When Stars Dream

This story is a sequel to A Tale of the Sun, Moon, and Stars
Twilight Sparkle is embarking on a new path in her life, and Luna is there to guide her to the right one. At long last, it is time for the Stars to come home.
Twilight Sparkle's story, and sequel to A Tale of the Sun, Moon, and Stars.
Cover art by AeronJVL.

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2. On A Perfect Night

On A Perfect Night

 

 

 

Featuring Lyrics By: Daniel Ingram

Featuring Art By: mmmandarinorange

 

 

 

 

“One more year,” Celestia thought to herself. “One year among hundreds, and yet it seems so far away.” Fragments of that night nine hundred and ninety nine years prior tried to break the surface of the roiling sea that were her thoughts. She fought them with tooth and hoof, not wanting to relive those memories once again. Instead, she focused on a happier memory, a night not unlike this, one that both she and her sisters shared long ago. No matter how long she lived, she would never forget the sense of utter freedom as she and Luna played amongst the tall grass of that ancient meadow, nor would she forget the sights the Stars had crafted just for them. It had been the perfect night.

The last two decades had been trying, almost as hard as the first few since they had left. They were so close, now that the six had awakened. Cadance had been a pleasant surprise to say the least, but even then, Celestia’s heart was still longing for their return. She set her sight upon the twinkling stars above, and the tainted beauty of where her sister now slept. “I miss you both so much.” Tears flowed freely as she spoke, her muffled crying drowning out the sound of approaching hoofsteps.

 

***

 

Twilight Sparkle trotted down the darkened corridors of Canterlot Castle with a whimsical gait, humming an equally whimsical tune. It was the night of The Summer Sun Celebration and that meant one thing: no one would bother her in the library! Not a soul could be seen in the usually bustling halls of Canterlot’s largest concentration of knowledge. Not even the soft whimpering coming from the nearby balcony would stop on her quest for unimpeded reading time. Nope, definitely not the sad sobbing of some poor distressed mare. “Fine!” she begrudgingly thought, her conscience finally winning out. Even for being a closeted bookworm, she still knew when somepony desperately needed a friend.

No test had prepared her for the white alicorn with tears streaming down her face as she stared wistfully at the moon and stars above.

“Princess Celestia?” Twilight whispered, taken aback from the sight of her mentor.

“Hello, my faithful student, I'm so sorry for disturbing you. I had figured most ponies would be home celebrating or asleep by now,” Celestia said, trying to look regal while fighting back the tears.

Twilight was frozen in place. All thoughts of books were replaced by her mind racing to cope with having never seen somepony she cared so deeply for in such a state. Why does it hurt so much? The feelings welling up from deep within her were not for a professor or a liege, but of somepony closer. As close as the bond she shared with Shining Armor, as strong as the bond she had with her loving parents, but somehow, it felt completely different.

“I’ll be going. Good night Twilight.” Celestia sighed, sounding more dejected than ever.

“Wait.” Twilight managed to squeak out. Slowly, control returned to her, and slowly she marched forward until she was next to Celestia. Twilight’s gaze met two magenta eyes, eyes that even the young unicorn could tell were full of an almost incomprehensible amount of sorrow. Deep inside, her heart had shattered; releasing something or someone that was screaming at her to go hug and comfort her teacher.

Celestia made no effort to stop the purple hooves wrapping themselves around her neck. Instead she pulled them closer with a large white wing. “Thank you, Twilight,” she sniffled, nuzzling her.

“I hope I'm not overstepping my bounds,” Twilight said while looking into Celestia’s eyes once more.

Celestia chuckled. “No you are not. In fact you are helping me far more than you know. I always get a little down on this day.” Sighing, Celestia returned Twilight’s gaze. “Do you know what number this year’s celebration marks?”

Twilight brought a hoof to her chin, pondering the question. “Umm. I believe this would be the 999th anniversary. I can’t help but wonder why you of all ponies would be so sad on this day. It’s a celebration for your sun, right?”

“No Twilight, today is not for me. It’s for Equestria, or at least it was many years ago. Time has worn away its true meaning, it seems,” Celestia paused, taking a deep breath. “Nine-hundred and ninety nine years ago I lost two of the most important ponies in my very long life. One was lost to the darkness in her heart, the other gave up everything so that she may save her sister and this land. Today was meant to be a celebration of their lives, and the light that continues to shine on our kingdom because of them.”

