It has not been long since I returned to Equestria…since the darkness of Nightmare Moon was banished from me. A few years may seem long to one, but compared to a thousand years in exile, it feels like but a moment. Only a breath since I awoke from that nightmare. I awoke to a world far different than the one I had known so long ago. Perhaps in this world, I would find the love and acceptance I felt I had been denied.
The memories of that nightmare, as the queen of darkness, still haunt me. But there are bittersweet memories from before that time…They cause me pain as well. My elder sister has advised me to open up about them – perhaps it will bring me closure. And so it is that I write this tale.
It is the story of the dreamer.
A century ago, I ruled over the ponies of Equestria with my sister. Princess of the Night was my role. With it came many duties – the governing of the stars and moon, the partnered ruling over disputes and crimes in the kingdom, diplomatic embassies to the neighboring kingdoms of night-dwellers – such as the bat ponies and changeling empires. Kingdoms almost vanished now. But one duty I have always cherished is the role as guardian of dreams. It is my duty to walk the slumber of my people, guarding them from nightmares and giving them aid and advice. I spent as many nights as I could as the dreamwalker, for I loved my people, and it was then that I felt I was cherished. Even if they awoke and did not remember I had been with them.
It was on a night like most, so long ago, that I met her.
I walked through many dreams each night, and that night was no different. A potter worried about his marriage, a young guard afraid of failing his exam, and an old grandmother missing her distant daughter, were all dreams I had visited. I had given them counsel and moved on. I passed from the old mare’s dream, through places white and vast, and came to another dream.
From the bright colors I could tell it was a child’s slumber. I passed through the veils and stepped onto soft green grass. Low hills rolled out before me, covered in grass and great fields of flowers. Red poppies, violets and lavender swayed in the breeze. Beside my hoof was a rose bush that bore no thorns. Above the sky was brilliantly blue, a bright and beautiful day. Far more beautiful than even my sister’s day could be, for dreams were where things could be shaped brighter and better.
I was puzzled though. It wasn’t often I came to such a beautiful dream. I came to the dreams of those who needed me – those where the dreams I was led to. Such dreams were usually dark, lonely or afraid. So why was I here, in this lovely place?
I saw no one but the flowers. I started walking, looking around for the one to whom this dream belonged.
I nearly stumbled over her when I found her. I reached the crest of a hill and started down, and happened to glance at my hooves. There was an earth pony filly there, playing in the flowers, and I jolted to a stop to avoid treading on her. I hadn’t seen her because of her color. She was a rosy red hue, with a purple mane, blending in with the flowers. She was young – she didn’t have a cutie mark, and she was very small. She couldn’t be much older than a foal.
She was braiding strands of lavender together, humming happily to herself. Then she noticed me standing over her, and she glanced up with a start. “Oh, hello!” she said brightly.
“Hello, little one,” I replied.
I expected her to ask who I was. But instead she held up the lavender flowers. “I’m making a necklace!”
My brow furrowed. “It’s…very lovely.” I was more puzzled than before. She appeared to be enjoying a very pleasant dream. There were no nightmares about, no anxiety I could sense. I didn’t know why I was in her dream.
The filly seemed delighted by my compliment. She hopped to her hooves. “Would you like it? I can make it bigger to fit you!” She said, waving her tail excitedly.
I couldn’t help but smile. She was such an excitable little thing. “That is kind of you, little one. But surely you would like to save such a beautiful necklace for one of your friends?”
She shook her head. “Oh, I don’t have any friends.” She looked around and smiled. “Just my flowers. They’re very pretty.”
“…Oh.” My ears drooped. I thought of my many nights alone, wandering dreams or watching the lonely sky. I sat down. “We…we don’t have any friends either.”
She hopped up to me, beaming. “That’s okay! I’ll be your friend!” The little red filly held out her hoof. “My name’s Violet Rose. What’s yours?”
I took her hoof and smiled. “We are…I am called Luna.”
I spent a while in that lovely dream, making flower chains and crowns with little Violet Rose. It was a happy night, and when I finally felt the call to other dreams, I was reluctant to leave. I said goodbye to the little filly, feeling downhearted that I had to go. But Violet only beamed at me, and said, “I’ll see you later, Luna!”
I can’t recall the other dreams I walked that night, because for the rest of the night I thought of my little friend and her fields of flowers.
The next night, I raised the moon and scattered the stars in their order. I retired to my room to venture to the land of dreams once again. I thought of Violet Rose, but I did not expect to see her again. Equestria is a vast kingdom, and I had many dreams that needed my help. The fact that Violet’s dream had been a happy one, without needing my aid, was also a strange thing. It seemed unlikely that I would be called there again.
