“Sister... I understand where you're coming from, but the only way to fulfill your wonder is by going to see it in person. No book can really give you the full picture.” Celestia spoke kindly to Luna, a tone of understanding in her voice. Her eyes softened as she looked upon her younger sister, with only the utmost care in her gaze.
As shy as Luna was, deep down she knew Celestia was right. For the ten weeks the younger goddess had been back to Equestria most of her waking moments were spent in the royal library. Desperately wanting to catch up on everything she missed, it was a sub-conscious effort to relieve some of the remorse she felt for letting Nightmare Moon consume her physical being.
Luna rarely left the castle grounds, but even there she could tell much had changed during her millennia-long banishment to the moon. The goddess had her nose in every book, every scientific journal, every legal document she could get her hooves on. Soon, she could grasp modern theology, history, politics and science. She even tried to modernize her room, adding a soft carpet and a crystal chandelier to the décor of her room. Well, almost everything, as her cherished abacus still remained always close by.
The clacking of the beads, how smoothly they ran to and fro. Whenever she felt in despair, Luna could always turn to her abacus, softly toying with it and marveling at how something so simple could be used to do so much. The pale blue and silver color scheme reminded the alicorn of her own beloved night sky, it's stars twinkling in harmony with the moon and the streak of the milky way.
But, even through her relentless studying and analyzing of every text she could find, Luna still felt her curiosity unsatisfied, itching at her hooves. So, today she gathered up enough courage to ask the only pony she had ever really talked to since her return, her older sister Princess Celestia. Celestia bore no essence of surprise as Luna confessed her burning desire to find out how the Equestria had changed. Instead she simply smiled, stating “In order to truly know, you have to find out for yourself.”
Those very words reverberated in her mind, as Luna hugged the cloud in front of her. Reluctantly she had accepted her sister's advice, and was now going off on her small journey to see what the world was like. Celestia offered to have some guards to escort her where she pleased, but her reserved nature turned it down. Celestia never told her she had to meet other ponies, but simply see how the world changed, right? She could just slip in for a few days, watch from the safety of the shadows, and leave.
Unfortunately, she didn't know where to go. She'd been in Canterlot her whole time back in Equestria, except for a few hours for a party in... in... 'Ponyville! That's it!' She had thought to herself, 'I'll just observe Ponyville for a bit, take a note or two, and then I can head straight for home.' And so, as quickly as she could, she flew out from Canterlot, and headed towards Ponyville.
At first, her re-acquaintance with flight was euphoria of emotions. She had felt a fluttering feeling of freedom, as she nimbly dipped and dove among the clouds. Luna's mane rippled in the wind as she skimmed over a cloud, only to dive through it a second later.
'Luna, stop being such a silly filly.' She giggled as she thought to herself. Even though she didn't embrace her title of “Princess” as much as her sister did, she still felt bound to act somewhat on par with the nobility.
As she was about to continue her controlled descent, two voices roared out near her.
“Scootaloo, come on, are you racing or not?” a voice called out. It was feminine, but not by much.
“You betcha!” replied another, this higher voice belonging to a younger pony. Luna squeaked in surprise and fright, diving behind a nearby cloud. She hugged onto it tightly, not wanting to be seen. Her plan would be foiled if anypony saw her! This was how she ended up clinging to a cloud like a young foal to it's nighttime blanket.
Moments passed before she dared peek to check if the coast was clear. Luna let go a sigh of relief as she saw nopony around. All she could see was the blue sky, and a green field below. Squinting, she examined it closer. A vegetative area rimmed the heath, one section leading off into a forest. She could also make out a small creek flowing, and a cheery cottage behind it. But, besides that, it was a welcome contrast to the bustle of majority of Ponyville, which lay a little far off to her right.
Luna brightened a little, feeling her luck had changed. 'All I need to do now is hop down a few clouds without getting seen, and I can land on the border of the field. No pony will see me, and I'll be okay', she reassured herself, as she flew down to the next cloud below her, bouncing a little as the fluffy mass absorbed her momentum.
Gradually, she made her way down, as the warm breeze of late summer began to flow over her navy coat. It was a pleasant surprise from the chilly climate in Canterlot. Being situated half-way up a mountain was only a surefire way to ensure colder weather.
Looking down below, Luna realized this was the lowest cloud before ground-level. Taking a deep breath, she let her eyes roll over the landscape, wanting to take it all in. She gasped, marveling at the beauty of something so simple. The green heath rolled into a dense thicket of shrubbery, which eventually morphed into a beautiful forest. The same creek that flowed past the cottage now cut through the trees, glimmering like a path of sapphires in front of her. Birds chirped and sang happily, as a rabbit grazed amongst the grass. Luna hadn't seen something so wonderful, in over a thousand years.
On one side of the cloud and still entranced by the landscape in front of her, Luna barely heard the pegasus' arrival. A rainbow streaked through the cloud, it's wing clipping the princess. The alicorn gasped in shock more than pain, as she was knocked off from her cloud-perch. Dazed from the swift impact, she began to fall towards the ground.
Rainbow Dash grunted as she flew through the cloud. Her wing snagged a little, but that was normal. Wind sometimes built up behind a cloud and could provide some resistance if strong enough. Air flowed past her ears, muffling the sound of Luna's squeak. Rainbow Dash wondered for a second, doubting if she heard something or not. She took a quick glance over her shoulder a second later, but saw nothing. The alicorn had already fallen out of her line of sight.
The pegasus was about to examine it further until she felt a hoof tap her head. “Tag!” Scootaloo screamed in delight, taking off up into the sky.
“Oh, it's on!” Rainbow replied, soaring after her.
Unbeknownst to her, Luna was plummeting towards the earth. She was still dazed, her vision fuzzy and ears ringing. It took her mind a few seconds to process what was happening. As her brain came to life, so did her muscles and joints. She tried to scream, but the wind rushing past her face prevented all vocal sounds. Forcing her body to work harder, Luna desperately tried to flap her wings with her legs flailing about.
But, a millennia spent in the moon had weakened her muscles and she could not fly as strong as she once could. Looking down, Luna saw the ground rapidly approaching. She put all her strength into stalling her descent, her wing muscles straining to fight the force of gravity.
She attempted conjuring a spell to slow her down, but once again her years on the desolate satellite had taken a toll on her skills. A little blue spark erupted from her horn, only to peter out and vanish altogether.
Another terrifying, quick glance told the Princess that she would still impact the green field at a painful speed. The thought only lasted for a second, before she summoned the last of her strength and tapped into reserves she herself never knew existed. Luna's shield flashed into being, the navy blue sphere enveloping around her. It wouldn't save her completely, but she could just possibly avoid anything to serious.
Luna last heard the shield evaporate in a sizzle as she ran into the ground. The world went black.
“Hello?” A quiet voice called out. Luna felt a soft hoof prodding her shoulder.
'Where am I?' she asked herself, 'All I remember was sitting on that cloud until something hit me and I..' The fall. It all came back to her. The rushing of the air, the swirling view of blue and green. The vain attempt at screaming, the futility of her wings and magic, and eventually the casting of her shield before impinging into the ground below.
Now, she was laying on her back, the faint rustle of grass rubbing up against her. The air was calm, but comfortably warm. Luna would have enjoyed the feeling more, if her head did not ache so badly.
“Are you okay?” The voice asked again. It was gentle, caring. Instantly, the she felt surprisingly calm. The soothing voice almost made her pains fade away.
Luna attempted opening her eyes, the world coming in as a blur. The world around her was fuzzy, her sight becoming adjusted to the light. Blinking again she looked up, staring into a set of reassuring blue eyes, almost the same shade of her own. The face surrounding them was of a young mare, her yellow coat matching nicely with her natural pink mane. For a second she didn't mind, after all this pony seemed very nice.
'This pony!' The thought ran through her mind, 'What the hay! I'm not supposed to meet anypony!' Luna screamed, instinctively scrambling back a few feet. The other mare screamed as well, a startled look in her expression. Without a second look, the new pony turned tail and began running away.
The alicorn watched as the yellow pony charged towards the cottage. After a quick examination, Luna realized that she was a pegasus, small wings hugging her sides. The mare kept streaking away, the last of her pink tail visible before she entered the house and slammed the door behind her.
Luna propped herself up, taking a deep breath. 'Odd,' Luna thought, beginning to calm down, 'Why did she decide to run and not fly?' Sighing, she decided it wasn't important.
As she got up, her thoughts evaporated to the sight around her. Everywhere flora and fauna alike populated her view, reintroducing herself to the world she had left behind. Curiosity once again flared in her mind. She could barely remember her last encounter with nature this vivid.
Her headache now no longer as harsh, the alicorn began to let herself wander. She smelled every flower she could spot, their scents only furthering her desire to explore more.
Although she preferred the allure of the night's sky, Luna couldn't help but admit to herself that this was truly marvelous to take in.
Taking a deep breath to calm herself down, Luna reminded herself to stick to plan. Observe. She began walking throughout the forest, carefully scrutinizing anything that seemed different or new to her. As she continued her walk, a raging battle developed in her head where emotions swung and fought each other.
On one hoof, she would love to do nothing else but let out a squeak of joy and to roll around in a flowerbed, or run like a foal. She wanted to give in and let her inner child, to just be set free in the surrounding forest.
On the other hoof, she still clung to the reasoning behind why her inner child was locked up, to be just like Celestia. Celestia was a true princess, wise and regal, always able to keep her composure in check. If Luna rolled around in flowers or skipped and jumped around in a fit of emotion, she would hardly be like her sister.
The alicorn groaned as her head began to hurt, as she weighed the possibilities. The pain kept growing as her headache roared back to life, accelerated by Luna's concentration and worries. Pain scorched through her horn, until she thought she could bear it no more.
With a moan, Luna fainted onto the ground, her body landing softly along the forest floor.
Fluttershy gasped in worry as she saw Luna collapse onto the ground. She had been following her for the past few minutes, after summoning the courage to go after the Princess.
She had just been getting back from a day at the spa with Rarity when she saw the goddess fall from the sky. Just before she hit the ground, a brief flash shot through the air. The yellow pegasus could only think the worst. With her compassionate side taking over, the only thing Fluttershy could do was gallop as hard as she could to check on Luna.
Luckily, her fears dissipated as she neared the navy blue pony. All her bones were intact, and apart from a moderate concussion, the mare was in miraculously good condition.
Only after tapping her a few times and calling to her, did the goddess awake. As her eyes blinked open, all Fluttershy was able to do was to bite back her involuntary urge to scream, a byproduct of her shy attitude towards new ponies. Especially such a highly renowned pony like Princess Luna.
When the alicorn screamed first, the pink-maned pegasus instinctively screamed too, her anxiety coming out in a high-pitched yell. Without even really thinking, Fluttershy ran home, the wind swooshing by as she galloped straight to her doorstep. She was panting heavily as she slammed the door behind her.
And now, watching the princess in another state of unconsciousness, Fluttershy knew she had to do something. “Oh dear...” She sighed to herself, apprehension building in her chest.
With a grunt, she wrapped her forelegs around the mare, and used her wings to lift up off the ground. At first, she couldn't go more than a few feet above the earth.
'Oh no...' Fluttershy began, wondering if she could ever get the Princess to her house, 'Come on Fluttershy, be strong! She reassured herself, 'It's a bit like Pinkie Pie told you... Not a “Hop, skip and a jump”, But a “Flap, heave and a pull.”... I hope.’
The deep fragrance of tea tickled Luna's nose as she awoke. A damp, cold cloth that was once over her face, had now flopped onto a soft blanket as she lifted her head up. She rubbed her hooves drowsily over her eyes, and stifled a yawn. “Where am I?” Luna asked herself for the second time that day, only this time it was out loud.
The room was a mix of a calming and somewhat pale color scheme. Brown and green were the dominant colors, but others could be found; a pale yellow shelf, a few blue and red books that resided in a small bookcase to her left.
Sounds of birds chirping flowed past her ears, the pattering of little feet scurrying around could be heard throughout. A small bunny hopped into her view, carrot in hand, directly across from her. Making eye contact, the little creature pointed it's remainder of a carrot straight at Luna before scurrying off.
Luna gasped a bit, not expecting such a level of intelligence from a forest animal. 'Did Equestria really change that much?'
A small tray clattered quietly to her right, as it was placed on a nightstand. Luna looked over to see that the same yellow mare from before was standing next to her. The pony's pink mane flowed to the ground as her eyes studied the small alicorn.
“I'm very sorry, Princess Luna. I just saw you collapse and I couldn't resist but to help you.” Her light blue eyes shifted from Luna to the ground, “If you want to leave.... I can understand that.” Her voice was the same as before, quiet and soft, but still holding a strong sense of care.
