A/N: Originally, I was going to include my full thoughts on the recent episode 'A Pimple Plan' and explain why I got a spur-of-the-moment inspiration for my latest fic. But I decided that I didn't want to bore you to bits with my deep analysis and opinions, so I'll give you the abridged version instead before jumping into the story:
'A Pimple Plan' was a significant improvement from 'Stage Plight', even though it wasn't perfect. Above all flaws, I hate Luna's role, both her involvement and lack of involvement.
The severe lack of Luna and Luan's relationship focus in The Loud House is the only thing preventing me from feeling 100% satisfied with the show and seeing how Luna acted towards Luan in 'Pimple Plan' just felt like a major kick in the gut. At this point, it pretty much feels like the writers are deliberately separating the two for reasons beyond my understanding, throwing away all opportunities to explore character dynamic and expansion between the two, and 'Pimple Plan' did not dismantle that feeling whatsoever. If anything, it made it worse.
My theory is that Luna was intended to play a larger role in the episode that eventually got cut, because her rude remark, refusal to help Luan, and sickly faces made for no less than 5 shots came out of nowhere, and were left unexplained and completely unnecessary to the story. If these details had been used as buildup towards a major plot point, say if Luna were to be the one to ultimately solve Luan's problem despite her clear reluctance to do so earlier, then the irony would complete a fresh conflict resolution, making the story fresh, and I would probably give this all a pass. But nothing clever like that happened, and left the story very predictable and Luna's actions questionable. While Lori also initially refused to help Luan, her motive was redeemed as she continuously pressed throughout the episode that being herself was the best option. Luna's actions are never explained and leave a very sour taste that did nothing to enhance the story. I'm not expecting Luna to be a flawless character, but this just raised so many questions. A quick sift through the various comments left by wikia users supports that I'm not the only one who feels this way. Overall, the fact that they existed at all in the episode was just a huge disappointment.
So yeah, I was upset by this latest installment, since this is the exact opposite of what I've pressed for for so long, but then it hit me: what's the primary reason why I write Fanfiction? It's so I can lay out what I'd like to see in the show in writing, some of which may eventually or may never happen. Regardless, with the freedom to write and my imagination being the limit, I can write to complete what I see as incomplete, as well as settle the waves and fill in the holes that the official stuff makes with my own thoughts and creative efforts. Rewriting the story that I dislike does not satisfy me, since that means I can never accept the official one. Completing the story does, and allows me to accept every detail I dislike in the aforementioned story.
Forgotten Trust is my way of providing answers to the unknown and justifying Luna's obscure actions, as well as the 6th installment to my ongoing series of fics. The official order can be found under my profile and I recommend you read those too, since several references to my past work are made here, some of which are important to the plot. They are all under one timeline, so the background knowledge is beneficial. As a side note, I was reading some comments regarding Luna's poor handling in the episode and I came across a special mention to one of my other (and favourite) stories, Warm Hearts. So, I say my thanks to the user known as D'Snowth. I'm glad you enjoyed it!
Another thing about me: I love to stuff my stories with Easter eggs, inside jokes, and tons of references. Some very obvious; others far more subtle. For example, every title of every story I've written appears at least once in its actual story (i.e. 'forgotten trust' is interweaved somewhere in the text). Luna and Luan's friend, Tommy Bachmann, who was mentioned in Warm Hearts and in this story, is a play on the Thomas and Friends products made by Bachmann Industries. The buffer Lisa was making in Little Builders is the same one I had to make during my time working in an antibody laboratory. Lola and Lana's argument adopted some altered dialogue taken from one of the comic books in Not Dancing On My Own. Kevin Sullivan and Karla Shropshire made a brief appearance in the aforementioned story. And in this story, the beef stroganoff and curly fries hail callbacks to previous episodes. Let's see how many other references and jokes you can spot.
But enough of me rambling. Hope you enjoy the story!
November 10, 2019 – November 28, 2019
Part 1 – Rocking Together
Have you ever done something that just made you feel flat-out guilty? It need not be a crime committed, nor an official rule broken. Even if what you did was in reality not nearly as bad as you think it is, the feeling of guilt is NOT pleasant. It hinders how you operate afterwards and can't help but dump nasty sacks filled with regret and depression upon your shoulders for you to lug around the more you try to ignore it. Guilt is a heavy burden, and is best tackled head-on and at its fullest in order to remove it. One of the best ways is to talk this through with a good friend…especially the one you've wronged.
Stubby little hands pressed against the glass as a little girl gazed out of the living room window with curious eyes, admiring the night sky. The lights were off, so the room was very dark, save for the soft glow from the kitchen nearby; the indoor darkness that engulfed her allowed proper viewing of the stars above.
The girl wore a simple yellow dress and her light brown hair was styled in two pigtails. Her two front teeth were noticeably larger than the others. She beamed widely and scampered off. When she returned, she was clutching the hand of another girl, this one with darker brown hair that flowed down her back; she wore a purple dress and was sporting a matching headband. She looked positively confused as she let her sister drag her excitedly to the window and point.
"Luna, look! I told you there were tons of stars!"
Her sister leaned against the window sill as she too absorbed the beauty of the great outdoors. "It's so pretty," she mused.
"Dad says to always make a wish on a star," explained the younger girl. "Do you think if I do, it'll come true?"
Luna shrugged. "There's only one way to find out. Go on, Luan…you make a wish and I'll make a wish."
She nodded and shut her eyes tight, concentrating her young mind. Luna grinned and she did the same. After a moment or two, Luan opened her eyes. "Okay, I'm done."
"What 'choo wish for?"
"I wished we could play together all the time."
