"Time to study?"
The wind flowed through Twilight's mane as she watched Canterlot grow bigger and bigger. Her mane would be a mess when they would arrive, but she didn't give it much thought, there were far bigger problems at hoof than looks at the moment.
With the time left after the initial shock, she had managed to skim through a few books related to today's subject long range teleporting. Be that as it may, this was nowhere near the preparations she had gone through for the other lessons, and she didn't like that at all. Of course she was able to improvise, at least to some extent, and she did have a rather impressive background knowledge of
well, everything. She was also a fast learner, something that Princess Celestia greatly appreciated. Celestia enjoyed reminding Twilight about how talented she was every chance she got, always causing the mare to blush fiercely.
Not even this, however, changed the fact that she liked to be prepared. Making a fool out of herself in front on the Princess was the last thing she wanted to do, especially after all the praise she had gotten during the years. The thought of such embarrassment sent shivers running down her spine. She shook her head, trying to push this particularly unnerving thought out of her mind.
While drawing her gaze back at the chariot, she felt her heartbeat rising slightly. While she had studied with the Princess literally hundreds of times before, so far these private lessons had been different. Previously studying "with" the Princess had meant merely being in the same room and occasionally receiving a tip or a reassuring smile. Of course at first that had been intimidating too, but after some time passed she had gotten used to it - at least on some level. These new lessons however, as exciting as they had sounded, seemed to bring Twilight back to the days when she had just started. Because this time she and the Princess were actually going through the same subject, reading from the same books and practicing together. This was more than enough to make the already slightly shy pony nervous. Granted, she had spent almost her entire life more or less around Princess Celestia, but she was still the Princess of Equestria, who had the power to raise the Sun with her magic.
This was something that never ceased to amaze Twilight, even after Princess Celestia had explained that the magic involved wasn't really all that complicated. It was more about the ancient connection Celestia had with the Sun, allowing her magic to control it. Of course if she wanted to have more control over the Sun's orbit, she would need a whole new level of magic, but this was rarely necessary.
Using all the willpower she had left after the stressful morning, Twilight forced herself out of her thoughts, only to notice that they had arrived at Canterlot. She earned some intrigued looks by the ponies in close proximity. These gazes, as Twilight soon found out, were only drawn to her because of the chariot. Therefore the ponies quickly returned to what they had originally been doing. While running some quick calculations in her head, she figured she'd have time to take a small detour on the way to the castle, thus hopefully managing to calm down a bit and maybe grab a bite to eat. The growls her stomach made reinforced this idea, reminding her that she hadn't eaten anything yet.
Even though Twilight had already been to Canterlot four times in the last two weeks because of the lessons, she hadn't really been able to just stroll around and see if much had changed since she had moved to Ponyville. She thanked the two pegasus ponies for the ride and watched them depart, probably heading for the castle to rest. Twilight watched, lost in thought, after she couldn't really see more than a couple of black smudges in the sky. She then decided to go see whether an old donut shop she used to visit nearly every day as a filly was still up and running before heading to the castle. She started trotting towards the donut shop, anxiously rehearsing teleportation spells and theory, randomly mumbling a word or two.
After Celestia had watched the Sun rise and light Canterlot up to its usual daytime glow, she headed back towards the castle. As hunger began overwhelming her senses, she thought that breakfast should be served by now and started walking towards the dining hall through the garden. Of course flying back to her room and proceeding from there would have been a quicker way, but she liked to take the more scenic route once in a while. The guards near the side door to the entrance hall were rather confused seeing the Sun Princess approach, but quickly forced their regular expressions back.
They were new, fresh out of the Royal Guard Academy, but the other guard managed to speak up: "G-Good morning, Princess Celestia."
"It is, isn't it," the Princess responded, with her regular smile glowing with happiness. "I see you're new, but there's really no reason to be nervous around me."
"Yes ma'am," the other guard said with a somewhat baffled look on his face, perfectly matching the one of his fellow guard.
The guards opened the doors with their magic and Celestia continued past them to the entrance hall. As soon as the doors closed, Celestia could hear faint whispering behind them. She sighed, her smile fading a bit, and started walking towards the throne room. Maybe Luna would like to join her.
