Disclaimer: I own nothing. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is not mine, and never will be mine as much as I love it.
Author's Notes: Based off the premiere for season 2, and utterly AU to boot. Exploring the prospect of what could have been if Celestia had stayed with Discord, since in my little head canon I tend to think he made the final cross over to God of Disharmony while alone and quite possibly scared, if fanon belief about his powers awakening at a later stage of his life were true. Italics are flashbacks.
Celestia is scarred.
Discord knows this; he is one of few who know that the princess's glossy, shimmering look is the result of carefully controlled magic, an act she's maintained for centuries. Quite frankly, he's impressed it's never been questioned; it had to cross somepony's mind that for a being well over a thousand years old, Celestia was amazingly well preserved.
But nopony notices, and personally Discord prefers it that way.
Celestia is scarred, and it's their little secret.
After all, Discord knows most of Celestia's scars like the back of his paw.
He's an adult now, just coming out of his teenage years, and riding high on his first burst of chaotic magic, something so great and so powerful that it makes all of the creatures around him recoil with terror. It's a dark, dangerous surge, and it delights him.
Up until the point where he loses control, and slashes deeply into Luna's cheek, just under her eye. Blood splashes into the air, and she squeals with pain, rearing back.
The delight vanishes as quickly as it forms.
Celestia rushes to her sister's side, concerned, her voice soft and soothing—"Easy, Luna, easy, it's shallow, it'll stop bleeding in a minute"—and Luna shrinks into the tall white alicorn, her wings drawn tightly against her body as she trembles with shock and pain.
Chaos is much less fun when the terror is in the eyes of his friends, and Discord flees.
Celestia's oldest scar slashes its way along her muzzle, curving down and ending at the point of her chin; the result of a cruel trap lain by hunters in the Everfree Forest, and the place where she first met Discord as a filly. Discord can still recall with perfect clarity how she looked that day; pinned to the ground, snorting and whining helplessly as small trails of crimson seeped down her perfectly white coat into the grass below.
The scar is perhaps the most faded of all, and as a result the one she bothers the least with trying to hide; in her old age now, it's as if it was never there.
He knows that all it takes for it to bleed again is to lightly press one of his claws against it, and just trace along the line.
(He can still remember it all so clearly, the way her purple eyes gleamed with tears and fear and I'm not ready to die yet, I'm really not, and he let her go because it seemed sad that something so beautiful would die so young.)
He hides in a dark, deep cave within the heart of the Forest; his birthplace, and the one place he knows nopony will come looking for him, not even one of the sisters. He curls up tightly in the darkest corner he can find, digs his talons and claws into the soil, and waits for the urge to pass.
He waits for a long, long time.
Discord stares resolutely at the wall, straining his eyes against the black until he's sure he'll go blind, and tries to forget even in that moment when he realized he hurt his friend, he still liked it.
The madness creeps just a little bit deeper, and no one hears the crack in his mind beginning to form as he battles his true nature.
There is a long, jagged, mean scar slashing along Celestia's chest, right under the place where she often wears her royal necklace. That one is the hardest to hide despite its age, and sometimes when she slips up, Discord can still see glimpses of it; still angry and pink, after all these years.
It clashes horribly with her beautiful, collected princess image.
It doesn't bleed as easily as her muzzle does, though, so that's a plus.
Discord traces it sometimes when Celestia sleeps; feels the steady, even rise and fall of her chest, hears a firm and strong heartbeat, feels the warmth of her blood. She seems to like the sensation; her wing always draws him a little closer against her every time he touches that scar, and her chest rumbles with approval.
The great Princess Celestia purrs like a kitten. Who knew.
He tries to forget that sometimes (often) he still gets that urge, that mad whisper, to plunge his claws and his talons into her chest to still that heartbeat, silence her breathing.
He tries to forget, because once he almost succeeded.
("I won't leave you! You can go mad all you want, Discord, but I'm not leaving you unless you kill me!"
He almost did, then, and he's shocked she ever forgave him for it.)
She comes looking for him on the third day, calling his name softly and tenderly picking her way through the underbrush. Finding the cave is an easy task for her; it's always been a favorite hiding place for her and Luna when they needed to hide from the world for awhile, even as they grew too big to all fit in it.
She sets down one hoof tentatively, ducks her head, and peeks in. "Discord?"
Soft, ragged breathing. She sees a pair of gleaming eyes.
"Found you," she murmurs, and calls in a louder voice, "I'm coming in."
She manages it somehow in spite of her size, and when she comes in and curls beside him, around him, her wing draped over his body and her cotton candy mane spilling all around him, she brings the light in with her.
"I'm scared," he whispers hours later, his muzzle buried deeply into her mane, his grip on her so tight and desperate he's shocked she hasn't broken yet.
"I know," she whispers back.
And she stays.
