Well, here it is everyone! The conclusion to MCNE! Enjoy and please review—thank you! ^_^
The Most Chaotic Night Ever
Chapter 30 (Bonus Chapter):
The Warming of Hearts
"…So then I snapped up a ten gallon hat for myself, covered all the buffalos' jade in chocolate, took a hunk with me for a snack, and rode off into the sunset on a saddled cactus. And that, Tia, is how I had the best wild west vacation ever!" The chaos master finished a swig of eggnog and chuckled. "Oh, it's been nearly twelve hundred years since that escapade, but I hear the local buffalo still tell stories of the 'chaotic one who made our prairies pink with cotton candy clouds'." He sighed as he wiped a tear of mirth from his eye. "Those were good times. Selfish but good."
The sun princess laughed too as she sipped some eggnog from her own festive glass. "You're certainly an expert at enjoying yourself, Discord: not that I've ever had any doubts. And now look at how good you're doing at spreading that enjoyment to others." She gestured to crowd around them in Discord's living room.
Indeed, the living room of his chaos cottage currently housed the girls and Spike all laughing and dancing to music and reveling in the decorations and delicacies for this festive day of the year—Hearthswarming Eve.
Discord nodded at the sight, stirring his eggnog with a candy cane. "Yes, well, wherever the master of chaos goes, a good party isn't far behind. Who knew I would turn out to like being such excellent company for everypony?"
"I think you always knew deep down," Celestia replied with a cheeky smile. "But if you really needed any more proof, tonight's successful party and how fun of a companion you've been on adventures with me over the last few months ever since the Gala should certainly give it to you." She sighed. "I'm just sorry we've only been able to explore places within flying distance of Canterlot. I wish I had more time to take trips farther away."
Discord snapped their eggnog glasses full again and shrugged. "Oh, don't worry about it, Celestia—we knew from the start of this whacky friendship of ours that there would be some limitations with your scheduling. And planning adventures together will probably only get even trickier if I start teaching at that school of yours sometime soon. I'm just glad for whatever extra quality time we can manage together as friends." He smiled as he added, "Though I will miss you if I plan some longer trips alone—it really is nice to have someone to entertain besides myself with my traveling shenanigans."
"If you did take long trip, would you still make time to write to me?" Celestia's smile warmed.
Discord smile warmed as well. "Only if you'd still make time to write me too. That was our deal, remember?" He gave her a playful wink.
Celestia laughed softly. "And if you make any new friends, please bring them to Canterlot to visit: I'd love to meet them."
"And I'd love to show them off as proof of my friendship skills." The chaos master held his head high.
Suddenly Luna, a fresh glass of eggnog floating at her side, came prancing past them with a big smile, bopping her head to the latest holiday song playing on the phonograph. "Sister, Discord, come and dance again! The hour grows late, and tis so much fun celebrating Hearthswarming by sharing such carefree time with friends instead of by holding a formal banquet like in the old days."
Celestia grinned. "I don't know, Luna—you seem to be doing enough dancing for all of us. Is that a new step Pinkie taught you?"
Luna giggled and raised up her head. "Nay, tis one of my own! I have graduated to improvising steps instead of just learning them."
"Yay and verily. And speaking of words like 'yay and verily', sounding a little old timey, aren't we, Luna?" Discord raised an eyebrow and grinned more.
Luna just shrugged. "Well, tis a very ancient and traditional holiday: a rare perfect time to indulge in fancy formal speech."
"Point taken." Discord chuckled. "And in that case, Luna, get thyself out there and show those girls how it's done—for the sake of tradition! Celestia and I have taken up enough time on the dance floor already, especially me between dancing with her and you and each of the girls all evening."
Celestia nodded. "It is nighttime after all, Luna: you're the star of the show until sunrise."
Luna beamed. "Then as such I shall indeed show everypony how it's done!" She laughed and strutted her way out to the middle of Discord's living room to dance right alongside Twilight, who was currently rocking out in her signature dorky way with a big smile on her face.
Celestia watched her sister go with a smile.
"You should go out there with her." Discord sipped more of his eggnog. "I've never watched you cut a rug on your own, Celestia."
Celestia shrugged. "Oh, I'm not very good without a partner, I'm afraid. And besides…I think I'd like to just watch everyone being so happy for now." She yawned. "It really is getting very late for me." She walked the few steps over to Discord's sofa and took a seat on one end.
Discord came to sit beside her. "Mind if I join you? I'm a little tired myself from all the hours of holiday fun we've had so far. And I'm afraid I'm not getting any younger."
Celestia nodded. "Of course. I'd love to have the chance to talk more anyway."
Discord nodded in return. "You read my mind."
They settled in together, just sipping eggnog and watching the party.
"Maybe I should host a few other annual celebrations here…" Discord grinned. "You have to have a birthday coming up soon, right?"
"Eventually…" Celestia smiled more. "But Luna's is first. I'm planning a nighttime surprise party at the castle when that comes up. I hope you'll be there."
"As though I would pass up a chance at more royal food and partying and gracing you with my hilarious presence." Discord chuckled. "Though I'll have to have you all over here again sometime soon, even just for tea. I love how extra chaotic all of this partying has made my cottage…and I love having all of you here." He cleared his throat. "Not that I'll ever admit to anything that mushy on the record, but just between you and me."
Celestia's gaze warmed. "It's Hearthswarming and it's your housewarming party—we all love being here with you too, Discord. Besides, the girls were more than happy to see their families on Hearthswarming Day instead of tonight, and Luna and I are very happy to have a third person to celebrate with." Her eyes hazed. "And I think it's very sweet that you're going to visit Fluttershy's family for Hearthswarming dinner tomorrow night by the way."
The chaos master shrugged, looking down and breaking off a piece of his cup to munch on. "Yes, well…it'll be nice to meet my best friend's family." His voice lowered. "Though to tell you the truth, I'm a little nervous. What if they don't like me?"
"They'll like you, Discord," the sun princess assured softly. "You're a wonderful person and a good friend. Just be yourself and get to know them."
"I'll do my best." He sighed. "Thanks, good buddy." He gave her a playful nudge.
She gave him a playful nudge in return. "You're welcome, my dear friend."
They shared a warm, content smile…but then something happened: Celestia blinked a few times and a yawn escaped her.
"Yikes, it really is past your bedtime, isn't it?" Discord grinned but then yawned a little too. "And now you're spreading it to me." He snapped—a brown cake with specks of color appeared in the air. "How about some fruitcake to help keep us awake?"
Celestia nodded and used her magic to slice them some pieces. "I don't think it would be Hearthswarming if I didn't have some fruitcake, Discord—and it's even nicer to share it with a friend."
Discord snapped them up plates and forks, and soon they were cozily eating as they watched their friends. Discord even used his magic to throw another log onto the upside down fire in the hearth; the room grew all the cozier.
"Now then," Discord dunked a piece of his cake plate in his eggnog and ate it, "I just finished telling you another fun story about my life—my big encounter with the buffalo—so I do believe it's your turn to share another fun one about yours with me."
Celestia smiled more as she finished a bite of cake. "Of course, Discord." She considered, and then her smile picked up on one side. "Want to hear another story about filly Twilight?"
"Oh yes." Discord beamed. "Her junior shenanigans are legendary apparently after all. My favorite is still the one where she tried to turn an apple into an orange for her magical kindergarten final project for you and accidentally turned all of the cider in the castle into orange juice. Priceless."
Celestia laughed softly. "Well, in this latest installment of her 'shenanigans', filly Twilight thinks I need a day off and wakes up early to try and raise the sun for me…" She rolled her eyes to the side. "By the end of things, all the castle tree tops were singed, half the sundials had exploded, and the Canterlot parliament was in a full blown debate over the definition of the word 'noon'. And it's quite a story in between."
Discord chuckled. "Oh, Tia, do go on."
Celestia nodded. "Well, it all started with Twilight sneaking into my study and putting a sleeping spell on me just before dawn. A villain or an intruder my guards would have stopped. But an adorable purple filly saying she had a 'Su-pwise for Pwincess Cewestia'—she strolled right in like she owned the place."
The two friends laughed together.
What a cozy night for everyone, surrounded with friends and laughter and warmth and music. The cottage was filled with a chaos that somehow lightened hearts and brought a deep peace to all. And so the evening went on while Celestia and Discord resided upon the cozy sofa together telling stories and talking as the hour grew late.
Celestia's first waking thought was that she was very warm. Her second thought was a relieved realization that, beyond her closed eyelids, there seemed to be darkness which meant the time for sunrise couldn't quite be here and so she wouldn't have to leave this cozy space where she had clearly dozed off wrapped up in such a soft, secure blanket…or something.
And then she realized that whatever she was wrapped up in didn't feel like a blanket.
Celestia's eyes blinked open. They adjusted to the dim light of the low fire; she saw a quiet, near-dark room where Twilight, Spike and the girls all slept in little makeshift beds of blankets and pillows on the floor. The phonograph had long since stopped playing but the scent of evergreens and sugar and peppermint lingered in the air. 'It's almost Hearthswarming morning.' She smiled, recalling the holiday. 'How nice.' She yawned and went to turn against the pillows or sofa cushions that must have come to cradle in her sleep.
Instead, she turned to find herself embracing a draconequus who was apparently holding her in his strong arms as he slumbered.
The sun princess's eyes widened, and her mind raced. She tried to recall the last memory she had before now and…Oh yes—she and Discord sitting on this sofa, sharing cake and telling stories, laughing, watching the party…the house growing warm, her eyes growing heavy, the occasional yawn escaping him. And then it all became a haze. And now here they were.
And so Celestia let out a breath as she finally accepted her situation—she had fallen asleep near Discord…with Discord…wrapped up in Discord's grasp with his warm paw upon her back (their tails were even curled together). Her eyes rose up slowly to observe his face, and she smiled at the sight of him smiling in his sleep. Was he dreaming about her? She blushed at the thought. Then she wondered what his dream version of her was like and if it was anything like her dream version of him; she blushed even more.
