Moonlight Over Midnight
The tiny purple unicorn filly stood defiantly on the highest hill near Ponyville, her horn glowing brilliantly, as she stared at the object of her defiance. The moon, hanging in the starry night sky. She would do it. She would do it, she would move the moon, no matter what. Then she could be with her Princess Mommy, forever and ever. There would be no more obstacles to them being a family. If she was her daughter, she should be able to do this! She had to be able to do this!
So that tiny purple unicorn filly kept it up, despite her lack of training, despite her young age, her horn glowing like a fallen star, regardless of the fact that the moon had been staying mockingly, stubbornly still in the sky, regardless of the filly’s wishes.
Just please...please move.
I want my Mommy.
But perhaps even the cosmos can be swayed by the plight and pure emotion of a young child. Perhaps the stars and the moon can heed that desperate call. In a world of beauty and magic, perhaps the universe isn't uncaring of somepony’s dreams, no matter how small they are.
Slowly, almost painfully, the Moon began to move, the unicorn letting out an excited gasp, as she could feel the celestial object coming under her control, her magic grasping the Moon as easily as she could grasp one of the apples from Aunt Applejack's farm. She could do it! She was doing it! Shining like a star, the filly felt the tingling of the potent magics that she was wielding surging through her body, changing her very nature.
The young filly turned her head, and she was there. As graceful as the night, as beautiful as the stars. She stroked the filly’s cheek with a hoof, and her eyes were full of pride and joy. The filly let out an happy little sound, as the Pony of the Night took her hoof, and extended those night-sky wings. She looked expectantly at her child.
The filly looked back at herself. Brilliant wings had extended from her back, and the filly quivered with joy. She really was...she really was her daughter! The Princess smiled gently, looking down at her. Together, the two began to beat their wings, the small town starting to disappear beneath their hooves.
They were dancing in the stars! Her and her Princess Mommy, their wings beating, their magic embracing them, and they were dancing in the stars together, the twinkling lights surrounding the two ponies, as they embraced, mother and filly. The filly could feel her mother’s warmth, hear her beating heart, as she snuggled her head up against the Princess’ chest. They would be together now, no longer would they be separated by duty and distance, they would...
“HEY, MIDNIGHT! WAKE UP!”
The stars disappeared. The moon disappeared. Her wings disappeared. Her mommy disappeared.
She began to fall.
“GAH!” Midnight let out a gasp and bolted stock straight, her head leaving the open textbook that she had been using as a pillow. She began to blink the sleepiness out of her eyes, and her hazy hearing picked up the chuckling of her fellow study mates.
“You know, for someone with your name, you were the first one of us to fall asleep, Mids.” One of her study mates... no, one of her friends said with a chuckle. Her name was Inkwell, an apt name what with the splotches of rainbow that covered her blue pelt: the result of an accidental swim in a vat of rainbow during a class trip to Cloudsdale when she was a little filly. They tried to clean her, of course, but they never were able to clean those stains off of her pelt and mane. She was still a bit of a klutz, but a nice enough pony nonetheless. “It's not even THAT late, you know.”
“Yeah, just because you might know the effects that the lunar phases have on magic by heart, doesn't mean the rest of us do!” complained the only male of the group: Dusty, which rather fit his grey coat. He was normally a nicer stallion, but the stresses of exams and study was starting to get to him. He was a pony who was driven to succeed, and Midnight could hardly blame him, considering that he came from Meconium City, and that wasn't a place that anypony particularly wanted to go back to.
Midnight didn't mention to him that her Momma had written the textbook that they were studying.
“Oh, really now, Dusty, we're all tired.” The final studier scolded gently in a voice that was clearly trying to be more sophisticated than she could really manage. Red pelted with a white mane, Diamond Shell was from Manehatten, and tried so hard to fit the part, even though Midnight had long ago learned that her family wasn't that well off. The only thing that disturbed her about Diamond Shell was that she was an unabashed Trixie fangirl; her hair even now was being kept in the same style as her mom’s.
Midnight blushed hard as she mumbled her apologies, the dream still flickering in her head. She hadn't had that dream since she was a filly. To have it now, as a nearly adult mare, was somewhere between embarrassing and completely embarrassing. She could only hope that she hadn't said anything during her little catnap, especially considering the environment in which she had fallen asleep to begin with.
It was nearing the end of her first year at the University of Canterlot, and that meant one thing: exams. While Midnight had excelled through the year in her studies, exam season was still just as stressful to her as it was to anypony else. So she and her friends had decided to study together, so that everypony would have the benefits of each other’s strengths, and be able to get help with their weaknesses. On this night they were in Midnight’s room, which really was far messier than perhaps it should have been. Without Spike to help her (or her mothers to scold her), Midnight had long since lapsed into the traditional freshpony trap of 'I'll do it later' when it came to cleaning. At least she hadn’t gained the legendary freshpony 15.
This was the third long night of studies, and while Midnight was, much like her mother, quite capable of finding pleasure in studying and reading, even she was starting to see the words starting to blur together on the page. Despite her friends’ complaints and teasing, she could see the same exhaustion on their faces as well.
She had to admit, her social life had blossomed during her time at university. She had always had a bit of a hard time making friends her own age, only having one or two while growing up in Ponyville. She very much took after her Momma Twilight in her awkwardness in social situations, and certainly some of the trouble she had gotten into hadn't exactly endeared her to any potential friends. The now-infamous Sex Ed incident alone had pretty much made everypony in her class - if not her entire school - afraid of her. It wasn't just that, though. It wasn't just her own actions. There was another reason, as well...
The fact of the matter was that Midnight often felt...overshadowed...by the company that she kept. By her family. Not just being the daughter of The Great and Powerful Trixie, or Twilight Sparkle, the Princess’ Protege, but her 'Aunts' as well. Like Rarity, the Equestria-famous fashion designer, or Rainbow Dash: Wonderbolt, and all of them the Elements of Harmony, the ponies that had saved the world from Endless Night, a tale that her Mom had spread far and wide, throughout the cities and towns of Equestria. She had long realized that it made it imposing for other ponies who knew of those relations to actually approach her, and those that had often did so to try to take advantage of her relations to such important ponies. So often, ponies just didn't see her, who she was. Instead they saw the important ponies that she was related to.
At University, it was different. It was her first chance to have relationships where she could be judged on her own merits and flaws, without all the baggage of history and connections. Oh sure, there were some suspicions; she knew that she was a fairly famous pony just for who she was. Practically everypony in Equestria knew who Midnight was, but even that celebrity was acting as a cover: there were at least eight unicorns that she had met in her first year of university alone that shared her name. Evidently it had become a rather in-vogue name for the parents of unicorns to call their newborns, and few actually knew what the 'true' Midnight looked like. Her mothers were quite careful to keep her fairly out of the limelight, wanting her to grow up with as little burden as possible. Thus, it was a simple task to keep her family history vague, style and even magically dye her hair a very different shade of pink, to make it look like she was just another unicorn with that name, and then go out, try to shake off the awkwardness, and actually make friends on her own merits - just like how Momma had when she first arrived at Ponyville...
It wasn't that she was ashamed of who she was and where she came from; she cared so deeply for them it hurt sometimes. It was just....it was easier this way. Easier to keep the two parts of her life separate.
“Please Midnight, try to keep awake, it's hard enough to study with Diamond here going on and on about some party that she wants to go to.” Dusty groused, flipping through the text book in irritation.
“Oh, please! The 3G isn't just 'some' party. It's the party. Only the elite are allowed to go! Oh, how I wish I could be there...” Diamond Shell clasped her hooves together, her eyes starry as she daydreamed.
“The...'3G'?” Inkwell asked, confused.
“The Grand Galloping Gala, of course! It's only a couple of weeks away, and I'm simply dying to go. Oh, the stories that I've heard, the ponies one could meet, I must find a way of going...”