“Not a single book on Equestrian history has ever mentioned that, and now I desperately wish I knew. I'm so sorry, Princess.”

“It’s no fault of yours, Twilight- I have never told another soul about that day. It may seem sad, but besides Cadance and Spike, you are the only pony I truly consider family.” Twilight locked up. Had the princess actually said that? Her… family? Before she lost herself in the downward spiral her thoughts were leading, Celestia began to speak once again. “I have a question for you, Twilight. A very important question, but not one that I wish an immediate answer for. What would make you give up everything? Your books, your magic, even your very life. What would you sacrifice all of them for? Think about this question as you continue on your journey in life, and I will let you know when I expect an answer.”

“But Princess—” Twilight tried to protest the unfairness of a question she could not answer, only to be cut off by Celestia.

Celestia flashed a calming smile towards Twilight, her sadness fading with each passing moment spent beside her student. “Shh. Think about it not as a test or quiz, as there is no right or wrong answer, but as a question you can reflect upon as you grow.” She snuggled closer to Twilight, lifting her wing so that the pony beside her could have a better view of the brilliant night sky. “The stars seem so beautiful tonight. Wouldn't you agree?”

Twilight’s eye shot open at the sight. Celestia wasn't lying, tonight’s sky was far grander than many in recent memory. The way the stars scintillated in the cool summer air made them seem almost like millions of individual diamonds had been spread out across a midnight hued cloth. Each one reflected off her wide purple pools, sparkling in their depths. “Only one night could compare to this, the night you took me in. Why that has stuck in my mind after all that happened that day- I do not know. Tonight though, tonight is one I will always cherish.”

“And I as well.” Celestia whispered, her smile glowing bright as ever.

There on a moonlit balcony in Canterlot, two ponies spent the night watching the stars and moon paint their way across the sky. A night both would remember for the rest of their lives.

 

***

 

The months after her coronation had been a blur of galas, trips to strange dimensions, and other adventures she and her friends had found themselves in, all of which had culminated in today’s Sun and Moon Celebration. Twilight couldn't believe it when Princess Celestia chose her and her friends to plan and organize this year’s event in Canterlot. She was glad to help, of course, but it had been so long since she had any free time to spend with her friends, Spike, or just herself. If one silver lining could be found, it was that the constant events kept her preoccupied from the worries and doubts that were building in the back of her mind.

She had come close to losing herself-- not to mention her crown-- in her quest to find what it truly means to be a princess, and she thanked her lucky stars that she had the most amazing of friends and family watching her back. Words could not express how grateful she was for them, not only for their unconditional love and encouragement, but the fact the stakes had become so much higher now that she had a kingdom to look after.

Despite all the setbacks and doubt, she still would ponder the meaning of her ascension during the little moments of peace and quiet she found- moments like her current trek through the moonlit castle she and her friends had spent the last week in.

“Why me? Why not one of my friends? What am I even supposed to be princess of?” Twilight asked no one in particular, a cool summer breeze shifting her mane as she made her way to her destination, a little recessed balcony that overlooked her old tower, one that had come to be be very special to her in the past few years.

She was hoping to get a little stargazing in to calm her frayed nerves, and maybe, just maybe sort through the various fragments of her once “normal” life. The hushed voices coming from her favorite spot had convinced her otherwise, and with an exasperated groan she turned back towards the path to her royal quarters. But just as she was about to leave- her natural curiosity picked up a little too much of the two ponies’ conversation.

“How do you do it, sister? How can you not tell her, much less stand to be around her? I have had to distance myself so far away, lest I ruin any chance we have of regaining her," a hushed, yet familiar, voice spoke. “It has been months since she became like us, how much longer do we have to wait? Years? Centuries?”

“As long as it takes,” Another voice whispered- one she knew all too well.

Celestia. Twilight’s eyes snapped wide open, gears beginning to whirl and spin inside her mind. The other voice must be Luna, and they’re talking about— me? Waiting for what? What should I remember? She had to know more.

Twilight listened on, detecting a hint of sadness from the Princess of the Night. “It’s just that I miss her so much. I thought she was to return to us the night she touched the stars, but it was for naught."

