GREEN   84    22143   118.05 KB

Embracing the Night 4

By AutoPony
Created: 18th December 2020 11:07:11 AM

  1. >You damn near give yourself a headache as you frantically rack your brain for a solution to this sudden mess.
  2. >Why did you have to try to force a friendship lesson this evening?
  3. >A low rumble of thunder answers your dimwitted question.
  4. >Judging by Luna's reaction, this goes beyond the overreaction of a shy pony to royalty.
  5. >With no clear option and a sense that something is expected from you, you hit the basics - introductions.
  6. "Fluttershy, it's alright, this is Luna, and she's here on a casual visit, not royal duties," you say softly, before your eyes flash over to focus on Luna. "Luna, this is Fluttershy."
  7. >Luna only gives you a nod as she meets your gaze with a virtually blank face, before she eases closer to Fluttershy.
  8. >To her credit, Fluttershy manages to open her eyes and gaze at Luna, though still looking quite apprehensive.
  9. >"Fluttershy, I apologize for surprising you with my presence," Luna says quietly, slowly lowering herself down to the floor to be at eye level. "I suppose it is safe to say we have met before in... unfortunate circumstances."
  10. >"I - I'm sorry that my friends and I used the Elements on you," Fluttershy squeaks out.
  11. >Evidently taken aback by the apology, Luna looks up at you, her mouth agape.
  12. >Not fully sure of the exact details of any of this conversation, you lightly shrug your shoulders, cringing at your ineptitude on what is transpiring.
  13. >"Fluttershy, while I appreciate your desire to apologize, you have no need. I put you and your friends in that position that you needed to use them," Luna explains. "I tried stopping you and your friends every step of the way.  In fact, you were the one that calmed the manticore that I had angered upon the night of my return."
  14. >"*You* did that?!"
  15. >In a split second, the pegasus shifts from fearful to authoritative, rising to her hooves and marching right up to Luna
  16. >The abrupt change in attitude and the stern look upon Fluttershy's face is enough to make you back up a step.
  17. >Luna seems just as surprised, recoiling just a bit.
  18. >Yet, she remains quiet.
  19. >Meanwhile, Fluttershy is apparently keen to meet eye to eye with Luna, leaning forward so far her wings flare out, flapping in rhythm to keep her balance.
  20. >"How could you do something so mean to an innocent creature like that?!" Fluttershy spouts. "He did nothing to you and you just went and took out your own frustration on him!"
  21. >You didn't think Fluttershy was capable of being anywhere near this assertive.
  22. >But this is too much for you to just sit and watch now, shaking off the daze and opening your mouth to speak up.
  23. >Yet, you can't.
  24. >Before you get a word out, Luna glances in your direction for just a split second.
  25. >Ever so slightly, you see her shake her head.
  26. >Those turquoise eyes don't lie, silently pleading with you to stay idle.
  27. >Luna wants to hear this out.
  28. >Nevertheless, that slight bit of movement is enough to evidently break the spell Fluttershy had succumbed to, for she turns her head to follow Luna's gaze with curiosity, before flipping back to Luna.
  29. >Quickly she backs away, settling on all four hooves again and folding her wings away
  30. >"Oh, I didn't mean to get so cross with you," Fluttershy says apologetically, her face flushed red with embarrassment. "I'm sorry your Highness, it's not like me to - oh..."
  31. >Just like that, this conversation seems to have gone backwards, Fluttershy beginning to get extremely nervous.
  32. >"No, you are fine dear Fluttershy, there is no need to apologize," Luna quickly replies in a soft soothing tone. "It is clear to me I should be the one sorry. Not just for my actions, but my inactions as well."
  33. "What?" you blurt out, almost in unison with Fluttershy.
  34. >Luna takes a deep inhale as she glances between both of you.
  35. >"It is clear I should have met with you - no, with everypony whom I directly affected with my misdirected anger," she says. "What I did to you, to your friends - there is no excuse, and I'm sure that night is imprinted upon you as much as it has upon me. It was not fair of me to just - disappear back to Canterlot. I am sorry. You deserved a chance to speak to me, and I should have apologized - face to face, not just a blanket apology."
  36. >"That... that does mean a lot to hear," Fluttershy says quietly, her face half-hidden behind her mane. "I am sorry for yelling at you, Princess. I just have a lot of passion for animals - I sometimes get carried away just a bit."
  37. >"Thank you, but need not apologize," Luna says, finally smiling for the first time since this whole meeting began. "And please, call me Luna, there is no need for formalities."
  38. >With that, Luna stretches out one of her forelegs, the hoof pointing toward Fluttershy.
  39. >Surprised and confused at first, Fluttershy takes a moment to understand Luna's intentions.
  40. >But she quickly picks up the hint, finally allowing herself to smile and meeting Luna's hoof with her own, a quiet clop signifying the accepted gesture.
  41. >It allows you to exhale for what feels like the first time in minutes.
  42. >"I do think it would be nice if you could apologize to the manticore as well," Fluttershy carefully suggests. "I mean, I know you have your own responsibilities, but-"
  43. >"I could certainly make time for that," Luna quickly replies, before pausing a moment as her brow furrows. "But unless you happen to know where this particular creature is, I am afraid he will be likely hard to track. Manticore roam quite a bit, if I remember correctly."
  44. >"Oh, he actually comes to visit me every now and then," Fluttershy excitedly announces, before her face turns to one of curiosity and wonder. "I'm surprised you know that about manticore."
  45. >"Likewise, I am surprised somepony would befriend a manticore," Luna says with a light chuckle.
  46. >"Aw, manticore aren't as ferocious as everypony makes them out to be," Fluttershy says, her voice more calm and natural as her eyes light up with the conversation. "As long as you give them respect and space in their territory, they won't harm a thing."
  47. >Luna nods happily in agreement before her attention turns to you.
  48. >"Are you all right, Anon?" she asks, her grin fading a bit as the concern in her eyes takes control.
  49. >Appaerntly you have a stupid look on your face that's worrying her.
  50. >Well, you haven't said anything in a while, either.
  51. >And you've been staring.
  52. "Yeah. Yeah, I'm fine," you say, snapping out of your stupor.
  53. >Crouching down, you take a seat on the floor between and across from the two mares, forming a triangle with the group.
  54. >"I just - there wasn't much for me to say there," you clarify. "I'm just glad you sorted it out. What can I say, Luna? As I said earlier today, you're a natural now that you have confidence in yourself."
  55. >Your answer is enough to return Luna's smile back in full force, as well as a slight tinge of red to her cheeks.
  56. >"Thank you, Anon," she says quietly.
  57. >Now, Fluttershy is the one utterly stupefied, as she glances between you and Luna.
  58. >"Um, I don't mean to be rude, but I'm confused. What happened earlier today?"
  59. >"It would make more sense to explain why I am here rather than explain the events of earlier today," Luna replies. "Anon has been so kind as to help me with my social skills - more specifically, making friends."
  60. >"To be fair, your sister suggested it. I was just happy to oblige," you clarify, not wanting to take all the credit.
  61. >"Oh wow, you're going through friendship lessons like my friend, Twilight Sparkle," Fluttershy says, taken aback by the revelation. "Anon, I didn't know you were well-acquainted with the Princesses of Equestria."
  62. "It's a... more recent development," you say, not wanting to delve into the details.
  63. >Without warning, you feel yourself sliding across the floor, up next to Luna's side, where her wing circles behind you and cradles your back.
  64. >"It has been a wonderful development," Luna adds.
  65. >While she clearly hadn't expected to see such a display of affection, Fluttershy looks touched by Luna's action.
  66. >"That's good to hear. I'll admit, I get a little nervous when it comes to meeting new ponies," Fluttershy admits.
  67. "I think we all do at one time or another," you pipe in. "I've never been forward enough to speak to you much, so I'm glad I've gotten this opportunity."
  68. >"Me too. This storm may have been a good thing," Fluttershy says with a slight giggle.
  69. >The mention of the weather makes you keenly aware of how heavy the rain has become, as it hammers at the roof above you and blurs the view through the window panes.
  70. >It has also gotten quite a bit darker, too, with the ominous clouds fully botting out what little sunlight had existed earlier.
  71. >A quick look around to spot out your path to take to the candles and lamps around the room is enough to tip Luna off to your plan.
  72. >She points her horn toward one lamp, a spark of magic jumping away in an instant and lighting up the wick.
  73. >It only takes her a moment to do the same for the rest, your home illuminated with a warm orange glow that lends a familiar, cozy atmosphere.
  74. "Thanks."
  75. >"You are quite welcome. All you have to do is ask, Anon," Luna hums.
  76. >With the ice between everyone being broken, it's much easier to get a conversation started again.
  77. >"So I'm guessing the storm caught you by surprise as much as it did the two of us, yeah?" you ask, directing your attention back to your guest.
  78. >"Oh yes, I would have never gone to town this afternoon if I thought it was going to rain before I got home," Fluttershy replies, brushing aside her mane as it falls over one of her eyes. "Cloudsdale must have made a little mistake. But that's okay - I can't imagine it's very easy to get the weather just right."
  79. >You give Luna just the slightest smirk, a reminder that your guess earlier was correct.
  80. >Okay, part of it was, but it still could have been newbies.
  81. >Luna returns the favor as she eyes you, before returning to Fluttershy.
  82. >"You have not worked with the weather before?" Luna inquires. "I was under the impression almost all pegasi help with Equestria's weather at some point or another."
  83. >Fluttershy shakes her head.
  84. >"No. I've been to the factory before with my friend, Rainbow Dash, but I haven't helped with the weather. I'm not the best flier - I know that sounds a bit silly," she replies, embarrassed a bit as she drops her gaze.
  85. >"No, it is not silly at all. Forgive me, I feel I worded my musings improperly," Luna quickly responds, allowing Fluttershy to recover from the previous comment. "Your race should not dictate the path you must follow, it merely presents different opportunities."
  86. >Luna pauses for a moment, evidently considering her next move.
  87. >"By the passion that you have shown me, I assume you are involved with wildlife to some extent, yes?"
  88. >That question instantly returns Fluttershy's excitement and exuberance to the forefront as she nods.
  89. >"I help out all sorts of creatures and animals around Ponyville. Whether it's tending to an injury or just helping somepony get ready for the changing season, my home is open to everypony. Sometimes, it's even just a friendly visit, such as Manny."
  90. >You and Luna exchange confused expressions.
  91. >"Oh, that's the manticore's name, sorry about that," Fluttershy says with a giggle.
  92. >Manny the manticore.
  93. >Wow.
  94. >"That is a very noble cause, Fluttershy. I used to have a vested interest in animals years ago," Luna muses, her eyes staring off into the distance for a brief moment. "It may sound implausible, but at one time, I was able to communicate with all sorts of creatures. But I am afraid I have neglected my ability for so many years, I have lost my tongue."
  95. >"That's not impossible, I can actually do that," Fluttershy pipes in. "I thought I was the only one."
  96. >"Truly?" Luna gasps in shock. "That is quite the gift you have, dear Fluttershy. That is something you in which you should take great pride."
  97. >Fluttershy blushes just a bit, but her smile grows at the compliment.
  98. >Meanwhile, you can only stare in awe at Luna.
  99. >This mare is just full of hidden history and surprises.
  100. >"Thanks, but you shouldn't give up on trying to regain your ability to talk to animals. If you did it once, surely you can do it again. After all, if it's been only a few years..."
  101. >Fluttershy trails off as her eyes unfocus, coming to the realization of where her assumption of Luna's timeline would fall.
  102. >"Do not fret, my past is common knowledge," Luna says in a calming voice, which is enough to bring Fluttershy back from her nervous daze. "I suppose my sense of time is vastly different from most ponies," she adds with a playful tone.
  103. "Well now you got me curious, Luna," you chime in. "Is that how you have knowledge about manticores?"
  104. >Luna nods with a chuckle.
  105. >"That it is, Anon," she replies. "Back when my sister and I presided in our original castle that resides within the Everfree, I would walk outside the castle walls along the outskirts of the forest - and sometimes within the expanse of the forest. Oftentimes that was how I spent my nights," she says, chuckling again. "The forest was not near as feral as it is today, but the guards were still none too pleased with my habits."
  106. "Sometimes I get the sense you were a bit of a rebellious brat," you tease her.
  107. >The comment gets a wholehearted laugh from Luna, while Fluttershy's jaw drops at the rather bold suggestion.
  108. >"To be fair dear Anonymous, I am the little sister," Luna retorts, sticking her tongue out at you in a candid moment. "Is that not a requirement I was meant to fulfill?"
  109. >A sudden clap of thunder outside makes everyone jump and instantly derails the teasing between you and Luna.
  110. >That's probably for the best, as Fluttershy seems to be unsure what to make of the two of you, studying you both with her pale blue eyes.
  111. >Clearing your throat, you quickly shift back to the topic of animals.
  112. "So you said you help animals with the changing of the seasons, what do you do?" you ask.
  113. >"Well, some animals hibernate for the winter, so fall is a very important time for them," Fluttershy hums, eager to be back in her familiar territory.  "From squirrels to bears, I help in any way I can, whether it be helping to stock them up on food supplies, or even finding them a nice den in which to sleep."
  114. >It surprises you nature is apparently in need of help with such things, unlike where you come from.
  115. >But there's no need to bring that up, so you merely smile and nod at her explanation.
  116. >Then again, considering the weather is controlled by ponies - maybe it shouldn't be that surprising.
