Author note: This story takes place 11 months after Common Sky, and 4 months after Lost In The Crowd.
"How dare you claim we are equals when not a single pony in all of Equestria so much as glances upon my night! How can you possibly claim that I'm being too 'demanding' when I receive NOTHING for all of my work and effort in this Queendom! I want my night to be as equally represented as your sun, starting now!" yelled a tall, dark-maned alicorn mare. The walls reverberated with her voice, hurting the ears of the other pony in the chamber with her.
"The Ponies of Equestria are not nocturnal, sister!" replied a pink-maned alicorn of equal size, opposite her sibling. "They work during the day and sleep during the night! What do you expect me to do?!"
"If they're not nocturnal, then why not make at least SOME of them nocturnal?!"
"You honestly expect I have the power to do that? That isn't a reasonable demand and you know it!"
"Together, with our powers combined, we could!" hissed the dark-maned mare, her eyes narrowing. "Or is that too much hard work for a high-society socialite such as yourself?!"
"Oh, don't you start going on about that! ONE of us has to be responsible enough to rule this Queendom! All you do is run off into your night 'perfecting' your 'art,' whatever that means," replied the pink-maned one, sarcastically. "You're completely irresponsible, yet you demand attention! What a foal!"
The dark-maned mare grit her teeth, growling. "How do you expect me to learn anything when you act like a dictator? You can never keep your hooves off of the world's affairs for even half a second before you start meddling in everything again!"
"It's not my fault you can't be trusted."
"Can't be trusted...?!"
"Yes, what with your... mental condition," scoffed the pink-maned mare, sticking her nose up at her.
"Celestia, don't you dare hold that against me!" yelled the other mare, getting into an aggressive stance. "Don't you dare!"
"Or what, dear sister Luna? You'll become the 'Nightmare' again and need to be held down before you murder somepony? Then my point will be justly proven," replied Celestia, nonchalantly, turning away from her sister and back to the piece of parchment she was reading just before. The pair of them were fighting in Celestia's study, and the argument had been going on for quite some time at that point. Luna paced back and forth, her discontentment more than visible in her demeanour. "Just be glad that you've kept control over your night! I'm sure there's at least one or two ponies out there who admire it, so don't be so bitter."
"Do you have no respect for me? None at all?" asked Luna, with a tinge of sadness behind her voice.
"Yes, of course I do, as long as you stay out of the way and don't make any trouble, like you tended to before you got these silly thoughts in your head," retorted Celestia. Luna grimaced and looked at the ground, gritting her teeth even harder. A tear fell from her eye, rolled down her cheek, and splashed down to the ground. She hated how mean her sister was sometimes. She couldn't help who she was. How did she have any right to say such hurtful things?! "The Transition is in two hours. I suggest you go clean yourself up and prepare, unless you don't mind looking like a starving artist tonight," quipped Celestia, chuckling to herself.
Luna felt a surge of rage begin to shoot through her mind. Normally, she would fight it, but this time, she embraced it, and let it flow through her. She had a right to be angry! Her night was beautiful! She deserved equal respect, and Celestia had no right to chide her like this! She felt her horn grow warmer, the familiar sensations of anger and darkness flow over her mind and heart, filling her with power.
Celestia heard the clattering of hoof-falls coming towards her, and turned to look. Before she could even see what was happening, a tremendous force knocked her off her feet, sending her sliding along the floor, the metal fixtures of her large sun-emblazoned pendant scraping across the stone finish. The force had winded her, and as she tried to stand again, she glanced up to see her sister - only, it wasn't her sister's eyes that met hers. An even darker alicorn appeared before her, looking down at her with narrowed, slitted, menacing eyes and a completely emotionless look drawn on her face. Armour protected her head, neck and hooves, and she stood even taller than Luna had.
"N-Nightmare..." sputtered out Celestia, trying desperately to rise to her feet and catch her breath.
"How can you insult and belittle Luna, your own sister, in such a way?!" replied Nightmare Moon, standing over Celestia. "And how DARE you accuse me of being a murderer! Would you like to repeat those words to me directly to my face, or have you lost your nerve?"