Why does Luna miss me? We saw each other at the banquet last night! I touched the stars? When did I ever do that? So many questions!

“How do I do it? Love, Luna, love. Even if she may never remember- I love her for the pony she is and who she has become. Maybe in time, you can as well.”

She loves me? Thinking back, it made sense to Twilight. Celestia had never outright said she loved her, but she had always considered Twilight family.

Luna broke down, her crying causing Twilight’s heart to grow inexplicably heavy. “It is my fault she is gone, and I will not cease until we have our sister back!”

The mechanisms in Twilight’s mind screeched to a halt. Sister? She knew she was close to Celestia and had become friends with Luna, but a sister? This was something else entirely. This was something big. Huge even. Sister. Her thoughts kept revolving around that word, causing her to pay no heed to outside world or the potted plant she had just knocked over.

“Is somepony there?” Celestia’s voice called out.

All the princesses received in response was a surprised squeak, and the signature pop of a pony hastily teleporting.

Celestia looked over to where Twilight had been watching, a smile overtaking her. “As I was about to say, perhaps all she needs is a push in the right direction.”

 

***

 

Sweat was dripping off her brow, her heart still racing from the excitement of eavesdropping on two of the most powerful ponies in the land.

“Is everything alright, sugarcube? I heard a noise as I was passing by.” Of course, Applejack of all ponies would be waiting for her.

“Fine! Everything is fine! Never better in fact!” Twilight lied, knowing full well the folly she was committing. “I’m just going to get some fresh air, if you don't mind.”

“Didn’t ya say that an hour ago?” Applejack said with an eyebrow raised, letting Twilight know she was caught.

Horseapples. A sigh left her lips, her ears folding back upon her head. “No, Aj, nothing is alright. I learned something, something big, but something I don't think I was meant to know.”

Applejack trotted up to Twilight, throwing a leg around her withers. “That bad huh?”

Twilight’s eyes were fixated on the ground, her mind still residing in the balcony from which she fled. “That's just it- it isn’t! It’s just something I need to come to terms with, and I’m afraid not even you girls can help me!”

“If you say so, Twi. But just remember- we're always here for you, no matter what.”

Twilight faced Applejack, that confident smile and tipped hat giving her all the reassurance she could need. “You don’t know how much that means to me, but I really do need some time to my self right now.”

Applejack patted Twilight on the back and made her way to the door. “Alright, I hear ya. If ya need anything at all, you know where to find me.”

“Goodnight Applejack.”

“Night, Twi.”

Another sigh escaped from Twilight as the door closed behind Applejack, one of relief, but also of annoyance. Secrets. It seems Celestia was entirely made of them. They had known each other for years, Twilight practically looked up to her like a second mother or a big sister, yet she knew hardly anything of her or her past. Sister- there was that word again.

Maybe I should just talk to them. Twilight slowly rose to her hooves, her body still weary from her panicked escape. “Or maybe I can still get some stargazing in and relax for once,” she said while stretching her various joints and appendages.

 

***

 

Twilight couldn't tell if it was coincidence or not that this time every year the stars shone a little brighter. The refreshing summer air was devoid of its usual humidity, and even the moon had taken a backseat to the tiny lights. There was something strange about them, however. The usually distant specks seemed so close and so welcoming. As strange as they were, the sight was familiar and comforting to Twilight.

“Where have I seen this before?” Twilight wondered, taking a deep breath of the crisp mountain air. It was then she remembered a dream she had one night many months ago. A dream where she walked amongst the stars with Luna, and drifted off to sleep listening to their melodic chimes. A dream where she touched the stars.

Pieces began falling into place. The heavenly vistas she walked along with Luna were the very ones she met Celestia upon on the day of her ascension. She touched the stars, just as Luna had said. It was becoming very clear that there was one frightening explanation for everything. “That wasn’t a dream.”

Twilight jumped out of her seat, her wings flaring with nervous energy. “It can’t be real! I'm not the stars’ master, nor am I worthy of being their sister. I’m not sure I’m even worthy of being a princess!” There was only one way to prove that it wasn’t real, and truly just a dream. She reached out, and touched the stars.