Finally she took a breath and focused again on the real Discord before her; so close in a way that had to make her think of the last time he had been this close; their kiss beneath his tree. And now her eyes fell to his mouth as the memory grew in her mind. He had originally wanted to hold her during that kiss just like he was doing now. She swallowed. 'It really would have complicated things…' Yet because they hadn't touched, she had such a vivid memory of their kiss…so strange and yet… His odd snout; how there had been hesitation before it could connect with hers properly, and the brusque feeling of his fur against her soft lips, how his fang had almost worried her until he had angled it so gently in a way that felt safe, the light scent of cotton candy on his breath, the tickle of his beard on her chin… ('Luna's right…I really, really do like beards')…and how the two of them had lingered perhaps a moment longer than necessary under the dim blue light of his tree—she and the chaos master who loved her.
…How she sometimes dreamed of being under that tree with him again. And he would flirt with her and tease her and tickle her and even cup her cheek in his paw…. But always just before things went forward, she would wake up.
And now here was that same, roguish, smiling, unexpectedly wonderful friend so close to her again.
Celestia let out a deep sigh. She swallowed, and whispered in the dark. "Discord. Discord?"
Discord let out a snore and only cuddled closer to her.
She rolled her eyes. "Discord. Please wake up." She nuzzled the side of his head.
Discord snored again, but then his eyes fluttered open. "Hmm…?" He glanced to her and smiled more. "Hmm…well, hello, Tia." He cuddled closer to her. "Oh, I must be having another one of those dreams of mine. That's nice." He chuckled. "You're so cute in firelight…in moonlight…in sunlight…All the lights, really."
Celestia blushed and held back a giggle. "Discord, it's really me and you're awake. Would you ever dream up all the girls here with us?"
Discord blinked and glanced past her—and indeed he observed the girls all asleep on the floor. His eyes widened a little. "Oh. That is a point. Ow." He winced as he pinched his shoulder with his tail. "Hmm, I suppose I am awake then, and this is real. In which case…what exactly is going on, Tia?" He smirked at his friend.
She smiled more. "We fell asleep together on your sofa sometime during the party. And now we're awake."
He raised an eyebrow and gave her an intrigued grin. "Well, no wonder I was sleeping so well—between the fur and the hair and the feathers, you're like hugging a big, cozy marshmallow." He chuckled. "Did I mention I'm a cuddler? It's gotten especially bad ever since I learned how fun hugs can be." He yawned. "And, now I definitely just said something about dreaming about you, didn't I?"
Celestia smiled more. "Yes."
"Mmm hmm." Discord nodded. "But I already mentioned to you a while back that I do that, right?"
Celestia nodded. "Yes."
"Great!" Discord yawned. "So I'll be mildly embarrassed about that tomorrow. But for now can we go back to sleep? I'm exhausted." He snapped up a large pillow beneath their heads and snuggled in close to her.
Celestia blinked. "Like this?"
Discord sighed and snapped again: a blanket appeared over them. "Better?"
"Discord, you know what I mean. We can't stay like this."
Celestia was quiet.
Discord's eyes hazed. "Like I said, it's comfortable, we've clearly already been asleep like this for hours, and besides I really have been having the best night's sleep." He shrugged. "It's comforting being close to a friend, especially on Hearthswarming Eve. Even the girls and Spike are doing it."
Celestia glanced back to their friends—sure enough, Spike had cuddled near Twilight, Rainbow Dash and Applejack were head to head, Rarity had somehow snuggled into Pinkie Pie's big curly tail like a pillow, and even little Fluttershy was snuggled with Angel Bunny. The sun princess smiled and looked to Discord gain. "Yes, I suppose I've been having a good nights sleep too. It is nice to be near a friend." She swallowed. "I'm sure we gave the girls and Luna a good laugh."
"Probably." Discord nodded.
"It was a lovely Hearthswarming Party."
"One of the best parties I've ever thrown, and I've thrown some doozies."
Celestia smiled. "Happy Hearthswarming, Discord."
Discord smile in return. "Happy Hearthswarming, Celestia."
They remained looking to each other for a few moments, eyes hazed in sleepiness with the sound of the fire crackling in the background and the light breathing of the girls.
"You know…" Discord stretched his neck a little, "I was teasing a bit before. Cuddling is great but also not something all friends do. You can go take my bed for the rest of the night if you want—you remember where it is from the tour of the house I gave you a couple weeks ago, right? Down the hall, up the upside down stairs, through the trap door, and just past the bathroom on the left. This week's password to get in is kumquat." He shrugged. "Or I can take my room for the rest of the night, and I'll snap this sofa a little cozier so you can stay out here. I'll have to make a mental note to snap up some guest rooms one of these days if this place really is going to be such a swinging hotspot for me and my friends."
Celestia managed a smile though eyes went down. "That's very nice of you to offer, Discord. But actually it's almost so late that it's early: it'll be time for dawn soon. I should probably just get up and get a head start on preparing for the sunrise. Maybe I'll have a hot cup of cider to wake myself up." She let out a breath and shifted from his grasp.
Discord tilted his head but nodded. "Of course. Do you want any company? I'm sort of wide awake now myself." He slipped his hand off of her back.
Celestia moved out from under the blanket and stood, her eyes still down as she used her hoof to brush back her hair a little. "Thank you, Discord, but you really put a lot of effort into throwing this party—do your best to get some more sleep; you deserve it. And I wouldn't mind a moment to myself. There's always so much to think a bout at Hearthswarming Eve, after all."
"Oh. All right." The chaos master managed a small smile of his own. "In that case, good morning, Celestia."
"Good morning, Discord." Celestia glanced to him again for a moment then turned and departed the room in the direction of the kitchen.
Discord watched her go, an eyebrow raised and a small frown on his features.
Then he blinked as he heard a light yawn and looked down to see his best friend's eyes sleepily open. Fluttershy glanced up at him from the floor. "Discord?"
Discord smiled down at her. "Hello, dear Fluttershy. Happy Hearthswarming."
"Happy Hearthswarming." She smiled back.
"I'm sorry I woke you up." He rolled over to see her better. "It still isn't quite morning yet. You should go back to sleep."
Fluttershy just raised an eyebrow at him though. "Discord, where did Princess Celestia go? You both fell asleep together earlier, and I thought I heard you two talking just now."
"Yes," Discord nodded, "we did fall asleep together. And we were talking. But she decided to get a head start on the morning, so she went to the kitchen for a drink."
"Oh." Fluttershy frowned a little. "I'm sorry she left. You two seemed so cozy together."
Discord yawned. "It's all right. I think she was just a little surprised at waking up together—I know I was. But thank you." He snapped, and a present wrapped in rainbow paper appeared floating in the air. His smile returned. "Want your Hearthswarming present as long as you're awake? It's something you could use right now."
Fluttershy smiled again. "Well, it is almost morning. Thank you, Discord. Would you like yours too?"
Discord grinned more. "Are you kidding—I've been dying to get my hands on it. It's taken all of my willpower not to magically peek." He snapped, and another box appeared in the air—this one wrapped in pale green paper with a yellow bow and a tag reading 'To my friend Discord'. He snapped away the wrapping and smiled more at the sight of the gift inside. "My own teapot and teacup set. And you got each piece in a different color so none of them match." He looked to his friend again.
Fluttershy nodded. "I thought we could start having Tuesday tea here sometimes, and I wanted you to be prepared. And I wanted the tea set to match your chaotic cottage."
Discord chuckled. "You did very well. Thank you, Fluttershy." He snapped away the tea set. "Now, open your present…and try not to laugh." He blushed a little.
Fluttershy opened hers and pulled out a large (poorly) knit patchwork blanket in many colors.
Discord sighed. "I made you a quilt. Actually, Rarity told me how to knit and then went on and on about how special homemade gifts are, so I did my best to knit you a quilt by hand. It's far from perfect, but I sort of like how chaotically it turned out. I hope you do too. But if you don't, I can fix it with magic."
Fluttershy lowered the quilt with a big smile. "You really did this for me by hand? Oh Discord, I don't care if it's 'perfect', I care that you tried to hard for a friend. And I like it—it's very unique." She touched the patches of color.
Discord snapped to spread out the blanket and cover her with it. "I'm very glad, Fluttershy. Now, you get cozy and warm and head back to sleep. And in the morning we'll have a big breakfast of cotton candy pancakes and hot chocolate."
Fluttershy yawned and snuggled into her new quilt, her eyes closing. "Okay, Discord. Goodnight."
"Goodnight, dear Fluttershy." Discord snuggled back under his own blanket and against the pillow under his head.
But the chaos master didn't fall asleep right away; his thoughts lingered for a little while on the strange moment he had just weathered with Celestia. And though he felt cozy curled up here and surrounded by his friends, he had to admit that the loss of the soft, warm princess slumbering in his arms made rest much more difficult to find. His troubled thoughts lingered on her and the future and his feelings until eventually he drifted into a light doze, dreaming of his friends and the holiday (and maybe even cuddling Celestia).
Alone in Discord's kitchen (after she had figured out that he kept his cups in the oven—and a small fire in the cupboard), Celestia sat at the kitchen table, poured herself a big mug of hot mulled cider, took a deep sip, and let out a deep breath. She closed her eyes and tried to clear her head…though, surrounded by the chaos master's home and possessions and in a dimension of disorder, the task was not an easy one. But she inhaled the soothing scent of the cider spices through her nose once more and did her best.
And then, with a faint burst of magic, Luna appeared in the kitchen. She smiled. "Oh good, you're up. I'm glad I don't have to awaken you for sunrise. Happy Hearthswarming, Celestia."
