Dawn

Celestia raises the Sun for the first time.

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1. Dawn

“Sister, why are you awake? It is quite early.”

Celestia pulled her eyes away from the Moon hanging low in the sky, glancing back over her shoulder towards the small filly behind her. “Good morning, Luna. I hope I did not wake you.”

Luna yawned, the small unicorn rubbing at her eye with the back of her hoof before she trotted forward. “You did not. I awoke, and you were gone.”

“Is that so?” Celestia smiled down at her little sister. “Well, perhaps you should return to bed.”

“I am not tired.” Luna yawned again, before shaking her head, glancing up at Celestia, then at the sky, tilting her head. “What has captured your gaze?”

Celestia laughed quietly. “The Moon, dear sister.”

“The Moon?” Luna glanced from Celestia to the orb hovering over the dark hills before her eyes widened. “Are you going to lower it? May I watch?”

“Yes, once the others have awakened.”

Luna scowled. “Must we wait?”

Celestia shook her head. “It takes many unicorns to lower the Moon and raise the Sun. I cannot do it on mine own. This is the first time they have even allowed mine aid.”

“Why not? You are the best at magic!”

“Oh?” Celestia chuckled. “And who told you that?”

“Miss Coruscate!”

“I see.” Celestia reached down to set a hoof over her sister’s shoulders, leaning down to whisper into her ear. “Well, do not tell anypony, but when we last spoke, she said you were a better student than I.”

Luna’s ears perked up. “Truly?”

“Would I lie?”

The little filly wrinkled her snout. “If you thought it was funny.”

“Perhaps.” Celestia straightened up, her hoof moving to tousle her sister’s mane. “But I do not lie today.”

Luna grumbled, squirming away before lifting her hoof to smooth out her mane. “Humph.”

“You’re smiling.”

“I am not,” Luna protested, stamping her hoof even as her face gave her the lie.

“You are not, then. You would not lie about such a thing.”

Celestia pulled her eyes away from her sister, staring back up into the sky as the sound of crickets filled the space between them. A cool breeze blew over the hills, the grass rippling in the moonlight as the pale orb far above slowly sank towards the horizon.

“Why are ponies so rude?”

Celestia blinked, tearing her eyes away from the Moon. “Have the other students been troubling you, Luna?”

“None of the students say ‘you’. It is always ‘thee’ and ‘thou’ and ‘thine’,” Luna huffed. “They sometimes thou the teacher!”

Celestia laughed. “I do not think they understand how rude that can be. They are used to being spoken down to; they likely do not realize that thouing someone is rude.”

“But I know the difference!”

“I know.”

Luna lifted her chin, looking her sister in the eye. “You are always polite! Even when the Circle thous you, you always say you!”

Celestia’s smile faded. “It is not wise to speak of them as rude.”

“But they are!”

Celestia nodded her head. “This is true. They have little respect for those they consider their lessers.”

“That is everypony, according to them.”

“You need not be so specific, sister; at times, I suspect they seek a much less kind word with which to address donkeys.”

Luna looked up at her sister. “You did not laugh.”

“It is not funny.”

Luna’s snout crinkled up again as she scowled. “No, it is not. They are mean!”

Celestia sighed. “They are not all mean, and they mean well. They are simply jealous of their power and their ways.”

“Who died and left them in charge anyway?”

“Princess Platinum.”

Luna cast her hoof over her face. “You know what I mean.”

“I do.” Celestia shook her head. “It is not so simple. They are entrusted with the raising of the Sun and the Moon, and the course of the bodies through the heavens. It is difficult to say no to one who can throw you into eternal night.”

“Well, somepony should.”

Celestia sighed. “You need not confront everypony who does not like you.”

A bird chirped somewhere as the pair sat in the darkness. Luna pawed at the ground with her hoof, glaring down at the grass as the older pony gazed serenely up at the stars.

“Why do they not call you ‘you’, sister?”

“Because I am not yet one of them.”

Luna shook her head. “They call Master Stone you!”

“He is a philosopher.”

Luna stamped her hoof. “But he isn’t one of them!”

