Season five is amazing...
"Twilight! You said that Luna was here?"
"Yes. Shhh! She's here, Princess Celestia. She's sleeping."
Twilight Sparkle motioned for the much taller alicorn to keep her voice down as she whispered. The two stood in the entry hall of the massive new castle that stood near the town of Ponyville, and Twilight did not want Celestia's loud voice to wake Luna who was asleep only a few rooms away.
Celestia visibly relaxed upon hearing this, and continued to speak in a whisper. "Is she all right?"
Twilight turned and glanced towards the doorway that led towards her bedroom and let out a small sigh. "She's fine, Princess."
"What is she doing here? I got worried when I couldn't find her in her chambers this morning. The moon was lowered, but she was nowhere to be found. I thought something may have happened to her."
The younger alicorn shook her head. "No need to worry, Princess. Nothing happened to her."
Celestia followed Twilight's gaze towards the door, frowning with uncertainty. "You must understand, Twilight," she spoke, "Ever since she has returned, Luna has not once missed breakfast with me. Why did she come here last night? And, you said she is still sleeping? Please, Twilight, tell me what happened."
Twilight turned around and faced her former mentor once again. "Princess Luna came to us because she needed our help," she explained, "She had lost control of the Tantabus and it was starting to infect our dreams, and then the dreams of other ponies."
Confused, Celestia furrowed her brow. "'Tantabus'? I have never heard of such a thing. What is it?"
Twilight proceeded to tell Celestia everything that had happened involving Luna and the Tantabus. Celestia listened with rapt attention, though her expression remained concerned even as Twilight was wrapping up the story and speaking of the Tantabus' defeat.
"Dear heavens…" Celestia murmured when Twilight had finished, "A creature that could turn this world into a living nightmare? Twilight, I am very grateful to you and all of your friends for defeating it."
"Well, it was no problem when everypony worked together."
"I am glad that you are all safe…It seems that you and your friends have once again saved our fair land. Equestria is safe now that this is all over…"
Twilight glanced up at Celestia with an uncertain expression, and saw a similar look reflected in the elder princess' eyes. "We defeated the Tantabus tonight," she spoke slowly and let her sentence hang for a moment. Celestia glanced down at her in concern.
"…but I don't think this is over yet."
The peaceful, starlit land of flowers and waterfalls finally began to slip away. Luna stirred, at long last waking up after the most refreshing sleep she had taken in a long while. It had been a chaotic night, and she had only barely managed to lower the moon before she had collapsed into an exhausted, yet peaceful sleep.
She slowly blinked her eyes open, wincing at the bright light of the sun for a moment before observing her surroundings. Something didn't seem right, and as her grogginess faded away she realized what it was.
She was back home, laying in her bedchambers in Canterlot.
"How did I…?" she murmured softly as she rubbed her eyes.
"I brought you back here from Ponyville."
Luna's ears perked up upon hearing the other voice and turned towards its source. She saw Celestia sitting near the doors that led to her small balcony, her body angled towards the doors, but her head turned to look back at her. "I hope I didn't wake you," she continued.
"I…No, you didn't," Luna mumbled, her gaze drifting away, "I was having the most...pleasant dream…"
She heard Celestia move and turned to look at her again. The elder princess stood up off the ground and walked across the short distance until she was standing next to Luna's bed. Luna found herself staring up at her sister, unconsciously feeling rather small beneath Celestia's natural height.
"If you want me to leave you be so you can get some more rest, I will have no objections," Celestia spoke, "But, if not, then perhaps we could…talk?"
Luna glanced away again, the events of the previous night resurfacing to the forefront of her mind. She twiddled her hooves beneath the covers gently, mulling over what had happened and what she had done to emerge victorious. "Did Twilight tell you what happened?"
"Did…" Luna bit her lip and turned away, "Did she tell you everything?"
Luna's ears flattened against her head and she turned completely away from her sister, a sour look on her face.
"The Tantabus was out of control," Celestia said calmly, "and when you promised that you would forgive yourself for what you had done, the Tantabus lost its power."
Luna meekly nodded.
"But…" Celestia continued, adopting a caring tone, "The Tantabus is not yet defeated, is it?"
In similar fashion, Luna clenched her eyes shut and gently shook her head. For a moment, the room was quiet. The only sound to be heard was the breathing of the two ponies.
"I am sorry, sister…" Luna breathed.
"I did not intend to put Equestria in danger…again." Her voice cracked upon the last word and a shiver passed through her body.
"Luna, you know that is not what this is about," Celestia spoke, her voice still quiet and caring, "If Equestria is in danger, then I know that you and everypony else will all work together to defeat the evil that threatens us. I have put Equestria into danger a couple of times, Luna. Nopony is perfect."