Celestia's eyes opened, and she smiled softly. "Happy Hearthswarming, Luna." She raised an eyebrow. "How did you…?"
Luna approached. "Discord knew that I would need to leave the party for my nightly duties, so he showed me how to create portals to and from this place. It's a bit tricky, but manageable. I'm sure you'll want to learn too so you can visit him."
Celestia nodded. "Maybe later."
Luna smiled more. "Speaking of Discord, I'm afraid when you two fell asleep together, the girls and I could not help ourselves—we chose to capture the memory." She made a photograph appear in front of her sister.
Celestia blinked and looked at the picture: the girls were smiling and waving to the camera, making poses and wearing their Hearthswarming scarves and sweaters, Luna was winking at the camera (her horn aglow as she used her magic to take the shot), Spike was blushing as Rarity put her hoof over his shoulder…and they were all positioned around the sofa where Discord and Celestia lay curled up together in slumber, Celestia wearing a headband with reindeer antlers and Discord with colorful lights strung up in his horns.
"I thought it'd be nice to use for next years Hearthswarming card." Luna chuckled.
Celestia rolled her eyes. "Very funny." She used her magic to send the picture away then added softly, "We'll see."
Luna took a seat across from her sister and likewise poured herself a mug of hot cider. "I left shortly after the photo. I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to see you and Discord wake up. When did you finally realize what had happened?"
"Just a few minutes ago actually."
Luna blinked. 'You mean you spent the whole night together?"
"Not the whole night." Celestia blushed. "Just…until now. And there's still a little bit of time before dawn, so…"
"Sister…" Luna raised an eyebrow and smiled more.
Celestia shrugged. "We stayed asleep together. We were comfortable. I'm not sure why I woke up." She smiled a little more. "I think his beard might have tickled my horn."
"You and beards…" Luna sipped more of her cider. "I really don't understand you're fascination."
"They're cute. And sort of rugged." Celestia laughed softly. "He woke up too after I did. And we talked…"
"Then why is he not in here with you?"
Celestia looked down. "I wanted to be alone."
"Why?" Luna raised an eyebrow.
Celestia let out a deep breath. "To think."
Celestia sipped her cider and continued softly. "Our friendship's complicated, Luna."
"Indeed. Good friends rarely sleep together." Just as Celestia glanced up to give her sister a chastising look, Luna sipped her cider again and went on. "Were you upset finding yourself in that position with him?"
Celestia sighed but then smiled again. "No. I liked waking up with him…and resting with him. It felt good when he held me. He's very warm. And it was very nice to be close to someone in a different way than usual while I slept. He told me he liked it too. He wanted us to sleep like that for the rest of the night."
"So why didn't you?" Luna prompted gently.
"I never would have fallen back asleep." She blushed. "I would have had too much on my mind."
"I see." Luna smiled. She looked into her cider mug and considered. "Sister…it seems like something has shifted between you and Discord over the last few months."
"No." Luna shook her head. "I noticed it a while after the Gala had already past: a small but distinct change in your relationship. Yet I have not been able to get a clear explanation from you about what it is. Did something happen between you and him that I don't know about?" Her eyes went to Celestia's once more.
Celestia remained still for a moment, looking forward in thought. Then finally… "Yes, something happened."
Luna went on. "And would you care to share with me what that was?"
Celestia blushed slightly as she looked up. "I'm afraid he and I promised each other to keep the matter a private one between friends."
"I see." Luna's intrigued smile grew. "Well, may you at least tell me if you liked the thing you can't talk about?"
Slowly a smile came to Celestia's lips. "It's a memory I wouldn't trade for anything, Luna. " Then she blinked a few times and cleared her throat. "But it was still complicated…."
"Can you tell me why?"
The sun princess considered. And then her eyes came directly to her sister's, and Luna's eyes widened—she hadn't seen Celestia look so vulnerable and unsure since that moment at the Gala, after Discord had disappeared following his confession and Celestia had turned to her and said simply, 'I don't know what to do.'
Celestia spoke. "Because…after what happened…he said he wished something more had happened. And then I realized that…I wish more had happened too. I think I was disappointed that we shared something and I didn't feel what he feels. I think I wanted to care for him too when it was over."
"Celie…" Luna's voice was tender; she smiled. "That's beautiful. If you feel this way then why not tell, Discord? Why not court Discord? If you're confused, if you'd like to be closer even if your feelings aren't strong yet, then why not try and see?"
"Because I won't do that to him, Luna." Celestia frowned. "I won't make it seem like there's a chance for us unless I know I have feelings for him."
"But you clearly have something for him," Luna countered.
"What I have is something for wanting a companion, Luna." Celestia blushed and stared down into her cider.
Luna raised an eyebrow.
Her sister sighed and went on. "I've been thinking a lot lately, and I've decided: I'd like to court." She swallowed. "I'd like to try experiencing that part of my life again. I'd like the attention, the affection, the feeling of caring and being cared for. I want somepony special, Luna. It's important to me."
"Discord doesn't deserve to be the first person I go to just because he already likes me." He look went up again and became firmer. "It would be very easy for me to see him under the circumstances. I know he wants me; there's no risk. But it would also be very cruel of me to make myself happy at the expense of getting up his hopes." She let out a breath. "If I ever go to Discord, I want to be sure it's because I have feelings for him, not because I like the fact that he has feelings for me."
Luna was quiet for a moment. Then… "But you still dream about him."
Celestia's eyes widened.
Luna sighed. "Sister, I don't peek into your dreams, but you and I are quite connected, and I am good at reading emotions. Your sleeping thoughts often radiate romance. And sometimes you do still mumble his name at night." She smiled a little.
Celestia's pale cheeks flowered rosy. "The subject of courting has been on my mind lately. And I…do still use Discord as a stand in. Like I said, he's easy to think of like that because I've already experienced him caring for me." She frowned. "I still feel a little guilty about that though."
Luna rolled her eyes to the side. "And I still think you're being too hard on yourself. And that's coming from me."
Celestia finally cracked a smile again. Luna smiled as well.
Then the moon princess sighed. "Sister…I know I warned you once about letting things go too far with Discord because of his potential feelings, but that was back when you didn't even realize he cared for you. Now you've both talked and you know where you stand. And it would be sad to see you use guilt to deny any new feelings you may develop." Celestia seemed about to say something, but Luna smiled and went on. "You don't have to pursue Discord if you're uncomfortable or still a little unsure. But please, if you ever do realize you have genuine love in your heart for Discord, go to him and tell him. You spend too much time thinking about the future and the past and others—live for now and for yourself, just this once, just about this."
Celestia hesitated but then smiled a little more, her gaze warm. "If I ever fall for Discord, I'll tell him…no matter what…even if I'm not sure if he still has feelings for me anymore." She swallowed. "He was brave enough to confess to me; the least I could do is give him the same courtesy."
Luna's smile grew, and she nodded. Then she sipped her cider and couldn't help herself. "You two really were cute falling asleep like that earlier. We thought about waking you both up when we first noticed, but when I tapped Discord on the shoulder, he just yawned and hugged you closer, and you smiled and snuggled against his chest. At that point, we really couldn't help decorating both of you and taking our picture."
Celestia rolled her eyes with a smirk and a light blush. Then she let out a breath. "Luna…this is such a silly thing…"
"Yes?" Luna tilted her head.
Celestia played with her mug with her hoof. "If…" her voice was quiet, "If Discord and I ever really did end up together…you would grant him the traditional permission to court me, right? As my closest present relative." She blushed more. "I know it's old fashioned, but my sister's blessing would mean a great deal to me."
Luna's gaze warmed. "I already gave Discord my blessing in private some time ago. But if it helps, I grant my blessing specifically to you now as well, sister. I just want you to be happy, Celie."
"Oh, I see." Celestia's smile grew. "Well…thank you, Lulu. And I think I am happy. I hope you are too."
Luna nodded. "Very happy."
Celestia sighed. "Celestia and Discord."
Luna shrugged. "It doesn't have a horrible ring to it. And I wouldn't mind a brother-in-law to have fun with, especially one as amusing as Discord."
"We're not going to get married, Luna." Celestia's cheeks turned scarlet…yet her smile remained. "Though I suppose he wouldn't make a bad prince of the sun at that."
Luna's look went and little dry, and she smirked. "You should know that Twilight and I have already agreed that we are never calling him by a title, and that if changelings invade your wedding you both are on your own."
Celestia just blushed laughed. "Come on, Luna, why don't we head back to Equestria now to take care of the sun and moon? Then we can exchange presents and be back here by breakfast."
Luna chuckled as well and nodded. "Very well." Her eyes brightened. "What did you get me?"
Celestia's grin grew. "What did you get me?"
Luna smirked. "Better Question—what did you get Discord?"
Celestia shrugged. "I made him a cake by hoof."
Celestia raised an eyebrow. "What?"
Luna's smile grew, and her look went dry. "Freely making and giving cake. Sure, sister, yes, there's no way you have legitimate feelings for Discord."
Celestia rolled her eyes to the side. "Very funny, Luna. Let's go." She stood up from the table.
Luna stood up as well and created a magic portal for them.
The pony sisters went through to officially bring Hearthswarming Day to Equestria.
After a nice breakfast, the girls (and Spike) had gone off to be with their families for the day, leaving Discord to visit the pony sisters at Canterlot castle as planned. The three of them spent a fun morning frolicking in the snowy castle courtyard, exchanging gifts, and comparing magical hot chocolate recipes.
Eventually it was nearly evening, and Luna had been sleeping for some time, which had left Celestia and Discord alone to enjoy some of Hearthswarming together.
They were sitting in the throne room now, smiling and talking (Discord reclining on a cotton candy throne besides Celestia's real one). And at the moment Celestia was flipping through the pages of a strange book with oddly-colored covers, her gaze warm.
