Hey everyone! Sorry this is a little late, I tried my best to get it up for Valentine's Day ^^ Anyway, I hope you all enjoy the conclusion to the Donut Nights storyline. : ) Thank you for reading!
Donut Nights 4: Hearts and Hooves Day Redux
Questions and Answers
The time was midnight of Hearts and Hooves Day evening. And of course anypony searching for the princess of the night knew she could be found in the one establishment still lit up in Canterlot at this hour: Donut Joe's Donut Shop.
Inside, Princess Luna sat on her familiar stool at the counter, taking a deep sip of coffee from a big mug while Donut Joe watched her and grinned. "I haven't figured out yet if you can put away so much strong coffee because you're an alicorn or just because you're you and so very unstoppable." He chuckled as he sipped from his own mug and took a donut from the almost empty platter on the counter.
Luna finally lowered her large mug and smiled in return. "My coffee drinking skills must just extend from the fact that I am 'so very unstoppable', as you say. My sister can barely manage two sips, you know: she doesn't even drink caffeinated tea. I believe she thinks it would make her personality a little too intense." She brought a hoof to her chin and looked up in thought.
Donut Joe's eyes hazed. "Well, that's her business, I guess. But personally I like intense princesses."
Luna lowered her eyes and giggled softly. "Joe of the Donuts…"
He leaned across the counter to gently nuzzle heads with her. "I wish you didn't have more work to do. I know how tired you get from this holiday. It's really swell of you to do so much for everypony, but still…I wish you could rest now."
"Rest with you, you mean…" she added in a whisper. "Tis truly the most romantic of nights, after all. But I shall return for you in the morning when my work is done, my love, and then…" Her smile grew as his blush deepened.
Donut Joe cleared his throat and finally pulled himself out of his daze. "And then…" he continued for her gently, "…you are going to have a well-deserved rest and a proper breakfast. You need to take care of yourself. But afterwards…." he blushed and smiled again, "we can use our time travel spell and relive the holiday so we can have our own special Hearts and Hooves Day together."
"A special day I am looking forward to very much." The night princess used her magic to make the scroll with the time travel spell appear.
"Me too." Donut Joe nodded as he wiped some crumbs from the counter with a small towel. "But for now I'm responsible for giving you your annual Hearts and Hooves Day midnight snack and for entertaining you during your small break. Want me to tell you another story about when Twilight Sparkle was little and used to come in here for late night study sessions? I'd offer to watch baby Spike for her, and she'd always be so grateful. But boy could that little dragon and that powerful little unicorn get into shenanigans." He chuckled.
Luna laughed too as she made their spell disappear. "Perhaps later. I'm afraid now I really must depart. I want to be done with my work as quickly as possible so that I can return to you for good that much sooner."
Donut Joe's eyes hazed and he pouted playfully. "Oh, but I just set a fresh batch of donuts to fry, and they should be done right about…" a ding came from the kitchen, "now." He smirked with a gleam in his eye. "Dark Chocolate Cherry Filled Black Forest Ursa Major Claw. Your favorite…"
Luna's eyes brightened. "Well…perhaps I could linger for just one." She stood up from her seat and sauntered behind the counter, magically making an apron and chef's hat appear on herself.
The baker pony grinned dreamily then used his magic to open the kitchen door for her. "Lovely ladies first…"
Luna strode past him with a small giggle. "And charming gentlecolts second…"
He followed after her at a light trot.
The kitchen was warm and full the scent of sweet donuts frying. For a moment Donut Joe was distracted by the memories he had made over the last couple of years with Luna back here: baking and flirting early in the mornings or late at night. He shook his head to clear the sweet recollections as he used his magic to raise up the basket of donuts from the fryer. "Careful, they're still hot. We'll have to wait a minute…"
"You know I'm not a patient mare though, Joe of the Donuts…" Luna smirked a little as she moved closer to him. "How do you plan to entertain me while we wait?"
He gulped and felt the magic of something far beyond friendship soar through him. "Well, I figured I'd get real close to you like this," he took a big step toward her that made her giggle, "then I'd be really charming and tell you you're the greatest mare any pony could spend Hearts and Hooves Day with…" Luna nodded shyly, "and then…whatever you wanted." He glanced up at her with a big smile.
Luna melted. "Well, in that case, my dear stallion…" She came forward and set her lips to his.
Donut Joe kissed back, meeting her strength as best he could to stay balanced. Fortunately he'd had many chances to develop such a skill at this point in their relationship: he even managed to raise a foreleg to gently stroke through her mane.
Eventually they pulled back, breathing shallowly. Donut Joe chuckled. "I know technically our anniversary is around Hearthswarming, but this holiday is the first one where you realized how much I liked you and started thinking about liking me too. That counts as some kind of anniversary too, right?"
Luna sighed with a happy smile. "Oh yes, I think it must. In fact, I like to think of that night as sort of a first date."
Donut Joe grinned. "Happy First Date Anniversary then, Luna baby."
She rested her forehead against his. "Leaving you that first Hearts and Hooves Day evening was hard enough. But leaving you tonight will be a great feat of willpower for me. Only knowing that we have our own special holiday to look forward to soon could tempt me away from you right now."
He smiled proudly. "I'll miss you too. But at least I managed to get your favorite donut made for you in time before you have to leave. This way you get to taste it fresh, just like I planned." He floated one of the lovely chocolate donuts toward her and looked down sheepishly. "I'm sorry for not sending you off with something flashier for Hearts and Hooves Day. I mean, when we relive it when you get back, I've got some things planned to do, but…"
"Joe," Luna caught his eyes, her gaze tender, "what do trinkets matter when I have you? Besides, you fill your donuts with love and care—eating them makes me happier inside than some flashy gift ever would." She shrugged with a light blush. "After all, would you prefer I had the castle staff send you over carriages and coffers of bits as gifts…or that I just visit you in your dreams sometimes as a special sort of gift?"
"The second one. Definitely." He smiled a little more easily again. "I love you, Luna."
"And I thee." Luna took the donut with her magic. "Split it with me? After the three donuts I already had, I don't think I'll be able to fly if I eat this one whole too."
They shared a laugh, split the donut with their magic, then popped each half into their mouths and swallowed.
"You've got some chocolate right there…" they said at once as they each reached forward with the ends of their aprons to dab at the other's mouth. When they were done they pulled back with another laugh.
"Farewell for now, Joe." Luna kissed him on the cheek. "And promise me you'll take some time to sleep while I'm away. I want you well-rested for our private holiday as well."
"You got it, Luna love." He winked then began to clean up the kitchen as Luna made her apron disappear and headed out to the front. She waved over her shoulder with a loving look. "I'll return for thee soon, darling."
Donut Joe waved back at her with a goofy grin. "I'll definitely be waiting." As she disappeared he sighed to himself and finished putting away the uneaten donuts and cleaning the pans. Then he peeked his head out into the shop once more, made sure Luna was definitely gone, and dashed upstairs to his little apartment over the store.
Donut Joe's room was small but cozy, and the baker pony quickly settled into bed and closed his eyes. He knew he'd only have a few hours until Luna returned. And with the romantic atmosphere of this night and the rare chance to have a dream when he was absolutely sure she wouldn't be able to visit since she was so busy, he was eager to fall into slumber and relive a secret dream he'd been having ever since last Nightmare Night when they had confessed their love: a sweet dream he was far too shy to mention to her and that he worried might upset the delicate balance they had formed between their two very different lives. Yet it was a dream he liked too much to give up. So as long as Luna never saw, he figured pursuing it was okay.
Donut Joe soon fell into a deep and happy rest.
Meanwhile, in the airspace above Canterlot, the chaos master Discord sat on a large pink cloud in the night sky overlooking the castle. A table magically floated before him bearing a pink and blue chequered tablecloth, an upside down candelabra, two dishes covered with silver lids, and a vase with a single blue rose. He twiddled his thumbs as he waited, staring at the empty seat across from him, then finally pouted and started to mumble. "She's never actually going to come. I'm an idiot, I should have just kept my big mouth shut and the day would have passed like any other. But no, Discord, you and your ridiculously sappy reformed heart had to at least try. You had to send Celestia a last-minute note asking her to meet you out here and share a Hearts and Hooves Day dinner! And for what? So you could tempt the affections of a silly mare!" He huffed, but then went on more gently. "A silly…smart…sort of funny…sort of pretty…sort of nice to be around mare." His scowl went away. "I hope this isn't a mistake."
"Ah!" Discord jumped in the air and looked across the table again.
