing silly pranks or trying to practice his chaos on us in little ways. He’s clearly taking the time to try and be friends with the princesses, but with us or the citizens in town and even with the members of Twilight’s court outside of Fluttershy he can be kind of…dismissive.” He shrugged. “I guess he doesn’t mean to be, and it must be weird for him being eons old and all powerful like he is and trying to relate to normal, average ponies, which I guess explains why he gets along with Luna and Celestia best, but still…it’d be nice if he could tone down the ego a bit, you know?”

“Oh yeah…” several guards said at once, while the others nodded and murmured assent.

“Oh, but… “ Discord rolled his eyes to the side innocently, pushing in some extra bits for betting. “I thought his…strong sense of pride was one of his more colorful traits.”

The guard to Discord’s right sighed and shook his head. “Pride we could handle—Luna’s got loads of that. But even though she’s proud of her title and her powers and her position, she doesn’t lord it over anypony, or at least not anymore. She doesn’t try to act superior, and she doesn’t expect everyone to be impressed with her all of the time.”

Another guard nodded. “Yeah. Discord can’t stop showing off and can’t stop always finding ways to remind us that he could turn us all into cupcakes if he the mood struck him, and that the mood might very well strike him at any moment.”

Discord sighed and looked down at his cards. “Well, that’s a point to make I suppose.” He shifted a card. “But as you said, he is different and powerful, so maybe it really is just hard for him to relate to ponies on a normal level.”

“Well, it would probably be hard for normal ponies to relate to him too,” the Captain suggested with a smile as he took a sip from his cider bottle. “But no one knows until they try.”

The other guards smiled and nodded as they went about their various moves in the poker game and likewise consumed some of their own bottles of cider.

Discord, however, just nodded and remained still—once again his brow was furrowed deep in thought.

Some normal chatter between some of the guards started up as one game passed and then another one was started. And then finally Discord cleared his throat, knew it might be suspicious for him to come back to the topic of himself yet again but decided to try anyway, and said, “So…should we trust Discord then? I mean…how on guard should I be about him?”

The Captain sighed but smiled. He glanced at his other troops and then at his new recruit. “I think we’ve all decided that as long as the princesses trust him, we’ll trust him too for now. We have great faith in Luna and Celestia’s judgment.”

“But he hasn’t earned your trust yet on his own?” Discord asked.

The guards all looked at each other. One looked to Discord and spoke up. “I just don’t think enough time has passed for that.”

Discord nodded. “I see.” He focused on his cards for a moment and considered. “But…he does contribute something worthwhile to the castle, right? And he is at least a little likeable?”

The guard to his right shrugged and discarded a few cards. “He’s likeable, he’s just more likeable to himself than to anyone else right now. But he is kind of fun to have around. Things around here can get a little dull and predictable”

“I’ll say,” the guard to Discord’s left chimed in. “But with him around everyday is sort of an interesting challenge.” (Discord started to smile a little again…and then the guard went on). “And I guess we do sort of like it—and Celestia definitely likes it.”

The guards all broke into some warm chuckles complete with distinct grins.

Discord glanced at all of them with an eyebrow raised and his own grin picking up on one side.

The Captain got his laughter under control and glanced to ‘Dizzy.’ “Private, there’s a bit of a running joke around here that you’ll have to get used to. It’s a little awkward.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “You see, part of Discord’s friendship with the princesses is teasing them a little, and part of how he teases Celestia is that he…well, he…”

Discord grinned more and couldn’t help himself. “…He flirts with her?”

The other guards blinked.

“How did you know?” asked the Captain.

Discord shrugged. “Oh, just a guess. Celestia is rather admirable after all, and Discord—uh, from what I’ve skimmed in the history books—is quite charming. And living with two beautiful mares, he was bound to start teasing at least one of them in that way.”

The other guards all smiled and laughed a little again.

“Yes, well…” The Captain sipped his cider again. “You’ve got it. He makes romantic remarks to Princess Celestia frequently, teases her, and insists on spending quite a lot of time with her. But that’s only half the joke around the castle. The other half is that Celestia might actually have a little preference for him considering everything she lets him get away with.”

The other guards all had to stifle some chuckles.

Discord just looked around at all of them, an eyebrow raised and his grin still lingering but faltering a little. He laughed at first but then cleared his throat. “Wait you’re…you’re not serious…are you?”

The Captain sighed. “Now listen, Dizzy, I know you’re new to serving here, and believe me we’re all very respectful of Celestia and Luna. But well…like you said, they are a pair of very beautiful mares…that we technically live with. So sometimes we might make little ‘observations’ to each other about them, all in good fun of course.”

“Yeah,” another guard chimed in, grinning a little more. “I mean, we do have two of the prettiest bosses in Equestria. And we’re all guys here.”

Another guard nodded. “Honestly, we’re just kind of astounded and impressed that Discord’s had the courage to actually flirt with the princess. And we can’t believe how well she’s taken to it. And she did make the offer to let him live here. So maybe she does like when he talks to her like that.”

“Could you even imagine Celestia in love?” another guard asked, and the whole table smiled warmly at the idea.

Discord blushed so completely that for a moment his eyes flickered back to normal and he had to blink a couple of times to change them back to pony form. “I-In love?!” He scoffed and quickly grabbed his cider bottle to take a deep drink. He let out a breath and tried to grin normally again as he moved the bottle away from himself. “Whoa, whoa, that’s a little intense, don’t you think?” He rubbed the back of his neck.

Another guard shrugged. “Stranger things have happened. And Princess Cadance got married—why shouldn’t Celestia?”

“Married?!” Discord almost fell out of his chair. “O-Okay, now I know you guys are just kidding me, heh…” He was gripping his cards so hard with his magic that he was almost crushing them.

The Captain chuckled and smiled warmly. “Oh, we’re sure she wouldn’t rush into anything, of course. It’s just interesting to see her expressing any sort of interest in a guy as a mare and wondering where things might go from here.”

Discord let out a breath and smiled more. “Oh, so the whole thing’s the joke then?”

Another guard shook his head, “Not entirely. Celestia does enjoy spending an awful lot of time with him, after all. I mean, how many nights a week are they together in the kitchen?”

“Celestia definitely has an awareness of Discord as a guy, or she wouldn’t blush nearly as much as she does around him,” another guard chimed in with a chuckle. “And speaking of that, how cute is it when she blushes? I never thought we’d see that from her ever. She’s always so poised normally.”

The other guards chuckled and smiled and nodded.

Discord just looked around at all of them in bewilderment, barely able to hold back a scoff let alone fake some laughter to join them. “Oh come on…. Do you guys think she really likes him like that? I mean, has she actually said something…?”

“No.” The Captain shrugged and exchanged some cards. “But she lets him get away with a lot more flirting than any other dignitary or important guest.”

Another guard nodded. “Yeah, and I’m dating one of the maids, and according to her all the maids seem to think that Celestia at least thinks he’s cute.”

“Cute?” Discord blinked and almost frowned a little, then just raised an eyebrow.

The guards all nodded and gave replies of assent.

One of them chuckled. “Yeah, it’s funny. I think ponies always wondered about what type of pony Celestia would go for considering she’s an alicorn: earth pony or unicorn or pegasus. But maybe it turns out she’s not into ponies at all.”

“Well, I don’t know about that…” Discord murmured, rolling his eyes to the side.

“Though Discord is close to an alicorn if you think about it,” another guard chimed in. “he can fly, he can do magic, and he’s the only guy around actually taller than her.”

“Well, I guess that’s a point…” added Discord in another mumble.

“It’s almost sort of cute watching her enjoy the attention he’s giving her,” another guard added, and several of the guards chuckled warmly at this remark.

“Yeah, okay, I’ll admit, Celestia flustered is…nice to see.” ‘Dizzy’ managed quietly. “Still though…”

“Yeah…. I wonder if that means she’ll be more open to courting once he’s fully reformed and leaves here.”

“Maybe she and Luna’ll start bringing princes and dukes and earls through here all the time looking for suitors.”

“Celestia’s gotten so used to spending nights with Discord in the kitchen, I’m sure she’ll at least want a fill for that in a.s.a.p.”

Discord frowned a little and suddenly spoke up more. “Hey now, there’s no need to rush her about that or to rush Discord about moving out.” He shrugged. “I mean, maybe those cake nights with him are just something special between friends and maybe Discord couldn’t be replaced that easily. Besides, I suppose it’s Celestia’s business what she does at nighttime and who she does it with.”

The Captain shrugged, finishing another swig of his cider. “Well, you’re right about that, private. Technically she is off duty after sunset now.”

“I guess I never thought much about what Celestia must do in her private time.” One of the guards put a hoof to his chin. “It’s kind of hard not to just think of her as our boss doing her princess duties.”

Another guard nodded and finished a swig of cider. “But at least she has Luna now to talk to about private stuff, and Twilight Sparkle too now that she’s a princess.”

Discord raised an eyebrow, looking back and forth between the guards. “Yes, but…Celestia and Luna keep completely opposite schedules—they can only have so much time together. And Twilight doesn’t even live here anymore, and most of her time communicating with Celestia has been homework.”

Several of the guards considered this reply and then one responded with a smile, “Well, I’m sure she’s gotta have friends in the Canterlot gentry and diplomats from other places who she must confide in and talk casually with all of the time as close friends.”

Discord only raised his eyebrow even higher (and frowned completely now). He knew just from observing her over these weeks that Celestia kept her meetings with diplomats strictly about business and not about herself. And if she and Luna really could spend so little time together, and if Twilight really was so busy in Ponyville with friendship, and if Cadance was busy with Shining Armor and the Crystal Empire, and if none of the staff felt up to chatting with her… “So…no one around here ever just pulls her aside for a cup of cider and to ask about her day?” he had to ask. “Because that sounds sort of…lonely.” And something inside of Discord silently added, ‘Like being a statue all alone in a garden.’

The Captain’s smile faltered for a moment at that observation but then managed a smile again. “Well, we try our best to look out for her and keep her company, but I’d feel a little funny prying into her private affairs like that. The princesses seem to value their privacy. I mean, if we were really good, close friends it would be one thing, but most of us just work here and know the princess casually from the job.”

Everyone nodded and gave brief comments of assent.

Discord shifted in a little in his chair and looked down a little. “Well…maybe that’s why she likes spending time with Discord. Maybe she just wants someone to talk to.” Every guard at the table looked around at each other in interest, sympathy, and just a touch of confusion. Discord looked up and saw their responses. He quickly cleared his throat and added with a grin and a small scoff, moving things along before he could trip himself up and say anything else too suspicious. “And, uh…all of you really think she thinks he’s cute?”

The Captain’s smile grew and he shrugged. “Probably. Mares can be a little confusing though, am I right?” He grinned at the other guards, who all grinned in return and nodded.

Discord managed to smile again and rolled his eyes with a small chuckle.

One of the guards then smirked and glanced at his fellow guard at his side. “I still don’t believe that story you told about the French maid’s outfit, by the way.”

The guard (who was indeed the one Discord had seen in the hall after his little tea party adventure with Fluttershy and the princesses a couple of weeks ago) blinked and then laughed and held up his hoof. “Hey, I swear it’s true. I thought I was dreaming for a second, or that one of you unicorns had transfigured to look like her and you were playing a prank, or that it was Discord in disguise, but it was really her. Ask her—she’s Celestia, she wouldn’t deny it’s the truth.”

The other guard rolled his eyes. “Yeah, like I’m going to ask Celestia something like that. Meanwhile though, you want to complain about the unpredictability of living with Discord and how we could use some hazard pay or something, but as far as I’m concerned, random Celestia moments like that are all the extra compensation we need.”

The other guards shared a warm laugh (and even Discord couldn’t help grinning and laughing a little).

Another guard nodded. “It is kind of interesting seeing Celestia loosen up and have fun so much with Discord around. Did you see how she danced with him at that first house party?”

“Yeah, on two hooves.” Another guard sighed and grinned. “I wish I was two feet taller and could try that with her. What a woman.”

While the other guards couldn’t help but take on dreamy grins, Discord hid behind his poker hand a little and smirked in satisfaction.

A guard laughed and turned to the guard who had just spoken. “You could probably try it with Luna. She’s a bit shorter.”

“True….” The guard laughed and then considered. “Do you think Celestia let’s Discord that close all of the time?” He glanced around the table.

Discord couldn’t help himself. He cleared his throat, smiled, and spoke casually. “Oh yes, I would imagine so. He really is a special friend to her, I think…at least from what I’ve heard all of you say.”

The other guards considered and then nodded.

“She did let him stay in her room that first night he came to live here,” one of the guards announced, looking around the room with a meaningful gaze.

The rest of the guards looked at him and then at each other just as meaningfully, and there was a silent pause. (Discord just watched the proceeding with great interest).

Finally the Captain sighed. “Okay, look guys, come on, we all know nothing happened.” He blushed a little, looked down, and raised his cider bottle for another drink. “The princess is way too classy for that, and anyway Luna would have destroyed Discord.”

The guards smiled and nodded, but one couldn’t help sighing and adding, “Still, I’d love to know what that’s like…a night even just near the princess.”

Discord couldn’t help smiling a little himself. “I’m sure it’s a very special thing. And that Discord is one of the few who will ever know what it’s like.”

The guard to his right smirked a little. “I wonder if she’s, you know…ever flirty at all.

The guard to Discord’s left grinned and shook his head. “Come on, you know how modest Celestia is. Luna I could see being flirty, but I’ll bet Celestia is perfectly professional when she’s alone with a guy who’s a friend, just like when she’s hosting dignitaries or something.”

Discord couldn’t help glancing at the two of them uncomfortably, and then he cleared his throat and added, “Well, I bet she’s just very friendly and very kind. And trusting…. Like she would do anything to make you feel welcome and even tuck you in if you got cold or something.” He smiled a little to himself (and the guards couldn’t help noticing). Discord blinked and looked up, and suddenly noticed all of the guards noticing him very much. “Just, um…just speculating.” He cleared his throat and quickly went back to ‘focusing’ on his poker hand.

The guards went back to looking at each other, and now they started throwing in bits for bets. Another one of them spoke up. “Do you guys think Discord really wants a shot with her or that he’s just playing around?”

One guard put a hoof to his chin. “Honestly, I’m not sure. But most people want a shot with the princess, or they would take one if it came to them.”

Another guard shook his head. “No, I think he’s just messing around and bothering her for the fun of it. Remember, we’re not even sure if he’s fully reformed yet. What do you think, Dizzy?” The guard looked to ‘Dizzy.’

Discord’s eyes went wide and he couldn’t help a slight blush coming to his features at being so suddenly addressed, and about this topic no less. “Oh, I…I, um…” He tried to think and then just let something tumble out of his mouth. “I don’t know. She’s a nice mare, but he might not be nice enough for her or even want to be. But he might sort of think she’s cute too…in a way. “ He swallowed and smiled and shrugged and found a way to fix the very embarrassing turn this moment had taken. “Or maybe it’s all just a big joke.” His grin picked up on one side. “Maybe he’ll pull a big one eighty on us and go for Luna.”

The other guards all smiled and burst into laughter.

“Good one!” the Captain announced (and inside Discord breathed a sigh of relief at having diffused such an awkward situation).

“Luna would turn him into a crater,” another guard remarked.

“She’s passionate enough to turn anyone into a crater,” another guard added, and then he grinned. “Still, you might have a fun week or so before then—it might be worth it.

The guards all laughed again.

Then the Captain let out a sigh and shook his head with a smile. “Okay, come on, guys, Luna’s nice in her own way, and we really shouldn’t talk about the princesses like this so much. Let’s get back to the game.”

“Can we at least talk about the maids?” one of the guards piped up cheekily.

The Captain shrugged, still smiling. “Fair enough.”

“Ooo do any of them think Discord’s cute?” Discord couldn’t help himself.

The guard to his left shrugged. “They think he’s funny. But if he snaps and makes the furniture in a room appear on the ceiling and the chandelier end up sticking up out of the floor one more time just for kicks, I think the maids going to bind and gag him with dust cloths and toss him in a broom closet.”

Discord chuckled. “Yes, I suppose he should stop picking on them—save all of his strength for flirt-er, bothering Celestia.”

The whole table burst into laughter again.

The Captain smiled. “All right, guys, let’s really get this game going. And someone open up another crate of cider!” The table cheered in approval.

And then finally the poker night was truly able to go off full swing with only occasional bits of talk about Discord or the princesses going on here or there. Discord only stayed for a few more hands though—he did have a cake date with Celestia tonight to keep after all. And besides, he had already heard quite a lot more than he had bargained for from this little escapade of his. He had a lot to think about.

Late that night…

Something very unexpected was going on during Discord and Celestia’s little midnight snack at the moment. The two were present in the kitchen (as usual), the two were eating cake (as usual), but rather than colorful jokes from Discord and laughter and calm advice from Celestia, there was just silence between the two friends as they ate. And the silence persisted because Discord wasn’t saying anything.

At first, Celestia had hardly noticed him being a little quieter than usual when he had joined her this evening. But as their time together had progressed, his silence couldn’t help but become more and more obvious. And as they had moved on to second slices of cake, she finally observed how lost in thought he seemed—his brow was slightly furrowed and his eyes looked far away like his head was calculating something.

Finally the sun princess took a breath and addressed the situation directly.

“Discord,” she dabbed at her mouth with a napkin and lowered it, “Is something the matter?”

“Hmm?” the master of chaos barely replied back, still looking down at his barley touched cake slice.

Celestia raised an eyebrow. “Discord?”

This time he didn’t reply at all except for a sigh, and that fixated look was still on his face.

Celestia smiled a little. “I just wanted to say I think I’m sick of cake—in fact, I’m swearing off of it entirely.”

“That’s nice…” Discord mumbled back. “You must be very proud.”

“And I’m thinking of banishing Twilight and the girls just for fun.” Celestia raised her eyebrow a little higher.

Discord shrugged. “If you think that’s best.”

Celestia frowned a little. Her tone (and look) went a bit dry. “And I’ve decided to take your suggestion and to start wearing a French maid’s outfit around here all of the time from now on.”

“Hmm?” Discord continued to play with his cake.

Celestia rolled her eyes and now lightly nudged him with her hoof. “Discord!”

“Ow!” Discord winced, then he blinked a few tines and glanced at her. “Sheesh, Celestia, don’t you realize how much it hurts when you do that when you’re wearing golden horseshoes?”

Celestia just smiled a little. “Discord, what’s bothering you? You’ve barely said a word since you came to the kitchen, and you weren’t listening to me at all just now.”

Discord scoffed and rolled his eyes to the side innocently. “I was listening!”

“Then what did I say?” Celestia raised an eyebrow.

Discord considered for a moment, then shrugged. “Something about friendship? Heh…”

Celestia sighed. “Discord, tell me what’s on your mind. If something’s bothering you, I want to help.” She smiled again.

Discord hesitated. And then he looked back at his cake with an awkward pout. “It’s nothing, really. Don’t worry about it.”

Celestia took a deep breath and nodded. “Very well, Discord. But if you do ever need to talk, I’m always here for you.” And with a small smile she went back to her cake.

The pair ate in silence once more.

Then Discord sighed. “Say…Tia? If I went back to…if I moved out…would you start spending nights in the kitchen like this with someone else?”

Celestia put down her fork and turned to Discord, her eyes a little wide. “If you…moved out?”

Discord didn’t look away from his cake. He just shrugged and nodded. “Yes, if I ‘moved out’.”

They both knew they were talking about either actually moving out or ‘moving out’ in the sense of him returning to some form of imprisonment. They both also knew that they didn’t need to address that fact directly.

Celestia considered Discord’s question. “Well, I might have Luna join me for cake some nights when she can. But then again we’ve always had the occasional nightly snack between shifts.”

Discord shook his head and glanced at her. “No, I mean, like…who would you have your cake dates with if I wasn’t around?”

Celestia blinked and raised an eyebrow. “…Well…just myself, I suppose. It wouldn’t be the same with anyone else.” She swallowed and looked at him a little more meaningfully. “Discord, are you thinking of leaving?”

Discord shook his head. “No, no, of course not. Just curious.”

Celestia’s smile returned. “Our friendship is very special to me, Discord. No one could ever replace what we have together. Without you, even if I had someone to come back here and have cake with…well, it just wouldn’t be a cake date. Those only really happen with you. I promise. And I enjoy them very much and hope we’ll have many more to come.”

“Oh.” Something like a smile started to return to Discord’s features. “So, it’s kind of like how I could have tea with you sometimes and Luna, but that doesn’t really replace my special tea parties with Fluttershy?”

Celestia smiled more and nodded. “Exactly.”

“And you like having these nightly meetings with me?” he added.

“Yes.” Celestia nodded. “Of course I do, Discord.”

Discord’s smile returned completely and he even started eating some cake. Celestia smiled at the sight and returned to her cake as well.

“Celestia?” Discord raised an eyebrow and glanced at her as he swallowed his cake.

“Yes?” Celestia glanced back at him.

“If what I did end up doing was moving out, how would you feel about us still having cake like this sometimes? Just as a diplomatic thing of course.” Discord rolled his eyes to the side nonchalantly. “A moment of parlay between the master of chaos and the princess of the sun.”

Celestia blinked and smiled at him with interest as she finished a bite of cake and nodded. “I’d like that very much actually, Discord. Even if we didn’t live together, I’d want our friendship to be as strong as ever.”

Discord’s grin picked up on one side into a smirk. “Yes, well…who can deny how enjoyable my presence is?”

Celestia chuckled softly. “And perhaps, wherever you choose to live, sometimes I could come see you too?”

Discord’s eyes went wide and he raised an eyebrow. “You could come and see me where I…. Well…” he grinned, “Well, yes, why not? I think I’d like that too, for you to visit, no matter where I am.” His eyes went down to the cake on his plate, and he played with some crumbs. “You know, again, just for the sake of diplomacy and for keeping you from getting too bored without an official late night snack buddy.”

Celestia smiled at first at his joke but then frowned a little. She wanted to tell him that she would try to find another prison for him besides stone if it came to that. And she wanted to tell him that even if the prison was stone again, she would visit this time and often. But it was still a subject better left undiscussed, and she knew it.

Celestia looked down at her own plate, considered, and then smiled a little and found a good subject change. “So, did you have fun spying on the guards today, Discord?”

Discord shrugged. “Oh, it was interesting. I—…” His eyes went wide and he lowered his fork and looked at her, his curious gaze searching her warm one for a moment before he finally just asked, “How did you know?”

Celestia smiled in that all knowing way of hers and shrugged. “On my way here, I heard some of the guards mentioning a new recruit from the south at their poker game and how he was funny and how they couldn’t find him now but he was a grey pony with very unruly hair who liked to talk an awful lot about Discord. And I think the name ‘Dizzy’ was brought up as well.” A small smirk couldn’t help coming to her features. “A few of them were starting to worry that he was part of a Changeling invasion, but I assured them that ‘Private Dizzy’ had just been temporarily transferred.” She put a hoof to her mouth, clearly trying to hold back a laugh.

Discord just shrugged and rolled his eyes to the side, playing with his cake again. “I appreciate you covering for me. And I just felt like seeing what they really thought about me. And eavesdropping of a kind always seems to be the best way to get that information.” He chuckled.

Celestia smiled and shook her head. “And did you hear anything good?”

Discord glanced at her, his eyes narrowing. “They talked about you a lot.” He smirked. “Told you, Tia.

Instantly, the sun princess blushed lightly and then glanced down to her cake.

Discord leaned in close to her. “Want to hear what they said?”

“No, I’d rather not, Discord.” Celestia straightened up and kept her focus on taking the occasional bite of her cake.

Discord chuckled and grinned more at her, unable to help himself. “Oh fine.” He pulled back and stretched a little. “Actually I didn’t just go to hear about myself, you know, though I liked getting a fresh perspective on how I’m doing at this ‘friendship’ thing. I also sort of wanted a ‘guys night’ out, and I figured being disguised as a pony was the only way I was going to get one. Not that I don’t just adore you and Luna and the girls, Celestia, but sometimes a fella wants to kick back with a card game, some corn nuts, and a few good off-color mare jokes. I had fun.” He reclined back in his chair a little.

Celestia rolled her eyes and smiled a little more. “Well, I’m happy you enjoyed yourself then, Discord. And I understand—sometimes Luna and I like a good mares night ourselves.” She ate another bite of cake.

Discord’s grin picked up on one side. “Ooo so you can giggle and gossip about charming old me?”

Celestia lightly nudged him, her smile picking up a little on one side as well. “No more than we do when you’re around Discord.”

Discord chuckled and finished off another bite of cake. “But really, Celestia, are you sure you don’t want to hear what they said about you? This could be your one and only chance to know exactly what your guards think about their eternally youthful mare princess…”

Celestia just sighed deeply, maintaining her poised smile. “Why don’t you tell me what they said about you instead?”

“Oh,” Discord shrugged, “that I’m a little odd, a little unpredictable, perhaps even a teensy bit selfish at times…but that I bring something amusing to the castle. I almost think they like me some of the time.” He smiled proudly.

“Maybe you should try socializing with them as yourself—some of them might actually want to be friends with you.” Celestia smiled more.

A chuckle escaped Discord, and he shook his head. “One step at a time, Tia. One step at a time.” He took another bite of cake and glanced at her again. “You and Luna are good enough castle friends for me now.”

Celestia smiled warmly. Then she took a breath, and her tone grew a little more somber again. “Discord? Promise me that if…or when…you do decide to move out, you’ll let me know well in advance?”

“Want to throw a celebration party?” Discord grinned at her and raised an eyebrow.

Celestia smiled. “Well…maybe a going away party. But mostly I’d want a chance to get used to the idea of you leaving.” She looked up to his eyes. “…You really would visit still for nights like this with me?”

Discord blinked, his eyes went a little wide and his grin faltered. And he suddenly found himself very aware of the fact that they were alone and Celestia was sitting right beside him looking up into his eyes, asking for his presence…seeming so happy that they would have nights together.

Discord blinked a couple of times and swallowed. He cleared his throat and resumed his grin and his usual snarky, charming tone (as best he could). “Well of course I would still visit for cake, Celestia. You’re my friend, after all, and I suppose a few mutual meals together wouldn’t hurt.” He sighed and added with a shrug, “And I suppose I’ll tell you long before I decide to leave…if it means that much to you, I mean.”

Discord glanced to Celestia out of the corner of his eye to see her smiling warmly. The sun princess nodded. “Thank you, Discord.”

Discord grinned and looked to her more again. “You know, we’ve really got to get you a boyfriend, Tia—you should not be this hard up for nightly companions.” He chuckled. “Ow!”

Celestia had just given him a light hit in the shoulder again with her hoof. She rolled her eyes and had to try not to laugh (or to blush too much). “Discord,” she shook her head to herself, “I know you like to tease me, but why do you have this strange obsession with my love life?” Her eyes happened to meet his again.

Discord merely grinned cheekily back at her. “Just trying to be a good friend. Good friends make sure their friends are well taken care of in every way, right?”

Celestia couldn’t help a light blush persisting. “I appreciate your concern, Discord. But I can take care of myself.” She sighed and shook her head, trying not to smile too much as she went back to taking another bite of cake. “Though if I choose to let anyone else care for me in a special way, I’ll let you know.” She glanced at him, and her grin picked up on one side. “Meanwhile, you’d think you’d have more concern with getting yourself a girlfriend.”

Discord blinked and then instantly waved her off with a scoff and a smile. “Me, a girlfriend? Oh, I’ve already got you and Luna and Fluttershy and the girls to wrangle—that’s more than enough women in my life for now, thank you very much.” He chuckled.

Celestia laughed in return. “Fair enough, Discord.”

The pair were finished with their current cake slices, and so Discord and Celestia each used some magic to get themselves fresh pieces.

But before their cake date could finally turn into one of their usual friendly if sarcastic banter sessions for the night, Discord glanced at Celestia out of the corner of his eye and made an unexpected (and unprecedented) offer. “So…tell me about your day, Tia.”

Celestia blinked and paused in magically raising a forkful of cake to her mouth. “My day?” During these private times together Celestia had often asked about Discord’s day (and gotten many colorful responses), Discord had sometimes brought up points of friendship that he had questions about, or (most commonly) witty jokes and a few well-intentioned mild pranks had been shared between the two of them. But now Discord had asked her about her day—like a friend would. Still though Celestia had to smile and shake her head. “Oh Discord, I’m not sure if you want to hear about that. My days are very orderly.”

Discord rested his head on his hand and looked at her fully with a little smirk. “Then it will be a challenge of friendship for me to listen—try me, Celestia.”

Celestia smiled back at him, an eyebrow raised. She considered, and then she resumed magically eating her cake as she began her reply. “Well, Discord, my day started out with four meetings in a row, each scheduled exactly an hour apart, and I was on time to each one.”

“Oh, I’m wounded,” Discord replied sarcastically with a roll of his eyes and a chuckle. “Do go on, Celestia, I can handle your silly schedule. And then we can talk about something fun like my chaos.” He laughed more. “Come on, share, complain, crack jokes—I’m up for anything you can dish out.

Celestia’s smile grew, and she nodded. “Okay, Discord. Well…the first meeting was about organizing the fiscal budget for the next year.”

Discord’s grin picked up on one side. “Yikes, no wonder you need cake each day to function.”

Celestia couldn’t help laughing softly. “So you understand my pain now.” She ate more cake and dabbed at her mouth with a napkin. “But it’s not all so terribly orderly, Discord. Once all of my meetings were over, I had to hold court. You’d like that part of my schedule. For orderly ponies, you’d be surprised at the messes the citizens of Equestria get into.”

Discord chuckled. “Well, if their colorful misadventures and misunderstandings are ever lacking, just let me know, and I’ll be happy to spread a little extra mischievous chaos to keep things interesting for you.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.” Celestia smiled to herself. “So would you really like to hear about the rest of my day, Discord?”

Discord smiled more. “I don’t think I’d mind terribly, no.” He finished a bite of his own cake, then raised an eyebrow, a thought occurring to him. “But first, as long as we’re really catching up, what did you say to me before when I wasn’t listening? You know, just before you hit me with that rock solid golden horseshoe.”

Celestia shrugged and looked down a little. “Oh…honestly, just some silly things to see if you were as distracted as you seemed.”

“Like?” Discord prompted, his grin growing. “Come on, Celestia I love silly things. And I like when grim you tries to have a sense of humor. Besides, this’ll tide me over to get through your talk of orderly meetings.”

Celestia rolled her eyes to the side but nodded. “First I told you I was sick of cake and swearing off of it for good.”

“Oh please,” Discord scoffed. “You survive without cake? You’re practically he Element of Sugar, Celestia.” He chuckled.

Celestia laughed softly. “Then I said something about banishing Twilight and the girls just for fun.”

“Hey, Fluttershy stays though—that’s a nonnegotiable point.” Discord smirked, then rolled his eyes to the side and added, “She’s the only one who knows just how I like my tea, after all.”

Celestia laughed again. Then she looked down very deliberately and ate a bite of cake. “And then I finally told you I was going to take your advice and start wearing the French maid’s outfit around here full time.”

She was expecting full, raucous laughter from Discord at this idea…not a low, mischievous chuckle. Celestia glanced over at him.

He was just grinning back at her so smugly. “Yes, well…” he lowered his voice, “You are cute in the maid’s outfit, Celestia. The guards and I all agreed on that at least.” He shrugged. “Sorry, had to share with you at least one thing they said about you at the poker game.” He winked. “Oh, and don’t you and Luna worry—they seem completely unaware of the fact that you two like to check them out in secret sometimes. I don’t think they consider themselves worthy of you mare-ish attention, princess.” He pulled back and chuckled.

