Seeds of Discord
Disclaimers: Everything belongs to Hasbro/Lauren Faust.
Notes: Would you believe this whole thing stems from a 'Cupcakes' sequel I wanted to write? Lucky for, well, everyone involved, it transformed itself into a 'how Luna became Nightmare Moon' story instead. Because I think Discord was definitely involved, if not entirely to blame.
Also, I have written this without a beta because my usual betas are either not interested in MLP, or have not seen the first episodes of Season 2, and I don't want to spoil Discord for them. So apologies for any excessive comma splices or other mistakes that my spellchecker didn't find.
Spoilers: Spoilers for 'Return of Harmony' part 1 and 2
Part 1 - Seeds
"You know Luna, we've never really had much chance to talk," Discord remarked casually, his voice slightly distorted by the magical aura containing him. Given that he'd spent the last hour futilely smashing himself against the walls of his prison and raging at her, Luna found the sudden calmness of his voice more than a little unsettling.
"Whatever he says, don't listen." Celestia told her. "You know what he's like, a liar and a trickster, he'll say anything to try and get you to release him."
"I won't sister, I promise." Luna replied. "He can't fool me."
So Luna said nothing, only glaring at the draconequus as he floated within the orb of coloured light that held him prisoner. The rainbow tones of the Elements of Harmony shifted and whirled across its surface, shot through with strands of bright gold and silver, sunlight and moonlight. Luna could still feel the power of the Elements pulsing through her as they orbited the sphere of light and she hoped that Celestia was right, that she could use their power to reverse the unbridled chaos that Discord had spread across Equestria when the two sisters had risen against him.
As if in answer, Luna heard a distant, heavy thud, as if some unimaginable weight had dropped back to earth, feeling the ground shudder slightly beneath her hooves. She resisted the urge to go and look out of the castle window, keeping her gaze on the magical prison instead.
"Awww, sounds like your sister managed to land Manehattan." A bowl of peanuts had appeared in Discord's leonine paw, and he flipped one into his mouth before continuing. "And here I thought a floating city would be a great tourist attraction. Next, she'll be putting the trees and mountains the right way up again. Boring." Tipping the rest of the peanuts out, Discord watched in mild interest as they fell towards the ground, only to vanish in coloured puffs of smoke as they hit the bottom of the sphere containing him. With a shrug, he took a bite out of the bowl instead, crunching the fragments of pottery between his teeth with apparent relish. "And all of my subjects will be praising her name just like they do every morning. Must be nice. But I guess you wouldn't know about that, right Luna?"
"What's that supposed to mean?" The words came out before Luna could stop them. "Half the time you just hide the sun anyway, same with the moon," she continued awkwardly, then looked away, telling herself to ignore him."
"Ahhhh, but sometimes I don't," Discord replied, the half-eaten bowl vanishing as he lounged back in midair, looking down at the young alicorn with an expression that was almost benevolent. "Wouldn't exactly be chaotic if I did the same thing every day, would it? Some days I just let you and your sister do your thing and just kick back and watch. And listen. And let me tell you Luna, you're not the one my subjects look forward to seeing."
"You're lying." Again, Luna spoke before she could stop herself, glowering at Discord angrily. "We're supposed to rule together, Celestia always told me that. You're the one that ruins everything for everypony."
Wiping a nonexistent tear from his eye with one talon, Discord sighed theatrically. "Why is it that my genius is never appreciated? Sometimes I think you ponies just want every day to be the same. And as for ruling together..." Flipping himself upright, Discord moved as close to Luna as he could, his face pressed against the wall of light as the colours of the Elements danced in his eyes. "If you rule together little princess, then tell me why Celestia is the one out there righting all my so-called wrongs, while you're sitting here watching me."
Luna blinked, then shook her head as if trying to clear it. "Someone had to stay here and make sure you didn't get out again," she retorted. "And Celestia's better at fixing things than me," she added reluctantly.
"Good point," Discord chuckled."I'd forgotten how hilarious that little trick with the asteroids turned out after you tried stopping them. How long did it take you to put all the fires out? Or did big sister have to bail you out then as well?"
This time Luna said nothing, though she still remembered the way the flaming balls had split into dozens of fragments when she'd tried to destroy them. Celestia had helped her then, showing her how to deflect the asteroids instead of breaking them and sending them out to disintegrate harmlessly in space. Then she'd helped Luna summon rainclouds to extinguish the numerous ones that had landed on Equestria. And Celestia hadn't scolded her or lectured her; all she'd said was that Luna just needed to learn more, and that it wasn't her fault.
"But everypony that saw it knew you'd made the mistake, and that Celestia had to fix things for you, didn't they?" It was as if Discord had read her mind, and his smile only widened as he saw the shock in her eyes. "Just a lucky guess, princess. Or maybe I'm just saying what everypony was thinking."
Luna didn't reply, though she had to bite her lip to stop herself. Her silence didn't seem to bother Discord, who was rocking back and forth as he chuckled to himself. With a final cackle, the draconequus flipped himself upright once more, and immediately resumed the same avuncular expression he'd worn earlier, looking down at Luna like a fond mentor.
"Whatever he says, don't listen." Celestia told her.
"Poor little Luna. It must be hard being Celestia's shadow. She gets all the glory; you get what's left over." Discord stroked his chin thoughtfully as he continued. "Well, I'm sure that bringing on the night is very important, everypony loves it so much that they sleep right through it..."
"Shut up!" Luna couldn't keep silent any longer, stamping one forefoot angrily as she glared at him. "You're a liar and you're just trying to trick me, I'm not Celestia's shadow!"
