• Published 6th Jun 2020
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Song of Myself - Ice Star



Luna is many things: a goddess, princess, and wife. What happens when she has a secret that threatens to unravel every one of those things?

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Chapter 3: Get a Load of this Monster

An affectionate prodding lured me from the lull of sleep, and that was how I knew that the world was ending. Sombra never woke up early. I was always the one up to enjoy the pre-dawn hours and stroking his mane. That was a sign of balance in the cosmos. To feel Sombra gently nudging me awake meant that it was he who was up and that every single one of us would be doomed. What reason did he have to wake?

I gave a few blinks, letting the first blurs of the world filter through. Lamplight greeted me, and all the dark shadows of the pre-dawn hours lurked around it. The haze quickly left my eyes and out of the corner of my eye, I caught sight of the long, silky gray feathers attached to his forehoof, the very one that was giving me a light shake into wakefulness.

My vision finally cleared, its colors easing into something constant. Sombra sensed how I tensed up right before I rolled over, and he shifted to accommodate me. My smile was immediate as I stared up into his crimson eyes peering tiredly down at me. I traced his warm, crooked smile with my eyes because I never wanted to wake up to anything else.

Seeing an opening, I lit my horn and my magic darted up to Sombra’s face. I combed through his jet black mane, toying with his bangs and giggling when he leaned down to nuzzle me with his delightful fuzzy face.

“Good morning, Sombra,” I managed between my giggles, placing a kiss on his cheek.

Sombra nuzzled back and nickered. “It will only be morning when you make way for it.”

My sweet husband felt like the only creature in the world who knew that sunrise could not happen without the movement of the moon preceding it.

“Mmm, perhaps,” I said, wrapping my forehooves around his neck and squeezing him in a hug. “What if I wished to keep the dawn away for just a while longer? Students everywhere shall thank me, shall they not?”

Sombra’s response was to have his eyes widen and paw at my forehooves, making a sputtering and gagging protest noise.

“Ah, stars!” I gasped, releasing him and rubbing his crest, ruffling his mane as I did so. “Forgive me, Som. Sometimes the awareness of my own strength still escapes me.”

He only lessens his grouchy glare when I give him a kiss. Although, Sombra being Sombra still decides to give my closest ear a soft nip afterward.

“Som!” I protest, and I catch the gleam of pride in his eyes and how he is just about to say something. I take this as the prime moment to pout and watch with budding mischief as any stubborn reply absolutely melts from him.

I watched as Sombra levitated my forehooves off of him, folding them over my chest and slipping his own over them. I couldn’t refrain from smiling at the gesture.

“What were you dreaming about?” Sombra asks, flicking one of his ears inquisitively.

I bite my lip, knowing that even though I do not lie to anypony, I could not ever succeed in misleading him… or desire to. The feeling I could now name as dysphoria was already crawling up my spine and pouring outward from me. Never before had that happened when Sombra and I were just enjoying one another’s company or when I had corrected my figure by piling layers of blankets over myself.

The next look Sombra gives me is a careful, analytic one. I knew immediately that he was trying to puzzle out what motivated my reaction. Sombra was a stallion who sought such insight into things, in the best of ways and even some that were more sinister. He was drawn to higher magics like dark magic in the first place because they were a solitary study, one filled with that which could sate that sharpening insight and the hunger of ambition, producing results and forbidden knowledge no kind or gentle energies could ever provide. It was a confession he and I were quite alone in, and I think that the blend of solitary insight and scarring is something that dysphoria has inflicted on me as well.

Perhaps Sombra would understand that, if I could will myself to believe anything more than the rapid grip of fear crushing and clawing at my heart.

“I take it the dream was a good one, then?” Sombra never said that cursed word, finding the term derived from my mask to be just as hurtful as I did. “I saw you smiling and I thought…”

He looks at me, equally concerned and expectant of an answer. I breathe quietly, keeping my mouth closed tightly as if my jaw were wired shut, for I can feel my heart in my throat.

