• Published 19th Aug 2017
  • 6,582 Views, 201 Comments

Enemy of Mine - Ice Star

A few years after Luna's return it seems that Equestria will finally know an era of peace and appears to be on the verge of a new renaissance. Ponies are happy. Luna is recovering. Celestia is miserable.

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Interlude 2: Luna

Two saddlebags that weren't mine rested upon my back. In them were various trinkets of Sombra's — or at least the ones that didn't need to be stored within the pocket enchantments Sombra had woven into the fabric. A maid passing us by a few hallways ago had given me a look that told me I should be aware of the state of the saddlebags. Oh, and always who they belonged to — for they were quite worn from Sombra's habit of traveling. I'm afraid that they were not nearly as well made as other pairs he has had in the past. The books that he decided to immediately store within were much better taken care of but clearly read thoroughly. Many were second-hoof titles obtained on our dates together. What else could I expect from a mind as curious and sharp as Sombra's?

I would talk to that maid later. She must be a newer face since I didn't have her name on the tip of my tongue. Celestia truly hires too many of these ponies for what gets done around here and all the familiar staff as are known to me as they are to her.

The cool air of the Lunar Wing was refreshing, not that the move of Sombra's things was to be any trouble. I hummed merrily now that it was just Sombra and me. How could I not be delighted? My husband-to-be was going to be residing with me! No longer were we in an arrangement that bordered on cohabitation, with me visiting the pocket realm he had recently dismantled — where he attached it now, I do not know, but he has kept it. He shall no longer be treated as though he is unwelcome in the castle for a variety of reasons. Among them is his discomfort with the place that made anything short of a brief visit outside of my Lunar Wing an uncomfortable affair for the poor fellow. We both know that he still had to endure great prejudice — as there was anything great about it other than its intensity! Minding these mortals and their injustices is truly tiresome task!

My tune died when I was pulled from that peculiar sense of elation where one becomes less focused. It wasn't like me to allow that to happen, but I was home — it felt better calling the Lunar Wing that now that I knew that Sombra was going to share it with me, and as my dearest husband. Still, I wonder if it should be called the Lunar Wing any longer if the Night Goddess and the God of Knowledge are to occupy it together. I wouldn't want to exclude Sombra from his own home.

At least, I dearly hope he considers Canterlot to be his home one day too, and that he'll begin to feel comfortable enough here.

"Som?" I said quietly, looking around the shady hallway. It was evening, and the shadows of snowflakes fell across the wall like ghosts. I simply adored the near-perpetual silence of our wing of the castle. No servants gathered here; I worked on my own and took care of myself, as they were just an intrusion where I knew to mind my way, and to mind it right. The old castle didn't ever have them, and we could get by without them with enough effort, though Canterlot's castle is a grand palace compared to our forest stronghold.

Doorways stood quietly in the shadows, many of the dark-hued doors were closed — I had no reason to keep them open otherwise, even if there were no mortals to gape and nose about.

Then, I saw that Sombra had strayed from my side.

He had been following me...

I couldn't be surprised by Sombra wanting to explore such a wondrous place as Canterlot Castle extensively. However, I was just bursting with barely-contained excitement at the prospect of showing Sombra around myself. I knew that it would be the utmost pleasure to watch his reaction to everything I had spruced up just for him. I spoke little around other ponies, except when I needed or wanted to, but there were times when Sombra and I could just talk on and on, never minding the hours...

Ah, I thought as I turned my head to look back down the hall, my shadow unfolding behind me, there is a door open wider than I leave them. He really is so sneaky when he wants to be.

Trotting over to investigate, I lit my horn and pushed the door open a bit more. I didn't need to ask if he was inside.

At the very center of one of my studies, Sombra stood alone. Floor to ceiling bookshelves surrounded him and acted as a backdrop to the silent stage he occupied. Columns divided each shelf from the other, and all were carved with ivy and patterns in the styles of old. All of them were rendered so wonderfully, as though they flowed across the stone, each so timeless and life-like.

All my books; hardcover poetry volumes, great novels, modern texts, magical tomes, fine plays, and anything that I have ever enjoyed and studied caught Sombra's attention. Oh, how I know he would love to see the collections in my offices too. He knew that I had a fine collection — and he himself had hundreds of books of his own built up in these few years — but I had never shown him mine in full before. Tia made it very clear that he was not permitted in my libraries and offices during our courtship, for she was always fretting about the sanctity of government texts and not letting any of the texts on the Solar Index that I possessed outside of the walls. I had stuck by this to some degree, for I wouldn't want her to worry, but not all of it was justified. Sombra shared his books only with me, and I trusted him more than her — to offer him nothing was too much, so if sneaking out a few titles would get her to fuss, then so be it. Now I no longer had to only lend him some books, we could share all.

A couple of his books were here too, since I never parted with any he gave me.

"I take it that you like the Lunar Wing, now that you have gotten a better look at it?" I said as I walked over to him, and eventually I rested a forehoof on his wither. I felt him lean a little closer to me as soon as I was near. The fabric of his cloak was little in the way of a barrier at all between us. His saddlebags were filled with things like currycombs, loose papers, and a toothbrush, sat by his armored legs.

Sombra nodded carefully, the gesture easy to miss because of how slight it was. His ears pricked at my voice, which was something I'd become accustomed to. He loved my voice — I meant to infuse no unwarrented pride in that statement — and was the only one other than my sister who had knowledge of my singing.