  117. >What has been surprising is how well Luna is doing just two days under your tutelage.
  118. >Clearly, she has more in common with others than she ever considered - it just happens that she seems to have forgotten all of what she is fully capable of.
  119. >But that in and of itself makes you uneasy.
  120. >What if she's doing too well?
  121. >The last two days have been perhaps some of the most enjoyable moments since you've arrived in Equestria - which really says something, considering you have enjoyed your stay since picking yourself up off the ground.
  122. >That can't last once these lessons are over - can they?
  123. >"Anon?"
  124. >You come to full attention again to see both Fluttershy and Luna staring at you.
  125. >Think of something, dumbass.
  126. "Sorry, just realizing how hungry I am," you say, forcing a chuckle. "Looks like I'm cooking for three tonight, huh?"
  127. >The two mares exchange glances, before giggling.
  128. "I'll take that as a yes."
  129.  
  130.  
  131.  
  132. >"Thanks for walking home with me. And thank you for the wonderful dinner, as well."
  133. "Aw, don't mention it. I certainly couldn't have you leave on an empty stomach."
  134. >As you, Fluttershy and Luna crossed the little stone bridge overlooking a babbling brook, the eventful evening seems to be coming to a close.
  135. >The storm that had trapped the three of you in your home had lasted less than an hour, but between dinner and the ensuing conversations, it was well past nine before Fluttershy headed off for home.
  136. >Naturally, it didn't sit right with either your or Luna to let the pegasus walk home alone in the dark, so you accompanied her on the trek to her place.
  137. >In reality, the sky had cleared up after the bout of rain, allowing Luna's moon to grace the sky unimpeded and shine its silvery light onto the landscape.
  138. >Of course, it meant that the lack of cloud cover had a trade-off - there was a noticeable chill in the air that had not been present at all today.
  139. >A light jacket was all you needed - and while you offered something to both of the mares, both had politely declined.
  140. >Not surprising - for whatever reason, despite their rather thin fur, ponies just never seemed to need attire to stay warm.
  141. >Regardless of that, Luna also lent light to the group in the form of a simple spell that caused the tip of her horn to glow, allowing her to light the path ahead and avoid the unpleasant surprise of a deep puddle.
  142. >It wasn't far of a walk between your little home and Fluttershy's cottage, but the whole conversation during that time ended up being about movies from your world.
  143. >Not that you minded it - but you should have known no one would understand when you referred to Luna as "Rudolph" when she lit the way forward.
  144. >The door to Fluttery's cottage opens before your group even reaches the threshold - the silhouette of what looks like a small rabbit standing in the doorway, backlit by the soft glow of the lights in the house.
  145. >"Speaking of dinner, I need to make sure Angel gets his meal right away - thank you both so much," Fluttershy says.
  146. "You're welcome. My offer still stands - if you need help with anything, let me know, I'm always happy to help."
  147. >"I will, Anon," she replies, nodding before turning her attention to Luna. "Will you still be around in Ponyville for a while? If so, I can let you or Anon know if Manny stops by for a visit."
  148. >"I believe I will be here for some time - there is no timetable laid out for these lessons," Luna replies. "Thank you, Fluttershy."
  149. >With a smile and a bit more pep in her step, Fluttershy turns and heads inside, the door closing behind her and leaving the night to encircle you and Luna again.
  150. "Well, that was a much livelier evening than I was anticipating," you quip as you turn to Luna.
  151. >The unexpected comment draws a giggle from Luna as she begins to head toward home, guiding you with a wing behind your back.
  152. >"Indeed it was, but I enjoyed myself. I am grateful I was able to speak with another of the ponies who saved me - and I believe Fluttershy was grateful for the opportunity to speak to me as well, even if it did not seem so at first."
  153. "Yeah, that was all - that was tense, the first few minutes," you manage to stumble out, rubbing the back of your head. "I'm sorry I wasn't much help there, and I had no idea you two had... history."
  154. >"There is no need to apologize, I did not know who Fluttershy was until she stood before me. And besides, that would still be no reason to leave her soaking in the rain."
  155. "Good point. I still sort of felt bad with you being put on the spot like that."
  156. >"Perhaps trial by fire is a good way to learn," she replies.
  157. >But her demeanor shifts ever so slightly as she looks up at you with a curious, almost concerned face.
  158. >"I do not mean to pry if you do not want to talk, but are you well?"
  159. >The question strikes you as rather odd, involuntarily causing you to make a face.
  160. >Evidently, it is a face Luna understands, as you don't need to ask for clarification.
  161. >"Apologies, I realize that was rather vague. I just could not help but notice on a few occasions, you seemed preoccupied, as if something else apart from the conversation at hand was on your mind."
  162. >Oh, that.
  163. >You find yourself at a crossroads of sorts in your mind with that inquiry.
  164. >On the one hand, it's been a good day, and the thought of ending it with the rather depressing thoughts of this time together being limited makes your stomach drop.
  165. >But...
  166. >Quite literally the whole reason everything has worked out that you are tutoring Luna is due to being away for so long, as a result of not speaking to her sister about her troubles years and years ago.
  167. >That's not to mention Applejack's predicament earlier in the day, fixated on fixing her own issues.
  168. >You're abruptly jolted from your thoughts as you feel your joints freeze.
  169. >But the snap to awareness also answers what is going on, as you note a blue energy surrounding you.
  170. >"You were just about to step foot into the puddle before you," Luna announces.
  171. >Her magic gradually releases you, allowing you to look down at the muddled water only inches ahead in your path.
  172. "Thanks," you say, turning to see Luna looks a bit embarrassed by her interruption.
  173. >But those radiant turquoise eyes relay a deep concern for your silence, as well.
  174. >Yeah, being silent about this would be stupid.
  175. "It's - I'm a bit worried you're doing too well at making friends, I guess."
  176. >The response forces Luna to cock her head, clearly perplexed by your piss-poor explanation.
  177. >"Why would that be an issue, Anon? That reflects well on you, doesn't it? You should be flattered," she says, letting out a light chuckle at the end.
  178. "That isn't really the issue. I mean, I'm impressed, I'm happy for you, I'm proud, but... well, the sooner you get comfortable with being more social-"
  179. >"-I will return to Canterlot, and you will still be here in Ponyville," Luna finishes for you. "That was why the document I received earlier from my sister had you on edge, yes?"
  180. >You nod, shoving your hands into your pockets as you feel somewhat exposed.
  181. "I love my life here, don't get me wrong. But the past couple of days have just been - it's been another level with you. I'm just worried that it's going to end soon."
  182. >The ambient light from above dims without warning and forces you to look up.
  183. >A stray cloud passes over the moon, obscuring it from view for a brief moment.
  184. "I didn't mean for that to sound so selfish by the way," you add, feeling a bit guilty.
  185. >"Hop on, Anonymous," Luna says quietly.
  186. >Confused, you look over to see Luna with her wings spread wide, beckoning to you with a nod of her head toward her back.
  187. >She looks surprisingly quite content, easing your somewhat sour emotions.
  188. "I didn't think we had that much father to go to get home," you quip.
  189. >Luna merely shakes her head, but her expression remains the same.
  190. >"I would tell you, but I think it is better to just let you see."
  191. >While you feel awkward as you climb onto her back again, your curiosity burns stronger as you carefully wrap your arms around her neck.
  192. "I'm ready," you announce.
  193. >Luna wastes no time in getting aloft, merely jumping up and letting her wings thrust you both upward into the sky.
  194. >Unlike earlier today when you two were searching for Applejack, Luna speeds upward into the night air, her head thrust forward like an arrow and forcing you to lean forward with her.
  195. >Her trajectory isn't straight up, but it's damned close.
  196. >What the hell, does she plan on visiting the moon?
  197. >Is that a thing she can do?
  198. >You cast your vision forward to see the moon growing in size, and for a moment, you truly believe that is your destination.
  199. >But Luna banks to the right, leveling off after a rather rapid ascent, leaving the moon's light off to your left side.
  200. >"Just one moment, Anon," Luna says as her pace slows.
  201. >Her horn suddenly begins to glow, the energy casting outward and back toward you.
  202. >You feel an odd warmth suffused through you as you're surrounded by her blue aura before it dissipates in time with her magic.
  203. "What was that?" you ask, utterly confused by her plans at this point.
  204. >"A simple spell," she replies, playing coy.
  205. >Luna's wings abruptly flare out wide, and as you peer off to either side, you realize where you are.
  206. >At roughly the same moment, Luna lightly descends onto the cloud that had passed over the moon only moments ago, touching down with only the slightest bump.
  207. >"We are here," she hums.
  208. "Wait, how are you just standing on this?"
  209. >The question earns a giggle from Luna.
  210. >"Pegasi magic, parts of the gift of alicorns, and how the pegasi themselves can manipulate the weather," she replies.
  211. >Oh yeah.
  212. >"And, you have that same ability, thanks to my spell work. Go ahead."
  213. >While you trust her word, you still can't help but feel tense, the thought of plummeting through the cloud and back to earth entering your mind almost instantly.
  214. >But as you push past those thoughts and swing one leg over and onto the cloud, you feel a firm - albeit, soft and yielding - surface under your foot.
  215. >Luna can't help but chuckle as you test out the cloud by gingerly hopping up and down.
  216. >There's definitely a springiness to clouds, but not anything dramatic.
  217. >Looking around at the cloud you stand upon, it stretches out a good thirty feet or so in any direction, if you were to stand in the center.
  218. >"Come, join me," Luna says quietly, walking to one of the edges and taking a seat.
  219. >Your tests and reservations about this setting finally put to rest, you head over to her, taking a seat beside Luna as her right wing cradles you from behind.
  220. >"I dare say you will not find a better view in this world," she gushes, scanning the landscape with a distinct twinkle in her eye.
  221. >It truly is breathtaking as you finally take note of the view from high above.
  222. >From up above, the light from the moon seems even brighter, allowing you to see the distinct shadows from familiar sights down below.
  223. >The glow from the lighted homes pepper the darkness, like stars in their own right.
  224. >Speaking of which...
  225. >You turn your eyes skyward to take in the view from this vantage point, as well.
  226. >It's no less awe-inspiring, as it seems as if the stars have multiplied just from your travels up here.
  227. >The indigo sky is packed full of little, twinkling lights, with varying brightness to add variety.
  228. >"Somepony after my heart, I see," Luna playfully whispers, as you feel her head rest upon your left shoulder.
  229. >You tilt and turn your head to take a glance at her.
  230. >A content, dreamy smile greets you, with half of her face obscured by her mane, draping over one side.
  231. >The one eye you can see is not focused on the skies but upon you.
  232. "You know, the view is even better when I tilt my head like this."
  233. >For a few seconds, Luna is able to keep her composure.
  234. >But it doesn't last - she breaks into a minor giggle fit and blushes, her cheeks a rosy red.
  235. >Meanwhile, her wing cinches you even closer to her, making you silently curse your jacket as you feel her sinfully soft feathers brush against the back of your hand.
  236. >But, you have to settle for putting your left arm around her barrel, just under her wing.
  237. >"You should not feel bad about when my friendship lessons are over Anon. It is understandable, but you need not fear that day," she says.
  238. "I know, it's like I said, you've been a quick learner. That's the only real reason it got into my head, I guess."
  239. >Without a word, Luna suddenly raises up one of her hooves, pointing it toward a specific group of lights in the distance.
  240. >"Do you know what that is, Anon?" she asks.
  241. >You squint, trying to make out some sort of form in the dark, to make sense of the pattern of golden lights.
  242. >But even with the aid of moonlight, it's too far for you to discern.
  243. "Should I know what it is?" you finally say, giving in.
  244. >"Not necessarily. But it is Canterlot," she answers. "I think I have demonstrated tonight, I possess a fair bit of speed and aerial abilities, yes?"
  245. "Probably better if you didn't have me as wind resistance and weight, but yeah," you joke.
  246. >"I am more than willing to traverse that distance every day if it means experiencing moments like this," she happily announces.
  247. "Seriously? How long of a flight-"
  248. >"That distance is nothing. I could stand to use my wings more," she laughs. "But you have to understand, I have gone through the same thought process, but on a much grander scale."
  249. >You turn back to face her, while she still looks out into the night.
  250. >"Time has had very little meaning to me for quite a while, Anon. When you live as long as I have, you lose track of it. When you spend centuries exiled in one place, time ceases to exist. I've only begun to appreciate it again, with the experiences I have had with you in just a matter of days."
  251. >Luna finally turns to meet your eyes, blocking aside her mane so you can see her whole face.
  252. >There is still a smile, but it has muted.
  253. >"Even if what is between us continues to blossom, there will come a day when you will not be here," she states flatly. "That is part of being immortal, and I am well aware that one day, I will feel the pain that comes with it. But to dread that day now, to try to steer clear of such future events - I would not be enjoying a moment like this. With you."
  254. >Luna's smile returns, bigger than ever as enthusiasm creeps into her voice.
  255. >"I know you supposedly have no magic within you, nor within the world that you come from. But dear Anon, I assure you, there is something magical about you."
  256. >You feel your own face growing warm at her last sentence.
  257. "I - thanks. I don't really know what to say," you mumble.
  258. >"Nothing more needs to be said. Savor the moment. Plan for the future, but live in the present. That is something I have not done in a long time, and I realize that now with some of the tales I have been able to share today, with Fluttershy and with you."
  259. >Luna leans in and gives you a quick peck on the lips, but that isn't enough for either you or her.
