Among the Moonsflowers starring Twilight and Princess Celestia
"I'm afraid that this is a business call of sorts, Twilight darling," said Rarity, sitting down at Twilight's coffee table as the lavender-coated unicorn poured them both a cup of tea. "I've come to draw upon that limitless knowledge of yours in all things magical."
Twilight blushed and her ears went back in embarrassment. "Oh, I wouldn't call it 'limitless' exactly," she said, letting the teapot float down onto the table-top. "But I hope I can help you."
Rarity smiled back at her. "Oh, thank you darling. It's just a little question that's come up with a dress I've been asked to design for Hoity Toity's autumn range." She levitated her cup to her lips and inhaled its delicious fragrance. "You see, there's been some disagreement regarding the shape of a floral pattern that's going to be embroidered on the hem of this exquisite little cocktail dress that we're working on. Oh darling, you'd absolutely adore it! It's made of the lightest
Rarity noticed the slipping away of Twilight's smile and she quickly changed tack. "
oh, but I suppose that's not important right now. Anyway, the request is for 'moonflowers' to be the centrepiece of the design. Now, have you ever heard of such a thing?"
Twilight blinked. "Moonflowers?"
"Oh, they sound so romantic, do they not?" gushed Rarity. "But after looking through all of my design books, I couldn't find a single example of what they're supposed to look like!" She frowned. "I suppose they're extremely rare."
"They are extremely rare," said Twilight. She got up from her seat and trotted over to a nearby bookshelf. A few moments later she returned with a little book titled Mythical and Magical Flowers of Equestria and, clearing a space on the table, she opened it at the appropriate page.
Rarity's eyes went wide at the gorgeous illustrations that leaped up before her eyes.
"Another name for the moonflowers is 'The Tears of the Moon'," Twilight explained. "It's said that long ago, long even before she became Nightmare Moon, Princess Luna would wander the mountaintops alone, her heart heavy at the rejection of her beautiful night by the ponies of Equestria, and wherever her tears dropped upon the earth, the moonflowers sprang up."
"And so that is why the moonflowers bestow the gift of forgotten dreams on those who discover them blooming in the moonlight. Memories and emotions from long ago come springing up again, just as if the experience happened moments ago, and dreams and desires you never knew you had appear to you as if they were real." Twilight's violet eyes grew unfocussed, like she was staring at something far away. "There's a few lines of verse about it:
Among the moonflowers' gentle glow,
your dearest dreams you'll come to know."
"Such beautiful verses," said Rarity, sighing. "And such a beautiful story as well." She looked at Twilight eagerly. "Have you ever found the moonflowers yourself?"
Twilight flushed suddenly, but the redness quickly ebbed from her cheeks as she shook her head. "N- no, but I've often gone looking for them. You know how fascinated I am by all the rare and exotic magical things in Equestria."
Rarity laughed. "Well, this is one place where your interest overlaps that of dear Fluttershy, is it not. Perhaps she knows where they can be found."
Twilight looked out the window of the Library, suddenly contemplative. "You know, Rarity, long ago Fluttershy asked me about moonflowers and went to look for them, but she never found them." She sighed. "And I suppose if Ponyville's expert in flora and fauna couldn't find them, there mustn't be any around here. Maybe they went extinct long ago."
Rarity frowned. "What an absolutely awful idea. I'm sure that they exist, but perhaps in some faraway place where ponies can't come upon them easily."
"I guess you're right, Rarity," said Twilight. "But, you know, I would love to see them one day."
Twilight levitated a piece of blank parchment across to the book and, a quick copy-spell later, Rarity was walking out of the door with the scroll floating behind her.
"Well, I suppose I must be galloping," said the white-coated unicorn. "Those dresses can't embroider themselves, after all!" She sniffed. "Well, there is such a thing as an automatic-embroidery spell, of course, but you shall never see the effects of that on any of the dresses coming out of the Carousel Boutique!"
Rarity was scarcely out the door when Twilight returned to reading the book. Her eyes roamed across the open pages, and the words 'dreams and desires' again and again sprang up at her.
* * *
The warm snow crunching beneath Twilight's hooves was dyed lilac under the glow of the purple nebula that hung sparkling against the pitch blackness of the sky. The icy landscape seemed to stretch on forever, but at last she saw a structure not far ahead a little temple glistening yellow and pink in the living rock of the mountainside.