A smiling Celestia was hovering close to the cotton candy cloud, and now she landed on the opposite side of the table. "Hello."
"Uh…" Discord swallowed then quickly regained his composure. "Hi." He cleared his throat as he resumed his seat. "I mean, hey…" he added as casually as he could manage.
Used to his endearing aloofness, Celestia only smiled more. "Thank you for inviting me up here, Discord." She blushed lightly. "I almost thought you'd forgotten about the holiday."
He scoffed and grinned. "Who could forget with all the decorations and the announcements and the cards being handed out? Plus of course tonight is the infamous annual Las Pegasus Hearts and Hooves Day bash. I thought we'd swing by there at some point later so I could show off the prettiest mare in Equestria." He winked.
Celestia laughed warmly. "How thoughtful, Discord."
He swallowed and rolled his eyes to the side as he added, "But first, you know…I figured we could stay here for a while. I made dinner." He snapped to push in their chairs toward the table.
Celestia glanced down at her platter with a curious smile. "What did you make?"
He shrugged. "Nothing special really. They're just magical plates. When you lift off the cover, what you want most for dinner will magically appear there. I figured this way we could both have what we like, no one has to settle, and I get to show off my magic skills all at once." He smirked.
Celestia smirked back. "That's very clever, Discord." Her horn glowed. "Shall we both lift our plate covers at the same time?"
"Sounds good to me, princess. I'm famished." He held up his fingers. "One, two, three…"
He snapped to raise his plate cover as Celestia used her magic to raise hers.
On Celestia's plate appeared a big hay burger with all the trimmings, fries with honey mustard glaze, and a blue cheese salad. On Discord's plate appeared some blue polka-dot pancakes, chili peppers covered in chocolate sauce, and apple slices that were fruit flesh on the outside and all skin on the inside.
Discord chuckled as he glanced at Celestia's food. "You are secretly such a junk food addict."
Celestia grinned as she glanced at Discord's food. "And you still have an odd aversion to balanced meals."
"You have no idea…" He snapped and made his food appear on one side of a wobbling scale.
They both shared a laugh as he snapped his plate back to normal.
"And now the piece du resistance," Discord added as he snapped again. Two long stem glasses of sparkling cider appeared on the table.
Celestia blinked at the sight and blushed slightly as she looked to him.
Discord's widened a little when he caught her gaze, and he blushed too. But then he cleared his throat and managed a nonchalant smile again. "I just thought we might as well drink in style…all things considered."
A soft smile returned to Celestia's features. "How thoughtful. I think you've set a lovely table, Discord." She magically raised her glass. "Here's to a nice meal together."
Discord smiled a little again too and nodded. He raised his glass with the end of this tail. "Happy to be appreciated. And yes, here's to a nice meal."
They clinked glasses and started to eat.
After their initial bites of the delicious food, Discord and Celestia's smiles mellowed. They continued to eat…but, oddly, no conversation followed. Every time Discord's eyes met Celestia's, he would quickly look away, and every time Celestia found herself glancing curiously at Discord for too long she'd blush and look down.
Then finally Celestia sighed. "I'm starting to think my bedroom is enchanted."
"Huh?" Discord blinked and looked up from staring down into his cider.
She smiled. "I just realized that's the only place we've ever spent time a long time alone at night, and when we're there we talk to each other for hours without even realizing it. But up here we're as quiet as Angel Bunny." Her grin turned a little sheepish as she added, "Also, it feels like you've been avoiding me for the last few days except for the note I got from you a little while ago asking me to this dinner. And now that we're finally together again, you seem a bit uneasy. Is there something wrong, Discord? Are you having some kind of problem you want to talk about?"
"What? No!" He blushed and played with his food. "Of course not…"
"Then did we have a fight I don't know about?" Celestia smiled faintly.
"No, no…" Discord rolled his eyes. "Come on, you know me—passive aggressive isn't my style."
"Then are you not feeling well?" She tilted her head.
He shook his head. "Hey, I'm Discord. As far as I know, tatzulwurms are the only thing that get me sick, and I've steered clear of those since that misadventure with Twilight and Cadance."
Celestia bit her lip. "Then…have I been doing something to make you uncomfortable?"
His eyes widened. "Celestia, be serious…"
He looked into her eyes for a moment. Then the chaos master sighed. "Okay…okay, look, I'm going to tell you what the problem is. But there are some conditions—one, you won't laugh. And two—you won't go giggling and gossiping to everypony about it. Deal?"
Celestia nodded. "Of course, Discord. You have my word. What's on your mind?"
He took a deep breath. "Okay, so…you and I are…you know… 'whatever' together…" He blushed.
She held back a small giggle. "Yes, I know…"
He went on. "And then this holiday comes up, and it's about people who are…you know… 'whatever' together. But I'm not good with mushy stuff. So I thought maybe I could get away with just ignoring Hearts and Hooves Day. Except I started to feel a little guilty…which is an emotion I'm capable of now apparently." He crossed his arms over his chest. "So then I was hanging out with Donut Joe, trying to take my mind off of it, but he asked what our plans were, and I explained my strategy. But, well…he said it wasn't very nice. He said I didn't have to do anything extravagant but how would I feel if I really wanted to celebrate and you were the one avoiding me. So then I realized I wanted to do something because, you know…I kind of care about you. So I came up with this dinner idea." He sighed deeply. "But there's still all of the romantic pressure of this holiday, and I'm still not good with emotions, and I just want to make you happy without making myself incredibly uncomfortable." He threw his arms in the air then rubbed his temple. "Honestly, Luna and the donut pony make this Hearts and Hooves Day stuff sound so easy. I don't know how they manage." He finally looked up at his companion again; he blinked. "Celestia?"
Her horn was glowing, and now in a burst of magic she teleported them so they were sitting side by side at the table instead of across from each other. She smiled brightly at him. "Discord…" her eyes hazed, "…Donut Joe was right—I don't care about anything extravagant for Hearts and Hooves Day. All I care about is spending time with you and knowing that you want to spend time with me too." She lowered her hoof, leaned in, and nuzzled her head alongside his.
Discord blushed completely, eyes wide. "I…"
"You…" Celestia continued softly, blushing, "…are sarcastic, and clever, and smart, and funny…and also kind and gentle and sweet. And I love the fact that you don't want to hide that 'mushy' side all the time anymore, especially with me."
The chaos master was starting to regain some of his composure, though the fact that she was half-pressed alongside him wasn't helping. He sighed with a small smile. "You sentimental princess—see, this is what I was afraid of. Now we're in this big awkward moment on this big awkward holiday and I don't know what to do."
She laughed softly and pulled back. "Oh Discord…" She swallowed and looked forward. "You know, you aren't the only one who was nervous about this holiday."
He raised an eyebrow.
She blushed slightly and continued. "I wasn't sure what to expect for us either. I never had the opportunity to spend a Hearts and Hooves Day with a gentlepony caller. But even if I wasn't sure what we might do, I did want to spend tonight with you."
He crossed his arms and tilted his head. "So basically what you're saying is we were both just being silly again—feeling almost the same thing but not talking to each other about it and getting all worked up." He smiled slightly and actually played with a few curls of her hair. "Well, at least we can both be ridiculous with each other without feeling embarrassed."
She giggled. "You know, I have a suggestion for the rest of our night together that will probably make us both happy."
"Why don't we just enjoy the holiday as friends—no pressure, no nerves, no confusing expectations. What do you say?" Celestia held out her hoof.
Discord smiled. "You'd really be okay with that?"
"If it means we can actually talk during the rest of the meal, then yes, absolutely." She smiled playfully. "Besides, there'll be plenty of other nights we can be more than friends."
Discord chuckled and shook her hoof. "You've got a deal." They separated. "Now then, let's get back to eating and then we can eat the table—it's made of cake you know."
Celestia's eyes brightened. "Really?"
He winked, and they shared a laugh. The meal went on, both diners finally perfectly at ease.
Luna soared high over Canterlot not long after leaving Donut Joe's shop. Yes, she still had dreamers to tend to, but what she hadn't told Donut Joe was that she had gotten a very early start on her work for this evening in order to guarantee that they might have some time together even before their private Hearts and Hooves Day. And right now she was far enough ahead on taking care of her subjects that could take some time to surprise a very special pony by visiting him in his dreams.
Luna landed on a large cloud overlooking the donut shop with a smile. "He'll never be expecting me tonight." She giggled to herself. "What a wonderful surprise, and such a romantic one too. Visiting your dreams is almost as wonderful as being with you in real life, my love." She closed her eyes, opened them to reveal a cerulean glow, and entered the realm of dreams.