“Luna, do you want to tell me after dawn?”

“...Yes,” I whisper dryly, letting my eyes fall to the plain necklace hidden among the fluff of his neck.

Upon that silver chain was his wedding ring, shining brightly and beautifully. It hadn’t been able to fit upon the unusual curve of his horn, and the Equestrian custom of never wearing them past the honeymoon was one we had abandoned and Sombra scorned. We never stopped wanting to let the world know he and I were husband and…

...married. That we were married.

In the parlor adjacent to our bed chamber and the room leading to our tower balcony where I raised and lowered the moon, Sombra and I settled into a ghost of our early routines. The palpable anxiousness brought by this particular brand of silence kept us from really doing anything, except to try and instill some ease in the other.

Sombra’s parlor desk (because he had to have the fragment of an office everywhere outside of his grand office sanctum) did not see his presence for long. He drifted over to where I was, slinging myself across one of our chairs with all the elegance of laundry thrown from the other side of the room. Cadance had always declared this to be the ‘gayest’ mode to seat oneself in, and I was never sure if she meant happy or queer by that usage until now. Perhaps she had been teasing me and I had never picked up on it, for Cadance teases and laughs like most ponies breathe.

I was trying to give myself an air of distraction for my own sake, in order to make my thoughts that much easier to coalesce. I would only get one chance to tell him. Twilight Sparkle would be the one to turn to what I believe is called ‘overkill’ in times like this. I can easily imagine my sister’s former student dipping into time travel and redoing everything if she had to come out and something had not been absolutely perfect.

As cursed as my nervous mind can be, I think the mere thought that somepony would possibly do that is heartbreaking.

I spy an ever-welcome guest peer over the top of the chair to watch my distracted doodling. I toss aside my charcoal and sketch pad as soon as I see Sombra rest his chin curiously atop the back of the plush chair.

“Are you ready to talk yet?”

“Yes,” I offer, anxiety still lurking in my voice. “I think so.”

My hooves are shaky with nothing to occupy them, and I busy them by combing them through my thick, cascading mane. There is a twitchy, hopeful flow to it right now.

“Were you having one of your foredreams?” Sombra asks immediately, his eyes shining with sparks of worry.

I hadn’t even thought about speaking, and here Sombra was, wanting to already be on top of whatever was wrong.

“Nay,” I mumbled, “what I had was a very pleasant dream… I was just reminded of…” I brought one forehoof away from my mane, waving it around in a circle while I reached for the right words, “...a different situation.”

Sombra raised an eyebrow. “When did this come up? Should I still be concerned about the dream?”

He was the only one who took a genuine interest in my dreams. Some time ago, he had uncovered a product of my magic I was inflicting upon myself for a maelstrom of reasons. Sombra was the only one in my life who took any tact in approaching the matter. Celestia forever whispered about the Tantabus by name, even though that name made ill feelings seize my stomach instantly after it was spoken, and memories play at the edge of my mind. Originally, all Tantabus-related counseling sessions with Sound Mind had Sombra and Celestia there with me.

That arrangement couldn’t last. Thankfully, it hadn’t. The discretion that I got from Sombra was so different from the awkward writings of ‘You-Know-What’ or the stutters and sideways glances Cadance used to try and convey the subject whenever it came up.

“No, there is nothing to worry about in this dream… You needn’t look at me like that. I promise, Som. Recently, I have been discussing a… a new development has come up at therapy. One separate from all the talk of my Tantabus and banishment, and yet at the heart of everything that has truly gone wrong in my life.” I bite my lip, swallowing loudly as my throat tightens. The first hint of a damp feeling is already forming at the corner of my eyes, and I look to Sombra pleadingly. “Som, you know I don’t exaggerate when I say things like this, do you not?”