Luna tilted her head. "But we already do that."
"Yay! Then my wish came true!" she squealed before spontaneously pulling Luna in for a tight hug around the shoulders. The older girl giggled and hugged her back.
"Jiminy Cricket was right," she whispered into her ear.
For some reason, she forgot to tell her sister that she had wished for the exact same thing.
Needless to say, it had been one of the best days of Luan's life, if not the best day ever. It was certainly one that she would not be forgetting anytime soon. And how could she? Bundled up in less than 24 hours: her first date, a dramatic and frantic escapade to hide her pimple, the united love and support of her siblings, and Benny's assurance that he liked her no matter how she looked. All these things flooded her mind while she tried to relay the details of her day to Lori when the latter had picked her up from the park, and then again to the rest of the family over dinner of beef stroganoff.
With the bouquet of daisies gifted to her from Benny sitting in a tall vase on the table, and with one of them tucked neatly in her hair, Luan was the centre of attention as her siblings bombarded her with questions and comments, demanding all the details of what had happened during the brief intervals when they had left her and Benny alone, spare none of the details. Nothing ever stayed confidential in the Loud house. Being an artist, Luan loved the attention the audience gave her, with the best points earned if she could make the crowds happy, and tonight was just a giant success in that department.
Everyone, her parents included, seemed so pleased and relieved to hear that her date had ended well after its rocky start. And despite a bulging pimple that jabbed a few minor aches whenever she released her huge grin, Luan didn't hold back the feelings of joy and jubilation spilling from her heart over the events.
Being a girl made for the stage, it was in her nature to have developed skills in observation: when to realize she was losing her audience, how to balance out her act at the midpoint, the works. Then again, her history of bothersome pranks and insensitive stunts on April Fools' Days past didn't showcase this very well and begged to strongly differ, but the previous year had seen a major change in the tides, as her down-graded pranking spree had shown significant improvement in that her siblings enjoyed the chance to laugh alongside her rather than duck and cover when she came near. But that's another story.
Unfortunately, Luan's skills in noticing subtle signals from her audience were more tuned towards a forced gathering that sat before her while she carried the show, and not exactly towards the notifications raised in her everyday life; this was Lori and Luna's specialty. It was mainly due to this poor ability that she often delivered her pun parade while the average outsider would see that her family was clearly not sharing the fun. But every now and then, she could pick up on little signs that told otherwise or raised warning flags in her mind. And it was thanks to this small sliver of observation that allowed her to notice, out of the corner of her eye, that not everyone was in such a chipper mood tonight. A certain sister of hers known as Luna hadn't said a word all evening. And for the loudest Loud to be silent, Luan instantly knew that something was up, and resolved to get to the bottom of the matter.
Rather than diving straight in, she took the time to do a little planning, eventually settling with first finding out what her other sisters knew, before talking directly to her target. Post-dinner found her stationed at the right side of the kitchen sink, scrubbing the discarded dishes with a sponge in soapy water while Lucy stood at the left half, rinsing them off. Through the window, she could see the evening sun starting to set.
"What's wrong with Luna? She's been kinda quiet. That's just not normal for her."
Lucy leaned a wet plate in the dish rack next to her. "I guess she has. Though I don't really mind…it's kind of a nice change to be honest."
Luan rolled her eyes. That didn't really answer her question, but coming from Lucy, the quietest and most mysterious of the family, it wasn't completely unexpected.
Also on dish-duty tonight was Lynn. "Hey, I noticed that too," she piped up as she dried off a stack of wet cups before placing them in their cupboard. "And that's just weird. But not as weird as the faces she was making when we left you and Benny for the last time."
That caught Luan's attention. "She was making weird faces? That doesn't sound like Luna to me."
Lynn slid a dried plate onto a shelf. "Yeah, totally OOC, right? She was looking like she was going to barf until we got home. Then she went up to her room and none of us saw her until you and Lori came home for dinner."
Luan became more concerned with this latest scoop. "What do you think is her problem?"
"Dunno. Maybe she's bummed out that the Trenchers lost their third game this season," Lynn shrugged as she wiped the last drops of water off a handful of forks. Then, as if to emphasize her theory, the athletic jock yanked open the utensil drawer and slammed the bundle into their spot, accompanying the loud clatter with her obligatory cheer. "Touchdown! WOO!"
Lucy didn't share her sister's enthusiasm. "Lynn. I'm pretty sure Luna doesn't care about a sports team."
"The Trenchers are not just 'a' sports team," snapped Lynn, firing up at once.
Luan said nothing as Lynn and Lucy proceeded to argue. Her thoughts were directed back towards her older sister. Luna was a very social butterfly and rarely did anything alone, much less shut anyone out. Even when she wanted to play her music, she welcomed anyone who came to visit her in their bedroom or the garage to share her musical sessions regardless of their obvious lack of musical talent. So to hear that she had disappeared without a trace and resurface only at dinner was rather worrisome to Luan.
In fact, with all things considered, she couldn't remember interacting with Luna all that much today. Her immediate sanctuary upon discovering her pimple had been Lori and Leni's room, for it had quickly formulated in her panicked deductive reasoning that her eldest sister would be the most knowledgeable on matters like this, seeing as she had the most experience in dating predicaments out of their siblings. Afterwards, it had been a crazy whirlwind of ideas and stunts courtesy of the rest of her family to find her a cure. But even during then, Luan couldn't remember any direct involvement with Luna. She knew she had been present the whole time, but she certainly hadn't noticed any weird faces from her sister. Then again, Benny and her ugly blemish had been the only things occupying her mind all day.
"I can think of 47 things better to do than sitting in front of the TV watching football."
