It's a Start

by Arcticbrony

Chapter 1: It's a Start

The Canterlot Royal Gardens: during the day it was one of the most popular places to visit. The groundskeepers kept the place as perfect as any mortal could, making it a true spectacle to behold. Ponies of all ages, from the retired bakers to the young colts and fillies, barely having started their lives at school, came to the gardens to play and witness its majestically sculpted statues, its finely trimmed rosebushes, and take their gander at the fabled hedge maze. Yes, during the day, it was a place full of life for everypony to enjoy. But after darkness had fallen, and the moon had replaced the sun high in the sky, the garden would fall asleep.

No ponies walked the maze, or gazed upon the flowers. Only the occasional guard who made his rounds in the dead of night. At least, that's what the gardens used to be like. Lately, the gardens had gotten a new visitor, treading the grounds in sterling silver shoes night after night, after the groundskeeper closed the gardens publicly at dusk.

Gardening was an interesting experience, to say the least, for Princess Luna. Unlike her sister, she did not radiate the warmth in which normal plants thrived. It was a good thing she had found a natural marvel in the Everfree Forest—plants that bloomed and lived in lunar light. She had taken specimens from the forest, stuck them into pots and rich soil, and made them a personal project to care for. Her own little patch of heaven within the garden walls.

Over the shrubbery, Luna’s voice echoed, “Stupid sister! Stupid meeting!” She used her front hooves, shoes removed, to pack in fresh soil around one of the plants in a clay pot. “Send her to the moon for a millennium, then we can see how much changed in her absence!” Her emotions were bleeding into her movements, and she started shoving the soil more forcefully into one of the clay pots. “She is so perfect to a fault, so loved and praised, and always right!” Cracks began creeping along the sides of the pot from the pressure of irate, royal hooves. “I thought I was part of a diarchy! Why am I even considered a co-ruler if my opinions on matters mean nothing!” With one final press, the pot gave out, spilling soil onto Luna’s little workbench and leaving a steel-blue flower homeless.

Princess Luna frowned at the glinting plant and sighed. “I’m sorry, little plant,” she whispered to it, “I should not have taken out my anger on you.”

“That’s right, you most certainly shouldn't have.” The flower spoke back to her. “Don't you know that anger can hurt us plants? Oh I can feel it, this is it for me, I’m withering away,” Luna dropped the plant and backed off as it dramatically started coughing up petals. “Goodbye oh cruel world, ever will I remember thee. Blehhhh.” With a long and exaggerated motion, the flower laid down. Luna stared down at the plant in confusion when it started bubbling and growing rapidly. With a loud “Pop!” the flower was gone, and in its place laid a familiar Draconequus. “Honestly, Luna dear, you shouldn't talk to flowers. Ponies might start to think you're a little crazy.” Discord laughed as he brushed the remains of pot soil off his fur.

Luna took a deep breath, and her eyes and mouth reset to a stern expression. “What are you doing here, Discord? Are you not supposed to be in Ponyville with Twilight and her friends?”

“Can't an entity of Chaos come to visit his favorite princess?” Discord reached into his ear and pulled out a handful of dirt and some pieces of the broken pot, casually throwing it away. “Well, second favorite Princess, after Big Mac of course.” He winked out of existence, only to reappear floating right next to her. “I brought mooncakes,” he pulled out a small platter with the pastry stacked, underneath the plate, ignoring gravity completely.

Princess Luna cocked a mistrustful eye to the Draconequus and reluctantly craned her neck to look at the upside-down cake. It had an imprint baked into the top (or underside, depending on the perspective) of Discord in shades and a backward-facing cap with the words “Chaos is COOL” over him.

“As, er, flattering as this is, I am busy and have no time for you or your trickery.”

Discord rolled his eyes, along with his entire head. “So I can see. Busy with your moon flowers, under the moonlight, in all your moony moonness. You are even more boring than old sunbutt, I can't comprehend how you stand it.” He dropped the plate, which caused the mooncake to rocket up into the sky, disappearing among the clouds while the plate simply melted away. “A thousand years on that rock, I would think that you would be sick of the thing.”

Luna narrowed her eyes at Discord. “Though I may have had my… troubles with it, I am still very much bound to the moon,” she said as she returned to her work of filling pots with plants and soil. “It is my duty to hoist the moon into the evening skies and lower it at dawn.”

