Hello everyone! Here's the next chapter :) I hope you enjoy it!
The Most Chaotic Life Ever!
Bound for Something Better
"So…" Luster stepped forward with a smile - she decided to break the silence in the room, and in this moment she felt confident doing so even with all of these important ponies watching her, "how did everyone's talks go?"
Twilight and Flurry Heart and Cozy Glow had returned first - Flurry Heart and Cozy Glow whispering for a few moments while Twilight looked on. Discord and Celestia and Tirek had appeared next - Tirek was smiling. And Luna and Cadance and Chrysalis had appeared last - Luna nudging Chrysalis who blinked a few times almost like she had been…sleeping? She seemed calm coming out of her drowsy state.
As Cozy Glow usually yelled rather than whispered and Tirek rarely smiled except for after a workout and Chrysalis was never ever calm, these results seemed promising.
The ponies and draconequus looked to each other, and the trio of former villains looked to each other.
Cozy Glow turned to Luster Dawn (with barely a pout). "Wait - I need to talk to Cadance for a second."
Cadance raised an eyebrow.
Flurry Heart smiled. "I'll come with you."
"No." Cozy Glow shook her head. "It's okay. I'd like to talk to your mom alone."
Flurry Heart hesitated but nodded finally. Twilight touched her niece's shoulder.
Cozy Glow zipped over to Cadance who tried not to smile too much at having a small pink opinionated pony at her side again at this point in her life.
Tirek had a pensive look for a moment. "I'd like to talk to Luna, if you don't mind." He turned to Luna.
Luna's eyes widened. "Me? Well…very well, Tirek, of course." Luna came over to him. She was further surprised when her sister suddenly rested her head alongside Luna's in a gentle nuzzle and hug. But when she pulled back Celestia was smiling and so Luna just smiled too.
Luster Dawn couldn't help looking to Chrysalis, expecting a similar request. Chrysalis quirked her mouth to the side and scowled, hesitating. Then she took a breath and said in a subdued seething tone, "I would like to speak with Twilight Sparkle please. And then I believe the three of us should depart with you, Luster Dawn, back to the castle…if you will have us."
Luster Dawn smiled a little more. "I told you I would. And not just because you went and talked to others in your groups like I suggested. It's because…I value our friendship. And I like when we're together. I'm glad we know each other."
The trio each glanced down awkwardly, but Tirek was smiling again and Cozy Glow's ever-buzzing wings slowed down a little, and Chrysalis…her eyes had widened and for a moment Luster Dawn thought she saw a glimmer of something in the corner of one.
Chrysalis quickly shook her head and raised it high, looking away. "Twilight Sparkle, come with me!" She marched off in the direction of the kitchen. Twilight glanced at Luna in confusion. Luna blushed a little but then offered an encouraging smile. A smile returned to Twilight's features as she departed as well.
Tirek had watched with interest. He cleared his throat. "Luna? Perhaps we could go to the breakfast table?"
Luna nodded and led Tirek off in that direction.
Cozy Glow sighed and looked to Cadance. "I've been cooped up all morning. Let's go outside."
"Can we go to the roof?" Cadance smiled. "I love the view from here."
Cozy Glow rolled her eyes. "Whatever, I guess."
Cadance teleported them away.
Flurry Heart, Celestia, Discord, and Luster Dawn remained. Luster smiled sheepishly. "Did the talks really go okay?"
Celestia nodded. "You made a very wise decision setting up these groups, Luster Dawn. I'm proud my student has such a clever student."
Luster Dawn blushed.
Discord laughed then flew over and ruffled her hair. "You're a lot of fun and we're happy to have you in our madcap little group, kid. You fit right in!"
"I'm so happy you set up this reform tea party and that I came, Luster Dawn!" Flurry Heart darted forward and wrapped up Luster Dawn in a very strong alicorn hug. She pulled back, smiling brightly. "I got to see my mom fight, and I got to fight, and I got to understand what kind of princess I am! And I might have a new project as Warrior Princess Flurry Heart!" She bounced in place, so reminiscent of her Auntie Twilight when she could get excited.
Luster Dawn pushed back her mane in a humble gesture. "Thank you all so much. Hearing that helps, really. And I'm so happy we came here and that I got to officially meet all of you. You're all so nice. No wonder Princess Twilight has so many happy memories of her time as a student and becoming a princess." Luster Dawn considered for a moment. "Actually, as long as I have you here, maybe you could help me with something? Discord, Celestia, you know the area around here very well, and Flurry Heart you spent a lot of time in Ponyville growing up."
"Of course!" Flurry Heart nodded. "What's up?"
"Princess Twilight and I were talking. And…I'm fine staying at the castle with Tirek and Chrysalis and Cozy Glow for now. But at some point, when they're ready to move on, I'd like to find a different place to live around here." She shrugged, "Living in the former castle of the Princess of Equestria doesn't feel right for me right now. I talked to Twilight, and she agreed it might be for the best. But I'm not sure where to go. I don't know anyone at school well enough yet to move into the dorms, Twilight's rebuilt old library is more of a museum now, and I don't have any family around here."
Discord smiled a lot - he glanced at Celestia. Celestia blinked but then considered for a moment and nodded. Discord turned to Luster Dawn. "We basically have dozens of empty rooms here. You could move in with us, learn lots of advanced magic, throw some amazing shindigs to impress new friends - seriously, between my party skills during the day, Luna's slumber party skills at night, and Celestia's uncanny ability to pick the best cake for any occasion, you'd be the most popular pony ever." Discord chuckled. "Also we're probably getting a puppy soon so, even more reasons to stay."
Flurry Heart's eyes widened and sparkled. "You are?!"
Discord nodded. "Yes! With three heads! And you can come play with him or we'll take him to play with you in the Crystal Empire."
Flurry Heart dove at him in a hug.
Luster Dawn smiled a lot. "I appreciate the offer, Discord, Celestia. And a three-headed puppy and crazy parties with cake does make things more tempting but… I think I need to be a little bit closer to Ponyville. I want to get to know more creatures and to be part of the community. I've liked helping Tirek and Chrysalis and Cozy Glow. And I want to keep helping others." She shrugged. "Anyway, if you can think of any place, please let me know."
Flurry Heart and Celestia nodded.
Discord twirled his beard with a pensive look. Celestia noticed (and smiled a little at the beard twirling). "I'll…get back to you," Discord replied. "I'll get back to you very soon."
Celestia raised an eyebrow. Discord noticed and came out of his thoughts. He winked at her and she just giggled at his mysteriousness.
"Can I visit you two and Luna sometimes though?" Luster Dawn asked. "I'd like to hear more of your stories and get to know you better. And maybe once I'm set up in my own place I can have you over for tea someday."
"We'd love that, Luster Dawn," Celestia assured with a warm smile.
"Oh ho ho…" Discord flew forward and around Luster Dawn, fingers tented. "You will definitely see me. You being part of our little friendly family means you'll be getting a healthy dose of chaos from me and plenty of it when you least expect it - you've been warned." He snapped and confetti rained down on them both.
Luster Dawn blinked a couple of times but then chuckled as she brushed the confetti from her hair. "I'll try to mentally prepare myself, Discord. Thanks for the heads up."
The chaos master nodded and flew back over beside his wife.
"And if you want a trip, you can come to the Crystal Empire and stay with me," Flurry Heart added to Luster Dawn. "Most of my friends are other guards who I went through training with, and a lot of them are boys, and they're nice but…it's nice to have a girl who's a friend visit too. Plus since you're Twilight's student you're kind of like a cousin to me."
"I'd love that, Flurry Heart, thank you." Luster Dawn held up a hoof and Flurry Heart bumped with her. She glanced away in the directions the villains had gone. "I'm looking forward to taking all of you up on those offers. But first I think those three and I need just a little more time together. I know they made a mistake but I think they grew a lot today. I'm excited to see what's next for them."
Discord and Celestia watched the little pony with faraway smiles. And Flurry Heart stood with her wings spread and head held high, feeling like she had grown a bit herself and likewise excited to see what was next for so many creatures.
Luna sat at her head of the breakfast table and Tirek sat in the first chair off to one side. The table had been cleared now, and they were far enough away from the others that the room was quiet. Luna smiled and waited with an eyebrow raised for whatever Tirek could possibly want.
Tirek sighed and crossed his arms. "Listen, Luna, I already went through my usual denial and stubbornness and resistance to change with your sister and your brother-in-law during our little chat before I finally let us get to the point. And I know doing the same here with you would help preserve my strong reputation. But we've had a long morning, so if I just cut to the chase, could it stay between us?"
