Best Night Ever (Extended Edition)
Description: Princess Celestia coming and telling them it's all okay went some way towards restoring the balance, but I don't think it went far enough. Here's my non-canon, but heartfelt extended story.
"As horrible as our night was..." Applejack stated.
Rarity continued, "...being here together has made it all better."
Pinkie Pie exclaimed. "In fact, it's made it the best night ever!"
Celestia joined in the laughter of the friends, but then she frowned.
Twilight Sparkle noticed her mentor's expression, and asked nervously. "Princess, I thought you weren't angry at what happened."
"I am, but not at you, my dear Twilight Sparkle." The Princess replied reassuringly. "I heard some of what you were saying about your night. While I had hoped you all would liven up the gala, which you did, I had also intended it as a reward for all your hard work."
Rainbow Dash exclaimed. "But you knew the Gala was going to be awful! You just said so!"
Twilight tried to hush up the impetuous pegasus, but Celestia nodded. "However, I had originally expected Twilight and Spike to be the only ones coming, which is why I only sent two tickets. I should have realised that she would never have left out her new friends. I'm sorry if you felt I was ignoring you, my little pony."
"Oh, that's alright..." Twilight Sparkle blushed, both at the apology and the term of endearment.
"I still believe I owe you an apology. You've proved such a diligent student in your magic studies, I sometimes forget that you're not as well versed in court etiquette as most of your peers. As hostess, it is part of my job to welcome my guests. I know a number who only come to the Gala just so they can say they've met me in person." She rolled her eyes.
"Once I'd fully discharged my responsibilities, we could have had the talk you were clearly so eager to begin. I would have let you go enjoy yourself with your friends until then, but I also wanted you to be at my side when I greeted every-pony. The position is a high honour, and I wanted them to see who I felt deserved it." She smiled. "Also, I must admit it felt good to have you at my side."
Twilight turned even redder at the complement. Eventually Rarity exclaimed. "Twilight, darling, remember to breath!"
"I had hoped that Luna would be there at my other side, but, she didn't feel ready to face so many people officially." Celestia's face turned sad, and she shook her head, mane sweeping behind her, clearly worried about her sister. "When your friends wished to come, I was surprised, but I certainly wasn't going to say no, after all they have done for me, and Equestria. I thought you knew what you were letting yourselves in for."
Twilight looked downcast. "Then it's my fault. I just wish I'd studied or asked about the Gala, then maybe I could have told my friends and they wouldn't have had such a disappointment."
"Aww... That's alright, sugar-cube." Applejack said. "I guess we all kinda had our own ideas about what this shindig was going to be like, rather than finding out for real."
"Well, I'm only too glad to make it up to you, though I'd also like to ask another favour, a personal one. It was also another reason I was happy your friends were coming, they may be able to help too. This may be a job that only the magic of friendship can solve."
All six ponies leaned forward slightly. The task had to be serious to require their combined talents.
The Princess looked over at the pony behind the counter. "And speaking of making it up to you... Pony Joe, could we please have a round of your finest doughnuts for everyone!"
"Yes ma'am, Princess, right away!" The unicorn stallion behind the counter set to work, horn glowing as he raised lumps of dough out of his mixing vat. He speared them with his horn, and with a practised flick, flipped the proto-doughnuts in the hot vegetable oil. Spike had dozed off, and not even the smell of fresh doughnuts could wake him, but the others at the table were only to happy to accept.
Suddenly, a figure appeared in the doorway, a dark purple filly, covered in a cloak which concealed her cutie mark though not her proportions, and with a hood that somehow seemed darker inside than it should be, and which hid her face quite effectively, though there was the barest glint of a horn.
"Hi Princess Luna!" called out Pinkie Pie, "Come and join us! We have doughnuts!"
The figure stopped dead, and her horn glowed as her hood slid back. "How did you..."
Pinkie Pie replied brightly. "I got a tickle in my ear, and a wrinkle in my muzzle, and that only happened just before we met you the last time. Oh, and when I eat carrot soup, but there's no carrots, or soup around, so it had to be you?"
Luna looked even more confused, and Twilight took pity on her. "Pinkie sense. It violates Marelin's law of temporal fungibility, but it works anyway. I find it best to just nod and move on. There are things in this world that neither science or magic can explain, and Pinkie Pie is most of them."
"Um, big sister, when you said I should meet you here..." Luna looked around nervously, and took a backwards step. "I... maybe I should go..."
"But you only just got here!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed, and bounced across to her. "If you don't like doughnuts, I'm sure Applejack has some left over apple fritters! They're apple-tastic!"
Somehow, Pinkie Pie appeared behind her, blocking off her escape route.
