GREEN   95    15856   86.12 KB

Embracing the Night 2

By AutoPony
Created: 18th December 2020 11:05:12 AM

  1. >For the better part of an hour, you accompany Luna on her trek through the castle, checking over various items relating to her duties as well as a quick guard inspection.
  2. >That bit was a little unsettling, if only because of the inescapable wariness the guards possessed in reaction to your presence.
  3. >But Luna reassured you, it was normal for them to be on alert any time there were visitors in other areas besides the main atrium and throne room.
  4. >Your exotic nature probably doesn't help matters, either.
  5. >Even so, Luna mentions - albeit in a vague manner - they should expect to see you more in the future.
  6. >But after that, it's been a matter of Luna showing you around the castle, as she had suggested when departing the dining room.
  7. >Frankly, the two of you haven't even trekked half of the castle.
  8. "So, I have to ask. Have you gotten lost in here?"
  9. >Luna chuckles just a bit, glancing over at you out of the corner of her eye as she keeps her head forward.
  10. >This whole time, you haven't seen her smile diminish in the slightest - you're beginning to wonder if her face is stuck like that now.
  11. >"I have lost my way on more occasions than I would care to admit," she replies, sounding just a bit embarrassed. "Fortunately, teleportation spells work quite well when I know where I want to go, and am able to visually picture my destination."
  12. "You could probably ask for directions, too," you note, passing a guard posted at the end of a hall.
  13. >You are correct. I will admit, I was a bit stubborn in that regard. But startling those present in the room to which I teleported quickly became counterintuitive to my goal of acceptance."
  14. "Don't get me wrong, I understand why it bothers you to ask - I know I would feel silly asking how to get around my home if I forgot the layout. But you were gone for a long time, I wouldn't expect anyone to remember something over such an extended period."
  15. >Another slight chuckle from Luna follows your musings.
  16. >"You would be quite surprised what I can remember, and how far back I am able to reminisce," she replies, her voice revealing a hint of playfulness. "But I have no memory of this castle before my banishment, for this castle did not exist."
  17. "Princesses without a castle? Now I've heard everything," you joke.
  18. >But the stupid response gets the desired effect, as Luna forgoes a chuckle and instead erupts into a small giggle fit.
  19. >"Might I suggest it is the princess that makes the castle special, and not the castle that makes the princess?" she quips. "But to be truthful, this was not our first castle. Canterlot was little more than a quaint town years ago, which only sprang into the thriving city it is now when this was built. Nay, our first castle was, in fact, closer to Ponyville, within the recesses of what is now the Everfree Forest."
  20. >Ah yes, the Everfree.
  21. >When you were building the little cabin you call home, you ventured in a short way to scout for trees that would provide straight wood for the walls.
  22. >That place is beyond creepy - unlike the rest of the surrounding area, the forest gives off an unworldly, almost sinister vibe.
  23. >You didn't spend more than ten minutes in there before backtracking.
  24. >Good thing, too - Twilight Sparkle flipped her lid when you told her about it, before going on a spiel about all the dangerous creatures and plants that call the Everfree home.
  25. >As a result, you now view Luna's claim with a fair amount of skepticism.
  26. "Why would you want a castle in the middle of that place? According to Twilight, the forest is virtually uninhabitable due to the dangerous animals."
  27. >"Indeed, though I must point out you missed the key phrase in my response," Luna clarifies. "At that time, the Everfree was little more than a thicket of trees and foliage to pass through en route to our castle. It was not until much later, after Celestia departed and made Canterlot her new residence, that the Everfree became what it is today."
  28. "I have so many questions now," you exhale.
  29. >"Feel free to sate your curiosity, I do not mind."
  30. "But you have things to do tonight, don't you?"
  31. >"Not until the middle of the night - while I will check to ensure my sister has taken care of all outstanding items, I am certain she left my night free aside from dream realm duties," Luna replies. "Nights are often quiet, hence why I have been able to visit you out in Ponyville."
  32. "What do you do otherwise? And you're telling me you don't deal with dreams all night?"
  33. >"Sometimes I merely wander the halls, perhaps gaze at the night sky, or do some reading, if there are no matters to settle. To answer your second question, dreams only happen well after midnight. Is that not the same as the world to which you once belonged?"
  34. "No. I don't know the whole scientific explanation of it all, but dreams can happen whenever," you tell her, feeling a bit stupid at your inability to clarify further.
  35. >Luna doesn't seem to mind.
  36. >"It is quite amazing how different our worlds are even in the most trifling details," she replies. "But before we delved into the nuances of dreams, we were talking about my former home and the results of the fateful night. You had some questions, yes?"
  37. >You find yourself surprised Luna willingly brought up that topic again.
  38. "Did our talk - well, my listening, I guess, did that really have so profound an effect on you that discussing your past doesn't hurt?"
  39. >"I would not say I am completely free from pain or shame. But the edge has been quite dulled by opening up to both you and my sister," she replies. "In a sense, I am more than willing to discuss such matters with you because I have felt much burden lifted off of my soul."
  40. "Alright then, I'll go back to what confused me - why did Celestia pull up stakes and build another castle here in Canterlot? Too many painful memories?"
  41. >Luna is quick to shake her head negative.
  42. >"I did not go into detail, but before I was banished, the tension between my sister and I became physical in nature. The end result was irreparable collateral damage to our home - she had no choice but to abandon it."
  43. >Damn.
  44. >"To answer the other question I suspect you were ready to ask, nopony truly knows the reason for the Everfree's rebellious nature. There are theories, but no solid conclusion that is agreed upon."
  45. "You're good. You sure mind-reading isn't one of your many talents?"
  46. >"I am sure, though I dearly appreciate your thinly-veiled compliment," she replies with a jolt of laughter.
  47. >She abruptly unfolds a wing to halt your progress as she stops beside a door in the hall.
  48. >"Apologies if I startled you, we nearly passed our destination," she says.
  49. "You're fine. What is our destination?" you ask, staring at the plain door.
  50. >"This is the study my sister and I share. Decidedly less elegant, but just as important as the throne room."
  51. "So, paperwork."
  52. >"Indeed," she replies with a smirk. "I will not be long, but perhaps you can ask my sister for some clarity on her idea while I am indisposed? Her room is toward the end of the hall, across from my own room. You will not be able to miss them, as each is marked with our respective cutie marks."
  53. "Yeah, I'm kind of curious how this is going to work out as well. Should I just go ahead and tell her we agree?"
  54. >"I feel it best we do it together. I sense my sister wanted to talk to you one last time this evening as she departed the dining room, so there is no need to be afraid. I will join you once I am finished perusing today's reports."
  55. "Okay, don't have too much fun," you tease.
  56. >It gets a smirk out of Luna as she opens the door and slips inside the room.
  57. >Meanwhile, you follow Luna's directions, shuffling down the hall as you keep an eye on the doors.
  58. >Sure enough, as you get toward the end of this corridor, a door emblazoned with a gold and orange sun appears on your left, directly across from one marked with a crescent moon.
  59. >Using a bit of caution in case she has already fallen asleep, you lightly rap on Celestia's door.
  60. "Princess Celestia?"
  61. >Despite the lack of noise on the other side, the door swings open on its own, allowing you to peer inside.
  62. >At the far end of the room, beside a cozy fireplace, Celestia lays atop a rug, her horn illuminated.
  63. >"Anon, come in," she beckons happily.
  64. >So many questions about what's being asked of you flood your mind in the short distance between the threshold to her room and when you take a seat next to her.
  65. >"I can only assume Luna is being thorough and ensuring there is nothing left to settle before the end of today," she says, her voice betraying her confidence.
  66. "Yes. Are you sure neither of you are mind-readers? Both of you are good at assumptions," you tell her.
  67. >"No, I just know how my little sister is - she's always been meticulous in her approach," Celestia replies. "But, I'm glad she has done so, because it gives me a chance to talk to you one on one after tonight's proposal. You must have some questions."
  68. "I do. How is this even going to work?"
  69. >Much like Luna does, Celestia tilts her head in curiosity.
  70. >"That is a little too general for me to answer. What do you mean?"
  71. "I mean, Luna lives here in Canterlot, I live out in Ponyville," you explain.
  72. >Celestia nods in understanding, though her smile tells you this is a simple matter in her mind.
  73. >"There are choices. You are more than welcome to take up a semi-permanent residence her in the castle if you would like, or I can make arrangements for you to have a chariot available to make a trek to Canterlot whenever you desire."
  74. >Her smile grows just a bit more as she pauses for a moment.
  75. >"But you should as Luna for her input as well. I believe Ponyville will be a better place for her to get comfortable. If that is the case, she can teleport or fly to Ponyville, or I'm sure some other sort of arrangement can be made."
  76. >There's something behind that grin and comment, you just know it.
  77. "Such as?" you press, making it clear in your voice you found her comment ominous.
  78. >Celestia shakes her head, letting her facade slip away as she suddenly looks less mischievous.
  79. >"Sorry, I'm not trying to be a pain," she says apologetically. "I just can't help myself but be happy at the moment and have a little fun."
  80. "While I appreciate the apology, and I'm not really upset, it's still obvious there was something behind that comment. So spill it."
  81. >Celestia looks a bit taken aback by your pressure, causing you to realize how thin of a line you're walking here.
  82. "That came out more forceful than I meant," you admit sheepishly.
  83. >"No worries," she says, waving a hoof. "But... can you keep a secret, Anon?"
  84. "I - yes, of course," you agree, feeling just a tad uneasy with her sudden shift.
  85. >"All I ask is you don't take this the wrong way or change your outlook," she says, almost pleading with you. "But I found it endearing how Luna insisted on sitting across from me."
  86. "Why?"
  87. >Celestia's eyes snap to the doorway behind you, then back.
  88. >"Luna has traditionally sat beside me, not across." she says, barely above a whisper. "In fact, that is the first time in quite a while I can recall her sitting anywhere else during a meal."
  89. >Well.
  90. >That could be nothing other than a desire to make you feel a bit more welcome.
