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    No one said anything after that, and especially less so Princess Twilight Sparkle.

    But then you came back.

    The statement rang in her head like a haze, every word making sense individually but not as a whole. ‘You were dead and you came back’ would make sense. ‘You were dead, then you came back’ would make sense.

    But she had said neither of those things.


    “Oh. Okay.”

    “Okay?” Rarity asked, looking up at the alicorn. “Okay?”

    “Yes,” Twilight replied, matter-of-factly. She then gestured to the exit tunnel. If they left now, they could find Nightmare Moon and go from there. “We should go. The sooner we can find Nightmare Moon, the better. Let’s regroup with Elder Moonshine and the others.”

    “Princess?” Fluttershy asked as Twilight walked past her.

    Rarity followed suit, stepping towards her. “Twilight? Twilight, wait!”

    Twilight stopped in her tracks, which she hated because stopping meant she couldn’t focus on Nightmare Moon, and instead had to focus on the pain ripping through her chest, through her mind, through her body.

    She didn’t bother looking back.


    “‘Okay’? What do you mean ‘okay’?”

    “Exactly what I said. Okay.”

    Okay? What are— Is that honestly all you’re going to say?” Rarity continued, her indignation incensing the alicorn.

    Twilight finally turned around, failing so miserably at stopping her tears that she wasn’t even trying anymore.

    “Yes, it is,” she said, stepping towards the unicorn, ears folded back. “What else do you want me to say, Rarity? What do you want me to do? You literally just said that I died, but that the—” Pain tore through her chest again, making it hard to speak. “But the worst part of it was me coming back?”

    “What?! That’s not what I meant!”

    “Yes, it is! It’s what you said! Somehow, me coming back is worse than me having died! So, tell me, please, what am I supposed to say to that?!” Her eyes watered anew. “I’m sorry I didn’t stay locked in my library? I’m sorry I came back? Is that what you want?!”

    “No! No! Of course that isn’t what I want!” Her voice cracked, almost enough to make Twilight soften. “For sun’s sake, Twilight, how… How could you even think that?”

    “I don’t have to think it! You said that—”

    “You were everything I had, Twilight!” Rarity cut off, stabbing Twilight with every word. “I put everything on hold for you! Don’t you understand?! Everything. M-my career, my friends, my life, all of that I pushed aside for you and for the princesses and for all of this! You became my life, and then I lost you!”

    It was horrific for Twilight, and even more so the guilt that immediately washed over her. Just the idea that… that her entire existence had been the cause of all that. That not only wasshe at fault, again, for someone’s misery, but that this someone was Rarity.

    But for once. For once, when blame was being thrust her way, the princess didn’t take it.

    “I never asked you to help me!” she snapped back. “I never asked you to put everything on hold for me! I never asked you to make me your entire life! You made the choice to get involved, not me!” Her tone turned vicious. “In fact, if I remember correctly, I asked you to stay out of it!”

    “Princess Twilight!” gasped Fluttershy, turning to the two mares. “Stop it! Both of you!”

    “Don’t you think I know that?!” Rarity said back. “I am well aware you never asked me, Twilight! I’m not blaming you! I would never dream of blaming you! I did it because I wanted to, and I don’t regret it! But I can’t… I can’t go through this again! I can’t go through us going to rescue the princesses again, and then you getting locked in a barrier, or dying, because of something I did, or something that’s happened, and then you’re hurt again and suffering and—” She faltered, her anger turning into vulnerability. “I’m afraid, Twilight.”

    Twilight Sparkle felt many things when Rarity finished her statement.

    Primarily, she felt stupid.

    Stupid to have believed their fight from a few days ago had been the worst of it all. Stupid to have believed, hoped, that somehow things would be as they were before she locked herself away. Stupid to have believed the issue between them was something she could fix.

    She gritted her teeth together.

    “Why didn’t you tell me any of this?”

    “I… I don’t know.”

    “You don’t know?”

    “I didn’t know!” Rarity said, and she began to pace, her eyes manic. “When you came out of that library, I… my feelings were so… confused. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy to have you back, so unbelievably happy. But at the same time, there was this tinge of unease that I… I couldn’t explain. And I just had to keep going, hoping that it would go away.”

    She stopped her pacing, and nervously looked back up to Twilight. “But when you started spiraling because of the elements, just like when you found out Cadance was a ghost, and then again when we had to go to the library… that’s when I realized that it was fear. The fear of you spiraling into a place I couldn’t reach. Of losing you, but this time, forever.”

    A long silence followed as Rarity’s words sank in.

    “You should have told me,” Twilight said quietly.

    “I tried. What do you think me letting you into my dreams was? And look at how that turned out! And even then, Twilight, how do you expect me to tell the love of my life that I was somehow happy and miserable to have them back! And especially after… after all you’ve already been through, and… I was afraid you’d—”

    “Blame myself.”

    Like she had after she saw Rarity’s nightmare.

    She was right. Rarity was right. And Twilight could only feel one thing.


    “What do you want me to do, Rarity?” she asked, tonelessly. “I can’t fix this. I can’t go back in time and stop myself from doing that, or letting the magic possess me, or locking you out. I can’t. What am I supposed to do?”

    Rarity was taken aback. “I… I don’t know, Twilight.”

    “No! You don’t get to say that anymore!” Twilight exclaimed, her anger returned. Anger at Rarity, anger at herself, and anger at the fact that she didn’t know what to do. “Tell me what to do! Should I stop? Should I stop trying to help Princess Luna and the others, then?”

    “No! Of course not!”

    “Then what?! Because the other logical solution is to end our relationship here, and you go back to your life, and I go back to mine, and then it doesn’t matter whether I die or not!”

    “Princess!” Fluttershy scolded. “That’s an awful idea!”

    Rarity’s expression hardened, and she lifted a hoof towards Fluttershy.

    “No, no. It isn’t. It’s brilliant!”

    Twilight’s heart nearly stopped. “It is?”

    “Yes, of course! Let’s break up! What a perfectly sound, intelligent solution. In fact, the moment I wake up, let me pack my bags and gallivant back to Ponyville just as you want!”

    Twilight stamped her hoof on the ground.

    “I don’t want that!”

    “Then don’t make such asinine suggestions!” Rarity snapped, tearing up again. “Running away from the problem can’t be your solution to everything, Twilight!”

    “I’m not running away!” Twilight shot back. She just wanted this over. “I’m just— Tell me! Please! How do I fix this?! Tell me!”

    “I don’t know,” Rarity replied just as despairingly. “I don’t know how! And frankly, I don’t even think we can fix this right now! In fact, right now, Pinkie and Luna matter more.”

    Twilight stepped back, Rarity’s statement a slap in the face. “Pinkie and Luna matter more?” she asked, her incredulous voice barely above a whisper until the moment she teleported herself in front of the unicorn and struggled to stay composed. “This is our relationship, Rarity! This is the only thing that matters!”

    “I know that, Twilight! I wouldn’t be here if our relationship didn’t mean everything to me! But right now, we need to help Pinkie and Princess Luna because if we don’t, then this!” She gestured in between them. “This horror we’re going through is what awaits them! We need to stop Nightmare Moon!”

    “No! We are dealing with this now! Right now, I don’t care about Pinkie Pie, or Princess Luna, or Nightmare Moon’s problems!”

    A great explosive crackle answered her back and Rarity and Fluttershy all but tumbled back in surprise as the bringer of nightmares herself teleported into the middle of the room.

    “You rang?!” exclaimed Nightmare Moon, cackling with delight, instilling shock and fear into all except for Twilight who simply stood there, her eyes burning holes into the older alicorn. “Well, well, my little ponies! I’ve finally fou—”

    “We’re a little busy here, Princess Luna!”Twilight thundered, her horn lighting up with magic and promptly teleporting Rarity, Fluttershy and herself to a completely different section of the dreamrealm.


    Twilight ignored Rarity’s protests in favor of casting an opaque protection barrier around the three of them, ensuring Nightmare Moon wouldn’t be able to interrupt them again.

    “Twilight, what are you doing?!” Rarity exclaimed, flabbergasted. “We need to help Princess Luna!”

    “Fine! Fine, we will!” Twilight said. “This is what’s going to happen now. You two are going to stand there, and I’m going to pace until I figure something out, and nopony is going to talk until I’m done thinking. Got it? Without talking!” she reasserted when Rarity opened her mouth.

    She waited until they both reluctantly nodded.

    “Great. Thank you.”

    No sooner said than done, she began pacing around the inside of the barrier, her frazzled mind scrambling to put together what would surely be a fantastic, intelligent, sound plan.

    “Alright,” she announced after a few minutes. She faced her two friends. “I have a plan.”

    “Oh?” Fluttershy asked, encouraged.

    Rarity, on the other hand, seemed wary.

    “Do you, now?”

    “Yes. This is my plan. I’m going to trap Nightmare Moon in a dream bubble, and then I’m going to stay here in the dreamrealm and maintain the spell for as long as it takes for the chaos magic to let her go.”

    Fluttershy bit down on her lip. “…Oh dear.”

    “You’re… You’re what?” Rarity asked, blinking at Twilight. “Let me make sure I’m understanding this correctly. You intend on staying here, in the dreamrealm, until Princess Luna is rid of the chaos magic, which may I remind you took you nearly two years to do yourself? That’s your plan?”


    Rarity gawked at her.

    “Are you even listening to yourself? How is that any different than being trapped in the library? Have you gone mad?!”

    “It’s the only plan I have, Rarity!”

    “I don’t care! I just got you back, and now you expect me to sit here and let you lock yourself again for stars know how long?”

    “Then help me!” Twilight urged, because she was tired, and scared, and out of ideas except to ask help from the best friend that was slipping in between her hooves. “Please, Rarity. You always know what to do.”

    “Help you?” Rarity asked, incredulous. Not angry. Not resentful. Ashamed. “Twilight! Twilight. Don’t you see? My help is the reason we’re in this mess!”

    And just like that, everything shot into crystal clarity, overwhelming Twilight Sparkle with a wholly new kind of dawning horror.


    “All of these awful things that are happening are because of me, Twilight! If I hadn’t come up with the entire Seeking Night event, Princess Luna wouldn’t have ended up going mad! Her relationship with Pinkie wouldn’t be shredded to pieces! If I…”

    Tears clouded her eyes.