The younger pony was not speaking, instead only letting out a few shuddering breaths.
"But…I do not think Equestria is in any danger, Luna. You have already taken away most of this creature's power…But it still lives within you, and there is one final obstacle preventing it from being completely destroyed." Celestia paused and leaned in a little closer. "It's me, isn't it?"
All at once, the dam burst and Luna broke down into tears. She pulled the covers up over her head and cried, every emotional wall she had built up having been utterly destroyed. She didn't want her sister to see her like this, but she couldn't help it. The pain inside just hurt too much.
"Luna?" she heard her sister speak gently. "May I sit with you?"
Luna took a few deep breaths of stale air, trying in futility to stop her cries. Eventually she settled for murmuring in a trembling voice. "O-okay…" Still hidden beneath the covers, she felt her sister gingerly climb onto the bed beside her, carefully positioning her much larger frame so as to be secure while not forcing Luna right off the bed. For a moment neither said nothing, and then Luna felt the covers being pulled off of her.
She didn't protest. She simply laid there on her side, facing away from her sister and crying. She barely even reacted when Celestia gently draped her wing across her back. The older pony waited patiently until the worst of Luna's grief had passed. When Luna had stopped crying out and was merely sniffling and shivering, she finally spoke.
"Luna, is everything that Twilight told me true?"
A quiet whine escaped her lips before she gently nodded her head.
"So…You truly were using the Tantabus…to…"
"Every night!!" Luna suddenly exclaimed, catching Celestia by surprise. She wrapped her hooves around the blankets, clutching them close to her chest. "Every night, it hurt so much! And every day! Every single hour that passed…It was like part of me was poisoned! I couldn't think right a-and I couldn't focus! It was all I could think about…"
She let out a few shuddering breaths before continuing. "The smallest…tiniest…errant thought…and it would bring me right back into the darkness. The crushing, terrifying feeling of guilt… I-I tried not to let it show…but it was a-always there…"
There was a very long, silent pause. Both ponies remained where they sat, neither of them moving or saying a word.
"I…" Celestia whispered, "Luna, I had no idea…"
Luna took in a harsh breath and shuddered.
"I honestly did not know that you were feeling…this badly for all this time. Luna, it breaks my heart to hear you say this." She hugged her wing closer around the body of her sister. "Things were difficult when you first returned, I recall…but you and I talked. We cried, we laughed, we hugged and…I told you then that everything was forgiven."
Luna didn't reply.
"Not a word of what I had said then has changed now. If you had felt things were not resolved, why did you not speak with me some more?"
The other alicorn simply shook her head.
"Instead you…you subjected yourself to an endless nightmare…"
Luna shuddered considerably.
"All those evenings…You had never handled waking up very well, so I had just thought that you…" She paused. "Luna, I wish I had known…"
"It didn't help…" Luna mumbled.
"It did not satiate the guilt. The horrible feelings, they…th-they only got worse as time went on…" She whined and clutched her blankets closer. "Life did not feel normal, Tia. Nothing felt right. It was such a struggle, a-and it only got worse…"
"I wish I could have been there for you," Celestia murmured, "I wish I had known. We had experienced such a powerful heart-to-heart, and you started to smile after that day, but…"
"It hurt so much… It consumed my mind, Tia. It was all I ever thought of. So many times, I simply said 'I can't!' I couldn't go to the Gala. I couldn't go to Cadance's wedding. And it's just got…worse…"
Celestia shifted herself closer. "Then why continue?" she asked.
Luna subtly shook her head and tried to bury herself in her pillow.
"If subjecting yourself to the Tantabus was not making you feel any better…then why-?"
"Because I deserve it!!"
Celestia gasped at Luna's sudden outburst, her wing reflexively snapping back to her side.
"I deserve it, Tia! I deserve every single minute of this suffering! I-I thought I could forgive myself when Twilight… she… b-but I can't, Tia! It's a lie!!"
"You don't, Luna. You don't deserve-"
Luna wept loudly and cut off her sister, clutching her ball of blankets tightly. "I'm a horrible pony!!" she wailed.
"I deserve far worse than these petty nightmares!!"
"But I don't know what else I can do!!"
No longer content to hug with her wing, Celestia shifted herself across the bed closer to Luna and hugged her tightly with her hoof. "Luna, stop it…" she whispered soothingly, "You don't deserve anything less than happiness. You're a wonderful pony."
Reduced to tears, Luna simply couldn't respond.
