Wow, sorry it took me so long to post this ending-I wanted us to get a bit into season 7 before I wrote it since it's set at least a few weeks after the premiere ep, but then I got caught up in a lot of stuff. But here it is, and I hope you enjoy it!
Thanks for reading! ^_^
We're the Same Too!: Rise of the Cameos!
Set during the middle of season 7
Celestia's private study in the middle of the night: normally a quiet space full of the princess's important scrolls and cozy furniture, all set lightly aglow by a few candles along the wall. The room was a great sanctuary of peace at such a late hour.
However, that peace was about to be broken.
With a snap and a bright burst of magic, Discord appeared in the air. He flew around with interest, rolling his eyes at Celestia's neatly bound scrolls, yawning at the sight of all the history tomes on her bookshelf, and grinning when he flipped upside down and discovered an emergency instant cake recipe spell taped to the bottom of her chair. Finally, the chaos master landed in the center of the room. He held out his hands with his fingers spread and closed one eye and tilted his head as he looked through the space between them, like he was trying to picture positioning something.
Then Discord snapped his fingers, and there was a bright flash of magic.
The chaos master was a big fan of the irony of course, and so he practically beamed at the momentary sight before him of his two forced guests hovering in the air upside down (just like how he'd made Starlight appear in Twilight's throne room when he had first announced OOREV's existence). Luna was wide-eyed with her wings spread like she had been flying somewhere when summoned, and Celestia was fast asleep with quite a few curlers in her hair.
The sun princess woke up fairly quickly though when she and her sister suddenly plummeted toward the carpeted floor and only managed to land upright courtesy of a quick spell from Luna.
"Celestia, are you all right?" Luna leaned close to her sister.
Celestia gasped. "I…yes, of course." She brought a hoof to her temple then looked to the two figures in the room. "Luna…and Discord?" She blinked then put on a weak smile. "Oh, I must be having a dream. In which case, if you two don't mind, I'll just leave you and head down to the kitchen for some cake. I might as well enjoy myself."
Luna sighed deeply and held up a hoof. "Sister, you're not dreaming." She lightly touched her glowing horn to her sister's horn, Celestia's eyes glowed for a moment, and then the sun princess blinked several times as she processed that this moment was indeed taking place in reality. Meanwhile, the moon princess looked to Discord. "And Discord, whatever we're here for, it had better be excellent."
Discord chuckled. "Oh, when are my motivations ever not excellent? But seriously, you ladies are going to love this one. Because we're here in the middle of the night…for an initiation!" He held up his arms and snapped to make confetti appear in the burst of magic.
"Initiation?" Celestia raised an eyebrow as she used her magic to quickly make her curlers disappear from her hair.
Luna blinked then tilted her head. "Er, Discord, do you mean to say…"
Discord quickly flew alongside Luna and hooked his arm with her foreleg, keeping a showman's grin on his face. "Yes, Luna, what I mean to say is…I've decided to start a special club. And you two ladies are my first members. I accept thanks in the form of endless praise, royal dessert buffets, and one-day free passes to spread chaos all over Canterlot." He leaned in closer to Luna, making a lot of eye contact. "Isn't this a great idea, Luna? A special group all about us. Of course, I suppose it'll inevitably involve some mushy bonding along with all of the fantastic shenanigans I have planned as president, but that's a small price to pay for the wonders this'll probably do for our friendship, don't you think?"
Luna's eyes were wide for another moment but then she finally smiled in understanding. "Oh, er…yes, yes, now that you mention it, your idea does have some merit. If the three of us have some common ground, it might be nice to share with each other in the name of friendship." She glanced to Celestia, her smile bright. "Why don't we give Discord a chance, sister? And I'm sure he won't be nearly as questionable a president as he would seem to be." She chuckled as Discord just rolled his eyes with a grin.
The chaos master looked at Celestia with a smirk now and flew close to her. "Come on, Tia, we've barely even talked since the bad old days. What do you say?"
Celestia, meanwhile, just sat looking from one to the other, her eyes wide and her expression unreadable at first. But then she lightly cleared her throat and lowered her gaze with a small smile. "I see. That's an interesting proposition, Discord. And I might want to know more about it. But first, I've been meaning to have a word with you in private, and as long as you're here, now's as good a time as any." She looked to her sister. "Luna, would you give us a moment? Maybe you could let the guards know that we're both fine so that they don't panic if they go looking for either of us?"
Luna raised an eyebrow at first and looked to Discord (who just stood there with wide eyes and a light blush) then back to her sister. Celestia had a certain smile on her face—it looked almost too understanding and gentle, and Luna knew that smile meant Celestia was forcing herself to politely ask for something she very much needed so that she wouldn't seem desperate and worry anypony. Finally the night princess nodded. "Of course, sister. I'll let the head night guard know both of us are taking a small break."
"Thank you, sister." Celestia nodded her head.
Discord held out his paw. "Uh, Luna?"
Luna paused. "Yes, Discord?"
He bit his lower lip then finally lowered his paw. "Er, hurry back." He put on a faint grin. "I really do have so many plans I'd like to share with you along with Celestia."
The night princess smiled softly. "I will, Discord. I'll see you both in a few minutes." And with that she headed out of the study door, letting it shut behind her.
Once in the corridor, Luna paused and sighed as she whispered to herself. "Celestia couldn't possibly want to talk to him about our little OOREV joke about them both. So then what could she want?" She furrowed her brow in thought but finally just sighed. "I just hope whatever it is doesn't lead to any further complications. Honestly, between the ever-spontaneous chaos master and my 'wise' sister who keeps all of her carefully laid plans a mystery, I wouldn't know where to start guessing what's going on in there right now." She smiled a little to herself. "But I can't wait to find out what new club Discord has decided to form that will apply to himself, Celestia, and I. It should be very interesting." Shaking her head with a chuckle, Luna headed down the hall to find some of the guards.
Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, Discord was alone with Celestia.
The chaos master cleared his throat and grinned. "Yikes, I don't think we've been this alone since that incredibly awkward chariot ride a couple years ago where you dragged my stone self over to Ponyville to get reformed." He knew the line sounded stupid as soon as it left his mouth, but he still tried to keep smiling and (most importantly of all) ignore the urge to blush. He just kept hearing all of the OOREV jokes about Celestia being sweet on him playing over and over in his head, and he was starting to feel a little nauseous. But it wasn't like she was suddenly going to confess some deep love for him here and now or something…right?
Celestia sat down beside him and glanced at him with a light blush.
Discord felt tendrils of awkwardness squirming all over him at the sight, and finally he had to sit on the floor too.
"I'll admit, we've really never spent time alone," Celestia suddenly replied softly, "so I'm very surprised to see you here tonight, and very touched by your interest in forming some a club with Luna and I." He smile faded a little. "But you have to admit, for the last couple of months, not only have we not been alone together but you've been avoiding me. A lot."
"Oh, I don't know if I'd call it a lot." Discord rolled his eyes.
"So you admit you've been avoiding me?" Celestia raised an eyebrow.
Discord blinked then pouted. "Celestia, I'm a being of chaos: my location shifts around frequently along with my moods, my preferences, my sanity." He shrugged, glancing away. "Maybe I've just had a lot on my mind lately, and maybe it's been easier to avoid the one pony who always acts like she has the answer to everything and usually does."
"You've had a problem?" she prompted with a soft smile of understanding.
Discord's eyes drifted back over to her. "Something like that, yes. And it's a little complicated…" He crossed his arms, his ears drooping a bit.
Celestia nodded. "I see." And then she looked forward, blushing a little more. "Discord, I'm going to ask you a question. It's a question that might be none of my business, but it's one I'd like the answer to very much. So if you decide to reply, I want you to be very honest. And whatever the answer is, I won't be upset, I just want the truth. Can you do that for me? From one friend to another?"