  260. >You reach up and brush her chin with your fingers, tracing down her jawline and to her neck as you turn to face her properly.
  261. >She leans in again and you meet her, lips locked.
  262. >A whole wave of emotions hits you, all of your concerns and worries about what lies ahead vanishing.
  263. >Nothing else in the world exists at this moment, as you feel yourself wrapped up in her wings.
  264. >It's a feeling unlike anything you've experienced before - almost like a shot of adrenaline and overwhelming joy all at once.
  265. >You savor the moment - the setting, the feeling, the hint of lavender that emanates from her - and the pure, unbridled love you feel for her, and feel received just as strongly from this mare.
  266. >"I am so glad we were able to do this tonight," Luna says as she slowly sits back.
  267. >Her wings have encircled around and partially above both of you, her feathers caressing your face and allowing only trace amounts of moonlight to filter through.
  268. >Just enough to see the warmth and adoration that glows within her eyes.
  269. "Me too. I love you, Luna."
  270. >Without a warning, you scoop her up and into your arms and lap, embracing her around her midriff.
  271. >She lets out a squeal of surprise and excitement, folding her wings before nuzzling you affectionately.
  272. >"I love you, too," she coos.
  273. >She turns to look at the view you both have once again but remains in your lap.
  274. "So, is this a frequent thing for you, or was it a spur of the moment?"
  275. >"Mmm, a bit of both, I suppose," she replies, leaning back into your chest. "Sometimes it is merely a flight, or sometimes it is as tonight - resting upon a cloud. But regardless of the specifics, I find the view from above settles the mind and isolates one from the woes and troubles I face on the ground. I found it fitting to bring you up here and talk, but it was looking up at the sky that seeded the idea."
  276. "Basically tricks the mind by distracting it with something breathtaking, huh?"
  277. >"Precisely. I also will admit, I have fallen asleep up here, as well," she says with a chuckle. "But the chill of a fall night would not be very comforting, I don't believe."
  278. >While the idea of staying up here all night sounds great, she's right - it's only going to get colder as the night wears on.
  279. >But for now, you just enjoy the sights - and the warmth and company of Luna, who is all too happy to stay in your arms.
  280. >You don't know how much time has passed, but eventually, a slight breeze passes by the two of you, bringing a reminder of the falling temperatures.
  281. >You even feel Luna shudder just a bit.
  282. "I'm all for doing this again sometime. Maybe during the day, too," you suggest.
  283. >"Of course," she says with a gleam in her eye as she turns back to you, rising up slowly out of your lap. "I also have yet to write to my sister this evening - though perhaps that will wait until tomorrow. We shall see what the rest of the night brings."
  284. >Speaking of tonight...
  285. "Oh shoot, I forgot all about our batch of apple butter," you say, quickly getting up to your feet. "I mean, it will be okay, but more difficult to get it into jars when it's cold."
  286. >"Then let us make haste," Luna announces, fanning out her wings in a proud display.
  287. >You get to your feet and hop onto her back once again, getting set for what you expect to be another display of aerial prowess, if her tone is to be believed.
  288. >"Comfortable?" she asks, hesitating for a moment.
  289. "Yep, I'm good."
  290. >With a nod of her head, Luna starts galloping toward the edge of the cloud, and with a leap, let's the air catch under her wings.
  291. >Surprisingly, it's a gentle, gliding descent, which causes you to ease up on your embrace around her neck.
  292. >"Did that make you tense? I do apologize if that little stunt was unsettling," she says.
  293. "You're fine, Luna. I was expecting something much faster, that's why I was - I suppose I had a bit of a death grip," you explain.
  294. >"Would you like to go faster?" she asks, a bit of mischief in her voice.
  295. >What the hell, tonight's been full of surprises.
  296. "Let's see what you got."
  297. >Your response gets Luna to slightly turn her head, a distinct spark in her eye as she grins wider.
  298. >There isn't a warning as she abruptly angles downward, her wings tucking in a bit to minimize wind resistance as she dives.
  299. >There aren't any clouds or marks to gauge your descent, aside from the ground, which isn't very helpful in the dark.
  300. >But holy hell, it feels fast as the air streaks past you.
  301. >Involuntarily, you tighten your grip on Luna again.
  302. >"Ah, so this is what you expected, yes?"
  303. "Damn, I knew you ponies could be fast, but I didn't expect this!" you exclaim.
  304. >The trees and buildings on the ground quickly begin to grow larger, before Luna gently eases up, roughly still a few hundred feet off the ground.
  305. >"It has been a while, I do not wish to push the boundaries of your comfort nor mine," she says, sounding just a bit guilty.
  306. "Hey, I think that was a better thrill ride than any roller coaster I could hope to ride," you encourage her.
  307. >It earns a chuckle as Luna scans the land below.
  308. >"I appreciate that, Anon. I have to say, I'm surprised at how far we drifted upon that cloud - but home is just up ahead."
  309. >Home.
  310. >Just the way she said that makes it sound as if she considers it her home as well.
  311. >Which is perfectly fine with you.
  312. >Luna's hooves touch down as she glides at a shallow angle, trotting to a stop just mere feet from the door to your cabin.
  313. "Well, that was a fancy finish," you comment, earning a prideful smile from Luna.
  314. >"Thank you. And I do hope you found my advice helpful."
  315. "I did, it really helps a lot - I hadn't even gave a consideration to how you felt, nor the situation you face," you admit.
  316. >Luna nods.
  317. >"Indeed. Life is all about making memories and enjoying the moment. But the night is still young - perhaps there are more moments in store for us."
  318. >With a renewed vigor, you open the door for Luna, and follow her inside your warm, cozy cabin.
  319.  
  320.  
  321.  
  322. >With a flash of light, the scroll that Luna had been writing upon vanishes into thin air.
  323. "Did you seriously already finish writing your friendship report?" you ask the mare lying next to you.
  324. >"By the stars, no," Luna exclaims with a light chuckle. "I was merely letting my sister know the report would come tomorrow due to the late events that occurred this evening - but I mentioned it would be essentially two reports in one."
  325. >After arriving home and taking care of the batch of apple butter you and Luna had made earlier in the day, there was little left to do.
  326. >It wasn't a bad thing by any means - this would be time that you would have often spent reading before calling it a night.
  327. >Instead, Luna lies beside you on your bed, enjoying the cozy atmosphere of a warm fire in the stove on a cold fall night.
  328. "How does that work? The letters back and forth, I mean. I know Twilight has gotten stuff from Celestia before, and her dragon friend Spike usually belches it up. Or sends it out - I guess I don't understand that one either, either than "magic."
  329. >You finish with a dramatic tone of your voice and a bit of jazz hands, which gets a laugh from Luna.
  330. >"That actually sums it up quite well, Anon," she says. "I could go into detail, but I'm afraid it will not be very helpful without a basic understanding of magic utilization."
  331. >"We can stick with magic, then," you reconsider.
  332. >"I find myself disappointed now," she replies, cocking her head but smiling nonetheless.
  333. "You're more than welcome to explain.it if you want, I was just kidding," you tell her.
  334. >"No, I was disappointed you didn't do the little motion with your hands," she clarifies with a chuckle.
  335. >You demonstrate the silly movement again, to her amusement.
  336. >"Much better," she jokes.
  337. >You reach your hand over and ruffle her mane up on top of her head playfully.
  338. >"Why do you insist on making a mess of my mane?" she scolds in a teasing manner.
  339. >You take a better look at Luna as she shakes her head, her mane settling itself back down.
  340. "Because it can do that all on its own. Seriously, most of us have to comb or brush our hair every morning."
  341. >"I can do that, too," she replies, looking just a bit smug.
  342. "But you don't have to do it. Also, isn't it annoying getting your brush snagged on a star?"
  343. >That comment gets a full-fledged helping of laughter from Luna.
  344. >"If that were truly the case, no, I certainly would not waste the time to brush it," she says, regaining some of her composure. "But it was quite distracting for the first few months I acquired this trait."
  345. >She motions with a hoof to demonstrate the leisurely, undulating movement her mane possesses.
  346. "You weren't born like that?"
  347. >"No, it only came with years of magic use and thus, an increase in reserves of energy."
  348. >You try to picture her with a normal mane, but really find yourself unable to do so.
  349. >"Is there anything you have planned for tomorrow?" Luna asks, shifting the topic.
  350. "Not really," you reply, rubbing your chin as you think. "I've actually been pretty fortunate in getting firewood earlier this year, otherwise that would be important. You helped me with food today. Did you have anything in mind, aside from your letter?"
  351. >Luna seems a bit surprised to have the ball tossed in her court, but nonetheless, you can practically see the gears in her head turning.
  352. >"Well, I still would like to meet with the rest of the Elements of Harmony at some point," she replies, before pausing in contemplation.
  353. "Something else on your mind?"
  354. >"Speaking with Fluttershy brought back some memories for me - many of which I remember fondly," she replies, circling her hoof on your bed with a bit of unease. "I have been doing well with my lessons as you have said, and I don't normally have this sort of free time..."
  355. >Reaching your arms out, you drag her over closer to you, much to her delighted surprise.
  356. "If you don't spit it out, I'll have to hug the idea out of you," you tease.
  357. >"That does not seem like such a bad torture method. Perhaps I'll wait a bit longer," she teases right back.
  358. >With that, you indeed embrace her just a bit tighter, which makes her giggle.
  359. >"I suppose there is no need to delay. Perhaps not tomorrow, but talking with Fluttershy tonight, I would like to take a hike through the Everfree for old time's sake. If conditions permit, I would not mind seeing the old castle again - I suppose a sort of paying my respects, though that sounds a bit silly."
  360. "That's not silly at all," you reassure her, booing her on the nose. "But isn't the Everfree a bit dangerous? I know Twilight about wrung my neck when I stepped only a foot in there. Not to mention, I don't want to see you down in the dumps again - isn't that going to bring back some painful memories?"
  361. >You let Luna go and slide off your bed, throwing a log onto the fire and stoking it.
  362. >When you turn back, Luna has lost some of her enthusiasm as she absorbs your issues.
  363. >" Perhaps you are right. It can be a bit dangerous if one is ill-prepared," she admits. "While I feel comfortable going back there, you have no experience, which, to be fair, does put a bit more pressure upon myself to keep a wary eye."
  364. "No offense taken," you reassure her.
  365. >" Yes, I will admit, there are painful memories. But looking back upon everything, there were fond memories as well - ones I perhaps did not see as positive at the time, but merely an escape from frustration. Apologies, I suppose I've slipped into a bit of nostalgia without fully considering the idea."
  366. >She is silent for a moment as you grab your fire poker, moving the embers and remnants of half-combusted wood around in the stove.
  367. >"You do not have full faith in me," you hear her softly lament behind you.
  368. >It almost feels cold in the room as you hear that, causing you to turn your head.
  369. >Luna averts your gaze, clearly downtrodden by whatever conclusion she has come to just from that little exchange.
  370. >Quite frankly, you feel like you missed a whole chunk of a situation.
  371. "What do you mean, Luna?" you ask, giving up on any reasonable idea save one. " I'm sure you could protect me, but I don't want to be a liability."
  372. >Luna shakes her head fervently.
  373. >"No, I understand and agree with that. But you mention a sour history of memories that may greet me on such a journey. You do not trust my resolve."
  374. "It's..."
  375. >Fuck.
  376. >You set down your fire poker and close up the stove, sitting back down on the bed.
  377. "What good is it to look at the past any more if it hurts?" you reply. "I mean, I get that yes, it was your home, but the last years - you said yourself, they were full of frustration."
  378. >"May I ask what good does it do to ignore that part of my past?" she retorts.
  379. >While her face only slightly belies disappointment, her voice carries it to your ears quite clearly.
  380. >You don't really have an answer to that.
  381. "I just don't like seeing you upset. Helping you work through what happened before - that hurt *me* to just sit there and try to comfort you. Knowing I really couldn't do anything."
  382. >"But that pain was there because I was unwilling to face it before, Anon," Luna says quietly, reaching a hoof over to set upon your leg. "I appreciate the concern, I do. I'm touched that you share such empathy. But burying emotions - burying things that I find unhappy - that was what set me upon the path that led to further pain."
  383. >The fresh log begins to snap and pop, adding a bit of white noise to the atmosphere aside from conversation.
  384. >"Well, what about you?" Luna asks abruptly.
  385. "'What about me,' what?"
  386. >"You have taken a vested interest in my history, is there any particular memories you fondly remember? From back on your world? I hardly know anything about your past - and I just cannot help but wonder why you never want to divulge anything."
  387. "It's doesn't really matter, does it? That was a whole other world, a whole other life," you reply. "I'm focused on what I'm doing now."
  388. >Luna stares back, stone-faced at your response to her.
  389. "Luna, I'm not trying to be a dick, it's just - my life is very mundane, always has been. It's nothing interesting, trust me."
  390. >"The past forms who we are, Anon, and I am interested in you as a person. This is not a competition - I merely desire to know more about you, as you have delved into my past with such intrigue."
  391. >She does have a point - you've asked a lot of questions, but any she's had have been met with vague answers.
  392. >It personally isn't much fun to look back.
  393. >"What is one of your fondest memories, Anon?" she asks quietly. "There must be something you look back upon and feel happiness."
  394. "Yeah, I suppose so," you hesitate, trying to come up with something.
  395. >Frankly, the last few years had been a bit of a struggle, and there wasn't much to find joy in.
  396. >Switching from job to job - even working two jobs at one point - was not particularly enjoyable.