It was lit by a million candles of every shape and size and colour that covered every spot on the pink marble structure - the metopes, the pediment, the spaces around the bases of the Doric pillars, everywhere there was a flat surface candles flickered and sputtered with their creamy light, everywhere except for the great steps at the front of the building which Twilight now climbed.
She walked through the great open doors and was soon inside. There were even more candles here, but even larger ones now, a grotto of melting wax, candle piled upon candle, some even hanging upside down from the high-vaulted ceiling and still impossibly lit, every one festooned with gently flickering flames that danced mockingly about. Twilight, full of wonder, walked across the marble-floors, a sharp, icy click echoed with each hoof-fall, but then she gasped as one and then another flame broke free from the candle that had given birth to it and floated across the glimmering air.
Soon there was an entire flock of them, bobbing and weaving in the air like a school of fish as they led the wonderstruck Twilight through the hall.
And there at the far-end, flashing into existence as the candle-flames flew ahead and danced about her in a yellow-orange halo, sat Princess Luna on a throne of pearl and onyx, a wide smile on her exquisitely beautiful face.
"Princess, where is this place?" gasped Twilight. "It's so beautiful!"
The light, bell-like laughter of the Princess of the Moon reverberated through the hall, and it set the little flames dancing merrily. "Oh, Twilight Sparkle, do you not recognise your own dreamland?" Again the bright laughter rang from wall to wall. "I am merely a visitor here, come to aid you in your quest."
"My quest?" repeated Twilight.
"For the moonflowers?" said Luna, her voice sparkling with amusement. "I feel a need in your heart to find them."
Twilight closed her eyes, seeing only the phosphors of the flames against her eyelids. A need? In my heart?
"It's true, Princess," she confessed at last. "I do want to find them."
Luna's smile deepened and she unfurled her great, night-feathered wings, her mane whipping about her face and neck as if blown aloft by some great, unfelt stellar wind.
"Very well!" she said, and the utterance echoed through the temple and out across the great snowy-wastes. "But be warned, Twilight Sparkle, that those that find the moonflowers oftentimes find more than they wished for!" And with that she drew a mighty breath, and the little flames, trapped in the maelstrom, were sucked into the princess's mouth and then blown out again, transformed for they had been encased in ice, the flames frozen mid-dance. And then each gem of ice fell to the floor and shattered into a myriad of motes of sparkling diamond-dust, from out of which sprang a gorgeous flower, with petals delicate as snowflakes and glowing with a gelid light from deep within.
Twilight looked on, her eyes alight with the flowers' sparkling beauty. With each twinkle of crystalline light her heart skipped a beat, and each time she felt as though her heart would never start again. She took an eager step forward and
the flowers opened, and pollen, impossibly fine, but thick like clouds of nebular dust, erupted from them, flowing over her, and, startled, she breathed them in.
All at once before her eyes there flashed a vision of a tall mountain, spearing into the sky like a dragon's tooth, but then the light of morning crept into her eyes through her bedroom window and slowly drew her out of the dream world.
A smile played across Twilight's lips. For she knew at last where the moonflowers could be found.
* * *
As she climbed higher and higher, Twilight looked out across the landscape at the lengthening shadows of the afternoon. Celestia's sun was on the verge of setting, and she still hadn't reached the summit of Dragon Mountain. There, if Princess Luna's dream had been a true one, the moonflowers were waiting for her.
The thin thread of the path had already circumnavigated the great bulk of the mountain several times now, drawing in upon itself closer and closer like a spiral as it neared the summit, and it felt to Twilight as if she was spinning around the mountain.
She looked straight out across the western plains the last tiny jewelled-edge of the sun falling beneath the razor-straight horizon and suddenly fell to her knees, exhausted. She lifted her tired eyes to the snowy-summit still high above her, and slumped her shoulders in defeat. There was still so far to go, and in the darkness it would be impossible to follow the already almost-imperceptible path.
Darkness settled over both her body and her mind. She struggled to her hooves and turned around to start the long journey back down again when she saw a glimmer of silver. There, to her left, mostly hidden by a massive out-jutting of stone black against the darkening sky, she saw an offshoot of the trail leading higher up the mountain that she had walked past without noticing. And again there was a twinkle of silver light from some point along it. She hadn't imagined it this time!