Surprisingly, the look Discord gave her was one of sympathy, or a very convincing facsimile. "Well, naturally she wouldn't want you thinking that, would she? I'm sure she tells you that you're just as important as she is, and that you rule together, and that the moon is just as important as the sun, etcetera etcetera and all that noise." Sighing, Discord shrugged in mock-helplessness. "And they say that I'm the liar."
"You are," Luna retorted. "Celestia would never lie to me. And the moon is just as important, that's true. Without it, the tides across Equestria would go crazy. I bet you'd like that just fine though."
"Well, you do have me there, little princess." Discord admitted, with a sardonic bow. "But ask yourself this, why is it that ponies use your sister's day for frolicking and playing and whatever else it is that ponies do when I don't have them doing something more interesting. Why don't they do any of that at night? I mean, have you ever heard of moonbathing? What about a mooncatcher? A moondeck? A moonhat?" There was a pause as the draconequus considered those ideas. "Actually those all sound kind of interesting; I should try them out sometime." Tilting his head to the side, he looked at Luna thoughtfully. "Tell you what, if you let me out, I can make it so that everypony appreciates the night just as much as the day. I can you know."
Luna's response was a sarcastic laugh. "Nice try Discord, Celestia warned me that you'd just say things to try and get me to let you go. Well I won't, no matter what you say." Nevertheless, even as she said it, the young alicorn still felt a stirring of unease. Even though Discord was a liar, he was right about ponies sleeping through her night. She'd never really considered that before.
Within his prison, Discord was sulking. He'd known that tricking Luna into letting him go was a long shot at best, but it had still been worth a try. "Fine then, you keep on pretending that you're just as important and magical as your sister. I'm sure everypony will be very impressed at how you sat here watching me while Celestia flew around fixing everything, kissing foals, and generally acting like the sun shines out her a- come to think of it, the sun probably DOES shine out her..."
"That's enough Discord." Luna's head jerked up at the sound of her sister's voice. Celestia moved up to stand beside her younger sister, fixing the draconequus with a hostile stare. "Now that we've put everything right, we can finally deal with you for good."
"My my Celestia, why so serious?" Now that the older alicorn had returned, Discord seemed to have forgotten all about Luna. "Really, if this is how grim you get over a little bit of harmless chaos, I have to wonder what you'd do if something worse came crawling out of the darkness. Because believe me, there's worse. But since you're so smart, I'll let you worry about that."
"Harmless chaos?" Celestia snapped furiously, not seeming to have paid any heed to the rest of Discord's words. "Do you know how many ponies could have been killed when you threw Manehattan into the sky? How many could have been crushed when you tore up the mountains? Do you even care?"
"Natural disasters kill ponies every day," Discord shrugged. "And given that my unnatural disasters have a much better safety record, I really don't see why you're bitching so much."
"And how long would it have been until you did start killing ponies?" Celestia demanded angrily. "As long as you're amused, you don't care what happens afterwards, for all I know you might just have dropped Manehattan on another city once you got bored..." Before she could finish, Discord interrupted her.
"That does sound amusing; remind me to try it once I get loose." Looking about himself, Discord stretched and cracked his knuckles. "This won't hold me forever you know, you'd just better hope I'm feeling generous after I escape."
Celestia didn't reply at first, still glaring at her enemy. Then she shook her head, not sadly, but with an air of stern finality. "I don't intend on leaving you there, Discord. I know you'd escape eventually, and the Elements have shown me how to bind you permanently."
Luna saw Discord's expression change at her sister's words, smug confidence replaced with caution. He glanced towards Luna, and though he said nothing his look only echoed what he had told her earlier. Celestia had been shown how to bind him, yet the Elements hadn't seen fit to share that knowledge with Luna. She told herself that it was because Celestia was older, wiser, better at magic, and for a moment, the young alicorn was filled with envy so strong that it frightened her. Then her sister's muzzle touched her ear lightly, and the feeling vanished.
"Luna, I'll need you to help me channel the Elements while I cast the spell. It needs both of us. Are you ready?" Looking up at Celestia, Luna nodded, and began to gather the magic of the Elements towards herself. Beside her, Celestia did the same, the stone orbs representing the Elements moving to circle around them, trailing strands of rainbow –coloured light.
To Luna's surprise, Discord didn't make any further attempt to escape, now watching them with a bored expression, as if he'd already accepted his inevitable defeat. "I will escape you know," he said with casual disregard. "And when I do, I really don't think I'll be feeling generous. Have fun ruling, Celestia." He shot a sly look towards Luna as he spoke the last words. For a moment, she almost lost concentration, knowing that it was a final dig aimed at her. She closed her eyes so she wouldn't have to see his smirk. When she opened them again, he was stone.
Beside her, Celestia lowered her head wearily, gasping for breath. "...that should hold him..." the older alicorn gasped. "Equestria won't have to dance to his tune any more."
Luna stared at the statue that had once been Discord, too shocked to reply at first. She'd never thought that her sister would actually turn him to stone. Mostly because she'd had no idea that her sister was capable of such a feat. "When do I get to learn that spell?" she asked eventually, tapping the stone talons of Discord's draconian foot with one hoof. It clunked.
"I hope you'll never have to, little sister." Celestia replied. "It's not an easy thing to do to someone, even someone like Discord."
"Oh." Although she said nothing else, Luna felt a surge of resentment just as powerful as the envy she'd felt earlier. Maybe Discord had been right after all. She pushed that thought to the back of her mind after a few moments, telling herself that it was just what Discord would have wanted her to think. However, it lurked there all the same, a seed of bitterness just waiting for the right conditions to grow.
And out in the dark spaces of the world where neither sunlight or moonlight could reach, something shifted and stirred, shaking off the torpor of uncounted centuries as it took interest in the young alicorn. There was potential here, and it had been waiting for a long, long time...