Instead of the worry or anxiety she was expecting, Twilight was surprisingly relieved when her hoof sent a wave rippling through the vast ocean of lights. “It’s all real,” she whispered, hoof still immersed in the night sky. It was an odd feeling touching the stars, feeling the immensely powerful magics coursing through her, and their almost undeniable pull as she was being welcomed to join them in the heavens above.

Was this where the answers she has been searching for had been hiding? She slowly lowered her hoof as she flapped her wings to make sure they were ready for what was about to come next. If the answers were up there- she was going to find them. Prepped and ready, she looked to the safety of her room one last time before diving into Luna’s sky.

 

***

 

“And where do you think you are going?” Celestia said, shaking her head at her fidgeting sister.

“Let me go! You know very well where I am headed.”

“Luna, please stop. I know you wish to be there with her, but remember what happened the last two times we intervened. This is something she needs to do alone.”

Luna ceased her struggling against the golden glow of her sister’s magic, Celestia’s words striking true. “It’s so hard trying to right the wrongs of your past. When an opportunity arises to atone for your gravest misdeed, it’s so easy to miss what is truly important. Forgive me, sister.”

Celestia nuzzled her little sister, whispering her ear, “Have faith in her, Luna. When the time comes, she will make the right choice.”

Luna rested her head up against Celestia, returning her gaze to the little magenta streak racing through the starry night. “Please find your way home, our little Stars.”

 

***

 

Wind rushed along Twilight’s outstretched wings, hundreds of stars passing her view. She had never been the best of fliers, but here was different. Here she was free and unburdened; the weight of her worries stripped away by the stars’ soothing chimes. It was here she knew she would find her purpose in the vast world Celestia had opened for her.

Faster and faster she flew, her entire body fueled by the now overwhelming desire to find the answers she knew were so close. She could sense them now. Something or someone was calling to her, encouraging her to go just a little deeper into the sea of sparkling stars.

Just as Twilight hit the limit of her newfound stamina, she saw them. There, in a glowing pocket, lay a large six pointed star surrounded by five smaller replicas. Her cutie mark! Surely this is what she had been seeking! Quickly she dove towards the center, coming face to face with her reflection in the giant crystalline star. Something very unexpected happened then- her reflection waved to her.

"GAH!” Twilight yelled, the reflection just shaking her head. “Who? What are you?”

“Your reflection, or should I say, your past reflection. Perhaps this will help,” The doppelganger said, vanishing from sight. “Is this better?”

Twilight jumped at the new voice that had originated behind her, “Gah! You have to stop doing that--” Again Twilight was taken by an unexpected sight. Before her was an alicorn every bit as graceful as Celestia, and as elegant as Princess Luna. Her long flowing mane filled with miniature star bursts as it shifted back and forth of its own accord.

“I should introduce my self. I am, or I was, the Stars. I am just a shadow now, a collection of her fondest and strongest memories, kept here until she returned. Kept here for you.”

Twilight was sent reeling from the Stars sudden revelation. Sure she was seeking answers, but this, this was too much to for the princess. “I— I am Twilight Sparkle.” Twilight said with trepidation.

The Stars eyes lit up with joy, her hooves clopping together in excitement. “Ooh such a pretty name! I was always so jealous of the Sun and Moon’s names, to hear yours fills me with a happiness I have not known in some time.”

“Why thank you, but- you were waiting for me? Why me?” Twilight pleaded.

“It’s a tale I'm sure you know, but perhaps not all details have survived the long years. Long ago, two sisters ruled over the land: the Sun, who brought out the day; and the Moon, the night. In the tiny gap between night and day, another sister--The Stars--emerged; her little lights friends to all. Peace and harmony reigned, until one day the Moon was lost to the darkness she had hidden away from her sisters. In her place stood a fearsome mare of darkness promising to bring about an everlasting night.”

It was the old tale of Nightmare Moon, but Twilight had never heard of the Stars, or a another sister. “But--”

Tale unfinished, the Stars cut off the increasingly agitated Twilight. “The Sun and Stars were devastated, yet persevered against the Nightmare that had taken hold of their beloved sister. In a desperate bid to save the Moon, the Stars were forced to make a costly choice: break her connection to her sisters, in exchange for the power to reignite the Elements of Harmony. With the Nightmare sealed in the moon, the Stars said goodbye to the Sun, promising to return when their sister could truly be saved.”