While walking, she gazed around the hall. She had always wondered whether it seemed a bit too intimidating to the more poor ponies that came here for help from the Princesses. The hall was colossal; it took nearly half a minute to walk through it. On top of that, there were huge golden chandeliers hanging from the roof and the walls were filled with the finest pieces of art Equestria contained. And if a painting wasn't covering a part of the wall, a statue was. And then the part she disliked the most, a massive statue of herself and Luna in the middle. They had both mentioned that this was unnecessary when the hall had been designed, but they had been told it reminded everypony 'who was in charge'. Like that was important
or even necessary.
She swung the next set of doors open with her magic, only to see Luna snoozing on the throne most likely tired from the night court. "So that's how you run the court in my absence," Celestia said with a slightly elevated voice and a mischievous smile on her face.
"Yes, seems reasonable," Luna muttered as she shot up to her full length. After a few moments, filled with confused looks, she realized that Celestia was the only one in the room with her. "Oh ha ha," she said and yawned.
"I just might give your style a try once in a while," Celestia said with a light chuckle.
"Did you have anything else in mind, other than nearly giving me a heart attack?" Luna asked, a tiny grin starting to find its way to her face too.
"I was on my way to eat breakfast and wondered if you'd like to join me. That is if you're not too tired," Celestia replied, the last part bringing her grin back.
"I might eat something before I go to bed," Luna said, more to herself, and joined Celestia on her way to the dining hall. "Maybe I'll even get to hear what's been bothering you for the last few weeks," Luna added, her look changing from tired to concerned in an instant.
Celestia kept walking, ignoring the question. The rest of the walk to the dining hall was spent in silence, Luna intently staring at Celestia, almost as if trying to read her mind. When they had taken their seats, they were greeted by the cook, who soon vanished into the kitchen with their orders. While they waited for their meals, Luna started rambling on about the events of the night court. While she was explaining about a dam project she had accepted, she noticed Celestia had drifted off. With an artificial tone of hurt, she said: "I thought you were interested in these things."
"Oh, huh?" Celestia uttered, returning to the present. "Excuse me sister, it seems I got lost in my thoughts for a moment."
"You've done that a lot lately," Luna said, adopting a concerned tone. "Would you care to tell me what's on your mind, I might be able to help you know," she continued.
"Oh I was just thinking about
"Twilight?" Luna interrupted.
A faint blush found its way to Celestia's cheeks as she looked at her sister. "Well of course, she is coming for a study session today and I
" she started, only to be interrupted by her sister once more.
"Ah, now I see why you've been so distracted lately." It was Luna's turn to grin.
"It's nothing like that," Celestia said reaching for a convincing tone and failing miserably. "I'd rather not talk more about this subject," she added, still failing to sound convincing.
Luna's grin grew a bit wider, but she didn't pursue this further out of respect for her sister's privacy. Obviously she couldn't confirm anything just yet, but she had had a feeling about this. And all signs pointed to her being right. Maybe Celestia wasn't ready to confront her feelings yet. Or maybe Luna was just wrong. As unlikely as this was, it was still a possibility. Luna winced at this realization. If this was the case, the fact that she had pushed her sister to offer the lessons to Twilight would be for nothing. It had taken so much time and effort, since she couldn't have just gone and said it would help bring them closer to each other. Celestia would have never admitted needing somepony other than her sister. She could be so naïve sometimes
Luna had had some trouble adjusting after her banishment and she sometimes wondered if Celestia knew she didn't blame her for it. What her sister did had been necessary. That's why Luna wanted to do this. She just wanted to help her sister and show her that she cared.
Celestia had been distancing herself from everypony lately. It was like she had surrounded herself by a castle of her own and no one was allowed in. Luna could see the worries overwhelming her sister's expressions when she thought she was alone. And the fact that Celestia kept this a secret made Luna feel like she wasn't able to be trusted by her own sister.
She would confide in Luna eventually though, or at least that was what she hoped. Twilight however, was a whole other story. She would need to find out if Twilight was only coming for the lessons, or if she too, felt something more. And this was something that wouldn't come out in a casual chat. She had been friends with Twilight since the Nightmare Night where Luna had learned to fit in, but they weren't that close. She made a mental note to find a way to learn about Twilight's feelings.