"Oh, and I guess lying in a coffin doing deep-dive thinking on what it would be like to be bitten by a blood-obsessed vampire is one of them!"
But more to the point, if something was indeed wrong with Luna, then Luan had to find out what it was on the double and help her. After all, she felt she owed very much to Luna in particular after the events of the last year and a half or so. Thanks to Luna, she didn't suffer through the previous winter when the house's furnace had died. And it was her older sister who had eased her anxiety over her troubled fears of not meeting Benny's expectations in a suitable girlfriend. Besides, sisters look out for sisters. If any sibling was in trouble, she'd do anything to help them out and provide them with the unconditional love they had all showed her that very day.
With a new mission formulating in her mind, Luan looked down at the dirty plate in her soapy hand. The sooner I get these dishes done, the better, she thought, as she eyed a fragment of cheese still stuck to it. Then we can take care of the next thing on the PLATTER. Heeheehee!
Just then, Lana wandered in and pointed at the cheese smudge. "Hey, are you gonna eat that?" she asked innocently.
With dishes done, Luan left Lynn and Lucy squabbling in the living room while she herself headed upstairs. She wasn't expecting there to be a problem; she and Luna had no trouble opening up to each other, especially after they had been separated for a good month, then reunited with a greater appreciation and devotion embedded for one another. Her expectations, however, had depended on Luna actually being in their room to talk, so they were slightly dashed when she found that her roommate was not there. Scattered clothes, instruments, CDs, and various comedy props were the only company there to greet her. The comedienne frowned. Where else could she be?
She whisked out her iphone and sent a quick text. Hey, where r u?
A low buzz that resonated immediately after tapping the send button caused her to look towards the vanity tabletop, where a purple phone lay vibrating, waiting for its owner to check its latest received message. Wherever Luna was, she had not taken her phone with her. So that idea was out.
Almost instinctively, Luan left the room and glided directly down the hall to Lincoln's living quarters. If there was anyone in the family who was observant enough to know all the going-ons in the family, inside and out, it was the owner of the bedroom door that Luan was now knocking on.
Lincoln opened it after her second round, looking a bit annoyed. "What's up, Luan?"
Luan just stared at the boy. For reasons unknown, he had decided to exchange his usual attire for a black suit complete with an orange bowtie. The last time she had seen him dressed up like this was for their celebratory dinner and dance event last summer. And although she had to admit that her brother cleaned up quite nicely, Luan couldn't help but let his abrupt change in appearance cause her to release uncontrollable giggles. "Lincoln, what are you doing in there?" she managed to ask with a silly grin.
"Nothing," he said firmly. Knowing that her brother certainly did not go full dressed up for 'nothing' made her laugh out loud and made him frown. "Luan, what is it? I'm kind of in the middle of something."
"Yeah, I can see that. I'll bet that monkey suit of yours stirs up some real monkey business! Get it?"
Luan laughed again and Lincoln let out an annoyed huff. The usual order. Amidst the fit of giggles and tears stinging her eyes, the girl suddenly remembered her reason for bugging him and tried her hardest to stop. "Sorry, Linc. Um, I'm looking for Luna. Do you know where she is?"
Seeing that Luan was being serious again, Lincoln straightened up. "Sorry, I haven't seen her. I thought she was in your room."
The girl shook her head. "No, so I thought you might know." She then jumped to her next eager question. "Hey, has she been acting weird today?"
Lincoln scratched his head thoughtfully. "Well…when we were waiting for Miguel to finish up with you this morning, she did look kind of sick…kind of like how Lola looks when Lana plays in the mud."
This evidence strongly matched Lynn's description from earlier, making Luan more concerned. "Ok, thanks, Linc. I'll keep searching…and let you go back to being you!"
Lincoln watched his sister head down the stairs and out of sight, giggling all the way. "She'd never let me hear the end of it if she did know what I was doing," he told the fourth wall. He closed the door and began digging under his bed. "Now, where are those fake wedding rings?"
Getting a laugh out of Lincoln's dashing look had lifted Luan's spirits considerably, but with new information presented, she was now more determined to find Luna than ever. Halfway down the stairs, and still snickering, an instant brainwave caused her to make a U-turn on her heel to double back and check Lisa and Lily's room, thinking that Luna might have been playing with their infant sister. But all she found when peeking through the crack in the ajar door was Lisa sitting on the carpeted floor, building a tower of blocks with Lily. A rather unusual sight, given that this was Lisa of all people, but Luan decided to explore this another day. Leaving her youngest sisters at peace, she continued her search for Luna.
Entering the living room again, she found that nothing had changed; Lynn and Lucy were still at it. Deciding not to intervene, Luan stepped outside to let the sounds of their bantering become drowned out of her ears, engulfed instead by the silent hum of the late evening outside. The ringing of the rambunctious indoor activity was still rounding back and forth in her head as she took in her new environment. The sun had almost set entirely by this point, leaving behind a pale orange sky tinted with pink and dotted with dark blue streaks of cloud. Every roof and treetop for miles was splashed with invisible orange paint courtesy of the disappearing sun. A very pretty sight all told, but admiring Mother Nature's beauty wasn't Luan's objective.
"Luna?" she called out.
She called her name a second time, in feeble hope that Luna would come prancing out from an unknown hiding spot to greet her back, but alas, that didn't stand to be very possible. Luan breathed in the fresh air, letting it clear her mind and assess a new search plan. But it was only when she was regrouping her thoughts when she finally got the chance to not only see her new environment, but hear it too. She heard the faint whistling of the breeze wafting lazily past, coupled with the distant sounds of faraway laughter from various neighbouring houses and the nearby playground.