Luna smiled more and nodded. "Actually it would be a relief - I'm afraid getting Chrysalis to open up - and then dealing with some of what she opened up about - has worn out all of my patience. Just let me know what you want, Tirek, I'm here to help."
Tired smiled a little. But then he swallowed and glanced down. "Celestia says you travel around as an ambassador sometimes. That you've visited my homeland - my brother. How is Scorpan?"
Luna's eyes widened. "Ah, well…I'm afraid it's been several years since I was there. But he seemed content. He is loved by his people and the rest of your family. He has improved the quality of life for your land significantly. He even had me bring him some plans and histories of my sister's school for gifted unicorns to learn how to create a School for Magic. And every few years he sends a student here to the School of Friendship. He's very kind, Tirek. And he asks about you."
Tirek's eyes were a little wide. "How does he ask about me exactly?"
"While you were stone he asked if you could be brought to stay with him in your old castle. But we explained that the spell had trapped you and Chrysalis and Cozy Glow together, and it was impossible to separate you. He asked if the bond you had formed with those two seemed like a sign of friendship entering your heart. He asked if you were hurt in the battle? And he…" Luna sighed and considered. "Twilight may have wanted to wait to explain this at a later time, but I think as long as I explain only the part involving you, it will be fine." He raised an eyebrow and she went on. "Your brother also requested that your sentence be a short one - repeatedly. He did not want you sent away forever."
Tirek's lip seemed to tremble but he hugged his arms tight against his chest and kept himself steady. "So…Celestia was right? He…cares. And he doesn't hate me."
"He loves you." Luna's eyes hazed as she realized something. "Celestia gave you one of her 'sisterly speeches', didn't she? About how she adores our reunion and savors each laugh and tiff and everything in between. I'm afraid she can gush a bit sometimes."
"She yelled at me - I have never been yelled at by a princess. Then she almost cried, and at that point I didn't know what to do." He threw up his arms. "Thankfully Discord was there to handle the emotional matters."
"Yes, she cares very deeply," Luna mused.
Tirek glanced at her. "Be honest with me: how much of a mess was reconciling for you and Celestia?"
Luna snorted. "At first? A literal nightmare." Her horn flashed and she was transfigured into Nightmare Moon. "I still had some demons to work through and I staged an immediate coup." She transformed back. "Then even after Twilight and girls freed me from all that dark magic, I still…didn't know how to be around my sister. And she wasn't sure how to be around me. But we felt our way through it. And it got better." She smiled a little. "Are you going to visit your brother, Tirek? It really has been too long since we've connected with your homeland."
He sighed, rubbing his temple. "It's a proposition that's on the table. After all, how bad could it be really? I spent months living in a cave with Chrysalis and Cozy Glow while 'goat Discord' ordered us around - if I can survive that…" He shrugged. Then he raised an eyebrow. "You said you still have tiffs? What did you two fight about?"
"Oh," Luna waved her hoof, "nothing extreme - sibling disagreements. Although there was the time I wouldn't eat her pancakes in the morning and…somehow she came up with a nightmare version of herself that almost invaded our minds. But I'm sure you'll be fine." Luna winked. "I wish you luck in your potential journeys."
Tirek seemed uneasy for a moment but then a small snort of laughter left him. He shook his head. "Thank you, Luna, I suppose."
Luna stood. "Shall we return to the others?"
"Yes." Tirek stood, slumping a little. "We really have to head home to the Ponyville castle and have a talk with Luster Dawn anyway."
Luna nodded and lead them back.
Meanwhile, on the roof, Cozy Glow sat scowling and facing Cadance, and Cadance was doing her best not to be reminded too much of a young Flurry Heart at her most stubborn and adorable. She knew Cozy Glow needed to be taken seriously right now. "Is there something I can help you with, Cozy Glow?"
Cozy Glow let out a deep breath. "Your daughter's got a crazy proposition. And it's not that I want to take her up on it. But…my options are limited and it doesn't seem entirely like it would be a waste of my time." She rolled her eyes to the side.
"Okay." Cadance smiled a little more and raised an eyebrow. "What proposition exactly?"
"She thinks I should come to the Crystal Empire and go into kiddie basic training like she did when she was my age. She thinks I should get trained as a soldier and maybe one day join the Royal Guard.."
Cadance's eyes widened. She took a deep breath and relaxed a little again. "Arming you and giving you professional combat skills - interesting idea."
"Oh please." Cozy Glow waved her off. "We all know I'm a serious danger with or without a shield and a spear and some strategy lessons. That's beside the point."
"What is the point?" Cadance asked, bringing forth some of her gentle motherly tone.
"My point is if I do this then I'll be in the Crystal Empire and staying at your castle. I'll be around a lot." Cozy Glow shrugged. "And I guess I don't mind that. Anything to get out of Ponyville. And besides, Flurry Heart is…actually not a complete dork as far as princesses go."
"Oh I agree." Cadance tried not to chuckle. "Flurry is the coolest of us all, no question."
Cozy Glow rolled her eyes. "Anyway, I didn't tell her yes yet. I wanted to let you know first, alone. Because I figure you want to make your daughter happy. But if you don't want me there, then I don't want to be there: I'll just tell Flurry I just decided not to come. But I have to know the truth from you about how you feel about the plan before I definitely agree."
Cadance frowned. "But…why would you care what I think?"
"I don't want to be under the nose of another princess who doesn't get me and who just wants me gone or to be someone I'm not." Cozy Glow scowled more. "And also if the only reason you'd want me around is to 'mother' me or whatever, then we're gonna have a problem and I shouldn't bother going. I don't need to be coddled. I'm not like other kids."
The love princess nodded. "I understand that. And you won't be smothered, Cozy Glow. I can respect boundaries. If you'll respect mine too." Cadance's look turned serious. "Helping you like this must mean a lot to Flurry Heart. If you come to the Crystal Empire to genuinely try and take her up on her offer, we're happy to have you. If you come to do anything that might hurt her - don't." She flared out her wings.
Cozy Glow tilted her head them smiled a little. "You don't play games. I like that. Okay…" She flew up and held out her hoof. "You don't baby me and just let me do my own thing, and I won't pull any evil schemes."
Cadance nodded and held out her hoof. They shook.
The small pony landed, smirking a little. "Besides, not like I was going to anyway. It's no fun plotting without partners in crime to order around. And military training sounds like it could actually be interesting. I was born to lead and conquer."
Cadance smirked a little now herself. "You are going to learn a great many things if you go through with this training."
"Oh please - the boot camp is two weeks and the full training is only a few moons. I think I can manage."
"Oh I'm not saying you can't - I'm saying I don't want to see you leave it behind if the going gets tough. Flurry Heart had a few rough weeks where she almost wanted to give up."
"Oh Cadance," Cozy Glow shook her head, grinning. "You have no idea what kind of pony you're talking to. I'll do it no matter what."
Cadance smiled a little more. "I look forward to you showing me just how tough you are. Now then, when will you grace us with your presence?"
"Hmm," Cozy Glow shrugged, "when I feel like it. There's…stuff or whatever to work out here first I guess. Then I'll have to tell Tirek and Chrysalis I'm going - those two are lost without me. And I'm sure Luster's gonna have something to say too." She shuffled her hooves.
"I understand. You're welcome any time you're ready."
"Well, I'm not welcome anywhere else, so that's something I guess." She scowled. "I'm free again and now everyone's stuck with me… but maybe your royal group won't get sick of me as quickly as Twilight would."
Cadance frowned a little and considered. She sighed. "You know, I should probably let Twilight tell you this but… part of why you three were released now was because there were creatures who wanted your sentence over. Tirek and Chrysalis had interested parties. But for you…Twilight was the one who wanted you free most of all. You'll always be her student to her and she wants you to succeed; not at villainy but at finding your way in life."
Cozy Glow blinked then looked away. "I'm not gonna thank her or whatever. So what if she felt bad? She should."
Cadance sighed. "Well, she's just happy if you're feeling a little better now. And maybe after some time in the Empire, you'll appreciate that fact." She smiled a little. "You'll like the Empire - it's a relaxing place; a place where you can think. And it's a nice place to grow up."
Cozy Glow hesitated. "Is it seriously all…glittery and lovey-dovey there?"
The love princess snorted. "Frequently, yes. But embracing it all is your choice. Oh but it is chilly - I'll bring up some of Flurry Heart's old winter clothes from storage for you."