But that night, as I traveled through the white and wandering place, I was shocked to see a familiar dream in the distance. Fields of flowers, poppies and lavender. It was Violet Rose’s dream again.
I went to her dream, and once again found her a midst the hills. She was chasing after a dragonfly, bounding and laughing. I watched her from the top of the hill, amazed that I had returned to her dream again. Then she saw me, and even more wondrous, she called out. “Luna! Hi Luna!”
She remembered me. That had never happened to me before.
I ran down the hill to her, a smile breaking across my face, and she threw herself around my neck. “Hi Luna! Hi hi hi!” she squealed in delight. “I almost got that bug, did you see?”
“I did see!” I said. “It is good to see you, Violet Rose!”
She giggled. “I knew you’d come back! I just knew it! No one else came back, but I knew you would.” She nodded her head firmly, looking proud and happy. “I’m really good at knowing stuff like that.”
No one else came back… “What do you mean, no one else came back?” I asked. My smile faded a little.
“Oh, you know. Mother or Father, or Mrs. Ginger, who used to give me candy when she made a new batch. They didn't come back.” She shook her head solemnly. Then she smiled. “But it’s okay. I only miss them sometimes. Do you want to go play tag?”
I was getting a strange feeling about this dream, but I shook it away. I forced a smile. “Oh, I don’t know if…tag!” I tapped the top of her head and took off at a gallop, and Violet let out a shriek of delight and galloped after me.
Many questions were starting to form, then. Who was Violet Rose? Why had I been called to her dream twice? And why had no one “come back”? But I decided that they could all wait to be answered. In the light of day, I could figure out what was happening here. But for now, I wanted to enjoy myself, and be happy. So I bounded through Violet Rose’s dream, laughing and playing with my little friend. I spent that whole night with her, playing games and picking flowers, even when I felt the call to other dreams. But the call was distant and had little urgency. So I felt that the other dreams could wait a night. I spent this one with Violet Rose.
When the next day dawned and I awoke, the questions returned. Instead of returning to sleep, resting after the night’s effort, I left my bed and called my advisors.
I spent the day searching the census records, and sending out guards to search, all looking for a little earth pony filly named Violet Rose. All day, nothing was found. I began to grow discouraged – it was as if she didn’t exist. My guards came back and reported that they had not found anything either. I was growing frustrated, and my exhaustion did not help.
I slammed another census book shut and dropped my chin onto it with a sigh. How could I find my little friend in the real world, when all I knew was her name?
It was then that I had a thought. I knew more than her name – I knew another’s name. Mrs. Ginger, the pony she said would give her candy. I reopened the census and looked through the shops section. After an hour of study, I finally found it – a ginger candy shop, listed under the ownership of a mare named Ginger. I took note of the location of the store, told my guards that I would be going out, and hurriedly left the castle.
The shop was in a tiny town not far from the castle. I got many shocked and curious looks when I dropped out of the sky into their town square. Usually I was annoyed with such behavior – a few ponies even tried to bow awkwardly – but I had no time this day. The sun was already starting to set. I almost flew down the streets at a run, looking this way and that for the shop.
Finally I spotted it – it had a small sign with a piece of candy painted on it. I pushed open the door and walked inside, a gust of wind billowing behind me.
The yellow mare at the counter stared at me, mouth agape.
I walked up to her, demanding loudly, “Thou art the mare known as Ginger, yes?”
She snapped her mouth shut quickly, bowing. “Y-yes, your majesty. I’m – I’m surprised by your visit, we so rarely get royalty around these parts…”
I cut her off. “We do not have time to banter words, citizen. We are searching for a young filly who is in your acquaintance.”
“Oh, of course! Anything to help, Princess.” She still seemed rattled, but she smiled. “There’s lots of little fillies around town. They all love my shop. Who are you looking for?”
“A red filly, no cutie mark, with a dark purple mane. Her name is Violet Rose. Do you…” I stared, my voice trailing off. “…Know her?”
Ginger had turned pale.
“I…f-forgive me, your majesty.” She stammered. “Are you sure…did you say Violet Rose?”
“How do you know that name?”
I frowned. “It is of no consequence how we came to know her. You obviously know the child. Where can we find her?”
The mare opened her mouth, then shut it, shaking her head. “You have to understand, Princess, I’m just a little confused…”
“Where can we find her?” I asked firmly.
