Luna’s eyelids fluttered. Her head ached horribly. Groaning, she squinted her eyes shut in pain—and then opened them.
Celestia was staring right into them with an expression that would sour milk. Princess Luna whinnied weakly and tried to scrabble backwards on the cave floor. Trixie sat beside Celestia, alert and interested.
“Trixie Lulamoon has told me everything,” said Celestia.
“You will begin making your amends by helping me right now, ‘dear sister’. We will bring these ponies to my throne room. You will show me every single thing, no matter how small, you have done to their minds to erase knowledge of Miss Lulamoon. You will restore every detail, and I will be there watching. Only then will we awaken them—and you will not be present for that. What did you say?”
Luna couldn’t meet her eyes. “I only did Applejack, sister.”
“We will know soon enough whether I can trust your word,” said Celestia, coldly.
“Strangely enough… I could,” said Trixie.
Celestia glanced over at Trixie, and her eyebrow arched inquisitively…
Twilight’s eyelids fluttered. Before they even opened, she began to kick and struggle, squealing in alarm—only to feel herself pinned down. Her eyes flew open…
Trixie kissed her, hard.
Twilight let out a little scream of shock and relief. Her eyes struggled to adjust to the flood of light, and then she realized she was in Princess Celestia’s throne room.
There was a terrible commotion to her right. Rainbow Dash was waking up, still clinging to Applejack. She looked around confusedly, and then thrashed and flapped, grabbing Applejack’s body, crying out to the stately alicorn, “Princess Celestia, please! Do something!”
Celestia’s smile was fond and playful as she returned Dash’s desperate gaze—and the look on Rainbow’s face when she felt Applejack stir against her was something Twilight would remember for a long, long time. Rainbow came undone, completely, unable even to speak, and clung to Applejack who stirred and muttered “The hell?” and looked around.
Princess Celestia had moved on. Rarity stirred, scowling where she lay, kicking out her hooves as if fighting to rise and rejoin her battle. The sapphire eyes opened upon the throne room, and Rarity blinked in astonishment. She looked around.
“Oh, Applejack!” she cried. “You’re well! I saw you fall, darling, yet I had to fight on! It was awful!”
Hearing this, Rainbow Dash’s eyes went wide as saucers. She bit her lip, and before anypony could react, she’d scrambled back away from Applejack, and sat in a disheveled lump, visibly shaking. Applejack glanced at her, but she scooted off a bit farther, unable to return the glance, blushing brightly.
Applejack’s ears were laid back in shock, and she was about to say something, but then—Rarity saw herself. She’d shoved heedlessly through a tunnel of soft dirt to do battle with whoever had captured Trixie. She’d not spared a moment to think about it from the time she’d entered the cave to the time she’d been laid low by her adversary.
Rarity was a filthy pony.
“EEUUUURGHHH!” she squealed, aghast, stretching out her forelegs in horror.
Applejack burst out laughing. “Hah! Count yer blessings! We’re alive! But what in tarnation happened? Twilight, did you save us all?”
Princess Celestia glanced at Trixie, who bore an expression of impossible smugness and cleared her throat. “e-HEM!”
Applejack’s jaw dropped.
“Aw, you got to be shittin’ me!” she said, and then gulped and looked bashfully at Princess Celestia.
“Twilight Sparkle,” said Princess Celestia, “I cannot begin to apologize enough. Consider my note woefully inadequate… I cannot adequately describe what I’ve learned about the courage, quality, and even the humility of your Trixie Lulamoon other than to say: I love you both, you have my blessing without reservation, and I hope one day I can make up for all the direct and indirect harm my mistrust has done. It is a mistrust that was not in the least deserved.”
“Did she destroy Nightmare Moon?” cried Twilight.
“That wasn’t Nightmare Moon,” said Celestia, sternly.
Twilight blinked. “What? Then what was with all the kidnapping, and attacking us? She killed Applejack!” She looked over at Applejack, who looked wide-eyed back. Twilight blinked again. “Um…”
“We have spoken to Princess Luna at length, Twilight, before waking you. We felt it best that she not be present, to avoid misunderstanding. I’ve satisfied myself that she has restored the memories she tampered with…”
“Restored the what now?” said Applejack.
Celestia smiled wryly. “Indeed. Like I said, we have spoken with her at length about what she did, and why. It shall not go unpunished—we’ve agreed on that.”
Twilight’s ears quirked, confused. “You need to banish her to the moon! Wait—what do you mean ‘we’? I thought you were just talking with a royal We there. You agreed with who?”
“Trixie’s advice and wisdom was sought,” announced Trixie, as if such deference was expected. “Princess Celestia and Trixie agreed upon a suitable fate for her.”