Cozy Glow pouted at her.
Cadance blinked then smiled sheepishly. "Not to mother you - I'm just being practical. Besides, living in a wintery place can be fun. In the castle we always have hot chocolate and warm fires and Flurry's favorite dessert - s'mores."
Cozy Glow's eyes widened for a moment. "I do like marshmallows cooked over a fire…"
Cadance observed her, her eyes hazed. "We'll have some waiting when you get there."
The little pony shook her head and resumed her usual pout and scowl. "Whatever. I'll tell Flurry the deal is on. Now let's head inside, I just want to get all the emotional stuff with Luster done then take a nap. I was practically up all night after fighting all day yesterday and I'm exhausted. I need sleep to prepare for training."
Cozy Glow held her head high and flew away, her wings buzzing.
Cadance smiled more to herself and flew after the young pony to head back inside.
Meanwhile, in the kitchen, as soon as the door had closed behind them and Twilight had turned to Chrysalis with her hair flowing and her height imposing and her smile so warm and welcoming, Chrysalis felt a lump in her throat. But she pushed past the uncomfortable feeling. This really was such an emotional mess she had gotten herself into and not what she wanted deep down in the pit of her stomach…or her heart or whatever.
"Twilight, I'll make this brief because frankly I don't want to be here anymore. The battles and shenanigans and revelations and that DEATH TRAP of an interior wall obstacle course I spent last night completing have been utterly draining."
Twilight frowned a little but then smiled again. "I'm still glad you came, Chrysalis. I think we all learned a lot from our time together. And I'm happy to see how your relationship with Luster has progressed. She thinks very highly of you three for your efforts to better yourselves."
Chrysalis hissed and held up a hoof. "Enough with the niceties and flattery and encouragement. I asked you in here to bring up a request for the future based on advice from your sister-in-law Cadance and your…friend…Luna."
Twilight nodded and sat down. "I'm happy to help. What do you need?"
Chrysalis let out a breath and sat too. "At some point I need to leave this place. I want to…make a life among other creatures. Possibly ones who are similar to me in some ways. But NOT the hive. Luna seemed to have an idea of where to send me but I didn't have time to get details. She said you would need to be part of the planning though. Will you assist me in completing this goal?"
"Of course." Twilight nodded. "But if Luna meant sending you somewhere outside of Equestria, I'll have to make some arrangements first…with the leaders of that place and also with the Hive." Chrysalis scowled and Twilight quickly went on. "It's for diplomatic reasons. And also…creatures there still care about what happens to you." She hesitated. "You know, Pharynx and Thorax have both asked me to keep your sentence a short one. There was actually insistence on that point from sources for all three of you… but those two were your advocates, and they got the new Hive leader to go along with it too."
Chrysalis pouted so deeply. "I…I…I won't thank them!"
"You don't need to." Twilight smiled more. "They didn't do it for thanks. They just wanted you to have another chance. You have a place in this world, Chrysalis - we all want you to find it."
Chrysalis felt herself flush and knew the teal must be showing up in her face. She turned her head to hide a little in her mane and kept an aloof air. "Hmm… do you always go around saying such encouraging things like you know them to be true?"
"I try." Twilight shrugged.
"Ugh, you've grown quite mellow Twilight Sparkle." Chrysalis shifted on her hooves. "I'm surprised you don't have a bunch of little ponies of your own - like Cadance has Flurry Heart - so they can run around and you can spread friendship together into the new generation."
Twilight blinked then laughed very much. A tear left her eye. Chrysalis raised an eyebrow. "Cadance always wanted to get married and be a mom. But I never had that interest. I love my friends and my family. And when I think of the future I just…imagine being here: Celestia and Discord on one side of the castle and me and Luna on the other. Luna and I sort of became best friends over all these years actually. I love her company." Twilight shrugged with a sheepish grin. "I guess you might say from a changeling perspective that my 'romantic love' runs a little bland. But I'm happy with how my feelings are. I just have my own way of doing things."
The former changeling queen just watched with a dry look then sighed. "You are an absolute enigma, Twilight Sparkle." She held out a hoof. "It's been a strange kind of pleasure engaging with you all these years."
Twilight reached out her hoof and shook with her. "I like being almost friends now too, Chrysalis."
Chrysalis pulled back her hoof and hissed again but didn't deny the accusation.
Twilight headed to the kitchen door. "Let's get back to Luster now. I think she's had a long day."
Chrysalis trotted after her, rolling her eyes. "Fine, whatever. I want to get home—I-I mean back to the castle as well!"
Twilight did a good job of holding back a big grin at Chrysalis calling the Ponyville Castle home as the two mares left the room.
In the throne room of the Everfree Forest castle, once all parties had reunited again, Twilight had her horn powered as she stood facing Luster Dawn and the villainous trio. She smiled. "I'll send you all back to the castle - that way you don't have to take the time to travel by hoof. I know we've all been through a lot."
Luster Dawn smiled and bowed her head. "Thank you, Princess Twilight. For everything." She came forward and quickly hugged her mentor.
Twilight hugged her back. "Thank you too, Luster." She glanced to the villains. "And thank you to you three as well."
The trio just shrugged and glanced away, but there weren't any frowns at least.
Luster Dawn looked to Luna, Celestia, and Discord. "And thank you three again for letting us use your home. I'll see you soon."
"Stop by any time!" Celestia assured. Discord and Luna nodded.
Twilight's horn glowed brighter, her magic aura surrounded the Ponyville-bound party, and they disappeared.
Discord glanced at Luna. "So did you tell Tirek all about his brother? I knew he wouldn't be able to resist asking…"
Luna smiled. "I told him all I knew and encouraged him to visit. I think that is a wonderful plan you two suggested he pursue." Luna cleared her throat, "Twilight, did Chrysalis perhaps talk to you about…"
"About going to live somewhere new?" Twilight nodded. "And she said you had an idea for where. I'd love to hear it. I hope she'll be happy there."
Luna's smile softened. "Yes, I think she will be happy. She said she wanted a place with creatures she could relate to, a place where she wouldn't be too different. And the only place I know of that wouldn't know too much of her past and where creatures understand what it is like to shift form is Seaquestria. Do you think Queen SkyStar would agree?"
Twilight's eyes brightened. "I think she would be thrilled. She loves meeting new creatures and helping them. And Chrysalis could change form there without feeling out of place. Thank you, Luna. We can both speak with the Queen and the former Queen Novo too since she still helps with international affairs."
"That sounds like a lovely solution," Cadance concurred as she and Flurry Heart entered the room. "The chariot is here," she announced. "I'm afraid we have to get going."
Flurry Heart raced up to all of her aunts and her uncle Discord and gave them big hugs. "It was great seeing all of you. Please come visit again soon. You might find something surprising!" She trotted in place, excited.
Discord chuckled. "What's go you so happy, Flurry?"
Flurry Heart glanced to Twilight who glanced to Cadance who nodded. Then the Protection Princess held her head high. "When she's ready, Cozy Glow is going to come to the Crystal Empire. She's going into filly bootcamp like I did when I was young, and then she's going to train under me like a student!"
"Oh that is the most brilliant solution of all!" Discord applauded. "Bravo, Flurry!"
"Yes, I think she'll do well with you, Flurry." Celestia glanced at Luna out of the corner of her eye.
Luna hesitated but then put on a smile. "You shall be a very wise instructor, Flurry. Cozy Glow is lucky to have you."
"Thank you." Flurry Heart blushed. "I'm happy to have her too. I'm really excited for this. And now that I know my place as princess of protection I think I can guide her even better."
Cadance patted her head. "I'm excited for you. We'll just have to talk to your father about not babying her too much. You know how he always was with you, and I don't Flurry will take too well to it."
"Dad will be super cool about it. Especially when I tell him I'm training her to be a soldier." Flurry Heart winked.
Cadance laughed. Then she looked to the others. "We have to get going to get back by nightfall. I'm so happy we all got to visit. And Discord, Celestia," her horn glowed and some pink sparks left and rained down a glitter that formed hearts in the air. "Happy Anniversary."
They chuckled. "Thank you, Cadance." Celestia nodded.
"Yes, thank you for the glitter gift, love princess - we plan to have a very happy anniversary indeed." Discord snuggled close to Celestia who blushed and giggled.
Cadance went over and hugged Twilight. "And you remember to take some time for yourself. Even the leader of Equestria needs some fun."
"I have plenty of it, Cadance, I promise - my friends and these three help." Twilight hugged her back and her niece as well. "Say hi to Shining for me."
