As always, many, many thanks go to my pre-reader Heatwave. Without his hard work and feedback, this story would not be as good as it is. If you're looking for something else to read, please go check his work. You won't be sorry!

When Twilight Sparkle had received the invitation to come to Canterlot to visit with Princess Celestia, she had been ecstatic. While she had been busy during the months since she had arrived in Ponyville after the Summer Sun Celebration and Princess Luna's return, she had still missed the daily interaction she'd had with her teacher. She assumed that she would get to spend the day talking with her mentor about subjects ranging from her studies to what had happened since they had last seen each other face to face.

Now, after spending most of the day with Princess Celestia, she felt a bit disappointed about the whole ordeal. Sure, there had been some small talk at the beginning, but Twilight could tell that the princess had wanted to discuss something else; Luna's time in Ponyville. Twilight couldn't blame her either; she was still in awe over everything that had happened, and the lengthy conversation had helped her get a better understanding of the events.

Twilight slowly walked down a hallway in the castle, heading towards the cloud chariots that were waiting to take her home. She shook her head in amazement at everything that had recently happened. Even after she had spent all day talking about it, even though she had experienced it during the last couple of months, it was still hard to believe that Princess Luna had disguised herself as an earth pony and had lived incognito in Ponyville among its residents. Twilight still remembered the first day of it, when the disguise spell that Luna had cast had spread ripples through the aether, and she had received Princess Celestia's letter asking her to keep an eye out for Luna.

It had taken several days for Twilight to find a copy of the spell book that Luna had used and piece together the clues she had gathered before realizing that the moon princess was disguised as an earth pony named Moonbeam. Princess Celestia had visited her later that night, and after a lengthy discussion it was decided to let Luna continue what she was doing, with Twilight keeping an eye on her. Twilight and her friends had been out of town when Luna had finally decided to drop the disguise, and only today she had heard from Celestia what had happened. While the thought that Nightmare Moon had still been able to exert herself in some manner frightened Twilight, knowing that the younger alicorn had managed to banish her newly freed dark side to the moon again kept Twilight from constantly looking over her shoulder for the evil incarnation.

While Twilight and Celestia had spent the day sharing information about the past, Princess Luna had spent the day with the friends she had made during her time in Ponyville. Twilight smiled at the thought that she hadn't been the only pony to arrive in town and soon find themselves surrounded by new friends. Luna had been quickly taken in by two mares who had been friends since they had been young fillies; Dewdrop, an orange unicorn who worked at the Ponyville Inn, and her roommate Feather Down, a pink earth pony who worked as a waitress when she wasn't sprinting through town or taking a nap. Shortly after that, while searching for a house for Luna to live in, they had met first Pine Needle, a green earth pony stallion known for having a green hoof, and then Haystack, a brown pegasus farmer stallion known for his serious demeanor. Those four became a close circle of friends for Luna to bond with, something that Luna had been unable to find in Canterlot since her return from the moon. Celestia had told Twilight that she suspected that Nightmare Moon may have had a hoof in that, but had no way to confirm it.

For now, the plan was to let Luna's friends visit once a week, with Celestia providing transportation for the ponies to and from Ponyville. Twilight wondered if that would truly work out. She couldn't imagine how she would take being able to only see Applejack, Rainbow Dash and her other friends so infrequently. Still, Twilight couldn't think of a better compromise off the top of her head. It would have been awkward to have one of the royal sisters living in a small town like Ponyville, and Luna's friends all had jobs that couldn't be moved to Canterlot. It was better than nothing, Twilight concluded. She only hoped it didn't lead to them growing apart over time.

A soft glow surrounded her horn, and the door in front of Twilight swung open to reveal one of the many gardens in and around Canterlot Castle. Luna was there, saying goodbye to her friends. As they noticed Twilight, they waved at her, and she walked over.

"Now, next week, you're going to help me figure out where to plant that sapling you brought with you, right?" Luna asked the earth pony stallion as Twilight came up to them. "We can even use it as an exercise to see how much I can access earth pony magic as an alicorn."

"I will be more than happy to. Mine only concern is taking up too much of your time, and not leaving you enough to spend with everypony else." Pine Needle replied. He nodded to Twilight. "Greetings! I hope you had as good a time with Princess Celestia as we had with Moonb- I mean, Princess Luna?" He rapped a forehoof against his head and turned back to Luna. "I am sorry. I fear it will take me some time still to get used to not calling you by that name."

