Mirta

A Welcome Change

Nov 27th, 2018 (edited)
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  1. Luna had her hooves wrapped around her sister, just as her sister's hooves were wrapped around her.
  2. “I'll bring you all your gifts, and heaps of the best foods, and a whole jug of your favorite eggnog!” The siblings rubbed their cheeks together, basking in the comforting warmth of each other.
  3. “I will be fine, sister. We both know one of us has to fulfill this duty, and I drew the short straw. Though I wish that old mare in Appleoosa had picked some other day to 'see dragons.'”
  4. “The law will be repealed by next year, I promise.” The sisters finally let go of each other.
  5. “Perhaps you should have put the change in the works when we signed the non-aggression pact with Dragonlord Ember.” Despite wanting to, Luna couldn't quite look her sister in the eyes.
  6. “At least I amended it so you can stay home instead of having to go see the dragon-shaped cloud or whatever it was that she saw.” Celestia swiped a tear out of the corner of her eye before waving and turning towards the door. “I'll be back tomorrow and then we'll have our own Hearth's Warming.”
  7. “Off with you already. I have a book to read.” Luna suppressed her tears. A great pain stung at her soul. The pain of loneliness. Her facade held until her sister's tail disappeared as the door slammed shut behind her. The Princess of Night let her head slump. The guard, the clerks, the ministers, the gardeners. And now even Celestia. All with their friends and families.
  8. Luna felt dampness well up in the corners of her eyes.
  9.  
  10. Metallic clacks of Luna's shod hooves echoed in the deserted hallways of Canterlot Castle. She did not have a book to read. She had a duty. She wanted to be with her sister in Ponyville. She wanted to be merry and feel warm inside and get a bit tipsy. But she had a duty.
  11. But how would she pass the time?. Should she go to the library and get a book? Could she concentrate on reading? Or should she go to her office and do some paperwork, despite it being Hearth's Warming?
  12. “Haah.” Her sigh was the only sound for the short second it lasted for. Then it was quiet. So quiet the silence pressed on her ears like a pair of pillows. There was no sound of distant hoofsteps of guards on patrol. No bumble of petty nobles trying to earn the sister's favor. No chatter of staff asking each other about their days. There was only silence. Luna let her head slump again, this time until her neck was straight and level with her spine. She had a duty.
  13. There was precisely one thing on her to-do list. Celestia had asked her to spend some time with Philomena. It was something she'd hoped to put it off until later, so she could feel better when she'd check off the only item on her list when her nightly vigil in Equestria's dreams was just a few hours away. It was just past noon, but she decided to head up to her sister's chambers nevertheless. Maybe Philomena would make her feel a little less alone. She was a good bird. Very smart and observant. Enough so to notice Luna was feeling down.
  14. ...She really was going to see a bird in search of sympathy and companionship. But, she had a duty. There was no helping it. Her duty to protect Equestria and its citizens came before all else. Whether it left a massive, gaping hole in her soul or not.
  15.  
  16. “Hello there, how are you feeling today?” Luna forced the corners of her mouth to curl into a smile. “My sister's out to see our friends. Twilight and Cadance are there, too. As are their families. And friends.” Her lips twitched, but she kept the smile on her face. “So it's just you and me today.” The door lit up with her magical aura and shut itself.
  17. “Coo.” The phoenix's yellow eyes followed Luna as she trotted across her sister's bedroom towards its cage. “Squawk!” It switched from foot to foot and tilted its head as the door of its cage lit up with Luna's magic. “Coo!” It hopped out of its cage as soon as it could, spread its wings and flew a lap around the room.
  18. “Eager to stretch your wings, aren't you? Want to go out for a flight with me?” Luna fanned out her wings and gave them a few flaps. Philomena wouldn't escape. Celestia had had it for multiple of its lifetimes now. The sisters were its family, and the castle was its home.
  19. “Squawk!” The phoenix's claws clicked on the stone floor next to the balcony door. It tapped the glass with its beak, then looked at Luna.
  20. “I'm coming, I'm coming.”