    “If I hadn’t pushed you so hard, then maybe you wouldn’t have been trapped for two years, possessed because I tried to help,” she whispered, the thought seemingly more harrowing than anything Discord had ever done to Twilight. “Stars, I—I know you didn’t mean it but… but I can’t help think that maybe you were right when you said I was his revenge.”

    Twilight blanched, appalled. “Rarity, you… you blame yourself? You told me you didn’t blame yourself!”

    “I don’t! Not like you do!” Rarity harshly interrupted, meaning every word. “I don’t torture myself for it. I know I meant well, but facts are facts, Twilight!” She gestured around, to Hollow Shades, to the nightmares, and in passing to Twilight. “And the fact remains that none of these things would be happening if it wasn’t for me!”

    At that, Twilight didn’t actually know what to say.

    She could only stare at Rarity, shell-shocked, finally forced to see the other side of the coin as she struggled to comprehend what Rarity was saying; tried to somehow grapple with the mind-boggling fact that somepony as intelligent as Rarity could say something so profoundly misguided.

    “Rarity.” She stammered the name out, staring at the unicorn wide-eyed, until she managed to regain some sort of eloquence and blurted out, “Yes! You’re right! This is your fault! All of this is because of you!”

    “Stop it!” Fluttershy yelled, standing in between Twilight and Rarity, the latter now filled with hurt. “This isn’t helping—!”

    “But it’s true!” Twilight protested, desperate. “All of this right now is because of her! If it wasn’t for Rarity, the foals wouldn’t have teddy bears protecting them! If it wasn’t for Rarity, we wouldn’t have an entire army of ponies wanting to help!”

    It was Rarity who moved first, quiet save for her gaze, which burned with emotions as she gently pushed past Fluttershy and hung on every word the alicorn said.

    ”You’re right, Rarity,” Twilight continued, now pacing in quick circles as she rambled on and on. “You’re right. So many things have gone ridiculously wrong. Princess Luna’s turned into her worst nightmare, the chaos magic is making our nightmares worse, Pinkie left us all, and literally every adult in Hollow Shades is in danger. Everything is crazy! But I’m fine! I’m happy to be here!”

    She stopped in front of Rarity and met her gaze, pleading.

    “Because if it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t be here at all.” She stepped forward. “What I said earlier. I meant it. I never asked you to put your life on hold for me. I never asked you to help me and get involved.

    “But thank you, because I… I never would have asked.” She took a moment to catch her breath, to still her heart and her voice, but not to wipe away the tears. “If it had been up to me, I’d still be in my library right now, alone and hating myself and telling myself that’s what I deserved. But instead, I’m here now, helping Princess Luna and the others because of you. So yes, Rarity. It is your fault. Thank Celestia for that.”

    She watched, waiting for what Rarity would say, but when the unicorn simply fell to her hindlegs and pressed a hoof against her muzzle, Twilight pressed on, knowing that it was time to step up. For good. Regardless of what happened next.

    Her expression softened.

    “I have to help Princess Luna and the others. I’m sorry. I can’t give up on them.”

    Now Rarity reacted, her hoof flying down to her chest. “I know that. I would never dream of asking you to do that. I’m just… If you get hurt, or…”

    “I know,” Twilight said, gently. Remorsefully, her ears folding back. “And I wish I could, but I can’t promise you I won’t get hurt. I can’t promise you something won’t set me off, or I won’t lose myself again, or Discord won’t hurt me, or… Or that I won’t blame myself anymore because I’ve been doing it for centuries! That’s a lot of years of bad habits to break! But…

    “But I’m going to get better. Even if it’s hard. I won’t be great at it all the time, and even though I’m statistically likely to have tons of regressions, I’m still going to keep getting better no matter how long it takes me, whether you’re there or not.”

    Rarity’s eyes widened, her own ears similarly folding back. “What do you mean?”

    “It means that I…I understand if you don’t want to do this anymore. I can’t promise you we won’t get hurt again,” Twilight explained, a terrible panic growing in her heart until she touched her glowing necklace and found her resolve.. “But… But if you still want to stay with me and help me again, even though we might get hurt or it might go wrong, I…” Her voice cracked. “I would really, really love that.”

    “I… I…” Rarity stammered on her words, her faltering setting off all of Twilight’s last resort alarms.

    “And if you don’t want to help, that’s fine!” Twilight blurted out, panicking slightly and rushing forward to take Rarity’s hoof in hers. “We can figure something else out! You can just stay in the Dreamland or in Carousel Boutique, and I’ll go rescue the princesses alone, and then I’ll visit you in between, and it’ll be just like before except inverted! It’ll work!” She then pressed her forehead against the unicorn’s, pressing Rarity’s hoof against her necklace. “Please.”

    She swallowed her fears, waiting for Rarity to speak, to say something, to help her save their relationship, but she admittedly hadn’t been counting on soft, tearful giggles.

    She immediately pulled away, her heart pounding in her chest, confused at the sight of the unicorn smiling at her.

    “W-what? Why are you laughing?”

    “Princess Twilight Sparkle, that makes no sense whatsoever,” Rarity said, the giggle that escaped her lips complementing her eyes that sparkled with tears and affection. She caressed Twilight’s cheek with her hoof and tilted her head to the side. “Tell me please, dearest, how does you going off on adventures while I stay in Carousel Boutique alleviate anything? If anything, you have more chances of getting hurt if you don’t have me there ready to knock some sense into your silly ideas!”

    “I don’t know! I was panicking! I’m trying to make this work!” Twilight blurted out, the tightness around her heart lifting at the blissful sound of Rarity laughing again.

    “And furthermore, not only does that not make sense—” Rarity moved in and pressed their foreheads together, her hoof on Twilight’s necklace. “You would have me miss out on the delightful experience of watching you trying to navigate your way through modern Equestria? What a dreadful suggestion!”

    And for the first time in what felt like weeks, Twilight Sparkle laughed. She laughed, toppling both of them down to the ground when she moved in for a hug and nuzzled the unicorn. “Celestia,” she whispered, laughing, tearful, relieved, so so so relieved. “What was I thinking!”

    “What were you thinking, you silly silly pony?” Rarity whispered back, holding her tight and burying herself in the alicorn in her embrace. Her laughter faded after a moment, and her grip tightened. “Stars. I’m sorry, Twilight. For everything.”

    Twilight almost immediately pulled back, alarmed.

    “Sorry? No! No, no, no. I’m sorry for everything!”

    Rarity grinned.

    “Mm. Let’s just agree we’re both sorry, then.” She brushed back Twilight’s bangs and then caressed her cheek again. “And we’ll get better at this whole relationship affair together.”

    Twilight nodded, nuzzling against the unicorn’s hoof right up until the moment her eyes shot open and anxiety filled her again.

    “Wait. But. Are you sure? What about my guilt? And I don’t know. I can’t promise you I won’t get hurt, and—”

    “And it’ll be fine, Twilight” Rarity interrupted, gentle but firm towards both Twilight and herself. “It’s a risk I’ll take. We’ll just have to be extra careful, won’t we? And keep getting better at it, as you already have.” She tapped the tip of Twilight’s nose with her hoof. “And you simply shall have to refrain from putting me in a position where I’ll have to go wrestle your soul back from the grim pony. Because I will.”

    “I promise.” Twilight’s ears flicked up, a sparkle in her eyes. “And you should go back to your business!” she quickly added. “I remember you told me before you wanted to have shops in different cities and places. When we gather intel throughout Equestria to help the princesses, I can help you scope out clients and locations. Not only will it help your business, but we’ll have more allies ”

    “Ah… That sounds lovely,” Rarity whispered, emotional. “That would make me quite happy.”

    “Wait. One last thing.”


    Twilight’s brow furrowed. “Promise me you won’t hold back anymore when it comes to me. And you won’t be afraid of confronting me anymore, even if sometimes I won’t react in the best way.”

    “I won’t,” Rarity said, affectionately. “I promise I shall metaphorically smack you on the back of your head every time I think you’re being ridiculous, after which I will shower you with kisses.”

    “Good.” Twilight sighed, nuzzling the unicorn again.

    “Oh, my darling, dearest, sweetheart, Twilight Sparkle, I do love you,” Rarity whispered, peppering kisses in between every assertion of devotion. “I love you, I love you, I love you.”

    “I love you, too,” Twilight whispered back, allowing herself to melt in the embrace, the pleased flush on her face increasing with every kiss.

    A sudden, rather loud sniffle dragged them out of their little bubble, and they turned around to find Fluttershy regaling them with a tearful smile.

    “I imagine you must be relieved, dear.”

    Fluttershy giggled softly. “Oh, I knew you would work things out,” she said, watching as Twilight stood up and then helped Rarity up. “I knew it would just take a little bit of time.”

    “Mmm. In any case.” Rarity lifted Twilight’s chin with a hoof. “I, for one, am glad everything is fine now.”

    “Me too,” Twilight added. “Except Nightmare Moon is still out there.”

    “Ah, yes. On top of that, we’re all still trapped without escape,” added Rarity.

    “Don’t forget the foals are all here now,” Fluttershy added.

    “And all the adults are trapped in a cave, protected by their fragile belief in a fake Princess Luna.”

    A heavy silence followed.

    “So!” Twilight exclaimed. “What now?”

    “…Don’t you have a plan?” Rarity asked.

    “I told you my plan.”

    “…An intelligent plan, Twilight.”

    “Oh. Right.” She bit down on her lip. “I don’t know. My original plan involved Pinkie, since she seemed to have gotten through to Princess Luna at least twice now. The memories you shared with me through the necklace were instrumental in helping me escape, so I was planning on having Pinkie use the dreamrealm’s magical properties to recreate key memories of her and the princess, and maybe that would bring Luna back. But now Pinkie is gone.”

    Rarity frowned, rubbing a hoof against her chin while she stared up at the sky.. “Right. No Pinkie, no memories… Unless.”

    “Unless?” Fluttershy asked.

    “Unless we don’t need Pinkie Pie herself!” She looked back down. “Twilight! Would this plan of yours still work if I can give you some sort of access into her memories?”

    “I… Yes? In theory yes, I could just relay them to Nightmare Moon myself, but… You can’t extract memories from Pinkie.” She leaned back. “…Or can you?”

