The new statue of Discord wasn't like the old one. He'd looked happy the first time around, an odd sort of emotion for one about to be sealed in stone. If Celestia remembered correctly, and she knew she did despite of her years, he hadn't been expecting it when it happened. He'd been in the middle of a passionate gloating session, espousing his victory and no doubt believing Celestia and Luna to be cowering before him that the weak little ponies he thought they were. By the time the Elements of Harmony had charged their attack, it was too late for him, and Discord was frozen in time with that look of smug satisfaction.
Did he know in those final moments what was coming? As the stone encased him and took his ability to even think, had it registered in his mind that he'd been defeated?
Celestia would never know those answers, not that they mattered.
The Discord she stood before now was well aware of his loss. He'd spent his final moments futilely attempting to shield himself from the inevitable, a look of pure horror on his face all the way through. This was why Celestia had ordered him placed in a more secluded part of her garden, where visitors were forbidden to tread. Such a face would likely make people uncomfortable, and that wasn't good for tourism. The only ones who could see him now were the Princesses themselves, and Celestia highly doubted Luna would ever come by to see their old arch-enemy.
This left her to come alone, and she do so every day without fail. Even if there were meetings to attend, royal decrees to make, parties to plan, suns to raise, sisters to help readjust to the world, letters from a faithful student to read… somehow, she always had time to visit Discord once a day. That was one time too many as far as Celestia was concerned, but when she stood before the immobile dragonequus, staring into eyes that would never look back, she knew that she just couldn't help herself.
"It serves you right," she said to the statue. "After what you did, all the ponies you hurt, you deserve this and so much more."
Celestia dug her front hoofs into the ground, digging up bits of dirt and rocks. A small dust cloud formed, but didn't raise higher than her legs. Using this as leverage, Celestia stood up straighter, the picture of a powerful ruler, just like on the day she faced him down in a final confrontation.
"Don't think I've forgotten all that you did. Those are memories that will never leave me," she narrowed her eyes. "You were a monstrous being, tormenting everypony in sight purely for your own amusement. You turned families against each other, made close friends into enemies, all for a few cheap laughs?"
Anger welled up inside of her, and it was made worse with the realization that he couldn't even hear her. Every word out of her mouth fell on deaf ears. Nopony was around for at least a quarter of a mile, the gardens were closed off for the day so they could be tended to. The royal gardeners knew to stay away from this area until their Princess left, that was perfectly fine for them. All Celestia needed were the looks on their faces to know that none of them wanted to go anywhere near this area. Even as a harmless statue, Discord left a powerful impression. He was the embodiment of chaos after all. Perhaps they feared that he'd randomly break free if they got too close. It wasn't unfounded, after all.
"I hope you had fun on your last little excursion," she went on, pacing around the statue as if interrogating it. "Because you're never getting out of there again. I'm going to make sure of that. The people of Equestria don't need your brand of so-called fun, they never did. Do you know that ponies died back then because of your pranks? I attended their funerals myself. Did you know? Did you care?"
She paused to catch her breath, but that was slowly becoming difficult as all the torrid emotions began to break free.
"Of course not. Everyone was always a big joke to you… even when we were young."
And there it was. The memories of days long since past, when she'd been a mere filly, albeit one with extraordinary power and responsibility. Back then, before Discord's reign, and Luna's corruption, and all the pain and suffering and loss that came with being an immortal monarch; back when they were just Discord and Tia. They were a pair of unlikely friends who met by chance and formed a tight bond against all odds.
Whenever there was a new spell she had a hard time learning, Discord was right there with her, in whatever secret place they'd chosen to meet at. He was smaller then, younger. His eyes were wide and his snaggletooth not as prominent. He'd been about her size, maybe a little bigger. The only thing about him that never changed with age was the smirk he wore when he teased her.
"C'mon, Tia," he'd say. "It can't be that hard! Don't be such a quitter, that's for boring ponies."
"I'm not a quitter!" Tia would answer indignantly, and she'd keep going again and again and again until she finally got it right.
"Well, that took you long enough," Discord never had a complimentary thing to say, but it didn't bother Tia. She could see it in his eyes that he was happy, that he enjoyed spending this time with her and helping her magic grow.
If only he'd known that same magic would be used against him one day, or that their friendship wouldn't survive his turn towards the darkness. She wondered how he would've felt, knowing that.
Back in the present, Celestia clenched her eyes shut and willed the memories away. They weren't necessary, they weren't wanted. The last thing she needed was Discord's voice in her head, playfully taunting her. She could never think of all those things he used to say in the same light again. Not after everything he'd done.
"I have to wonder… was what we had even real? Our friendship, all the fun we had, my feelings for you…"
She shook her head.
"It makes no difference," she said softly, looking back at his wide eyes. "Because you ruined it, and I couldn't stop you."
The very last time she spoke to Discord on good terms, Celestia had kissed him on the cheek. It had been a spur of the moment decision, but one that she'd been wanting to make for a long time. As a Princess, Celestia had dealt with numerous suitors and potential partners over the years, but every single one had been gently turned down. She decided long ago that she could rule on her own, and with Luna back at her side, this resolve was only strengthened. Besides, someone who would live as long as her would do no good getting involved with a regular pony. Even if she did fall in love, they would grow old and die faster than Celestia could blink. This was the price to be paid for immortality.
So maybe that was why. Maybe she'd fallen for Discord all those years ago because he wouldn't leave her. He would live as long as she did, and they'd been friends for years; they understood each other. Well, Celestia thought they did anyway.
And on that day, so long ago, she had expressed her feelings in the most direct way she could think of. In retrospect, a simple talking to might have sufficed, but Celestia wouldn't have traded the look on his face afterwards for anything, that shocked look as his cheeks went red. Even now, just thinking about it almost made her crack a smile.
He started only a few days later, first innocent humor, but quickly his pranks grew worse. Soon, he had pulled all of Equestria into a state of chaos and anarchy. Celestia would never know what made him do it, right when she was ready to open up to him completely. Years would go by, after all was said and done, and that question would continue to haunt her. It was a long time before she realized that he'd probably been planning it all along, and all that revelation did was hurt her more; make her angrier.
It made her want to take everything out on this useless pile of marble.
"I meant it that day. I really did," she looked away from him. "I really loved you back then. And what do you give me in return? You threw it in my face and tried to destroy my country. You put my subjects in danger. I thought it could work, because of all the time we spent together. I thought you might… if you could have just felt the same way…"
She could hear his voice again in her head, that of the older Discord this time. The evil one.
"Don't be a fool, Celestia," it said. "You couldn't have changed anything."
She sighed and nodded her head in agreement.
"Yes, I know… I couldn't have reasoned with you. Chaos and destruction are your nature. That's why it was foolish of me to have believed we could have had something… I'm glad I learned that lesson before it was too late."
She turned on a heel and started to walk out. Celestia didn't think she could look at him any longer without letting even more impotent anger out. It wasn't becoming of a princess to act in such a manner. She had an important meeting to attend in less than an hour. Not to mention another letter from Twilight and her friends would likely be arriving shortly. Celestia needed to be at top form for these things, they needed her full attention.
They were far more important than a passing fancy from thousands of years ago.
"I won't be coming back tomorrow," she called over her shoulder.
The Discord in her head laughed knowingly.
"Oh, Celestia, don't lie. You know you will."