“I wouldn't bother. Even if you could get in, the Gala's more boring than one of Professor Hoof’s lectures. The four of us should instead go to the bar that night and celebrate getting through our first year. We'll have more fun that way.” Midnight said off-hoofedly, her eyes scanning the lines of her book. Her vision was having a hard time returning, the words on the pages were still mixing together hopelessly.
“That's not actually a bad idea, I'd be in for that.” Inkwell said, and Dusty nodded in agreement. Diamond, however, was not sated.
“How would you know? You're from Ponyville, you can hardly tell me that you've been to one...Have you?” She asked, and Midnight nearly choked.
Of course she had been. Admittedly the last time she had to go was when she was a little filly, but she remembered being so incredibly bored that at one point she had just nodded off at the table she’d been sitting at. The only good thing of that night was that it had meant that she could sleep over at the Castle, and get to spend some time with her third mother...
“N-No, of course I haven't! I mean, I've just heard, you know, through the grapevine.” Midnight responded, letting out a nervous chuckle
“Oh, well, that sounds just like some jealous ponies trying to make themselves feel better. You should be smarter than to listen to them, Midnight.” Diamond said, and everypony else rolled their eyes. “Besides, even if that were ordinarily true, this 3G is going to be special!”
“Alright. Fine. Since we seem to be done studying...” Dusty gave up with a sigh, closing his textbook in irritation. “Just why will this ‘Gala’ be so special?”
“Well, because none other than the Great and Powerful Trixie will be attending!” Diamond said, puffing her chest up. “
Midnight blinked. Now, that was a surprise. While Momma Twilight attended the Gala every year, mostly to support Celestia, Midnight remembered that after a few years of going, Trixie eventually got so fed up with the entire thing that she told Twilight that the only way that she could get Trixie to go to the Gala again was over her dead body... and that everypony there was a bunch of stuck-up, egotistical (She remembered Momma had to bite her lip to keep from giggling at that) sycophants. So why was she going? Either Twilight had managed to convince her somehow, or maybe there really was something special about this particular Gala. She did have to admit, she wondered why they hadn't spoken to her about this...
“Well, it’s possible she’ll be performing at the Gala this year, isn’t it?” Inkwell asked with a yawn, any enthusiasm she might have had dampened by the long hours of study.
“I don't know, darling, though I've heard rumours that there's something peculiar about this Gala.”
“Hey, what time is it anyways? I think I’m about to nod off again.” Midnight broke in, trying to change the subject.
“It’s about half past a purple pony.” Dusty said with a smirk, and Midnight rolled her eyes.
“Oh, please, don’t you think I haven’t already heard all the time jokes about my name?
I mean, reall-wait, did you say half past midnight?!” Midnight exclaimed. Was it really that late? It was almost time for her to arrive!
“Uh, yeah, that’s what the clock outside says.”
“Alright, study session’s over!” Midnight sprang up. It was that late!
“Why, what’s going on?” Inkwell said with bafflement.
“Uhm, no reason, just, you know, tired, got to get up early tomorrow, bright and sunshiny?” Midnight said nervously. Why was she as bad a liar as her Momma?
“Rriiiggghtt...” Dusty said, the skepticism clear on his face. Midnight began to usher the three out quickly, occasionally giving them a gentle poke with her horn to ‘hurry them along’. “Ow! Geez, okay, okay! If I didn’t know better, I’d think Mids here was trying to get rid of us. Got somepony ‘special’ comin’ over or something?”
“No, just tired! Just...just tired!” She said, herding them out into the hall of the dorm. “Now, uhm, good night, everypony! See you tomorrow!”
The three muttered their good nights, as Midnight closed the door on them. She turned around, her horn glowing, as she quickly began to clean her terribly messy room, doing more hiding than actual cleaning...
“She is such a terrible liar. I think you’re right, she does have somepony special coming over.” She heard Inkwell agree with Dusty, their voices fading as the trotted down the hall.
They had no idea.
After an hour of frantic cleaning, Midnights room was as clean as it was going to get on short notice. She stood there panting, trying to catch her breath, when she heard the gentle knocking at her window.
Her guest had arrived.
She turned, her horn glowing, and she opened up the window. Squirming her way through the small opening in a less dignified manner than one would expect from her position, the Princess of the Moon let out a soft gasp, and blushed slightly.
“Could I get a little help, dear? I seem to be a bit stuck.” Luna said apologetically, and Midnight let out a gentle giggle, moving to help her Princess of a mother into her room.
One of the benefits of attending the University at Canterlot was... well, that she was living in Canterlot. What this truly meant hadn't been impressed on Midnight until the last night of the first week of university, when she had been awoken by her mother gently nudging her awake. That was when it truly dawned on Midnight: because she was living in Canterlot, the distance between her and Luna had suddenly shrunk a great deal. It was much easier for the Princess to slip out for a couple of hours every week or so to visit somepony who was living in Canterlot, as opposed to taking a proper trip to Ponyville. Suddenly, getting to spend time with her third Mother wasn't just something that happened on special occasions...
Mother and child embraced once Midnight had helped Luna in. Normally they met either in the Castle, or in one of Canterlot’s parks or gardens, but Luna had insisted on meeting her in her room this time, knowing full well how busy Midnight would be with studying.
“It's good to see you again, Mother. I missed you last week.” Midnight said fondly, as
she moved to put on the kettle for some tea.
“I apologize for that, sweetheart, it's just this Gala that we're putting on, there's so much to do in preparation. I never realized how much work Celly put into these things...” Luna let out a gentle sigh, and Midnight sat next to her, blushing slightly.
“It's okay. I've gotten to spend so much time with you over the past few months...” Midnight's cheeks were red, as she looked at her Mother. “I-I've really enjoyed it...”
“As have I, more than words can say...” Luna replied with a gentle smile, wrapping her wing around her daughter. “It's going to be hard to see you go back to Ponyville, even for the summer.”
“I know...I'm going to miss you too...” Midnight murmured, her eyes closed.
“So how are exams going?”
“Not bad...really busy, though. I just got done studying with some of my classmates.”
“And did you find anypony special yet? What about that cute mare I met at Rainbow Dash’s party, you speak to her recently?” Luna said, a slight tone of teasing in her voice.
“M-Mother!” Midnight blushed fiercely, and Luna chuckled gently, giving her daughter a nuzzle.
“I'm only interested, I'm only interested!” Luna smiled. Midnight squirmed, looking for a way out of this uncomfortable line of conversation. A thoughtful expression crossed her face, and she looked up at Luna questioningly.
“Wait, you said you're working on the Gala?”
“But you've always told me you hated those things! You told me about all the excuses you've made to get out of the Gala!”
It was Luna's turn to blush.
“That's true, normally I can't stand it, but this Gala is going to be special...I hope, at least.” Luna said, an odd look on her face. Midnights ear twitched slightly. First she learned that Trixie was going, and now Luna...what was going on?
“What's going to make this so special?” Midnight asked, and then suddenly felt a little chill, as Luna looked at her, her mothers eyes piercing deeply into her own. Midnight could see in those eyes both excitement, and a certain...worry? Anxiety? “W-What?”
“I've been speaking with your other mothers, and...well...” Luna fidgeted slightly. “We think you're old enough for this, now. You've grown into such a fine young mare...I just wish I could have...”
“Old enough for what?” Midnight asked, both out of curiosity, and to keep Luna from going too far into the guilt that Midnight had long accepted wasn't necessary. Luna took a deep breath, as if gathering her courage.
“At the Grand Galloping Gala, I want to...I want to formally announce you as my daughter, to everypony, to Equestria.” Luna let out quickly, and with those words, Midnight saw cracks in her carefully constructed world appear, threatening to cause everything to collapse.
That Princess Luna was Midnight’s 'Third Mother' had always been kept fairly quiet. Oh, sure, all of Ponyville knew the truth, and the servants and guards of the castle had gotten used to seeing a little filly run around the Castle with the Princess on certain special weekends, but for the rest of Equestria, that connection simply did not exist. Well, outside of the occasional tabloid headline that suggested that Luna had a love child somewhere. It had been a careful choice by her parents, to allow Midnight to grow up in Ponyville, to give her as normal a life as they could.