"Oh, little sister, come on in." Celestia said. "I think you've 'convalesced from your ordeal' long enough. I know you didn't get a proper chance to meet your saviours during our progress, but I had hoped you'd be able to at the gala. I wanted you to have a chance to meet some new ponies, and Twilight Sparkle and her friends are some of the best."
"Sure Princess, c'mon over and take a spot!" Applejack called out, quickly followed by the others in their own ways.
The purple alicorn looked shame-faced. "How can you be so... accepting? After what I did!"
"Now Luna!" Celestia's voice was gently reproving. "I thought we'd been over this. You have nothing to be ashamed of. I said I'd forgiven you, and I'm sure these ponies never thought they'd needed to."
She spoke to the others. "This was the favour I was about to ask. I'm afraid my little sister has had a hard time adjusting. She still feels guilty over what she did as Nightmare Moon. And she feels worst about the things she did to you when she was released from the moon. She's stayed in the palace, working hard on regaining her powers, but not doing much else. I've spent whatever time I could with her, but I hoped meeting you would show her that she has nothing to be afraid of."
Celestia looked back to Luna, but her eyes grew distant, and she suddenly seemed far older than usual. She seemed to be talking to herself as much as the younger princess.
"If only I'd been able to use the Elements properly the first time. I would have freed you of Nightmare Moon myself instead of putting you to sleep in the moon. Unfortunately, I didn't have the good friends to help me that my student had. Mere power, even the power to move the sun, can't replace the spark needed to activate the full powers of the Elements of Harmony. You've been hurt so badly, and it's my fault."
The Fellowship of Harmony were not a little shocked. It wasn't everyday you got to hear the confessions of a goddess.
"Oh no, big sis, don't feel bad!" Luna stepped forward, pleading. "I don't remember my time in the moon, and you've been there for me ever since I was released... I..." She teared up, and laid her head against Celestia's, each hugging the other with one foreleg, Celestia going down on her knee to lower herself to the smaller princess's height,and getting misty eyed herself.
The long moment was broken by Pinkie Pie. "Why the long faces? You're both together now, and it's time to party!"
She started singing and dancing around. "Ohh, you shouldn't be so teary, for it's all turned out right, the doughnuts are now here, so come and have a bite! We're happy that you're here with us, so join the party mood! No need for you to fear with us, so come and have some fooood!"
She finished her song holding the last note and standing on the table, on one hoof. She was balancing the fresh tray of doughnuts on her nose, and releasing party streamers she'd gotten from somewhere, possibly party-space.
"Whoaaa!" Unfortunately the pose, like the pony holding it, was inherently unstable. She overbalanced, and was caught by Twilight's telekinesis, while the tray was caught by Rarity's power. The doughnuts flew every which way, most scattering randomly, but somehow, two of them neatly ringed a pair of unicorn horns. Even Applejack couldn't have done better with a horse shoe.
Twilight winced as the two princesses separated, identical cross-eyed looks on their faces as they focussed on their doughnut be-ringed horns. Celestia reacted first, demonstrating all the aplomb of royalty.
"Well! Not the way I usually have my doughnuts delivered, but it has the advantage of being fast." She flicked her horn and the doughnut flew in the air again, to land neatly in her mouth. She munched on it thoughtfully, then swallowed. "Interesting glaze..." She said, deadpan. "I do believe it is pineapple!"
Luna meanwhile, had just stood there stunned, then she started to smile, then giggle, and at this last remark collapsed on the floor, rolling over and laughing helplessly. It was infectious, and spread to the rest of the group. As she started to calm down, Pinkie Pie pointed to the doughnut on her horn. "If you don't want that, could I have it? It has chocolate sprinkles!"
That just sent the younger princess into into fresh paroxysms of laughter. When order and doughnuts had been restored, Luna stood with her sister and the fellowship at the table, and far more at ease. Celestia smiled at her. "It's good to hear you laugh again after so long, little sister."
"It felt good to have something to laugh about." She looked around at the assembled ponies, and took a deep breath. "I want to say I'm sorry, for everything I put you through. I tried to kill you, scare you to death, attack you with monsters, break your wills and your bodies..."
"That wasn't you, Princess, that was Nightmare Moon." Twilight replied.
"But it was! Well, a part of me, anyway. When no-one appreciated my nights, it was so easy to lash out, hurt people, _make_ them notice me, and what I did. Part of me knew it was wrong, but I didn't listen. And as I ignored that part of me, my memories as Luna faded, leaving only Nightmare Moon. I became a monster, but it was still me, and I remember everything I did."