Discord's eyes widened as his faint blush returned. "Well, um…sure—an honest answer. I'll try anything once." He tried to smile.
The sun princess just nodded. Then she closed her eyes and asked her question in a very calm, serious tone. "Discord…are you and Luna dating?"
There was silence.
When Celestia opened her eyes and looked over she saw Discord just staring at her with wide eyes and his jaw literally fallen to the floor.
"Discord," Celestia smiled a little, "now isn't the best time for dramatics. Please just answer the question. Are you and Luna dating?"
Silence again. And he still wasn't moving a muscle.
She raised an eyebrow and leaned a little closer. "Discord?"
And then, finally (after his jaw snapped back up to the rest of his face), a single chuckle escaped the chaos master. And that chuckle grew into a few more chuckles, and those grew into more until suddenly he was in the air holding his sides and laughing so hard that he was practically convulsing in hilarity.
Celestia blinked then opened her mouth but closed it as she realized she could never talk over all of his laughter. She reached out her hoof but then pulled back because he was writhing in the air too much for her to give him a tap on the shoulder. And then finally she just sighed and decided to wait patiently for his laughter to subside.
However, instead of that happening, Discord managed to catch his breath for just a moment and snapped his tail.
Luna suddenly appeared in the room again.
"Discord," she glared at him, "you really have to stop teleporting ponies like that! I was right in the middle of wishing the night guard a pleasant evening after assuring him my sister and I were safe."
"H-Had to!" Discord choked out between chuckles. "It's too funny! You need to… Oh sweet chaos, when I tell you…." He got lost in laughter again.
Luna just raised an eyebrow and glanced to Celestia. "Sister, what is it? What's so funny?"
Celestia instantly blushed and cleared her throat. "I, er…well…actually, I've been meaning to talk to you about this too, Luna."
"She asked me if the reason I've been scarce around her lately is because YOU AND I ARE DATING!" Discord finally blurted out, looking at Luna with a big, bursting grin.
Luna's jaw fell. She blinked and looked back to Discord.
Then she smiled, and suddenly both she and Discord were convulsing in laughter.
Discord wiped a tear from his eye. "Oh the irony! It hurts!"
"She thinks you…and I… When meanwhile, the others have been saying…" Luna brought a hoof to her chest as tears streamed from the corners her eyes from her great laughter. "We would blast each other into annoyed pieces within a fortnight!"
"Oh but we should give 'us' a shot anyway, we really should!" He twisted in the air. "Okay, okay, if both of us ever decide to turn bad again, promise me we'll team up like some evil couple of darkness!"
The night princess threw her head back, her laughter still strong. "Tis a deal, Discord! I'll be princess of the land, and you can be the president!"
"The president!" Discord lost it and finally fell to the floor—his laughter was so bad, he couldn't even keep himself floating anymore. "Ooga-chaka!"
"Ooga-chaka!" Luna dropped down on the floor in pure hysterics too.
Meanwhile, at this point, Celestia was just staring at them with a dry look (and maybe a small smile she was trying to keep down—after all, it really was hard not to be infected by laughter watching two friends share so much of it). Finally, though, the sun princess cleared her throat and addressed the pair. "Would either of you like to let me on the joke? Also, I notice no one has answered my question—the one about whether or not the two of you are dating." She smiled a little. "If all this joking is just a way to throw me off the scent, there's really no need." She blushed slightly. "Luna, you're a grown mare, you can court whomever you'd like. And Discord, I've seen how much you've grown over the last couple of years—I trust you to handle a romantic relationship with care."
Luna and Discord were still suppressing intense giggles and wiping tears of mirth from their eyes. But finally Luna managed to take a deep breath and speak a few words to her chaotic companion. "Discord, we really have to calm down and talk to her."
"You mean before she assumes we've already secretly eloped?" He couldn't help himself.
Luna sighed deeply as she smiled more but managed keep speaking. "Discord, really…for Celestia, please?"
That request stopped his laughter and made him blush slightly. "I, uh…well, okay, okay. You're right, we really can't keep going like this." He cleared his throat then snapped; suddenly he and Luna were standing upright looking at Celestia. Discord crossed his arms. "Sorry about that, Tia, it was sort of a private joke—and also a hilarious concept. But we didn't mean to leave you out."
"Yes, sister." Luna nodded. "It was just such a surprising question, it clearly caught Discord as well as myself off guard."
"Luna and I are NOT dating, just to be clear," Discord quickly added.
"Absolutely not." Luna shook her head and smiled softly at Celestia. "I'm sure that question came from your knowledge of the occasional evening I've been absent on private affairs and of course the incident a couple weeks ago when you saw Discord and I together at the Everfree Forest. But really all of that is just a coincidence." Her look went a little dry. "I may be a private pony, Celestia, but I already told you I wasn't seeing anyone. And I also told you that even if I were indeed seeing anypony, I certainly wouldn't keep it a secret even if I did worry that you might disapprove. I'm not a filly, you know."
Discord blinked then pouted at Celestia. "Hey, wait! Does that mean you implied that Luna and I would have assumed you'd think I wasn't good enough for her?" He scowled and glanced away as he crossed his arms. "Thanks, Tia, glad to know where we stand."
Luna just sighed, her head down as she brought a hoof to her temple. "Discord…"
"Discord," Celestia came forward now, her eyes wide and her tone sincere, "I didn't mean to imply anything, I promise. And it's not that I would be concerned about her dating you specifically." She smiled sheepishly. "I'd be a little hesitant to approve of anyone courting my sister. She's the most special pony in the world to me—it's hard to imagine anyone who deserves her. And I hope she knows that." She glanced at Luna with a warm smile.
Luna blinked then blushed lightly and looked down with a small smile of her own.
"Okay, that I'll give you, Tia." Discord crossed his arms and glanced down at Luna with a grin. "Your sister's a pretty incredible pony. And a better friend than she realizes."
Luna's eyes widened and then her smile grew as her gaze went up to Discord and they shared a warm look.
"Discord…what a kind thing to say," Celestia suddenly replied with pleasant surprise.
Discord blinked then glanced over at Celestia. He gave a casual shrug. "Yeah, well, you know—I have my moments." He rolled his eyes. "And just to be clear, what I just said to Luna was a sincere compliment of friendship—not some kind of subtle pass at her." He grinned more as a small chuckle escaped Luna.
Luna looked to Celestia. "And I do know how special I am now, Celestia, thanks to your kindness and the kindness of my friends—like Discord. Which is why I think his idea of a little club for the three of us is very intriguing. It would be nice to find common ground and spend time together, don't you think?"
"Oh, yes…" Celestia's whole look brightened, "yes, of course. Especially now that I know I wouldn't be interrupting you two on a date or something." She chuckled and then looked to the chaos master. "So, Discord, tell me about your club for us. I'm very interested."
"As am I." Luna nodded and turned back to Discord. "Please share with us, Discord."
Of course, at the sight of an eager audience, the chaos master beamed. "Well then, let's get to it!" He snapped: instantly they were all wearing sombreros that said OOLLA.
Luna held back a snort and Celestia glanced up with an intrigued grin as the sisters said at the same time, "OOLLA?"
"Yes, OOLLA." Discord straightened up with a proud grin. "You see, I've been thinking for a little while, and it seems like you two and I actually have quite a bit on common. I mean, we're sort of this oddly mismatched set—powerful people who were there when all this crazy Equestria stuff started and who are here now, seeing it through." He shrugged. "Of course, being there from the beginning isn't really enough for us to bond over—it's more of a fun fact. So then I tried to think of other things, because it really does seem like you two ladies and I could find something deeper."
"I think you're right, Discord. Please go on," Luna replied with a warm gaze.
Celestia nodded and looked on with an intrigued smile.