“Oh please, the moon managed perfectly fine before you came along with your self-imposed duty,” Discord shook his head before motioning up to the moon with his lion's paw. “Even Celestia managed fine during your little siesta,” and with that he plucked the moon off the sky and took a bite out of its shrunken form in the same way one would eat a cookie. “Even tastes bad,” he coughed, spitting out a few small pebbles. “I really can't see the fascination with this thing.”

Luna turned her head back to Discord, scowling at the paw with the bitten moon—an obvious ruse to get her worked up. “Of course, you would not understand. You have no responsibilities to care for,” she shot back.

“I choose to have no responsibilities. I could, I have, and I decided that it was not for me. You on the other paw seem to enjoy making life more miserable for yourself.” He said while taking another bite out of the moon, loudly chewing it. “While it is totally and utterly booring, it's almost amusing to watch.” He started laughing while floating in front of Luna. “You and Celestia both do the exact same thing, but while she seems to enjoy it to some degree, it does not fit you at all, yet you stick to it. It makes no sense… I LOVE IT.” Discord rolled back laughing, clutching his midsection.

Luna let off a guttural, and rather undignified, sigh in annoyance. “Since you only came here to irk me, I am leaving,” she declared as she stowed away the pots underneath the workbench. She flared up her magic to swipe the half-eaten moon out of Discord’s paw. With a flash and pop, the moon disappeared and reappeared whole again in the middle of tiny platinum stars, and Luna began trotting for the garden exit.

“Oh, did I hurt your little moon feelings?” Discord popped into existence in front of Luna. But she just let out a snort and rolled her eyes before trotting past him, keeping her head high. “Oh don't be like that moody, can't you take a joke?” He asked as he teleported in front of her again.

“No,” Luna said curtly, walking around Discord without turning her head to him, “now leave.”

Discord dragged his paw down his face and grumbled through clenched teeth. “Okay, look Luna I'm s…. I'm sor...urgh,” his face turned green and he dry heaved, as if the words were making him nauseous. Discord steeled himself, drawing several deep breaths, a mini cheer leading team popped into existence on his shoulders, chanting “you can do it!” over and over. “Imsorryforrilingyouupandunnessesarilybeinganassthoughyoukindadeserveit.” Discord forced out, collapsing in front of Luna once he was done. “T-there… happy?” He wheezed.

Luna’s head tilted to the side, raising a brow at the sickened Draconequus below her. “Hardly. Even if my sister—” Luna impulsively rolled her eyes, “—Princess Twilight, and her friends think you have reformed, it does not mean that I have to roll over and take your mockery. If you are truly remorseful, and I highly doubt you ever have been, you should leave me be.” She then sparked up her horn, closed her eyes, and teleported away.

Discords left eye twitched as he slowly pulled himself up. “Remember what Fluttershy taught you… deep breaths, think of some chaos… and- ah to tartarus with it!” In a sudden moment of anger, Discord thrust his arm out into the place where Luna had teleported away. Ripped the very space apart and yanked the Lunar princess back out into the gardens. She slid a small distance, her face a mix of befuddlement and fury as she came to a stop. “I have had ENOUGH of this facade.” Discord huffed as he stomped towards her. “I would absolutely adore to leave you alone and go about my own business, I had some lovely islands I wanted to torment today; singing volcano, coconuts with jelly ants in them, all that jazz. But no, Fluttershy conspired with Sunbutt and made me promise to spend some time and try to—‘make friends’—with her antisocial shut-in of a sister. I tried, by Celestia's scraggy beard I did. Hate it all you want, I know I do, but you are stuck with me!”

Luna’s fierce expression softened as the words “shut-in” and “sister” hit her ears. She was doing it again; Celestia was trying to make her go out and mingle with the world. Luna rolled onto her back and covered her eyes with her forehooves. “When will she learn that I do not wish to constantly converse with the wakeful world? Why does she never listen to anything I say?” She stood back onto her hooves, and cleared her throat. “Fine. To appease my sister, I will spend time with you,” she sighed.

