• Published 30th Jul 2016
  • 2,556 Views, 68 Comments

The Night Mare's Guard - Shadow Quill

The Changelings haven't been sitting idle the three years they haved been gone. Now they're back and better than ever, with their sights set squarely on the alicorns of Equestria. One dark mare, shrowded in mystery, sits right in the crosshairs.

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19 Forgiveness

I was awoken the next morning by a somewhat familiar sensation. My back impacted the wall, leaving a spider web of cracks in the plaster as I slumped to the floor upside down. Luna was lying in the bed, eyes wide and filled with uncertainty as she held the sheets to her chest.

I sighed as I rolled upright, “I thought we were past all this Luna. Did you really have to wake me up by using me as a hoofball before I even have to raise the sun?”

Luna’s expression morphed from one of unsure confusion to rage in the blink of an eye, “Thou hath some nerve, saying such things to us when thou hath no business sleeping in our chambers last night.”

I lifted one eyebrow sarcastically, “That’s not what I heard last night when I tried to leave you to sleep.” I hiked up my voice in a mocking impression of her own, “Please Noble Light, I don’t want to sleep alone after what we went through. Would you stay with me, just until I get my strength back?”

Luna’s face lit up in a deep blush as her fury faltered, “W-We said no such thing. Y-You must have been hearing things and climbed into our bed of thou own volition.”

She turned her head to the side and stuck her muzzle in the air with a huff, leaving me to roll my eyes in response, “You can’t be serious. Are you really so self-centered as to hide your own weakness when just yesterday you were crying into my shoulder like I was the only thing keeping you alive?” When she made no indication that she had heard me I pulled out my ace, “Celestia seemed to think we would be a good couple when she –,”

“Don’t you dare speak another word.” She hissed as she leveled her gaze with mine, “I know what my sister did, and I would beg you to remember whose fault it was that we were in that situation to begin with.”

“You think I don’t know that?” I asked incredulously, “You think I don’t understand completely how much I messed up? I know fully well that Celestia would still be alive if I hadn’t taken your magic. I know that she would still be here with all of you and your precious ponies if I had never come to Equestria. I could have been faster taking down my mother, I could have taken the blast in her place, I could have done a million different things that would have meant she would still be here. I know that, Luna. Don’t you ever think for a second that I don’t hold her death on my shoulders and will do so for the rest of my life.”

“Then why are you still here?” She asked with a completely flat tone.

“Because your sister also tasked me with taking her place once she died. I could raise the sun from anywhere in Equestria, but I can’t rule the ponies if I’m not here by your side.”

She turned her head away from me again, the fight seeming to go out of her like air from a balloon, “Then you may stay. However, I wish to never see you unless there is royal business which requires both of us to perform.” Her magic glowed softly and pulled the door open, “Leave, and don’t come back.”

I opened my mouth to argue further, but the slight glimmer of tears on her cheek stopped me mid breath. I hesitated for a moment longer, then turned and walked out without a word. The door clicked behind me and I heard Luna quietly sobbing through the wood as I slowly made my way down the hall. Part of me wished to comfort her in her hour of need, but the rest of me knew that if I did it would only make things worse. So, I walked down to the dining hall and waited at the head of the long table for one of the staff to bring out breakfast.

Seemingly out of nowhere, a platter of food was placed before me as a kitchen pony made his quiet exit, leaving me with the freshly cooked eggs and pancakes gently steaming under my nose. The smell of the food made my mouth water in anticipation, yet my stomach twisted in knots at the very thought of eating. I lifted some of the food with my fork and tried to force it down, but it tasted like cardboard and sandpaper as it slid into my stomach, leaving me feeling even more ill than I had before.

I left the rest of the food untouched, roaming the castle like a ghost as my mind bounced from one possibility to another. Yet no matter what I did, I knew that nothing could change the fact that Celestia was gone, and that it was my fault that she was dead.

Day court had been convened for the first time since our victory over my mother and the Changeling invasion, yet it might as well have been closed for how many ponies showed up. The only petitioner to arrive was none other than the royal pain himself, Prince Blueblood. I was sorely tempted to singe his tail with a fireball by the time the yammering idiot had said his piece, but I restrained myself enough to politely refuse his plea. That was when the blundering buffoon had really done it.