  91. >Or it could imply a great deal more.
  92. "So... what's your opinion, or your thought process on that little tidbit?"
  93. >"I don't have an opinion on it other than she views you as somepony that she can open up to," Celestia says. "Luna has a lot of trust in you, and just from this morning's discussion and mentions of you, she cares a great deal about your well-being, considering how caring you were toward her - a complete stranger, due to the circumstances. Aside from myself, I don't believe I have *ever* seen her this open with somepony at any other point of our existence."
  94. >A knock on the door distracts you from putting any more thought into this conversation.
  95. >"Sister, I trust you are awake and accompanied by Anon?" Luna's muffled voice inquires.
  96. >Celestia's horn once again illuminates with golden energy, as the door eases open.
  97. >Luna joins the two of you in short order, merely sitting upon her haunches rather than laying down like her big sister.
  98. "Well, that was quick," you muse bluntly.
  99. >Luna head tilts as she gives you a cheeky grin, her mane inadvertently covering up part of her face as a result.
  100. >"You did not take me for a sluggish reader, did you?" she asks.
  101. "Not at all. I figured there was a lot more to go through than five minutes' time."
  102. > Luna's gaze falls to her sister, who beams graciously.
  103. >"Did you find anything noteworthy that I missed or felt needed to be mentioned?" Celestia asks.
  104. >"Aside from a slight miscalculation on Baltimare's proposed transit system redevelopment that results in a cost of three fewer bits, no," Luna says. "I left the aforementioned document in the center of our desk, with accompanying note and correct math."
  105. >"Very good, thank you sister," Celestia chirps. "Judging by Anon's question and a short discussion, I take it you have more than passing interest in undertaking what I suggested?"
  106. >"You are correct - I believe we have agreed to the idea," Luna replies, a serene smile gracing her face.
  107. >You nod in agreement.
  108. >Celestia loses her composure, giggling as she claps her hooves together.
  109. >"Oh, I cannot tell you how happy I am to hear you both ready to take on this opportunity," she gushes, finally coming down from her ecstatic high. "Luna, all I ask of you is a progress report once a week."
  110. >"Like Twilight Sparkle's friendship reports?" Luna asks.
  111. >"Exactly like those, yes," Celestia confirms. "Anon, you are more than welcome to contribute to these correspondences as you see fit, or write your own."
  112. "Speaking of Twilight - if you don't mind me asking, did you get her straightened all out?"
  113. >Celestia's smile grows devious at this inquiry.
  114. >"I responded to her letter, yes," she says. "But I don't think it was anywhere close to what she was hoping to hear."
  115. "What did you tell her?"
  116. >"Allow me to answer your question with one of my own - did you happen to see the letter I sent you?"
  117. "It got shoved in my face, but I didn't actually get to read it, no," you admit, feeling a bit awkward.
  118. >Celestia nods, her face quite stoic and serious at this juncture.
  119. >"That letter was addressed directly to you - the only reason I sent it to Twilight was because I had no other way of relaying that correspondence to you. That being said, I merely let Twilight know that you and I were discussing personal matters regarding my sister."
  120. "I'm sure that won't sit well with her at all."
  121. >"No, you are probably right," Celestia agrees. "But I see it as a way for her to learn a lesson about opening private messages without permission."
  122. >Boy, you're going to have to get to Twilight's first thing the next time you get back to Ponyville, lest she have an aneurysm.
  123. >But with that thought, your mind shifts gears again, back to the task at hand.
  124. "Okay, so - I understand you want me to help her get more comfortable in social situations and make friends and whatnot, but at what point does this end and be considered a success?"
  125. >"No need to worry about deadlines or what is considered success, Anon," Celestia replies. "Just as my student has undertaken this journey, the focus is to just overall find happiness and comfort amongst others. To be quite frank, this is a neverending lesson, but you will both know when Luna is ready to return to her full duties."
  126. >Unlike the rest of the night thus far, Luna looks visibly worried.
  127. >Her elder sister is quick to notice.
  128. >"Luna, all I ask is you try. I don't expect you to make an overnight change or miraculously feel comfortable with the limelight, take your time and get acclimated as you see fit, okay?"
  129. "I'm going to be there the whole way, Luna. It's not like you're being thrown to the wolves," you tell her.
  130. >The comment snaps Luna out of her trance, as she blinks for the first time in what feels like minutes.
  131. >"Thank you, Anon. I very much appreciate your support and willingness to help me," she says.
  132. >Celestia nods, giving you a slight, knowing smile.
  133. >"You are both free to mingle amongst Canterlot's population, or Ponyville." she says. "Personally, I have already explained to Anon I believe Ponyville will be a bit easier to get acclimated, considering its more laid-back and welcoming atmosphere."
  134. >Glancing over at the fireplace, Celestia stifles a yawn.
  135. >"I suppose for me, it is just about time for shuteye. Luna, as of tonight, your only duty is to watch over the dream realm. Other than that, let yourself open up, and I'm sure you will find how easy it is to make friends."
  136.  >"Get some rest Celestia, thank you for this opportunity," Luna replies, closing the distance between the two of them and embracing her sister in a gentle wing hug.
  137. >"Goodnight, Luna."
  138. >You give the solar princess a polite nod and follow Luna as she departs the room.
  139. >"Anon."
  140. >Just as you're about out into the hall, you hear Celestia call your name.
  141. >You turn back to find her eyes locked on you, warm and benevolent.
  142. >"Thank you for helping me talk to my little sister," she says quietly, her voice full of emotion. "If there is anything you need, do not hesitate to ask. I am already in your debt, and I am sure I will be for quite some time."
  143. "You're welcome," you reply, unsure of what else to say.
  144. >She is apparently satisfied with this answer, as she bows her head.
  145. >You give her a heartfelt smile, then set after Luna, hearing the door close behind you.
  146. >Luna has not made it too far, as she dawdles for you to catch up.
  147. >Her body language betrays the tension she is currently consumed by, as you can only assume the task at hand is truly setting in.
  148. "Luna, are you alright?" you ask as you join her side.
  149. >"I am," she replies, biting her lip.
  150. "Are you really?"
  151. >Her nostrils flare as she lets out a deep exhale, her eyes set straight ahead and focused.
  152. >"The true reality of what my elder sister has requested of me is beginning to set in," she mumbles. "It is a little overwhelming."
  153. "You're overthinking it," you console her. "I understand it, but you have to look at this in steps, not the whole end picture."
  154. >"I just do not know if I can actually go through with this."
  155. "You did with me, didn't you?"
  156. >Luna is dead silent.
  157. "Luna?"
  158. >"Yes, I did," she admits reluctantly.
  159. >It's almost physically painful to see how Luna has gone from jovial and confident only moments ago to retreating back into her shell.
  160. "Luna, look at me."
  161. >Both of you stop, Luna finally breaking her tunnel vision to turn and look at you with those captivating turquoise eyes.
  162. "You can do this, Luna. Look how far you've come in just a matter of days. I mean, you saw how thrilled your big sister was that you had befriended me, and you approached her to talk about the past between the two of you. Even she wasn't confident enough to do that. That has to mean something to you, right?"
  163. >That reluctant, uneasy facade cracks just a bit with your pep talk, finally getting the slightest hint of a grin from her again.
  164. >"It does, you are correct," she says. "You are absolutely correct, all of what you have just said. I do not know what I would do without you, Anon."
  165. >The last bit comes out in a content sigh, instantly catching your attention.
  166. >Maybe you're reading too much into it, though.
  167. >But Celestia's comments tonight also flood into your mind...
  168. >'I don't believe I have *ever* seen her this open with somepony at any other point of our existence.'
  169. >And the whole dinner thing...
  170. >No, no, slow down.
  171. >Don't make an idiot of yourself.
  172. "I - I don't really know what to say to that, Luna," you reply, dumbstruck.
  173. >"I did not mean for that comment to come out... it came out differently from what I had anticipated," she mumbles. "I merely meant - I mean to say your friendship and encouragement has been immense in my progress."
  174. "Right, I knew what you meant. It's okay," you say.
  175. >Both of you stand there for a moment, waiting for something to be said.
  176. >By anybody.
  177. >Or something to happen.
  178. >Anything.
  179. >For fuck's sake, say something.
  180. "So, do you think you want to start out in Ponyville, or Canterlot?"
  181. >Despite her nervousness about this friend thing only moments ago, Luna now seems relieved to hear it brought up again.
  182. >"My sister may be right, I believe Ponyville would be a bit easier to begin these... friendship lessons," she says, feeling the oddity of those last words slip from her tongue.
  183. "That sounds like a good idea to me, too," you agree. "I have to believe Canterlot is rather high-class and haughty. No offense, it's just what I've seen in the past from bustling cities."
  184. >"Your assessment is surprisingly accurate, Anon," she replies with a smirk, her guard finally beginning to fall once again. "While I can not say on the more socially casual side of those remarks, I have dealt with more than a few of Canterlot's elite that have visited my night court, and consider themselves of high stature. It can get quite grating at times."
  185. "Well, I suppose that makes it easy to decide how to handle this then. I don't have to go anywhere. You can just teleport or fly down from here, right?"
  186. >Luna is quick to nod her head with a smile.
  187. >"I can do that."
  188. >You clap your hands together, feeling a sense of accomplishment.
  189. "In that case, we've already got tomorrow settled. Let's just enjoy the rest of the night, shall we?"
  190. >Luna looks positively delighted with your suggestion.
  191. >"Your words are like music to my ears," she beams proudly. "Come, there are more sights to see!"
  192.  
  193.  
  194. >As you slowly become aware of your surroundings, you aren't quite sure where you are.
  195. >You remember much of last night, from the discussion with Celestia to calming Luna's mind, and a few hours of light conversation with the night alicorn as the two of you traversed the castle.
  196. >Eventually, Luna had to begin her watch of the dream realm.
  197. >She suggested a visit to the library, knowing you enjoy reading.
  198. >Which you did so, but beyond that...
  199. >This feels too comfortable to be a library chair or the floor.
