Solar Wind

by FanOfMostEverything

Chapter 1: Ever Billowing

Luna's return was a joyous event, but it did come with its share of difficulties old and new. Celestia had prepared the country for a sudden transition to diarchy as best she could, but there were still some aspects she'd overlooked. The simple logistics of shared meals, for one. Even the matter of what to call the meal when one sister had breakfast while the other had dinner was a matter of some debate among the castle staff, though not as much as in other worldlines. As far as the sisters themselves were concerned, it was time with one another, which was all the identity the occasions needed.

One sunrise some months after that fateful Summer Sun Celebration, Luna looked up from her salad and said, "Sister, we must speak."

"Of course!" cried Celestia, her pancakes forgotten. "Is everything alright? Can I do anything for you? Do you feel anything..." She trailed off, looking away.

"I assure you, I remain as sane as I ever was." Luna gave a small grin. "Small comfort, I know, but my point is that the issue is not mine. I speak on behalf of Captain Fantasia, who came to me during my Night Court."

An image of the mare came to Celestia's mind, the usual subdued palette of one of the bat-winged chiroptera, decorated with more than a few psychosomatic scars picked up from long years of keeping ponies' dreams safe from horrors the Sun couldn't reach. "Does she resent your reinstatement as head of the Dreamguard?"

Luna shook her head. "If anything, she is pleased to no longer be the last link in the chain of command. She made frequent use of the word 'numbskulls' during our audience, and that was when she was at her most polite. Neigh, she spoke not as captain of the Dreamguard, but as the foremost chiropteron in Equestria. And she spoke of you."

"Me? Have I offended the chiroptera somehow?" Celestia's thoughts raced as she considered the possibility. "I've always tried to give them their space. Should I have been more inclusive? Made more of an effort to include them in the social fabric of Equestria?"

Luna raised a hoof. "Peace, Sister. You have not offended them. It is they who believe they have offended you."

"What?" Celestia's mouth hung open for a moment before she said, "How?"

"According to Captain Fantasia, the little courtesies you pay our ponies are clipped short with the chiroptera when not missing altogether. You show signs of stress around them, always eager to leave the room, or to enter one when encountering them out of doors."

"I... I hadn't realized."

Luna smirked. "Hadn't realized your tells were showing, you mean." The smirk softened to a smile. "Do not worry, my sister. They only gleaned the trend after generations of observation, and they are very good at watching unnoticed. For many a year, they believed they reminded you of me, that being around them was painfully close to our reunion. But then I returned, and you still show the same signs of unease. So, on their behalf, I must ask, what about them discomforts you so?"

Something nagged at Celestia’s thoughts. She soon put her hoof on it. "It isn’t like Fantasia to be so indirect. Why didn't she see me personally?"

"According to her, she wanted a straight answer."

Celestia found herself stunned again. "What?"

"You must admit, Sister, you do have a tendency to be infuriatingly vague. It is well and good to teach your students how to teach themselves, but many ponies tire of you gently nudging them in a given direction rather than simply telling them what you want." Luna leaned on the table, resting her head on her crossed forelegs. "So, is it the eyes, slitted like mine in my madness? The inequine fangs? The dream magic you never could master?"

Celestia felt her wings twitch a bit in her anxiety. "Why does the sun shine, Luna?"

Luna rolled her eyes. "This is exactly what I'm talking about, Tia. Fantasia will not be satisfied with some blithe parable."

"I promise I'm going somewhere with this."

"I will hold you to that, Sister." A fork danced in Luna's magical grasp as she thought. "As I recall from Star Swirl's lesson on the matter, the sun shines through that most potent and dangerous of alchemies, fusion. The sun transmutes the smallest of the atomies into the next largest, releasing tremendous heat and light in the process."

Celestia nodded. "And do you remember what he did next?"

"Aye." Luna smiled, her gaze turning distant. "To lighten the mood after kindling a short-lived star before a pair of wide-eyed fillies, he breathed in the byproducts, making him speak in a most amusing falsetto for a time."

"Well, a link to the sun carries some... side effects."

Luna shrugged her wings. "The same can be said of the moon. You have always been a bit warmer than most ponies and I cooler, in every sense of the words."

"True, but not what I meant in this case. You see, I... also produce helium as a byproduct."

"Truly? Your voice sounds no different now than it ever has."

Celestia squirmed, her gaze firmly on her neglected pancakes. She all but whispered, "Not from that end."

Silence usurped the diarchs and reigned for a long stretch of time. Finally, Luna reclaimed the throne by saying, "Do you mean to tell me that you shy away from the chiroptera solely because they are the only ones who can hear you sound your personal fanfare?"

"I do have a reputation to uphold."

Celestia could practically hear Luna roll her eyes. "Yes, a reputation as a statue of gilded marble, equine in form only, built to dispense wisdom without doing something so grossly mundane as feel or bleed or fart."

"I suppose I have let our ponies put me on a pedestal."

"Tia, you designed and built that pedestal, perching 'pon it proudly as any griffon king."

Celestia permitted herself a hint of a smile as she looked back up. "And, truth be told, it's a very cathartic way to deal with the more obnoxious nobles."

Luna chortled. "There I cannot blame you. In any case, thank you for finally giving me something I can tell Captain Fantasia."

"You're going to tell her?"

"Of course." Luna gave her an incredulous look. "What would you have me do, spin some tale about how you cannot countenance the intrinsic darkness of her tribe? That centuries of loyal service are not enough to forget their dreadful appearance?"

"I suppose not, but..."

"Come now, Sister. It will be good for you to have somepony else know you are flesh and blood."

"In theory, yes," said Celestia, "but I'm worried about what will happen if the tabloids find out."

"Aye, it would be bad if the scandalmongers got wind of your wind. But you know the chiroptera can be trusted with secrets. You do remember how I discovered them."

Celestia nodded. "A corner of the dreamscape looking after itself."

"Given how well they hid themselves, I think we can trust them to hide this."

Celestia took a deep breath. "Very well. But... break it gently? Please?"

Luna chuckled. "Mind your phrasing, my beloved sib. In any case, I will do my best to preserve your dignity, given the circumstances." She gave a smile like a crescent moon. "However, I make no guarantees about Captain Fantasia preserving hers."

Author's Notes:

Everyone's entitled to a dumb story now and again. I'm calling in one of mine.

For more on the debate over the nomenclature of royal meals, see Estee's Total Eclipse of the Fun.

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