  397. >Call centers, janitor work, and mundane manual labor were what you had to do to make ends meet.
  398. >Besides that, a lot of time was spent staring at a screen - whether it be TV, computer, or phone.
  399. >But there was the occasional drive out into the country that was relaxing - it beat the hell out of city life.
  400. >But that only happened when you had confidence in whatever piece of shit clunker you owned at the time.
  401. >That wasn't often enough.
  402. >Sure, the city had a park - if the homeless people, trash, and half-dead trees and grass counted as such.
  403. "The last few years kind of sucked, to be honest," you concede. "I lived in the city, but I occasionally got to see the great outdoors for a day."
  404. >"So the outskirts of Ponyville is a sort of dream location for you?" Luna asks.
  405. "Yeah. I mean, it was an empty lot I could build on, that was the big perk," you say with a chuckle. "Growing up, I mainly lived out in rural areas. Had to move a lot - mom was a house flipper, would fix up a house and sell it, buy another one. Rinse, repeat."
  406. >"That was not very conducive to forming friendships, I would imagine," Luna laments.
  407. "Sort of. It wasn't often a cross country move - usually, it would be roughly the same neighborhood. It was just always a lot of work - dad drove truck cross country, I hardly saw him. He and mom had gone their separate ways for the most part, anyway. But, he at least paid his dues in terms of sending money to mom for my sake. I can't complain."
  408. >While Luna remains at attention to your history, it is clear you've left her with a bit of a sour note, her cheery smile from earlier having faded a bit.
  409. >Or was it confusion?
  410. >"Pardon my interruption, but what is a 'truck?'" she asks.
  411. "Sorry, I forget about the little nuances," you admit. "Basically, he would haul goods around, from their origin to where they needed to be. Think of it as a train, but it doesn't need tracks, and it's just one car - well, trailer."
  412. >Luna nods her head, though her enthusiasm remains rather muted
  413. >"Well, was there a home that you remember? One that perhaps you look back upon and truly enjoyed?"
  414. >You focus mentally, flashing through the past in your head.
  415. >You never paid attention to how many different places were considered "home," but damn, it was quite a few.
  416. >A lot of them were dull - out on plain farmland, nothing to do or explore.
  417. >But there was...
  418. "I think I was maybe nine - twelve at the most, I know I wasn't a teenager," you start, trying to pinpoint everything. "It was an old farm, really old. The house was just a small little two-story, wasn't much to look at inside or outside. Probably one of the least interesting homes I had, to be honest."
  419. >"But that one sticks out in your memory?" Luna asks, cocking her head slightly.
  420. "It wasn't the house that was interesting, it was everything else," you chuckle. "As I said, it was an old farm - the barn was rather unsightly, borderline dangerous looking back on it now. There were a few corn cribs, packed full of junk from previous owners. The barn was too, but it was creepy going in there without lights - all kinds of rusty old tools and implements, just had a stagnant stench inside. I always felt it was a real-life horror movie."
  421. >Luna gets a little chuckle at that acnedote.
  422. "But it was cool. Just kind of exploring the place, it felt like there was always something new to find - some sort of relic from the past. Not to mention, it was a farm so yeah, you had fields on either side - but we had a little patch of wooded area just behind the old buildings."
  423. >"Another opportunity of exploration."
  424. "You bet. There was all kinds of stuff back there, mostly old equipment and cars buried amongst the trees and brush - gave an apocalypse vibe to the whole forest. Hell, I remember one wild-looking car out back there, had a wing and pointed nose cone - it looked like something from science fiction, but I guess it came that way from the factory."
  425. >You see Luna looking on, perplexed and amused.
  426. "Sorry, I got a bit carried away on something else. But I remember building a fort back in the woods," you say, unable to keep a straight face as you enthusiastically continue to reminisce. "It was just out of fallen logs I scrounged around for, some tin sheeting from an old camper top that was left discarded for the roof. But it was like a castle to me."
  427. >"A precursor to this home, perhaps?" she quips, looking around to take stock of the surroundings.
  428. "Yeah, I guess you have a point there. Though I have a lot more faith in this cabin holding up to a light breeze than that ramshackle fort."
  429. >"That home did not last for long, did it?"
  430. "No, it was only a year, maybe a bit longer than that," you say, shaking your head. "I kept hoping that one day, mom would decide that this was a home she couldn't part with, and we would stay there."
  431. >"Did you ever go back? To see the property? To flash back to those wonderful memories?"
  432. >You can't help but feel the enthusiasm drain from you.
  433. "No, I really didn't want to," you reply.
  434. >"You didn't want to remember the last days?"
  435. "No, I guess not," you sigh, looking up at Luna.
  436. >Her face is stoic and intent, merely absorbing your words.
  437. >"You pushed it all away, just to save yourself the little bit of pain that accompanied the fond memories."
  438. "I mean, yeah. So your point is that you don't want to do the same thing I did. I get it," you reply curtly.
  439. >But Luna remains silent, unyielding.
  440. >Just the sound of the fire resonates softly in the cabin.
  441. >"Part of you regrets not going back just to see the old home. Part of you regrets not speaking up how much you desired to stay there," Luna mumbles. "Part of you regrets having enjoyed the time you had there, for the sadness that came later."
  442. "It would not have mattered, Luna," you reply dismissively. "That's the life of a kid with a parent making money as a house flipper."
  443. >"But you never let those regrets go - and that regret made you numb yourself to the ensuing homes that you lived in, yes?"
  444. "Why are we playing twenty questions?" you ask, frustrated with Luna's analyses.
  445. >"I am not trying to upset you, dear Anon," she says, sympathetically scooching closer to you. "Do you know why I continued to visit your dreams long after dealing with your nightmare?"
  446. >You feel the urge to raise crack an answer, but stifle that stupid idea.
  447. >Instead, you're forced to shake your head lightly and shrug.
  448. >"It has taken some time to fully understand the reason I was drawn to you, Anon. As I have said before, I take my work in the dream realm very seriously - to stay beyond the aid of a nightmare is unusual for me."
  449. "But what did we talk about in the dreams? I don't remember, and you had to have gotten something out of me about my past."
  450. >Luna merely shakes her head at your suggestion.
  451. >"No. Most of the time was spent amidst idle chat- for the most part, regarding current events in our lives," she explains. "Of course, we did discuss your home here, and some of the history from when you arrived in Equestria, but beyond that..."
  452. >Luna pauses a moment, seemingly picking her words carefully.
  453. >"The dream realm can be fragile, in a sense that it is easily changed by the thoughts and ideas in our mind when we sleep. But it can also be changed even in the middle of rest, if I were to shift your train of though. It is what makes my work so important - and why it is a delicate balance."
  454. "So you're telling me you already-"
  455. >Luna halts your interruption with a raising of her hoof.
  456. >"No, I know of your life before your time in Equestria. But I could sense there was a fair deal of unhappiness lying behind those memories. To press through that barrier to ask about those memories would invite nightmares to form - which is the exact opposite of my duty as ruler of the night."
  457. >Closing her eyes, Luna clears her throat before continuing.
  458. >"You know I still had some issues within myself to work through - and you helped tremendously in that regard. But looking back upon it now - I feel I see much of myself within you. I feel there is a connection between us based upon similar circumstances we either have faced or are within the process of rectifying."
  459. >The hoof that Luna had laid upon your leg draws back, pointing toward her chest.
  460. >"You were the first I was willing to open up to in terms of my past because, within you, I see a kind soul who has become lost within a new world. Somepony able to move forward, seeing an opportunity - and yet at the same time, clinging to regret. Desiring to brush off something troubling, but only able to stuff it aside temporarily."
  461. >Luna lays her hoof back onto your leg, patting it softly.
  462. >"I see a kind soul with a great deal of empathy, somepony willing to help others - yet hesitant to forgive themself."
  463. >Raising to a seated posture, Luna sits at eye level, locking eyes with you.
  464. >"You have shown me how strong I can be, how to let go of my prior mistakes that plagued me - that I felt best left tucked away for eternity. I am very grateful for that, and I wish to offer the same aid to you when the time is right. But tonight is not that night - I am sorry if I aggravated you."
  465. "I know you didn't mean it. But I appreciate the apology. I'm sorry if I got a bit testy with you," you reply. "And I'm sorry if it seems like I don't have faith in your resilience. I do, I just -"
  466. >"You do not like to see me emotionally upset," she finishes for you. "I understand that now, and it is sweet of you."
  467. >Luna's expression finally breaks, settling into a warm, welcoming smile.
  468. >"After having sorted through some of your past, how do you feel about it now?"
  469. "Well, I wouldn't mind going junk diving in an old corn crib or exploring a forest," you wisecrack.
  470. >"I know you think your life is mundane, but I found that enjoyable to listen to, Anon," she says with a chuckle. "I will say I agree with your logic regarding traversing the Everfree - we should wait until you are better prepared."
  471. "Maybe Twilight has some books to give me some idea of the place - that could be tomorrow morning's destination," you suggest.
  472. >Glancing behind you for a brief moment, Luna grins as she shakes her head.
  473. >"I do believe that will come later this morning," she says slyly, pointing a hoof.
  474. >You take a look over to your desk off to the side of the room.
  475. >Holy crap, how is it 1:30 in the morning already?
  476. "In other words, you have to get to work, and I should get some shut-eye, huh?"
  477. >"I am afraid so. But today has been eventful - for mostly the right reasons, I believe," she replies.
  478. >Somewhat reluctantly, you slide back off your bed and grab another chunk of wood, throwing in into the stove before walking around and extinguishing lights.
  479. >Somewhat surprisingly, when you finish up and return to your bed, Luna has your bed ready for you, the covers pulled back invitingly.
  480. "All ready to tuck me in for the night?"
  481. >"Yes," she says somewhat bashfully. "Or... perhaps both of us?"
  482. "Won't you being that close to me while you're doing dream duties suck me in with you?" you ask somewhat skeptical.
  483. >"I - that was a bit of a fib earlier," she admits, turning red. "I didn't really need to be close in order to do that - it was a mere spell I cast."
  484. "Lucky for you, I figured as much," you reply, booping her on the nose as you lay down and shimmy under the covers.
  485. >It only takes a subtle patting of the mattress next to you before Luna eagerly joins you, her magic levitating the covers up to your chest while you put an arm around her.
  486. >"Good night, Anon," she says sweetly, closing her eyes.
  487. "Good night, Luna," you reply, petting her mane.
  488. >But secretly, you're mind isn't completely settled for bed just yet.
  489. >While it was frustrating almost feeling as if being interrogated, Luna was on point - she's been transparent and more than willing to share her past while she works through it.
  490. >Frankly, you'd rather see your memories wither and die away - let alone talk about them.
  491. >You keep thinking someday you'll open up, just like she has with you.
  492. >And yet every time presented with an opportunity, you just shove that idea down.
  493. >That person back then - you hate that person.
  494. >It isn't the you now.
  495. >Why drag it up?
  496. >Yet, the mere thought of bringing up those memories sickens you - just as Luna said tonight in a very concise manner, you want to bury it, but it still won't go away...
  497. >'Tonight is not the night' is good enough for you, and as you pull Luna up next to you and hear a dreamy sigh emanate from her, you close your eyes and melt away from those troubling ideas.
  498.  
  499. -----
  500.  
  501. Dearest Sister,
  502.  
  503. Before I go any further, I would like to apologize again for the delay in my friendship report, even if you perhaps do not expect one every day. Nonetheless, I am pleased to note that this is essentially two reports in one scroll, due to a late event during the evening.
  504.  
  505. I have been fortunate to have somepony like Anonymous to guide me, and in return, I have done what I can to aid him in his everyday endeavors. One such endeavor resulted in the bill that was sent directly to the castle, which I am sure you found rather perplexing. Anon and I spent yesterday morning procuring food items, and it was during that time in the market, a noted absence of a regular stall owner became apparent - that of Applejack, an earth pony that works at Sweet Apple Orchards on the edge of Ponyville. Anon and I both went out to search and found her stranded en route to the markets - her cart full of apples having been disabled by a broken axle. Unfortunately, she had let her pride and embarrassment cloud her reasoning, and rather than ask for help or admit issue, had attempted to move onward - even if it meant to the detriment of her physical health.
  506.  
  507. I took it upon myself to have Applejack's wagon repaired after assisting her the rest of the trek back to Ponyville. I felt it was the least I could do, considering she was quite welcoming and willing to speak with me, even after the dark circumstances of the Summer Sun Celebration in which we first met.
  508.  
  509. I cannot blame her for being so strong-willed and independent - it is a very good trait to have. But it is a fine line before one crosses over into the negative side of wanting to be too self-reliant - stubbornness. There are times one must step back and ask for advice or help. Family and friends are not there to judge us based upon our failure - they are there to lend a hoof in time of need, and there is no shame in admitting one needs assistance. Sometimes one can let his or her pride cloud that clear picture - which as you are well aware of as much as I - is what happened many years ago.
  510.  
  511. Yet, it was an odd situation that led me to understand that I have more in common with everypony around me than I once believed, and that I have another duty I must resolve while here in Ponyville.
  512.  
  513. It was the result of a storm unexpectedly rolling in and a pegasus in danger of being caught out in the weather that I met with Fluttershy - who you may also recognize as another of the Elements of Harmony. She was quite shy - and I suppose a bit afraid of me - but it was a connection that we share that allowed her to warm up to my presence - but not before showing me that there was unresolved business between us.