Naturally, Luna sensed Donut Joe's dreams rather quickly since she had led herself to his sleeping thoughts so many times before. She gently nudged open the door of his dream at first and peeked inside as a show of respect for his privacy and to make sure she didn't happen upon an embarrassing dream or a nightmare. Luna smiled at the sight before her though: it was Joe's rooftop under moonlight—this was the setting he almost always chose for dreams about her. Luna entered the dream door and closed it behind her, whispering to herself. "He must be over the ridge of the roof. Won't he be happy to have me enter to sit with and hold and kiss instead of a figment of his imagination." She silently crept over peeked beyond the roof's edge.
Her eyes and smile were bright at first: there was Donut Joe and his dream figment of her.
Donut Joe moved closer and took the dream Luna's hoof. Luna herself was about to come out of her hiding place but she paused when Donut Joe did something she'd never seen him do before; something very confusing.
He knelt down on his other foreleg and gazed up at the dream Luna.
"…So, Luna baby, Luna love, Lady Luna, only mare for me…I guess what I'm trying to say is…would you marry me, my princess of the moon?"
The real Luna's eyes widened. Her smile was gone
The dream Luna gasped but then her eyes brightened. "Oh, Joe I…Oh yea and verily we shall!" She pounced on him in a big hug.
And then the dreamscape shifted to lovely part of the castle courtyard. But by now the dream had sensed the real Luna's presence, and so instead of being an onlooker the princess of the night now found herself standing beside Donut Joe; he, dressed in a tux and top hat, and she in a long dress of white and lavender with moon flowers in her hair. Luna gasped lightly, frozen to the spot, her legs shaking a little as a pony official suddenly appeared before them. "I now pronounce you stallion and wife. You may kiss the bride." Fanfare started as Donut Joe turned to look at her and she to him.
His eyes were hazed dreamily. "Luna—I'll cherish you for as long as we have together. I always wanted to be a husband…to get married…and then I found you, and now here we are. I love you. And no matter what happens, I know we'll both be happy now and forever." And then, tears at the corners of his eyes as he smiled, Donut Joe leaned in to kiss her and seal their union.
Luna jumped back, tears in her eyes too, but she wasn't smiling.
Donut Joe blinked and raised an eyebrow. "Luna? What's up? You're never so skittish in this dream…" He grinned and moved closer. "You were just as excited as you always are when I proposed to you before."
Luna blushed so deeply that it showed up bright against her midnight blue coat. "Joe…" she knew he might be mad—she remembered the time she had admitted to sneaking into his intimate dreams and how it had led to their first fight on the same Hearthswarming they had finally gotten together. But still, she couldn't play out this dream. She felt so embarrassed and nervous and the tears in her eyes were getting heavier. "I…Joe, it's me. The true me. I came to surprise you in your dreams. But I didn't realize you…"
He watched her thoughtfully for a moment but then realization clearly dawned on him, and he stepped back and blushed. "Luna! My real Luna. Oh boy…" He tugged at his collar, glanced around nervously, then quickly looked back at her. "Luna, I…this…" Then he took a deep breath. "We should probably talk about this, huh?"
Luna blinked a couple of times and brushed the tears from her eyes then suddenly put on a too-cheery smile. "Oh, yes, sure, of course, I just… Right now though I have to go. I really have to leave, I'm afraid. I…I have so many duties and…" Suddenly she noticed her wedding dress again and quickly willed away that part of the dream. "I need to leave, right now. I love you. Goodbye." And then she disappeared.
In the real world, Donut Joe woke up in his bed with a start, breathing heavily. Everything from the dream processed, and then he glanced around desperately. "Luna?" He got up and opened his window and looked outside. "Luna?"
No one answered him.
Donut Joe sighed deeply and returned to his bed. He sat in the dark and rubbed the side of his head, his eyes closed. "I should never have let myself keep having that dream. I knew it would hurt her if she saw it. She never seems okay whenever anyone brings up stuff about marriage around us." He lay down with a frown and gazed at the moon as he took some time to think about what he should say when he saw Luna next and also the best way to make sure to see her as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, Luna was now in the castle standing outside of her sister's room. She opened the door but blinked—Celestia's bed was empty. Luna teleported to the hallway with her sister's study and pushed open the door. Again, the room was empty. Luna teleported to the sky over the castle and scanned the grounds—no Celestia. But then her gaze traveled upward and she found her sister: Celestia was sitting on a large cloud at a table with none other than Discord. And the two were smiling and sharing what looked like a romantic meal.
Luna quickly hid herself behind a cloudbank below them and sighed. "I cannot interrupt my sister now. This is the first time I've ever seen her indulge in a Hearts and Hooves Day date. And she and Discord are having such a good time." She glanced back at them as they shared a laugh. She smiled a little. "So simple: just like things were for Joe and I at first." But then she frowned and glanced down. "I've always suspected marriage was important to him. He tries to brush off the subject whenever others casually mention it, but I've had a feeling he just wanted to spare my feelings." She shut her eyes tight. "He is the love of my life. But I just can't… I can love him, I can spend time with him, I can know we belong together…but I don't know if I can actually be his wife." Her eyes opened and she blushed quickly. "I didn't realize his need for that commitment was so strong and immediate, but now that I know, what do I do?" She took a deep breath then spread her wings. "I cannot think on this now. And I cannot be distracted by the fact that I can't talk to my sister about the situation either. I have subjects who need me. I'll tend to them."
She flew off to find a private place to enter the realm of dreams and tried not to feel her heart grow heavier at the idea of all the happy, normal couples whose lives she'd have to brush against in her work.
Up on their cloud, Celestia and Discord were just finishing the last of their dinner (complete with a few scrumptious bites of cake table).
Celestia dabbed at her mouth with her napkin and smiled. "Well, that was delicious, Discord. Thank you for the lovely meal."
"You are quite welcome, and thank you for the charming company." He finished off his glass of cider with a satisfied sigh. "Doing this was definitely better than spending the whole holiday awkwardly avoiding you."
Celestia laughed softly. "I'm glad you had a good time." She spread her wings. "And I suppose you'll want to get going to the Las Pegasus Hearts and Hooves Day party now. I'm a bit tired, but I'm up for at least a little socializing with the chaos master. And since you made the meal, I'll do the honors of getting us there." She powered up her horn for a teleportation spell.
Discord held out his paw then blinked and looked down almost shyly.
"Yes, Discord?" Celestia smiled as she stopped the glow of her magic.
He shrugged as his gaze wandered around the landscape. "You know…it's kind of nice out here, under the stars and everything. And it is Hearts and Hooves Day. So maybe we could just stay here together for a little while. If that's all right with you, I mean." He shrugged.
Celestia's smile picked up on one side. "That's very all right with me, Discord. Is there anything particular you wanted to talk about while we're here?"
He turned to her, even more aware of how close they were sitting. He blushed a lot then cleared his throat. "I don't know. I guess this dinner went so well, that I was just thinking maybe a little bit of mushy alone time might not be the most awful thing to endure on this holiday. After all, we're special friends and you're a…and I'm a…"
"We're 'whatever' together." She tried not to laugh.
"Yeah…" And then he leaned over and gave her a quick peck on the cheek before pulling back with his arms crossed. "Happy Hearts and Hooves Day, Celestia."
Celestia's eyes brightened. She moved closer. "Discord, I'm very happy to be here with you tonight, just so you know. " She blushed a little and added, "Would it be all right if I hugged you—considering the holiday and everything?"
"I suppose," he sighed dramatically, yet when she wrapped her forelegs around him in one of her tender hugs he melted beneath her touch.
Celestia glanced up to see his face flushed red. "You're cute when you blush," she whispered to him.
Discord blinked then rolled his eyes. "Oh Celestia really…" But his blushing persisted. And he smiled a little again.
Celestia's smile grew. "I think you're warming up to the idea of the romantic side of this holiday, Discord."
"Well…" the chaos master started, some of his normal suaveness returning, "Maybe it's really not so bad once you just accept the mushiness and let go of trying to fight it." He twirled his beard in thought, an eyebrow raised. "Actually maybe that's the point of this holiday…"
"What do you mean?" Celestia tilted her head.
Discord's grin picked up on one side and he turned to her as she loosened her hold on him a little. "Well, I mean that maybe I've been approaching this holiday all wrong. Instead of letting it make me feel awkward, maybe it's the perfect excuse for indulging a little in mushiness. The disorder of a romantic night…"
And suddenly to Celestia's surprise the chaos master was the one holding her now, gazing into her eyes with his own full of playful fire.