She gazed down at the table. "There was still some part of me that knew what I was doing was wrong, was evil, but I didn't care. When you hit me with that rainbow, it was like a shower of ice water. It shocked me, cleared my mind, and in that moment, all my memories came back, and so did my conscience. Remembering what I'd done, what I wanted to do..."
"Hey now, no need to get yerself all hot and bothered again." Applejack interrupted. "Ain't none of us perfect. There was the time I tried to harvest all of Sweet Apple Acres myself, I was plumb near crazy from lack of sleep, but I was just to shootin' stubborn to accept help."
Rarity added. "I got beautiful wings from a spell Twilight used to let us go support Rainbow Dash at the Young Fliers competition, and ended up trying to upstage her. I let my pride in my appearance get the better of me, rather than supporting my friend.."
Fluttershy spoke gently."I promised to babysit for Rarity's little sister and her friends, I thought it would be the same as taking care of my animal friends... but it wasn't. They ended up wandering into the Everfree Forest."
"I thought all my friends were being mean meanie-pants, hiding things and keeping secrets, when they were actually planning a surprise party for me!" Pinkie Pie put in her two bits worth. "I thought they didn't want to come to my parties any-more, so I know how bad it feels when you think no-one appreciates you!"
"For that matter, I thought all there was to activating the Elements of Harmony was researching and finding them. It took a group of real friends to show me I was wrong." Twilight Sparkle said. "We've all make mistakes, but I like to think we've learned from them too."
Rainbow Dash had been silent from continuous doughnut inhalation, but stopped to say. "I haven't! Uh, I mean I haven't made any mistakes, not that I haven't learned... Oh horse-feathers!"
The rest of the fellowship glared at her. and she amended. "Uh... sorry, well I may have made a couple of mistakes, yeah, I'm sure I have, sometime. Oh yeah, like I didn't believe I wouldn't be totally awesome at the Young Flier's competition, which I was!"
Twilight rolled her eyes. "You did get rather over-competitive in that contest with Applejack. And how about the way none of us appreciated how much work Rarity put into these costumes and embarrassed her with that fashion show, after she made new ones to match what we wanted." She looked down at her dress, now rather mangled. "Oh Rarity, I'm sorry, I didn't realise..."
"It is alright." Rarity replied brightly. "It's nothing a few stitches won't fix, and some fabric. I could do a magical repair job, but that would only last a few minutes. Anyway, I clearly need to adjust the set of Rainbow's cloak, it really rides too high when she's moving at full speed."
"Are you kidding?" Rainbow replied. "These threads are sweet! I've gotta admit I backed the wrong pony there. They don't slow me down one bit, and they made me look awesome! They're at least twenty percent cooler than my idea!"
Twilight tried to get things back on track. "Princess Luna, what we're saying is, you made a bad decision, but it seems you learned from it, just like we did. If you want to put it behind you, none of us blame you for what Nightmare Moon did. So we'd be honoured if you'd be our friend."
There was a general agreement around the table.
"I rather you didn't, be honoured I mean." Luna responded, then wrinkled her muzzle. "I get enough of that kind of 'friendship' from some of the court, the ones that don't think I'm delusional. Having friends, real friends would be wonderful."
"Delusional? But you're Princess Luna! You change the day to night and raise the moon!" Twilight stated.
"Not yet, though I'm working on it. I still need big sister's help to shift the moon around, though I'm doing a lot of practice on asteroids and meteor showers, like that one a month back. I'm rather pleased with how that turned out. I managed to tighten up the interval and tweak the velocities to give the brightest possible show."
"That was you?" Rainbow Dash asked. "It was so cool! Made me want to go up there and fly through 'em!"
"Having all those meteors so close together gave me some really solid data for my paper on cometary formation." Twilight stated. "From the trajectories, I confirmed that it's the remains of comet Sparklemane, rather than Skydancer Scopely, which is the one in the books."
"Well of course it was! The number of times I had to tweak that thing back when it was out-gassing to stop it hitting Equestria..." Luna replied then stopped as Twilight face-hooved.
"Right, immortal, executive control of the night sky, I could have just asked." Twilight said, then shook her head, brightening up. "No, this is good, multiple sources of verification will help with the peer review. Not that independent validation of the hypothesis isn't worthwhile in itself."
"Science stuff later, Twilight darling, Though we're all glad you let us know ahead of time." Rarity interjected. "I think it's more important that we get to know Princess Luna. It was a beautiful display, everyone stayed up to watch it."
"And we had punch and triple decker cookies which Spike made, though he fell asleep in the punch bowl." Pinkie Pie added. "It was a great party!"