Cadance nodded. Then with a flash of magic she and Flurry Heart disappeared.
Twilight turned to her hosts. "Happy Anniversary, Discord and Celestia. And I'm glad I got to spend time with you, Luna. Thank you all again for having us. And for fighting the forces of evil with me again." She grinned sheepishly.
"Our pleasure, Twilight, "Celestia assured.
"Anytime." Discord winked.
"I'm glad we had the pleasure of spending some time together as well," Luna added. She and Twilight shared a smile.
Then Twilight gave them all a wave then disappeared in a flash of magic.
Discord sighed with a grin and turned to the sisters. "Well, that was an entertaining day to say the least! I…" He paused—Luna was looking away, her smile faded.
"Okay, that does it." Discord teleported over to her side. "Honorary sister, something's been bugging you for a while, and now you've got this wistful, 'I'm upset but I'm not going to talk about it - I think I'll just go brood in my room' look. Spill, please. What's going on?"
Celestia came over and touched her sister's shoulder. "I think I know…"
"Tis nothing." Luna shrugged. "Discord, I have told Celestia that for a little while now I've been thinking of taking on a student. It is an experience I would like to have…though I have not been able to find a good candidate or figure out if I would even be a good teacher. And now...my niece has suddenly found a student. And I am very happy for her. I'm just a little disappointed for a moment that one has not come to me so readily." She put on a smile again.
"A student for Luna…" Discord blinked, his eyes wide. Then he twirled his beard for the second time this morning (which made Celestia giggle).
Luna raised an eyebrow. "Discord?"
"Oh Luna you should have filled me in about this sooner." Discord rubbed his hands together eagerly. "Hmmm…I may have thoughts…yes indeed. But I need to see about some things." He hugged her then pulled back with a smile. "I'll get back to you shortly."
Luna chuckled. "Very well, Discord. Though we know almost all the same creatures by this point, so I'm not sure how you could resolve this problem by coming up with a student I haven't considered." She raised an eyebrow. "Incidentally did you finally tell Celestia whatever's been on your mind lately? We've both noticed something's been bothering you."
Discord blinked and blushed. He glanced to the side, arms behind his back.
Celestia came forward and touched his paw with her hoof. "Discord was thinking we could use some young blood around here. But…we both still have some hesitations about having a child. So I'm afraid Discord has proposed we get a puppy - I'm inclined to agree and we hope you are too."
Discord smiled a little and squeezed her hoof, grateful for the sensitivity.
Luna beamed. "A puppy?"
"A three-headed orthros, to be exact," Discord added. "Cerberus found a girlfriend and now… well…they're cute and need a home. And there's a lovely grey one with black ears. And I think we'd all enjoy—"
"YES! HUZZAH!" Luna pranced in place. "I would adore a creature to live in the castle with us!"
Discord beamed clapped his hands together as Celestia giggled. "I'll get him from Fluttershy when I see her next week. Until then think up puppy names - up to three since he has three heads."
Luna giggled. "I shall prepare many toys and a lovely sleeping place for our little guest." She ushered Discord and Celestia away. "And while I do so why don't you two get going - enjoy yourselves. Tis your anniversary after all and you've had no privacy whatsoever. I'm sure you must have plans."
Celestia smiled more and shook her head. "We haven't even had time to think—"
"Actually for those of us who remembered the date, some plans might already be in motion," Discord teased. "For example," he snapped, "your present is now at our little lakeside cabin."
Celestia's eyes brightened. She smirked and her horn flashed. "And so is yours. I knew I might forget the date again so I got it months ago to be safe." She glanced at her sister. "Are you sure you don't mind, Luna?"
"Nay." She shook her head. "I would like to spend time preparing for the puppy. It'll take my mind off the...student situation." She shrugged. "I mean it. I know this is an important day for you both - please go have fun."
Celestia hugged her sister and they rested their heads against each other. Discord hugged them both close at once by wrapping his whole body around both of them. Then he took Celestia's hoof. "Shall we, darling?" He raised his fingers to snap.
"Always, my Discord." She winked. They giggled as Discord snapped them away.
Luna laughed too then took a deep breath and trotted off to make puppy preparations.
Once they reached the lawn in front of the cabin, Discord immediately started teleporting from place to place with a giddy smile. "Hmm, now where is my present? Not here, not here, not here…" He teleported to hover over Celestia and lifted up her mane. "Not here."
Celestia giggled and teleported him in front of her. "It's inside because I knew the first thing you'd do when we arrived is hunt around here looking for it."
Discord shrugged and landed. "Guilty." He clenched his fists in excitement. "Would you like to see yours first then? I hid it around back! I'm not sure which gift I'm more excited for."
"Why don't you pick, Discord?"
"Okay, Celestia's present first!" He held his tail across her eyes and snapped his fingers. "Ready?"
"As I'll ever be."
"Okay…Happy Anniversary, darling Celestia!" Discord removed his tail.
Celestia blinked a few times then her eyes focused on the present and her pupils narrowed in surprise.
Before her was a pink vespa.
"Surprise!" Discord flew over to it. "You like riding with me on mine so much that I thought you'd like one of your own! You've become an expert at driving one anyway. And look!" He snapped and a sidecar appeared. "For if Luna wants to come along! Oh," He snapped and sidecar appeared on the other side. "And one for the puppy!"
A big smile broke out on to Celestia's features - she trotted in place and then dove forward and leaned Discord back into a kiss. She pulled back, beaming. "A road trip - we have to do a road trip with this! Oh I love it, Discord! Thank you!"
Discord chuckled, blushing. "Well, I knew we usually make each other presents or just do something small, but for 25 years I figured something big was due."
She nuzzled against his chest then pulled back. "Those were my thoughts too."
"Ooo that means it's time for my present!" Discord sat on the grass with his paws down, swishing his tail impatiently.
Celestia's horn glowed - the front door of the cabin opened and a scroll came floating out. She held it in her hoof. "This is part of the present. For the real present, we'll have to take a flight." She spread her wings; Discord did as well.
Celestia flew up with Discord following. They headed over the canopy of the forest to the edge. And then in a tall tree Discord saw an ornate treehouse barely visible through the branches. Celestia landed on the balcony and Discord did too. "I had to have Twilight help me a little," Celestia explained as she unfurled the scroll.
"Hey, this overlooks Fluttershy's animal sanctuary." Discord looked down - just past this meadow at the edge of the forest was the back of the full sanctuary.
"I know." She held up the scroll. "And by official decree this meadow and the surrounding lands will be known hereafter as Fluttershy's Keep - always preserved and reserved for the safety of animals of all kinds. And this treehouse is hers and yours, Discord - so Fluttershy has a safe place to stay when she wants to spend the night tending to animals out here. And so you can spend nights here sometimes when you know she has a lot of work and you want to be near her if she needs help." Celestia pushed open the door and gestured inside. "I added cozy furniture and a teapot and cups and two warm beds and rooms for injured animals. And to add some chaos, I let loose a few dust bunnies from your cottage in there too."
Discord's eyes were very wide. He kept looking from the meadow to the scroll to the treehouse and then he dove at Celestia in a big hug. "You're perfect, you know."
Celestia smiled and brushed away a tear. "I've never liked being called that by creatures but from you…I'll always make an exception. You're perfect too."
They separated, smiling at each other.
Discord sniffed and wiped away a tear. "I'll come back here later to be all gushy and to tell Fluttershy about it. For now…" He snapped and they were back at the cabin, "let's enjoy our day together and make some plans. I have a few in mind but I'd like your input too. I already put on tea…" They headed inside. It was a cozy rustic place with a few rooms and a fireplace and a perfect view of the lake outside.
"I don't know about you," Discord started, turning to her, "but I haven't had such a thrilling anniversary before - we got to be involved in the drama of the new era, we got to reform creatures, and we got to be in battle together for the first time in so very long." He gently cupped her face. "Even if it did scare you when I became stone - that I am sorry about." He frowned. "I was scared too when I got back, realizing you were in danger and that I hadn't been able to help…"
Celestia leaned her head into his hand, smiling. "As long as you're back and we're all safe, it's okay. And besides…it was nice to see you fighting again." She blushed a little. "I liked when you flew in front of all of us, on all fours…fang bared."
Discord blushed, a little gleam in his eye. "I liked when you used your royal canterlot voice. You're such a fierce mare. An unstoppable force really."
Their eyes hazed a little then their mouths came forward in a kiss. When Celestia came to stand on her back hooves to put her forelegs around him, Discord lost balance and snapped. When he fell back with her they were on the bed.
