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The First Night
Fate has been cruel and order unkind
How can I have sent you away?
The blame was my own; the punishment, yours
The harmony's silent today.
But into the stillness I'll bring you a song
And I will your company keep
Till your tired eyes and my lullabies
Have carried you softly to sleep.
“Hurry up, Luna! We’re going to be late for the ceremony!” Celestia yelled from downstairs. The tall alicorn straightened the marvelous golden crown atop her head nervously, wondering what her sister had planned for her speech this afternoon.
“Just one second!” Luna shouted in reply, her voice shaking the room. She levitated a porcelain comb through her pastel blue mane and stared at herself in the mirror. She looked startlingly identical to the young, childish alicorn she knew nearly a thousand years ago, yet her spirit was much older. Luna knew alicorns lived for an extremely long time, but had next to no knowledge about the aging process of her kind, which made understanding even herself difficult.
As the comb hit a knot, Luna grunted in frustration.
“How does Celestia always keep her mane so perfect?” Luna whispered to herself in wonder as she envisioned having a mane as beautiful as her sister’s, long and flowing and magnificently regal. Luna lifted her jet black crown and fitted it as best as she could on her head. The crown, as well as the medallion around her neck, sparkled like gemstones. And the crescent moon on the medallion shimmered in the faint light of her room.
But Luna had to admit, her attire was measly compared to Celestia’s bejeweled crown and golden medallion.
Suddenly, Luna felt a sharp pain race through her head, going across the inside of her skull as if a monster wanted to escape from her mind. Luna’s vision clouded as she quickly turned back towards the mirror, and studied her eyes, which were not her own.
The normally rounded pupil had dissolved into a thin, snakelike slit. The milky blue around her iris melted into a deep purple that engulfed even the whites of her eyes, while the rims of them were a bright shade of blue.
Nightmare Moon’s eyes.
Luna quickly shut her eyes and winced in agony as a small trail of light formed at the end of her horn and slowly flowed into the rest of her body, freeing it from any ounce of pain she had before. She sighed with relief as her eyes returned to normal. Luna did one last check to make sure she was ready and rushed downstairs to meet her sister.
“Took you long enough.” Celestia joked in the singsong-y voice that always hid in her everyday speech. She saw her sister’s worried face as she ran down the castle steps, and Celestia instantly knew that she had said the wrong thing.
“Sorry, Tia, I kinda had, um, another, er, incident.” The look in Luna’s eyes spoke enough. Celestia gently caressed her sister’s mane.
“Don’t worry, Luna. This is normal. This, er, phase you’re in will end after a year or two.” Luna slumped against the wall and sighed. As hard as she tried, Celestia could never forgive herself for what she put her sister through.
And she sure as hoof knew that Luna wouldn’t forgive her anytime soon.
As they headed out the castle doors, Luna stopped in the middle of the doorway and sniffed.
“Tia, I don’t think I can do it. Everyone out there,” she pointed towards the general direction of the provinces of Equestria. “They think I’m a monster.” Celestia frowned and walked over to comfort her sister.
“Well, isn’t that why we’re here? The whole purpose of this ceremony is to show everyone who you REALLY are.”
Luna sighed once again and shuffled over to the royal carriage.
“Oh, Luna.” Celestia sighed.
As the sisters climbed inside the carriage, Luna noticed that the royal guards hailed Celestia with a single phrase.
“Long live the Solar Empire, your highness.”
The princess quickly dismissed the guards with a smile as the carriage started up in the air. For some reason, what the guards said had disturbed Luna. Something deep inside of her had flickered like a candle, and the spirit of Nightmare Moon that was still trapped in Luna screamed in protest.
“What was that all about, Tia?” Luna snapped, but instantly regretted doing so. Celestia answered before she could apologize.
“Well, while you were gone, the ponies of Equestria were in distress. Without night, there was no sleep, no moments of peace in their active lifestyle. So I then took on the responsibility for raising the night as well as the day. Decidedly, the ponies hailed me as a queen, and threw themselves into a state of argument about oppression and such. So I then created a classification of a ‘Solar Empire’ to keep the ponies from starting a war amongst themselves, and the monarchy of Equestria lives. It’s nothing more than a title, I assure you.”
