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    Princess Luna still found immense comfort in the dream realm. As much as it excited her to be able to actually discover and move around New Equestria, her home—beyond wherever Pinkie was—was the dream realm and all its wonders—the one place she truly felt belonged to her. 

    But on that night, as she entered her realm, surrounded by thousands of multi-colored doors, she knew something was different. 

    Namely, that she was not alone. 

    With a spark of magic, the scenery around her changed. The doors faded away, the expanse disappeared, and instead, she found herself in a vast, sunlit meadow with a great, blue lake in the middle. 

    Twilight Sparkle was there too, standing in the middle of the lake and looking down into the water.  

    Her demeanor was…not concerning, but different. Even from afar, Princess Luna could tell her young friend was troubled. Her ears were lowered, and her tail was all but stuck between her legs.

    Taking her time, Princess Luna made her way to Twilight Sparkle, stepping onto the water’s surface and only vaguely listening to the splish splash of her steps. 

    It wasn’t until Twilight acknowledged her by lifting her ears that the princess spoke. 

    “Twilight Sparkle,” she said, a hint of a tease in her words. “I’m surprised to see you here. I was not under the impression you loved dream-walking so much.” 

    Twilight laughed, turning to the princess. “Honestly, after everything that happened at Hollow Shades, I think I’ve done enough dream-walking for a while.”

    And yet, Princess Luna wanted to say, here you are.

    But before she could do so, Twilight continued the conversation. 

    “How is it going for you? Dream-walking, I mean. Now that you have access to all of Equestria?”

    Princess Luna didn’t know quite how to reply. It was a lot, certainly, but she wasn’t one to admit that. 

    “It’s complicated,” she settled on instead. 

    “I bet,” Twilight replied, looking back down at her reflection. “I saw all the doors when I got here earlier. I counted six-hundred-thirty-four just in one area.”

    Princess Luna raised an eyebrow. “You counted?”

    “You were taking a long time!” Twilight protested, her defensiveness melting away when Princess Luna laughed. 

    “Be that as it may, you are right. There are thousands of doors now, which is certainly not the same amount as the couple dozen I was used to.” 

    Twilight hummed, mulling that over. 

    “How are they taking to you?” she asked. 

    “What do you mean?”

    “How’re they reacting to you, I mean. What do you present yourself as?”

    “Ah.” Like Twilight, the princess turned her eyes towards the water and stared back at herself. “I present myself as who I am. Our myth is so commonplace, I’ve found the majority of ponies trust the ‘Lost Princess of Dreams’.” Her reflection smirked back at her. “I admit it’s been pleasant to see just how many of our ponies have stopped their own nightmares to briefly express I’m their favorite.”

    She expected Twilight to laugh at that, or even make a snide comment, but the younger alicorn simply continued to look at the water, her brows creased with thought. 

    “That’s good, actually.”

    “How so?”

    Twilight cocked her head to the side, clearly trying to form her ideas. “Well… When we eventually have to come clean to Equestria about… well, us? There’ll be some precedent. Evidence that we’ve always existed, even if it was in their dreams.”

    “Interesting.”

    “What about Hollow Shades?” Twilight asked next. “How is everything over there?”

    “Hollow Shades is doing well. I’m grateful the majority of the town is willing and eager to keep our secret until the time is right to come out with it.”

    A pause hung in the air. 

    “Should…” Twilight’s voice was quiet now, her eyes piercing her own in the water. “Should we even come out with it?”

    “…Explain,” Princess Luna requested, intrigued as much as she was perplexed. 

    Twilight faltered. “It’s been so long,” she said, eventually, every word walking over a delicate thread. “It’s not as if you or Princess Celestia will have power or influence anymore, and I know ‘Denza’ intends to name a successor the moment we’re done with all of this.”

    “That could be you,” Princess Luna ventured. “I am aware you are convinced Celestia only ascended you for show but—”

    “‘Was’ convinced,” Twilight interrupted, rather forcefully. 

    The princess smiled affectionately. “My apologies, you’re correct. Though you were once convinced your ascension was merely for show, the truth is my sister did intend for you to rule at one point.”

    Twilight snorted. “Me? Rule? I wasn’t ready back then when I knew Equestria, and I’m definitely even less ready now with this Equestria I barely know.” She hesitated. “We don’t have to rule? Why should we? We’re so out of touch and have been through so much that coming out with the truth would make everything complicated. Why can’t we just… not come out with it? And live normal lives?”

    Princess Luna grinned. “Normal as in living in Ponyville inside Carousel Boutique and having to do nothing but gaze into Rarity’s eyes?” 

    No,” Twilight immediately said, before allowing herself a giggle. “Well. Maybe.”

    As much as teasing Twilight Sparkle was a righteous endeavor, the Princess knew her friend was seeking wisdom, not amusement. So, she sobered up and spoke: 

    “Unfortunately, we cannot hide our wings under cloaks for the rest of our lives. Furthermore, just because we are indeed not a myth and the whole of Equestria learns as much doesn’t mean we have to do anything. Frankly, I don’t want to do anything aside from my dream-walking duties.” She extended her wings. “A normal life as myself sounds ideal.”