Celestia separated from the kiss, noticed, and smirked down at him.
He shrugged. "The bed is the softest place if you're going to be pouncing me down again, just like after I stopped being a statue." He twirled a lock of her hair around his fingers and raised an eyebrow. "You really couldn't control yourself could you?"
"Chaos has taught me that control is very overrated." Celestia cuddled close alongside him with a foreleg draped over his body, kissing along his jaw a few times. When she reached his ear, she sighed through her nose and smiled. "You married me…"
"You married me too…" He chuckled and turned to gently brush one of her ears with his paw, drifting down her neck. "My delightful bride."
She blushed so much and smiled more. "My dear Discord…" She touched his chest with her hoof. "You…said you had plans for us today?"
"Oh yes." He took that hoof and kissed the back. "But not until later - dinner plans really. Hours from now…" His voice lowered. "Since the day time is your favorite time for most activities, I'll leave it up to you to decide what we do next until then." He brushed her cutie mark with the tuft of his tail, following the round curve of the sun. "You had an idea last night…"
Her back leg grazed one of his. "Yes, and that idea does work best when we have hours." She nuzzled against his neck deeply, feeling his beard tickle her nose and how it made her heart race.
His hands began to wander playfully along her body as her wings spread. "Sorry we had to wait almost a full day to come here," Discord whispered to her, gently tickling her side. "It's very relaxing after everything we went through."
Celestia giggled. Her eyes hazed shyly, her smile full. "Let's stay a while to make up for it?" Her voice was soft and warm. She parted her lips and kissed him. Discord chuckled and growled a little at the back of his throat then embraced her more as their tails mixed. Discord began to tease and explore and Celestia began to relax and play until they were both fully swept up in each other.
They got lost for a little while that became a long while in their own world of love together.
Luster Dawn sat in the Ponyville Castle library in her usual chair with her trio of friends in their usual chairs. A fire was lit, and only the sound of the crackling was heard. Tirek and Chrysalis were shifting in their seats, looking uneasy. Cozy Glow was scowling and looking away.
Luster Dawn took a deep breath. "Tirek, Chrysalis - I want you two to explain to me exactly what you thought would happen by bringing Sombra back. And please don't tell me again about how you wanted to use him to show up Princess Twilight and the others." When they raised eyebrows at her, she explained. "Go over with me what sequence of events you thought would occur during and after your plan happened." She kept her voice patient and steady. And truly she wasn't angry anymore. She just needed them to understand better how the consequences of actions weren't always predictable things. A big problem for all of them as villains had been not thinking things through; that habit needed to change for the sake of this friendship and their future ones.
Tirek and Chrysalis glanced at each other.
Cozy Glow scoffed at not being addressed. "So, what, you're not talking to me or something?"
"I'll talk to you later," Luster Dawn frowned. "What I have to talk to you about is different anyway." She turned back to the other two.
"Well," Tirek shrugged, "Sombra would have been freed…"
"And then those princesses and Discord would have been called out on their hypocrisy, though you don't want to hear that part again," Chrysalis went on. "Then certainly Sombra would have either been defeated because, you know, 'the magic of friendship' conquers all…" She rolled her eyes.
"Or perhaps he would have wanted to stay around and to give being reformed a try," Tirek went on. "After all, he was part of our group too for a little while. Discord's the only reason he didn't get to stick around." He looked to his companions and then Luster Dawn again. "And then all of us - you and us three and maybe him - would have been even closer," he finished.
"And you'd turn out to be a princess who doesn't write creatures off for a thousand years at a time," Chrysalis hissed.
Luster Dawn blushed a little. "First of all, I am not a princess, I am not in line to be a princess, and I have never said anything about wanting to be a princess. I get that being Twilight's student makes it seem like I should be one, but I don't know if that's the right thing for me in my life. So please just think of me as Luster, an average little pony who just happens to be good at homework and magic. Okay?"
Tirek rubbed his temple and looked to Chrysalis as he gestured to Luster Dawn. "It's always the ones with access to power who don't want it! If I had a bit for every time…"
"Oh, I don't know, maybe she has a point!" Chrysalis interrupted with a deep sigh "Being in charge always comes with so many annoying strings attached."
"Guys, focus?" Luster Dawn gave them a dry look.
Chrysalis nudged Tirek and Tirek nudged her back. Then Tirek frowned and rubbed the back of his neck. "We didn't want you or anyone else to get hurt."
Chrysalis snarled in Cozy Glow's direction. "It could have worked out if certain fillies hadn't interfered but…I suppose we should have considered the inherent risks. And we're….glad we could help save everyone." She spat out the last few words quickly.
"We're…sorry." they managed at the same time. They both looked down.
Luster Dawn sat up and came forward to them. "You know, even if your idea had a lot of…questionable portions … I admire the part where you thought you might be able to help reform Sombra too. I know this was a difficult experience, but I think you both got a lot out of it - we all did. And I forgive you." She put a foreleg around each of them in a hug.
Chrysalis and Tirek didn't resist. They just pouted and blushed… But then Tirek actually patted Luster Dawn's head and Chrysalis touched her hoof to Luster Dawn's foreleg.
Luster Dawn pulled back with a smile. "I know you guys are going to want to go on your own journeys soon - find places for yourselves and new interests and more friends. I am too. But I'm happy we have this time together. I think we're good for each other."
Tirek and Chrysalis almost smiled.
Then Luster Dawn turned to Cozy Glow. "And as for you, Cozy Glow…" Cozy Glow glared back at her, ready to be on the defensive. Luster Dawn just smiled. "I think you really are trying, in your own way… But not every creature gets it right on the first or second or even third attempt." She moved closer. "I like having you here and getting to know you. And I want to trust you. And I hope you trust that all I want to do is help you be happy. Because I love you and because we're friends, Cozy Glow."
Cozy Glow looked away with a scowl. But Luster could see shiny tears at the edges of her eyes.
Tirek and Chrysalis blinked at the sight. They stood and approached, hanging back only a little behind Luster Dawn.
"You set us free last night in the castle," Chrysalis observed, her perpetual scowl softened for a moment. "It was a decent thing to do, which means there's some decency in you, I suppose."
"And you fought alongside us to fix the mess we made," Tirek added. "So…" he raised an eyebrow, "that means you know what you did was wrong and that you needed to make it right."
Cozy Glow shrugged, her eyes still shiny with tears at the edges.
"I don't think you wanted to hurt anyone, Cozy Glow." Luster Dawn's voice was gentle. "Because I think you care about us too deep down even if those feelings are confusing right now. But when you're ready to embrace them, we'll be here, caring about you too."
"So? I-I don't need that, you know. I can be fine alone…without Twilight's version of friendship or yours or anyone's…" Cozy Glow closed her eyes tightly - two of the tears fell. "I'm bad - that's all I ever wanted to be." The words were broken and small.
Luster Dawn came forward and hugged her. And gradually Tirek and Chrysalis joined as well - no fussing or eyeballing or scoffing for once. They just held each other, and they stayed there for a little while.
They were an odd group, but a group nonetheless.
On the way to the Crystal Empire, Flurry Heart had decided that even though she and her mother were going to tell Shining Armor about the villains and the battle together, she wanted to explain to her father alone about her new power and role as a princess. And about her plan for Cozy Glow. Cadance had just hugged her daughter and told her she had grown into a mare she was proud of. Flurry Heart had blushed a little and held her head high. But she bit her lip as they saw the Crystal Empire come into view.
Her mother was a princess. Her Auntie Twilight was a princess. Auntie Celestia and Auntie Luna were former princesses and alicorns. And Uncle Discord was Lord of Chaos. In their family of powerful and legendary creatures, her father was a rare normal pony. A great Prince and Captain of the Guard and wonderful dad but…he was the pony the history books tended to gloss over. Flurry Heart never wanted him to feel left out. That was part of why their shared interest in in the Royal Guard always made Flurry Heart so happy…and also their shared interest in sneaking sweets from the kitchen at midnight and playing Ogres and Oubliettes in full costume and going to fun comic conventions. Yes, she was an alicorn and a princess like her mother, but she was also half normal pony just like her father. She wasn't quite legendary, and she bonded with her father a little over that fact.
Flurry Heart worried that this news about her princess status would seem like she was jumping over to the legendary side of her heritage entirely. Her father would be happy for her but…she didn't want their relationship to change.