“I mean, you wouldn't have to be involved in the court or anything. Oh, sure, there'll be some sort of title...personally I'm pulling for 'Princess', if that jerk Blueblood and his son can be 'Princes' then surely my darling daughter can be a 'Princess'.” Luna started to almost babble uncomfortably, as if sensing her daughters trepidation.
Why now? Everything had been going so well, too! If this happened, she wouldn't be 'Midnight' anymore, she'd be back where she had been, no pony would see her for her anymore! In fact, it was going to be even worse! Everypony would know that she was the daughter of the Princess of the Moon! Niece to the Princess of the Sun! How could anypony approach her now?! Her friends...they'd never...
But isn't this what you wanted? A tiny filly voice whispered deep inside of her. Isn't this what you just dreamed about?
Midnight tried her best to ignore it.
She would...she would simply have to come up with some sort of excuse to why she couldn't do it. That was it. She would look her Mother in the eye, and come up with some reason not to do this. She would use her exams, or something. M-Maybe even try to get it pushed back to once she graduated, give her time to think of a more permanent...
She would understand. She lifted her head.
“Mother, I....” Her eyes met Luna's own, and her voice died.
Luna's eyes...she recognized it now. It wasn't just the anticipation and hope of being accepted, there was the opposite as well. The fear, the fear of being rejected. Rejected by Midnight...
She had only ever seen that once before.
Canterlot was amazing!
Midnight was on her very first by-herself trip to the Castle where her Princess Mommy and Gammy Cestya lived, and so far it had lived up to all of her expectations! So far, she had been shown the room she would be staying in (Even at her young age, Midnight was pretty sure that the two were spoiling her. Most toy trains weren't big enough to ride on... probably), gotten to see Gammy Cestya raise the sun, and had lunch in the royal gardens with the two Princesses!
But the best thing, the very best thing, was that she was going to get to spend all week with her Princess Mommy!
But as the day wore into the afternoon, Princess Mommy was starting to get tired, because she normally slept during the day! Thus, the decision was made to take Midnight to the library, because the little filly had picked up her Momma's love for reading, and Luna could use the quiet to get some sleep, without leaving her foal. So Midnight had spent the last hour reading, snuggled up against her slumbering Princess Mommy. She flipped the last page of the book she had been reading, and closed it. She hadn't just picked up her Momma's love of reading, she had picked up her talent for it, too.
Quietly, the little filly slowly slipped out from the cuddle her Princess Mommy had her entrapped in, and began to look around the library, looking for another book to read, trying to be as careful as possible to keep from waking Luna.
After a few minutes of looking, a book caught her eye. Bound in deep brown covers, it looked very old, and emblazoned on it's front was a stylized bust that reminded her a lot of her Princess Mommy, though she had to admit the green eyes that the pony had were a little creepy. Maybe it was a book about her? Her curiosity piqued, she cracked open the book, and began to read.
Once upon a time, in the magical land of Equestria, there were two regal sisters who ruled together...
It was! It was a book about the two Princesses! She definitely had to read this now! But before she could get too far, she heard Luna beginning to shift. While she thought she was being quiet, quiet for a filly is more than loud enough to wake the dead, let alone a slumbering Princess.
“Midnight?” Princess Luna murmured quietly, her bleary eyes looking in her daughters direction.
“Oh, I'm sorry, Princess Mommy, I didn't mean to wake you up...” Midnight said with regret. “I was just trying to find a new book to read...”
“Oh, it's alright, my darling. Did you find a good book?” Luna murmured quietly, smiling softly while trying to blink the sleep out of her eyes. Midnight nodded excitedly, and lifted up the book that she found, showing off that emblazoned Princess bust on it's front.
“I did! I think it's all about you and Gammy Cestya!” Midnight exclaimed cheerily. “I can't wait to read i-Mommy?”
Luna's eyes widened, and Midnight saw an unfamiliar emotion spread across her mother’s face. Terror.
“Mommy? Are you okay?” Midnight asked worriedly.
“NO!” Luna let out a cry, suddenly lunging forward! Before Midnight could react, Luna's teeth grabbed the top of the book, and tore it from the startled filly! Midnight let out a cry of surprise, falling back onto her rear, her eyes widening, the tears starting to bead in her eyes. What had she done to make her Princess Mommy so upset?
“M-M-Mommy?” Midnight let out a terrified whimper, looking up at Luna. The Princess panted hard, and seemed to come back to reality. She dropped the book, and her terror was replaced by guilt.
“I'm...sorry...Midnight. I didn't mean to scare you...but..there are events in my life...embarrassing ones...t-that you shouldn't read about.” Luna murmured, her eyes not meeting Midnights own. “I just...don't want you scared of me. Ever...”
Midnight looked up at her mother, and gently stood, her momentary panic being replaced by concern. There was just something in the tone of Luna's voice, in the words that she chose...
“I-I could never be afraid of you, Princess Mommy...” Midnight murmured quietly, slowly walking up to the shivering Princess, and nuzzling up against her. Luna paused, looking down gently at her daughter, and slowly wrapped a wing around her. She settled down, her horn glimmering, taking the book and opening it.
“Then...let me read the story to you. It's an ancient story, and a sad one...but it has a happy ending.”
And so, Princess Luna began to tell the tale of the two sisters. To tell of the loneliness and frustration, of the birth of Nightmare Moon, and how Celestia was forced to banish her to the moon with the Elements of Harmony, despite the sorrow in her heart, to save all of Equestria. But she continued past what the book told, of Nightmare Moon’s return a thousand years hence, told of how six brave ponies opposed her, and in doing so, managed to free the Princess from the hatred in her heart. How she was gifted a second chance, and the forgiveness of her elder sister.
And with that, Princess Luna finished her tale. Midnight had been silent throughout the story, and Luna felt a gentle chill down her spine, as she looked down at her daughter. Now that she knew the truth, the truth about her and Nightmare Moon, would her daughter be afraid of her now, afraid of what she had done? Would she never be able to see her as her 'Princess Mommy', but instead as a terrifying monster?
She needn't have worried.
Midnight trembled gently, and began to cry, tears leaking down her small cheeks. She looked up lovingly at Luna, and pressed her tiny body harder against her, her forelegs wrapping around the surprised Luna's neck as the tiny filly hugged the Princess tightly as her little body could.
"Mommy...Princess Mommy, you never have to worry about being lonely again..." She sniffled gently. "I'll always love you...even if you were to turn into that terrible pony again, I would always love you, and I would find a way to save you, just like Momma and my Aunts did..."
Luna blinked, feeling the tears forming in her eyes, and quickly returned the hug. She nuzzled the little pony fiercely, and let out a little sob.
"I am glad for that, my little Midnight... I will love you forever... and where love is... Nightmare Moon could never be. Thank you so much."
Mother and daughter did not let go of one another for a long time.
She couldn't do it.
No matter what she thought, no matter her own worries, she couldn't say no. It would be tantamount to rejecting Princess Luna, and that's just something she couldn't do. Her mind kept flashing back to that day in the library, to that night on the hill, and there was no way that she could let her mother down, no matter her what her reservations were.
She forced a bright smile onto her face.
“...I'd love to...I'm so happy to..” She murmured, and surprised herself because that little filly voice that she heard before seemed to come out, making her sound far more sincere than she thought she would. Luna broke into the brightest, most relieved smile that she could manage, and hugged Midnight tightly with her wings and front hooves.
“Oh, I'm so glad...I was a bit worried, but I guess I was being silly. I can't wait to be able to present you up on stage, to everypony...my daughter...” Luna said, the excitement and pride creeping into her voice. “Oh, Rarity will be glad too! She's started making preparations for your dress, and she's already saying it's going to be one of her best works!”
“Oh...oh, great, of course.” Midnight nodded, feeling the churning in her stomach. Luna reached, gently stroking Midnight’s dyed hair.