I couldn’t bear for him to react like Celestia did when I told her of the intensity these feelings brought ages ago. Stars, may my own husband not show the same dismissal, downplaying, and disregard for the way I have always voiced my thoughts not fall upon me twice. I have accepted that my relationship with my sister will always be that of Sisyphus rolling his stone at its heart, even if it has softened some.

Having that horrible dynamic with my dear Sombra, who has always been able to understand me unlike anypony before him, would only rob me of the light of my life, one that exceeds the moon and stars. I have chosen him as my eternal companion and husband, and only wish that he will think of the same vows of fidelity, love, and loyalty we took.

“Sombra, could I have one of your suits?” My words leave me with the hesitance of a mouth trying to get on the good side of an ursa major. I sound more like a mare than ever, and the accursed femininity is now unmasked as nothing more than a sharp, grating evil in my mind. In a world that elevates mares beyond pedestals, how can I tell him that what damned, poisonous matriarchy falsely sees as g-good is naught but my prison?

In response, Sombra narrows his eyes, not out of anger. Instead, I see something much closer to a sharp, unimpressed suspicion in his gaze. The very sight of it has my heart trying to force its way up my throat.

Oh my stars…

“How many do you want?” Sombra asks, and my chest does not lose any of the panicky feelings that were overflowing from it. He knows that I can sense the critical edge to his voice, the one he had never shown directly to me before, but I was always familiar with it.

The dryness in my mouth will not permit me to breathe in any manner suggesting composure. I waste no second thought on forgoing whatever last bit of it I might have been clinging to. “Any of them. Whichever one you would be willing to part with.”

Sombra won’t shift his gaze, but he no longer regards me so critically. I watch him shrug, wishing the tension that has my head ready to explode and spill the torrent of secrets I’ve kept everywhere. I can feel the heat of sweat on the side of my face.

“Go pick out whichever one you want, then. Whatever makes you happy, Luna.”

In a second, I am utterly transformed with a wide grin stretching from ear to ear and bring my forehooves together in a great, joyous clap. “Splendid! I shall go grab-”

“On one condition,” Sombra adds, a self-satisfied smirk settling snidely on his muzzle.

...And with that, I am left feeling gray and worried all over again. My smile has vanished as if it never were and my mane does not burst with sparkles of excitement any longer. The singing of my heart has ended more abruptly than the breaking of glass.

“Why?” I ask, immediately biting my tongue afterward when I knew I should have said ‘what’ in its place. Such a question would be less suspicious.

The smile that Sombra gave me was the kind that a snake might give a mouse, albeit he had it drained of all cruelty for me. “Tell me exactly why you want them.”

My expression crumpled, the dampness of my eyes finally breaking. A trickling start of what threatened to be a true trail of tears started sliding down my cheeks.

When Sombra saw that, all his pride vanished. “Luna, what’s wrong?”

“Som, do you think that there is anything wrong with me?”

I didn’t have to finish; Sombra was already shaking his head in a firm ‘no’ and keeping a careful eye on me. “Luna, what does any of this have to do with suits? If you want them so badly, you can have them. I don’t think any of them will fit you that well, but if spending the national budget on mare’s suits would solve this, then let’s sell the whole kingdom while we’re at it. I, for one, would enjoy having to do an ungodly amount of laundry instead of dealing with ponies who think that they know anything.”

“No, no, no!” I buried my face in my forehooves. “I don’t want mare’s suits! I don’t want to be a princess or a sister! I don’t want a mare’s ANYTHING! I knew something was wrong when Tia and I were small and I felt like a toy soldier among dolls! Something has been wrong my whole eternity and all that has ever happened was this horrible mare-drunk culture telling me that I could be as pretty, sweet, and perfect as my sister if I just tried.”

Sombra lays his ears back, watching my half-effort to shield my face with my forehooves. My words are like a chain that I have to pull out further with each awful sob, and every time I free myself of one, I feel another twist of pain from deep in my chest. Is that not where all these words are coming from?