This boggled Twilight’s mind, and the others looked cross as well. Twilight said, “You agreed on… maybe I’m getting ahead of myself. What exactly happened? Princess, I was so sure that you’d kidnapped Trixie…” She paled. “Oh gosh. Um… it was sort of a relief to discover it was really Nightmare Moon? I was like, you! and everything went white…”
“I’m sure it did,” said Celestia. “And yes, my sister misbehaved most appallingly. She wished to remove Trixie, to protect your innocence, Twilight—for my sake. But… well, perhaps Trixie ought to explain some of this.”
At this, the Great and Powerful Trixie looked more abashed. “Trixie apparently carries a rather special heritage. The Princess began by capturing Trixie, tricking her, doing things, but then it got… complicated…”
Twilight’s lip quivered. Her eyes were wide. Somberly, Celestia nodded at her, waited for Trixie to spell it out, and then gently continued when Trixie didn’t.
“Twilight, she told me… that now she knew how I felt. I fear I do not understand my sister at all, and her ways have been mysterious to me, but in this, she spoke the truth.”
Twilight and Trixie continued to stare at each other, wide-eyed and vulnerable, as the realization sank in. The mighty Princess Luna, immortal alicorn, ‘Nightmare Moon’, had fallen in love with Trixie—and things had indeed become complicated.
Trixie’s eyes teared up. She gulped, and set her jaw, and when she was able to speak it was without pretense and unguarded.
“…I told her I already had a princess!”
Then, the ponies were cheering, as Twilight and Trixie embraced with the fervor of drowning mares and kissed. Princess Celestia wiped a tear, and waited for them to finish. Gradually, they came up for air. Twilight looked perplexed, and a little annoyed, and glanced back and forth between Trixie and Celestia.
“So… you’re punishing her, but you’re not banishing her in the moon again?”
Princess Celestia looked very old, all of a sudden. “No, Twilight.”
“You’re throwing her in the dungeon?”
“You know I haven’t got a dungeon, Twilight. No.”
“Maybe you should ask…” began Twilight tartly, and then blinked. “Oh. The Changeling Queen, right. She wouldn’t have told you. I bet Luna knew about those caves too, though! She’s good at knowing about caves. Fine, so you’re not throwing her in the dungeon OR banishing her to the moon again. So then what?”
Princess Celestia gazed levelly at her star pupil.
“She has been sent to her room. She will not leave it, save for ceremonial duties. Princess Luna—is grounded.”
Four sets of pony eyes flew wide in horror.
“What?” shrieked Rainbow Dash and Twilight.
“What kinda…” began Applejack, outraged.
“For how LONG?” demanded Rarity.
“Three hundred and fifty years,” said Princess Celestia, levelly, and they fell silent.
The silence deepened, as they tried to understand. Finally, Celestia helped, by spelling it out, in soft, implacable words.
“She will not see you again, nor will you see her unless you attend her appearance on Nightmare Night—to which I shall accompany her. She will not speak to you again, and you need not speak to her—in some ways that will be merciful. She will not share your life again—nor the lives of your foals, if you have them, nor the lives of your grandfoals…”
Rainbow had jolted at the mention of ‘foals’, and begun shaking worse.
“She will study, and meditate upon her follies, and in that I shall also accompany her. We will learn how to love our subjects without seeking to control or unduly shelter them, and I have no doubt that she will help me. But Luna’s true punishment is one that I will also know, in the fullness of time: she will never see Trixie Lulamoon again.”
Celestia swallowed, overcome for a moment, and her eyes teared up. “Please believe me, that this will torment her as much as you could wish.”
Twilight’s jaw hung open in astonishment at the many implications that had been made, until Trixie nudged it closed with her nose and sealed it with another kiss.
Celestia added, “Trixie tells me she will make sure of that. She will avoid Luna’s appearances entirely. Trixie says, and I agree, that in the long run it will be kinder to her—but in the short run it has hurt my sister more than I would have believed. I am sure we will find much to talk about, and that she will emerge three hundred and fifty years from now a sadder and wiser Princess.”
Her eyes were tragic in a very dignified way as she concluded, “You may go. And… thank you for allowing me to share your happiness, and your lives. They are such beautiful little lives. Perhaps that is why I have sheltered them too much.”
Twilight’s lip quivered, and then she rushed forward and clung to Celestia in a hug, and then all of the ponies were hugging Celestia, who gulped and lifted her chin as she tried to maintain her composure, petting them with a gentle hoof, heaving a great quavering sigh of bittersweet.
“You got to come down for a nice country breakfast, Princess!” cried Applejack.
Celestia nodded. “Yes…”
“Please visit us!” begged Twilight. “I mean it! It was terrible thinking I’d lost you!”
“You won’t lose me again,” vowed Celestia. “I promise, Twilight.”
“Oh, hell,” said Applejack, “I got to see what kinda mess my brother made of th’ farm!”
“We have to go tell Pinkie and Fluttershy we’re all okay!” said Twilight. “And tell Pinkie that she was right all along! Hmph. Again!”
