A clear, unobstructed view of the twilit sky set the stage for the evening's orchestrated display of glory. With wings held rigid and feet firmly planted on the cold stone tiles, a flourish of night-blue energy shot from the mare's horn into the sky. It rose to the heavens, climbing to unfathomable heights before blossoming into hundreds of smaller energy strands above the planet's surface.
The small grouping of clouds floating above Canterlot burst aglow with the cyan light, and the reflections in the water droplets gave off a faint glow, partially illuminating the surrounding air.
Ever so slowly, lights scattered across the universe that were once hidden from view began to show themselves to the naked eye, and a bright grey sphere pulled itself above the horizon. It was night, and moon had begun to rise.
The orb of cold illumination threw beams of grey light down onto the planet's surface. Small specks of water, now crystallized from the upper air's arctic winds, glistened and sparkled as they lazily hung in the wind currents floating by. Snow was on its way.
Luna, the Princess Alicorn of the Night, allowed nature to take over for her. She watched on with dim eyes and a halfway visible smile, happy to share in the responsibilities of Canterlot nobility. She left the magic circle on the floor and slowly made her way back to her throne, looking at the sky through each window that she passed. The night was beautiful.
She stopped just short of her throne, reminiscing on events that had long since passed. Memories had been made on that chair, memories that would last a lifetime and then some. She could remember ponies that had rushed to her in their most desperate hour of need, small fillies and foals that had taken an entire day off of school just to meet with her in the evening, and of dark, unspeakable beings that she had vanquished in the dead of night with the help of her own private guard. Most ponies had no idea of the dangers that had gotten so near to them, but that was fine. What they didn't know wouldn't harm them. She wasn't doing it for fame anyways.
Taking a seat in the plush furniture, Luna gazed out of a nearby pane of glass, down towards the entrance of Canterlot. Hoof traffic had all but disappeared, and the only ponies wandering the outskirts of Canterlot at this time of night were either guards or slightly wayward travelers.
Even after centuries, the sight still bothered her. Sure, she liked having time to herself, but she wanted to see somepony enjoy themselves in the night that she created.
It wasn't that she wanted the attention – that wasn't an issue. She just wanted some reassurance that somepony appreciated her work, even if they didn't recognize who did it or how much effort was invested into it.
A warm voice echoed from the front of the room. "Luna? Are you alright?"
It was her sister Celestia, standing with her motherly eyes and her soft, pastel-rainbow mane.
"Sister?" Luna asked curiously. "What are you doing up at this hour?"
Celestia just smiled. "Oh, I thought that I should pay you a visit in your own throne room. We see each other all of the time, but I never really take the time to converse with you when you're on duty."
It was true. Celestia was rarely up at this hour, as she assumed the responsibility for the sky in the morning. It was her task to raise the sun to counterbalance the power of the moon, and for that she usually needed a fair amount of rest.
Luna's heart didn't warm much in the knowledge that her sister was near. She simply put on a false smile and stared out of the window once more.
"Luna?" Celestia prodded again.
Luna snapped out of her trance and raised her head intently. "Hm?"
"I asked if you were alright. You look a bit…tired. Are you hungry? Upset perhaps? Is there anything I can do for you?"
Luna's thoughts seemed to cascade upon her all at once. She opened her mouth to reply, and then cut herself short.
Luna's mind rushed back towards the eras that she lived out thousands of years ago, when she existed in perfect harmony with her sister. She relished every minute that she spent with Celestia, even enjoying pranks, the sadness, and even the pain that they went through together. Their bond was invincible, and for all intents and purposes, it was a perfect life.
They would play together in the gardens, watch each other attempt new spells, and explore a just a littlemore of Equestria each day. Every morning brought new challenges and new fun, all at the same time.
There was so much to do, and so little worries! They would eat the most calorie laden foods they could find, attempt to swim underwater and find the smoothest stone possible, and tickle each other silly on the carpet indoors.
And it never mattered where they were. Having a sibling nearby made each one of them feel right at home, no matter where they were or how they got there.
Luna's fondest memories lay deep within the towers of Canterlot castle, back when the sisters used to sit side by side in the evenings. They would start a fire, grab a blanket and snuggle up close, and Celestia would do her best to read a book aloud for Luna. Eventually one of the sisters would fall asleep before the story even ended, and the other would make sure to float the sleeping one to her bed.
She loved those evenings with a passion.
But the little things eventually caught up to Luna. She always felt sub-par compared to her sister, she wasn't as magically capable as her sister, nor were her duties seen as helpful. In all honesty, she felt that she was more of a hindrance to Equestria than a help.
