“Mommy, tell me what daddy looks like.”
It was after Luna and Celestia had exchanged heavenly orbs above Canterlot and now lunar mother and daughter were in the filly’s room for their evening routine of tucking Dawn into bed.
She refused to speak of him in the past tense, the Princess admired. But the question had surprised Luna as Dawn had never asked before. All Luna could imagine was she had been too young to think to ask so directly before now. It was a reminder of how she was changing as she approached this upcoming birthday, holding a promise of newer, harder questions to come the alicorn found herself dreading. “Well, I can show you,” she smiled, putting her thoughts aside for now. She took her daughter’s hoof in her own. “This was - is,” she corrected. “His coloring.”
“Yes, like yours. Exactly like yours.” She removed the tiny versions of her own silver shod shoes, set them on the floor next to the bed and tapped Dawn’s hard little hooves. “And this is the color of his hooves.”
There was a comfort in talking about Sombra like this, as if he were still a good pony merely away somewhere else, but would be back home soon. It was a lie, but a sweet one that could be set aside as needed when mother and daughter had to go back to facing reality once more. Cherish this moment, this explanation as one day she will be too old to suspend disbelief so easily, Luna, she told herself quietly.
Luna levitated a mirror over to the bed, holding it before Dawn. “And his horn looks just exactly like yours.” She traced its curve with a hoof. “Same color, same curve.”
“I want to see,” Dawn yawned, snuggling deep into the covers as her mother levitated the mirror back onto the dresser across the room.
“Very well.” Luna drew the image back into her consciousness, imagining his regal bearing and dark, brilliant smile the night he had gained his immortality, before the ugly truth of his poisoned soul became so apparent. She clothed him in the shadowy wings of night and the blood-red hues of his horn, even though this image of him brought up the pain back into her heart every time she recalled it. In the physical aspects of his ascension she would not lie to her daughter as it was quite possible Dawn would live to one day be witness to his return and if he were still tainted by dark magic, she needed to be forewarned of the truth this form bore of the deeply scarred Unicorn Witch King beneath.
With the image in place, the Moon Princess projected it into the room before them both. It had the three dimensions of a real, living being without actually being one and this fascinated Dawn, taking it in with huge eyes.
“He's beautiful!” their daughter breathed, enraptured by the sight of him.
“When he was good, I thought him the most beautiful stallion I had ever laid eyes upon,” Luna agreed, her voice lost in the memory of him. “I was wrong.”
“He was even more handsome this way,” Luna elaborated. She forced herself back to the present for Dawn’s sake. “Before I realized what evil had consumed his soul. And yet, the darkness suited him, too, in a way.”
“The darkness?” the child asked. “Auntie Celestia says the darkness is evil.”
It appears I must speak to my sister about the difference in definitions from the point of view of myself - and of a child - again, Luna sighed to herself.
“It is dark outside right now, little one, is it not,” she asked her daughter, determined to nip this misconception in the bud.
Dawn looked out the window to make sure. She turned back to her mother. “Yeah.”
“Is it evil?“
Good. She was fairly certain in her answer to that. “Am I evil, Dawn?”
The child’s eyes widened. “No, mommy!”
“Are you evil?”
Dawn did pause to think about that, frowning and chewing on her lower lip. She took so long to answer, Luna squeezed her, laughing softly. “Let me answer for you, my little moonbeam.” She rubbed her nose against her child’s. “You are most definitely NOT evil!”
She looked visibly relieved. “We both are of the dark, sweetheart,” Luna went on, confident her daughter followed her logic so far. “We were born to it. It is in our magic and in our blood.
“I know it is confusing, Dawn. Dark magic has a different source for its power, just as the night and day are beautiful for different reasons.” Luna sighed. “I often wish dark magic was not called ‘dark’ because of this.”
Dawn struggled to understand the difference where her father was concerned. “So… daddy is ‘dark’, but that doesn't make him evil,” she put forth to her mother.
“Correct,” Luna said carefully. “He gained great power with his immortality, but those not born to it often find adjusting to both is - overwhelming. And with his heart already so broken over us, the pain of that broken heart and too much power drove him mad,” she trailed off, fading the image. What had started as a simple discussion over Sombra’s fate was wearing badly on her. Truthfully she could not take much more of this painful explanation tonight.
Dawn startled her mother by putting her little hoof over hers. Luna sighed, looking up at the child. There were days the pain was just too strong to allow her to be strong for her daughter and this night was, unfortunately, one of them. If she were not already so drained, this thought would have been the final nail in the coffin of her emotions at the moment.
Luckily, Dawn’s her eyes were already closed as she had fallen asleep. Grateful, the Moon Princess kissed her forehead and quietly left the room, going straight to hers. Casting a soundproofing spell over the suite, she threw herself down upon the bed and cried herself to sleep.