“No no, thank you very much.” Luna replied quietly. She was overtaken by this pony's willingness to allow herself to stay in her home. Perhaps not all ponies were as self-centered as those in Camelot.
“Can you tell me...” Luna stopped. She almost could feel herself hitting the ground. The rush of the wind ending as she closed in closer the the earth. She bit her lip, not knowing if she could finish the sentence. Without the charm of the forest around her, the real weight of how close she was to becoming seriously hurt or injured, now hung upon her like a thousand pounds.
The goddess felt shaken by how dangerous of an ordeal she had gone through, how much she owed the fates for her luck. Tears began to well up on the corners of her eyes. It all nearly came crashing down on her as the pegasus began to speak.
“Shhh... It's okay.” Fluttershy told her. “It wasn't too bad,” She continued, the calming effect in her voice amplified as she realized Luna's distress, “All you hurt was your head, and not nearly as bad as it should've been. You don't have to worry about it any more.” Fluttershy put a reassuring hoof on her shoulder. The blue mare looked up at her savior, giving her a half-hearted smile.
Luna was still in a little bit of shock, but the smell of the nearly-forgotten tea wafted into her senses. A twinge of bergamot resided, giving the smell a more exotic touch. “Is that tea?” She asked, her voice shaking. There were two little cups, each steaming around a a flower-painted porcelain teapot in the center.
“Oh yes.” Fluttershy replied, eying the tray. She looked back at Luna, trying to smile a bit, “Would you like some?” Luna nodded, and accepted the cup the mare gave to her. As she took it, Fluttershy realized this was a good time to change the subject.
“So... Why are you here in Ponyville?” Fluttershy asked, trying her best to keep a casual tone and get the Princess' mind off her terrifying ordeal. Admitting it to herself, Fluttershy knew she would never act so open to an unknown pony unless it were under serious circumstances like this.
Luna looked up at Fluttershy, and adjusted herself on the bed so she could face her better. Her light blue mane getting in her eyes as she did, before blowing it out of her face. “Well, you see...” Luna began, relaying her story, including her task from Celestia and even admitting her reclusive plans to studying Ponyville, up until getting knocked out of the sky. “And then I just started falling...” She concluded, her voice beginning to shake again.
Fluttershy was growing a little frustrated. All her animal friends usually didn’t work themselves into more grief after being hurt. Instead, they usually listened to her and did as she said. ‘Why do other ponies have to be so difficult?’ She thought, arguing between her compassion for others and her growing disappointment in herself. ‘But I have to help her! She’s hurt and...’ Fluttershy looked at Luna, seeing how badly shaken she was. ‘She looks just like I would after a tumble like that. I’ve got to help... Somehow.’
Determined to stop the younger goddess from worrying too much, Fluttershy asked her another question, “What do you plan on doing tomorrow? You're welcome to take a look around nearby at the local plants and animals.”
Luna sniffed, still a little emotional still from talking earlier. “I honestly don't know. Even after observing all the beauty around here before I passed out, a voice inside me is telling me that I still will be looking for answers... It was all very beautiful, but it still feels like something would be missing.” She zoned off towards the ground, lost in revelation.
As Luna began to sniffle some more, Fluttershy realized she was right, she would miss out on something. After going on a few adventures with Twilight and the other Elements of Harmony, she knew exactly what the Princess needed to help her understand the world. A friend.
Fluttershy shut her front door, Luna waiting next to her. The goddess put a hoof on the clumsy, low-brimmed gardener's hat Fluttershy had given her, vainly trying to move it into a comfortable position. It was too big for her liking, but Luna didn't want to be noticed in the streets of Ponyville.
Ahh yes, where were they going? The... Spa, was it? Luna had only briefly heard the term mentioned in a few of her texts, but she didn't look into it. She hadn't really seen the importance in them, but Fluttershy sure did make them sound nice.
She told Luna how she and her friend Rarity met there once a week, to talk and catch up. Fluttershy explained all the relaxing things they could do there, from mud baths, to massages, and even a new concept she didn't quite understand... A sauna? That was the one part she was wary of... Sitting in a very hot, humid room was relaxing?
However, she reminded herself that she had already accepted her proposal. She surely couldn't turn back now. Fluttershy had been so kind to take her in and heal her, although Luna simply used a medical spell on her concussion when the yellow pegasus left the room. The least she could do was take her word for it and try to enjoy it.
“So Fluttershy,” Luna began as they walked down a dirt path, “How far is it to the spa?” She was curious, because she hadn't been in busier part of Ponyville yet. The mare looked over at her, a little smile on her face.
“Oh, not too far, we won't have to go too deep into town.” She turned her focus down the path, a few buildings of Ponyville emerging into view. “After you told me your plan to observe the town, I understood how shy you were, so that's one of the reasons why I picked going there.”
Fluttershy turned back to Luna, “Besides, I'm not the most outgoing pony myself.” Luna chuckled a little, glad that the other mare understood her fears. She was a princess after all, and without this hat in public, she'd surely be spotted. Almost all ponies in Ponyville knew what she looked like, because of the party there a few months earlier.
As they entered the main part of Ponyville, it felt as if the gears in Luna's stomach churned like clockwork as she saw all the other ponies in the streets. Some were talking, others selling goods from small kiosks and stalls; ponies were looking through the windows of the various stores, even three fillies running wildly and yelling happily as they went.
And Luna had to get through all of this, undetected. She began walking again, trying to keep her breathing regular, 'Just calm down...' She thought to herself, 'All I have to do is just act normal and stick by Fluttershy.' Exhaling deeply, she heard the pegasus whisper to her.
“Luna... Are you okay?” She asked. Luna looked over to her, Fluttershy's expression full of concern. The yellow mare's eyes flickered towards her forelegs. The moon goddess looked down, noticing they were wobbling uncontrollably.
Luna blushed a little, “Ummm yeah... There's just...” She stopped, her voice tinged with concern. She glanced quickly at all the ponies in front of her. “There's just so many other ponies.” Luna concluded, her voice a little quieter.
Fluttershy smiled at her, “It's not that bad.” She began her way up towards a yellow door in front of them, looking back up at it. “Besides, once we get inside, you can take your hat off and relax. The spa ponies working there are really nice.”
As Luna approached the door, she couldn't help but feel better after talking with Fluttershy. No wonder she was good with animals. She never seemed to get frustrated or angry with Luna's constant distress.
Fluttershy opened the door, forcing Luna to take another deep breath and follow her in. As she entered, she had to admit that the spa looked exactly like the comfort it sought to provide. A warm purple color was painted on the walls; the room was decorated with lush, leafy plants. A small, comfortable couch was in one corner with a plushy pillow on each end.
Luna took her hat off reluctantly, as Fluttershy walked up to the counter. A blue earth pony was on the other side, with a pink mane similar to Fluttershy's own.
“Hello, Fluttershy!” The pony said, a smile on her face, “Weren't you just here yesterday?” Luna fumbled as she tried to place the clumsy hat on a hanger, now in a set of dismay over the new pony's observation. Trying to keep out of sight, she slowly began to creep back over to Fluttershy. She desperately hoped the pony at the counter wouldn't notice her.
“Oh yes, I was here recently, Lotus.” The yellow pegasus replied, “But me and my friend wanted to relax a little today. Surprisingly, I don't have much to do this afternoon. So why not spend it here?”
“Well, I don't see Rarity here...” Lotus said, her eyes searching for the glamorous designer. Luna groaned quietly to herself. She really didn't have any way out of this, so she gathered herself and took a few brave steps towards the center of the room. She tried her best to look as royal as she could. Although she attempted to keep her posture in check and walk balanced, she knew it looked feeble, at best.
The spa pony's face lit up a bit, spotting Luna. “Ahh, so you brought Princess Luna with you!” Her tone was only slightly surprised, not nearly as giddy and shocked as the alicorn thought it'd be.
Fluttershy turned around, looking at her. Her gaze softened reassuringly, as she noticed the princess trying to show herself in public. The pegasus winced a little, her own thoughts switching to memories of the pressure she was under when Rarity asked her to model for her. As her short-lived career into the modeling business took off, she was constantly annoyed by pushy fans and photographers. She could definitely sympathize with Luna.
“Yes, I thought I'd show her the best spa in all of Equestria!” Fluttershy responded, without looking back at Lotus. She signaled for Luna to come over to her, before turning back towards the counter.
“Hehe, well I don't know if I'd go that far.” The light blue pony told her. “But, I'm sure you two will enjoy it here. Feel free to head over to your tables when you're ready. We'll have somepony over soon for your facials and massages.” She turned around, grabbing a few things behind her. Placing them on the counter, she faced the two ponies again. “Here are your robes and your key. Your room is number 12, down the hall on your right.” Luna was glad that Sunbreeze referred to the both of them, not directing attention solely on her.
“Thank you!” Fluttershy said, taking the two robes in her mouth. She left the key up there, which Luna grabbed precariously with her telekinetic magic. She followed the yellow mare, making their way down a white hallway. The floor was made out of a dark hardwood, and what were supposed to windows were little more than squares in the wall. A thin linen cover was draped over them, which swayed peacefully and allowed a breeze to enter through the hallway.
In Luna's mind, perhaps Fluttershy really was right, this could be the best spa in Equestria. So far, the mare at the counter was pleasant and courteous enough, and the rooms were painted and designed to be as light and inviting as possible. With a breath, she finally felt the cool ecstasy of calmness entering her brain.
Abruptly, her friend stopped at a glass-framed door to her right, with he blue mare almost running into her. She placed the robes down, looking over at Luna. “Key please,” She asked sincerely. Luna floated the thin metallic object over to her.
Grasping it with her teeth, Fluttershy put the key into the bronze doorknob. With a turn and a click, the door opened.
Passing the key back to her, Fluttershy picked up the robes and moved into the open room. It was colored in a pastel green, with similar open windows along one wall. Two small white beds were in the middle of the room, above a floor of polished wood. Luna let go a sigh of relief.
“Nice, isn't it?” Fluttershy asked. She picked up one of the robes, handing it to Luna. As the yellow pegasus pony went to close the door, Luna examined the clothing. It was a rectangle of a soft, white material Luna hadn't recognized before. However after feeling it, she assumed it to be like the towels she'd used in Canterlot. It came attached with two sleeves, a fluffy collar, and a belt. All were of the same material, the belt wrapping around the middle of it.
'Surely this can't be too difficult.' Luna told herself. She slid her forehooves through the sleeves and pulled the belt around herself, tying it with her telekinetic powers. It felt a little odd, the collar was a little bulky around her neck. The stitching, or lack there of, was in such a manner that it was restricting her ability to move her forelegs together. But, since it was so soft and nice on her dark blue coat, she didn't mind.
She turned around to face Fluttershy, who already had put hers on. The yellow pony's eyes widened a little, before she let out a soft giggle. Luna could tell she saw something wasn't right and frowned.
“What's wrong?” She asked, the her voice turned a little frantic, “Is there something on my face?”
Fluttershy allowed herself another giggle before replying, “No, you put your robe on upside-down, silly.” Luna stared at her for a second, before realizing that her robe was covering around her stomach, while she felt her belt was tied on her back.
Luna squeaked in embarrassment, before she felt blood rushing to her face. She dreaded the thought of looking at herself in a mirror, because right now the amount of red on her expression would clash with her navy blue coat.
“Haha, silly me.” Luna replied nervously. She looked up at Fluttershy to see the look on her face, but her eyes only held amusement in them, nothing else.
Hastily untying her robe and putting it on correctly like she saw on Fluttershy, she began to feel better. The robe, when on properly as it was now, was immensely comfortable. It's plushy texture conformed to her, the collar acting like a pillow around her neck.
“There ya go.” Fluttershy observed, noticing Luna now wearing the white robe in the correct fashion. “It should feel better now, huh?” Not waiting for an answer, she walked over to one of the padded tables, laying upon it.
“Ooh, this does feel good.” Luna said, half to herself. She climbed on the vacant bed, just like Fluttershy was doing.
“If you think the robe feels nice, then I think you'll love the rest of the stuff we'll be doing here.” Fluttershy told her. “You shouldn't be so afraid to see the world, Luna. If a shy pony like myself can do this once a week, along with openly walking around Ponyville and even attending an occasional party hosted by my friend Pinkie Pie... I don't see why you can't either.”
Luna's heart warmed with that comment, only being able to nod before the door opened again, with two other mares entering. Neither of them stared at her, just simply smiled and walked over to a side of the room where a small table was. One carried a bowl and a few brushes, the other holding a plate with slices of cucumber in it. The alicorn's curiosity peaked.