Celestia's heart pounded. Only in her wildest dreams had she ever imagined Discord would actually approach this holiday as such a daring romantic. She suddenly felt that 'biology' aspect of their relationship kick into full gear. "Discord?" she managed with a curious smile.
"Go with me on this," he merely replied, holding her closer and dipping her back just a little. "Instead of letting this holiday push me around, I take control. I think about it as one night where no matter how crazy of a thing I do on our date, there's nothing to be embarrassed about because it's Hearts and Hooves Day—everyone's doing things that are crazy. One night where I have a perfect excuse not to be stubborn." His eyes narrowed a little. "One night where I can sweep you off your hooves and make sure this kooky thing we have going is one you'll never forget."
Celestia was perfectly flushed now. "Discord…" her voice actually cracked a little and she quickly cleared her throat and went on quickly, "Discord, I know you were so uncomfortable before and this is so sudden. You don't have to…"
"I know. But I want to…" he whispered back, a gleam in his eye. "I want to give you a romantic night…"
Celestia took a deep breath and smiled. "Why?"
"Hmm…" his voice was almost a purr, "because I like you."
And then he leaned in and gave Celestia a kiss she had only seen stallions give mares in movies. A kiss even more intense than the one he had given her a couple of Hearthswarmings ago to pay her back for the kiss she had given him to break the sleeping beauty spell. He pressed them close, planted his mouth on hers as he moaned and brought everything inside of her into a searing daze of romance and curiosity and excitement.
Eventually the chaos master pulled back, breathing heavily, and before Celestia could do anything more than grin as she tried to regain her bearings, he started placing kisses on her lips and cheeks and neck. "This is…so ridiculous. I'm supposed to be…ravaging the land with chaos…not making nice with ponies…getting all goofy on Hearts and Hooves Day…fraternizing with you in a way that would make the history books blush…"
"You could almost say it's…chaotic?" Celestia managed, her breath's shallow.
Discord's eyes met hers again and he held her even closer. "Oh, did I mention I like you!" And then all of the kisses were for her lips. "And I'm so tired of pretending it's no big deal…"
Celestia giggled between the kisses. "I like you too. I like you very much, Discord." She'd never had a romantic, passionate, spontaneous date on Hearts and Hooves Day, but now here she was in her companion's arms with each kiss of his lips bringing a new euphoric part to her experience.
"Tell me more…" He chuckled playfully between kisses that Celestia could barely keep up with.
She closed her eyes beaming. "I like you so much. Oh Discord, I…I love you!"
And then the kisses stopped.
It took Celestia a moment to process the halt in affection. Then she blinked open her eyes. "Discord?"
He still held her but he was frozen still, his face blank, his eyes unblinking.
"Discord?" she raised an eyebrow. "Is something wrong?"
"You…" left him in a squeak, "what did you just say…?"
"I…" Celestia furrowed her brow in thought and searched through the haze of the moment they'd just had, "I said…I said I like you. Then I said…I love…you. Oh…" Her eyes flew open wide as she blushed completely. "Discord, let me just explain, I—"
But the chaos master promptly turned red and snapped himself away.
"Oh!" Celestia fell forward onto the cloud but quickly righted herself. "Discord, wait! You don't understand!" But he didn't answer her. He was gone.
Celestia made the table disappear and stood up. "I have to find him. I have to find him right now." She let out a deep sigh and rubbed her temple with her hoof, her eyes closed. "This is very bad… This is very, very, very, very bad…" Celestia then took off into the night sky in search of Discord.
Some time later, the night sky still covered Equestria, though Luna knew the time for dawn would be soon. Dawn meant the day after Hearts and Hooves Day—it meant moving on from the awkward panic she had stumbled into on this night. If her and Donut Joe's plans had worked out, she would have met with him now that her duties were done and they would have used their time spell to travel back to the previous dawn to enjoy the holiday for themselves for the first time.
But instead Luna found herself sitting alone in her room before her fireplace: the space dark except for the glow of moonlight through her window and the rich flames in her hearth. She hung her head and sighed. "Why do I always get so carried away when something upsets me? Why do I let little things upset me so much? Why do I ruin good things?" She cringed a little and took a deep breath: she knew all too well that going down that road of regret was little help to her. But still without her sister or her special somepony beside her to remind her of her better qualities, Luna found it hard not to settle into sadder thoughts.
"I am so tired of letting myself feel so alone, even when I have so many good ponies in my life." She stomped her hoof on the stone of the hearth, causing the embers to tremble. Luna let out a deep breath. "Was one normal Hearts and Hooves Day together really too much to ask of the fates?" She turned to look at the stars through her window. "Just give me a sign of what to do next. A hint? Anything?" She closed her eyes and held her breath.
She opened them a few seconds later—nothing in the room was different.
Luna sighed. "Yes, I suspected that wouldn't work. Even I cannot wish upon a star and have it come true." She held her head higher again. "I'm a grown pony. I need to make events happen in my life on my own."
Suddenly in a burst of magic a pony appeared in the air over her and collapsed on top of Luna, sending them both to the floor.
A stunned Luna struggled out from under the weight of her visitor and turned to see none other than Donut Joe lying on the floor.
"Ow…" He winced, eyes closed as he lifted and rubbed his head. "Okay, I officially accept that I'm clearly not meant to be one of those fancy teleporting unicorns. But I hope I'm at least near the castle this time—" When Donut Joe opened his eyes to the sight of a wide-eyed princess, he blinked and jumped up. "Luna! Oh finally I made it!" He laughed and held out a hoof to help her up.
"Made it?" Luna hesitated and raised an eyebrow. "I don't understand…"
Donut Joe beamed in some pride. "I teleported here from the donut shop." He shrugged sheepishly. "Okay, not directly here—it took me five or six jumps to places closing in on this place to get all the way here, and I had to rest a bit between each of them, but I made it."
Luna blinked and beamed. "Joe, that is wonderful!" She pulled herself up with his hoof and then wrapped him up with a hug. "You've been practicing with teleportation so much, I'm so proud you had such a great accomplishment tonight."
Donut Joe sighed and hugged her back gently. "Well, teleportation's the one advanced spell I practice a lot because it's the one that can get us together the quickest. And I guess I pushed myself to make it work tonight because I really wanted to see you, Luna. Really needed to see you…" He nuzzled his head to hers.
Luna let out a deep breath. "I think I really wanted to see you too, deep down. I…" She nuzzled him back but then pulled away and sat by the fire again, looking more concerned than ever.
Donut Joe let out a deep breath of his own and came closer. "Luna, we have to talk."
"Can't it wait? Please?" It was a question, but the firmness in her tone made it sound more like a statement of intent.
He shook his head and stood at her side. "Luna, I know you like to avoid awkward stuff, but you know the sooner you talk about it the better. It'll help."
"And you know it's best to give me space when I'm distraught," she replied with a frustrated pout.
"And you know that too much space makes you even more distraught. And that leaving you alone when you're not okay leaves me pretty distraught myself." Donut Joe pouted in frustration too. "We've had this conversation before…"
"Yes, about frivolous things, but not about—" she almost shouted back but then caught herself, stood, and walked away. "Never mind. I cannot explain what I mean."
"Yeah, you can." Donut Joe followed after her once more. "You're just convincing yourself you can't because it'll be hard to try. I need you to talk to me, Luna." His features softened. "Look, I'm sorry I never told you about that dream, and I'm sorry you found out about it like that. I know it upset you. And now I want to know why it upset you. Why anything about marriage upsets you?" He frowned. "Even when we just see a couple get married in a movie or when Discord makes jokes and calls us Mr. and Mrs. Donut, you get quiet and try to smile but I can tell it bothers you. And whatever part of it in particular bothers you, you shut me out and keep it to yourself." He swallowed. "If you won't tell me, I have a few guesses…"
Luna's eyes widened.
Donut Joe went on. "Sometimes I think it's about more than just our 'age difference'." 'Age difference was the polite term they had taken to calling the contrast between their life spans. "After all, we already made a lot of peace about that. Maybe you think about marriage too seriously to be okay with jokes about it, or maybe you're scared I'm going to spring a proposal on you without talking to you about it first." He looked down. "Or maybe you just don't think I'd be the best at helping you as an official prince."