    “No, of course not, darling. And I don’t need to.” She lifted her hoof and tapped Twilight’s nose. “You see, Twilight, while you and I have necklaces, Pinkie and Luna have something of their own. A full bookcase’s worth in the Dreamland.”

    Twilight frowned. “A bookcase’s worth?”

    “Pinkie’s dream journals!” Fluttershy gasped. “There’s over thirty of them!”

    Precisely. More memories than I’m sure even Nightmare Moon can withstand. Twilight, you can hear what’s happening around your physical body while you dreamwalk, can’t you? Everything going on in my workshop?” At Twilight’s nod, she continued. “Then that’s what we have to do! I shall wake up, convince Pinkie to lend me her dream journals and read them out loud. All you have to do is find Nightmare Moon, trap her somewhere with you—one of those dreambubbles you mentioned, I don’t know—and then wait for me!”

    Twilight thought for a moment, then cleared her throat.

    “Okay, so let me get this straight. You want me to find Nightmare Moon, trap her in a dreambubble, then stay with her in that dreambubble for an undetermined amount of time?” She playfully raised an eyebrow. “You do realize that’s literally the plan I suggested, right?”

    “The circumstances are completely different!”

    “Completely different.”

    Completely! Primarily because I don’t intend to let you stay there for longer than a few hours.”

    “Is there anything I can do to help?” Fluttershy asked, no longer nervous but eager to help out.

    Rarity mulled it over, her eyes set on the pegasus. “I… I have an idea of what you could do, but first we need to go find Incantation and the others.” Her eyes darted to Twilight. “Is there any way Fluttershy can find you after you’ve trapped Nightmare Moon?”

    “This is a dream, so all she has to do is want to find me and it’ll happen.”

    “Fabulous! That’s that, then. I’ll leave Fluttershy with the others, wake up and find the journals, and Twilight, you find Nightmare Moon. Are we agreed?”

    “Oh, yes,” said Fluttershy.

    Twilight nodded. “Sounds like a smart plan.” She grinned. “Unlike mine, right?”

    “Now, now, we can’t all be perfect,” Rarity said, matching Twilight’s grin before affection overwhelmed her. “Stars. I missed this. Let’s never fight again.”

    “We can try, but it’s statistically impossible that we’ll never have another fight.”

    Fluttershy politely cleared her throat before Rarity could reply.

    “Princess,” she said, giving the two embarrassed mares a frown. “We should go. Can you take down the barrier, please?”

    Right. Yes.”

    She stood up straight, lit up her horn, and cast a spell. The dome crackled to life and fell apart around them, bringing into view the decrepit dream town. Her horn lit up again and a dream door appeared a few feet away, the door swinging open.

    “Here. This should take you to where the others are.”

    They nodded, Fluttershy taking the lead towards the door while Rarity lingered behind with Twilight.

    “You’ll be careful, won’t you?”

    “I promise. You don’t have to worry about me.”

    “I won’t,” Rarity said, smiling brightly. She moved in briefly for a kiss before finally backtracking towards the door. “I love you.”

    “I love you, too.” Twilight glanced at Fluttershy and then Rarity. “Okay! Good luck!”

    “Goodbye!” Fluttershy called out, before disappearing through the door.

    “Listen for my voice!” Rarity said next, finally following after Fluttershy and closing the door behind her.

    Afterwards, Twilight dispelled the door and looked at her surroundings, formulating her next course of action. She could go looking for Nightmare Moon in the library, but the library wouldn’t really be the ideal place for a potential confrontation.

    She teleported herself back to the main plaza, willing away benches and everything else that was not Princess Luna’s statue. She wanted that to be front and center. After all, Nightmare Moon controlled the dream realm, so the fact that the statue still stood told Twilight that she wasn’t beyond hope.

    Once she was done clearing out the place, she got to work on the statue, enveloping it with magic and willing it to change. After a few moments, she stepped back and admired the brand new, menacing statue of Nightmare Moon, rearing up on her hindlegs as if ready to charge off.

    This should do it.

    She waited one, two, three brief moments and smiled when the crack of lightning sounded off behind her, followed by a voice.

    “You fool! You think you can manipulate the dreamrealm without me noticing?!” Nightmare Moon demanded when Twilight turned to look at her. Her eyes then drifted up towards the statue, and for a moment, her brows knitted with anger. “What?! What have you done to the statue?!”

    “Statue? Oh! I changed it,” she said, calculated in her nonchalance. “Don’t you think it’s better than what it used to be? I thought you’d like it! Who needs Princess Luna, right?”

    A flare of chaos magic erupted around Nightmare Moon.


    Twilight blinked innocently. “What do you mean ‘what’? What’s wrong? I thought you’d like this! I thought you wanted ponies to remember Nightmare Moon and her, what was it? Oh, right. ‘Nightmares everlasting’ and all that.”

    Nightmare Moon seemed taken aback, shaken by Twilight’s words. “…Fool. Fool! I don’t know what you intend or think you’re accomplishing, but you cannot best me! I know your every fear, Twilight Sparkle.”

    Twilight cocked her head to the side.

    “Mm. Do you, though? Which fears?” She proceeded to walk in circles around Nightmare Moon, and with every other step she took, she left behind a construct of herself, until the chaosed alicorn was completely surrounded by copies of Twilight. “Because as far as I’m concerned, I’ve pretty much worked them all out. Or am working them out. It’s a work in progress.”

    Nightmare Moon stamped her hoof on the ground. “What are you doing?!”

    “Figuring out any unresolved fears!” said one of the Twilights. “What are our fears? The library?”

    “Well,” another one replied, “we trapped Rarity’s nightmare in the library, and though that felt a little strange and brought back bad memories, we were able to keep our emotions in check. That’s progress!”

    “We also know that what happened a thousand years ago wasn’t our fault, either,” a third Twilight mused. “We did the best we could.”

    “We could have done some things differently,” a fourth observed, the others nodding along.

    “Technically speaking, everything could always be done differently,” a fifth said. “So, let’s make a list.”

    “Ooooh, I love lists!”

    “We’re going to work on our guilt,” the first Twilight listed off. “We’re going to work on not losing control. And most importantly, we worked out our anxieties with Rarity. Any other fear we have is something we can work through, or logically and rationally explain away. Except for our irrational fear of cheese as a filly.”

    “Highly irrational.”

    Only as a filly?”


    All five Twilights stopped in their spot and then disappeared one by one until only the original remained.

    She blinked innocently at the furious alicorn.

    “Which one of my fears do you know again?”

    Nightmare Moon gaped for a moment, clearly having lost her composure.

    “Urgh. Fine. Fine! So you have confronted those fears,” she conceded, suddenly taking on an air of nonchalance. “You think you’re clever. But that means nothing! I still control the dreamrealm!”

    “Do you? Because honestly, Nightmare Moon, I don’t think you do. In fact! You told me so yourself! This isn’t your domain anymore.” The earth began to shake beneath Twilight’s hooves, but she continued undeterred. “It’s mine.”

    Nightmare Moon’s eyes turned to slits, she too ignoring the tremors of the earth.

    Excuse me?”

    Twilight Sparkle didn’t immediately reply.

    Instead, she smiled, the tremors intensifying as the earth beneath her began to move and transform. Her smile then grew when Nightmare Moon stepped back, growing smaller and smaller as a dragon’s head that Twilight was suddenly standing on raised her up into the air, the Spike-construct roaring violently as he reared from the ground.

    “What are you doing?!” Nightmare Moon demanded.

    “What does it look like? I’m going for a ride. You should come with us!” Twilight replied, looking down at the construct. “Let’s fly, Spike!”

    The construct roared again, extending a pair of massive green wings that would doubtless make the original Spike greener with envy. He flapped his wings and took off into the air, Nightmare Moon following behind.

    “Stop!” she demanded, barely able to keep up with the dragon soaring over the dream town.

    Twilight ignored her, too busy trying to work on her next move. She needed to buy Rarity enough time to do what she needed and to get the dream journals, after all.

    But what can I do? She couldn’t just fly in circles around the town, could she?

    Grabbing onto one of the construct’s spikes, she peered down towards Hollow Shades and glimpsed the cave where everypony was hiding just in time to see one of the overgrown teddy bears briefly step out.

    That’s it!

    “Stop!” Nightmare Moon demanded yet again. Her horn flashed with magic, and she teleported herself atop the dragon, startling Twilight. “Fool! You think you can outwit me?!”

    “Nightmare Moon! How good to see you,” Twilight exclaimed. “I was just finished getting everything ready!”

    “You—! …What?” Nightmare Moon frowned. “Getting what ready?”

    “The Seeking Night event! The one you missed. I thought you should get to see it.” Twilight extended her wings. “Spike is going to leave now, by the way.”


    Nightmare Moon’s question became a scream as Spike abruptly vanished out from under them and she hurtled down towards the ground.

    “I did say he was leaving,” Twilight commented as Nightmare Moon flapped her wings rather hysterically, steadying herself before flying up to Twilight, murder in her gaze.

    “So!” Twilight continued. “Why don’t we start with Princess Celestia’s Waterfall Spectacular?”

    “With what?”

    Her answer soon came in the shape of a gigantic waterfall cascading down on her and pushing her into the massive lake Twilight had materialized beneath them.

    Twilight flew down to the lake, diving in just in time to avoid the blast of magic Nightmare Moon shot at her from the bottom of the lake.

    “Hey!” Twilight called out, her voice carrying under the dream water. “You almost hit me!”

    Nightmare Moon howled in anger, and now it was Twilight’s turn to scream when long seaweed vines shot out from the bottom of the lake and wrapped around her hooves, pulling her down into its depths.

    “Is this a game to you?!” Nightmare Moon exclaimed when the seaweed brought Twilight down in front of her.

    Twilight smiled nervously. “No?” she ventured, wishing very intently Rarity would hurry up with whatever was keeping her. She cleared her throat and sobered up. “No. It isn’t. This is very serious. Oh!” She looked to the chest now laying at the alicorn’s hooves. “You found the treasure! Are you going to open it?”

    Nightmare Moon swam away from it, wary. “You cannot trick me again!”

    “I’m not tricking you. This is literally the point of Princess Celestia’s Waterfall Spectacular.” She sighed theatrically, in a way that would make Rarity proud. “I guess we could always just have someone more important open it.”