“Why are we eating?” She asked Fluttershy. She never expected a spa to be somewhere to serve any food. Although, the cool, crisp taste of them certainly did match the spa's calming atmosphere.
“Oh no,” Fluttershy replied, “I usually don't use them, but someponies like to put them over their eyes. They're supposed to help against wrinkles.” Luna tilted her head to her response. It seemed a little strange to her, but all the other ponies in the room didn't look like they shared her thoughts.
“And the bowl with the brushes?” Luna continued.
“Oh, that's just an avocado facial mask. It's supposed to help keep your skin and coat from drying out.” She looked to Luna, reading her next question. “I get a few touches on my face.”
Luna took a deep breath. Since even Fluttershy could do it, it couldn't be too bad. “I'd like to try what you do, I guess.”
“Great!” The pink-maned mare replied, a smile on her face. Within an instant, one of the spa ponies came over, and brushed a few strokes of the green-ish cream on her face. Luna gasped quietly in surprise, the cool sensation of the paste on her cheeks was new to her. Over the next few seconds although, she began to enjoy the touch of the cream, feeling nice on her skin. Personal upkeep wasn't high on her priority list while in Canterlot. Aside from her daily bath, she hardly paid attention to herself between her studies.
“And now for the massage. I assume you'd like the same as I?” Fluttershy said. Luna turned to her and nodded.
One of the spa mares came over to her, placing her hooves on her back. As with the facial, it felt odd at first. But after a few minutes, she began to enjoy the rhythmic kneading along her spine. Luna placed her head down on the bed, exhaling deeply as she closed her eyes in comfort.
“Luna... Luna are you awake?” A quiet voice called to her. Luna ran a hoof over her eyes as she lifted her head. She yawned slightly, before realizing Fluttershy was staring at her.
“What?” Luna asked, sounding a little drowsy.
“You've been asleep for nearly the whole massage.” A little giggle mixed in with her voice. Luna blushed again in embarrassment. “Don't worry, I did the same thing my first few times.” She continued, getting off the bed. She stretched, arching her back a bit. “Come on, get up. I'm sure you're feeling great, and we still have lots more to do.”
Luna picked herself up and off the bed, smiling warmly at how well she felt. Her neck usually had a permanent crook in it, after having it angled for so many books and tomes. Now, her whole spine and its surrounding muscles were in bliss. “Oh by the stars, you're right!” Luna exclaimed, joining Fluttershy in a luxurious stretch. She felt now more than a little eager to continue on their way.
“I knew you'd like it.” Fluttershy replied with one of her smiles. “Come on, let's go!” She said in an oddly enthusiastic tone, as they exited through the door.
The mud bath had been quite a challenge to Luna, at first only being able to stick a single hoof in the ill-reputed mixture. But, with Fluttershy consistently encouraging her, she managed to get in. She began to enjoy the calming bath as she talked and chatted with her friend. Unlike their previous conversations, these were friendly, both sides doing as much talking and listening as the other.
Fluttershy told Luna about her friends, the other elements of Harmony, and of their many crazy adventures. She talked about the time she had persuaded a dragon to leave Equestria, after all the other attempts had failed. How she once had become a famous fashion model, even though she hated it. She also included what she did in Ponyville, keeping good care of the various animals that lived in Ponyville's limits and also her mischievous bunny, Angel.
Luna gasped, “So that's who pointed their carrot mockingly at me this morning!” Fluttershy opened her mouth to apologize, but was cut short as Luna began to laugh. Fluttershy was at first stunned by her comment, but her laugh was so contagious that Fluttershy herself couldn't resist. Within moments, both of them were giggling and laughing like a pair of fillies.
As they entered the hot tub, Luna told Fluttershy of the grandeur of the castle in Canterlot. The elegant tinted windows that seemed to litter across every wall. She talked of the majestic, floating chandelier in the dining hall, and all of the other luxuries. More importantly to her friend, Luna told a vivid description about the charming gardens, telling her about all she’d seen there. Luna talked about the sublime melodies sung by the birds, as they flew from tree to tree. She even admitted that the only time she really stopped studying was to admire the blooming flowerbeds, going into detail how the gardeners planted them in such a way to make things such as rainbows and other pleasantries. Luna explained how she loved to read there, nestled under one of her favorite oak trees.
The two concluded their trip to the spa in the sauna, and unlike Luna’s previous predictions, it was indeed a nice invention. The warm, humid heat put her in an even calmer mood, and she almost drifted off to sleep before the yellow mare poked her.
A sense of urgency was in her voice, “Oh my, it's time we should get going. I have to get home soon to feed my friends. It'll get dark in an hour or-” Fluttershy stopped and blushed a bit, realizing her mistake. Luna was the pony who brought upon the night to begin with. “Well, actually, no it won't, if we sit in the spa longer.”
Luna shook herself, her bright blue mane sprinkling little droplets of water that had remained from the tub. “Oh, I guess you're right.” She confessed. The alicorn was a little sad to leave, but the other mare did have a point. If she forgot her duties as the night goddess, Celestia would surely be displeased. Luna got up and began following behind Fluttershy, who had opened the sauna door.
They both returned their robes and the key as the left, Luna even managing to say goodbye to Lotus on their way out. The friendly earth pony just smiled, waving goodbye and thanking her for coming.
As they left the spa, a thought popped up in the alicorn's mind. “Speaking of the night, what do you ponies do during the night?” She asked Fluttershy. Luna secretly hoped she'd say something better than just “sleep”. She may not be Nightmare Moon anymore, but she still felt a pang of jealousy because ponies were so active during the day, and seemingly dormant in the night.
“Well, sometimes when she has one,” Fluttershy began, “My friend Pinkie Pie throws these gigantic, amazing parties. More often than not, they last long into the night.” She giggled, “Once, I didn't leave 'till after the sun had risen the next morning. Also... what else...” Fluttershy racked her brain, “I know I'm forgetting something.”
The pegasus tilted her head a bit, pondering in the deep stretches of her memory. Then, her face brightened again, “Oh silly me! How could I have forgotten sleepovers?” Although Luna didn't sense it, hope was weaved into her voice.
“What's a sleepover?” Luna asked questioningly. She gave Fluttershy a puzzled look.
Realizing a chance to spend some more time with her new friend, Fluttershy offered suggestively, “Well, why don't you try it? Your sister Celestia did tell you to find things out for yourself.”
Luna smiled back at her. She didn't know what it was, but after her enlightening visit to the spa, Luna knew she could trust her. Additionally, she could almost feel that Fluttershy felt the same way. This new revelation hit her harder than the ground she landed on earlier that morning. 'Is this what having a true friend feels like?'
“Oh! I think I get it now,” Luna claimed. The setting sun was playing a dance of gold and orange on the sky, as the two mares walked over a bridge towards Fluttershy's house. The house cast a long shadow upon them in the waning sun.
Atleast on the inside, Fluttershy was about to explode with happiness. This slumber party was surely looking up, unlike her previous with the “Cutie Mark Crusaders”. It was the first one she'd ever hosted with another equine, at least personality-wise, of the same age as her. Her new friend certainly seemed to enjoy being around her, and the pegasus was sure they'd make this one a success.
Also, on a more personal level, Fluttershy was proud of herself. This was the first friend she'd made on her own in a long time, not aided by the whole “Elements of Harmony” thing. Actually, on second thought, she hardly made any other friends in her whole life. Only a few ponies even tried to approach her in Cloudsdale, and a slim fraction of those got to know her on any personal level.
As she approached the dimly-lit red door, Luna turned to face her. “Fluttershy, I'll be in the house in a second. I just have to go do my duty and raise the moon. It'll only take a few moments.” Her blue mane rippled a bit in the breeze, her equally blue eyes flickering up at Fluttershy. They were filled with excitement and wonder.
“Oh... Oh sure, Luna!” Fluttershy told her cheerily. Her hopes rising once more, as the alicorn's gaze had confirmed her aspirations. “I'll go inside and make some tea.” She concluded, opening the door.
She exhaled in delight as soon as she closed the door behind her. This is going to be SO fun! She thought. Fluttershy continued onto her small kitchen, it's old, cast-iron stove and oven adding a rustic touch. Turning on the stove and setting a kettle over the flames, she heard a small cough coming from behind her.
Whipping around, she saw it was her bunny, Angel. He gave her a huge smile, before repealing it and replace it with a quizzical look. She had to admit, that mischievous little rabbit knew her well.
“Oh Angel, I just made a new friend today.” Fluttershy responded sweetly. Instantly, she felt compelled to share her feelings. “We're going to have a sleepover, and it's going to be great!” Her tone was brimming with expectation and delight. “It'll be just the best. We're gonna tell stories, laugh, braid tails... Maybe we'll even play 'Shhh!'” Giggling, she noticed that Angel had dropped into a sulky composure. His shoulders sagged, his ears flopped down. The bunny even dragged his carrot behind him from the stem. He started out of the room, eyes drooping.
“Aww...” Fluttershy said, catching up to him, “Angel, you know you're my favoritest bunny ever.” He didn't even turn around, continuing on in his melancholy march. She flew over him, landing in front of Angel, blocking his path. Placing her head on the same level as his, Fluttershy stared at him, her pupils big as saucers. A small smile crept up on his face.
Noticing a crack forming in his sullen attitude, Fluttershy scooped the rabbit up in her forehooves, nuzzling him gently. Angel tried his best to resist, but within seconds he couldn't help but hug the yellow mare, his tiny arms going halfway around her neck.
“Don't you worry.” Fluttershy told him, as she put the white animal on the floor, “Now, go get ready for bed. It's almost nighttime y'know.” Not bothering to wait for a response, she headed back for the kitchen.
The kettle was just beginning to whine, steam starting to show from the covered spout. Daintily gripping the covered handle, she set the kettle to the side, and turned the stove off. Just as she finished filling the teapot, Fluttershy heard the door open and close.
“Sorry I took so long, Fluttershy. I also wrote a letter to Celly that I found somewhere to stay.” Luna called out, unaware of her friend's exact location. Fluttershy took the tray in her mouth, rounding the corner towards the door.
Luna spotted her instantly as she entered. “There you are! For a second I thought you went upstairs or something.” Realizing Fluttershy couldn't speak with the tray in her mouth, she chuckled, “Here, let me take that for you.”
Her horn light up blue as her telekinesis took hold of the tray, as they both walked over to a green couch in the corner of the room. Luna placed the tray on the wooden coffee table, clattering slightly. Admittedly the couch was a simple, yet comforting furniture piece.
Fluttershy joined her, her ears suddenly perking in excitement. “So, what do you want to do first?” She asked, her manners coming into play as Luna was, after all, the guest.
“I don't know, I've never done this before? You have though, right?” The blue mare looked at her. “By the way you explained it, I think you must have had some great slumber parties in the past.”
“Well... No.” Fluttershy confessed, “My last one was actually a disaster.”
“Oh...” Luna said, her eyes dropping to the floor in disappointment.
Fluttershy giggled, “Would you like to hear about it? My friends all loved hearing the story.”
“Oh sure!” Luna replied eagerly. “You did say storytelling was a part of having a sleepover!” Her eyes glaring at Fluttershy in curiosity. She took her tiara off, trying to get comfortable, letting her hair run loose.
“Well, it all began when I brought Opalescence back to Rarity's house...” Fluttershy started, retelling a tale she had on numerous occasions.
“Wait, wait!” Luna gasped, trying to control her laughter, “Are you telling me that the three little fillies broke your table, and then tried to fix it to find their cutie marks?”
Fluttershy giggled a bit, reminiscing in the image of Applebloom and her friends creating something that did not look like it's former self. “Oh yes,” she giggled once more, “I had to get Applejack to fix it for me the next day.”
Luna burst out laughing, almost falling off the couch, “That is so cute!” she exclaimed. Her sides heaved before she could contain herself, “So what happened next?”
“I suggested that we play a game.” Fluttershy responded. The alicorn's eyes lit up at the mention of it.
“Ooh! What game?” She asked.
A rare, playful glint appeared in the pegasus' eyes, unnoticed by her still-giggling friend. “You want to play?”
“Would I!?” Luna gleamed.
“Okay... It's called 'Shhh'” Fluttershy replied, trying her best to keep a level face.
“What's that?” The alicorn asked, cocking her head to one side. Her expression was clueless.
“Well... It's a game about who can stay quiet the longest. Sound fun?” Not waiting for an answer, she continued on as Luna's look went from clueless to utterly lost. “I'm the world champ y'know. I bet ya can't beat me!”