  514.  
  515. I realize that I offered an apology to all of Equestria upon my return as Luna, but that certainly was not enough for those whom I directly impacted with my actions. I intend to meet with all of the Elements of Harmony at some point or another and allow them to share any remaining feelings they have from that night.
  516.  
  517. For dear Fluttershy, it was my actions toward a manticore to thwart the group's travels to the old castle that she found quite upsetting. As it turns out, she in fact had befriended that particular manticore and had grievances about what I had done that night. But therein itself presented an opportunity, for I recall I was once enamored with animals around our old castle tucked away within the Everfree.
  518.  
  519. After my heartfelt apology and its acceptance by Fluttershy, we reminisced for quite a while. As it turns out, she has the gift of many tongues for animal speech that I once had, which is truly fascinating. Needless to say, the evening was a success, with a new friend for not just me, but Anon as well - for he had been somewhat hesitant to reach out to Fluttershy just as much as she had to him.
  520.  
  521. I am grateful for this opportunity, even though I may have been somewhat unreceptive of the idea at first. But may I remind you, do not hesitate to contact me if you are in need of assistance in Canterlot. I would also be remiss if I did not mention I am missing your company a bit - perhaps sometime I should stop back for a visit. However, Anon has been very accommodating and a wonderful host - I must say the change to such a simple and rural lifestyle has been a very pleasant experience - and one that I will not forget.
  522.  
  523. All of my love,
  524.  
  525. Luna.
  526.  
  527. P.S. My time spent here has also resulted in the discovery of different cuisine - the jar I have sent you is a delightful fruit spread called apple butter. Anonymous was kind enough to not only allow me to try this treat when he was almost out of it, but also allowed me to help him in creating this new batch! I do hope you enjoy it as much as I do; I think it turned out very well.
  528.  
  529. -----
  530.  
  531. >You glance back over at Luna, who happily nibbles on another breakfast of toast with apple butter - her suggestion.
  532. >Even if you tried, you wouldn't be able to stop the grin that spreads over your face.
  533. >Especially when you note the little dab of apple butter that has strayed onto the tip of her nose.
  534. >Luna takes notice that you are done reading her letter and looking at her.
  535. >"What did you think of it?" she asks innocently.
  536. "Well, first, you..." you reply, finishing by pointing to her nose, and then the specific point on your own nose.
  537. >Comically, Luna goes cross-eyed trying to take a gander for herself.
  538. >But she gives that up very quickly, resorting to sticking her tongue out in an attempt to reach it - and manages to do just that.
  539. >...
  540. >Wow...
  541. >Focus, dumbass.
  542. >Your blank stare apparently gives Luna a giggle, which helps you get back.
  543. "My brain decided to go blank for a moment, sorry," you tell her. "But anyway, your letter is very good, Luna."
  544. >"I was not sure how in-depth to go with each lesson I learned - I did not want to overwhelm my sister with unnecessary detail."
  545. "I think you did a good balance," you encourage her. "You explained each lesson learned well, which is what I think matters most."
  546. >You start to munch on your own breakfast as you hand the letter back to Luna.
  547. >Her magic seizes hold of the scroll, rolling it up before tying it off with a neat piece of ribbon.
  548. >Directing her attention to the jar of apple butter on the desk, she seizes that in her blue aura as well, levitating both items in front of her before closing her eyes.
  549. >A moment later, both the scroll and the jar disappear in a brief flash of light and a muted *poof*.
  550. "That's going to be safe sending that way, right?" you ask after the fact.
  551. >Luna opens her eyes again, quickly nodding.
  552. >"Of course. I could normally just send things to my sister without much thought - but I concentrated *where* the items would be placed," Luna explains. "It takes a little more effort, but I assure you, there is no danger."
  553. "I probably should have assumed that, but I couldn't help but picture Celestia getting conked on the head by a falling jar."
  554. >"No, that would be a poor way to start out the morning," Luna says with a laugh. "Bit how are you this morning? Did you sleep well?"
  555. "I had you to cuddle up to, why would I not have slept wonderfully?" you reply back teasingly.
  556. >The response gets Luna to smile even wider, but she lightly shakes her head.
  557. >"I meant to imply if you slept well, considering the conversation we had last night before bed," she clarifies, her expression growing more serious. "I had not considered it at the time, but having a discussion regarding somewhat unpleasant items was a mistake on my part."
  558. "Oh, no, I didn't have any bad dreams or anything of that sort," you answer back quickly, watching as Luna stays intent upon you. "You would have been alerted to my bad dreams anyway, wouldn't you?"
  559. >"Well, yes," Luna admits rather awkwardly. " But I still could not help but feel a bit of concern."
  560. "I didn't think it was too rough of a talk anyways," you assure her. "I admit it, I'm stubborn - I need to open up a bit more, considering how much I ask you about things. You're always willing to share with me, and I just - I try to avoid it."
  561. >"To be fair Anon, I have not asked many questions," Luna says. "But to a point, it is in our very nature to avoid unpleasant thoughts and ideas - everypony wants to be happy. It is just fresh in my mind how liberating it was to discuss the unfortunate events in my life. Talking about it allowed me to-"
  562. >Luna pauses for a moment, her brow furrowed as she ponders how to put her thoughts into words.
  563. >"Talking about it allowed me to sort everything out - to separate it up into manageable anecdotes, rather than a jumble of emotions and flashbacks."
  564. >While you don't reply, you apparently look rather skeptical, as Luna looks on with just the slightest air of disappointment, her smile fading.
  565. >"Last night, I saw how much you enjoyed reflecting back on your favorite childhood home. I do not know what happened to skew your vision to a more negative outlook - but there is happiness there. And regardless of what transpired, it has shaped you into the human in front of me. One that I adore."
  566. >Her last sentence strikes a strong chord with you, combined with that longing and wistful look in her eyes.
  567. >You cannot ignore that, even if you tried.
  568. "I'll try to open up more, I'm sorry," you sigh.
  569. >"That is all I ask of you, Anon," Luna replies, seeming to perk up more just from what little progress she has made. "But I have an idea that perhaps could be of some help. You enjoy asking me questions, and I enjoy it - but as you and I both know, I have asked very little. Perhaps we can go back and forth, a question for a question. Does that sound fair?"
  570. "I think I can do that," you reply, hesitating for a moment. "Are we basing questions asked on how personal the prior inquiry was?"
  571. >Luna cocks her head, leaning over with a hoof and placing it upon your hand.
  572. >"It is merely question for question, no strings attached," she answers quietly. "But regardless of what I ask, I am not here to judge, Anon."
  573. "I know you aren't, I'm just stubborn."
  574. >"Strong-willed is a much more positive tone, let us use that," she replies. "But since you have asked me so many questions, and we have plenty of time before the library opens, I think I would like to ask you something."
  575. "Alright, shoot."
  576. >You try to sound calm, but you feel a bit uneasy as you ponder what she wants to know.
  577. >Theres a lot of things you don't want to talk about - not now.
  578. >But you agreed to this.
  579. >"What is your favorite color?" Luna asks abruptly.
  580. "What?"
  581. >The basic, light-hearted question completely blindsides you.
  582. >And it's clearly obvious to Luna, as she lightly chuckles at your mindless outburst.
  583. >"I am not going to jump into deeply personal or painful topics - this is supposed to be fun, too," she says.
  584. >Luna picks up her glass of orange juice and finishes it off while awaiting your answer.
  585. >Damn, it's been a long time since you've gotten that question - probably grade school.
  586. >Still, it's a simple enough question.
  587. "Purple, probably," you reply as Luna sets down her glass. "I always had somewhat of a hard time pinning it down one hundred percent, because blue is a good color, but I'll go with purple."
  588. "There is a soft spot in my heart for a nice shade of violet - particularly a darker shade, such as what one can see as the night sets in the sky," she replies wistfully. "But you did mention my favorite color."
  589. "Blue, huh? So you're pretty happy with the color you turned out as, I'd imagine."
  590. >That gets Luna to laugh again - such an addicting sound to your ears.
  591. >"Perhaps that is what makes me partial to the hue, yes," she says, looking down at her fine fur coat. "I was not always this dark of a shade - that came with time."
  592. "Really? I didn't know that was a thing with ponies," you reply, confused.
  593. >"Not for all ponies, but it happens from time to time - my change was more directly related to my heritage as an alicorn, I believe. I can only assume, considering my mane changed at the same time; Celestia did not always have her mane mirror the likeness of the aurora borealis, either."
  594. >Luna pauses for a moment in thought.
  595. >"My sister underwent her change first," Luna says hesitantly, looking down at her body. "In some sense, I felt a little less appreciated after that - just as you stare in awe at my mane, so too did many of the ponies back then."
  596. >Now you sort of feel back asking for more information.
  597. >But, Luna looks back up at you with a grin, showing you she has no hard feelings left over.
  598. >"Sorry, I did not mean to get off track," she chirps. "That was just something that occurred to me in the moment."
  599. >...
  600. >What the hell is wrong with you?
  601. >This mare has no trouble sitting here and spilling her soul to you about the trials and tribulations, the triumphs and heartaches she's endured...
  602. >And deep in your mind, you know you lied to her.
  603. >You have no interest in sharing your past.
  604. >It sickens you.
  605. >You can't bring yourself to talk about that shit, and you can't admit it.
  606. >"Anonymous!"
  607. >You're startled by a sudden shout from Luna, finally focusing on your surroundings again.
  608. >Luna herself looks almost gripped with fear, her eyes as big as saucers.
  609. "What?" you ask nervously.
  610. >"I called your name three times," she gasps, before looking down at the table.
  611. >Following her gaze, you realize she's staring at your hands.
  612. >Which makes you aware of how hard your muscles have them clenched into fists.
  613. >You relax, your hands feeling as if they are made of rubber after being so tense.
  614. >"Look at me."
  615. >While spoken softly, Luna's voice comes out more like an order than a suggestion, making you rather reluctant to do as told.
  616. >But inevitably, you listen to her, looking back up at her.
  617. >While you aren't sure what you expected, Luna's face is calm - and rather emotionless.
  618. >"Do you trust that I would never divulge what you tell me to anypony else?" she asks quietly.
  619. "I trust you, Luna - probably more than anyone else," you spout without hesitation.
  620. >"Do you trust that I would never pass judgment onto you with whatever you share with me?"
  621. >You open your mouth but stop before answering.
  622. >That's evidently enough for an answer to Luna, who nods with the slightest hint of a frown forming.
  623. "Luna, I'm sorry."
  624. >"I am not upset with you, Anon. I will admit, a bit disappointed - but I suspected your answer would not be a positive one," she replies rather sadly.
  625. "I don't want you to hate me."
  626. >That response gets Luna to snap to attention at once, her eyes focused upon yours once again as her frown deepens.
  627. >"Why would you think I would hate you?"
  628. "Because I can't... I hate what the other me in the previous world," you manage to spit out.
  629. >"You hate yourself," she states flatly.
  630. "No, that's not what-"
  631. >"Everypony finds ways to cope with past regrets, Anon," Luna interrupts. "I am sorry if even the lightest probe into your past last night has brought up other things much less desirable - but you cannot run from who you once were - that is utter madness, and it leads to nothing but more misery. Trust me."
  632. >You stay silent, unsure if she is finished speaking - or how to even respond at this point.
  633. >" Anon, I said that I felt we had a connection, and it appears that connection is our past - and the ways that we try to avoid it," she continues, focusing intently upon you. "I tried to avoid what I did merely by isolating myself, thinking the shame would fade on its own. For you, you have clearly set yourself as two distinct people to separate yourself from the past - somepony who existed before your time here, and somepony new that appeared in this world."
  634. "Is that really a bad way to cope with it? I've accepted it, moved on, and I'm a new person now," you calmly debate.
  635. >Luna's eyes widen at your response, her mouth agape for a moment as she processes what you've said.
  636. >"Anonymous, that does not sound like somepony that has made peace with their past," she lightly chastises.
  637. "Because I can't!" you shout, leaning forward.
  638. >Your sudden outburst clearly catches Luna by surprise as she jumps just a bit, but remains steadfast in her seat.
  639. >As you settle back into your own seat and wrest your emotions under control, Luna eyes you with a solemn face.
  640. >"You cannot escape your past by pretending it was not you, Anonymous," Luna says. "We grow and improve upon ourselves by facing our mistakes, not passing them on."
  641. >Wordlessly, Luna slips out of her seat, sauntering over to your bed and climbing atop it.
  642. >She spins around and faces you before taking a seat, motioning with a hoof for you to join her.
  643. "Why?" you argue, knowing full well what she wants.
  644. >"I gather that you have never spoken to anypony about what bothers you, hoping that you could escape those memories," she says sadly. "Yet it was merely a small jaunt through your memory last night - and I could sense your dreams last night were not pleasant.
  645. >You... actually don't remember dreaming at all last night.
  646. >It makes you consider this is some sort of ruse to get you to talk.
  647. >The mere thought makes your heart hurt - not because you suspect her stooping that low, but the simple fact that you would accuse her of that.
  648. "I don't remember any bad dreams, Luna," you reply, shaking your head. "I certainly don't remember you coming into any dream."
  649. >"I dared not - I sensed discomfort, but not a full-fledged nightmare. There were more urgent matters last night," she explains, pausing for a moment. "And I did not want to intrude, for I feared I may have caused the issue in the first place."
  650. > It's so damn weird - less than a week ago, Luna appeared on your doorstep by your complete surprise.