  200. >You feel like your whole body is gently suspended by a cloud.
  201. >Realizing there's a simple way to settle this conundrum, you ease open your eyes, fearful of the sun's rays blinding you, wherever you are.
  202. >Fortunately, your eyes aren't blinded, finding that your surroundings are at a tolerable light level.
  203. >The room around you is dotted with cool colors, varying shades of royal blue, violet, and black, with a few accents provided by soft white hues.
  204. >Focusing on where you lay, it's both the oddest and most comfortable bed you have ever experienced, the frame in the shape of a crescent moon that curls above you.
  205. >Carefully, you prop yourself up on your arms stretched back behind you, the silky soft linens atop you slipping down off of your white button-up shirt you still wear.
  206. >This...
  207. >This is obviously Luna's room.
  208. >But when and how the hell did you get here?
  209. >The sound of a door latch clicking open distracts that thought, as a door off to the right creaks open slowly, allowing your guest to peek through the gap.
  210. >Luna.
  211. >She quickly takes note of your awareness, her face lined with a welcoming grin as she cracks open the door wider to allow herself to slip inside.
  212. >"Good morning," she says softly. "I trust you slept well?"
  213. >You rub your eyes as you take a deep breath, exhaling with a yawn.
  214. "Yeah, I did. I don't remember coming here, though," you admit.
  215. >"I would not expect you to recall such an event, considering you were fast asleep in the library," she says with a light giggle. "I came to check on you during a lull in my nightly watch, and you had passed out amidst the pages of a book."
  216. "That makes a hell of a lot more sense than sleepwalking to... I have to assume this is your room."
  217. >"It is," she replies with a nod. "I had considered taking you to one of our many guest rooms, but I thought you might enjoy the higher level of comfort my bed would offer. After all, it is not like I was using it during the overnight hours."
  218. "It's the most comfortable thing I've ever slept on, feels like I'm floating on a cloud," you quip.
  219. >"That is because you *are* atop a cloud," she replies. "I wholeheartedly agree, there is no comparison."
  220. "So you just lasso a cloud with your magic whenever you want to sleep?"
  221. >"No," she says with a laugh. "It is a simple spell that keeps this particular cloud grounded and in place. "It is the pegasi abilities with which I am imbued that allowed me to - that word you used, what was it?"
  222. "Lasso," you reply. "Like, you know, a loop of rope used to catch something? In this case, just meaning you caught it."
  223. >Luna ponders the thought for a moment.
  224. >"I do not believe I have heard that term, nor have I witnessed such an event," she notes. "But you will have to excuse my momentary distraction, there are still times when I come across a word or phrase that is yet foreign to me."
  225. "You don't have to apologize. That's just part of what makes you, well, you. I find it endearing, to tell you the truth."
  226. >To her credit, Luna tries to keep a straight face as her face grows red.
  227. >Yet you really didn't mean to do that.
  228. >Your mouth just ran with that one.
  229. >"Why is it you like doing that?" Luna asks innocently.
  230. "Doing what?"
  231. >"You know, that. I thought it was by accident at first, but - I do not know how to describe it. You just find ways to make me blush."
  232. >Truthfully, it was on accident, the first few times.
  233. >Now it's a drug you cannot be without.
  234. >Luna is just...
  235. "It's a good look for you."
  236. >The response gets a hearty laugh from the night princess.
  237. >"I appreciate the compliments," she says, eyeing you. "But I do hope this will not be a common occurrence while we are touring through Ponyville today."
  238. "I won't, you have my word," you tell her, straightening up at once.
  239. >Luna nods in approval, before eliciting a light hum as she shuffles over to a nearby dresser and removes her tiara.
  240. "I'm guessing you're going to get a little bit of sleep before we get going, huh?" you say, taking note.
  241. >Surprisingly, she shakes her head, even as she steps out of her ornate hoof pieces.
  242. >"No, I am ready for the day ahead of us," she replies, her voice surprisingly upbeat and optimistic considering the anxiety she felt last night. "But it occurred to me during my duties last night if I am to develop my social skills on a casual level, looking the part as somepony open to approach could only serve to be a positive change. So, I have decided to not only forgo my royal attire, but shed my title as well."
  243. >Luna takes off her chest piece before sauntering over to a mirror on a nearby desk.
  244. >"As of this morning, I am merely Luna," she says.
  245. "But I already call you Luna, what do I do?"
  246. >She turns back to you, smirking at your dumb joke.
  247. >In all reality, you don't know what to say regarding her sudden shift in attitude.
  248. >It really drives home the fact that Luna is still trying to find herself after so many years in isolation.
  249. >But she is motivated - a good start.
  250. >"I assume you have plans for the day that lies ahead of us?" Luna asks.
  251. "You would be correct," you say, dragging yourself out of bed and to your feet. "The first stop is to see Twilight Sparkle because I'm sure being left out of the loop is driving her nuts. As soon as she hears I'm back in town, she will try to track me down anyway."
  252. >"I understand. But where will you be taking me after that?"
  253. >Is she serious?
  254. >If the lack of emotion upon her face is any indication, this isn't a joke.
  255. "You're coming too, Luna," you clarify. "It is the perfect opportunity for you, considering Twilight is still learning her way."
  256. >Now you see some emotion shining through, as your explanation causes her to cringe in reluctance.
  257. >"I am not sure if I am ready for that confrontation," she replies uneasily.
  258. "What confrontation are you expecting, Luna?" you say, unable to hide the disappointment from tainting your voice.
  259. >You really aren't surprised by her reaction, but you had hoped the confidence she had been exuding up until this point would overcome her irrational fears.
  260. >"Anon, we tried to thwart her attempts to save us - nay, we tried to take her life!" she cries out.
  261. >You're blindsided by her outburst, not to mention the sudden odd speech.
  262. "'We'?"
  263. >Luna only now takes note of her words, averting her eyes as she turns beet red in embarrassment.
  264. >"Apologies, my emotions are beginning to get the best of me," she laments, carefully choosing her words this time. "I tend to revert to a more archaic dialogue when caught in the heat of the moment."
  265. "You don't need to apologize, but Luna, Twilight doesn't hate you," you retort. "I know you think she does, but when I had mentioned she visited me, she was curious, more than anything. And assumed I had done something wrong."
  266. >"Why did she believe you had done something wrong?"
  267. "Because you are rarely seen out and about. Hence the need to socialize," you say, completing the cycle for her.
  268. >But Luna is stubborn, evidenced by her skeptical demeanor as she eyes you as if looking for a way out of this.
  269. "Luna, do you trust me?"
  270. >"Well, yes."
  271. "Do you think I would put you in a bad situation for my own amusement?"
  272. >"Of course not!" she exclaims, mortified by your question. "I just agreed that I trust you."
  273. "Then believe me when I say this is the best way to get started. She tried to catch you to nights ago when you dropped in for another visit, and you hid from her."
  274. >Reminding her of that event breaks through to Luna, as she drops her head in shame.
  275. >"I just - I feel awful about what I did to her, what I could have done. I do not know if I can face her again."
  276. >"Luna, this is the first time you will be seeing her while of sound mind. You said yourself, what happened and dwelling on it all those years consumed you. If you're that worried about this, it means it's even more important you two meet, because not only is this a friendship lesson, it's a matter of confronting your past and making peace with it."
  277. >You at least get her to look up at you, though her head remains low.
  278. "I'll remind you again how you felt so relieved when you talked to me, and talked to your sister about this - don't you think this will offer closure as well?"
  279. >"There is a chance," she admits quietly. "But what if she starts asking questions of me, why I did it, why I was so wicked towards her and her friends?"
  280. "All you can do is be honest," you console her, squatting down to her eye level. "But I think you're going to be surprised at how forgiving Twilight truly is, especially considering she had a hand in reforming you."
  281. >"Hoof."
  282. "What?"
  283. >"We do not have hands, we have hooves," Luna says, biting her lip as she tries to keep a straight face.
  284. "I'm going to assume by your wisecrack I've gotten through to you," you say, narrowing your eyes.
  285. >"I suppose you have," she replies. "I do not believe you can be coerced into delaying this until another day, and you are probably right, I will feel a sense of relief afterward. But it is the thought of what could happen that concerns me."
  286. "Don't worry, I'm not going to toss you into the library and lock the door. I'll be right beside you the whole time - after all, I have to explain to Twilight what the hell is going on myself."
  287. >"Thank you, Anon," she says, managing a smile despite her reservations still harbored in the forefront of her mind. "I appreciate your patience in working with me, even if I am a bit set in my ways."
  288. "It happens to the best of us, don't worry about it," you tell her. "But how are we getting there, by chariot?"
  289. >"No, the is a way much more simple and quicker to traverse the distance," she says, her horn beginning to illuminate with her energy.
  290. >Before you can protest, there is a blinding flash, followed by the worst case of vertigo you've ever experienced.
  291. >It feels as if every cell in your body has lost sense of direction - and where it belongs within you.
  292. >Just like that, you're surrounded by the familiar interior of your home.
  293. >Despite this, the disorientation you experienced doesn't fade as you try to figure out which way is up.
  294. >"Anon!"
  295. >You feel something pressing on your back.
  296. >No, scratch that, you've fallen on something.
  297. >Looking around in a daze, you finally realize Luna has caught you upon her back, preventing you from smacking the floor.
  298. "What in the hell just happened?"
  299. >"I used a teleportation spell to reach Ponyville," she says as you finally begin to regain your bearings.
  300. >Gingerly pulling yourself off of her, you are at least able to stumble over to your bed and sit down.
  301. >Luna huddles close to you, scared by your reaction.
  302. >"I am so sorry, Anon. I did not consider that you have never teleported before," she says breathlessly.
  303. "Oh," is all you can muster as the room still tilts around you.
  304. >A few minutes pass in absolute silence, Luna remaining attentive to you as she waits for a sign you're feeling better.
  305. >Everything settles down gradually until you feel relatively back to normal.
  306. "I think I'm okay now. That was just very disorienting," you tell her. "It felt like everything about me was jumbled up."