Luna gave a shy smile. "I do my best. And Luna is good, if we're going to be friends. I just wish I was back up to full power."
"If you don't mind me asking, Prin... Luna, why aren't you?" asked Twilight.
"When you freed me from my nightmare, a lot of my power went with it. It's why I still look like a filly. It'll take decades, maybe a a century before I grow back to what I was, though I should have my full power back much sooner."
"Ohh! You looked different?" Pinkie Pie asked. "What did you look like?"
The purple alicorn actually grinned. "Maybe it's better to show, not tell. I do have _some_ of my old power back..."
The air around her hazed, the light from the fixtures shifting in tone to moon-light. When it changed back, the alicorn standing there had the same proportions as Celestia, wrought on a slightly smaller scale. She flared her feathered wings. "Now if I looked like this, no-one would have a problem."
"A Moonlight Shadow illusion spell!" Twilight exclaimed. "I've read about it in an ancient spell-book, but I thought you had to have direct moonlight... oh, I guess since your primary affinity is with the moon, you can use the law of similarity to substitute light reflected from you. Though you wouldn't be able to use it in direct sunlight. But that proves it! Only you could use the spell like that."
"Not surprising, I was the one who invented it!" Luna sighed, dropping the illusion. "Unfortunately, most unicorns don't have your knowledge of spell-craft. They'll recognise the illusion, but without knowing the background, that would just make things worse, especially as I can't use it during the day. So a lot of the court think I'm either a convincing faker, or just plain lunatic who's managed to fool my big sis, or even a charity case she's taken pity on."
Celestia sighed. "One of the downsides of not being as omni-potent as my press releases say. I may raise the sun, and make the big decisions, but I rely on my court and the bureaucracy to carry them out. To be fair, most of them do very good and worthwhile jobs, though I would love to see them lighten up a bit."
She smiled brightly. "One of the reasons I enjoyed the events in the ballroom, it was fun to see that pomposity punctured. Unfortunately, there are always a few pointless hangers-on, courtiers in the worse sense of the word. I can't remove them as they are related to people who I do need. Well I could, but I prefer to be a good and noble ruler rather than a tyrant."
She continued. "Of course, they're exactly the sort of person who is around the palace, and ends up meeting Luna."
Luna frowned, not looking directly at any of them. "The ones who are fawningly polite are bad enough, but there's at least a few who seem to think it should go the other way, since I've been rather scared of taking out my royal prerogative and waving it about. Oh it's all very proper, helping the poor Princess Luna to adjust to palace life..."
She raised a doughnut with a telekinetic lift, and bit into it savagely.
"That Blueblood is the worst of them! He's come closest to having me go Nightmare Moon on his overly groomed flanks, or at least dropping a meteorite on him."
Celestia had a stern look. "Has he been bothering you? Why didn't you say something?"
Luna couldn't look her sister in the eyes. "I didn't want to make you think I couldn't cope. I don't want you to have to do any more for me. It's not like he said it to my face, but I know what he says to his cronies in private."
She turned to the group. "Another aspect of my powers, if it happens at night, and it concerns me, I know about it, or at least know that I know something, even if I don't know what it is that I know, you know? If I concentrate on it, I get more information."
"Pardon me princess, but are we talking about Prince Blueblood, a white unicorn stallion with a star cutie mark?" Rarity asked.
"Prince? He wishes!" Luna growled. "Or rather he hopes. After all, if I'm not in a fit state to care for myself, then maybe the most handsome unicorn in Equestria should handle it, and gain a status fit for one of such rarefied breeding and good taste. Oh, you must have found out what he's like. He should have been a pegasus, since he clearly thinks he's to good to walk the same ground as the rest of us." Coming from an alicorn, that was some insult.
Rarity nodded. "I noticed. Not to be crass, but he has to be the most self-absorbed..."
"Stuck-up..." Luna threw back.
"...aggravating prig of a stallion I've ever had the misfortune to meet." Rarity finished. The two fillies shared a look of sisterhood.
"Unfortunately his father is my Minister of Agriculture,and very good at his job." Celestia added. "His father asked me to bring him to court, so he could interact with his peers and learn how to comport himself in high society."
"He can compost himself as far as I'm concerned." Luna sniffed. Her earlier shyness had vanished.
"I wasn't flapping my muzzle when I said he was already considering himself royalty. I think he has some insipid idea that I'm going to fall madly in love with him, and marry him. Worse yet, he had half the court believing we're already an item. The idea that anyone could possibly resist such a handsome, well groomed, charming stallion, never crosses his mind." The sarcasm practically dripped off her.