Discord floated up to rest in the air. "Well, there are a few other obvious things we share. We're practically the only ones of our species, for instance—or at least we were until Celestia magically started turning ponies into alicorns and Cadance started magically giving birth to them." He chuckled. "See, that one was closer for a good reason to start a club—the fact that we're so unique. But at the same time, our friends like and accept us for who we are, so there aren't too many issues to deal with there. Just another fun fact."
Luna nodded while Celestia continued to eye Discord almost with wonder.
He went on. "Then of course I thought we could form a club about being some of the most powerful beings in Equestria, but that would probably get pretty boring pretty quickly. We already know we're powerful, and then villains could start joining if they wanted to. And, uh, it's probably not a good idea to amass them in an organized form." He rolled his eyes to the side, then added with a small glance at Luna, "…At least not while they're still evil."
Luna only nodded, not betraying anything. "A valid point, Discord."
Discord grinned and turned upside down in the air. "And there were a few other things we might have in common but that seemed like they wouldn't be special enough to make a club about. We like desserts, we can fly and use magic at the same time, we're each pushing over a thousand years old, we're in charge of some pretty big things in this world—the sun, the moon, and chaos (that last idea was very close to the common ground I was looking for with this club, but not quite). I even briefly considered having us be a 'fans of Fluttershy' club, but if Fluttershy ever found out she'd be very embarrassed." He chuckled.
Luna laughed softly.
Celestia still eyed him curiously with a small smile. "I see, Discord. You've put a great deal of thought into us. I can't wait to hear what you finally came up with for us and how you'd like us to form a club around it."
Discord flipped back over and nodded with a grin. "An excellent point, and one I was just getting to. You see, I think a secret club has to have a deeper purpose—it's not just a place to chat and share coincidences we have in common." He blinked a few times and glanced down. "…It's about digging deeper and finding something we share that maybe it's hard for others to understand and hard for us to talk about but worth it because it could help us feel better and remind us that we're never alone." He glanced up with a dry look. "And no one tell Twilight that I've gotten this astute about friendship: a large part of my personal amusement time is spent convincing her that I'm a hilariously unteachable creature about these things." He smirked. "You should see her when I bug her just right—the look of frustration on her face is priceless."
Celestia actually giggled (prompting Luna to glance at her with an intrigued grin…and prompting Discord to glance up with an eyebrow raised and a smile as well).
Luna smiled more and looked to Discord. "How considerate of you to want to share such a deep experience for a special club with my sister and I."
"Discord, I'm very touched that you would put so much effort into this for us," Celestia added, her eyes bright. "And I'm very touched that you'd want to explore such a deep connection with any of your friends but especially with us." She smiled sheepishly. "But I have to admit I'm still not sure what you came up with…"
Discord nodded and then finally landed on the floor, his hands behind his back. "Well, it's…um…" He took a deep breath, "The club is called OOLLA, and that stands for Organization of Leaders Left Alone."
Celestia and Luna's eyes went wide as their smiles fell.
Discord's smile fell a little too. "It's a club for anyone who's been in charge of something big in Equestria but who got left alone with it for a very long time…so long that they started to feel very lonely and like no one might understand them again. You know, like how I'm in charge of chaos and was in charge of Equestria for a bit but I got left alone—in stone… And how Luna was in charge but she got left alone on the moon… And how you were in charge of Equestria and you got left behind here, Tia."
Discord shrugged with a small sheepish grin. "I told you this would be a pretty deep thing. In fact, maybe 'club' isn't the best word—'support group' is probably more accurate." He cleared his throat. "But listen, I know you're a pretty private pony, Celestia, and that Luna is too, and of course I'm as aloof as they come. So if you don't want to do something like this, it's okay." He smiled a little more. "We can make the club about one of those more light-hearted options I mentioned."
As he looked to the ladies, Luna remained silent. She knew if she spoke up to agree to the club first, Celestia would go along with it just to make her happy. But in this case Celestia needed to agree because she wanted to.
"I…" Celestia finally spoke, "I really am a very private pony Discord."
Discord nodded. "If it helps to know, anything that happens at the club stays at the club. It's the one rule."
Luna nodded as well. "Yes." She blinked, quickly saving herself. "I mean, of course, one would assume such a rule in this situation, sister."
Celestia finally let out a sigh. "We could try… Yes." She glanced up with a light blush. "But I might need a little time to get used to sharing like this."
"Absolutely." Discord smiled more. "I might too—after all, I'm going to be sharing with my former mortal enemy." He crossed his arms and glanced at Luna with a dry look. "Moonie, you in too?"
Luna blinked then gave him a dry look. "Yes. But call me Moonie again and I'll stage a club coup for the presidency. I could pull it off too—I do have prior experience with attempting royal takeovers after all."
She laughed and Discord chuckled. They both glanced at Celestia who watched then with a smile and an eyebrow raised.
Discord shrugged. "See, in our club we can say awkward things and crack jokes without feeling awkward about anything." He cleared his throat. "And now that we've all agreed on the club, let the first official meeting of OOLLA begin!"
He snapped. Instantly the three of them appeared sitting around a small table in the middle of the study while a huge burst of confetti rained down from overhead.
Discord, of course, now had a crown over his sombrero that said 'PRESIDENT!' and wore a red ermine-trimmed coat with pink spots.
He blew on a kazoo then snapped it away in a burst of bubbles. "So," he started, "who has some new business to share about being a lonely leader? All subjects are on the table. I can go first to break the ice if you ladies would like though—I do love being the center of attention after all." He grinned. "Come on, ask me anything, and for once I won't answer with doubletalk or a joke."
"Well, it's obvious you're already tempting Celestia…" Luna gave a sly grin.
And indeed, Celestia was looking at Discord and biting her lip with an awkward smile as though she had a question of some kind but was hesitating to ask.
When Luna's eyes went back to Discord, his eyes were wide and then he blushed slightly and pouted at her with a scowl.
Luna raised an eyebrow at first but then blinked and shook her head as she realized the teasing implication of her words. "I meant you're tempting her with your offer to go first, of course." She cleared her throat. "Sorry."
"Why are you sorry?" Celestia raised an eyebrow.
Luna looked down. "Er…private bad joke, sister. It's complicated."
Something in Celestia's gaze warmed. "Is it about Discord's problem that's kept him from visiting me much lately?"
Just as Luna's wide eyes went to Discord, he explained. "While you were out of the room, I told Tia I had a problem. I didn't tell her what it was…but I guess she'd like to know or something."
"Only if you want to tell me, Discord," Celestia added softly.
"Er, Celestia?" Luna smiled sheepishly at her sister. "Perhaps this is one point we shouldn't press."
"No, no…" Discord stroked his beard in thought, "I…I think I can manage this. I just need to do it on my own terms." As Luna looked to him curiously, the chaos master cleared his throat and turned his attention to the sun princess. "So…speaking of leaders and being lonely…you know, my social skills really are rusty from all that time as a statue. And a lot of new stuff's been getting thrown at me. But I'm managing." He swallowed. "However, uh…I got something thrown at me that really knocked me for a loop, heh." He curled himself into a loop with a sheepish shrug, then uncurled and gave her a dry look (blushing lightly). "Promise you won't laugh."
"I promise." Celestia held up her hoof and nodded.
"Okay." Discord sighed and twiddled his fingers. "Through the grapevine I heard that apparently a female acquaintance of mine might…think I'm cute. That's all." He glanced at her hesitantly.
Celestia blinked. Then she looked at her sister.
Luna's look went dry. "I am not the one who thinks he's cute, I assure you."
"Oh." Celestia shook her head. "No, no, that's not what I…I'm just a little surprised." She looked at Discord with a smile.
Discord pouted. "What, that someone could find me cute?"