    “Do you know what you want to do once this is all over?” Twilight asked. 

    Princess Luna shrugged. “Not entirely. I’ve not given it much thought beyond knowing I will follow Pinkie wherever she goes.”

    Twilight laughed. “Oh? For your entire life?”

    “Not mine, but hers,” Princess Luna replied, casually. “I don’t think I can follow Pinkie for the rest of my life unless I want to sit by a gravestone for millennia.”

    Immediately, Twilight’s delight died. 

    “Oh,” she said, contrite. “I… Uhm…”

    “It is one of the drawbacks of being a natural-born alicorn.” She observed her hoof which remained the same as it had for the majority of her life. “Agelessness is both a blessing and a curse.”

    “I’m… I’m sorry.”

    The princess glanced at her, unperturbed. “Why are you sorry, Twilight Sparkle? I am not sad about what awaits me.”

    Twilight composed herself. “I guess I would be. Or I know I would be. When I was in the library and thought I’d never be freed, the idea of having to live through Rarity getting old and dying was…” She smiled wryly. “I didn’t take that well when I realized. The fact that she was just a second in my life, and she’d be gone just as fast…”

    Princess Luna hummed. “That is certainly a way to look at it. A very pessimistic one, but a way indeed. I’m quite grateful for the fact that I will have a second with Pinkie Pie, and then with her children, and with their children, and so on until I run out of seconds to live.”

    Twilight snorted, levity returning to her. “The Shadow of the Pie family.”

    “You jest, but if it were up to Pinkie, that would be my title.” She allowed herself a smirk. “She had a date with a stallion yesterday, and she insisted I attend as well.”

    “She what?”

    “We are… What did she say? A package deal,  and since first dates are supposedly to get to know one another, she insists her beau must know and like me, as well.”

    Twilight laughed, clearly unsure how to even react. “And you went? Princess, that’s—I’m sorry, but that’s kind of… weird.”

    “Oh, make no mistake, I agree. Even though we ended up having a pleasant time with him after a very uncomfortable first hour, I wouldn’t do it again. In fact, I knew I shouldn’t have done it  in the first place.”

    “Then why did you do it?”

    “I was hungry, they were going to a neighboring town, and I was quite done with foals insisting I take them on flights all day.” 

    Twilight grinned. “I guess that’s fair.”

    “It is,” Princess Luna said pleasantly until she gave Twilight A Look. “But though we’ve talked about many things, I gather we haven’t yet touched on the reason why you’re actually here, have we, Twilight Sparkle?” 

    Caught, Twilight looked back down at the water.  “No, we haven’t.”

    “What is it?”

    Twilight took a breath, steadying herself. “Princess, you told me once that you can… extract memories from ponies. Things that were even suppressed. Is that true? Can you really do that?”

    This took the princess by surprise. Why was Twilight asking about that? 

    “I can,” she said, carefully. “It is a type of very advanced dream-walking magic and a very dangerous one at that. To extract memories from somepony is, in many ways, the highest violation of their privacy. I’ve only done it very few times when I saw no way to move forward with a troubled pony.”

    She paused.

    “Why do you ask?”

    Twilight was hesitant to answer, still staring at her reflection. Eventually, she swallowed her fears and said, “I need you to do that.”

    “…On who?” 

    “On me.” At Princess Luna’s surprised expression, she continued, nerves fraying her words, “I need a memory from when I was younger. Much younger. From when—” She paused, unable to look the princess in the eyes. “From when I was friends with Discord.”

    The Princess bristled at that. 

    “Twilight Sparkle,” she said, gravely. “There is danger in revisiting memories such as those. Some things are faded memories not just because of time passing, but because our mind has forgotten them for a reason.”

    “I know that, Princess Luna, but the memory isn’t for me.” Finally, she looked at the older alicorn. “I’m not the one who needs to see it, which is why even if I knew how to extract them, I’m afraid I might subconsciously tamper it if I’m the one extracting it”

    Princess Luna frowned. “Who needs to see it, then?”

    Twilight shook her head. “Rarity.” She faltered again, unsure. “Or, I don’t know if she needs to see it. Maybe she shouldn’t. But I want her to see it. I think it would help her understand.”

    “Help her understand? Understand what?” Princess Luna questioned, disconcerted by Twilight’s gravity. “What memory? Where is this coming from?”

    A silence hung between them, one that felt eternal and grew Princess Luna’s worries with every passing second until Twilight finally spoke.

    “Discord visited us in Ponyville with information on how to free Cadance.”

    Another silence fell.

    “I see,” Princess Luna eventually replied. She adjusted her wings and cleared her throat. “You know, Twilight Sparkle, you really should have led with that.”


    Wow… Two TEC chapters in a single month…. Miracles DO happen!
    ____

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    13 Comments

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    1. Undome Tinwe (Melesse Lindenya)
      Nov 13, 22 at 11:46 pm

      It really is nice to see how far these characters have all come. Something about this story that I’ve found really nice is that it features characters who have already overcome their “main” internal personal conflict, which is normally when stories end.