“If you say so.” Luna shrugged in disbelief. Immediately, Luna knew that the Solar Empire was much more than just a title. Numerous flags and posters hung all over the cities below. Enlistment posters for the royal guard were posted everywhere, all with the sentence, “Glory to the Solar Empire!” Guards were everywhere. At nearly every doorstep, pathway, street, or even alley was patrolled by countless ponies dressed in silver and gold armor.
Once did a pony who shone like the sun
Look out on her kingdom and sigh
She smiled and said, "Surely, there is no pony
So lovely and so well beloved as I."
So great was her reign and so brilliant her glory
That long was the shadow she cast
Which fell dark upon the young sister she loved
And grew only darker as days and nights passed.
The destination was a large clearing near the entrance of the Everfree Forest, where a large stage with a tall stone pillar stood shining and polished among the dirt and mud. Two huge banners displaying an image of Celestia raising the sun, along with, “Hail the Celestial Ruler, long live the Solar Empire!” hung from each pillar.
Luna was led onto the back of the curtain by two armor-clad ponies, while Celestia flew up to the stone stage. Cheers erupted from the mass of ponies crowded below as she flew up in the air and spoke.
“Fillies and gentlecolts, it is my great honor to present to you, my sister, Luna, who has prepared some quick words for you all.” Celestia beamed with pride as Luna shuffled on to the stage.
Not a single sound came from the crowd. A few shocked gasps and coughs were heard, but no applause. No praise. Nothing.
Ungrateful, lowly mules. Luna thought in disgust, or was it Nightmare Moon? Luna was afraid of the fact that she couldn’t tell.
“Um…I…Uh…” Luna looked at her sister for help.
Just tell them about yourself, who you really are. Express your feelings! She saw Celestia mouth.
They want my FEELINGS? Luna thought. Oh, I’ll tell them how I feel.
Soon did that pony take notice that others
Did not give her sister her due
And neither had she loved her as she deserved
She watched as her sister's unhappiness grew.
The night princess glared at her audience, her piercing blue eyes bearing the rage of an angry fire. There was a moment of brief silence before a thunderous roar of volume erupted from the young alicorn.
“CITIZENS OF EQUESTRIA!”
Gasps of dumbfounded shock swept through the mass of ponies as they attempted to absorb the words coming from the princess. The “Hail the Solar Empire!” banners blew and fluttered as if a strong gust of wind had arrived. Luna stopped as well. Had this sudden burst of power come from Nightmare Moon? Or had she always held this kind of influence in her voice?
Luna wondered briefly, Should I let her take over the speech? She knew that letting her emotions get the best of her was her biggest problem, but the voice in her head, the voice that ate at her soul and begged to be free screamed in agonizing want.
“WE HAVE CHOSEN TO SPEAK WITH THEE TO CLEAR OUR NAME! THY PRESENCE HERE IS THE BEGINNING OF A NEW ERA, AN ERA OF HARMONY AND JUSTICE, FREE FROM CORRUPTION AND EVIL! SO WITH THAT, WE PRESENT OURSELVES TO YOU, A PONY WHO IS DEVOTED TO THY LAND AND TO THY CITIZENS! “
Luna quickly placed her hoof over her mouth in apology, realizing what she had done, or rather, what Nightmare Moon had done. Had she no self-control? This manner of screaming would earn her no allegiance, and certainly wouldn’t help in the manner of making a good impression.
She quickly glanced back at Celestia, who looked somewhat shocked, but hastily beckoning to keep going with her speech. Although, Luna couldn’t help but notice a bead of sweat running down her sister’s brow. Was it from nervousness? Or fear? Nightmare Moon grinned in relish, a thought that ran a shudder through the night princess.
NO! Luna thought, attempting to conflict the feelings coming from her inner self. Luna was horrified. How insane was Nightmare Moon that she would take pleasure at the suffering and worry of her own sister? Luna wanted to break down, right then and there, and cry and scream away her pain and agony, with the impossible hope that it would end her seemingly eternal suffering.
The princess’s lip quivered, her instability threatening to get the best of her, but she pulled it together and continued her speech.
“We, uhh, I have come to explain to you all my true intentions, and who I really am.” Luna looked to her sister for approval, and Celestia eagerly beckoned to her to keep going.
“I know you all only know me as a fearsome and evil being, one who was corrupt and had to be awoken by the spirit of good, and the elements of harmony.” Her eyes now turned to a small group of ponies standing below, the very ponies that had turned her from her blind rage in her time of need. Nightmare Moon shivered in the slightest fear, but continued to glare with deep hatred at the ponies. To the vengeful beast, those ponies had brought her to her knees, and kept her from power, and Luna.