"You're dangerous! Y-you just attacked me!"
"After you wounded Luna so deeply with your hateful, narcissistic words! You'll recover in a few minutes, while she'll be feeling that pain all night. Have you no care for her feelings?!" bellowed Nightmare.
"What would you know about feelings?!" retorted Celestia, brushing herself off and straightening her mane and crown. "You're just some vile monster she created to hurt me! Be gone with you!"
"Your insults mean nothing to me! Give her what she wants!" demanded Nightmare.
"I REFUSE! I'll never let a sick mare such as yourself rule even a fraction of Equestria!"
"Ugh! So be it!" yelled Nightmare Moon, rearing herself back and stamping her hooves down on the ground. Her horn lit up brightly with a darkish light, as she lowered herself and pointed her horn directly at Celestia. Celestia grimaced and made the same motions, her own horn set ablaze with a pinkish light. The pair charged up their spells, the ground beginning to rumble. Nightmare held onto her spell for as long as possible, waiting for Celestia to make the first move, as she usually did. As Nightmare predicted, Celestia shot first, sending her spell forward with a giant shock-wave. Nightmare quickly sidestepped, the spell ripping past Nightmare, annihilating a cabinet on the wall behind her into a thousand little splinters, and reared her head, sending her own spell arcing towards her sister. Celestia, still recovering from using such an intense amount of magic, widened her eyes as she saw the ball of energy heading in her direction, and attempted to dodge out of the way. Nightmare's spell, however, clipped one of Celestia's wings, sending her flying towards the wall, pinning her against it as if it were a restraint, holding her wing firmly against the surface with a thick blue ring of energy. Celestia struggled and cried out in pain as her wing twisted in the wrong direction, frantically attempting to stand so it wouldn't hurt so intensely.
Nightmare Moon smirked, walking triumphantly towards her restrained sister. Too easy. "I did not wish to hurt you, yet you were the one who sent an injuring spell towards me. See how much... restraint I can have when necessary, compared to you?" Nightmare Moon chuckled at her own pun, and lifted her sister up with her head to prevent unneeded pain. Celestia just grimaced, avoiding eye-contact with Nightmare, breathing deeply and sweating. "Am I not deserving of your respect?"
"Just go to hay," replied Celestia, angrily glaring up at her.
Nightmare Moon wrinkled her nose and tutted at her sister. "Tch. Such unbecoming language for a Princess. But as you wish. I really should be on my way. Luna has a night to prepare for," she said turning from Celestia and walking away. "Don't worry, that holding spell will expire in a few minutes. Be sure to rest that wing of yours." As Nightmare Moon approached the exit of Celestia's study, she felt the hair on the back of her neck begin to tingle. She knew what that sensation meant, and quickly turned around, just in time to see Celestia casting another spell. Before Nightmare could react, the spell shot through the air, and hit her directly in the face. A intense ringing entered Nightmare's ears as she fell to the ground, unable to focus on what was happening around her. She could vaguely see the outline of her sister standing over her, flexing her wing in pain and moving her soft, pink mane from her forehead, with a look of pure malevolence in her eyes. The world seemed to reverberate around Nightmare, causing a sickening migraine headache to pierce through her skull. Nightmare began feeling fear creep into her mind, as she found herself unable to get herself upright or think properly.
"GUARDS!" Celestia yelled, rearing her head. It was then that two unicorns with gold-encrusted clothing entered the room, quickly surrounding Nightmare.
"Yes, m'lady?" one of them said.
"Take Princess Luna to her room, and seal the door for three nights. She isn't to be allowed out until then without my express permission."
The guards looked aghast, glancing down at the strangely familiar alicorn below them, who was wincing in pain. It was definitely Princess Luna, but she looked so different at that moment that it was hard for them to recognize her. "B-but, m'lady..."
"NOW!!" yelled Celestia authoritatively. The two guards snapped to attention, and magically restrained the grumbling Nightmare, levitating her up into the air and moving her safely out of the room through the large doorway.
"S-sister..." sputtered out Nightmare, as she began to cry. She felt her rage, her anger and her power slip from her, as her body shifted and changed once more. She became so very afraid.
