This fic takes place after the events of The Return of Harmony and Luna Eclipsed. At first it was going to be about making Discord not entirely irredeemable, but . . . well, things got strange. Oh, BTW: TV Tropes: Always Chaotic Evil Always Chaotic Evil? No matter how chaotic it is, wildflowers will still spring up in the middle of nowhere. - Sheryl Crow The moon that shined over the Canterlot sculpture garden was the partly-between-half-and-full phase that is rarely featured in songs and stories. The proper term for it is gibbous, which is derived from the unflattering root of an older word for hump-backed. There is nothing particularly magical about a gibbous moon. It's not full, when the powers of the night are at their highest. It's not new, when it is shrouded in darkness and mystery. It's not half, when light and dark are in perfect balance. It's not even crescent which, admittedly, isn't actually magical per se, but is still stylish nevertheless. A gibbous moon is none of these things. In fact, what it is is something else, a shape that is not a properly defined shape but merely a transitional phase. Such things have the potential to become more. Much more. From the gibbous moon, a shadow detached and came down to earth. It - or rather, she - was a pegasus unicorn with a dark blue coat, her cutie mark a white crescent moon against a pitch-black sky. Her name was Luna, and she was nothing less than the royal princess who ruled the night. She glanced around to get her bearings, then turned to face a statue which was . . . strange. It had the head of a pony, although with the horns of a deer and a goat, and the rest of its body was just as varied, if not more so. Given the other statues' shapes, which were of the classic heroic style, this one was definitely out of place. One might even say its presence ruined whatever overall theme the sculptor had been striving for when she designed the garden. Or perhaps not. The statue's pedestal claimed that it symbolized discord, a lack of harmony. If so, then the sculptor had succeeded admirably. Luna looked up at the statue which, for no discernible reason, had a banana stuck in one ear. The banana held her attention for quite some time, but finally she broke out of its spell and said, "Discord, we need to talk." Naturally, the stone statue did not reply. Still she persisted. "Discord. I have to talk with you." Again, the statue did not respond. It did, however, open one eye slowly and roll it in the general direction of the banana. Luna rolled her own eyes and, after losing a lengthy inner struggle, said, "You have a banana in your ear." Discord's other eye opened and he clapped his hands - or rather, paw and clawed foot - with undisguised delight. He cupped the paw around the banana'd ear and said, "Pardon me?" Luna sighed theatrically. "You have a banana in your ear." "Pardon me?" "Can't you just . . . oh, never mind. You. Ear. Banana." Discord shook his head at the lack of Luna's theatrics. But determined to see the sketch through to its finish, he said, "Sorry, I can't hear you. You see, I have a banana in my ear." Luna waited a beat as if for a rimshot. Then she said, deadpan, "Your other ear isn't plugged with fruit, you know." There was a hushed pause. Then Discord grabbed at his empty ear and began to screw it off. "Thank you for the notice, my dear. I swear I'll misplace my head next." "Discord!" He held the ear he'd taken off and lowered it till it was next to her mouth. "Yes? I'm listening." Luna closed her eyes as she counted to ten, then to twenty, then back down to one. When she opened them again, something resembling calm had reappeared. She looked pointedly at the ear in Discord's paw, then up at his face. "How much longer are you going to continue this charade?" "Charade?" "You know what I mean. They accepted me, after all I did as Nightmare Moon. You don't have to be the villain any more." Discord sighed melodramatically. "Luna, Luna, Luna . . . I fear your forced vacation has shaken your grasp on reality a tad more than you wish to admit." Luna's eyes narrowed as she viewed him with suspicion. "And what might that reality be?" He spread his - hands, for lack of a better term - in an expansive gesture. "I am Discord, Chaos personified. I do not desire to be loved and respected by mere mortals, nor do I revel in their fear and suffering. I am, and that is all that matters." Luna shook her tail, swatting away an imaginary fly. "Discord, I helped you come up with that. I'm not impressed." There was the sound of stone grinding on stone as Discord's snakelike body coiled into a more comfortable position which brought his head on level with hers. "Pfft. That's what I hate about older acquaintances. Always going on about how little you were and how they changed your diapers and such. Speaking of