    Nightmare Moon’s eyes narrowed.

    “You think your little mind games work on me? They don’t.” And yet she still swam over to the chest, her eyes still set on Twilight. “I will open it, if only to show you that your little schemes cannot succeed here!”

    Twilight smiled politely. “If you say so, Nightmare Moon.”

    Throwing Twilight one last dirty glance, Nightmare Moon turned to the chest and opened it up with her magic, only for a single purple book to float up into the water.

    “A book?” asked the alicorn, bewildered. She turned to Twilight. “A book?”

    “Of course. Books are part of my activity from the Seeking Night event. And on that note—” Twilight’s ears folded back. “I’m sorry.”

    “You’re sorry?” Nightmare Moon swam up to Twilight, looming over her with a snarl on her features. “Sorry for what?”

    “For this.”


    A massive bookcase erupted from the lakebed and slammed into Nightmare Moon from below, flinging her upwards. The water from the lake drained just as dozens of similar colossal bookcases emerged, arranging themselves in the shape of a massive maze.

    The seaweed holding Twilight disappeared and she fell to the ground with an ‘oof!’

    “Come on, Rarity,” she murmured, standing up and looking towards Nightmare Moon, the latter tottering atop the bookcase and then teleporting down to Twilight.


    Nightmare Moon stumbled back, startled at the magical muzzle around her mouth.

    “Hey! No teleporting in the maze. That’s breaking the rules,” Twilight admonished. A burst of magic shot out from her horn. “There. No more teleporting for you.”

    Nightmare Moon shook the muzzle off and cackled derisively. “Excuse me? Ex-cuse me? You think you can control me?!”

    “Yes, I can,” Twilight said, mustering every ounce of confidence within her. After all, she couldn’t control Nightmare Moon. She honestly didn’t believe she could control Nightmare Moon, but…

    She didn’t have to believe it.

    “I told you,” Twilight continued, nonchalantly. “This is my domain now. My rules. You said it yourself! I’ve surpassed you, Princess Luna.” She stepped forward, grinning. “Don’t believe me? Try it. Try teleporting.”

    “Don’t tell me what to do,” hissed the older alicorn, the slight stammer in her voice only widening Twilight’s confident smirk. Her horn lit up and a burst of blinding magic shot out. When it dissipated, a startled Nightmare Moon found herself exactly in the same spot as before.

    She blinked once, twice, thrice and then howled in anger, lunging at Twilight just in time for the younger alicorn to jump out of the way. Just as fast, Twilight’s body became completely incorporeal, and when Nightmare Moon lunged again, Twilight stepped through a bookcase and quietly (and a little remorsefully) sighed in relief at the sound of Nightmare Moon banging herself against the bookcase.

    “Twilight Sparkle!” she howled, enraged. “Come back here this instant!”

    “Good luck finding me first, then!”

    She allowed herself a smug little laugh at that, interrupted only when the chaos magic on the floor flashed and the maze began to move and rearrange itself. Her delight died, and even more so when the bookcase right in front of her floated up and revealed her to Nightmare Moon.

    “…Uh. Good job?”

    She squealed in fright when the alicorn lunged at her, narrowly avoiding the attack before she rushed through a bookcase and into a different aisle.

    Okay, this isn’t going to cut it.

    She ran further into the maze, quickly reviewing which else of the Seeking Night events she could use. She’d already done Spike, and Celestia, so…

    Cadance’s copies!

    Just as she had a little while ago, her horn flashed and she left behind copies of herself that then took different paths through the maze.

    “This is your grand plan?!” Nightmare Moon demanded from somewhere within the maze, presumably having encountered an illusion Twilight as a blast of magic sounded out.

    “No! My grand plan is to talk some sense into you!” Twilight shot back, dipping into another aisle when another magic attack sounded too close. “You don’t have to do this! You’re better than this! It’s okay that not all of Equestria believes in you!”

    Nightmare Moon’s cackle rang out through the air.

    “Whether Equestria believes in me or not is of no concern to me!”

    “Right,” Twilight murmured. “You’ve trapped us all here for fun and games, that’s the real reason.” She cleared her throat. “If that were true, we wouldn’t be here! Can’t you see?! He’s using your fears against you! That’s what he does! I know how easy it is to let yourself believe it!”

    A blast of magic rang out somewhere behind Twilight.

    “You?! What do you know?!” Nightmare Moon sneered, and a bookcase moved up to let the alicorn step into Twilight’s aisle. “Who are you to speak of this as if you know anything about it?!”

    A blast of magic shot out from her horn, deflecting against the shield Twilight pulled up.

    “Because I’ve been through this before!” Twilight protested. “Not everypony has to believe in you. If anything, there’s only one pony who should. The rest shouldn’t matter!”

    There was a pause. A brief moment of silence as Nightmare Moon stared at Twilight, contemplating her words for a moment before she broke into hysterical laughter.

    “Oh, please! Please. What are you? A self-help book?!” she sneered. “Don’t make me laugh! What will you say next?”

    “It’s true!”

    “Is it? Then, tell me. Who is this pony who should believe in me?” Nightmare Moon asked, lurching forward. “You? Rarity? Pinkie Pie?

    “Yourself!” Her expression softened. “You need to believe in yourself.”

    And it was then that it happened. Brief, sure, but for a moment, the black eyes glazed over and tearful cyan eyes peered through.

    How?!” she demanded, and it was no longer Nightmare Moon who spoke. “Because I have tried, Twilight Sparkle! All my life, I have strived to do good things! To do what is right and what is just and to help, and yet here we are!”

    She gestured to the dreamrealm.

    “The fruit of my labor is to be alone in a prison! How am I expected to believe in myself when clearly I am not worth believing in!”

    …Twilight? Darling?…

    …Stars, I hope you can hear this…

    Twilight’s ears flicked at the sound of Rarity’s voice, and her heart picked up pace in her chest.

    “You’re wrong, Princess Luna,” Twilight said, putting into motion the final part of the Seeking Night Spectacular. “You are worth believing in, and I’m going to prove it to you.”

    …Dear diary…

    …Today I dreamt of Princess Luna again…

    Twilight flew up into the air and cast a spell that spread out over the labyrinth. The bookcases trembled and then disappeared into the ground until there was nothing left but Twilight and Princess Luna. A second beam of magic shot out from her horn, and then, much like the one surrounding the real Hollow Shades, a dome-like barrier materialized, encasing the two princesses inside it.

    Princess Luna looked around, shocked. “You… You’re trapping me?!” she gasped, turning to Twilight, betrayed. “Twilight?!”

    “No,” Twilight replied, landing down in front of her mentor. Her horn alighted itself, her mind taking in the stories Rarity was telling her. “I just want you to have the best seat for Princess Luna’s Dreamtime Spectacular.”

    …she helped Tilly Rose…

    And just as before, just as Rarity had changed the dream back in the library, so did Twilight take a cue from her book and changed the world around them. Changed it and changed it and changed it until the sounds of foals echoed all around, until schooldesks appeared in several rows, and until—


    Until Princess Luna whipped around at the sound of a little pink dream filly bounding into the classroom, headed straight towards a shy filly at her desk.

    “Is it true?! Did you really stand up to your big brother?!” When the filly from the memory nodded her head, Pinkie gasped with delight. “That’s great, Rose!”

    The filly hesitated. “…Promise you won’t laugh?” When Pinkie shook her head, the filly continued. “…I had a dream about it! A really pretty princess showed me that Limedrop was hurt about something I said and said I should apologize! So when I woke up, I did and… and he apologized back!”

    And at that, the memory Pinkie exploded with joy.

    “Princess Luna helped you! Isn’t she the best?!”

    Princess Luna stepped towards the memory Pinkie, bewitched.

    …I told Princess Luna about what the others said, because it made me so angry…

    A flash of Twilight’s magic, and the dream changed again. The classroom faded, the filly faded, and only the dream Pinkie remained, she too changing until she was no longer a filly, but a young mare, staring down at her sulking reflection in a lake.

    “Little one.”

    Twilight watched as Princess Luna turned to the memory Princess Luna walking past her, headed straight towards the memory Pinkie. She leaned down and gently nuzzled her.

    “Are you still sulking?”

    “I’m not sulking!” She turned around to the Princess. “I’m just tired of them saying you’re not real all the time! And a bunch’a other mean stuff!” She turned back to her reflection. “They’re dumb! Maybe you shouldn’t help ponies anymore until they stop not believing in you when they grow up!”

    The memory Luna sat down next to Pinkie. “But I must. You know very well that…”

    “It’s your duty,” Pinkie finished off, quietly.

    “No,” Princess Luna—the real one—replied in unison with the memory Luna, her ears folding back.

    The construct spread her wing and wrapped it around the younger mare, finishing the statement alongside the real princess. “Kindness should never be conditional.”

    …Dear diary…

    So it went on, Rarity reading a passage from a diary, and Twilight bringing it to life before the alicorn. The dream of Pinkie and Luna at the lake turned into a memory of Pinkie watching quietly as Luna helped a colt fight the monsters in his closet.

    After that, the memory changed and now Pinkie Pie was in Canterlot, fighting again and again for the right to see Princess Cadance, to convince the guards that Princess Luna was real.

    A memory of Pinkie Pie regaling foals from another city with tales of Princess Luna came next, followed shortly after by her memories of meeting Rarity.

    Of meeting Twilight.

    “What’d you mean you don’t know?!” the memory Pinkie asked Rarity, the two of them standing before a memory of Twilight, talking about what they’d do when their respective princesses would be freed. “I’ve known what I’m gonna do with Princess Luna since I met her! I’m gonna take her to the tippity-top of Foal Mountain, and bring my telescope, and we’ll look at the stars all night, and then I’m taking her to Miss Frosting’s Bakery in Manehattan, and then… and then I don’t know!”

    The memories came and came, one after another, Rarity dictating and Twilight creating them, and with each memory that a transfixed Luna watched, so did she look more and more like her true self.

    Princess Luna’s eyes welled with tears, the chaos magic around her subdued.

    “Little one…”

    And then it happened.

    Just as Twilight was about to create a new memory, the dream changed again without her willing it to do so. The most recent memory faded out, and the two mares soon found themselves inside a dark forest.