She laughed softly. "No, that it would fluster you so much and that you would care so much." Her eyes hazed. "So…you were worried you'd be tempted to ask me for advice about it and that I'd laugh? Is that why you've been avoiding me? Oh Discord…"
"Uh…" Discord blinked, "sure…" (hey, her reasoning was as good an excuse as any). "But, anyway, I've figured things out now at least, so no more need for advice." He shrugged. "I learned I can't let gossip bother me and that I have to accept that I might be naturally charming to some ladies. It doesn't change the fact that I still feel a little unbearably weird about the whole notion, but at least I'm moving past it."
"I don't understand why you would feel so awkward though, Discord. If anything I think you'd be flattered." Celestia brought a hoof to her chin. "Unless of course this lady who thinks you're cute is someone you're friends with, and you're worried about it hurting your friendship if she tells you she wants something more."
"That's incredibly complicated too…" Discord sunk down in his seat. He glanced at Luna as he saw her looking at him curiously then blushed slightly rolled his eyes away. "I mean the 'friendship' I have with this person is complicated. We're sort of friends but not exactly. Not good friends yet. I don't know, it's like…like…" He blinked then grinned and looked to Celestia again, "It's like…how would you feel if you found out I thought you were cute?"
Celestia blinked a couple times, blushed and smiled. "Me?" She laughed. "I…" she considered, "I… Actually I still don't understand—I'd feel flattered."
Discord's jaw fell to the table as Luna erupted into giggles.
Celestia just shrugged. "You're a very nice, charming, funny gentlepony, Discord." She looked down a little. "And as someone who spent a long time alone watching generations of ponies find companionship…for me personally, yes I think I'd enjoy knowing someone had that feeling for me. And that includes you."
Luna and Discord looked at her with blank stares for a moment at this sudden sincere admission.
Then Luna blushed slightly and looked down thoughtfully. "You know…I believe I understand your point, sister. Perhaps, um…if someone suddenly expressed a certain interest in me, even if I didn't feel the same way, the experience might be nice. Spending so many years without affection and then being part of such a strong display of it has a certain appeal."
Discord cracked a small smile again at the memory of Thorax 'confessing' to Luna, then glanced from one sister to the other. He blushed a little and finally looked down too, playing with his tail. "And maybe, even if the idea of this friend of mine thinking I'm cute is weird for me…I sort of don't mind the concept. Maybe it makes me feel a little special too. It's always nice to be wanted."
There was a heavy silence, then Celestia raised her eyes to him with a small smile. "I think you should ask your friend out, Discord, just to see. A date isn't a commitment, and you never know—"
He held up his paw with a slight cringe. "I'm not ready yet." His eyes slowly came up to hers, and he had a little smile of his own as he added, "But I'll keep your advice in mind. It wouldn't be the craziest thing I've ever done, after all."
The two of them shared a warm smile for a moment. Then Discord remembered Luna was there and glanced over to see her staring at him with wide eyes and her mouth slightly open. He cleared his throat and quickly added, "I-I mean, you know, I'll keep the idea on the table as any of a number of possibilities." He shrugged and slumped down in his seat again.
Luna blinked a few times and then smiled and shook her head. "Tis an interesting first meeting. Now that we know Discord's big secret is that he's suddenly discovered he's coltfriend material, what shall we discuss next?"
"Maybe the fact that I think we should be grateful this club is so small," Celestia replied softly. "Not only is it nice to talk, just the three of us, but…it's nice that the leaders who've come after us don't have to be alone. This is the first time I've really thought about it. Twilight has her friends. Cadance has Shining Armor and Flurry Heart. Thorax has all of his subjects in his hive…"
"I'd like to make a proposal regarding new members," Luna suddenly announced.
"Yes, the President recognizes Luna." Discord replied with an intrigued look.
She took a breath. "I believe there may be one more creature who could find membership with this club one day." After a pause she added, "Queen Chrysalis." She looked to her sister and Discord. "And if she ever is in a position to join the club and willing, I would like to be the one to invite her as my guest."
"Seconded!" Discord suddenly shouted as he raised his paw. He and Luna shared a small smile.
Then they looked to Celestia who had an eyebrow raised.
Discord dropped his paw and shrugged. "Just granting a request."
"You two are keeping a lot of little secrets from me, aren't you?" Celestia smiled over at them with a warm gaze. Then she laughed softly as they bit their lips and looked down sheepishly. "It's okay, I like that you two have developed such a good relationship. Honestly, Luna, I was never sure how well you'd handle having Discord on our side, and Discord, I was always worried you'd be put off if Luna didn't get your sense of humor. But it's so nice to see you both getting along." She blushed a little. "And it's nice that now maybe the three of us can work on having a close friendship too. I'm happy that we're doing this, I'm happy to be here." She smiled brightly and pumped her hoof in the air. "Three cheers for OOLLA!"
The chaos master chuckled. "Oh, that's it, you've earned yourself a vice presidency."
Celestia blinked as Discord snapped: she suddenly had on a smaller ermine cloak and a small label taped to her sombrero that read VP.
"Hey," Luna playfully pouted, "why does she get to be a vice president?"
"Because she knows how to show proper club enthusiasm." Discord shrugged with a grin. "But if it makes you feel any better, you can be Secretary, and whenever you manage to get Chrysalis in here she can be our Treasurer. And I seriously hope you succeed with recruiting her by the way: changelings are very amusing to have around." He smirked at the night princess in an all-knowing way.
Luna rolled her eyes'. "Oh, hush, President Discord, and make us some snacks. I'm quite famished, and I can't stay much longer before I have to get back to my duties."
Celestia nodded. "As Vice President, I second her motion for snacks."
"So ordered." Discord flexed his fingers then snapped both sets of them and his tail at once to leave the table laden with cupcakes and pies and candy. "Let's dig in and continue all this mushy, hilarious bonding. I'm actually starting to enjoy it." He snapped them all up glasses of chocolate milk as well.
"Agreed, Discord." Luna nodded and took a deep sip of chocolate milk.
"I'm having a good time too, President Discord." Celestia winked as she magically loaded a plate with snacks.
"No one likes a kiss up, Celestia." Yet Discord still grinned as he grabbed some cookies. "But yeah, let's keep going—somehow the more embarrassing stuff we share, the better these things seem to work out."
"Very well, and I would like to go next." Luna sipped her chocolate milk with a grin. "You know, some nights I am torn—I enjoy the solitude of being one of the only ponies awake and the chance for reflection, and yet still feel somewhat lonely as the ponies sleep through my nights." She sighed. "Honestly sometimes I don't know what I want anymore…"
"I could reschedule a few of the more boring castle social functions to nighttime," Celestia attempted, looking a little sheepish. "Ponies practically fall asleep at most of them anyway, so it might work out best for everypony actually."
"Very funny," Luna gave her a little look and a smirk.
Discord just chuckled to himself at the sibling exchange.
And so the meeting continued into the wee hours of the night full of laughing and talking and bonding and eating as the new club took shape.
A couple hours later found the OOLLA meeting in a very different state. In place of all the snacks were wrappers and empty plates and pans and chocolate milk glasses. And though the room was still full of warmth and laughter, it was a gentle easy warmth and laughter now, calmed by the sleepiness of such a late night. Luna was still wide-awake of course but Discord couldn't help yawning and blinking a few times between chuckles and smiles. Celestia, meanwhile, had her head resting on the table, and with a few slow blinks and soft laughs finally seemed to have dozed off.
In the distance a bell chimed marking 2AM
Another yawn escaped Discord. "Okay, I think we need to call it a night. I mean I'm as much of a night owl as they come, but I'm not as young as I used to be. Plus you've got your work and responsibilities and stuff, huh, Moonie?"
"Yes, I should probably get going back to my duties." She rolled her eyes. "Discord, why have you suddenly taken to calling me 'Moonie'?"
The chaos master shrugged, smiling sheepishly. "Teasing is how I show ponies I like them. So, yes, you have official confirmation now that you're all right in my book…and that I've got the maturity level of a school-aged colt."
Luna laughed softly. "Discord, thank you so much…"
"Hey, the OOLLA thing was the least I could do." He waved her off. "I'm just glad it worked out as well as it did."
