Luna couldn't sleep. It was her first morning in Canterlot, and she was tired after all the excitement of the previous night – being shown her rooms, adjacent to Celestia's own personal quarters, and introduced to her personal guards, cooks, maids, valets, secretaries... there were so many ponies here! - but the sleep eluded her.
She rolled over once again, hoping against hope that she'd find lying on her right side was somehow more conducive to sleep. No such luck.
It wasn't just the shocking twists and turns of the last few days and nights, Luna thought. She'd had no difficulties in Ponyville, falling asleep next to her sister after the party celebrating her release from the Nightmare.
It was the bed, another of those new-fangled innovations the ponies had come up with while she was... away. A proper bed, as far as the Night Princess was concerned, was a nice, fluffy cloud that swayed and shifted with your every little movement, even your breathing, and where you could bury your face in the cool, soft shade from the sun. Or, alternatively, soft and fragrant summer grass beneath rustling tree boughs, where you could feel the life throb through the Earth beneath you. Not this... this thing!
Luna raised her head and looked over the bed for the hundredth time, annoyed and tired. She could appreciate the basic idea of a low-legged, sturdy table you spread some blankets over to sleep on – it had the sort of an ingenious simplicity that characterized everything the Earth ponies did – but this particular bed was a warning example of what happened when you let a bunch of unicorns loose on a good idea.
The bed's iron frame erupted in an orgy of elaborate scrollwork full of decorative curls and curves, with nocturnal motifs – crescents, starbursts, full moons and more – sprinkled over the whole thing. And it was all done in shining silver, polished mirror-bright; Luna could see her own tired face reflected from one star-surrounded full moon at the foot of the bed.
The mattress was another case of unicorn over-elaboration. Not satisfied with simply padding it with straw or wool or ponyhair, they'd crammed it full of little coiled springs that squeaked and shuddered with her every movement, like some mechanical parody of a proper cloud bed. Luna was thankful that they'd spared the pillow from such indignities: it was filled with nothing more complicated or outlandish than down.
Luna rolled over again, to the tune of little creaks and squeaks from the bedsprings, and sighed. It would probably be the best if she gave up on trying to sleep altogether, and stay awake until she crashed...
There was a quiet hoof-knock on the door connecting her bedroom to Celestia's rooms. "Come in," she groaned. Maybe her sister knew some herbal tea or magical concoction that could make her sleep?
The door opened quietly, and Celestia stepped through. She had already raised the sun – Luna had felt the surge of her sister's magic – but the white princess was still in her nightshirt of rose-colored silk. Without the golden crown and jewelry, she looked more like the pink-maned sister Luna remembered from before.
"Are you having trouble sleeping, Luna?" she asked in a soft, benevolent voice.
To her credit, Luna didn't snap at her sister. "Yes," she admitted with a sigh. "This... this bed is bothering me. Do the ponies really sleep in these things now?"
"Only the very wealthy and fashionable ones," Celestia said with a little chuckle. "It's Duvet's Princess-size Royal Deluxe; he's my bedmaker by appointment. I have to admit it is a little bit overwrought, but everypony was so anxious to provide only the best for these rooms..."
Luna sighed again. "Do you sleep in one of these, sister?"
Celestia was smiling openly now. "Goodness, no. I have a very nice, sturdy wooden bed that has served me for better part of three centuries. I take it that you aren't a fan of Duvet's modern finery either?"
"You got that right," Luna groused, rolling over to face her sister. Again, the mattress jittered under her. "Why in Equestria is he the royal bedmaker anyway, if you don't like or use the beds he makes?"
"Because he's the most fashionable and famous pony in his trade in all of Canterlot and Equestria, and my councilors, who awarded him the royal warrant of appointment, wanted to make sure I get only the best," Celestia explained with a curious little smile on her face. To Luna, she looked like a proud, if a bit exasperated mother, who's indulging her children. "Once you've been a bit longer in Canterlot, you will see that at least half of all the fuss and pomp that surrounds me is for my subjects' sake. At least I've managed to tone the court etiquette down from the heights of silliness they took it two centuries ago."
Luna frowned. "So... I'm having to sleep in this travesty of a bed because you don't want to disappoint all those stupid ponies who don't want to disappoint you?"
Her sister laughed. "It is a bit silly sometimes, yes. But you don't have to sleep there, if you find it uncomfortable! Do you want to use my bed...?"
As appealing the idea of curling up nice and snug in her sister's blankets, surrounded by her soft flowery scent was, Luna didn't want to do it. It would mean admitting that the modern world, with all these well-meaning fussy unicorns and other ponies, had defeated her.
"Thank you for the offer, Celly," she said, using the ancient nickname to show that she really meant it. "I'm sure I'll get used to this thing... and if I don't, I can have it thrown off the balcony before tomorrow morning!" Possibly with its maker. I'll have the guards catch him before he hits the ground...
Celestia nodded. "As you wish, Luna my dear. Ah... I think I have something that might help you fall asleep. Just a moment, I'll go fetch it!" The white alicorn vanished back into her bedroom, returning soon with something soft and purple held against her breast with one leg. "Here you are, my dearest sister," she said, looking... bashful? Embarrassed?
Luna took the purple thing with her magic and floated it over to her. Her tired eyes widened in surprise when she saw it for what it was: a purple plush unicorn with soft felt wings, green buttons for eyes and even a little knitted tiara on its blue-maned head.
"Is this... is this me?" Luna asked, turning the toy before her face. It looked old but well cared for, like a loved toy that has been passed down several generations of foals.
"Yes," Celestia said in a curiously small voice. "She's been my companion for a very long time, Luna. I'm ashamed to say I cannot remember the name of the pony who originally made her for me, but I remember her face perfectly well. Some day, if you want to, I can show you her picture in one of the murals of the Painted Hallway..."
Luna brought the plush unicorn close to her face. It had a friendly smile, she noticed. It smelled of her sister, of roses and honey and sun-warmed feathers. "How long is very long?" she asked carefully.
"Nine hundred and eighty-three years, and three days," Celestia said, still in a small voice. "She kept me sane through some very bad times back then, and, well... She means quite a lot to me. More than quite a few living ponies have, over the centuries. I've had her renovated many, many times over the years... There's a reason why I also have the best toymakers of all Equestria appointed to me. I... I think she'll help you to sleep."
Luna blinked away the sudden moistness in her eyes and carefully lowered the plush version of herself to the pillow next to her. "I think so too, Celly," she said. "Thank you for lending her to me."
Celestia nodded again. "You're welcome, Luny," she replied. "My breakfast is getting cool, so... I'll see you again in the evening. Sleep tight, my dear sister." She backed out quietly and closed the door with a wave of her horn.