Luna gasped and turned, frowning and scowling a little again. "N-Nay, I will not be treated as the only one keeping things to herself. What about you? You've never once mentioned the notion of betrothal to me in earnest. You've never made any direct comment on matrimony during our conversations or when something or someone else suggests the subject. It's just like when you cared for me during our friendship but never said so until I prompted you. So of course I am stunned when I come to surprise you in your dream and find myself in a dress at an altar with you speaking to me like such an event is something we've both knowingly looked forward to for ages." She blushed darkly though her anger still flared. "Perhaps you are the one who needs to talk more than I do." Some sadness came to her glare. "If you wanted something for our life together, you should just tell me."
Donut Joe blinked then swallowed, looking down guiltily. "I…well, I…I was just worried about upsetting you." He moved closer, sadness coming to his features as well. "Even little mentions of the idea from other people made you wince. Why would I bring something up if I knew it could be painful to you?"
"Because it's worse finding out this way that you want something I can't give you!" she finally yelled back, tears at the corners of her eyes.
"Luna…" Donut Joe's eyes widened and then he came forward and wrapped a foreleg around her, letting her rest her head on his shoulder as he felt some of her tears escape. "Shh…Hey…come on, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to fight. I just want to help you. Whatever it is, I just want to help."
Luna sniffled a couple of times then let out a deep breath. "You do. You help me so much. I'm sorry I fought too." She nuzzled close. "I could try to explain to you. But all of it might not come out right or right away. You know how long it takes me sometimes with things
I'm sensitive about."
"Yeah. And you know how stubborn I can be about being left out of the loop." He pulled back slightly to look into her eyes with a small smile. "Just tell me what you can until you feel better, okay?"
She took a deep breath and nodded. "First," her eyes met his, "you would be the best prince for me in a formal capacity." He went to open his mouth, but she held up her hoof and went on. "You are calm when I am carried away, you easily see to the simple heart of matters as I look at their complexities, you remind me I am worth respecting even when I sometimes feel my past denies me that simple right. The formalities—assisting with paperwork and policy—those can be easily taught. But the comfort and support you bring cannot. Please do not ever forget that, my Joe."
Donut Joe nodded as she lowered her hoof and smiled, blushing. "Okay. Thanks, Luna."
Luna smiled a little too. Then she sighed and looked down. "I know we've been together a couple of years now. And for most ponies that's the average pace of a deep relationship, but for me…this is all happening very quickly." She closed her eyes. "I'm used to centuries passing and…suddenly I find someone special and everything progresses and works out in barely two dozen moons." She took a deep breath as she opened her eyes. "It's like I went to sleep for that thousand years and woke up and everything in Equestria was different, and then I blinked and now I have you. Our time is precious, and I want to have everything with you, everything we both want but… what if…" She cringed. "I'm afraid of the seriousness of matrimony. What if we couldn't make such a commitment work? We can't live together, we can't spend every day together, our lives have different priorities. It works fine for courtship, but as stallion and wife? What if we resented each other?"
Donut Joe frowned again. "Luna…everyone has doubts like that. Everyone. Really. You could tell me. I have doubts too." He shrugged sheepishly. "That dream of mine is kind of an idealized version of a proposal and a wedding, but I know a real marriage would be a lot more complicated. But with time, we…"
"But that's just it!" She looked into his eyes. "Our time is limited—yet I still don't know what I want to do. And the guilt of keeping you waiting like that is almost unbearable. That is why I act strange whenever we encounter the subject of matrimony: it reminds me that I'm spending so much of that precious time in uncertainty. And how can I keep you waiting like that?" She shook her head. "I love you. I want you in my life in every way possible. How can I wait? And especially after seeing such a happy dream of yours…or even after seeing how you always smile and blush a little whenever something reminds us about matrimony—like you're waiting for me to have the same response."
Donut Joe's eyes widened. "Luna, I'm so sorry!" He came forward.
Luna blinked and almost smiled as she raised an eyebrow. "What?"
"I never realized that by not saying anything to you, I was letting you feel pressured." He tilted his head. "Luna, I don't care about the time or what society expects or how I thought that part of my life would go. I care about us. And I'd rather have you as a wife only for the time that you're ready—if you ever do feel ready—than to have you as a wife for more time when it doesn't feel right to you." He sighed. "This is a subject we didn't talk much about because both of us didn't want to hurt the other. But I think not talking about it and assuming a lot of things just hurt us more." He smiled a little. "Luna, we don't have to get into all the details now but…I want you to know that I'm happy with you. And even if I think or dream about a wedding sometimes, it doesn't mean you need to feel like you have to give me that dream. You already take care of helping everyone else with their sleeping thoughts, but you can relax when it comes to me—you don't have to fix this one, my Luna love. I promise."
Luna blushed as she looked into his eyes. The she furrowed her brow slightly in a pensive moment before she smiled a little and nodded. "I understand." She pointed at him with a slight pout. "And you must never think I doubt your capabilities as a husband. There has never been a stallion more fit for the job! And if everyone in the land wasn't asleep, I would declare it to them at once!"
Donut Joe blushed and glanced down with a sheepish grin. "Aw, Luna…"
She giggled softly. "Joe…" She moved closer. "I put much pressure on myself. And you take it all away. Thank you."
He smiled more. "Thank you too. I have doubts and get kind of shy sometimes but you always make me feel comfortable."
In the dimness of the room illuminated by the warm fire and moonlight, they shared a kiss.
When they pulled back Donut Joe grinned a little. "So, um…are we still on for using our spell and to have our private Hearts and Hooves Day? If you're up for it. I promise, all the surprises I planned and stuff don't have anything to do with getting married."
Luna smiled more and nodded. "I'd like that…" She turned and walked over to her bed, casting a hazed glance in his direction. "First though, I do believe I promised you I'd take a nap. And I am a little tired. And you must be too from all that teleporting. Perhaps you would be inclined too—"
Donut Joe charged up his horn one more time and teleported onto the far side of Luna's bed, tucked in the blankets. "Way ahead of you." He blushed a lot but smiled as he pulled back her side of the blanket for her.
Luna giggled and climbed in beside him, then used her magic to make her regalia disappear and to give Joe his usual pajamas. They cuddled close and closed their eyes.
Luna whispered. "I am very excited for our Hearts and Hooves Day together. It should be quite an adventure. It makes me curious how Discord and Celestia's has gone. I saw them eating in the clouds earlier. Did Discord say anything to you about his plans?"
Donut Joe grinned. "Just that his first strategy was to ignore the holiday out of fear of awkwardness. Don't worry, I convinced him to try a different approach. But can you imagine that? Avoiding a huge topic just so you don't get embarrassed?"
Luna giggled. "One would have to be extremely silly to go through all that…" She sighed and kissed his lips. "Goodnight, my Joe."
He kissed her lips in return. "Goodnight, Luna baby."
With final, easy sighs the couple settled in for a nice rest before sunrise and their little trip back through time.
Celestia searched every room of the castle for Discord, then every street of Ponyville (keeping a low profile to avoid running into a citizen and having to fake her way through an awkward conversation about why she was skulking around town on Hearts and Hooves Day night), and even peeked inside of Fluttershy's cottage: nothing. She popped by the Las Pegasus party—no chaos master. And finally she visited Donut Joe's shop (being careful not to accidentally interrupt him and her sister if they were there) but found the place dark and empty.
The sun princess was quite distraught at first until she realized there was one other place he might be. The location just hadn't occurred to her before because she had never been there herself. And so Celestia used all of her teleportation skills to send herself away from Equestria in a bright flash…
…And right into the heart of Discord's little dimension of Chaosville where she saw a slightly absurd cottage floating among the double helix rainbows and dancing flowers.
And sure enough, there was a light on inside.
Celestia flew over to the front door, braced herself, and gave a knock. "Discord? It's Celestia. I know you're home. Please let me in—we have to talk." She blushed a lot. "Oh!" And then she jumped back, hovering in the air as burst of magic made all the shutters close and the door bolt and a large sign appear on the outside that read, 'Not Accepting Visitors!'
Celestia blinked twice then pouted as she landed on his walkway again. "Discord, if you think this is going to keep me away, you're wrong. I care too much about our friendship. And if you could break into my private vault and steal the Elements of Harmony back when you first returned, I'm pretty sure I'm skilled enough to get past your front door."
At that point, a giant whipped cream pie jettisoned from the roof and landed right on top of Celestia, covering in a pile of white fluff with a cherry.
Celestia stood there wide eyed for a moment then wiped the cream from her face with her wing and glared at the house in determination. She tried to teleport inside but was instantly teleported back outside, she dodged flowers squirting chocolate syrup from the garden and a barrage of jelly beans raining from the gutters, tricked a guardian birdhouse into looking the other way so she could sneak past, and then finally rammed the front door with her full strength to bust it open, sending her tumbling inside. She then quickly righted herself and slammed the door shut behind her and keep all of Discord's colorful front yard booby traps outside.