“I do hope you'll return your hair to it's natural colour, you have such lovely hair. I just don't know why you’d... you’d... hide it like this..” Luna murmured in motherly tones. Midnight blushed hard, and leaned up against the Princess, her eyes closed. “Oh, and, of course, if you have any friends that you want to attend the Gala, I'd be more than happy to get them tickets to attend...”
Midnight didn't say anything, and the two stayed like that for a few minutes, until Luna slowly broke away.
“Well, I don't want to keep you awake any longer, I know that you have exams in the next few days, and I don't want you to fail them on my account.” Luna said, starting to stand.
“Oh Mother, it's okay, I've studied and I'm all prepared, I promise.” Midnight replied, trying her best to keep the nerves out of her voice. Luna frowned slightly, as if remembering something.
“Oh, I almost forgot, Twilight told me to tell you ‘that day’ is coming up soon...she knows that you can't leave for Ponyville during exams, but if you could send Trixie a letter, she'd really appreciate it.” Midnight felt a slight chill, and let out a soft sigh.
“I will, Mother, I could hardly forget that day.” Princess Luna nodded, and exchanged her farewells with her daughter, before slipping out of the window (aided a little by Midnight giving her a gentle push out). Midnight watched her go, and then turned to crash onto her bed, besieged by nerves and frustration, worry and regret. How on Equestria would she be able to deal with this? It didn't help that there was that small filly deep inside of her, bouncing around excitedly, conflicting with her other emotions...
The sleep didn't seem to want to come that night.
“I screwed up that exam so bad.” Midnight groaned, putting her head on the table, her hay smoothie forgotten. Dusty and Inkwell rolled their eyes a little, but Inkwell was kind enough to pat Midnight sympathetically.
“I find that hard to believe, Miss 'Top-Of-The-Class'. You were done with the practical before the rest of us were, and I saw the prof, she seemed pleased.” Dusty pointed out unsympathetically. Inkwell shot him a glare, then turned back to Midnight.
“Now, now. I'm sure you did just fine, Mids. Although, you do look tired, is everything okay?” Inkwell asked kindly, and Midnight slowly lifted up her head, trying (and failing) to rub the bags out from under her eyes.
“Nnh...I'm okay, I'm okay, I'm just tired, I didn't sleep well last night.” Which was the truth. She was pretty sure that she hadn't gotten a single wink of sleep the past few nights, something that hadn't happened since her first few nights at university. The Gala was lurking like a terrible doom on the horizon, and each day that passed would draw it closer, so her mind seemed to compensate by making each day as long as possible.
“Yeah, I'm sure you didn't!” Dusty said teasingly - something that Midnight would have normally responded to with some sort of retort - but she just let out a little groan, causing her two friends to look worriedly at each other. “Hey, I was just teasing, I didn't mean...”
“Hey everypony! Guess what?!” The fourth member of their group, Diamond, exclaimed as she ran up to the table.
“Come to rub in the fact that you didn’t have an exam today?” Inkwell muttered, as she rubbed her face.
“Don’t be snippy.” Diamond retorted, as Midnight lifted her head towards the new arrival, glad for the interruption.
“Hi, Diamond, what is it?” Midnight asked as Diamond settled down at the table.
“Through...certain sources...I found out the reason why the upcoming 3G is so special!” Diamond exclaimed. Her two friends groaned, but Midnight's eyes flicked open wide. No way, she couldn't know, could she? But then, all it would have taken is one loose lipped party planner or servant or even an overheard comment or two, and...and...
“Oh, geez, this again? Alright, I'll bite, what is it?” Dusty said with a sigh.
“Well, keep this among yourselves, but I've heard that Princess-” Midnight began to rise, intent on stopping Diamond, but it was going to be too late...”Celestia is going to unveil her son!”
“What.” That was Inkwell.
“What.” That was Dusty.
“What!?” That was Midnight. So close, yet so far. Thank goodness. She let out a sigh, rubbing the bridge of her nose with a hoof. “You know, you shouldn't listen to everything the tabloids say, Diamond.”
“Hrmph, I can assure you my sources are reliable.” Diamond huffed, and the other two ponies at the table began to laugh.
“Midnight's right, I see those things at the store all the time, I just don't know how you can possibly believe them!” Dusty exclaimed, and even Midnight was beginning to laugh.
“Yeah, they're always claiming things like that! Princess Celestia has an illegitimate son, Princess Luna has a daughter from a lovers tryst, it's all the same thing.” Inkwell added, and Midnight's laughter suddenly turned into choking and gagging. Her three friends looked at her oddly.
“Are you alright, darling?” Diamond asked, and Midnight began to wave her hoof in reassurance as she tried to catch her breath.
“Fine, fine, just... smoothie...went down the wrong way...” Midnight took deep breaths, and settled down in her seat. “Hey, um, actually, that reminds me, I know it was my idea, but I won't be able to go to the bar with you guys the night of the Gala.”
“Wait, what, why?” Inkwell asked curiously.
If you have any friends that you want to attend the Gala, I'd be more than happy to get them tickets to attend...
Maybe...maybe she COULD tell them. They were her friends, right? They'd understand, right?
What was the worst that could happen?
She was so pretty.
The teenaged Midnight, only six months away from graduating, was so sure that this was the one. Her name was Shimmer Snowflake, she was a year older than her, and she had only just recently moved away from home to Ponyville. She had literally run into the beautiful, white-pelted, red maned pegasus when stepping out of the Library one day. She’d been on the stoop when Midnight opened the door without looking where she was going, and the two ended up in a pile of tangled limbs on the ground.
The irony was, this immediately had broken the tension between them; the two had ended up giggling at their predicament, as they slowly untangled themselves from each other. They seemed to click immediately, and Midnight's offer to buy Shimmer a cup of tea in apology for crashing into her was immediately accepted.
She was a writer, as her cutie mark signified, which suited Midnight just fine, seeing as the unicorn loved to read. She seemed to hem and haw a little when Midnight had asked to see some of her writing, but eventually relented and showed her. They were cute, emotional, well written romantic stories, and while the characters in them seemed strangely familiar, Midnight found them compelling. The stories, and their author.
So one day, Midnight took a deep breath, gathered her courage, and asked Shimmer out on a date... an offer that was accepted.
That was three months ago, and the past three months had been some of the happiest the unicorn could remember. The two had been drawing closer since the day they met, so close that there had been moments, that if they had a chance to be alone...
Eventually, that chance had presented itself. Mom Trixie had a big weekend show in Manehatten, and Momma Twilight and Spike had elected to go with her, leaving Midnight all by her lonesome. It gave her the opening they had been looking for.
It was a plan that she and Shimmer had come up with, the two would go on a date the night the three had left, and Midnight would simply go with her at the end of the night to her apartment, and the unicorn simply wouldn't leave until the morning of Sunday, well before her parents got home, giving the two ponies two whole nights to do...well, what it was that nearly-adult ponies who were attracted to each other did when they were alone with each other.
So far, the plan had been going swimmingly. The date had been incredibly successful, full of gentle caresses and meaningful looks, paying less attention to what they were doing, and more to each other. Finally, as night fell, Midnight became convinced that this was the right night: It was a new moon. The two ponies were taking the long walk to Shimmer’s cottage on the outskirts of town, nuzzling and giggling with one another, growing closer and closer. Midnight was starting to feel brave; maybe if everything went right, she'd even be able to try out those rope tricks she had learned from her Mom, for more than just tying up some bullies...
That's when there was a rainbow blur, and a familiar voice calling out from behind to her, interfering with their carefully laid plans.
“Heyya, kiddo! Long time, no see!” Midnight and Shimmer blinked, and turned around. Midnight broke into a smile, and quickly rushed to hug the newcomer.
“Auntie Dash! It's so good to see you again! I thought you were on tour!” Rainbow Dash was looking as fine as the last time Midnight had seen her, four months ago. Her mane and tail were as beautiful as always, and she was dressed in the bodysuit that signified to all and sundry that she was a Wonderbolt, a member of the most elite flying team in all of Equestria.
“Oh, I still am, technically, but I got some really good news today, that I just had to share with my friends.” Dash smiled, giving Midnight a gentle nuzzle. Midnight went wide-eyed. There was only one piece of good news that she could think of..