"No." She shook her head. "I mean thank you for everything—OOREV, OOLLA…for caring about all of us and letting us care about you. And for making my sister happy…" She glanced at Celestia slumbering. "Everyone already knows you and I have had troubles, that we've probably needed to heal. But I think ponies overlook her sufferings of loneliness and doubt because they were subtle. But you recognized them tonight and gave her a chance to as well. You let both of us confront our past. You'd be surprised how little we've talked in detail about my banishment until tonight. But having a third party here—and someone so lighthearted—it helped."
Discord watched the sisters with wide eyes then finally smiled and nodded. "Tia's a good pony, Luna. I might tease her sometimes, but I don't want to be part of hurting her anymore ever." He was gazing down at Celestia specifically now. "She brought me to Fluttershy. I haven't even thanked her properly for that yet. But this is a start." He glanced to Luna again as another yawn escaped him. "I'm glad you ladies enjoyed yourselves."
Luna's gaze warmed; she powered her horn. "I'll clean up, Discord. Just do me a favor and give Celestia a little tap on the shoulder. She's needs to wake up and get to bed—she's always cranky if she falls asleep in her study." She shook her head with a smile as she started cleaning.
"Sure." Discord looked to Celestia, hesitated as he raised the fingers of his paw to touch her, then finally just used tuft of his tail and gently brushed the hair away from her cheek. "Celestia…" he started softly with a grin, "you-who? Come on, however much I'd like to attempt moving the rest of this meeting to a swinging cider mill so we can party til your sun comes up, I think we can all agree that bed sounds a lot better right now."
Celestia yawned and smiled a little, her eyes still closed. "All of us should go out together sometime," she replied sleepily. "Can you imagine the looks on the ponies faces?"
Discord chuckled. "Okay, I kind of like sleepy Celestia." He blinked then shrugged awkwardly. "I mean, you know, this humorous daze you're in proves that much more how suited you are to be my vice president."
With a sigh, Celestia stretched her forelegs out then finally sat up and blinked open her eyes. She looked around her study, bearing some final remnants of the club meeting as Luna finished cleaning, then to her two guests and smiled. "I would like to do this again soon though no matter where we are. I haven't had friends over for a night together since…since I used to let Twilight have sleepovers in here with me when she was a filly." She smiled sheepishly and shrugged.
Discord and Luna chuckled.
"I bet those were some swinging parties, Tia." The chaos master smirked.
"I'm just glad to see you finally expanding your nightlife now, sister," Luna added with an approving smile as she approached her sister.
Celestia yawned and finally stood up. "Luna, please make sure I wake up on time tomorrow for sunrise. But…maybe also tell the staff I've got some important personal matters to take care of first thing."
The night princess nodded. "I'll make sure they think you're busy after sunrise so you can sleep in."
"Ah, so you two can be slightly irresponsible sometimes." Discord grinned.
"Only when necessary." Luna gave him a little smirk. "Well, I'll be off now. Have a good sleep, sister, and have a good night, Discord. I'll be looking forward to the invitations for the next OOLLA meeting—try not to make them involve pranks."
"I make no promises." He gave her a little wave with his fingers.
Luna just shook her head with a grin then teleported away.
Discord did his best to keep a straight face as he said in a dry voice, unable to resist the gag; "Glad she's gone. Now I can confess; hanging out with her to make you think we were dating was just a ploy. It's you I love, Celestia, you and only you."
Celestia's eyes went wide for a moment. And then she burst into laughter Discord had never heard from her before—loud and free and clear. He started laughing too, unable to help himself.
Finally Celestia caught her breath and wiped a tear from her eye. "You're a good friend, Discord. A very, very good friend. A very funny friend too."
"You really think I'm funny?" His laughter under control now too, he grinned with an almost shy interest.
She nodded. "Very much." Her eyes were a little dreamy.
Discord watched with more interest. "You're a good friend too, Sunny."
She perked up. Then she sighed as she walked across the room to the door. "I did miss you."
Discord's smile fell and he raised an eyebrow. "What?"
She paused with the door open and glanced over her shoulder. "When you came back at first, you said you missed me and asked if I'd missed you too. I did. Maybe not everything… but the laughter, the spontaneity, the potential for fun: that I missed. Glad to have you back, chaos master." She looked forward and shook her head with a smile. "Sunny…" Then she headed out of the study.
Discord watched her go with some wonder. Then he smiled a little and, with a chuckle and a shake of his head, snapped himself out of her study in a burst of magic (but not before leaving an OOLLA banner strung up from the ceiling overhead).
A few weeks later…
In the human world, Twilight Sparkle (or Twi as her fellow OOREV members liked to call her) approached Canterlot High in the dimness of early morning just before sunrise. She had researched Vice Principal Luna's history a bit, and though only vague details were available, she had learned two things. One: Luna had left Canterlot high very suddenly several years ago after a very heated competition with her sister over who should be school principal and had only returned during what would have been freshman year for Twi. And two: before Luna had left she had been in charge of a Stargazing Club that meet before sunrise once a week…a club that had been canceled due to lack of attendance.
Twi had figured that knocking on Luna's office door, saying the pony version of the vice principal had once attempted world domination, asking to know what smaller-scale dark deed Vice Principal Luna had committed, and then requesting to share their intimate feelings about past sins would probably be too much. So instead the purple student decided that reviving the stargazing club was a better way to start.
So she'd gone to Princess Luna and mentioned a love of stars to her and asked for the club to come back provided Luna was okay with her being the only member for now.
With hesitation and a surprise bordering on shyness, Vice Principal Luna had agreed.
So now, several weeks later, Twi found herself spending yet another early morning sitting on the school roof with Luna looking up at the stars through a telescope. And though Luna had been distant at first, by now she was smiling whenever she told Twilight about the stars. And Twi noticed that whenever she mentioned how thankful she was to run across another person who knew so much about astronomy or how grateful she was to the Vice Principal for letting her stay at Canterlot High even after all of the magical problems she'd caused, Luna would get a gentle look in her eye and assure her that any mistakes were in the past and all that mattered was a happy present and hopeful future. And Twilight would smile because not only was she close to gaining another person to talk to, but Luna was as well. It was a good thing.
The student and Vice Principal continued to observe the heavens above.
Meanwhile, Sunset Shimmer had given Twi a ride on her bike to the school this morning and was waiting in the courtyard below to bring them back to her apartment for breakfast after the club meeting. In the meantime though, Sunset rested with her back against the base of the school statue and tried to compose a letter. Someone looking over her shoulder could read the various introductions she had started and crossed out in her notebook.
'Dear Princess Celestia,
How are you? I know you remember me, but I guess not fondly. I remember you too, and I miss you and my home. I was wondering…'
Long time no see. I know that's my fault—sorry again about betraying you and going crazy and running off to another world. I didn't mean to hurt you…'
It's Sunset Shimmer here. I want to formerly request visitation rights to Equestria…and the right to know if you ever want to see me again. I know I was wrong back then. I'm sorry...'
'Dear Teacher Tia,
Remember when I used to call you that when I was in magic kindergarten because it made me lisp too much to say 'Princess Celestia'? It's Sunset, by the way. You probably remember. I had a question—can I come home? But can I come back here a lot too? I'm not sure where I belong. I just know I love the human world but that I'm also a pony deep down. What do I do…?'
Sunset sighed and looked up at the sky. She caught sight of Twi and Luna on the roof and smiled. Then she closed the notebook with the letter drafts. There would be plenty of time to write later, she guessed: for now, watching her friend reach out to another made her feel better. Sunset just wished the girls or the club were here to see this too.
And maybe that fact meant she really did belong in both places—in Equestria and in the human world. And maybe everything would work out okay; it all had so far after all.
Sunset closed her eyes and dozed off with a yawn under the peaceful stars and sky.