Fluttershy stuck her face a little closer to Luna, before taking in a huge breath and slamming her mouth shut, her cheeks puffed out.
For a second, the princess was mystified. Then, she squinted her eyes in competition, before following the mare's actions.
For a few seconds, both of them sat there on the couch, facing each other. They looked like enormous squirrels, cheeks as if full. Soon enough, both of them started to shake. Luna's face twisted with effort, as Fluttershy's eyes widened.
At nearly the same time, both exploded with laughter, giggling like fillies on a winter morning. “Hehe, Fluttershy, you should have seen the look on your face!” Luna exclaimed, falling on her back.
“Oh, haha, I couldn't!” Fluttershy responded between laughs, “I was too busy try to not laugh at yours!” She collapsed, toppling off the couch with a thud.
Luna scrambled over to the edge of the couch, where the until-recently quiet pegasus had been. “Fluttershy, are you okay?” She asked with concern in her voice.
Fluttershy, who was sprawled on the run below, picked herself up. She rubbed a hoof on her forehead, touching it gently. “Oh yes, I think I'll be fine.” Hey eyes scanned the scene, noticing the tray, which had not been touched. “Care for some tea?”
“Sure!” Luna replied, as Fluttershy poured some of the steaming drink into her cup. She grasped the cup in her magic, bringing it to her face. She blew on it carefully, before taking a sip. “Mmmm...” She murmured, relishing the taste and comfort of the warm brew.
“I heard that some famous musician is coming to Ponyville next week.” Fluttershy said, before taking a sip of her own. “My friend Rainbow Dash can't stop talking about her. Actually, both Rainbow and Pinkie Pie are going to the performance. Ooh... What's her name!” Fluttershy racked her brain for answers. “DJ Pon four or something like that.”
“Oh yeah?” Luna responded. “I wonder what music she plays. I don't know what DJ means, but I've heard the Canterlot Orchestra once when they played in the castle for Celestia. I liked it.” She began to pretend to play a violin, the imaginary instrument being played slowly by a bow made of air.
Fluttershy giggled, “Oh no, it's not classical. Rainbow let me listen to some of her music. It had a catchy beat to it... and some sounds used were nice, but...” The mare tried her best to compliment it, but she smirked as she realized it was futile, “It's just very loud, very strong and really fast at times. I'd rather listen to my birds' melodies any day... Just don't tell either of them I said that.”
“Well, I think I'll have to listen it sometime... Can't hurt to try, right?” The words came out of Luna's mouth before she knew what she was saying. 'What's this?' She thought, 'A day ago, I would have just disregarded it. Now, I've decided to listen to some music that sounds, well, not like something I'd prefer. Although, the openness feels... Nice.'
“I guess not,” Fluttershy replied with a smile, “Come on, let's go see if I can find my picture book of all the different baby animals I've met. They're really cute.”
“Okay!” Luna said, head picked up in interest, as she followed the pegasus.
Luna took a deep breath, watching the faint glow along the horizon begin to grow. She wished that the night would've never ended, being one of her favorites in her whole eon-long lifespan. She was a stranger to this harmless fun that she had with Fluttershy during their slumber party. Most of her life had been dictated by drawing up legal codes, planning economic budgets and deeming where the country's governmental power should be exercised.
She was the mastermind behind all of the Equestria's basic foundations of government. Viewing the problems her subjects faced as a big puzzle, Luna did enjoy creating new solutions, but she left the presentation to the aristocracy to her older sister, Celestia.
Celestia was charismatic and could woo any crowd if she so desired. She was like a real estate agent, selling a house that was built from Luna's blueprints. Before the navy blue alicorn thought to participate in politics, Equestria was a loose confederacy of feudal kingdoms. Constant strife between these princedoms were uncontrollable, Celestia's poorly drawn-up laws and regulations being easy to find loopholes in.
Luna, distraught at the chaos, put her creative mind to work. Just like the night sky, she worked around problems like arranging her constellations. She wiped the slate clean, disregarding all progress her sister had made. Starting from scratch, she built the basic system of the aristocratic-dependent Oligarchy that had been in place until now. Although it was fun, Luna always knew the risks involved. One slip up, and certain ponies would be at each other's necks by the following morning.
This is why the previous night had such an experience for her. Never before had she felt so carefree, like the binds of royalty had disintegrated into stardust. She never felt the urge to act overtly proper around Fluttershy, the understanding in her voice and eyes telling Luna that she wouldn't mind however the princess acted.
Sighing, Luna dropped her leer at the rising sun. It wasn't worth trying to bring back the moon, because Celestia would send guards for her and probably search for her herself. Luna may as well accept it and enjoy the rest of the day with her friend.
As the alicorn walked away from the clearing she was in, a faint breeze carried a melody through her ears. It moved it a range of ups and downs, the notes rising and falling like the waves on the ocean. It spoke of sadness, the dramatic lows basically spelling out “regret”. Often, the sounds rose to a cheery high, speaking of joy. Just as the music were to reach it's highest potential, with the tempo rising, in a blink of an eye the notes dropped by octaves.
Even Luna couldn't help but shed a tear. It were as if the most beautiful day appeared, only to have it ruined by the worst of storms. As the sounds began a succession of deep chords, it began to change once more. The tempo was slow, but began a steady rise in tone. But, unlike the sunny notes beforehand, the melody was drawn out and the notes as long as eternity, even more depressing than the quick descent only played seconds before.
Trying to triangulate the sound, Luna crept through the undergrowth, as the sound grew louder and louder. Little thorns pricked at her coat, but curiosity was an anesthetic to her menial pains. Although she couldn't pick out what instruments were played, this music was beautiful, even if it was sad. Like in nature, some of the most desolate, most melancholic locations held unfathomable emotion and grace.
Soon, the ferns and bushes began to thin out, leading into a gray area between the forest. Small saplings grew, with long grasses and flowers along the ground. As Luna walked through the softer grass, it led to a rocky clearing with a sole sapling growing on it's exterior.
“Fluttershy, what is this?” All ranges of birds were sitting on the young tree, and glanced over to the alicorn as she entered. She had spoked quietly enough to not scare them, but got the pegasus' attention nonetheless.
Fluttershy normally would have squeaked in surprise if an unknown pony had entered, but Luna's voice broke through her concentration while still keeping her calm. As she turned to face her, Luna could see the anxiety in her eyes.
“The Apple Harvest Celebration is only a few days away, and Applejack asked me to perform with the Aves, my ensemble of birds here in the forest.” She fidgeted her hooves on the ground nervously, “Umm... This is the only time they have available to practice, so... I'm sorry I had to leave the house, Luna.”
Luna chuckled, trying to lighten the mood, “Don't worry, it's fine.” Her voice turning more considerate, “Besides, it was wonderful.” A few of the birds puffed their chests out at the compliment, proud for being commented on their musical abilities.
“Oh...” Fluttershy was taken aback, “Thank you.” She was about to turn around, before stopping. “I just can't get rid of the feeling that something is missing.” A look of fretfulness was on her face.
“May I ask who wrote it? I'd love to hear the Canterlot Orchestra perform it. It was so emotional, like a spectrum of feelings.” Luna replied, trying to change the subject slightly. “It was sad, but nonetheless beautiful.”
Fluttershy lightly flipped a few strands of hair out of her eyes, the morning breeze gaining a little speed. “Well, I did...” Fluttershy peered into her eyes, as Luna felt the gaze reach into her soul, “They say the best music comes from the heart.”
Both her heart and stomach did a flip, as Luna knew what she was talking about. “I'm...” She started, trying to sound as reassuring as possible, “I'm so sorry.”
“No no... It's okay. My fillyhood in Cloudsdale wasn't the brightest,” Fluttershy said, zoning out, lost in memories. “It got to a point where I just rejected other ponies in total, and that's sorta why I'm so...” Tears began to form along the ridges of her eyelids.
Luna could only take a few steps towards her, before placing a hoof on her shoulder. Fluttershy sniffed loudly, a single tear streaming down her cheek. Her face was a mix of sadness and depression, and a few touches of anger thrown in. She slammed her eyelids shut, her brow wrinkling as she tried to bite back her feelings.
Unknown to seeing this strength of emotion in others, Luna tried to replicate what Celestia had done for her. “Shhh...” Luna replied, her own voice shaky. She wiped away the single tear still lingering on Fluttershy's face, but she could tell more were coming.
Without warning, the pegasus wrapped her arms around Luna's neck with alarming speed. At first, Luna was shocked by how suddenly it happened. But,\ within a few seconds, she had her own hooves around Fluttershy. The princess rubbed her back in a slow, calming manner, trying to comfort her.
By then, the yellow mare's single teardrop grew into a constant stream of moisture, most of it ending up on the princess' shoulder and mane. She let go a fury of sobs and sniffles, as she hugged Luna even tighter.
As if by sheer coincidence, Fluttershy's rhythm of sobbing matched that of her custom-made melody. The teardrops were sprinkled in like high notes. To Luna, it seemed as if the mare had poured all her anguish and grief into her sole piece of work.
Fluttershy buried her snout into Luna's mane, the sobs still coming out between gasps for air. The normally calm equine was now a raging torrent of despair. Luna said nothing, letting her friend cry on her shoulder. It pained her to watch, she never knew the pony had such pent up sorrow. Fluttershy always acted immune to any serious negative emotion; anger, frustration and dismay never lasting for more than a second.
Now she knew why. All the room for containing her true feelings was taken up by her memories of her younger days. A simple mask is all she wore, a thin dam that was now bursting over Luna's shoulder.
With the new epiphany rapidly making sense in her mind, Luna too felt the tears coming from her eyes. With so much she had seen in the world, and from the rocky satellite orbiting it, the alicorn knew exactly how she felt. After all, she had been locked up in the moon for a thousand years, regret and remorse eating at her soul like a virus since the second she became trapped in Nightmare Moon's grasp.
Until now, she really hadn’t known how badly she had been cut by her banishment to the moon. Nightmare Moon had plunged an invisible dagger into Luna, who only now had figured out how deep it went. The new-found feelings from within her heart were pouring out now, in the form of blue teardrops, containing emotion darker than the night itself.
“Shh...” Luna whispered in Fluttershy's ear, her voice shaking. The pony in her arms was still shuddering tremulously, but it didn't matter. Luna had to help. If there was anypony to help the pegasus with her internal grief, the alicorn knew it was herself.
“Don't worry, shh...” She continued on, as moisture rolled down both their faces. She nuzzled her quickly on the cheek, exchanging teardrops. Luna drew her mouth closer to Fluttershy’s ear than previously before, taking a deep breath between her own sobs. Tears squeezed out of Luna's eyes as she shut them closed.
She began to move her lips, barely reaching a whisper. Although Fluttershy didn't know it, the words were meant for the both of them.
“It'll be okay.”
“Thanks, Luna.” Fluttershy's voice had returned to normal, the tears dried on her face, “I haven't done something like that in front of another pony, except my mother.”
“Don't worry,” Luna said understandingly, “I needed that too.” The sun now rose above the treetops, its warm rays lacing the ground around them. “Let's go for a walk. Even though I don't say it much, it looks beautiful today.”
Fluttershy had begun to feel better, as they walked among the deciduous trees near her house. Her and Luna hadn't barely said a word, both admiring the scenery.
“Hey Luna,” Fluttershy began, “Do you sleep through the day, or the night? Or do you even sleep at all?” She'd wondered why the goddess slept the previous night, when the night was her own creation.
“Well, technically, I don't need sleep,” Luna told her, “But I do enjoy it... When I was helping Celestia create Equestria... Or times when I got engrossed in painting the night, I wouldn't sleep for years.” She closed her eyes, memories running through her mind. “But, sleep is refreshing and it feels nice.” She concluded, opening her eyes.
“That's not what I meant,” Fluttershy said, then realizing she had come off too assertive for her liking, “Umm, but you don't have to say it... I mean.”
Luna laughed, “I don't mind. But yes, onto the point,” She glanced up to the sky, as they continued walking on the forest floor. “I tend to sleep in the day, so I can enjoy the night... But, since it was a sleepover, I thought It'd be proper.” She looked back to Fluttershy, “Besides...”
The alicorn took a deep breath, “Besides, I'd rather not sleep during the day, if I could spend it with my best friend.” She smiled weakly, not knowing what to expect for voicing her feelings. It felt so... foreign to her.
Fluttershy was taken aback for half a second, not expecting such a touching response. Then, she moved a little closer to her, “Aww, that's sweet of you. M-Maybe I should stay up for the night more often, too.” She giggled, as they came out of the trees near the pegasus' house. “Now, come on. I have to do some shopping today in Ponyville... Want to tag along?”