And the light echoes of musical tones from guitar strings.
Hearing the undeniable sounds of Luna's guitar faintly in the air, Luan knew that its owner was close. She just couldn't see her. Looking around much more carefully now, she finally spotted the toe of a purple boot protruding from around the large oak tree in the front yard, slightly out of view and no less than a hop and skip away from her. Luan's spirits rose. She lost no time in advancing towards the tree and walking around it to face the very sister she had been seeking.
Luna's concentration broke as she looked up from her instrument to lock eyes with Luan. There was a pause as the sisters, one sitting and one standing, just stared at each other.
"Oh…hey, dude. I didn't know you were out here."
Luan noted how depleted in energy Luna's voice sounded, but her inner clown-esque personality couldn't bite back the urge to crack a pun. The opportunity was too great to fight. "I called your name twice, but it looks like you tuned me out. Ha ha! Get it?"
Her reality regulator caught up to her tongue and mentally kicked her for blurting that out. More so when she saw Luna raise an unimpressed eyebrow at her laughter. "Oh, sorry, I shouldn't have said that," she relented. "Uh, I didn't know you were out here, either. What are you doing?"
Luna turned her head back down, apparently very engrossed with her guitar in hand. "Not much."
The younger girl settled herself down on the cool grass against the tree trunk at Luna's left and gazed at her features. There was no overlooking the abnormally miserable aura that Luna was emitting; the girl was looking rather wilted and less of her cool, upbeat self, which clearly indicated that something big was troubling her deep inside. Boarding with Luna for so long had allowed Luan to see enough of her sister's alternate moods to not think otherwise.
Luan wasn't really one for small, light conversation, preferring instead to set the recipient up for a pun or a wise crack that she would have the honour of delivering. Luna was an exception; she never found any trouble in talking with her about anything in the world, whether it be easygoing chit-chat or the occasional deep and soulful heart-to-hearts. But this evening must have been special; there was something about the atmosphere that was making it unusually difficult for Luan to talk to her immediate older sister.
"H-How're you, Luna?"
"Are you sure?"
This clearly wasn't working; Luna wasn't being mute, but she wasn't doing anything to allow the conversation to flow either. So, Luan tried a different approach.
"I had a really good time with Benny today."
"That's great, brah."
Luan mustered up a small smile. "Even with this crazy pimple, he still really likes me. You were right with what you told me before we were dating; he does like me for me!"
She watched Luna's mouth curve a tiny smile of her own, albeit barely. "I told you he would."
Luan felt her smile increase a bit more, not just because of her most recent memories with Benny, but because she was getting a reaction from her sister. "I thought this day was going to be the worst day ever when I discovered my pimple. But I think this might be the best day ever!"
She then lowered her voice. "At least…it would be if I could figure out what's bugging you."
She watched Luna carefully, but her sister made no movements, aside from dropping her weak smile. It was impossible to read what Luna was thinking, though this required a skill that Luan was still working on developing. She spoke in a gentle voice. "Do you want to tell me what's wrong?"
Luna looked away again. "Nope."
Her shoulders sagged in disappointment. "Well…all right then. It's getting late." She stood up and then lent a hand down in hopes that Luna would accept it. "You coming?"
Luan retracted her arm, her hand now feeling strangely cold and empty. But deciding that she better not push her sister any further, she surrendered to the feeling of failure in her mission. "Okay. I'll be up in our room if you're ready to talk." With sadness and dejection rising in her stomach, she started to head back to the house, where she could only hope that another chance for Luna to open up to her would surface soon. Thinking that she could perhaps finish off this day by practicing some basic routines with Mr. Coconuts, she had just started to cross the front steps when she heard a voice speak up to her.
Luan stopped dead in her tracks and looked back. "Yeah?"
She watched Luna set aside her guitar, propping it against the tree trunk to her right. "There is…something bogging me down."
In less than an instant, Luan was back on the grass, next to her sister. "What is it, Luna?" she asked kindly.
The musician was looking very troubled indeed. Very rarely did Luan ever have the opportunity to see her like this, not that she ever wanted to. Still staring at her feet, Luna chocked out a response. "I'm sorry, Luan."
Luna sighed. "For not being a very good sister."
Multiple alarms were setting off in her mind and making her more confused than ever. She placed a hand on Luna's knee. "What do you mean? You're a great sister."
"Not today, I wasn't," she said, flatly. "The thing about me, dude…I don't like pimples."
Luan frowned. That was all? "But I don't like pimples either. None of us do. They're ugly and make you look weird."
Luna turned her head towards her. "What I mean is…I really hate pimples. They just freak me out." She shifted her body around to face Luan better. "You remember Tommy Bachmann from middle school some years back? His whole face was totally covered in the stuff. I'm ashamed to say this, but whenever he got near me, I'd flat out make some wild excuse to hit the road and walk the other way. Just the thought of those creepy balls of junk make me cringe like a crumpled sheet of wacked-out music notes."
The nauseated expression that Luna's face was subconsciously contorting was enough to prove her point without any words needed. Recognition sparked Luan's mind as she realized that Luna had indeed been pulling faces like this one all day, but they had completely slipped past her mind in her frantic search for a remedy for her pimple.
"And then…when I started breaking out, I went through the exact same chaos you had today. But unlike you, I didn't ask my sibs for help."
Luan tilted her head curiously. "What'd you do?"
Luna gave an easy shrug. "Pretty much what you did. I tried to hide my own face. I made any excuse to avoid talking to anyone. But…I don't want to get into that. The point is that I've always been, well, afraid of pimples."
