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        Princess Luna was exhausted in mind, body, and soul.  Still, looking up from her balcony at the shining silver orb that hung in the night sky, she could not help but to smile.  Taking a moment to catch her breath, she whispered, "Hello, old friend."  The princess stood on her hind legs, flapping her wings for balance, and stretched out her forelegs as though she were about to embrace the distant moon.  "It is so good to have you back in my charge and know that I bare you no ill will for serving as my prison.  In truth, I appreciate that you held me and kept me from doing further harm."

*Ahem*  At the sound of a pony behind her clearing their throat, Luna dropped back to all fours and the smile vanished from her face.  She slowly turned her head and seeing a dark coated unicorn, her eyes locked onto his.  "Tell me, guard, do you often eavesdrop on royalty?"

The guard averted his eyes, looking off in the distance.  "No, your highness," he stammered.  "But your sister-"

"Her Royal Highness, Princess Celestia," Luna corrected, not breaking her gaze.

Beads of sweat had visibly formed on the guard's brow as he spoke, "Her Royal Highness, Princess Celestia, asked me to deliver a message to you as soon you had completed raising the moon.  She said it was urgent."

Luna approached the guard, her eyes on his, her head remaining level.  "And that message is?"

"Her Royal Highness wishes that you meet with her in her private chambers right away," he said, his voice rising as she drew nearer.

Luna stopped her approach, her face inches from his own.  "Next time you have a message for me, wait outside my chambers, do not enter them.  Am I understood?" she asked, her voice cold and even.

The guard’s lip trembled, "It won't happen again, your Royal Highness."

Luna stared at him for a moment longer, her face not betraying any emotion.  "See that it does not," she said as she stepped past him.  Walking quickly through her room, Luna's horn lit up as she magically pushed open her door to the hall.

Luna took the briefest of backwards glances and saw that the guard had collapsed into a seated position.  'Perhaps,' she thought to herself, 'that shall teach him how to behave before his Princess.  In my day, proper respect was shown to royalty.  Have things really changed so much in my absence?'  Luna's brow furrowed at the realization that they probably had.


Celestia sat by her unlit fireplace, crossing and uncrossing her forelegs as she stared at the door to her chambers.    After several minutes of this, her hind legs began to cramp and she started pacing around the room, always keeping an eye on the door.  Having stretched out her legs, she amused herself by spreading her wings as far out as she could and then bringing them forwards so that the tips of her feathers softly clapped together.

The Ruler of all Equestria was balancing a pencil on her upper lip when a knock finally came from her door.  Shaking the pencil aside, Celestia made herself appear very interested in a very old portrait of her and her phoenix, Philomena, as the door creaked open.  Celestia casually turned her head and feigned surprise at the sight of Luna standing in her doorway, “Ah, Luna my sister!  So good of you to come by.  Come in, come in!”

Luna stepped over the threshold, her head held high, and only visibly relaxed when the door swung shut behind her.  “My dear sister, I must file a formal complaint,” she spoke quickly, her eyes earnest.

“Oh,” said Celestia, cocking a worried eyebrow.

“Yes, the moon has surely been raiding the royal food supplies, for I am very certain that she was not so heavy the last time I put her in the sky,” Luna said urgently.  “I strongly suggest that she be placed on an immediate diet.”

Celestia stared at her sister for several seconds, both of them keeping a straight face.  A small smile pulled at the corner of Luna’s mouth, but it was Celetisa to break out with a laugh first.  Walking swiftly, Celestia gave her sister a quick nuzzle against her neck and Luna returned the gesture.  “I can’t tell you how much I’ve missed your unpredictable sense of humor,” Celestia said as she stepped back to look at her blushing little sister.  “I try to keep the atmosphere light in the castle, but everypony acts like they have to walk on eggshells around me.”

“I think that, perhaps, you have things too light around here,” Luna said her face melting back into a serious expression.  “The guard who gave me your message barged in to my chambers, unannounced, while I was raising the moon and was most familiar with me.  I had to give him a stern talking to about his place as a Royal Guard.”

“Tell me you didn’t scare Sun Runner?”  Celestia let out a sigh and shook her head.  “The poor thing is going to be in a terrible state until I talk to him now.  You know, he once burst into tears when he had to tell me that the kitchen was out of my favorite tea.”

“Perhaps he’s too soft hearted for such a demanding position,” Luna said briskly.

Celestia touched her forehead to Luna’s, “My dear sister, you need to understand that these are less troubled and much more relaxed times.  The Royal Guard is mostly ceremonial now.”  Celestia pulled her head back to look in to Luna’s eyes, “More than that, you need to start talking to other ponies again.  It’d do you good to have some friends, get in touch with the ponies of this age instead of worrying about times gone by.”

Luna looked away before speaking, “I shall take what you’ve said into consideration.”  She let out a frustrated sigh as she turned back, “Was this the urgent matter you wished to see me about?”

Celestia’s eyes opened wide and she let out a small laugh, “Oh my, I completely forgot.  There’s a matter of great importance I need your advice on.”  Celestia sat down quickly and motioned for Luna to join her.  “I’m going to start dating again,” Celestia said with a wide grin.