Celestia just sat there looking down at her cake with wide eyes and blushing slightly for several moments.

Discord tisked. “So flustered, Celestia—who knew men would be your great weakness? You almost act like you have a crush on one of these dashing bachelors parading around your castle.” He watched her with interest.

Celestia blinked a few times and then shook her head to come out of her surprise. “All I have is a very strong sense of modesty, Discord, and professionalism too. I promise you if I ever found a special somepony, it wouldn’t be any of my guards.” She took a breath and smiled a little. “And men aren’t my weakness, Discord. I don’t find my time with any of them or my feelings about any of them to change who I am in any way.” Her smile picked up on one side as her gaze returned to Discord. “You spend an awful lot of time though focusing in on me, Discord…and you have shown a softer side of yourself with Fluttershy and the girls. Maybe your weakness is women?”

Discord blinked and scoffed again. “Me? Weak over women?” He waved her off and resumed taking up another bite of cake. “I think that daytime sun has finally penetrated that ethereal mane of yours and fried your brain, Celestia. Chaos has no weaknesses, and especially not a pretty face.” He noticed her eyeing him in response and trying not to laugh, and so he cleared his throat. “Er, look, we’re going off topic—now while you’ve still got me willing to be friendly, finish telling me about your day, Celestia.” He looked back to his cake. “And for the record, I’m glad to hear you’re not secretly pining after anyone around here. It might make things awkward. And besides, you’re probably too good for anyone around here anyway.” He played with a few crumbs with his fork, still looking down.

Celestia just laughed softly. “I’m not too good for anyone, Discord. But you see my point then—it would be too awkward showing any favor to any of the ponies who work closely with me.” She smiled a little more. “That’s part of why I enjoy my time with you, Discord, and our friendship. I spend so much time around the castle seeing to daily affairs that I’ve never really had the chance to make a close gentleman friend before you.”

Discord’s confident smirk faltered just a little. “Oh.” He glanced at her, but then suppressed any apparent distress and cleared his throat. “Yes, well…to being friends then, Celestia.” He snapped and made one glass of chocolate milk appear in his paw and another glass appear in her hoof.

Celestia blinked and smiled. “Oh. Yes, Discord.” She looked to him. “To being friends.”

The two clinked glasses, then sipped their chocolate milk and placed the drinks down (and inside along with quite a bit of awkwardness Discord felt relieved at having heard Celestia declare that they were indeed just friends at the moment.)

Discord smiled normally again and ate another bite of cake before turning to Celestia once more. “Anyway, on with the story of your orderly day, Tia.”

Celestia nodded, took another bite of cake herself, and then went on. “Very well, Discord. Well, after the fiscal budget meeting, I had a meeting to discuss the upcoming annual census where we go around and record everyone’s names and where they live for government reference.” Her tone went dry but her smile remained. “That was about as much fun as it sounds.”

Discord chuckled as he took another sip of chocolate milk. “Yes, I’m sure it was.”

Celestia smiled more. “Then after my meetings and holding court, I had to visit the Canterlot City Hall.” She sipped her chocolate milk. “I swear, I can’t tell if that bureaucracy is the most orderly thing ever or the most chaotic thing ever, all I know is I was there three hours and I’m still not entirely sure what I accomplished other than signing my name almost as many times as I have in the last thousand years.”

Discord couldn’t help laughing warmly, and Celestia couldn’t help joining in with him.

The rest of the evening went very much as usual for the two former mortal enemies sharing cake and time together.

Midquel 7: The One that References Twilight (no, not the Pony)

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“So, Discord really said he had plans for tonight?” Celestia, seated on one end of a cushy sofa with throw pillows, glanced over at her sister who was seated at the opposite end of the sofa. The two ladies (in a very rare moment lacking their regalia) were currently residing one of the large, comfortable guest rooms of the castle at this twilight hour.

Luna nodded as she magically raised some popcorn from a bowl on the large coffee table before her. “Yes. I saw him after I finished lowering the moon this morning. I asked him if he had any nightly plans, and he said he absolutely did and then disappeared. And I haven’t seen a sign of him since.” She munched on her popcorn, and her smile grew.

Celestia smiled in return as she magically raised a bottle of cola from the coffee table to take a sip. “Good. Then maybe we really can have one of our nice sisterly bonding nights together. We haven’t been able to manage one ever since he moved in here.”

Luna sighed as she settled against a throw pillow. “Yes, and I don’t know about you, but a little mare time is just what I need after all of his shenanigans lately.” She grinned a little, eyeing her sister. “Did you get the film?”

Celestia sighed and blushed a little, but did grin and nod in return. “Yes.” She used her magic to make a reel of film appear and raised it up. “The Eventide Saga: Waning Moon.”

“Oh I do love these modern films.” Luna chuckled and clapped her front hooves together. “Dashing batpony stallions, dashing werepony stallions, and lots of cheesy romantic drama.” She used her magic to make a projector appear on a large table set behind the sofa. “Bringeth it on.” Her smile grew into a pleased grin as she magically lowered the film reel into the projector.

Celestia sighed deeply and shook her head, trying not to laugh (or blush) too much. “I don’t know, Luna—I sort of prefer when we, um…bond over stallions in little ways around the castle…like when we notice the guards. I feel a little less ridiculous doing that than when we watch things like this.”

“Oh sister, do lighten up.” Luna rolled her eyes with a smile. “Besides, you’ve been far too flustered lately to even so much as glance at the guards.” She used her magic to raise up her own bottle of cola for a sip.

Celestia sighed and shrugged. “Well, you’re not the one who one of them caught walking around the castle halls in a French maid’s outfit.” She blushed and almost smiled again. “Not to mention Discord made me so flustered about them…”

Luna grinned and raised an eyebrow. “How? By suggesting to you that they probably find us attractive? Of course they do, sister. We are rather fetching, after all.” She held out her hoof to admire it. “And we do admire them as well from time to time, as you said. So what’s the harm?” She lowered her hoof and smiled at her sister again.

Celestia raised an eyebrow and looked down with a shrug. “There’s no harm, it’s just…strange. I never thought much about giving or getting attention from stallions until you returned and we started talking like sisters again. And then of course there’s Discord’s antics with me that always have to remind me about dating and courtship.” She sighed very deeply, smiling more and blushing slightly.

Luna chuckled. “Just don’t blush like that around him, sister—otherwise he might start to think you’re taking him up on his humorous offers of affection to you.”

Celestia laughed and shook her head. “Oh, if he ever thought I was, I don’t think I’d ever hear the end of it from him.”

The two sisters shared a warm laugh.

Then Luna wiped a tear from her eyes and smiled eagerly at her sister again. “You mentioned you were going to bring the fudge, Celestia.”

Celestia nodded and used her magic to make a tray of chocolate fudge appear on the table before them beside the popcorn and sodas. She smiled at Luna. “And you mentioned you were going to bring the cupcakes, Luna.”

Luna nodded and used her magic to whip up a tray of cupcakes with blue and purple frosting which she set on the coffee table as well. “And now we have all of our snacks, so let us dim the lights and enjoy our film!”

Celestia used her magic to dim the fire slightly while Luna used her magic to turn on the projector.

Their eyes went to the pulled down white movie screen before them.

“So, what are we watching, ladies?”

And then the pony sisters almost toppled off of the sofa in surprise at the sound of Discord (of course) asking this question from his sudden new position seated between the two princesses.

Luna brought a hoof to her chest, breathing heavily, while Celestia turned to Discord with a blink and an eyebrow arched considerably high. “Discord! What are you doing here?”

“Oh come on.” Discord waved her off, grinning and magically taking a handful of popcorn for himself. “At least this is better than when I was in the bathtub with you two, right?” He chuckled and turned to Luna, his grin growing. “Besides, I didst tell thee this morning, Luna, that I had plans for tonight…and those plans happened to be crashing whatever sisterly thing you two were planning to do together. A movie night—not a bad idea. I suppose you two do know how to have fun sometimes.” He gave them both a little nudge in their shoulders and laughed all the more as he snapped up a bottle of cola for himself.

Luna and Celestia just sighed and put hooves to their foreheads.

Luna cleared her throat. “Discord, while we appreciate that you want to spend time with us as friends, a little warning next time would be nice. You still sneak up on us far too often.”

“Hmm, I’m not hearing a ‘get out, Discord’…. Does that mean I can stay for movie night?” The master of chaos grinned.

Celestia cleared her throat (and blushed slightly). “Discord, um…this is sort of one of those ‘mares only’ things. Remember, we talked about that concept the other night while we were talking about your ‘guys night’ poker game with the guards? I really don’t think you’d enjoy yourself.”

“Oh, but I’d be with you, Tia, good buddy,” Discord put an arm around her neck and pulled her close in a side hug. “And with Luna too!” He put his other arm over Luna’s shoulders and pulled her close as well. “And you two did say I could spend time with you if I wanted to socialize more. Of course I’ll enjoy myself. Besides, I practically spend all of my time with mares since they’re the only ones I’ve managed to make friends with so far. I think I can handle a little ‘girl time’. What are we going to be doing?” He released the sisters and held up his paw. “Painting our hooves?” He snapped and a bottle of hoof polish appeared in the air. “Braiding our manes?” He snapped and caused a tight braid to appear in his black mane. “Comparing our cutie marks?” Discord went to snap but then stopped and shrugged. “Well, I don’t have one of those, but you ladies feel free to go about it—I’ll judge things if you like. Should be easy without your gaudy regalia to distract me.” He chuckled and smirked.

Luna just rolled her eyes. “This isn’t some high school slumber party, Discord. We are mature women of the world. We were planning to eat lots of snacks and watch a cheesy movie while having mare talk.” She held her head high.

“Great, great.” Grinning, Discord snapped away the hoof polish and his braid, then reclined back more on the sofa. “I like snacks, I like cheesy movies, and I like anything that’ll help me unravel the chaos that is women. So, what are we watching?” He magically took a square of fudge and started to eat it, looking to Celestia as he asked the question.

Celestia swallowed and did her best to reply casually, “Oh, just…something from this movie series that some of the younger mares like—The Eventide Saga…” When she was brave enough to look over at him, Discord had his jaw dropped and he was grinning considerably.

The master of chaos laughed raucously and picked up his soda to another take a swig. “Ohhh yes. I am staying for this one. Luna, let’s light this candle.”

Luna sighed. “Fine, Discord, if you insist. But I warn you, my sister and I will not go easy on the mare talk. Right, Celestia?” She smiled at her sister.

Celestia sighed but managed a nod. “Um…sure, Luna. Whatever you say.” Then she took a calming breath and just turned her attention to the movie screen (though her smile seemed a little strained and awkward).

Luna smiled more and nodded, then used her magic to turn on the projector.

…And thus the movie commenced.

About twenty minutes of buff stallions and melodrama later…which so far actually hadn’t gone nearly as awkwardly as Celestia had feared…

Luna smiled with a slightly dreamy gaze, fudge staining her lips as she observed the screen. “Celestia, sometimes I do think you and I should date more often…or ever.” She sighed. “With how relaxed social policy has gotten these days, certainly we could manage it without causing too much scandal.”

Discord nodded, sipping his soda and likewise looking intently at the screen. “I agree, I definitely think you two should give that a shot. I mean, Cadance got herself a romantic partner after all. I say go for it. “ He chuckled. “It’ll make it easier when I start trying to date.”

Luna blinked and raised an eyebrow at him. “You’d like to attempt courtship, Discord?”

Discord rolled his eyes. “Well, of course! I’m a grown person, I used to date before we met, and if I’m going to be back now for the long haul I might like to try it again.” He chuckled as he shook his head to himself. “I had some good times back in the day. And I agree, Luna—these relaxed social policies today really are more fun. Celestia and I had a long talk about that before I moved in here, right, Tia?” He nudged Celestia.

The sun princess nodded and smiled a little sheepishly. “Er…yes, we talked about the propriety of him staying here.” She couldn’t help but glance at Discord and raise an eyebrow herself. “You think about dating, Discord? And you’ve done it before?”

Discord sighed dramatically. “Oh why does everypony assume I’m entirely devoid of an appreciation for social contact? Look, friendship I might still be getting used to—it’s just so intricate and strange. But charm and fun and romance I know well enough. I’ve been a hopeless flirt for countless centuries of romantic shenanigans.” He chuckled to himself and smirked a little. “The one time in Paris, Prance, I met this unicorn dancer who could do this incredible thing with her horn—she—”

“Discord!” Celestia cleared her throat very loudly, her eyes wide. Then she blinked a few times. “I mean, uh…w-would anyone like more snacks? I can go get us more snacks!” She smiled sheepishly again.

Luna rolled her eyes. “Sister, we can make our own snacks with our magic.” She raised an eyebrow at Celestia, her grin growing. “Are you really this flustered from watching the movie? Then again though, I’m not surprised—Ebony Wood is the most attractive stallion, after all.” She giggled with a little smirk.

“The main batpony one?” Discord raised an eyebrow at Luna, then grinned. “I think you just like the gothic/gloomy colors motif, Luna.”

Celestia rolled her eyes and shook her head. “Luna, Ebony Wood is not the most attractive stallion.” She smiled and magically took a cupcake to eat.

“Oh Celestia, don’t be so grim and act like the movie’s too immature for your tastes.” Discord waved her off.

Luna chuckled. “Oh, she’s not being grim, Discord, and she doesn’t think she’s too mature for the movie, believe me. She just likes the werepony stallions better. Blue Jay Cobb is her favorite.”

Celestia’s eyes went wide and she nearly choked on the last bite of her cupcake. “Luna!” She blushed!

Luna just giggled and smiled cheekily, still watching the movie. “Sister, I told you, I refuse to go easy on the mare talk just because Discord is here. I have a long night ahead of me to tend to, and I’d like some relaxation now before it. Besides, the more you avoid obvious subjects and the more awkward you act about the situation, the more he is going to tease you.”

Discord chuckled, his grin going in the direction of the sun princess now and his eyes narrowing. “And speaking of teasing…so it turns out Celestia prefers men who are a little more rugged? I see…. Interesting to know.” He sipped his soda. “Incidentally, as I keep trying to tell you, you should get into the dating scene too, Tia. You break a lot of hearts by keeping yourself so busy with work and friends.”

Celestia sighed and smiled softly. “Thank you, Discord.” She cleared her throat and focused back on the screen again. “And I just, um…like Blue Jay’s character. He’s interesting.”

“Then why are you constantly staring at his cutie mark whenever he takes off his cape,” Luna asked cheekily.

“I-I…” Celestia scoffed and shrugged and smiled awkwardly. “I wouldn’t say ‘staring’…I mean, no more than you stare whenever the batpony characters take off their capes, Luna.” She smiled cheekily in return for a moment but then blinked, blushed a little, and went back to looking at the screen. “Oh look, Swannie Belle is having another monologue. We, um…we should probably watch so that we don’t miss much of the plot.”

“Ugh, boring!” Discord rolled his eyes. “She’s so vapid and a bit dreary looking too. I get that they’re going for the ‘damsel in distress’ thing with her character, but personally I like women who are more of a challenge.” He grinned as he swallowed another square of fudge. “I’m telling you, what these movies need is a female lead character a guy can realistically like in some way. Then again though, I’m spoiled of course. The girls have more personality than I know what to do with, and you two have more passion than any other mares on the planet. I’m surrounded by a ton of strong women—it really raises a guy’s expectations. Not to mention how pretty all of you are, especially you two.” He sipped his soda like the comment was the most casual thing to say in the world.

Luna’s smile brightened. “Discord, what a kind compliment to give. Thank you.”

“You’re quite welcome.” Discord chuckled, his gaze drifting over to (a once again blushing) Celestia. “Besides, it made Celestia go all in a fluster, and that’s always a bonus for me.”

“I’m not in a fluster about your compliment, Discord,” Celestia managed, her eyes remaining on the screen and her small smile remaining confident despite the light blush present in her cheeks. “It’s just that…Blue Jay Cobb came on the screen again and needed to take off his cape. That’s all.” Celestia maintained her poise and even magically took up a few kernels of popcorn to eat.

Discord raised an eyebrow with an intrigued grin and then turned his own eyes back to the screen. “Meanwhile though, speaking of complaints about the actors, this movie sets up totally unbelievable physical expectations. I mean, look at the abs on that guy, Tia. I guarantee you, you’re never going to find a stallion who actually looks like that. Typical male stereotypes in the female-centered society of yours. Talk about unrealistic.” Discord snapped a cupcake directly into his mouth.

“Discord,” Luna started dryly, lowering her cola bottle, “we’re three nearly immortal mythical magical beings sitting on a sofa in an enchanted castle watching modern movies—I believe we passed by ‘realistic’ some time ago.”

Discord shrugged. “Point taken.” He blinked at the sight on the screen now and grinned more. “Oh, now the werepony one is fighting the batpony one. Interesting.” He considered for a moment, the fingers of his paw twirling his beard. “Wereponies and batponies…they would be almost immortal and have long lifespans, right? Kind of like you two? Is that why you like this movie and the stallions in it?” He glanced from one sister to the other.

Luna shrugged and nodded. “That aspect has a certain appeal for us, yes.”

“Well…yes, of course, their lifespans are a feature we can relate to, Discord,” Celestia started. “But we don’t just like watching them for that reason. I find the characters and the story line very interesting myself.” Celestia grinned sheepishly again.

Discord and Luna just gave her a dry look.

“Sister,” Luna cleared her throat and smiled softly, “I know you’re trying, but please just relax already. I swear, even when you’re just with me you get so uptight, ever since we were fillies.” She chuckled. “You’d blush as pink as your mane was half the time when we would talk about boys.”

“Her mane was pink?” Discord raised an eyebrow at Luna.

Luna nodded. “Oh yes, and mine was teal.” She touched her hair. “The color only changed later as we grew up and our magical abilities increased.”

Discord’s sights turned back to Celestia. And he continued to eye the sun princess and her rainbow colored mane…and continued…and continued…

Finally, Celestia couldn’t help feeling his gaze upon her and raised an eyebrow at him. “Yes, Discord?”

Discord leaned closer. “Well…you’re youthful but you do technically age…and your hair changed from pink to pastel rainbows over time. And you are the oldest sister…” He pointed to her mane. “So is this how alicorns ‘go grey’ or something?”

Luna’s jaw dropped and a piece of popcorn she was magically levitating fell to the floor.

Celestia’s eyes went wide.

Discord just awaited a reply with a grin and his eyes bright with anticipation.

Luna sighed deeply, brought a hoof to her temple, and shook her head. “Jesting about her age. Hmm…well, it was nice getting to know the reformed you, Discord. I’ll be sure to visit you in the statue garden some evenings.”

Before Luna could go on with her joke though, Celestia raised a hoof and looked Discord in the eyes. Her voice was level. “You’re asking me if my rainbow hair is what happens when alicorns become old?” She leaned in close, pointed to his beard with her hoof, and smiled. “Well, if that isn’t the white-bearded pot calling the rainbow haired kettle ‘grey’.”

Luna couldn’t stifle a chuckle, and even Celestia grinned (with just a touch of satisfaction actually).

Discord, meanwhile, blinked at the sun princess and then grinned all the more. “You’re calling me old now, aren’t you?”

Celestia’s eyes narrowed playfully. “If the white beard fits…”

Discord burst into chuckles and then waved her off and leaned back against the sofa. “Oh, you’re just cranky because I’m the only age appropriate, not-evil guy around for you. And I’m not a werepony.” He took another square of fudge to munch on, chuckling more to himself.

“That you certainly are not, Discord, that you certainly are not,” Celestia remarked with a little smirk as she settled against the sofa again herself and looked back to the screen. She blushed a little but then added, seeming more relaxed now, “Luna, I really don’t see what you see in the batponies. I suppose they are attractive, but their wings are so flimsy. But the wereponies are so strong and so tall…and they have such interesting fur. There's so much about them to admire.”

“Hmm…strong, tall, interesting fur…. In that case, maybe I am a werepony.” Discord grinned and straightened up a little in pride.

Celestia glanced at him for just a moment with an eyebrow raised, blushed more, but then quickly turned back to the movie screen with a small smile and a shake of her head.

Luna chuckled. “Sister, I am very proud of you for loosening up about the film and mare talk.” She sighed as she bit into a cupcake and smiled at the screen. “Oh here is the part where Ebony Wood flies Swannie through the trees on his back...and they run right into Blue Jay Cobb on those misty cliffs…and no one is wearing a cape.” Luna’s grin picked up just a little on one side. “Sister, we really should keep more guards around the castle…and have them do many more combat exercises. Without armor.”

Celestia did not look at Discord. She cleared her throat and smiled slightly. “Luna, be serious please. They’re still in our employ, and we can’t make such casual requests of them.”

“Very well.” Luna sighed. “Besides, you do make a point—in a way they are nicer to watch with the armor on.” She giggled and sipped her cola again.

Discord glanced from one sister to the other and then back and forth again, his grin growing considerably. “Wait, wait, wait—am I possibly hearing an admission that you two are indeed aware of the guards as stallions and that you do indeed check them out like a couple of filly teenagers?” He burst into laughter. “Priceless! Oh, this is definitely getting written down in my ‘list of confirmed things to potentially blackmail Celestia and Luna about in the future’ journal.” He snapped and made a notebook appear, scribbled something in it with a flourish, and then snapped it away again.

“Discord,” Celestia sighed and smiled, “I already explained to you that Luna and I wouldn’t seriously ever pursue anyone in the castle who we were employing…though we might find them physically admirable, yes. And you did say you’d be fine with mare talk if you stayed for our movie night.” Her smile picked up a little on one side. “We aren’t starting to make you uncomfortable, are we?”

“Not at all.” Discord shrugged and leaned back farther into the sofa with a smirk. “Just glad to hear my two princess friends aren’t nearly as uptight as they usually appear.” Then he glanced to Celestia and raised an eyebrow (and for a moment the normal smug grin fell away from his face slightly, replaced by a look of genuine interest). “But if you’re set against dating the guards, who exactly do the famous princess pony sisters think about courting anyway?”

Celestia smiled at Discord’s curiosity and shrugged. “Well, there are quite a few eligible dignitaries that visit Canterlot frequently, Discord, from Equestria and from other nations.”

Luna nodded. “Yes, there are some rather stately-looking nobles. Still, there are the complicated political implications of any alliance we might make. That is why I personally prefer admiring the guards—it is enjoyable and there are no consequences.” The night princess’s gaze lingered on the screen and she grinned. “Do there happen to be any batpony dignitaries, sister? I’m not entirely familiar with all of the current nobles yet.”

Celestia smiled and shook her head. “No, Luna, I’m sorry, I’m afraid I haven’t come across any. But I’ll be sure to let you know if one appears. In the meantime you’ll just have to make do with Eventide movies.” She laughed softly and ate some more popcorn.

“Ugh, we’re all just cuts of meat to you mares, aren’t we?” Discord grinned and shook his head as he took another swig of his soda, his eyes on the screen again. “Totally judged based on our looks. Really, you two are terrible, you know.”

“Oh Discord,” Luna smiled, “We don’t really mean all of these comments. We told you already, this is mare talk. We’re just expressing some of our more private and slightly more selfish views on certain subjects, that’s all.” She yawned. “We work long days and nights, Discord—we need some time not to act like poised princesses and just to act like ponies and sisters.”

Celestia nodded. “Yes. Of course we wouldn’t ever say anything like this in a public setting. We’re just talking as close friends and joking around. After all, as you told me once, Discord, there’s no need for so much formality about fraternization.” She sighed, her smile growing a touch dry. “But for the future don’t ever make a comment like that about my hair again, all right, please? From one friend to another.” Her smile returned and she nudged him.

Discord grinned and nodded. “Fair enough.” He glanced between the two sisters. “But you’re going to have to put up with a few ‘werepony’ jokes around the castle from time to time, Celestia. And batpony jokes in your case, Luna. And you’ll have to answer me one question…”

“Yes?” Celestia raised an eyebrow.

“Do you really think I could stand a chance at dating in this day and age after everything?” He leaned in extra close to Celestia.

Celestia blinked at the question, but then her gaze and smile softened. She nodded. “Discord, I think if someone as interesting as you can’t find a date, then there’s no hope for the rest of us …perfect werepony body or no perfect werepony body.” She chuckled.

“Hey!” Discord smirked and crossed his arms over his chest. “I’m gorgeous looking all on my own. After all, you must have thought I looked somewhat good to keep me on display as a statue all those years.” He raised an eyebrow, his grin picking up on one side.

Celestia laughed softly and shook her head. “Well…I suppose you weren’t the worst looking statue in the garden, I’ll give you that, Discord.” She glanced at him out of the corner of her eye and took a square of fudge.

Discord’s entire countenance perked up. “Oh, if I end up going back to stone, promise me you’ll engrave that on my pedestal—‘Not the worst looking statue in the garden. Signed, Celestia.’ ” He broke into laughter.

“Oh Discord, after all of the reformed shenanigans you’ve put us through, you are not allowed to need to go back to stone,” Luna announced as she swallowed some more popcorn.

“Thine hope for my full reform is most encouraging, dear Luna.” Discord chuckled and gave her a mock bow with a flourish of his hand.

Luna rolled her eyes. “Oh, cease and eat some more fudge, Discord.” And then she magically shoved a square into his mouth.

Discord blinked and but then chewed the piece and swallowed with a smile and another chuckle.

Celestia sighed, smiling and shaking her head. “Can we just go back to watching the movie? You two act like brother and sister, you tease each other so much.”

Luna and Discord blinked and then laughed some more.

“Oh, it’s just how we relate, Tia.” Discord shrugged. “We exchange barbs and witty jokes. It’s kind of how I relate to you through sappy, near-tender moments and comments that make you feel awkward.” He winked.

“Celestia just wants to get back to the movie because the part is coming up where Blue Jay Cobb and Swannie kiss passionately at sunset,” Luna added, taking some more popcorn and smirking at the screen.

“I…” Celestia blushed again, her eyes wide. “It’s just a very romantic part of the story. That’s all.” She cleared her throat and did her best to maintain her poise. “And…Blue Jay Cobb is a very nice character to study, after all.”

Discord grinned, his eyes narrowing. “Oh, I am so glad I crashed this particular event of friendship. I’m learning so many things and seeing such an interesting side to the pony sisters. You two must really be impressed with me as a friend to let me get this close to you. Just to check though, I’m still not allowed in the bathtub with you two, right?”

“Absolutely not, Discord,” the two sisters replied in unison with growing smiles.

Discord chuckled, and his gaze drifted back to the screen as he munched on a few more kernels of popcorn. “You know, once Twilight’s feeling a little more established in her place as a ruler, I think that you two should take an evening off and the three of us’ll go out on the town together. We can disguise ourselves as normal ponies, and the first one who snags a date for the evening wins.” He smirked. “Of course, we’ll have to be very clear about who our pony disguises are going to be—otherwise we might accidentally end up snagging dates with each other, and I think that might complicate our friendship slightly.”

“Yes,” Luna nodded, eating some popcorn as well, “if you pursued me in any way and I had to give you another black eye with a stuffed opossum doll, I’m certain that might indeed complicate our friendship.” She smirked.

“Discord,” Celestia sighed and shook her head, “we can’t go do something like that. It would be deceitful to whoever we each met that night. Besides…” she smiled, “I’d want someone I met to like me for me…don’t you agree, Luna?”

Luna shrugged as she finished a sip of cola. “Oh, in the long run I suppose yes. But for the moment mostly I’d just like to be admired a little. It sounds like fun.”

Discord smiled to himself as he polished off another cupcake. “I’d just like to feel loved. Friendship makes me feel loved a little, but it’s different, I suppose.”

The two sisters blinked and were quiet. They looked to each other and then to Discord. At first he just sat there watching the movie like nothing had happened, but then in the middle of sipping his soda his eyes went wide. He quickly cleared his throat and added, “Er…besides, uh…it would really be unfairly depriving all of mare kind if I didn’t play the field a little now that I’m a ‘good’ guy. And I really do love the nightlife, heh.” He swallowed. “Maybe you’re right, Celestia, no disguises—I’ll just start being even more charming than I already am when I’m out partying.” Discord chuckled, some of his normal snarky attitude returning. “I might even throw a few blow out mixers here for us. Then the guards could come too. I think we’d all enjoy that, right, ladies?”

Celestia and Luna smiled warmly to each other and then to Discord and nodded.

“Certainly, Discord, if you’d like,” Luna supplied.

“I think that could be fun,” Celestia added. “I’ve really enjoyed your parties here so far, Discord—all of the music and the dancing. I think everyone has. So why not?”

“Excellent!” Discord perked up at the idea. “Sounds like a plan.” Then his eyes went back to the screen, and everything seemed normal once again. A few moments passed, then the chaos master raised an eyebrow and his grin picked up on one side (and his eyes narrowed playfully). “Say, I didn’t know this movie had female bat ponies too—now we’re getting into the fun part.” He smirked.

Luna scoffed as she polished off a cupcake. “Oh please, Discord—if you want to talk unrealistic looking, it’s these female characters. No mare has looks or a figure like that.”

Discord shrugged. “I don’t know—maybe not normal pony mares, but you capture that gothic beauty they’re going for pretty well, Luna.” Discord grinned a little at a smiling Luna, and then his gaze drifted over to the sun princess. “And I think Celestia fits the proportions of their figures pretty well. Okay, honestly, I think she excels beyond the proportions of their figures, but my point is made either way.”

Celestia blushed thoroughly. But then she couldn’t help glancing down at herself for a moment with an eyebrow raised. “Discord, you don’t really think…I…” Then suddenly she blinked, blushed more, and went back to watching the movie, her eyes a little wide. “Never mind, Discord.”

Discord’s eyes playfully narrowed again, but a warm smile came to his face. “I think that you are the oldest mare in Equestria, Celestia…and I also think that ponies would pay far more to see you strut around on a screen as you naturally are than they ever would to see these dolled up and costumed mares overacting in this movie. And the same goes for your sister.”

Luna smiled proudly. “Thank you, Discord.”

Celestia’s blushing increased. But she couldn’t help smiling slightly. “That’s…kind of you to say, Discord…I think.” And then she found herself smirking a little and looking at him out of the corner of her eye as she added, “And you can stop pointing out my age any time you’d like, you know.”

“Hmm…” Luna laughed again, and Discord and Celestia glanced at her. “I’m sorry,” she explained, “it’s just that I always though being the elder sister was the best thing possible, and so it was something I always secretly wanted for myself. But now Discord has posed a new interesting perspective on the mater.” She sipped her soda, holding her head high. “Suddenly, I am quite pleased to be the younger sister.”

“Oh Luna.” Celestia magically tossed a throw pillow at her with a smile.

“Eh, I’ve got you both beat for age,” Discord waved them off with a grin, munching some more popcorn.

“Discord, how could you even know that?” Celestia asked in amusement.

“Trust me, I know.” He shrugged and smiled.

“Well,” Luna moved the pillow aside and put a hoof to her chin, “the only way to know for sure would be for us to share ages. I’m the younger sister though, so I can’t really participate…so that would just leave you and Celestia to compare ages. If you’re both comfortable sharing of course.” She grinned.

Celestia and Discord blinked and then looked at each other. There was a silent stalemate for a moment.

Discord grinned. “I’m waiting, Celestia—ladies first.”

Celestia grinned in return. “I was going to say age before beauty.”

The stalemate continued.