  651. >It was a nervous experience - but it felt like you knew her, deep down.
  652. >And since then, it's only snowballed from there - living with you, helping you with mundane tasks, sleeping in bed next to you...
  653. >Maybe you don't remember consciously, but it has all felt so right.
  654. >The night she spoke to you about her woes, her anxiety revealing everything - and your focus was comforting her, not judging what she told you.
  655. >It's clear that she feels some guilt stirring up some of your past - and yet, she still wants to respect your privacy as much as possible.
  656. >With everything that's gone on... why couldn't you trust her?
  657. >At this point, she's right - this is never going to leave you alone.
  658. >You tried outrunning it - and those last years have come back again.
  659. >With a sigh, you resign yourself to the decision, getting up out of your chair and joining Luna on the bed with an unceremonious flop.
  660. "You promise not to judge me? That you won't tell a soul?"
  661. >Without a word, Luna turns her head away from you, her horn glowing with a deep blue energy.
  662. >It spreads outward, past you and her, and slowly extends out to the walls of your home, casting the whole room into a glow.
  663. >She turns back to you, nodding slightly as her eyes focus on you.
  664. >"This spell isolates everything within it - not a single sound or sight can be heard nor seen by anypony outside of it," she explains, before raising a hoof up to her chest. "I swear to you, by the very celestial body I am entrusted with and the night sky it inhabits - I will not speak of this to anypony, nor judge your past actions, Anonymous."
  665. >Her hoof slowly extends down, lightly touching your chest.
  666. >"Please, let me ease your burden - clear your mind and your conscience, Anon. You helped me - allow me to return the favor."
  667. >As much as you don't want to, she's right - now that the past world.is in your mind, it will probably plague you.
  668. >It was only the mere shock of arriving here about a year ago and learning the ropes to make a life and adjust that allowed you to bury the misery.
  669. >Maybe it will feel better letting it out - considering you didn't talk to anyone about it back home.
  670. >You sit back up, Luna shuffling to sit as close to you as possible.
  671. >"I am in no rush, Anon," she says. "Go at your pace."
  672. "I sort of lied before, Luna," you admit. "About - well, I guess it wasn't so much childhood, but adolescence."
  673. >"Last night was about fond memories, I can understand that," she says. "But what in particular are you referring to?"
  674. >You stare down at your hands, now sitting in your lap.
  675. "Dad paid his dues, kept sending money to Mom until about age thirteen."
  676. >"What changed, Anon?"
  677. "He died," you spit, without hesitation. "Snowstorm on the Pennsylvania Turnpike - hit a patch of ice, went into the ditch. Crushed the hell out of the cab I was told, wasn't a chance for survival."
  678. >"My condolences to you, even if they are late," Luna replies sadly.
  679. >You shrug somewhat nonchalantly.
  680. "I admit, it sounds callous, but it wasn't a major blow to me emotionally," you continue. "I think out of the last six, seven years before his death, I saw him maybe twice, if that - and not for very long. Really wasn't in my life at all - it was the money he brought in as a truck driver that made the most impact."
  681. >"That was a blow to your life in that sense, I would assume."
  682. "Not initially. I mean, mom made fairly good money flipping houses - but it's always a gamble that what you plan on turning around for cash isn't a money pit - and that's what happened about the same time," you lament. "I don't really remember what was wrong with the house - I just remember it was a lot of work, a lot of money - and that god awful house drained mom of a lot of money."
  683. >"Forgive me, but I have to ask - what of your father's family? Surely they offered some help, yes?" Luna asks, her voice holding a faint optimism.
  684. >You have to shake your head to squash those hopes.
  685. "I wasn't planned in the first place - it's why my mom and dad only stayed together for two years or so after I was born," You reply with a half chuckle. "His family never approved of my mom, I don't think I ever saw them - after his death, what little dad had as far as money and whatnot went to his family - never heard from em or received any help."
  686. >"I am sorry. But I have to assume that is not the end to this tale, either," Luna says.
  687. "It sets up me being a selfish little shit," you reply, not bothering to hide the venom directed at yourself. "Before that, mom spoiled the hell out of me - she could afford to buy all kinds of crap. But losing a paycheck and then losing so much on trying to fix up and sell a house - mom had to give up what she enjoyed so much. Took a desk job after that for a decent and stable wage, and to keep what savings she had intact rather than risk it all on a house."
  688. >"You got used to a plush lifestyle and that changed - it's understandable somepony would find it difficult to adjust. Especially somepony not yet an adult," Luna consoles you, as you see and feel her hoof rest upon your leg.
  689. "I didn't try, Luna. It just made me bitter - and living in an apartment in the city? That made me more frustrated. Mom got a bit overbearing at that point too, She didn't want me getting into trouble - I really wasn't able to venture out into the world, explore the city. Would only lead to trouble, she said."
  690. >You take a deep breath, and with an exhale, begin to push through the chains in your mind that block the doors you swore to never open again.
  691. "Then college came along."
  692. >"You were able to go to college? That is an accomplishment, Anon," Luna encourages you.
  693. "Not a major esteemed college, and it wasn't based on personal achievement - I was an average student in school, at best," you admit. "Mom saved a lot of what she had previously used for house flipping to pay my way through college."
  694. >"She was looking out for your best interest all along," Lyna replies, trying to inject some sort of positivity into your story.
  695. "I pissed it away," you respond bitterly. "I got to college, and it was all about the escape, all about being free of any restrictions - and I went nuts - got into the drinking, the partying, sleeping around with any girl drunk enough to do so. The actual course work and grades meant nothing to me."
  696. >"I assume that did not last," Luna comments.
  697. "It did until I started asking for money all the time - I lived in the dorm, and I chewed through everything my mom gave me in terms of cash. I was all sorts of pissed off when after a semester, she said she wasn't going to pay for it all anymore - and I ended up living back home. So she could see how well I was *really* doing in college."
  698. >"Not well, by the sounds of it. Did your habits at least change for the better living at home, having supervision again?"
  699. >You let out an inappropriate laugh.
  700. "Hell no, it just meant I had to travel to go to parties, which made me angrier. I started hating my mom, and I took any chance I could to crash or pass out at someone else's house."
  701. >Luna is silent for the first time, offering no input.
  702. >You don't look over but can imagine the disgust lying within her at your past as you keep going.
  703. "Mom finally got sick of it one night when I came home plastered - she couldn't stand seeing me like that, and I never spent any time with her even though I lived with her. She was always so focused on bringing me up right, she never went out and about - I never thought about how alone she was."
  704. >"What happened, Anon?" Luna asks quietly.
  705. >You shake your head, already feeling your stomach starting to get queasy.
  706. "I had just started dating some broad I met at a party - Tiffany. I use the term dating very lightly, as it was more of a going to party, get smashed, and fuck - there really wasn't much beyond that. We met at parties two or three times - I don't really know if we had much in common. She was basically there to party, and honestly, I think she just saw me as an easy way to get free drinks and shit, since my mom had given me a decent amount of money to "live" on."
  707. >Hell, the more you think about it now, you realize it should have been obvious - but you were a bit desperate, seeing everyone else hanging with someone all the time, and you didn't have any actual friends at the time.
  708. >You have to shake your head free of the inflection to continue.
  709. "Anyway, she lived near campus, in her own little home. I don't remember ever asking how she got it or paid for it - or if she was even the only one there. But she invited me to crash with her, and I was all for it - anything to get away from my mom, as sad as that is."
  710. >"Your mother was against the plan."
  711. "I told her about it in a haze after arriving home late one night. She was already pissed about me coming home late, coming home buzzed and add that in - she was furious. Told me there was no way she was going to keep paying for college just for me to get smashed and live with a whore."
  712. >You shake your head as your mind replays the words in your head like a tape recorder.
  713. "I was so pissed off, I was so damn drunk, I didn't even think."
  714. >"What did you do?" Luna asks, her voice uneasy.
  715. "Just spoke what I thought. Told her I wasn't about to grow up alone and miserable like her - I was going to do what the fuck I wanted. Finished off by telling her to fuck herself, went to my room, and passed out."
  716. >You don't look up, but your mattress shifts as Luna fidgets a bit, evidently at a loss for words.
  717. >You just sit there, playing it back in your mind - getting home, shouting at your mom, and off to bed with a slam of the door.
  718. >You even remember the angry buzz of your bedside alarm clock - and the switch to 11 pm on the dot before everything goes black.
  719. >You stop for a moment, trying to compose yourself in order to continue.
  720. >"You let your own selfish desires and an inebriated mind get the best of you, to the detriment of your relationship with your mother," Luna says sadly. "That is... I find it difficult to picture you like that, Anon. But I suppose sometimes we don't realize what we have done until after we cannot take our actions or words back. Did you at least try to rectify the situation the next day?"
  721. "There was no rectifying what I messed up," you say, unable to keep your voice from cracking. "I got up the next morning, hungover, feeling like absolute shit - I was just focused on getting some painkillers from the bathroom. So I eventually mustered up enough strength and stumbled out into the hall, into the living room, and -"
  722. >You stop and throw your hands up.
  723. >"What? Anon, what happened?"
  724. >You bite inside of your cheek as tears start clouding your vision, feeling a wave of nausea as you try to answer Luna's question.
  725. "There was mom. Hanging from the ceiling fan," you spit out. "Couldn't stand the thought of her son being such a fuck up and such a selfish bastard, she got an extension cord, tied it up, and hanged herself at some point after the argument that night."
  726. >Luna lets out something sounding like a gasp and a whimper rolled into one - if that is even possible.
  727. >You just choke back the emotions flowing out the best that you can.
  728. "That image is still burned into my head every time I think back on it. I still see her hanging there limp, completely still, the bluish tinge on her skin, the bruising on her neck - and those cold, lifeless eyes staring down at the floor. I don't even know why I looked at the coroner report, but she didn't even go quick - died of strangulation while my useless ass was passed out in bed sometime around midnight."
  729. >"Anonymous. I'm so sorry," Luna mumbles, as you feel her wing brush your back.
  730. >You shrug it away quickly as you turn to her.
  731. "No," you sharply reply. "No."
  732. >Through your blurred vision, you watch Luna pull her wing back and fold it back in, her ears dropped back as a deep sorrow fills her face, but nodding forlornly in understanding.
  733. >You can't bring yourself to keep your eyes on anyone right now, so you drop your gaze back to the floor.
  734. "My mom had basically used up a vast majority of her money to send me to college, and she didn't have any life insurance - it took almost everything she had left just to bury her."
  735. >"You at least had a place to stay with your girlfriend, did you not?"
  736. "No, mom was right about her. Tiffany only had an interest in being around me when I was partying and throwing money down for booze - she told me I was being a real buzzkill, considering that I was trying to get away from my mom, that this was a break. I stayed with her for a couple of weeks, with her roommate she didn't bother to mention before, but seeing I was still not getting over it, she moved on - and kicked me out. Used the roommate as an excuse, said she had told her in private I was creeping her out or something - don't know. I was in my own pit of misery. I don't think I ever talked to her or knew her name."
  737. >You just shake your head as you continue.
  738. "I had to drop out of college, had to get whatever job I could. What little was left from mom's estate got me an apartment and about three months of rent - I drank the rest of it away. I couldn't deal with it, I didn't trust anyone after being left by that bitch - I just kept to myself. That was my life for the last three years. Go to work, come home, and drink to put everything out of my mind. I went through job after job when I would eventually fuck up and show up to work drunk."
  739. >"Anonymous..."
  740. >You feel Luna trying to offer you a physical touch as comfort, but you're too sickened by reliving everything again to feel deserving.
  741. >You pull away from her just as her feathers brush against your arm.
  742. >"Anonymous, please-"
  743. "No!" you shout, turning to her.
  744. >Luna is visibly upset at this point, but whether it is due to your outburst or hearing the darkness that you've kept walked up inside you is unclear.
  745. >At this point, you're too far gone for it to matter to you.
  746. "That's why I don't like talking about my past - that's why I keep it shoved down as far as I can!" you exclaim, as a fresh set of tears clouds your vision. "I have to live my life thinking that was someone else and not me. I can't live with the idea that I killed my mom. Literally single-handedly raised me, tried to do all she could to see me succeed in life, sacrificed her own happiness for me! And what do I do? I turn into an evil, selfish piece of shit, and throw everything she did to the curb! I may as well have hanged her from the ceiling myself!"
  747. >"Anonymous, you didn't kill your mother, and you're not evil!" Luna pleads with you, her voice cracking a bit under emotional strain. "You made a series of bad mistakes, you said things you should not have - but that doesn't define you for life."
  748. "That kind of pure selfishness is evil, Luna, I don't care what you have to argue," you snap back, doing your best to keep your nose from constantly running by sniffling hard.
  749. >"Then by your definition, I am evil, Anon," Luna says, her tone wavering.
  750. "What? No-"
  751. >"I let petty jealousy and selfishness get in the way between my sister and me, Anon," Luna interrupts, choking back a sob as she starts to cry. "The pony who watched over me, made sure I was safe, sacrificed her childhood to make sure I was cared for - and I threw that all away for - for what? Attention, I suppose? Adoration?"
  752. "No, Luna, you aren't evil," you quickly backtrack, now becoming fully aware of what you said. "That's not fair and it's a different situation."
  753. >"How, Anonymous? How is it different?" she whispers back. "Tell me how it's different- how you can be such a terrible being - but not me?"
  754. "It's-"
  755. >You can't think of anything to say.
