Discord's True Reformation
Disclaimer: I don't own MLP
Summary: A slightly different take on Keep Calm and Flutter On with a more cautious Celestia, a reluctant yet curious mane six, and a willing-and-wanting-to-try Discord that has grown curious over being defeated by friendship. And instead of worrying about being turned back to stone, he has promised to leave Equestria if he cannot get along with ponykind to a degree.
Thoughts and Flashbacks
Demonic or Animalistic Speak
Demonic or Animalistic Thoughts
"With all due respect, Princess Celestia?" Twilight Sparkle started respectfully before her face morphed involuntarily into rage, "HOW COULD YOU BRING DISCORD HERE?!" She yelled before quickly shutting her mouth and bowing in apology, "Your Majesty."
Serene Princess Celestia looked abnormally solemn as she stood before her ponies, the statue of Discord looming near her, "It is quite alright, Twilight Sparkle. I, better than most, know the havoc Discord can play on one's life," She assured, glancing back at the statue with an even expression.
"Havoc is a bit of an understatement, Princess," Rainbow Dash commented, floating with her forelegs crossed and glaring at the petrified god.
"I think her majesty is merely avoiding the C-word as it would only amuse him, Dear," Rarity mused as she approached with Pinkie Pie.
"What C-word? Cake? Concord? Cavities?...Clop?" Pinkie Pie asked curiously.
"Chaos, Pinkie, chaos," Rarity answered with an eye roll.
Celestia smiled slightly at the fashionista's shrewdness, before taking on a neutral expression, "I understand what I am about to ask of you may be too much, my little ponies, but...I have come here for you to free Discord," She explained calmly.
The long silence and wide eyes the ponies replied with was very much expected.
"Um...Princess?" Twilight spoke up after a moment, "May I...cast the spell to detect Changeling cloaking and mind control magic?" She requested awkwardly.
Celestia nodded in acceptance, having realized that this would be a paranoid yet logical assumption for them, with the Canterlot Wedding only a few months ago, "Of course, my student."
Twilight wiped her brow as she ignited her own horn with magic, making the royal guards tense instinctively. Celestia felt the small rush from her student's magic flowing over her, searching for any abnormalities.
The purple unicorn let out a sigh of relief as she found nothing, "She's the real Celestia," Twilight assured over her shoulders, Rainbow visibly un-tensing.
"I'm...afraid that raises more questions than answers, Your Highness," Rarity commented carefully, "Why in Equestria would you wish to free Discord?"
"Before I begin, where are Fluttershy and Applejack?" Celestia asked with a raised eyebrow. She'd rather not have to tell this more than once unless it was necessary.
"Fluttershy is helping AJ with some animal issue on the farm," Rainbow explained before falling into an awkward silence, "I...I'll go tell them to hurry up," She added on before speeding off.
"While they're on their way, may I inquire something, Princess?" Rarity asked diplomatically.
"Of course, Rarity," Celestia allowed with a nod.
"There's not some great and terrible force on the horizon so powerful that we need to ally ourselves with Discord, is there?" Rarity asked while looking very, very concerned.
Celestia smiled comfortingly, "No, Discord's release has nothing to do with any immediate threats. There are many reasons. A major one being that he agreed to our terms already," She answered.
"Huh? Discord's statue can talk?" Pinkie Pie asked curiously, suddenly on Discord's shoulder to the confusion of the guards, her ear next to his mouth, "Hey, I can hear the ocean!"
"Pinkie, get down from there," Twilight scolded lightly, levitating the party pony down, "...Can he, Princess?" she questioned curiously.
"Not his statue, no, but Discord was able to project his spirit to have a meeting," Celestia explained with a thoughtful look, "Part of his own terms involved you six."
"It did?" Twilight gulped lightly at the implications.
"Nothing unsavory, Twilight, I would never barter any of your lives in such a way," Celestia assured strongly, getting a smile from the trio, "While I don't expect Discord to give up many of his traits all together, I do believe that he is willing to be our ally."
"May I ask...why you believe that, Princess?" Twilight asked curiously.
"He had a very good sponsor," Celestia answered vaguely.
Before anypony could question the meaning of that, a multi-color blur came to the group, "We're here!" Rainbow declared, looking over her shoulder, Fluttershy and Applejack still running to them, "Okay, almost here," She self-corrected with an eye roll.