So after they got back to the castle she let her mother do most of the talking about their encounter with Sombra and the battle and everything else. And then Cadance had hugged her daughter and left them alone in a room that had once been Flurry Heart's nursery but that had gradually evolved into Shining Armor's game room (where he and Flurry could often be found for O&O or a strategic board game or a marathon of reading comics).
As the door closed Flurry Heart cleared her throat and put on her best smile. "So, Dad, I know that was all probably a lot to take in about the battle and everything…"
Shining Armor smiled sheepishly. "Eh, I had more trouble taking in the part about your mom and Chrysalis having a private chat with Luna. Last time your mom spent any time alone with Chrysalis it was right before our wedding and involved a lot of fighting…and me being pretty embarrassed about the whole fake wife thing."
"Heh, yeah…" She moved closer. "Well, um…some other stuff happened too. I told mom I wanted to tell you myself…"
"Yikes… Okay, I don't care what you did because I know you always have good reasons - just tell me how long she grounded you for and I'll try to talk her down over dinner."
Flurry Heart sighed, grinning a little. "No, no, I didn't get busted this time. There were a few…tense discussions during the tea party about my coronation, but otherwise no issues. I'm still insisting on the fireworks and a make-your-own-nachos bar and on carrying my spear."
"Nice!" Shining Armor hoof bumped with her. "Don't worry, we'll work it out with your mom." He winked.
Flurry Heart laughed. But then she took a breath. "Dad, when we were fighting Sombra, I saw all of our family in trouble and I just…something happened inside of me and…" She held her head high, wings spread. "Dad, I found my calling - my alicorn calling. I'm the Princess of Protection." She closed her eyes and opened them - they glowed white and so did her cutie mark. Her hair even started to wave in an ethereal wind. She closed her eyes and returned to normal.
Shining Armor watched with wide eyes.
"I-I've always been pretty good at shield spells - especially since you taught me them. But now I can make these huge ones that block anything! They push out all the bad magic." She was beaming at the memory but then cleared her throat and pulled back a little. "Kinda funny since I always wanted to be on the offensive in training and that's a pretty defensive power. But it feels right. I…Dad?"
He was smiling, his lip was wobbling and he wiped a tear from his eye.
"Dad, you're crying…"
"It's liquid pride, my Flurry Girl!" Then he hugged her tight and ruffled her mane. Flurry Heart blinked twice but then hugged him back and smiled.
"You've always been so brilliant and amazing and special to me, Flurry," Shining Armor went on. "Just like your mother and your aunts… I don't know how all you princesses do it. If you want to spend some more time with your mother before the coronation for princess stuff, I know she'd love it." He took a breath. "Or if you wanted to go study with Twilight or Luna or Celestia for a bit, we can push your coronation back."
"No! And I-I'm not just like them." Flurry Heart pulled back a little, trying to keep up her smile. "I mean, I love mom, and I'm starting to appreciate that there's so much she can share with me. And I love my aunties too. It's just…all that princess and alicorn heritage had to express itself in some way eventually. But I'm still me. And I'm still just an average pony doing her best. I don't need extra training in being magical. I like to spend extra time with you…especially now before the coronation and before a lot of things change." She moved close and leaned against her father. "I don't think I'd be the Princess of Protection if you hadn't raised me, actually. I'm a lot more like you, on the inside." She pulled back and sniffed and tried to tell herself that she felt tears at the corners of her eyes only because she saw them in her father's eyes too.
Shining Armor tilted his head at her for a moment. Then he smiled again. "You know, every princess approaches her power differently from what I've seen - and I've known pretty much every princess around. Twilight…in those early years she wanted to be a normal pony even with the wings. She lived in the library and spent time with all of her friends just like usual. She only changed her approach when she wanted to." He touched her shoulder. "You're like her - you handle power humbly and you respect everyone in your life and you don't want to be treated differently. And I respect you too, Flurry Heart. And no matter what path you take or where your power leads you, you and I are always going to be best daddy daughter friends. Just like always. Okay?"
Flurry Heart felt the tears fall. This time she dove at her father in a big alicorn hug that knocked them both down. Shining Armor laughed. "Alicorn strength - you know, even when you were a baby you could knock me flat if you flew at me at just the right angle."
Flurry Heart laughed too as she sat up. "You should have seen me knock Sombra out of the air. That and mom fighting him were so cool!"
"I'll bet!" Shining Armor sat up, smiling brightly. "Also congratulations on your first real battle, Captain of the Guard!"
Flurry Heart smiled brightly too. "I know! It was scary but amazing!"
They shared a laugh.
Then Flurry Heart shuffled her hooves. "Oh, um…there's one more thing I need to tell you."
Shining Armor grinned. "Okay, which one of the Cake Twins did you propose to?"
Flurry Heart blushed and rolled her eyes. "Ha ha, very funny. You know the three of us are just friends…especially after that awkward date we went on back when we were fillies that I didn't realize was a date until they both admitted they were competing over me." She considered. "Actually, maybe there's two things I should mention. First, I think I've decided not to get married. I'm just not into that lovey dovey stuff like mom is, and I don't really get interested in ponies that way."
"Lone wolf Flurry Heart - sounds like an interesting title." His eyes hazed. "You don't need to worry about admitting that. Your Auntie Twilight is the same way, and your mom understands. Some ponies just aren't looking for love."
Flurry Heart smiled more. "Thanks, Dad." She cleared her throat. "The other thing is…I saw a lot of myself in Cozy Glow: the frustration, the energy, the drive, the raw talent… And she needed a place to go so… I invited her here. She's going to enroll in filly bootcamp. And then I think she'd like to eventually train to become a guard."
Shining Armor furrowed his brow. "Sweetheart, I love you, but…are you sure we should provide her with weapons and a means to use them?"
"You and mom are so meant to be together - she said the exact same thing to me in the carriage." Flurry Heart laughed. "But trust me. She just needs direction… Friendship School wasn't for her and the Magic School doesn't take Pegasi except for the chaos program—and apparently she got a taste of Discord's magic during the Bell fiasco all those years ago and couldn't handle it. I think she'll respond well to more straightforward discipline though. She wants to try."
"Well…" Shining Armor considered, "it might be nice to have a military-minded filly wandering around the castle again."
"Also she punched Sombra in the face. It was amazing!"
He grinned. "Oh yeah, she'll fit in around here perfect."
"Thanks, Dad." She gave him a salute and he saluted her as well.
"Shining! Flurry!" Cadance's voice called from outside of the room. "Whenever you two are ready I have hot chocolate and crystal berry cookies for us all."
"Crystal berry cookies!" Father and daughter exclaimed at once.
Cadance entered with the tray floating in front of her. "I figured you two might be hungry after talking, and I know I am too after our long trip." She set the tray down.
"I told Dad everything."
"And I think all of it is wonderful!"
"I told her you would." Cadance came around and touched her forehead to Shining Armor's.
Flurry Heart rolled her eyes at the sight until they pulled her close for a little family hug. Then they started sharing the cocoa and cookies.
"So when's Cozy gonna be here?" Shining Armor asked as he swallowed a cookie.
"Whenever she's done getting help from Luster," Flurry Heart replied, already on her second one. "I figure maybe a couple months."
"I think she'll make a nice addition," Cadance smiled and sipped her hot chocolate as she poured some for her daughter and husband. "Ooo maybe she'll want to stop by the roller derby with me sometime. And you could come too, Flurry - we'll all wear matching outfits."
"And I'll be in the stands cheering you all one!" Shining raised a hoof high.
Flurry Heart laughed. "Maybe. Let's take it one step at a time."
The little family drank and ate and just enjoyed being reunited again.
Discord and Celestia were dancing on a building rooftop at sunset overlooking the city of Paris, Prance.
Celestia was up on two hooves, and Discord was expertly twirling them both around while Celestia surprised him sometimes by falling backwards only to have him react by catching her in his arms for a graceful dip. There were smiles and laughter. And as the sun finally went below the horizon Celestia came down to four hooves and Discord rested back against a ledge. They caught their breath and then came over to a small table with a white cloth two chairs and some boxes that looked like takeout.
Celestia powered her horn and made some silverware and plates appear. Discord took care of two long stem glasses and a nice bottle of fermented cider that poured itself for them.
"Discord," Celestia's eyes were hazed but bright, "this was a perfect idea. Coming back to the first restaurant we ate at on our honeymoon…"
" 'Ate at' implies we ever made it inside." He grinned and snapped - the boxes opened to reveal varieties of fine food - braised asparagus and brie cheese with fresh bread and some colorful ratatouille and golden quiches. "But ordering takeout and sneaking to the rooftop was fun back then and it's fun now."