She tried consulting Celestia about the matter several times, but Celestia never quite seemed to grasp the gravity of Luna's feelings. Celestia could easily see the benefits of Luna's work, but Luna had a harder time understanding why it was necessary.
That was when Nightmare Moon emerged.
That period of time in Luna's mind was still a large blank spot. She was still trying to investigate how it all came about, but she knew that somehow her emotions had gotten the better of her.
In an uncharacteristic display of power, Luna had focused her anger towards the heavens, attempting to bend the universe itself to her will. Her sister, in a desperate bid to save Equestria, had sealed Luna into the moon with a spell larger than anything Luna had ever witnessed before. In fact, Luna wasn't even sure where or when her sister had learned to cast such a high-tier spell.
It was a cold evening, much like the one she was living in currently. She could still visibly see the tears streaming down Celestia's face in the moments before she was torn from reality and flung far away through space – the mental image was permanently scarred into her mind. Celestia was closing her eyes and screaming at the top of her lungs, not knowing what to do with herself and her pent up emotions that were slowly taking hold of her.
It was an almost unrecognizably short moment of partial insanity, where Luna achieved the impossible. Her sister, Celestia, whose sense of right and wrong was almost unparalleled, couldn't handle making a decision between her sister and Equestria. However unlikely it may have been, Celestia must have briefly considered the possibility of letting Luna live free, even though it would mean betraying everything - her own standards, the alicorn's sense of justice, and even the entirety of Equestria's population.
It would mean losing her title as Princess of Equestria and falling to the same depths of darkness that had ensnared Luna. She would have revoked all sense of right and wrong.But such was the love of a sister.
That knowledge made Luna shudder silently. She simply wanted Celestia to be without pain. That was all.
Up high on the moon, the silence became your worst enemy. Trapped in a partial state of coma, and without the capability of moving, Luna could do nothing but think. She cried (or what felt like "crying" in a coma) to herself every day, wishing that things would have turned out differently. While her own predicament was lamentable, the thought of forcibly making her own sister choose between her and Equestria was gut wrenching. The very alicorn she grew up with had to choose whether to see her sister free, or see Equestria free. Such a hard choice dragged Luna's heart down to the ground.
Luna, in her seemingly infinite amount of time in the moon, had thought of virtually every possible way that she could apologize to Celestia when she returned home. None of them seemed adequate. She had heaped the worst kind of pain onto her own sister's head, and for that she couldn't see any possible light of forgiveness.
But return she did, albeit in a much harder way than she imagined. Once unbound from the clutches of Nightmare Moon the stark contrast of environment all but muddied her thought processes. In the end, the only apology that she could muster was "I'm sorry." Out of all the possible apologies she had conceived in her mind, it was the most pitiful, but in the moment nothing else seemed to fit. She later wished that she had said something more elegant.
Even though amends were made, things were never the same in Canterlot. As much as Luna wanted life to return back to normal, the damage had been done. The night was now even more terrifying to the ponies of Equestria, and she was sure that Celestia saw her through different eyes now. There was no way that Celestia would still relate to her as the loving (and rather needy) sister ever again. Even her place by Celestia's side was even taken by a new pupil, a unicorn named Twilight Sparkle.
She wondered whether she was an eyesore to her sister and to Equestria. In all honesty, none seemed to enjoy the nights that she created, she was still never able to keep up with Celestia's magic, and she had become the epitome of what could only be considered a "threat to Equestria". She was always in need of improvement, and although Celestia never once acted put out at lending sage advice, Luna wondered whether Celestia thought her annoying at times.
Luna resolved herself to thinking that it was her punishment, but she couldn't help but wonder if it was yet anothersign that she was a failure in life. Even in returning from the moon and being released from her darker alter-ego, she possessed a power that surpassed Twilight's by a hundredfold, and yet Celestia doted on her pupil more than she did on her. Was her potential that great? Could Twilight really surpass her sometime in the future?
Or was it that Celestia would rather not spend time with her? Perhaps that was it. Maybe Celestia had given up on her altogether, and was allowing her to live at Canterlot Castle out of respect for her former position. It only made sense: She was gone for a thousand years, and this pupil had plenty of time to start a relationship with Celestia. Besides, the chemistry between Celestia and Twilight was near perfect. Both of them loved books, both of them were naturally inclined to magic, and their personalities were highly compatible.
All of this passed through Luna's mind in a time span of less than ten seconds.
