“She misses you as well.”
Luna rolled her eyes at her sister’s remembered words. Celestia always had known precisely what to say to motivate her.
There was little doubt in Luna’s mind about the outcome of this midnight visit. It was already more than she had dared hope to find that her sister still loved her and that her subjects might still view her as a princess worth having. Despite the Nightmare, despite a thousand years, despite the very terrible things she had been planning on doing while in power. No, Luna could scarcely imagine forgiveness from whom she was about to call on.
The midnight blue alicorn stood just outside a room within Canterlot Palace’s highest tower. Her sister had gone to bed long ago, leaving Luna to her nightly vigil. Luna knew this room too well. During dawn it gave the best vantage point from which to watch the sun spread it’s majesty across the land. Luna knew this for she had often come up here herself, during the dark years before the Nightmare took her, to watch with envious eyes at her sister’s glory.
Come now Luna, you are a Princess of Equestria, ruler of the night sky! Surely you have nothing to fear from one creature, immortal though it may be?
Only… Luna knew very well what she feared behind that door. It was the same fear that had gnawed away at her heart from the day she had arrived back.
With a hesitant hoof, Luna slowly reached up to knock upon the door. Once… twice… thrice. Then she waited, ears straining for the smallest of sounds.
Nothing. No sound, no response, no indication at all that the room’s occupant had heard her at all.
Oh well, I suppose I shall have to try another time!
Luna turned to go, but before she could take one hoofstep down the stairs to the nearest landing, she heard the sound of bells. She blanched at the soft twinkle twinkle twinkle, the chiming reminding her of distant memories. Her mouth suddenly felt very dry as she took a nervous swallow before screwing her courage to its sticking place and walking into the room.
It was unchanged from what she remembered. Everything within was comprised of stone, with no sign of the opulent silks and dyed cottons that decorated the rest of the palace. An ornately wrought metal perch stood at the room’s center, facing towards the window that dominated the eastern wall. The room’s sole occupant stood on the perch, their back to Luna as she entered.
Quietly she walked behind the perch before finding herself uneasily standing a short distance away. Luna could not recall if there had ever been a royal protocol for this situation… but then she supposed there had never been need before her treachery.
The perch’s occupant continued to ignore her. She was amazed to see how vibrant the perch-dweller looked, at the incredible hues and patterns present within the plumage. But after a few seconds, Luna began to feel like she was gawking at the creature and turned her eyes elsewhere.
Seconds seemingly ground by with the speed of a snail, as neither said anything. For all Luna knew, the perch-dweller could have been asleep. Finally, after the silence had become unbearable, she spoke.
“I… Celestia said that I should see you. Not that I hadn’t desired to see thine beauty since my arrival, but I felt protocol demanded more time.”
“I… I brought some of thy favorite flowers. Freshly plucked sun-roses from the San Palomino Desert, just as you liked.”
Still no response. Luna felt her self-composure slipping away. Her tongue was tripping over the modern vernacular Twilight Sparkle had taught her during Nightmare Night. In desperation she began talking with haste, her speech falling back into formal Canterlot.
“… we apologize if they are no longer thine favorite. If thou desire something else, but ask and we shall fetch it myself!”
Luna found herself on all four hooves, her voice booming as she tried to control the trembling in it, the stones reverberating from her volume.
“Please, just ask your princess of the night anything your heart desires and we shall deliver!”
The perch-dweller said nothing. It gave no indication or hint that it had heard or acknowledged anything she had said. The creature stubbornly kept its back to her, looking out the window towards the oncoming dawn. For all the alicorn knew, the perch-dweller was still asleep. At the thought, Luna felt a dam burst within her chest. Hot anger poured out of her in her voice, as the stones now shook with her outrage.
“Very well you thrice-be-damned fowl! If thou do not desirest not to speak with my royal personage, then we desire to never speak with thineself again either! Good night, madame!”
Still nothing. Luna’s jaw trembled with barely contained fury. She had half a mind to storm away and never speak to the creature again when she realized what she was doing. The realization hit her and suddenly the princess of the night found herself sitting on her haunches, all of her energy seemingly drained away. Luna blinked a few times. Then she blinked a few more and Luna found that staring at the perch-dweller was making everything… blurry. She quickly found a particularly interesting dusty sworl in the stone to stare at. It helped convince her that her eyes were merely teary from improper cleaning habits and not sorrow. Then, her voice breaking, Luna spoke again.
“… I’m sorry. I am so very, very sorry my dear creature. I dare not ask your forgiveness, for I scarcely forgive myself for my actions, both past and present.” She paused, trying to work through a hitch in her voice, before giving up and continuing on.
“I know that you love my beloved sister far more than you ever did me. And how could you not? You two are both creatures of the sun. I belong to the darkened sky, not the brilliant dawn. I had merely hoped that you would a place within your heart for me as you did for her.” Luna shut her eyes from the stinging tears that now fell from them to the dusty stone.
“I dreamt of you, did you know? Oh yes, many a time over the long millennia. You were the only dream that kept me warm while I slept in the dark of the moon.” She gave a choked sob before continuing.
“I will take my leave of you now. I shall not darken your fiery presence any longer nor ever again. Just… please remember how we used to be and think kindly of me. That is all I ask.”
She rose up to her hooves, turning to go. Luna knew this trip had been a foolish idea, the very concept deplorably laughable, but she had still hoped within her heart of hearts it wouldn’t end this way. The alicorn was almost to the door when she heard a sound from behind her, a soft coo that stopped her.
Turning, eyes still half-blinded from tears, Luna found herself disbelieving what she beheld. An outstretched claw reached out from the perch towards her.
Gingerly, the midnight princess stepped close to the perch, before gently extending a wing out, the alicorn daring not to breathe for fear of dispelling the illusion. The perch-dweller scrabbled on before beginning a climb up her wing to her withers. Luna felt the oddly warm tickling sensation of the dweller’s talons as it clambered into and wrapped itself up in her ethereal mane. Then something she had never hoped for in a thousand years, something that had been relegated to her dreams alone.
A playful nibble on her ear.
It was all too much for her. Luna let out a joyous, tearful cry as she turned and rubbed her head against the phoenix perched on her shoulder in utter affection.
“Oh Philomena, I have missed you so very much!”
Heh. This is really pretty great. I feel bad for Luna, begging forgiveness from her oldest friend, and I really like the bond that she feels for the only creature besides her sister who may have lived as long as she has. It’s terrific stuff, and even though it should be funny it hits really hard and has a lot of weight. Really well done.