  756. >Luna seizes the opportunity to gingerly put her forelegs around you in an embrace, followed by her wings.
  757. >"Let it all go, Anon," she whispers into your ear.
  758. >Your mind is just a mess of thoughts and emotions mixed into one - instinct takes over.
  759. >You hold Luna, falling into her embrace and just sob.
  760. >Three years of misery lets go all at once while you just focus on the mare holding you right now and cry.
  761. >As you do so, you hold her tighter, as if afraid of falling into the chasm left behind inside you.
  762. >Luna strokes your back and your hair, all the while slightly shuddering once in a while.
  763. >At some point, you find yourself just nestled into her chest fur, though how you managed to do that without feeling uncomfortably scrunched up eludes you.
  764. >Not that you care to ponder it.
  765. >You just don't want to feel that pain from the past anymore - so you just focus on her warmth, her softness, and her heartbeat.
  766. >And her love.
  767. >Eventually, everything just fades away...
  768.  
  769.  
  770. >Ever so slowly, you fade into consciousness, feeling rather sleepy despite dozing away for...
  771. >How long was it?
  772. >Did you oversleep?
  773. >The thought causes your eyes to snap open and your heart rate to pick up just a bit.
  774. >Even if you don't have anything of importance which to set a deadline, you still like having some sort of regular schedule.
  775. >It's only when you realize your vision is obscured by blue fur that you recall that this is not your first time awakening this morning.
  776. >Now, you take stock of your position.
  777. >True, you're on your bed as expected - but you now feel Luna clinging to you like an article of clothing.
  778. >One of her forelegs drapes itself over you, while the other, denied an embrace by the bed you lay upon, settles for resting against your chest.
  779. >Her left wing lends itself to you as a blanket, while you feel the rest of her body snuggled up against you.
  780. >She's so warm...
  781. >Carefully, you arch your neck in order to look up, finding Luna's chin essentially resting atop your head.
  782. >And unfortunately, the slight movement of your hair brushing against her causes the moon princess to stir with a slight murmur.
  783. >Everything from earlier floods back to you - and in an instant, makes you feel a bit weary.
  784. >Luna's face enters your sight before you can go any further thinking about this morning's talk.
  785. >"I did not wake you, I hope," she whispers calmly.
  786. "I think it was the other way around," you reply, surprised at how hoarse your voice is upon hearing it.
  787. >Then again, you don't really know how much time it was between your breakdown and evidently falling asleep.
  788. >As Luna's beautiful eyes study you, you can't help but note her eyes look a bit bloodshot irritated.
  789. "I ended up making you upset, didn't I?" you ask.
  790. >The inquiry gets a little bit of an upturn on the straight face that belied a sense of concern only moments before.
  791. >"Not necessarily you, Anon -do not worry about me," she replies, raising her hoof that had been resting atop you to the side of your face. "It hurt to see you so distraught- and to fully understand why you have until now stayed silent on your life."
  792. >You inhale deeply while bringing the palm of your free hand up to your face, gingerly rubbing an eye to clear the remnants of that discussion and focus your vision.
  793. "I think you might seriously be the only soul I've ever talk to about any of that, Luna," you admit. "Here or back on - well, the prior life or world - however you want to refer to it."
  794. >"I can fully understand the reluctance to open up - but I believe you now fully realize why that is not a good thing," she replies calmly.
  795. "No, I suppose you're right - I want to escape that person, but it's still me."
  796. >"It *was* you, Anonymous," Luna cautiously affirms. "But the mistakes that you have made should not dictate the rest of your life - and indeed, it has not here in Equestria. While I am still adamant that keeping all of this emotional trauma and guilt has had some detrimental effects that you felt today, the change in scenery upon arriving here was a jolt you needed to take what you felt from that day and make a change for the better."
  797. "I guess you're right," you say, feeling hesitant to fully agree with her.
  798. >But Luna will have none of it, as her hoof strays to the underside of your chin, lifting it up just enough to meet with her eye to eye.
  799. >"I know I am right, Anonymous," she states flatly. "I could not understand why you could consider yourself selfish when I have watched you repeatedly go out of your way to help others. You have helped me - and in turn, helped my sister. You went out of your way to help Applejack, and you were quick to usher Fluttershy into your home to avoid the inclement weather - not to mention fixing a meal for her, as well. Somepony selfish does not go through all that effort."
  800. >Luna drops her gaze as she mulls something over in her mind.
  801. >"I will admit, it is likely easier in some sense for me to forgive myself, as the pony I felt I had wronged years ago is still here. I am sorry you do not have that luxury - but I am certain what transpired was not your fault, and I truly believe that seeing the changes you have made as a result of your loss, your mother would be proud of you."
  802. >Hearing those words from Luna brings a fresh batch of emotions to the forefront, as your eyes start watering again.
  803. >While you bite your tongue to keep them in check, Luna pulls you closer with her wing and shuffles her other foreleg underneath your body to embrace you.
  804. >"Let yourself feel, Anonymous," she softly tells you. "Learn from my mistakes - do not bottle up your emotions. I am here for you."
  805. >You let yourself relax and let go of the wall in your head, letting the tears flow freely again, all the while Luna strokes your back and nuzzles you.
  806. >"I have said it before, and I will say it again - you have a kind heart. Do not dare consider yourself evil for what has happened - somepony evil would not feel such remorse nor such pain upon reflection."
  807. >You manage to put your arms around her and return the warm hug.
  808. >Her words - or perhaps more importantly - her soothing tone eases some of the emptiness you feel.
  809. "Thank you, Luna," you say, blinking away some of your tears.
  810. >"There is no need to give thanks, for I am merely returning the favor," she says, allowing herself to smile again.
  811. >It doesn't take long before you regain your composure, though you're more than content to just stay the way you are in bed right now.
  812. >Luna seems to feel the same way, for she makes no effort to pull away or arise from bed.
  813. "What time is it, anyway?" you ask out of pure curiosity.
  814. >Luna raises her head just enough to view the desk behind you.
  815. >"A quarter till eleven," she says, resting her head back down.
  816. >Considering you normally get up around six-thirty, and breakfast didn't take that long to make-
  817. >"You were asleep for a solid three hours," Luna chimes in as if reading your mind. "I... fell asleep at some point, as well."
  818. "So much for getting to Twilight's library first thing in the morning, huh?" you suggest jokingly.
  819. >"The best-laid plans are often laid to waste," Luna replies, leaning in and smooching you on the forehead. "If you are up to it, we can still visit the library."
  820. >You hug Luna just a little bit tighter as a response.
  821. >"Or... the two of us could relax for the day, and I could share with you the knowledge that I possess about the Everfree off of the top of my head," Luna says with a knowing smirk.
  822. "I like the sound of the second option," you tease.
  823. >"As do I," Luna agrees with a laugh. "It may be for the best- the past forty-eight hours have been quite busy, and with what you have been through just this morning, I would not be surprised if you are still feeling tired even after a nap."
  824. "Not... in a physical sense," you hesitantly reply as you attempt to put your thoughts into words.
  825. >"It is a feeling of fatigue in your mind - a sense of emptiness perhaps, after sitting upon all of those feelings for so long. Ponies do not realize how much our emotions can affect us in a physical sense. There is a reason why my work in the dream realm is a very serious duty."
  826. "That's - yeah, you sort of explained how I feel."
  827. >"One would be surprised at how much of the inner workings of the mind are paralleled between the waking world and dreams," Luna explains. "Most individuals consider dreams to be the fantasy of an overactive mind during sleep, but that fantasy has roots in the realities we experience - and the emotions."
  828. "I have to believe that makes it hard though, having to sort out the muddled grey area," you chime in.
  829. >"Not necessarily, Anon," Luna cautions. "You mean to imply the physical world is a would of black and white - and you know that is far from the truth, just from your past and how I view it. There are different facets to everything in this realm and the dream realm - I am just attuned to taking note of the subtleties and sorting the pieces of each situation to form something coherent."
  830. >As Luna concludes her explanation, her ears flatten as she grins sheepishly in embarrassment.
  831. "Sorry, I did not mean to get so far off of the conversation I intended to start."
  832. "There's no reason to be sorry - it's something you have a lot of passion about," you tell her. "I really think you have a career in psychology if you decide to retire from princess duties."
  833. >Luna giggles madly at your comment, squeezing you tight for a moment before easing off.
  834. >"While you may have a point, I prefer the way that I currently meet with ponies and aid them - an office does not suit me at all," she quips, tossing a bit of her mane aside that had strayed into her vision.
  835. "Your writing is too neat for a doctor too," you add.
  836. >"Ah, so that quirk is not unique to Equestria?"
  837. "Nope. I assume that's part of their schooling."
  838. >"You may be onto something, Anon," Luna replies with a smirk.
  839. "So, the Everfree Forest. What's dangerous about it?" you ask, shifting the topic to what had originally been decided upon.
  840. >Luna nods in approval.
  841. >"Well, that is a rather vague question, Anon. Personally, I do not believe it is as dangerous as everypony makes it out to be," Luna answers. "I believe much of the stigma surrounding that patch of land is due to the foreign nature - which in and of itself, is based upon the legends and lore that ponies have concocted over the years."
  842. "Basically tall tales that get passed on and more misconstrued and exaggerated," you comment.
  843. >"Yes - but only to a certain extent," Luna says, backing off of her convictions just a bit. "Every legend has at least some basis of truth to it, and the Everfree is no different - there are creatures we do not see inhabit any other place in Equestria aside from the Everfree - and that inexperience is why most fear the place."
  844. "A fear of the unknown, I get that," you chime in, to which Luna nods. "I suppose you're more comfortable because you resided there - well, in a castle, but still."
  845. >"I must admit, having the raw magical abilities I possess takes much of that fear away, too," Luna clarifies, looking just a bit uneasy. "But I am not impervious to everything in there."
  846. >The admittance surprises you, as you pull away from Luna just a bit.
  847. "What could harm you? Couldn't you just blast anything to smithereens?"
  848. >"Anypony can get caught out in an unexpected situation, Anon," Luna says with a cautionary tone. "While I would be hard-pressed to have a manticore catch me by surprise, the same cannot be said for a cockatrice."
  849. "A what?"
  850. >Luna shifts away from you a bit before you notice her horn glowing faintly, the energy pooling into a transparent orb right before your eyes.
  851. >The haze in the ball of magic swirls subtly, slowly forming an image that is completely foreign to you.
  852. >What looks like some sort of dragon-like creature appears in a static pose.
  853. >Well, dragon, sans the chicken head.
  854. >"A cockatrice seems like a harmless enough animal, and indeed, if one were to hide in the underbrush with only its head poking out, one would likely rest complacent, mistaking it for a run-of-the-mill chicken," Luna explains. "Therein lies the danger - the gaze of this creature has the power to turn one to stone."
  855. >"Just one look at this thing could kill you?!" you shout in shock.
  856. >Luna quickly backpedals, shaking her head.
  857. >"No, it does not kill - consider it a form of suspended animation," she corrects. "The affliction is reversible - the largest obstacle to overcome is if somepony were foolish enough to not notify friends or family. Worse still, if one were to stray far from the path, he or she may never be found."
  858. >The thought of being stuck forever in a dense forest with no hope of rescue sends a chill up your spine.
  859. "So don't mess with chickens in the Everfree, because it probably isn't a chicken."
  860. >"As odd as it may seem, you are correct," Luna replies, sharply nodding once. "Manticore tend to stalk their prey, and seldom go after ponies - Fluttershy was not wrong in her sense that those creatures are more timid than they seem. But timberwolves - those are quite another category."
  861. >Surprised by the mention of something you actually know about from Earth, you speak up.
  862. "Really? There were timberwolves in the world I came from, and they weren't very aggressive. Sure, you get caught out in the middle of nowhere, you had to be wary, but I would not consider them an imminent danger."
  863. >Luna gives you an oddly coy smile at your interjection.
  864. >"I suspect we are discussing two completely different entities, dear Anon," she says.
  865. >The small orb of magic that Luna had manifested to show you a cockatrice begins to slowly haze over again, the colors swirling and merging together for a brief period of time.
  866. >As the next picture materializes before your eyes, you realize Luna is correct in her assumption.
  867. >Rather than a more typical canid, this creature seems to be much larger, if the generic pony shape next to it is to be believed as an accurate comparison.
  868. >In fact, the timberwolf would probably be close to head level with you - if not eye level.
  869. >Perhaps more striking - this wolf is made out of what looks like fallen logs, branches, and foliage.
  870. >Various nooks and crannies in the creature glow with sickly green energy - matching its featureless eyes and its maw containing jagged teeth.
  871. "Yeah, that's not like anything we had in my world."
  872. >Luna nods with a slight chuckle.
  873. >"I expected to hear that admittance, but there are normal wolves in Equestria as well," Luna says as her voice returns to her serious lecture. "Timberwolves are perhaps the most dangerous creatures in the Everfree. Alone, they may be a bit more hesitant to strike should you encounter one. But timberwolves are seldomly hunting in solitude - where there is one, it is likely the remaining faggot of timberwolves is very close."
  874. >You blink twice in absolute silence, unsure if you actually just heard Luna correctly.
  875. >"what's wrong?" Luna asked, seemingly perplexed by your reaction as she cocks her head.
  876. "A what of timberwolves?" you ask carefully.
  877. >"A faggot of timberwolves. That is the name of a group of these creatures. Fitting, as faggot refers to a bundle of sticks - which I am sure is the reason for the moniker."
  878. >Derp.