Luna smiled. "It's alright. If our positions were reversed, I know I would be having the same problems."

Twilight smiled weakly. "Well, I don't think I had as good a time as you guys did, but it was nice to spend a day with Princess Celestia again."

"I'm glad to hear that," Luna said. She then paused, and then looked down at the ground. "Twilight Sparkle, I haven't said this to you yet, and I should have before now. I want to apologize to you, for deceiving you as I did in Ponyville. Even if things did turn out well in the end, what I did was dishonest. Knowing that every time somepony called me Moonbeam I was perpetuating a lie hurt me then, and it still stings to think about it now." Luna turned her gaze up, and looked Twilight in the eyes. "I'm sorry for what I did. It was wrong of me, and you deserve better than just a simple, spoken apology from me. If there is any way that I can make it up to you, please let me know."

Twilight chuckled. "It all right, Princess Luna. To tell the truth, I had figured out quite early on who you were, and had been told to keep it a secret so I could keep an eye on you for your sister. She was afraid that if you had gone to such lengths to hide in the first place, that you might go even farther away if you were aware that we knew who you were. It was uncomfortable for me too, to keep that hidden from you, while trying to find ways to be close to you on a regular basis." She smiled widely at the princess. "I'm just glad that things are working out for you now."

"Thank you so much, Twilight!" Luna said with a relieved look on her face. "Would you be willing to do me a favor? I've already talked this over with my friends, and they're willing to help me, but I need your help with it too."

"I will if I can," Twilight replied. "What do you need from me?"

"Well, there are a few other ponies in Ponyville that I need to apologize to as well, and while Dewdrop can help me set up meetings in Ponyville with most of them, there is one pony who they think you would be the best to help me out in setting up a meeting with."

"That shouldn't be a problem. Who is it?"

"Pinkie Pie. She did so much to help me out. Her wonderful songs, volunteering to help us get Haystack's harvest in..." Luna sighed. "I don't honestly know if an apology even begins to make up for what I did."

Twilight smiled at the moon princess. "I wouldn't worry about it too much, you highness. I don't think I've ever seen Pinkie Pie get mad at anypony. But yes, I'll be glad to set up a meeting for you to get together with her. Is there a certain time or day that you're aiming for?"

"Dewdrop says she thinks the evening will be best, so that it won't conflict with anypony's work schedule. Of course, we don't have anything set up yet; maybe you and Dewdrop can coordinate and then send me a scroll to let me know, please?" Luna blushed. "I'm sorry to be making you do all of this extra work for me. It should be me doing this, but well..."

"I understand," Twilight said. "It will be much easier for us to ask them, with us being in town while you're here in Canterlot." Twilight turned to Dewdrop. "Want to set things up tonight after we get back to Ponyville?"

The orange unicorn nodded. "Sounds good to me. No sense in putting it off, right?"

"Exactly." Twilight turned back to Luna. "Is there anything else I can do for you?"

"Oh, goodness no! You're already doing more than enough! Thank you again, Twilight!" Luna gave Twilight a hug. "I better let you all head back home, before I keep you so late that you end up getting back to Ponyville after the sun sets."

Luna gave everypony one last hug and waved to them as the cloud chariots took off. Haystack flew alongside the chariot that carried Dewdrop and Feather Down, and Twilight found herself paired with a very nervous looking Pine Needle in the other one.

"There's no need to be so tense," Twilight said, trying to reassure the earth pony. "The only way you can end up falling is if you purposefully jump out of the chariot."

"I understand that," Pine Needle replied, "and while I know that in my head, my heart is refusing to listen. Also, it does not help that it simply feels so... weird to me to not have a direct connection to the ground underneath me."

"Oh, is that because of that earth pony magic you talked about during the Running of the Leaves?"

Pine Needle nodded. "It really isn't anything worse than what it feels like when you're nervous, but I'm a bit afraid of heights to begin with, so..." he trailed off, trying to find the words, but failing he finally settled for simply shrugging. "I'm sure I'll get used to it in time."

Twilight nodded. "Absolutely!" She looked around, trying to think of something to talk about to help distract the other pony from his current state. "So, what was it that Luna was talking about when I came in? Something about you helping her out with magic?"