Twilight trotted quickly back to where the path split off, and began to climb. It was almost pitch-black now as she followed the path along the bottom of a narrow little ravine, her eager trot breaking into a canter as again and again little sparkles of silver appeared before her, beckoning like star-points. Soon the path led up and out into the open again, and Twilight blinked at the brightness of Luna's moon that had just risen, spreading its light across the mountain top. She had reached a tiny, secluded mountain-meadow, fed by the gentle murmuring of myriad of little streams that cascaded down the mountain side and which set the rock glistening like gold and quicksilver in the moonlight.
But it wasn't this sight that made her gasp. Before her, springing out here and there amongst the grass, were a thousand points of light. She drew closer and when she saw that each twinkling star was the face of a delicate bloom made of pure light she knew that she had found them at last.
Sparkling pollen blew up in a mist at each hoof-fall as Twilight gingerly made her way among the moonflowers until a nebula of silver dust was shimmering about her. She couldn't help but breathe some of it in, and it tingled across her snout and in her throat when she did.
Twilight could make out little more than the drifts of sparkling pollen now. As she walked forward, not really sure of what it was exactly that she should do, she felt as though she were walking among the stars themselves far above the earth, and her heart swelled with the beauty and strangeness of the place.
It was then that she saw a dark shape loom out of the silver mist a few feet ahead of her, and she started.
As the already gargantuan shadow grew larger, Twilight stepped backwards, her heart pounding but it soon resolved itself into the shape of a pony her own size, with a light-coloured coat which glowed softly in the twilight of the meadow of moonflowers. Its features, however, remained obscured by the gusts of swirling star-points that surrounded it.
"Twilight? Twilight Sparkle?" The voice came wafting through the mist as if from a great distance. It was a voice that she recognised straightaway - a kindly voice, sweetly feminine, a voice that had always seemed to Twilight to be the living embodiment of all things warm and comfortable.
It was Princess Celestia's voice. As Twilight came forward, the Princess's form coalesced from the mist. Her soft, white wings were furled at her sides, her auroral mane shimmering its almost-rainbow of pastel pink and green and yellow against the graceful arch of her neck. Her gentle magenta eyes twinkled with their characteristic humour and at the sight of her teacher standing before her, Twilight gasped.
She had known, deep down, that it was Celestia who she would meet up here on the mountain, among the moonflowers not the real Celestia, of course, but a dream-image conjured up from her own memories and thoughts but Twilight was still shocked at how real she seemed.
She took a few nervous steps forward and the dream's magenta eyes grew wide and glistened in happiness.
"Oh, Twilight Sparkle," said the dream of Celestia, her voice echoing in the night. "Fancy meeting you here, among the moonflowers." Her voice was softly teasing but whether the teasing was directed towards Twilight or herself, Twilight found it hard to divine.
The little unicorn forgot her previous timidity and trotted forward in an excited spurt, clearing the already short distance between the two of them.
"Oh Princess, it is you! It is you!"
Celestia nodded, bringing her neck down to hug the slightly smaller pony. "Of course it's me, Twilight Sparkle. You were expecting a ghost, perhaps?"
Twilight stepped back and looked up at her. "Oh no, Princess. It's just that-" She left the thought unspoken. "-you've shrunk to my size!"
Celestia laughed. "I was about to say that you had grown huge, my faithful student." Then she laughed a second time, the sparkling sound gently fading away and becoming a soft smile on the alicorn's face. "But I suppose it doesn't matter how or why this has happened. Part of the mysterious magic of dreams, no doubt."
Twilight nodded. While they'd hugged, she'd felt the warmth of Celestia's coat against her own, sensed the softness of her heartbeat, and smelled the gentle scent of sunshiny days that always seemed to emanate from her. The dream was as real as if the Princess herself was standing here. It was powerful, ancient magic indeed.
"But why are you here, Twilight?" asked Celestia suddenly. The warmly teasing smile was back. "Is it possible that you have come here to see me?"
Twilight flushed hot and nodded. "I- I wanted to see you, Princess. I knew that I'd find you here on the mountain, among the moonflowers."