A deep blush was creeping her cheeks as she turned her face away, embarrassed. Luan suddenly understood why: Luna had a secret fear, one she did not know about until today. Much like her own hidden phobia of curly fries, developed from a very young age following a horrific experience during an open-mic gig at the local bowling alley. It was mere child's play compared to the occasional heckling and humiliation that she faced off with larger crowds these days, but at the time, it had been nothing short of traumatic to young Luan.
This new discovery, however, didn't explain Luna's miserable state.
"But…how come you're so sad about that, Luna? Pimples are gross and kind of creepy, yeah, but that's nothing to be ashamed of."
"It's not your pimple that's got me all bummed out, dude," Luna interrupted with sudden energy strengthening her cracking voice. "It's the way I treated you today."
Luan blinked in confusion. "I…don't remember you doing anything to me."
"Exactly. It's what I didn't do."
Now Luan was just plain befuddled. Normally, she didn't have trouble understanding Luna's laid-back hard-rock jargon and figures of speech, but this was something entirely different. None of it made sense to her whatsoever. "I'm sorry, Luna, I really don't get where you're going with this."
The sun had set and the sky was becoming darker, but the last faint rays of evening light were falling upon the pair such that they could see each other perfectly. A good thing too, because Luna wanted her sister's full attention for this, since it was now clear that her troubles weren't nearly as obvious to Luan as they were to her. There was a brief pause as Luna mentally prepared to lay out everything that was crowding her buzzing mind.
"This was the day you talked about for weeks. Your first date ever. You were beyond excited, brah. And to tell you the truth, so was I. I was stoked for you. You finally found the soulmate your heart was searching for. And I wanted to be ready for you just in case you needed your big sis as your right-hand gal."
Luna lowered her voice, now raspier and more broken than ever. She cast her eyes away from Luan to the street beyond as she continued.
"But then…when you woke up today and found that pimple…the moment I saw it, I completely lost it. I forgot about you. I forgot about your date. All I remembered were my deep dark fears. I couldn't help myself when I belted out what an eye-sore that was. After that, I shut up whenever you were near 'cuz I didn't want to say anything else insensitive until this whole day was over. Didn't you notice that I only ever gave you any support after Miguel covered it up?"
Luan thought back, allowing the dawning effect to wash over; Luna had indeed been extremely quiet all day until she had returned from Miguel's makeover session.
Benny's a lucky dude!
"It's 'cuz I didn't have to look at it when I looked at you, so I started acting all normal biz'," Luna explained. "But when we pulled you out of that tree and I saw your face, I, well…" Luna trailed off, not willing to revisit this anymore. The memories were hurling too many punches to her gut. "Now do you see why my heart's all tangled in a knot, sis? I'm ashamed and I regret everything today. I wasn't there for you when you needed me. What hits me the hardest is that Lori and Leni were giving me their best advice when I was having trouble during my first date with Sam. But I didn't give you the same treatment. You needed help and I didn't give you any. And it's not you, Luan. It's me. I was selfish and let your pimple drive me away. I'm no better than a snapped guitar string…can't give no music and just bogus to the others. I don't deserve to be your big sister."
Luan stared at Luna with hurt eyes and a frozen mind. "Luna, I…I didn't know. W-why didn't you tell me all this sooner?"
Luna sighed deeply and then turned herself away, no longer feeling worthy of facing her sister. "Because I didn't want to say anything else that would ruin your special day. These lips said quite enough this morning. After we left you and Benny, I figured that I could at least let you enjoy the rest of the day without me barging in again." The rocker closed her eyes. "Please, Luan, just…just go back inside. I don't want to say anything else that might hurt you. I…need to be alone for a while."
The sky was darkening quickly and the first stars of the night were beginning to shine through, but Luan didn't take notice. Her full attention was focused upon Luna as she stared at her hidden face, a mixture of strong feelings overtaking her powers of thinking, among them sorrow, shock, and sympathy. Sorrow for Luna's guilt in not feeling she had fulfilled her duties for her little sister, shock that Luna would think such things, one bit in particular, and sympathy…that now cultivated into the realization that it was now up to her to restore Luna's fractured heart. A task normally bestowed upon Lori or Luna towards the rest of the family including herself. Very rarely did Luan find herself in the position to pick up a fallen sibling and set them back down the right path with rejuvenated spirits. She had done it once before to Luna following the America's Next Hitmaker incident and more recently to Lincoln when he had been missing Ronnie Anne during the party. And now, as she gazed at her big sister, who was close to shutting herself down, it was clear that she would have to do it again.
Luna, feeling saddened and guilty, sat mournfully against the tree with her eyes closed. The world didn't deserve a selfish individual like herself, let alone Luan. With no further plans of what to do, her only idea was to sit here wallowing in her own faults…that is until she felt a pair of arms snake themselves around her, accompanied by Luan's high-pitched voice to break the silence.
"Yeah well, too bad, you…you loony Luna-tic! 'Cuz I'm not going anywhere."
Luna turned to face Luan, and felt surprise, confusion, and a tiny sliver of relief when she saw that Luan was wearing a gentle smile. "I'm staying right here with my big sister," she said firmly.
"But…why, dude? Don't you get it? What kind of big sister am I to leave my little sister in the dark?"
"And what kind of little sister would I be if I just left my big sister in the dark?" Luan countered with strength in her voice, cleverly using the late evening's darkness to aid her point, though she managed to restrain herself from laughing at her own pun this time. Luna became quiet as she just stared at her, trapped in Luan's hold.