"Yes, kind of like what we did back during the run. She is curious to know if she can still access it now that she is back to being an alicorn, instead of an earth pony. I think she should be able to, but I admit that I have zero experience with something like this, so it will be interesting to find out."

"I would think so!" Twilight said. "I remember back when I was a filly, and Princess Celestia made me her personal student. It was, and still is to be honest, quite an honor. You must be excited about the situation."

"Oh, I am! That, and, if I may also be honest, I am very nervous about it too."

She chuckled. "I'm sure you'll do fine." Twilight looked around and saw that the chariots were starting their descent towards Ponyville. "Hey, look! We're home, you'll be able to get your hooves back on the ground again shortly."

Pine Needle gave Twilight a relieved smile. "Thank you very much for keeping me occupied during the trip."

"Well, what else could I do? It wouldn't have been fun for either of us to see you turn into a nervous wreck." With a barely noticeable bump, the chariot's wheels touched down, and a coupe of seconds later the trip was at an end. Twilight motioned with a foreleg. "After you!"

Pine Needle quickly jumped out the back, and once back on the ground his demeanor visibly improved. "Ahhh, you can't know how good this feels, to be back on the ground. No offense my friend," he said to Haystack as he landed next to him, "but I am glad that I do not have a pair of wings as you do."

Haystack rolled his eyes. "Sorry if he was a bother, Twilight."

"Not at all." She exited the chariot and turned to the guards who had powered their trip home. "Thank you again for your time, sirs."

Nodding, they waited as Dewdrop woke up her roommate and got Feather Down to groggily leave the back of the other chariot, allowing the guardponies to begin the trip back to Canterlot.

Dewdrop walked up to Twilight. "Shall we go talk to Pinkie Pie first? Once I know what times she's available, I can set up the other meetings around that, and you can be free to do whatever you want."

"Sounds good to me," Twilight said. "Let's go." And so, the unicorns walked off together towards Sugar Cube Corner, and the other ponies all headed their separate ways to their homes.

Nightmare Moon laid motionless in the dry, white dusty soil. Her eyes were closed, and she had no desire to open them either. What was the point? She had triumphed; then she had failed. Now she was back where she had started, on the moon.

Her plan had worked so well too! Subtly reaching out through the cracks in the cell the Elements of Harmony had imprisoned her in, she had been able to gently influence Luna and those around her. She had bred mistrust and despair. She had encouraged actions to be taken without those doing them to think them through. She had worked Luna into such a frazzled state of mind that she had allowed Nightmare Moon to have a way back into the world. And her plan had worked!

For the first time since returning to the moon Nightmare Moon's train of thought- one that had been a loop of self pity and condemnation against the poor luck she had suffered- paused in its circular path. No, she realized, her plan had NOT worked; she had wanted to possess Luna, to once again make the body they had shared her vessel. What had happened was that she had somehow freed herself from Luna altogether, and had become not the dark side of the Moon Princess but instead a creature of her own.

Now that she had actually taken the time to think on the event clearly, she could see that her failure to regain control of Luna's body had in fact been her downfall. Even though she had managed to knock Princess Celestia from the sky, she had forgotten about Luna, which had allowed the little brat to get in a position to send her back to the moon. Had Luna succumbed to her will, Nightmare Moon realized, victory would very likely have been hers.

Nightmare Moon sighed. Knowing how she had lost still didn't change her current situation. She was still stuck on the moon, and this time she didn't have a connection to Luna to utilize. She was alone, with nothing to occupy her time.

'Well,' she thought, 'I was able to wait a thousand years before. I guess I can do that again.'

Luna waved goodbye to the Mayor of Ponyville, accompanied by Twilight and Dewdrop. The two unicorns had been able to quickly get in contact with everypony that she had wanted to apologize to. Now, just a couple of days after asking for their help in setting up the meetings, she was almost done with them. She was so thankful that everypony she had talked to had been willing to forgive her. The manager at the Ponyville Inn, the stallion she had rented her house from (she chuckled at the thought that she still had it available to her for a couple more weeks), her neighbors, and of course the Mayor, who they had just left.