"That's what fooled me." Rarity sighed. "He seemed to be my Prince Charming, the one I came to the Gala to find in the first place. "
"You came looking for Pince Charming, and got saddled with a prize chump instead!" Luna said. "I hope he wasn't too dreadful."
"Are you kidding?" Applejack exclaimed. "He were plumb rude to Rarity, treated her like a servant, even pushed her in front of a flying cake that would have hit him!"
Considering apple pies were considered the weapon of choice for an Applosian range war, this was roughly equivalent to using her as a shield from an assault rifle.
"He what?" Luna said, angrily. "Fine, let's see how he can dodge meteorites! Don't worry, sis, I won't actually hit him, but he needs to be taught a lesson. Let's see how dignified he can be when he's looking up nervously at the sky every five seconds!"
"No need." Rainbow Dash grinned, gesturing with a hoof. "Rarity already let him have it but good! She told him just how rotten he was, then shook herself off and splattered cake all over him. He totally freaked out and backed into the statue... Uh, sorry about the statue... and the pillars, Princess Celestia."
"You don't need to be sorry about that, Dash dear" Rarity replied. "I understand you were trying to save it. I didn't see anyone else trying to help."
"That's cuz Dash was the only one fast enough!" Applejack said. "She was there before most people had figured out anything was wrong, and that includes those two Wonderbolt characters. That guy one may have been the only one to buy one of my pies, but he didn't seem much use else-wise. You'd have thunk they'd have checked on Dash after the pillars collapsed at least."
She snorted. While she might be competitive with Dash, she cared for her, and ponies not living up to their promises grated.
"It's not like she didn't save their flanks, and the rest of their pastel hides at the Young Fliers competition, oh wait, she did! At least that high-faluting unicorn got a face-full of cake, though that ain't half enough pay-back by my reckoning. They said she could hang with them,and then they left her hanging instead, hanging out to dry more like."
Rainbow Dash exclaimed. "Hey, it wasn't like that... well, okay, it was a bit but maybe they were distracted by Fluttershy's stampede."
"I'm really sorry about that." Fluttershy replied to Dash, voice lowering. "I just so wanted to meet all the animals, I just got... a bit carried away."
It's okay, I'm not blaming you." the pegasus said loyally. "I'm just saying that might be why they didn't check on me."
"Still don't excuse them ignoring you before then." Applejack exclaimed. "If there's one thing that gets my dander up, it's ponies who don't keep their promises!"
"I just wish someone had enjoyed my Pony Pokey song!" Pinkie Pie added, sighing. "Nobody seemed to be having fun. They were all just standing around talking with with serious expressions. No dancing, no games, nobody enjoying themselves."
"It's alright Pinkie. They just don't know what they're missing," Twilight stated. "You throw the best parties. I didn't realise just how staid this one would be."
"I'd love to go to a party like that," said Luna wistfully. "With singing and dancing and games. I've been at far too many of the other sort lately."
"Okie-dokie-lokey! Next time I have a party in Ponyville, you're invited." Pinkie Pie exclaimed.
Twilight Sparkle was thinking out loud. "If we want everyone to act natural, we may have to hold it after dark. Then Luna can use her Moonlight Shadow to disguise herself. Uh, you may want to get the moon and night organised beforehand."
"That would be great!" Luna exclaimed. "Could I, big sis?"
"Of course. I'm glad you're all getting on so well." The white alicorn said, benevolently. "If you tell me what you want for the night sky, I can take over for that night. It's not like I haven't done all nighters before."
"Well, I want to hear about what happened at this party! Flying cakes, stampedes, pokey ponies, it sounds like I missed out!"
A full recounting didn't take long, and at the end, Luna frowned. "But that's not fair! You had so many hopes for the Gala, and you didn't get any of them! Sis, we have to do something about this!"
"What do you suggest?" Celestia asked, inwardly pleased at how well her new plan was going. Luna had been brought out of her funk, and had new friends. Her favourite student and her friends , who were shaping up into some of Celestia's best trouble-shooters, would get the rewards they well deserved.
Maybe, in another decade, Luna would be up to returning the favour, and Celestia would be able to play hooky for a day. Well, if there was one thing an immortal had plenty of, it was time.
To be continued.
Authors Notes: Sorry, this started out as a short idea, but then Luna stuck her muzzle in, and it all got a bit complicated. Originally it was going to be Celestia who handed out the prizes, but then I had some ideas as to why Luna hadn't been seen, and saw a chance to hit two birds with one stone...
No! Fluttershy, I didn't mean literally! You don't have to stare me into submission! This just means I'll have to do a second part to actually do the rewards. I stand by what I said, the mane cast should get more recognition for the services they've done. Look out for it!