“That's right, kiddo. You're looking at the new Captain of the Wonderbolts!” Dash boasted, her chest puffing up proudly. Midnight let out a happy squeal, clapping her hooves together.
“That's so amazing! I'm so happy for you, Auntie Dash!” Midnight congratulated, and then remembered the third pony on the street. “Oh, where are my manners, Aunt Dash, this is Shimmer.”
“Oh? A girlfriend, eh? Well, she's a cute one, you have good taste, kiddo.” Dash and Midnight turned to look at Shimmer, who had the oddest look on her face. Rainbow Dash blinked. “Hey, is she okay?”
“Shimmer?” Midnight asked curiously.
Shimmer Snowflake let out a squeak of ecstasy, and promptly keeled over in a dead faint.
Their weekend plan was a bust, of course. Even once Midnight and Dash managed to revive Shimmer, the weekend had turned into an impromptu party (organized by Aunt Pinkie, of course), celebrating Dash's good news. While Shimmer was invited, she spent most of the party overwhelmed by the company Midnight kept. This only grew worse when Midnight’s third mother, the Princess of the Moon, made her presence known to congratulate Dash, and use the party as an excuse to spend time with Midnight and the others. She was exceedingly polite to Shimmer, and the young pegasus was one of the few to learn of the parental relation, but that only served to overwhelm poor Shimmer even more.
Their relationship never really recovered from that moment. Their talks, which had been about each other, turned into discussions about the others. Gazes that were originally meant for each other turned into skyward looks. Their adventures and passions were to be smothered, as if Shimmer was expecting a lightning bolt from the sky from a particularly vengeful Princess to strike her for daring to lay a hoof on her beloved daughter.
They drifted away from one another, made only worse when Midnight left for University.
She still held out hope, though, that one day, maybe the writer that she had fallen for, the pony with whom she had shared those lovely three months, would manage to break through the barrier that had formed between them...
Maybe it wasn't the best idea after all.
“Nnh, just a family thing I have to go to.” Midnight said, trying to look as casual as possible. It wasn't like she was lying, after all. Not exactly.
“Well...okay.” Inkwell said, clearly looking disappointed, as did the other two. Midnight let out a sigh, and rubbed the back of her head with a hoof.
“I'm gonna be a bit busy over the next few days, but..uhm...I'd really appreciate it if we could meet up again here in a couple of days? There's something I have to do then that I'm not looking forwards to, and I could use the support afterwards.” And that might be the last time that you see me as only Midnight. She mentally added.
“Of course, Mids. We're here for you, no matter what. You know that, right?” Dusty said. Despite his abrasiveness and sarcasm, Midnight could hear the concern in his voice. She nodded softly.
“What do you have to do?” Diamond Shell enquired.
“Oh, I just have...to go see somepony.”
“That doesn't sound too bad, unless it's your parole officer or something.”
“She's...not alive anymore.”
The table went quiet. Midnight fidgeted, playing with the straw to her drink. She felt bad for springing it on that like them, and she didn't...didn't want her last few times with them to be marred by that. Slowly, she looked up at the three, and gave them a small, but heartfelt smile.
“Also, I just want you three to know, that I'm really glad you're my friends.”
“Geez, Mids, it's not like we're not going to be seeing each other again. So what if it's the summer vacation, we'll see each other in the fall, right? Stop being so fatalistic, things ain't gonna change between the four of us.” Dusty scoffed, and the other two nodded firmly. Midnight blushed softly, and tried to ignore the voice inside that was telling her that it wasn't true.
It was such a simple memorial for such a flamboyant personality, Midnight reflected, as she stared at the grave of the pony who was her namesake.
Grandma Midnight. The only family member that she had never had a chance to meet, having died around a dozen or so years before her successor was even borne. And yet, she had such an impact on the young mare's life.
When she died, Celestia had taken possession of her body, and had her interred here, on a windswept ledge above Canterlot, allowing her to watch over her beloved Princess.
She seemed almost like a dream, a figment of the imagination to the younger Midnight. Sure, she had heard the stories from her mothers, and had heard Celestia talk fondly about the stage magician, but to Midnight it produced the same far away imaginings as the rest of the stories that she had been told in her young life, never anything concrete. She could only wish that she had been able to meet her... which was about as likely as her childhood dream to be able to move the moon.
What was concrete to her, what was real to her, was the effect the elder Midnight had had on her Mom. Never mind that she was the one to bring Trixie into the world, the love that she had given Trixie, and the grief that she had left, were the things that had left the biggest impact to Midnight. That was what had shaped her Mom, and helped to forge her into the pony - and the mother - that she was today. That was the reason why she was up here, paying her respects to her namesake, on this wind-swept ledge, all by herself...
“I want you to be very careful around your Mommy today, alright, Midnight?” Twilight told her over the breakfast table, gently ruffling the young fillies mane. Midnight had already had her suspicions that something was wrong: She never got up before Mommy in the morning. Spike, always, and Momma, whenever she had had a long night of study, but never Mommy. This only proved that her worries were correct.
“Why, what's wrong with Mommy?” Midnight asked, as she shovelled cereal into her mouth. It was going to be such a fine day, too, she was hoping that she would be able to convince her mothers to take her and Spike out on a picnic, maybe even to Auntie Fluttershy's cottage. She loved helping feed the animals...
“It's her sad day today, dear. You remember, don't you?” Twilight said comfortingly, and Midnight nodded softly. She remembered now, every year Mommy had a sad day. She remembered last year, Mommy had spent all day in her parents bedroom, and she had heard her crying and heard Momma trying her best to comfort her. In the end, Momma Twilight had sent Midnight to stay with Auntie Rarity for the day, unable to focus on both her and Trixie.
It looked like it was going to be as bad as last year, when Trixie finally made it to the table. Her eyes were already red and puffy, and when Twilight offered to make her breakfast, Trixie turned her down. She simply had a faraway look on her face, not seeming to focus on the here and now.
Midnight hated it! She hated seeing her Mommy like this! Every other day of the year, Mommy was so strong, loud and bright, like a shining star in the heavens, that to see the change hurt Midnight deep in the heart. She had to do something this year, she had to!
“Mommy? Why are you sad?” Midnight said innocently, as she slipped out of her chair. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Twilight look at her warningly, but she wouldn't be deterred this time. She moved to hug Trixie: an act that seemed to surprise the saddened unicorn. She looked weakly down at Midnight, not seeming to understand, as if seeing Midnight for the first time. Midnight flushed slightly.
“Midnight...” Twilight said gently, and moved to take the filly away from her mother. But before she could, realization seemed to flicker in Trixie's eyes. She shook her head at Twilight, and moved to gather Midnight close to her, holding the filly close, giving her head a gentle nuzzle.
“My darling...do you remember when you thought I went to live with the stars?” Trixie said quietly. Midnight shivered at the memory. She nodded slowly, remembering just how much it hurt...”Well, on this day, many years ago, my mother went to live with them forever.”
“You mean...she can't come back? Like you did?” Midnight asked meekly, not really understanding the meaning of everything, except the pain that it seemed to bring her Mommy. Trixie shook her head gently, fresh tears starting to drip down her cheeks.
“No, she can't. It wasn't her choice. I'm sure if she did have the choice, she would have never left... That's why I'm sad, my little one...” Trixie murmured, gently nuzzling against Midnight's head, inhaling the scent of her young, lively daughter. “But she's not completely gone, you know.”
“No, because she lives on in me...and she lives on in you, my beautiful Midnight. And seeing you, I'm beginning to realize something. My Mother wouldn't want me so sad that I couldn't spend a such an nice looking day with you, with your Momma Twilight. With my family. We should enjoy every day that we can have with one another.” Trixie whispered. Her eyes were still dripping with tears, but a smile had formed. A weak, small one, but a smile nonetheless. Twilight moved, to embrace Trixie and Midnight, stroking the two comfortingly.