Which left one last stop, Sugar Cube Corner, to meet with Pinkie Pie. While the other ponies she had met with had been at first surprised that Princess Luna wanted to meet with them, and then shocked to see her apologize to them, Luna wasn't certain how Pinkie Pie would react. While the pink party pony was unfailingly in good cheer, she was also quite random. For the first time tonight, she was worried that her apology might not be accepted.

Dewdrop glanced over at Luna and, seeing that the princess had started to slow down and looked a bit nervous, came up to her and gave her a gentle nudge. "Now, now hun," she said gently. "There's no need to worry. You've seen how everypony else has reacted. If anything, I would think Pinkie Pie would be the easiest one to apologize to, since she's the least likely to be overwhelmed by who you are."

Luna nodded. "I understand that, I really do, it's just..." Luna sighed. "I think it also has to do with the fact that, out of everypony that I've set up a meeting with today, she's the one who was the most like a friend to me. She has a lot to be upset at me for, especially when I think of how hard she worked to help Haystack bring in the harvest. Without me, she wouldn't have had to do that!"

Twilight gave Luna a reassuring smile. "I think you're over thinking things, your highness. I'll admit that I can't predict exactly how she'll react, but I bet she'll be glad to know where the pony she knew as Moonbeam disappeared to at least." The three mares came to a stop at the front door of Sugar Cube Corner. "Well," said Twilight, "we're here. Are you ready?"

Luna nodded and, swallowing her fear with an audible gulp, knocked on the door with a hoof. There was no response from the other side. Luna looked back at the two unicorns, who after glancing at each other looked back at her and shrugged in unison. Luna turned back to the door and knocked again, this time louder in case her first effort simply had been too soft to hear.

Again, silence. The only sound came from behind them, where a small group of fillies were talking about what game they wanted to play next. "I don't know why she hasn't answered," Twilight said, looking as confused as Luna. "She said she would be here. Try one more time?"

Luna did, knocking so hard that on the final rap, the door actually swung open slowly to reveal darkness inside. Luna stuck her head inside and called out, "Hello? Is anypony home? I'm looking for Pinkie Pie, is she here?" Luna tentatively stepped inside and inhaled, ready to yell out one last time-

When the lights all came on at once, and Pinkie Pie stood off to the side, tossing confetti into the air. "Surprise! Welcome to the 'Mystery Pony Meeting Party'! I was so excited when Twilight..." Pinkie Pie trailed off when she saw that a startled Luna had somehow managed to jump up and squeeze herself onto the top of the door. "Oooh, you're good! I've only been able to get up there once or twice myself!"

Twilight dashed in, looking frantically around until she had located Pinkie Pie. "What are you doing?" she loudly asked. "You had us all wondering if you were even home!" Dewdrop stuck in her head nervously behind Twilight, trying to see what was going on. Luna, finally over her shock, tried to lower herself slowly from the door, but lost her grip and fell to the ground behind the door with a thud.

"Well," Pinkie Pie said to Twilight as she went to go help Luna back onto her hooves, "you and Dewdrop were really secretive about who wanted to meet with me, so I figured it must be somepony special! And then I asked myself, what would be the best way to welcome the mystery pony? And I thought, why, a party of course!"

Dewdrop simply blinked in astonishment, while Twilight placed a hoof against her forehead as she sighed. Luna smiled at Pinkie Pie. "I should have known you would do something like this. Thank you, Pinkie Pie, but I'm afraid that I asked for this meeting for a not so joyous reason."

"Really? Why's that?"

"I need to apologize to you."

Pinkie Pie blinked. "You do? I don't remember you doing anything to me, unless you count what you did as Nightmare Moon back in that castle in the Everfree Forest, and I don't blame you for that at all! Ooh, wait, did you do something at the party here in Ponyville after we all came back? I don't recall you doing anything to me, but then that was a few months ago, so I might have forgotten since then. But really, if I can't remember what it was, there's no need for you to apologize, silly!"

Luna gave Pinkie Pie a sad smile. "No, you see, we have been together since then. That's why I need to apologize, I was in a disguise. I was Moonbeam."

Pinkie Pie's eyes widened in amazement. "No way!" she said, in a breathless voice. In a flash, she was right in front of Luna, and she grabbed her horn and tried twisting it.

"Ahh! Pinkie Pie! What are you..? That kind of hurts!" Luna protested, not sure what the pink pony was trying to do.