"It was the only way we could share a meal without disguises." Celestia magically filled her plate. "This way we could be ourselves and not attract a crowd. And on our honeymoon I just wanted it to be us all the time."
"You are your most ravishing as yourself," Discord remarked as he filled his own plate with a snap of his fingers and gazed at her. "And you know I adore watching you be crafty, cunning, sly…"
Celestia giggled. "And I adore how you encourage me to be all those things."
"And I love you…"
"I love you too."
They raised glasses and clinked then sipped.
They began to eat, admiring the view and each other.
"So…" Celestia began with a coy look, "are you going to tell me what your ideas are about Luna and her student? And about Luster and where she should live?"
Discord's grin grew. "Not just yet. I'm working out the chaos of the details into a very interesting thought that may become a very amusing plan. Then I might do a bit of my classic subtle meddling to put all the necessary parts in motion. Everyone should end up quite pleased."
"Yes, that sounds like how'd you'd approach the problem." She moved a little closer. "Can I at least get a hint?"
"Fluttershy." He proudly announced without any additional context or explanation. Then he loaded another piece of quiche onto his plate.
Celestia's smile grew. "Oh, I like plans that involve her. I'm looking forward to the outcome."
"I assure you it won't disappoint, Mrs. Discord." He winked.
"You never do, Mr. Celestia." She bowed her head.
"But for the rest of tonight, I'd prefer to only focus on you and us, my darling." Discord's voice was low. He snapped. A thin crystal vase appeared on the table bearing an iridescent rose that shimmered different colors in the fading sunlight and rising moonlight.
Celestia's eyes widened at the beautiful sight. "Oh Discord…" She sighed.
"I made it to look like all the magic you make me feel inside of me." He took her hoof across the table, raised it up, and kissed the top. "I feel so good when I'm with you, Tia."
Celestia brushed away a quick tear from her eye with her other hoof. "You gave me a happy ending I didn't know that I wanted or that I needed. I feel good in our life together too."
They moved closer and rested foreheads against each other. Then they pulled back, grinning giddily.
Celestia sighed. "Discord, I know we had a long day and night yesterday but…if you're not too tired, after this, would you like to do the other things we did after our meal during our honeymoon?"
He smirked. "We already did one of those things back at the cabin, my sultry dame of sunshine."
Celestia blushed and tried not to laugh as she rolled her eyes. "I meant the other things we did. Taking dessert with us and teleporting to Veighnice to eat it lying in a gondola and gazing at the stars. Setting up our own ferris wheel in a field and shooting off a few magically-quiet fireworks so no one would find us. Flying by starlight back here to Prance then getting some hot coffee from a late night cafe and listening to poetry and talking until all hours about the future and the past and right now."
"Everything, my charming lady," Discord replied, holding her hoof in both of his hands. "And then we'll head back home - or maybe to the cabin instead. Yes, and I'll put on a fire in that cozy bedroom and we'll cuddle close under the quilts and fall fast asleep together - and sleep in until whenever we please because we're wild and carefree and rebellious - and retired too."
She laughed. "I'll let Luna know not to wait up for us." She made a scroll appear, penned a few words with a quill, then sent it away.
"We'll see her for a late breakfast tomorrow. I'll make pancakes with funny shapes." Discord nodded in approval at the notion then went back to eating and sipping his cider.
"With chocolate chips?" Celestia asked coyly.
"Yes - and also chili peppers in mine."
She clapped her hooves together and went back to eating and drinking as well.
Under the table Discord swirled his tail through hers once. "Happy Anniversary, Celestia."
Celestia touched his hand on the table with her hoof. "Happy Anniversary, Discord."
They shared a tender look then gazed at the sky as the stars and moon came out.
When the three of them—herself, Celestia, and then Discord—had all started living in the castle together after the wedding, Luna recognized instantly that Celestia was concerned about her feeling left out. Celestia would invite Luna everywhere she and Discord were going, she would spend at least three nights a week in Luna's room either staying up to talk or sleeping cuddled close, and she wouldn't spend more than a weekend away anywhere alone with Discord. Finally after a month Luna had sat down with her sister and explained that she felt no jealousy or like she was losing her sister. Luna had merely gained a brother and Celestia had gained a new kind of partner in her life. And both sisters knew that spending too much time together tended to strain their own relationship anyway. And besides, Luna liked moments alone and quiet and doing her own activities. She was very content to have her sister and brother-in-law do their own activities as well.
Celestia had hugged her and they had agreed to some trips together as a threesome (which Discord was insistent upon as well) and just a couple nights every moon spent together sleeping or talking in Luna's room because Celestia wanted that time together very much and Luna liked those moments too.
So when Luna got the scroll from Celestia that she and Discord would be away until at least tomorrow for their anniversary celebration, she wasn't surprised and was almost a little relieved. After all the trials of the last day and night, she wanted time to herself to reflect and rest and be quiet.
And yet there was a small touch of loneliness, and she realized it was because Twilight had left so suddenly and their last evening together had been interrupted. The company of Twilight was different than the company of her sister of Discord - Twilight was content to find joy in simple things like a night of excellent study together over a pot of tea. Luna had never been as inclined to be social as her sister was, but socializing with Twilight was an exception. She was the first friend Luna had made upon her return from her exile on the moon. And then they had become colleagues after Twilight had become a princess. And now Twilight was a special part of Luna's life in a way that Luna had never felt with another creature before. She had a simple fondness for Twilight. And Luna looked forward to Twilight retiring one day and moving in with the three of them probably more than Twilight did herself.
And so Luna decided to curl up in her bed and do a little dreamwalking, possibly as far as Canterlot.
She found the pony she was looking for soon enough. After all, they were the only two that ever walked among the land of dreams. Luna smiled and waved to Twilight in the ethereal hallway between ponies' minds where they found each other. Twilight made a golden door with purple and pink gems appear and gestured inside. Luna followed her.
They were in a dream version of the Canterlot Castle now, in the throne room. Stars shone outside the windows and lavender hung from the sconces.
Twilight turned to Luna and smiled. "Luna! What a nice surprise? Let me guess - Discord and Celestia are still off celebrating?" She blushed a little.
Luna laughed and nodded. "Yes, as usual whenever they do anything together they get carried away. Supposedly I should see them tomorrow late in the morning."
"I'm glad I got to see them today. Twenty five years - I never saw it coming when I was younger but once it happened it seemed so right. I'm happy for both of them."
"They needed each other and still do. They are good together. I'm proud of our family. You will make an excellent part of it one day too."
Twilight glanced to the side and smiled sheepishly. "Thanks, Luna. After how Celestia was my mentor and how much I learned from helping reform Discord and going through his lessons, and how close our friendship has become over the years, I already feel like family."
Luna smiled more. Then she cleared her throat. "Twilight…might I ask you a question…regarding Chrysalis?"
"Of course." Twilight tilted her head.
Luna sat and glanced to the side, pretending to admire the lavender. "She requested to speak to you alone earlier. How…did that conversation go exactly?"
"Oh." Twilight smiled. "It went well. Like I said, she mentioned your idea to have us contact some of our friends abroad to find her a new place to live where she'd be happy. And I'm going to reach out to the Hive later this week to see how they feel about the idea."
Luna smiled a little. "Yes, of course. But what I mean was.…" she cleared her throat, "Was there anything else that happened from your conversation? She…well, not to reveal too much about what we discussed with Cadance but Chrysalis seems to have quite the fixation on you."
Twilight's eyes went a little wide then hazed. She smiled gently. "Oh…that. I had a feeling about that ever since you reminded me of her stick last night."
Luna blushed a little. "So you know…"
"Luna, it's really not a big deal." Twilight rolled her hoof in the air. "Maybe it's because I'm more aligned with friendship than love and also because my sister-in law is in charge of love so she's made me familiar with all of its aspects anyway, but… I'm not bothered. Sudden emotional attachments can happen when you have a history with someone. And Chrysalis seems like she's trying to move forward. And besides, I'm just not the romantic type."
Luna considered. "Yes, I have felt that way too in my own life. I could not imagine having a passionate relationship like my sister has with Discord. I just encounter creatures and some I like well enough…and some I like very much." Luna hesitated. "But once at our first princess sleepover, Cadance mentioned a creature named Flash Sentry…"
Twilight held up a hoof. "That only applied in the human world. I told you, things there were very confusing. I wasn't quite myself. I don't know, maybe ponies need time to acclimate there more before they get their bearings - like how Sunset eventually found happiness. And I never felt anything for the Flash Sentry here." She shrugged. "Cadance is the romantic one; I'm a little different. Like how you and Celestia are different from each other."