To those mares Luna was eternally grateful.
“But I am here to tell you how this all happened, and why you all never need fear me ever again.” Luna closed her eyes and breathed as time seemed to freeze.
She was in her room, a thousand years ago, reading a story with her father about the moon and its phases. About how the moon has no glow, no light, without the sun to provide it. The little filly sighed in disappointment at the reality of the metaphor. But there is always a time, her father said, when the sun is shining bright, and then the moon suddenly appears in front of it, creating a ring of heavenly light, blinding but pure, shining down upon the world, a passionate and powerful glow. Luna remembered the first eclipse she ever saw, how the warm light of the earth seemed to fade, only to be replaced with a bright, almost magic glow from the moon. It made her smile in glee, a filly’s joy, but only now, a thousand years of agony later, did Luna truly realize what it meant.
This was her time, her eclipse, the moment when her name would be cleared, the moment she would be free of pain and suffering, the moment she could create harmony, not pain, and share her passion, her love, with all of Equestria.
Celestia’s jaw dropped as the whole story spilled out all at once. And most of it was not what Celestia knew. Luna briefly summed up the story of her parents, the Elements, her jealousy. But after that, Luna started talking about her time on the moon, described in painful detail.
Inside of Celestia, sobs racked her soul. How had she done this to her sister? Sweet, innocent little Luna? As the princess tried to pull herself together, she stared at the crowd, who were mesmerized by Luna’s speech, some in tears. She noticed a couple of ponies in the front row glare at her in a threatening matter. They knew she had done this to Luna, and it would not go unpunished.
No they won’t, Celestia reassured, I am their princess, they serve me, and their loyalty is unmatched! She nervously glanced at one of the “Solar Empire” posters, which was ripped and started falling to the ground. Right?
Luna finished, choked up, but still standing tall and confident. On the inside, Nightmare Moon paced in waiting. She knew what was coming, and wanted to be prepared for the storm that was brewing.
At first, nopony spoke. Everything was quiet, besides the occasional sniffle or cough.
The silence was broken by a tall mare, usually quiet, average, just a normal pony. She stood up and pointed her tear-stained hoof at Princess Celestia.
“CELESTIA! YOU LYING MONSTER!”
Lullay moon princess, goodnight sister mine
And rest now in moonlight's embrace
Bear up my lullaby, winds of the earth
Through cloud, and through sky, and through space
Carry the peace and the coolness of night
And carry my sorrow in kind
Luna, you're loved so much more than you know
Forgive me for being so blind
After the initial outburst, everything was quiet. Only the echoing sound of the pony’s voice was heard. The anger and tension seemed to spread across the crowd or ponies as they, one by one, stood up facing the stage. The look on their faces was unmistakable. Anger, deceit, sadness.
Luna looked at the crowd, shocked; then glanced towards the Solar Empire banners, waving proudly, glistening in the soft glow of moonlight; then at the royal guards, shifting at their post, ready to defend their princess from what they knew was coming; and then, Luna looked at her sister. Celestia was backstage, and Luna expected her to look just as surprised as she was, but instead, her sister only looked guilty. As if Celestia knew this would happen.
“What is the meaning of this…this madness?!” Luna yelled at the crowd, and she felt Nightmare Moon’s surprise at her actions. “Do you not know your place? Do you not serve your princess?!” Luna stamped her hoof on the ground, hard, for good measure.
Celestia quickly scampered onstage, whispering in Luna’s ear. “Luna, let’s get inside, NOW. I’ll explain everything.”
“So that you can fill her head with MORE of your lies, eh?! Why don’t ya tell ‘er the story you told us, Celestia!” A pegusus shouted from the crowd. The statement was followed by more angry reactions and hollers. The royal guards moved forward, circling the audience. Luna stood back, scared and confused. She turned to her sister, who was just as afraid of the mob threatening to break through the line of royal guards.
Before Luna could say anything more, they were briefly surrounded by a bright yellow light. When she opened her eyes, she found she was in her room with her sister, who was sighing in relief that her teleportation spell had worked. Celestia quickly got up and began pacing and muttering, the way she always did when she was upset.
“Tia, what happened out there? What was that all about?” Luna’s confusion quickly turned into frustration when her sister continued pacing with her horn glowing in concentration.