Luna let go a sigh of relief, “Sure, that sounds great!” She said ecstatically, never before going into the town's stores. A rush of excitement shocked through her body, from her hooves up to the tips of her wings.
Fluttershy led her friend over to her house, both of them entering. She grabbed the big gardener's hat from a hanger, handing it to Luna.
“Oh no,” Luna said, “I think I can manage today,”
The quiet mare smiled, “That's the spirit! See, you're getting better.” She pointed out.
Luna thought for a second, tilting her head. “I... I guess I am.” she claimed, a bit of confidence rising in her voice. She began to ponder on the new enlightenment now at her hooves. She'd begun to act weird around her pegasus companion. She'd started to speak her mind freely, sometimes not even thinking about it beforehand. The goddess felt welcome and accepted by her, not overtly trying to be nice or polite because of her royal status. Luna realized that around Fluttershy, she could be herself without fear or shame. Something... Something she even didn't do much around her sister.
Before she could go any further in her thoughtful discovery, a voice broke through her musing, “Luna... Luna, are you okay?”
Luna shook herself back into reality. “I'm fine.” She smiled, “Just a daydream.”
“Oh good.” Fluttershy exhaled, “Well, I've made sure everything is okay while we're gone, so let's go on over to Ponyville.” Her saddlebags that she had on clumsily sat over her wings, restricting her movement. “Quickly...” She added in quietly, “Don't tell Rarity, but... um, these saddlebags aren't the most,” The twin bags sagged and slumped over to one side, “Comfortable...” She ended with a sigh, before adjusting them again.
Luna giggled, opening the door as the pegasus followed her out. As they walked along the dirt path, she slowed down to let Fluttershy catch up to her.
“Hey, you got to ask me a question earlier, so do you mind if I ask you one now?” Luna asked.
Fluttershy turned her head to face Luna, her pink mane getting in her face before she moved it with a hoof. “Sure.”
“Well, I've wondered why you treat me like a regular pony.” Luna started, “Most people in Canterlot are always bowing, calling me 'Princess' and doing me unnecessary favors. Meanwhile, you listen to me and respect me like any other pony.”
Fluttershy frowned, thinking that she may have offended her. “Oh no!” Luna doubled back, “I really like it... a lot. Celestia is the only other pony who calls me by my name only, and it's nice to be able to talk with somepony else who doesn't grovel half the time.”
Her friend's ears perked up, “Oh! Well... I mean, I don't like to talk about it much... But, I am the element of kindness.” She said, trying to sound as modest as possible. “When you were hurt, I sort of panicked and forgot my manners. As time went on, I thought you didn't mind. After hearing about your business here in Ponyville and how scared you were, it was only in my nature to try to help you.”
“I appreciate that,” Luna replied quietly. Her emotions taking over her, she bent over and quickly nuzzled Fluttershy. Her coat was so soft, even better than the robes she wore at the spa the other day. A sense of security once again flowed over her.
The timid pegasus eeped in surprise, bringing Luna back to her senses.
“Oh!” Luna squeaked in shock of her own compulsive action. She blushed hotly, the heat so intense that she could imagine her whole coat being red. She looked up the path, realizing Ponyville was at their hooves.
“Err,” She started, looking at the yellow mare. Her cheeks were still blushing too, but she seemed to have calmed down. “S-Sorry... Well, I guess we're here.” The awkwardness in the air was as thick as fog.
“Y-yes...” Fluttershy said quietly. “Well, come on. I'll show you some of the stores.”
Luna followed farther behind, her tail drooping a little. 'Luna! What did you do there!' She screamed at herself, within the confines of her own mind, 'Will Fluttershy even like me anymore... I mean, it was just a quick nuzzle.' Guilt chewed at her, making her itch, 'Right, I better go apologize.'
Now in town, Luna could feel the eyes of several ponies boring into her, even a few gasps and whispers. It made no difference though, her mind occupied on more pressing matters.
As Fluttershy approached a small market stall, Luna trotted up to catch her. “Fluttershy,”
The pegasus turned to face her, her eyes revealing no secrets. “Yes?” She asked, in her usual, quiet tone.
Luna rubbed a hoof on her neck. “I just wanted to say I'm sorry about before...” She trailed off, but blurted out again before the mare could answer, “Friends don't do that, do they?”
“Luna, it's okay.” Understanding now began to show in her expression. Luna began to feel better, as Fluttershy continued on, “And no... Friends usually don't do that, but you've been gone so long I couldn't blame you for not knowing. It's fine... I was just startled, that's all.” A faint blush formed on her cheeks.
“Thank you.” Luna said, heaving a sigh of relief, as Fluttershy turned towards the stall and began browsing through it's products. The alicorn scanned the vendor in front of her, various burlap bags positioned on a red cart. “So...” She continued, trying to break the mood, “What are you buying here?”
“Oh, just some seeds for my birds. The last Winter Wrap-up brought back more birds than usual, so I'm constantly running low.” Fluttershy replied, before picking up a small bag of seeds in her mouth and placed it in her saddlebag; simultaneously placing a few bits on a ledge of the cart.
“What's the Winter Wrap up?” Luna asked, mystified. The two ponies walked up to a small store, a green door in front of them with an image of a sewing machine on it.
“Oh,” Fluttershy said, opening the door, “It's just an event in which the whole town clears the snow and ice to make way for spring. We have to plow the land, plant seeds, clear the sky, and fetch the birds that flew south.” She explained.
The pegasus browsed through a shelf of spools of thread, before picking out a gray one. “Can you hold this?” She asked Luna. “I need to fix a blanket for Angel. I think he had a dream where he ate a carrot, and ended up biting his own bed,” she chuckled.
“Sure,” Luna replied eagerly, “No problem.” She lifted the spool over her head with her telekinesis, as she followed Fluttershy around the store. The small shoppe was full of various clothing repair material, but it also had a small selection of saddles and dresses.
Fluttershy had noticed it too, as she made her way over to them. She stopped at a mannequin, upon which rested a cyan dress, with white and light yellow curves added in as the skirt swept over the tail and onto the ground. It came with a set of light blue sapphire studs and a white gold-chained necklace with the same gemstone on it. On the feet of the mannequin were four cyan boots with white straps that wound up the leg.
“Oh my,” she muttered.
“Try it on,” Luna said, encouraging her. “I don't know much about fashion, actually hardly any at all... But I do know when something looks perfect for somepony.”
Fluttershy took a second look at it, before turning to Luna, “Oh I don't know...” she sighed, “It is really gorgeous, but I think... I think it's too much for me.” Her voice was low, but the goddess could sense the underlying hope in her tone.
“Now, Fluttershy,” Luna's voice became softer, “It can't hurt to try it on. We both know that you want to.” The pegasus' expression started to show a smile forming. “Pleeaaseee,” Luna added in with a smile of her own.
Fluttershy pouted, playfulness glinting in her eyes, “Oh alright, I'll try it on.”
“Yay!” Luna squeaked, telekinetically taking the dress and it's add-ons, while simultaneously pushing Fluttershy into the sole changing room before she could change her mind.
The blue mare laughed as she closed the door behind her friend, “Now, don't come out until you have put it on.”
After a few minutes the door clicked open, as a single, cyan boot-clad hoof poked it's way out. The timid pegasus lowered her head a bit, feeling out of place in her elegant dress amongst ponies in their everyday clothes.
Luna's eyes lit up, “Fluttershy! You look gorgeous in it!” She took a few steps closer to her, marveling at how well the blue jewelry accentuated her eyes.
“I know...” Fluttershy said quietly. Turning around, she examined herself in the mirror hanging on the door. A smile crept up on her face. “Maybe I will buy it.”
“That's the spirit!” Luna said, walking with the superiorly-clad mare over to the mannequin.
Fluttershy lifted the price tag and gasped. “Oh no...” She murmured to herself, “That's much to much for me.” Her face drooped.
“Let me see,” Luna butted in, determined to help her friend out. “Oh, this?” The mare giggled a bit. “It's only eight hundred bits.”
“Exactly!” Squeaked Fluttershy, lowering her head as she realized she raised her voice above her normal level. “That's a lot of money, Luna.”
“Well...” Luna began, “You have been such a help to me lately, and here's finally somewhere in which I can assist you.” Her horn glowed a bit, a dark light enveloping it. “Hold on, I've got to get a cheque paper from Canterlot.”
With a poof, a small booklet and a quill appeared in front of Luna. Fluttershy eyed it curiously, “What's cheque paper?”
“It's a new form of payment. It's a piece of paper which I sign and give to someone, and when they turn it into a bank, it's basically a note saying that I gave that pony a certain amount of bits from my own depository of money.” Luna was glad she remembered it from her studies. Teleporting a chest of 800 bits wouldn't be so easy.
“But Luna... I can't accept this.” Fluttershy told her quietly.
“Oh, I insist, Fluttershy.” The alicorn looked into her eyes. “You have been too kind to me... Kinder than anypony I could imagine, and you've been patient with my inaccuracies because I've been gone for so long,” Luna blushed a little at the memory of nuzzling the pegasus.
“Come on, go take it off and we'll bring it up to the counter,” Luna told her, opening the dressing room's door.
Fluttershy sighed, “Since I know you won't give up....”
The sun was setting once more as the two burdened mares approached the small cottage by the woods. Even though Fluttershy's saddlebags were bulging, and Luna's horn was glowing brightly as a trail of items followed her, both were laughing as they entered the rustic house.
“Honestly,” Luna admitted, “I never knew walking around and looking in stores could be so fun!”
“I usually shop alone, so it was nice to go with somepony else for a change.” Fluttershy placed her saddlebags on the floor, as Luna followed suit and dropped off her train of bags nearby.
The goddess looked out the window, gazing at the approaching dusk. “Well, I have to go raise the night sky soon.” She felt her heart plummet as she said those words. She'd probably have to go home to Canterlot soon. “If you want, you can come watch.”
Fluttershy muffled a yawn with one of her forehooves. “Sure... I'm a little tired, but I'd love to see it.”
“Okay, come on,” Luna said, opening the door. The yellow mare followed her out, a little drowsy as she went.
The alicorn led her out into the middle of the nearby clearing, which gave the best view of the darkening sky.
Luna sat down on the grass and closed her eyes, a breeze ruffling her mane. Channeling her energy from deep within, she made a mental image of the night sky in her mind. Opening her eyes again, she focused on the thought that her mental image would appear in front of them both, in the sky.
Over the course of a few minutes, the sky darkened, stars peeping out. Just above the horizon, a gibbous moon shone. The sweeping blanket of the Milky Way splashed along the dark void of space.
Fluttershy gasped, overtaken in admiration. “I tend to think that the night is myself,” Luna explained to her, “When it was just me and Celestia, I spent years putting work into the sky we see now...” She chuckled a bit, “I know it sounds cheesy, but I feel like I poured my soul into it.”
“I've never seen a night so clear as this,” Fluttershy replied, her eyes huge.
“Hold on...” Luna told her, the alicorn's horn now brightening once more with primal magic, “I think I can reveal the older stuff I created, stars so far forgotten that they've clustered together and almost vanished completely.”
Luna gave a grunt of effort, before a shock of energy raced from her and shot up towards the sky. It kept going farther and farther out, until it was smaller than a star.
“Watch,” Luna told Fluttershy, a little winded. As if on cue, the night lit up like it never had in a long time. Distant galaxies erupted into the seemingly black void, their colors of light orange, dusty blue and deep red adding a mix into the fray.
The now endless, infinite number of stars twinkled like the finest jewelery, each a sparkling diamond. The black abyss was now replaced by a beautiful display of colors and light.
“Luna...” Fluttershy said in complete awe. “This is the most...” Her voice was searching for the correct words. “This is... I can't find what to say. 'The most beautiful thing I have ever seen' would be an understatement.”
The goddess was shocked at her reply. She never knew ponies could take such delight in her creation. “Re-Really?” She sniffed, overtaken with emotion.
“Yes.” Fluttershy told her firmly, before looking over into Luna's eyes. “Thank you so much for letting me watch this.” She said, giving Luna a hug.
If a pony could ever melt into a pool of happiness, Luna was sure she could now. Waves of strong feelings overcame her... Ones she was unaccustomed to. Fluttershy's coat brushed on hers, her pink mane mingled with the Princess' own, the yellow mare's soft breathing tickling her neck.
Much to Luna's internal dismay, Fluttershy eventually let go of her and stifled another yawn. She laid down on the cool grass, resting her head on her forelegs as she still gazed at the sky. “I could almost... Fall asleep here.”
Luna's eyes remained locked, still rigid in shock over her flood of emotions. She dared not to move, still trying to make sense of what she felt. Her analytical mind raced, trying to solve the gigantic mess of puzzle pieces laid out in front of her.