Then Celestia sighed and magically tossed a throw pillow at him as well. “Let’s just go back to watching the movie.” She grinned a little as her eyes found the screen again. “Oh, it’s the part where Blue Jay Cobb talks with the other wereponies…I like this part.”

“For the dialogue or the story?” Luna couldn’t help but ask with a slight smirk.

Celestia sighed and replied with full confidence, “No, I like it because no one is wearing capes again, and wereponies do get the most interesting cutie marks.” She giggled softly, and Luna joined her.

Discord laughed too. “Finally, she’s completely loosened up. Took long enough.” He opened another soda bottle. “Say, after this, can I make a movie suggestion?”

Celestia sighed very deeply. “That depends…what suggestion did you have in mind, Discord?”

“Oh come on, Celestia, nothing risqué.” He waved her off. “Hey, how about a good old fashioned horror movie? Those are great to watch together, and the proportion of beautiful women to handsome men is usually pretty even, so we’d all have a good time.”

“Huzzah!” Luna cheered. “Someone else who has an appreciation for horror movies. Oh sister, please agree—we promise not to pick anything too frightening.”

Celestia smiled and nodded. “Very well, you two. A horror movie it is. Honestly, after the experience watching this movie together has been, I’ll welcome the change of pace.”

“Oh Tia, you are the silliest princess sometimes, I swear.” Discord chuckled.

“And now here comes that passionate kiss between Blue Jay and Swannie.” Luna turned her attention back to the screen and pointed.

Celestia blushed more as she looked at the screen, let her eyes come away but then return…. And then she sighed and smiled softly.

Discord’s grin picked up a little on one side as he watched the scene playing out too. “Okay, even I have to admit that’s passionate. I mean seriously, Luna, are you sure you’re not too young to be watching this?”

“Discord,” Luna magically tossed a throw pillow at him, not taking her eyes off of the movie.

Discord chuckled.

“Discord…what are you doing?”

Celestia saying his name (in a rather strange way) and the very slight gasp through her nose that he heard made Discord glance away from the scene for a moment to the sun princess with an eyebrow raised. And then his eyes went wide.

Somehow, during the course of watching the passionate kissing scene, his tail had found its way over the back of the sofa to rest gently around Celestia. And now Celestia just sat there with her eyes wide, finally noticing this new situation because the tuft of his tail was brushing her shoulder. She glanced at him with a blush.

Discord blinked several times and instantly removed his tail. “O-Oh! Sorry, erm…I, uh…that thing has a mind of its own sometimes, heh.” He cleared his throat, then looked toward the screen and sunk a little low on the sofa, his eyes still wide. “A-And it’s just a little cramped on this sofa. You ponies never allot enough tail space when you’re designing furniture, and its an error most unforgiveable in you two considering how long your own tails are.” He blinked and pointed forward. “Oh, look, it looks like some kind of plot climax or something.” He managed a grin and chuckle. “Probably something very overly dramatic. Let’s watch.”

Luna had been observing Discord out of the corner of her eye for a minute or two so far, and she didn’t stop now. He seemed casual enough again…though that fact didn’t make it any less true that he had been distinctly nervous for a moment or that, for all of his weeks of intentionally flirting and teasing so far, he had just accidentally gotten close enough to her sister in a way to make even himself feel awkward.

Celestia, meanwhile, just kept her eyes on the screen but found it hard now to really watch Blue Jay Cobb and Swannie as they continued their embrace. So mostly she just sat there and waited patiently for all of the blushing in her features to subside (and for the scene of the film to run its course).

Discord was munching popcorn and sipping soda as casually as ever again, though he watched the progression of the scene now with a dull look in his eyes. Then he sighed and finally grinned and spoke up again as though nothing at all had happened. “Say, we should do something like this with the girls sometime: a movie night. I mean, not this particular movie—that would be too odd even for us. And besides, Rainbow Dash would want nothing to do with it, Applejack thinks unrealistic things are silly, Rarity would be swooning the whole time, Pinkie Pie would have a thousand questions about wereponies and bat ponies, I think Fluttershy’s still too traumatized about the whole ‘Flutterbat’ thing, and the awkwardness of finding out her mentor has a major crush on a fictional breed of pony might actually break Twilight. But we could all just do a normal movie night. That’s something friends do together, right?” He glanced at the two sisters with a shrug and a smile.

Celestia blinked a few times, then finally came out of her awkward silence. She cleared her throat and nodded. “I think that would be a lovely idea, Discord. We’ll try to plan something soon.” Her usual poised and warm smile returned.

“Indeed,” Luna spoke up, smiling warmly too, “and I would not mind additional company for the start of one of my nights.”

Discord’s smile brightened. “Excellent. I really am becoming an expert on friendship.” He grinned smugly. “I’m sure Fluttershy will be very proud when she hears. And speaking of being an excellent friend…” He snapped and made three sticks of pink cotton candy appear. “How about a little cotton candy, ladies? Adding some of my own snacks to our little buffet for the rest of the evening is the least I could do.”

“Why thank you, Discord.” Luna’s eyes brightened and she took a stick of the pink substance and started eating.

“Yes, thank you, Discord.” Celestia took a stick as well and took a small bite.

Discord smiled in return and nodded. “You’re both quite welcome.” He sighed, resting back on the sofa and picking up his own stick. “Incidentally, and just to make sure I have the finer points of friendship down…snapping up free cotton candy for your friends is good…but lacing that cotton candy with magic potion to turn one of them into a werepony and one of them into a batpony for the night would be bad, right?”

Celestia and Luna instantly stopped eating.

The lowered their cotton candy sticks and looked to Discord.

Then the yelling began (starting with Luna’s Royal Canterlot voice).


“Discord, you didn’t do this, please tell me you didn’t do this…”

“I am going to give you such nightmares!”

“Discord, I am writing to Fluttershy! Really! I can’t believe…”

“The most obnoxious…”




“You’ll wish you WERE stone again when I’m through with you!”

At this point Discord was just hysterical with laughter, but he managed to get himself under control enough to wave off both princesses and choke out a few words. “L-Ladies, ladies, I-I was kidding! Joking—it’s a thing that friends do! Oh, but you should have seen the looks on your faces! Much better than if I had actually laced that cotton candy with a full transfiguration spell! Ha!” He continued to laugh.

Celestia and Luna blinked and magically raised a throw pillow each and threw them at the draconequus. “Discord!” they said at the same time.

Discord just kept laughing, though he did finally start to get himself more under control.

The princesses, meanwhile, just let out deep sighs of relief and shook their heads…though neither could help smiling a little.

“One of these days, Discord, I swear…” Luna remarked with a slight chuckle as she took up her cotton candy again.

“It’s really not that funny, Discord,” Celestia added, though she had to give a slight chuckle as well as she resumed eating her cotton candy along with her sister.

“Eh, I’m a riot and you know it.” Discord waved them off, going back to munching his own cotton candy. “Now come on, it’s the final batpony werepony fight sequence—finally some action! Let’s watch.” He turned his attention back to the screen, as did the princesses. “Hmm,” Discord took a swig of cola, “you know, I never thought I could like watching a movie like this until I tried it with you two. Interesting.”

“Maybe it’s not the movie you’re enjoying so much as the friendship with us,” Celestia suggested with an extra smile.

Discord just rolled his eyes and smiled more. “If that’s the truth, then I really am becoming as much of a sap from friendship as I feared.”

“It’s okay, we like thee sappy, Discord.” Luna chuckled.

“I agree…I like you this way too, Discord,” Celestia added.

Both sisters noticed out of the corners of their eyes that Discord’s smile perked up a little though his demeanor and tone remained casual. “Yes, well…I’m still me at the end of the day—what’s not to like?”

The three friends shared a laugh as the movie went on. And they continued laughing and joking and teasing and enjoying each other’s company throughout the rest of the evening.

(And the pony sisters didn’t even get too upset when they noticed that Discord’s cotton candy actually did end up transfiguring them just slightly—specifically by temporarily giving Celestia werepony ears and Luna batpony ones. Though they did pummel him soundly with throw pillows while Discord laughed and laughed and the princesses eventually laughed as well).

Overall, it was probably the pleasantest experience Celestia, Luna, and Discord had had so far as roommates. It was a night that gave everyone the most confidence that Discord’s reform…and their new friendships…might actually turn out for the best.

A few hours later…

Luna was gone, and the credits of another film were rolling in the otherwise quiet and dim room while Celestia and Discord dozed peacefully in their respective areas of the sofa.

Discord lightly snorted in his sleep, then blinked a few times. He yawned and stretched as he awoke now. “What’s going...on? Oh…the movie night.” He smiled a little and his eyes fell to Luna’s spot on the sofa which was now vacant. He then turned to Celestia’s spot. “Tia, I—” Discord paused at the sight of Celestia sound asleep with her head on a throw pillow and a smile on her face (and cupcake frosting staining her lips).

Discord rolled his eyes. “Well, I guess I’ll be off to bed then. You seem cozy enough, Celestia, I won’t wake you.” He smiled and then floated up and held up his fingers to snap.

But Discord paused for a moment. He rested on his stomach in the air and looked at Celestia…then glanced back to look at his tail resting in the air innocently enough, acting like it hadn’t done something Discord had in no way consciously intended for it to do.

Discord scowled and blushed and looked away with a pout. His stubborn gaze settled on Celestia for a moment but then he looked away again and turned on his back in the air, seeming lost in thought. Gradually, his features softened.

But then Discord just shook his head and snapped himself away to his chaotic room where he decided before falling asleep that from now on perhaps he should leave the pony sisters be during their ‘mares only’ night with their romantic and passionate movies. He would just pop in for the comedies and dramas and horror movies—somehow they seemed safer, and he knew he (and his tail…and probably Celestia too) would be more comfortable with that arrangement overall.

Midquel 8: The One After 'Three's a Crowd'

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“Oh dearest Fluttershy, thank you for taking the afternoon to escort me all the way back to Canterlot. Truly you are a treasure among ponies. Achoo!” Discord, colored green and encased in his quarantine sick bubble, sneezed (causing several soap bubbles to appear floating in his sick bubble for a few seconds before disappearing). He sighed and blew his nose with a hanky.

“It’s no problem at all, Discord, I promise.” Fluttershy smiled up at her friend. She had just rolled him off of a royal chariot sent especially by the princesses to pick him up from Ponyville and bring him back to the castle in Canterlot. The master of chaos, in his weakened state, had been staying with her at her cottage in Ponyville for the last week ever since his awkwardly backfiring misadventure with Twilight, Cadance, and a certain Tatzulwurm. But now finally Discord was better enough that Fluttershy as well as all of the princesses felt he could make the trip ‘home’ to Canterlot. Besides which, everyone had agreed that the master of chaos could get better fastest at the Canterlot castle with its round-the-clock available care and its two powerful alicorn princesses on hand capable of advanced healing magic.

And so, albeit reluctantly, Discord himself had finally agreed to the move as well. Still though, that concession didn’t mean he wouldn’t miss his best friend caring for him.

“And…you’ll come visit me here this weekend, right?” Discord asked Fluttershy with a dramatic (if slightly sincere) frown. “And you won’t stop visiting on the weekends until I’m all better? And you’ll write me every day in between?” He blinked and glanced away with a casual shrug. “I mean, it’s just so boring being in this bubble and still having my magic a little on the fritz. Having something to read would be helpful.”

Fluttershy smiled more and nodded. “Of course, Discord. I’ll visit each weekend until you’re all better. And I’ll write you as much as you want. I’ll have Spike send the letters so they can get to you right away.”

Discord smiled a little as he slouched in his bubble. “Yes, well…that’s something to look forward to then, I guess. Achoo!” He sneezed (and this time he gave himself blue polka dots for about ten seconds). Discord pouted, and a very dry look came to his features. “I really wish these magical sneezes would stop. Chaos isn’t fun unless I’m in control of it. Otherwise, we’re just dealing with pure anarchy—how uncouth.”

Fluttershy held back a giggle. “Oh come on, Discord, it’s gotten better. The effects only last a few seconds now.” She turned to lean over into the chariot and removed a satchel, which she placed on the ground near Discord’s bubble. “Now, all of the medicine I’ve been giving you is in there along with some soothing herbal tea and a letter about the progress of your health for the princesses. And I’m sure they’ll be very happy to have you back.” She hesitated but then asked cautiously, “Um…do they know exactly what you were doing that led to you getting sick, Discord?”

Discord sighed and nodded with a dry look. “Yes, I’m pretty sure Twilight filled them in on the colorful details of my shenanigans. Ugh, I just know that as soon as Luna wakes up, she’s going to rub this in my face—she loves when I get my comeuppance.”

“Aw, Discord,” Fluttershy put her hoof against the bubble and smiled, “I’m sure the princesses will realize you’re in a delicate state and won’t tease you too much.”

Discord shrugged, glancing away with a stubborn scowl. “Yeah, well…we’ll see.” He swallowed and looked back to Fluttershy, his eyes widening and his voice softening. “Are you sure I can’t stay with you just a little longer, Fluttershy?”

Fluttershy smiled more but shook her head. “Discord, this is best for your recovery. Trust me. And as soon as you’re better we’ll have a tea party at my house. I promise.”

Discord frowned in a touch of disappointment but then couldn’t help smiling a little. “Well…all right, a tea party does sound nice as soon as I’m out of this ridiculous bubble.”

“Announcing, the princesses!” a guard suddenly called out near the castle entrance as he gave a salute.

Fluttershy’s eyes brightened and she moved past Discord’s bubble to greet Celestia and Luna as they entered the courtyard now. She bowed before them. “Princess Celestia, Princess Luna.” She rose. “It’s so nice to see you again. And I know Discord’s happy to be home, aren’t you, Discord?” She glanced over her shoulder.

Discord just sat stewing again in his sick bubble, arms crossed over his chest. “Yes, I suppose.” Then he blinked and raised an eyebrow. “Luna? What are you doing up at this hour?”

While Celestia just stood there with her normal poised smile, Luna was grinning distinctly at the master of chaos. “Oh, I would not miss this for anything.” She sighed and shook her head. “A tatzulwurm Discord, really…?”

“Oh, like I’m supposed to know they live under giant magical flowers and have diseases communicable to Draconequui.” Discord rolled his eyes.

“Luna, come on, don’t tease him,” Celestia chided her sister. She smiled at Fluttershy. “We’re very happy to have Discord back and to see you as well, Fluttershy. Thank you for escorting him here and for taking such good care of him this last week.”

“Oh, it was no problem at all,” Fluttershy assured. She picked up the satchel and put it in front of the princesses. “This has all of the medicine I’ve been giving him in it and some notes about his symptoms and care too. I’m still not sure what his disease is exactly, so I’ve been treating him with a combination of things and it seems to be helping. He’ll have to stay in his sick bubble until the green color and the magical sneezing goes away though.”

“Magical sneezing?” Luna raised an eyebrow.

Fluttershy nodded. “Yes. When he sneezes right now, he makes little bits of chaos happen. They only last a few seconds though.”

Luna’s smile grew and she did her best to cover up a laugh. “I see. Excellent to know.”

In the background, Discord rolled his eyes.

“We’ll keep an eye on the sneezing, Fluttershy,” Celestia assured. “And I’m sure I have some spells that can add to your remedies to get him better in no time.”

Fluttershy nodded. “I thought you might. Oh, and please make sure he gets plenty of sleep and drinks plenty of water, but not the glasses too—they’re too rough on his tummy right now. And try not to let him use his magic too much—it still wears him out a lot. And no matter what he says, he has to stay away from eating sweets as much as possible. They definitely make him sneeze more.”

Celestia smiled more. “We’ll keep a very close eye on him, Fluttershy.” She winked.

“Uh, hello? Can we all stop talking about me like I’m not here? And like I’m a newborn foal?” Discord called out from the background.

Fluttershy sighed and leaned close to the princesses to whisper. “He’s a bit of a stubborn patient. He really does want to get better though so he can get out of the bubble—just keep at him, and he’ll listen eventually.”

Celestia and Luna tried not to giggle and just nodded.

Discord just scoffed and sighed dramatically again.

Fluttershy turned and walked back over to him with a smile. “Discord, I have to head back now. Please do everything the princesses say. They want you to get better just as much as I do. Promise?”

Discord slouched more in his bubble but nodded. “Very well, Fluttershy, I promise.”

Fluttershy’s smile brightened. “Good. I’ll write to you tomorrow. Bye for now, Discord.” Then she reached her hooves into the sleeve attachments of the bubble and gave Discord a hug. “I hope you feel all better very soon.”

Discord blinked at her hug, and his eyes went wide. He glanced at the princesses.

Luna and Celestia smiled, but then Celestia turned away and gave Luna a little nudge to turn away too.

Finally having a small amount of privacy, Discord looked down to Fluttershy who was still hugging him and, awkwardly, he hugged her back (or, to be more accurate, he hugged her arms in the bubble sleeves). “Thank you, Fluttershy,” he replied softly. “And, you know…thank you for taking such good care of me.”

Fluttershy smiled up at him. “I was glad to, Discord. That’s what friends are for.” She gave him a little extra squeeze and pulled back with a smile. She waved as she re-entered the chariot. “Bye Discord, Bye Princess Celestia, Bye Princess Luna!”

“Goodbye, kind Fluttershy!” Luna called out with a wave as she turned to face forward again.

“Goodbye, Fluttershy, and have a pleasant ride home!” Celestia called out with a wave of her own, then turned and faced forward once more.

Discord gave the little yellow pegasus a small wave too (and did his best to cover up a frown at her leaving).

The chariot departed.

Celestia and Luna were left with Discord in a sick bubble.

Luna couldn’t help herself. She approached him with a grin, looking the bubble over. “Now this we really must commission a stained glass window of, sister—I think we should entitle it ‘Diseased Draconequus Gets his Just Desserts’.”

“Didst thou stay up all morning thinking up that one, Luna?” Discord asked dryly, scowling at her.

“Didst thou realize that green is not thine color, Discord?” Luna smirked.

The master of chaos frowned and scowled more. “I knew I should have saved the ‘I’m sick, help me and prove you’re my true friend!’ bit for you two instead of for Twilight and Cadance. Then at least I would have had the fun of spreading some chaos to you insufferable pony sisters before getting ill and being stuck in this stupid bubble.”

Luna grinned and poked the bubble, ignoring his lamentation. “Does this mean we get to roll you around the castle from now until you’re better?”

“Oh, if I wasn’t in this bubble, Luna…” Discord pouted (though he almost smirked a little too at her joke).

“Ah, but you are in the bubble, Discord, you are in the bubble.” Luna winked.

Discord held his nose high in the air. “I shouldn’t even be dignifying this conversation by respond—ACHOO!” Discord sneezed and was instantly covered with pink feathers. His eyes went wide.

Luna blinked and then smiled so very much. “Oh, this is too rich…”

“Oh shut up, Luna.” Discord pouted and scowled as the feathers disappeared.

“Oh come on, I’m just teasing you. I promise, this whole thing really isn’t that funny…really…” Luna put a hoof to her mouth and stifled a laugh as best she could.

Discord just sighed and rolled his eyes. “You know, you can feel free to go to bed any time, Luna.” He grinned a little and moved his bubble to right in front of the sun princess. “I’m sure dear Celestia is all set to take care of me for the rest of the day. Incidentally, in my terribly weakened state I enjoy foot massages, excessive compliments, and being sung to. Oh, and Fluttershy was definitely lying about the ‘no sweets’ rule, so how about a nice big cake to celebrate my return home, hmm?” He grinned more.

Celestia blinked a few times but then just smiled warmly at him. “Your feet seem fine, Discord, especially since you haven’t been on them for over a week; you’ve gotten enough compliments from kind Fluttershy lately I’m sure; and I think you’ve had enough singing for a while considering that musical performance I heard you put on at Twilight’s house. And I’m a little more inclined to believe Fluttershy’s opinion about the sweets than yours.” She grinned a little as she spread her magical aura around Fluttershy’s medicine satchel and Discord’s bubble to pull them along after her. “Come on, Discord, I’ll prepare you some nice soup for lunch and look after you until tonight. Luna,” she glanced over her shoulder and paused for a moment, “would you like to join us? Provided you and Discord can hold off on the insults until after the meal, that is?” She smiled.

Luna chuckled but shook her head. “I’m afraid I shall have to decline, sister. I’m tired from staying up waiting for Discord’s arrival all afternoon. I think I’ll take a nap before my duties start this evening.” She spread her wings to head up to her balcony. “Have a pleasant meal. And Discord?”

Discord rolled his eyes. “Yes…what gag do you want to end on, Luna?”

Luna smiled but shook her head. “No gag, Discord.” She shrugged. “I just wanted to say that I hope you’re well soon. I hate being sick myself—all cooped up and confined. I promise my sister and I shall do our best to make you well again as quickly as possible.”

Discord’s eyes went a little wide. “Oh…well, um…thanks then, I guess.” He smiled a little in return, though couldn’t help raising an eyebrow as well.

Luna chuckled softly, nodded, and then flew off in the direction of her tower.

Celestia chuckled softly too. “Come on, Discord, we’ll have a nice quiet meal together, and then we’ll look over everything Fluttershy left for you. And it’s very good to see you again. We really do miss you when you’re gone…though it’s nice you got to spend some time with Twilight and Cadance.” She led them through the castle entrance.

Discord smiled and chuckled. “Yes, well, I have to say, however badly it ended for me, the chaos I put those two through was worth it. They went through every stunt imaginable for me. And they still think of me as a friend.” He half smiled and twirled his beard around one of his fingers.

Celestia raised an eyebrow. “Do you see how strong the magic of friendship is now, Discord?”

Discord blinked then pouted and slouched again. “Celestia, do you really have to rub in a moral lesson right now? I’m sick.” He gave a dramatic sigh.

The sun princess just laughed and shook her head. “Fine, we’ll save it until later then. For now you can just rest and keep me company while I spend all afternoon doing paperwork.” She eyed him. “Won’t that be a nice, straightforward, orderly change of pace for you after your chaotic little escapades at Twilight’s and Cadance’s expenses?”

Discord’s eyes popped open and then he collapsed back dramatically in his bubble and sighed. “No, not paperwork! Ugh! I knew you wouldn’t let me get away with what I did without some silly punishment!”

Celestia held her head just a little higher and her smile grew. “Oh Discord, there’s no need to be so dramatic. And who knows—you might even learn to like paperwork. You won’t know until you try…for a few hours.” She eyed him again with a smile almost like a smirk and then turned down the corridor leading to the kitchens. “Now let’s go get you all set up with that hot soup I promised you.”

“Mmm…” Discord groaned in annoyance, a dull look in his eye and a pout on his features as Celestia pulled his sick bubble along.

Later that evening long after the soup and Discord’s paperwork-watching ‘punishment’ and enough time for Celestia to finish her affairs for the day, the sun princess and the master of chaos found themselves alone in Celestia’s study as they prepared to complete the most difficult step of all in Discord’s daily treatment regimen.

“Discord, you have to take your medicine.” Celestia was firm. And her magic steadily held up the spoon of medicine in Discord’s sick bubble.

“Oh come on,” Discord rolled his eyes at Celestia and at the medicine. “I’ve been taking that stuff every night for a week now, and mostly to be polite to Fluttershy. But frankly it’s awful! It tastes like pureed vegetables and burnt toast! And besides, I’m close enough to better now—I’m sure my body can handle fixing me up the rest of the way on its own.” Despite the conviction in his tone that there was no chance he was going to let the medicine in his mouth, Discord still eyed the floating spoon of liquid with a touch of worry as he pressed himself back more against one side of his bubble and held up one of his blankets in defense.

Celestia shook her head, though she still smiled patiently. She was seated at her desk chair and facing him. “Discord, you have to finish the whole regimen, even if you’re feeling better. Otherwise you might have a relapse. Come on now, please…for me.” She smiled a little more. “I know I’m not Fluttershy, but I hope I’m a good enough consolation prize as a friend.”

Discord pouted all the more though, and his look went dry. “Celestia, I have my limits, even about humoring you.”

Celestia let out a soft sigh but still continued smiling patiently. “Very well, Discord.” She smiled more. “By the way, considering the very unfair trick you played on Twilight and Cadance, we’ve decided the best course of action as part of your reform is to banish you to the Crystal Empire for a while. The Crystal Heart there should dull your magic quite a bit, and you’ll be Cadance’s personal servant. Have fun.”

“WHAT? I—Mmph!” Discord’s jaw had naturally fallen open at this announcement, and as he had begun to cry out in protest, Celestia magically pushed the spoon forward and right into his mouth.

The sun princess grinned triumphantly. “Gotchya.” She laughed softly and magically made the spoon disappear, leaving only the medicine in Discord’s mouth. “Now swallow. It’s already in your mouth, Discord, you might as well let it help you.”

Discord just remained sitting there with his eyes bugged out and his mouth full for a moment but then finally swallowed, a shiver going through him as he did so. “Ugh, dreadful! I swear, I—ACHOO!” He sneezed and suddenly his bubble was full of flowers.

Celestia tried very hard not to laugh.

Discord huffed and stewed until the flowers disappeared. “I really hate being sick,” he mumbled with a scowl. “And I hate even more when you get tricky.”

Celestia smiled and shook her head. “I’m sorry. I had to, Discord. And you’ll be better soon. Besides, all I’m doing is trying to provide the care for you that you requested when you first moved in here—food, clothing, shelter, remember? Right now medicine is the food you need, for clothing there’s all of your blankets to keep you warm, and for shelter there’s your bubble. I’m just trying to help you maintain the status quo of all of that.” She sighed as she magically made another blanket and pillow appear in the bubble for him. “Discord, I really still can’t believe you brought a tatzulwurm into your prank. That was irresponsible, even for you. You’re lucky you just got a flu from it.” The sun princess frowned.

“Hey,” Discord pouted, “look, just to be clear, the tatzulwurm was a surprise even to me. I’m into pranks and gags, not dismemberment, and that thing was ready to tear me and the girls apart.” He shivered. “Incidentally, if you ever need any help with anything on the edges of Equestria, please count me out—I never want to get anywhere near one of those things again.”

Celestia smiled a little. “Oh Discord, I know you didn’t mean to bring the tatzulwurm into this.”

Discord raised an eyebrow. “You do?”

Celestia nodded as she magically put away Discord’s medicine bottle in Fluttershy’s satchel. “Yes. Like you said, violence isn’t really your style. And besides, with your response to the worm’s appearance as Twilight and Cadance described it to me in their letters, I can tell you were genuinely surprised by its presence. My disappointment is in the fact that you didn’t research those flowers a little better, Discord. Almost everything that grows in Equestria has magic or some kind of magical creature attached to it. Please, in the future with pranks, take more time to look into things, hmm?” She smiled and shrugged.

Discord sighed and nodded. “Fine, fair enough. I’ll research my pranks a little better next…next…ACHOO!” Discord’s bubble instantly filled with balloon animals. They soon popped though. “Ugh, you know what I mean…” He blew into his hanky and then collapsed back against his pillows again. “I’m exhausted. You have no idea how draining it is to have chaos actually pulled from you, Celestia.” He sighed and then glanced at her, pouting a little. “Tia, can I have some of the tea Fluttershy sent over?”

Celestia smiled softly and nodded. “Certainly, Discord.” She used her magic to make a nice steaming mug of the special blend appear floating in the air.

Discord pouted more. “And can you put lots of honey in it? Fluttershy’s been depriving me of sweets, but I need to get sugar from somewhere.”

Celestia nodded and made a jar of honey appear. “Of course, Discord.” She added several spoonfuls to the tea.

Discord still pouted though, and his eyes became bigger and more pleading. “And just a drop of cream too?”

Celestia sighed and nodded once more. “Of course, Discord.” She made the honey disappear and made a small porcelain pitcher appear which she used to pour the cream.

“And could I have just a dash of hot sauce in it for the sake of chaos?” Discord grinned innocently.

Celestia blinked and shook her head with a grin. “Don’t push it, Discord. Hot sauce isn’t for sick people no matter how chaotic they are.

Discord rolled his eyes and shrugged with a half smile. “Fair enough, I suppose. And in that case, I suppose you can send it in now, Tia.”

Celestia nodded and teleported the cup in to the bubble. Discord quickly took it up and sipped with a big smile and a sigh of relaxation.

Celestia smiled at the sight of him. But then she frowned a little and raised an eyebrow. “Discord, you’re really going to be okay then…?”

Discord nodded as he finished another sip of tea. “Oh, yes, yes, of course, I…Why?” He raised an eyebrow at her.

Celestia smiled a little sheepishly and looked down. “Oh, it’s just…honestly, I never thought you could get sick. You’re so powerful, after all. But I always assumed if you did get sick it would be a very serious thing.” She frowned again.

Discord lowered his teacup and almost chuckled. “Oh please, Tia, nothing’s serious with me, you should know that.” He watched her smile again and had to add softly, “You…really care that I’m okay even after everything I put your student and niece though?” His eyes were a little wide.

Celestia smiled and nodded. “Of course I care about your well being, Discord. And you might have gone a little too far, but I know you were just trying to relate to the girls and explore friendship in your own way. I’m just glad to hear you’ll be better soon.” Her smile brightened. “Is there anything else you need before bed, Discord?”

Discord blinked, almost frowned a little, and then glanced to the side and cleared his throat. “Well…never mind, it’s silly.” He sipped is tea again.

Celestia’s eyes narrowed playfully and her smile grew. “Discord…”

Discord sighed dramatically. “Fluttershy would tell me a story each night before bed. It helps me sleep.” He pouted, his tone going a little dry. “But don’t tell Luna that I like bedtime stories, she’d never let me live it down.”

Celestia laughed softly. “I won’t. And I’d be happy to tell you a story myself, Discord. I used to tell stories to Twilight all the time when she’d sleep over here when she was a little filly.”

Discord blinked. “Really? You will?”

Celestia nodded. “Shall I teleport us to your room?”

Discord sighed and had to shake his head. “No, I can’t sleep there in this condition. It’s pretty chaotic in there, and I can’t really regulate chaos at the moment. Could I spend the night in here?”

Celestia blinked and tilted her head to the side, her smile growing. “In here—really? Not in my room?”

Discord blushed a little, but was grateful for his green coloring and the sick bubble probably hiding it. “Well, I…I…ACHOO!” He sneezed again—this time the bubble filled with pies that flew out and crashed against the inside. They disappeared a few seconds later. Discord sighed, his tone dry. “It’s better I don’t. I might accidentally sneeze up something that’ll pop this thing, and then before I can get it up and running again I could spread whatever I’ve got to you. And I’d rather not let that happen.” He blinked a few times, and then quickly added, trying to keep things as casual as possible, “A-After all, I think Twilight would not respond well if I got you or Luna sick, so, you know…” He held his teacup with his tail and twiddled his fingers together.

Celestia smiled so much. She didn’t say anything though, just nodded. “Very well. You can stay in here, Discord. And I’ll stay for a little while and tell you a story until you fall asleep.”

Discord couldn’t help smiling in response, though he did his best to hide it. “Yes, well…as my hostess, that’s the least you could do.” He shrugged.

Celestia rolled her eyes and laughed softly. Then suddenly she stood up and approached his bubble, put her hooves through the sleeves, and wrapped her forelegs around Discord in a bug hug, pulling him close and smiling happily!

Discord’s eyes went wide and he straightened up in a near panic. “CELESTIA!!! What are you doing?!?!” His blushing was unconcealable now, even against the green veneer of the sick bubble.

Celestia just laughed softly. “I’m afraid Fluttershy’s instructions said to include hugs when appropriate in your treatment regimen. Now seemed as good a time as any.”