Twilight ran over and pulled Pinkie Pie off of Luna. "What in the hay are you doing?" she demanded of her friend.

"Well, I figured, in order for her have had such an amazing disguise, she had to have had some way to take off her wings and horn, because I never saw Moonbeam with either of those! I was checking to see if I could unscrew her horn," explained Pinkie Pie.

"No, I used a spell," Luna said. "It was an enchantment that actually turned me into an earth pony. That's why I want to apologize to you though, because I misled you. I lied to you about who I was and what my name was."

Pinkie Pie stared at Luna with her head tilted. "You know, I think I can see some resemblance between you and Moonbeam too. Do you think you could cast the spell again? I think it would be neat to see you turn into Moonbeam again for a while!"

Luna shook her head slowly. "No, I'm sorry, but I can't. The spell was actually made for unicorns, not alicorns. It really hurt to cast that spell, and it took me almost an entire day to recover."

Pinkie Pie put a hoof to her chin and hummed in thought for a second. A few seconds later, her face lit up and she looked over at Dewdrop. "Could you cast the spell then? Please?"

Dewdrop waved a hoof in front of her. "Oh no, hun. I've never been very good at magic, and even if I was strong enough to cast such a spell, I don't know the spell in question. I'm sorry."

Pinkie Pie then turned to Twilight. "How about you? You're one of the best when it comes to magic, right? And you're my last hope now too! Please?" Pinkie dropped down onto her knees and grabbed a foreleg of Twilight's, her eyes growing large with tears starting to well up in them. "Pleeeeeeeeeeeease?"

Twilight paused to consider the request. "You know, we do have a copy of the spell book in the library. I could run back and get it..." A giant smile grew on Pinkie Pie's face when she saw that her friend was seriously considering her request.

"Are you sure, Twilight?" Luna asked. "I can see something going wrong all too easily! What if, I don't know, the stone the spell makes gets dropped, and falls down through a crack in the floor? What would you do then?"

"Well, we have you here, Luna," replied Twilight. "If anything, your magic should be strong enough to lift up the floor boards, or even the entire store if you really needed to. After all, you raise the moon every night, right?"

Luna blushed and looked at the floor. "Actually, Celestia is still raising both the sun and the moon. I couldn't have done it while I was disguised as Moonbeam, after all. And while most of the neighsayers have dropped their objections to me resuming that duty, there are still enough of them that Celestia and I think it would be better for them to calm down before I take over in that capacity again."

"But my point still stands," Twilight said. "If you had to, you would be able to use your magic to retrieve the stone without any difficulty, correct?"

Luna nodded slowly. "Yes, I could. I won't stop you if you want to do this Twilight, and I'll admit I'm curious to see what it looks like when the spell is cast correctly. But still, please don't do this unless you're one hundred percent certain that you want to. I don't want you to think you're being forced into doing this."

Twilight smiled at Luna. "I understand, but I'm sure it'll be okay. Just let me run back to the library and get the spell book, okay?" And with that, Twilight turned and left the bakery, galloping back to the library.

Luna watched Twilight gallop off before turning back to Pinkie Pie. "I do want you to know how sorry I am that I misled you about who I was though. Especially when you did so much for me! I remember waking up for the first time in my house, and shortly afterwards, you were there, singing me an invitation for my welcome party. It put me in such a good mood for the rest of the day! Or when you volunteered to help us out at Haystack's farm. If you hadn't been there, I don't think we could have done it. I just wish that there was some way that I could make it up to you!"

"Aw, there's no need to be so sad about it!" Pinkie Pie came up to Luna and gave her a hug. "I know you didn't mean any harm by what you did, and I was happy to do all of those things! And you helped me to get Haystack to smile, that alone was worth doing all of that work! Just do me one favor, okay?"

"Of course! What is it?"

"If you do ever cast that spell again, let me know so I can be in on it, all right? It'll be our own little secret. Think of all the pranks we could pull with it! We'll have Rainbow Dash's head spinning in circles!" Pinkie giggled. "Ooh! Would you look like Moonbeam again, or as a different pony?"

"I honestly don't know," said Luna. "I only cast the spell the one time. If it isn't too tiring of a spell for Twilight, maybe you can ask her to cast it twice to see what happens?"