Luna blinked twice, “A Royal from a neighboring kingdom wishes to court you as part of an arrangement?”

Celestia sighed and her head dropped to her chest, “This is exactly what I mean, Luna.  These days, ‘courting’ is done almost entirely because you enjoy another’s company and have affection for them.”

Luna’s brow furrowed as she appeared to carefully think this over, “Well then, who is the Royal that has won your affections?”

Celestia looked off to the side, a sly smile spreading across her lips. “He isn’t a Royal exactly,” she said carefully.  Celestia stood up and stepped quickly to the large window overlooking the lands beneath the castle.  “It’ll be quicker just to show you.”

Luna went to stand next to Celestia and tried to follow her gaze.  “What are we-”

“There,” shouted Celestia, literally jumping in the air with excitement, as a patrol of pegasus guards flew by the castle.  “Second from the center with a white coat and blue mane!”

Luna’s brow creased ever deeper as she spoke, “You have affections for and are planning to court a Royal Guard?”

Celestia leaned heavily against the window sill, a dreamy smile on her face, “Yeah.  His name’s Kick-Off.  Isn’t he handsome?”

Luna scratched her head, “In truth, he looked much the same as any of the others.  May I ask how long you have harbored these,” Luna paused and tapped her chin, “feelings?”

Celestia placed her forelegs under her chin as she stared out into the night sky, “Two years, not long after he joined the guard.”

“At least you’ve waited a sensible amount of time,” Luna said as she nodded approvingly.

“Actually, by today’s standards,” Celestia began, but trailed off into silence.  She pulled herself from the window and faced her sister.  “In truth, I have not had more than a dance or two with another pony during the entirety of your,” it was Celestia’s turn to be at a loss for words, “absence.  There simply wasn’t room for romance while being the sole ruler of Equestria.”  Celestia swallowed hard and lowered her eyes before continuing, “More than that, I felt guilty even entertaining the idea of pursuing such things with you locked away.  Only with you returned do I feel like it might be okay to try to find this kind of happiness again.”  Celestia bowed her head at the confession.

Luna’s eyes rolled to the ceiling and blew a strand of hair from her face, “So tell me more about this guard.”  Luna placed a hoof under her chin.  “I’d hope that Equestria’s Princess chooses her consorts for qualities other than ‘ability to slightly stand out in a crowd’.”

Celestia let out a laugh and felt a tear slide down her cheek as she embraced her sister, “Thank you for understanding.”  Releasing Luna, Celestia’s eyes turned up in thought.  “Well, he has a wonderful voice, you know how important that is to me.”  Luna nodded in understanding.  “He’s got a simply amazing sense of humor, I recall this one time I overheard him talking to the guards about the griffon diplomat and he,” Celestia couldn’t finish as she fell into a fit of giggles.  “Oh, I couldn’t do the joke justice.”

“I shall take your word for it.  The evidence of his humor is apparent,” Luna said, barely holding back her own laughter.

Celestia felt her heart pound as she went on, “He’s also very well spoken, I’ve often seen him reciting quotes from the great Houyhnhnm philosophers and poets to motivate younger recruits,” Celestia smiled as her eyes drifted sideways to see the pegasus patrol again pass the window.  “I’ve actually sneaked a look at him in the library, poring over old texts.”

Luna stood in silent contemplation for a minute, watching her sister’s face.  “So how can I be of help?”

Celestia felt a small blush rise to her cheeks, “As I’ve said, some of my subjects can find me a bit intimidating and Kick-Off and I have not exchanged more than a few words in the entire time he’s served here.”  She smiled shyly, “I honestly have no idea if he’d be at all interested in me or if he’s even seeing anypony else right now.  I’d rather not approach him and only have him accept out of fear of disappointing me or some sense of obligation.”

Celestia reached out and placed a hoof over Luna’s, “Would you ask around for me, find out if it might be worth pursuing him?”  Celestia tilted her head and her eyes sparkled hopefully.

Luna looked down anxiously, “I recall, just moments ago, you declared me out of touch with the ponies of this age.”

“I have every confidence in you,” Celestia said firmly as she gently pressed on her sister’s hoof.

Luna inhaled, puffing out her chest, “Then I shall not fail you.  I shall seek out all that I can discover about your ‘handsome’ guard.”

“Thank you, dearest sister,” Celestia said, bowing her head.

“But for now, I shall need my sleep, tomorrow is likely to be a busy day,” Luna said as she started towards the door.

“One last thing,” Celestia called out.  Luna turned her head to see Celestia staring out the window, “The moon hasn’t looked this beautiful in a thousand years.”

Celestia saw the tears forming in her sister’s eyes before she turned away.  “Thank you,” Luna said in a voice barely above a whisper as she stepped out into the hall.

With her sister gone, Celestia turned back to the window.  Sticking her head out, she felt the cool night air against her face.  A breeze caught her mane as the pegasus patrol finished another sweep past her window, the guard second from the center with the white coat and blue mane perfectly framed by the moon.