The Royal Gardens of Canterlot were calm that evening. The gardeners, having finished their work for the day, had all returned to their homes and waiting families. The wildlife had retreated to the forested area, preparing for the coming night. The sun cast its warm glow across the grounds, turning everything to a wonderful shade of orange.
Princess Celestia found no comfort in any of it.
Her attention was focused on the gallery of statues, or rather, the one spot that had, until recently, been occupied by the stone prison of Discord. His presence there had never made her happy he was there simply so she would immediately know if something went wrong but now that he was gone, her worries only seemed stronger.
"Enjoying this fine sunset, my dear?"
Speak of the devil. Celestia turned to see the (recently reformed, she reminded herself) Spirit of Chaos, sitting at a table that had been an ordinary blue-and-yellow mushroom moments ago. She supposed that she should be grateful that he didn't use any animals to make the chairs.
"I was," she said curtly.
"It is rather lovely tonight," he replied, ignoring her implication. He conjured a tea set and poured himself a cup. "Though I think it could benefit with a few little dabs of green and turquoise, don't you think?"
Celestia closed her eyes. He's reformed now. He didn't mean anything by it.
Discord stretched his arm around the table and patted the chair opposite of him. "Won't you sit, Celestia? I assure you, the tea is perfectly normal in every way. Well, as much as I could make it, anyway."
The princess sat and served herself, carefully eyeing the teacup, pitcher and tea in turn. She also noticed a plate of tea cakes, but she felt she was taking enough of a risk simply sitting down.
The draconequus sipped loudly at his cup and set it down. "Now then. What shall we talk about? Perhaps you wish to know what I've been doing this past week. Or maybe you'd prefer to talk about the old days?"
Celestia knew perfectly well what Discord had been doing in the week since Fluttershy had declared him fit to enter society. As for the "old days"
it was not something she discussed often, even in better company. Even with her sister.
"Or maybe you want my opinion on the Element bearers! They're all good ponies once you get to know them and apologize for nearly ruining their lives. Miss Dash took the longest to fully come around, but once I discovered she was a prankster like me, we hit it off very quickly." Discord chuckled to himself. "Oh, you should have seen it! That little dragon, Spike, he was trying so hard to get the marshmallow cream out of the books, but "
"What do you want, Discord?"
The draconequus looked up from his story. "What do I want? Oh, my dear, you make it sound all so sinister! I'm on your side now, remember?"
Celestia's eyes narrowed. "It doesn't make you any less dangerous."
"Dangerous?" Discord laughed, hopping up from his seat and walking around the table. "You mean to scold me on how dangerous I am? Why don't we take the log out of your own eye, first?"
He reached towards her face and pulled out an uprooted tree, seemingly from her tear duct. "You control the sun," he continued, turning the tree into a pointer and waving it to punctuate his speech. "An essential part of every pony's life. All it would take is for you to simply decide you don't feel like raising it one day, and all of Equestria would be plunged into darkness. All the plants would die, our food would run out, and soon, so would our air. Quite the way for all of ponykind to go."
He grinned as he leaned in closer. "And then there's your sister."
"Leave Luna out of this!" Celestia jumped out of her chair, her horn pulsing with magic.
"Now, now, Celestia!" Discord said, flying around her. "There's no need to get so violent; we're simply talking."
"There is nothing simple about you," she said lowly.
"Perhaps, but you, my dear, are black and white. I can see where this is coming from. And wouldn't all of Equestria like to know."
"You are a menace!" Celestia growled.
"But Fluttershy says I'm reformed! Don't you trust her? You did ask her personally."
"I don't care what Fluttershy says. I should never have let you out of your prison. You should be stuck there forever!"
Her words rang across the empty gardens. Discord smiled.
"And so the truth comes out," he said slowly. "It doesn't matter what assurance you get, how long I stay good, or even if you see it with your own eyes; you will always hate me." He hummed to himself. "Such a poor example to your subjects."
Celestia's magic faded away, but her frown remained. The draconequus floated in front of her face with a taunting grin.
"So let me tell you what I am going to do: I will keep being good. Maybe I'll have a bit of fun here and there, but it won't be anything awful. And slowly, the ponies will see that I am not so bad, and being to accept me.
"But you will never be convinced. No, your anger is far, far too deep inside. And oh, how it will burn inside you every single day." His grin grew wider. "And you will be able to do nothing about it, because we both know there is only one thing that will satisfy you."
He leaned in close and whispered, "Looks like I win after all."
And just like that, he was gone. There was no chaos to be seen. The sun continued to color the world orange; the birds sang their last few songs for the day.
But Celestia trembled, for she knew as well as Discord that the greatest kind of chaos comes from within.