“Are you sure, Trixie?” Twilight said, the typical concern apparent in her voice. The stagepony nodded softly, looking down at her daughter, then up at her mate.
“Yes. I'm sure she'd scold me for not taking every chance that I got, just in case...” Trixie replied, and Twilight seemed to understand. “Besides, maybe it would be best to temper a day that has bad memories, with good ones.”
“Well, then... I'll go wake up Spike, and we'll put together a picnic lunch or something. Maybe we can convince our friends to come with us.” Twilight kissed Trixie's forehead, looking relieved, before heading into the room that Midnight shared with Spike to wake the still slumbering dragon. Trixie watched her for a moment, before looking down at the filly nestled up against her. She nuzzled her lovingly.
“Thank you...” She whispered into Midnight's ear. Midnight blinked, looking confused.
“For what, Mommy?”
“For being you.” Trixie replied. Midnight's ears twitched slightly. She still wasn't completely certain on everything that her Mommy had told her...but she seemed happier now.
And that was enough.
She had sent a letter to her Mom, of course, she would have without being reminded by Luna. No doubt Twilight and Trixie would spend the day quietly with their friends. She doubted that Trixie would ever feel strong enough to be able to visit her mother's grave. But, since Midnight was living in Canterlot, she felt almost...an obligation to go. Despite her almost dreamlike nature to the young mare, the elder Midnight had gifted her with so much (not the least of which being her name) that she felt she deserved a visit, and the flowers that she had laid on the grave site.
Midnight's revere was interrupted when she heard hooves clacking down behind her. She blinked, and turned around. Who else would be coming to visit?
“Celestia...” Midnight breathed gently, as the resplendent Princess of the Sun approached the grave, alone, without the guards that seemed to naturally follow her around, no matter where she went. The elder Midnight had had a relationship with Celestia, that was why she was here, of course. Midnight began to back up out of the way, turning to go. “I-I'm sorry, I'll leave, I'm sure that you want some time alon-”
Her protests were stopped by a large wing stroking along her back. The Princess shook her head gently.
“No, please. I would love it if you would stay, Midnight. I should have expected that you would be here on this day too.” Celestia said quietly. She looked a little more subdued than normal, but Midnight supposed that was only natural. The Princess gently laid her own bouquet in front of the grave, a beautiful cornucopia of bright flowers, obviously taken from the castle gardens. She lowered her head, her eyes closed, and the young mare could only guess what she was thinking.
They stayed like that for a few moments. Midnight wouldn't have dreamed of interfering with Celestia's remembrance. All she did was watch her, seeing that lovely pastel mane and tail drift in the wind. Midnight inhaled softly, as Celestia's appearance had started to drag those worries that Midnight had been having back from the depths. She was starting to realize how Celestia must have felt during the start of their dinner nearly a year ago, when Midnight had tried to refer to her as royalty instead of family. She could only picture of living like that, for a thousand years or more...
Midnight fidgeted slightly, rather hating herself for thinking such things at a time and a place like this.
“She would have been proud to call you her granddaughter, just like I am.” Celestia finally broke the silence, and Midnight's train of thought. The younger mare looked at Celestia with awkward surprise.
“You've grown into such a fine young unicorn. Your mothers have done a wonderful job...” Celestia praised her, and Midnight blushed. She looked down, not particularly feeling like she deserved those words. Celestia, ever perceptive, read the expression on Midnight's face. “Is something the matter, my little pony?”
“I...it's nothing, Celestia.” Midnight tried to convince her. She turned away from the Princess, as if meeting her in the eye would divine all of her secrets to her 'grandmother'. She felt her heart pattering slightly.
“You're very much like Twilight, you know: a terrible liar. If you feel like it, you can talk to me about it, we are family...” Celestia said softly, comfortingly stroking the smaller unicorn. It only made Midnight feel worse; she wasn't deserving of this at all, like...
“I-I can't...you'd hate me...” Midnight finally whispered out, a strangled sob escaping from her lips. Princess Celestia blinked in surprise, and moved to nuzzle Midnight firmly.
“I find that hard to believe, my dear.” Midnight began to cry all the worse, and as the Princess pulled her close, she felt the warmth and beauty of the Sun radiating through her undeserving body. The stress and worry finally broke through:
“I-I don't know if I can do this, G-Gammy!” Midnight sobbed out loud, reverting to that childhood nickname. “I don't know if I can do the Gala...b-be presented like that...I-I don't deserve it, anyways...”
Celestia frowned slightly, and that look alone, which Midnight took to be disapproving, was more than enough to send the unicorn into near hysterical babbling.
“I-I'm worried that everypony won't be able to see the real me but instead being the Princess' daughter! It was hard enough being surrounded by Twilight and Trixie and Rainbow Dash and...and...I didn't really realize it until I went to university but I like my friends and I'm worried I'll lose them! I know it's silly, I know it's silly, but...but...” Midnight shook hard, between sobs. “And the worse part, the worse part, is that I really really really want this I want to be Princess Mommy's daughter and want everypony to know it but I don't...I...”
Midnight's babbling turned into fierce sobs, as all of her worries and shame were out in the open, it felt like her entire soul was on display for Celestia. She squirmed slightly, surely she must be so disappointed in her now. And then her Moms would be, and she would deserve it, because she was throwing away such a great gift just for some silly petty concerns...
“I understand, Midnight. I was worried of this.” Celestia's words were soft, and kind. Midnight's eyes widened, and she slowly looked up, braving the Princesses eyes.
“I haven't spent over a thousand years as the ruler of all Equestria without gaining an understanding of the isolation that can cause.” Celestia said tenderly, and slowly guided Midnight to the ground. She pulled her close, as a mother would her child. Midnight sniffled and wiped her eyes with her hooves.
“W-What do I do?” Midnight said weakly. “I want this...I want this so bad. I am proud to be their child, to have grown up with them and all their friends...to be your granddaughter. But I'm also afraid...”
Celestia was quiet for a moment, her face introspective, as she gently held the young mare.
“A very smart pony once told me something, Midnight. She told me that it didn't matter where a pony comes from, prince or pauper, they have masks that can hide who they are from the world. This mask can be made out of anything: where they come from, who they know, the mistakes that they made in the past.” Celestia said, petting along Midnight's back gently. “But all is not lost, for there are ponies in the world who truly are meant for you, and they have the ability to pierce through that mask, to see the pony within. But they can only do it with help.”
“What do you mean?” Midnight asked curiously.
“You cannot allow yourself to be defined by one thing, Midnight. You cannot allow that mask to become the face that you show to the world. Yes, you're the daughter of my sister, you're the daughter of the Great and Powerful Trixie and Twilight Sparkle, but that's not all that you are. You're talented at magic, you're smart and kind, a little bit of a klutz...” Celestia smiled playfully. “A university student whose dorm is far too messy... and no, you aren't fooling my sister by trying to hide everything under your bed, my dear Midnight.”
Despite herself, Midnight let out an embarrassed chuckle. The darkness and stress that had been flooding through her was starting to lift.
“So, what you're saying...is that it's as much from the inside, as the out?”
“Yes...I'm not going to lie to you, Midnight. Sometimes it will be a little tough. But as long as you can show the mare inside, even just a little, you'll find the ponies who are there for you.” Celestia smiled fondly. “Like you are for me. You and your mothers, and their friends. ”
“I guess I know now why you pull all those pranks...and why you scolded me when I called you 'Princess'.”Midnight blushed hard, a smile starting to slowly flicker across her face. Her heart wasn't beating as hard as it had been. Celestia nodded, smiling reassuringly.
“And remember, my lovely Midnight, that no matter what, you will always have ponies that will care for you, and who know the true you, deep within. Your family.” Celestia kissed Midnight's forehead gently. Midnight slowly straightened, like there was a tremendous weight lifting off her shoulders...
“That's really good advice, Gammy...did my Momma write that to you?” Midnight asked. She thought back to the dozens, if not hundreds, of letters that Twilight had written to Celestia on the subject of friendship, love, and family.