“But with the help of my friends we did save Luna!” Twilight shouted at the top of her still aching lungs.

“Of course you did, Twilight Sparkle, for you are that very sister. You are the Stars.”

A wave of understanding struck Twilight, her legs nearly giving out under its sheer weight. Why she felt like she belonged amongst the stars, and why she felt so strongly about Luna and Celestia came down to one word. Sister. Their sister, this is what she was meant to be, and every fiber in her being knew it. “You were the one calling to me all this time.”

“I watched as the Moon brought you to our celestial home, and again when you ascended to this realm with the help of the six. Yet both times you were not ready. You hadn't learned what it meant to be a princess. Now, after all you have been through, and all you have witnessed, you can now answer the one question which will unlock your legacy.” The Stars peered straight into Twilight’s eyes. “What would you give up everything for, young Twilight Sparkle? Your stars, your magic, everything that made you, you?”

Celestia’s question from long ago. The question Twilight asked herself once every season, just in case Celestia would make good on her promise of demanding an answer. At first, the answer would shift from one priority to the next. For the last year or so, however, it had always been the same and unchanging; an answer she truly believed in her heart of hearts.

Twilight spoke, her answer resolute and unwavering.

The Stars smiled, tears trickling down her face. “Twilight Sparkle. I give to you that which was lost, and that which has always been your birthright. Through you, the stars shall shine again.” In a flash of purple, the Stars vanished from sight.

Before she could ask where the Stars had gone, Twilight found herself alone and surrounded by her new charges. A single star fell to her hooves, twinkling as it danced around Twilight. Another fell, joining its brother, then another and another. Hundreds of stars, then millions. Soon only the six magenta stars remained in the night sky. In the center sat Twilight, embracing a part of herself she never knew, but had always missed.

Dreams, or more likely memories, flooded Twilight’s consciousness. Happy ones, sad ones, terrible ones; all of which she cherished. A powerful vision of six ponies as they overlooked the vast blue pearl of the earth and said their goodbyes. The joy of seeing her sisters as innocent fillies, and the pride she felt when they triumphed over Discord. Even Luna’s fall was close to her, taking its place alongside memories of Rarity’s own. Painful lessons, learned and now remembered so no pony would ever feel that pain again.

With hooves opened wide, Twilight welcomed the last of her precious stars. Slowly they took their positions around her, potent magic arcing to and fro as they slid into place. And there she stood; eyes alight with the radiance of a billion burning stars- her mane scattered by the sheer force of her power- her voice was filled with purpose. “I am Twilight Sparkle. Princess of Equestria, Princess of Magic, and Princess of The Sparkling Stars!

Light, blinding, all-encompassing light erupted across Equestria, spreading across the land in a titanic circular wave. It was a sight not seen in the world for many, many years. A sight only two sisters and a now terrified draconequus in Canterlot would know.

 

***

 

Luna began prancing around her elder sister like an over excited school filly. “She... did it! She really did it! Yes! Yes! Yes!”

Celestia said nothing, her lips moving to an unsung melody.

It's time now for a new change to come

You've grown up and your new life has begun

To go where you will go

To see what you will see

To find what you will be

For it's time for you to fulfill your destiny

Slowly the star descended over Canterlot, taking its place on the balcony which two princesses happened to occupy; its purple light illuminating the entire castle in a calming glow. In a flash, the star vanished, leaving behind a very different Twilight. Her mane flowed with magic, little starbursts winking in and out in along the way. Her size and stature had also increased, bringing her almost neck and neck with Luna. Her eyes were still alight with unfathomable energy.

“Twilight?” Both sisters asked, not knowing what to expect from the newly awakened Stars.

Twilight shook her head back and forth, her eyes losing their fire. Power faded with each moment until she returned, the same alicorn she had always been. She looked to Celestia and Luna, a smile growing from ear to ear. “I get it now. Why you two have always cared for my friends and I. Why you have always been there.” Slowly she approached the two, looking them both dead in the eyes. “A long time ago, Celestia asked me what I would give everything for. A question whose answer eluded me for some time.” Closer she moved, now only just inches apart. “My Kingdom. My Friends. And my... FAMILY!” Celestia and Luna found themselves in a vise like grip of purple hooves and feathers. Happy tears streamed down her face as she buried her head between her two big sisters. “Oooo I've missed you so much! I promise never to leave you two again!”