"Yes." Luna blushed slightly. "I think I understand. And I'm glad there was no awkwardness with Chrysalis." She took a breath. "After everything that happened yesterday and this morning though, I suppose I just want you to know that you are one of the creatures I like most dearly. You are a best friend I didn't know I could want or need. I appreciate you in my life. Our relationship means a great deal to me."
Twilight blushed a little, her eyes wide. And for a moment, even though she was taller than Luna now, she seemed smaller and shyer. "You are very special to me too, Luna. You're… a kind of friend I didn't expect to find, but now I couldn't imagine not having you. I like our time together. My life has been full of a lot of action and energy and moments of peril. But…I appreciate the quieter times. We always find those together." Twilight frowned. "I was very worried when we realized Sombra had attacked your tower." She glanced to the lavender in the sconces, next to the window full of night sky. "I feel like I belong with you at the end of the day."
"I was worried when I woke up and realized you were gone." Luna moved closer to Twilight, letting their hooves rest against each other on the floor as she looked to the lavender as well, purple and right next to the moon framed in the window. "But I am glad we agree - I feel like I belong with you at the end of the day as well. Our's tis a special friendship." She raised an eyebrow and glanced at Twilight out of the corner of her eye.
Twilight nodded, glancing at her in the same way. "A special friendship. One I'm glad we could find together." She kept her hoof close to Luna's. "You know, Spike actually went with Smolder on a visit to the dragonlands, so I'm kind of alone here too. Since we were interrupted last night would you like to teleport to Canterlot and spend the night here instead?"
"Yes! I shall bring tea and some books from the library!" Luna nodded eagerly.
"Starswirl's Last Journals?" Twilight bit her lip. "I…may have seen them in the library when we were talking with Cozy Glow…and I got a little distracted by them."
"Of course! I've been eager to review them myself."'
Twilight beamed and pranced in place. "I'll finish my last tasks and sneak some cookies from the kitchen. Half an hour?"
"We shall see each other then." Luna bowed her head. Twilight bowed hers as well.
They hesitated. Then Luna came forward and hugged Twilight tightly. Twilight blinked then smiled and closed her eyes and hugged her close in return.
They pulled back, gently touched heads, then departed the dream world with a flash of magic.
Discord woke up in a bed - it wasn't a bed he was used to, and the air felt warm, and he could smell the fresh seaside air. The bed seemed big, and there was a weight near him. Probably Celestia - they must have gone to sleep together again. He closed his eyes, prepared to return to dreaming. But then his eyes popped open as he remembered where they were and everything from last night: this was their first trip alone since Celestia had confessed her love to him.
They had watched the sunset over Horsehoe Bay outside last night; then Celestia had asked to turn in early with him. And they had both agreed they were rusty but willing to try… Then coming up here with her to their private bungalow and letting things happen naturally just like that evening spent necking on their first date but so much more. So many strange but beautiful hours together. The sound of his name on her lips, said in so many ways, and everything he had said to her. Falling asleep amidst warmth and love and feelings of complete happiness.
He looked over and saw through the window the sun's light just beginning to tinge the night sky orange amongst the purples. And he saw Celestia with her hair spread over the covers facing the window, asleep.
He couldn't breathe. He gripped the blankets. He wondered if he was dreaming but knew better. In dreams he would wake up before feeling like he did now - like he was feeling all the feelings in the world at once. He wanted to reach out, touch her, drape his arm over that delightful curve in her hip and hold her close because they belonged that way. But he couldn't imagine disturbing her.
He heard her let out a deeper breath. Could she be awake? What would she say? Would she be happy or…less than happy? Would she want to do this again? Would she want a little time to herself to think? Should he snap them up breakfast in bed or snap himself away to give her some privacy?
Her wings stretched a little beneath the covers. She was up - sunrise always woke her up no matter how late she went to bed. He was happy to be up too. But he stayed quiet and in this moment where things could turn out good just as easily as they might turn out bad.
She hummed softly to herself. "Good morning, Discord," she said. "Isn't the sunrise lovely?"
He blushed very much. "How did you know I—"
"I usually wake up before you do. I know how you breathe when you sleep at this point. If it makes it seem any less strange, I know the same thing about Luna and Twilight too from when she would sleep over in my study as a little filly." Celestia stretched and turned to him.
Her eyes were glinted with sunlight. She looked so soft and warm and nice. He felt soft and warm and nice now too.
"Hi." His voice cracked and he blushed more.
Celestia's smile grew. "Hello." She touched his paw with her hoof.
"Did you sleep well? I-I mean did you have a nice night? I mean…" he sighed, "I'm sorry, it's been a really long time since I… I never spent the night like this with someone I love," he blurted out, and felt his heart pound.
"It's okay." She gently rubbed his paw. "Take a deep breath. It's just me. And this is a first for me too…with someone I love and who loves me." She smiled sheepishly. "I'm nervous. But I always feel better with you."
"I feel better with you too." He held her hoof and snuggled more under the blankets.
"I did have a nice night, just so you know," she added quietly with a blush. "And I hope you did."
"Yeah…yes!" He beamed, then his eyes hazed. "You're just…magical." He blinked a few times and came out of his daze as Celestia smiled more. "I mean, we…we're pretty different creatures. I'm happy we found a good way to be together."
"Hmm." Her eyes hazed too. "Well, you're very creative. And I'm very cooperative. I had a feeling we'd figure it out one way or another."
Discord chuckled. Then he swallowed. "And we can…do that again sometime?" He raised an eyebrow.
She smiled more. "You're cute when you're shy, Discord. But there's really no need to be. Yes, we can do that again sometime. Just like we can get married sometime…like I said last night, remember?" She glanced down shyly.
Discord's eyes brightened. Then he came closer and put his arm over her and cuddled up with her. "One day we're going to wake up every day together. Because I really am going to get us married. You'll be my mistress of chaos, I'll be your prince of the sun… And we will lead a legendary life of nonsense."
Celestia giggled at his sudden passion. "I have no doubt. That sounds like quite a happy ending." She cuddled close and rested her head against his chest. "But for now, can we just stay here like this? And enjoy the sunrise. You know how much I like sunrises…"
He chuckled low, nuzzling the top of her head. "As you wish, my darling."
She sighed. "My Discord…"
"Later do you want me to snap us up cake to eat in bed for breakfast?"
"Yes - the best end to the best night."
Discord's heart felt perfectly full.
They stayed close as the sunrise came.
Discord woke up - the dim light told him the hour was early. He recognized the earthy smell of the cabin and the woods around them. They must have gotten back from their evening of frolicking only an hour ago and then they had both passed out in bed. He looked over to see Celestia turned away from him toward the window but still slumbering - he knew her breathing now when she slept too. His arm was already around her. He held her a little closer and cuddled against their pillows and against her soft wings. She was everything.
He heard her sigh a few minutes later. She was up. Like clockwork for sunrise even on only an hour's sleep. "Tia," he whispered, "we can watch sun together but then right back to sleep. We've had a long couple of days, we need our rest. I'm sure Luna isn't expecting us for a while."
She laughed sleepily. "Are you kidding? I couldn't imagine moving from this spot for at least another few hours. Those full nights out are fun when we're doing them…but sleeping them off is the best way to end them."
He twirled his fingers through some of her hair. "And you're the best creature to end any night with, Tia."
Her ears twitched pleasantly. She yawned. "And how did you wake up so early and before me?"
"I was having a dream and it ended at the perfect place - I guess a feeling of blissful happiness will wake up anybody."
"What did you dream about?"
"That first morning we had together after a full night together. After you told me you loved me too. At our bungalow on Horseshoe Bay."
She let out a happy sigh. "One of my favorite memories… We have so many nice memories."
"And we'll make so many more." Discord gazed at the sunset for another moment but then his eyes began to blink and grow heavy. "I'm excited to keep sharing our lives and seeing what happens next."
"Hmm…" She nuzzled against him and turned a little towards him. "Whatever happens, together…it all works out. All the days…all the chaos…" She was drifting off too.
"All the friendship and love." Discord's paw found her hoof and squeezed.
They each blinked a few more times, gazing at each other, then fell asleep, safe and close together, prepared for the next twenty five years and beyond.
Thank you so much for reading! There's just a chapter of two left of this story (and this saga lol). Everyone please take care and stay safe! And review if you can!