She scanned the floor, refusing to meet eye to eye with her sister. It felt too awkward.
She wanted desperatelyto spill out her heart, to tell Celestia that she still loved her as much as she did a thousand years ago, and to ask whether she still meant something to her. Most importantly, she wanted to ask for forgiveness and acceptance once more.
She wanted healing, to be completely open and honest, and to try as hard as physically possible to mend the wounds that were still left open and bleeding in her heart.
She wanted peace, to be able to talk without reservations and to take a stroll with her sister like they once did, without the invisible wall of animosity that often held them back.
More than anything else in the world, she wanted the familiarity of her sister's affection. But such displays of weakness were uncouth for royalty.
"Celestia!" Luna thought to herself, holding back tears as much as she could manage. "I want to be your sister again!"
But those words would have to be left unspoken.
Luna managed to speak a quiet "I'm fine; thank you." to her sister, not even looking up to see her face.
Luna, off pondering these thoughts deep within the recesses of her soul, didn't even notice the sounds of hooves approaching. A wing gracefully folded itself around the blue princess, and Luna jerked at the unexpected contact.
Celestia was hugging her.
Over time, the sounds of suppressed sobbing finally reached Luna's ears, and she quickly glanced up to see a dying yellow light evaporate from Celestia's eyes.
Luna slowly backed away in her throne, her eyes dilating with a mixture of fear and hate. Celestia had just read her mind!
The event was a serious breach of protocol on Celestia's part; it was imperative that the twin leaders of Equestria keep their own mental processes to themselves. In times of crisis, decisions were made based on a majority vote. Granted, the sisters would almost always agree on vital decisions, but it was mutually understood that having the ability to read another being's mind gave them an unfair edge when it came time to start voting and holding debates. Worst of all, having access to another pony's mind could permanently change the way that the unicorns related to them, for better or for worse.
"TIA!" Luna screamed, pushing her sister back in a fit of rage. "You promised that you'd NEVER do that to me! That was one of our cardinal rules – we CAN'T READ EACH OTHER'S MINDS!"
Celestia simply fought the resistance, holding her only sister closer to her. "I know, and for that I apologize."
It became evident that avoiding Celestia's gentle hug was impossible. Luna, not knowing what else to do, stopped fighting her sister's display of love. With shaky breath and a slight whimper, she sank her still watering eyes into Celestia's side.
"Luna." Celestia whispered softly. "Nopony will ever take your place by my side, not before, not now, and not in another thousand years. I'll love you forever and always, just as I always have."
Neither of them spoke for another ten minutes.
There, in that dark, musty room, in the light of the moon that shined through the first snowfall of the year, the last fragments of Luna's fear and doubt all but vanished. Her tears of sorrow turned to tears of joy, and for the first time in a thousand years, she felt the love of her sister, without any reservations holding her back.
"Luna." Celestia whispered. "I think I have a story you'd enjoy."
Luna looked up at her sister with an awkward smile and a nod, trying to rid herself of her obvious red cheeks.
She leaned over her sister's shoulder. "Captain!" The blue alicorn yelled in a shaky voice. "T-Take over for me, would you?"
A guard adorned in midnight blue armor entered the main door and promptly bowed.
"Yes Your Highness, what is-"
With a pink bubble and a flash of light, the two sisters vanished.
"…going on?" The guard finished inquisitively.
His gaze shifted up towards one of Canterlot's uppermost towers, where a warm amber light started to dance out of the windows and a spindle of smoke slowly lifted up to the sky.
Up in their tower and away from the politics of the world, the two princesses laid side by side, resting on each other as they once did so long ago.
"Tia?" Luna asked quietly. "I wanted to tell you-"
"I know." Celestia replied. "It's alright now."
Celestia floated a book off of a wooden shelf nearby, and read the title softly: "Millennia."
Before she could even turn the first page, Luna was already in a dream. She was asleep, lost in the soft glow of Celestia's rainbow mane, and comfortable in the warmth of Celestia's body heat.
The princess of the sun was surprised yet happy, smiling to herself and watching her sister's chest expand and contract with slow, calm breaths. She pulled a blanket towards them and gently unfolded it over their figures, making sure that Luna was well and comfortable. After a long, long time of hardships and waiting, the world had been set right again.
Words no longer needed to be spoken.
They were simply understood.
Author's note: If any of you happen to have a FimFiction account, I now publish my stories there as well (if FanFiction isn't your native fiction home). Just search for the user "CloudFyre".