  307. >"That is a common sensation I have heard from first time experiences of teleportation," she says calmly.
  308. >But without any warning, she practically leaps on top of you and smothers you with her plumage in a warm hug.
  309. >"Stars above, I am so glad you are not harmed," she says, exhaling with relief. "I have never seen somepony with such an adverse reaction to teleportation."
  310. "It's - Luna, you're fine, I'm fine," you say, her emotional outburst catching you by surprise.
  311. >But you at least have the awareness to put your arms around her too.
  312. >You know, common courtesy.
  313. >She's incredibly light, despite her size.
  314. >Of course, her build is quite lithe, but it's still a surprise.
  315. >Abruptly, she lets go of you, and you do the same to her as she drops back down to the floor.
  316. >"You will have to excuse my outburst. You had me very worried."
  317. "No excusing needed, I appreciate the concern," you tell her with a smile.
  318. >In reality, you could stay like that all day and not mind.
  319. "So, do I at least look like I did?" you ask, standing up and spinning around.
  320. >"I see nothing out of the ordinary. As I said, I have heard it is common for the first experience to be disorienting, I have just never seen somepony experience it. More than likely, if there is another instance of teleportation you experience, it will not be near as... intense."
  321. "Okay, maybe there's a chance I'll let you zap us somewhere again," you reply carefully. "But for now, we should probably head to the Golden Oaks Library."
  322. >Shuffling over to your desk, you grab the books you had borrowed, intending to return them before likely getting interrogated by Twilight.
  323. "All set to go?" you ask once more, eyeing Luna.
  324. >She doesn't look quite as reluctant, as she is confident enough to meet your gaze.
  325. >"Yes, to delay this will only bring me further feelings of insecurity," she muses.
  326. >With that, you open the door for Luna, then follow her out into the fall morning air.
  327. >It is actually quite pleasant out, though some of the temperature you feel could be from your black suit soaking in the sun's rays out of the clear sky.
  328. >Still fairly early out, there is not a great deal of activity as you and Luna make your way toward the enormous tree looming from a distance.
  329. >The few ponies that are up and about are awestruck as the pair of you walk together.
  330. >It's hard to say whether their shock is due to Luna's presence, her lack of regalia, or you meeting her stride for stride alongside.
  331. >Nevertheless, more than a few snap out of their daze long enough to bow.
  332. >Glancing over at Luna, she does not look particularly pleased about it, though hardly shocked by the responses.
  333. >"I suppose, it was foolish to believe the lack of my attire would be less likely to spur attention," she says, quiet enough that only you can hear.
  334. "Not to be disrespectful, but you are quite unique. But I have to believe going out... well, naked, I guess - that has to help somewhat," you reply. "Just try to relax, smile, maybe say hello to a few ponies."
  335. >"In short, act like I normally do," she laments rather unhappily.
  336. >You feel a bit stupid as you rub the back of your head, unsure of what to say to that.
  337. >Instead, you have to focus forward to your destination.
  338. >To her credit, Luna does try what you suggested.
  339. >But it comes off rather stiff and forced.
  340. >She definitely needs one on one time to begin to understand social norms and feel comfortable.
  341. >Hopefully Twilight isn't too nutty today.
  342. >At least, after the initial five-minute freakout.
  343. >It isn't long before you reach your destination, knocking lightly on the door as you glance over at Luna.
  344. >By the thousand-yard stare she has, it's clear nerves are beginning to get the best of her.
  345. "It will be fine, Luna, I swear."
  346. >The door creaks open slightly before you feel yourself yanked inward by an unseen force as the door opens and shuts in the blink of an eye.
  347. >Somehow, through it all, you stay on your feet.
  348. "Twilight, seriously?"
  349. >Twilight Sparkle stands in front of you, looking the worse for wear.
  350. >Judging by the bags under her eyes, if she's slept at all, it wasn't very restful.
  351. >Not to mention her mane looks like a mess.
  352. >"Do you have *any* idea what I've been going through waiting to hear what the hay happened to you?!" she exclaims.
  353. "Probably an overactive mind running through various outcomes and scenarios that could have played out in Canterlot. Am I close?"
  354. >"You're very close!" she barks back, pausing for a moment. "In fact, that's what I've been doing for the past twenty-six hours and thirty-seven minutes!"
  355. "How many seconds was it?"
  356. >Clearly, you should have thought before you spoke, as Twilight's wild eyes stare daggers into you.
  357. >"You could have at least sent a message back last night," she huffs in frustration.
  358. "And judging by what Princess Celestia told me, you could have left my message unopened and not have kept yourself up all night freaking out," you retort.
  359. >Twilight opens her mouth to respond, but realizes she has no argument for that.
  360. >Instead, her whole body seems to slump in defeat.
  361. >"You're right," she says, looking up at you. "I just saw it was from Princess Celestia, and I couldn't stop myself, I was curious."
  362. "Curiosity killed the cat, and apparently drives unicorns to the brink of insanity."
  363. >You at least get a smirk out of Twilight as she takes a deep breath to collect herself.
  364. >"Now then, can you fill me in on why you were summoned by the ruler of Equestria?"
  365. "I could, but you closed the door on my explanation," you reply, folding your arms over your chest.
  366. >"What?"
  367. "If you hadn't been so rash, you would have seen there was someone with me, Twilight," you scold.
  368. >At once, Twilight's magic opens the front door again, this time leaving it open.
  369. >But Luna has disappeared.
  370. >Crap.
  371. >Meanwhile, Twilight turns and eyes you with heightened suspicion.
  372. "She was right there, you probably scared her off with your shouting," you tell her accusingly.
  373. >"You could have told me you had a guest!"
  374. "You didn't give me a chance! She's gone now."
  375. >With an exasperated growl, Twilight practically slams the door.
  376. >Whether she's mad at herself - or for some reason, you - is not clear.
  377. >But it is crystal clear that the agonizing wait outside and the bickering taking place on the other side of the door sent Luna bolting for safety.
  378. >Wonderful.
  379. >But as you drop your arms back to your side, you feel your left hand brush past something silky soft.
  380. >Perhaps...
  381. "Luna?" you whisper.
  382. >Its inaudible to Twilight as she has headed toward the table in the center of her home, clearing it of reading material and pulling out a couple of chairs for you and her.
  383. >"I am here. I could not bear to be out in the open by myself," you hear Luna quietly respond.
  384. "I get it. You ready to do this?"
  385. >"I believe I am as ready as I can be, given the situation."
  386. "Twilight, get another seat, could you?"
  387. >She gives you a queer expression.
  388. "The reason I got called to Canterlot is that Princess Celestia had a request of me. I'm supposed to be helping someone get accustomed to being more social and outgoing."
  389. >"Greetings, Twilight Sparkle."
  390. >Caught by as much surprise as Twilight, you turn to see Luna has dispelled her invisibility.
  391. >"Princess Luna!" Twilight shouts in shock.
  392. >The unicorn instantly bows, averting her gaze as she begins a profuse tirade of apologies.
  393. >"I had no idea you were coming, your Highness! I didn't mean to keep you from entering, I was just so caught up in everything that's been going on! I'm sorry, this place is such a mess, I wasn't expecting company and-"
  394. "Twilight."
  395. >" - I would have gotten some sort of refreshments if I knew you or Princess Celestia would be visiting, I haven't done my shopping for the week and I'm close to being out of food and -"
  396. "Twilight Sparkle."
  397. >" - please forgive me for shouting and being generally rude, I was just so stressed out because Anon was summoned by Princess Celestia yesterday and I had no idea why and it just ate at me as I tried to figure out what he could have done to warrant a visit to Canterlot and -"
  398. >"Twilight Sparkle."
  399. >Luna's interjection is enough to break Twilight out of her fanatics, while Luna glances over at you, looking rather disturbed by the outburst.
  400. "She can be a little high-strung," you say nonchalantly, directing your attention back to Twilight.
  401. >"While I am... appreciative of your respect and apologies, I must confess I am here on my own accord and my own reasons. There is no need for formalities, please."
  402. >Twilight glances at Luna with suspicion and concern, then over to you, unsure how to respond to that.
  403. "What Luna is trying to say-"
  404. >"Anon, it's *Princess* Luna," Twilight whispers in desperation.
  405. >"No, it is not. Please, refer to us - I mean, me - as Luna. As I said, no formalities or mention of title is needed."
  406. "Why don't we have a seat, and I'll do my best to explain the situation," you say, already feeling a bit frustrated with how disjointed this day has begun.
  407. >At least everyone is in agreement of that, with you sitting between the two of them.
  408. "Twilight, Princess Celestia asked me to help Luna get more comfortable with being open and social, because it's been hard for her to adjust, considering how long she's been away."
  409. >"No offense, but why did she choose you?" Twilight asks, carefully eyeing Luna from across the table as she gives her a sheepish grin.
  410. >Luna forces a smile as well, which only serves to make Twilight fidget, rather than relax.
  411. "Because as I told you, Luna and I have been talking - first through my dreams, which I don't remember, and then in person the last three nights."
  412. >"Anon has been a comfort to me as I try to understand... shall we say, my place in the world as I return," Luna says, her eyes darting to you.
  413. "That's a fair assessment," you say with a nod, turning back to Twilight. "I figured you were driving yourself crazy as you wondered what was going on in Canterlot, so this was my first stop. And, I figured Luna should come along and begin her journey meeting one of my friends."
  414. >"Though we have met before," Luna says quietly, devoid of emotion.
  415. >It's still loud enough for you to hear it, as well as Twilight.
  416. >Her eyes widen, shifting uncomfortably between you and Luna.
  417. >Luna takes notice of the attention thrust upon her and averts her eyes to a nearby bookshelf.
  418. >Dammit, Luna.
  419. >Whether she meant to sabotage herself or not is trivial, as silence has befallen the three of you.
  420. >Well, since Luna opened the door, you may as well kick it open to try to get something going again.
  421. "Yes, from what I understand, you and Twilight have some... shall we say, history, between the two of you," you announce.
  422. >Beside you, Luna slumps just a bit, as if trying to hide from facing this reality.