"SISTER! PLEASE!" cried out Princess Luna. She struggled against the restraints, unable to muster up enough energy to break free from the two unicorn's binding. Luna reached a hoof out towards Celestia, calling out again, as she began to cry. "I'M SORRY! PLEASE FORGIVE ME, SISTER! SISTER!!" Celestia said nothing, only glaring at her, before slamming her door shut, as Luna got carried off into the dark depths of the royal castle, wailing and crying.
Luna awoke with a start, her eyes wide and her entire body shaking. She immediately felt like she was going to be sick, trying to force air into her lungs with some success. She was back in the Ponyville Library, and it was nearly dawn, the light of the sun beginning to creep up on the frozen winter horizon. Luna just began crying silently, clinging to the blanket, shaking as pictures from the dream flashed through her vision. These days, it was no longer Nightmare Moon torturing her in her dreams, but her own bitter memories of years long past. She didn't know which was worse anymore.
"L-Luna?" asked a voice from behind her, as they touched her shoulder. "Are you okay, dear? You cried out in pain..."
Luna just shivered more, closing her eyes. "T-t-twilight..." she replied weakly.
"Oh dear... did you have a nightmare?" asked Twilight tenderly, wrapping her hoof around Luna's body and pulling her in close. Luna just nodded, clinging to the blanket as tightly as she could. "It's okay. You're awake now, Luna. That was just a nightmare. It's okay... you can cry if you need to..."
Luna just shrunk down into Twilight's arms, crying silently and shaking. She felt safe with Twilight. Safe from harm, safe from pain, safe from fear, and more importantly, safe from herself. She just focused on the other mare's scent and warmth, trying desperately to stop choking up and breathe normally. "T-thank y-you, T-T-Tw..."
"It's okay. It's okay. Just relax. You can thank me later," whispered Twilight. Luna just nodded again, letting the other mare hold her closely and firmly. It didn't take very long for her heart to stop pounding, and for the feelings of fear to pass, as she looked around the familiar objects around her. Eventually the tears and fear dissipated, and Luna felt a little more at peace, although quite a bit drained. Twilight Sparkle shuffled her way out of bed walking around the bed frame to come face-to-face with her partner. Twilight sat down in front of her and extended her hooves, taking one of Luna's and holding it close to her chest. "Feeling any better?" asked Twilight, with a deeply concerned look on her face.
Luna just nodded. "It was just... a bad memory... of a long time ago," she replied quietly. "It... it doesn't mean anything now... it's just a bad memory."
"That's right. Everything is better now. Always remember that, okay?" replied Twilight, smiling softly. Luna smiled back shyly, as she felt Twilight's heart beat with her hoof. Twilight was always there for her and knew exactly how to calm her down in times like this, and Luna's trust and love had only grown over time. Luna was eternally grateful to have her in her life. She felt like the luckiest mare in all of Equestria.
"I... don't know if I can sleep again tonight, Twilight... I apologize," said Luna, looking into Twilight's eyes timidly.
"That's okay," replied Twilight. "How about I make you some soothing tea to calm you down? Does that sound good?" Luna nodded happily, beginning to sit up. Twilight grinned and walked over to the ladder, quickly scaling down it and heading towards the kettle she had on her main desk. Luna looked out of the side window, seeing her sister's sun begin to press up into the night sky, slowly overtaking it as it had thousands of times before. She smiled. The relationship between her and her sister had never been better, and they had been able to work out most of their differences. But if so, why did these dreams and memories keep coming back? Luna chalked it up to anxiety and nerves. In a few days, she was going to attend the first Winter Moon Celebration ever, and usher in her night for the first time in a thousand years. She didn't know if she was capable of it anymore, and the thought of having any kind of power or responsibility again scared her. She sighed and slumped back into the bed, looking up at the wood-grained ceiling of the library, hearing the movements of her partner off to the side. The next few days were going to be difficult. She knew she'd be able to handle them, though, with her sister and Twilight Sparkle at her side. With those two, she was invincible.
At least, she hoped so...
TO BE CONTINUED