“Listen, I-” Discord turned around as the sound of somepony whistling could be heard. “One of your guards,” it was after dark, a Draconequus next to a princess who were still a little red around the eyes… yeah, it did not look good at all. “Time for a scene change,” and with a snap of his fingers, they winked out of existence, and reappeared, in the middle of a small but quaint donut shop in the middle of Canterlot. There were a few ponies in the shop as they appeared, and more than a few panicked immediately as the Princess and draconequus popped out of thin air. “Your sister seems to like this place,” Discord looked in amusement after the few ponies who were fleeing in terror. “She has a way with words, that annoying sister of yours… words and blackmail.” He grumbled and collapsed back into a cloud recliner he had fashioned from one of the chairs.

Luna sighed and seated herself at the table across from Discord. A meek-looking unicorn barista with a silvery coat and a pearl-white apron approached them.

“H-Hello, w-w-welcome to Joe’s Donut Shop,” she sputtered, pausing to blow away a piece of her cyan mane out of her eyes, “W-What can I get for you this evening?”

“Coffee, black,” Luna said. The barista scribbled it down in a notepad from her apron pocket and looked at Discord with tentative claret eyes.

“I think I’ll have five seaweed-flavored donuts, and a cold cup of tea.” Discord flashed her a toothy grin. “I know what you are about to say, but trust me, you have it.”

The barista quickly averted her eyes from the Draconequus, nodding slightly as she wrote his order on her notepad. She hurriedly turned tail and trotted away.

After watching the poor barista disappear behind the counter, Luna gave Discord a hard-nosed look of disapproval. “Why must you insist on terrorizing everypony you meet?”

“It's a gift, who else will spruce up their boring routine lives if not I?” Discord met Luna’s stone hard gaze and rolled his eyes. “It's not my fault that your ponies can't take a joke. They really have grown dull since I ruled Equestria… well, most of them.” He gave Donut Joe a thumbs up who happily waved back.

Luna gave Discord and Donut Joe a curious look and shook her head. “So… what was your earlier remark about being blackmailed by Celestia?”

“Seems like both Celly and Fluttershy like to stick their noses in other people's salad.” Discord grumbled, his arms folded. “I left my ear in their room as they were talking about us. To quote,” he waves his arm over his head and with that gesture, a almost perfect replica of Celestia’s head was planted on Discord's shoulders, “like, my sis totally needs to get out more. She spends all day locked up in her room being all depressed and that goth style really don't work for her. Like, she really needs to mingle with ponies, totally.”

Luna did not say anything but kept a level, annoyed glare directed at Discord. “Oh, I know, I know,” he sighed, dropping his disguise. “Apparently, you are antisocial, she is scared you are bordering on depression or working towards it. I, glorious as I am, am also apparently antisocial, purposely driving ponies away and up the walls… I think we are both doing rather fine. I have not driven any pony to the madhouse since my reformation, and you have not attempted to overtake the throne yet.” Discord sunk even further down into his chair. “Anyway they… convinced me to try to make friends with you. And we can both see how well that went.”

“Nothing fares well when you are involved,” Luna snarked. “And how exactly did they ‘convince’ you? You are not a stranger to defying others."

“I have my secrets, strange as that may seem. And as the word ‘blackmail’ entails, it's something I would rather keep private.” Discord retorted, taking a more serious tone.

“Very well,” Luna replied as the barista entered the corner of her vision with their order on a levitating tray. She hastily laid the tray on the table and set before Luna a foam cup a with steam wafting from under the lid; and for Discord, tea made straight from cold tap water and a paper bag reeking of sea salt. The barista gave Luna a small bow before fleeing behind the counter with the tray in tow.

“There we go,” Discord snatched up the bag and fished out something that had a color no pastry had any business being. “Joe certainly knows how to please. No help ever sticks around for long though, a bleeding shame it is.” The donut made a wet squishing sound as he bit into it with gusto.

“I would ask how you can eat such a fiendish thing, but you are what you eat, as they say,” Luna remarked, as she turned away from the sticky and moist noises from across the table.

“Even your insults are getting boring.” Discord looked down the paper bag, but felt no urge to continue eating. “Everypony seems to jump at your sister's every word,” his voice changed to a bad impression of the sun princess, “go fight that dragon, clean up my mess, make more friends. I had thought you the same, wanting to jump at the first opportunity to make her happy.”

“It is difficult to make her happy when my input falls upon deaf ears. A millennium of ruling alone seems to make her forget that there is another tiara in the castle now.” Luna idly took a sip from her cup, grimacing slightly. “And every time I confront my sister about it, I am given the same narrative: ‘Things are different now than they once were.’ Alas, as true as it is socially, our laws are the same as they ever were.”