"Discord," Celestia flipped another page, "I know I've thanked you so many times for this, but thank you again. It's the loveliest present I've ever gotten." She finally closed the book and gazed at him.
Discord shrugged with a grin. "You're welcome again, Tia. I just thought about you and what you might like most for Hearthswarming. And you like your little ponies and reading letters and hearing stories and all of your friendships, so…I finally figured if I went around with a journal and asked everypony close to you to write down a favorite story about you, it'd be perfect."
"It is perfect, Discord." She nodded. "And you were very thorough too—along with the girls and Cadance and Luna, you got stories from Mrs. Cake, Spike, Shining Armor, and…you even went to Twilight's parents." She raised an eyebrow.
Discord chuckled. "Yes, and that was fun meeting. I just knocked on their door—hello, Discord here, spirit of disharmony, that guy who's caused your daughter untold hours of frustration. Can we sit down and talk about Celestia, the pony everyone likes to think I'm dating?"
Celestia laughed. "It was very sweet of you, Discord." She flipped a few more pages, blushing lightly. "But, I still don't see…"
"Mine is the last one."
"Oh." Celestia flipped there.
Discord sighed. "It's actually a memory from the past. One day I was scouting out places to launch a chaos attack, when I sensed your magic in a meadow near the Everfree Forest. So I flew down to ambush you and hid myself to wait for the perfect time to strike. But then…I don't know." He swallowed. "You weren't organizing ponies or planting an orderly garden or rehearsing perfectly synchronized battle movements with your guards. You were…smelling wildflowers and pouncing at little white butterflies. Your mane was a mess and you had grass stains on your coat, but you didn't seem to care at all. You just kept playing and enjoying yourself. And attacking didn't seem like it would be any fun at all when there was no order to bring disorder to. So eventually I just went away." He took a breath. "It was a strange memory. But it doesn't feel strange anymore now that I realize maybe part of me just wanted to ask to play with you…"
Celestia had been reading the brief story while he talked. She closed the book now, her cheeks pink, and smiled. "Thank you for sharing such a beautiful memory, Discord." She shrugged sheepishly, "I just wish I'd done more than bake you a cake for your present."
"Are you kidding?" Discord grinned and snapped up a fresh slice for himself in his paw (the icing was blue, and rainbow decorations covered the outside). "It's going to be my go-to midnight snack for at least the next week. And you took the time to make it by hoof. And it's chaotic and delicious!" He swallowed the slice in one bite. "What could be a greater honor than receiving a cake from the cake princess herself?"
"I'm glad you like it so much." Celestia smiled more. "This has been such a wonderful holiday, Discord. Thank you for sharing it with me…and for spending more time here at the castle lately too. Since Luna's nights are so much longer this time of year, it's nice to have someone to share dinner with when she can't make it."
He smiled. "Yes, well…eating alone is never as fun as eating with a dear friend. And besides we have to keep up fuel for those rumors still floating among the staff about you and I being all smitten with each other."
Celestia nodded. "I know Friday's aren't our usual night, but I was wondering if you'd like to come over this Friday for dinner anyway? I'm planning to leave the next morning to visit Cadance until after the New Year, so I'm afraid we won't see each other for that holiday. And then you can also tell me all about your dinner with Fluttershy's family."
Discord's eyes looked forward. He smiled, but then the smile faltered slightly. "Oh, that's nice of you to offer, Celestia, and I would love to take you up on it, truly. But, uh…I actually already have dinner plans Friday night with someone."
"One of the girls?" She raised an eyebrow.
Discord shook his head. "No."
"You've made a new friend, Discord?" Her eyes brightened. "That's wonderful."
He cleared his throat with a sheepish grin. "No. Well, yes, but…I'm not 'meeting a friend' exactly." He took a breath. "I have a date."
Celestia's eyebrow arched higher, and then she chuckled. "Very funny, Discord."
However, Discord didn't laugh along with her. He glanced at her with a small, serious smile and replied quietly, "I'm serious, Celestia. I'm going out with a mare on Friday night."
Her eyes slowly widened. "Oh…"
The chaos master rubbed the back of his neck. "Heh, yeah. You know, all the affection of this holiday got me thinking, and…I think a date might be good for me; a great way to move forward with that part of my life."
"Is it all right for me to ask who she is, Discord? Or where you met?" the sun princess finally said softly.
Discord nodded. "She's the ambassador for Saddle Arabia. You know—Jasmine Flower. The tall horse with the brown coat and the dark mane and those blue eyes." He cleared his throat. "Anyway, we talked a bit during the Hearthswarming banquet you had for the visiting dignitaries last weekend. She found some of my jokes funny, and I thought she had some interesting things to say about the chaotic nature of Saddle Arabia magic spells, and…we sort of hit it off. We didn't make any plans to see each other after that, but…I had some time this morning, so I sent her a Happy Hearthswarming card asking her out for dinner. And she said yes. Who knew it would be that simple?" He let out a breath. "Maybe I shouldn't have shared with you though, Celestia—this isn't too weird or anything, is it?"
Celestia blinked a couple of times but then smiled and shook her head. "…Oh…no. Discord, I'm so happy for you. It's nice that you got along so well, and I'm sure you two will have a lovely time getting to know each other. Jasmine Flower's a very sweet mare. I'm just happy to see you happy." She put a foreleg around him in a gentle hug.
Discord blinked and put an arm around her to hug her too. "I'm happy when you're happy too, Tia."
The pulled back to smile warmly at each other.
Then Celestia let out a breath and stood up from her throne. "Come on, Discord, Luna should be up now. Let's go find her so you can say goodbye before you head over to Fluttershy's."
"Okay." Discord nodded as he snapped away his throne and stood as well. "And I'll miss you while you're gone, you know, even if it's only for a few days—feel free to write or to just save everything for telling me all about your little extended weekend getaway once you get home. And bring me a fun souvenir. And say hi to Cadance and Shining Armor for me."
"I will, Discord." Celestia smiled at him over her shoulder as she led them through the throne room doors and out into the hall. "And thank you for telling me about Jasmine Flower. I like the idea of us being that close—that we can mention things like that to each other."
"I like it too. And if this dating thing works out, I promise to let you know if I find anyone I plan to elope with or something." He smirked just a little
"Discord," Celestia shook her head, smiling more. "Maybe if I find a nice companion too one day we can double some time?"
Discord blinked, an eyebrow raised. "Are you thinking about dating too?"
She blushed lightly again. "I've been considering my options. And it might be time for me to start learning more about what makes me happiest in a companion. That way if someone special comes along, I'll be prepared."
"I see." He smiled softly. "Well, in that case, good luck, Tia. And yes, we could try a double date. You have to know I'll want to meet any nice companion you find. I have to make sure that he's even close to good enough for you." His grin picked up on one side.
Celestia smirked. "And if you don't think he is?"
Discord shrugged. "Then I'll calmly explain that he needs to get good enough and quickly unless he wants to spend a long time trying to escape the wrath of chaos."
"My hero." She rolled her eyes to the side.
Discord chuckled then sighed. His gaze went forward. "Celestia…about last night…"
"Yes?" Her eyes widened a little.
Discord swallowed, and his voice lowered. "You know I really didn't mean to make you feel awkward when we woke up together and I suggested we stay together. I really did mean that two friends could cuddle. I'm still attracted to you, but I'd never put our friendship in jeopardy by pushing that attraction when you've made it clear you don't feel the same way. I might tease you sometimes, but I never want you to be uncomfortable. So if you ever are, please tell me, okay?"
Celestia's gaze softened (and she blushed lightly). She nodded. "I will, Discord, I promise. And I know you'd never do anything to push me. Last night was just a happy accident." Then she asked, very quietly, "Discord…you said you're still attracted to me. But you're going to start dating other people. Does that mean your…emotions for me have changed?"
Discord blinked. He was silent at first then sighed. "My emotions for you are complicated. They change every day, Tia." He glanced at her out of the corner of his eye. "But now I think I should see if I can feel that much emotion for others." He smiled a little again. "Don't worry about me, I'll be fine. We're past all of this now—no more awkwardness. I'm okay with you knowing I'm dating, but I'll just save all the romantic gushing for Fluttershy—simple as that." He winked.
Celestia smiled more. "You seem very comfortable with your decision, Discord. I'm glad. Any lady you take out is a lucky mare, and I'm sure you'll treat her very special."
Discord looked into her eyes for a moment, then finally smiled more and nodded. "As a perfect gentlepony, how could I do anything less?" He snapped his fingers; suddenly he was wearing a big purple and blue polka dot bowtie and had his mane slicked back; he held a box of candy in one arm. A bottle of cologne floated before him, and he used his tail to give himself a quick spritz before snapping it away. "If that Gala reminded me of one thing, it's that I really don't clean up too badly. What do you think?"
Celestia laughed softly. "Very handsome, Discord." She raised an eyebrow. "But no flowers to go with the chocolates? Even one might be nice."
Discord smiled more and leaned closer. "I'm afraid I've decided that flowers will only be for mares I've felt very seriously about." He snapped; a beautiful poinsettia appeared in his paw. "Mares like you, my dear Celestia." He held out the flower to her.
Celestia blushed lightly then couldn't help grinning. "Discord…"
Discord gave a low chuckle, his eyes a little hazed.
And then Luna came around the corner.
The night princess blinked then smirked at the sight of her sister blushing and smiling while a grinning, dapperly-dressed Discord leaned close to her with a flower in hand. "Hello, sister, Discord. Am I interrupting anything?"
Celestia and Discord both blinked and looked at each other with wide eyes.
Then Celestia stepped back and cleared her throat with a small smile as Discord glanced away and snapped himself out of his date get-up.
"Oh, of course not, Luna—just two friends sharing a holiday moment." The chaos master grinned at the night princess and floated up. "Anyway, glad you're awake—I wanted to say goodbye and to wish you a Happy Hearthswarming before I left for the day to go to Fluttershy's."