All this got Luna thinking about her past. This was just the kind of thing Celestia had warned her about when they were both younger. Being the Princess of the Night, Luna had some connections to love, as well as the Moon and dreams. Thus something she greatly enjoyed, was slightly nudging ponies together who loved each other. The ones that just needed the final push. However, "meddling in other ponies' lives," as Celestia used to say, was not something she was supposed to do. But this time it was so obvious
After finishing her breakfast, Luna left the room in silence. Celestia had been so lost in her own thoughts, that she hadn't noticed Luna's oblivious stares at nothing in particular during the breakfast. When the chef finally came to fetch the plates, Celestia thanked him and watched him disappear into the kitchen once again. After a while, her thoughts took over once more and she just sat there, alone in the dining hall, trying to win a long lost battle in her mind.
Twilight had found the shop she had been looking for and gotten some breakfast. While eating her donuts, she had also been able to chat with an old friend of hers, only to find out that literally nothing had changed in Canterlot since she had moved. All this had managed to distract her from the morning's chaotic events, but this newfound calmness started to crumble as she headed for the castle. All the worries about failing or performing inadequately started creeping back, but she fought hard to keep her head clear. She passed the main gate without seeing Celestia there to greet her. She was probably already in the library, waiting. With this in mind, Twilight headed through the entrance hall and towards the library. And sure enough, Celestia was already there, sitting on a cushion and reading an awfully thick book. Twilight couldn't see the title, but she assumed it was about teleportation spells. She cleared her throat and managed to come up with a rather calm voice: "Hello Princess Celestia."
Celestia was so lost in the book that it took her a while to realize she was being spoken to. She lifted her gaze and saw Twilight looking at her. "Twilight Sparkle, my faithful student. The trip here went well, I assume," Celestia responded, smiling warmly as usual.
"Yes, it was okay. The arrival was a bit embarrassing though, everypony was expecting to see you when they saw the chariot," Twilight said, smiling nervously. "You could just send a regular chariot to pick me up, or I could just take the train or
"Nonsense," Celestia interrupted with a light chuckle. "I'm glad you're here, shall we begin?" she said while directing a gaze towards the big pile of books behind her. "This might be a slightly more challenging subject than the previous ones, but I'm sure you'll get the hang of it in no time." She smiled at Twilight and started arranging the books with her magic.
Twilight nodded and started making her way to the Princess. "Of course it had to be today, when I'm not prepared," she thought while sitting down and starting to go over the first book with Princess Celestia.
Hours went by, as Twilight and the Princess went through most of the books. Between each book, they had a small discussion about the contents. Even though Celestia was prepared for any questions Twilight might ask, she wasn't surprised that there were none. In the end, they ended up talking about the dangers of long range teleportation and all the necessary precautions one should take before trying it. The Sun had almost completed its daily course, when Celestia had an idea.
She waited as Twilight finished her sentence, repeating the steps required to successfully teleport and raised her hoof to get a moment of silence. When she looked into Twilight's eyes, beaming with happiness that she felt while learning something new, it felt like the first good look she'd gotten of the lavender mare in ages. Twilight had grown so much since she had moved to Ponyville. She had learned so much about the magic of friendship, and even used that magic to save Equestria - multiple times. Not to mention that only Celestia herself and her sister were able to understand and perform the kind of magic they were studying right now. Celestia had always known that Twilight was smart and capable of understanding magic in a way that few others could but right now, staring into her eyes, Celestia realized how beautiful Twilight was
And with this thought, Celestia came crashing back into the real world. Twilight was looking at her, confused. She had opened her mouth a few times to ask something, but had obviously decided against it.
"I'm so sorry Twilight, it seems that I once again got lost in my thoughts," Celestia said, trying to suppress the thoughts that had just arisen.
"Oh it's okay Princess, I do that too. It drives Spike crazy," Twilight replied, holding back a giggle. "Was there something you were about to say?"
"Yes, as a matter of fact. I had an idea for the rest of the lesson," Celestia said, hiding the anger she felt for herself, once again drifting to these thoughts. "I know you are quite familiar with the regular teleportation spell, but before you try longer distances, I think we should warm up a bit," she continued. "So I thought we could go to the garden to do that."