“You are telling me. She used to be so much fun, but when I talk to her now it's just like talking to a statue. I would know.” A small but noticeable shudder went up Discord's back. “You can't spend all your time with Fluttershy, you need to make more friends she says… the same spiel every time. Lo and behold Celestia, but a thousand years as a myth and story told to foals and ponies alike to frighten them does not do wonders for your public image.” Discord deflated and his head sank down and rested on the table. “Ponies used to fear and worship me for what I did, now they fear and despise me for just existing.”

“I know the feeling,” Luna’s ears lowered slightly, “I was confined to the castle for months after I had returned. The day I was finally let free was on my first Nightmare Night. A night that was spent walking through Ponyville with Twilight Sparkle and having foals, or fully grown ponies even, shriek in terror at my mere presence. However, I did manage to work through that, after it was brought to my attention that the holiday was celebrating fear. And I was able to terrorize—playfully, of course—the Ponyville ponies out of their confections.”

“My first moments out was spend terrorizing the local pigeons. Living as a statue does not make you like those feathered rats.” Discord sat back up and leaned back. “But it sounds like you were doing pretty well for yourself there, and your sister still decided to put her nose where it does not belong. If only she did not catch me dressing up her- I mean… its suffocating with how controlling she tries to be at times.”

Luna squinted her right eye at Discord, “No, no, what were you saying before that?”

“...” Discord stared right back. “You are not going to let that go, are you?” He asked, Luna shaking her head in response. “Figured. Well, I MAY have stolen all her dresses and dressed up all her personal guards in them. It was hilarious,” Discord snickered.

“You did WHAT?!” Luna shrieked as she rose in her seat to look down on Discord. “You not only humiliated guards in public, but also endangered the lives of my sister and them?! All for a laugh?!”

Discord saw an opportunity and smirked to himself as he weaved a little spell behind his back with his paw. To Luna, she would no longer be able to tell that she was raising her volume as she continued screaming at him, nor would she be able to hear any ponies yelling any warnings at them. “Oh come on, don't be such a prune. Some of your night guards certainly saw the humor in it,” he grinned waiting a moment before delivering the next blow. “Or they did until they got the same treatment, I had a few dresses leftover.”

“And my guards as well?!” Luna felt a vein on the right side of her neck begin to pop as her blood suddenly came to a boil. Playing dress-up with her guards was the final straw.

“You… you… are an arse, Discord!” blurted out Luna, causing a handful of the donut shop’s customers to quietly gasp at the princess’s profane, though outdated, language. But she didn’t hear it—only the blood pumping in her ears—and continued, “It is by no marvel why you have so few ponies that consider you a friend! You have no regard for anypony’s safety or feelings, and thus everypony sees you for nothing more than what you were for a millennium: stone cold!”

Discord rose a talon in rebuttal, but Luna swatted it away and closed the short distance over the table with her muzzle. “I know I also lack friends, but at least I have the compassion to stoke those flames.”

Discord’s beaming mug grew more elated as he could see Donut Joe coming out from behind the counter, and he opened his paw to release the spell. He silently pulled the paw out from him and leveled it in the direction of the furious proprietor while still looking Luna in the eye.

The sound of the world quickly bled back into Luna’s ear; a sensation that left her slightly light-headed. She stepped off the table to regain some of her balanced and saw that the shop was hollowed of ponies, save for herself, the nigh-snickering draconequus, and the red-faced owner casting a glare in their direction. A spring-night breeze scratched along her back, and she could see shards of glass scattered along the window sills and in the halos of light that gleamed onto the ground outside. Luna turned back to Donut Joe, her face heating up and coming to a sweat.

This was not pleasant.

“‘Ey, Princess, with all due respect, what’s with scarin’ my customers?” Donut Joe said, visibly having trouble keeping his voice calm.

Luna turned her head slightly to Discord, who gave his toothiest smile and a thumbs up. She snapped back to Joe, and stammered, “I-I-I—”

“Well, look, I'm honored to have you here, Princess, and you as well, Discord. But this is too much, even for me, so I’m gonna have to ask you to leave now. I need to board up the windows and close up until I can get them repaired. And I’m going to ask Princess Celestia for reimbursement.”