"S-sorry we took so long, Princess. Floodin back at the farm," Applejack apologized as the two finally arrived.
"It's quite alright, Applejack, Fluttershy," Celestia acknowledged with a nod to both of them, Fluttershy currently staring at the statue with wide eyes.
"So...what are we doin, exactly?" Applejack asked with a raised eyebrow.
"She wants us to unstone Discord because he said he'll be good now!" Pinkie Pie explained.
Applejack looked to Celestia in wide eyed confusion, "Not exactly that, but yes," She admitted solemnly.
"...Okay, I got to hear this one," Applejack said with a sigh.
"Believe me, I was hesitant to agree to it as well," Celestia assured, taking a moment to gather her thoughts, "...My sister and I were conversing one night in my room when we heard a most...unwelcome voice."
"Discord," Twilight guessed with a frown.
Celestia nodded, "We were stunned and alarmed, of course. Until we saw that he was a projection, a ghost if you will. A purple one for some reason," Celestia explained, muttering softly at the end.
"Huh...I'm a bit surprised he hasn't done this before to annoy ya, Princess," Applejack commented curiously.
"I had a similar thought. We were about to attempt to banish his presence, when Discord said something that grabbed out attention: I give up," Celestia continued on.
"...Wait, wait. Discord...surrendered?" Rainbow Dash asked in disbelief.
"I would have taken him as much too prideful to ever admit such a thing," Rarity agreed in surprise.
"We were equally stunned. None the less, Discord wanted to end the war he waged on Equestria and Harmony...on some conditions," Celestia narrated.
"Conditions? Is he really in a position to be making demands?" Twilight asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Luna wondered the same thing, but someone like Discord is not someone to consider lightly, Twilight. Turning him down completely would be tantamount to backing him into a corner and I'd rather not see the desperation of a god when he managed to break out again. A prospect I have no doubt would happen again, inevitably. Besides, he gave us two options in terms of overall arrangements," Celestia assured with a small smile.
"Options?" Fluttershy asked lightly with a head tilt.
"The first option was simpler. Unstone him, the war ends and he leaves Equestria entirely only to return if any of what he calls "cosmic business" brought him back here," Celestia explained.
"So...Discord out of our hair and gone forever?" Rainbow Dash summarized with a grin, "Sounds like a good plan to me."
"The OTHER option, however, is more complicated but holds a very tempting boon. It involved Discord willingly helping Ponykind and becoming a part of Equestria," Celestia added on, watching them all freeze and blink.
"Why...would he want that?" Twilight asked suspiciously.
"I'm personally not sure," Celestia confessed, looking admittedly curious, "But he did make an interesting claim: We have his interest."
"Huh? What the hay is THAT supposed to mean?" Applejack asked with a scowl.
"Discord more or less implied that he believed that his defeat a thousand years ago wasn't a win for Harmony or Friendship, but for two Alicorns super charged by six magic objects," Celestia elaborated meaningfully.
"...But since we did it, he's acknowledged the Magic of Friendship?" Twilight guessed with wide, curious eyes.
Celestia nodded, "Essentially yes. It has his interest at the least. Hence, he wishes to mainly deal with you six when not with myself or Luna, as it will give him insight into friendship. In either case, Discord has agreed to end the war regardless of which option is decided upon and consented to something of a...probationary period where we see if he can get along with Ponykind to an extent, to test which deal will work out best for us all."
"Excuse me, Princess, but what makes you so sure that Discord will keep his word?" Rarity asked curiously and cautiously.
"Yeah, the varmint isn't exactly known for being truthful," Applejack joined in.
Celestia chuckled lightly to herself, "It's a bit hard to explain, but we immortals know how to make contacts that are very binding. If Discord breaks the contract, his own magic will banish him from Equestria and not pleasantly," She assured.
"Should we know all the rules of the contract?" Twilight asked in concern, not wanting to really know what would happen if they broke the contract.
"Not to worry, my little ponies. The only part of the contract you six could currently affect is in fact the part about releasing him," Celestia explained, glancing away briefly, "Most other parts of it related more to my sister and myself."
"Oh, what'd you have to give him? The Sun?" Pinkie Pie asked curiously.