“But why in the world would you refuse my plan to cut the nobles’ taxes by half?” He asked in his snide and self-entitled manner, “After all, we are the most pure and high-born of the ponies in Equestria. It’s only fair that we get to enjoy the pleasures of life without all the hassle of day to day drudgery.”

I rubbed my head just below my horn with one hoof, trying not to bite his head off, “That would cut the national budget by nearly a quarter, meaning the government would have less money to spend on important things like schools and road systems.”

He looked up at me with a high and mighty expression that made me want to slap it off his muzzle, “Oh but what’s so important about those things? After all, it’s not like any of us with noble blood have to deal with such trivial worries such as those. You’re just trying to play the good ruler so that those common dirt ponies don’t kick you off that throne like you did with Celestia.”

That did it.

I stood to my full height and charged my horn with magic, lifting the pompous stallion up by his tail and carrying him until he hovered directly in front of my face. I didn’t say anything at first, letting the cold fury in my eyes let him know how much he had messed up.

“Now I’m going to let that last comment slide,” I said in a low and perfectly flat tone, “on account of the fact that you must have been dropped on your head as a foul and I make it a point not to injure the disabled. However, you make another remark like that where I can hear you, and I will personally make sure you have your horn removed with a hack saw and spend the rest of your days shoveling pig shit on a backwater farm where nopony will ever have to deal with your idiotic nonsense again. Do I make myself clear?”

He nodded with wide eyes, his tail trying and failing to curl between his legs. I let him drop to the stone steps in front of the throne and watched as he scampered off like a frightened filly. I slumped against the back of the throne and rubbed my head with both hooves.

“There has got to be a better way of doing this.” I groaned under my breath as the sun continued its way across the sky.

Once Day Court came to an end, other than a mountain of paperwork left on my desk, there wasn’t anything else I had to do that day. So, once I got that taken care of and set aside for a servant to take care of, I was left to wander the halls once again like some aimless foal. For the rest of the afternoon I made my way up and down the castle hallways, from top to bottom and from the western gardens to the eastern barracks. Yet as I found myself walking through the Lunar wing of the castle, I found myself thinking about Luna and what she had said that morning.

“We can’t go on like this,” I said to myself as I came to a stop in front of her chamber doors, “we need to be able to work together or the country’s going to fall apart while we bicker and hide from one another.” I left out the silent wish in my mind that we could also learn to love one another again, as I knew that was nothing more than hopeful thinking that would never come to pass.

As the sun called to my magic I lit up my horn and lowered it slowly behind me, watching as my shadow climbed up Luna’s doors like a specter of doom. As the hallway fell into darkness the spell lamps ignited, bathing the stone in a warm glow that failed to reach my heart. I was petrified of what I was about to do, yet I knew in my head and my heart that it had to be done for the good of Equestria.

I walked up to the doors and knocked softly, waiting for Luna to respond.

“Enter,” came the muffled call, and I pushed the doors open and closed them behind me before looking up at the room’s sole occupant.

Luna was sitting at the open doors leading to her balcony, her magic’s glow just fading from her horn as the moon rose above the horizon. Her eyes widened for a moment before narrowing in anger, her wings flaring as she stepped threateningly toward me.

“What are you doing here?” She growled as her horn ignited once again, “I told you explicitly that I never wanted to see you again. State your business in my chambers before I throw you out on your ear.”

At that moment, I did something I had never done before. I bent my legs under me, got down on my stomach, and lowered my head in the deepest bow my body would allow me to do. I kept my eyes closed and waited for Luna’s response, hoping that this would get her attention.

“W-What are you doing?!” She asked in a shocked tone, “We are not worthy of such a submission from one such as thee. Thou art royal like us, though we are loath to admit it, so why art thou prostrating thyself like a common cur begging for forgiveness?”

