A gift and a burden, a wonderful trait inherited from her mother yet the bane of her existence. It had kept her going in her times of need, and consumed her with grief when she remembered. Princess Luna’s memory was the sharpest thing about her and she hated it. She hated marinating in her own memories on the moon, thinking it would help her let go of the darkness inside her, but really only feeding it. Once she had loved her memories, sitting late at night with Celestia and rolling over again and again the old times from the Pre-Equestrian Era, back when they were simply the Sun and the Moon and things were easy.
But things weren’t so easy anymore. They never were nowadays. She remembered, much to her own disdain, that first year back from the moon. She remembered asking Celestia about those old friends, the bartender at the Silver Star in the music district, Captain Cutlass of the Guard, Ambassador Silvertongue, and all the others from her past. But the look on Celestia’s face had told the story. She hadn’t thought about those Luna would have lost. She didn’t remember that only they could live a thousand years and stick around to see Luna’s return. That look had told her who she had lost and who had lost her.
She liked to think that she was stronger now, more prepared for the loss and suffering she knew awaited her as soon as her dark chariot touched down on the little town she had spent more time in than she had ever expected. It always looked the same, for who expected Ponyville to change? It always looked like it had on that first day, when she had seen it for the first time through Nightmare Moon’s eyes, eyes that were her own but weren’t.
There was only one of them left of the Elements. There always had to be at least one, lest they become lost and disused again. All but one had passed and it surprised Luna that the Element with the most fortitude and resolve was Laughter. She had always regarded Laughter the same way one regards helium, enough to keep you floating, but falling soon and fast after it’s over. And she never expected that she would be visiting Pinkie Pie like an old friend. But really, she was now.
The Princess entered the bakery, inhaling the rich smells that could only be concocted by one baker.
“Pinkie?” she called, tentative as usual. It had been years since she had last visited Pinkie and each time she looked so different, older and more tired, so close to the edge.
Pinkie emerged from the kitchen, greeting Luna with a bright, young smile that certainly didn’t match the wrinkles and exhaustion etched on her face. Years of smiling and laughing placed crows’ feet around her glimmering blue eyes, but even the glimmer had faded into a dull spark. Her hair had turned into a feeble, pale pink and her coat had dulled significantly as well. The only thing that remained was her smile and her laugh. And all the memories that came with it.
“Woona!” she cried affectionately, pushing a strand of hair that had fallen from her messy bun out of her face. “It’s been ages!”
“I know,” she replied steadily. “I can never find the time to get out here anymore. Tia and I are still searching for the next…Elements.”
Pinkie’s face tightened slightly and it was a look Luna recognized. It was the look of a memory flashing back, and a painful one at that. But then it was gone and the youth of her smile and laughter in her voice are back.
“Well, whoever it is, they’re gonna have some big shoes to fill! Not every friend group can be as great as us!” she smiled a tearful grin.
“I know,” Luna repeated. “Celestia was the one who found you all the last time, so we’ve been trying to look for the same qualities.”
Luna shrugged and let a sigh escape from her lips, a tired, mournful sigh. “We think we found them. Your job is done, Pinkamena.”
All the years fell from Pinkie’s face and her lips twitched gently into a small, sad smile. It wobbled and her chin trembled before she collapsed into sobs, falling into Luna’s outstretched wings and burying her face in her chest.
“I…I can g..go?” Pinkie choked out, looking up at Luna with hopeful eyes.
Luna bit her lip. Yet another one would be leaving now. Another friend, another life intertwined with hers vanishing into nothing. But such was the life of an immortal. So she nodded and let Pinkie break down in the happiest, most woeful sobbing she had ever heard. They all had burdens, she knew. And she knew she could never shed hers, but she could watch others let go of theirs. And sometimes, that was enough.
Obselescence ses: There were, I must admit, feels. Watching your friends and family grow old is a common theme with immortality, but somehow, the idea of Pinkie having to hang on to life while the next generation of elements were found felt really poignant when compared to Luna’s own immortality. Two ponies, both of whom are waiting to set their burden down—but in the end, only Pinkie can do so.