On a stage in Appleoosa, Trixie stood before a gathering of ponies with a large, ornate cabinet by her side. She gestured to the empty interior then closed the doors, waved her hoof, and (discreetly) set off a purple smoke bomb. When the smoke cleared, she opened the door to reveal… a large green blob that suddenly jumped onto the forefront of the stage with a big squiggly smile. The audience stomped their hooves and cheered, especially the fillies and colts in the front row. And the cheering only grew when Trixie set off another smoke bomb, and suddenly she and the Smooze were juggling apples and gems back and forth. Finally, Smooze ate the gems and Trixie threw the apples to the crowd.
Trixie and Smooze wrapped up their act by turning to their audience to take a bow to finish the show. Then fans quickly came forward to congratulate Trixie on her magical skills and to marvel at Smooze (especially the foals, much to Smooze's delight). And for the moment Trixie felt like she was as great and powerful as a magician possibly could be, and Smooze felt accepted and liked and as though ponies would never run in fear from him again.
All in all, it was a wonderful partnership. Next stop, Manehatten!
Starlight Glimmer sat by a window on a train gently chugging its way through the Equestrian countryside and north toward the Crystal Mountains.
A few other ponies were on the train, laughing and chatting, but Starlight's attention was totally absorbed in reading from a large pile of carefully bound letters. At the end of the last OOREV meeting, she had mentioned wanting to make a trip to see Sunburst—her dear friend who understood her the most because somehow both of them had lost sight of their dreams but were now on a better path to making new, happier lives for themselves. She'd also been thinking more and more lately about where her training with Twilight might lead and wanted the company and comfort of somebody who was equally uncertain about where his new life was headed.
However, along with the thought of her destination, Starlight had another source of comfort at the moment—these letters. Before leaving Discord's chaos realm after that last meeting, Luna had told Starlight she would be happy to secure her some helpful reading material for her trip north, and the moon princess had come through with the delivery of this stack of letters as well as a small journal and a single note that read:
Though you may feel uncertain about your future while others see a clear path to their own, never forget that all of us have walked with wonder and curiosity through the night before being aided by the clarity of day.
Enjoy learning more about your mentor as well as my sister and I.
Luna's delivery included the journal of the two sisters as well as a copy of every letter Twilight had sent to Celestia from when she had first come to Ponyville. And as Starlight read the letters, a deep sense of peace came over her. Seeing the younger Twilight's words—the element of magic's own uncertainty, her revelations and hesitations, her doubts and joyful discoveries and meaningful mistakes—let Starlight accept that maybe she wasn't so lost in her own life. Even if she couldn't understand her destiny just yet, she was on her way to it; so perhaps the best thing would simply be to enjoy the ride. And she had a feeling that the Journal of the Two Sisters would leave her with the same sense of peace.
Starlight smiled more as she read on until finally the gentle rhythm of the train put her into a sound doze which she wouldn't wake up from until arriving in the Crystal Empire where more friendship and hopeful experiences awaited her.
In the changeling hive, behind a honeycomb wall, Luna and Thorax finished a discussion that ended when Luna smiled, nodded, and gestured out past the wall (where a half a dozen changeling nymphs were chatting and laughing). Thorax gulped, blushed, and bit his lip in hesitation. Finally, though, the changeling king took a deep breath, put on a smile, and headed out toward the group of females.
Luna watched from behind the wall as Thorax made his approach and began to engage the ladies. They met him with surprise at first followed by smiles. Then Thorax made a joke (Luna had learned from her earliest encounters with others after her return that humor often helped break the ice), and the nymphs laughed. Thorax smiled too, and a few of the girls even looked at him with hazed eyes. Thorax glanced down shyly but kept eye contact and chatted with the ladies some more.
Luna continued to look on with a satisfied smile and felt a special warmth in her heart. She remembered Twilight helping her socialize back during her first Nightmare Night, and now here she was helping someone else socialize in a special way for the first time. Thorax was doing quite well. And she hoped he would keep doing well. She had a good feeling; he would be a good king just like she had become a good princess.
As the nymphs walked off, Thorax went with them, but not before he glanced over his shoulder in Luna's direction and gave her a smile and a wave. Luna waved too then ducked back down. She blinked as a scroll appeared in front of her.
Thank you so much for all the advice about talking to girls. For the first time I don't feel like I'm going to pass out (which I don't think would make anyone too comforted coming from their king). I know it's best for me to try on my own for now, but please come back to visit the hive very, very soon—not for advice but just to spend time. The other changelings would love to see you (and to have transfiguration contests), and we'd be happy to have dinner together.
Say hi to everyone in Equestria for me!
Luna beamed, wrote back a very accepting reply, and sent it away. Then she yawned, the sleepiness of the daytime getting to her, and finally teleported herself home. It was bedtime, and she could fall asleep with a light, happy heart and looking forward to making even more new friends as well as to helping friends make more friends of their own.
Discord smiled as he watched all of these images of his fellow OOREV members play out as projections on a large cotton candy cloud floating in his living room: proof of how much their club meetings really were helping them all improve their lives and relationships.
The chaos master grinned more as he finished drinking the glass around a bottle of cola and then tossed the cola into his mouth and swallowed it in one gulp. "Well, it seems like everyone's lives are spiraling off into their own brands of happy chaos. Aren't I such a good president, checking up on my subjects like this?" He chuckled but then blinked a twirled his beard. "Of course, I suppose since I'm technically the president of two clubs now, and since one particular friend doesn't overlap between those two clubs, there is one more 'subject' for me to check on."
He held up his fingers to snap, but Discord hesitated with a slight frown. "Still…I don't want to catch her in an awkward moment. Okay, actually I love catching that poised and perfect and grim princess in awkward moments. But it's nighttime, and I have no idea what she does at nighttime, come to think of it." Discord frowned at himself and crossed his arms. "I should really be over this awkwardness by now. Really, it's been weeks since the OOREV members started letting up on the 'Celestia and Discord' jokes. What am I afraid of? That I'm going to catch her worshipping me at some kind of secret love shrine? Or that I'm going to catch her out on a late-night date with somepony else?" He blushed and sunk low in his seat. "It might make things better if I could at least know once and for all if what Sunset said is true—that Celestia sometimes thought about me 'fondly' while I was still in stone." He shook his head then shrugged as his usual aloof grin came to his features. "But of course I'm far too proud to ask. So instead I might as well just get checking up on Celestia over with."
He snapped. The image on the cloud suddenly changed to Celestia…surrounded by chaos? Discord blinked. "Huh?" And then Celestia raised her hoof and knocked on something in front of her.
At the same time, two knocks sounded on Discord's door.
Discord's eyes went wide.
Celestia tilted her head, raised her hoof and knocked again.
Again, two knocks sounded on Discord's door.
The chaos master turned to his front door, then back to the cloud, back to the front door and back to the cloud. Finally he blinked, snapped the cloud away, took a glance around the chaotic room full of floating furniture and living dust bunnies, rolled his eyes about actually caring for a moment about what Celestia would think of his place, then quickly flew to the door and opened it wide.
Celestia stood there, her hoof raised again as though she were about to knock once more. She blinked and smiled. "Oh, Discord—wonderful, you're home! I hope I didn't wake you, I know it's late." She smiled sheepishly.
"No, No, not at all." He gave her a curious smile. "You're a bit of a surprise, but not an unwelcome one. I mean," he cleared his throat, "all of my friends are welcome here…that is, if you can handle the chaos within." He smirked at her.
She smirked back at him. "I already handled the trip here through your chaos dimension, and I handled your chaos in Equestria back when we first met. I think I can manage."
"Okay, but you've been warned." He gestured inside, then followed after her as she entered. "Just take a seat anywhere—and don't let the dust bunnies frighten you, they're harmless."
Celestia laughed softly at the sight of one of the little creatures as she finally took a seat in the den at the tea table. She gazed around in wonder. "Your house is very creative, Discord. I like it."