“Be that as it may—”

“Nopony calls you ‘you’!”

“Sister…”

“No!” Luna paced. “They are all rude. You should thou them!”

“That would not make them any more polite, sister.”

“Then they would know how it feels!”

“Then they would believe they are right.”

Luna pouted. “It isn’t fair!”

“I know,” Celestia said softly, stepping over to pull her sister into a hug.

“It is because you don’t have a mark, isn’t it?”

Celestia glanced back at her flank, her white coat smooth and unblemished. “Sister…”

“It is true!”

Celestia sighed. “Who told you that?”

“Who told me?” Luna shook her head. “Everypony told me! They told me you are not special because you have no mark. That you have no destiny!”

Celestia laughed.

“You think this is funny, sister?” Luna scowled, pushing out of the hug before whirling around to face her sister.

“Nay.”

“Then why do you laugh?”

“Because, Luna, it is better than to cry.”

Luna’s eyes fell as she began to awkwardly shift from hoof to hoof. “Why do you never speak of it, sister?”

“Because most ponies do not understand.”

I do not understand.”

Celestia lifted her head towards the sky. “Tell me, sister, what is the mark of Master Helianthus?”

“A sunflower.”

“And why does he have that mark?”

Luna snorted. “Because he helps raise the sun.”

“Does he now?” Celestia looked down at her sister. “Are you so certain?”

The filly looked away, biting her lip. “I am supposed to say no.”

Celestia chuckled. “He trained me in the ways of the heavens, as he had trained many others before.”

Luna tilted her head, then blinked. “Oh! It is to teach others to raise the Sun!”

“And if I told you he has a garden behind his house that is full of sunflowers?”

Luna frowned. “You think his destiny is to grow sunflowers?”

“I do not think we have a destiny, Luna.”

“What?” Luna furrowed her brow. “But, the mark of one’s destiny—”

“And what if a pony did not like their destiny? What if Master Helianthus did not wish to be a gardener?”

“You can’t escape destiny, sister. They teach you that in school.”

“Not everything they say in school is true, Luna,” Celestia said softly. “Some unicorns claim that earth ponies are naught but unicorns who married donkeys, long ago, and that pegasi are the same, save with griffins, and that neither line is pure. Do you believe that to be true?”

“Uhm…” Luna pawed at the grass with her hoof.

Celestia placed a hoof on her sister’s withers. “Did you know that the earth ponies say the same thing about unicorns?”

“They say we are half-donkey?”

“Nay, half caribou.”

Luna squinted up at her sister. “We do not look like caribou.”

“Indeed. Nor do pegasi look like griffins, nor earth ponies donkeys. Just because they have wings, or lack horns, does not mean they are not ponies.”

“So? Old ponies are stupid.” Luna shook her head. “That does not mean there is no such thing as destiny!”

“Do you think it is your destiny to do your homework?”

Luna recoiled slightly. “Why do you ask that?”

“You have no mark, same as I. So why is it that you do your homework? Must you? What if it is not your destiny?”

“You would yell at me if I did not do my homework.”

Celestia chuckled. “I would scold you, yes, but is that destiny? Or is that because I love you, and want you to do well?”

Luna tilted her head away from her older sister, drawing another laugh from the larger pony.

“Do you think it is destiny that you are here, now, and not asleep in your bed?”

“Maybe.”

Celestia leaned down towards her sister, kneeling to look her in the eye. “Do you truly think you have no choice but to be here?”

Luna shrugged. “Nay, but...”

“But?”

Luna sighed. “Nay. You are right, sister.” She paused, biting her lip. “But, Miss Coruscate said that when everypony finds the magic that makes them special, their mark of destiny appears. If there was no such thing as destiny, how would everypony find something which made them special?”

“Do you truly believe everypony is special?”

Luna staggered. “Sister, surely you do not mean to imply that they are not!”

“I do.”

“That is… abom… abomin…”

“Abominable?”

“Yes! Why do you say this, sister?”

“Because it is true.” Celestia rose, her gaze returning to the moon as a cool breeze swept over the hilltop, her mane rippling behind her in the darkness. “Do you believe everypony in the Circle is as special as Clover the Clever, or Star Swirl the Bearded, or Princess Platnium?”