“Marehood is a prison, and all mares are merely the invasive needles that demand everypony defective be sewn this way or that. Having to walk among them as this stranger hurts. Every day at court or outing with Tia is a stage I don’t want to be forced to play encores on any longer! You were the only male ruler in history!” I bring a tear-drenched hoof to point at Sombra, watching how startled and confused he looks. “As awful as that time may have been for you, do you not remember how you were tormented just for being a male who wished to lead? To have ambition instead of masks of smothering amity and disguised avarice that mares clutch so tightly? Or how they shamed you for your capacity to love all as improper and nothing more than a false caricature of male brutishness?”

I see Sombra’s jaw tighten and knife-sharp anger come to his eyes. Neither gesture was for me; they were only a reflex at the mentioning of the awful memories prior to his discoveries of dark magic. Those who desire power are shown little resistance, so long as they are female in some capacity.

If I am to go through with this modern transitioning or disclose what I really am, I am not sure what the extent of the ridicule would be — only that it shall be inevitable. What Cadance did is considered empowering, brave, and beautiful. Mares like her are given special celebrations and rivers of praise and gossip alike. Wishing to be a mare or the slightest shred of femininity and frills in a male is acceptable — even if it is feigned in an attempt to deter the passive-aggressive malice that mares have.

Stallions like me are seen as slugs, and the world is salt.

“I feel like as much of an outsider as I am sure you did in those times.”

Sombra approached me, not hesitating in nuzzling my tear-dampened cheeks. My post-sob breathing was rough and ragged. Stars, I just wanted him to hold me. I wanted to wrap myself in twelve cloaks until I no longer had to behold my own frustratingly female slenderness. Seeing it made me feel like the monster I had been, not because of her dark coat, her fangs, or the gloom and misery she was born out of…

...but because Nightmare Moon was crafted as a female in order both encapsulate and worsen all my misery in the only way I knew how to convey it, and I could think of nothing more miserable than a mare, and the most wildly feminine one possible at that!

Was I to create my happiest self, the utter inverse of her, then a stallion I would be.

“You’re like Candy Dance, aren’t you?”

Unable to keep from sniggling and shuddering, I nod and pull Sombra into a hug by his neck. There, I close my eyes and squeeze him into a divine-strength embrace until I can feel him pawing at me for air.

All is constant between us, I suppose.

...

I watch Sombra’s horn light with crimson aura. When he passes me my mug of mead I accept with a small smile, mouthing the the ‘thank you’ my sore throat cannot manage right now. He was the one pony in the world who never made me feel like a monster, even accidentally, and I do not put an iota of exaggeration in that statement. I focus on keeping my breathing steady and watch Sombra sip his coffee.

Everypony in the royal family favors a different beverage. Cadance loves smoothies and Shining Armor likes new-fangled sports drinks. My sister sticks to her predictable choice of tea, tea, and more tea. Sombra has grown accustomed to black coffee. Blueblood will not touch anything that isn’t a cocktail. Though they are closer to extended royal family than any that are direct, authoritative kin, I have it on good word from Cadance and Shining Armor that Spike and Twilight Sparkle both like root beer floats.

Of them all, I was the only one who refused to be tethered down to one favorite. I smiled as I took a long sip. I could be having anything else right now: wine, hot chocolate, milkshakes, or even a magical concoction unknown to mortals. As constant as all else was about me, there were little aspects that made for excellent mischief.

Once I set aside my drink, I find that my dear Som has been watching me the whole time.

I blink and see him flick his ears in response. “Som? Is there something wrong?”

“Is there any reason you didn’t tell me sooner?”

“Oh…” I murmured, ducking my gaze slightly so that it fell to his throat. “I… I was at a loss of knowing whether or not you would still love me.”

Sombra’s brow furrows and his eyes are absolutely smoldering with confusion. I immediately recognize his baffled state as one Cadance told me was called ‘bisexual confusion’ and I knew just what it suggests he thinks I meant.