Discoid sighed deeply, his look going dry (and his blush deepening a little). “Oh for the sake of chaos…”

Celestia laughed more and hugged him for a moment longer before pulling back. She removed her legs from the bubble sleeves and did her best not to laugh at the look of fluster on his face. “So, what story would you like to hear, Discord?”

Discord blinked a few times and cleared his throat to snap out of his awkwardness. “Hmm…” He smirked a little, settling into his blankets. He took up his teacup in his hands to sip from it once more. “Well, as I told you once before, Celestia, my favorite stories are ones about me and ones where I come off really good.” He chuckled.

Celestia grinned…but then she considered and nodded. “Very well then.” She lay down on her sofa by Discord’s bubble and cleared her throat to begin. “Once upon a time in the magical land of Equestria…there was a great and mighty lord of chaos who met two magical princesses. The chaos sprit and the princesses didn’t get along, I’m afraid…and in the end everyone may have gone a little too far, and the three couldn’t be friends. But luckily one day, when the princesses started to understand the magic of friendship much better, the master of chaos returned…and the princesses, particularly the one who loved the sun, started to wonder if they really could all be friends and happy together.”

Discord actually scoffed at this point. Celestia glanced over at him and noticed the slightly distressed look on his features that he was trying to hide. Discord rolled his eyes. “Celestia,” he interrupted, “really, I know you’re doing your best to make me ‘come off good’ here and all, but…well, that particular story doesn’t even have an ending yet! Wouldn’t it be better to just make up a story instead and insert me in it?”

Celestia only smiled more. “I’m better at telling stories than at making them up, I’m afraid. And besides I do love taking my time with telling a story, so you might fall asleep before I even get close to finishing it. But of course…if you are still awake by that time, I’m open to suggestions for how the story should end.” She let her eyes meet his.

Discord blinked and looked down, his eyes a little wide. “I…” And then he cleared his throat and shook his head. “Yes, well, I-I can’t be expected to narrate right now. I’m sick… Just…Just keep going for now and we’ll cross the bridge of the ending when we get there.” He settled more into his blankets once again and looked down into his teacup.

Celestia nodded. Then she went on. “So the sun princess asked a very magical and generous and loyal and honest and laughter-filled and kind group of girls to help her show the chaos creature the magic of friendship. And soon they were all able to start living together, trying to find harmony in their differences…as well as trying to find the beauty of the disharmony their differences could sometime create. And the sun princess was very happy as their adventures were only just beginning. And she hoped most of all that the chaos lord was happy too, and that he knew deep down, no matter what happened, that she would do anything to keep the elements or her own powers or even some new magic in a special chest from causing him distress or harm. Because she liked him very much, and thought sometimes that he perhaps liked her very much as well.”

Celestia smiled a little and let her eyes meet Discord’s. Discord’s eyes went a little wide, and then he looked back to the safety of his tea, waiting for her to go on.

Celestia did go on, and she really told a beautiful rendition of the events of their friendship up until now. As she got close to the present though, she glanced over to see Discord with his eyes closed and snoring lightly. Despite a touch of disappointment, she left off in her story for the moment, stood and whispered a goodnight to him quietly, and then lowered the lamps in the room and left.

Discord wasn’t exactly asleep. He just hadn’t wanted to cross the bridge of ‘so what do you think will happen next in the story of the draconequus and the princesses Discord?’ It was an awkward bridge…and it would have been made more awkward for both himself and Celestia since he had to admit that he wasn’t quite sure anymore how it would end—happy or sad, good or bad, tragedy or comedy. So he had taken refuge in the present by pretending to be asleep and then eventually dozing off a few minutes after Celestia finally left. He’d been through a lot with his illness, he figured he deserved the small cop out.

Still, this whole experience had given Discord a lot to think about. After all of his shenanigans ever since his reform, even after the chaos symphony that had been his ‘blue flu’ routine, all of these ponies could still…care about him. And even after an all out war a thousand years ago and his chaotic threats only a few month ago during his initial break out, Celestia somehow liked him, she really and truly did. And he really and truly…maybe…possibly…sort of did like her a little (though he wouldn’t rule out that that conclusion was just his slight fever talking right now). None of it made any sense, but not in any way he was used to. All he knew was that he clearly didn’t quite understand something yet about friendship, but he had this feeling he was going to understand soon. And he sincerely wasn’t sure what would happen when that moment came to pass.

Midquel 9: The One with Chaos and the Moon

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Night was fully fallen over the land of Equestria, and Princess Luna sat upon a cloud high in the air over Canterlot Castle with her eyes closed just savoring the cool evening breeze and the glow of the moonlight overhead. Despite any past regrets about ponies not staying up to admire her nights, Luna had to admit that she did like the peace and quiet of nighttime in a way…and she had especially come to savor such times of serene solitude ever since Discord had moved into the castle.

Luna took in another deep inhale of the night around her and sighed. She opened her eyes and began to speak softly to herself. “It’s nice to have some freedom from Discord during my time on duty. I cannot imagine how Celestia gets any work done with him pestering her throughout her days. I suppose I should feel grateful that he hasn’t yet focused such attention on me.” She considered, looking down a little. “His tendencies must be partly a matter of convenience of course—Discord tends to sleep at night like most creatures, after all. And yet…even when I am awake during the days or late at night and even when he is pulling some late night shenanigan, he seems most interested in spending time with Celestia, which suggests either that he feels less comfortable trying to become friends with me…or that he feels unusually comfortable around her.” Luna almost smiled a little. She let her eyes drift in the direction of Celestia’s tower as she continued to ponder. A surprising sight met her eyes, however, and she blinked.

There, floating near Celestia’s window, was none other than Discord himself reclining on a lounge chair in the air with a pair of sunglasses and a straw hat on. And he was grinning distinctly and occasionally glancing into the window in question.

Luna raised an eyebrow and descended from her cloud to investigate. She swooped in and came to rest on a cloud near the chaos spirit. The night princess cleared her throat. “Good evening, Discord. I’m glad to see you’re feeling better enough from your illness to spend some time outdoors again.”

Discord glanced away from the window and grinned as tilted down his sunglasses to look at Luna. “Luna! My favorite nighttime princess friend and fellow appreciator of a well-bothered Celestia—how nice to see you. And yes, I’m feeling right as chocolate rain again.” He chuckled as he snapped away the glasses and the hat.

Luna sighed and rolled her eyes, though she couldn’t help smiling a little. “Discord, what are you up to?”

The chaos master rolled his eyes to the side ‘innocently’. “Oh I was just catching some moonbeams. Good for the complexion you know.” Discord snapped away his lounge chair, replacing it with a pink cotton candy cloud to reside upon, and shrugged. “But then I got to thinking, gee, it’s been hours since I made Celestia prove to me that we’re really friends by having her endure one of my little pranks, and so I’ve just been keeping an eye on my latest one. I’m really excited to see how it works. If you promise not to tell Celestia about it, I’ll show it to you.” He leaned forward with a smug grin.

Luna blinked. “It doesn’t involve anything that could potentially harm her, right? Nor any dark magic vines?” Her look went dry.

Discord shook his head. “Nope! Perfectly safe chaos only. Look.” He gestured to Celestia’s chamber window.

Luna moved closer to look inside. She saw the room aglow in the light of the fireplace and her sister sound asleep…though not in her bed: instead, Celestia was resting upon a nearby cotton candy cloud that was hovering over the floor.

Discord chuckled. “The second she wakes up from her peaceful little slumber, that cloud plops to the floor and then bursts into chocolate milk. It’ll take her hours to get the stains out of her fur, let alone the rug.” He laughed more.

Luna just grinned a little and shook her head. “Truly, the sophistication and wit of your pranks knows no bounds, Discord.”

Discord waved her off. “Oh, it’ll be funny and you know it. And I plan to camp out right here until dawn to watch that angry look that’ll flash over her face for the few seconds after my prank happens.” He nodded triumphantly with a grin and crossed his arms over his chest.

Luna glanced from Celestia to Discord and had to smile a little more. “You enjoy interacting with her very much, don’t you, Discord?”

Discord shrugged. “Well, she’s my 'friend', after all.... “ He smirked. “What’s not to enjoy?”

Luna grinned more. “Indeed. In fact, I think you’ve come to place a special personal value on any attention she gives you, regardless of whether it’s positive or negative.”

Discord just scoffed and rolled his eyes, waving her off. “Oh Luna, that’s ridiculous.”

“Me thinks the draconequus doth protest too much.” Luna’s grin grew.

“Me thinks the night princess ought to quit overanalyzing my chaos.” Discord stuck out his tongue.

“She’s special to you, will you at least admit that?” Luna smiled all knowingly. “I mean, it’s obvious, of course, but it might be nice for you to admit it. She seems to have some kind of quality that…attracts your interest.” Luna watched Discord carefully out of the corner of her eye.

Discord sighed and suddenly snapped up an emery board and made a little show of ‘casually’ filing his talon. “Luna, really, I have no idea where you’re getting these wild theories from.” His eyes remained down.

Luna sighed, held up a hoof, began counting. “Well, there’s that whole ‘date’ overnight in her room that you orchestrated when you first came here, there’s how you insisted upon dancing with her on two hooves at your first house party, there are your frequent cake dates together, there’s pretty much everything about how you interacted with her during our movie night, there’s the fact that you’re watching her sleep right now…”

Discord cleared his throat loudly and pouted with a sigh. “The ‘sleepover’ thing was a gag to break the ice when I moved in, the dance at my housewarming party was part of a wager to get me to clean up after myself the next day, our cake dates are just between friends, I’m afraid I refuse to recall anything unusual about your movie night, and I told you what I’m watching right now is a prank—the fact that it also involves watching your sister is mere coincidence.” He snapped away the emery board and crossed his arms over his chest as his eyes finally came up. “And anyway, what’s your point, Luna?”

Luna did her best not to chuckle. ‘Celestia is the only one I know who can look more stubborn than he can when she’s bothered.’ “Well…” she went on, “you seem to pay her much more attention than you do to me…and you seem to joke with her and prank her much more than you do to me…and you seem to gravitate much more toward her company than to mine. You both just seem to get along very well. Certainly better than you and I do at any rate.” She took a breath and glanced out to the night. “This I the first night I’ve seen you about, after all. And I think this is the first conversation we’ve ever had alone since you moved in here…besides of course the one where you strolled into my chamber when you first arrived and just thought you could announce yourself as my new roommate without consequences.” Some of her smile returned.

Discord raised an eyebrow. Then a relaxed smile returned to his features. “Oh Luna, is that what this line of questioning is all about deep down? Don’t seriously tell me you’re jealous of Celestia’s friendship with me.” He scoffed. “I like you just as much as I like Celestia.” He grinned as he added for good measure, “Of course, I’m not admitting to liking either one of you much at all no matter what wild presumptions you two have made about me actually enjoying my time here. But the point is, I value your friendship just as much as Celestia’s. In fact, I…” he glanced away and took a deep breath, “…I actually find it sort of comforting having you around. I mean, it’s just nice not to be the only one in the castle who’s been punished for a thousand years, you know?”

Luna blinked and instantly brought her attention back to the chaos master, her eyes wide. “Discord…why did you never tell me this?”

“Honestly?” Discord shrugged with a half smile and looked to her again. “I think I was trying to be sensitive, but I’ve never tried that before, so I can’t swear to it.”

“Discord, what are you talking about?” Luna tilted her head to the side.

Discord sighed deeply and rolled his eyes as he reclined back on his cloud a little. “Look, Luna, maybe part of the reason I torment Celestia as much as I do is that I figure, well…considering the whole Nightmare Moon thing, you probably get enough guff each day in little ways from people already, so you don’t need me adding to it. Believe me, I get guff myself. But Celestia’s always just trotting around as perfect as ever—she needs a little resistance in her life, she needs someone to engage her on equal terms, and I am more than willing to fulfill those needs. She is the ideal subject for the magic of chaos.” He chuckled and looked to Luna again. “And besides,” he smiled a little, “I don’t much like when people insensitively bring up my statue days, so I figured you wouldn’t like me willy nilly bringing up you moon days. Simple as that, really.”

“Discord, you actually cared enough about me to put all of that thought behind your actions towards me as a friend?” Luna’s eyes widened.

Discord crossed his arms over his chest. “Hey, it was just as much for my benefit as for yours. I just didn’t want to end up blasted into a wall again with your Royal Canterlot Voice or something if I said anything the wrong way. Actually…” his grin picked up on one side, “I have to tell you, when I was a statue and first realized the Nightmare Moon thing had happened…I was pretty impressed.”

Luna gestured to herself with her hoof. “You were impressed…with me…about that?”

“Of course.” Discord nodded and raised an eyebrow. “I always figured you and Tia were the stuffiest princesses ever. But then you go and show that it’s not all sunshine and rainbows—you go and show that there’s something complicated in your perfect sisterly reign. You go and show that sometimes people can’t just tow the orderly line! You changed everything!” His grin grew and his eyes brightened. “Celestia might have the perfect royal reputation, but you’re the one who’s had the truly fascinating life. I mean, in the future, if someone has to pick a biography on one of you to look at, do you think they’re going to want to read about Celestia faithfully doing paperwork and holding court for centuries or you battling loneliness and rage under the influence of dark magic due to the most epic banishment in history?” He smiled more, and his voice lowered a little. “I mentioned this to Celestia just after my ‘reform’, and it was mostly to bug her, but it was also the truth: you’re the ‘fun’ princess, Luna. You’re passionate and quirky and have a sophisticated sense of humor, your holiday is the best one in my opinion with all the scaring people and crazy costumes, and you're in charge of all the nightlife and dreams too! You’re liked more than you give yourself credit for, Luna, by me and others, no matter how much attention Celestia ‘attracts’.” He rolled his eyes and then looked to Luna again, his arms crossed over his chest.

The night princess was smiling so much by the end of this speech. “Discord…thank you. Truly.” She considered for a moment then added, “You know, I think you fascinate people as well, Discord. Your history is even more colorful and fantastical than mine. Except for, well…the stone time.” She frowned a little. “But your experiences there could be just as interesting as mine on the moon.”

“Hmm…” Discord sighed, glancing up at the celestial body (looking like a large bit of stone itself with its cool, gray color and rocky texture). “Maybe we should compare banishment notes sometime.”

Luna’s gaze couldn’t help but fall to the statue garden below, bathed in moonlight, and she nodded. “Indeed, perhaps one day we should.”

There was a momentary peaceful silence between the two friends.

Then Discord spoke again. “You know…that’s kind of another reason I find it easier to be around Celestia, Luna.” He cleared his throat, just looking up at the night sky in general now. “After all, with the Nightmare Moon thing and the girls helping restore you to your true self…well, you’re like the greatest and most impressive ‘reform’ story ever. And if I spend too much time with you then people might start expecting me to live up to your glory about the whole thing. I mean, one moment of friendship, and you were perfectly back to the side of good. And now look at you—a beloved princess serving her people with strength and grace…even if you do use the word ‘thou’ and the royal ‘we’ way too much.” He smiled a little more as his eyes drifted back to Luna.

Luna blinked, then looked at him again. “Discord, my case was unique. I was under the sway of dark magic, and that one spark of friendship from the Elements instantly purged it. I wasn’t a villain making a conscious choice and effort to gradually change my ways.” Her brow furrowed. “…You’re considering taking this reform seriously, aren’t you? As in something long term?”

Discord grinned and opened his mouth like he was going to give one of his usual cheeky replies. But then he paused…and then he thought…and then he sighed. When he spoke, his voice was quiet and just a touch serious. “To be perfectly honest, I haven’t decided yet.”

Luna’s eyes went a little wide but she remained quiet and just listened with interest.

Discord went on. “I’m still very aware of my ability to rule Equestria with chaos. And I’m still not too happy about all of that time in stone….” He scowled a little. “And I’m still a rather selfish lord of chaos when you get right down to it.”

Luna raised an eyebrow.

Discord went on, and his look softened as he did so. “But…I do sort of like this easy, relaxed life I have now…and I do like tea parties with Fluttershy…and—I won’t admit this in the morning light but—I do like you and dear Celestia too. I’m not sure what I’m going to end up doing exactly.” He looked to the moon princess and let his voice lower a little. “Luna, I’m only being this blunt with you because I think of anyone you’d understand the most what this ‘reform’ thing must be like for me, and I think you can handle some hard truth from me. But don’t tell Celestia what I just said to you. I think it would…disappoint her a lot to hear that this whole experience hasn’t been a great big bed of cotton candy and chaos flowers for me.” He sighed and rolled his eyes. “It’s just…I know she’ll blame herself somehow, but it’s really not her fault. You two and the girls have been bending over backwards to tolerate me with friendship. Any of my doubts are on me. Plain and simple.” He sighed and looked forward again, his gaze a little dull. “It’s nothing personal. In the end, I just…might not turn out to be a good guy deep down, that’s all.”

There was silence for a while.

Then Luna spoke, a look of deep concentration on her features. “Discord, I understand your doubts, and I appreciate you sharing them with me.” She tried to catch his eyes with hers. “We want to be your friend, Discord—and by ‘we’ I mean all of us.” She almost smiled a little, but then looked serious again as she added, “But you must know, if you attack, even without the Elements, we will have to fight you for the safety of the nation.”

Discord looked back at her. He considered, then gave a single nod. “Fair enough. But I don’t think I’d attack. Maybe I don’t even want to rule Equestria anymore exactly. I think I’d just want to be free to let my chaos and selfishness reign, so I’d quit putting a lid on it like I’ve been doing, that’s all. I’d probably be more of a nuisance than a threat.” He quirked his mouth and crossed his arms over his chest, looking forward again. “It’s just so pesky that all of you believe in me so much though, and that you keep caring about me no matter what. It’s…unexpected.” He scoffed. “I thought after a week of my shenanigans you and Tia would have kicked me out of your castle and declared war, but you just keep smiling and coming back for more. And the girls too.” He smiled a little again, unable to help himself.

Luna smiled again as well. “That’s part of how friendship works, Discord. We work through our differences, and never abandon each other no matter what.”

“Yeah, well…” Discord squirmed and pouted a little, “It just feels funny, is all. I don’t know. And I also don’t how I’ve gotten so attached to Fluttershy and the girls and you and Celestia in such a short amount of time.” He sighed. “There’s just a lot to think about. And I’m very old to start changing now.”

“Take your time, Discord,” Luna assured, shifting her cloud closer. “Even if my reform was technically quick, I still needed some lessons when I got back on how to be a good friend.” She looked down. “After I first returned, when I tried to socialize with the ponies and go among them, they all feared me. And it hurt me, Discord, the assumption that because I made a bad mistake once, it meant there was something bad about me and something bad I might do again. It’s taken a great deal of patience and time for the ponies to understand me and put aside their unease. And Twilight Sparkle helped me very much when it came to trying to make friends. But still I feel a little feared, and I know most ponies take more comfort in Celestia’s rule than mine. But maybe the reminder of my bad past is a good thing—maybe it is what I need to make sure I am ever Nightmare Moon again.” She hung her head humbly.

“No. It’s not, Luna.”

Luna looked up, an eyebrow raised. Discord remained looking forward and spoke more. “You feeling bad won’t change anything in the past, and it’ll only make the future more difficult to get through. I know I can’t stop you from going through a grand spectacle of mushy guilt if you really want to or feel you have to for now. But it’s really overrated. I hurt far more people than you ever did and for far longer. But I don’t dwell on guilt because I don’t think it’ll change anything for the better. Besides, my problem isn’t that ponies fear me—it’s that ponies don’t trust me. No one believes in me completely except Fluttershy…and that includes myself. People want me to fail at this reform and go back to stone, Luna, people want me to prove I’m bad so they can feel safe again.” He scowled a little. “Half of what’s keeping this reform going is me wanting to prove them wrong just on principle.”

Luna frowned, but moved a little closer and tried to smile again. “Perhaps I do dwell too much on guilt, Discord. And I’ll bear in mind your opinion against it. But I hope in turn that you’ll heed some advice from me and dwell less on the negative thoughts of others. All that matters is what you want for yourself, Discord. And I’m sure you’ll understand what you want better soon enough. And for what it’s worth, you’ve done a very good job earning the trust of all of us as your friends so far.” Luna blushed slightly as she continued. “I started trusting you from the moment I learned that you had spent the night in my sister’s room and hadn’t let any harm or distress come to her. You’ve made more progress than you realize…wouldn’t you agree?”

Discord shrugged, his gaze still a little dull (and a light blush on his features now too). “I suppose…”

“I believe you’re a ‘good guy’ deep down, Discord,” Luna offered softly, her smile warming. “And I know my sister believes that more than anything as well. She sees something in you—why do you think she wanted so very much to see you reformed?”

Discord only blinked though, and appeared even more confused and distressed at this assurance. He swallowed. “Yes, well…she…I suppose we’ll all see what happens, Luna, Celestia included.” Then he cleared his throat, smiled and changed the subject as he suddenly snapped away his cloud and flew close to Celestia’s window. “And speaking of Celestia, oh look, she’s yawning! Maybe she’s waking up….” He grinned in excitement.

Luna wanted to discuss Discord’s feelings more, but she knew that Discord could be just as stubborn as she could be, and she knew it had taken her a while after her return and ‘reform’ to discuss her feelings of the past openly with Celestia, and she also knew it was progress enough that he had confided in her like this without her prompting him. Besides, even if he was struggling, at least it seemed like he cared about the fact that he was struggling, and that was something. And there really was no rush… So she smiled and moved her cloud over to the window to look inside with him at her slumbering sister.

Discord’s smile beamed. “Ooo I really can’t wait to see the look on her face when she wakes up covered in chocolate milk….”

Luna just rolled her eyes and went back to watching her sister.

Celestia indeed yawned and turned in her sleep, but then she just let out a sigh and continued slumbering.

Discord pouted. “Oh, pony feathers! At this rate I’ll have to wait til dawn to see her pranked.”

Luna couldn’t help herself—she smirked a little. “Would you like some help rousing her now instead, Discord?”

Discord blinked and raised an eyebrow at Luna.

Luna explained. “As the princess of the night, I have certain privileges. Besides, I’m always having to get up during the day for official royal meetings and such. Staying up a few minutes at night won’t harm Celestia.”

An intrigued grin came to Discord’s features. “Hmm, very well.” He gestured forward toward Celestia. “Fire away then, Luna.”

Luna nodded. Then she closed her eyes and opened them again to reveal a cerulean glow. She remained in this state for several seconds, looking to her sister, then blinked a few times until her eyes returned to normal. She smiled. “There we go.”

Discord moved closer to the window and looked to Celestia again. “What did you do?”

Luna grinned. “I gave her the most disturbing dream possible short of a nightmare. That should certainly wake her up.”

And indeed Celestia was stirring now in her sleep.

Discord chuckled lightly and raised an eyebrow as his gaze remained on Celestia. “You can control dreams that much? Interesting. What did you make her dream about?”

Luna held back a small laugh, her eyes likewise never leaving her sister as she replied simply, “Being married to you.”

Discord blinked, and his eyes flew open wide.

Celestia tossed once in her sleep…then she giggled (Discord’s eyes went even wider and his jaw fell slightly), but then suddenly the sun princess awoke with a loud gasp! “I—Oh!” Instantly, Celestia’s cloud fell to the floor and she found herself sprawled on her rug covered in bits of cotton candy and a fair amount of chocolate milk!

Celestia just lay on the floor for a moment, blinking, obviously stunned (and looking quite a chaotic sight indeed—the picture of Discord’s hopes for his prank.)

Discord practically beamed, then flew forward, gave a rap at her window and waved. “Here it comes, here it comes…” he mumbled to himself and Luna. “Her angry face—the grim Celestia glare! Oh, it’s fantastic, like a work of art! The crowning potential effect of my chaos!”

While the chaos master chuckled more in anticipation, Luna couldn’t help laughing a little too (and also eyeing him slightly with an eyebrow raised at the strange compliment before turning her own attention back to her sister).

And, sure enough, that stern look of hers so rarely seen was upon Celestia’s sunny features was visible now. As she looked to her window, her eyes focused in on a smug-looking Discord staring down at her. She pursed her lips, angled her head downward and darkened her brow into a slight scowl—there was no anger but a definite sense of sudden seriousness about her in the wake of her poise being broken.

Finally, Luna couldn’t help moving closer into the frame of the window and giving her sister a cheeky wave (if only to save Discord from having to take all of her wrath).

Celestia blinked at the sight of a second prankster…then clearly processed something (regarding a certain induced dream)…then her stern look became even sterner. But then she just stood up, dripping chocolate milk, and smirked a little. She approached the window and magically opened it to look up at her two surprise nightly visitors.

She was met with the sight Discord now contorting in the air while laughing hysterically and Luna unsuccessfully trying to stifle some chuckles behind an ‘innocent’ smile.

Celestia sighed, her smirk continuing. “You know, I’ve been hoping you two would find more common ground to relate over to improve your friendship—I just didn’t think that common ground would involve pranking me.” She looked to her sister. “Luna, that dream had you written all over it. You know we shouldn’t use our powers for silly things like that.” Still she smiled.

Luna smiled as well and rolled her eyes. “Oh yes, this coming from the former filly who once tried to concentrate the rays of the sun on a single pan of batter to secretly bake herself a cake when Master Starswirl forbade them to her for one moon for sleeping in late a fortnight straight.” She raised an eyebrow. “You nearly set the castle on fire, if I recall correctly.”

Discord’s grin widened, and then he rolled in the air in even more laughter.

Luna laughed softly and added dryly with a smirk of her own, “Really, sister, we ought to have you talk with somebody about this cake obsession…” Her smile grew. “And as for the dream I just gave you, I couldn’t help myself. Discord popping out of a wedding cake and making you his bride: I think it was a work of art, personally.” She brought her hoof to her chest in pride.

Celestia blushed a little but couldn’t stop smiling. “Yes, well…it was more in the details that the dream wasn’t fair,” she mumbled. Then she cleared her throat and her gaze quickly turned to Discord (and she changed the subject). “And I’m assuming, of course, that I have you to thank for the chocolate milk and cotton candy, Discord.” She brushed aside some of her flowing hair to remove a particularly large gob of pink and brown stickiness.

Discord got his laughter under control, wiped a tear from his eye, and took a small bow in the air. “Naturally. You sleep too soundly, Celestia dear. I just figured if I pranked you like this, it would make you more alert at night. Just trying to be a good friend.” He grinned ‘innocently’ and tapped his fingers together.

Celestia just sighed shook her head as a laugh finally escaped her now. “You two are really too old for this. I can’t believe you actually did this together.”

“Jealous?” Discord smirked and crossed his arms over his chest. “Don’t worry, I assure you there’s nothing going on between me and your sister. We’re just friends. It’s just that you’re never too old for a good prank, Celestia. And who could resist that little grumpy face of yours anyway?” He chuckled again and leaned in close to the window with a grin. “Isn’t it just such fun being friends, Celestia? Of course, it must pale in comparison to that lovely dream of being my main squeeze that Luna whipped up for you…” He rolled his eyes to the side (and kept them to the side very deliberately for a moment). “But still at least we have our friendly bond here in real life, hmm?” His gaze went back to her a little.

Celestia sighed (and faintly blushed), and then finally smiled at him and shook her head. “Goodnight, Discord. I’ll be more inclined to continue our ‘friendly bond’ in the morning after I’m all cleaned up and have finished my night’s sleep.” She glanced to her sister. “And Luna…this prank was amusing, I’ll admit that, but…no more dreams for tonight, please?” She gave her a slight look as her blush continued.

Luna nodded with a warm smile. “Of course not, sister. Have a pleasant sleep.” She flew up and looked to her draconequus friend. “Discord, let us leave her—your prank was a success.”

Discord sighed but nodded. “Yes, I suppose part of being friends is knowing when to quit.” He flew up too. “Farewell, Celestia, until our next hilarious meeting…which will probably be over breakfast. But maybe I’ll be a nice master of chaos and just make your pancakes taste like actual cake or something fun like that.” He winked and gave her a wave with the fingers of his paw hand. “Ta ta, Tia.”

Celestia just shook her head at the two of them with a smile. “Goodnight, you two.” Then she closed her window and proceeded to her bathroom to clean herself up before returning to sleep.

As Luna and Discord came to rest upon clouds high above Celestia’s tower now, they laughed warmly together beneath the moon and starlight.

“Luna, you were great. You can prank with me anytime,” Discord assured her with a big grin. “You see, I told you that you were the ‘fun’ princess.”

Luna smiled considerably and nodded. “Thank you, Discord. It was nice to work with someone on a nightly caper like that, and I too enjoyed the fact that the one I got to work with was you.” She shrugged. “I suppose you really do consider me as close a friend as you do my sister.”

Discord sighed, still smiling at her. “Of course I do, Luna. Besides all that stuff I mentioned about Celestia needing my chaos more and all the complicated reform stuff, the explanation about why I give her more attention than you is really quite a simple one: I really do like you as a friend just as much as I like Celestia as a friend, Luna. I just like bothering Celestia more than I like bothering you, that’s all.” He chuckled a little and grinned mischievously. “But if you’d like, I could prank you with more frequency just to make things even.”

Luna shook her head, grinning as well. “No, no, perfectly all right, Discord. Keep the pranks in reserve for Celestia. I think you’re right—she does need them as a little fun disruption to her days. In fact, I think your form of friendship might actually be good for her…and for yourself as well.” She smiled a little more. “You two make a very unusual but sweet pair of friends.”

Discord rolled his eyes but then smirked a little and let his gaze fall down to the glow coming from Celestia’s tower window. “Hmm, well…I suppose our friendship works on a very strange level. And I suppose our way of relating has kind of grown on me too, pranks and all.” He was quiet for a moment but then cleared his throat and turned his attention back to Luna. “Although I may up the pranks against you now just a bit—to be fair, of course, you understand, and so you don’t feel jilted, Miss Nightmare Moon.” He winked and smirked.

Luna smiled more. “Very well, Discord. But you should know I prank back…and with dreams sometimes.” She chuckled softly and then shrugged as she added, “We could relate more in other ways though. Perhaps if you are not too tired some night, you could accompany me on some of my nightly duties like how you intrude upon some of Celestia’s duties each day. I wouldn’t mind the company, and you might enjoy the activities more. Celestia usually just holds many meetings and sessions of public court and often does a great deal of paperwork.”

“Ugh, do not remind me about the paperwork.” Discord cringed a little. “Three hours of watching her do it when I was in the sick bubble. For a while there I couldn’t tell if it was the fever or the orderliness making me delirious, I just knew that I was actually starting to miss fighting the tatzulwurm.” He rolled his eyes.

Luna laughed more and shook her head. “Yes, well, as I said, my nightly duties are a little more ‘interactive’.”

Discord raised an eyebrow, his tone a little dry. “You mean like when you two punished me for the plunderseed vines by leaving me sitting guard outside of the forest all night while you did princess things in there? Luna, that night beat out the paperwork, but not by much, I’ll tell you that.”

Luna grinned. “Oh, Discord, I made the punishment of helping that dull on purpose. And besides, I was frustrated with you about the vines, and so I was certainly not about to let you get near the royal activities of my night until you had learned your lesson.” Her eyes hazed, and she raised her head a little in pride. “Actually, most nights once I’m in the Everfree Forest or any wild place in Equestria, I make flying patrols overhead and sometimes engage rogue magical beasts in debate or even fighting if necessary to protect the ponies. And I wouldn’t mind some help in those tasks from a friend. And I’m sure after all of the restraint you’ve had to exercise lately with your chaos that you’d relish the idea of a good magical duel.” She raised an eyebrow as her grin picked up distinctly on one side.