However, her heart had already figured it out. As much as she tried to tell herself it wasn't true, she knew deep down it was. Taking a deep breath, a single thought floated into her mind.
'I've fallen in love with her.'
Like opening a Pandora's box of joy, she felt like she could do anything. The single act of admitting it to herself caused her heart to flutter with bliss. All of her worries, her regret and pain had been erased by a morphine of pure affection for the other mare.
She finally turned her gaze to her. Fluttershy was asleep, her body rising and falling slowly, her breathing barely audible. Luna's eyes softened at the adorable sight of the resting pegasus.
“Oh Fluttershy...” She said in a whisper, “How can I ever tell you?” With her confession, Luna felt much more open with herself. But, even though she’d finally come to admit she loved the mare, her shy personality made it seem impossible to tell Fluttershy the truth.
Realizing that she still needed to be taken home, Luna picked her up as daintily and gently as she could with her magic, making sure not a limb moved the slightest. A faint glow of blue enveloped around the yellow pony, as she began her trip back to the cottage.
Fluttershy awoke with a start, her eyes agape. Frantically scanning her vision across the room, she tried to make sense where she was. 'This isn't where I fell asleep...' The memories of the previous night flooding back to her.
Then the quiet mare facehoofed, coming to realize this was her own room. She was sleeping in her own bed. She figured Luna must have brought her back. 'Oh no! Luna may have left for Canterlot already,' She thought, literally flying out of her bed towards the stairs. 'I didn't get a chance to say goodbye!'
As Fluttershy zoomed downstairs, she lost control of her speed and bumped her head into the slanted ceiling above. “Ow!” She squeaked out loud, rubbing her forehead as she landed at the base of the stairs.
“Fluttershy, are you okay?” A voice called from another room, before showing itself. Luna stepped out from a doorway, trotting over to her.
“Luna!” Fluttershy said in shock, her surprise numbing her pain, “I thought you'd left for Canterlot already...” She said, her voice lowering.
“Hehe, no silly.” A new warmth was in her voice that the pegasus couldn't place, “I wouldn't dare leaving my best friend without saying goodbye.” Her eyes glistened as she looked at Fluttershy. She guessed her next question, “After you fell asleep, I brought you back to your bed...” Luna looked away towards the ground. “I thought about leaving a note... But it didn't feel right,” She confessed, looking back up, “So I stayed here for the night until I could properly thank you.”
Fluttershy looked a little confused, “Thank me for what?”
“For being so hospitable and nice, of course!” She said, before moving in and giving her a hug. Luna wrapped her arms so tightly around her, that Fluttershy had trouble breathing.
“Oof... Lu-Luna... It w-was... Noth-Nothing.” The yellow mare managed to say, trying to breathe.
The alicorn maintained her snake-like grip, “Aww, sure it was!” She said happily, smiling.
Fluttershy tried to inhale, but all oxygen going into her lungs were repelled by Luna's bearhug. “Luna... I-I can... can't,” She attempted to speak, in between gasps for air.
“Can't what?” Luna said, frowning. Her grip loosened a little.
“Breathe...” Fluttershy finished. Instantly, Luna let go over her, as the other mare coughed and took a huge breath of air.
“I'm so sorry!” Luna apologized, before adding, “I guess I got carried away.” She blushed.
Fluttershy put a hoof up, trying to catch her breath. “No, it's okay,” She said after a few seconds, “I understand.”
“Anyways...” Luna said, trying to break the mood, “I'll be back in a few days to see your performance. I'm sorry I couldn't stay longer, but Celestia needs my help for planning next year's budget.”
“Really?” Fluttershy said, mild astonishment riddling her voice. The Apple Harvest Festival was a small thing and no royalty ever attended it, unlike the Running of the Leaves or Summer Sun Celebration.
“Yeah, I wouldn't miss it for the world!” Luna said eagerly, the odd warmness coming back into her voice.
Fluttershy just smiled, as she looked out the window. The sun was approaching it's zenith. “Luna, I'm not trying to rush you... But it looks like I overslept, and it'll be noon in a bit.” She hesitated. “I think you might worry Princess Celestia if you stay too long.”
Luna frowned, knowing she was right. “I guess you have a point.” She walked up next to Fluttershy and opening the door with her magic, her heart trying to give her confidence,'This is your time to tell her.' The alicorn hesitated, looking over at her. 'Go on... She'll understand.'
“Fluttershy, I... I” She couldn't muster the strength to finish the sentence.
“What?” The other mare asked her, her soft blue eyes staring directly into Luna's. Fluttershy's gentle voice almost coaxed the words out of the goddess' heart.
“I- I'll miss you.” Luna's frown deepened as she accepted defeat.
Meanwhile, Fluttershy smiled warmly to her, “Stop worrying, I'll miss you too. But, you're going to be back in a few days, right?”
Luna gave a half-hearted smile of her own. “Yeah, I guess.” She said, walking out the door. As she took off, she called back to the Fluttershy, “Bye!”
“Bye!” The quiet mare said, her voice raising to an unusually strong level as she waved goodbye.
“Luna! There you are!” Celestia said, as the dark blue mare entered the castle. “To be honest, I was a little worried. But you look fine... Now come on, you can tell me about what you learned back at your room. I managed to get you a small surprise while you were gone.”
“Okay,” Luna responded, her tail sagging sullenly. Celestia didn't notice as she was already leading the way up the stairs.
“So, I got your letter that you found somewhere to stay overnight?” Celestia said, trying to start the conversation as they walked down a windowed hallway. Adorned with marble, they sun bounced and reflected everywhere, even Luna's coat shined a little brighter.
“Oh yes,” Luna replied, unfocused, “The pony was real nice about it.” She didn't feel like talking much.
Celestia turned to her right and opened a door, which led to Luna's room. She walked inside, as Luna followed. Using a flick of magic she opened a closet door, floating out an object as her younger sister sat down on her bed.
“Surprise!” Celestia said, drawing out the object from behind her back. It was Luna's cherished abacus, it's fading colors now repainted and the cracking frame was now replaced with new, polished wood. “Since you were finally away from your abacus so much.” The larger princess explained, “I managed to get the royal carpenters to fix it and refurbish it to it's former glory.
Luna looked up, only the slightest warmth sparking in her eyes. “Oh...” She said quietly, “It's looks good, I guess.”
Although she was one of the wisest ponies in Equestria, Celestia couldn't help but leave her mouth agape, utterly stumped and confused. She expected her younger sister to be giddy with delight, not so... Disinterested and melancholy as she was now.
She frowned, “What's wrong Luna? Didn't you enjoy your stay? Didn't you learn a lot?”
“Oh, I did really like it there,” Luna answered, trying to sound more appreciative of her experiences, “And I learned a lot too.” She counted back all she found out, “I went to the spa, I shopped at all the neat stores... I even got to enjoy a nice walk in the woods. I truly did learn more than I expected.
If Celestia was confused before, now she sounded utterly lost. “Wait... You? MY Luna went to the spa, and did some shopping?” She tried to hold in a chuckle, to no avail. “You're joking, right?”
Luna looked up at, giving her a glare that could freeze the sun. Celestia's chuckling died instantly, realizing she was serious. Luna's voice grew intense, “I did. I did all of it, and you know, what the hay, I enjoyed it too. It's just...” Her voice trailed off, before setting her head down gloomily on her forehooves, sighing.
“Luna, you know you can tell me what's wrong.” Celestia said, reassuringly.
The smaller alicorn looked up the her, “Yes, I know...” She replied, before adding in, “And I will, someday. Although... Not yet.” Luna zoned off into space, concluding, “Somepony else just needs to hear it first.”
The sun had set and risen twice, as Fluttershy found herself staring at Canterlot once again. Perched on cloud up in the sky, she usually enjoyed watching the whole town and it's surrounding forest from here. But now, only one place caught her eye, and that was the distant capital of Equestria.
Growing accustomed to her newfound friend, Fluttershy felt partially empty with Luna now gone. Sure, she'd be back the next day to watch her performance, but the pegasus knew that they couldn't enjoy the same experiences they had only days before.
The royal alicorn brought a sense of openness to the timid mare. Fluttershy didn't feel the need to always apologize for saying what she thought, and she felt she could trust Luna with her fears and dreams.
Now, there was no release valve, nothing to keep emotions from building inside her. She had tried confiding with Angel, but it felt like it did no good. Luna was just something different completely, and it only made Fluttershy feel worse because she couldn't place it.
Sighing, she took one last weary at the grand, white city on the mountain before turning around and flying down to earth.
Tomorrow was going to be a big day, so the yellow pony decided to get home early to rest for her performance; anxiety was already rooted in her bones.
Mayor Mare just started her speech as Fluttershy paced behind the curtain. Streaks of nervousness shot up through her hooves. Her stomach had passed away hours ago, flipping and flopping so much she barely noticed it now.
Her mane had been styled nicely by Rarity that morning, who surprisingly, didn't make any suggestions when Fluttershy showed her the new dress she'd bought. Now, the earrings shone in the dim light, her necklace swaying a bit as she walked in circles. Her light blue dress was reaching all the way to the floor, making swishing noise as she traipsed on the dim stage. Her birds were all lined up on an elaborate lateral metal bar, which was connected to another, vertical bar that was firmly secured into the hardwood flooring.
Luckily, the timid pony wouldn't have to face the audience as she conducted her ensemble, her back turned to them to monitor the music being played. But, the thought didn't comfort her much... She'd still be playing in front of all those ponies, a daunting variable that she hoped wouldn't wreck her performance.
Fluttershy had been practicing the same melody for weeks now, sure her birds knew it by heart. Even she could hum it in perfect tune, and had the pitch of each bird memorized. She may not be a perfectionist like Rarity, but she still wanted this to go as smoothly and as un-attention-attracting as possible. The only thought worse than performing in front of such a crowd, would be to mess up.
Her coat began to turn hot with extreme worry, almost turning into temporary paranoia. This was much, much worse than she imagined. She began to breathe rapidly, coming close to hyperventilating. This was too much.
“Fluttershy!” A voice called out, before a familiar blue mare stepped up onto the stage with her. Or, perhaps less than familiar. Fluttershy had never seen Luna in a dress before, a maroon and navy blue skirt going over her flanks. A maroon bow was tied cosmetically on the back, with two ruby earrings to match it.
“L-Luna?” the pegasus said weakly, “Is that you?” She was still breathing hard, but the comfort of her friend being there had taken the edge off.
“Of course it's me!” Luna replied, “I told you I wouldn't miss this for the world...” Fluttershy's ears ticked in remembrance. There was the odd warm tone again, and she was getting irritated that she couldn't place it.
“Oh...” She replied, in between breaths, “Thanks so... Much for... Coming...”
The alicorn walked straight up to her, placing a hoof on Fluttershy's shoulder. “Hey... Hey calm down. You're going to be just fine, okay?” Luna's reassuring tone further slowed her breathing, forcing the yellow pony to take a few deep breaths, albeit shaky.
“There we go...” Luna said, “Think, Fluttershy, you've been practicing and rehearsing for weeks. The song is beautiful. You have nothing to worry about.” Her voice grew confidently towards the end.
“But... But what if they don't like it?” Fluttershy asked, her breathing now lessening in speed. “What if I mess up?”
Luna brought a hoof up to her chin, staring directly into her eyes. “Listen, no matter what you do, no matter what it sounds like... I'll always be there for you.” The blue mare said, before giving her a gentle, reassuring hug.
Fluttershy was choking up a bit, those words lifting her spirits out of the dark hole they were previously in. She returned the hug, her friend's grip no longer like a constrictor, but now much more considerate of her. A sole tear of raw emotion dripped down her cheek.
Luna let go of the pegasus, wiping away her tear, “Besides, you look gorgeous. We don't want you to wreck your makeup with crying, now do we?”
Fluttershy could only nod, taking a deep breath as confidence rose within her chest. Her friend's calming words made her feel like she could do it. Like she could take on the crowd of ponies, and give them the best classical performance they've seen. Maybe she was over-exaggerating a bit, but she felt more confident than she had in a long time, perhaps ever.
“If it makes you feel better.” Luna concluded, “I'll stay behind the wall here, and you can look to me if you have trouble... Okay?”
Fluttershy could only nod, smiling as she turned to her birds. “Okay, let's get ready. Mayor Mare should be done any second now.” Her voice sounded as crisp as mountain air, even if it was her usual quiet level.