Apparently, I had shocked her more than I thought if she was slipping into Old Equish again, “Because I am a low cur begging for forgiveness. I know that I wronged you and the ponies of Equestria, but we cannot rule together and yet keep at wing’s distance from each other.” I opened my eyes and looked up at her without moving my head, “We were meant for more than this. We are charged with the keeping of the peace, protecting the ponies we rule, and balancing the day and night together. We can’t do that if we are at war with one another or won’t even dare to look each other in the eye. We just can’t, it’s not fair to the ponies we care for and it’s not fair to Celestia’s memory.”

She bristled at the mention of her sister, “Do not dare to bring her into this. She died at yon hooves and only named thou her successor to keep the balance thou speakest of. She cares not what thou hath done to protect our ponies, only that thou were able to take her place upon her death.”

“Then why did she call me to comfort you when she appeared before us at the memorial?” I countered.

Luna’s mouth opened to fire back a retort, yet her words died on her lips as she lowered her wings and turned her head to the side.

“You know it’s true, Luna.” I said softly as I stood up, “She wants us to work as one to rule Equestria, to care for each other now that she’s gone. Don’t pretend you don’t know the same. She wants us to be there for each other, if for no other reason than to lessen the pain of her passing, for you especially.”

“What would you know about my pain?” She muttered as she looked at me out of the corner of her eyes, “What would you know about the suffering I’ve felt under your kind’s actions and the pain I endured because of your family’s ambition?”

I opened my mouth to reply but was cut off, “No, do not patronize me with your half-truths and honeyed words. I told you once that I never wanted to see you again, yet here you are before me. This is your final warning, stay away from me or I will personally see to it you never see the outside of the castle dungeons again.”

She turned her back to me and threw the door open so hard it nearly broke off its hinges. Yet I made no move to leave. I knew that things had to be said beyond what had been spoken. Yet I also knew that if I pushed Luna too far it could make the chasm between us too wide to ever bridge again. This would take every skill I had as a former Changeling, and as a former friend to the bitter night mare.

I slowly stepped forward, letting the words swell from my very being, hoping beyond hope that I was making the right decision.

I always thought that I was chosen,
Nopony could match me or compare,
But then I met somepony special,
She showed me love and how to care.

For I was lost and then uncertain,
With no idea on what to do,
You showed me a better future,
One where I could stand with you.

For you are the light that shines within me,
You broke my soul from its darkened cage,
You made me what you see before you,
Your love brought calm to my fear and rage.
My life is yours, don’t turn away now,
Would you shatter the bond that you’ve made?
You’re more to me than you could imagine,
Because my heart is what you’ve saved.

Her face twisted into a grimace as she walked towards the balcony once again, “You wooed us once before with those sweet words. Thou shalt not do so again. Be gone before we remove thou by force.” She tried to seem strong and determined, yet there was a hitch in her voice and a slight shaking in her step. I prayed that my words were reaching her, and followed her out into the moonlit air.

I understand why you would hate me,
You’ve every right to feel betrayed,
I deserve to burn in hate and fury,
But is there hope that I can stay?

That fool you knew was but a shadow,
For his mistakes I must repent,
Your love is worth more than a diamond,
For hope and warmth is your lament.

For you are the light that shines within me,
You broke my soul from its darkened cage,
You made me what you see before you,
Your love brought calm to my fear and rage.
My life is yours, don’t turn away now,
Would you shatter the bond that you’ve made?
You’re more to me than you could imagine,
Because my heart is what you’ve saved.

She turned to face me, opening her mouth to spit more barbed words at me, and yet in that moment I did something either very stupid or very bold. I placed my hoof over her mouth and stilled her words before they could be spoken. Her eyes widened in shock, her wings flaring as I slowly leaned forwards, my face a calm mask as I lowered my voice to a near whisper.

Love was but a tool to me, my strength was all that really mattered,
But then I met you and everything changed, because then my nightmare truly shattered.
My love for you is pure as gold, no more hiding or scheming plots,
You need never be alone now, nor shed tears and feel distraught.

She moved her mouth from behind my hoof, “But Noble, I –,” I shushed her gently, draping a wing over her shoulders and looking out over the starry expanse that she worked so hard to create.

Share our love and treasure it, for my soul belongs to you.
You pulled me from the pain of my past, and brightened my life like morning dew.

I turned my gaze to meet hers, those navy pools sparkling like starlit oceans as her breath rippled the fur along my muzzle.