Discord’s smile perked up entirely, and he flew into the air and closer to Luna, twisting his body a little in his excitement. “Magical duels? Ooo, I knew you were the fun princess, Luna, but I didn’t know you had the fun job too! Ugh, and I’ve been dying for a chance to flex my chaos a little, and inside the Everfree Forest is perfect—it’s the most chaotic place there is. I can actually be myself!” He was practically giddy! But then he hesitated for a moment and added, “But we don’t cause any undue distress to the creatures in there though, right?” He grinned and raised an eyebrow, which caused Luna to raise an eyebrow at him in return. Discord shrugged. “A new concern of mine brought about by spending a lot of time with Fluttershy. I wouldn’t want her to be disappointed in me for failing to consider the feelings of animals.”

Luna smiled in understanding. “I only engage creatures who willfully pose a threat against populated areas regardless of my warnings against such actions. And even then we cause no harm, Discord, I promise.”

Discord grinned brightly. “Wonderful! So let’s go!”

“Right now?” Luna blinked and smiled more.

Discord nodded. “Of course! Come on, the night is young, and I slept enough during that thousand years in stone thank you very much. Why not?” He shrugged.

Luna laughed and nodded. “Why not indeed? Very well, Discord, let us depart!” Luna took to the air as well and turned to lead the way to the Everfree Forest. And Discord, with a clap of his claw and paw together, soared after her.

As the two flew side by side, Discord chuckled lightly to himself.

Luna glanced at him. “Discord?”

The master of chaos just shook his head. “I still can’t believe you gave Celestia a dream like that. Me popping out of a cake…married to her.” He paused, then asked casually, still smiling, “What were those ‘unfair details’ she mentioned though?”

Luna smiled a little more and then shrugged. “Well, it was an induced dream as opposed to a privately constructed one, so I believe I can tell you. After you popped out of the cake…you suddenly took on several werepony attributes including a cape which you quickly took off. And then Celestia might have found the both of you standing upon a hill similar to the one Blue Jay and Swannie kiss passionately on in the Eventide movie, that’s all.” There was silence for a long moment. Finally, Luna glanced over at her friend. “Discord?”

Discord was just looking forward with wide eyes, blushing slightly.

Luna smiled a little more and softly added, “I think both the details coupled with the suggestion of marriage is what overwhelmed her. Celestia’s never been very outgoing with courtship.”

Discord blinked and cleared his throat to finally speak again. “Oh, er…yes, well, no one could help being overwhelmed by the idea of being with me like that. Not that she’d ever stand a chance. Pfft!” He grinned and waved Luna off with a roll of his eyes. “She is completely not my type—so grim, so perfect, so cheerful, so…sunny. I’d drive her insane in a day. I’m actually surprised I haven’t driven her insane already even with us just being friends—very, very surprised in fact.” He shrugged casually. “I guess she’s made of tougher stuff than I give her credit for.” He sighed…and considered. Then his smile fell away to a raised eyebrow and half smirk. He glanced to Luna. “Has she really never been that outgoing about stallions?”

Luna looked at Discord with interest out of the corner of her eye. “She’s a very private person, Discord. And very modest. Seeking suitors isn’t her strongest talent, no. And after all, she’s spent most of her studies familiarizing herself with the art and magic of friendship alone.”

“Hmm…” Discord gave a yawn and looked forward again. “Well, Twilight can take care of friendship now. And Celestia doesn’t give herself enough credit. She really is sort of okay for a mare. I mean, she amuses me, and that’s saying something.” He chuckled.

Discord expected Luna to chuckle along with him, but he heard nothing from her. He glanced to the princess flying beside him…only to find her eyeing him with a strange smile. Discord blinked and raised an eyebrow. “What?”

Luna smiled more and looked forward again. “Nothing, Discord.”

“Luna…” Discord prompted.

Luna sighed. “I get lost in thought sometimes at night when I fly. It’s nothing. Really.” Yet she eyed him once more with a strange smile. “Celestia’s attention has found a special place in your heart, will you at least admit that, Discord?”

Discord sighed deeply. And then he finally gave Luna something. “I’ll admit that I like attention from everybody, but if I can get it from the woman who left me a statue for a thousand years, you can bet I’m going to take it. And that’s as far as I’m going to go with these sappy sentiments about friendship with the princess of the sun, even for the hero of all reformed villains, my banishment buddy Luna.” He grinned and winked at her with a laugh.

Luna rolled her eyes and laughed a little too. “Fair enough, Discord. But enough talk of my sister for now…if you can help it.” She smirked slightly then flew up higher. “We hear the hunting howl of the Timberwolf faintly on the night air. Come along—we shall engage the beasts forthwith to keep our land and the ponies safe!” With a proud smile she then swooped down toward the Everfree Forest. “And perhaps we shall engage an ursa major too if we are fortunate!” she called out over her shoulder.

Discord chuckled and swooped after her. “Yea and verily!” he mocked. “Let us join the fray and relive the moon princess’s days of yore!” Discord broke into laughter as he came to fly beside Luna again, the top of the Everfree Forest coming more and more in sight. “Oh Luna, you’re too much…” He waved her off.

“I’m too much, and yet you’re the one who’s starting to truly flirt with my sister…” Luna mumbled very lightly to herself with an eye roll.

Discord raised an eyebrow and cocked an ear up. “Did you say something, Luna?”

Luna smiled more and let out a sigh. “Nay, Discord. I was just agreeing with you that I cannot wait for the battle to start either—it shall be a glorious evening of nightly duties, and wonderful to share it with a friend.”

Discord grinned. “Glad to see we’re on the same page then. And I’ll try not to upstage you too much with the timberwolves, Luna.” He smirked and held his head up proudly.

“Ha!” Luan scoffed, holding her own head up in pride as the two came to hover just above the tops of the trees (and indeed just down below the howls and growls of some ferocious beasts could be heard). “We’ll see who upstages whom. Have at them!” And with that she descended directly into the forest.

Discord flew right down after her into the treetops with a laugh. “Tally ho!”

And thus the two friends embarked upon a night of bonding together.

Needless to say Discord was a little tired at breakfast, but he still got off a few good werepony jokes at Celestia’s expense…though he made up for it by really making her pancakes taste like actual cake (and Luna was pretty okay with that spell too). All in all it was another fun, slightly awkward, always hilarious, and never dull breakfast for the three immortal friends. And Luna found herself much happier with her friendship with Discord…even if she also did find herself more concerned about him as her friend.

Luna hoped his reform would indeed turn out to be a true and permanent one for all of their sakes.

Midquel 10: The One During 'Twilight's Kingdom'

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“Oh ho! An official summons by Celestia to meet with her and Luna today as part of a top secret princess summit!” Discord chuckled to himself with a smug grin as he flew through the air in circles over the Canterlot castle, admiring an unfurled scroll in his hand with a golden seal. “She actually wrote up a real summons for me, she had the letters engraved into the scroll, she signed it, and she even embossed it with the royal crest. It’s so grim and sparkly and perfect, just like her actually.” The chaos master chuckled more and flipped on his back as he continued to admire the summons. “And it’s a real, official, documented, ‘part of the history books’ request for my friendly assistance in an hour of Equestria’s need. So she admits it finally—she admits on paper that she needs me, that everyone needs me, that I’m just as fantastic at friendship as I am at chaos and pretty much everything else I do.” Discord beamed as he fell back onto a cloud and held the summons high over his head. “It’s perfect. Oh, Fluttershy will be so proud!”

Discord chuckled more to himself, but then suddenly heard a clock tower chime in the distance. He blinked. “Oh dear, well, I can’t be late for my summons, now can I?” He snapped away the scroll for safekeeping and then made himself disappear in a flash of light.

Discord reappeared a second later in the Canterlot castle throne room…wearing a full medieval knight’s costume and bearing a large lance, which he held high overhead, a determined look and grin upon his features as he approached the princesses. “Sir Discord, Knight of Friendship, reporting for duty and ready to spread some helpful chaos. Ladies, please, I know you’re happy to see me and that I look particularly handsome, but try to control yourselves.” He broke into laughter.

The two sisters were standing together near the throne, and in response to Discord’s grand entrance Luna just rolled her eyes and Celestia giggled softly.

The sun princess smiled and cleared her throat. “Discord, I think you can tone it down a little. Though I appreciate your enthusiasm.”

Discord chuckled again and snapped his fingers, sending away the knight’s armor and the lance. “Yes, well, I do prefer the au natural look for performing heroic chaotic feats and of course for pleasing you, Celestia dear.” He winked at her.

Celestia blushed but just sighed lightly, her smile remaining. “Discord, please, we have a lot to discuss.”

“Indeed, Discord,” Luna added, giving a nod. “This is a serious matter. So for once, please, be serious?”

Discord sighed and rolled his eyes but did nod. “Oh very well, Luna. Thy words of great weight coupled with thine sister’s charming plea for mine attention hath swayed me. I shall be ‘serious.” He smirked.

Luna only smiled a little again and shook her head.

Discord grinned and floated up so that he was lying on the air and looking at the princesses at eye level as he rested on his stomach. “Okay ladies, so there’s clearly a national emergency, otherwise there wouldn’t be a secret princess summit and you wouldn’t have sent me some official document requesting my presence. So shoot—what’s going on, and what do you need good old Discord to do?”

Celestia and Luna’s smiles fell. They looked to each other and then back to Discord.

Celestia spoke. “Discord, there has been an escape from Tartarus.”

Discord’s eyes went a little wide and he raised an eyebrow. “Wow, impressive. I thought that place was sealed tighter than a stone bodysuit.” He couldn’t help a smirk.

However, he received no smiles in reply (which couldn’t help but make Discord’s smile falter). Instead Luna sighed and nodded. “Yes, Discord, it normally is the closest to a state of banishment that a creature can enter into without actually being banished. But some time ago a series of unfortunate magical events led to Cerberus being removed from his guard post for a short period. And during that time the escape took place.”

Discord gave a nod. “Okay then.” He rolled on his back to look at the princesses upside down. “But why is this just becoming a problem now? Certainly, the escapee must have gotten up to his old tricks right away. As soon as villains are free, they always quickly return to their villainous ways…present company excluded of course.” His smile picked up on one side.

“We did not know that his cell was empty because we rarely check in on Tartarus considering how well-guarded it is and the fact an escape from that prison has never been successful,” Luna explained.

Celestia sighed, looking to Discord as she added, “And we believe that for a while the prisoner was in a highly weakened state and needed time to gain power to restore himself. But now he has enough power to start returning to his evil ways in full force.” She looked down. “Already there have been reports of attacks in remote areas…and ponies are losing their magic.”

“…So it’s Tirek who’s escaped then,” Discord replied levelly.

The pony sisters both blinked and looked up at the master of chaos.

“How did you know?” Celestia asked.

Discord turned back over in the air and shrugged. “I know my villains, Celestia. And I knew Tirek way back in the day. And I also know he’s the only one who can actually make ponies lose their magic.” His brow furrowed, and he lost his smile completely for a moment. “You two are very aware that this is a potentially very bad situation, yes?”

Luna gave him a dry look. “No, Discord, we think it’s just delightful, and in fact we’re planning to invite Tirek to move in with the three of us so that we can all bond and become even better acquainted.”

Celestia tried to smile a little at Discord as she gave her response. “Yes, Discord, we know it’s a bad situation. Tirek has hurt many ponies so far, and the more ponies he hurts, the more powerful he grows, and the more powerful he grows, the more ponies he can hurt. Which is where you come in.”

Discord grinned again. “Yes, well, I had a feeling we were getting to that.” He yawned and turned to lie on his back in the air again as he flew in a circle around the princesses, his arms behind his head. “So, what, you’re going to scramble Twilight and the girls to find and beat Tirek, and you want good old Discord to go along with them for magical support and maybe to give them some insider tips on how to take down a bad guy?” His circle complete, he yawned and sat up, then snapped up an emery board and started to file his claw a little.

Celestia shook her head. “Actually, Discord, I don’t think this is a job for Twilight and the girls at all. I think this is a job solely for you.”

Discord stopped filing. Then he looked to Celestia and raised an eyebrow so high that the effect was almost comical. “Me?”

Celestia nodded. “Yes. You can sense magical imbalances. Tirek creates magical imbalances. So I want you to sense where he is, find him, and bring him back to Tartarus. You don’t need the girls for that of course…do you, Discord?” Her inflection at the end of the question suggested that she was looking for an answer (and while her sister put this suggestion and question forth, Luna just looked on with her eyes wide with interest).

“Oh…” Discord blinked and then snapped away his emery board and flipped over onto his stomach, resting his chin on his paw. “Well…Well, no, I suppose I don’t need the girls for that. And I’m certainly more than a match magically for Tirek, especially in a weakened state.” His looked to Celestia and Luna…and to Celestia again. “So then…I’m in charge all by myself of making sure one of the greatest potential threats to Equestria’s safety doesn’t conquer the nation? It’s all up to me?”

Celestia nodded and smiled a little again. “Yes, Discord, it’s all up to you. I have great faith in your ability to carry out this mission. I know you won’t let us down and that you’ll lead Equestria to safety for the sake of all of your friends.”

Discord’s smile brightened. He nodded. “Very well then, if you insist.” He chuckled. “It’s all up to me to decide the fate of Equestria. Imagine that.”

“Discord,” Luna’s tone was level and firm, “please take our request very seriously. And please appreciate the significant responsibility this task will be.” She looked into his eyes. “We would only ask such assistance from a true friend, Discord.”

Discord met her eyes for a moment, his own eyes going a little wide, but then he cleared his throat and smiled as he floated above pony sisters. “Oh, of course, of course, and isn’t it wonderful! You two are finally realizing just how friendly I can be, and not just to yourselves but to everypony else!” He chuckled again. “Finally I get a friendship adventure of my very own, and—” Then Discord blinked…and then his eyes narrowed and his grin grew considerably. He stopped right in front of Celestia, putting them face-to-face. “Wait, wait, wait, wait…just wait…are you trying to tell me that you chose me over Twilight for a mission to preserve friendship in Equestria? Are you trying to tell me that since I’m in charge of this Tirek thing, that means Twilight is out and Discord is in?”

Celestia sighed but smiled and nodded. “Yes, Discord. I’m not giving Twilight any role in Tirek’s capture. I’ve chosen you to handle things instead, just like I said.” Her smile picked up a little on one side. “Try not to rub it in when you see her next, Discord. I haven’t told her yet, but I don’t think she’ll take it entirely well.”

Luna sighed. “You’re her mentor telling her that during Equestria’s first great trial of her princesshood, you have chosen to pass her over to assist our nation in favor of another. She’s going to take it about the same way she would take a C on one of her report cards, sister—a slight bit of shock followed by a great deal of disappointment in herself.”

Celestia looked to Luna. “Twilight needs to learn that as a princess, in times of crisis, you have to seek help from whoever is in the best position to give it even if that person isn’t you and regardless of your own personal desires to be part of saving the day.” She looked back to Discord. “Discord,” her voice lowered and she moved very close to him, “will you accept this task we’ve presented to you? Now that a moment of crisis has come, will you use your powers as our friend to help us and all of Equestria?” She sighed. “I don’t want to send the girls up against someone as potentially dangerous as Tirek if I don’t have to. And next to Luna and I, you are the strongest magical being in Equestria, or at least the strongest one on the side of good, the strongest one that I trust. We need you.”

Discord just looked to her with wide eyes for a moment. But then he smiled and nodded. “I live to serve.” He flew down to the floor before the princesses and gave a deep bow. “I’ll be glad to use my advanced magical skill to take care of your Tirek problem. Just wait until you see how effective me and my chaos are—you’ll come to me to handle major crises every time from now on.” He straightened up and gave a dramatic sigh. “Maybe I’ll even earn the right to be a princess myself one day.” With a chuckle (and a snap of his fingers) he flung himself backward right in front of where the princesses were standing, causing both sisters to reach out a foreleg and catch him on instinct. The result was Discord (now wearing a large crown, a huge pink horn, and big, fake, pink princess wings) resting the mid-section of his body in Luna’s foreleg and resting the upper section of his body in Celestia’s foreleg. He grinned up at Celestia and gave her a wink.

Celestia couldn’t help smiling down warmly at him. “Discord, I know you’ll do well. But I think a title might be a ways off for you yet.” She shook her head.

“Discord, get out of that outfit and don’t make me drop you,” Luna chided, though she too was smiling.

Discord got himself standing upright and snapped the princess garb away. “All joking aside though, ladies,” he placed the palm of his paw and the palm of his claw together and gave a slight nod of his head, “I’ll start roaming around a bit to get a sense of any major magical imbalances. And I’ll personally escort Tirek back to Tartarus. And I’ll make sure you two and our friendship princess never forget what I did. And I’ll make sure Fluttershy knows about the honor I’ve been given with this mission and how graciously I accepted the responsibility for the sake of my friends.”

Celestia smiled and nodded. “Very good, Discord.” She sighed. “Now, if you wouldn’t mind, Luna and I have to meet with Cadance in here in a few minutes in private to discuss some very important business regarding Tirek and how to handle keeping the ponies calm. And Twilight will be coming soon too, and we’ll have to inform her of our decision about you handling Tirek. Please don’t mention anything about your mission to her or anypony else for now.”

“Want to drop the bomb yourself, eh?” The chaos master crossed his arms over his chest, grinning more, and gave a shrug. “Very well, I can accept that.” He flew up again. “Well, I’m off to think about where to begin my search for Tirek. I’ll see you shortly, ladies. Luna, try not to let the stress of this incident make you slip back into the royal we, and Celestia, try not to pine for my company or fret too much over my safety while I’m gone—I’ll be back to fill your life with joy and mirth and companionship for midnight snacks of cake soon enough.” He chuckled and then snapped his fingers and disappeared.

Luna and Celestia watched the spot where he had been and then took in and let out a deep breath each.

Suddenly, though, there was a flash and Discord was back again for a moment. He looked from one sister to the other, his eyes a little wide and (in a rare moment) the smugness gone from his features and tone. “Ladies? Uh…you’re…you’re really leaving me to this on my own, huh? Something this important and dangerous…it’s all my responsibility to make sure it comes out right in the end?”

Luna raised an eyebrow. Celestia smiled softly and nodded. “Yes, Discord. All of our trust is in you. Luna, Cadance, and I have our own affairs to see to here—we won’t be tagging along after you. And I already told you that I’m telling the girls to please stand down. You’re the one we want to handle this, Discord.”

“Yes, Discord,” Luna added with a nod. “We believe you are our best hope. We are looking forward to…how well you shall fulfill those expectations.” She smiled a little though her gaze softened in care and concern. “We have great hope for you.”

Discord blinked a few times and looked down. He nodded. “Very well, then. Just…Just checking. Well, bye again for now.”

And with that he snapped himself away for good.

Celestia and Luna’s eyes left the spot Discord had occupied. The sisters looked to each other and then shared a warm smile.

A moment of silence passed. But then something pensive came to Luna’s gaze. She addressed Celestia in a soft voice. “Sister, do you think that…”

But at just that moment there was a knock on the throne room door, which then magically opened revealing Cadance. The princess of love entered the room with a smile on her face, letting the door close behind her. “Hello, Celestia, hello, Luna.” She gave a bow.

The sun and moon princesses reciprocated her gesture and then approached her. “Cadance,” Celestia started with a smile, “thank you for coming. It’s so good to have you in Canterlot again.” She put a foreleg around the pink alicorn and gave her a hug.

Cadance hugged her back, then smiled up at Celestia as the two parted. “Of course. I’m so glad to be here.” Her eyes turned to Luna. “Luna,” she hugged Luna with her foreleg now, which Luna likewise reciprocated, “we don’t get to see each other enough. I hope all of this commotion during the daytime hasn’t upset your sleep cycle too much.” She pulled back, still smiling but her gaze now softened with concern.

Luna smiled down at Cadance. “Nay, I am fine. I do not mind losing a little sleep for the sake of our subjects. But thank you for your concern, Cadance.”

Cadance nodded, smiling more. “Of course.” She looked to both Luna and Celestia, and frowned. “So this is really happening then—this Tirek person is loose and stealing magic?”

Luna and Celestia nodded, their expressions turning grave.

Cadance’s brow furrowed as she looked down and considered. “Twilight should be here. She’s the best one to handle this.”

“Twilight will be joining us soon, Cadance,” Celestia assured with a soft smile. “For now though, I’d like us to discuss the best way to keep the news of Tirek from spreading among the ponies and causing panic, and also how to help the ponies who have already been affected by his actions.”

Cadance nodded. “Yes, you’re right of course. We have to make sure the ponies are caused as little distress by this as possible.”

Luna nodded as well. “Indeed.”

“Besides the ponies that have been affected and the guards and the visiting dignitaries, does anyone else know about Tirek’s escape?” Cadance asked.

Luna’s looked down and then to her sister. Celestia looked to Cadance. “Discord knows the situation, Cadance. I filled him in just before you arrived.”

“Discord?” Cadance blinked and tilted her head to the side. “And…how did he respond?”

“With humor and jests mostly,” Luna supplied. “But also very seriously toward the end.”

“Really?” Cadance’s eyebrow went higher. “But wait…seriousness about what exactly?”

Celestia smiled. “We’ll explain everything once Twilight joins us, Cadance. But don’t worry, there’s no threat from Discord knowing about Tirek. He won’t spread the information. I made him promise not to even mention it to the girls until I had talked to Twilight in person.”

Cadance let out a sigh of relief. “Well, at least there’s that.” Then she couldn’t help smiling a little and addressing the two elder princesses again. “Has he really been living here with you two ever since his reform?”

“Don’t remind me,” Luna replied with a small grin.

Celestia just sighed softly but smiled as well. “It’s been a long and complicated situation, Cadance. Let’s just say that for now.”

Cadance couldn’t help smiling more and raising an eyebrow again at the pony sisters.

Meanwhile, Discord was now just flying over the outskirts of the Canterlot area trying to pick up any slight sensation of magical disturbance. “Once thing I know for sure,” he mumbled to himself, “Tirek will stay clear of this area of Equestria in the state he’s in. He’s no match for the pony sisters right now. I’d better look in distant, isolated areas.” He nodded to himself at the idea. Then he grinned a little. “Hmm…I bet Celestia’s back at the castle right now telling Cadance all about how special I am and how she and Luna picked me for this important job. And then she’s going to tell Twilight too—ooh I can’t wait!” He clapped his paw and claw together.

Then suddenly Discord stopped flying forward. His smile brightened. “Say, I’d love to see that actually. Just a peek wouldn’t hurt. At the very least I owe Cadance the courtesy of a greeting. And I’d love to see the look of shock on Twilight’s face when she hears the big news if I could manage it. Very well, back to the castle for the moment it is.” And with that he snapped his fingers and teleported himself away.

Discord reappeared just outside of the throne room door. Luckily, he noticed that while the door appeared closed, the lock hadn’t clicked into place. He was able to gently push the door open just a crack to observe his chaotic prey with a grin.

There sat Celestia, Luna, and Cadance in a circle together at the center of the room, and they were talking…about him, he quickly realized.

“…And you haven’t felt worried or unsure at all having Discord staying here so close to you?” Cadance asked.

Luna glanced to Celestia and then back to Cadance. “At first, yes, we were…somewhat concerned. Not that his spark of friendship with Fluttershy did not seem genuine, but still…having him in such close proximity to ourselves was worrisome.”

“But we’ve all learned to make compromises together,” Celestia added. “I think it’s been good for us overall.”

“And it’s allowed us to monitor the progress of Discord’s reform,” Luna supplied with a smile.

Celestia nodded and smiled as well. “Yes, that too. And it’s also given me a chance to get to know him better and to consider more closely how his powers can best be used to serve the nation.”

“That’s very good, Celestia,” Cadance replied with a smile. Her look became a little hesitant again though. “I have to admit, after my experience with him while visiting Ponyville a few weeks ago, I was a little worried about whether or not he might still be a threat to Equestria, but I’m glad he seems to be settling into his reform better.” Her smile returned.

“Indeed,” Luna nodded. “I was surprised at first to see him showing such restraint in the spreading of his chaos. In the past he wielded it like a mighty tool across all the land. But now he seems content to keep it to himself or at worst to joke and jest with us and the rest of his friends in small ways.”

“It’s true,” Celestia added, looking down a little, her smile softening. “He’s not the same mighty lord of chaos as I remember. He’s more of a prankster, a trickster…. He’s still just as powerful but not nearly as selfish about it. He accommodates his chaos to us now. And it’s a role I’m happy he’s settled into.”

“Yes,” Luna continued, “which is why we feel comfortable now asking certain favors of him, even in times of crisis as this one. We trust that he has become acclimated enough to our new mutual relationship of friendship to carry out our orders without fail.”

Cadance considered and then nodded to the two elder princesses. “I think it’s a good strategy, reforming him and having him available to help us as our friend instead of just sealing him away again. I’m very glad you both were willing to give Discord a chance like that and that Twilight and her friends were able to succeed at showing him the magic of friendship. And it sounds like the reform is making Discord happy.”

Celestia nodded, and her smile grew. “Yes, I think he is happier, though he can be a little guarded about his true feelings.”

“He…finds contentment in his new life, even despite the doubts some of the ponies may express about his reform.” Luna chose her words carefully and did not look at her sister as she delivered them. “Of that I am certain.”

Celestia raised an eyebrow at her sister, but when Luna didn’t look to her or go on, the sun princess turned back to Cadance with her usual warm smile. “And Fluttershy’s been especially helpful for him. She’s put so much effort into making it possible for our plans for Discord to work out. I’m very proud of all the girls but especially of her. Discord wouldn’t be as kind and caring as he is now if it wasn’t for their friendship.”

Luna’s smile returned. “Yes, seeing them together is a very uplifting experience. It’s truly been amazing to witness Discord’s transformation. He no longer requires stone to keep himself under control. Instead, his growing love of friendship does just as well at it now. And now he is more than happy to serve the crown.”

“Still…” Cadance’s smile wavered, “just please keep an eye on him, Celestia, Luna. I know he’s trying, but he might not be able to handle too much responsibility at once just yet. It’s probably been very overwhelming to him trying to get used to being on the side of good. ”

“We are very aware of his potential limitations.” Luna’s tone was solemn. “But Celestia and I have every intention of taking things as slowly with him as circumstances permit. We know we cannot expect him to take to his new lifestyle perfectly. And we have to be sensitive to Discord’s wants and needs along with our own.”

Celestia bowed her head. “I’m glad we’ve all reached a mutual understanding, and I’m glad friendship has come to have such a strong hold on Discord. But I know that despite how close we’ve gotten, I have to keep in mind his former villainy for the sake of the ponies.” She took a breath. “But I think we’ll be okay. I have faith in the future of our friendship.”

Cadance nodded, and her brow slightly furrowed. “It’s a delicate situation.”

“Exactly.” Celestia raised her head. “We’ll just have to hope our bonds of friendship hold.”

“And that we have not been misguided in our efforts,” Luna added.

The princesses sat in silence for a moment together.

It was at this point in the conversation that Discord decided to leave—no jokes, no grand entrances, no greetings, no little calling card pranks to leave on…He just left.

And as he left, he flew at an average speed through the air, but he wasn’t focusing on magical imbalances or the bright day or hearing himself talk. He just looked forward, his brow furrowed and his mouth nearly pulled into a frown, lost in his own mumblings and thoughts.

“They still don’t trust me in a way. And maybe they never will. And I guess I still don’t know, especially now, if I trust them yet. But all I do know is that…without trust, you can’t have friendship.” He nodded. “Fluttershy’s at least taught me that much.” But then the thought of Fluttershy made him cringe a little. “Maybe she doesn’t trust me either…. Maybe she’s just been doing what they expect her to do to keep me in line.”

Discord sighed though and quickly shook his head. “But…no, no…she’s not like that. She’s the most sincere person there ever was. The princesses though on the other hand…” He almost scowled a little though it appeared to be more like a pout. “I know I’ve done bad things, been a bad person. I don’t blame them for taking things slowly with me. But we’ve gotten so close. I know most of the other ponies don’t entirely believe in me yet, but I thought princesses at least…” He sighed. “What if our friendship doesn’t mean more than just a way to make sure I do good?” Then another thought occurred to him. “But then again, haven’t I been using our friendship in some ways to make sure that they don’t do ‘bad’ by putting me back to stone? But…no!” He shook his head again, scowling. “We’ve gone beyond that, at least a little…right?”

Discord sighed, a look of determination coming to his features as he flew forward into the sunny sky. “No one may think any better of me for the efforts I’ve made, but no one can think any worse of me for how I’ve changed. And no one can think any worse of me for how much farther I might have to go, even despite what the princesses might say. I’ve done a good job! I-I’ve done a great job at friendship!” His frustrated scowl and pout grew. “I’ve done things I could never imagine I’d do and all for them…okay, maybe a little for me too, but also for them! I actually sort of like the pony sisters now! And I’ve become dear friends with Celestia of all ponies, for chaos’s sake! If that’s not an accomplishment for me, then I don’t know what is!”

Discord closed his eyes for a moment. He spoke quietly. “I know I’m not like them, I’ve never been like them. But isn’t that what friendship’s supposed to be all about—coming together over differences because you care about each other…because you love each other?” His eyes opened: he was blushing slightly.

Then he blinked a few times and crossed his arms over his chest, scowling and pouting again. “Oh Discord, really…you know what you’re problem is? You’ve been taking the friendship thing far too seriously! It’s not some perfectly happy thing with unconditional support and forgiveness. It’s just one more relationship, one more way of dealing with ponies. It doesn’t mean…nearly as much as you’ve been letting it come to mean to you.” His frown faltered for a moment and then a half grin came to take its place. “So I’ll go off and I’ll find Tirek and bring him back to Tartarus just to prove a point—that I, Discord, can save the day just as easily as I can lead the day into chaos. Not because I’m bound by friendship and not because I’m not bound by evil anymore but just because I’m free and I can make my own choices. And I’ll show them all just how much I deserve to be trusted as a person—how I, Discord, am great and powerful and still as unpredictable as ever! A villain doing a surprise take down of a villain—what could be a more chaotic outcome for this day?”

Discord smiled brightly to himself and nodded as he started to soar with more purpose over the landscape. “Hmm, for now though, before I travel too far, I think I’ll mentally prepare my strategy for luring and capturing Tirek (and the parade I’ll be throwing for myself once I’m successful)…and that’ll also give me some time to linger around Ponyville and rub in Twilight’s face once she gets back from meeting with the other princesses the fact that in this one case Celestia has come to me over her.” His smile grew a little, and his voice lowered to an intrigued mumble. “And perhaps, despite any secret doubts she still might have about me, Celestia choosing me to handle this mission alone really is a good sign that our friendship is strong underneath all of the concerns of the past…and if it’s potentially that strong with her, perhaps the same goes for my friendship with Luna and Fluttershy and all the rest too.” He sighed softly, his voice barely above a whisper. “Celestia let’s me get so close to her…very close. And she’d never do that unless at least part of her trusted me completely.” His light blush returned…but then a frown came along with it. “In a way though, they’re right. I’m still not sure of the kind of person, the kind of friend I’m going to turn out to be in the end. I’d ask Twilight for her advice on the matter, but I guess I’m too proud. So for now it’s up to me. It’s really up to me…”

Discord did spend the time before going to tease Twilight thinking about his plan of approach for Tirek, but he also spent a fair amount of it contemplating this final thought and just how much power his sudden duty gave him once again in his life over himself and others…and how strange it felt to have so much power again and yet technically not to have any control over how he would use it since he only had one option, of course—doing his best to save his friends and Equestria.