  423. >"I wouldn't say we really have 'history,' between us," Twilight says cautiously, keeping her eyes locked on Luna. "After all, I did not know her name was Luna at the time. Really, she's a different pony than the o-"
  424. >"No."
  425. >Luna's interruption catches everyone by surprise, more so than her sudden attentiveness to the speaker on the other side of the table.
  426. "What, Luna?"
  427. >"I will not allow Twilight to make an excuse for me," she states damningly. "What happened the night of return - I was conscious of my actions, as shameful as they were."
  428. >"But *I* didn't know that, Luna. I didn't even know you were Princess Celestia's sister," Twilight calmly argues. "All I knew was you were the Mare in the Moon from the legend, Nightmare Moon."
  429. "Er, Nightmare Moon?"
  430. >A thump from beside you distracts your thought.
  431. >Looking utterly defeated, Luna rests her head on the table, her face obscured by both her wings and her front hooves.
  432. >"That dreadful name was what I had decided I should be called upon my rebellion against my sister - and the world as a whole," Luna groans, her voice muffled. "My own hatred warped my form, it changed my appearance as it festered from within."
  433. >"And I saw you revert back before my eyes when my friends and I defeated you. I saw *you*, Luna, for the first time as you apologized to your sister," Twilight adds.
  434. >"That does not change what I did before that."
  435. "Luna, stop it," you scold.
  436. >Your harsh tone forces Luna out of her makeshift shelter, her eyes peeking through her feathers at you.
  437. "Twilight Sparkle is essentially telling you she holds no grudge against you, am I right?" you ask, turning to see the unicorn nodding vehemently in agreement.
  438. >"I'm not upset about what happened at all," she adds.
  439. "Luna, I understand you have a lot of regrets, and I understand that doesn't just disappear. But for heaven's sake, it sounds like you're sitting there trying to *make* her hate you. And she's still not doing so. At some point, you need to forgive yourself and allow yourself to accept forgiveness."
  440. >"I do not want excuses made for me," Luna says, almost pleading as she finally uncovers her face and sits upright. "If I begin to believe it wasn't my fault, what if that darkness that consumed my heart returns again?"
  441. "Luna," you call out, trying to get her to look at you.
  442. >But she's too self-absorbed by her self pity.
  443. >Taking matters into your own hands, you reach over and pull her next to you, cupping your hand over the other side of her head and directing her to face you.
  444. "If you can't let go of the past and let it be, you're never going to be able to move on from it," you tell her. "I told you the night you explained all of this to me, the mare that did this is not the mare that sits here now. And I mean that - you've made the change, now let it show to the world and move on from the shadows that haunt you."
  445. >"But-"
  446. "Your sister experienced what you did firsthand. Twilight experienced what you did as well, and both of them have long since forgiven you. The only one that is holding a grudge against you is you. The only one that refuses to move on is you. I can't help you without your help, Luna. You have to be the one to step forward. You have to stop punishing yourself."
  447. >This time when you pause to take a deep breath, the room remains silent.
  448.  "I'm not trying to be an ass here, and I'm not trying to sit here and scold you for what you're doing. But I can't think of any other way to get you to see what you're doing. You're shooting yourself in the foot. By the sounds of it, everyone knows what you've done already, and they've moved on. People want to get to know the pony in front of them, not the one in the past. I lo- I like you Luna, that's why I want to see you succeed so badly."
  449. >You finally let go of her, allowing Luna to ponder the mountain of information you've fed her.
  450. >Twilight stares at you, mouth agape and eyes wide in shock.
  451. "What?"
  452. >"I - that was something," she says quietly.
  453. "A good something, or was it-"
  454. >"I can confirm it was spot on," Luna interrupts, her voice low. Both you and Twilight instantly fixate on the alicorn.
  455. >"I am just so frightened that if I let my guard down, I am going to fall into the same trap I finally managed to escape," she continues. "I certainly do not want to fool myself or others by pretending my rebellion did not occur."
  456. >"That's not what forgiveness is about, Luna," Twilight responds. "Forgiveness is about understanding what you did wrong and coming to terms with it. It's not about ignoring it - it's taking the experience and using it as a reference for future situations to make the right decision. You acknowledge it happened, now you have to move on."
  457. "Luna, you say you're afraid of repeating the past, right?" you ask.
  458. >She quickly nods.
  459. "What you're doing right now is indirectly repeating the past. You're isolating yourself, just like before."
  460. >Luna's eyes widen with your revelation, her head snapping between both you and Twilight as her jaw drops.
  461. >"I - That was not my intention," she says, aghast.
  462. "I know. But that's the short and simple of it. By brooding on this, you're just isolating yourself."
  463. >"Besides, in a way, I should be thanking you."
  464. >All eyes fall upon Twilight, who shrinks back a bit in the sudden shift of attention.
  465. >"It sounded better in my head," she cautiously starts. "But if you hadn't tried to prevent me from reaching the Elements of Harmony, I would have never connected with my friends and realized how important friendship is. And I wouldn't be living here in Ponyville, in this library. I love it here!"
  466. >Twilight may have a point but boy, that's an odd way of looking at this.
  467. >Nonetheless, for the first time since arriving at Twilight's, you see a positive sign from Luna.
  468. >A trace of a grin beginning to build.
  469. >"You have a very optimistic view of that night," Luna muses.
  470. >"It's true, though."
  471. >"I never said anything to the contrary."
  472. >Twilight starts to giggle, which proves to be rather contagious.
  473. >Luna begins to laugh as well.
  474. >It's like music to your ears after the preceding five minutes.
  475. >Just when it looked like Luna was going to fall back into her old ways, she surprises you.
  476. >With help from Twilight, of course.
  477. >You just pray that this time, Luna will finally move past her focus on regrets, because this discussion has made you fully aware how self-destructive she can be.
  478. >It was painful to watch, but then again, watching her share a laugh with Twilight is all the more satisfying.
  479. >"I thank you for your forgiveness, Twilight," Luna says, finally allowing herself to smile and bask in the company.
  480. >"You're very welcome, and I'm glad I could help make a difference," Twilight says. "So you're tasked with learning about friendship as well?"
  481. >"I am. I understand you were once quite the recluse that I have proven to be since my return," Luna replies.
  482. >"Yes, it's true," Twilight says with a blush. "I had a bad habit of getting too absorbed in my studies of magic and - well, to be honest, ignoring the few friends I had."
  483. "You *had* a bad habit of getting lost in your work?"
  484. >Twilight's face scrunches up in frustration.
  485. >"I'm nowhere near as bad as I used to be, Anon," she huffs.
  486. >You lean over closer to Luna.
  487. "I once spent forty-five minutes in here perusing the shelves before Twilight took notice I was in her library. And she was sitting right where she is now."
  488. >"You never said anything or tried to get my attention!" Twilight cries.
  489. "That would have defeated the purpose of seeing how long it would take to notice there was someone else with you."
  490. >Luna lets loose a hearty chuckle, only encouraging Twilight to give you a displeased glare.
  491. >You just give her a cheeky smile and wave.
  492. >"Do tell me, Twilight - I assume you have other interests aside from magic. After all, magic is quite an expansive and general subject. I know from experience it can get tedious after some time."
  493. >"Well, I have recently been studying up on astronomy," Twilight comments.
  494. >Luna's grin grows wider at that remark.
  495. >"Ah, now there is a subject I have quite the vested interest..."
  496.  
  497. -----
  498.  
  499. >Luna and Twilight managed to converse for almost five hours about various astronomical notes after what started off as a rather bleak introduction.
  500. >In fact, you believe it would have lasted longer had fatigue not begun to set in for Luna.
  501. >And admittedly, you.
  502. >So, with pleased bids of farewell and promises to return again for more conversation, the success of the day was put in the past as you and Luna walked back to your cabin.
  503. "You did really well today, Luna. A bit rocky at first, but we got through to you," you muse.
  504. >"Yes, that was quite enjoyable," she gushes happily. "It has been ages since I have been able to have such an in-depth and exhaustive discussion relating to the night sky."
  505. "And to think, you were hesitant to even meet her."
  506. >"Well, my sister has always commented on how stubborn I can be. I suppose reluctance to file away the past is an extension of that habit."
  507. "Fair enough."
  508. >On that note, the rest of the way home is in relative silence, as Luna does her best to interact with the normal crowd of a Ponyville afternoon.
  509. >She is certainly more relaxed, but again, other than a few greetings back, most ponies are keen on bowing in her presence.
  510. >But Luna does not look perturbed by the reaction as she was earlier - it's obvious she's still riding the high of her first success.
  511. >"Anon, may I ask you a... to be fair, it is a rather silly question," Luna says, her voice touched by a hint of laughter.
  512. "Sure, I'm always open to a question, as long as it's something I can answer."
  513. >"I do not know why it stuck in my mind, but when you were attempting to calm me and see the error of my ways, you hesitated and corrected yourself. What were you going to say?"
  514. >A chill runs down your spine.
  515. "It was nothing, I just got ahead of myself. Speaking quicker than I could think, you know."
  516. >"That makes sense. Apologies, it just struck me as quite the contrast to the rest of your heartfelt explanation," she says.
  517. >The slightest hint of disappointment pervades her response.
  518. >Does she know you're lying?
  519. >Or is it something else?
  520. >Do you press for her opinion, or leave this moment as it is?
  521. "What did you think I was going to say?" you ask hesitantly, reaching your home at long last.
  522. >Glancing at Luna as you open the door for her, she pauses, looking up at you with a bit of trepidation.
  523. >"It - I don't really know if I had anything in mind," she says, smiling as she laughs it off.
  524. >You follow her inside, closing the door and taking a seat at your desk, while Luna is content to sit in the middle of the room on a rug.
  525. "So, I guess you have to get to writing a report for your sister sometime today, huh?"
  526. >"You are correct, but the change in my schedule and sleep habits has me feeling weary," Luna replies, doing her best to stifle a yawn. "It would be best to start on it in the evening with a fresh mind."