Celestia looked down to her bawling little sister, kissing the back of her head. “I missed you too.”

Luna could scarcely speak, choking on the mix of conflicting emotions of guilt for what she had caused, and utter joy of her nightmare truly, finally ending. “And I promise that you never will.”

Something still wasn't right, Twilight thought to herself, some primal calling deep down telling her that she needed to do something very important.

“Twilight?” Luna nuzzled her little sister, whispering into her ear.  “Twilight, I think something is missing in tonight’s sky.”

Twilight looked to the sky above, and the pitch blackness that was only broken by the faint glow of Luna’s moon. “The stars.”

Luna nodded.

Twilight left her sisters’ warmth, trotting up the precipice of their balcony. It was then she realized she had no idea how to bring out her stars. “Heh. A little help here?”

Celestia, the ever diligent teacher, came to her rescue. “Find something close to you, a memory or somepony that you would never wish to forget. Take that spark of joy it brings to your heart, and imagine sharing it across the world.”

Twilight thought and thought, taking a look into now vast memories. Nothing seemed like it would do for tonight, not even her friends and the day she met them. She loved them dearly but tonight had to be perfect, tonight had to be about her sisters. She reached further back, the ancient memories still fragmented from having been regained so recently. All, that is, except one.

Tonight was to be a rather plain night. No meteor showers, no lunar eclipse, just an ordinary night which the ponies below her would find nothing but comfort under her stars. That was, until the Stars caught a glimpse of a white and a dark blue speck in a verdant meadow outside of the royal city of Everfree. Her sisters were out way past their normal hours, galloping and playing in the soft grass.

Moving in for a closer look, she could make out what appeared to be a simple game. Celestia would bop Luna on the nose and run away as fast a she could, dodging and weaving Luna’s attempts at a retaliatory bop. Eventually Luna would succeed and the game would be reversed, both ponies laughing all the while. The Stars couldn’t help but giggle at their antics. No matter how odd it seemed for the two most powerful beings in all the land to be seen acting like a couple of fillies, the Stars had never seen her sisters so happy and so free.

Back and forth they went, their laughter even reaching the Stars in the sky above. Luna had almost made it away, but with a quick pop, Celestia had managed to teleport right into her path. Luna tried her best to stop, but she only found Celestia’s waiting legs as she was tackled to the ground. White, then blue, then white again was all the Stars could make out while her sisters rolled across the moist ground in their sisterly battle for supremacy.

Eventually Celestia gained the upper hand and their contest ceased. Both ponies splayed out on their backs; chests heaving up and down from laughter and exhaustion. Still gasping for air from their foal-like games, the two princesses gazed upon the starry night and waved to their sister above. Happiness welled up through the Stars, igniting an idea in her mind. She would make this night a special one, one just for sisters. A perfect night.

Concentrating, she focused on the patch of stars currently above Equestria. Slowly she nudged them, ushering them into new resting places. With a spark of magic, lines of light crisscrossed across the stars. From below, her sisters sat in amazement. In the sky above was the image of three alicorns holding each other tightly painted in the very stars themselves. Even from so far above, the Stars could clearly make out the words spoken by her sisters.

“I love you.”

Zzzt.

The spark coursed through Twilight’s veins, sending feelings of indescribable love and happiness across her entire body. She had to release it, and quick. The feelings were so great, so powerful, she had to let the whole world know. Focusing her magic, she pointed her horn to the heavens above and let loose.

Stars. Stars as far as they could see. So bright, so beautiful. Stars in many hues of blue, white, yellow, and lavender; their true majesty no longer denied to the slumbering earth. Twilight’s mouth was agape, had she really done that? Looking back to her sisters to make sure she was in fact not dreaming, she found them staring at her with tears in their eyes. “You make us so proud, our precious little Stars.”

In a triumph of sisterly love, three sisters of Sun, Moon, and Stars found themselves reunited in mind, body, and spirit for the first time in over a millennium. Falling asleep in each others’ loving embrace on this, the most perfect of nights.

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