      It’s kind of a similar thing to how a lot of romance stories end with the hookup, but there’s so much more to explore in the “what happens after that standard character stopping point” and it’s nice to see someone writing that. Definitely looking forward to seeing how these all-grown-up characters handle Discord in the coming chapters.

    2. Theron
      Nov 2, 22 at 11:01 pm

      I’m guessing that Discords reasoning for helping is much simpler than anyone suspects… Noone sets up a game and then has fun when the players give up. If Discord truelly wanted them trapped for as long as they have been he wouldn’t have even bothered giving them a way out. He is helping in his annoying way because he is bored of it all.

    3. Harwick
      Oct 22, 22 at 4:37 am

      Heh… the idea of Pinkie bringing Luna along on a first date is hilarious! That’s quite a relationship to puzzle out over dinner.

      I liked the optimistic perspective on Alicorn longevity as well…. And I’m looking forward to seeing the memory in question!

    4. Cedric Bale
      Oct 19, 22 at 2:51 pm

      And of course now I can log in. Wish I could delete that other comment and re-do it now. @[email protected]

      1. @Cedric BaleOct 19, 22 at 4:48 pm

        I can delete it if you want! ahahaha

        Also, re: your thing, in retrospect I realize I never addressed it but in my mind it was always they can’t disclose until Discord is dealt with because otherwise it would mean revealing to Equestria that Discord is free and able to attack if he wants! Or at least that’s my justification ((granted because I don’t want to spend chapters having to contend with that…. shhhh))

    5. Cedric Bale
      Oct 19, 22 at 2:49 pm

      I was really wondering why they hadn’t revealed themselves to Equestria yet, gotten the official backing of the crown, etc. In fact, I swore I’d left a comment previously about that, but I can’t find it now? Maybe I dreamed it…

      Also, I seem unable to log in atm.

    6. ShadowLDrago
      Oct 18, 22 at 2:30 am

      Namely, that she was not alone. 

      Oh?

      Twilight laughed, turning to the princess. “Honestly, after everything that happened at Hollow Shades, I think I’ve done enough dream-walking for a while.”

      And yet you’re here.

      “I bet,” Twilight replied, looking back down at her reflection. “I saw all the doors when I got here earlier. I counted six-hundred-thirty-four just in one area.”

      You would.

      “I admit it’s been pleasant to see just how many of our ponies have stopped their own nightmares to briefly express I’m their favorite.”

      That DOES sound fun.

      Twilight cocked her head to the side, clearly trying to form her ideas. “Well… When we eventually have to come clean to Equestria about… well, us? There’ll be some precedent. Evidence that we’ve always existed, even if it was in their dreams.”

      Excellent point.

      “Should

      Twilight’s voice was quiet now, her eyes piercing her own in the water. “Should we even come out with it?”

      I’m afraid I don’t follow.

      Princess Luna grinned. “Normal as in living in Ponyville inside Carousel Boutique and having to do nothing but gaze into Rarity’s eyes?” 

      I can think of a worse fate.

      “Not mine, but hers,” Princess Luna replied, casually. “I don’t think I can follow Pinkie for the rest of my life unless I want to sit by a gravestone for millennia.”

      Oh. Right. Immortal.

      The princess glanced at her, unperturbed. “Why are you sorry, Twilight Sparkle? I am not sad about what awaits me.”

      I suppose you would have had time to come to terms with it.

      Twilight snorted, levity returning to her. “The Shadow of the Pie family.”

      You joke, but she WOULD be that if Pinkie has any say in the matter.

      “You jest, but if it were up to Pinkie, that would be my title.” She allowed herself a smirk. “She had a date with a stallion yesterday, and she insisted I attend as well.”

      Pfft! She would.

      “I was hungry, they were going to a neighboring town, and I was quite done with foals insisting I take them on flights all day.” 

      Yeah, that’s fair.

      “I see,” Princess Luna eventually replied. She adjusted her wings and cleared her throat. “You know, Twilight Sparkle, you really should have led with that.”

      Yeah, she really buried the lead on that one.

      Wow… Two TEC chapters in a single month…. Miracles DO happen!

      I shall party raucously in your honor.

    7. SigmasonicX
      Oct 18, 22 at 12:16 am

      Really nice chapter, both for character interactions and hints about the story. I really hope we get to see that date at some point. It’s neat to see the characters talk about their future like this; like they really do believe they’ll all be free from Discord soon. I’m curious to see what Twilight expects to find in that memory.

    8. Olden Bronie
      Oct 17, 22 at 8:31 pm

      The conversation between Luna and Twilight was fun, enlightening and sobering. Twilight realizing that ‘forever’ with someone has limitations for an immortal alicorn. Luna definitely had a helpful view, which hopefully Twilight will realize. I’m very interested in the memories she wants to share with Rarity, but I wonder how she will react or if it will change her feelings about Discord.

      It breaks my heart to see Twilight sad.

    9. JMP
      Oct 17, 22 at 5:26 pm

      …For some reason I skipped the last chapter, so I have rectified that. Skimmed the one before that as well. This certainly is an interesting lead. Very curious about Twilight’s memory that she wants Luna to extract.

    10. Tillion
      Oct 17, 22 at 4:58 pm

      *sharp inhale*

      dopamine