She hesitated and then sighed. “She…she’s Thorn Bush and Foxglove’s daughter. They live on the west side of town…I’ll show you there.”
The candy-maker walked outside and I followed her.
We went down the dirt road, taking a few turns, until we came to poorer part of the town. The homes were thatched cottages with earthen walls. Ginger stopped in front of one of them, rapping her hoof on the wall beside the cloth door.
The sheet was pulled aside, and a blue stallion with a mauve mane peered out, dark-eyed. “Ginger? What’s –” He stopped, staring at me.
Ginger coughed. “Thorn Bush…this is Princess Luna. She’s here to…um…to see your daughter.”
A strange look crossed Thorn Bush’s face. He came outside fully, looking at me wide-eyed. “You came to see Violet Rose?” He asked, his voice strangely husky. “Did – is there something you can do to help?”
“Help?” I asked. “What do you mean?” A pit was forming in my stomach, sinking even lower as the father spoke.
“The healers said they could do nothing for her…we’ve tried everything…but one of the Princesses, maybe, maybe your magic could do something for her, maybe?” He looked up at me, and I realized what the strange look was – it was hope.
“…Thorn Bush…” I said in a low voice. “What happened to your daughter?”
His face fell, and he stepped aside, pulling open the door. I went inside.
It was so small. Just one room. There were two beds against one wall, a barrel of flour against another, and a fireplace in the corner with a crackling fire. In front of the fireplace there was a pink mare with a yellow mane, her back to the doorway. She was sitting beside a manger that had been turned into a bed. And lying in the bed was a small red filly.
The mare didn’t look at me as I walked up to her. Her head was bowed. As I approached, she put her hoof on the edge of the manger, beside the filly. She was half-curled under a thin blanket, her breathing faint, eyelids twitching slightly. She looked like she was just sleeping.
I sat beside her mother, who still didn’t look at me. She was looking at Violet Rose, her eyes shadowed and red from crying. She took a shuddering breath and spoke. “It was a week ago.” She said in a hoarse voice. “Little Rose was playing out in the fields, outside of town. She loved the flowers there. It had been storming the night before, and the hills were muddy. I was taking her lunch, I was waving to her from the top of the hill, when I saw her come running…she slipped on a muddy patch…and there was a stone…” She shook her head and took another breath. “She hit her head on the stone. The healers patched the wound but she still won’t wake up. We’ve done our best to get water down her throat, but the healers…the healers say it’s the sleeping death. They say she won’t ever wake up.”
There was a lump in my throat that I couldn’t swallow. No one else came back. Oh, heavens above…
Her mother finally looked at me, the hope flashing briefly across her tired face. “Princess…I don’t know how you learned of her…but is there anything you can do for our little girl?”
I closed my eyes, breathing slowly. “We…we don’t know.” I said, trying to keep my voice steady. I opened my eyes and looked at her, holding her gaze. “But – but we will do all we can, Foxglove. We will consult the best healers, we will study the old tomes, we will find something. I promise, if there is a way possible, we will find a way to help Violet Rose.”
Tears filled Foxglove’s eyes, and she fell to the ground. “Oh, bless you, Princess Luna!” she sobbed, burying her face in her hooves. “Oh, bless you, bless you!”
I patted the mother’s back, and looked down at my little friend in the bed. I promise, I thought. I promise, my little friend, that I will help you come back to the real world again.
The next few days were a whirlwind of activity. I put everyone I could on the task – guards, advisers, even the delivery colts that work for the castle. We went through every book in the archives. I sent word out to the greatest healers I knew. I sent letters via magic to the distant zebra kingdom, where I had once visited, knowing that they were great in the healing arts. I offered rewards to everypony within reach of my voice – every healer, magician, wizard or doctor. My sister tried to helped as well, realizing how important this was to me. She sent word to her embassies. To all of them we asked but one thing – for a cure for Violet Rose.
And when the night fell, I went only to her dreams.
Days passed with nothing. Ponies came with offers and solutions. I presided over every attempt, but nothing helped. Word came from neighboring kingdoms, offering advice but little of worth. An ambassador from the zebra kingdom came, a great healer, but could do nothing for Rose.
A week passed. And then longer.