The sun princess took a moment to clean herself off then glanced around the chaos master's living room. "Hmm…stairs that lead to nowhere, upside down stairs that lead to somewhere, a fish tank on the ceiling, a chocolate milk fountain in the middle of the room—why haven't we spent time here yet?" She resisted the temptation to explore the amusing sights and instead focused on a doorway to a hall clearly strung up inside with more colorful booby traps and with a big sign at the front that said 'This is not the part of the house you're looking for!'
Celestia almost smiled a little. Though the efforts at hiding might have seemed like a bad sign to some, she knew all of these dramatics were actually a good thing. They meant Discord was still feeling like his chaotic self and that he actually did want to talk deep down if he was being so obvious about where he was and only guarding himself with harmless pranks.
Celestia took a deep breath and headed down the hall. She managed to avoid the water balloons filled with different colors of paint as they flew at her, got a little caught in a coughing fit during the dust bunny stampede but still persevered, and only lingered in a huge spider web made of strong yarn until she gave up finding a secret way to free herself and just turned it all into neatly rolled yarn balls. A few more comical moments later she found herself facing a large door, this one with another sign. 'Discord's room. Keep out. New policy: No girls allowed!'
Celestia blushed slightly but took a deep breath and knocked. "Discord. It's me. I'm coming in. Okay?"
She was met with silence. Celestia pushed on the door. Surprisingly it wasn't locked. She braced herself for whatever the bedroom of chaos might look like and entered as the door shut behind her.
Celestia blinked at what she saw
Four plain walls, a roof, a little window with tied curtains, a bed that was perfectly made up, a few pieces of furniture all dusted and polished including a nightstand with a picture of Discord and Fluttershy, a neat circular rug, and a little fire place.
It was the most average looking bedroom she had ever seen. Too average looking.
Celestia's look went dry. "Discord, You can't possibly think I don't know you well enough to fall for this." She summoned up all her magic, cast a major spell, and dispelled the illusion.
She was left with four walls each swirling with shades of a distinct color, a levitating bed, a window that liked to move from wall to wall, an upside down fireplace with blue flames, a full-length funhouse mirror in the corner, and Discord hiding behind a single normal looking nightstand with a framed picture of himself and Fluttershy on top.
The draconequus' eyes went wide. "Uh…pay no attention to that draconequus hiding behind the—"
"Discord!" Celestia gave him a firm look and used a more than firm tone.
Discord knew that tone. It was the way she used to say his name in the old days whenever he'd done something bad and she'd had enough. The use of that tone made him step to the side and leave the safety of the nightstand…
…Only to make a fast beeline for the bedroom door.
Celestia jumped in front of him and cast another spell. A padlock appeared on the bedroom door. Discord blinked at the sight then snapped his fingers to teleport away but only disappeared for a second in a bright flash before suddenly reappearing in the room.
The sun princess looked him in the eye, her head held high. "That door is not opening, and you are not teleporting. We need to talk. It's very, very important."
Discord blushed darkly.
And then the chase began.
The chaos master flew up and perched on the top of his funhouse mirror, but Celestia gave the mirror a push to spin it and careen him across the room. Discord then jumped to his fireplace mantle and tried to climb down the flue, but Celestia used her magic to make a billows and puffed it at the fireplace, sending blue ash into the air and making Discord sneeze as he reeled back. The chaos master created a double, and one Discord flew to his window while the other scrambled to the door again, but Celestia wasn't deterred—she used her magic to create a lasso with a loop at either end, snagged a Discord in each side, and yanked: the two draconequui crashed together and turned back into one master of chaos. Discord flew under his bed but Celestia followed, experienced a brief stunned moment at the swirling vortex of cosmos he had under there, then followed him right out. Finally in a moment of desperation with Celestia right in front of him, Discord snapped his fingers.
The room started spinning, floor rising over ceiling and back down again while Discord's furniture levitated in the center. Celestia flew up, dizzy and disoriented for a moment. Discord took his chance and blasted a hole in his ceiling, and began to fly toward it.
Celestia regained in bearings just in time to realize what he was intending. "Enough, Discord!" She sent out a large dome of yellow magic that spread throughout the room. Instantly the room was upright again, the spinning had stopped, and Discord found himself flung down onto his bed as Celestia pinned him against the blankets with one of her forelegs pressed down on either of his hands, rendering snapping impossible, and a back leg pressed down on his claw and tail tuft respectively, likewise preventing snapping shenanigans. "We need to talk. Now," the sun princess declared.
She had never looked at him so seriously or with such frustration since before his reform. Discord just looked back up at her, eyes wide as she continued to glare down at him breathing heavily.
He blushed. "I can't."
She let out a deep breath, trying to calm herself a little. "Why not?"
He swallowed and tried to wriggle a little under her hold, but only succeeded in brushing his chest against hers. Discord blushed more. "Don't make me say it."
She swallowed, blushing lightly. "Discord, I know you're embarrassed—I'm embarrassed too. But if you'll just let me explain…"
"No, don't!" He pouted and scowled. "Why can't you just…pretend it didn't happen? Why are you doing this to me? And to yourself?"
Celestia raised an eyebrow. "Discord, what are you talking about? I just want to make sure that we understand each other; that we're okay. You can't seriously expect me to leave you alone when you're clearly very upset! Do you know how worried I was the moment you left?"
Discord blushed, his eyes narrowing more. "And did you think that maybe I had a good reason to leave? Did you think that maybe I did it just as much for you as for me? Did you ever think that maybe for some insane reason I care about our special little friendship too, and getting us apart was the best thing I could think to do for it at the time?"
Celestia blinked. "Discord, I don't understand…" She shook her head. "I mean, you don't understand. I mean…"
"So you don't understand and apparently I don't understand. Well that's helpful. Thanks for stopping by and clearing all of that up, Celestia."
She glared at him as he tried to sit up a little then pushed him back to the bed once more. "Discord, I'm serious—don't you want to hear what I have to say?"
He pouted even more at remaining trapped. "You know, maybe I have something to say at this point. Something I don't want to say, but if it means you'll stop literally trapping me in my own room against my will, maybe it's worth it."
"I just want to have a conversation!"
"And I just don't want to be interrogated about every single little thing I feel! You know how bad I am at talking about emotions!"
"Then I'll talk!"
"I won't listen!"
The two of them were flushed and seething by now.
"Discord, master of chaos, for the sake of our friendship I need you to listen to me just this once!"
"And Celestia, Princess of the Sun, for the sake of our dignity I need you to stop believing you're right all the time just this once!"
"Discord, why are you so angry with me? I know I upset you, but still…"
"And why are you so obsessed with me! And as for the angry part, again, YOU HAVE ME FORCIBLY TRAPPED IN MY OWN HOME!"
"Well, if you weren't so stubborn!"
"And if you weren't so relentless!"
They both shut their eyes tight and exclaimed the truth at the same time.
"I know I said I loved you, but I didn't mean it!"
"You can't love me, I'm not good enough for you!"
There was silence. Then each of the friends opened their eyes.
They just stared at each other, looking confused yet slowly comprehending.
Finally Discord swallowed and spoke softly. "I'll make you a deal. You let me up and take your spells off of this room. Then we can go talk in my parlor."
Celestia hesitated, glancing at the door and window and fireplace flue and remembering the booby traps. "Discord...do you promise—"
"You have my word." He swallowed, blushing. "I just can't talk to you in here, like this…okay?"
Celestia raised an eyebrow at first but then the adrenaline from the chase and fight finally ebbed enough for her to fully realize that she had Discord pinned to his bed and had been lying on top of him for at least a good ten minutes.
Blushing darkly she nodded and released him, then cast a spell to remove her magic.
Discord took a deep breath and snapped his tail.
Celestia's eyes widened as she found herself sitting on one end of his sofa while Discord sat on the other. They each had a warm blanket around their shoulders and a cup of hot tea nearby.
Discord took a deep sip of his tea, not looking at her. "You explain what you said first. You're the one who started this fiasco tonight, after all."