"Please, Luna…You must stop beating yourself up over this. It is so unbelievably far in the past and it's over now. It's never going to happen again and everypony forgives you."
"No…" Luna mumbled into her pillow.
"That includes me, Luna. I will say it a thousand times more and it will be no less true; I forgive you."
"Tia, I…" Luna whispered in a shuddering breath, "I killed so many…"
There was a pause and then Celestia sighed. "I know Luna, but-"
"A countless sea of gravestones, all listing me as the killer."
"They do not list you as the killer," Celestia replied firmly, "They list Nightmare Moon."
"There is no difference!!" Luna shouted.
"There is a tremendous difference! Luna, none of us understood what had happened back then, especially not myself. There is no doubt now that Nightmare Moon was not you. Nightmare Moon had consumed and corrupted you, Luna."
"I still deserve to suffer…" Luna mumbled.
"No. Stop it. What you need to realize, Luna, is that there is only one pony out there who still doesn't forgive you, and that pony is you."
"That's not true…"
"It is true enough, Luna. Twilight, her friends, the citizens of Ponyville, the soldiers in the castle, the nobles who have a personality beyond sandpaper…I could sit here for hours listing ponies who love you and who forgive you for what you have done so many hundreds of years ago. And at the top of that list, forever and to eternity, shall be my name."
Celestia paused to let her words sink in, but all Luna did in response wass quietly continue to weep. She let out a heavy sigh and snuggled her sister a little closer.
"Luna…?" she spoke softly, "Why is it so hard to believe that I forgive you?"
For the first time since she had started crying, Luna slowly turned to look up at Celestia. She gazed at her sister through teary eyes, looking more like a frightened young filly than an immortal alicorn. "Why…?" she whispered, "H-how could you forgive me…?"
"Because…" Celestia gently laid her wing and her hoof across Luna's shivering form. "Because I love you, Luna. I have always loved you. Even as far back as I can remember, some infinite number of years ago, I loved you." Luna was still gazing at her with a frown on her face, and Celestia closed her eyes before continuing.
"And…when trouble started to brew between us, I still loved you Luna. Even if I did not show it properly…I was just so much a blind fool that I didn't see what was going on. And then when we lost you…when we were faced with the Nightmare…I was heartbroken…"
Two tears traced paths across Celestia's muzzle before falling to the bed below. "I felt so sad, because…because I still loved you, Luna. I wanted my little sister back more than anything in the world, but I…we all thought she was gone forever. And I waited…I waited for a thousand years…because that love never faded, Luna. And it…still hasn't."
Luna reached over and gently placed her hoof on Celestia's shoulder. "Tia, p-please…Y-you can't c-cry too…"
Celestia took in a shuddering breath as if she hadn't realized she had been crying. "Th-that's another thing I can say a thousand times more…and it will never change. I love you, Luna."
"I…" The younger pony sniffled and inched herself closer. "I know, Tia… I love you too…"
She gasped when she found herself being hugged much more tightly by her older sister.
"And I don't want to lose you again…" Celestia whispered.
"I can't…I can't lose you again…"
"I…I won't…I promise…"
Celestia took a deep breath and released Luna from the hug. She looked right into the younger pony's eyes. "Luna," she spoke, "things will never be right…if you cannot accept my forgiveness."
"When the Nightmare first appeared…I cried because it was my fault, Luna. When you had been sent to the moon, I…I cried for weeks. That was my fault too, Luna. If anything…I should be asking for your forgiveness."
Luna frowned. "N-no, you're wrong…I-I was the one who-"
"None of this would have happened," Celestia interjected sadly, "if I had only been a better sister."
"I…" Luna fell silent, gazing away in thought. "I-it's not that I don't believe you, Tia. It is simply that I do not deserve it. I feel as though you are giving me a gold medal for sabotaging a race instead of winning it."
She turned and gazed back at Celestia, who was silent for a moment before heaving a heavy sigh. "Luna, if you feel the need to continue punishing yourself like this, then I will be there with you to share the pain. I cannot let you suffer alone like this any longer, Luna. You mean too much to me…"
"Tia, I'm not going to do that…"
"If the Tantabus is intended to punish misdeeds against a sister, then perhaps I deserve it even more. I was horrible to you, Luna. I turned away as you began to fall, and I wasn't there to catch you. I do not know how much control you have over this creature, but I deserve the lion's share of its punishment."
"In fact, Luna I insist you transfer the demon to me entirely, if it is within your power. I have caused you so much pain and grief that it should be my burden to bear."