“No...while your mother has told me of many of the lessons she has learned, this particular one, I learned from a different source. It's a lesson we had to learn together.” Celestia's eyes drifted, and Midnight followed her gaze, to the memorial in front of them.
It seemed like she owed her other Grandmother for one more thing.
“Thanks, Grandma Midnight...” Midnight said quietly, and Celestia tilted her head.
“So, have you decided what you're going to do, then?”
“Yes...yes, I have.”
“Alright, we want to know what's going on, right now!” Midnight blinked in surprise at Dusty's demand. She had arrived at the cafe (taking the trip down on Celestia's back, like she was a filly again), only to find that her three friends had already beat her there. They had serious expressions on their face, and Dusty's sudden assault had left her a little flummoxed, which was making it difficult to come up with a response.
“It's just, Midnight, you've been so down the past few days, it's been worrying us.” Inkwell offered, and Diamond Shell nodded in agreement.
“Please, darling, we're your friends, whatever it is, we want to help you!” Midnight looked down, her heart fluttering slightly. She had put her friends through such worry over this, and they didn't even know why...Well, regardless of what would happen, they deserved to know.
“Alright, but we need to start at the very beginning for you ponies to understand.” Midnight explained as the three leaned forwards expectantly.
She dragged in a deep, sucking breath.
“I'm...Midnight. That Midnight.” Her horn glimmered, and she dispelled the dyeing spell in her mane and tail, the pink dissolving into her blue with purple striped locks. The statement hung in the air for a moment, and Midnight tensed...
“Well, it's about TIME you admitted it, darling!” Diamond Shell clapped her hooves on the table, and Dusty let out a groan.
“Agh, you couldn't wait until next year, could you? Now I owe Inkwell five bits!”
“That's right! Pay up, chump.” Inkwell said with a smile, and Midnight looked at her friends, positively stunned.
“Wait...y-you already knew?” Her friends laughed softly, and Inkwell reached out, gently patting Midnight's hoof.
“Mids dear, we love you, but you're a terrible liar. You flinched every darn time their names came up.”
“Definitely not subtle at all. I mean, 'Midnight' from 'Ponyville'? Ponyville's a small town with an even smaller unicorn population.” Dusty pointed out, and Midnight blushed hard.
“Not to mention, darling, that even with you dyeing your hair like that, you must admit the family resemblance is startling.” Diamond finished.
“Well, if you...if you knew, why didn't you say anything?!” Midnight protested, still reeling from the revelation. Inkwell smiled at her sympathetically.
“Well, you seemed to go out of your way not to bring it up, so we thought it might be a sore spot for you. We were waiting for you to say something. Honestly, we were a little worried that you had some sort of nasty falling out with them, and that you just didn't want to talk about it.” The other two nodded in agreement to Inkwell’s statement. Midnight let out a sigh and shook her head softly. Suddenly she was feeling a little silly.
“No...never...it was never that.”
“Then what was it, darling?” Diamond Shell asked confusedly.
“It was...it was just a fear of mine, and I’m...I’m deeply sorry for not telling you all. Which sort of brings me to the next thing, the next reason I've been acting strangely the past few days...it's not something I can explain here. It wouldn't be fair to the ponies who this means so much to, so, uhm, here.” Her horn glowed, and three tickets floated out from her saddlebags, to the three unicorns. Dusty and Inkwell looked at them, confused.
Diamond Shell knew what it was right from the start.
“T-These are tickets to the Grand Galloping Gala!” She squealed with delight, and Midnight nodded.
“You were right, Diamond. Well, I mean, partly. The Celestia-has-a-son thing was completely off. But there is something special about this Gala, and I would...I would be honoured if you three would attend it. If you could be there for me.” Midnight said quietly, her eyes meeting her friends. They looked down at those golden tickets for a long moment.
“Of course we'll come, Mids.” Inkwell said. Dusty nodded in agreement.
“Yeah, this thing ain't really my bag...but you're our friend and we're gonna be there for you, for whatever this is.”
“Oh, darling, I would love to come! Oh, my, the Gala! I've been dreaming for this day since I was a little filly!” Diamond finished, grasping that ticket like it was a treasure. Midnight rubbed her head ruefully.
“Oh, uhm, but I wasn't lying, Diamond. The Gala really is a bore. Believe me, I remember.” Midnight admitted, and the other two tensed up for a moment, but no matter! Diamond Shell remained unfazed.
“Maybe that's true, but I'll be with you all, and I'm sure that it'll be alright, no matter how dreary the party is.”
“I like the sound of that!” Dusty exclaimed. Midnight’s face flushed as the three began to talk amongst themselves about this new plan. She could still feel that lingering sense of worry deep down in the pit of her stomach, but it didn't seem to be overwhelming her anymore. In fact, a growing sense of optimism - and trust for her friends - was starting to bloom inside her.
All she could do now was hope for the best.
The days seemed to blur by. Midnight got through the rest of her exams, but her life was far from calm. Dress refitting, rehearsals, 'spa days' insisted upon her by Aunt Rarity, getting ready to go back home to Ponyville for the summer, even the brief amounts of time that she got to spend with her friends, how she seemed to be sleeping soundly once again... everything seemed to conspire to fill her time to the brink and make the Gala come that much quicker.
And before she knew it she was backstage, listening as Celestia and her Mother gave their welcomes to the assembled ponies of the Gala. Not that Midnight had had a chance to enjoy the Gala-or rather, enjoy her friends’ and family’s company. Makeup and final fittings had pretty much killed most of the day... plus there was that inconvenient fact that Midnight had to pretty much keep herself in hiding until she was introduced. It would only be a few minutes now, a few minutes until a part of her life changed forever.
Midnight dared to peek out of the curtains that she was standing behind. The crowd was huge, and Midnight shivered slightly. Her nerves were returning at this late hour, as she looked out at that sea of unfamiliar faces. She barely recognized anypony...but slowly, her eyes began to pick out the ones that were most important to her. Her friends, standing in the back, even Diamond Shell looking uncomfortable in the unfamiliar environment as they all looked around expectantly, trying to find the final member of their group. Her grandparents, chatting with one another. Her Aunts, and their families. Those butterflies were starting to diminish now, but there was something missing, something wrong..
She couldn't place her mothers. They didn't seem to be in the crowd. Where were they?
“You shouldn't be peeking at the audience before the show, darling, you'll only get yourself nervous. Take it from an old showmare.” A familiar voice, teasing but warm, surprised her. She turned around, which was admittedly a hard proposition with the dress she was wearing.
“Mom? Momma? You're here?” Midnight asked. And sure enough there they were: Twilight Sparkle, the Element of Magic, resplendent in her Rarity-designed Gala dress, and The Great and Powerful Trixie, wearing her distinctive hat and cloak. But even those old clothes seemed new again; it looked like Trixie had finally relented and allowed Rarity to spruce them up, returning them to a glory that they hadn't possessed in years. Midnight trotted forward to press fondly against her parents, tears of happiness welling in her eyes.
“You didn't think that The Great and Powerful Trixie and her beloved Twilight Sparkle would be content to just stay in the audience, would you, my darling?” Trixie said playfully, as she gave Midnight a loving nuzzle.
“We were just as involved in that night as she was, after all!” Twilight added, and her two parents giggled quietly, a private joke for the two of them. Trixie stuck her tongue out playfully at her mate.
“From what Trixie recalls, she was the one who had to bear most of the burden. Which reminds me, Twilight Sparkle, by terms of our deal, you owe me a hoof rub after this is all over.” She said with a smile.
“Oh, you’re never going to let that go, are you? She’s a mare now!” Twilight protested, but she had the same look on her face. It was an old game for the two mates.
“Never, Twilight Sparkle. Not until the day we both die. And even after that.” Trixie stated, the two parents nuzzling and giggling with each other as if the were young lovers once again. Midnight's own smile was bright. Her nervousness had completely evaporated, banished by blue and purple...
“I'm so glad you two are here...” Midnight admitted, “It's been a little nerve-wracking the past couple of weeks...”