Or at least, that was the only option that the side of good and the magic of friendship would permit him.

Meanwhile, back in the throne room, the continuation of the conversation of the three princesses continued…and it would have done Discord well to hear everything else they had to say about him if only he had continued to eavesdrop.

“I’m so proud of him though, Cadance,” Celestia added after the princesses had shared a moment of heavy silence regarding the question of the potential failure of Discord’s reform. The sun princess looked up and smiled over at her niece. “Discord has accomplished so much and worked so hard and proved himself trustworthy in so many small ways that I don’t think I’ve ever been as proud of anybody as I am of him except perhaps Luna when she overcame Nightmare Moon’s hold and returned to me, or Twilight when she ascended to her princesshood, or you when you took charge of the Crystal Empire. He’s learning and trying and doing wonderfully—it’s like friendship comes naturally to him despite how much he resists it.” Her smile warmed and her eyes brightened. “And regardless of the risks or inconveniences of having him live with us these last few months, I’ve been so happy to be allowed to watch his transformation taking place. And I’ve been happiest of all that he hasn’t done anything warranting a return of his banishment.”

Luna smiled warmly and nodded as well. “I agree completely. I know Discord continues to doubt himself and to feel confined in his chaotic nature at times, but there has been a sincerity underlying all of his efforts at friendship, however apparently selfish and silly those efforts may appear.” She sighed and looked to her sister. “Sister, he keeps some things private, as you said. But I must say I know this reform has been a struggle for him at times…more so than he’s even shared with you. Yet, his concern with trying to engage in the magic of friendship despite any difficulties has impressed me greatly. I’ve found myself honored to call him friend.”

Celestia blinked and looked to Luna again. Her sister did meet her gaze this time, and something in Luna’s eyes made Celestia’s eyes widen. But then the sun princess smiled, to which the moon princess smiled in return. Celestia turned back to Cadance. “Discord is an amazing person when you get to know him, Cadance. I only wish I could be as close to him as Fluttershy is just to know him all the more.” Her gaze softened. “He really does keep certain things to himself—certain feelings and emotional experiences. But I hope one day he will be comfortable enough to share all of them with all us.”

“Wow.” Cadance smiled. “It sounds like him living here has actually been a very positive thing for all of you. But still, I imagine it can’t be easy dealing with that chaotic attitude and odd sense of humor of his all the time even while he’s trying to be friends with you.”

Luna shrugged. “Oh, it hasn’t been so bad. He mostly just teases me for my archaic modes of speech.” She grinned a little, unable to help herself. “Celestia, on the other hoof, really gets the worst of it. You truly would not believe Discord’s tactic for bothering her.

Celestia’s eyes went a little wide and she blushed distinctly and then cleared her throat and glanced away. “Luna…”

Cadance grinned and tilted her head to the side. “Celestia…are you blushing?”

Luna smiled all the more as the touch of scarlet in Celestia’s perfectly white features only grew. “Celestia, the princess of love asked you a question. I believe you should answer her. Or I can explain to her for you.”

Celestia cleared her throat and did her best to smile normally. “There’s nothing to explain though.” She rolled her eyes and laughed softly. “Discord just likes to tease me and make me uncomfortable in a…special way. It’s part of how we relate, it seems, as two people with a complicated history together.”

Luna leaned toward Cadance. “He flirts with your Auntie Celestia shamelessly until she barely knows how to respond to him—that is how he spreads chaos to her.”

Cadance’s jaw fell and she looked to Celestia again. “Auntie Celestia, is this true? And if it is, how could you not have told me?” She clapped her hooves together, her eyes wide and shining.

Celestia just sighed, then smiled a little and shook her head. “Because I knew you’d react like how you’re reacting now, Cadance. Besides, it’s really not worth mentioning. He, erm…flirts with me to make me uncomfortable and to amuse himself, that’s all.”

“Do you flirt back?” Cadance asked, leaning in close.

Celestia blinked several times and actually scoffed, the most amused smile upon her face. “Cadance, no, of course I don’t flirt back. What an idea.” She shook her head. “It’s really not that kind of a situation anyway. And it’s just some remarks from him, nothing more.”

Luna chuckled and leaned toward Cadance again. “You should see them getting into amusing conversations and even dancing together at Discord’s housewarming party—on two hooves! And they have ‘cake dates’ in the kitchens together almost every night.”

“Luna…” Celestia couldn’t help smiling more as she looked to Cadance again. “Discord and I are just…good at getting close. And as for our 'cake dates', we discuss friendship over a snack once I’m off duty for the day. That’s all. They’re not actual dates.”

Luna, however, went on to Cadance. “She lets him get away with suggestive remarks about her the likes of which you would not believe, Cadance. I’ve always known she’s been more prone to allowing subjects to take liberties with her than I’ve been, but it’s gone quite far with Discord.” The night princess grinned. “I’m really starting to think she likes all of the attention, regardless of the fact that Discord expresses all of it in the form of jokes to make her uncomfortable.”

Cadance giggled, and she grinned just a little at her ‘auntie’. “Celestia, no wonder you’ve liked him living here. I’ve always told you that you should get out and socialize more.” Her eyes narrowed as her smile grew. “How exactly did these cake dates start anyway?”

A smiling Luna opened her mouth to offer an answer. “Well, you see, the first night Discord came to live here, he needed a place to sleep, and so your Auntie Celestia decided—”

Celestia quickly cut off her sister with a clearing of her throat and smile of her own. She addressed Cadance once more. “They started because Discord and I weren’t sure how to talk to each other, and having a snack of cake together seemed a good ice breaker. And yes, I’ve grown accustomed to his odd way of teasing me now that he’s reformed. And perhaps it’s even made me think of socializing on a personal level more with the ponies as you’ve suggested before that I do, Cadance. But regardless I think the three of us are overlooking the big picture. Discord’s teasing is a positive way of exercising his chaos, and one that he invented all on his own. It causes no harm and somehow has helped to spread the magic of friendship among us.” Her smile brightened. “He’s proven he can use his chaos in ways that make others happy besides himself…and I think he’ll learn even more ways of doing so as time passes.” She sighed. “Sometimes, at least when he was first released from stone, I think he’s believed that we wanted him to stop being chaotic as part of his reform…and maybe we did want that way back in the past when we first battled him. But what I want now is for him to find ways to use his chaos that help him feel good about himself for the goodness and laughter he can spread among his friends.”

Luna’s smile softened, and she nodded. “Indeed, yes…asking Discord to abandon chaos for our convenience is like asking me to abandon my moon or Celestia to abandon her sun or like asking you, Cadance, to abandon your connection to the magic of love. It has been fascinating to realize how we can all live together in relative peace. And while we’ve accepted that there may be bumps in the road regarding the success of Discord’s reform as it progresses and as the challenges he faces become more difficult and complex, we believe he will rise to the occasion and prove to us chaos’s natural place in the magic of friendship.” She held her head high.

Celestia nodded. “Cadance, we know that your brief experience with Discord was a trying one, but we hope you’ll trust the great faith we have in him, and especially regarding the current crisis. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed in the role he ends up playing in this moment in Equestria’s history and in all of our lives in general.”

Cadance took in all of these observations with great interest, then nodded and smiled. “Of course, Celestia, Luna. If he’s been a good enough friend to earn your trust despite your history together, I know we can all have faith in him and that he’s worth our respect and love.” She glanced down hesitantly for a moment and brought a hoof to her chin. “I have to admit, when I thought the tatzulwurm was part of his plan for Twilight and I a few weeks ago, I really thought he might still be a threat to everyone.” She looked up. “But once I realized he hadn’t meant for things to go that far at all, I could see his desire for love deep down under all of his obnoxious actions.” She lowered her hoof and smiled a little. “He just wanted to feel cared for and to know that he has friends besides Fluttershy would truly do anything for him. And even if it takes him a while before he learns to pursue those emotions in better ways, it’s wonderful that he at least has a connection to those emotional experiences and wants to be accepted and part of relationships with others so much.” Her smile grew.

“Exactly.” Celestia nodded, her own smile growing.

“But it’s good that you’re letting him take things gradually even if you are pushing him here and there.” Cadance’s smile took on a touch of concern. “I know the situations aren’t exactly the same, but when I first became a princess and especially when I first took command of the Crystal Empire, it was overwhelming for me. It was a major life change, and I only got through it and learned to embrace my new place in life through the support and love of my friends and Shining Armor. I can imagine that Discord has similar feelings about his reform.” Her smile picked up on one side. “But if he can trick Twilight and I into flying him in a chariot half way across Equestria, I think he’s smart and strong enough as a person to do anything he chooses to put his mind to.”

Celestia smiled brightly, and Luna nodded.

“…Even if that something is making a pass at you, Auntie Celestia.” Cadance giggled, unable to help herself.

Luna broke into chuckles as Celestia’s eyes went wide. The sun princess then blushed again and sighed as she brought a hoof to her forehead. “Cadance…”

Cadance giggled more, her grin growing. “Oh Celestia, I’m just teasing. Think of this as revenge for the number of times you found Shining Armor and I courting around the castle grounds when we were teenagers and you giggled and told us how cute we were and how you hoped you could perform our wedding one day.”

Luna grinned and rolled her eyes. “Yes, that degree of sentiment does sound like Celestia.”

Celestia rolled her eyes to the side and opened her mouth, about to respond to their teasing, when suddenly a coronet sounded in the distance. Her eyes went wide. “That means Twilight has arrived.” She cleared her throat. “This has been fun, but now we have serious business to attend to…so let’s return our focus to Tirek. And let’s specifically not bring up the more colorful aspects of Discord’s time residing here. It, um…might make Twilight uncomfortable.” She blushed just slightly and looked down.

Cadance and Luna each nodded to Celestia.

“Of course, sister,” Luna replied, her tone regaining some of its royal poise.

“Yes, Celestia, we’ll focus on Tirek,” Cadance seconded with sincerity.

Celestia nodded in return to them. “Thank you.” She smiled…but then the smile fell for a moment. “I hope we can resolve this issue very quickly. And I was hoping a crisis this extreme wouldn’t come along until more time had passed for Discord’s reform. It’s a shame that the development of our friendship has to be interrupted like this.” She sighed. “I just hope I’m doing the right thing.”

Luna’s smile fell, and she put a hoof to Celestia’s shoulder. “You are sister, we all are. Have faith. The magic of friendship has worked many wonders.”

Celestia nodded, smiling faintly, and Luna smiled again too.

Cadance watched them both with a raised eyebrow. “Celestia, Luna…what exactly is going on with Tirek’s threat and Discord? And why again did you say you told Discord about Tirek’s escape?”

Celestia took a breath and straightened up. She smiled at Cadance warmly. “I’ll explain everything when Twilight’s with us, Cadance. It’ll be better that way. Trust me.”

Cadance nodded. “I do, Celestia, and I’ll follow whatever lead you think is best. I’m sure everything will be all right.”

Luna nodded. “I agree. Everything will be all right as long as we trust in each other and our friendships.”

The three princesses smiled softly to each other.

Inside, Luna knew Discord might slip up a little but had faith he could overcome the demons of his past.

Inside, Cadance sensed Discord’s desire for love and felt her belief in his ability to find that love grow.

And inside, Celestia had great hope and belief in Discord…but also felt herself trying to deny a twinge of passive concern brought on not only by the fear of what would happen to her subjects and to Discord himself should his efforts at friendship fail during this trial…but at how deeply it would hurt her to lose him as a friend after all they had been through and the friendship they had made.

The three princesses waited in a weighty silence until the entrance of Twilight and Celestia’s explanation of her intended role for Discord in this particular fight against evil.

Well, they waited in weighty silence except for Cadance smirking just a little and whispering to the sun princess, “So, Celestia…after this is over, can I help set you up with Discord?”

Celestia let out a small sigh and smirked a little too. “Not unless you want Equestria declaring war against the Crystal Empire, Cadance.”

Cadance giggled. “I’ll take that as a maybe.”

Luna chuckled. “Perhaps we shall have another royal wedding soon. Celestia and Discord reposing in a tree, k-i-s-s-i—

Celestia sighed deeply and tried very hard not to laugh. “If we weren’t having a national crisis, I’d bury you two in trivial paperwork for days just to teach you both a lesson. Now, please, really, Twilight’s coming: let’s be serious for now.”

The three princesses took deep breaths and managed to put on serious faces (though they all hoped the time would come again very soon when they could joke and tease without other serious worries getting in the way).

Finally, Twilight Sparkle entered the throne room, and their earnest discussion of the Tirek situation (and Discord’s intended role in it) commenced.

Sequel: The One with the Milkshake (with Two Straws?)

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“Hmm…” Discord’s eyes drifted forward, “Did you ever consider the possibility that, Celestia forbid, maybe all of this time I haven’t been joking and egging you on? Maybe I just think that you’re cute, but I’m too insecure to ask you out for a milkshake or something, so gags and off color comments and the occasional bouquet all work just as well for now?”

----A Discord quote from “Flower, Pillows, and Cake Makes It All Complete!”, Keep Calm and Chaos On

“In a way this adventure was kind of like facing every villain I’ve ever seen all over again, Princess Celestia, but the thing that worried me most the whole time was not having my friends beside me while I did my best to set everything right again.”

Princess Celestia, seated upon her throne on this sunny afternoon, looked up from a scroll she was reading and smiled at her former faithful student who stood before her (and who had just delivered several scrolls, as a matter of fact, all stacked in a neat little pile beside the throne). “I understand, Twilight.” She nodded to Twilight’s observation. “And thank you very much for being so thorough with your reports about the time travelling issues with Starlight’s actions. I appreciate the detail very much, and I’m looking forward to looking over all of your notes on the magic involved.”

Twilight Sparkle nodded to her mentor. “Of course, Princess Celestia. I just wanted you to have all of the information possible. Starlight was using powerful magic, and I know it’s important that we make sure power like that doesn’t fall into the wrong hooves in the future.” Twilight looked down a little, her smile falling. “I’m just sorry my notes on some of the later futures I witnessed are a little sketchy. All of the darkness started to blend together after a while….” Something faded in her eyes.

“Yes, well,” a familiar voice of a certain master of chaos began to remark, “personally I do wish you had at least stuck around my future to record a few more details.” And indeed not too far from Celestia’s throne floated Discord, who was resting on his stomach in the air as he looked up from reading one of the scrolls with a grin. “But otherwise not a bad little tale of bad guys run amok, Twilight. I’ll have to peruse the whole thing some time.” Discord snapped the scroll back onto the pile and rested his head in his hand.

Celestia rolled her eyes with a small smile and then looked to Twilight again. Her voice was soft, her gaze was tender. “Twilight, everything you gave me will be very helpful. I’m very proud of you. And I’m so glad that in the end you made a new friend.”

Twilight looked up again and smiled a little once more. “Thanks, Princess Celestia.”

And then the two royal mares started in on some discussion about temporal magic details and official princess protocol that Discord was frankly too bored to listen to.

The chaos master appreciated the fact, of course, that Celestia had made a point of regularly requesting his presence at official government gatherings and briefings about Equestrian issues ever since he had moved out of the castle a few months ago to carve out his own little chaos dimension now that he was permanently on the side of good. Her invitations gave him an excuse to stop by and really did make him feel like chaos was adding something to the nation that made a difference for the better. But still sometimes all of this official talk and afterglow about happy conclusions could get so dull. (He really wasn’t sure how good guys managed it on a regular basis.)

So Discord smiled to himself for now and decided to daydream a little like he had developed a habit of doing on and off during moments like these. He hid a yawn as he continued to pretend to listen. And speaking of Celestia and of the day being saved yet again, his thoughts drifted over to the aftermath of the last major crisis for Equestria (Tirek, to be precise). He recalled the drama, the resolution, the moments in between, and his time with Celestia at the end of it all. And as Discord’s reminiscing progressed, like many people are prone to do, he daydreamed in a way that made himself the (rather exaggerated) hero of the story. The scenario was sort of a private favorite of his actually, appealing to his ego in every way possible.

It was an alteration of a particularly favorite moment he had shared with Celestia not too long ago, to be precise….

“You tried and you succeeded most wonderfully.” Celestia’s smile grew even more, her eyes seeming to haze further (though, again, the gesture was suspiciously akin to a narrowing). “I’m very…very…impressed.”

Discord blinked just one more time, but then he swallowed and an intrigued smile came to his lips. His own eyes hazed just a bit now. “Really? Well, perhaps I’ll have to help save Equestria more often then. If I’d known mastering friendship was this ‘impressive’ to you, Celestia, I would have put more effort into it from the start. In fact, maybe you and I can go somewhere private sometime and discuss your feelings about me and my friendly ways?” His grin picked up on one side.

Celestia just chuckled lightly but shook her head. “Oh, no, no, we don’t have to go anywhere special. Here is just fine—we have plenty of privacy. In fact, I have something for you—sort of a gift in return for the flowers, and also something to let you know how deeply I feel for all of your actions in this epic chapter of Equestria’s history.” She leaned in closer still. She was practically nose-to-nose with him now.

Discord’s grin widened, and he perked up quite a bit at this news. “A gift? And all to celebrate me? A token of your…affections, dare I say? Ooo, well, then, let’s have it, Tia. I can still call you Tia, right, even after all of that unfortunate peril from today?”

“Hmm, sure….” Celestia giggled. “And there are a few things I’d like to call you as well,” she added as ‘sweetly’ as possible.

Discord just chuckled deeply. “Oh, in time, Tia, in time. For right now though, I’d really love that gift from my favorite pony princess.” He winked with charm and charisma in his gaze.

“Of course.” Celestia nodded, and her voice softened. She batted her eyelashes a few times. “Close your eyes…”

“Hmm…” Discord chuckled again and shut them accordingly. “Can do.” Then he pushed himself back just a little more on the bed and actually slightly puckered his lips.

“Okay, Discord…” Her voice was a gentle coo now, “here you go…Oh!”

Celestia, about to grab a pillow with her magic, was stopped as Discord’s tail suddenly wrapped around her and pulled her in close to him.

Celestia stared with wide eyes as Discord’s eyes opened and his mischievous grin grew. He chuckled lightly. “You were going to hit me with a pillow for being such a naughty reformed villain about Tirek, weren’t you?”

Celestia raised an eyebrow. “How did you—”

“But wasn’t I also a very good reformed villain, Celestia?” The chaos master shrugged, still looking into her eyes as he interrupted her. “Didn’t I try, at least? And didn’t I come back around in the end? And didn’t I give you flowers? And haven’t you and I gotten so very close?” He let his tail hold her just a bit more snugly.

Celestia’s eyebrow arched higher.

Discord chuckled. ‘She’s confused—how cute.’ He sighed. “Fine. Maybe I do deserve a good whack with a pillow for the bad thing I did today. But…for all of the good things and for all of our time together until now, haven’t I earned anything else? Is hitting me with a pillow really the only thing you want to do to me right now?” He moved a little closer, lowered his voice. “And do you really think it was fair of you to tease me just now like that?”

The sun princess pouted and scowled now (but also blushed lightly). She cleared her throat. “Discord, I-I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Tia…” Discord sighed again. “It’s just us. You can stop pretending now that there haven’t been a few strange—dare I say, intimate—moments between us ever since I came to live here. And I can stop pretending too after everything we’ve just been through.” His eyes narrowed a little.

Celestia’s wide eyes looked down…but then they came back up to his.

Discord smiled a little more. “And after all of the harrowing moments today, the epic battles, the drama and the passion, doesn’t it just make you want to let go…just for once…just to try? Just for the sake of curiosity…and maybe for the sweet sake of chaos too?”

Celestia blushed. “Discord…”

“Yes?” left him in a deep octave.

She took a breath. “Let go of me with your tail please.

Discord blinked, almost faltered, but then gave a single nod and released her.

Celestia let out a deep breath.

And then she came forward with her hooves on either side of him on the bed and kissed the chaos master with an abandon he had never known she had.

Discord quickly took hold of her shoulders and reciprocated her gesture with a smile and his own bit of enthusiasm.

The sun princess pulled back after a moment, catching her breath, her eyes hazed and her features flushed. “Discord…how did you know?”

“I didn’t.” Discord shrugged and gave a low chuckle. “I just knew how I felt deep down and hoped you might feel the same way. I like this side of you, by the way, Celestia. You and I need to be together and save the world from certain doom more often.” He raised an eyebrow. “So…how long?”

Celestia glanced away and blushed more. “How long…what?”

Discord’s playful smile grew. “How long have you wanted to pin me down on your bed and kiss me like that? I’m guessing it didn’t start from the first moment I moved in here no matter how attractive I think I am, otherwise you probably would have jumped me the first night I spent in your room.”

Celestia hesitated but then just sighed and looked to him. “That movie night we had…when we watched my favorite love scene between those two ponies…and you talked about my figure, and then you started to wrap your tail around me.” Her voice grew quieter. “It’s… ‘been a while’.” She cleared her throat slightly.

Discord blushed a little and nodded. “For me I guess it started after I crashed that poker night with your guards and heard them wondering if you really were attracted to me…which made me start wondering if I could really end up attracted to you. But that movie memory put me through quite a lot too. And…yeah, I know what you mean…about the ‘it’s been a while’ thing.” He rubbed the back of his neck and then lowered his claw back to the bed.

Celestia nodded too. Then she swallowed. “Discord? What are we going to do now about…this…and us?”

“You mean long term?” The master of chaos raised an eyebrow. “Honestly, I have no idea. But stop living in the future always, Celestia, really.” Her eyes went wide as a smiling Discord suddenly used his magic to lift her up and place her sitting beside him on the bed. “Why don’t we just worry about what we’re going to do right now and deal with the future when it comes? After everything we’ve been though, I think we’ve earned that much.” He smiled more and brushed back some of her ethereal mane from her face with his tail tuft. “Hmm…you’re pretty when you’re overthinking things.”

Celestia couldn’t help herself: she smiled and giggled.

“…And prettiest when you laugh.” Discord chuckled, his eyes brightening.

Celestia smirked just a little. “I guess we could…stay in here for a little while. No one’s really expecting us anywhere for once, especially not after today. We could just enjoy each other’s company and the moment…and…”

Celestia stopped talking as Discord came forward to give her a gentle kiss on the mouth that lingered in a particularly passionate way. He pulled back and smiled at her. “Tell me, were you just egging me on before or did my masterful wielding of the magic of friendship today really impress a lady such as yourself?”

Celestia smiled more and shrugged. “Well…maybe a little. You were quite daring sometimes, after all. And you did sacrifice so much in the end all to keep the land safe and the ponies safe…and me safe.” Her eyes hazed slightly.

“You’ve never had a prince charming swoop in and save the day for you before, have you, Tia?” Discord’s grin picked up on one side as his eyes narrowed playfully.

Celestia rolled her eyes to the side, blushing more. “I’m not exactly sure if that’s an accurate description of what you did, Discord.”

“Close enough.” Discord shrugged and then went on in his mischievous tone. “Never been the damsel in distress and had anyone scoop you up in his arms at the end of the day, present you with flowers, seal your salvation with a kiss…? I’m glad to be the first, in that case.” He chuckled again. “Oh, but you’ve always been so impressive in battle and during major crises too, Tia. And you were especially impressive just now kissing me like that—for once daring to do something you wanted to do without worrying about the consequences. There’s a fire in you, sun princess. The only problem is no one tends to it enough…” His voice lowered on the last line.

Celestia took a very deep breath, and her eyes came back to meet his. “I’ve…never been in this exact position before, no, Discord.” She sighed and shook her head. “Discord, we really shouldn’t be in here. If anyone found out…. And what would they think, and…”

“It doesn’t matter.” Discord moved closer to her; he whispered near her ear. “Besides, Celestia, you might not realize this, but, regardless of my spotty past with friendship, I’m a perfect gentleman when it comes to ladies. I would never take advantage of the fact that the only place you and I can get any real privacy and peace in this castle happens to be your bedroom….”

“As though I would let you, Discord…” Celestia instantly nudged him with her hoof but blushed and smiled all the more. She considered, and then her eyes hazed as well. “Just today, right now—no thinking about the future? No…obligations about whatever happens here?”

“Not at all.” Discord smiled and shrugged. “Just two very close friends celebrating a great victory for the nation in the best way they know how.” He slipped an arm around her back.

Celestia giggled and then gave a single nod as she moved closer and brought a hoof to his shoulder. “Okay, Discord. I’ve never had anyone to ‘celebrate’ with after a battle. This might be fun.”

“I guarantee it, princess.” Discord smirked. “And then we’ll go get cake.”

And then with a chuckle and a giggle the two friends came forward to spend some time relaxing and having fun and enjoying the end of their trying adventure.

In the throne room, the voices of Celestia and Twilight had faded into the background while Discord had continued to just lie on a cloud in the air with his head on his hand while he smirked slightly and gazed off at nothing in particular.

“Discord…”…. “Discord?”… “Discord…?”


“Hmm?!” Discord blinked and snapped back to reality at the sound of Celestia finally saying his name followed by a very distinct deep sigh of impatience from her that he knew all too well. “What, what? I’m up! Yes—time travelling, villains, precautions, boring tactical issues. I’m right with you.” He smiled sheepishly (and specifically avoided eye contacts with Celestia, turning his cheeky grin instead to Twilight).

Twilight sighed, looking up at him. “Discord, I was trying to ask you for your advice about Starlight.”

“My advice?” The chaos master raised an eyebrow. “About your latest little reform project? In what context?”

Twilight shrugged. “Well, she is the second reformed villain I’m working with, and you were the first. I was just wondering if you had any suggestions for me based on your experience of learning to use your magic for good instead of evil. Is there anything in particular I should do for Starlight, anything I shouldn’t do…um…anything I should look out for as a sign that she might be thinking about not being reformed anymore?” Twilight raised an eyebrow and looked into his eyes with uncertainty.

“That’s part why I wanted you to come here today, Discord,” gently added Celestia’s voice alongside him. “I thought you could provide some very valuable insight for Twilight.”

Discord put his chin in his hand in thought. “Well, Twilight, all I can say is have patience with this Starlight girl like you did with me. Give her space but also support, don’t get discouraged…maybe don’t send her off to save the day all by herself unless it really is an emergency…and make sure to try and not talk about her like she’s an asset to the nation first and a person second, even if it is right before a crisis. Sometimes people overhear things…” He barely glanced at Celestia out of the corner of his eye and saw her raise an eyebrow and then blink. Discord looked back to Twilight and smiled a little. “And talk to her, Twilight, and let her talk to you about whatever she wants. Share with her to let her feel welcome. Make some good memories. That’s what’s most important.”

Twilight considered and then nodded with a smile. “Okay, Discord. I’ll keep all of that in mind. Thank you.”

Discord nodded in return, his gaze warm. “Just be as friendly as you always are, Twilight Sparkle. You’ll do fine.”

“Thank you, Discord, all of those suggestions were very insightful.” Celestia’s voice was much kinder this time and full of its usual patience again.

Discord finally glanced at the sun princess, and he smiled more as he found her smiling at both him and Twilight. And then Celestia’s gaze turned fully to him. “I knew you would be the best person to talk to about something like this, Discord. We all want Starlight to be comfortable and happy regardless of the past…or, er…the future…the futures…” She smiled sheepishly. “You know what I mean.”

Discord chuckled. “Yes, well, speaking of, I’m still sort of a fan of the idea of chasing you and Luna around on a unicycle while you wear clown costumes. Maybe on the anniversary of my reform we could do that just for fun?” He raised an eyebrow and smirked.

Celestia smirked back at him a little. “Don’t push it, Discord.” Then she looked down once again at the scroll she had been reading…though her grin picked up a bit on one side as she added in a mumble, “…But maybe on your birthday we’ll see.”

Discord laughed fully, unable to help himself. He had missed this, truly—so much witty back and forth with her. He had needed to move out of the castle sooner or later though of course. As a finally fully reformed villain, it had eventually been high time for him to spread his mismatched wings and make a place for himself; it had been a good way to grow. But still…. ‘It’s almost evening. I wonder if she’d let me stay for the night just like old times if I asked? I’ve missed my room and the cake and the shameless flirting and oodles of awkward moments with her and Luna. And she did say when I left that I’d always be welcome…’ He raised an eyebrow as he considered.

Meanwhile, Celestia and Twilight’s conversation went on as cheerfully and full of hope as ever.

“Starlight’s a very gifted unicorn, Princess Celestia. I think she’ll be able to do great things one day.” Twilight smiled.

Celestia nodded. “I hope she turns out to be as helpful a magical advisor to you as Starswirl the Bearded was to me, Twilight.”

Twilight beamed and blushed at the comparison.

Discord’s thoughts, meanwhile, went on as well. ‘Just staying for the night wouldn’t hurt. We’ve had so little quality time together ever since I left.’ Indeed, ever since Tirek, Celestia had had to help Twilight prepare for her princess duties now that the purple alicorn had a castle and a proper title, and Discord had needed a lot of time to carve out his chaos dimension and build himself a house. Major affairs occurred frequently…and their cake dates occurred less frequently as the two of them were no longer under the same roof. They had gotten so distant that the ‘Gala Misunderstanding’ had even managed to occur not too long ago with Discord actually believing that he seriously hadn’t been invited to the affair. Time just went by so quickly now that the pony sisters didn’t have to keep a close eye on him about his reform and now that he didn’t have to invest so much energy in slightly trying to get them and everypony else (Fluttershy excluded, of course) to doubt their friendship for him so that he could use their lack of acceptance to his advantage.

And, at the bottom of everything…Discord simply missed seeing Celestia at night. At the very least, he could ask if he could stay around for dinner later. ‘Besides, it’s not like I’m asking to move back in…. I really can’t ask that anymore for obvious reasons.’ He cleared his throat and tried not to blush.

Meanwhile, Twilight smiled up at Celestia again as their conversation went on. “The girls all really seem to like Starlight, and Starlight seems so happy now that she understands the magic of friendship. I just hope I can be as good of an advisor to her as you’ve been to me.”

Celestia’s smile grew, and she looked down humbly. “Oh Twilight, you’ve already been an excellent advisor to her. I have faith in you. But if you need any guidance, you know I’m just a letter away.”

Twilight nodded.

Discord sighed to himself. ‘After all, that’s another reason I had to move out…. Living with a friend is one thing, living with someone you clearly have some loopy crush on is just a chaotic problem waiting to happen.’ So he had left a few months ago in part to protect his friendship with Celestia from getting overtaken by tension of a more-than-friendly nature which he had started to feel particularly strongly after that night in her room when he had told he loved her as a friend and she had kissed his forehead; a tension that had been building for a while courtesy of his ‘flirt with Celestia to bother her’ plan which had escalated a lot more quickly than he had ever anticipated. Yet, now that he thought about it… ‘We don’t live together anymore. So…if something happened…it might not be the worst thing in the world. But do I actually want something to happen?’ The spirit of chaos blushed a little. ‘I mean, I wouldn’t mind a few kisses with a nice mare—what guy wouldn’t? But with her, I…I don’t know. I don’t know what would happen. I wouldn’t even know where to start.’ He let out a light huff through his nose and almost pouted to himself. ‘This is ridiculous, I should just let it go.’

“And has Starlight found a place to live yet in Ponyville?” Celestia asked her former student with interest.