  527. "So, how is this going to work, then?"
  528. >"Pardon?"
  529. "As far as getting enough rest. You said you plan on starting this evening, and it's already closing in on two in the afternoon," you explain, pointing to your clock on the wall.
  530. >"Well, that depends. Can you keep a secret?" she teases, sporting a devious smile.
  531. "Of course."
  532. >Luna saunters over and leans in toward your ear.
  533. >"Watching over the dream realm can actually be quite restful," she whispers.
  534. >You shake your head in disbelief.
  535. "You mean to tell me that when you're doing your nightly duties, you're actually asleep?"
  536. >"Not exactly," she quickly corrects. "I would say it is more like a deep meditation. Depending on how active the dream realm is on a given night, I may not feel refreshed at all. But more often than not, I would estimate two hours in the dream realm is the equivalent of one hour of sleep."
  537. "And how much time do you spend in the dream realm?"
  538. >"Dreams do not begin to materialize until roughly midnight, the active period is often about five hours, so one may consider I accumulate around two to three hours of rest."
  539. >Damn.
  540. "I'm guessing your sister doesn't know about this?" you suggest.
  541. >"Oh, I can not say for sure. I think she suspects, given my occasional days where I rarely sleep in a proper manner," Luna replies. "But I digress, she does not need to tease me about sleeping during my time of duty."
  542. >Considering Celestia had interest enough in your sleep habits to inquire, you suspect she knows more than Luna realizes.
  543. >Or at least more than Luna herself lets on.
  544. "So, I guess I'll see you this evening then?"
  545. >"Yes. But perhaps rather than head back to Canterlot for a few hours, I could rest here?"
  546. >Her question catches you by surprise, and your reaction quickly causes Luna to backtrack as a result.
  547. >"I do not mean to intrude or invite myself into your home, of course. My sincerest apologies if my question came across as such."
  548. "It's - no, you're fine, Luna," you quickly reply. "You just took me by surprise, I didn't expect that."
  549. >You take a look at your home, realizing how small it truly is inside.
  550. "If you want to do that, you can have my bed. I'll just nap here," you say, tapping the wooden frame of the chair you're currently seated in. " I've fallen asleep in this more times than I can count, I'll be fine."
  551. >"No, no, I would not dream of taking your bed," Luna blurts out. "I can - I will be right back!"
  552. >With no other warning, Luna disappears in a flash of light.
  553. >Uh...
  554. >This day has truly been something else.
  555. >Did she freak out, or is she getting so-
  556. >Again, your home is illuminated by a blinding light for a split second, before revealing Luna's form, perched atop a fluffy white cloud.
  557. >"I can rest upon this, just like my bed in Canterlot," she says, a hint of excitement in her voice. "This is more than adequate for me."
  558. "I'll be honest, I still kind of thought you were joking when you said your mattress was a cloud," you admit, leaning over to touch her improvised bed.
  559. >Unlike Luna, your hand goes right through it, feeling like a thick, damp mist.
  560. >"This one is not enchanted like my bed at home. As I mentioned this morning, pegasi are naturally gifted with cloud manipulation, which includes the ability to walk or rest upon them," she explains. "As an alicorn, I am imbued with that unique ability."
  561. "Good to know. Next time we get an extended rain shower, I'll call you to haul them off. The weather pegasi around here are not keen on taking suggestions," you tease, rising to your feet for the short trek across the room.
  562. >Unlike Luna, you don't resist the urge to yawn, letting it out in full force as you flop down into bed.
  563. >"Get some rest, Anon, and thank you for your help today," you hear Luna say quietly as you turn to face her.
  564. >Luna's cloud levitates off the ground slightly, putting her at eye level with you just a few feet away.
  565. "I got a lot of enjoyment out of today. And you accomplished a lot yourself. You confronted a major fear you had, and you made a friend," you tell her, letting your eyelids drop.
  566. >With that, silence pervades the room for a time.
  567. >"Anon?"
  568. "Yeah?"
  569. >"I like you too."
  570.  
  571.  
  572. "So, how does it feel to be a student again?"
  573. >"I am not particularly fond of the homework assignments."
  574. >The admittance garners laughter, first from you, then Luna as she joins in.
  575. >After a few hours of napping and your best attempt at a vegetable stir fry for dinner, Luna lay atop your bed as she began a letter to her elder sister.
  576. >You sat beside her, only getting up occasionally to stoke the stubborn smoldering fire in the stove.
  577. >At some point in the afternoon, the pleasant fall day had transformed into a dreary, cold, and wet evening as the sun began a retreat toward the horizon.
  578. >The dampness of the air made it a chore to get the fire going, but it now began to show signs of sustained life, over an hour after you had ignited it.
  579. >Luna had offered a magical remedy, but like she had demonstrated earlier today, you have quite the stubborn streak, and you declined.
  580. "I have to ask, how come Celestia wants you to write down what you learned? You can just report in pers- well, pony, can't you?"
  581. >"Writing these notes down allows her or anypony she desires to share them with to read and use them for reference. Why do you think our castle is so large?"
  582. "Really?"
  583. >Luna giggles and shakes her head.
  584. >"No, of course not. But it makes for a good explanation," she says.
  585. "It's hard to tell sometimes. Hell, I would have never expected friendship to be so important to require notes and reports for future reference."
  586. >"Yes, it would seem that your former world is vastly different from this one. Earth, from what I have gathered during our discussions in your dreams, is a very... shall we say, 'black and white' sort of reality. It is very rigid, and quite strongly grounded in cause and effect, and the sense of sight confirming existence. But that is not the case here."
  587. >Luna gently places her quill down upon the parchment in front of her, turning to give her undivided attention to you.
  588. >"Equestria - and by extension, this whole plane of existence - has a great deal of grey area that governs reality. Everything that exists is imbued with magic; indeed, even intangible ideas like friendship can be more powerful than any sword or arrow because of the magic that lies dormant within each and every one of us. Celestia and I have wielded that power, and I have been upon the receiving end of such might."
  589. "You mean to tell me Twilight saved you by making friends?" you question, making no effort to hide your skepticism.
  590. >"That is a simple way of describing it, yes," Luna replies cautiously. "I am unsure if I mentioned it before, but my initial defeat at the hooves of Celestia was the result of magical artifacts known as the Elements of Harmony. Quite powerful talismans, but alas, they only work when the bonds between the wielders are strong. On more than one occasion, my sister and I used them before my fall from grace, and now, Twilight Sparkle and her five companions possess the bonds needed to activate those same artifacts."
  591. "So friendship really is a big deal around here, in more ways than one."
  592. >Luna nods, her magic seizing her quill once again as she continues writing.
  593. >"I believe I am just about finished with this correspondence, at which time, I can answer anything else that interests you. For somepony that enjoys teasing Twilight Sparkle for her voracious appetite for knowledge, you have quite the curious mind."
  594. "I've been here for about seven, eight months and it's still hard for me to wrap my mind around this world," you admit.
  595. >You glance over at Luna's letter.
  596. "I thought I was supposed to be helping you write that, anyway?"
  597. >"Not necessarily. To be quite honest with you, I took much of what you and Twilight said earlier today and paraphrased."
  598. "That's plagiarism," you jokingly accuse her.
  599. >It receives a mischievous smile in response.
  600. >"My sister will not know otherwise," she replies, a hint of laughter in her voice.
  601. "I'll let it slide tonight."
  602. >With that, Luna elegantly scrawls her name at the bottom, nodding her head with a sense of accomplishment.
  603. >"I must admit, I have only casually perused Twilight's correspondences with Celestia - but I believe this is a fair attempt at a friendship letter. Would you like to read it before I send it out to my sister?" she asks.
  604. "Sure, I'll take a gander."
  605. >Luna's magic seizes the letter, gracefully passing it off to your hands.
  606.  
  607. ~
  608.  
  609. Dearest Sister,
  610.  
  611. I do not know if you would be expecting a friendship report so soon from me, and yet, scarcely twenty-four hours later, I find myself making progress noteworthy enough for a correspondence.
  612.  
  613. Of course, it is no secret I have struggled with putting my past to rest. It took the encouragement of Anon after months of silence between us before I took a step in the right direction. I am pleased that I was inspired to make the effort, as I believe you are in agreement, the discussion that morning was beneficial in clearing any leftover feelings resulting from that fateful night.
  614.  
  615. Yet, I must admit, I still have struggled to move forward, leaving my past behind me. However, I have passed a major hurdle; under the guidance of Anon, I met with your pupil - Twilight Sparkle - for the first time since our confrontation months ago during my return.
  616.  
  617. While Twilight was... quite excitable upon meeting her, due to self-inflicted stress stemming from her curiosity surrounding the situation in Canterlot. But once past that initial detour, she was more than receptive to speak with me - and forgive me for what I had done.
  618.  
  619. It was not that easy for me to accept; I feared forgiveness, for I felt a strong conviction against myself and a reminder to all of my past was essential to prevent myself from falling into the dark abyss I dwelled within for so long.
  620.  
  621. But such ideas, in retrospect, are absurd and unfounded; in fact, to brood upon the past is counterintuitive to moving forward, as it essentially would only serve to isolate myself from society - an issue that you and I both agree led to the troubles that brewed years ago.
  622.  
  623. It is only through the combined efforts of Twilight Sparkle and Anon that I see the error of my ways. Just as Twilight is willing to forgive me and progress forward, I must be willing to forgive myself and cease such self-destructive behavior. True, I have always taken pride in my independence, but more often than not, sound advice from a friend can ease the ills of a troubled mind. It is up to an individual to open up and listen to understand the power.
  624.  
  625. I am unsure when I will return to Canterlot - Anon has been quite accommodating, and I must admit, there is something particularly enjoyable in a more basic standard of living. Perhaps it is just the unfamiliarity of the situation, but I cannot say for certain.
  626.  
  627. Until that time, do not hesitate to request my input or assistance in any matters that come up, and it is with utmost gratitude that I thank you for this opportunity of discovery and self-improvement.
  628.  
  629. With love,
  630.  