“Why didn’t I see this coming…? Should have seen this coming…” Celestia looked as if she was on the verge of crying, even her mane was tense.
“Didn’t see what coming? What’s going on?” Luna tried to get her sister’s attention, but nothing seemed to work. Nightmare Moon yawned in dismissal.
She is hiding something from you. Is that not obvious? The snarky, but royally eloquent tone inside of Luna was no longer at the mercy of her outside body. Luna found that Nightmare Moon had a mind of her own now, even after a couple days of returning to Equestria.
Why isn’t she listening to me? It’s not like her, she never hides anything from me, and I hide nothing from her.
Well, I must give you the point that you are talking to me, Nightmare Moon, and your sister knows nothing of me. But from what I’ve seen, I think that our sister is hiding something from more than just us.
For some reason, it was the words “our sister”, “us”, that bothered Luna the most.
Should I just…get her attention…somehow?
I don’t know, should you?
Luna sighed. Why was the spirit living inside of her always wiser, more confident and proud than she was?
“CELESTIAAAA!!!” Luna’s voice escaped as a booming roar, the clouds overhead covered the bright moonlight, a shadow concealed the outside and the room was dark. The only illumination was Luna’s eyes, which were a bright shade of blue mixed with purple, and the pupil was invisible.
The elder alicorn whipped around at the sound of Luna’s voice throbbing in her ears. Celestia froze in fear. How could she explain this? After what she’d already done, how could she possibly be forgiven?
“Ahh, yes, er, Luna… I uh, believe I owe you a clarification, for this matter.” Celestia swallowed as she wondered how this was going to sound. Luna returned to normal as the clouds concealing the moonlight slowly faded away.
“Just, umm, look in the bookshelf, it explains everything.” Celestia immediately put her hoof in her mouth directly after she said it. What was she thinking? This would be the absolute worst way for Luna to find out about what Celestia had done. But of course, Celestia thought, it would be the easiest way…
“Beg your pardon, but did you say the bookshelf, Tia? Uh, which book?” Luna was confused as “A Brief History of Equestria” levitated out of the dusty shelf and onto Luna’s front hooves.
“Start at page 145. It explains…everything.” Celestia lowered her head solemnly and trotted out of the room.
“Alright, Tia! I’ll just be reading then, I guess.” Confused, Luna flipped through the pages until she reached 145. The title was “The Legend of Nightmare Moon”. The front cover of the chapter was a painting of a tall black mare with a purple, starry mane. Rearing up into the air with silver armor and pointed hooves, she was menacing and fearsome. Luna turned the page and found that this legend really DID start at the beginning.
The first chapter was all about Luna and her sister, about how Tia raised the sun, Luna brought the night. Luna appreciated the drawings, they were rather beautiful, and the calligraphy was smooth and elegant. She ran her hoof over the pages, trying to remember the days when she and her sister were happy, with their parents, without Discord and without jealousy. A tear slid down Luna’s face and dripped into her soft blue mane. Luna shook her head and turned the page.
She stared in concern at the drawings on the next page. The lovely, bright blue alicorn now stared at the dark ground, eyes glowing in anger at the sleeping ponies below. “Resentful”, the book described her as. Resentful of the fact that the ponies of Equestria frolicked in the daytime, but ignored the night Luna brought to them. Luna wanted to yell at the book, to scream and change the words on the page, to stop anyone else from believing these lies that somepony had written about her.
Reluctantly, Luna turned the page, waiting to see what false stories and rumors lay on the parchment ahead.
And she was right.
Luna shuddered at the moment, the moment when her soul was shredded open, and another was shoved inside. Nightmare Moon looked truly evil as she stared down upon the frightened ponies below. She vowed she would shroud the land in eternal night, the book said. Luna wanted so badly to cry, who would write this about her? And why? The feeling of loneliness, the same feeling that haunted her before her banishment, returned quickly.
She turned the page slowly, and felt an instant burning all over her body. She felt it, she was there, the moment when she was ripped away from her familiar, her hopes, her dreams, her sister; banished to a barren, empty landscape, only to be torn apart every second of every night, clinging on to whatever pathetic hope there was that Luna would ever return.
Patience had to fade.
But as Luna was reading, her bottled rage grew fuller still as she read a disturbing sentence. Reluctantly, the elder sister summoned the Elements of Harmony, and banished her sister permanently in the moon.