All at once, the ponies were bustling about, heading out of the throne room to return to their lives. Trixie and Twilight ran ahead, side by side, beaming at each other. Rarity chased after. “Wait!”
Puzzled, the two unicorns stopped.
Rarity batted her eyelashes, in spite of her heavily soiled state. “Curses, this is no condition for a lady to be in. I shall beat you two home and bathe immediately… but once I have done that, might I have a private word with you both?”
Following them, Applejack trotted down the hall, unperturbed at seeing the three unicorns leave together—but then she heard the voice from behind her.
It was Rainbow Dash, and Applejack’s heart leapt into her throat. Dashie looked horrible.
“What is it? What’s th’ matter?”
Rainbow’s face worked through expressions of anguish, desperation, apology. She tried to speak, and words wouldn’t come out. Applejack gulped, her heart suddenly pounding.
“Please tell me…”
Rainbow Dash gritted her teeth and forced herself onward—and said it.
“I’m so sorry, Applejack… I didn’t want to do this, but I can’t stand it any more. I love you. I thought you died and something broke inside me and I knew I couldn’t go on…”
Dash’s eyes pleaded. “I realize you have Rarity,” she continued, “but I’ll do anything to win you back because I just need you too much. I can’t live without you. …and there’s some stuff I GOTTA tell you.”
She panted, her heart hammering in her chest, as Applejack’s expression grew quavery, as Applejack responded with country-pony earnestness. “Oh, Dashie! Me too! Ah am SO sorry. Darlin’, I been thinkin’ the same things…”
Applejack began to cry. “I’m sorry I been so stiff-necked. I jes’ hurt, all the time, keepin’ you out. I guess my life’s bigger’n my pride. C’mere.”
She moved towards Rainbow…
“Let me finish, okay? You might not remember this.”
Applejack blinked. “Celestia tole me that Princess Luna took some of my memories, but she said she gave ‘em back… you think she forgot somethin’?”
“I’m pregnant, Applejack. With your foal.”
“That ain’t funny!” yelled Applejack. “Consarn it, darlin’, I’m tryin’ ta say I love you…”
“Stop! I’m not joking! Hear me out!”
Applejack did stop, as if Dash had yanked on her reins, and sat back on her haunches, her eyes wide with shock as Dash explained, awkwardly but persistently.
“I never explained about wings, you only knew it was a kinky thing. We pegasuses ovulate—make babies? from it. That’s where pegasus foals come from. We’re not supposed to do it lightly. Well, I wasn’t doing it lightly. But when we were together… Me with you… You’ve been making me pregnant with that stuff, over and over and over, and it felt so good…”
Applejack’s expression was stunned. “But…”
“Yeah,” said Rainbow. “But we’re both mares, so nothing happened. When it’s a guy, they do that and then they come inside you and water it and the baby grows. We’re both mares, and the magic bit stuff goes away, so you couldn’t finish the job. There didn’t seem to be a reason to talk about it because I knew nothing could happen. I was okay with that.”
Applejack saw how Rainbow looked away—perhaps not so okay with it, but clinging to her image as the wild and slutty pegasus who wasn’t looking to bear anypony’s foals.
Rainbow Dash gulped, forcing herself on, though the words became more and more difficult to say. “And then you made me pregnant one morning, and I did something kinda not smart soon after that, and that seed got watered by… maybe I should say… your blood?”
A terrible silence fell over the two ponies. Rainbow could hardly dare to catch Applejack’s eye. There was nothing more she could say. She kept trying to look up and see Applejack’s reaction, but it terrified her every time. The wide, shocked eyes, the ears back in dismay, the quivering lip and mouth turned down in fear as Applejack tried to understand it all, on the spot, to think through this idea that Rainbow had been wanting her foals. How would that even fit into their lives?
Applejack gulped, and Dash looked up and went pale, for there was something apologetic in her eyes, like she was about to bargain, to say something that might be hard to hear.
Rainbow Dash froze, unable to look away, as Applejack said five words.
“…let’s have jes’ the one?”
Dash’s jaw dropped—and then, they were together, sobbing, clinging for dear life, earth pony body pressed against pegasus and hugging as if they would never let go.
Weeping with joy, kissing, Rainbow pressing against Applejack like she wanted to spread herself over her beloved like pegasus butter, Applejack stroking Rainbow’s body with fierce glorious abandon, unreservedly…
Rainbow wrapping her wings around her lover, shaking with the fullness and depth of her surrender, Applejack reaching up to lovingly fondle and stroke those trembling wings as they enfolded her…
They formed a little pony cocoon, and soft, sweet cries echoed down the hallway as first Rainbow Dash, and then Applejack, surrendered to a realm of love and light—each so overcome with the sensations of fondling her beloved that she shuddered in orgasm which only began with passion and bloomed beyond it into a flood of love to last forever.