  631. Luna
  632.  
  633. ~
  634.  
  635. >You hand the letter back to Luna, unable to keep yourself from smirking just a bit.
  636. >"What?" she asks, her voice underlining the slight concern evident in the crease between her brows.
  637. "Nothing, it's very good," you tell her. "I was just surprised that I had invited you to stay with me."
  638. >"Oh, no, you misunderstand me, Anon. I did not mean to force your hand, I just thought that-"
  639. "Luna, calm down, I'm just teasing you," you reply quickly, unsettled a bit by her quick reversal. "You're more than welcome to stay. You'll just have to mind the lack of space and my attempts at making edible food."
  640. >"I did not think the meal you made tonight was bad," she replies. "It was the thought that counts most."
  641. "I appreciate that," you tell her. "I have enjoyed you being around the last few days, it's been nice."
  642. >"The feeling is mutual," she replies. Her magic rolls up the letter neatly before a flash of flame consumes the parchment, leaving a blue-tinged cloud of smoke to drift toward the window and disappear.
  643. "That's how you two send messages?"
  644. >"Of course. It is much quicker via this method; my sister has likely received the scroll and viewing it as we speak."
  645. >Hell of a lot better than snail mail.
  646. >But with the message sent along and nothing to distract either of you, the cabin falls silent.
  647. >You don't know what to say at this point - life has been a whirlwind of activity as of late.
  648. >It's been a jump from just getting to know Luna, to tasked with helping her make friends, to - by all intents and purposes - living with her.
  649. >How the hell did this even happen?
  650. >"Anonymous?"
  651. "Hm?"
  652. >"Is everything all right?" she asks, tilting her head as her smile fades. "You look troubled all of a sudden."
  653. "I'm - fine," you stumble hesitantly. "I'm just still having a hard time wrapping my mind around this whole situation."
  654. >"I understand," she replies. "It is a big adjustment, by the sounds of it you are used to being more isolated, as I once was."
  655. >She is right about that - Twilight has far and away been your closest confidant since your arrival.
  656. >That's not to say you can't make small talk; it comes fairly naturally, and you are good at helping out when the opportunity arises.
  657. >But this - thing between you and Luna... this is something completely different from what you're used to.
  658. >No.
  659. >You can't sit here and deny it anymore.
  660. >You're attracted to her.
  661. >Personality-wise, as well as physically.
  662. >How it started doesn't matter.
  663. >Whether her reactions and demeanor around you that hint to some interest from her has driven you on to some point.
  664. >Or it could be your own delusional mind interpreting what it wants to see.
  665. >But going on like this, keeping your feelings under wraps...
  666. >It can't go on forever.
  667. >"Anon?"
  668. >You become consciously aware of the worry and fear in Luna's voice, as well as those beautiful eyes.
  669. >"If I have done something wrong, please tell me."
  670. "No, you haven't done anything wrong, Luna," you console her, before taking a deep breath. "There's just been something on my mind, and I guess I can't keep it bottled up anymore. I just hope it doesn't - I don't want our friendship to be ruined because of it."
  671. >Luna balks at the suggestion.
  672. >"Anon, it should be clear I have a great deal of trust in you. Surely you do not think I will judge you based on a singular thing."
  673. >Feeling somewhat defeated, you can't help but shrug.
  674. "It's hard to say for sure."
  675. >"I promise to you I will not judge. But I cannot help but take note over the past few days there were times you have become suddenly - well, distant, for lack of another term."
  676. >One of her wings spreads out and reaches to you, gently resting its tip upon one of your shoulders.
  677. >"Just as I entrusted you with my secret, you can be sure I will listen with an open mind," she says.
  678. >All or nothing now.
  679. "I don't know how or why it started, but I've developed feelings for you, Luna," you blurt. "I know we've only met in person over the matter of a few nights, but in that time I've found myself captivated by you. Everything about you. I even almost said I loved you earlier today at Twilight's place, but I caught myself."
  680. >You turn yourself completely around, facing Luna directly.
  681. >She remains silent, though her pupils have shrunk to the size of a needle point.
  682. "Like I said, don't know why I feel like that, and it's been bothering me. I'm sorry, but now you know why I've just been trying to sit on that bit rather than admit it," you explain. "Please, just - can we just put it behind us? I don't want this to drive you away."
  683. >"Nor will it do such a thing, Anon," Luna sighs. "I am surprised to hear this, but not unfamiliar."
  684. "What do you mean 'not unfamiliar'?"
  685. >"It would appear it is my turn to confess something I have been keeping from you, now that you have come clean of your ails," she replies, closing her eyes.
  686. >With her statement, your anxiety only multiplies, trying to ponder what she could have to confess, as well as the impending response to what you just spilled.
  687. >"Anonymous, I am the reason you do not remember your dreams. Inadvertently to a certain extent, but a burden upon my mind nonetheless," she says, sounding rather forlorn.
  688. "You explained that already, it was because of you explaining what happened to get you bani-"
  689. >"No. In fact, I never discussed that with you until we met face to face," she interrupts.
  690. "Then what?"
  691. >Despite having opened this can of worms herself, Luna still cringes a bit as you press her for information.
  692. >"What I had told you before was true - I had initially encountered you as a result of a recurring nightmare which had been afflicting your sleep. With my success in that endeavor came what appears to be natural to you - many, many questions. Questions I was more than happy to answer, which evolved into regular discussions over the course of those few months."
  693. >Luna pauses a moment as she gathers up her thoughts, trying to fit the words together as she opens her eyes once again, locked with yours.
  694. >"Much like our time spent in the last few days, I felt a sense of great comfort in your presence, and you were quite the flatterer, with a bit of a mischievous streak of teasing me. Nonetheless, I enjoyed it."
  695. "Then what changed?"
  696. >"Nothing changed," she says bluntly. "You did not change, but much like tonight, you came clean to me of your feelings."
  697. "So I made you uncomfortable?" you ask, mortified as you feel your stomach twist.
  698. >But Luna vehemently shakes her head.
  699. >"You did not. It was my own actions and personal feelings that concerned me. That is not to say I was - I am, fearful of them, but the notion that this bond between us was formed in a realm often governed by the subconscious. I became aware that what was between us may not be you, but a mere shift in your subconscious due to my own enjoyment."
  700. >You... sort of follow.
  701. >Luna picks up on your hesitance.
  702. >"What I mean to say if the dream realm is quite delicate. Just as my power over dreams allows me to traverse the minds of others and banish their nightmares, that same raw power can have an effect on one's subconscious, whether purposely or by pure accident. I was not sure whether I had affected your state of mind and - to be blunt, I panicked, Anon."
  703. >She slaps a hoof down upon your mattress in frustration.
  704. >"The last thing I desire is to abuse my power, whether it was intentional or unintentional does not matter in that regard. So, that being said, and the panic of the situation set in, I used an old spell I am unfamiliar with to wipe the memories of your most recent dreams."
  705. "But you didn't, Luna. You wiped them *all* clean."
  706. >"I am well aware," she huffs. "Evidently, a result of my underestimation of power combined with a foreign spell led to wiping it all clean, as you word it."
  707. >The confession only adds an extra layer to the awkwardness Luna has displayed since your first meeting.
  708. >As well as some of the self-esteem issues.
  709. >And it certainly makes a hell of a lot more sense you don't remember your dreams now, much more than a mildly startling revelation.
  710. >But you don't know how to feel, or how you should be feeling now.
  711. >Yes, in a sense of black and white, she lied to you about your dreams.
  712. >That is a little disappointing.
  713. >And she purposely tried to erase some of your interactions.
  714. >Yet, it was not out of malevolence.
  715. >Instead, she was worried her feelings were swaying your feelings in a direction that benefited her.
  716. >Despite the attempt, it's clear you've ended up in the same position.
  717. >Though in her admission, she has made her own feelings clear...
  718. "So you aren't bothered by what I said. You feel the same way, sort of?"
  719. >Luna seems surprised by your question - or perhaps your lack of anger.
  720. >"It is - Anon, you make me feel... you have a certain nature to you that makes me feel special and appreciated in a way I do not believe I have ever experienced," she replies. "But I fear that this is not you. That is to say, what if my attempts to start fresh were in vain, and this is merely an extension of my own feelings warping your mind?"
  721. "Does it matter?"
  722. >"Of course it matters!" she shouts, disturbed by your nonchalant response.
  723. >Her mesmerizing ethereal mane, usually calmly undulating as if in a slight breeze, is now churning violently, as if caught in hurricane-force winds.
  724. >It only underscores how fearful she is that she has made a grave mistake.
  725. "Why? Is there a way you can tell whether you talking to me in my dream shifted my opinion of you?" you ask.
  726. >Luna shrinks back a bit at the question.
  727. >"No. If there is a way to discern, I do not know of it," she admits rather glumly.
  728. "So what if how I feel toward you is *not* a result of your interference? What if it's just my own unadulterated feelings? Isn't that possible?"
  729. >Luna remains silent, merely staring back at you.
  730. >But ever so slowly, the storm that had seized control of her mind and mane subsides, as her face, so strained by the stress of the discussion, softens.
  731. >"I am not going to be able to talk you out of this, am I?" she asks.
  732. "After you admitted you've gone through all this trouble to try to protect me from your feelings? Not a chance."
  733. >"Then I suppose I have no choice," she says, shuffling closer to you. "If you are keen to follow your heart, to turn you away as well as my own heart would be madness."
  734. >Much like earlier today, your hand finds its way to her cheek, softly brushing against her fine fur as she leans into your touch.
  735. >"I must admit to you, while friendship is a relatively new experience for me, this is - I find myself in completely uncharted territory," she says quietly.
  736. "You've never been - you haven't felt this way before?" you ask, the whole idea of a mutual bond with this mare still foreign.
  737. >Foreign, but for what your heart yearns.
  738. >Luna shakes her head.
  739. >"No, I have never had the time, nor the state of mind," she replies. "Between defeating those who wished to bring our kind harm, ruling the land, and my own self-absorbed attitude that led to my exile - if there had been anypony I connected with, it was fleeting at best."