As if on cue, Mayor Mare raised her voice a bit to be heard well enough through the velvet curtain, “... And now, we have Fluttershy performing a musical treat for us, before we get this festival underway!” Luna retreated to a safe distance, as Fluttershy took a deep breath and pointed at her birds with a hoof.
Shaking it in a steady beat, she counted off quietly, “And a one, a two, a three, and...”
Fluttershy shone as the curtains opened, the light meeting her dress. The soft sound of birdsong floated in the air, as the majority of the stage was now in view of the audience.
Just as she had heard before, Luna listened as the melody rose steadily, happily. Fluttershy raised her forehooves at a section of her ensemble, a higher tone added in to the mix.
The noted kept dancing higher and higher, skipping and jumping around. The birds' music radiated everywhere, even the night's crickets tuned out. The joyful sound was all around, and only two ponies knew what came next.
Without warning, the happy timbre died with a few short notes and plummeted to deeper octaves. The newer notes were stretched out, the birds holding sullen sounds for seconds at a time. Then the beat slowly rose, and so did the tone.
The tunes were still long and drawn out, as their pitch finally reach it's starting point. Unlike the first time Luna heard them, however, they began morphing into the same cheery notes as the beginning. After half a minute of a more happy melody, the song finally slowed to a stop.
Fluttershy turned to face the crowd. After some initial clapping, a few ponies stood up and kept clapping. More and more ponies followed suit, until it blew up into a full standing ovation. The mare wanted to cower in her shyness, but a sideways glance at Luna changed her mind. The alicorn was beaming, her expression giving Fluttershy the strength the stand firm on the stage.
After awhile the clapping died down. “Thank you.” Fluttershy said before exiting behind the stage. A cheer broke out, as the other ponies began to gravitate towards the festival's numerous attractions.
As soon as Fluttershy got behind the curtain, Luna began jumping up and down in excitement, “You did it!” She cried, “Yay!”
Fluttershy looked around to check if no one was around, before unorthodoxly joining in on the hysteria, “I know, I know!” She exclaimed, “They even liked it! And I didn't hide or anything, but I stayed there! I did it!” The rush felt so... Liberating to her.
“I'm so proud of you.” Luna told her, now quieter. She gave her a quick hug.
“Aww, thanks.” Fluttershy said bashfully. A rush of emotion overcame her as she looked at the other mare, adding in, “I could have never done it if it weren't for you, Luna.”
The pegasus' mind ticked again at the sound of that reemerging, excessively warm tone. Within that same second, she realized Luna hadn't said it.
'That was in my own voice.' She thought, shocked, '...By the stars, what is it? I know... I know I've heard it before.'
Fluttershy browsed through her memories, trying to find it. She thought back to her recent times with her friends in Ponyville... But no, it wasn't there. Reluctantly, she pried into her darker memories of flight school. Again, no, it wasn't amongst the bullying, name-calling, and crying.
Concentrating more, she forced into her days as a foal. There, she found it. She could only remember the voice of her father, although it was all she needed.
“Fluttershy, you're the best thing that's ever came into my life.”
It wasn't quite the same, but the realization hit her like a train. It all made sense now... The feelings of emptiness when she was gone, the tolerance for everything she did, the simple joy of just being around her.
The warmth in her own voice, nearly an exact copy of her father's. It was unmistakably the same. It... it was primal, unbreakable, undeniable, unsurpassed love. This love, this was not shared to any other being for Fluttershy. She loved her animal and equine friends all the same, but this one for... For Luna, it was many times stronger than anything she'd ever felt.
The warmth in her voice now enveloped and covered her whole body. It made her feel impervious to anything. Like a suit of armor, she could go through anything. Luna was all she needed.
'Luna... I love you.'
The moon was now steadily rising in the night sky. It's reflected light glittered in the trees around two lone ponies. A light wind rustled through the trees, quietly adding a sweet melody of swaying tree branches. The ponies were walking side by side, talking quietly as they both enjoyed the beautiful scene in the night sky.
Luna had outdone herself again, bringing a wide spectrum of colors into the night and calling upon the stars to glitter with a ferocity that hadn't been seen before. She wanted the night to go well, to be perfect, if she could make it so.
Her friend Fluttershy had put on such a dazzling performance of musical prowess earlier, that the alicorn felt she had to return the gesture in her artwork. It'd also serve another purpose, to help encourage her to confess her feelings to the yellow mare... But for the hour and a half they'd been walking together, she had no such luck.
Luna was a stranger to admitting her true feelings. Pre-Banishment era, she would confide her feelings deep within herself, which had a dangerous consequence. The brewery of grief and jealousy had spawned Nightmare Moon, a side of her that she lost control to. Never again would she place such a role on herself, to carry all her feelings inside.
But every time she looked at Fluttershy, Luna lost all her will to tell the mare what she felt. Fluttershy was so sensitive, and overtly responsive to other ponie... The goddess felt if she told her, the yellow mare would be intimidated or scared. She didn't want to lose her best friend, now of all times when she was still weak from her exile in the moon.
“Luna, are you okay?” Fluttershy giggled, “You've been staring at that tree for some time now,”
Luna blinked back into her reality, her love's quiet voice derailing her thoughts. She blushed, as she realized she had been zoning out at a tree in the midst of her revelations. How long had she been staring?
“Haha...” Luna laughed embarrassedly, “No, I was just...” She sighed before continuing on, “...Thinking.”
“Oh I didn't mind.” Fluttershy replied, “Besides... You were kinda cute with your mouth open, looking like you were trying to chop down the tree with your mind.”
Luna's mind was blown at the comment. Fluttershy thought she looked cute? She blushed even harder than before, not knowing what to say.
“Uhhh y-yeah, well I just had something on my mind.” She managed to reply.
Fluttershy giggled again, her pink mane flowing in the breeze, “Well, come on. I know a great place around here where we can see the whole sky.”
“Okay,” Luna replied, her coat returning to normal color. It still felt hot though, an unusual sensation to the blue pony. She hadn't been social with nearly anypony in a long time, excluding the previous few days. In those days alone she felt she had blushed more than ever before in her life. It felt... Good, knowing she was still capable of behaving like a normal pony.
She followed Fluttershy out to the outskirts of the treeline, the dim white light showing around the silhouette of two deciduous trees. From here both could see the night's sky, the awe of the lights produced by unknown cosmos.
“Wow,” Luna said, “You're right, it looks really neat from here.”
“I thought you'd like it,” Fluttershy said, “Besides...” Her voice broke off quietly, as she gulped, “I need to tell you something.”
Luna tilted her head in curiosity, before butting in, “No, before you do, I have to tell you something first. Fluttershy, it's... Important. I have to leave for Canterlot in a few hours, and I would hate myself if I left without telling you.” Luna's eyes turned pleadingly to her.
The mare only nodded, gazing into her eyes. Luna took a deep breath, trying gather herself.
“Fluttershy, I... I,” She stuttered, “I, I Lo-,” Her words clung to her throat, refusing to come out. Fluttershy gave Luna a puzzled look, as the princess chuckled nervously. “I mean, I looo...” Her lips were puckered out with a surprised expression on her face.
Fluttershy tilted her head back and gave out a high pitched laugh. She almost fell over until she saw how down Luna now looked. “Oh, Luna, what is it?” She said, sitting back up and killing her laughter. “I'm sorry if I laughed, it's just the look on your face was hard to resist.”
“I was trying to say something important!” Luna told her, frustration in her voice. She pouted, crossing her arms over her chest and turned away from her friend.
“Aww...” Fluttershy cooed, bringing herself right up behind the blue mare, their coats narrowly brushing. The timid pony reached her snout up towards Luna's face ever so slowly, so she wouldn't notice.
Luna recoiled in surprise as she felt Fluttershy nuzzling up against the side of her face, rubbing against her as gently as possible. Then she shut her eyes, enjoying the heartwarming gesture.
“You can tell me anything you like,” Fluttershy told her, bringing her head away. Luna opened her eyes, confidence now rising within her.
'She's too beautiful.' Luna thought to herself. Those harmonious blue eyes, she could get lost in them forever. 'It's now or never...'
“Fluttershy,” Luna said quietly, command now back in her voice, even if it was a whisper. She kept focus on those eyes, taking a deep breath. The pegasus kept her gaze on the alicorn, her pupils growing in earnest.
“I love you.”
Fluttershy said nothing, her mouth silent. The same could not be said for her mind, however. It was a beehive of emotion and activity. Did she hear right? Did the one she love, Luna, really love her too?
If hearts could grow wings and fly, hers would have then. No words, no concept could explain how she was feeling. Knowing that her love, a royal pony who she thought she would never have had a chance to be with, loved her too; It was surreal.
Fluttershy knew she wasn't a pony much for words. Gestures of kindness was her language, a reassuring hug or a friendly smile were her dialogue.
She knew there was only one way she could convey her feelings fully to Luna. Gestures of love were a different type of language for her, although somewhat similar to kindness. Fluttershy didn't know exactly how to do it, but she was sure the message would get across.
Leaning in closer to Luna, Fluttershy slowly brought her lips to hers, translating those three iconic words perfectly as she wrapped her forehooves around the blue mare.
Luna had fidgeted nervously, in the half second Fluttershy said nothing. She was almost compelled to apologize, before she felt soft lips upon her.
Her eyes widened, in complete disarray as the yellow pony brought her hooves over her mane. She never expected this, admitting to herself that she'd be less surprised if Fluttershy fled in embarrassment.
'Take it for what it is, Luna.' A small voice told her in her head. It was a long time since her conscience had visited her, well over a millennium.
Following the advice, she closed her eyes, tilting her head to kiss her companion better. She too wrapped her arms around her, drawing herself closer in.
Luna unclenched her teeth, letting her tongue gently coax out Fluttershy's own. With a little effort, the pegasus opened her mouth.
Their tongues met, finishing a bond that had been building for almost a week now. This bond, unbreakable, was represented as the two ponies kissed in the night.
Fluttershy let herself go headfirst into bliss, and immersed herself in the moment. Her heart slowed as she embraced Luna more passionately, pushing even closer to the mare off her hooves. Breathing in her scent, Fluttershy lost it and tried to bring herself as close as possible to Luna.
However, the added push from her companion pushed Luna off balance, as she tumbled to the ground with Fluttershy falling on top of her. The mare was completely sprawled on Luna, their bodies merging flawlessly as her back rested on the cool grass below. Their lips were still locked, but not for much longer.
Fluttershy finally broke the intimate kiss, breathing heavily. A small strand of saliva was all that remained, but only for half a second as it disintegrated in the breeze.
Luna was panting as well, but her eyes were calm as she stared up at the one she loved. It felt as if Euphoria itself could be crackling like lightning between them; the goddess was enjoying the physical closeness she was sharing with the other pony, warmth radiating from all around her.
She could stay like this forever, with her arms wrapped around Fluttershy and their coats brushing.
“Do you really have to go?” Fluttershy finally whispered in her ear, before burying her muzzle along Luna's neck and mane.
Luna smiled, “No. I think Celestia will understand.” She kissed Fluttershy's neck, rubbing her back.
Slowly Fluttershy got up, much to Luna's dismay. She gently poked Luna's shoulder, “Come on, get up.” The pink-maned pony closed her eyes, smiling as she browsed the previous few moments in her memory. “That was amazing, Luna... But I- Uhh... We should be getting home soon.”
She was still standing over Luna, and noticed she still hadn't gotten up. The yellow pony looked down, and saw that Luna was grinning up at her. Fluttershy replied more sternly, feeling something was wrong, “What is it?”
“You're so beautiful.” Luna told her, then began to get up, as the other mare's serious expression dissipated.
“Aww...” Fluttershy felt her heart melting. Being it told to her, the phrase sounded better than anything she'd read in her romantic novels. “I love you too.” She said passionately. Then the two began to walk off towards her cottage.
Luna pecked Fluttershy on the neck as the came over the small brick bridge, which led to the front door of the small house in front of them.
Fluttershy giggled, playfully pushing her away, “Stop, hehe, that tickles!” Her companion laughed, enjoying the moment. Luna was about to do it again, when a light flashed in front of the pair.
In the brief second, Celestia appeared. Fluttershy eeped in surprise, as the older goddess teleported in front of them.
“I'm sorry to intrude and I'll try to make it quick, but I have to ask Luna somethings.” Celestia explained, her words coming out in rapid succession. Confusion riddled her voice, as she continued on, “Is it really true, you two in love? I mean, I heard the news half an hour ago, but I had to make sure. Sorry if I was interrupting, but even I didn't expect this.”
Luna looked over to Fluttershy, rubbing her back to calm her down, before turning back to her sister, “Umm... Yes?"