  21.  
  22. Philomena bobbed on Luna's back as she trotted towards the castle's library. The bird's claws may have dug into her skin, but being in the company of something living made it worth the discomfort.
  23. “What should I read today?” Luna was perfectly aware that the phoenix couldn't understand what she said. “Maybe some Shadow Spade?” A book floated off the shelf in front of her. “Or would Daring Do be better?” The book was joined by another. “Perhaps even Lemon Heart?” And a third one.
  24. Thud. It came from the throne room. The alicorn's ears perked up and swiveled to the direction of the sound. “Did you hear that?” Philomena's gaze was fixed in the same direction as Luna's ears. The princess' brow scrunched. There shouldn't be anypony but her in the whole castle. Even if somepony had forgot something, they would wait until tomorrow instead of wasting a good chunk of Hearthswarming Day.
  25.  
  26. “Princess Luna?” A mare's voice. Luna felt like she'd heard it before. But where? Her mind drew a blank.
  27. “We heard you're here all alone and decided it just wouldn't do.” Another mare, and a voice Luna didn't remember hearing before. She shifted from sneaking to a light trot. The clip-clop of her shod hooves filled the corridor, doubtlessly reaching the newcomers as well.
  28. “I am present. How can I-” The princess rounded the last corner. A pure white earth pony mare with blue eyes and a faint pink mane waited for her. Beside the earth pony stood a unicorn, mare as well, who had-
  29. Swoosh! A wave of green magic flashed across the unicorn. Only, she wasn't a unicorn.
  30. “Chrysalis.” Luna's voice dropped by an octave. “You claim you've changed, but you are yet to convince me.” Despite her frigid tone, she did not prepare a spell in her mind. Reversalis, as she called herself now, was agonized by dreams where she watched herself repeat her past misdeeds.
  31. “Yes. I understand.” The insectoid bowed her head and squeezed her eyes shut. “I'll leave if you wish. You don't have to forgive me. There is no forgiving what I have done.”
  32. Luna stuck her snout up in the air and tread closer. “Make your plea. I am prepared to grant you a chance.” She stopped in front of Chrysalis, lifted a hoof off the floor, and used that hoof to lift the changeling queen's chin so they eyes met. “Squander it, and I will not hesitate to exterminate you for the vermin you are.” Luna let the wrinkle that formed on on her snout remain.
  33. “I- I, I heard you were all alone here. So, I went to get something to eat and drink and ran into Redheart, who missed the last train home after her on call duty in Canterlot Central Hospital.” Queen Chrysalis cracked open her eyelids just enough to see. She shivered against Luna's hoof. “I just hoped to make you happy! Please!” Her eyes shot to the side, at Redheart, for support.
  34. But there was none to be found. Redheart stared back in silence. Chrysalis' shivering grew more intense as Luna kept glaring at her. Suddenly, the princess realized the weight on her back was gone.
  35. “Coo.” The airflow from Philomena's wings tickled Luna's ears as the magnificent red bird flew over her and set itself down on Chrysalis' head. The princess' snout relaxed as she watched the phoenix nibble on one chitinous ear.
  36. “I see you have earned someone's trust. It has always been a better judge of character than me.” Redheart let out the breath she'd been holding when Luna's hoof fell off Chrysalis' chin and returned to the floor. “You said you brought something to eat?”
  37.  
  38. Luna and Redheart stood in the royal kitchen and waited waited for water to boil so they could have hot cocoa. Chrysalis was outside, getting her 'supplies', and would be back in a few.
  39. “May I ask why you're here on your own, Princess?” Redheart's right back hoof crossed in front of the left one, but she kept her bright blue eyes locked on Luna's. “I heard you were supposed to be in Ponyville, with Twilight.”
  40. “There's been a possible dragon sighting in Appleoosa. The law states that a princess must be in readiness at all times when a dragon can pose a threat to ponies, and I drew the short straw.” Luna looked at the kettle she had on a stove, and cracked open the lid to see that the water was steaming. “My sister insisted that she stays. I insisted we leave it to chance. So we rolled a die, and fortune did not favor me.” She led the lid fall back in place before turning around and yanking open a closet. Three mugs floated out and settled on a table.