The young alicorn choked on her own breath as she reread the sentence over and over again, repeating that one word that did much more than bother her. Luna could handle being bothered, but the word melted away her anger, and turned it to petty sorrow.
Was she truly meant to be there, in that hell of a place, forever? Had she escaped out of pure luck? Was she fated to a life of torture? Luna’s mind raced with questions as she turned to the last page, wanting to see this liar, this horrible, horrible pony that had written this, this filth!
The last page was of Celestia, surrounded by happy, frolicking ponies, whilst in the background, an imprint of a pony, trapped in the moon, stood sadly, depressingly. Luna almost ignored the page as she skipped to the end, to where the author’s name was, where the identity of the pony who communicated her as a monster was. When Luna finally saw it, she almost fainted, and almost collapsed in horror.
Signed: Her Royal Highness Princess Celestia
But such is the way of the limelight, it sweetly
Takes hold of the mind of its host
And that foolish pony did nothing to stop
The destruction of one who had needed her most
Luna cried out, but quickly stopped herself. If there was anything Luna learned in her life, it was not to sob at her problems. But this… this was… intolerable. It… it made Luna feel dead inside. Her head instantly raced with piercing pain as memories of being on the moon flooded Luna’s mind.
She saw the glowing being standing tall in front of her, a light in the blackness of never-ending space. Luna reached out, asking for help, having no idea of where she was or what she had done, but her wonder and curiosity ended as she felt a tearing sensation deep inside of her body. Luna wanted to cry out as she saw the blackness, the evil being ripped out of her soul, only to be consumed by the heavenly being. Luna tried to scream in pain, but any sound that escaped her mouth was no more than a pathetic croak of a dying animal. Her body contorted and thrashed under the harsh treatment of whatever stood above her.
As Luna lay there, limp and lifeless on the cold, alien rock, ready to face the new hours of the day of agony and suffering, she saw the glowing shape of a planet, the world that Equestria shared with all other walks of life.
A thousand years, supposedly meaningfully eternal torture of this, all done at the hooves of her beloved sister.
Patience had to fade.
“Hey, Luna. Are… are you okay?” Celestia walked in silently, keeping safe distance from her tense sister. She walked beside Luna and placed her hoof on her shoulder as Luna choked down another cry of sadness. The sun princess ran her hoof through the light blue mane of her sister, which was filled with tears. “ Look, I know this is hard, but we can make it through this, I understand –“
“You understand nothing. Get away from me.”
Luna pushed her sister’s hoof off of her, and she sulked to the other end of the room. Celestia relentlessly followed after her.
“I know how you feel, Luna. But you need to trust me when I say-“
“And just WHY should I trust you? And saying that you know even CLOSE to how I feel is yet another example of why you, dear sister, are a cruel hypocrite.”
Luna then pushed forward, edging her sister towards the other end of the room. Each of Luna’s words cut Celestia like a blade. Luna continued to pace forward; her tears began welling in her eyes as she released all of her pent-up fury.
“You know NOTHING about how I feel, you know NOTHING about what you did…what you HAVE DONE TO ME! Imagine being ripped apart and put back together, every single hour of every single day of your life, clinging on to an ever-dwindling hope that your sister LOVES you enough to save you from this TORTURE! I honestly believed, for MOST of my life in Equestria, that NOBODY loved me and that NOBODY loved the night that I loved to bring forth to them. A thousand years, Tia. And I barely escaped. Imagine returning home, saved from all of the pain and suffering that blinded you for what seemed like eternity, only to find out that the one you thought loved you most has BETRAYED you, turned you into some kind of monster and shredded any ounce of reputation that YOU EVER HAD!”
Luna’s mane flickered as it dissolved into a river of deep blue, stars appearing like crystals in the shadowy appearance of her new mane and tail. Like Celestia’s it moved, but what set Luna’s mane apart was the transparent border of it, constantly moving. Luna’s eyes had gone full nightmare, the blackness filling her entire iris, with nothing but the glare of her glowing horn and Celestia’s horrified face reflecting off of the glassy surface.
Her pelt grew darker and darker until it became a deep cerulean color. Celestia recognized this, Luna was growing, changing. Her mane and tail was a sure sign, as it more resembled the elder alicorn’s. Luna’s pace towards Celestia stopped as she hit the corner of the dark room. Celestia put her hooves up, as in defense, as she tried ever so hard to make Luna calm down.