Twilight rolled her eyes and sighed at that, "Pinkie Pie, Princess Celestia would never-"
Twilight went perfectly still as she slowly looked back at her mentor, "...Really?" She asked in disbelief.
"Only several eons from now when it has burnt out," Celestia assured in amusement.
Twilight let out a sigh of relief while Rainbow whistled, "Long con much?" She murmured in some curiosity.
"So...we let Discord free and then what? Just let him go about his business?" Rarity questioned doubtfully.
Celestia shook her head, "Discord intends to take up residence in the old castle in the Everfree in the near future, but for now, we all agree it's best to get ponies use to him and let them see he isn't a threat," She elaborated, "And what better assurance than having an Alicorn around?" she added on wryly.
"Wait, what?" Twilight asked in shock.
"Did you believe I would leave Discord alone with you right away?" Celestia asked with a head tilt.
"No!...Yes, kind of? I assumed you have important business?" Twilight answered sheepishly.
Celestia raised an amused eyebrow, "More important than overseeing our greatest former enemy assimilating into Equestria?"
"...Well, when you put it like that," Applejack admitted in slight amusement.
"In any case, my sister will be in charge for now with Fancy Pants aiding her," Celestia assured, "Is there anything else?"
"Yeah, do we have to be nice to him?" Rainbow asked with her hooves crossed.
Celestia shook her head, "No. There is no need to act on Discord's behalf. Remember, he is attempting to work with us, but no relationship founded on false behavior lasts."
Twilight shared a look with her friends. Fluttershy gave a very timid but visible nod while Rarity gave her consent with a graceful though somber nod of her own. Rainbow Dash sighed and rolled her eyes, her lack of objection being her acceptance. Applejack had a stern look on her face, but nodded all the same. Pinkie Pie just grinned and saluted.
"Okay, Princess. If you think it's worth giving him a chance, we'll try it," Twilight answered before looking confused, "Though...I'm not even sure how to unstone Discord with the Elements."
Celestia nodded in understanding, levitating the Elements out of the chest containing them, "That is a rather simple issue: Using the Elements again on him should be all that's needed to reverse the process," she explained, "And if it gives you any extra assurances, I put a spell on them. One I made that should keep Discord from being able to steal them."
"Here's hopin," Applejack murmured as the Princess magically passed each of the Elements out.
As the six stood around the statue, Celestia nodded to her guards. They reluctantly and grudgingly nodded before taking off back to Canterlot. Celestia had spoken to them beforehand and after Discord's last reign of chaos, they knew they could do little to aid in the event of the Draconequus going tyrant on them again. Still, that didn't mean they liked leaving their Princess on her own.
Mostly on her own, at least.
Celestia squinted her eyes as Twilight and her friends rose off the ground, Harmony's rainbow linking the six gems. She had never seen the Elements in action from an outside perspective before now and it was an admittedly mesmerizing thing to witness.
The rainbow engulfed the petrified god as cracks began to form on the stone until...
"...Did we goof?" Pinkie Pie asked with a head tilt after they came back to ground level, the statue still unchanged.
"Maybe the Elements just don't want to let him out?" Rainbow suggested with a shrug.
"No, the statue started to crack...," Twilight pointed out, rubbing her chin with her hoof, "Princess, is it entirely possible that Discord is...sleeping in there?"
"Oh, like I could sleep in there."
Everypony jumped and turned to see Discord...laying face up on the back of a mildly annoyed Celestia, using her mane like a pillow.
"Discord..." Celestia said warningly.
"Oh fine. But I call dibs on your couch tonight," He relented as he floated off the Alicorn before looking at the six ponies, "...Yo."
"Really? That's all you have to say?" Twilight asked blankly.
"Oh no, I have plenty more to say," He answered with a smirk as he started to give mock applause, "Really nice work with the Changelings and the Crystal Empire. Though, I suppose that was more Cadence's destiny than any of yours."
"You...you know about the Crystal Empire?" Fluttershy asked in confusion as the others glared at him to varying extents.
"My DEER little pegasus," Discord cooed toyingly as deer horns appeared on her head, "I could hardly call myself a god of chaos if I wasn't aware of a city made entirely of out of gems, a magical anti-weather artifact and the pony version of Annatar all returning," He pointed out with a smirk.
"Who?" Celestia asked with a raised eyebrow.