Twilight rubbed the back of her neck with her hoof. “Not yet. But actually I was thinking of having her stay at the castle with me. It would make having our lessons together easier. And of course things worked out so well with Discord staying with you and Luna after his reform that I’m confident Starlight would benefit just as much from some time with me.”

“I think that’s a very wise course of action, Twilight.” Celestia nodded her approval.

Discord sighed to himself again. ‘Is it so wrong that I pretended to flirt with that mare for so long that at some point I forgot I was pretending? Is it so wrong I actually think I could like her like that even after all of the loopy turns our lives have taken? Is it so wrong that I can’t help an occasional daydream? Is it so wrong that I maybe meant it that night when we were walking to the kitchen for cake after Tirek and I told her that maybe the real reason I bother her so particularly is that I’m just too insecure to ask her out for a…a…’ Discord’s eyes went wide.

Celestia set aside her scroll onto the pile beside her throne. “Well then, I suppose everything’s in order, Twilight. Unless you have any other questions for me or for Discord.”

Twilight smiled but shook her head. “Nope, I think everything’s—”

“Actually, I have a question!”

Celestia and Twilight blinked and looked at Discord who had just made this grand announcement, his eyes a little wide.

“Oh.” Twilight tilted her head to the side. “Uh…okay. About Starlight, or…?”

Discord cleared his throat. “It’s a question for Celestia actually.” He looked to the sun princess, and then he asked her simply with a single light clearing of his throat: “Celestia…erm…would you go out with me for a milkshake or something?”

There was total silence in the room.

Both mares stared at him with raised eyebrows.

Celestia finally spoke, her tone as perplexed as her gaze. “Discord, I’m afraid I don’t…. What are you talking about?”

Discord swallowed. He kept his gaze low and his tone aloof, arms crossed in front of himself. “I’m talking about, you know… ‘a milkshake’.” He rolled his eyes to the side and added in a mumble, “…As opposed to gags and off color comments and the occasional bouquet….”

Celestia blinked a few times, her look pensive. And then suddenly the sun princess’s eyes went very wide.

Discord just let out a breath, a stubborn pout on his features as he continued to float there…though he did let his dull gaze meat hers in a meaningful way.

There was silence in the room again.

Then Celestia blinked once and looked to Twilight. Her tone sounded normal enough and her look was calm even if her request was a little odd. “Twilight, as long as everything’s taken care of about Starlight, would you mind showing yourself out of the castle? I have to discuss something with Discord. And I’m afraid it’s a little private.”

Twilight blinked and glanced from Celestia to Discord and back to Celestia. “Oh. Okay…. Are you sure everything’s fine?”

Celestia smiled a bit more normally and nodded. “Yes, Twilight. Just, um…something from when we lived together. That’s all.”

Twilight nodded. “Okay then.” She smiled and waved to them both. “Have a good afternoon, Princess Celestia, Discord. Please come by the castle soon to visit Starlight. Bye!” And then Twilight walked over to the doors and left the throne room.

The doors closed behind her. Discord and Celestia were alone.

Eventually Discord took a breath and cleared his throat. “So…”

“…So?” Celestia’s wide eyes went to him again.

Discord sighed. “So, Celestia, I asked you a question.”

Celestia swallowed and nodded. “Yes. You did.”

“And your response would be…?” Discord raised an eyebrow.

Celestia sighed. “Discord, what kind of game are you playing?”

Discord swallowed and replied in a very sincere tone, “One where I missed you…and I was wondering if you’ve missed me too?” He flew in a slow, wide loop around her.

Celestia’s eyes took on a faraway look—she was remembering the last time he had said those words to her, in this very room, his first escape. ‘Did you miss me, Celestia? I missed you…’ Celestia took a breath and blushed a little as she came back to the present moment. “Discord, you haven’t pretended to flirt with me like this since…before you moved out. Why are you teasing me now all of a sudden?” She raised an eyebrow and frowned. “Is this because of…Discord, did you listen in when I was talking to Luna and Cadance during the Tirek crisis? That’s the only time I would ever have even brought up your value to the nation like that. But you have to know, our friendship is so much more important to me than that. When you went off with Tirek, I didn’t care that we’d lost a powerful magical ally—I cared that I had lost a friend.” She met her gaze with his.

Discord sighed and spoke before she could keep going and get him as emotional as she was getting. “I’m not teasing, I’m not flirting, Celestia, I’m just asking a question. Do you want to have a milkshake or something with me…or not?” He paused before her in the air and smiled gently. “And don’t worry about what I overheard—we’ve talked since then, and I understand better now that you just meant I could be a help to the nation, you didn’t mean that was the only reason we were friends. It’s chocolate milk under the chaotic bridge.”

Celestia looked back at him still with a frown but then nodded. She considered. “Just a milkshake?”

Discord gave a nod. “For now.” He blushed slightly.

Celestia blushed too. Then she took in and let out a breath. “All right, Discord. I’ll have a milkshake with you.” And with those words she was walking off to the throne room door.

Discord’s jaw fell in the wake of her reply, but then he quickly got himself together and flew over to land and walk beside her as they exited the throne room together and started down the hall. “Well, that’s good then.” He swallowed. “So…you said yes pretty easily. I figured it might take me weeks of badgering before that happened.”

Celestia shrugged. “It’s just a milkshake, Discord.” And yet she still blushed. “And I figure there’s still a chance you’re just flirting with me to bother me.”

The chaos master merely shook his head. “In that case, why ask you out for something? I could just flirt with you right here.”

Celestia just blushed a little more as she continued walking. Then she sighed. “I’ve missed you too, you know. And so has Luna.”

Discord raised an eyebrow.

Celestia went on. “You were starting to feel like our obnoxious, loveable older brother. We miss you popping in and out of places, teasing us, playing with us…trying to make us feel totally uncomfortable around the guards and yourself. And…maybe I’ve missed you making jokes about me and trying to fluster me…and the two of us sitting close at night in the kitchen and sharing cake and talking about private thoughts together. The time’s gone by so quickly since you left, and it seems like we’ve barely spent any of it together.” She swallowed and glanced at him. “Discord, do you really feel—”

But as they came around a corner now, Celestia’s question was stopped by the two of them almost bumping directly into Luna.

“Luna!” Discord jumped a little, then quickly cleared his throat and did his best to get his slight blushing under control.

“Luna.” Celestia smiled and did her best to maintain her poise as well. “What are you doing up so early?”

Luna blinked a couple of times and then blushed considerably as she rubbed the back of her neck with her hoof. “Er…well…this is awkward, but it seems someone very near to here was having such an intense and—for, not wanting to use a less appropriate word, let’s say— ‘vivid’ daydream that it couldn’t help but engage my senses.” She blinked as she finally noticed Discord (who happened to be standing there with wide eyes and a very distinct blush now). “Oh, hello, Discord, how nice to see you here.” She looked back to her sister (who had an eyebrow raised and a pensive look on her features)…but then Luna blinked and quickly looked back to Discord to confirm the rather suspicious response he was having.

Discord, however, was now just floating in the air with a casual look on his face while he filed his talon. “Oh, er, daydreams, and in this area, you say? Hmm, probably just one of the guards fantasizing about you two or, uh…you know, Twilight’s thoughts running away with her. It’s always the quiet ones, right?” He cleared his throat, holding out his claw to admire it. “And nice to see you too, Luna.”

Luna just watched him with an eyebrow raised and her jaw slightly fallen. Then she looked back and forth from him to her sister and back to him. Her smile grew, and her eyes narrowed.

Celestia, meanwhile, blushed rosy and brought a hoof to her mouth to cover a very distinct smile. She suppressed a laugh and then finally lowered her hoof. “Yes, well…someone will have to have a word with one of the guards or ‘Twilight’ soon then.” She swallowed then looked to Luna. “Anyway, sister, as long as you’re awake, would you mind if I left the castle to you? Discord is taking me for a milkshake, I believe.”

Discord let out a sigh and truly turned casually filing his claw into an art form.

Luna exercised a great deal of self-control as her eyes narrowed all the more. “A milkshake? How nice. I do believe I ‘approve’, Discord.” She giggled softly…until her mouth was suddenly plugged up courtesy of a snap of Discord’s tail.

“Put a cork in it, Luna.” The master of chaos rolled his eyes and landed as he snapped away the file. “I’m taking her for a milkshake, not cocktails and dancing. Honestly, you pony sisters—I try to be friendly and more social, and you respond with teasing. Where is the love?” He grinned.

Luna spit out the cork and rolled her eyes. “Oh just get going, Discord. But you are to have her home by midnight.”

“Luna…” Celestia smiled more and shook her head.

Luna ignored her and merely smiled more at Discord. “If she is not back at this castle safe and sound by then, I’m afraid I’ll be forced to roam the night in endless search of you.”

Discord smirked. “However much fun that sounds, I’ll have her back to you safe if only so that she can get her full night of beauty sleep. Whether or not I’ll be leaving then myself or pestering her to spend another night in her room is another matter entirely. She is a most gracious hostess after all.” He chuckled.

Celestia just sighed now, trying not to smile too much. “Okay, that’s enough you two. Luna, thank you for your concern, Discord, we’ll discuss that situation later. Come on.” She gave him a light nudge and then the two of them strolled past Luna who held back a giggle.

“Farewell, you two. Have fun!” The night princess waved and then went on to head to the throne room…a light blush on her features as she mumbled to herself. “I’m surprised it took him this long to make his move…and yet if he’s having daydreams like that, I’m not surprised that he couldn’t wait any longer.” She sighed and yawned. “Speaking of daydreams though, maybe I should attune my powers a little more to such daylight fantasies the guards might have. I wouldn’t mind someone to get a milkshake with myself.” She giggled as she turned the corner down her corridor and went along on her way.

Discord and Celestia were in sight of the castle exit now after a long moment of walking together in silence.

And then finally Celestia, smiling and blushing and looking down, couldn’t help herself. “Daydreaming, Discord?”

The chaos master sighed. “Shut up.” But he was smiling too.

“And a ‘vivid’ one…?” She glanced at him out of the corner of her eye.

He blushed a little bit rolled his eyes to the side with a half grin. “Oh please. First of all, if your sister thinks that was ‘vivid’, she definitely needs to get out more.” He held his head high. “And second of all, your ‘isn’t it great that we had another happy ending’ talk with Twilight was boring me a little back there, so I decided to amuse myself while I waited for you two to finish. Don’t flatter yourself too much…” Discord shrugged, still smiling though as he crossed his arms over his chest.

“So you really do find me attractive then?” Celestia finally looked at him completely.

Discord took a deep breath. His eyes were wide. “It’s complicated.” He swallowed. “I did technically try to let you kiss me in your room that day after Tirek: what do you think?”

Celestia blushed very much.

Discord cleared his throat. “Not that I could be blamed of course,” he went on more casually, lowering his arms. “After all, you technically were coming on to me—and with a skill that leads me to suspect you’d considered coming on to me in the past. I know this is a matriarchy you’re running, Tia, but you should know that guys don’t have a lot of endurance for resisting and wanting to escalate the advances of beautiful females.” He smirked a little.

“So you think I’m ‘beautiful’ now?” The sun princess smiled more.

Discord blinked then rolled his eyes and waved her off. “Oh, come on, Celestia—me and everypony else on the planet. It’s just a basic observation, a common sense thing between the hair and the eyes and the figure and…” He cleared his throat, moving on. “Besides, that’s such a small part of everything.”

“What do you mean?” Celestia raised an eyebrow. “What ‘everything’?”

Discord’s eyes widened, and a more distinct blush settled upon his features. “I don’t know, just…why I like you. Yeah, you’re beautiful, but I also think that Luna’s beautiful and Fluttershy and paisley skies and peppermint-flavored flowers. But you’re…well, you’re also just interesting to me. You’re a challenge. I respect that.”

“Really?” Celestia smiled.

Discord merely gave a sigh and a nod, putting his arms behind his back. “Yeah, and if we could move on from how sappy all of that must sound, I’d appreciate it.” The blushing persisted.

Celestia’s gaze warmed. “I had no idea. Discord, can I tell you something?”

He shrugged. “Sure, as long as we’re being gushy and sharey, why not?”

Celestia looked forward. “I sort of think about you in the same way—as a very formidable opponent who I also respect…and who’s very interesting to me. You know, around here it’s just Luna and I who are alicorns and who have lived so long: it’s been nice to have a friend I can make jokes with about immortality, who I don’t feel awkward about using magic in front of, like I’d be showing off, who doesn’t need me to be poised and perfect all the time.” She sighed and added softly, “I’ve…come to find you quite charming in a way, Discord. And I know you had to leave the castle for yourself, and I’m very proud of you for making your chaos dimension and your new home, but still…it disappointed me a little when you went away.” Her eyes found his again. “While you were here, you made me feel special, Discord, and in a special way. I came to appreciate that.”

“Really?” Discord’s features were getting very rosy, and he swallowed.

Celestia nodded, blushing present in her own features now. “Yes.” Her smile grew, and she laughed softly. “Now that you’re more comfortable with your reform, if you really do want to socialize more, I think you should try dating. I’m sure you could sweep any mare off of her hooves. After all, you weren’t even really trying with me, and even I still became aware of how easily someone could be moved by your romantic words and actions.”

“Oh.” Discord blinked. “Dating.” He cleared his throat, an eyebrow raised. “Yes, well…I don’t know, Tia. I mean, I really need a lot of mental and magical and emotional engagement to get close to anyone. And I haven’t met many mares who could provide all three of those for me…”

“Well, you can always feel free to continue practicing with me,” Celestia offered with a pleasant smile.

Discord tilted his head to the side. “What do you mean?”

Celestia shrugged. “Your flirting grew on me a little, Discord. It started to mean something to me actually.” She looked down. “No one ever usually talks to me like that. The change of pace was sort of enjoyable.”

“Oh…” Discord blinked, his smile gone for the moment. “Well, I’m…glad you liked it?” He scratched his head with his claw.

“Yes, I did like it.” Celestia nodded. “So you can keep flirting with me if you’d like, Discord. And as long as you can practice on me for as long as you’d like…maybe I could practice on you a little too?” Celestia’s blush returned as she noticed his eyes go a little wider and his eyebrow rise up in confusion. She explained. “How you talk to me…the different perspective you’ve forced me to take on myself as a mare…” she cleared her throat, “…eventually it started to make me wonder about the idea of actually courting. I might like to try that one day, I think. And spending more time with you can only help make me more comfortable with the idea of being close like that with…someone.”

Discord blinked a few times and looked down. He considered before opening his mouth and starting slowly. “So what you’re saying is, you and I are friends, but at the same time we could flirt and get flustered and act like we’re dating…without actually dating. For now.”

Celestia considered. “I’m saying that it took a while for our relationship to evolve into a close friendship, Discord. And if that friendship ends up evolving even more…that change also might take a while. So to start it might be nice to have some time together without a lot of pressure to see where things lead.” She glanced at him. “It’s a unique friendship, but it’s ours and I cherish it.”

Discord’s smile grew distinctly if subtly on one side. “Very well, then. And the whole thing does sound like an excellent excuse to bring back cake dates as a regular, steady thing for us during the nights.” He smiled more, and so did she. “But just one question.” He glanced at her. “If anyone happens to catch us doing all of this ‘bonding’ and asks for clarification on what the difference is between pretending to date and actually dating, what should I say?”

“The difference?” Celestia raised an eyebrow, and then her smile grew. “Well…I suppose the difference would be that in the event of sleepovers in my room in the immediate future, you continue to sleep in front of the fire instead of cuddling in my bed with me.” She gave him a gentle nudge in the side with her foreleg.

For a moment, Discord’s eyes went wide and his blush was distinct again. But then he blinked a few times and quickly tried to laugh off the odd teasing comment. “Heh…good one, Celestia.” He considered and then grinned in his usual mischievous way, glancing in her direction. “So, another example would be, with the way things will be right now, that I can make jokes about us sneaking off to neck passionately, but we just can’t actually sneak off to neck passionately. Something like that?”

It was Celestia’s turn to go wide-eyed and to feel blushing fill her features. In fact, she quite nearly stumbled forward on her hooves but managed to right herself quickly enough. She swallowed and tried to smile. “Yes, I think you’ve got it, Discord.”

Discord’s grin picked up on one side as the chaos master held in a chuckle and went on. “And I can gaze and grin at your divine figure all I want…but I should try to refrain from touching it. Rules subject to change, of course.”

Celestia’s features were rosy with color now. “Yes. I mean…I suppose.”

And Discord wasn’t done yet. “And you can act ridiculously flustered when I somehow in casual conversation bring up that I’m a man and you’re a woman, but we just really shouldn’t act on that difference…outside of daydreams of course.” He winked at her.

Celestia let out a very deep sigh and then proceeded with the only strategy to curb his flirting that had ever worked before: she flirted back. “Yes, Discord, and you can put an arm around my neck sometimes and call me ‘good buddy’, but you should only wrap your tail around me during intimate movie scenes if you absolutely can’t help yourself.” She met his gaze with a coy smirk.

Discord blinked and then blushed distinctly again. He sighed. “Point taken.” They passed through the castle exit now and came out into the courtyard. Discord looked out to Canterlot before them, brimming with places for a couple of friends to get a milkshake. “So…one milkshake with two straws then, Tia?”

“Discord!” Celestia smiled and blushed.

“Too much?” He raised an eyebrow with a grin.

The sun princess sighed and looked down a little. “Not exactly. I just…happen to be hungry, so I’d like my own milkshake to start. But on the second round…we can see about sharing one with two straws.” She walked past him, heading for the castle gates. He followed her, smiling considerably.

Celestia remained in thought for a moment. Then she swallowed. “Discord? How long have you really felt like this about me?” She asked the question very softly.

Discord’s eyes went a little wide. For a moment he imagined giving some sultry reply and sweeping her off her hooves like in one of his daydreams. But then he just cleared his throat and told the truth. “I don’t know exactly. But I started to realize it after Tirek. We were real, close friends by then. And it was simple really: even when there wasn’t a need anymore to bother you by flirting with you…I still wanted to flirt with you. And the way it made me feel for that one moment when you suddenly flirted back that day was…good.” He took a breath, blushing lightly. “You’re not so bad, you know…as a mare.” He glanced to the side to see Celestia still looking down but smiling very much. “So, um…you wouldn’t mind if this worked out with me—not a prince, just an odd draconequus with very weird ways of breaking the ice with girls?”

Celestia blinked and then replied carefully. “I’m not sure yet, Discord. But a milkshake’s a simple way to see for sure one way or the other.”

Discord nodded, smiling to himself. “Fair enough.”

Celestia brought her gaze to him, her smile brightening a little. “We’ve never had a ‘date’ in public before, Discord. This should be interesting.”

“Oh absolutely.” Discord grinned and nodded. “I’m predicting we’ll either be met with pitchforks against me for daring to curry your favor, a medic for you for going insane enough to come out playing with me, or just a bunch of stunned silence from everypony we see.” They shared a laugh. Then Discord smiled more. “Hmm…still, could you imagine if we actually tried it though right off the bat? Dating, I mean, in a mushy, official way? Or ‘courting’ as you so elegantly put it, Tia.”

“Discord…” Celestia glanced at him, blushing a little again.

Discord only shrugged and went on. “No, really, just think about it: we’re so utterly strange together—it would probably be the oddest relationship on the planet, especially if it worked.”

“It would certainly be a complicated relationship…” she replied softly.

Discord moved closer to her. “Oh, don’t act so flustered. Worst case scenario jumping into things like that, we’d go for it and we’d burn each other out in two weeks.”

“That almost seems sad, Discord.” She tilted her head to the side.

Discord just shook his head though. “No, not really. We’d still have our friendship in the end. And besides…” his eyes narrowed, “…what a two weeks it would be, Tia, what a two weeks it would be.” He winked.

Celestia rolled her eyes to the side with a smile. “ I have no doubt.” She raised an eyebrow. “And what would be the best case scenario for our relationship then?”

Discord put his arms behind his back as he considered. And then he smiled mischievously again and shrugged. “Best case scenario? It would involve the phrase ‘do you want any foals?’”

Celestia almost turned scarlet and on an impulse gave him a very firm nudge in the side with her hoof. Then she just sighed deeply and tried not to smile too much as she replied back quietly, “It’s already enough of a challenge taking care of your shenanigans around here, Discord, let alone a whole little troop of chaos beings…”

Troop?” As he said the word with glee, Celestia knew she had misspoke. Discord grinned almost ear-to-ear as he eyed her. “My, my, Tia, I didn’t realize you were so ambitious. I mean, I’m a very busy master of chaos, but I’ll do what I can to supply your needs if you really insist.”

Celestia really almost broke into laughter but she kept up a poised smile and merely responded, “Still though, maybe they would all just be perfectly well behaved little alicorns. Poised and proportioned and orderly…”

“And what makes you think I would care for them in that case any less than I care for you?” Discord winked at her with a chuckle.

Celestia’s whole look couldn’t help but brighten for a moment, though she quickly looked away and down with her smile.

“Or we could just say together, you and I…” Discord went on, moving closer to her. “Romantic dinners, crazy hijinks, some spontaneous ballads, a little necking on the side…”

“What a ‘vivid’ friendship it sounds like, Discord.” Celestia smiled more. “I think this could be okay, Discord. Even if it doesn’t work, we still love each other as friends like you said, and that’s what counts.”

Discord sighed. “Yeah, but if you go spreading around that mushy fact, I’ll make all the cake in your castle taste like broccoli and buckwheat for a month.”

Celestia laughed. They were at the threshold of the open castle gates, and she paused and moved a little closer to him herself. “Discord…we promised Luna by midnight. Did you really want to stay out that long? I don’t think a milkshake or two will fill all of that time.”

A glint came to the chaos master’s eye as he paused as well and his tone took on a particularly low and pleasing quality. “Oh I’m sure we can figure out something, Tia good buddy, even if it’s just retiring back to your room to reminisce…or to my room—my new room, that is, in my new secluded bachelor pad. A milkshake for food, my chaotic cottage for shelter, my tail over your shoulders for ‘clothing’…. Let me repay you all for the kindnesses you’ve given to me.”

Celestia cleared her throat and did her best to only blush slightly. “One step at a time, Discord. Unless this is a dream Luna’s pranking me with, in which case I’m sure we’ll be married soon and at the top of a windswept hill at sunset, and then we can just do everything at once.” A small giggle escaped her.

Discord chuckled, looking forward again. “Very funny.”

Then Celestia raised her hoof and put it in Discord’s paw. The chaos master swore he felt a flicker of an emotion inside of himself that he’d never felt before at the sudden gesture.

As he stood there with wide eyes, the sun princess smiled and spoke softly to him near his ear. “I knew it was a good idea to reform you, Discord. I felt it in my heart.”

Discord swallowed and with a few blinks managed to find his voice again. “Don’t kiss up, Celestia. It’s beneath you.” He smiled in a special way.

Celestia laughed as the pair finally proceeded forward together into Canterlot. “Just showing affection to a friend I love.”

“Me too, Celestia.” Discord leaned down and raised her hoof to give it a gentle kiss (and while that was happening, his tail silently snapped), then raised his head. “Me too.”

Celestia blushed and smiled all the more at the gesture. She let him continue to hold her hoof as their walking continued.

Meanwhile, as the happy couple headed off farther into the city, a sign was now visible on Celestia’s back reading, ‘Ask me all about my dates with Discord!’

It was the continuation of an interesting friendship—daydreams, ‘dates’, shenanigans, food, clothing, shelter, flowers, pillows, cake and all.

Bonus Story!: The One Where Luna Learns to Knock

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Some time later—let’s say a month of ‘pretend dating’ later…

The moon had been up for a few hours so far this evening, and though Princess Luna had only completed a small portion of her tasks for the night, she couldn’t help but feel a little peckish. Thus, the moon princess had decided to wander down to the kitchens of her castle for a late night snack.

Heading down the hallway now, Luna had to smile as she spoke quietly to herself. “Celestia’s had the baking staff working overtime ever since she and Discord resumed their regular cake dates. I think I’ll treat myself to a nice slice of whatever was prepared today. And I believe Celestia and Discord chose to venture out of the castle this evening for their ‘friendly bonding time’, so I should have the kitchen all to myself.”

Luna came in sight of the kitchen doors, but slowed her pace. “Of course, the two of them may have come back early and decided on some cake. I had better check to make sure.” Not that it would be an issue for Luna to ask to join them, of course: they were all still friends even if Celestia and Discord had started to explore a ‘more than friendly’ side of their relationship with each other. Luna’s concern rather was with, well… She sighed as she stood before the door, her look a little dry as she whispered to herself. “Discord really is a ‘vivid’ daydreamer. And though Celestia claims they’re just sharing a very flirtatious friendship at the moment, I’d rather not accidentally walk in on anything….” Luna peeked into the glass window of the kitchen door but saw only dim lights inside, casting shadows here and there. And she heard no talking.

Luna moved her head away from the window and smiled. “Hmm, they must indeed not be here. Perfect, more cake for me.”

And then with a bright smile, the moon princess used her magic to open the door, upon which she trotted inside and turned up the lights.

For about ten seconds (until Celestia and Discord—who actually were indeed occupying the kitchen at the moment—processed the change in lighting and the fact that a third party was here now), what Luna saw left her with wide eyes, a dropped jaw, and lacking all capacity for speech….

Celestia and Discord were sitting at a table across the room with plates of cake in front of each other (of course). But the cake slices were barely touched…. And meanwhile, Celestia and Discord were holding each other in a close embrace with their mouths bonded in a tender, passionate kiss that looked like it had been going on for quite some time (and like it had been showing no signs of stopping on its own).

As the pair finally realized that they had been interrupted now though, the rather expressive kissing ceased, and the draconequus and alicorn just remained perfectly still, locked in their embrace and looking at each other with wide eyes.

Then with a gasp Celestia pulled back, and she and Discord turned forward.

L-Luna!?” Celestia’s voice actually hit a sharp note as she exclaimed her sister’s name. “I-I…” She blushed red as a sunset. “I…”

“Speechless?” Discord grinned, a dreamy look in his eyes as he rested his head on his hand. “I haven’t done that to a lady in a while.” He gave a low chuckle. “Glad to know I’m not quite as rusty as I thought I was.”

Celestia let out a truly mortified sigh, cleared her throat, and tried to speak again. “Luna, this isn’t, um…entirely what it looks like.” She smiled very sheepishly. “You know that arrangement I mentioned to you that Discord and I have…”

Discord couldn’t help himself. “You mean the one about how you and I are completely hot for each other, but you’re still getting used to it, so usually all we get to do is flirt and cuddle and drink way too many milkshakes with two straws?” The chaos master leaned back in his seat as his grin picked up on one side.

Celestia pouted but kept her attention on Luna. “We’re not…I mean, it’s complicated…I-I mean, if you knew the context of…. H-How much did you see, exactly?” She swallowed and smiled sheepishly.

And now at this point, Luna blinked once and then just let out a deep sigh. Her gaze went dull, though she smiled as she walked over to the icebox. “Oh please, Celestia, I knew you two were dating even before you two knew you were dating.”

“Good then we can get back to things!” Discord’s leaned in close to Celestia.

Still facing forward, Celestia’s eyes went wide. “Discord!” Her blush brightened again.

The chaos master just laughed again.

Luna only sighed once more. “Anyway,” she magically took a slice of cake from the icebox and put it on a plate, “I’m just getting a late night snack, and then I’ll leave you two alone if you’d, er…like to insist on using the kitchen for the rest of whatever you were doing.” She raised an eyebrow at the couple as she turned toward the door again. “Is there any particular reason though, sister, that you’d pick here of all places for courtship activities instead of just your room? I mean, if you’re this concerned about not getting caught…” She grinned a little.

Discord’s look brightened considerably. “Say, not a bad idea.” He glanced at Celestia. “What do you think, Ti…” He was met with a very displeased look from a blushing Celestia. Discord’s eyes went wide, and he swallowed as he went on. “…I, uh…maybe I should go for now. Ta ta.” And then with an awkward shrug and a wave, he snapped himself away.

Luna brought a hoof to her mouth, resisting the urge to giggle as she addressed Celestia again. “Oh sister, don’t be so grumpy towards him. You know he can’t help himself.” Luna approached, the cake plate floating beside her. But then she paused and raised an eyebrow at the sight of her sister now. “Celestia?”

Celestia was blushing considerably and looking down with wide eyes and a frown. “I, um…” her voice cracked slightly again, and she cleared her throat once more, “I think I’ll go to my room.” And then she suddenly teleported away (leaving her cake behind her).

Luna frowned at the spot where she had been (and at the fact that she had left her cake—a bad sign, indeed). Then the moon princess sighed, set her own plate of cake onto the table, and teleported away as well.

A moment later, Luna found herself outside of Celestia’s room. She knocked and gave the door a gentle push open. “Sister? Are you all right? Did I tease you too much? I apologize if I did—I was just trying to handle an awkward moment, I…” Luna blinked at the sight of Celestia lying on her bed with her face down in her pillows.

“Sister…?” Luna approached, an eyebrow raised.

Celestia let out such a deep sigh. “I actually kissed him.”

Luna’s smile grew a little, and she couldn’t help herself. “Erm, technically I believe the modern term for what you two were doing was necking or making out.” She held back a soft chuckle.

A small snort left Celestia…and then a chuckle…and then a full laugh. And now the sun princess raised her head, and she was laughing so much that tears actually fell from her eyes. “Luna, I…I was making out with Discord. I was making out! With Discord! He was our mortal enemy once, he turned our lives inside out, he has no concept of stability and leadership, I let him hit on me constantly in this house so we could be friends, I’m a princess, and I made out with him! Over cake! How did I go from having an idea to release Discord to try and reform him to this?!” She flung out an arm, her laughter continuing.

Luna raised an eyebrow again. “Celestia, you’re getting hysterical.”

Celestia only continued laughing and crying though. “We just came back here from a nice flight after dinner and went to the kitchen for a snack, and we were talking…and then it all happened so fast. Luna, I’ve kissed Discord! I was making out with…” She let out a very deep sigh and brought her hoof to her head. “This really happened, didn’t it?”

“Sister!” Luna finally came forward, turned Celestia to face her with her magic, and gave her shoulders a gentle shake. “Pray, snap out of it!” She looked into her eyes.

Celestia’s eyes went wide, but then she blinked a few times. The laughing and crying stopped, and she let out a deep, slow breath now. “Okay…I’m okay. Really.” She cleared her throat. “I’m fine now. I promise.”

Luna observed Celestia closely for a moment longer and then finally released her and took a step back. “Very well.” She nodded. “Now, sister, you must explain to me why you were so upset just now. Did it have anything to do with you and Discord getting caught by me?” She frowned. “I know you’re a very private mare, Celestia, and I really didn’t mean to tease you so much, but you’d think you would have accepted the possibility by now of someone potentially seeing the two of you in such a compromising position. How long has this intimate part of your relationship been going on exactly?” Luna tilted her head to the side.

Celestia sighed and rested her head on her pillows again. She blushed slightly. “Tonight was the first time. Our first kiss….”

Luna’s eyes went a little wide. “Oh.” She swallowed. “I am very sorry I interrupted then.”