"I see." Luna grinned. "Well, have a merry evening, and thank you again for the wonderful party last night."
"Thank you. Happy Hearthswarming to you pony sisters as well." Then he glanced to Celestia. "And, Tia, enjoy that flower." He moved the poinsettia to float in the air before her. "I think you'll particularly like the scent. Ta ta, ladies." He gave a little wave and snapped himself away.
Celestia glanced to the flower then leaned forward and smelled. "Oh." She smiled. "Cake. Thank you, Di—" And then the flower squirted her with pink frosting.
Disembodied chuckling filled the air. "Try not to miss me too much, Celestia. Though I know I'll miss you. Farewell!" The disembodied chuckling faded into the distance.
The sun princess just rolled her eyes and made a towel appear to clean herself up.
Luna sighed, smiling. "And may I ask what this harmless little bit of flirting was about?"
Celestia made the towel disappear. "I'm afraid it's just part of our unusual friendship, Luna. And it's not real flirting—that's for people who share real feelings for each other." She headed forward, gazing at her poinsettia for a moment before using her magic to slip it behind her ear.
Luna watched her go, her head tilted, and then followed after her. She smiled a little. "Then you and Discord were just talking about normal, friendly things."
"Yes." Celestia nodded and glanced to her sister with a warm smile. "His plans for the weekend actually."
"Oh." Luna's smile brightened. "Is he coming over for dinner on Friday to see you off?"
"I'm afraid he can't." Celestia shrugged. "He has a date on Friday."
Luna stopped walking.
Celestia stopped too. "And it's not with me, Luna. He asked out the Saddle Arabian ambassador, Jasmine Flower, and I am very happy for him. He's trying already. I just wish I was as brave."
Luna just remained still, her eyes wide.
Celestia sighed. "If you're waiting for me to break into some sort of jealous rage, I'm afraid it's not going to happen, Luna. I promise. This is what I wanted for him."
Luna blinked a few times and shook her head. "Oh, no, sister of course I didn't think you'd…." She cleared her throat and smiled gently. "Well…that's wonderful for Discord then." She headed past her sister and added with a cheeky grin over her shoulder. "Though if even a small part of you was jealous that your admirer was looking to admire another, in my opinion you tell far better humorous stories than Jasmine Flower and your mane and tall are far more beautiful."
Celestia sighed and shook her head as she trotted after her sister. "Luna…"
Luna chuckled. "But all joking aside, if you're in need of plans for Friday evening now…you know, I was planning to have a night meeting with those two visiting griffon generals after the new year, but perhaps it would be better scheduled to this Friday."
Celestia's smile picked up on one side. "You're not suggesting…"
Luna grinned. "That we grace them with our beautiful presences, escort them to a nice restaurant, and show them Canterlot's nightlife—the pony sister's working together to spread friendship across Equestria and also enjoying the company of two gentlegriffons? Oh yes, I'm suggesting it." She winked. "In fact, I'm insisting. You said you're ready to seriously pursue courtship, and I think it would be nice to start slowly with your sister by your side."
Celestia smiled and blushed lightly. "We wouldn't have to call it a date, would we?"
"It will be a simple night meeting then, but an informal one that just happens to take place out on the town," Luna assured. "And General Golden Claw has a beard, you know…" she added.
Celestia's blushing turned rosy, and she had to giggle. "Well…all right, Luna. And you'll be comfortable with that much public socializing?"
"Of course." Luna nodded. "I've enjoyed learning to socialize a little more just like at the Gala. And I'm always more comfortable with nightly affairs. And it really would be just a simple dinner, and there is important political business to transact, which I enjoy doing." She smirked a little. "Besides, someone has to be there to blast your suitor if he dares to overstep his boundaries with you, and since Discord won't be available I'm afraid the task falls to me."
"Very funny." Celestia's gaze warmed. "So then how shall we…I mean, should we both ask the generals out or…"
"It will be a night meeting, sister, so I shall see to the arrangements." Luna's gaze warmed. "You just help me with the finer diplomatic points that night if you can." Her smile turned sheepish. "I'm still getting used to this modern Equestria; I'll be very grateful to have you at my side, big sister."
"You'll do fine, Luna," Celestia assured. She sighed, her voice softening. "And sister? Thank you."
"You are most welcome." Luna nodded.
"Now can we go into your room and read Hearthswarming stories while we eat fruitcake and cookies and drink the rest of the eggnog in the castle?" The sun princess gave her a sheepish glance.
The moon princess grinned. "How else would we end a Hearthswarming Day together?" She narrowed her eyes. "Want to race to my room? No flying or magic, just solid galloping through the halls—to the immense entertainment of the staff, I'm assuming."
Celestia's eyes narrowed too. "On the count of three…two…one!"
The pony sisters took off at full speed through the halls, laughing and sliding on carpets as they went around corners and were cheered on by the occasional staff member until the two mares finally flung themselves into Luna's room and collapsed onto her bed in laughter.
They caught their breaths and set up their snacks quickly, then filled the rest of their time together on this festive evening with reading classic Hearthswarming tales, singing carols, and reminiscing about holidays past.
That night Discord found himself sitting in the living room of a small aerial cottage with his best friend by his side while two older pegasi finished clearing the table after Hearthswarming dinner and a younger teal pegasus stallion tried (not very well) to pound out a few holiday carols on the piano.
Discord looked to Fluttershy and smiled. "Your family suits you, Fluttershy. I've never been to such a cozy dinner." He chuckled. "And I had no idea that you were the outgoing one in the family…well, with the exception of…" He gestured over to Zephyr Breeze putting on a very dramatic show at the piano (after spending most of dinner talking about the new career he was going to pursue as a lounge singer and insisting on just borrowing a few bits from his parents but paying them back with daily songs while he moved back home for a little while). "Incidentally, when are you going to 'reform' that?"
Fluttershy sighed and smiled. "It's on my to-do list. I'll probably need Rainbow Dash to help me though."
"Rainbow Dash?" Discord raised an eyebrow. "Why?"
Zephyr ended his song and then zipped over to Discord and Fluttershy with a confident grin. "Hey, big sis, did I hear you mention Rainbow Dash?" He looked to Discord. "Poor kid—she's secretly totally gone for me, you know? Just gone." He glanced to his sister again. "If it'll help her though, and in the spirit of the holiday, you can tell her I said 'hey', Flutters."
"Ooo, Zephyr," Mrs. Shy called out as she flew near the tree now with a sun and moon topper in hoof, "can you help your father hold the tree steady so I can set this back on top?"
Zephyr sighed dramatically. "Mom, I'm trying to relax, and I just played three whole songs on the piano."
"Zephyr," Mr. Shy, holding the tree steady as gently yet firmly as he could, glanced over at him with a timid smile. "Please? We have a guest. We want him to see the house at its Hearthswarming finest, right?"
"And you are the one who knocked off the tree topper in the first place when you tried to fly and sing at the same time during dinner," Mrs. Shy reminded her son gently with a smile.
"Mmm…" Zephyr slouched but nodded, "Okay." He glanced to Fluttershy again. "And sis, remember, it's definitely okay for you to say hi to Rainbows from me." He winked then trudged over to the tree.
Discord watched him go then spoke in a low voice to his friend again. "Ah, I see—he's clearly smitten with Rainbow Dash. In that case, I'm sure she'll be an excellent helper." He turned back to Fluttershy and chuckled.
Fluttershy nodded. "I'm sure Zephyr will find his way. The fact that you did gives me a lot of hope for him."
"Yes, well…happy to be an inspiration." His gaze warmed. "And your family's been nice—they haven't acted afraid of me in the slightest. I guess your parents were a little timid, but I suspect they're like that with most ponies."
Fluttershy smiled. "I appreciate you keeping your chaos gentle tonight for them—nothing loud or too sudden. They're very calm ponies."
"Of course, dear Fluttershy. Glad I could make a good impression." The chaos master nodded. "But I do feel like they felt they had to focus too much attention on me as their special guest. Maybe if I'm invited back next year, I'll bring a date with me."
Fluttershy's gaze warmed. "Do you have anypony in mind?"
Discord grinned sheepishly. "Well…not the one you're thinking of." He played with the end of his tail in his hands. "Actually, I…I have a date this Friday night with a mare. Not Tia."
Fluttershy's eyes widened. "Oh, I see."
"Yes, well…" He looked down, and his voice lowered more. "I've been thinking, and…I think the best way to show Celestia I've moved on is to actually move on. I don't want her to feel like I'm always waiting for things between us to change. You know…like at my Hearthswarming party…spending the night together."
Fluttershy placed her hoof on his arm, causing Discord to look up. "You do whatever feels right, Discord, and I'll support you. Just promise me you'll always listen to your heart, okay? It's a good heart…and whoever ends up being your special somepony will be very lucky."
A small, wonderful smile came to Discord's features. He took in a deep breath and spoke quietly. "I don't want to alarm your family by suddenly diving at you in a big hug so I'll save it for later, but thank you, Fluttershy. I never believed any part of me was good until I became friends with you."
Fluttershy blushed, her smile beaming as she took her hoof away. "Oh, Discord."
Discord chuckled, and his voice resumed its normal tone. "Now then, as long as you know about my upcoming foray into modern courtship, I couldn't pick your brain about modern mares again, could I? Maybe tomorrow over breakfast at your place?"
Fluttershy nodded. "Absolutely. In fact, after we're done here, why don't you come back to the cottage with me and spend the night at my house? Twilight and Spike are staying in Canterlot with Twilight's parents for the next couple of days, and I'd hate to think of you sleeping in the castle all alone."
Discord's gaze warmed. "Thanks, Fluttershy. Love to."