Celestia's eyes softened, gladdened by the news that her younger sibling had found someone she loved. “Well, then that would bring up my second question... Would you like me to raise and lower the moon for the next few days?”
“That'd be great.” Luna told her, “Thank you, Celestia.”
“I figured you'd rather like to sleep in and enjoy being with her for awhile. Don't worry Luna, I'll keep it in check.” The sun goddess replied. Her horn glowed, readying to teleport back to Canterlot.
“Wait!” Fluttershy called out. Celestia stopped, casting her a puzzled glance. “Umm... I mean,” The mare's voice got quieter, “Who told you we were in love?”
“Why, nature's own messengers, of course,” A small green bird flew down, perching on the Princess' shoulder. “They can do more than just music.” She winked at them both, and with another brief flash, was erased from view.
“That's just like Celly,” Luna chuckled, “She's so nosy and it's no wonder she ends up ruining the mood.”
Fluttershy raised an eyebrow curiously, “The mood was ruined?” She asked, before planting a kiss on Luna's cheek. “Besides, I couldn't care,” She yawned, “I'm too tired to care.”
They approached the door, Luna opening it for them with her magic. The cottage was dark, but it lit up slightly from Luna's horn. She followed her upstairs, Fluttershy's hooves plodding along tiredly. Now, Luna herself was feeling a little weary.
The pegasus climbed into the bed, pulling aside some blankets to make room for her companion. Luna gulped, more than a little nervous at sharing a bed with another pony. 'Pony up, Luna!' She told herself before filling in the vacant side of the bed, lying on her back.
Fluttershy snuggled up to her, resting her head on Luna's shoulder and throwiing her forehooves around her neck. Her breath gently rolled over the princess' face, her sweet scent flooding Luna's senses.
“You know what?” Luna said. She turned her head over, seeing Fluttershy had her eyes closed.
The yellow mare simply replied with a drowsy, “Hmm?” before nestling her muzzle along Luna's neck. She hugged the alicorn tighter to her, the coats meshing like one.
“This just feels so... Right.” Luna continued, staring up at the ceiling, “Lying here with you, with you close to me. I feel, fulfilled.”
“You know what I mean?” She asked Fluttershy, looking over at her. But the mare was now asleep, her chest rising and falling peacefully, brushing up along Luna's side.
Using her arm that wasn't wedged between herself and her love, she brushed a few strands of hair out of Fluttershy's face.
Luna sighed, “You look too peaceful to answer right now...”
She rested her head on the pillows, turning herself to be face to face with the other mare. She wrapped her free hoof over Fluttershy, taking one last glance at the mare's pretty face.
As Luna closed her eyes and drifted off into sleep, a single, poetic thought rose to her mind.
'Even if a ship sails too far, it can still end up somewhere beautiful. And that's right here... With Fluttershy.'
Luna stopped short of Sugarcube Corner, Fluttershy at her side, “Well, what if they don't like the me?” She asked. A worrisome tinge was in her voice, anxiety chewing at her insides.
Fluttershy nuzzled her gently, “Don't worry... Just stay out here until I call you, okay?” She looked up, still seeing her partner casting fretful glances at the door in front of them. “Hey, they won't mind... I promise.” She added, reassuringly.
Luna sighed, “I guess you're right. I trust you, and that's good enough for me.”
The pegasus pecked her on the cheek before walking up towards Ponyville's bakery. Inside, she could hear quick, bass pounding music playing. The party's host, Pinkie Pie, was still ecstatic after the DJ P0n-3 concert and was now playing some of her music.
Pinkie Pie was holding one of her signature parties, the day after she went to see DJ P0n-3. There, the energetic pony had got to talk with the famous musical artist, and even managed to get her hands on some DJ equipment; undoubtedly leaving an impression on the celebrity. Apparently, her love for the party scene and tireless enthusiasm struck a chord with the DJ.
Fluttershy gulped. It was over a week since she embarked on her romance with Luna, and so far, no ponies in Ponyville really knew about their intimate relationship. She'd gotten an invite to the party this morning, and decided it was the best time to tell her friends the news. However, it seemed easier said than done, as nervousness tingled at her hooves.
Without bothering to knock, she opened the door. The floor was a mess of confetti and balloons everywhere. A few pink strobe lights revolved around, their rays filling the room. Refreshments lined a table along a wall, while an enormous, vinyl record-shaped cake was placed on the other side of the room. In the middle, a dance floor was positioned with lights illuminating it's borders. Behind that, a Pink mare was standing at a table, large headphones over her ears. She was concentrating on one of her turntables, adjusting the record with one hoof while playing with mixer with her other hoof.
Two ponies, her friends Rarity and Applejack, appeared in her view. “Hold up y'all! Fluttershy's here!” Called the orange earth pony. The music quieted down, Pinkie Pie placing down her headphones and bounced over to them.
“Oh hi, Fluttershy!” She said enthusiastically to her, “Glad you could make it!” Two other ponies, Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash, joined the others.
“Yeah, I haven't seen you around lately, Fluttershy,” Rainbow Dash said, eying her suspiciously, “Not in the air, or even transporting your animals. You look... Different.” She stared at her, “You didn't go into the Everfree Forest, did you?”
“What?! No, of course not... I couldn't, I wouldn't!” Fluttershy recoiled in surprise. Her fellow pegasus' scrutinizing looks made her feel uncomfortable.
“Now hold on,” Twilight butted in, “I'm sure Fluttershy didn't do that. However, I too have noticed your absence... Did something happen?”
No other pony spoke, her five friends' eyes looking on questioningly. The nervousness in her hooves now shot up through her legs, causing them to wobble a little. Fluttershy took a deep breath.
“Well, Yes. I mean, sort of... Ooh I don't know.” Her voice grew quieter, “I met somepony special.”
Her friend's faces contorted with bewilderment, with the exception of Rainbow Dash, who asked, “Wait... What? Special? I don't even...” She trailed off, lost in thought. Then she gasped, “Oh! Y-You mean like... Dating?” Her voice sounded lost, unaccustomed to the thoughts of love.
“Umm....” Fluttershy replied, lowering her head, “Yes?”
Rainbow Dash's expression joined the ranks of the others, all of them staring in astonishment. They sat like that for a few seconds, before the timid pegasus broke the silence, “Oh dear...” Fluttershy said to herself, blushing hotly. “I-I guess I'd better go ask her to come in now.”
As she turned around, Applejack and Rarity looked at each other. Rarity mouthed a single word, unable to speak, “Her?”
The quiet mare opened the door, calling out, “Okay, you can come in now! They're just a little... Umm, surprised.” She held it open as Luna sheepishly entered the room, her shy expression deepening as she saw the other ponies' faces. She smiled awkwardly to them, as Fluttershy closed the door and came up next to her.
By now, the amazed equines had their mouths open, not knowing what to make of the spectacle in front of their eyes. The quietest pony of them all, first off, was in a serious relationship. That alone was something they never even considered. Second, and completely mind-blowing, was the fact that she was dating a princess. She was Luna, an immortal alicorn that seemed as distant as the stars she created.
Fluttershy put her arm around Luna, trying to ease the awkward standstill, to no avail. “Hello,” Luna said, trying to help, “Fluttershy has told me so much about you girls, and I've always wanted to meet yo-”
“Aww, ah'm so happy for ya, sugarcube.” Applejack randomly blurted out. Being the element of honesty, she was the first to tell that this indeed was real. “You two look perfect for each other, better than caramel an' apples, if ah do say so mahself.” Her gaze softened, her freckles rising in her cheeks as she smiled.
Her words broke the spell, and an outburst of praise barraged the couple as the other ponies came back to life.
“You two are soooo adorable together!” Pinkie Pie squealed, her hair bouncing up and down as she jumped with delight.
“Yeah, I think you'll make a wonderful couple. I'm so happy for you!” Twilight said, before giving both her and Luna a quick hug. The latter mare was not expecting it, and tensed in surprise as the lavender pony hugged her.
“Umm... Yeah, ditto.” Rainbow Dash said as she scratched her mane, embarrassed. Emotions, especially the more caring ones, were not her strong suit.
Rarity, the last pony to talk, stepped up to her, an expression of faux insult on her face. “Now, Fluttershy... We both know that I was the one whose always wanted to marry a noble pony... And now, you upstage me by falling in love with the top of Equestrian society!” Then her expression lightened, as she chuckled, her voice replaced with joy. “I'm so glad you found somepony special in your life. You both must join me at the spa sometime to tell me how you two met.”
“Ok, Rarity.” Fluttershy replied, giggling. Rarity's sarcastic humor really helped her feel better.
Pinkie Pie dashed in the middle of the group, “Hey, weren't we here to party?!” She cried. Not waiting for a response she jumped over her DJ Setup, placing the headphones over her ears. Pushing up a slider, the volume of the music returned with it's hard, yet catchy beat reverberating throughout the room.
The ponies dispersed, except for the couple. Luna looked over to Fluttershy, unconsciously tapping her hoof to the beat, “Is this DJ P0n-3?” She asked.
“Oh yes,” Fluttershy responded, “It's probably her most successful release. It's called 'Manticores n Stuff'.” She nuzzled her, quietly whispering in her ear, “Don't tell them, but I really like this song.”
Luna experimentally moved her body to the beat, enjoying it. “I do too,” She announced, before padding over the illuminated floor tiles. “Wanna dance?” She asked, looking back at the pegasus.
“Umm, yeah.” Fluttershy responded. She walked up to her side, slowly moving her shoulders and head to the song.
“There you go...” Luna told her, steadily dancing with greater enthusiasm until her whole body flowed with the booming bass. “Come on!” She continued delightfully, “It's really fun once you get into it.”
“Okay,” The yellow mare said, trying to match her partner's rhythm. After a few minutes, Fluttershy got the hang of it and began dancing with joy. She giggled as she and Luna synced their movements, their coats continually brushing together.
Until the early hours of morning the two mares enjoyed themselves, dancing, talking, eating and drinking to their heart's content... Which of course, was each other.
The sun was cresting along the horizon as the pair left Sugarcube Corner. “Thanks for the party!” Luna called out behind her towards Pinkie Pie, who was waving good bye from the door.
The alicorn was leaning on Fluttershy's shoulder, her legs weak. “You know, I've never had that much fun, ever.”
Fluttershy looked over at her as they kept walking, “I can tell you overdid yourself. You danced for so long, it looks like your hooves are going to fall off!”
Luna giggled, “No they won't. Even if they did, It wouldn't stop me from dancing with you again.” She paused, smiling at her memories, “You know, you're quite the dancer once you get going.”
“Really?” Fluttershy's voice squeaked, blushing. They kept walking towards the outskirts of town, the majority of it's inhabitants just beginning their day.
“Oh yes.” Luna told her, “There's a lot more to you than meets the eye.” The two were rounding the corner of the path they were on, which soon changed from stone to dirt as they got closer to the cottage. “For instance.” She continued a moment later, “You seem very quiet and timid, but you've been the most inspiring, caring pony I've ever met.”
“Aww, Luna, that was really sweet. But, I'm sure there are other ponies like me.” Fluttershy said modestly, as the sight of her cottage came into view.
“No, I doubt it.” Luna dismissed, “That's what I was going to say next; You're always so focused on other ponies and animals, that rarely do you get a chance to see how wonderful you are.” She took a deep breath, reaching over to nuzzle her “And that's where I think I fit in. I'm here to remind you of how compassionate, funny, and undeniably beautiful you are, even if you don't always see it.”
Fluttershy returned the nuzzle, “And I will always be there for you too, Luna” She stopped, now on top of the small brick bridge, “And I think... Since your problem is to remind the most beautiful pony in Equestria of how amazing she is, it's also my problem to remind you as well.”
She leaned in closer to her, whispering a single sentence, “I know only one way to do it.” Then she embraced Luna, kissing her passionately.
As their tongues met, Luna could once again feel electricity forming between them, symbolizing a bond that could last eons, if forever. With that, the alicorn could feel an older, darker part of her wither and vanish. It was like erasing all the shadows from a sunny day. Getting rid of the bad, keeping the good.
She felt anew. Falling in love with Fluttershy was her most cherished accomplishment of her life, forcing her to look at the world differently. Perhaps it could be called a rebirth of Luna herself. Old knowledge was flowing into her brain, ones she never learned a thousand years ago. It was like a Renaissance of the Moon.
Dear Dead Frontier's Brony Brigade
I would like to thank you all for your unwavering support and constructive criticism throughout my first fanfic. The amount of time and effort you put into proofreading those 128 pages of drafts (Yes, I counted them) was undoubtedly stellar. You may not be the largest MLP-community. not by a long shot, but you're definitely the best.
~Smiggel Aka Habanc