"No, Tia! Don't…Don't say that…"
"I will endure this suffering that you have recently been subjecting yourself to. It is the only way that I can make up for what I did. Luna, I have been inexcusable. I was wrong, and I do not think that anything in this world could ever-"
"S-stop!" Luna interjected, rolling herself around so that she was facing her sister, "Tia, please stop! You don't have to do that to yourself, okay?"
"It was by my hoof that these horrible events were set in motion…This is undeniable."
"B-but it's okay, Tia. I forgive you."
The silence that then filled the room was so thick one could cut it with a knife. All emotion seemed to drain from Luna's face, and her focus shifted from her sister and instead left her staring into space. A thousand conflicting thoughts ran through her mind, faster than she could process them.
She was vaguely aware of Celestia gently hugging her. "It means a lot to hear you say that, Luna. It truly does. I'm just so sorry for everything I've done, and I want to put it all behind us."
"I…" Luna murmured. She thought about what she had just said. It was technically true that Celestia's actions, or rather inactions, were the catalyst for the entire situation surrounding Nightmare Moon. Yet, Luna could no longer find it in her heart to blame Celestia for anything she had done. When she considered it, there was not a single doubt in her mind. She forgave her sister.
"Huh…?" Luna blinked and glanced up, seeing that her sister had stopped hugging her and was gazing at her with a hopeful, imploring look.
"Luna, it makes me happy just to see you here, alive and well. Simply being in your presence warms my heart. I love you, Luna. Even when things were at their worst, and when the both of us acted wrongly…you, Luna, were still my sister. Just as I had done in the past, actions by your hoof have caused wrongdoings…
"…but I forgive you."
Luna simply stared wordlessly at her older sister.
Celestia gave her a small smile. "Can we…finally put this behind us, Luna?"
"Tia, I…" Luna whispered.
Celestia closed her eyes and two more tears rolled down her cheeks. "I just want my wonderful sister, to love and to hold forever until time itself can go no further."
Another moment of silence passed between the two ponies. Then, finally and for the first time since she had woken up, Luna began to smile. Tears streamed from her eyes, but still she smiled. She reached out with her hooves and her wings, clutching her big sister in a warm embrace.
"You're the greatest sister a pony could ever ask for! I- I just don't know what to say… I hurt you most of all, Tia… But, I love you! And I don't want to hurt you ever again!"
"Shh…" Celestia soothed, "I know, Luna. It's okay…"
"Do you truly forgive me?"
Luna nuzzled herself closer to Celestia. "After everything I did?"
"Are…Are you sure?"
Celestia gave a light-hearted chuckle. "Of course I do, Luna. Everypony makes mistakes. You did, I did…Some mistakes are bigger than others…but nothing could stop you from being my little sister. Nightmare Moon is the one to blame and she is long gone. I want you to stop hurting yourself Luna, because I can't stand to see you hurt."
"Nothing matters to me more than being happy together with you. So please, Luna…Stop beating yourself up. I forgive you and I love you. It's in the past now, so let us both simply put it behind us. Can we do that…?"
Luna was silent for a moment and simply rested in her sister's embrace. Then, she quietly whispered, "I…I think so, Tia…"
Celestia nuzzled her. "I am glad to hear that, sis…"
"Y-you're the best sister ever, Tia. You're so kind and caring. I love you so much, Tia…and I don't ever want to let you go. I'm so glad that I'm here now with you, and…and…I don't know what to say except…" She clutched her sister tightly and nuzzled her. "Thank you Tia…Th-thank you for your forgiveness."
"Thank you for yours, Luna…"
The two remained in their warm, quiet embrace for a few minutes. Neither said a word because nothing more needed to be said. Their stillness was broken only when Luna grunted quietly in discomfort. Celestia pulled back to look at her, but Luna simply coughed once and then appeared to be fine.
Their attention instead was drawn to the tiny wisp of blue smoke that had been emitted from Luna's mouth. It floated hazily before the two of them.
"Is that…?" Celestia murmured.
"It is, Tia. That is the Tantabus."
Celestia gazed at it for a moment and then smiled. "It is powerless now, Luna."
"Indeed…I have come such a long way after all these centuries, and it has not been easy. I had not predicted that I would ever crest this mountain. However, Twilight and her friends helped me move ahead…and it was you, Tia, who guided me to the top."
Celestia leaned in and nuzzled her once more. "We love you, Luna. We all love you."
Luna simply sighed contentedly and gently leaned into her sister's nuzzles. She took in a breath, and then simply blew the Tantabus away. It dissipated and faded to nothingness like ordinary smoke, and soon there was no evidence that it had been there in the first place.
The only thing left behind were two smiling ponies, two loving sisters, happily sharing the first moment of the rest of their lives.