"Oh, Mr. Discord." Mrs. Shy came over now with a tray in her hoof bearing cups and a pot. "The coffee and cake are ready if you'd like."
"Yes." Mr. Shy approached with a tray of cake. "As our guest, you get served first."
Discord's smile warmed. "Well, that's very kind of you, but since you've been such a wonderful host and hostess this evening, I think you should be served first. I insist." He snapped—instantly, cushy seats appeared beneath Mr. and Mrs. Shy (and one appeared under Zephyr as he finished topping the tree and zipped him across the floor to join them). Next the trays settled onto the coffee table, and the cake proceeded to slice and serve itself while the coffee urn walked around to fill each of the cups, which all then floated to everyone. Coffee and cake came to Discord last. The chaos master raised his cup. "Here's to a happy Hearthswarming. Thank you again for welcoming me into your home, Mr. and Mrs. Shy, and for raising Fluttershy to be so kind." He glanced to his best friend. "I couldn't think of a better daughter for anypony to have."
Fluttershy blushed and smiled. "Oh Discord…"
Her parents blushed and smiled too as they looked down humbly. "Mr. Discord, you're so sweet," mumbled Mrs. Shy.
Mr. Shy nodded. "Yes. We worry about Fluttershy sometimes and all she does—battling villains and things like that. Very scary. It's nice to know she has such a good friend in you."
"Yeah, I suppose you're pretty cool for looking out for my big sister." Zephyr reached over and ruffled Fluttershy's mane.
"Zephyr!" Fluttershy rolled her eyes and gently pushed him off. Then she looked to Discord with a smile and raised her fork. "Should we start dessert now, Discord?"
"Absolutely." The chaos master nodded and raised his fork as well. "And how about while we eat, Zephyr tells another story about cute little filly Fluttershy?"
Zephyr grinned. "Happy to oblige. I almost became a children's book author once, you know, so I've had some practice at this."
Fluttershy smiled more and shook her head.
"Now, let me see…" Zephyr considered. "Ah yes, how about the story of the first time Fluttershy tried to teach me how to fly? Incidentally, that was the first time Rainbow Dash met me—and boy, was it clear I was pretty unforgettable to her." He grinned proudly.
Fluttershy sighed but still smiled while Discord gave a quiet chuckle beside her.
As Zephyr began the story, everyone proceeded to eat dessert by the warm fire on this lovely holiday, enjoying their time together with friends and family.
A few days later, Friday had passed, and Celestia found herself in the Crystal Empire enjoying time with her niece and also witnessing Cadance's rule with pride as the love princess held court and helped ponies and ran the castle with Shining Armor by her side. Watching the two of them work together each day was moving to Celestia, and she could see how Cadance's leadership qualities were enhanced by sharing her rule with a partner (their gentle combination reminded her slightly of herself and Luna, yet there was an obvious different spark to it at as well).
Though Cadance had promised to keep Celestia's visit low key, the love princess had to throw at least one greeting party to allow the crystal ponies a chance to formally welcome the sun princess. After all, Celestia was an ancient ruler of Equestria, the bringer of the day, and one of the pony sisters—the original defenders of the Crystal Empire from King Sombra! (The crystal ponies had been slightly excited about the news of her visit, to say the least).
Celestia was grateful to Cadance for at least keeping the party simple; light refreshments, no formal decorations or outfits—just subjects drifting in and out to mingle and pay their respects to Celestia's presence.
Meanwhile, Celestia sat beside Cadance's throne, observing the ponies with a gentle smile. She glanced to her niece. "I couldn't be prouder of you, you know, my little Cadance. Luna and I entrusted a great responsibility to you when you became princess of the Empire, and you and Shining Armor have helped this place thrive again."
Cadance blushed lightly and smiled more. "Thank you, Auntie Celestia. Shining and I have done our best…but it's so good to hear that and to have you here with me." She let out a breath. "I know I always seem calm, but I was so nervous those first few months of ruling. Even now sometimes I'm not sure how things keep working out so well."
Celestia smiled more, her gaze warm. "You are a kind pony and a natural leader, and you took the perfect partner who would support you so you could be your happiest together. You have a good heart, Cadenza."
Cadance smiled more. "Celestia…"
" 'Mi Amore Cadenza' is for when I'm a little frustrated—but 'Cadenza' is for when my little Cadance makes me proud. Remember?" Celestia grinned.
Cadance giggled. "Yes, I remember." Her smile picked up on one side. "Now, enough stalling—this is a party, why aren't you dancing?" She gestured out to the crowd where some ponies were indeed dancing to light music.
Celestia blushed. "Because nopony has asked me."
Cadance raised an eyebrow. "Celestia, it's the modern age, and besides you asked Discord to the gala—certainly you can ask a pony to dance."
"I know, but in this case I'm not sure how it would go over." Celestia shrugged. "These ponies are almost in awe of me, Cadance. They approach you and bow, but the keep a distance from me and actually prostrate themselves."
Cadance put a hoof to her chin and nodded. "You're right. When I told them you were coming, they actually wanted to build a statue of you to commemorate the event."
Celestia rolled her eyes to the side with a smile. "I forget sometimes that these ponies are actually from a thousand years ago—they're used to the times when Luna and I flew around Equestria on high as its sole champions against evil. I don't want to intimidate anypony by making the first move."
"Well, at least you and I can keep catching up for now." Cadance smirked as she lowered her hoof. "So, besides these griffon generals you and Luna took out on what I'm sure was the most thrilling evening of their lives, and of course the master of chaos, are there any other potential suitors do you have that I should know about?"
Celestia smirked in return. "I told you I was interested in finding love, I didn't say I was going to start working my way through every eligible bachelor in Canterlot. Give me a little time, Cadance—I'm not as young as I used to be."
Cadance raised an eyebrow, still smiling. "So what were your dating habits like when you were younger?"
"Well, they didn't involve sneaking out of the castle some nights as a love-struck young mare to talk romantic walks with my cadet guard coltfriend through the castle grounds…" She raised an eyebrow back at her.
Cadance blushed and instantly rolled her eyes away, and the two mares shared a laugh.
"Hey, what're you two up to?"
The two ladies looked to see Shining Armor approach them with a smile.
"Oh, just talking about how nice the party is, Shining Armor," Celestia replied. "Thank you and Cadance so much again for having it and for showing me such a nice time in the Crystal Empire. You really have grown into a wonderful Prince."
"Aw, thanks, and we're happy to have you," Shining Armor rubbed the back of his neck.
Cadance smiled. "Actually we were also talking about Auntie Celestia dancing, but there seems to be a problem: she doesn't want to intimidate any pony by asking them, but no one's been brave enough to ask her yet."
"Oh, is that all?" Shining shrugged. "Well, I'll ask to dance with you, Celestia, if it'll help get things started."
Celestia and Cadance's eyes went wide, then Cadance's smile beamed. "Oh Shining, that's perfect!"
"Hey," he grinned, "I'm not the prince of love by marriage for nothing."
Cadance giggled and looked to Celestia. "I hope you'll say yes. Who could be more comfortable for you to dance with than a stallion you already know so well."
Celestia, her smile warm, gave a slight bow to Shining Armor. "Shining Armor, I'd be honored to dance with you. And thank you for the help."
"Of course, Celestia, no problem." He turned. "Now come on, let's go." He headed out to the dance floor.
Celestia watched him go for a moment then turned to Cadance and wrapped a foreleg around her in a tight hug. "You are a wonderful friend, and so is your husband—I don't think I mention that enough." She pulled back.
Cadance's gaze warmed. "Thank you. Just let me have a dance with Discord one day, and we'll call it even."
Celestia rolled her eyes to the side and then trotted out to the dance floor.
She came before Shining Armor. The two stood before each other, gave polite bows, and then started gently moving back and forth (while the other ponies gave them space and watched in awe at first…though slowly they returned to their conversations and activities, though they kept an eye on Celestia and Shining Armor as well).
Celestia and Shining Armor kept their voices low as they danced and talked.
"Thank you, Shining Armor." Celestia smiled. "I think seeing me dance like a normal pony with someone will help the others see me as normal too. I'm afraid the last time I was around the crystal ponies, Luna and I put on quite a show for them with our battle against Sombra."
"I can imagine." Shining Armor nodded. "They put you and Luna even above Spike when they talk about you. They say your battle with Sombra was like watching three forces of nature fight."
Celestia blushed lightly. "Oh, I don't know if I was ever that impressive, even in my prime."
Shining Armor blinked. "I think you're more than that impressive, and I didn't even see that battle."
Celestia raised an eyebrow.
He shrugged and smiled. "I mean, you were the only leader of Equestria when I was little, so that was impressive, and of course the sun thing is too—I think it's amazing how you princesses find one thing you're destined for and that also helps everypony and how you just run with it and make it something magical. But there are other things, specific things, even more impressive things. You encouraged me to work hard to become captain of the guard when I was younger even when I wasn't sure I could do it. You're the only family Cadance has ever known, and you gave her a happy life and loved her. And then, well…you were the first pony besides me ever to make my little sister come out of her shell. You were her best friend growing up, and she's been so happy ever since she became your student. For that alone I think you're the most impressive pony ever." His smile grew.
Celestia's gaze was so warm. "Well then, if a pony as impressed with me as you are can talk to me like a normal friend like you're doing right now, maybe there really is hope for some of these crystal ponies too."
Shining Armor nodded. "It takes a while, but eventually anypony can get used to being around Princesses. No matter how anyone has viewed you in the past, they can see you as a normal pony too…that goes for all ponies, even, uh…stallions." He blushed.
Celestia smiled more. "Thank you for the encouragement, Shining Armor. So Cadance told you I've started trying to date, I'm guessing?"
"Yeah." He nodded. "She said you tried a double unofficial date with Luna. I'm glad it sounds like you had a good time."
"Thank you." She blushed. "And yes I did."