    This doesn’t look like Hollow Shades, thought Twilight, and her confusion grew when she noticed Princess Luna looked just as confused as she did. She’s not doing this, either?

    The sound of a filly sniffling startled them both, and they quickly turned around to find a very young Pinkie Pie curled up against a tree, the poor thing crying her heart out.

    Luna, Twilight noticed, was the first to react, stepping towards the filly, and stopping only when something else intervened.

    A voice, specifically, that did not speak but sung a soft lullaby that danced along the air, quiet and gentle yet seemingly all around.

    “I saw a dream last night, and heard sirens sing.”

    Twilight’s eyes widened, recognizing it as the singing voice of the alicorn a few feet away from her, looking just as surprised as she was.

    “I heard a trembling filly crying out, thinking she was alone.”

    The little filly’s sniffling died out and she looked up towards the forest, entranced just as Twilight and Luna were by the mysterious singing voice. Stumbling up to her hooves, Pinkie wiped her eyes and made her way towards the source of the song, the two alicorns following behind.

    “Castles standing by, stars in the sky. “

    They eventually reached their destination in the shape of a small clearing, the soft gasp tumbling out of Pinkie’s mouth matching Twilight’s when they saw a dream Princess Luna sitting on the other side of the clearing, softly singing to the little filly.

    “Don’t cry, my dearest star of the night.”

    Despite herself, tears welled in Twilight’s eyes, her heart swelling upon recognizing just what exactly she was witnessing.

    “Come, please follow me, where the moon is made of dreams.” The dream Luna stood up, and with a gesture of her hoof, a small cloud floated a giggling Pinkie up. “And in the evening light, we’ll be playing.”

    The real Princess Luna stepped forward as Pinkie was floated towards the dream alicorn, and Twilight’s heart caught in her throat at noticing the alicorn was whispering the lyrics.

    The other Luna gestured with her hoof again, and little pony dolls appeared around the filly, dancing around her as she watched, delighted.

    “Come, please follow me, where the forest meets the sky.” The cloud brought Pinkie Pie all the way up to the dream Luna and gently deposited her at the princess’ hooves. The dolls disappeared, and the princess leaned down and sang the last verse of the song. “And as your dreams float by, I’ll sing the song of the night.”

    A moment of silence passed, and then the filly erupted in applause, clapping her hooves together, prompting the real Luna and Twilight to approach them.

    “Again! Again, Miss Singer!”

    The memory princess laughed. “That was meant to put you to sleep, not have you ask for more,” she said, rising to her hooves. “I have never seen you before. You are not from Hollow Shades, are you?”

    Immediately, Twilight noticed, Pinkie’s expression softened.

    “…No. I just moved here…” Great big tears filled her eyes, and she looked up at the princess. “And I don’t like it!”

    “Why not?”

    “Because…” She wiped her eyes. “…I don’t have any friends yet.”

    “When did you move here?”

    “Tonight,” Pinkie said matter-of-factly and frowned when the princess laughed softly. “Wh-What?”

    “Making friends often takes longer than a single night. And you are also incorrect. You do have a friend, little one.”

    The filly clapped her hooves. “I do?! Who?” She gasped. “Is it you?!” When the princess smiled brightly, she jumped up to her hooves. “I wanna be your friend! I wanna be your friend! My name is Pinkie Pie! What’s yours?”

    Princess Luna!” came the answer, yelled out for all to hear but… not by the memory Luna, not by Twilight, and certainly not by the real Princess Luna herself.

    The memory faded completely, and as the barrier revealed itself, so did the pink creator of the memory as well, practically hugging the outside of the dome.

    “Priiiiincess Twiliiiiight!” wailed Pinkie Pie, banging her hooves against the barrier. “Please let me in!”

    “Let her in.”

    Twilight hadn’t even registered Luna speaking until the princess teleported in front of her and shook her with her magic.

    “Let her in, Twilight!”

    Twilight bit down on her lip, her eyes darting back and forth between Princess Luna and Pinkie. It seemed that Princess Luna had mostly returned to normal, so…

    Her horn flashed, and an entrance materialized in front of Pinkie, which she quickly rushed through before Twilight closed the dome behind her.

    Pinkie and Princess Luna looked at each other from across the dome, the former wiping away at her eyes not unlike her younger dream-self had done.

    “Princess Luna, I…” Pinkie stepped forward, her tail hanging in between her legs, and her ears pressed against her head. Her voice cracked as she spoke, a child apologizing for wrongdoing. “I’m sorry! I-I didn’t mean those awful things I said!”

    “No,” Princess Luna replied, her voice barely holding steady. “Little one, I— I—”

    A loud crackling noise interrupted her, and the chaos magic puppet rose behind her, his eyes narrowed to slits just as the older alicorn turned around towards him.

    “Ahhhh! I knew waiting would be worth it!”

    “No!” Twilight gasped, rushing to Luna, conjuring a blasting spell at the creature. “No! No, stay away from her!”

    She was too slow, unfortunately, and the magic pulse missed the creature as it plunged into Luna. She cried out in pain and fell to the ground, chaos magic completely enveloping her body, and the color that had been restored to her coat faded away once again.

    “Princess Luna?!” Pinkie called out, running to the alicorn and then skidding to a halt when the princess looked up at her with pitch-black eyes. “No. No! No, Princess Luna!”

    Luna groaned in pain, curled on the floor, magic pulses flaring haphazardly out of her horn. It was a ghastly sight, to be sure, but it also showed Twilight something vital: she was resisting. Fighting it.

    “Princess Luna!” Twilight teleported in front of her. “Fight it! Fight it, please! You can do it!”

    “Of course she can do it,” the chaos magic said, his voice coming from all over. “But the question is, does she want to?” He materialized behind her again. “After all she has done, can you imagine facing them? Not only did she trap them in dreams, but then she did that other thing. Can’t imagine her reputation will ever recover from that.”

    The princess groaned.

    “Other… thing? Wha… What are you…”

    “Stop it!” Pinkie exclaimed, rushing to Princess Luna and hugged her, attempting to shield her from the creature.

    “What am I talking about?” the creature said, ignoring Pinkie’s pleas. “I’m talking about the fact that you encased the town of Hollow Shades in an impenetrable barrier, of course! They literally can’t get out! You’ve doomed them all! You did know you did that, didn’t you?”

    In Luna’s wide eyes, he found his answer.

    The chaos magic gasped in faux-surprise, pressing his claws against his cheeks and turning to Twilight. “She doesn’t know?”His neck stretched out until his face was near Luna’s. “Oh dear. Oh dear, dear, dear. Maybe it’s better! You not knowing you’re just as bad as He is. Oh, but I suppose now you know. Oopsie!

    Princess Luna looked at Twilight, struggling against the magic.

    “Twilight… what… what does he mean?”

    “Don’t listen to him, Princess Luna!” Twilight urged, moving in and leaning down in front of the princess. “Whatever you did, you can undo! It’ll be fine!”

    “Tell me, Twilight!” the princess snapped. Not angered. Afraid. “Is it true?!”

    Twilight moved back, weak. “…Yes,” she said, horrified at having to do so. “You did. We… We’re all physically trapped inside Hollow Shades, we can’t… nopony can get out.”

    The chaos magic around the princess flared up, and she groaned in pain, tears filling her eyes. “No… But… I… I did not intend that! I…”

    “You didn’t intend that?” the creature asked, amused. “But you did! It’s what you do! It’s all about you, you, you!”

    “Shut up!” Twilight snarled, blasting it with magic only for him to appear somewhere else.

    “You don’t care about others, Princess Luna! You only care so long as they care about you!” He appeared in front of her, ignoring Pinkie when she immediately tried to push him away. “How dare ponies not believe in you, no?”

    “No… No, that’s not…”

    “But isn’t this what you wanted?” He rose up into the air, his body halving itself to avoid another blast of magic and immediately putting itself back together. He gestured to the dreamrealm. “You’ve punished them all for daring to ignore you! Bravo, Princess Luna! Death to the non-believers! Literally!”

    “No!” Princess Luna exclaimed, and the chaos magic intensified around her, collapsing her back down to the ground as soon as she stood up. “No… I… I did not mean to… I…”

    “Look at me, Princess Luna!” Twilight begged, standing in front of her. “Do you know why I’m here? I—”

    “Why you’re here? Well, I thought that was obvious,” the chaos magic interrupted, floating down next to her. “She trained you to see if you were better than her, and when it turned out you were, she could throw a fit about it and feel sorry for herself! Isn’t that right, Princess Luna?”

    Princess Luna no longer struggled to reply, groaning against the magic, tears flowing freely from her eyes.

    “And it worked,” he finished. “Now not only is Princess Twilight in charge, but even a fake version that Miss Pink Menace created of you managed to do what you couldn’t in centuries! Ponies would rather believe in an imitation than believe in the real you.”

    Twilight spun around, a snarl in her throat, only for a yelp to come out instead when a comically humongous toy hammer slammed down on the creature.

    “That’s not true!” Pinkie cried out, infuriated, hammering down the creature again when it tried to reappear. “That’s not true, that’s not true, that’s not true!”

    While Pinkie occupied the creature by hammering it every time it so much as tried to manifest, Twilight turned back to Princess Luna, kneeling on the floor and holding the agonizing princess’ hooves.

    “Twilight…” she whispered in between groans. “Please… I didn’t… I did not mean that…”

    “I know, Princess Luna. And he’s wrong.” Twilight wiped away her tears and then grabbed Luna’s hoof again, squeezing it tight. “You know why I’m here? Because you cared more about Equestria than you ever did about yourself. Because you couldn’t keep their dreams safe, so you wanted somepony to do it when you couldn’t. Even if no one knew you were trying to do it. It’s because you care, Princess Luna.”

    Princess Luna stayed silent, clinging to every word, so Twilight continued.

    “You cared about me a thousand years ago, when I was afraid and suffering and thought everything had been my fault. You cared about me and about Rarity, enough to try and help us through our problems. You cared about Hollow Shades, even though the chaos magic didn’t allow them to care back. You’re not like Discord! You’re not like Nightmare Moon, either. And do you know why?”

    Her voice cracked, but Twilight held firm and offered a smile.

    “Because your love has never been conditional.”

    And, finally, the darkness faded from the princess’ big, blue tearful eyes, until she closed them and brought Twilight’s hooves to her face, at a loss for words.