  879. >Now you feel sort of stupid for not connecting the dots on that term.
  880. >Nonetheless, it's not like you heard that definition of the word used.
  881. >"I assume by the look on your face there's a further anecdote to your inquiry of my terminology," Luna muses.
  882. "Yeah, I'd be embarrassed to explain it, though," you reply sheepishly. " Let's just say where I'm from, 'faggot' can have an additional definition aside from a bundle of sticks."
  883. >Luna's eyes widen in surprise, but she quickly returns to a more relaxed state and nods her head.
  884. >"Nonetheless, those are the major threats the Everfree possesses in terms of creatures. But unlike in most of Equestria, the weather controls itself within that area of land - so conditions can be unpredictable at times."
  885. "We'll be in the forest though - is it really something to be concerned about, Luna?" you ask, not bothering to mask your skepticism.
  886. >"That very much depends upon the weather, Anon," Luna cautions. "Certainly, rain would not be a major issue - but if that rain were accompanied by lightning, being amongst the trees could become a major hazard. Not to mention, the thickness of the overgrowth from the trees will already make it nigh impossible to fly in and out of the Everfree. If there is a storm or high winds, it *will* be impossible."
  887. "You know, for someone who said the Everfree isn't too dangerous, you aren't doing a very good job of convincing me," you tease.
  888. >But Luna doesn't appear to be fully convinced that you're joking, as her ears flatten against her skull while her withers slump.
  889. >"It was never my intention to discourage you, Anonymous," she says quietly. "I only meant to fully inform you of what all we could face en route to the old castle."
  890. "And I didn't mean to sound like I don't want to go. Trust me, I do," you encourage her. "There's just more than I expected to hear. Were all of these dangers present when you built the castle?"
  891. >You aren't sure whether to be surprised or not when Luna shakes her head.
  892. >"The forest has taken on a life of its own since the end of my previous tenure as Princess of the Night," Luna says. "I think most ponies agree - it is the lack of our presence that has allowed the Everfree to become its own entity. Timberwolves on the other hoof - they are still a mystery."
  893. >The mention of timberwolves again confuses you.
  894. "A mystery as in..."
  895. >"As far as I know - or even referring back to history books - those beasts did not exist years ago. There is no definitive timetable when they appeared - at some point, somepony was unfortunate enough to stumble upon one of them but fortunate enough to live and tell the tale."
  896. "How does that even happen? Do creatures just poof into existence here normally, or what?"
  897. >Much to your muted disappointment, Luna can only shrug.
  898. >"There are theories, but nopony knows, Anon," she replies. "No, it is a highly unusual scenario, which is why some believe they are a creation that has run amok."
  899. "Is that actually possible?" you inquire genuinely intrigued by where this conversation has led.
  900. >"It cannot be ruled out, though whatever magic can create a creature that possesses its own free will - the mere idea is troubling if I am to be quite honest," she says. "But it is merely a theory or legend. Some believe they are the remnants of souls lost in the Everfree, twisted and warped over time to become feral, their very essence possessing the timber that makes up the creature."
  901. >Luna cringes just the slightest bit as she pauses for a moment.
  902. >"I have read that in the past, some believed they were my doing," Luna says. "Of course, those were old texts, but it still hurts a bit to read. Nevertheless, the idea is timberwolves were a final scourge set upon the land in the last moments of my time in Equestria as retribution for my failed coup."
  903. "Basically, it's easy to pin the blame on something unknown upon someone that can't refute it," you grumble.
  904. >The musing at least gets Luna's muzzle to turn upward into a small smile, while she lightly pats your side with her outspread wing.
  905. >"There is no need to be upset on my account, Anon," she replies. "Yes, it is a little discouraging - but if these beasts did indeed begin to appear at roughly the same time as my banishment, can one really fault the conclusion that was drawn?"
  906. "I guess not, when you put it that way," you reluctantly back down.
  907. >"Whatever their origin, I have yet to see a live timberwolf before me - and I intend to keep it that way during our trek to my old home," Luna announces. "While I doubt they stand a chance against my power, the most dangerous scenario is getting caught by surprise. So both of us need to be alert."
  908. "Alright, so we have evil chickens and deadly tree dogs to watch out for - any other horrifying abominations?"
  909. >Luna picks up on your jest, earning a giggle from her as she shakes her head.
  910. >"While I say we should not be overly concerned about manticore, it would be wise to stay alert and keep our distance from them, as well," Luna replies. "Those are the main inhabitants we should have concerns about - but those are creatures I can recall from memory. However, there are plants to avoid as well."
  911. "None man-eating or pony-eating, I hope," you suggest.
  912. >"I do not believe so, but flora is not something I am familiar with like animals," Luna admits.
  913. >A small flash of light interrupts your discussion, as another neat scroll like yesterday materializes and drops to the bedspread between you and Luna.
  914. >Both of you glance at it, then exchange surprised looks with each other as Luna's magic seizes it.
  915. >"I had not expected to get a reply from my sister," Luna mumbles, at unease with the surprise correspondence.
  916. >As she sits up and unfurls the scroll to begin scanning its contents, you take the time to sit upright as well.
  917. >Unlike yesterday evening's surprise correspondence, you are more at ease.
  918. >Still, you watch Luna's face to get some sort of an idea in terms of what the letter contains.
  919. >Her expression changes ever so subtly as she goes from anxious to calm and content before a smile returns to her face.
  920. >As she finishes and looks up at you again, the smile fades just a bit.
  921. "What's wrong, Luna? Good news I hope," you speak up.
  922. >"It is, but I feel somewhat torn," Luna replies slowly. "My sister would like me to return to Canterlot today - a few dignitaries from Saddle Arabia are visiting, and as co-ruler, Celestia wants me to be there."
  923. "You'll have to excuse my ignorance, but is this meeting a big deal?" you ask.
  924. >When you realize how callous that sounds, you quickly add to your question.
  925. "Is it a diplomatic sort of meeting?"
  926. >"Not particularly," Luna replies hesitantly. "It is more or less an exchange of pleasantries, discussions regarding the states of our respective lands and similar topics. But they do tend to get more serious in terms of affairs between our empires. This is not the first time Celestia has suggested I attend - but it is the first time in quite some time."
  927. "The last one went that bad?"
  928. >"There was no previous incident - my dear sister stopped notifying me as I repeatedly found excuses to avoid the matter," Luna replies, her voice belying the bit of shame she has carried with her.  "Sadly ironic, is it not? To desire to be treated as an equal - and yet not partake in events or discussions pertinent to my duties."
  929. "But you can change that now," you tell her, patting her withers.
  930. >Luna doesn't look at you - preferring to stare off into space.
  931. >But before you can speak up, she silently nods her head sharply.
  932. >Perhaps more telling, there's a certain look in her eyes you haven't seen before as she turns to you.
  933. >For the first time, you see a silent flame has ignited, burning within her.
  934. >Determination.
  935. >You've given her a push here and there - but she wants this.
  936. >"You are absolutely right, Anon, I can change things. You have helped me see for myself I have the confidence and ability to take this challenge and succeed - and my sister desiring me to be there means a lot, as well," she explains, before her voice turns more somber. "But will you be alright if I go to Canterlot?"
  937. >Frankly, you almost feel a bit insulted that Luna is concerned to leave you alone.
  938. >You're a grown man, not some child.
  939. >And then the reality of the incessant sobbing until falling asleep earlier makes you realize why she has reservations.
  940. >She even admitted, that was hard for her to experience, trying her best to comfort you.
  941. >Last night's conversation amongst the starry backdrop over Equestria reminds you of your own reservations about Luna leaving at some point.
  942. >With all of that - it's no wonder she's not quite certain what to do.
  943. >While it would be nice to just spend the day like this cuddled up next to her, you know in your heart that's not the right thing to do.
  944. "You have to go Luna, I'll be fine."
  945. >Luna's turquoise eyes widen in shock at your response, as she clearly had not expected such a firm answer.
  946. "Maybe I'll swing over to the Golden Oaks Library after all - staying here cooped up all day won't do me any good, and Twilight probably thinks I've vanished off the face of the earth."
  947. >"Thank you, Anon," Luna says as you watch her tensed muscles relax at your plans.
  948. "No, thank you, Luna - or is it Princess Luna again?" you ask teasingly.
  949. >The question earns a smirk from Luna as she leans over and nuzzles you.
  950. >You take the opportunity to put your arm around her and hug her tight to you.
  951. >"It is Princess Luna again - to everypony but you," she murmurs quietly in your ear.
  952. >Sneaking a quick peck on Luna's snout as she somewhat reluctantly backs away, it elicits a giggle and a return kiss to you on the lips.
  953. >It really is surprising the turn around you've seen in her - but then again, you're beginning to understand it never really was about a lack of social skills.
  954. >It was a lack of confidence in herself.
  955. >To a point that it affected her royal duties, by the sounds of it.
  956. >You watch as she levitates some parchment from your desk and a quill over to herself, quickly jotting down a reply to her big sister.
  957. >"I cannot help but think this meeting is but a convenient excuse for my sister to see me again, as well," Luna muses as she finishes up.
  958. "What makes you say that? I don't doubt you, but I have to assume you have some reason."
  959. >"Considering she used a nickname I've not heard in ages, I have a very strong suspicion," Luna replies as she glances over to the original letter.
  960. >You start jokingly ogling at it in an exaggerated way, ducking and weaving while Luna laughs and blocks your attempts half-heartedly with her wings.
  961. >"You promise not to tell a soul?" she asks as you stop the charades.
  962. "Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye."
  963. >As you go through the motions of the saying, Luna just stares, flabbergasted.
  964. "It's a silly little thing I picked up from Twilight," you explain, feeling a bit awkward. "I promise I won't tell anyone."
  965. >Luna's magic brings the letter to you, hovering just ahead of you to read it.
  966. >One particular line has been highlighted by her energy, the letters glowing brighter than the rest of her aura that surrounds the parchment.
  967. >'There was never any doubt in my mind your heart would lead you down the right path, Lulu.'
  968. "What's wrong with that cute little name, Lulu?" you ask rather nonchalantly.
  969. >Luna opens her mouth to respond before her mind catches up to your words.
  970. >Instead, she lets out a gasp, lightly shoving you while she smirks and bites her lip - an attempt to keep the giggles in.
  971. "I won't do it again - I had to say it at least once."
  972. >"It really is not that big of a deal, Anon," she says as she drops the offended facade. "But do keep it between us. Celestia started using that name many, many years ago when I was barely a filly. Honestly, I had forgotten about it until now."
  973. "Do you have a nickname for her?"
  974. >Luna brings a hoof to her chin, evidently racking her mind for a lost gem.
  975. >"I think that question will wait until after I return, I really should get going," Luna unexpectantly announces with a coy smile.
  976. >The way she answers you and her expression makes it obvious there's something in mind.
  977. >Luna leaps off of your bed as you pull yourself up to your feet.
  978. "Any idea when you will be back?" you question, hopeful for a short visit.
  979. >"It is hard to say how long the visit from the Saddle Arabians is planned to last," Luna cautiously answers. " But I fully intend to return by nightfall, even if it means having to fly back to Canterlot tomorrow morning."
  980. "Don't strain yourself just for me, Luna," you remind her.
  981. >Even with that response, you can't help but feel some relief.
  982. >She hasn't even left yet, and you're already fathoming how odd it will be without her company today.
  983. >"I'm not planning on making the trek back and forth just for you, Anon," she replies with a wink.
  984. >You quickly slip a pair of shoes on and walk outside with Luna, the late morning sun lending its warm rays even as a slight chill hits you.
  985. >Sweater weather is officially here, it seems.
  986. >"Oh dear, I almost forgot."
  987. >As Luna spreads out her majestic wings, you watch as a strand of magic jumps from her horn, streaking back toward her right wing before focusing on one single feather.
  988. >With a jolt, it plucks itself free, floating over to you as it glows brightly for a moment.
  989. >"If I am not back this evening, for whatever reason - or if you just desire to reach out to me at any time, you can do so with this," Luna says as she drops it into your hands.
  990. >You stare down at the dark blue feather that stretches the length of your fingertips to your wrist.
  991. >Nothing has changed - you realize she has enchanted it in some way, but the tip has not been cut or otherwise shaped into a proper quill tip.
  992. "Do I need to finish it, or..." you trail off as Luna shakes her head.
  993. >"Attempt to write with it in the air, Anon," she instructs you, manifesting a piece of parchment out of thin air.
  994. >As you do as she says, writing your name in big letters right in front of you, the feather glows with her essence - as do the letters as they appear on Luna's paper she holds in front of herself.
  995. "That's pretty trippy," you admit with surprise.
  996. >Luna lets out a slight chuckle before flapping her wings, thrusting her up into the air at eye level with you.
  997. >"I must be going, Anon - do take care of yourself," she says, hugging you around your neck as she hovers.
  998. "I will, you do the same, Luna. I love you."
  999. >"I love you too."
  1000. >With your little embrace finished, Luna pulls away from you a fair distance before her powerful wings quickly propel her higher into the sky with a few sharp flaps.
  1001. >She streaks forward through the sky, shrinking into the distance as her mane flails wildly behind her before she is gone from sight.
  1002. >You're already eager for her return, but for now, you have to settle back into what used to be a normal day.
  1003. >You head back inside your home to clean up before properly starting your day.
  1004. >A day without Luna.
  1005.  
  1006.  
  1007.  
  1008.  
  1009. [Originally posted 15 October 2020]
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