"And, Discord's dating too?"
She nodded. "Yes. And I'll be interested to hear how that went for him when I get back." Her blushing remained. "By the way, thank you for…I mean, Cadance is very frank with me but she hasn't brought up anything about exactly what happened when I visited your sleepover. I assume she doesn't know the specifics."
Shining smiled a little more. "I told her it was 'guys night' code not to reveal details about anything that happened. And don't mention it, Celestia—it was an…interesting exchange you two had, and it's understandable being a little shy about it."
She nodded. "Yes, exactly. Discord and I…thanks to Cadance's advice, our situation isn't as complicated as it was, but it's still a little delicate. And there are still some moments we prefer to keep more private than others."
He nodded. "Well, at least Discord's one more friend for you who'll treat you like a pony first and a princess second. And he has you to treat him like a person instead of just a former villain."
"Yes, and I think we're very good for each other." Celestia's smile warmed. And then she blinked a few times in interest as her gaze went to the other ponies. "And it looks like I might have some others treating me normally soon too."
Shining Armor blinked and glanced around, and indeed now the ponies were leaving a little less space around her and talking to each other with ease now.
As the song ended, Celestia looked back to her partner. "Thank you, Shining Armor, I think that helped." She gave him a gentle bow.
Shining bowed to her in return. "Don't mention it. After all, you're more than just a friend to me. You're like, a…" he blushed and rubbed the back of his neck with a sheepish grin, "Well, I know Cadance is more like your niece and not a daughter, but you're like a...mother-in-law to me, if that's okay to think."
Celestia blushed and nodded. "That's very okay, Shining Armor. And I'd be proud to think of you as a son-in-law."
They shared a smile.
Then they turned as Cadance suddenly approached. She kept her voice low, a warm smile on her face. "Phase 1, complete. Now for phase 2…" She looked to her husband and raised her voice slightly. "My Shining Armor, will you dance with me?"
Shining Armor raised an eyebrow at first, but after a moment (and a specific look from Cadance) he nodded and played along. "Sure, Cadance." He cleared his throat and looked to Celestia, raising his voice slightly. "Unless you still want to dance, Celestia."
Celestia blinked a couple times, then understood as well and nodded. "Oh, erm...well, I don't want to keep you from Cadance, though I wouldn't mind dancing more."
"Pardon me, Princess Celestia?"
Celestia turned to see a blue crystal unicorn stallion standing beside her. He smiled. "I attended this year's Gala, but since Discord was your partner for the evening I only briefly made your acquaintance and never had the chance for much more. But as long as you're enjoying yourself…would you like to dance?" He blushed a little.
The other crystal ponies looked on in some awe.
Celestia blushed lightly but nodded. "Yes, of course. You're…Councilman Blue Stone. Thank you again for attending the gala. And thank you for the invitation now." She glanced to her Cadance and Shining Armor. "Have fun, Shining, Cadance." She nodded to them, and they nodded in return with smiles.
Then Celestia walked off with Blue Stone.
The crystal stallion looked down sheepishly. "I hope you'll enjoy yourself, Princess Celestia. I know I'm not as unique a partner as Discord. The chaos master is a tough act to follow."
She looked forward for a moment. "No one is quite like Discord." Her warm gaze went to him. "But every pony is special, and you are too." She came in front of her new partner and gave a slight bow of her head.
He smiled more and gave a slight bow of his head too. "May I have this dance?"
She nodded, and then the two began to move gently back and forth before each other (as Celestia tried to get used to dancing with an eligible suitor who wouldn't suddenly use his magic to scoop her up on two hooves, twirl her around in half a dozen dance styles, then dip her back and make a pun that the two of them would laugh over, feeling so warm.)
Celestia blinked and quickly focused again on the stallion before her. There were things about this moment and this partner and this dance that were nice too, and she let herself enjoy them as the ponies and Shining Armor and Cadance danced and talked and looked on.
A few days later (following the start of the new year), night had fallen around the castle of friendship in Ponyville while two princesses sat together inside talking and sharing tea.
"Oh, yes," Luna nodded to Twilight as she finished a sip from her cup, "certain spells are indeed more powerful at night." She sighed. "I'm afraid most ponies don't study the issue in great detail, but there is indeed a nocturnal strain of magic. Take my dreamwalking for example: if I had to dreamwalk during the day, I could manage it for a little while but it would be much more difficult to sustain than when I do it at night."
"Fascinating." Twilight's smile brightened as her gaze went to the night sky through a window of her (currently tree house-like) library and then back to Luna. "I'd love to learn more about nocturnal magic, Luna. Is the main property darkness or moonlight or…?"
"Starlight actually." Luna smiled more. "For example, when the stars aided with Nightmare Moon's escape, it was because for a moment with the celestial alignment, their magical properties were directed toward the moon and not toward Equestria."
"I see." Twilight considered. "Are there any books I could read on the subject?"
"Of course." Luna nodded. "I'll bring some over to you the next time we have a late night tea."
"I've really appreciated you starting this tradition with me, Luna." Twilight blushed a little. "I spent so many years getting to know and learn from Celestia, but I've barely had any time to spend with you."
Luna looked down humbly. "Indeed, I am very glad to spend time with you as well, Twilight. I admire you very much as a princess. And now that we have embarked upon a new year, a new tradition seems in order. I am usually uncomfortable with a great deal of socializing, but doing so with friends has been nice… And it's been nice with my sister as well—and others."
Twilight raised an eyebrow. "Have you two been trying to make new friends?"
"Actually, I brought Celestia on a double date last week with a couple of griffon generals." Luna cleared her throat. "She felt ready to try seeing some suitors, and I thought she might feel best with me beside her, so we went with two escorts for a night on the town."
"Really?" Twilight smiled. "Well, I hope you two had a good time. It sounds like fun."
Luna's smile brightened. "Yes, the night was enjoyable. Celestia smiled very much. It was nice to see."
"Erm…hello." Suddenly, Discord popped his head into the library from the hallway. "Sorry, I was just passing by on my way to Spike's room, and I couldn't help overhearing. Luna, and Tia went on a double date, you say?" He leaned against the doorframe and crossed his arms, his eyes a little wide.
The princesses blinked and then gave small smiles in Discord's direction.
Luna spoke. "Yes, she and I did indeed go on a date—or an outing, at least: with two visiting Griffon Generals last Friday night. I'm sure she wouldn't mind telling you about it when she returns from the Crystal Empire tomorrow."
Discord shrugged. "Oh, yes, of course." He smiled a little. "But for now…you say Tia definitely enjoyed herself?"
"Yes, indeed." Luna nodded. "She seemed very relaxed. I think she had fun."
Something warm came to his gaze. "Good. I like her relaxed and having fun."
Luna's eyes hazed. "Speaking of dates, I heard you had a date that Friday night as well. How was Jasmine Flower?"
"Oh, er…nice." Discord blushed a little. "We had fun too. It was a good time."
"Celestia will be pleased to hear that." Luna's look softened.
He swallowed. "Yes, well…" He managed a smirk, "I just hope those griffon generals were two gentleponies to the pony sisters. I feel a little protective of you two ladies, you know."
Luna nodded. "Indeed, they were, or believe me, I would have reacted. I have a very strong and traditional sense of propriety."
"Excellent. Then I don't have to let a huge cream pie drop from the sky onto Griffonstone later. One less thing on my to do list." He chuckled.
"Discord," Twilight's gaze warmed. "If things work out, you could bring Jasmine here to the castle for dinner one night. Spike and I would like to meet her."
Discord blinked and held up a paw. "Whoa now, let's not get carried away, Twilight Sparkle—at least let us manage a second date first before I 'bring her home to meet the family'." He rolled his eyes. "Anyway, speaking of Spike, I really should—"
"Discord!" Suddenly Spike dashed up the hall and appeared smiling before the draconequus. "There you are. Come on, I've been waiting for you."
"What do you guys have planned for tonight?" Twilight smiled.
Discord shrugged. "Oh, I figured I'd take your little dragon to Las Pegasus for some black jack, then maybe we'd take in an all-mare kick line show, and finally we'd hit a few cider mills…Oh, relax, Twilight, I'm kidding—we're heading to Canterlot for the midnight release of a new comic he likes."
Twilight's (shocked) look softened and she let out a sigh. "Okay, you two. Have fun."
"Indeed." Luna nodded. "Enjoy your night."
"Thanks!" Spike beamed and then took Discord's paw. "Let's go, Discord, I really want to show you some of the comic series before we head to Canterlot—I think you'd like it a lot."
Discord chuckled as he followed after him. "Okay, young Spike. I'm looking forward to it."
The ladies watched them go with warm smiles.
As they got away from the library and around a corner, Spike slowed down their progress a little and looked up to Discord with an eyebrow raised. "Discord? Did Twilight and Luna say that you went on a date and that Celestia went on a date with different people?"
Discord nodded. "Yes."
Spike grinned. "So…how did it go?"
Discord rolled his eyes to the side. "Oh, you know—all right."
Spike's eyes narrowed a little.
Discord sighed. "I sort of got nervous and snapped Jasmine's cider into chocolate milk to show off…but apparently Jasmine's allergic to chocolate—she started getting pink spots on her face. They were very chaotic, but of course I snapped her better again right away. So…the date had a bit of a bumpy start. But she did laugh after I apologized...and I made her laugh a few other times that night. That's something, right?" He managed a smile.
Spike smiled too. "Aw, Discord, it's okay—anyone can make a mistake like that. And making her laugh sounds like a good sign. Do you think you'll go out again?"
Discord shrugged. "Well, she's due back in Saddle Arabia in a few weeks until the spring, but…we might go out again before she goes, yes. We talked about some plans—no pressure. She's very relaxed, and I find it relaxing." He smiled to himself. "It's sort of nice actually, starting slow. I never had the chance to get to know girls in such a gentle way. It's like friendship but warmer. I like it."