And, back in the throne room, frozen in place and seeing the whole thing through the open door, Princess Celestia wept openly for the beauty of it, grateful that even an endless life could contain such moments—and crept quietly off to her chambers, careful to remain unnoticed.
Applejack nuzzled Rainbow Dash’s sweet little face as they cuddled in bed, with Rainbow sprawled against her. They’d rushed straight home to Applejack’s, shut the door, and made sweet love. They didn’t have a magic bit to use, but Rainbow sang cries of ecstacy until she was hoarse as Applejack worshipped her pouting pegasus pussy with lips and tongue, caressing it reverently, drunk on the long-missed sensations and marvelling at what nestled deeper inside Dashie’s womb.
“Still cain’t hardly believe it. Pregnant Dashie. How do you know?”
“That dragon smelled it,” said Rainbow. “That’s why she let me go. I couldn’t believe it. When I realised what it had to mean… oh my gosh.” She clung tighter to Applejack, trembling.
“Easy, there, Dashie. I’m here. I ain’t ever gonna leave you.”
“You said that before!” protested Dash.
Applejack snorted, stung by the words. Then she thought for a moment. “Wull… here I am! Ain’t I? I turned out to be right.”
She looked down at Rainbow, who peered up with big vulnerable eyes. She petted Rainbow’s mane, and Rainbow Dash snuggled against her chest with a little sigh. She stroked down Rainbow’s elegant body, still trying to wrap her mind around the idea that her foal—certainly her blood on account of Big Macintosh, but apparently her own foal from the wing-playin’—was inside Rainbow, growing into a little pony colt or filly.
“What we gonna name it, Dashie, my love?”
Dash made a little hmph, as if to say ‘what a silly question’. “Something awesome!”
“Somethin’ APPLE,” corrected Applejack.
“Whoever heard of an awesome apple?”
“You implyin’ I ain’t an awesome apple?” said Applejack, in mock offense.
Rainbow giggled, and nestled closer.
“More’n that,” whispered Applejack into her ear. A cerulean ear perked up, and Applejack explained, “Y’all givin’ Granny a grandfoal, honey. Uh… great-grandfoal! Yeah. You are an Apple yourself now, jes’ like you was born to us. As our foal is gonna be born to us. So YOU are an awesome apple. Th’ awesomest.”
Dash gave a happy sigh—broken up by little squeaks, for Applejack was stroking her body firmly, and wasn’t shy about it—her wings quivered as the earth pony hoof rubbed up against them in that irresistibly wanton way.
“Thank goodness you’re back. Poor silly darlin’. I hope y’all had at least some nice pony lookin’ after these lovely wings while we was bein’ fools?”
Rainbow Dash blinked, honestly shocked. “What? They’re yours.”
“But—Dashie, we broke up. I kicked you out. You went and fucked all kinds ‘a stuff, you tole me yourself. You LOVE wing nibblin’. What do you mean?”
“Nopony touches the wings,” said Dash seriously. “They’re yours. They were always yours. How could that change?”
Applejack stared at her, and Dashie stared back. Her expression was a little bit stubborn, a little bit hurt, a little bit confused, and Applejack’s world rocked as she made sense of the expression.
She’d thought Rainbow Dash had reacted to their breakup by flying into fits of debauchery, giving herself to every pony or indeed every thing, pony or not, in wanton heartlessness. She’d thought herself justified to move on, believing Dash’s actions revealed a pony who simply could not commit. She’d ordered Dash away in a rage, and she’d gone and tried to love again with another, always assuming her cerulean pegasus was hopelessly lost to her.
Rainbow Dash just kept looking at her with that expression. It was plain she couldn’t even understand what Applejack had meant. The little blue pegasus had run wild with bodysex to try and mask her pain, had been convinced Applejack was gone forever, and still those wings had been her true love’s for life, and she looked hurt and offended that Applejack could even form the idea that she’d give them to another. Her body had been anybody’s playground—but the wings were taken. What else even mattered? And she was not furious, not defensive in that way that suggested a guilty conscience. Rainbow’s hurt was simple and pure: hurt that Applejack could doubt her when the truth was so basic and obvious. Applejack’s world quaked as she came to understand what she’d meant to her Dashie. And all the while, those ruby eyes looked up at her with innocent trust and gentle reproach.
And she’d thought she would teach Rainbow about faithfulness…
“O’ course it wouldn’t change, Dashie,” said Applejack, stroking her rainbow mane. “O’ course not.” Her gentle hoof petted the coarse, brilliantly colored hair—and then strayed to the nape of her neck, finding and caressing that incredibly silky, delicate undercoat of cerulean blue, that softness that nopony else would know was there.
Rainbow sniffed gently, sighed with pleasure and contentment, and nestled her head against Applejack’s chest, closing her eyes.