For a moment, Luan's mind went blank; now that she had Luna's attention, what was she supposed to say to make her feel better? It could not be stressed enough that she didn't have nearly as much experience in comforting someone who needed it, with the role falling upon those in her family better suited to the job and excluding Luan as an option given her long-standing record of not being able to handle important matters seriously. But Luna needed her, so Luan decided that at the very least, she could be fully honest with her thoughts on the matter. And above all, keep the puns out.
Lowering her voice to speak calmly, yet clearly, she kept her eyes locked with those of her sister, gently stroking Luna's back as she began pouring out the thoughts that were bubbling at the very surface of her mind. "Luna. You're my big sister and you always will be. Nothing can ever change that. You…you've helped me so many times, sometimes without even knowing that you do. Just remembering that you're always there for me is a big reason why I keep going. You're more than my sister, Lunes. You're my best friend. You're a pillar for me to lean on when life gets rough and a pillow for me to cry on late at nights…"
"…I'm not going to disown you just because you made one little slip-up."
These things she said were far more than just words; they were emotionally driven packages delivered straight from the heart and using the mouth as a direct passageway to their destination, which she hoped with her entire being that it was the heart of her Luna.
The depressed musician's spirit couldn't resist lifting ever so slightly as she listened to her sister say these statements. "You mean you're not…mad?"
Luan let out a light giggle. "Do I look mad?" she asked as if this was the most obvious question in the world, which of course it was; she knew that. She gave Luna a loving squeeze. "Luna, I think this might be the best day of my life! I had my first date with Benny, I learned that he really does love me for who I am and not what I look like, and I can end the day spending quality time with my sister. The only thing that would top this day would be if I was accepted into that comedienne's college!"
She carefully retracted her arms, releasing Luna. "And honestly, Lunes? I didn't take offense from what you said about my pimple this morning. It really just made me focus on trying to get rid of it. If anyone else had said it, I wouldn't have reacted differently. I was panicking too much about my date to care who said what about it. So, I really didn't notice you treating me any differently."
Luna's mouth twitched as she looked intently at her. "Yeah, but…that doesn't mean what I did was right."
"It doesn't," came Luan's response.
Luna felt her heart sink, not exactly expecting that. "Oh."
But Luan wasn't finished; she took a moment to compose her next words carefully. "What you said…was mean. And looking back, it did hurt a bit. But it was because you have a huge dislike for pimples, so you let it slip out. And then you avoided me for the whole day. So no, what you did wasn't very nice. But you had a reason behind it. And because now I understand why…I can forgive you."
"You can?" Luna asked in a small hopeful voice.
"Of course, I can," the comedienne soothed. "We all make mistakes, Luna. We're only human. But we learn. And if there's anything I know about you that the rest of the world doesn't, it's that you always try to make yourself a better person."
Feeling a binary mixture of profound affection and yearning for her sister to return from the shadows swirl inside her, Luan brought her arms around Luna again, this time bringing her into a tight hug.
"But this…just isn't you," she whispered into Luna's shoulder, a touch of sorrow present in her unusually quiet youthful voice. "Luna Loud never beats herself up this badly after making one mistake. Where is she now? I really want her back. Where's that rockin', confident, totally awesome big sister that I know and love?"
Silence fell upon them as Luna returned the comforting embrace, feeling warm and loved, yet still sad all the same as she experienced a combination of her original guilt and this new found guilt in making Luan feel this way. "She's here," she finally breathed, permitting a few tears to escape and roll down her cheeks. "She's just feeling like a jerk for letting her sister down."
Maintaining her hold, Luan pulled back just enough to let her forehead gently touch Luna's; their faces no less than an inch apart, her voice filled with assurance and warmth. "But even though she did, her little sister still loves her. You do know this, don't you?"
The rocker gazed at the ground as she felt Luan's forehead making contact with hers; she slowly took in the presence of the girl sitting before her, the sister whom she first swore to always protect and look after ever since she was old enough to let it sink in that she was her little sister and that it was now her proud responsibility and destiny to raise a younger one after letting Lori, Leni, and their parents do the same to her. "I do," she whispered weakly. "And I love you too. I just…wish I could have done a better job at showing that today," she said with a defeated tone.
She felt Luan's palm slowly stroke her freckled cheek, wiping the stained tear streaks away. "Luna, I can't expect you to be a saint 100% of the time," she explained. "How else will we fight and argue and bite each other's dignity during sibling fights? But no matter how much you and I squabble over tiny matters and get in each other's hair, none of it has ever made me love you any less. Don't you feel the same way?"
"Of course, dude," Luna murmured almost automatically. "I love you no matter how much we rip each other apart."
"Then why should this be any different?"
Luna looked down at the grass for another moment or two, soaking in Luan's words of peace and assurance. She slowly detached her forehead from Luan's, so she could look her in the eye. Tonight's full moon was slowly bathing the pair in a dim light that was growing brighter by infinitesimal degrees. Thanks to this, Luna could make out Luan's features clearly enough: her sparkling braces, her soft brown eyes, the daisy tucked neatly in her hair that was tied back in its trademark ponytail, and her small pink pimple. She suddenly became aware of how close Luan's face was to her own; a screaming voice deep in the back of her head was wailing out for her to back away and make some distance from the pimple as soon as possible. This same irritating voice had been the one Luna had listened to all day whenever Luan was near and let seize control of her mind. But somehow, Luna (or at least the part of her that seemed to currently be in control of her mind anyway) was able to ignore this one lone warning bell and focus on something far more important instead: her sister.
"But I still feel like a real bonehead for giving you the cold shoulder," Luna muttered. "How can you just let it slide like none of that happened?"
"It's called loyalty, Lunes," she soothed. "And trust. I know that you'll always be there for me when I need you, even when you feel that you're not, just like how I always try to be there for you. We're sisters. It's in our blood."