“Of course not!”

“Do you believe that everypony in Canterlot is as special as the members of the Circle?”

“Many of them are!”

Celestia nodded. “Yes, I agree. But are all of them? Are there not ponies who are less special than the Circle?”

Luna set her mouth in a line, the small filly pacing back and forth a few times before sighing loudly. “Perhaps, sister. But—”

“And why are they less special?”

Luna blinked. “Why?”

“Do you believe it is because they got a flower on their flank, and not a star, that they cannot move the Sun or the Moon? Do you think that they are not special because it is their destiny?” Celestia leaned down, lowering her voice. “Do you think that I am not special because I do not have a mark?”

“No!”

“So why is it that one who has a mark should be any different? Why should a pony allow what appears on their side as a filly to set their life’s course?” Celestia straightened. “Master Helianthus is a part of the Circle. But that is not because he has a sunflower on his flank. He is a member of the Circle because he worked hard to achieve what he desired. He could have said that it was his destiny to grow sunflowers, but he did not.”

“But that’s different! He still has the mark!”

Celestia sighed, shaking her head and lifting a hoof to paw at her mane for a moment. “Tell me, sister: how many of your classmates have their marks?”

Luna sat back, lifting a hoof and staring down at it for a moment. “Six?”

“Did any of them stop doing things after they got their mark?”

“Uhm… well, Glint does not bring cake anymore.”

“Forgive me, I do not know your classmates well. What is his mark?”

“A crown.”

Celestia nodded her head. “Why do you think he stopped bringing cake?”

“Uhm… well, Gleam asked him why, and he said that he need not spend time making cake, because it was his destiny to tell others what to do.”

“Was his cake good?”

Luna looked up at the larger unicorn skeptically. “Of course it was good, sister. It was cake.”

Celestia laughed. “I should have known.” She inclined her head towards the smaller pony. “So he chose not to do something he could, because his mark was not a cake?”

Luna frowned.

“You see, Luna,” Celestia said, leaning down to look her sister in the eye, “it is not your mark that makes you special. It is you who makes your mark. He could have chosen to say that his mark meant he could be king of the bakers.”

Luna snorted.

“You may laugh, but I have heard very silly stories about such things. I have asked many ponies, and many ponies forget that it is they who choose what their mark means. Fewer still remember that they may do other things besides, even without pretending that it is their destiny.” Celestia lifted her hoof, pointing it up at the Moon that nearly touched the horizon. “If Glint chose, he may have worked to join the Circle and lead it. He could have chosen many things. But he will never touch the Moon, because he believes it is not his destiny to do so.”

The smaller unicorn sat down, chewing on the inside of her cheek. “I understand. But… that does not explain why you do not have your mark.”

Celestia shook her head. “It is the pony that makes the mark, and I have not yet found that which makes me special.”

“You’re special!” Luna jumped to her hooves. “You are smart, you are the best at magic, you know all these things—”

“But many ponies are smart, and good at magic, and know many things.”

“You’re good at everything!”

Celestia laughed. “I do not believe everything would fit on my flank.”

“Maybe it would be that funny sideways eight?”

“I do not think other ponies would appreciate that much,” Celestia said, though she still smiled.

“They would stop thouing you, at least.”

“At least.” Celestia bobbed her head, chuckling quietly as she put her hooves around her sister’s shoulders to draw her back into a hug. “I appreciate your confidence.”

Luna shook her head slightly, leaning back into her sister. “When do you need to leave?”

Celestia sighed, lifting her head to look towards the horizon. “It is nearly time.”

“May I come?”

Celestia paused, tilting her head. “The Circle may not appreciate your presence…”

Luna’s ears drooped as she lowered her head. “I see.” She sighed.

“Why do you wish to come? You know they will be unpleasant.”

“I wanted to see you, sister.” Luna drug her hoof across the grass. “They have always been so rude to you… I wanted to see you lift the sun, and prove them wrong for thouing you.”

Celestia looked down upon the downcast filly contemplatively. “I suppose they are very rude...”