"Well we've been sitting here for hours, so a little warm up couldn't hurt," Twilight said while getting up and stretching out.
When Twilight and Celestia arrived in the garden, they started practicing some very basic teleportation techniques over small distances. This however quickly escalated into a mixture of hide-and-seek and tag. No matter how fast Twilight thought she was when it came to teleporting, the Princess was always a bit faster. It was safe to say that Twilight would have never expected the lessons would develop into a game of sorts, but she was enjoying it nonetheless. Even though Twilight didn't fully notice it, the feeling of emptiness had vanished. But then, she made a slight calculation mistake and instead of appearing right behind the Princess, she appeared on top of her. She had only seconds to realize this, before falling on Princess Celestia's back. Celestia felt Twilight's soft and warm presence on her back, and let out a nearly audible moan of pleasure. A few seconds after realizing what had happened, she gently lowered Twilight on the ground, hoping that she hadn't heard it. Celestia felt ashamed of the outburst and her inability to control herself.
Twilight's brain went into overdrive. She looked at Celestia, her mentor, who was currently looking at the sunset, avoiding her gaze. She knew that the Princess wasn't angry at her. But when she had fallen on Celestia's back, she thought she had heard something. The Princess hadn't sounded annoyed or agitated. She had almost sounded like she had
enjoyed it? Another look at her mentor revealed the slightest blush on Celestia's cheeks. No, that wasn't possible. And why was she even thinking about this?
Twilight's confusing thought process was interrupted by Celestia, trying to sound as casual as possible after what had happened: "It's getting late, I think I might go to bed a bit early today." Without even looking at the other mare, Celestia headed back to the castle leaving Twilight alone in the garden, wondering what had just happened. And with this the feeling of emptiness took over Twilight once more, as she too, started walking towards the castle.
Celestia was lying on her bed, staring at the roof. The events of the night played in her head, over and over, no matter how hard she tried to push them away. She was angry at herself for having these feelings and being unable to suppress them near Twilight. This was not something a Princess should do. Why not? She knew that fighting with these feelings on her own would eventually drive her crazy. She had to tell somepony, but she could never summon the courage to do it. She was the goddess of the Sun, she had fought in numerous wars and solved crisis nopony else could solve, but this
this was something she just couldn't handle. Nopony would approve of it. Or maybe Luna would
But what if Twilight doesn't
No, she couldn't do it, there was too much that could go wrong. Twilight must be so confused right now and I just left her there, alone. And with this in her mind, Celestia shed a silent tear and fell to a restless sleep, haunted by her thoughts.
Twilight hadn't really slept at all during the night, but she forced herself up roughly an hour before her ride to Ponyville would arrive. She went to draw herself a bath, hoping it would help her relax for a moment. She had gone through the events of last evening in her head throughout the whole night, accompanied by all the crazy theories her mind could come up with. This had gotten her nowhere, and it made Twilight feel horrible. She couldn't figure out if she'd done something wrong. Celestia's reaction had been so
Twilight slipped into the warm bath, feeling her aching body finally relax. But her mind kept going. The thought that had been the first to occur last night found its way back. Had Princess Celestia actually
enjoyed it? Was that the reason it had been so awkward? Even thinking about this made Twilight feel weird. The feeling that had haunted her for the last weeks seemed to ease a bit, but Twilight didn't know what to make of it. Of course she loved the Princess, she had taught Twilight everything she knew. But did she
Suddenly the mare noticed that she felt a lot warmer than the water she was sitting in. This made Twilight blush so fiercely, that she felt lucky to be alone in the room. After that, Celestia was the only thing she thought about, without even really being aware of it.
Twilight was sitting in the golden chariot that was heading back to Ponyville. She and Princess Celestia had had a quick chat about the next lesson before Twilight had left. The Princess had still seemed a bit distant, only briefly talking about the next subject and wishing Twilight goodbye. Twilight had noticed that Celestia had avoided any direct contact with her, but that could mean anything. Twilight wasn't good with these things, feelings and
love. She was probably just getting mixed signals, she'd spent her whole life around books. But seeing the Princess like this made that empty feeling she had to live with even worse. Twilight had never been so confused. Maybe she should ask for advice from her friends. They had much more experience with these kinds of things. Or so she hoped