• Published 18th Dec 2011
  • 4,174 Views, 72 Comments

A Tale of Two Ponies - Silicas

Luna is pregnant with a colt sired when she was still Nightmare Moon. What will come of this?

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Chapter 7: Stolen Moments

Chapter 7: Stolen Moments

Russet trotted softly through the halls of Canterlot Castle. His quarry was just a few dozen meters ahead, and still unsuspecting. He was not wearing his armor, though, and so he had to be sure that he was not spotted. This was a critical moment; one that so much work had led up to.

As the weeks had blurred into months, the pegasus dutifully reported all he could discover about the operations of the castle to Sanguine. After all the sleepless nights recording watch shifts and the short lunches spent watching the kitchens, it finally seemed that he was on to something of use. Princess Luna was hiding something; he knew that much.

Now, Russet was following the alicorn on one of her visits to a small cottage on the outskirts of the castle grounds. In the past, he had only watched what occurred there from a distance, but today he was going to hide within hearing range. The undercover guard suspected that something about this particular meeting was going to be especially sensitive; Luna normally visited the cottage twice a week, but for the last three she had not gone there at all.

The identity of the cottage’s inhabitants was also of great interest to Sanguine. In months past, Russet had only ever caught quick glimpses of the other occupant, a small blue pegasus colt with a disorderly teal mane. He had seen the young foal at play more and more frequently in recent weeks, though always within a few dozen meters of the cottage.

With each of his subsequent visits, Russet was becoming progressively more astounded by the foal’s rate of growth. In the span of eleven months he had managed to advance from suckling on a small bottle of milk to conversing regularly with his keeper. Considering the princess’s behavior, both Russet and Sanguine suspected that the foal was some young prodigy which Luna had taken under her wing, much like how Celestia had done with Twilight Sparkle. This was all conjecture, however, and both cousins hoped that Russet’s efforts today would shed more light on the moon princess’ relationship with the colt.

Russet carefully pushed open the small wooden door that led from the hallway to the castle’s exterior, just as Luna had done a minute earlier. As Russet exited the castle, he ducked behind a bush. Concealed behind the twisted green brambles, the stallion waited as the alicorn trotted towards the cottage’s exterior. There, he could see the yellow mare watching the colt at play. The small pegasus was running around in circles, his attention focused on some object which was too tiny for Russet to see.

The yellow mare looked up and saw Luna. With a frantic push, she ushered the colt inside the house before turning to the alicorn. The pair spoke for several minutes before Luna motioned towards the cottage. The mare nodded and followed the princess inside.

Not letting his excitement overwhelm him, Russet waited several seconds before moving out from behind his cover and taking wing in the direction of the cottage. As he flew, he scanned the area for a closer hiding place. The roof seemed adequate.

As the pegasus alighted on the thatched roof of the cottage, he could already hear small snippets of the conversation going on between the princess and the mare. Russet moved quietly in the direction of the sounds, eventually settling above a small exterior window.

While he dared not look inside to observe the conversers, it was clear that the matter being discussed was sensitive; the princess’s powerful voice was quieted to something approaching a whisper. The near-silent voice of the yellow mare was just barely even audible over that.

The first words Russet heard clearly were from the princess.

“Are you sure Starshade won’t hear us?”

“Yes. The walls are thick enough, so long as we speak quietly,” assured the voice of the mare.

“Good. So, has Starshade handled my not-being-around well?”

“Well…” The mare paused. A quick coaxing from the royal sister, however, fetched a rushed response. “At first – no. Poor little Starshade thought that he had made you angry. I think he still does, even after I told him you were just busy. Despite not telling him–” The cautious mare halted, stopping for a moment. “– you know. The poor little thing’s still quite attached to you.”

“I feared so,” Luna said. “Do you think that he will manage, though?”

“I think, yes. Once I told him about Ponyville he seemed so excited. He hasn’t really been able to spend some time with anypony like him, and I’m afraid that his fondness for learning is beginning to outstrip my abilities; I’ve never really been good at explaining things to other ponies.”

“So you’re still in support of relocating away from the castle.”

The princess’ statement had not been a question, but the mare responded as if it was. “Yes.” Russet could almost hear her head nodding as she continued, “I think it’s what he needs. Even if it means he’ll be so far away from his–” The mare had paused again; apparently she was not very confident in the ability of the cottage walls to muffle everything that was said. Finally, she finished, “– you.”

“Very well,” conceded the princess. “I fear you know him much better than I, now. I just did not expect he would grow so quickly; I thought I would have more time.”

“Oh, Princess. I’m so sorry; I didn’t realize,” consoled the gentle voice of the colt’s caretaker.

Russet could tell that the princess was crying now.

“No. No,” contested the alicorn, her voice unsteady. “Moving is what is best for Starshade. I will just have to make do with visiting as often as I can, I suppose.”

“Are you sure it won’t be too much of a burden? I know we could wait a little longer, if you want.”

“I have made up my mind already, Fluttershy. If you could just fetch him and let me say my goodbyes, I will call for a few servants to pack up your things and send you off. It is best that we do this now; I am afraid I might change my mind if we postpone this much longer.”

“Of course, princess. Starshade will be so happy to talk to you again.”