Celestia blushed more and raised her head again. “Don’t be. I mean it’s fine, really.” She took a breath. “You know Discord and I been spending time together lately in a very special friendly way, Luna. But all we would do is talk together and laugh together, and I’d let him hold my hoof…”

“So, what happened tonight exactly to change things?” the night princess raised an eyebrow

Celestia looked down a little. “I don’t know. We got back from taking a lovely flight over the countryside, like I said, and we sat down to eat our cake. And we were just talking, joking like usual—he flirted with me, and I…said some encouraging things back.” She blushed more. “Then I said how being in the kitchen at night reminded me of our time together when he was living here. And he said it was almost the same except now I’d taken all the fun out of his flirting by not getting nearly so flustered anymore.” She smiled. “And I said he still flustered me sometimes, I’d just learned to hide it well because I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction. And he said he’d tell me a secret…then he leaned in and said I flustered him too a little.” She swallowed. “Then I think I said that was an awful lot for both of us to be feeling when we were only pretending to date. And then he grinned and said it was a lot for both of us to be resisting too.” Her blush deepened. “And then…the next thing I knew, his arms were around me and his hands were in my wings, and I had a hoof on his shoulder and I was getting used to the feeling of kissing somebody with a fang…and a snake’s tongue.” She brought a hoof to her forehead, and something in the shuddery breath that left her was reminiscent of the start of that hysterical tone she’d had before. She took another deep breath and lowered her hoof.

Luna blinked, her eyes wide for a moment and a distinct blush on her features. Then she cleared her throat and resumed a supportive smile. “Celestia, really, it’s fine. So you like Discord.” She shrugged, then raised an eyebrow. “And you…really take such pleasure in his intimate company?”

Celestia’s blush was rosy. She nodded.

The moon princess smiled more. “Well then, what’s the problem? So you went out with a creature you like and whom you’re attracted to, and you kissed him…repeatedly. It’s perfectly okay. Enjoy yourself, sister—you know we both don’t socialize personally nearly enough. And Discord’s sort of cute in an obnoxious sort of way.” But then Luna’s smile fell a little. “Unless you’re upset about things escalating?”

Celestia just sighed. “I don’t know. This has all just been very…. I don’t know.” She collapsed her head onto her pillows again.

Luna nodded. “Well, if you feel you need some counsel, I could always summon Cadance and Twilight. Between the Princess of Love and the Princess of Friendship, you’re bound to sort out how you feel and where you want things to go from here.”

“No!” Celestia sat up with a light blush, then cleared her throat. “I mean, um…Cadance would get carried away. And I’d rather not involve Twilight in this.” She swallowed. “It would feel strange. I’ve trained her since she was a filly. How am I supposed to look at her and explain that my ‘friendship problem’ is that I don’t know how to deal with the fact that I just spent twenty minutes in the kitchen taking ‘reforming’ Discord to an entirely new level?”

Luna sighed and shook her head. “Sister, I’ll concede your point about Cadance, but Twilight is capable of knowing you have a personal life and being okay with it.”

“Yes, but I might not be capable of being okay with it, not about this at least…not yet,” Celestia mumbled. She cleared her throat. “I’d really rather just talk to you, sister. Discord and I haven’t directly admitted to anybody else yet how are relationship has changed, even if ponies may have seen us together a few times. We’ve been very discreet and casual—that was the point of only pretending to date at first. And…now tonight happened.” Then she sighed and looked forward again. “I still can’t believe I did this.” Her eye twitched slightly.

Luna smiled a little again. “You really are smitten with Discord, aren’t you, Celestia? I don’t believe I’ve ever even you get this worked up over a suitor before.”

Celestia nodded and almost smiled a little. “Discord’s…fun. He makes me smile. And he’s interesting and…sort of sweet sometimes when he thinks no one’s looking. I do like him.” She blushed again and looked to her sister once more. “But what if I like him too much now, Luna? We never seriously talked about a true courtship. He’s a free spirit, and anything serious about our relationship has been very unofficial. How do I know he doesn’t have a bunch of girls all over Equestria he sees? How do I know I’m not getting carried away?” She frowned. “We may have just complicated our friendship very much, Luna. And I don’t even know how to start talking to him about it.”

Just then there was a rap on Celestia’s balcony window and the door opened. There stood Discord, leaning against the frame. “Actually, for things that are purely fun, I don’t mind playing the field a little. But there have been emotions involved in this, so…it’s just you in my life at the moment, Tia.” He swallowed and tried to smile more as he added, “And have we ‘complicated’ our friendship or just made it more chaotic, hmm?” He raised an eyebrow and held back a chuckle.

Celestia just kept staring forward with wide eyes.

Luna looked from Discord to Celestia and then stepped back with a sheepish smile. “Erm, I believe I should go. I still have a snack to finish in the kitchen. Take care, you two.” She met Discord’s gaze and lightly gestured with her head to her sister.

The chaos master gave her a single slight nod. Luna gave slight him a nod in return and then disappeared.

The happy couple was alone now.

Discord let out a breath. “Why don’t we talk out on the balcony, Celestia? The night air’s probably good for us after how stuffy that kitchen was.” He blushed a little but turned away and headed outside.

Celestia remained in her room for a moment, quiet and thinking. But then finally she got up and walked outside to find Discord just admiring the view.

“Nice night,” the chaos master started, looking out at the city and landscape below.

Celestia swallowed and nodded, looking forward as well as she came to sit near him. “Oh, uh…yes. Luna’s made a beautiful one.”

Discord took a deep breath. “Beautiful day too.”

Celestia nodded again. “Yes, I suppose it was.”

Discord let out a sigh. “Well then, now that we’ve got the pleasantries out of the way…” He turned to her with a slight frown. “Are you feeling a little better?”

Celestia blushed faintly. She nodded. “Yes. I am.” She smiled slightly and barely glanced over at him. “Thank you for asking.”

“Yeah, well…I care about you. It’s the least I could do.” His grin picked up a little on one side. “After all, you’re my very special friend.”

Celestia blushed more and looked forward and down.

Discord sighed again and did the same. Then he leaned forward on the balcony rail. “Was it really that bad for you, Tia? I thought we were both enjoying ourselves back there, but it has been a thousand years for me. Maybe I’m not reading signals right anymore.”

“It wasn’t ‘bad’, Discord.” Celestia turned her head to look at him completely.

Discord was just gazing out at the landscape with a dull look in his eyes…and no smile now. “But it just wasn’t with some charming stallion prince…without a hands or a fang…or a snake’s tongue.”

Celestia’s features colored vermillion, and she sighed and frowned. “Discord, I wish you wouldn’t eavesdrop.” She looked down. “And you know I didn’t mean it like that.”

“Like what?” There was almost something mocking in his tone…but there was a little pain there too.

Celestia glanced at him again: he still wasn’t smiling. If anything, he was frowning. She had so rarely ever seen him sad in their lives…. Celestia’s gaze and tone softened. “Like I wished you were something you’re not,” she replied as she turned to face him completely. “I’m sorry, Discord. I didn’t know you were listening, but either way I didn’t mean it like that.” Her eyes widened a little. “What we did together just…didn’t absorb at the time, and then when we stopped it absorbed all at once. And it’s been such a dramatic shift for us over such a short period of time considering our history. And, regardless of anything with you, I’m just not used to…I mean…” She swallowed. “You know I haven’t seen anyone socially the way I see you in a very, very long time. I haven’t even had a gentleman friend in a long time. So tonight my actions—our actions—they just surprised me. But it wasn’t a bad surprise in any way. I mean that.”

Discord remained looking forward, though his eyes were wide now. Then he turned to her and finally smiled (or, rather, grinned) again. “So you did like it?”

Celestia’s blinked. But then with a soft blush she smiled and nodded. “Yes. I liked having that experience together. Kissing like that.”

“You’re happy then?” Something in Discord’s grin and gaze softened and warmed as he suddenly leaned down close to her.

Celestia smiled even more. “I think it would be better if things went more slowly. But yes, I did like it…and I’m happy.”

Discord’s eyes hazed as his grin practically went into a smirk. “What a coincidence, I liked it, and I’m happy too…even if you are a perfectly orderly little pony and not a being of chaos.” He chuckled and straightened up as he turned to lean back against the railing. “However long it’s been since you’ve seen someone socially the way you see me, it’s been too long, princess. You don’t deserve such neglect.”

Celestia almost smirked a little herself (and inside she felt a great relief that he was smiling and joking with her again). “I could say the same thing about you.”

Discord laughed again, eyeing her with an eyebrow raised. “In the kitchen though? Really?” He crossed his arms over his chest. “Celestia, I know you like cake, but is it actually a turn on for you? Should I know this?”

Celestia just shook her head as she held back a laugh. “Well, I’ll admit having the aroma nearby certainly is a pleasing experience.” Then she stood, and her eyes hazed a little. “And when was the last time you didn’t just have fun with someone, Discord? When was the last time emotions were involved?” She took a step closer to him.

Discord lost his poise for a moment—his eyes went wide and distinct blushing came to his features as he lowered his arms and turned to face her. “I, er…a long…long time.”

Celestia giggled and brought a hoof to her mouth, all of her usual calmness and happiness returning to her tone. “We snuck down to the kitchen and kissed. I feel like a teenager.”

Discord managed to clear his throat and smile a little, though his blushing remained. “You’re certainly as enthusiastic as one. I thought it was only in my daydreams that you were that passionate.” He sighed. “And did you really think I’d be seeing other women while seeing you, Tia? Have you really not accepted the fact that you’re more than enough mare for anyone, including me? Not to mention an excellent kisser.” He winked.

Celestia giggled. “I’m not sure what to expect with you sometimes—you are chaos after all.” She winked back at him.

Discord’s grin practically grew into a smirk. “I’ll make you a deal. While we’re close like this, you don’t use your sudden desire to socialize intimately to start some sort of secret stallion harem for yourself with your staff and the guards, and I won’t use all of my natural charm to win the hearts and desires of every mare in Equestria. I mean, I’ll have to put in some serious effort, but I’ll genuinely try not to.”

“Deal, Discord.” Celestia nodded. Then she let out a deep breath, a faint blush still present. “Discord, if we…let this new part of having a special friendship into our lives…maybe it could just be in a small way?”

Discord’s grin picked up on one side. “Sort of an amendment to our agreement? You mean like we can kiss…but maybe only for special occasions or good night kisses. Something like that?”

Celestia nodded. “Yes. I think doing that might help keep us from accidentally doing what we did in the kitchen in the future.”

“Yes, well, we did agree on no actual passionate necking at the start of this little friendship escalation of ours.” Discord chuckled. “But a little peck between friends…no harm there.” The chaos master sighed and looked down with a smile that was almost shy. “And if I’m going to keep caring about you…which might keep this thing between us pretty exclusive…it’d be nice to have the option for a kiss, especially since it’s been so long…for both of us.” His hazed eyes and looked down into hers.

Celestia’s rather wide eyes looked up into his. “We really did get a little carried away in the kitchen…with the dim lights and the quiet and the cake. It was an interesting first kiss.”

Discord nodded. “Yes. But from now on we’ll be very careful…even if sometimes we are sitting close and we both look at each other and just know there’s something there.”

Celestia blushed more. “You really are very charming…and very passionate yourself.”

Discord almost laughed. “I know. But I really wish you’d warn me before you say such nice things, princess. I told you once before…it’s not easy for a guy to resist escalating advances from a beautiful female.”

Celestia smiled more, her eyes still gazing into his. “Discord, I think talk like this is how we got in trouble in the kitchen…”

A deep sigh left Discord through his nose. “It’s also how we almost got in trouble two weeks ago at my house when we were watching that scary movie in the dark and we used it as an excuse to let me put an arm around you. And it’s almost how we got in trouble last weekend when you let me watch you lower the sun and then told me sun rises and sunsets always made your heart pound a little…and I told you that you make my heart pound a little.” He shrugged. “Let’s face it—the whole thing’s been inevitable.”

Her features rosy, Celestia looked down a little…though she did softly add, “Maybe it has been…”

Then, just before Discord really couldn’t resist the urge to scoop her up and neck with her until she might agree to spend the rest of her off duty hours with him, he gave a nod and smiled. “But for now, I believe we agreed that goodnight kisses are acceptable. And it is night, and a good one…and I figure it’s late enough that you should be going to bed.” He shrugged. “What do you say?”

Celestia glanced back up at him with a small smile. She gave a single nod. “Just one. I think that’s about what I can handle for the rest of the night.” She held back a giggle.

Discord smiled and gave her a slight bow of his head. “Just one…unless when it’s over you drag me into your room in a fiery embrace, and then all bets are off.” He laughed.

“Discord.” Celestia just sighed and nudged him with her hoof. “Come here…” And then she leaned up, rested her hoof on his shoulder, and gently brought her mouth to his for a kiss.

Discord’s eyes went wide at first but then drifted closed as he brought a paw up to her cheek. And then the chaos master smiled as Celestia gave a light gasp at the feeling of his tail coming up behind her and wrapping lightly around her back to pull them even closer.

After a long moment, the couple separated…and eventually Discord’s tail slipped away.

Celestia’s smile picked up a little on one side. “Was that your tail having a mind of its own again?”

Discord chuckled. “We were of the same mind just now actually.”

Celestia smiled so much and glanced down. “That makes three of us, then.” His tail tuft was in the air near her and she lightly touched it with her hoof and giggled.

Discord tried to smirk down at Celestia, though the hazed look in his eyes dampened the effect. “Did I ever tell you that you’re pretty when you’re not overthinking things?”

Celestia laughed softly and shook her head. “Goodnight, Discord. And thank you for coming to talk to me. I appreciate it.” She turned to head back inside.

“Dinner date out together this weekend?” Discord suddenly replied back after a clearing of his throat.

Celestia blinked and paused, glancing over her shoulder. “Dinner? We’ve never gone out for dinner before…”

Discord shrugged. “It’ll be good dating practice. And a good way to get ponies more used to the idea of us maybe staying together for a little while. Besides, it’s a special occasion. Come on…” His eyes hazed a little. “Some restaurant in a quiet corner of the city, sparkling cider in long stem glasses, soft music playing, lots of new cake to try…and maybe I’ll chaos things up a bit by making the silverware dance. Just you and me and privacy.” He winked.

Celestia’s already warm smile grew. “Okay, Discord. I’d be happy to.”

Discord nodded and gave her a little wave. “Sweet dreams then, Tia.”

“Sweet dreams, Discord.” Celestia headed inside and closed the balcony door behind her.

Discord watched her go.

Then as he turned to leave he found himself face to face with Luna.

She was just standing there on the balcony now looking back at him with a small smile. He stared down at her with wide eyes.

Then the night princess’s smile grew. “You like her.”

Discord raised an eyebrow. “Uh…didn’t we establish that fact at least three misadventures ago?”

Luna’s smile only remained though. “And she likes you, Discord. Very, very much.” She looked into his eyes meaningfully.

Discord’s eyes couldn’t help widening a little more for a moment. But then he cleared his throat and glanced away. “Yes, well…I came to that conclusion myself in the kitchen when she chose kissing me over eating cake. And then I had it confirmed for me about ten minutes later when my tail brushed her shoulder when it snapped to dim the lights, and she gave this little gasp through her nose that I’d never imagined her making before, though I have to say I’m very fond of it.” He chuckled to himself.

Luna sighed and rolled her eyes. As she opened her mouth to speak again though, Discord suddenly held up a paw in front of her.

The chaos master looked down at her again. “But seriously, I do know she likes me, Luna. A lot.” He swallowed but managed to keep his aloof look as he lowered his paw. “I’ve been very cautious about actually attracting her affections for a while now, long before we ever decided to be special friends.” He glanced out to the nightscape before them. “Right up until the end there, after the Tirek thing, I was seriously hoping she’d never think of me in any special way…but afterwards, I wanted her to. I like that she likes me now. I like that we like each other.” His smile picked up on one side. “It’s really the most absurd ending to this whole reform business. I grin every time I think about it.”

Luna nodded. “So, you are taking her deepening feelings seriously—that is all I wanted to know.” She smiled again. “And, yes, I for one certainly never saw Celestia taking you as her consort to be the end result of all of our experiences together.”

“Luna!” Discord’s eyes popped open wide, and he blushed. “Ugh, please, that word makes me sound like all I’m good for around here anymore is eye candy and making her giggle when no one’s looking.” He cleared his throat. “Besides all we did was kiss…a lot.” He smirked a little to himself. “No harm in still pretending we’re just curious friends.”

Luna’s smile grew. “I’ll be sure to knock from now on before entering certain places, Discord.”

“Yes, that would be appreciated, Luna.” Discord’s blush grew. “I’m not really sure where what was happening in the kitchen was going, but it was definitely in the realm of something better experienced in private.”

Luna nodded. “Indeed.” Then she glanced to the side. “Erm…Discord? I…may seriously regret this, but might I ask you a favor?”

Discord turned to her with a half grin and raised an eyebrow. “This should be interesting. Shoot, Luna.”

Luna grazed the floor of the balcony with one of her hooves. “Well, I’ve been thinking about socializing a bit more myself. Not in the somewhat serious way you and Celestia are, but in a casual way just to better acclimate myself to how relationships work these days. At least in a way beyond just noticing the guards with my sister…which you’ve taken all the fun out of now, by the way, since all Celestia’s done for the last month is sit there and tell me ‘cute’ things you’ve done while I glance over the troops.” She rolled her eyes and cleared her throat. “Anyway, my request: you seem to get out a bit more than I do, Discord, and to come in contact with more creatures. So if you…wanted to bring somebody by the castle one day who possibly seemed to you like a good match for me…I wouldn’t mind.” She looked up with a little sheepish smile.

Discord’s eyes widened. “Wow, wanting to meet a special somepony and not needing years of magical strife followed by months of complicated flirting, a dramatic national crisis, and the foreplay of ‘pretend dating’ just to make the relationship work in some kind of wacky way? You really are the fun princess. And in that case, sure, why not, Luna? I’d be up for making another pony have a little extra fun on the side.”

Luna nodded. “I would appreciate the assistance very much, Discord, thank you.”

Discord’s grin grew, and he pumped up one of his eyebrows. “And Celestia really puts talking about me over checking out the guards these days?”

Luna’s smile softened. “As we established at least three misadventures ago, she likes you very much. I think it made her very happy when you told her before that this was an exclusive thing for you just as much as it was for her.”

Discord blushed slightly. “Yes, well…there’s the ‘emotions’ thing involved in this, like I said. Besides…she’s special. I never got to know anyone like her. Even kissing her was different…” He had a far away look for a moment and was quiet.

Luna just watched him with interest.

Then Discord blinked and cleared his throat. “Er, yes, well…that’s enough sharing for tonight. It’s late, I’m tired, you’ve got duties. I should probably get going.”

Luna held back a small giggle. “Have a pleasant night. And thank you again for offering your services.”

“You’re quite welcome.” The chaos master gave a dramatic bow with a flourish of his arm.

Luna gave a bow of her head. “Farewell for now, Discord. I’m happy you and my sister are so happy together. I think, in some strange and unexpected way, that you might be very good for each other.” And then Luna spread her wings and took off into the night.

Discord just stood there smiling to himself for a moment and then let out a sigh. “Well, I’ve caused enough unintentional chaos around here for one day. I suppose I’ll head home…” He turned away from the view of the castle grounds and held up his fingers to snap when suddenly he paused.

He was facing the balcony window doors of Celestia’s room, and through them he saw Celestia now emerge from her bathroom (free of her regalia). The sun princess yawned and approached her bed. As she climbed into it, her eyes turned toward the balcony, and then she blinked and smiled as she caught sight of Discord.

Discord swallowed and considered his options very deeply.

In her room, Celestia watched Discord through the window with a smile on her face and an eyebrow raised. He was standing there with his arms behind his back and his eyes a little wide, barely attempting his usual smug grin. She giggled to herself. “I suppose he’s sort of cute when he’s startled.” She blushed slightly, took a breath, and then found herself about to raise her hoof to gesture for him to come inside. She wasn’t entirely sure where more time together tonight might lead…but she felt better able to handle the situation now.

However, before she could make the gesture, Discord had snapped his fingers, and in the air before him now was a scroll with a quill writing upon it. Celestia watched in interest as the quill penned several lines before disappearing in a burst of light. And then the scroll furled up.

Discord’s eyes came to Celestia again, and the sun princess watched with continued interest as he blushed lightly and then looked away (as casually as he could manage) and snapped his tail.

Celestia blinked. “Oh!” Resting on her pillow now was the rolled up scroll with a blue rose tucked into the center. The sun princess’s whole look softened. She looked to Discord again.

The chaos master gave her a small smile and a wink (and blew her a kiss), waved with his fingers, and then departed in a bright burst of light with a snap of his tail.

Celestia looked down at her strange gift. She removed the lovely blue rose first and smelled it. “Frosting?” She laughed and shook her head. Then she conjured up a thin vase on her nightstand to hold the flower (though not before her eyes had fallen on Discord’s first bouquet, still residing in a vase on her mantle). Her attention went to the scroll next. She unfurled it and read.

My eyes are red,
Chaos roses are blue,
Cake is Sweet…
And poems are so boring when they rhyme, am I right?

Why does anybody write them then? I guess to express themselves. But I think I expressed myself quite thoroughly to you back in the kitchen, so we’ll leave off of the verses for now.

I’ve decided chaos roses are blue. I like to make you flowers to thank you whenever you go out on a limb for me…or in tonight’s case with me…so thank you. It was fun that you gave us a chance like that even if you’re still overwhelmed deep down.

But seriously, Celestia, I didn’t realize until this evening that there was a chance the two of us might get off of the same page about things between us sometimes. So, if you’re ever feeling a little confused, just let me know and we’ll figure out where we stand just like we did tonight (and progress our special friendship arrangement if necessary, of course).

I know the ponies might have seen us hanging out together enough now to start suspecting that we're on more than friendly terms. But as for anything that happens in private with us—I won’t tell if you won’t. Not even if you gave the pleasure of curling up at the end of your bed one of these nights….

Keep having fun with me, Tia. That’s all I ask. I think we both need that much in our lives at least.

Your loving friend,



That alicorn strength of yours really comes through when you’re caught up in a passionate moment, by the way. It took everything I had not to let you accidentally push me down onto the table back in the kitchen. What a sight that would have been for your sister to walk in on, huh?



This letter will explode into glitter in…NOW! Rarity taught me about glitter—it’s both fashionable AND chaotic! Have fun!’

Celestia’s eyes went wide. “What, I—”

And then the letter did explode, and indeed all sorts of rainbow-colored glitter now became scattered in her hair and on her blanket and on her pillow.

Celestia just sat there with her eyes wide in shock, everything (even the air around her) sparkling.

Then some familiar disembodied chuckling met her ears.

Celestia sighed and looked up to her ceiling. “You have an odd idea about how to woo a lady, you know.”

“Woo?” Discord’s disembodied voice replied. “Ooo, let’s go with that word for a while instead of ‘mercilessly flirting’—it sounds so classy.” He chuckled again. “Did you miss me?”

Celestia shook some glitter from her mane. “You mean in the last two minutes since I saw you?”

Discord’s voice sighed. “You know, I’ve never gotten a straight answer out of you whenever I’ve asked that question. ‘Did you miss me?’ Have you ever truly missed me, Celestia?”

Celestia raised an eyebrow, but then her smile warmed. “Well, whenever I forget how much cleanup chaos can entail and just remember all the fun it brings…and of course whenever I’m not planning my secret stallion harem…” she rolled her eyes, “then, yes, I do miss you, Discord.” She blushed and glanced to the side with a smile.

“Knew it!” The disembodied voice chuckled. “You know, Tia dearest…”

“Dearest?” Celestia raised an eyebrow, smiling more.

“I’m working on terms of affection that don’t make me sound like some sappy stallion falling all over himself for you.” His voice chuckled more and went on. “Anyway, Tia dearest, you know, I kind of made that comment about it being time for you to go to bed because I was angling for that good night kiss. But really the night is still so young…and there’s something I’ve been meaning to do with you for a while now.”

Celestia opened her mouth to speak when suddenly there was a flash of magic…and, lo and behold, Discord appeared floating in the air with his head at her headboard and his body stretched out past the top of her bed. He was on his back with his head tilted slightly, looking at her upside down with a grin.

Celestia sighed and grinned a little herself as she looked up at him. “Discord, you do know that some of us have to work in the morning, right?”

Discord smirked. “Oh, like being on call 24/7 for chaos isn’t work.” His grin curled upward at the ends more, and he angled his head so far back that he was looking at her right side up now. “Close your eyes.” His eyes narrowed a little.

Celestia blushed and tried not to laugh. “Discord, I’m not falling for whatever this is. I may not date much, but I’m not naive.”

Discord just chuckled. “Oh come now, Tia, give me some credit. I do try to exercise a bit of finesse with you. Indulge me just this once?”

Celestia sighed but did close her eyes, her smile growing. “Just so you know, if you’re in this bed with me when I open my eyes, you’re going to find out what my Royal Canterlot voice sounds like, Discord.”

From behind her eyelids, Celestia heard the chaos master chuckle. “Now, now, don’t rush things, Celestia. What kind of guy do you think I am?” Another second passed. “Now, open your eyes…”

Celestia opened her eyes, and they went wide quickly and she sat up at the sight of Discord floating before her with a big polka-dot pillow held high in the air.

The chaos master beamed. “Surprise pillow fight!” And then he lowered the pillow for a direct hit!

A second later, Celestia was just sitting there with the big pillow skewered straight through on her horn.

Discord blinked and scratched is head. “Huh. This isn’t working as well as when you did it to me. I—Oof!”

And now Discord was suddenly whacked with his own pillow, which Celestia had magically raised off of her horn and swung through the air. The result was feathers everywhere now along with the glitter from the letter still scattered about.

Discord blinked a few times and then looked to Celestia with a grin and an eyebrow raised as he righted himself once more. “Oh, I love when you fight back.” His eyes narrowed.

Celestia blushed and smirked a little. “You know, Discord…you and I really never had a final duel to settle our differences from the past. And, if I can be a little blunt, hitting you with a pillow is fun.” She used her magic to make about a dozen more pillows appear in the room of all different shapes and sizes and colors.

“Agreed.” Discord took one of the pillows in hand and flew up. “Pillow fight then, my lady?” He gave a dramatic bow.

“As long as you’ll help me clean up in the morning, good sir.” Celestia giggled.

“As long as I get a good morning kiss and breakfast with you and Luna.” The chaos master winked.

Celestia blushed lightly. “Breakfast, yes. A good morning kiss…only if you win.” She raised a fresh pillow with her magic.

“Only if you lose,” Discord corrected. “That way if we have a draw, I still end up happy.”

Celestia nodded. “Agreed.”

Discord smirked entirely. “The final battle between the sun princess and the master of chaos: who knew it would end like this? Oh well…have at you!”

Celestia smiled more, her eyes bright as she jumped down from her bed with a laugh. “En garde!”

And then an evening of the most glorious fun began full of laughter and teasing and feathers and glitter and Discord and Celestia eventually collapsing amongst it all in the middle of the night to fall asleep together near the fire.

Of course, Luna came upon an interesting sight the next morning when she went to Celestia’s door to walk with her to breakfast only to see Celestia and Discord emerging from the room with their manes and fur significantly ruffled, feathers and glitter everywhere, and looking like they had barely slept a wink all night as they blushed and laughed together.

The question of what exactly the two of them had been doing came from the moon princess’s lips before she could stop herself.

Celestia had raised an eyebrow.

And then Discord had burst into so much laughter while Celestia’s eyes had gone wide and then she had suddenly blushed and looked down completely…until finally she couldn’t help laughing too as she explained the situation (which prompted quite a bit of laughter from Luna as well).

With sighs and smiles the three magical beings headed toward the dining room for breakfast, Discord between the two pony sisters as they walked along.

Celestia glanced at Discord. “You’ll be helping me clean up after breakfast of course, Discord.”

Discord grinned. “Another excuse to be alone with you in your room? Works for me. Oh and by the way, you didn’t win last night. It was a draw.” He pumped up his eyebrows.

Celestia smiled more, recalling their bargain about the outcome of the pillow fight. “You’re right…I didn’t, and it was.” As she turned to him, Discord suddenly leaned down, lightly cupped her chin in his paw, and gave her a brief peck on the mouth.

As he released her, Celestia smiled and couldn’t help looking forward with bright eyes and a light blush.

Discord just grinned to himself, his eyes a little hazed. “I could get used to this.”

Luna giggled. “And I suppose I shall have to get used to it too.” She smiled. “But come along now, you two, breakfast is getting cold. And it’ll be nice to eat together just like old times.” Luna’s grin picked up on one side, and she added, “Unless of course, after clearly spending the night, Discord is considering moving back in.”

“Not until Tia dearest proposes to me!” The chaos master held his head high with a proud smile.

“Now who’s moving too quickly, Discord.” Celestia’s smirked a little.

“ ‘Tia dearest’ ?” Luna raised an eyebrow, then smiled and shook her head. “You two are ridiculous. Please keep this ‘friendship’ going if for no other reason than my own amusement.”

The three shared a laugh.

“So then,” Discord went on, looking to Celestia, “did you know that last night your sister came to me and asked me to set her up with a boyfriend?”

“Discord!” Luna blushed, her eyes completely wide.

Celestia snorted a laugh. “Oh really?” She glanced over at Luna.

“Oh yes,” Discord went on. “And since the solar pony sister clearly has a thing for fixed-up bad guys, I figure the lunar princess might too. So…after breakfast, group field trip to Tartarus to find a villain to reform for Luna!” He held his paw high in the air.

“We are not going to Tartarus to find me a coltfriend!” Luna rolled her eyes, grinning a little. “If anything we’d go to a royal court or at least the Canterlot parliament. Both pony sisters can’t be dating peasantry—it could send Equestria into a state of anarchy.” She gave Discord a cheeky grin.

“Peasantry? Oh, I’m wounded, Luna dear, truly.” Discord held his hand dramatically to his forehead with a smirk. “But really I was thinking we’d get you a villain who’s been around for at least a few centuries—that way you can get all of your ‘thee's’ and ‘thou's’ and ‘royal we’s’ out of your system with him. What dost thou say, Luna?” He shrugged.

“Thou art as droll as ever, Discord,” Luna replied dryly with a grin.

“Oh, you pony sisters.” Discord just chuckled and then put his paw on Luna’s head and his claw on Celestia’s shoulders. “Always good for a laugh. I think that’s part of why I love you.”

The statement was made in an almost offhand tone, and yet both Celestia and Luna heard the sincerity beneath the surface and smiled warmly (Celestia even moving a little closer to Discord).

“I think this is the start of some more beautiful misadventures for all three of us—four once we set up, Luna,” the chaos master went on with an awkward swallow and a sigh, still grinning (and blushing slightly).

Celestia laughed and nodded. “Yes, I think so too, Discord: there are still plenty of adventures and fun ahead for us.” She glanced at Luna and smiled more (and gave a very slight nod and a quick wink).

“Indeed.” Luna smiled back at her sister (and gave her a very slight nod and quick wink in return).

And then both sisters used their magic very subtly. A sign appeared on Discord’s back, reading in pink script, “Ask me about all of my emotions for Celestia!” and beneath that reading in blue script, “Luna is the fun princess! And I love the pony sisters!”

And so, still laughing and warm with friendship, three beings entered the dining room (which was filled, of course, with staff members who were quite capable of reading and snickering at the signs on Discord’s back, though the sisters felt it was the least they could do after how Discord had teased the staff during his time living in the castle. Besides, the signs would give the staff some lighthearted amusement as they watched with wonder and gradual acceptance as Discord and Celestia lightly flirted together while Luna looked on in smiling approval).

It was the perfect start to a perfect day (as well as the perfect end to a perfect date). But then again, could anyone expect any less confusion from a friendship (and especially a romance) involving the master of chaos?