Luna lifted her head to look up at her sister’s face.

“A little rudeness of mine own would not hurt,” Celestia said, her eyes twinkling mischievously. “Come. I am certain that they need not fear the presence of one filly.” Her smile turned to a grin. “Perhaps I can even give you a few tips.”

“Truly?”

Celestia bobbed her head as she strode forward. “Truly.”

Luna bounded off after her sister, the smaller unicorn taking three steps for every stride of her long-legged sister. Side by side, the ponies headed down the hill, vanishing into the shadows of the night.

 

 

“And who is this I see?” Master Helianthus smiled, the yellow unicorn’s coat appearing almost gray in the pre-dawn light as he lifted his hoof to wave.

“Thou art late,” the blue unicorn beside him said, slowing as he lowered his head to make a note, a single bell on the tip of his peaked hat jingling quietly.

“Master Helianthus. Master Pilleum.” Celestia bowed her head respectfully, bending her knees. “I apologize for my tardiness.” She looked around. “Where are the others?”

“That is none of thy concern,” Master Pilleum said, the unicorn scowling as he trotted off towards the crest of the hill, his hat jingling quietly with every step.

Helianthus stepped closer to Celestia, speaking in a low voice. “Do not worry, thou art early in truth. We are here to make certain that thou canst touch the Moon before the rest of the Circle arrives.”

“I see.”

“Why does his hat have a bell on it?”

Helianthus started at the sound of the high-pitched voice, lowering his head towards the nearly invisible filly. “And what have we here? It seems thou hast found a shadow to follow thee at night, Celestia.”

“Hello,” Luna said quietly, dipping her head.

“Hello to thee as well.” Helianthus’s eyes flickered to the larger unicorn. “Didst thou know thou hadst been followed?”

Celestia nodded slightly. “She wished to see me aid in the raising of the Sun.”

“I see. Trying to get a head start on your own entry into the Circle?” Helianthus smiled down at the filly, who frowned.

“No. I do not wish to join.”

“Luna!”

Helianthus chuckled. “In truth, sometimes I regret joining as well,” he said, the older unicorn winking at Luna before he straightened up. “But I’m afraid that they would be very short on new members had I not. Without me, I fear that in my later years I might have grown very used to the Sun or Moon, whichever they left in the sky first.”

Celestia shook her head. “I hope you do not mind her presence.”

“It is of no concern to me, but I doubt the Circle will feel the same when they arrive.” He waved his hoof dismissively. “Still, thou mayest remain ’til they arrive. Though I am curious: why dost thou not wish to join us? I have heard great things of thee from thy teacher, as I had of thy sister before you.”

Luna frowned. “I do not wish to join with such rude ponies.”

“If ponies with proper manners do not join the Circle, then thou canst hardly expect us to be polite.”

Luna stared up at the larger unicorn for several seconds before snorting. “You did not answer my question. Why does that other one wear a bell upon his hat?”

“Pilleum seeks to make it a mark of status,” Celestia said, glancing up the hill towards where the stallion waited. “The bell signifies that he has mastered one-tenth of the spells that the greatest wizard ever knew.”

Helianthus smirked. “Do not listen to your sister. In truth, we added the bell so that he would not catch any birds.”

Luna stared. “Birds?”

“As with a cat.”

Luna continued to stare.

“What keeps you?” Pilleum called from atop the hill.

“Naught but poor humor.” Helianthus shook his head. “Come, we should not keep him waiting.”

The three ponies began to walk up the hill, Luna shadowing her sister as Pilleum tapped his hoof impatiently. “I did not wake early so that thou wouldst keep me waiting.”

“I am sorry, Master Pilleum,” Celestia said, bowing her head as she approached.

“Thou mayest show thy sorrow by proving thy worth.” Pilleum glanced over at Helianthus, the bell on his hat jangling quietly as he turned his head. “I shall be most annoyed if thou hast awakened me for naught but the dreams of a teacher.”

“Do you truly eat birds?”

Pilleum narrowed his eyes at the source of the high-pitched voice. “Thou hast brought a foal?”

“I am not a foal!” Luna stomped her hoof.