“Luna… I… I can’t say I put myself in your hooves, but please, I can fix this, everything can be back to normal, I promise. I just…” Celestia’s tears rolled slowly down her face as Luna’s expressionless eyes stared back into her.
“I just want things to be back to the way they were, before the jealousy, before our parents left. I admit, I screwed up, bad, but you need to trust that I can fix this.”
The smaller alicorn stepped back, her eyes remaining black and glossy as she walked slowly towards the window of Canterlot Tower. As she scanned across the lands of Equestria, chaos erupted like fire. The angry screams of ponies could be heard clearly from high up in the castle, and Luna knew what was coming. She remained silent as Nightmare Moon smiled in delight.
You know this was bound to happen.
Don’t pretend you don’t enjoy it, Luna, this is why I was created, this is why we were made to work together. Take advantage of this chaos, strike while the iron’s hot. We can show these ponies that they need not ridicule us.
Yes, Luna. They don’t believe the lies our sister wrote about us. The other ponies think we’re pathetic and weak. We’re going to prove them wrong. They DESERVE to FEAR you.
Luna then turned back to her sister, who was trying to hold back tears. Luna walked past her as she stepped out into the hall.
“I can help you fix this,” Celestia called as Luna was about to walk out of the room.
“I don’t need your help anymore, I know now why I came back.” Luna crossed over to the open book, seeing the image of Celestia imprisoning her in the moon.
“Never again…” Luna then let her last tear drop to the ground.
“Luna, please.” Celestia begged as she forced her hoof on to her sister’s shoulder. Luna immediately shook her sister off of her.
The night princess used a flick of her tail to knock over an urn on a shelf, sending it crashing atop the open pages.
Luna said softly, “You are not my sister.”
The years now before us
Fearful and unknown
I never imagined
I'd face them on my own
May these thousand winters
Swiftly pass, I pray
I love you; I miss you
All these miles away
The door to the Canterlot Tower burst open quickly, with a dozen armored guards piling into the room to get to Princess Celestia. The alicorn was still hunched over in the corner as she absorbed her sister’s meaningful words.
“Your Majesty, are you hurt?! We heard a lot of yelling and thought one of those crazy rebels got into the castle!” A unicorn guard rushed over and helped Celestia onto her hooves. The rest formed a circle around her and faced Princess Luna, who was standing in the other side of the room. The new appearance of the night princess made her unrecognizable to the guards, who assumed their defensive position.
“Nightmare Moon!” Many of the guards yelled in both amazement and panic as Luna turned around to face them. “I knew you should have never come back, you filth!” Another guard spat towards where Luna stood.
See, we’ve already made enemies, haven’t we?
Before Luna could respond, Celestia yelled over the line of guards with a mixture of desperation and guilt. “It’s not Nightmare Moon, it’s Luna! My sister, Luna!”
The guards looked towards each other in confusion as Luna began to speak calmly to the guards.
“She’s NOT my sister, I can assure you that much. However, I AM Princess Luna. But this requires more of an explaination…” Luna began to pace in front of the confused guards like a drill sergeant. “You see, Celestia here has said many, many things about me, well, us.” Luna hissed on the last word, leaving Nightmare Moon absolutely beaming with pride. Her voice was deeper now, more assertive than she was earlier in the evening, back when she was the small, meek Luna.
“The thing about Nightmare Moon is, that she wasn’t born with me, she wasn’t here from the start. Hoof, she probably didn’t exist a thousand years ago. Or at least, not existing in the way she does this very night.”
Celestia sat in the corner, her hooves shaking with dread.
“So I apologize to answer this rather lingering question with another question of my own, but…” Luna leaned towards one of the guards, nearing her face close to the guard’s muzzle. Her eyes became nightmare again, as her voice became the same also. She growled with a snarl in the guard’s face.
“Why can’t I be both?”
“Luna!” Celestia burst through the line of guards and put her hoof on Luna’s shoulder. “This isn’t you! I know I made mistakes; I know I used poor judgment, but don’t take it out on these ponies! You can be angry. You have the right to be angry, at ME! Please, Nightmare Moon is strong, but you, Luna, you are stronger! You can overcome this, you can!”
“Ha! What is there to overcome, Celestia? What are you trying to accomplish? Do you honestly think that motivating me like I’m some sort of school filly is going to make up for what you’ve done?”
And then Luna laughed. She laughed not like any mirth Celestia had ever experienced. No, this was not glee. This was not a laugh of joy or happiness.
This was insanity.