    And even more so when her name was called out.

    “Princess Luna?!”

    Twilight and Luna looked up, past the stunned Pinkie Pie, and for what felt like the millionth time that day, her eyes dampened at the sight of not only Fluttershy and Incantation standing outside the dome, but the entirety of Hollow Shades.

    There they were, adults and foals alike, pressed against the barrier, the teddy bears behind them, all having come to help their princess of the night.

    “Oh, Rarity,” Twilight whispered, her heart swelling with affection, Rarity’s voice still echoing in the background, a gentle whisper in the wind, “you did it. You really, really did it.”

    Twilight stood up, her horn emitting a blast of magic headed straight for the dome. It flashed once and when it faded away, the ponies rushed and ran to Twilight and Princess Luna. The foals got there first, huddling around the stricken alicorn.

    “Princess Luna!” Dusk exclaimed, tears in his eyes, holding her tight. “Don’t let the bad magic win! Don’t let it win, please!”

    “We’re here now!” Rhinestone added, pressing her face against Luna’s coat. “We’ll protect you!”

    “Oh… my children…” Luna whispered, holding them close. “You are…”

    Twilight saw Elder Moonshine coming closer and went to her.

    “Elder! A-About Nightmare Moon and Princess Luna, I can explain.”

    The elder smiled. “There’s no need, your highness. Fluttershy explained. But it doesn’t matter.” She banged her cane on the floor. “We will help her, no matter what form she takes.”

    “How do we help her?!” a mare asked Twilight, frightened. Concerned. She looked around towards the ground where the chaos magic still lingered. “It’s that magic, isn’t it?!”

    Pinkie turned away from the chaos magic creature she was fighting and shouted to the others, “You have to believe in her! Please! Keep the magic away!”

    “It’s useless!” the chaos creature roared, only for a teddy bear to rush at him and slash with its sword.

    “We have to keep the chaos magic away from her!” Twilight exclaimed, turning to all the ponies looking at her for guidance.

    “But how?” asked Elder Moonshine.

    “The teddy bears!” Dusk exclaimed, standing up. He looked to his friends and towards the adults, and stamped his hoof on the ground. “Princess Luna made some to protect us! Now we have to make some to protect her!”

    “A-any teddy bear?” a stallion asked, and when he frowned and a small living teddy bear appeared before him, he broke out in an excited gasp. “Like this one?”

    “Yes!” Twilight exclaimed. “The more, the better!”

    The adults all nodded at her command, and no sooner had she spoken, teddy bears were brought to life around them, some rushing away from Princess Luna and towards the chaos magic construct while others grew in size and took positions around the ponies, shielding Princess Luna from further harm.

    Relieved of her tasks, Pinkie ran back to Princess Luna and stopped right before her, watching as the foals hugged the princess.

    “Oh, my children,” Princess Luna whispered in tears, ashamed and still wincing in pain, still surrounded by chaos magic. “I’m sorry, I… I’ve hurt you. I… I’ve broken every single rule there is, every vow I made, I… I’m sorry.”

    “It was a mistake!” Pinkie insisted, wiping at her eyes. “It was just a mistake.”

    “Discord did this, Princess Luna,” Twilight added. “Discord trapped you here, Discord made you think ponies forgot you, his magic forced them to do it. He made you follow your worst instincts, just like he did to me. And Pinkie’s right. You made a mistake! But so did I! And it’s done. The only thing that matters now is to take responsibility.”

    “I… I imprisoned you,” Princess Luna said, aghast, holding a filly close to her heart, the latter nuzzling her quietly. “How… Please… How do I earn your forgiveness?”

    Twilight tilted her head to the side.

    “Princess. You already have.” She paused, licking her lips, finding her words. “It’s true. You imprisoned us! You did! The worst thing you could have done happened! You did that, but look!” She gestured around: to the foals, to the adults, to Fluttershy, to Ink, and to Pinkie. “Look around, Princess Luna.”

    She kneeled down, and looking into her friend’s eyes, said:

    “We’re still here with you.”

    Princess Luna choked on her words, her mouth opening and closing, but failing to speak out.

    “We believe in you, Princess Luna,” Twilight continued, and so did the others chime in.

    “I believe in you!” a mare exclaimed.

    “I do too!” a stallion added.

    More and more joined in, every assertion as earnest as the last, until finally Twilight spoke again.

    “Won’t you believe in you, too?”

    “I… I…”

    The cracked, sobbed words stumbled out of her mouth, stopping only when the filly moved away and Pinkie Pie kneeled down in front of her best friend. She reached out, and as she had time and time again, pressed her hooves against Luna’s cheeks.

    “Princess Luna, I really want to meet you,” she whispered, her smile as big as her heart. “Don’t you want to meet me, too?”

    Princess Luna didn’t need to reply.

    What came next was enough.

    As if something clicked within her, her horn suddenly burned with her magic and her aura expanded around her body. Foals and adults stepped back, giving her space as her magic grew in brightness, and with a great roaring cry, she slammed her forehooves on the ground and pushed herself up. The chaos magic around her body tried to fight it, but was simply snuffed out as Luna’s own magic aura continued to grow.

    “No more!”

    A pulse of magic burst from her horn, and one by one the teddy bears stepped aside, giving the ponies a clear view of the chaos magic creature, its smugness all but gone.

    “No more will I let you control me!” Princess Luna seethed, stepping forward towards the chaos magic. “The dreamrealm is my domain! And so long as I live, the dreams of ponies will be protected!” Her magic aura was now immense, blinding with light and magic. She lifted herself up on her hindlegs and slammed her hooves down on the ground, her aura bursting out of her body and across the dreamrealm.

    “So BE GONE!”

    Twilight and the others covered their eyes, the chaos creature screeching in anger and fear as Princess Luna’s magic burned it out of existence. There was no time to celebrate, however, for no sooner had the chaos magic disappeared, so did the dreamrealm begin to fracture all around them.

    “W-what’s happening?!” Pinkie asked.

    “The dream! It’s fracturing!” Twilight explained, turning to Pinkie only to see her friend blink out of the dream.

    “Don’t be afraid,” Princess Luna gently said. “It is merely time to wake up.”

    Fluttershy blinked out next. And then Incantation, and then everypony else until only Twilight remained.


    “You’ve done well, Twilight. Sister would… No. I am proud of you.” Princess Luna smiled, looking up and closing her eyes, a soft laugh escaping her lips. “You know, Celestia would laugh, but I must confess that…”

    Twilight was enveloped in Luna’s magic, and just as she was ejected from the dream, Twilight heard the last of Luna’s voice.

    “I look forward to seeing the sun.”

    The dreamrealm vanished around Twilight, and before she could reply, she opened her eyes and found herself back inside Rarity’s workshop. The floor was littered with open books, Pinkie Pie snoring away on top of them, and her attention was then drawn towards the unicorn sitting in front of her, still reading from the journals.

    She bit down on her lip, leaned in, and…


    Rarity screeched in surprise, practically throwing the book at Twilight. When her marefriend broke into delighted giggles, Rarity frowned.

    “Twilight! What is your problem?!” she scolded, until she realized what was happening, and she gasped. “Wait. You’re awake? You’re awake!” Her hooves flew to her mouth. “…Did you do it…?”

    And it wasn’t Twilight who answered, but Fluttershy by waking up with a start, then followed by Pinkie Pie.

    “Yes,” Twilight said, her heart pounding in her chest. “I think we did.”

    Suddenly, just like last night, a massive earthquake began, followed shortly by Princess Luna’s magic wafting in, enveloping everything and everypony in its grasp. When the earthquake stopped a moment later, and the magic vanished as well, Twilight got up and rushed to the door.

    “Come on!”

    They rushed downstairs, where they were immediately assaulted by the foals crowding them and asking if Princess Luna was fine, were the adults fine, what happened and what came next.

    Much like before, the doors to the Dreamland slammed open, and Rainbow Dash flew in, screeching to a halt at seeing everypony there.

    “Rainbow Dash!” Twilight exclaimed. “What’s happening?!”

    “The barrier! It’s fading!” she blurted out. “And all of you are awake, I guess? It’s because we won, right?! Please tell me we won.”

    Before they could reply, the door to Princess Cadance’s theatre slammed open, and Professor Awe rushed out, urgently waving the magic detection device while a groggy Incantation trailed behind.

    “It’s gone!” he exclaimed, practically tripping over the foals as he shoved the device in Twilight’s face. “The chaos magic! It’s gone! It’s gone!”

    Twilight ran outside, Rarity and the others following, and she felt short of breath at the sight of Hollow Shades, the real one.

    Of the afternoon sunlight filtering in through the trees.

    Of the doors of houses opening, and adults walking out, the sound of foals gasping behind her.

    “M-mom? Mom!” a filly blurted out, a hitch in her voice as she rushed towards a mare coming out of a house. “Mommy!”

    “Dad?!” another one yelled, running to a stallion rushing towards him. “Dad! Dad!”

    The foals ran off, tearfully reuniting with their parents, their older siblings, and everypony else who’d fallen asleep. Twilight watched, her heart full, and even more so when Rarity nuzzled her, laughing with relief.

    “Well, darling. We did it. It’s over.”

    “Not yet.” Twilight moved away from Rarity, and after leaning in to kiss her, she stepped back and flew up into the air. “I love you. I’ll be right back.”

    “Be safe!” Rarity called out.

    Twilight took off towards the sky, Rainbow Dash quickly catching up. They looked around, and their shared target made itself known when it came stomping his way towards them.

    “Twilight! Rainbow!” Spike called out, and when they flew to meet him, they saw he looked absolutely terrible, as if he hadn’t slept at all. “You’re okay! What the heck was that?! What happened?!”

    “It’s a long story,” Twilight said, “but we’re all okay. Are you—”

    A loud boom interrupted her, followed by another slight tremor. Both were immediately followed by another boom, and suddenly, a massive beam of magic energy shot out of the side of Foal Mountain, leaving an enormous plume of smoke in its wake.

    “What was that?!” Rainbow exclaimed.

    Twilight’s heart skipped a beat.

    “I… I think that was Princess Luna…”

    Another beam of magic pierced through the smoke, this one even bigger than the last, followed by a final explosion, and more smoke.