A small, star-shaped scar webs its way along her shoulder, right at the bone where her wing connects; that one was inflicted by his teeth, not his claws, and he bit down so hard that she screamed in pain and he heard the crunch of bone. It was months before she could fly again.
(But she didn't leave. She never left, even when he was at the height of madness.)
That one Discord can't touch; nopony can touch it. He thinks it never healed completely right, never recovered quite the way it was supposed to. Even now it aches, and any sensation against it, even the slightest breeze, makes Celestia wince in pain.
She's gotten better at hiding it over the years.
That was her weak spot, in her battle with Nightmare Moon; struck once in that place, and she went down like a bale of hay and couldn't rise again. It's her ultimate weak spot, and if any other enemy knew about it, she'd be done for.
A dark part of him wonders sometimes if all he needs to do is press down to break her again; he can still hear her scream ringing in his ears, can still smell the blood as it seeped into the ground beneath them. He can still remember the taste of her blood; warm, sweet, like melted chocolate against his tongue.
Instead, he leans over and quietly whispers "Your star is showing" and when she scowls at him, simply smiles innocently and puts his paws behind his back.
She never thanks him, but he knows she doesn't need to.
She stays, leaving only brief periods of time to search for food and water, to assure Luna that all is well. She always comes back, squeezing into a small, dark, tight place that she has no business being in, with a creature she has no business being near.
She stays, and he doesn't understand why.
Discord never questions it regardless. He accepts the food she brings, drinks whatever she offers him, and curls against her as if she's shielding him from a storm. Celestia fills the silence with songs and old pony tales, but she's just as content to let the silence flow, nibbling at his short, dark mane when she notices it's getting a little wild.
The scent of blood is faded in the small cave; when Luna asks, Celestia dances around it and avoids the topic, until finally the younger sister just lets it go.
She stays, and she brings light and warmth and love with her, and slowly, gradually, the madness fades and Discord's mind goes quiet.
It's temporary—it always is—but she stays, and it keeps him sane.
"Why did you stay?"
He doesn't know why he asks it; he hasn't thought about the incident in years. He's had his fair share of relapses, but none of them compare to that first time.
Celestia's scars prove it.
The princess pauses in her nightly habit of nibbling his mane—a habit she got into years ago from the cave, and never quite managed to break. Discord doesn't bother lifting his head, simply keeps his eyes closed and stays relaxed.
Finally, she speaks, her voice soft. "You're my friend."
That gets a response from him; he opens his eyes and looks at her. "That's it?"
Celestia blinks, seeming genuinely baffled. "Were you expecting something else?"
He stares, just stares. It can't possibly be that simple for her. She can't possibly have endured all that pain, all that suffering, all that agony, for some warm fuzzy feelings she gets whenever he's around. He knows ponies are all about magic and rainbow and friendship, but come on. It just can't be that simple.
She's still baffled, and he groans. It is that simple, isn't it?
Discord sighs and drops his head back onto his paws. "Not particularly," he mutters. "You ponies are boring."
She giggles softly; a moment later he yelps as her teeth sink lightly into the back of his neck, a playful nip. "You had plenty of chances to leave," she reminds him lightly.
He snorts. "As if I could after that Nightmare Moon mess. You'd fall apart without me, Celestia." She giggles again, and he can't quite fight the small smile.
They both know if he left now, it would be a mutually case of falling apart.
Finally, he sighs and cracks open an eye, waving his tail absently. "You could at least heal some of those scars, you know," he says. "Your magic is strong enough to do it."
Celestia shrugs, going back to her book. "I could," she says vaguely, and he can't read the tone of her voice.
"Why not do it, then? It's probably easier than maintaining the illusion."
Celestia simply smiles.
They leave the cave after two weeks. The cave is dark and stinks of blood, and neither of them looks back.
They're a mess.
Celestia has lost weight; Discord has too, but not to the extent that she has. The small bits of water and food she brought back were usually reserved for him, and she only took enough to get by. Her mane and tail are tangled, and she bears faded wounds from claws and teeth.
Discord is a little better off physically; mentally, though, he's exhausted and can barely stand on his feet. He stagers a little when he first tries to walk and squints against the faded light of the sun, his eyes aching. Gently, Celestia's wing curls around him, supports him.
Her voice is hoarse and raspy; Discord feels a strange, twisted surge of humor that she's asking if he's okay, considering the hell she's endured at his paws for the past two weeks. "Perfect," he claims, and grins at her. "You?"
Her ears flick back for a brief instant, and he can't tell if she's about to laugh or cry; laughter wins out in the end, and she nuzzles her horn affectionately against his cheek. "Perfect," she echoes, and they both grin like fools.
They start the long, stumbling trek through the Forest, towards the castle. They're battered and bruised, and their problems are far from over; Celestia will have lasting scars, and Discord will never be completely stable.
But they're alive, and they're together.
For them, it's a victory.
... Yeah, I don't even know.
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