Russet heard Fluttershy open the room’s door and move into the hallway. The pegasus held his position on the roof, silently waiting. After a minute, he heard the door to the room reopen and the sound of hooves shuffling. The stallion leaned as far over the edge of the roof as he could, listening intently.

Amid the excited clops of young hooves on the room’s wooden floor, Luna spoke first. Her voice was steadier than before, but still bore the telltale sound of a conflicted conscience. “Starshade, it is good to see you again.”

“Oh Miss Luna!” A brief gap of silence occurred as the colt nuzzled up against the princess. Shortly, however, the foal squealed, “I’m so glad you came back! You’re not angry at me anymore, are you?”

“Oh, no,” Luna said. “I’ve never been angry with you; I’ve just been very busy.” Russet could just barely detect the slight pause as the princess lied to the colt.

“That’s what Miss Fluttershy told me,” the colt said, his voice partially muffled by the alicorn’s body, “but I wanted to hear it from you, Miss Luna.”

“Then I believe you have had your request granted. Now, has Fluttershy told you much about Ponyville?”

“Oh! Yes. Lots! It sounds so exciting, but I’m really sad that you won’t be able to come with us. Miss Fluttershy explained that you had a very important job here at the castle, controlling the moon and running Equestria and all, and that Ponyville is just too far away for you to visit every week. That’s the only thing I don’t like.”

Fluttershy, who had been entirely silent up to that point, offered a quiet correction. “She’ll still be able to visit every one in a while.”

Luna continued where Fluttershy had left off, “Of course. And if you ever come to need me, I’ll be just a letter away. Just enjoy your time in Ponyville, and everything will fall into place.”

“Alright, Miss Luna, I’ll try very hard.”

“There’s no need to try, Starshade. Ponyville is the place you belong. I see that now.”

“I’m going to miss you,” the colt said, his voice quieter than before.

“And I you, Starshade.” After a moment and in a considerably more reserved tone, the princess addressed the colt’s caretaker. “Fluttershy, why don’t you and Starshade get started on packing your belongings? Meanwhile, I’ll go and fetch a servant or two to help. If all goes well, you should be on your way to Ponyville by mid afternoon, I think. I will be sure to be there for your sendoff. Until then, goodbye.”

In a split second, Russet was in the air, wings carrying him swiftly in the direction of the castle. As the undercover guard flew, his thoughts were racing. They finally had a way to draw Luna from her seclusion! After all these months of work, he had finally found a solid point of attack. Russet had a long report to write to his cousin when he returned, and, for once, he relished the prospect.

Atop her tower balcony, Princess Celestia basked in the late morning sun. It was just a brief moment of rest for the elder ruler of Equestria, but it was one that was essential to her daily routine.

Throughout the past thousand years of her reign, she had rarely neglected to indulge in the radiant sphere’s warm glow. And even with her sister returned, the sun princess still needed something to keep her anchored. In the past, it had been her day-to-day relationship with Twilight Sparkle, but the accomplished mare had been more than wanting for her relocation to Ponyville.

Thinking of Twilight Sparkle, the sun Celestia’s thoughts drifted to Luna’s discovery of the abandoned pegasus colt. By all accounts, at least, the colt was growing at an astonishing rate. A sign, Celestia knew, of great potential; the same potential that she had seen in the purple unicorn mare many years prior.

Twilight had been one of a very few of the princess’ students that she had become significantly attached to. After centuries upon centuries of everypony that she had ever known flashing into existence and vanishing just as quickly, it took something special to attach the hardened ruler to one particular life. Twilight Sparkle, however, had fit the bill perfectly.

The sun princess only hoped that Luna would avoid becoming too close to the colt; it was a mistake, if it could really be called that, which the Celestia had made far too many times before. In the end, it always hurt. It was a good pain, of course, one of fulfillment and inevitability, but Celestia feared that it might injure her sensitive sister overly.

As Celestia thought, she stared idly over the edge of the balcony. Down below, she spotted a rather rushed-looking pegasus guard as he rounded the far corner of the castle, evidently bound for the guard quarters. She afforded the guard only a brief thought before turning her mind back to her duties. Much of the day still remained, and her presence was, without a doubt, already required in some matter.

Sighing, Celestia rouse and turned to exit the balcony. As the she trotted slowly through her bedroom, she thought of Twilight Sparkle, her friends, and the other ponies of Ponyville. She thought of the ponies in Manehattan and the pegasi of Cloudsdale. She thought of her citizens and her realm.

If only she had listened to Luna earlier. If only she had not clung to the dying structure of ages past even as her sister rebelled. A thousand years of loneliness and regret could have been avoided. It had taken her so long to see the wisdom embedded in the scribbled writings of her co-ruler. Far too long.

Even in the year since Luna’s return, she felt as if a piece of the prior sister had been lost to Nightmare Moon. Perhaps, she hoped, the colt would serve to rekindle her sister’s inner fire. He would give Luna something to invest in, something to be attached to.

This was why Celestia had avoided becoming involved with Fluttershy and the colt. He was what Luna needed most, and Celestia would never again deprive her sister of what she needed, be it a voice of understanding and support or the love of a little colt.

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