    Without thinking to explain herself, Twilight sped off towards the mountain, ignoring Spike’s calls. Once she was close enough, she tried to fly through the smoke, but it proved to be too much and too thick.

    She turned around and saw Rainbow catching up.

    “Rainbow! Can you—?”

    “Yeah, yeah, I got it,” Rainbow said, speeding towards the plume of smoke and flying fast around it, dispersing it as she did so. When she was done, she rejoined Twilight and looked at the results. “There!”

    Indeed, the smoke had been blown away, revealing a brand new gaping hole in the side of the mountain.

    “Holy smokes! Did Princess Luna just, like, blow up a chunk of Foal Mountain?!” Rainbow gasped, delighted. “Awesome!”

    Twilight, however, was not overly interested in the hole. No, what she cared about was the alicorn sprawled on the bottom of the hole, her horn still fizzing with magic.

    She… She’s out…

    Feeling almost numb, she instructed Dash to hold back and then flew down and landed in front of Princess Luna, her heart skipping a beat when her hooves touched the ground and the princess coughed.

    She looked over her friend, who thankfully seemed wholly intact except for the dirt on her coat and her disheveled mane.

    “Princess Luna?”

    Twilight’s voice was like that of a child. Small, timid. Hopeful.

    Princess Luna stirred briefly, and though her eyes blinked open, she immediately closed them and shielded them from the sun, hissing slightly.

    “Ah.” She coughed. “Perhaps I spoke too soon…”

    And Twilight laughed. A choked, strangled giggle, raising her hoof to her mouth as she did so, tears trailing down her cheeks.

    Princess Luna looked to her friend, and smiled good-naturedly. “Twilight Sparkle. We would have prefered you find us in a more dignified position.”

    “I’m sorry, Princess. It really doesn’t matter, though.” She grinned brightly. “If it makes you feel better, I was soaked in black ink when I got out.”

    Princess Luna returned the smile.

    “Thank you. That does make me feel better.”

    Twilight stepped forward and offered Princess Luna her hoof. There was a moment of pause, the princess’ eyes contemplating Twilight’s hoof until she finally raised her own, and they both audibly held their breath when they touched.

    A drowning sense of relief flooded Twilight when she squeezed Luna’s hoof because she wasn’t alone, anymore. She’d never been really, and she had her dear modern friends, but… but Princess Luna was here.

    Princess Luna was here, alive and well, and as Twilight lost her composure and threw herself at the princess, burying herself in Luna’s chest and starting to cry, she couldn’t help but be so relieved. So, so, so relieved because this could be fixed.

    The others could be saved.

    Things would be okay.

    “Princess Luna,” she blubbered, the anxiety of everything that had happened in the last few months finally truly ebbing away. “I’m—I’m so happy.”

    “All will be well, Twilight,” Luna whispered, stroking the younger princess’ mane. “All will be well.”

    Twilight cried and cried, Princess Luna holding her tight right up until Rainbow Dash flew down and joined in, hugging the two alicorns, her own eyes red with tears.

    “Rainbow,” Twilight hiccuped, half-crying, half-laughing, pulling away from Luna and wiping her eyes. “Why are you crying?”

    “What!” Rainbow exclaimed, wiping her tears away but not her grin. “I don’t know! It’s emotional!” She turned to Princess Luna and playfully punched her on the shoulder. “It’s good to meet you, Princess! Just don’t go losing your marbles again, huh!”

    Princess Luna laughed, standing up and dusting her coat off. “I will refrain from doing so, Rainbow.”

    “How do you feel?” Twilight asked her, stepping off to give the princess space to move. She stretched her wings out and showed them to Luna. “Be sure to stretch out your wings! And do breathing exercises for your lungs! Big breaths!”

    She demonstrated immediately by breathing in and out quickly several times.

    “Uh, Princess Twi, those don’t look like big breaths.”

    “Twilight,” Luna interrupted, amused. “I am fine.”

    “Okay!” Twilight blurted out. She then cleared her throat and took an actual big breath. “Okay. Right. Yes.”

    “Come on!” Rainbow took flight into the air and gestured for them to join her. “Let’s take her to Hollow Shades!”

    Twilight joined Rainbow Dash in the air, and they both turned to the other princess. They watched as she stretched out her long blue wings, took a breath and then flew up to join them with a nervous laugh.

    The three flew towards Hollow Shades, stopping briefly when Spike spotted them.

    “Princess Luna?!” he gasped, and almost immediately, the great big dragon became a great big blubbering mess. “Y-You’re back?! That’s… so… great…”

    “I am, Spike,” Princess Luna said, gazing at him affectionately. “There is no need to cry.”

    “I’m not crying!” he cried.

    “Aww, you big baby.” Rainbow Dash flew down to where he was, patting him on the head before looking back towards the princesses. “You get going! I’ll deal with Mister Emotional here.”

    The two alicorns shared an amused glance before finally diving into the sea of Hollow Shade’s trees and landing in front of the Dreamland. Some ponies had already gathered in front of it, and when Twilight and Luna landed, a chorus of gasps rang out from the surrounding ponies.

    Twilight’s first instinct was apprehension, and even more so when a mare approached them.

    “Your wings!” she gasped, and quickly rushed over to Twilight. “They’re—! They really are real!” She then turned to Princess Luna, still in shock. “You… I… I remember you. You… You helped me with my brother when I was a filly… didn’t you?”

    Princess Luna leaned down. “Tilly Rose,” she said. “You’ve grown up. I hope you no longer tease your brother about his teeth.”

    More gasps rang out from the adults, followed by a string of exclamations as they approached Princess Luna, memories that had long been repressed finally surfacing now that the chaos magic was gone.

    “Look who it is!” said Applejack, trotting towards the princess with a big grin, Fluttershy following behind. “We were mighty worried about you for a minute there, Princess. Thought we lost you to the Spirit!”

    “Oh, Princess Luna!” Fluttershy exclaimed, rushing to the princess and hugging her tight. “Oh, thank goodness you’re okay!” She then pulled back and frowned at the mare. “Don’t ever do that again! …Please.”

    Princess Luna opened her mouth to reply, but a new voice interrupted.

    “Well, well, well,” said Rarity, standing next to Twilight, their tails intertwining. She bowed slightly. “Princess Luna, it is an honor to meet you at last.”

    “Ah, the famous Rarity,” replied the princess, leaning down. “The unicorn who saved us all.”

    Rarity laughed, a slight blush on her face. “Well! I don’t know if I’d say that I’ve saved you all, but…”

    “I would,” Twilight said, nuzzling Rarity affectionately and then kissing her on the cheek, biting down a grin at the chorus of giggles and ‘ewwww’s from the foals watching.

    “Regardless,” Rarity continued, tearing herself from Twilight to go to Luna. She smiled affectionately. “It’s good to have you back, Princess.”

    “It’s good to be back,” she said.

    And then paused.

    And bit down on her lip.

    “Ah. Er…” She cleared her throat and looked around. “I don’t mean to disregard you all, but…”

    “Where’s Pinkie Pie?” Rarity ventured, fluttering her eyelashes. When she received an embarrassed blush in return, she glanced back towards the Dreamland. “She’s inside fetching something quite important. She should be out any minute now. Or…” Her smile turned devious. “We could go in and meet her?”

    “Yes!” Princess Luna exclaimed, before clearing her throat. “Ah. I mean. If we can, that would be most agreeable.”

    “I certainly don’t see why not,” Rarity said, walking towards the Dreamland and opening the doors with her magic. She then bowed down and gestured inside. “After you, Your Highness.”

    Princess Luna returned the nod and stepped inside the Dreamland, followed shortly after by Twilight, her friends, and though several adults and foals tried to follow in, Rarity politely stepped in the way.

    “Now, now, everypony! I know you all want to see, but we should allow them some privacy.”


    When Rarity stepped back into the Dreamland and closed the door behind her, Twilight looked around and noticed Pinkie was nowhere to be seen.

    “So, where is she?” Applejack asked.

    Rarity blinked.

    “Oh! One moment. I’ll go fetch her. Stay here.”

    As Rarity walked off inside the bakery and closed the door behind her, Twilight made her way to Princess Luna. Though the princess seemed composed and serene, sitting down in the middle of the lobby, her slightly folded ears and tail thumping against the floor betrayed her.


    “No,” Princess Luna replied, confidently.

    “She’s OUTSIDE?!” Pinkie’s muffled yell came from within the bakery, followed immediately by a loud shushing and then Pinkie whisper-yelling in the exact same volume. “She’s OUTSIDE?!”

    Princess Luna cleared her throat.

    “On second thought, perhaps I am somewhat nervous,” she amended.

    Twilight offered her a sympathetic smile before walking to the bakery and stepping in. She closed the door behind her and found Rarity and Incantation standing near Pinkie, who was wearing her traditional Hollow Shades cloak. She was pressed against a wall, her trembling hooves holding onto the handle of a small dining cart, its contents obscured by a small dish cover.

    “What if she doesn’t like it?” Pinkie asked, her voice small. “It’s going to be her first meal, ever! In a thousand years! What if I messed it up?”

    “You didn’t, Pinkie,” Rarity reassured her, pressing her hoof on Pinkie’s. “You’ve made this thousands of times before. She’ll love it. Have faith in yourself.”

    Pinkie nodded before closing her eyes and taking a big breath.

    “You’re right! I can do this!”

    She looked at Twilight and gave her a firm nod, prompting the alicorn to step outside and keep the door open for all to see. The gentle whispers inside the lobby died down immediately, and Princess Luna stood up, anxiety painted over her face.

    It seemed for a moment as if time stood still, everyone waiting in the wings until finally, the tip of the cart pushed itself into view, followed in short order by Pinkie Pie herself. She froze under the frame of the door, her hooves clutching the handle of the cart, and her eyes set on the alicorn staring back at her.

    Neither said a word at first, the two of them just watching each other, completely frozen.

    “It’s okay,” Twilight whispered to Pinkie, and her friend almost imperceptibly nodded her head.

    Time began anew when she pushed her cart into the room, almost all the way up to Princess Luna. Princess Luna watched her, transfixed, waiting for whatever happened next, her ears flicking upwards when Pinkie opened her mouth.

    And yet, she did not speak, almost immediately closing it again.

    Her eyes darted back and forth between Luna and the food cart, until finally she stepped away from the cart and took a step towards the alicorn.