“Get out.” Celestia said simply to the guards.
“B-but your highness, you could be in jeopardy and we would never know unless we were-“ One of the guards stuttered.
“I said to LEAVE; that is an order from the Solar Empress if that’s what it takes.” Celestia dismissed calmly. The guards filed out of the room one by one until it was just the two sisters standing, facing each other quietly, each alicorn casting its tall and regal shadow across the large bedroom.
Wisps of Luna’s fur darkened until it was black as the night sky above. Her dull, flat teeth began to elongate into pointed fangs. She was a monster from a horror movie, with her fur colored in patches and her voice cracking with pure insanity.
“Don’t you GET IT, TIA?! Luna is DEAD! You KILLED her!” The monster spoke with an anguish, a hatred, one that Luna would never speak in her life with. This made what she said all the more believable to Celestia. Tears began to drip down her face.
“Luna is dead…” Luna’s voice became hoarse and desperate as she lowered her head and began to sob. “Luna is dead…”
“Can’t you remember, Luna? Don’t you remember over a thousand years ago, when we were both just fillies? Remember when I spoke to you like a filly, motivating you, telling you that you can truly achieve something great, someday?” Close to the tears appearing once more, Celestia walked closer to her sister, and decided to try something new.
The elder sister’s horn glowed with a heavenly golden light as she lightly tapped Luna’s forehead.
Luna’s mind raced with panic as she felt memories return quickly as she began to relive them.
“Do you remember the time you first learned how to fly…?” Celestia whispered.
“Come on, Luna! You have to try this!” The young white alicorn soared all around the peak of Canterlot Mountain effortlessly, buzzing the treetops and racing the wind. Her proud wings made little movement a she glided down towards the ground. A smaller, younger blue alicorn filly watched meekly from the ground below. She shifted uncomfortably as she lowered her head and began to fiddle with the grass where she sat.
“N-no thanks, Tia. I think I’m fine down here.” Luna crouched, hoping her sister would just ignore her words and leave her be.
Why is Celestia always bothering me? Luna thought as she heard the flutter of her sister’s wing beats above her. Can’t she understand that I’m younger, and I CAN’T FLY.
“Luna, if you want to be a REAL alicorn than you have to learn how to fly, sometime!” Celestia jeered playfully from where she glided.
Luna stood up and huffed. REAL alicorn!? What’s THAT supposed to mean?!
The younger sister shook her head and leaped up into the air, feeling her muscles burn as she angrily beat her wings as hard as she could. Unexpectedly, Luna felt a rush of wind through her sky blue mane as she shot up. Struggling to keep her balance, Luna swayed as her wings quivered in strain.
“Yeah! Go Luna!” Celestia cheered from the sidelines and did a front flip in the air. She flew over to Luna in pride.
“Pshh! This is easy!” Luna yelled as she floated rather steadily. In a way, that was the truth. She expected flying to be much more difficult. But she spoke too soon as she wings folded and she plummeted towards the ground in a mess of blue feathers.
Celestia enthusiastically followed her sister to the ground as she started walking home. “Wait until mother and father hear about this! They’ll be so astonished!” The older sister emphasized the last word proudly, as she had just learned the word from her mother’s lessons. Celestia wore her education pompously in the way she walked, talked, and spoke. She grinned in pride.
Luna rolled her eyes in annoyance. “Why do you always have to use such big words, Tia?”
“I always try to use as formal a vocabulary as I can. Mother always stresses using the formal language when addressing the kingdom and its subjects. Otherwise, nopony takes you seriously as a monarch.” Celestia breathed out calmly after finishing her mantra-like statement. She had repeated this many times to her younger sister, who was not as enthusiastic about her schoolwork. Luna had never been a school pony, and the look on her face confirmed it as she tilted her head in confusion.
“So now I have to use big words, too?”
Now it was Celestia’s turn to roll her eyes. “Well, eventually,” Celestia tried her best to explain this concept to her sister. “It’s not just about using a large range of vocabulary. It’s about acting poised and professional. Remember, Luna, we are royals! It is our mother and father’s duty to maintain harmony in Equestria and someday it will be OUR responsibility! We need to- Luna! Are you even paying attention?!”
Luna snapped awake embarrassingly. She had dozed off during one of her sister’s many lectures she gave on a daily basis. “Wha? Yeah, I’m paying attention! Yeah…uh…” Celestia gave her sister a dirty look, and Luna blushed.