“Oh, nononono!” Luna fired up her horn, popped five medium-sized bags of bits into the air, and laid them next to her spilled coffee. “Will this cover the damages?” she asked with tense smile. Joe eyed the bags hesitantly, and Luna swiftly materialized two more bags on top of the pile. “And two so my sister shall never hear of this?”

Joe’s expression became less enraged and more dragged. He nodded and approached his sum, and Luna slipped behind him and out the front door. Discord just gave a small wave before warping out of his seat. He popped just outside the donut shop, to the left of a princess with her eyes to the sidewalk beneath her. Her ears were flattened and casting shadows upon her features from the street lamps.

“Oh, don't look so down in the dumps,” Discord said, waving his claw nonchalantly. “He may seem angry now, but good ol’ Joe always appreciates a good joke. Some property damage has never come between our friendship before.” He snaked his way around the sullen-looking princess. “I must say, you got one hefty set of lungs. I had hoped for some scared ponies at most, shattered windows on the other hoof, you really raised the bar on that one.”

Without a word, Luna raised her head and trotted across the street, where a small park was hiding in a nook between two apartment buildings. She clambered onto a park bench sitting within the shadow of a large oak tree and covered her face with her hooves.

Back at the other side of the street, Discord paused. He looked over at the shadow Luna had entered. “Perhaps that was a bit much.” He thought out loud. An empty street was all that separated them. Every ponies that had been nearby had now disappeared or were hiding inside their homes after Luna's outburst.

Discord opted out of using his magic to teleport over there, or even fly. Instead he simply walked across. He entered the park and stopped a little ways away from the Princess he had spent the evening annoying. “Come on, Lulu, it was not that bad.”

Luna pulled her face up from between her hooves and cocked her head at Discord. “‘Not that bad’? It was ‘not that bad’ for somepony which such a display is expected of him. But I am royalty. I was raised and groomed to know better than to let my emotions get out of hoof and a bully get under my coat.” She laid her head onto her left foreleg, rolled over to face Discord with her back, and stared at the old oak tree. “Now, if you would please,” Luna said, letting out a tired sigh, “pardon this humiliated princess, and leave me be.”

“You know that I'm not gonna do that.” Discord stood still, facing Luna’s back. “You really care about what these ponies think of you, don't you? Well, they are just gonna blame it on my anyway, so you should not have to worry about that. As you said, ‘it's expected of me’” The silence stretched out as Luna remained silent. “I used to be king too, don't know about royalty, but in the beginning way before you and your sister overthrew me, before they really got to know me, ponies did expect things from me: stability, safety, the kind of things you would expect from your rulers. Didn't last long of course, me being me and all that. But I did discover something through that,” Discord looked down at his lion paw. “It's easier to have them expect next to nothing than to let somepony down. Much easier that way.” He let the paw fall down, hanging loosely at his side. “So, I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm sorry for being a big bully, and for humiliating you. Sometimes I forget what it's like to have expectations to live up to. I just wanted to have a little bit of fun with you, and I took it too far...sorry.”

A minute passed before Luna rose from her position and straightened her posture, sitting upright. She closed her eyes as she took a deep breath through her nose and exhaled through her mouth. “Since you did not choke on your words this time, you are sincere. Thus, I accept your apology. However,” her head instantly snapped to Discord, looking him in eyes, “this does not make us friends. Far from it. It will take more a mere apology for us to be friends.”

A small smile graced Discord’s features as he stepped forward. “Oh certainly not. I have been around Twilight and the others for long enough to learn a thing or two about this whole friendship thing.” He sat down on the bench next to Luna. “I still don't like you, and I can't imagine that you like me very much either. But… it's a start, is it not?” He flashed her a small grin.

Luna nodded. She hopped off the bench, and her horn started to glow.

“Well, as… eventful as tonight has been, I must return to my duties. Tonight’s ruckus will certainly have caused a few nightmares to stir.” Luna opened her mouth to add something, but shook her head. “Farewell,” Luna said, before giving a small, half-smile, “you arse.” And she teleported away.

A surprised draconequus remained on the park bench, staring at the spot where Luna had teleported away from. Slowly but surely, a bubbly laugh started growing from deep within his chest. Soon everypony nearby could hear the laughter that emanated from the small park, hidden between two apartment buildings. The morning after, everypony would be talking about a nightly laughter that had been heard throughout half of Canterlot. “Yeah, it's a start.”

Return to Story Description


Login with