    Her mouth opened and closed a few more times, before she finally cleared her throat and smiled.

    “H-Hello!” she said, a slight crack in her cheer.

    “Hello!” Princess Luna exclaimed, her voice comically high-pitched until she cleared her throat, and lowered her tone. “Er. Hello. I.. Ah… Hello.”

    Pinkie swallowed visibly.

    “I’m Pinkie Pie!” she continued, pressing a hoof against her chest.

    “I knew that,” Princess Luna stammered, and then blushed and stumbled over her own words trying to correct herself. “Ah, er, I’m Luna. Princess Luna. Though you knew that, too.”

    “I did! B-But that’s fine!” Pinkie exclaimed, and Twilight couldn’t help sharing an amused glance with her marefriend, the latter having joined her near the door. “It’s n-nice to meet you!”

    “It’s nice to meet you too,” Princess Luna replied immediately.

    Pinkie looked towards her cart and with slightly shaking hooves, grabbed the plate and lifted the cover.

    On it was a lone dark blue cupcake, carefully decorated with a crescent moon-shaped piece of frosting and countless sprinkles.

    “I… I made this for you,” she explained, turning to Princess Luna. “I remember when I was little how you said you missed eating cakes from your castle, and I wanted to make sure your f-first meal ever was a cake! But… But I didn’t know when you’d be free, and I didn’t want to make one, and then what if you took forever to come out, and then it was all icky and stale! That would be awful! S-so! So since I didn’t know when that would happen, I’ve baked you a fresh cupcake every day, and—”

    Her voice trembled as she presented Luna with the plate. “H-here it is! I hope you like it!”

    Princess Luna blinked at her.

    “…Thank you.”

    Her horn lit up and shaky magic enveloped the cupcake, floating it up in the air and towards her. She stared at it, transfixed, as if it was the first cupcake she had ever seen in her entire life. It certainly was the most important one.

    Finally, she slowly brought it to her mouth and finally took a bite.

    Everyone watched, riveted, as the princess slowly chewed, and Twilight felt Rarity squeeze her hoof when Princess Luna’s eyes filled with tears. The princess fell to her hindlegs, her tears trailing down her eyes, down her cheeks and splashing on the cupcake she was looking down at.

    “Ah… This… This is the most delicious meal I’ve ever had,” she whispered, and when she looked up at Pinkie Pie, who struggled to blink back tears, the princess raised a hoof towards her and smiled affectionately.

    “Thank you, my little one.”

    Bursting into tears, Pinkie Pie rushed forward and all but threw herself in Princess Luna’s embrace, letting out earth-shattering sobs as Princess Luna held her close, nuzzling her lovingly.

    “Princess Luna!” she wailed, burying her face in the alicorn’s coat. “Princess Lunaaaaa!”

    “I’m here now,” Princess Luna whispered, her tears now wetting Pinkie’s coat. She lifted Pinkie’s chin and met her gaze. “I will always be here, little one.”

    Twilight’s own eyes were blurry with tears, watching the two mares while Rarity pressed herself against her coat, using the alicorn as a way to muffle her rather pronounced sniffles.

    “I-I’m so happy you liked it,” Pinkie blubbered, pulling back only to let out a comically dramatic gasp and point at Luna’s chest. “Oh no!”

    To everyone’s horror, the remaining half of the cupcake was now firmly squashed against Luna’s chest, the frosting stuck to her coat. Pinkie then looked down at her own chest, and found more of the cupcake decorating her pink coat.

    “O-oh… Uhm…” She looked up at Luna and offered an awkward smile. “…At least we’re matching, right?”

    Princess Luna blinked at her once, twice, thrice and then… and then she lifted a hoof to her mouth and giggled, until her giggle turned into laughter, and she hugged Pinkie again, the pink pony joining in her glee.

    They laughed, tears streaming down their eyes, the scene bringing light and warmth to the room both metaphorically and physically as well.

    Especially when Pinkie’s chest began to literally glow.

    Twilight stopped crying.



    The magic light glowed brighter and brighter, until finally it exploded in a blinding flash. When it disappeared, the light was gone from Pinkie’s chest, as were the cupcake bits, both replaced instead with a golden necklace bearing a gemstone resembling Pinkie’s cutie mark.

    No one said anything at first.

    No one, that is, save for Twilight.

    “What?!” she gasped, rushing forward and grabbing Pinkie with her magic, staring at the necklace with bewilderment. “This— This—!”

    No. No! It couldn’t be! Could it?!

    But—?! It looked like her crown, and—!

    She dropped Pinkie and stepped back, flabbergasted, barely able to comprehend what had just happened, and how it had happened, and… and…

    “Twilight?” Rarity asked, urgently. “Twilight, isn’t that—?!”

    Twilight nodded her head, stumbling back until she reached Rarity and grabbed on to her for support.

    “That’s… That’s one of the Elements of Harmony…”

    There it was. Literally. There. Just like that.


    “It is?” Pinkie asked, and she took it off, admiring it with delight. “It is! It’s an Element of Harmony! We did it!” She turned to Twilight, bursting with excitement. “We did it, Princess Twilight!”

    “But—! But—!” Twilight stammered, trying to piece together everything despite her scrambled mental state. “But why?! What does it represent? Why did it appear now?! It’s the Element of What?!”

    Pinkie chimed in.

    “Of hope!” She turned to Princess Luna, and when the alicorn nuzzled her, Pinkie spoke again. “It’s the Element of Hope.”

    “The Element of Hope,” Twilight repeated, still reeling. “Right. Sure. That sounds accurate. That works. Okay. Right.”

    “We have to tell everypony you’re back!” Pinkie said next. She gasped. “We have to tell Princess Cadance! But how?!” She turned to Twilight. “Princess! Fly to Canterlot and tell Princess Cadance that Princess Luna is back!”

    “Fly to Canterlot?! I can’t fly to Canterlot! It would take me an entire day of non-stop flight to get there!”

    “But then how will she know?!”

    “I don’t know!”

    “If I may interrupt,” Princess Luna said. “I have a suggestion for that. What time is it?”

    Twilight glanced at a clock. “It’s almost sunset,” she replied, and no sooner had she done so, her eyes grew wide. She looked back towards the other princess. “Hold on. You’re not… Or are you?” She jumped on the spot, bursting with excitement. “Are you?!”

    “I think I will,” Princess Luna replied, standing up and opening the Dreamland’s door with her magic. “Follow me, everypony.”

    “What’s happening?” Rarity asked as they followed the princess outside. “What’s Princess Luna going to do? Twilight?”

    “You’ll see,” Twilight whispered back, giddy. “Oooooh, I’m so excited!”

    Once outside, Princess Luna looked up at the dark blue sky, her horn glowing with magic.

    “It would seem we’re just in time.”

    “Twilight, what is she doing?” Rarity insisted. “Tell me!”

    “Rarity, what is princess Luna the princess of?”


    “Yes, but also of something else. Don’t you remember the legend? What else was she the princess of?”

    Rarity frowned. “Hrm… The moon?” Her eyes grew wide, and when she gasped, Twilight nodded her head excitedly. “No! Is she—?! Can she?!”

    The two of them turned to Princess Luna just in time to see the alicorn fly up into the air, her horn still bursting with magic.

    After a moment, the sun began to set, and just as darkness shrouded the world, the princess’ horn flashed again and the moon soared into its place in the night sky, glowing brightly for all to see.

    Applejack took off her hat, awed. “I reckon’ there ain’t no way Princess Denza doesn’t know you’re back now.”

    “Oh no,” Twilight interrupted, glee in her voice. “That’s not what’s supposed to tell Cadance she’s back.”

    “It ain’t?”

    For a final time, Princess Luna’s horn burst with magic, a pulse of energy shooting out towards the sky. Nothing happened at first, all the ponies gathered around frowning up at the night, until finally, it happened.

    Rarity gasped, grabbing on to Twilight for support. “My stars!”

    My stars indeed, when like a brushstroke on canvas, dozens upon dozens of brilliant white speckles of light filled the sky, the ponies of Hollow Shades and the rest of the kingdom basking in the light of more stars than had been seen in Equestria for over a thousand years.

    Princess Luna landed on the ground, and after sitting down to admire her work alongside the others, she breathed in and smiled.

    That is how she’ll know.”

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    1. Zanna Zannolin
      Nov 26, 22 at 10:53 pm

      HHHHHHHHHAAAAA OH MY GOD. how do you keep packing so much into these chapters i am bombarded by happenings from every side /pos. oh my GODDD. like. oh my god. i don;t know if i even have words for this one i’m genuinely bouncing off the walls thrilled. NOTHING BUT DUBS THIS CHAPTER!

      rarity and twilight really needed that sort-of fight i think and it’s so great to see them working to resolve things even if i’m sitting here whispering “rarity i know your thing is generosity but it’s so not good for you to dedicate your entire life to one person oh dear”. also fluttershy standing there the entire argument like D: me too girl me too. i must admit i did absolutely cackle at twilight cutting off nightmare moon and yoinking them all elsewhere like NOT RIGHT NOW i’m having an IMPORTANT NARRATIVE DISCUSSION WIHT MY GF! sheesh nightmare moon read the room.

      the tactics twilight used were also utterly brilliant. i’ll spare you the dream logic spiel again but it was just so good how twilight maneuvered the entire conversation and setting. it proves that she knows herself and she knows luna and luna can’t get away with the self-pitying quicksand that is “oh nobody cares about me, nobody believes in me, i may as well just lash out.” like. it’s just this distinct part of mental illness/trauma that i feel like people never want to address—how people lash out because they’re hurting, and how you have to acknowledge why they did it but that doesn’t mean it’s okay at all. and you handled it brilliantly here when many people wouldn’t even try, i think. it adds this wonderful complexity to luna’s character and it’s fantastic.

      also GET WRECKT CHAOS MAGIC. and i deeeefinitely didn’t cry over the cupcake scene :((( she finally got her cupcake and WHAT DO UYOU MEANNNN ELEMENT OF HARMONY. also element of hope is banger i wish that were an actual thing now i must admit. i do love that twilight still has no idea what’s going on with the elements and they drop everything to go watch luna raise the moon and stars. i think everyone should stop and look at the sky at night it would fix so many things.