Celestia took a deep breath as she struggled not to get upset at her sister. “Luna, I am not angry with you. I just want you to know what lies ahead. I am trying to help you, and you know that. Mother and father said-"
“I KNOW!” Luna yelled in a sudden act of anger. Celestia reared back, surprised. Luna realized what she had done and ashamedly averted her eyes from Celestia's shocked gaze. She sat down and sighed. “Look, Tia, I’m sorry I’ve been acting like this. It’s just, I don’t think I’m ready for all this responsibility. That’s all. I mean, how will I be able to rule Equestria, I just learned how to fly, for pony's sake!"
Celestia smiled and sat down next to Luna, giving her the warmth of her long pink mane. ”Oh, Luna. You’re more than ready. You are the most talented pony I know.”
"Yeah right, none of the other ponies like me. They don't like the nighttime like they appreciate your daytime, Tia."
Celestia pointed her hoof towards the wide countryside of Equestria. “See all those ponies? They love you, and respect you. They know that you are more than ready to handle your royal duties. Mother and Father know that more than them. But nopony knows that more than I do.”
Luna sniffed as she gazed out at where Celestia pointed. “Really?”
The white alicorn wrapped her wings around her little sister and pulled her into an embrace. “I can guarantee.”
Luna blinked lovingly at her sister as she rested her head on the inside of Celestia's soft wings. Tia can be a pain sometimes, but I can always rely on her to make me feel better.
“Now, let’s go see mother and father. It’s getting late,” Celestia turned towards her sister and whispered in her ear, “I think father is going to let you raise the stars, tonight, all by yourself.”
Luna beamed with happiness as her mouth widened into a toothy smile. “REALLY?! You’re not joking, you’re serious?!”
“Yes!” Luna squealed in glee as she hugged her sister once more. Afterwards, Luna bounced and skipped all the way back home, accompanied by her sister, Celestia.
May all your dreams be sweet tonight
Safe upon your bed of moonlight
And know not of sadness, pain, or care
And when I dream, I'll fly away and meet you there
Celestia’s horn ceased to glow as her sister collapsed to the ground, racking with sobs. Her pelt was back to normal, and there was no longer any sign of Nightmare Moon’s features. Luna curled up in a ball, thoughts racing through her brain as she remembered, not the years on the moon that had plagued her vengeful mind, but the years with Celestia, her loving sister, the one who had taught her honesty in the face of punishment; she was the sister who had taught her kindness when all was dark and angry, the sister who had taught her laughter, generosity, loyalty, and all of the virtues that made Luna who she was.
The elder alicorn gently picked up her sister and placed her on the soft, warm covers of their bed. She would eventually fall asleep, Celestia thought, and all would be well in the morning. She sat up, standing vigil over her sister as Luna’s cries ceased, and waited with her until morning.
Luna awoke in the morning slowly, prying her tired eyes open as she looked up, seeing the purple silk canopy suspended over her bed.
“Tia?” Luna sat up, remembering the details of the night before. A few seconds later, the door to the balcony swung open, her sister trotting in gleefully.
“Good morning, sis.” She sat down next to Luna, tentatively stretching her wing over the blue pony. She said nothing, simply because of the fear that Luna would snap again, but instead, Luna began to speak.
“I’m sorry. I know you want to apologize, but it is me who deserves the blame. Back then, before everything went downhill, I-I was jealous, I thought no pony loved me. I thought everyone hated the night and what it brought to them, but now I realize I should have-“
“It’s okay, Luna. All is forgiven. Just relax, you’re safe now.”
“No, Tia! It’s NOT alright! I need to do something, I need to tell them,” she gestured her hoof out the balcony window to the already bustling streets of Canterlot and Equestria. “I need to tell them that it was MY fault! I need to tell them how you saved them!” Luna took a breath to stop her from getting angry again. “I never want you to feel how I felt. I never want you to think that you aren’t loved, Tia.”
“Luna.” Celestia hugged her sister, and Luna hugged back, “as long as we have each other to forgive, and each other to love, there is nothing else we need, dear sister.”
Luna sighed as she cried happily in her sister’s wings, caring not whether Nightmare Moon was there to tell her and lecture her of trust, or pain, or any hurt. Luna was tired of the misery. She had Celestia.
“I love you, sis.” Luna whispered as the two sisters sat happily on their bed, letting the sun rise to make way for the new dawn.