which, what happened to the rest of the gang?" Luna shifted her hooves uncomfortably. "They're gone." "Gone? As in packed up their saddlebags to frolic geriatrically in milder climates, or -" "Gone. I don't want to talk about it." "As you wish." In the long silence that followed, some crickets began to chirp, only to be silenced by Luna's menacing glare. Discord raised his eyebrows at this, but otherwise remained silent. Until he got bored, that is. "So is that it? You came to lecture me on my antisocial tendencies and how I should be nice?" "Would it hurt to try?" Discord gave her a look. It said, more eloquently than words ever could, that there were fundamental differences between them that no amount of discussion would ever bridge. "Look at this world, Luna. It's such a . . . nice place. The seasons come and go, mostly on schedule. You can plan ahead for bad weather. And when something really bad comes along to disrupt things, you have the Elements of Harmony to make things better with the sweep of a rainbow." "And that's a bad thing? Are you saying the world should be cold and uncaring? Do you really mean to say ponies were better off with you in charge, wreaking havoc all over the place?" "Not better, no. Just ready, more prepared. Because, my dearest Luna, you and your sister can't protect them forever." Luna tried not to wince as his words hit their intended target. She wasn't successful. "Things aren't that hopeless, Discord. I've seen the ponies of today. They aren't the lost cause you make them out to be." His head bobbed about in a reluctant yes. "Some of them - I'll grant you that. Twilight Sparkle and her friends. And I do appreciate that you two let them save their world instead of confronting me yourselves. But . . ." "But?" His claw jerked up at the moon. "Once upon a time, the sun and moon rose because unicorns willed them to. If you and Celestria were to disappear, would they be able to do it themselves? Do they even know how that's done these days? And would they know - would they really, really know - why day and night must follow each other?" Luna shook her head. "Discord, we've been over this before." "And I'll bring it up as many times as I need to," Discord said, snarling. "You and your sister? You tamed this world. You tamed the fauna and flora. You tamed the seasons and the weather. You tamed fear, and anger, and I swear you're close to domesticating Death itself. But you'll never tame chaos, Luna. Nor can you make it go away. So why not accept that fact, and let your little ponies do the same?" He jabbed a talon in a seemingly random direction. But Luna knew without needing to check that the Everfree Forest lay that way. "One forest. Just one forest and nothing more. That forest is all that's left of the chaos I unleashed ages ago. But why does she keep it around? We both know she can get rid of it easily enough. Is it a warning of how terrible things might be? Or is it just a straw pony used to show that chaos isn't so dangerous?" "But chaos is much more than that," Luna said, preempting Discord's rant. "And that's why you refuse to give in and be nice. Is that it?" "Bravo," he said, clapping politely. "Couldn't have put it better myself." "But you realize, of course, that what you're doing isn't that different. You may disrupt causality and create general havoc, but ultimately you never win. Is that what you really want?" "Oh, but I might win. If you and your ponies get careless and complacent, I'll see to it that you and everyone you care about - and everyone you don't care about as well - will suffer." "But you'll lose in the end. You always do." Discord smiled. It was the nasty, vicious smile of someone who knows infinitely more than you do and wants you to be aware of the fact. "Chaos always destroys order and order always arises from chaos. That's how it is. How it should be." Luna sighed deeply. Her talks with Discord always came down to this. "But why does it have to be you?" "Merely a process of elimination, my dear Luna. Celestia has an image to uphold. You don't have the temperament. The little ponies simply do not have the power nor the talent. And the others are . . . gone, as you say." He struck a pose in imitation of the other sculptures in the garden. "Besides, don't you think I look just absolutely stunning in marble?" Their conversation had reached its end, and so had her patience. She turned to leave. But before doing so, she said over her shoulder, "We're not done, you know." "I should hope not! I wouldn't give up our little talks for the world. By the way, can you remember which of my forelegs were up when you came? I don't want to alarm the gardener." Luna rolled her eyes. "Both of them. And screw your ear back in. Good night, Discord." "And a pleasant night to you, too, my dearest Luna. Do come back again soon."