Please love, forgive me, because of what we once held dear,
Your eyes they hold my every emotion, my song is yours alone to hear.

Because you are the light that shines within me,
You broke my soul from its shadow spell,
Your love is all I could ever need now,
And I am yours if you wish it as well.

I let my voice trail off, hoping beyond hope that my words had reached her shattered heart. For several moments we sat there, simply looking into each other’s eyes. Yet as the moon slowly rose overhead I began to wonder if she still hated me and was contemplating how to best fry my feathers. Yet I was surprised as she closed her eyes and leaned into me, wrapping her own wing around my body as her head came to rest on my shoulder.

“You really do care for me, don’t you?” She asked without moving. I found myself nodding even though she couldn’t see me.

“I’ve loved you ever since I first came to Canterlot all those months ago,” I pulled her tighter against me with my wing, “It’s why I couldn’t keep you under my spell in the Crystal Empire, and why I came back to save the ponies from my mother’s control.” She turned her head up to look at me, and I smiled at the question in her gaze, “Yes, I did come to save the ponies because it was the right thing to do, but I wouldn’t have realized it was the right thing to do if I had never realized my feelings for you. You could say, that had it not been for my love for you, Equestria would still be under Changeling rule, and some other unfortunate mare would be carrying my children right now.”

Her face twisted in disgust for a moment, “Not the most romantic way to put it, but I understand your meaning.” Her face became uncertain for a moment, “But can I truly trust that you aren’t simply manipulating me like you did before? What can you do to prove that you truly love me for me?”

I smiled and pulled my wing off her, stepping towards the balcony as her expression changed to one of confusion. “I’ll show you how much I care for you, and hopefully prove how much you care for me in return.”

Before she could say anything, I climbed onto the stone railing that separated the balcony from a very long drop. I looked over the side and gulped slightly at the dizzying height I was standing at. Before I could lose my nerve, I turned my head to look at Luna, and ignited my horn. A band of gold energy clamped around my barrel, effectively pinning my wings to my sides. Luna’s eyes widened in terror as I smiled, before I closed my eyes and stepped into open air.

I heard Luna scream my name as I dropped, although the roar of the wind drowned out anything beyond that. I kept my magic tightly wound around my wings and locked my eyes closed. For a moment all there was to feel was the wind in my ears and my stomach migrating to my throat. Yet it all came to a halt when I felt a pair of wings and hooves wrap around my barrel in a death grip. I felt the rapid deceleration as Luna pumped her wings for all her worth, and I opened my eyes as we came in for a bumpy landing in the castle gardens.
I let the magic around my body dissipate as our bodies came to a rest on the grass, letting out a deep breath I hadn’t even realized I had been holding. Luna loosened her grip on me enough to look me in the eyes. When I smiled in return all I got for my trouble was a firm slap on the cheek.

“What were you thinking!” She screamed as she stood up, “What if I hadn’t come after you?! What if I wasn’t fast enough to save you?!”

I rubbed my sore cheek before replying, “Well suffice to say I’m glad I was proven wrong. Do you doubt my words after all that?”

She took a step back in shock, her eyes locked with mine as she struggled to find the words, “T-That was just to prove that you weren’t lying to me?! You could have killed yourself! What would Equestria have done without somepony to raise the sun?!”

I grinned as I pushed myself to my hooves, “Like I said, I wanted to prove that my words were sincere. I also wanted to make you show your true colors concerning your own feelings.” Her expression took on a dubious nature, “Oh come now Luna, you can’t honestly stand here after all that and say that you truly feel nothing for me. You love me, even if it’s only a small part, but you’re too stubborn to admit it to either yourself or to – mmphf!?!”

She kept her lips locked with mine for a moment before pulling away, her cheeks blossoming into a bright blush as she averted her gaze from mine, “Does that answer your question?”

I nodded, touching my still tingling lips with one hoof, “I guess it does. So,” I ventured, “what now?”

She turned back to me with an uncertain gleam in her eyes, “I’m not sure. We could just go on like normal and see how things fare.”

I smirked, “Are you sure about that? I could go for another of those wonderful kisses if you aren’t opposed to the idea.”