The sun princess blinked twice nodded. "Discord…" Celestia glanced down into her swirling tea, "you know that courtship isn't a strength of mine. But I think I should be clearer. Tonight was the most romantic date I've ever had with anyone." She blushed deeply. "I've had suitors in the past, but it was always very formal. All of them acted like I was a princess first and a mare second to them. But with you…it's all different." She turned toward him a little. "No one ever made me dinner in the clouds, no one ever suddenly took me in his arms and dipped me back and kissed me until I was dazed, no one ever kept kissing me and holding me and telling me how much he liked me. And I've watched how happy being in love has made Luna, and I've been jealous sometimes, and I like you very much, and on the most romantic night of the year with so much romance around me, 'I love you' just slipped out." She frowned. "It was in the heat of the moment, but it wasn't the truth. And I'm sorry I startled you so much, Discord." She raised an eyebrow. "Discord?"
He was just staring down into his tea. "So you didn't mean it? You don't love me?"
Celestia swallowed. "As a friend, I love you. But as more than I friend, I…" she sighed, "Discord, what we have together has been such a whirlwind—I don't think I'm ready to feel something like that yet."
"I see." He didn't sound mad—his voice had a dull, accepting tone. He cleared his throat and managed a small shrug and half smile. "I guess it's my turn to explain now, huh?"
Celestia nodded and bit her lip.
Discord lowered his mug and reclined back a little on his sofa. "Celestia, what we have together is fun—more than fun actually. But if seeing Luna and Joe together has taught me anything, it's that love is serious. Love is for someone you might want to have as part of your life for a very long time." He glanced at her. "I'm great to have fun with but…come on, Celestia, even with my ego I know you could do better than me. I'm not good enough for you. You need someone responsible and considerate and stable—someone who can help you with everything you do, day or night. Joe gives that to Luna. And I know I could never be as good a partner as he is. I'm a goof-off and a trickster and a sarcasm machine—I have no redeeming princely qualities whatsoever. That's why I left when you said those words to me. Because if this is turning into love for you, I need to keep us apart before you get hurt wanting me when we both know you deserve more."
There was silence at first.
Then Discord got hit in the head by a well-tossed throw pillow.
He looked over to see Celestia pouting and blushing. "It's not your place to decide what I do and don't need in my love life, Discord." Her gaze softened. "I don't need someone who can handle polities and paperwork—I'm an expert at that. I need someone who helps me find more in my life, who reminds me to take care of myself and have fun: and you do that wonderfully. You are good enough for me, Discord. You're good enough for anyone."
Discord just sighed and rolled his eyes. "Okay, whatever you say…"
"No, you say it." Celestia reached out with her hoof and turned his face so their eyes met. "Say you're good enough for anyone including me."
His eyes widened as they stared into hers, and his features heated under her touch. "I…well…I'm an amazing catch of course, but I…"
She continued to look into his eyes, then smiled a little.
He finally sighed and nodded. "I'm good enough for anyone, including you."
Celestia's smile grew as she lowered her hoof. Then she swallowed and looked down. "Discord? I'm sorry about… I'm sorry if I got your hopes up at all with what I said. I know those are very big words to hear from anyone. I should have had more self-control…"
He was quiet at first. Then… "Do I really make you lose control of yourself a little?" He glanced forward, blushing, an inquisitive look on his features.
Celestia's blushing darkened. "Yes. You make me feel…desirable. And it's not a feeling I'm used to. So I get overwhelmed and dazed and impulsive. But I like it …"
"Oh." He swallowed. "You, um…give me some nice feelings too." He took a deep breath. "All that stuff I did back on our date—it came from… I mean, it wasn't just the holiday or the heat of the moment so you know. That was all from me to you. I've got a lot of pesky feelings inside about you at this point actually, and for once I just wanted to see how it would be to let them out, to express them chaotically. And so I guess…maybe for a moment it wasn't even so bad, thinking that you felt even more than me…" He sighed deeply and slumped on his sofa with a pout. "Never mind. This holiday—so much mush. I'm glad it's almost over."
"For what it's worth, I liked our date a lot. I hope you did too." Celestia moved just a little closer to him.
"Well…I definitely won't forget it. Not ever." He almost smiled, and Celestia's smile grew.
"Discord," she bit her lip, "you know, even if I went a little far by accident tonight, you have to admit, we've been…getting a lot more comfortable being more than friends. Maybe it's time we started thinking of ourselves as something more than 'more than friends'…"
He pouted and raised a wary eyebrow at her. "Like what?"
She shrugged, blushing. "We could be each other's special somepony…"
He squirmed. "Oh that sounds horribly cheesy."
Celestia's smile faded a little. "Yes, I thought you might think so. But I figured it couldn't hurt to ask." She managed to brighten her smile a little again. "It's okay, Discord, we can keep things between us the same as they are now. I'm just glad we're okay again."
He glanced at her hesitantly. "Okay. Thanks."
She leaned over and gave his cheek a quick peck then yawned. "Discord, it's only a couple hours until dawn, and I'm a little too tired to teleport all the way home. Would you mind if I took a nap here?"
"Here?" He raised an eyebrow.
"Yes." She nodded. "I've never had the chance to spend the night here before. But you frequently make up a bed in my room and spend the night in the castle. I think I'm overdue."
Discord bit his lip then nodded. "Okay." He snapped. Celestia found herself lying on the sofa which was now larger and covered with soft blankets and pillows. She smiled more when she glanced over and saw Discord lying on another sofa made up like a bed. "I can't let you sleep alone out here: the dust bunnies might carry you off or something," he explained. "Besides, I need a break from my room anyway after…everything."
"I don't mind the company, Discord." Celestia yawned and snuggled into her pillow. "I'm just glad your new 'no girls allowed' policy only extends to your room and not your whole house." She held back a giggle.
Discord shrugged, trying and failing to seem aloof which only made Celestia want to giggle more. "Yes, well…perhaps I was a little hasty with that policy. I can always amend it. And then we can set up the bunk beds in their just for fun one night. Maybe."
"I'd like that." Her gaze warmed. "Goodnight, Discord."
"Goodnight." Discord snapped to dim the lights.
A moment later, he spoke again, quietly, almost shyly. "Hey, Celestia? Special someponies…what does that mean for two people exactly?"
Celestia took a breath in the dimness. "Well, it means that they like each other in particular very much, it means they share a special bond, and it means that they'd like to go forward together in their lives for a while with their romantic relationship being exclusive. I think it also means they want to be together more than they're worried about being together."
"Hmm…" Discord nodded and was quiet again. Then he took a breath, his voice even quieter. "Okay, so here's the thing: I think I'd like that…to be special someponies…you know, with you…sort of, maybe, if you wanted to."
Across the room, Discord could see Celestia's eyes shining in the pale light of the fire. "Really, Discord?"
"I think so." He sighed. "But, um…I don't want to make royal announcements about it and all that jazz Luna and Joe do. I'd like it to stay between us more or less. How would you feel about that?"
Celestia turned in her bed to face him. "I feel fine about that, Discord. I like our privacy too. But only if you're sure you want to do this—if you're sure I'm that special to you." Her voice softened. "You don't have to if you don't want to, Discord. Really."
"It's okay. I…don't think I would have brought it up if I didn't want to," he replied pensively. "And considering how all my mushy feelings kept warring between relief and just a tiny bit of regret when you told me you didn't mean what you said…yes, I think you are that special to me, Celestia."
"I see." Celestia blushed and beamed a little. "Discord…Happy Hearts and Hooves Day." She blew him a kiss.
Discord smiled a little in the darkness. "Happy Hearts and Hooves Day, Celestia. I hope we can celebrate another one again soon. It really wasn't so bad." His look and tone went dry. "But seriously, we're never telling anyone about the 'special someponies' thing."
She giggled. "Our little secret." She winked then closed her eyes as Discord closed his with a satisfied smile.
Both of them slept peacefully.
The pony sisters both had natural, internal clocks regarding the rise and set of the sun and moon. And as a result, despite both only have a few hours to catch up on their rest after a long Hearts and Hooves Day, Celestia and Luna were able to easily (and stealthily) abandon out of their respective beds to bring a new day to Equestria.
They met on the roof of Luna's tower just before sunrise.
"Sister?" Luna raised an eyebrow, smiling. "I did not expect to see you here. I thought you'd be out gallivanting with Discord in Las Pegasus and that you would raise the sun from there."
Celestia smiled and shrugged with a light blush. "Our plans changed a little. It was a slightly complicated holiday."
"But an enjoyable one?" Luna smiled more, her eyes hazed.
Celestia nodded, her eyes hazing as well. "And yours?"
"Complicated but enjoyable as well," Luna replied.
The two sisters looked to the sky. Luna powered her horn and lowered the moon past the horizon as Celestia powered her horn and raised the sun past the horizon. The pale light of day began to breathe into the sky.