"Oh, and why is that, my faithful student?" The alicorn's face grew suddenly serious, tense as if fearful of the answer.
Twilight lowered her face to the ground as heat rushed to it. "The legend says that you will find your heart's desire here, where the moonflowers grow."
Celestia's face relaxed. "I have heard that legend as well, many times," she replied. She leaned forward and lifted Twilight's face up with her muzzle, and the unicorn saw that there were tears in the alicorn's magenta eyes. "Luna has often recited it to me. And I, too, knew that
" She paused for a moment. "
knew that you would come here."
Celestia rubbed her cheek against Twilight's, making the unicorn's knees tremble and her entire coat tingle.
"Princess," Twilight began. "I-"
"Oh, Twilight Sparkle, my faithful, beloved student," whispered Celestia, drawing her mouth lingeringly along Twilight's throat. "You've always talked too much." She brought her lips against the little unicorn's, who shivered in anticipation. "And sometimes words are not enough."
And then Twilight felt the Princess's tongue touch her lips and she fell to her knees, a hidden fire sparking into life within her chest. Celestia's wings unfurled and swept her closer to her, and as Twilight's lips parted and their kiss deepened, the little unicorn felt for all the universe that her incandescent heart would burst and consume her in a conflagration of utter joy.
* * *
Twilight awoke, shivering, on the cold, wet grass. At first she thought the brightness she sensed was the light of morning, but as she opened an eye a crack she saw that it was still night. It was the moon, preternaturally large, whose bright yellow glow had flooded the little meadow. The moonflowers had disappeared, and only the grass, now glistening with dew, remained.
She smiled sadly. Oh, the legends had been true after all she had found her dream waiting for her among the moonflowers. And what a dream! She sighed. It had only been for a single night, but she would keep the memory forever safe, deep within her secret heart. She closed her eyes and snuggled up close to the soft body behind her for warmth as sleep crept over her again.
Twilight's eyes flashed open and she turned to find herself gazing into a familiar pair of magenta eyes, also wide-open in surprise - for Celestia was staring right at her.
Twilight might have been shocked to find the Princess still lying beside her, but the look on her teacher's face shocked her far more. She'd never seen Celestia at such a loss before, her mouth hanging open, her eyebrows arched in disbelief.
"Princess?" whispered Twilight. She was afraid to say anymore. "Is- is that really you?"
Celestia's face finally relaxed, and a smile, soft and sad and happy and amused all at once, slipped onto her face.
"As real as you obviously are, my dearest Twilight Sparkle," she replied.
As the memories of the evening came flooding back to her, Twilight burned hot with sudden shame. "Princess, I
" she began, her mind struggling to find the words to apologise for what she had done.
Celestia brought a forehoof to her lips before she could say anything, then leaned down with the great graceful arch of her neck and drew the little lavender unicorn closer to her.
"You don't need to say anything, Twilight," murmured the Princess. "I know that you thought I was a dream created by the moonflowers, just as I believed that you were one as well." She lifted her eyes to the great disk of the moon shining above them. "It seems like we've both had a prank played upon us."
Twilight's ears had gone back at the word 'prank', but Celestia quickly brought her face down and kissed her, softly but firmly, on the lips.
"Well, perhaps 'prank' is not the right word," she said, her eyes glittering in amusement at Twilight's desperately blushing face. "It usually denotes some negative result, does it not? Maybe 'set up' is closer to what I mean."
Twilight's heart melted under the glare of the happiness she could see shining within the Princess's eyes. She had so many things she wanted to say, but mindful of her teacher's words she said no more. She snuggled her face against Celestia's chest, and where Twilight's eyelashes touched her, the alicorn's coat grew moist with tears.
Celestia kissed the gently sobbing unicorn's forehead where her fringe with its purple streak parted. "Yes, my beloved Twilight Sparkle. It seems that those old legends are true after all."
And as the two of them lay together on the wet grass, luxuriating in the warmth of each other's body, Celestia looked up at the moon, a single eyebrow raised in indulgent disapproval for within the yellow orb the grinning face of Princess Luna could be seen, gazing down upon them and mouthing the words:
Among the moonflowers' gentle glow,
your dearest dreams you'll come to know.