“Only a foal would ask a member of the Circle if they ate birds!”

“Then why do you wear a bell?”

Pilleum tossed his head, the bell jangling quietly. “It is in memory of Star Swirl the Bearded, and the great magic he possessed.”

“I see.” Luna sat back on her haunches, tilting her head to the side. “Why did Star Swirl eat birds, then?”

Helianthus stepped between the two ponies as Pilleum sputtered, chuckling. “Now, she is merely asking questions. It is good to see one so young curious about the world.”

“You put that idea into her head!” Pilleum said, pointing his hoof accusingly at the older unicorn.

“It needed somewhere to roost.” Helianthus stepped past Pilleum as he walked towards the top of the hill. “In any event, we have more important things to discuss than the diet of dead wizards.”

Pilleum scowled, his ears falling back against his neck as he followed, moving up beside the older unicorn. “Indeed.” He whirled around, stamping his hoof. “Come, Celestia, and prove thy worth to the Circle.”

Celestia stepped forward, her head held high as the grass crunched quietly under her hooves.

“Dost thou remember how to touch the heavens, as I taught you?” Helianthus asked, the mirth suddenly vanishing from his voice. The older unicorn stood tall, his horn glowing faintly in the night as a breeze swept over the hilltop.

“I do,” Celestia said, dipping her chin slightly.

“Demonstrate,” Pilleum said, his voice cold and hard. “Tell us of thy method as thou performst thy labors, so that we may judge both thought and deed.”

The two stallions slowly circled around Celestia as she began to speak; Luna’s ears pricked forward as she crept closer to catch her sister’s words.

“The first step is to gather my magic, so that I may draw the strength to touch the heavens.” Celestia closed her eyes, bowing her head slightly as her horn sprung to life. Golden light spilled over the hilltop, a small circle of day shining bright in miles of dark grass.

“Very good,” Helianthus said, bobbing his head slightly, while Pilleum snorted beside him.

“Proceed.”

Celestia opened her eyes, tilting her head back slightly as she gazed upon the Moon. “Then, I reach out with my magic.” She took a slow, deep breath before closing her eyes once more. Her horn brightened, tiny rainbows dancing over her hooves as the light reflected off the dewy grass. “It is not stretching, more, seeking. Not above, but beyond. It is always… harder to feel the Moon. It seems so distant… The Sun is much—”

“Enough. Can you do it?”

“I…” Celestia’s eyes shot open. “Can.” She blinked, the tension leaving her shoulders. “And have. It was not so hard, tonight.”

Pilleum laughed. “A poor joke. Thou art not even winded.”

“It is easy to confirm.” Helianthus leaned forward, meeting her gaze with his pale blue eyes. “Are you certain you have touched the Moon?”

Celestia nodded her head.

“Truly?” He said in a lower voice.

“Why do you not believe her?” Luna piped up, earning a glare from Pilleum.

“Still thy tongue, whelp.” Pilleum turned his head quickly, the bell on his hat clinking again as he narrowed his eyes at Celestia. “Very well then. We shall see.”

The two stallions exchanged a glance, nodding to each other as they stepped forward, flank to flank, their horns touching as they worked. Blue magic blended with green as it filtered up into the sky, vanishing into the pale light of the moon. Pilleum gasped, his eyes widening, while the other stallion’s eyes crinkled with his proud smile.

“She speaks the truth,” Helianthus declared. “Well done indeed. You are the youngest to ever accomplish the deed.” He glanced over at Pilleum. “By fourteen years.”

“Yes, very good. Thou—er, you had a very good teacher.” Pilleum tossed his head, the light fading from his horn. “You should be most grateful to him. Perhaps had Master Nova pushed me—”

“Why art thou being mean?”

Pilleum turned to glare at Luna. “Be silent!”

“She touched the Moon, did she not?”

Helianthus nodded his head. “She did.”

“So why art thou complaining?”

Pilleum snorted. “I am not complaining. I am simply saying that if Master Nova had pushed me, I would have joined the Circle as the same age as she.”

Helianthus shook his head slightly. “You do Celestia a great disservice.”