Spike raised an eyebrow. "But I thought you said you had a lot of experience with girls before, Discord."
Discord nodded. "With girls, yes—with relationships, not so much. There's a difference."
Spike's eyebrow only arched higher. "But if you weren't trying to have relationships with girls when you were younger, then what were you doing?"
Discord cleared his throat, blushing lightly with a small smile. "Oh, very immature things mostly—fun, thrilling, but really very immature. I'll explain it to you when you're my age."
"Discord…" Spike rolled his eyes.
Discord chuckled. "Fine, I'll explain it to you when you're the same height as Twilight Sparkle and not a day before, deal?"
Spike sighed but nodded. "Deal…" He smiled again. "So…you're happier now trying for relationships instead of just girls?"
"Infinitely." The chaos master gave a content sigh.
"Then can you at least tell me about relationship stuff sometimes?" Spike shrugged and blushed a little. "I don't really have much to go on, and if I try to talk to Twilight about mares she just blushes and pulls out this really technical book to read to me about ancient Equestrian courtship."
Discord chuckled. "We can talk about relationship stuff all you want, young Spike. It would be my honor."
"And can we still take a trip to visit dragons sometime?" Spike gave a little sheepish grin.
"Hoping to find a nice lady drake to practice your flirting skills with?" Discord smirked.
Spike swallowed and blushed, playing with his tail. "Not exactly. Besides…" he touched his cheek, "there's still Rarity."
"Very true." Discord nodded with a grin. "And as long as Twilight agrees to leave herself and the rest of the girls and that embarrassing Crackle costume at home, then absolutely we can go to see the dragons."
Spike chuckled. "Thanks, Discord." Then he swallowed. "Hey, Discord? One more thing…"
Spike squeezed Discord's paw a little and looked into his eyes. "I'm glad you feel like things are going well with you and dating and…not dating Celestia. But if you ever don't feel like they're going well, I'm always here for you to talk to. Guy to guy."
Discord smiled a little more. "Thank you, Spike." Then he sighed deeply, and suddenly wrapped up the little dragon in a tight hug.
Spike blinked then smiled and hugged Discord back.
Eventually Discord separated them and cleared his throat. "And please keep the sappiness of that hug between us if you can."
"What hug?" Spike shrugged then winked.
"Exactly." Discord chuckled and winked too. "Now let's get to some comics!"
Spike beamed. "You're in for a treat, Discord. Come on!" He dashed up the hall to his room.
"Right behind you, my little dragon friend!" Discord floated up and after him.
Back in the library, meanwhile, Luna and Twilight had remained sitting together with their tea, small all-knowing smiles on their lips as Discord and Spike had left.
"Before my sister left, she seemed very interested in finding out how Discord's date went. When she returns tomorrow morning, it will be nice to be able to let her know that he had a good time. And to let her know that she no longer has to worry about how to let him know about her own date in a casual way." Luna sipped her tea.
"Has she really been that…uh, concerned?" Twilight raised an eyebrow at the night princess.
Luna smiled more. "We've spoken in her dreams a little—sending letters seemed a bit slow for such a brief trip. She keeps casually asking me to reassure her that gossip about our diplomatic evening out being a date isn't spreading throughout Canterlot …and to let me know if it starts and if Discord finds out." She sighed. "But I think all of this fluster will subside once the two of them get used to the idea of dating others while still remaining friends."
Twilight smiled. "Well, at least they're both moving forward and they both seem happy." Her smile remained for a moment but then she sighed.
Luna raised an eyebrow. "Something troubling you, Twilight?"
Twilight blushed a little. "No…yes. I mean…" She sighed again, "It's just…even if they're okay now being friends and moving on…Discord still cares about Celestia. And I know that Celestia feels something for Discord. It's just sad to see them let that pass by. They have a spark, Luna—a friendship that grew into something more. I can feel it."
"Indeed." Luna's gaze warmed. "As usual, you are very wise and perceptive, Twilight Sparkle. But you must realize, this path they've chosen is not the end. Friendships never stop growing—you know that better than any of us. So theirs will become whatever it most needs to be in time." Her smile grew. "And while we wait, we'll have the pleasure of either watching them slowly fall in love or watching them slowly come to value each other as simple, dear companions more and more."
Twilight finally smiled with ease again. "I think I understand. Thanks, Luna—I feel a lot better about them now."
"Of course, Twilight."
Then Twilight's smile picked up on one side. "So, Celestia enjoyed her date—how did you enjoy yours?"
Luna blinked and then laughed and blushed lightly. "Oh, twas all right. Really, I did not think of it as a social outing for myself—I was there mostly to talk over a new diplomatic agreement with the griffin generals and to support Celestia." She rolled her eyes. "Though the griffin generals did admire my temper and loud voice of course. But a nightly tea party such as this one is more my preference." She sipped her tea.
Twilight nodded. "Well, I'm just glad to see you making new friends too. But I know what you mean: there's nothing like a nice quiet night in the castle. I guess soon I'll have to start hosting diplomats myself though." She smiled sheepishly. "I couldn't get some pointers from you on that sometime, could I?"
"Absolutely." Luna nodded, her eyes bright. "Perhaps during our next meeting we can touch upon such matters."
"Great." Twilight nodded in return. "So since Discord and Spike are busy what do you want to do for the rest of tonight?"
"We could talk about your dating habits, Twilight Sparkle." The night princess raised an eyebrow and smirked a little. "It was very unclear during our princess slumber party —are you more taken with the creature in another dimension who goes by the name of Flash Sentry or the pony here who goes by that name or both of them?"
Twilight blinked then she blushed and grinned sheepishly. "Heh…well…honestly, I'm not sure…which makes me think sometimes that neither one of them is the best one for me." She sighed. "It's complicated. And I'm saying that after watching Discord spend a month falling for Celestia." She smiled a little again.
"Fair enough." Luna chuckled. "As long as you and I have chosen to remain immune to the powers of love for now, let us just continue to enjoy our time together, mare to mare."
Twilight smiled more. "Well, there is something I'd like to do as long as we're both here and we have time."
"I'm listening, Twilight Sparkle." Luna tilted her head in interest.
Twilight grinned. "You said we could talk more about how to handle diplomats one day, but that's not all I want to know about being a leader of Equestria, Luna. I want to learn how to hold court and handle disputes and help write legislation and attend social functions as a royal guest. You and Celestia have done so much for Equestria over the centuries, and since I'm a princess now too, and I want to be a pony you can turn to so that both of you can pursue things outside of being princesses. If I learned anything from this year's gala, it's that we all need a chance to step away from our titles and enjoy other parts of our lives. I get to have time with my friends, Cadance gets time with Shining Armor, Discord takes time away from chaos to be with Fluttershy—you and Celestia deserve free time too. And if I can help give that to both of you…I'd be proud as a fellow princess and as your friend."
Luna just looked to her with wide eyes. Then she blinked and her warm smile returned—she suddenly leaned forward and caught Twilight in a big (almost bone-crushing) hug. "Twilight Sparkle, thou art truly the best baby sister we could ask for!"
"Th-Thanks," Twilight managed, doing her best to catch her breath.
Luna laughed and released her. "But really what you're offering—it's a wonderful thing. Celestia and I have been consumed with our roles as royalty. More time to enjoy our personal lives would be wonderful. And I will teach you anything you wish to know, Twilight."
"Thank you, Luna!" The friendship princess's eyes brightened. "I can't wait to learn." She sipped her tea, but as she went to lower the cup filled with warm, soothing liquid, something happened—a yawn couldn't help escaping her.
Luna's eyes hazed. "But still, maybe we should wait for another evening. Even ponies as promising as you need sleep at night, Twilight Sparkle. And I shall have to tend to my duties soon anyway."
"Oh." Twilight blinked a few times. "I'm sorry, Luna. Really, I'm not that tired yet. I…" But the suggestion of sleep was too much, and Twilight found herself yawning again. "I really do want to learn though."
"I know." Luna's gaze warmed. "How about this, Twilight? You go to sleep, and I shall
visit you in your dreams. We can outline what topic you'd like to start with and then begin fresh at our next tea party."
Twilight smiled, her eyelids drooping. "I'd really like if you visited me in my dreams, Luna."
Luna nodded, then used her magic to dim the lights and to make a cozy bed with plush pillows and blankets covered in pink and purple stars appear beneath Twilight. "Then rest, Twilight Sparkle. And I'll see you soon."
Twilight nodded. Her eyes blinked closed. And soon she was dozing off.
Luna watched her with a tender look. "You want to be a help, Twilight…but you have been a great help already. You restored me to my sister, you brought your friends together, you inspire the ponies, you've even touched one of Equestria's former villains and made him a friend to us all. And now you want to do more." Her smile grew. "Any free time I gain will be put toward quiet studies or time spent with close friends, which is good. But any free time my sister gains may be put toward finding herself a companion she desires, and that freedom would be a wonderful gift for her, Twilight. Thank you"
Luna let out a breath and snapped up a dark blanket covered in silver stars for herself and moved closer to Twilight, then she closed and opened her eyes—they took on a blue glow.
Luna was very grateful as she eventually finished visiting Twilight and then passed near Discord and then Celestia's gentle sleeping minds. It was a night of peaceful thoughts for all of Equestria's dreamers, especially those closest to her. And Luna felt a great peace too—it was a new year, a new age, a time of new memories and a chance for new experiences to be cherished and loved among friends and maybe even more-than-friends.
What wonderful things had come from a Gala together; what wonderful things the future would bring.
Thank you all for reading and supporting this story. And please know, I'll be posting a sequel set a few years in the future to show us the final progression of Discord and Celestia's relationship after some time of letting their friendship grow. I hope you'll all enjoy it! Have wonderful holidays, everyone!