Her cheeks got even redder as she coughed to one side, “T-Thou wouldst do well to remember that we are not required to perform any such services unless we so choose. Even requesting such things could be viewed as slander against the crown.”

One eyebrow rose in response to her flustered state, “Oh, well then what’s the punishment for kissing the royal mouth?”

She turned to face me again with a confused expression, “What did thou say – mmph!!”

I closed the distance and pressed my lips to her in a mirror of what she had done before. Her wings snapped open and her body locked in place for a second. However, as I deepened the kiss she hummed in acceptance and began to return my advances.

I brought one hoof up and caressed her cheek before working my way around her neck, pulling her into me and wrapping her in a wing hug. She moaned softly and teased my lips with her tongue, asking for entrance. I obliged her and we battled for several moments with our tongues, Luna falling on her back as I stepped into and over her body.

We broke the kiss, gasping for breath, and I couldn’t help but wish that we could go further than what we had already done. Yet I knew that doing so would risk undoing all the hard work I had already put in, so against my better judgement, I stepped back and forced my wings back against my sides.

Luna looked up at me with a concerned expression, her eyes lit with confusion as she panted, “Why did you stop?”

I sat down and tried my best not to look disappointed, “I won’t risk all the progress we’ve made tonight by pushing my luck. I want nothing more than to take this all the way, but I care too much about you and our very shaky relationship to risk messing things up now.” As her downtrodden face threatened to pierce my iron resolve, I forced myself to look away, lest I be tempted to do something else, “Please be patient with me. I want nothing more than to share my love with you in every way possible, but now is not the time. Please, for the sake of our shared love and the possibility of it lasting longer than this night, allow me to hold out this once so that we can both go into this with clear heads at a later date.”

She huffed, puffing out her cheeks like a schoolfilly, “You’ve taken all the fire right out of me, you know that? I was oh so tempted to oblige that more adventurous idea until you went and threw a wet blanket on the whole thing.” She stood up, dusting herself off with a wing before turning back to me, “If you’ve finished trying to kill yourself and frustrating me, would you care to escort me back to my chambers?”

I nodded, stepping up to her side before spreading my wings, “Shall we take the express route or the long walk?”

She smiled as she spread her own wings, “I always prefer the most direct direction.”

With that we pumped our wings, spiraling up the outside of her tower before coming to land on her balcony. I walked through the room and was just about to walk out when I felt Luna’s magic grabbing me around my barrel.

I turned around with a raised eyebrow, noting the playful look in her eyes as she began to drag me towards the bed, “You may not be willing to go beyond those first few steps, but I’ll be damned if I let you walk away without staying the night. That little display on the balcony has me worried that you’ll kill yourself if not supervised.”

I grinned as she placed me down on the bed and climbed in on the other side, “If that is what you wish, I shall stay with you tonight.”

She smiled as she pulled the sheets over us, pulling her body against my chest as she rested her head on the side of my neck, “Goodnight Noble Light. I shall be watching over you dreams to make sure you don’t have any suicidal thoughts to go with your actions.”

I chuckled as I draped a wing over her body, “Don’t worry, the only thing I’ll be dreaming of is you.”

She rolled her eyes, “Flattery will get you nowhere unless you plan to back it up. Now go to sleep.”

“Just don’t wake me up by throwing me across the room again,” I teased, “I don’t think the wall can take much more abuse.”

She bopped me on the nose with one hoof, “Keep making jokes and I just might.”

I smiled as I closed my eyes, listening to Luna’s breathing as it slowly smoothed into the calm rhythm of sleep. Soon after I felt myself drifting off, and for the first time since I came to Canterlot as a disguised Changeling, I felt complete.

Author's Note:

Welp, here it is. A few weeks late from when I said I would post it, but it's finally done none the less. Thanks to everypony who's put up with me through all of my tardy posts and eternal writer's block. It's been a rough ride, but now we're finally in the home stretch. All that's left is the Epilogue, and then I am officially calling this book as complete.

I know, I don't want it to end either, but all good things must come to an end at some point. :fluttercry:

Anyway, one last time, see you all next chapter,
Shadow Quill, Messenger of the Moon.