"Is Joe here too?" Celestia asked as she turned to her sister again.
Luna nodded. "Yes: he's below in my bed. I wanted to let him rest. Also, I enjoy observing him when I sneak away from him to tend to the moon. Even in his sleep he reaches out for me and pouts. Usually if I give him my pillow it is enough to satisfy him until I return for him to hold." She blushed, still smiling. "And speaking of male companions, if not in Las Pegasus then where is Discord?"
Celestia shrugged with a light blush. "I left him in his cottage. I didn't want to wake him either."
Luna's eyes brightened. "At his cottage? I do believe that is a first. Bunk beds or…"
Celestia nudged her sister. "We each took a sofa in his living room. We're not in love like some ponies, Luna." She looked down with a little smile. "Though we are very special to each other."
"Indeed." Luna grinned. "By the way, I saw a glimpse of your dinner in the clouds earlier. I'd like to hear full details, please, and especially about how you ended up at his house."
"Tell me the full details about how you and Joe managed to have yet another complicated holiday experience even after all of the complicated holidays you've already been through so far, and you've got a deal."
The two sisters shared a small laugh.
Then Celestia yawned. "I think I might go back to Discord's house and get a little more sleep. Will I see you for breakfast?"
Luna smiled but shook her head. "Actually Joe and I are about to use our little time traveling spell to relive our Hearts and Hooves Day again, but this time without any duties or tasks other than our own enjoyment. And I'm not sure how long we'll be. Perhaps you should have breakfast with your special draconequus."
Celestia nodded. "I think I will. Enjoy your Hearts and Hooves Day, Luna."
"And enjoy your morning after Hearts and Hooves Day, sister." Luna nodded in return.
The two sisters gave each other a slight bow. Then Celestia teleported away as Luna flew off the roof and back into her room.
Donut Joe was already sitting up in bed yawning. "Luna, baby." He smiled with sleepy eyes. "You should have woken me up. You know how much I love a good moon set. Not as much as I love a good moon rise, but still…"
Luna approached and nuzzled him with a smile. "I wanted you to rest, my dear Joe. Didst thou have good dreams during thine slumber?"
He nuzzled her back. "With the princess of the night near me, how could I help it?" He gave her lips a kiss, and she kissed back.
They pulled apart.
Luna made a special, familiar scroll appear hovering in the air. "I have our spell here for us."
Donut Joe's eyes brightened. "Great! Let's get going! We can only go back twenty four hours, and I want to spend every minute of the holiday with you this time around." He was already out of bed and used his magic to trade his pajamas for his apron and hat.
Luna giggled and nodded as she used her magic to restore her regalia. "Yea, let us depart!"
They came close, used their magic to levitate the spell between them, then touched horns, eyes closed as magic swirled around them.
Luna and Donut Joe disappeared in a flash of magic.
Luna and Donut Joe's day together was ideal. They had to avoid running into themselves in the past or seeing anyone who might see their past selves, so they spent the day far from Canterlot. With Luna's help teleporting them, Donut Joe took her to a private brunch in Vermount, a museum of Equestrian history in Phillydelphia, a play in Manehatten, on a walk through the countryside in Van Hoover, and when dusk fell he took her to an observatory in San Franciscolt. Then they had a private dinner under the stars on a hillside near Ponyville. And finally (after they were certain it was already past the hour when their past selves would have been near the shop), they went to Donut Joe's roof for fresh donuts and sparkling cider.
The happy couple lay collapsed together on the thatched roof with half a platter of donuts left between them. Their gazes and smiles were full of peaceful contentment.
"Joe, when did you find the time to plan such events for us?" Luna blushed. "And why so many? On our extra days we usually just spend time alone together talking and baking."
Donut Joe grinned shyly. "I just wanted to do some special stuff. Like we said, Hearts and Hooves Day is sort of the anniversary of when we both started thinking about being together. It's special. Besides, a classy lady like you deserves a classy date. I just hope you liked everything. I tried to pick quiet stuff and intellectual stuff and artsy stuff—"
She used her magic to pop a donut into his mouth and giggle. "I liked all of it—every activity suited my interests well. And I especially liked doing everything with you." She smiled. "Now then, our daytime is done and we're on to the night. Did you have any further plans, or shall I take over from here?"
Donut Joe's eyes went a little wide, and he blushed and glanced down in a funny way. "Oh, no, um…you can pick something."
Luna raised an eyebrow. "Joe, if there's something else you wanted to do, please let me know. And especially if it's something that would appeal to your interests since you've catered so much to mine."
He quickly plastered on a normal looking smile. "Luna, really, it's nighttime—nighttime is your time. We can even just hang out up here if you want to."
Luna looked into his eyes, searching. Then she frowned a little and gazed forward. "If you do not wish to tell me whatever it is that's on your mind, I understand. But please don't pretend there's nothing bothering you."
Donut Joe frowned now. He bit his lip then sighed. "Sorry. I wasn't trying to lie to you. I just didn't want to upset you—like before…"
Luna glanced at him and raised an eyebrow.
He blushed a lot then finally replied very quietly, "Well, originally tonight I was gonna maybe…ask you about proposing." He quickly cleared his throat and brought his voice back to its normal level. "Never mind—I mean, I wasn't gonna pop the question or anything. I was just going to…run the subject by you seriously and see how you felt about it."
Luna just looked back at him with slightly wide eyes.
Donut Joe sighed and looked forward and down.
Then Luna spoke. "Thou wouldst really wed us, Joe of the Donuts?"
Donut Joe's ears perked up a little and he glanced to her. Luna was blushing but otherwise just looking at him with that same wide eyed inquisitive look. He nodded. "Of course. You're the only mare for me. And you're amazing. And I love you. I know it might be a complicated marriage, but we could make it work together."
"Yet thou art content with our response earlier that we are…uncertain about pursuing such a development in our life right now?"
He nodded, smiling softly. "Of course, Luna—I wouldn't want you to be my Mrs. Donut unless you really wanted to."
Luna's blushing burned brightly. "I see." She played with her hoof on the thatched roof. Then. "Joe, forgive us for one more question, but we are curious—how long do engagements go on in these modern times?"
Donut Joe put a hoof to his chin. "Oh, well, some are real quick and the two ponies get married right away. And some last for years." He smiled. Then he blinked twice and blushed. "Why do you ask?"
Luna's bright eyes met his as she replied softly. "Because I am not ready for matrimony. But…the idea of an extended engagement does not fill me with the same uncertainty."
Donut Joe's blush burned now. "Oh…" His eyes brightened as a small smile returned to his lips.
Luna giggled at the sight. "Yes, I already feel bound to you with my heart; so perhaps being your intended in another way is not such a stretch for me now that I've had a chance to consider the idea." She closed her eyes and nuzzled close to him then whispered, "Joe, I really don't mind your dream about our wedding—tis all right. Please feel free to have it if it shall make you happy."
Donut Joe felt warm all over as he nuzzled her in return. "Thank you. But I don't want any dreams right now. Being here with you is better." He whispered as he added, "And I'd be okay with an extended engagement too, you know."
"And if we married one day, then perhaps we could use our time travel spell to assist with our matrimony." Luna opened her eyes a little to gaze at Donut Joe and the night sky behind him. "We could relive more days and spend that extra time together, living and sharing and being there for each other as a husband and wife."
"That's not a bad idea Luna baby." Donut Joe grinned a little. "I suppose all we'd need now is the ring."
Luna giggled. "Yes, I suppose we—"
Donut Joe had just levitated a donut onto her horn.
He grinned in response to her stunned silence then merely said, "Let's do some star gazing, Luna."
Luna blinked twice and finally nodded. "Yes, well…yes, of course!" She quickly looked up to the sky, blushing so much that Donut Joe had to hold back a chuckle. "Erm…Orion's harness is particularly bright tonight, is it not?" She pointed upward with her hoof.
"Hadn't noticed." Donut Joe moved closer so they were lying alongside each other. "I've been way too distracted by the pretty moon."
Luna had to giggle, relaxing a little. "I'm certain the moon is pleased to have such a charming admirer." She moved closer until they were cuddled together, her hair surrounding them both. "Are you certain you're not too cold out here, Joe?"
"Not with you, my sweet Luna Love. Happy Hearts and Hooves Day."
"And to you as well, my Joe of the Donuts."
They glanced at each other, eyes hazed. And then they came forward for a single tender kiss.
They pulled back smiling then looked to the night sky above again. The couple gazed at the stars and moon and talked until they fell asleep as dawn approached, each of them full of donuts and love.