  740. >Slowly, she rises up, wings outspread as she wraps herself around you in an embrace that means much more than any previous instance.
  741. >You practically feel those walls of uncertainty and hesitance within her crumble away, her breath hitched in her chest.
  742. >Nearly all light fades away in her makeshift cocoon of feather and fur.
  743. >Yet those breathtaking turquoise eyes remain as vibrant as ever, shining like beacons through the dark of night.
  744. >"Hugs are not particularly common among friends, are they?" she whispers slyly, leaning in and nuzzling you as you let your hand roam through the silky coolness of her hair.
  745. >The scent of lavender returns to your nostrils, light and inviting.
  746. "Okay, I may have fibbed a bit on that one," you tease her, planting a kiss on her cheek.
  747. >Whether the kiss or the admittance is the culprit matters little, as Luna giggles uncontrollably.
  748. >"I am very sorry for lying to you, Anon," she says as she calms down from her fit.
  749. "I forgive you. I don't really blame you for doing what you did," you reply. "You just need to have more confidence in yourself rather than think everything you do is doomed."
  750. >Luna's wings gently shift downward to cradle your torso, letting the light of the room return as she slowly nods her head.
  751. >"Perhaps... perhaps this will shift me into a more positive direction," she says, her tone making the sentence an odd combination of statement and question.
  752. "It can't hurt," you reply. "I'd say this is a positive outcome for what sounds like something that's been eating at you for a while. And for what it's worth, I'm sorry for not speaking up about how I felt. I could have helped to prevent this silly standoff."
  753. >Luna shakes her head, her lips curled into a beaming grin.
  754. >"I forgive you as well, though I hold no ill feelings toward you in that respect," she replies. "It sounds as if my attempts to distance my emotions from you were feeble on more than one occasion."
  755. "Like I said this morning, bashful is a good look for you," you tease, getting that cute blush to make its presence upon her cheeks. "But I can't help asking - of all the ponies in this world, of all the dreams you have undoubtedly visited, all those different interactions... why me? What exactly made you open up to me?"
  756. >"Well, that is a complicated question," she says, pausing a moment as her expression turns serious, mulling over the inquiry in her mind. "When I first encountered and dispelled your nightmare, you - as I have mentioned - had an insatiable curiosity. No hesitance to speak to me, something that was, and still is, quite the unique experience."
  757. "That's it?"
  758. >"No, that was what spurred me to return. That and... I do not want you to take what I have to say in a negative manner, for I do not mean it in a hurtful sense. But your unique appearance in this world - I thought perhaps you were an outcast in this world, and thus easier to approach and with which to speak."
  759. >Oof.
  760. >Yeah, that's a bit harsh, even though she doesn't mean it that way.
  761. "Well, I'm certainly no socialite. But I get what you're saying. But how do you feel now?"
  762. >Luna takes a deep breath, slowly letting it out.
  763. >"Liberated," she says, her eyes growing just a bit damp. "Just as my past has weighed upon me, so too has my missteps upon this path. To be here with my conscience clear, able to share how I feel and having them reciprocated - perhaps even magnified, it is absolutely - I am beyond words."
  764. >Ever so slightly, she leans in toward you, inch by inch, tepidly testing the waters.
  765. >You meet her pace, and eventually, those plush lips brush yours.
  766. >The sensation sends you swooning, only magnified by the tickle of air from her nostrils as a sigh of utter relaxation escapes her.
  767. >She's not aggressive - it's a light kiss with a hint of uncertainty at first.
  768. >But that soon fades as she lets go and seizes the moment the two of you find yourselves in.
  769. >Even as she pulls back, the air crackles with energy and affection, with Luna's face graced with a look of pure bliss.
  770. "That says a lot more than words."
  771. >"It was not too... I did not go too fast, did I?" she asks, somewhat confused as she snaps out of her haze.
  772. "No, not at all. But tell me, do you still feel unsure whether this is right?"
  773. >"No. I am certain," she says, a hint of laughter trailing behind.
  774. >That four-word response speaks volumes.
  775. >This might be a turning point for her to gain some self-confidence, as there isn't a hint of hesitance in her voice or reply.
  776. >But right now, that doesn't matter - seeing Luna practically over the moon with tonight's events is all you can focus upon.
  777. >"I cannot help but wonder what Celestia would say we're she to know what has developed between us," she idly muses.
  778. >You can't help but chuckle at that, garnering a look of confusion.
  779. "I think your big sis knows more than she lets on, if I'm to be completely honest," you tell her.
  780. >Hell, who is to say this isn't the real reason Celestia requested you to guide Luna?
  781. >She is certainly an intriguing one - kind and caring, but amazingly intuitive.
  782. "But besides all of this excitement tonight, just remember I am still supposed to be helping you learn how to make friends."
  783. >Luna nods, though the reminder does nothing to diminish her spirits.
  784. >"I have my duties watching over Equestria's dreams which I must tend to, as well," she replies. "Tonight's developments are pleasant, but I understand what is still asked of me."
  785. "Speaking of which, what are you going to do about that?"
  786. >"To what are you referring?"
  787. "Dream duties. You don't have to be in Canterlot to do that? You left as soon as you got that crazy eye glowing thing a couple of nights ago."
  788. >"Oh - no, that is not necessary. I left because - well, just as you mentioned, my power can be rather unsettling to others. I had not thought of that bit in regards to spending the night here."
  789. "As long as it's normal, I can probably get used to it," you encourage her. "Just try not to leave your eyes on maximum brightness, if you can help it."
  790. >The comment draws a chuckle from Luna.
  791. >"Not to worry, that was only due to a summons while fully awake. I am normally within a state between awake and asleep - with my eyes closed," she reassures you.
  792. >Her gaze is drawn up to the clock on the wall, ticking closer to midnight as you glance at it too.
  793. "I'm guessing you've probably got to get - uh, doing what you do then, huh?" you ask, somewhat disappointed.
  794. "Soon, but not quite yet. If anything of urgent attention manifests, I will sense it," she replies. "It is impossible to estimate whether a night will be busy or quiet - though I must confess, the last ten days have been unusually inactive, aside from the summons I received that you recall. I am overdue for a more tumultuous night."
  795. "What's it like, having to do that? Going into a nightmare, trying to stop it?" you ask, your curiosity piqued.
  796. >"The experiences vary from pony to pony," Luna replies matter-of-factly. "There are occasions when the nightmare afflicting somepony is something another would consider hardly frightening or stressful, but tedious. Other nightmares - the kind one normally envisions, the things of terror - those can pose a more daunting task. I have found myself startled by the creations of somepony's mind, despite knowing full well it can do no harm."
  797. "So, if they're just dreams, what is the concern? Why do you dispel nightmares?"
  798. >"They are just dreams, to you and I - observers," she replies. "Dreams - and by extension, nightmares - can have a significant impact upon one's mannerisms, personality, and fears. Just as I was concerned with affecting your subconscious mind, events and situations that play out within my realm of expertise can have a great effect and shift all of those seemingly minute traits. In some cases, it can result in irreversible psychological harm."
  799. >Yikes, dreams are serious business here.
  800. >Evidently, you make some sort of face or reactionary movement because Luna abruptly places a hoof upon your hand situated in your lap.
  801. >"Not to worry, for it is a small percentage of nightmares that can have such an impact, not all," she says in a calming tone.
  802. >Though with that note, lines crease her forehead as her mind turns dark.
  803. >"Perhaps that is one of the items that has so strongly kept my shameful past in the forefront of my mind," she says. "Those years I did not tend to the dream realm during my banishment, I cannot help but wonder how many ponies had enduring issues as a result of recurring traumatic nightmares."
  804. >You can't stand listening to her shift back to her negative past, as you grab a hold of her hoof and lightly squeeze.
  805. >The action gets Luna to lock eyes with you.
  806. "No more of that," you lightly scold. "Keep the past behind you, and focus on what's in front of you, Luna."
  807. >The comment receives the desired effect, the troubling thoughts fleeing Luna in mere moments.
  808. >"You are right. There is much ahead on which to focus," she says knowingly.
  809. >Unable to resist, you reach up and boop the tip of her hose with your finger, startling her just a bit.
  810. "Good to hear."
  811. >She giggles.
  812. >"What was that?" she asks through her laughter, repeating the movement with a hoof.
  813. "I don't know, but it got you to laugh, so it worked."
  814. >As the moment subsides, Luna's eyes abruptly begin to glow, as the dream realm puts her into a trance.
  815. >It was fun while it lasted.
  816. >"My apologies, the night is young but duty already calls upon me," Luna says, the light fading away as she returns to normal.
  817. "It's okay. If you want to stay on my bed while you do that, you're more than welcome," you suggest.
  818. >"As much as I appreciate it, I prefer to sit while I am overseeing my realm - being too comfortable can result in falling asleep, I am afraid," she replies.
  819. >With that, she gets to her hooves and descends to the floor, before taking a seat in your desk chair.
  820. >"You do not mind if I sit here, do you?"
  821. "Not at all. To tell you the truth, I might get some more shuteye, if only to try to get closer to your schedule," you admit, flopping back onto your bed. "Otherwise, I'd be up for another two or three hours."
  822. >She nods her head, leaning over to blow out the candles across from you, leaving only the embers in the stove to cast their glow.
  823. >"Have a good rest," she says, closing her eyes as a peaceful smile graces her face.
  824. "Goodnight, Luna," you mumble, transfixed by the sight of her.
  825. >In the dim orange glow, her lithe form graced with the slight airy movements of her etheral mane are mesmerizing, the sight and memories of tonight filling you with a warmth and joy on a level beyond comparison...
  826.  
  827.  
  828.  
  829.  
  830. [Originally posted 22 October 2019]
Anonymous Princess Luna romance wholesome AIE moon

Embracing the Night 5

by AutoPony

Embracing the Night 4

by AutoPony

Embracing the Night 3

by AutoPony

Embracing the Night 2

by AutoPony

Embracing the Night

by AutoPony