I reached a forehoof up to stroke his mane, and noted the thin chain he wore around his neck — and what was attached to his necklace: his ring. It was customary for the ring to only be given after the wedding ceremony for the majority of the time in this modern age. 'Twas modern ponies, such as Cadance and Shining Armor, who were as faithful as any true couple of old, though they kept their rings stored away like the treasures they were. Then, after a week, the modern wedding ring was usually off and made into a sacred keepsake until a mortal was buried. Sombra and I were no mortals, but that didn't make it any more unusual that Sombra hadn't removed the ring from the chain since I proposed to him a week ago.

He didn't purr when I stroked his mane, not this time. Sombra still inched even closer to me with a distant nonchalance. Shadows flickered across his face, adding a muted beauty to his gray coat. I knew that if I asked later, he would let me brush it for him. There was no better way to unwind after our effort to move him than to get to curry his lovely coat and relax together. Cadance had mailed me a new set of vinyl records as a gift to celebrate our engagement, and I can think of nothing that would be nicer than getting to have one playing too.

"This is only one of my studies," I murmured into his ear before placing a kiss on top of his head. Upon seeing the wide-eyed look of wonder spark in his eyes, I hurriedly placed a kiss on his cheek, and nuzzled him, laughing softly into his mane. "You needn't worry about a thing, Sombra. There will be plenty of space still for you to house your books and scrolls. I might even need to consider expanding our quarters!"

"Ours?" he echoes, his voice distant while he eyes various titles with awe still in his eyes.

"Of course." I flick his ear ever so lightly and am rewarded with a low warble from his throat. "All the castle, save the Solar Wing, is ours now! We can even decorate things so that they're a bit more to your liking, hmm?"

"Luna, I'm sure the decorations are fine. I'm not that picky... but I'm going to need a new swivel chair."

Oh, to think that I offer him nearly all the castle, and he still makes such a small request — and as though he were still a guest!

Feigning hurt, I rested a forehoof against my chest like an accused mare. "I did not mean to break such a valuable possession! I swear upon the stars! Please forgive me, Sombra."

Sombra turns his gaze to me, surveying me with analytical coldness. He narrowed his eyes. "I suppose I could forgive you... couldn't I?"

He spoke the last two words with emphasized caution, dangling the option out, manipulative, and self-aware of the control he could hold over others. When he used this tone, Sombra was smugly, coldly, and often angrily relishing in how your fate dances on the knife's edge. He's still capable of being frightening just as easily as he's able to be the absolute sap I'll never stop teasing.

"Oh, you most certainly could," I said, smiling and letting my horn flare to life.

No matter how easy it was for Sombra to sense the nature of so much of my magic, and that of others, he could still be surprised with the right amount of effort. I used a sudden bit of magic to flick one of Sombra's ear tufts.

"Ppht," I declared triumphantly upon seeing Sombra's flat stare. "Are you in any way offended by my most sincere pleas for forgiveness?"

"I used to be offended by the very existence of ponies, so who says I'm immune to feeling offended by your slight, maiden goddess?"

My own forehoof raised up to hide a cheeky smile that had a twist somewhere between daring and embarrassed peeking out from behind my shoe. "Sombra, I'm hardly a maiden anymore."

He rolled his eyes good-naturedly and snorted, a smirk threatening to break across his muzzle.

"Very well then, I forgive you for your crimes." He arched an eyebrow at the sight of my smile growing beyond what my forehoof could hide — and it didn't help that he had lit his horn and was toying with locks of my mane.

The next laugh to escape me — a rich, merry sound — was cut off as he pulled me into a quick, deep kiss, a few low rumbles of a purr starting up in his throat. When he pulled away, there was a half-smirk on his muzzle that I hadn't seen in a few days and was certainly delighted to see now.

"And the condition?" I asked, voice an awed whisper.

Sombra levitated his saddlebags off of his back. "Unpack as much as you can; I'd like to go off and explore a bit."

I wanted to pout. He could never resist much of anything when I pouted, no matter how long we've been together. Still, he called me a witch attempting to ensorcell him, sometimes grumpy and sometimes playful about the unusual weakness.

"Luna, I promise that I'll help more later."

Instead, I took the bags. Sombra had every right to want to explore the place I dearly hoped he would come to think of as home. Canterlot Castle was such a majestic example of architecture filled with many halls, balconies, spires, and other places of interest. Many relics were in the rooms where things of the present and past stood in this city of legend even I found timeless. With so many possible destinations for solitude, of course, Sombra would wish to venture through the grounds. He likely just wanted to wander into a lonely library to spend a few precious hours recharging. I think it is fair to let him have some time to himself, 'tis not as though we have been doing nothing.

"That simply can't be all you say before heading off, Som." A knowing smile twisted across my muzzle, curling with a hint of my own mischief.

He cocked his head to the side, eyes already trying to read my ever subtle motion — or lack thereof. "Why is that, Luna? What reason do you need me to stay?

Oh, need I smile any wider?

"Double or nothing, Som."

I looked into his eyes and, by his half-smile, I know that he wouldn't mind tarrying for just a little bit longer in my study with me. For it is Sombra who is the one I could talk of everything with and nothing at all, and that would be just fine.

Author's Note:

I don't care if this is Tia's story, snapshots and little bits of the relationship these two share is a must. To make this story a bit longer, there'll be little interludes added between chapters that offer similar snapshots of character lives and thoughts external of how Tia sees them.

If you like the relationship here, and want to read something where it's the highlight of the story but not over 300,000 words long and stuff, there's The Care and Keeping of Hidden Castles and It's Called Paradise. If you're crazy enough to want to read more, there's junk here too. I'm not super sure how long between updates it'll be, so those are a good bet for more horsewords.

[Revised for print on 9/22/20]