"That's a good idea!" exclaimed Pinkie Pie. She looked out the door. In the grassy area outside, she saw Sweetie Belle, Scootaloo and Apple Bloom running around, playing a game of tag. "I wonder what's taking Twilight so long. I hope she hasn't misplaced that book again."

"Does she do that often?" asked Dewdrop.

Pinkie Pie sighed. "It's amazing how many books she takes off the shelves at a time. Half the time it seems like I'm the one who's finding the stuff she's looking for. She may be smart, but sometimes I think she forgets how to look for things!"

"She's only been gone for a couple of minutes though," Dewdrop said. "That's barely enough time to go to the library and back. Let's give her a few more minutes before we start worrying, okay?"

"Ooh! There she is!" Pinkie Pie pointed through the the door towards a rapidly approaching Twilight, who was carrying a book in her mouth. "This is going to be even better than the party I had planned!"

Twilight slowed down as she entered the bakery. Placing the spell book on a counter, she smiled at the others. "Okay, let me just find the spell, shouldn't take me long..." Her horn glowed, and pages quickly flipped past. "Aha! Here it is. Give me a moment to study it, please. While I've looked at the spell before, when I was trying to figure out how Luna had disguised herself, I never paid that much attention to how the spell was cast."

While Twilight studied, Pinkie Pie served some cupcakes to the others. "They were for the party, so please eat as many as you want!" They all slowly snacked as they waited.

After a couple of minutes, Twilight looked up from the book with a confident smile on her face. "All right, this should be pretty straightforward. The hardest part is just getting the spell started. After that, it kind of goes on its own."

Luna nodded. "That's what I remember happening when I cast it. Of course, it had the drawback that I couldn't stop the spell once it was going either. With how much it hurt, I would have gladly stopped it if I could have."

Twilight stepped into the middle of the room. "Okay, everypony, stand back." The others moved back to stand next to the wall as Twilight's horn started to glow brightly. Soon, a large ball of light sat on the end of her horn, growing larger and larger by the second. When it had reached the size of a pumpkin, it flew from the end of Twilight's horn, zipped around her twice, then expanded as it enveloped Twilight and raised her from the floor.

Luna watched Twilight for any sign of discomfiture as the spell continued to do its work, but didn't see any. Twilight's horn slowly unraveled and started to fly around her, and her coat slowly lost all signs of blue, turning into a deep crimson red. Her mane and tail became more full, and the stripes lightened to become oranges and yellows, instead of shades of blue and purple.

Sweetie Belle stopped in the open door, watching the proceedings with her jaw hanging wide open. Twilight's cutie mark morphed from a large star surround by smaller ones into a picture of the sun peeking over the side of a mountain. After Twilight's appearance stopped changing, the streamer of color that Twilight's horn had become shrunk in on itself, and turned into a small ball of light before one last flash made everypony turn away for a moment.

Twilight gently dropped to the floor, eagerly glancing around her. "Where's a mirror, I wanna... whoa, my voice sounds different! It's squeaky now!" In front of her, on the floor was a small, blue gemstone. "Oh hey, that's the spell focus!" She stared at the gem on the floor intently for a while, and then her face scrunched up as she glared at it.

Luna laughed. "Oh, I did the exact same thing myself. I forgot that I no longer had my magic. Let me help you with that." Luna's horn glowed, and the stone rose up to eye level to Twilight. "Remember, Dewdrop, when you first found me?"

Dewdrop blinked, then burst out into laughter. "Oh my! So that's what you were doing! I thought you were concussed from falling down the hill! The way you just stood there, glaring at your possessions."

Twilight turned to Luna and sheepishly said, "I guess I did forget. Thank you!" Stepping forward, she inspected the gemstone the spell had created. It looked like a sapphire, and she could barely make out the six pointed star from her cutie mark inside of it. Slowly, Twilight walked around it, examining it from all angles. "So, in order to cancel the spell, all I have to do is-"

"TAG! You're it!" Scootaloo rushed Sweetie Belle from behind, crashing into her and sending her flying into the bakery where she collided with Twilight. The unexpected push caught the former unicorn off guard, and she stepped forward to compensate... only to feel the levitated gemstone enter into her open mouth. Twilight choked in surprise and swallowed reflexively; It took only a moment for her to realize what she'd just done. She froze in terror, her eyes growing wide as a hushed whisper escaped her lips.

"Oh dear."