In a final act of rescue, she took hold of Luna's hand and whispered low. "Anything that's happened in the past…has passed. You can't change the past, but you can change yourself for a better present and future. I've forgiven you. Now it's time for you to forgive yourself. Can you do that?"
Luna let the words mesh into her mind as she gradually found herself being drawn to Luan's heartful message. She observed Luan, taken aback at how she could forgive her so easily, given that she felt Luan had every reason to turn her back on her as she did to her for the majority of the day. But here she was, her little sister, gazing up at her with soft eyes filled with hope and desperation to lift Luna back up from the ground and forgiveness stemming from an unconditional love for her big sister. It was these things that finally gave Luna the strength to sit up a little straighter.
"I guess…I guess I can, Lulu," she finally said. "I guess I can move on…and learn from this. I promise I'll be a better support for you. Always."
Luan smiled as she mentally noted that Luna had just referred to her with her nickname. This was a good sign. "I know you will. You know why? 'Cuz you're strong and your heart is almost always in the right place. You really care about your music and instruments, and everyone knows you as the rock and roll queen. I do too, but I also know that you care about those you love even more. That's why you're my favourite person to hang out with. It's why I have no trouble opening up to you. You understand me, even if what I'm going through doesn't always interest you. All the pep-talks you've given me before my performances, all the late-night talks we've had, that time you helped me to stop worrying about Benny…you've always been like this, Luna, and sometimes I forget how lucky I am to have you as my sister."
Luan suddenly lowered her eyes. "And to tell you the truth, Lunes, sometimes I really envy you."
Luna, who had secretly been enjoying this small dose of praising, quickly noticed the sudden drop in Luan's confident demeanor. "What do you mean, dude?"
"You think you've wronged me…but look how many times I've wronged you and our whole family for so long…I'm sure you know that very well. But I've never felt that deep regret you were just having now. Maybe I'm the one who's not a good sister…"
"Dude, don't say that."
Luan suddenly felt the old shackles of her own guilt begin to grip her, her insides now feeling as dark as the evening darkness consuming the area. She began to voice her fleeting thoughts as they came to her in a blur, out of a forgotten corner of her mind to come flowing out of her mouth in a lofty sort of way. "I messed up so many times…I've hurt you in so many ways…physically and inside. And yet…you forgave me every time. But I never seemed to learn from them like you. Instead I just kept repeating them every year. Maybe that's the reason why none of our younger siblings have really come to me for help. It's always you or Lori or even Lincoln they run to. I can never be who you are."
Tears of shame and disappointment were now pooling in Luan's eyes as old flaming memories began to burn her from the inside. In an unexpected and rapid change of pace, it was now Luan who was feeling guilty. Because of this, Luna felt an ugly sensation rise in her throat; she couldn't let this happen, not on Luan's best day ever. Swiftly shifting her body even closer to Luan, she tilted her chin up to meet her gaze. "Luan, it's okay. Everyone…is different. But it's like you said: we all make mistakes and we learn from them. Sometimes we have to make them more than once to really feel that we need to change."
Luan looked up at Luna for a moment before dropping her gaze. "But all the things I used to do…were so horrible to you. So much worse than what you did to me. Driving my own family away for the fun of it…laughing when I hurt them…" Luan shut her eyes, bearing the load of her old burdens once more as it truly hit her how badly she had treated Luna and the rest of her family over the years.
"I'm so sorry, Luna. All those years ago…I never realized how much you meant to me and just treated you like my roommate. Sometimes like dirt. We were close when we were really little, and then we drifted apart, but still, you were important to me. It just never really clicked in…until…until…"
"Until I left," finished Luna, remembering how this had all started. "The school band retreat…you felt alone for the first time, didn't you." This was said as a statement, not a question, for she already knew the answer.
"Well, yes and no. It was actually first when you changed yourself for that song contest," Luan corrected in hushed tones. "When you became Lulu, it made me realize how much it hurt to see you disappear. And then…you left for the retreat and it was the first time you and I were apart for so long. And I realized…that you wouldn't always be with me forever. It made me understand how much I needed you. And when you came back…that night you kept me warm during the winter…"
Luan swallowed hard.
"…really opened my eyes to how much I was taking you for granted," she finished weakly.
It became quiet as Luan said no more, her regretful eyes downcast upon the moonlit ground. Luna was equally quiet, but she was thinking deeply. At last, she brought her arms around her sister, pulling her in gently and rubbing her back comfortingly. "I can't promise that I'll always be with you in person, Luan. But I do promise this: even if we're a million miles apart and rockin' our own business at opposite ends of the Earth, I'll still be with you. I'll be in your heart…like you are in mine."
She felt Luan nuzzle her face into her shoulder as she went on. "And even with all those harsh pranking shenan's you pulled on me in the past, nothing's keeping me from you now, is it?" She carefully pulled back, keeping her hands on her sister's shoulders to meet her face directly. "You've already fixed your past mistakes from those pranking sprees, brah. I've seen the way you've reworked them so they're not harmful anymore and more fun. Not just for you, but for all of us. And I'm…so proud of you. I've watched you change for the better, not just within the last year, but all my life…you're taking on more responsibilities…you care about people more. It may have taken a while, but who says you gotta change overnight? I've watched you mature…watched you grow."
"We grow together," Luan joined in with confidence. "We help each other out."
"We catch each other when we fall," Luna whispered.
"It's what keeps us together."