Pilleum scoffed. “Master Nova feared pushing her students too hard. You have pushed three ponies into the Circle in three years.”

“And all were worthy to join.”

Luna pranced up to Celestia. “Are you still touching it?”

Celestia shook her head slightly. “I could again. Did you want to feel?”

Luna shook her head. “I wanted to see you move it!”

“Move it? Thou art not serious!” Pilleum scoffed, pawing at the grass with his hoof.

Celestia smiled down at her sister. “As I told you, it takes many ponies to move the Sun and the Moon.”

“Grandmother told me that Star Swirl moved the Sun to get it out of his eyes!” Luna humphed. “I wish to see my sister do the same.”

“I’m afraid the Sun is hiding,” Celestia said, giggling softly.

“Move the Moon, then!”

Celestia glanced up towards the sky. “You have told me the Sun and Moon wish to move along their course, yes?”

Helianthus laughed. “Yes, they do. But do not tire yourself before the Circle arrives.”

“I will not.”

“Thou canst not be serious.” Pilleum looked from Helianthus to Celestia. “Thou thinkest that thou canst move the Moon on thine own?”

“Thou meanest ‘you’, methinks,” Luna said, smirking.

“I meant ‘thou’. If thy sister truly believes she can move the Moon on her own, she is still a foal.”

“I mean to try,” Celestia said, her horn igniting once more.

“Quit being rude,” Luna said, glaring at Pilleum.

“It is not rude to address a foal as thou—it is proper,” Pilleum said, sniffing and lifting his head, the bell on his hat jingling.

“Celestia calls me ‘you’!”

“Then thy sister does not know her place. Or perhaps she knows it all too well.”

“She is polite! And thou art—” Luna gasped, lifting her hoof and pointing over Pileum’s shoulder. “It moved!”

“What moved?” Pileum glanced back over his shoulder at the Moon before laughing. “Dost thou truly expect me to believe that it has shifted in the heavens?” The bell on his hat clinked with each shake of his head. “I am no foal.”

Luna’s eyes widened, jabbing her hoof into the air insistently. “It moved again!”

Pilleum rolled his eyes. “Did thou not hearest me the first time? I am no fool.”

“Look, it is setting!”

Pilleum scoffed. “Thou will yankest on my tail when I turn to look.”

“Then you would deserve it for not believing,” Celestia said quietly. She lowered her head, her horn dimming for a moment before brightening again as her brow furrowed in concentration.

Pilleum whirled on Celestia, opening his mouth, but his words died on his tongue as his mouth hung open. “Where is the Moon?”

“It is set, Pilleum, beyond those hills.” Helianthus lifted his hoof to point towards the horizon.

“You jest!” Pilleum’s eyes flicked across the heavens, searching for the pale orb. “You must have helped her!”

Helianthus shook his head. “You have joined with me in touching the heavens many times. You know my strength. If she and I together could shift the Moon, she would have little need for me.”

“You must have helped. Nopony can move the Moon so far on their own!”

“And yet, she did.”

Pilleum looked over at Celestia, whose horn yet blazed. “What art thou trying to accomplish?”

“I seek the Sun,” Celestia said, closing her eyes and taking a deep breath as she braced her hooves against the ground.

“Thou thinkest that thine power is so great that thou canst raise the Sun on thine own?”

“My sister wished to see the Sun rise.” Celestia straightened, her shoulders rising, her horn pointing towards the sky. “And that is what she shall see.”

“Truly, sister?” Luna stepped forward to sit at Celestia’s hooves, looking up at her.

“Truly.” Celestia’s eyes flicked down towards her sister, the larger unicorn smiling for a moment before closing her eyes. “I can feel it. It is not so far away. It wishes to rise.”

“I shall not be distracted this time,” Pilleum said as he turned to face Helianthus. “I shall watch you.”

“You will miss the sunrise,” Helianthus said, shaking his head.

“I shall miss nothing! Naught will happen.” Pilleum shook himself. “If she should raise the Sun on her own, I shall eat my hat!”

Luna rose to her hooves, laughing as she moved to sit facing Pilleum. “Then thou wilt not need breakfast this morning.”