  41. “I did not know you were such a noble pony, Princess.” A hoof stroked Luna's side. “I- I mean, of course you're noble since you're a princess and all, but-”
  42. Luna spun around, and wrapped Redheart into a tight hug. “Thank you.” She felt the nurse squirm a little bit, before reciprocating. As well as she could due to their size difference, anyways.
  43. “Sorry it took- Oh.” Chrysalis trotted into the kitchen, then stopped and held a hoof near her chin and had a shy smile on her lips.
  44. “Come here.” Luna waved a hoof to beckon the reformed changeling to her. Bags, boxes and bottles, held aloft by a green magical aura, settled down on the table next to the three mugs. “This was your idea, wasn't it?”
  45. Chrysalis stopped on her tracks just out of hoof's reach. “Uh, yes? Did I do something wrong? Was it a bad idea to assume we could just come in?”
  46. Princess Luna let go of Redheart and took a few steps towards the changeling queen. She adhered to the fragment of Nightmare Moon that still hid within her and let her face remain blank, even as Chrysalis flinched and looked away when Luna lunged at her. “You gave me the best Hearth's Warming gift ever.” She wrapped her hooves around the insectoid and embraced her.
  47.  
  48. “Want some more hot chocolate? How about cake?” Chrysalis made both the thermos bottle and the remaining piece of strawberry cake float to Redheart. The three ponies lounged in Luna's room, resting on exquisitely comfortable armchairs, and enjoyed the crackling of flames and the heat radiating from the fireplace.
  49. “Maybe just a little.”
  50. “Aw, come on, it's Hearth's Warming. You don't have to worry about your figure today.” A thick slice of cake, coated in a green aura, deposited itself on Redheart's plate. The earth pony rolled her eyes, but did not protest otherwise. “Now don't be like that. It's good for your mental health to indulge in copious amounts of delicacies every now and then.”
  51. “Oh, fine. But only if you give me another cookie. I'm not sure what you put in them, but they're delicious.”
  52. “The secret ingredient is love!” Chrysalis covered her mouth with a hoof as she let out a chuckle. “And butter.”
  53. “Do not let my sister know you're into cooking. She'd sentence you to forced labor in the royal kitchens for your past misdeeds if she knew about your cake.” Luna picked up a poker with her magic and poked the wood in the fireplace with it, only for the piece firewood to crumble into a pile of glowing coals. “I bet its secret is lots of sugar and butter as well.” She chucked another bit of wood into the fire.
  54. “No, actually. It's the eggs. I used unfertilized changeling eggs instead of ch- What?” For a short while, the only sound in the room was the hum of fire. The corners of Chrysalis' mouth crept upwards until she broke out in laughter. “Aa-ha-ha! You should see your faces! Ee-he-he! I'm kidding, I'm kidding.” She managed to contain her joy enough to stop beating on the cushion of her seat with her hoof. “The actual secret is that I used strawberries bought from Strawberry Sunrise, and moisturized it with Apple family apple juice.” A dab with her napkin dried the tears of joy that'd formed in the corners of her eyes.
  55.  
  56. “Sister! I brought you-” Slam. Celestia barged into Luna's room without bothering to knock – just like she always had, for as long as Luna could remember. “-Oh. I didn't know you had friends over. Well, here's your gifts, and then some.” Something very heavy thumped on the floor.
  57. “Mmh.” The princess of Night shifted in her bed and rubbed her eyes with a fetlock. “Don't go, sister. There's somepony I want you to meet.” Luna pushed herself up and shook her head to get rid of the lingering sleepiness. She jabbed the shoulder of the pony next to her, and some part of the chitinous carapace of the insectoid on her other side. The scent of cakes, cookies, muffins, hot cocoa, eggnog and gluhwein still hung in the air. “This is Redheart, and this is Reversalis. They gave me the best Hearth's Warming present ever. They gave me their friendship.”
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