All became quiet again as they sat before each other in silence. Luan leaned forward to rest the side of her head against Luna's chest, seeking comfort; the latter wrapping her arm around her as she heard her younger sister sniffle quietly in the fabric of her shirt. But just as Luan had disliked the sight of her older sister so broken up inside, Luna equally hated to see Luan despondent too. It just wasn't right for her cheerful, optimistic partner-in-crime to enter this miserable state. Especially on this day. She wanted to lift her Lulu up, just as she had done to her what felt like only a few minutes ago.
Luna gently pulled Luan back up and used her thumb to wipe the few droplets from her sister's eyes. The mental voice warning her about the pimple was almost nonexistent by this point, replaced instead by harmonic voices singing a calm melody of promise and restoration, for with Luan, someone very close to her and would remain close for years to come, Luna felt no reason to be depressed anymore.
Luan met her gaze.
"We've always rocked together, and we always will be rocking together. We're a team. There will always be a 'Luna and Luan'. We're like…we're like Ami and Yumi. No matter what happens, we'll see it through as one."
Then Luna smiled, letting the love for her sister shine through her heart and grant her first true smile of the entire day. Many sources of material and artificial objects ranging from guitars to chocolate covered almonds prompted her to release such a smile, but tonight, her feelings of joy were flowing from a very special source indeed. One that was far less material and far more genuine.
"You really are full of surprises, Lulu. Even though I've never liked any of them all that much…tonight I'm nothing but grateful that you came for me. Benny really is the luckiest dude to have a girl like you."
Luan's eyes sparkled as she gazed deeply at Luna and felt her heart glow as bright as the sun, its light reflecting up to her youthful face and cumulating in a true smile of her own. Though the heavy memories of her past wrongdoings were still painful to recall – and she doubted that they ever would cease to be – she couldn't help but feel better in Luna's presence. The familiar aura of comfort that Luna always shared with her was nothing short of something beautiful to absorb and refresh her. With Luna's help, she could be a better comedienne for the world, a better girlfriend for Benny, but most of all, a better sister for her family.
"Sam's made a pretty good pick too," she told her truthfully. Luna blushed and let her smile grow twofold; it never failed to give her delight to know that her entire family supported her blossoming romance. Luan was no exception.
"It's good to have you back…you loony Lunatic," Luan teased, playfully flicking at one of Luna's paperclip earrings.
The rocker's warm smile grew even more. "It's good to be back…you kooky goofball."
This exchange made Luan giggle. And Luna joined her; it felt good to be talking again.
Best of all, it was good to be friends again.
But then, their friendship had never ended in the first place.
Luna finally got up from the ground with Luan following suit, but sitting in one position for so long had taken its toll on her legs, for they took half a second too long to adjust to their new weight and she suddenly stumbled, letting out a high-pitched yelp as she was about to crash back down had a pair of hands not swoop in and hold her firmly around the waist just in time.
Shaking out the brief moment of shock, Luan looked up at her saviour. Luna blinked at her as she helped Luan upright, holding on to her until she had fully regained balance. Then Luan smiled sweetly. "If you wanted to prove that you would truly be there to catch me when I fall, it looks like you just did."
Luna rubbed the back of her neck. "Well, that wasn't what I meant…but I dig it."
Luan giggled and enveloped Luna in another hug. For the third time that night, they hugged. The first two had been hugs out of comfort, one for each of them. And this one…well, neither Luna nor Luan could describe exactly where this one was coming from. But it didn't seem to really matter. Driven by joy to have one another in their lives and with a forgotten trust in their sisterhood renewed and embedded safely in their hearts, there was just no reason why they couldn't engage in one more embrace; as if polarized by a magnet, they clung to each other, surrounded by a mutual love that they had shared all their lives, a love that never dies even when it is forgotten. This was a special hug, one filled with promise to have each other's backs through rain or shine and to be there when a sister needed her sister the most. One that instantly sent a peculiar sensation coursing through their bloodstreams. A rare sensation it was to find, let alone to behold, and for Luan, it was a treasure she had discovered with Luna long ago and would never ever give up for any of her worldly desires found in material goods.
Luna felt the exact same way.
"Don't ever let me hear you say that you don't deserve to be my big sister again," Luan mumbled as she buried her face into the crook of Luna's neck, wanting to be absolutely clear. "If you do, I'll prank you so hard that you won't have any fingers left to play your guitar anymore."
Luna said nothing, letting the threat slide past in exchange for simply enjoying the feeling of Luan nestled snuggly into her and the forgiveness her sister had gifted out of her own accord. It didn't even matter that the cheek Luan's pimple was on was making direct contact with her; Luna didn't care. All she wanted to do was hug Luan and let any traces of her depressed energy inside blow far, far away and be gone with the wind.
From inside the Loud house, Lucy and Lynn, their previous argument long forgotten, watched their older siblings out in the front yard; two silhouettes standing against the rising moonlight. Like a silent film, they did not hear any of what the teens had said, yet could still see them.
"You see, Luce? I told you that Luan could help Luna get over the Trenchers' total loss," Lynn was saying.
"Sigh. Lynn, I am beyond certain that that wasn't Luna's problem."
Lynn rolled her eyes. "Yeah, yeah, sure, sure. Next thing you'll be telling me is that Lincoln was all moody last summer at the dance party 'cuz he wanted to dance with Ronnie Anne!"
"Groan," was all Lucy could say.
A/N (Nov 30/19): If you're wondering where the true ending is, allow me to explain. I had originally published this entire story as one single chapter, until I flagged a major error that required an immediate clean-up. While doing so, I decided to split this story into 2 chapters, a large one and a smaller one. So, if you remember reading the ending on the published date, Nov 28th, don't panic; it will come back, with some additional content. Please be patient until I clean up the bugs and post the ending as a second chapter.