“I shall speak to thine teacher in time, foal,” Pilleum sneered. “She will tan thine flank for thy insolence. If thou dost address her as thou dost me, I am certain that thy flank is well-used to such treatment.”

“I am polite to ponies who deserve it. Thou dost not.”

Helianthus shook his head slightly as the light of Celestia’s horn illuminated his yellow coat, making him stand out from the moonless sky above. “Luna, thou art but a filly. Heed thy sister’s example: it is better to be too polite than too rude.”

“Then why do you not call me ‘you’?”

The older pony stared at Luna.

“Well?”

“That is a good question.” Helianthus raised his hoof to rub at his tufted chin.

“You cannot be serious. Calling a foal you… it would be madness! It would demean our post.”

Helianthus shrugged. “I think no less of Celestia. Perhaps she is a little strange, but—”

“A little strange? She will join the Circle with no mark on her flank.” Pilleum waved his hoof at the unicorn before blinking. “What is she doing? Does she truly believe that she can lift the Sun on her own?”

The three ponies turned their heads to face Celestia. Blazing golden light shone from her horn, illuminating the entire hillside. Sweat shone on her coat from the effort as her legs shook, but, somehow, the light only seemed to get brighter as they watched.

“You need not prove yourself in this way, Celestia. Wait, and the Circle will join you.” Helianthus ambled over towards her. “You will not have the strength to aid if you persist.”

“I told my sister that I would raise the Sun.” Her horn flared. “And that is what I shall do.” Golden light enveloped Celestia, staggering her for a moment before she caught herself. Forcing her head upwards, her magic bled out into the darkness, driving back the stars with sheer power. Celestia’s alabaster coat, white as snow, took on a rosy hue as she set fire to the sky, the heavens blazing red and orange as they burned.

“Sister, that is enough. You need not do this for me.”

“It was as good as a promise.” Celestia said, smiling weakly. “And I shall—” she gritted her teeth, raising her head high, “—keep it!” A blazing halo of magic formed around her head. Luna to raised a hoof to shield her eyes as light flooded over the hilltop, bright as day.

“Sister!”

“It wishes… to move…”

“Celestia!” Luna grabbed onto the larger unicorn’s leg, only to yelp as Celestia’s knees gave out. The filly’s horn lit, blue magic catching Celestia as she fell, but somehow, the golden light did not fade. “Sister, you can stop!” Luna shouted.

“I… have…”

“No, you have not! You…” Luna blinked, backing up. Her sister’s horn did not glow; her body did not shine with powerful magic. “You… have?”

Celestia nodded her head slowly. “I have.”

Pilleum’s mouth fell open, his eyes rapidly flickering from Celestia to Helianthus.

“I did not aid her.” Helianthus reached over to push his hoof against the other’s chin. “Now cease gaping, you shall attract flies.”

“You raised the Sun!” Luna's shout drew a wince from Celestia, but the larger pony's grin never faltered.

“It is… easier than I thought,” Celestia said, catching her breath. “But I do not think the Circle is nearly so tired once they are finished.”

Luna ran in circles around her older sister, shouting and laughing as Celestia slowly rose back to her hooves.

“Will that suffice, Master Pilleum?” Celestia asked quietly as she turned to face him.

Pilleum licked his lips. “I think so, yes.”

Helianthus raised his hoof. “Well, Pilleum, you can look on the bright side; it seems we need not fear admitting a pony with no mark on their flank.”

Celestia blinked, staring at Helianthus’s hoof, then back upon herself; her coat, once a pristine expanse of white, now bore a golden sun radiant as the brightest star in the sky.

“Sister! Your mark!” Luna hurled herself into Celestia’s legs, hugging her fiercely as the unsteady unicorn struggled to stay upright.

“The Sun itself,” Pilleum murmured, tilting his head with a slight jingle.

Luna's ears perked at the sound. The grinning filly detached herself from her sister's legs, lighting up her horn as she turned to face the stallion. "It is time for breakfast."

Pilleum sat back on his haunches, a mournful look in his eyes as he gazed down on the hat floating before him.

 
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