"I know; interior design is truly a calling of mine." He flew over to the opposite chair at the table, snapped them up a plate of cookies, then leaned back with his arms crossed. "Now then, what can I do for you? Get bored of your day job and finally need to hire a replacement? I'm available, and I do have prior experience you know." He chuckled.
However, though Celestia smiled a little, she didn't laugh. Her eyes went down to the plate of cookies.
Discord raised an eyebrow. "Yikes, that was 'A+' material you failed to laugh at just now. This must be serious."
Celestia nodded as she took a cookie with her magic and played with it in the air. "Something happened…and, um…it's a little OOLLA club-related…and…I'm a little embarrassed. And I don't want to tell the ponies involved to keep it a secret, because I don't like the idea of doing that. But I also don't like the idea of everyone knowing the details. I talked to Luna, and she suggested I try telling you first and see how it goes." Her eyes finally came up, and she shrugged sheepishly. "After all, you've always had quite an outspoken opinion on things. If I can handle you knowing, and you can handle knowing without…calling for my dethronement or something, maybe it'll give me more confidence that everything will be okay."
"Dethronement?" Discord's ears fell a little though he kept up a smile. "Tia, really, whatever this is about, I'm sure 'grim you' is making way too much of it. Now then, tell your president what's wrong. And I promise, if the ponies find out and exile you or something, you can always live here." He smirked but then blinked and quickly added, "I mean, you know, not here here, I just wouldn't mind a neighbor or whatever."
She almost smiled a little. Then she bit her lip and sighed as she brought a hoof to her forehead. "This is such a long story."
"Then think of the simplest way to put it and just yell it out." Discord shrugged. "We can get into the gritty details after the relief of the big reveal."
Celestia nodded, closed her eyes, then announced, "I was in Starlight's dreams with Luna, and I saw Nightmare Moon, and then I saw an evil version of myself named Daybreaker who wanted to make the day last forever!"
She opened her eyes.
Discord just sat there, head slightly tilted. Then something between a chuckle and a cough popped out of him.
A couple more of the chuckle-coughs escaped Discord, but then he cleared his throat and managed to keep things down to a small smile. "I-I'm sorry, it's just…so, technically, the thing you're upset about—nothing actually happened? It was just a dream? I mean, what, did Starlight eat too many oat tacos before bed or something?"
"She had the bad dream because Luna and I were fighting, and she was so worried about not being able to help us and about what might happen to us and Equestria if she failed." Celestia frowned. "It might have been a dream, but it stemmed from a very real life situation."
Discord took a breath and tried to put on a more serious look. "Okay, okay, point taken. But still, trust me, Luna's past the Nightmare Moon stuff for good—you know that. And you can't think you'd really let some squabbles keep you two apart again after what you went through on your end. You're a smarter mare than that, Tia."
"Even smart mares can make mistakes…" She bit her lip. "I'm not perfect. And Daybreaker seemed so real."
"Oh believe me, I know you're not perfect from how you've taken one of the lovely jelly bean cookies it took me milliseconds to snap up and crushed it into crumbs already instead of eating it." He snapped up a feather duster that pushed the crumbs of her now nervously demolished cookie to the floor for the dust bunnies to nibble on. "I'd ask if you were raised in a barn, but we've all seen the castle." He snapped away the feather duster and smiled a little again. "And as for 'Daybreaker seeming so real', that brings me to my next point. I'm the most imaginative guy around, and an evil you is just so…unimaginable. I really have my doubts." He shrugged. "Face it, Princess, you're not villain material."
Celestia gave him a slight glare.
Her horn glowed.
And then in a burst of magic she transfigured herself into Daybreaker, flaming hair and all.
"Whoa!" Discord leapt out of his seat and flew backwards, eyes wide.
Celestia's cat-like orange eyes blinked and then fell. "I really do look like a monster, don't I…" she whispered.
Discord flew back forward. "What? No!" He shook his head and scowled. "I didn't jump back because you 'look like a monster'. I jumped back because in case you haven't realized, YOUR HAIR IS ON FIRE! No, wait, YOUR HAIR IS FIRE! For chaos's sake, are you okay? You're not burning yourself like that, are you?"
She blinked and tilted her head. "Discord, it's just an illusion, calm down." Her look softened. "Is that…is that really the only reason you backed away?"
"Uh, yeah, it's the big one that comes to mind." He finally retook his seat. "Sheesh, I was just deciding whether to snap up a large snow ball or a spray bottle of seltzer to put you out when you went and made that 'monster' comment." He frowned a little. "Take it from someone who's been in a bad place, who's really been a villain: viewing yourself as a monster doesn't do anyone any good." He smiled a little. "Besides, Tia, you kind of look nice both ways."
'Daybreaker' sighed dryly. "I look like I'm going to pillage a town with the heat of a thousand suns."
"Oh, don't be so dramatic," Discord replied with a chuckle, resting his head on his paw as he observed her. "The hair color's kind of fun even if the flames are a little unnerving—you ever think about giving yourself a dye job? All the young mares these days are doing it."
"Discord…" Celestia rolled her eyes.
"The armor's kind of cool too. You should trot something like that out for special occasions." He gestured to the sharp shoes and intense yoke.
"I'll get right on that…" She rubbed her temple…but her lip was curving up slightly.
"And I'm a fan of that cutie mark 2.0 you've got going on—very edgy." He grinned widely. "You look less like a villain and more like the mascot for a really cool sunscreen ad. Surf's up!" He snapped to put himself in swim trunks and holding a surfboard. Then he leaned in close to her and whispered with a grin, "And by the way, even if you were villainous, 'the day shall last forever' has one fatal flaw as a master plan—curtains. Seriously, they block the sun and they're everywhere." He winked.
And that was all it took to finally make Daybreaker's smile become complete and for Celestia's warm laughter to overtake her.
Discord laughed too as he snapped away the surf gear and took a cookie for himself. "There we go: got you to laugh. Always a favorite accomplishment of mine, grim Celestia."
Celestia's laughter slowly managed to subside. "If anyone could make me laugh about this, it's you. Luna knew it, and I think I did too, deep down." She let out a deep, relaxing breath. "Thank you, Discord."
"Always a pleasure to be of service," he replied as he polished off his cookie in one bite then took another one with his tail. "So then, you're afraid of other ponies finding out about the idea of you like this? Celestia, really, what an ego."
"It's not about me, Discord." She shook her head. "It's about them…" Her dark eyes lowered. "The ponies look at me as a constant source of stability. Maybe I'm not as active about saving Equestria anymore as Twilight, but as long as I'm there and okay in the background as usual, most ponies feel safe. It's like they see me as some uninterrupted string of good…and I'm not sure they could handle the idea that I could do something bad."
"I see. And how are you handling the idea that you could do something bad?"
She blinked and looked up at Discord.
He gave her a dry look in return as he polished off his cookie. "Celestia…" he lowered his voice, "we can make this conversation subject to club rules—nothing you say ever leaves this cottage. Chaos master's honor."
She nodded. "Okay." She swallowed. "Sometimes it just…feels like I'm 'due', Discord. Like I'm waiting to find the crack in who I am. And I'm so powerful." She cringed a little. "And I know all of Equestria's defense secrets, and I know how to get to every other leader. If I…lost my way…who could stop me in time before it was too late?" She tried to laugh as she shook her head. "It's stupid, really. I know I'm not going to…but still, I… I never looked that angry side of myself in the face until now. She scared me."