"No one you have to worry about unless you go dimension hoping," Discord answered with a wave of his claw.
"Discord, change Fluttershy back, now," Twilight demanded with a glare.
"Oh come on, you know they look good on her! She looks like...like...," Discord scowled in thought as he stroked his beard, "Ohh, what are the bunny version of Alicorns called again? The name is on the tip of my tongue..." He grinned as he remembered, "That it, wolpertingers!"
"Discord, I mean..." Twilight stopped as what he said registered, "Wait, is that...really a thing?" She asked curiously.
"Twilight!" Rainbow hissed in her ear.
"What, I'm curious!" Twilight defended in a whisper.
"Whispering loudly doesn't really help any," Discord pointed out in amusement, "And yes, that's a thing...or it was a thing at least," He confirmed, glancing to Celestia as he did so.
The Alicorn shrugged in response, "I haven't seen one in eight hundred years."
"Could we please get back to Mister Mismatch here fixing Fluttershy?" Rainbow persisted, pointing to the other pegasus, sitting on her haunches while feeling her new horns.
Discord rolled his eyes with an exasperated sigh, snapping his claws and removing the offending body part, "This is turning out to a lovely start," He murmured.
"Ponies generally don't respond well to having their bodies altered without their permission," Twilight explained evenly.
"Yet the "victim" was the one not complaining," Discord countered with air quotes, "Now, are we going to get this show on the road or are we going to stand around here being hostile and unwelcoming to Equestria's newest potential ally?"
Twilight looked to her mentor, who just tilted her head and gave the unicorn an expecting but encouraging look, "...Okay, look, Discord? Let's make this clear. We don't like you, and you don't like us-"
"Now who ever told you such a dreadful lie?" Discord interrupted with a smirk, "I adore you and your little band of misfit heroes, Twilight."
"Discord, be serious," Twilight requested in annoyance.
"I am," He answered bluntly, actually surprising them with how genuine it seemed, "Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to see how much you ponies have improved in making ice cream," He stated, floating off to town at a steady pace.
"Ohh, Ice cream!" Pinkie Pie cheered, pronking after him.
"Pinkie Pie!" Twilight, Applejack, and Rainbow scowled.
"I suppose one scoop won't hurt," Rarity mused, trotting passed them.
"Rarity?" Twilight asked in surprise.
"Darling, we're attempting to reintroduce Discord to Ponyville as an enemy-turned-friend. If he keeps his chaos to an acceptable level and doesn't intentionally disrupt anypony's day, then it is likely best to simply let him decide how today flows while we and the Princess accompany him to keep the townsponies calm and keep Discord from stepping too far out of line," She pointed out before continuing on.
"...Well, I guess I can't argue with that," Applejack relented, joining the fashionista.
"...I still don't like the guy," Rainbow murmured to herself before flying on after the slowly leaving group.
Fluttershy quietly walked along with the rest of her friends, occasionally rubbing where the horns had been on her head.
Twilight sighed as she looked up at the Princess, "...Are you sure this is a good idea?" She asked, trying not to sound whiny.
Celestia nodded solemnly, "In general, I'd prefer allies and friends over enemies, Twilight, but an immortal that outstrips any other living creature? One who could easily and utterly defeat us with just one misstep?" Celestia pointed out before shaking her head, "Besides...I welcomed Luna back with open hooves. If Discord desires another chance, I have to admit I'd feel a bit hypocritical to not consider it."
Twilight scowled, not sure if she wanted to argue that or even if she could. Ultimately, mentor and student moved to catch up with the group, both hoping for the best but mentally planning for the worst.
End of Chapter
Oi, took me forever to get this thing started. Ever since I saw Keep Calm and Flutter On, there was stuff I didn't like about it. I felt like that nerfed the Discord in some ways, mainly in intelligence, but one of my main issues was Celestia's attitude- it was far too like her normal self when Discord's mere presence broke her poker face in his debute. So this is, in a way, a slightly more realistic take that also has Discord being the one more to initiate the "reformation" plan and a more worried Celestia.
Not to mention instead of being "Play nice or back in stone" its now "Either we get along or we go separate ways" which makes the friendships less forced in the beginning.
This is actually going to turn into a series of stories, one of which being a prequel oneshot depicting the negotiations.