Every night I went to Violet Rose’s dreams, and we played together in her fields of flowers. I did not tell her about the search. I feared it would only upset her, when here she was happy. I did not want her to be afraid. And so we spent those nights, those precious nights, simply doing what she wanted to. I took her flying on my back, and she loved the wind and the sky. I told her stories about far away kingdoms, and we played pretend that we were warriors in long ago battles. I turned the sky in her dreams, showing her my night. It was better than my night. The stars gleamed like diamonds and the sky was dark velvet, and the moon shed light like quicksilver on the flowers. And when she grew tired of the night, I took her on my back and changed the dream entirely – I showed her the mountains of the Crystal Empire, the oceans beyond the world’s edge, the foreign kingdoms of the griffons and the zebras, the migration of the dragons and the far off empires that had long ceased to be. Violet Rose loved it all. I spent those precious nights showing her a world that few else could even dream of.
The attempts slowed to a stop. We went through every book and found no help. Curing the sleeping death seemed beyond the power of all, even I, even my sister. I played each night with Violet Rose, and visited her every day in the real world, where she lay growing thinner and weaker.
I felt my heart would break. I shouted at the sky and cursed the magic I bore. I could command the heavens above, I could move the moon and stars at will, I had lived lifetimes untold, and yet what was it worth? What was such power worth, when I couldn’t save one child? I wept and raged at the world, at fate, and at myself.
And then it came. All along I had known it would, but I didn’t…I didn’t want to believe it. I wanted reality to be the dream, where Violet Rose was alright. But it wasn’t. Reality was an evening when a messenger hurried to my room, and told me that my little friend was dying.
I flew to the town as fast as my wings could carry me.
I went to her home, and went to her bedside, where her mother and her father sat holding each other. Violet Rose was still breathing, but only just. She was pale as the snow and smaller than a breath. I laid my wing over her and fell beside her bed, and I threw myself into the vast white place between dreams.
I raced through the expanse, trying to find her dream, calling her name in desperation. And then finally I saw it, in the distance – her fields, her flowers. I dove into the dream and shouted, “Violet Rose!”
The edges of the dream were fuzzy and fading. But the colors were still bright. The poppies and violets were still waving in the breeze. And she was at the top of the hill, watching clouds move across the sky. The little filly turned when she heard my voice, and she smiled, just as brightly as she always did. “Hi, Luna!”
I ran to her, and scooped her up in my arms. “Violet Rose…” I said in a choked voice, struggling not to cry.
She pushed against me, protesting and laughing. “Hey, not so tight! Don’t hug me so tight, ha ha ha!”
I laughed too, and let go of her. She looked up at me, and cocked her head. “What’s wrong, Luna? Why are you crying?”
I could feel the tears, but they didn’t slide down my face. As the dream began to fade, the colors growing dimmer, the tears drifted from my eyes and floated in the air. I shook my head, smiling through the tears. “I’m sorry I’m crying, Violet Rose. I’m just…I’m just sad…because we have to say goodbye.”
“Goodbye?” Violet Rose looked up with wide eyes. “Why? You just got here.”
“Sometimes…sometimes, little one, we have to go…even when we don’t want to…”
“Oh.” She brightened suddenly. “Oh, because you have a job to do, right? Because you’re the Princess.”
I chuckled, rubbing at my eyes with my wing. “Yes…yes, I have a job to do.”
“Can I have a job to do, too?” She asked, standing up excitedly. All around us, the dream was fading to white, and even Violet Rose’s colors were starting to pale.
I smiled, and nodded, and picked her up in an embrace. “Your job…Violet Rose…is to never stop smiling and making everyone happy. Just like your beautiful flowers. No matter what, even if I’m not there anymore. Do you promise?”
She nodded, putting her hooves around my neck and her face in my shoulder. “I promise.” She said. Her voice was growing quieter, more distant. “Do you think that can be my special talent, Luna? Making people happy?”
I held her tighter. “It already is.”
She looked up at me and smiled, fading away like mist. “I love you, Luna!”
“I love you too, Violet Rose.”
I held her as tight as I could, but she faded, and faded, and faded…and then Violet Rose was gone.
I awoke. And I wept.
I never forgot my little friend…my beautiful little dreamer, whose dreams never ended. Even as pain and envy turned my heart to darkness, I still never forgot her smiling face. I will always remember her dreams, where everything was better, and we played in the fields of flowers.
Sometimes…when I dream alone…I dream that I see her there. Just as happy and smiling as she always was.
Hi, Luna! Hi!
I wish I was there with you, so we could play again.
But don’t be sad. I’m happy.
That’s my job, right? My special talent? Being happy, and helping others be happy too.
I’m doing a good job, for you, Luna.
And when I wake, I believe her.
Somewhere, out beyond my night and Celestia’s day, there is a place of light and flowers and happiness. That is where Violet Rose is.
I know it.
After all, she promised. And friends don’t break their promises.