“We're your parents, Midnight. And we always will be. Of course we'd be here to support you, on this very special day.” Trixie said proudly, giving her daughter a loving stroke on the cheek with her hoof.
“Besides, I needed to deliver the very last piece of your dress.” Twilight said, her horn glowing. Midnight blinked questioningly. “Every Princess needs a tiara, after all.”
It appeared in a flash of magic, and Midnight let out a gasp. Twilight's head flicked gently, and she slowly slid it over her daughters head.
“I couldn't...I mean, Momma...” Twilight smiled gently at Midnight's flustered protest, and shook her head.
“You're my daughter...you're as worthy as anypony to wear it, if only for a night. Now, let's get ready, I think they're almost ready for us.” Midnight fell quiet. She strained, listening to the two Princesses on stage. Sure enough...
“I could not be prouder to be on this stage today. Today is a very special day for me, and for my sister, for our family.” Princess Luna was explaining, and Midnight tensed. She took a deep breath, and the nerves threatened to come back, but she was flanked on each side by Twilight and Trixie, and that was enough to keep it down.
“Now, I'm sure many of you have heard the rumours. How I have a child, how I am a mother. The mysterious visits to Ponyville, the occasional sighting of a filly in the Castle. I am standing here tonight to tell you...” The tension in the audience could be cut with a knife.
“That they are absolutely true.” Now the crowd erupted into surprised murmurs. Only a select hooffull could keep their calm. Luna and Celestia allowed it for a few moments, before hushing the crowd.
“Now that she is of age, I would like for you to meet her now. From the deepest depths of my heart, I hereby present to all of Equestria my daughter: Princess Midnight, and her other parents.”
This was it. The curtains raised, and Midnight slowly stepped out into the limelight, trying her very best not to trip, not to let the butterflies to explode in her stomach. She moved to stand in front of everypony, moving past Princess Celestia and her mother, and stood on display for all of Equestria, her relationship revealed for all to see. Her ears twitched, picking up the stunned murmurs of the crowd. They were mystified by the revelation of not only the daughter, but of the mothers as well. Twilight and Trixie stood with their fellow mother, looking proud and beautiful, and Midnight...
Midnight was at her finest, her coat shiny and beautiful, her horn polished. Her mane, now in her proper, natural colours, was neatly trimmed and styled so much like her showmare of a mother. But that wasn't all, for Rarity’s hard work over the past few weeks hadn’t been for naught. Her dress was elegant and sleek, the colours the dark blues and purples of the night. Tiny gems were carefully planted all over the dress in such a way that in the light, they would twinkle like night stars. Perched on her head was her Momma's beautiful tiara, with that lovely purple star at it's head. But the most eye-catching part was the wings, a pair of artistic 'wings' emerged from the dress on her back, the masterpiece of that dress, almost life-like, as if she were a real alicorn... if only for a night.
“Greetings to you all. I am Princess Midnight, daughter to Princess Luna, to Twilight Sparkle, and to The Great and Powerful Trixie.” Midnight recited, bowing low to everypony in the audience. Her eyes flickered nervously over the entire crowd, who had fallen largely silent (apart from that quiet murmuring). What were they thinking? What were her friends think-
“WOOOOOOO!” Came a cry from the back, and every head turned to the three ponies at the back, who were starting to clap their hooves against the ground eagerly!
“Way to go, Midnight!” Midnight broke into a smile, as she returned to a standing position. Her friends...and soon, they were joined by her family, her Aunts, and the ponies that they were close to, they were all clapping and cheering, making a louder ruckus than the rest of the crowd would have been capable of at their best. She felt a gentle nuzzle, and her Princess Mother was beside her, without a care for what anypony else would think. Slowly, almost by force, the rest of the crowd began to pay their respects. Midnight hardly heard them.
The ponies that she cared about, family and friends: those were the ones that Princess Midnight heard, the ones that she saw. The only ones who mattered.
She smiled, tears in her eyes, and bowed low once again, to them.
“So, we don't have to call you 'Princess Midnight' all the time, do we? Because that's going to get real annoying, real fast.” Dusty said after Midnight had finally made her way to them. Once she had gotten off the stage she had been besieged from all sides by ponies she didn't recognize, wanting to know everything about her. There was even a rather disturbing proposal from Prince Blueblood about Midnight marrying his son! Thankfully, however, her mothers and Aunts had come to her rescue, with Aunt Rarity in particular taking great delight in shooing Blueblood off.
“Ugh. If you three start calling me Princess, I promise I will belt it out of you.” Midnight replied, rolling her eyes. “That's the last thing I want you three to do.”
Dusty chuckled. Diamond, meanwhile, seemed to be marvelling over Midnight's dress.
“It's absolutely gorgeous...oh, I'm so amazed...” Midnight blushed at Diamond’s attention, and happened to glance at Inkwell, who had a pensive look on her face.
“Inkwell? Is everything okay?” Midnight asked, a bit of worry in her voice, the same fear creeping up just a tad. The rainbow-splotched pony blinked in surprise, and fidgeted a little. “C'mon, you can tell us...”
“It's just...you're not...gonna leave us behind, are you?” Inkwell whispered. “I mean...you're, like, royalty now, and...and we're just a bunch of college students...”
But they can only do it with help...
Midnight reached out, gently caressed Inkwells cheek reassuringly, and smiled.
“Hey, I'm still Midnight. Just 'cause I've got some title doesn't mean I'm any different. I've always been Luna's daughter, after all. We may all come from different places in life, but what we have in common is that we’re friends with each other. That will never change.” She said.
Inkwell paused for several moments, a look of thought on her face. As she thought over what Midnight stated, an impish smile broke over her face.
“We could always call you ‘Prinnie’, then...” Midnight’s face took on a sour look for a moment, before she playfully smacked Inkwell’s head.
“Don’t think that I won’t banish you to a dungeon somewhere just because you’re my friend!” The splotched pony looked shocked for a few moments, before she broke down in laughter, and hugged Midnight tightly.
“Well, now that that's resolved, there's only one thing I've been wondering, here, Mids.” Dusty asked, as the two mares released the hug. Midnight blinked, and looked in his direction.
“What is it?”
“Just...tell me...” Dusty rubbed the bridge of his nose. “Just how on EQUESTRIA is your family even possible?! I thought it was strange when you had two mothers, considering you look so much LIKE them! You’re clearly not adopted! But three? I mean...I mean...”
Midnight giggled softly, as Dusty was reduced to sputtering.
“I have a very...unique family. What can I say? I'm....I'm blessed.”
“Any more than that, and we're getting into very private territory. Do you really want to know? I'm still regretting the day I asked them myself.”
“Uhm...I think I'll take your word for it, then.” Dusty said, a faint blush on his face. The four friends laughed, Midnight hugging each of them in turn, just for the sheer joy of having them in her life.
“I'm not interrupting anything, am I?” A new voice interrupted, and Midnight turned to see her lovely Princess Mother. “I was just hoping that I might be able to get a dance with my daughter?”
Midnight blushed softly, and looked back at her friends. But before she could ask, Dusty pushed her forwards.
“Go on, then. We'll be here once you finish.” He said, with a look of mock annoyance on his face. Midnight smiled, as Inkwell and Diamond Shell nodded firmly, smiles of encouragement on their faces, and she knew that it was the truth. They would be.
“Thank you...” She said to them, and walked with her Princess Mother to the dance floor. Luna looked back at the three, and then to her daughter.
“Well, they seem nice...it's good to see that you have some great friends, my daughter.” Luna said. She looked more proud than Midnight had ever seen her before. This night was as much her night as Midnights own.
The two, mother and daughter, slowly took the beginning stances of the dance. It felt like they were the only ones on the dancing floor.
“Yeah, they're the best...” Midnight said quietly. “Just like my family.”
Then, the music began, and mother and daughter began to move together in tandem, their worlds reduced in that moment to each other. In the corner of her eye, Midnight could almost make out twinkling lights, surrounding the two. Whether it was a trick of the light or a trick of magic, it didn’t matter.
They were dancing amongst the stars.