Discord nodded. "Well, first of all, in the exceedingly unlikely event you went rogue, the rest of us would have the power of friendship on our side to get you back to normal. Second of all, you couldn't get to every leader at once, so I'm sure we'd get our act together about stopping you before all the other princesses were out of commission. And third I think Daybreaker only scares you so much because you feel like you have to wait until she's real to face her. But you don't, Celestia. You can face the idea of her right now just like I'm sure you did in that dream. And you can face other ponies knowing about her too." He shrugged and leaned on the table. "Your little subjects have evolved quite a bit over the centuries, Tia. They don't seem to expect perfection anymore—they're capable of unconditional love. And that includes loving you no matter what; even if you have issues you need to work through that happen to involve some wacky alter ego. Okay?"
She just sat there with wide eyes for a moment.
"Celestia?" Discord raised an eyebrow.
Then Celestia lunged across the table and wrapped up Discord in a tight hug.
The chaos master's eyes bugged out.
"Oh Discord…thank you," Celestia said softly with a big smile.
And then Discord started to turn red—whether from the hug or the flaming hair was debatable.
"Uh, T-Tia? Celestia!" He was starting to sweat (that reaction, at least, was definitely from the hair). "Can you turn down the furnace a little?"
"Huh?" Celestia blinked and looked up at him, saw the smoke now coming out of his ears, and gasped. "Oh, sorry! I forgot the illusion still has the heat of a fire even if there's no actual flame." She pulled back and used her magic to cast away the illusion so that she was her normal self once more. "Better?" She smiled.
"Well, I'm not dying of heatstroke anymore, so, yes…" Discord snapped up a large purple palm frond to fan himself then snapped it away. "Anyway, glad you made a breakthrough. Guess I am a pretty good club president. I think I've found my calling." He tried to grin smugly but it came off more as a shy, proud smile than anything else.
"I think you have too, Discord." Celestia's eyes hazed warmly as her own smile grew.
Discord couldn't help his own eyes hazing as well. "Stroking my ego—I knew I picked well when I chose you as my club vice president."
Celestia laughed softly again. "And I knew I'd end up happier than I was once I came here." She swallowed; for a moment her smile faded. "Discord?"
"Mmm hmm?" His eyes were still hazed. He really had always been a sucker for compliments, especially from ladies…
"You really thought of yourself as a monster in the past?" she finished quietly.
Discord blinked, his eyes wide at the sudden question.
She went on quickly. "When you told me not to think of myself as one, it sounded like you were speaking from personal experience. But I'm almost surprised to hear that." The sun princess shifted in her seat and took another cookie to play with. "In the past, you acted so confident, like you believed in your side and yourself so much." She frowned now. "Was it that we made you feel like a monster back then? Because if we did, I'm so sorry, Discord, reall—Mmph!" Celestia stopped when Discord snapped to make the whole cookie fly into her mouth.
He was looking down a bit, his expression unreadable. "You made me feel…unwanted…like most creatures did. But you didn't make me feel like a monster. I'd felt like that all on my own for a long time before I met you. I couldn't find my place in the world, and it made me so upset with myself that I got angry enough to try and make a place for myself no matter who I hurt. Simple as that."
Celestia finally got the cookie chewed enough to swallow it and reached across the table to touch his paw with her hoof. "You belong, Discord. I'm sorry Luna and I didn't have the patience to see that in the past and help you."
Discord took a deep breath and fought back the heat trying to enter his features at her sudden touch and words. "Yeah, well…" he mumbled (in a shy tone that he inwardly cursed), "I guess…"
Celestia's smile grew. "You know, even back then…I sort of wanted to be friends with you. Some of your jokes made me smile." She laughed softly. "Like the time you turned all of the castle guards' shields into banana cream pies. It wasn't nice, but it wasn't dangerous—and it was sort of funny."
His wide eyes now came up to meet her gaze. "You…thought about being friends with me?"
She nodded. "Of course. Back then and even afterwards sometimes." A faint pink blush entered her cheeks. "That thousand years gave me a lot of time to think, Discord. I just wasn't sure how to ask you about being friends…at least, not until the girls came along and I realized they were the key."
"Oh," was all Discord could manage, mesmerized by the actual sight of a blush in her pale features and the fact that they were still holding hands/hooves and the sudden full realization that they were alone in his house late at night.
Celestia kept looking into his eyes, her gaze gentle and inviting.
Then suddenly both of them blinked and pulled back their arms, looking down with flustered expressions.
"Yeah, well," Discord coughed, "it's uh…it's nice that we're friends now."
Celestia nodded, pushing her hair back and clearing her throat. "Yes, it is. I'm glad we had this talk, Discord."
"Me too." He swallowed and twiddled his thumbs together on the table.
Celestia's normal serene smile returned and she stood up. "Well…it really is late. I'm probably keeping you up now. I should get going."
"Oh." Discord nodded. "Well, if you have to." He bit his lip. "I mean, I don't mind you being here. You're welcome here whenever you'd like—not that I'm insisting, that's just my general policy for all of my friends." He shrugged as casually as he could manage.
"Really?" She raised an eyebrow but then smiled more when she saw his smile. "Well…actually, I was planning to have my usual midnight snack when I got back to the castle. But you and I could just have it here...as long as you don't mind some cake to go along with the cookies." She lit up her horn, and a triple layer chocolate cake appeared on a platter between them.
"As long as you don't mind chocolate milk to wash it all down with." Discord snapped and made two glasses appear with crazy straws.
They shared a laugh then started to serve themselves.
"This is nice, Discord. I mean, our club meetings with Luna are nice too, but you and I still don't really get to spend a lot of quality time together. We should do this more often." She sipped some of the chocolate milk and smiled more. "Delicious as usual, Discord."
"Thanks." He cleared his throat, smiling more. "And…I think this is nice too. Spending time together like this is an interesting way to finally explore our friendship, see where it goes." He dunked a bite of cake in chocolate milk then ate it; his look brightened. "By the way, this cake is pretty delicious too, Tia."
"Thank you." Celestia held her head up proudly.
"And, um…you're pretty enjoyable too, Sunny," Discord added with a shy shrug, then he quickly went on. "Don't let it get around, but…I think I really did miss you too, Celestia, when I was away… Even despite all the grimness, you can still be kind of fun to be around when you relax. Who knew?"
She beamed a little as she ate another bite.
Discord held back a chuckle then grinned. "Hey you know what this midnight snack needs?"
"Ice cream?" "Ice cream!" they said at once.
Instantly the two friends broke into laughter as Discord snapped up ice cream in all different colors for them while Celestia used her magic to make spoons appear.
"I say the club portion of our time together is officially over, and the purely friendly portion of our time together has begun!" the chaos master announced. "Let's put your infamous sweet tooth to the test against mind and see who comes out on top, Princess!"
"I second the motion." A look of fiery determination came to the sun princess's features.
"Then let's get going, 'Daybreaker', and don't say I didn't warn you." He winked at her.
"Don't say I didn't warn you either, Dissy." She winked back at him.
Discord blushed for a moment but then smiled more as they both dug in, laughing and sharing little jokes. Celestia even turned back into Daybreaker for a moment to use her flame hair to singe a nice crust onto fried ice cream for both of them.
All in all, it was a happy night that left both Celestia and Discord at peace about the issues that had been plaguing them. And what better help could a friendship be to two people?
Somewhere in the wilds on the outskirts of Equestria, a familiar figure suddenly snorted as she awoke with a start. The former changeling queen raised her head and glanced around the dark, empty landscape with a snarl. "I just got the strongest scent of potential love brewing…from another dimension?" She hissed and shook her head. "Oh yes, that makes so much sense. Must have been an idiotic dream. That's the last time I absorb love from a parasprite before I go to bed." She nestled back onto her rough patch of grass. "Stupid exile…" Chrysalis grumbled before falling back asleep, snoring loudly.
And that's the end! Thank you all again for reading!
Also, just to be clear, the misunderstanding with Celestia at the start isn't a dig against Luna/Discord shipping ^^ -I just thought her thinking they were dating would be a funny thing for her to accidentally think considering all the ribbing Discord's had to put up with about Celestia secretly liking him lol.
Take care, everyone!