“You know stallions have always been an option me,” Sombra says, letting his eyes travel to my jaw, face, and the span of my withers. He was looking at me the way I have long looked at myself in mirrors, thinking about where real, masculine features could be instead of this false female haze. “In fact, I think you would be an excellent one if those hormones work as well as you say they do.”

Goodness, I can’t recall the last time Som has made me blush so.

I’m unable to hide my reddening face or bite back the tiny smile that breaks across my muzzle. “Oh Som, I just wasn’t sure if you would even see me as a real stallion. For if I am not really a stallion, and if I am a defective mare, who would love me?”

Sombra frowns, and there is no malice in the gesture. I do think I spot a splinter of hurt in it, and that wounds me as well. “I love you, Luna. That will never change.”

Stars, I feel myself sniffling again.

“And I shall always love you, Sombra. Perhaps my worries were mare-monsters made bigger by smoke and mirrors in my thoughts. ‘Twas not that I had no trust for you… I just…”

What is it that I can say that would make sense?

“Luna, I understand. I never told anypony about what I was before telling Cadance.” A faint scowl crossed his features. “You know how nosy many mares can be, and how they will stick their muzzles where they never belonged in order to find something that they could use as they pleased. She's the only one who hasn't done that. In any other circumstances, I could have counted you and her together... I expect now I'll have to correct myself.”

I try not to think of any specific faces of the thousands of mares I have known across my lifetime that could fit that description. One always had to be rather on guard around those types, ever-vigilant of what they sought to pry. The mere thought of them brings the familiar mantle of anxiety over me.

“There are far, far too many mares with that venom in them,” I whispered, shuddering.

Sombra makes a small scoff in the back of his throat. “Many more acted like they had no poison in them at all. Gods, I’ll take a stallion’s show of toxicity if I could avoid the humiliation that a mare’s share can weave.”

I nod, looking quietly at Som. In the past, I was either neglected or made into a monster long before I had crafted my own. His ordeal at the hooves of the Crystal Empire was a much more public affair, and one I think I would have snapped sooner dealing with. What hurts me more about was when he admitted that I was the only one who had never blamed him for shattering under those circumstances — all that came afterward is a very different matter.

“I take it that you’re going to want a new name?”

I… I had not thought of that…

My eyes meet Sombra’s and take in the unbothered understanding he has for me. “I would eventually. Unfortunately, I cannot say I have even the inkling of what I would want it to be. Switching pronouns is all I can say that I am ready for…” I bite my lip, staring into the depths of my mug again. “Even that can only be within the right company.”

“Not Celestia,” Sombra answers, nodding.

“Hush, Sombra. You must not say it like that. She won’t hate me. Tia could never hate me… I just don’t think that she shall suddenly begin to understand me, and certainly not through something as complex as modern sex-changes.”

“I have a better relationship with the plague that is philequinistic attempts at philosophy than you have with your sister.”

My innocent whistle is unconvincing as a refutation of Sombra’s statement.

“When is your next appointment?”

“Hm? Oh, with Sound Mind? ‘Tis this Thursday.”

“Would you let me come with you?”

“...To walk me there?” I ask, readjusting how I had folded my wings. We really ought to get better chairs for our parlor table; they’re positively awful if I lean back in them with my wings folded.

“I would like to be present at some of your appointments — I can’t pretend to understand this transsexuality instantly and if there is anything that would help me help you, I want to do it.”

And he wants to do it best, or he is not Sombra, who is the uncrowned king of pride itself more than he’ll ever be the dethroned king of the Crystal Empire.

“I am told the term is ‘transgender’ only,” I correct gently.

Sombra blinks. “Who got the idea in their head to make it sound like a creature who is modifying their sex is changing their gender? For Tartarus’ sake, I’m no expert on this, but I don’t think it takes one to realize that the thing that isn’t changing shouldn’t be in the name meant to describe the thing being changed.”

“I haven’t the faintest idea why the name is so puzzling either — and yes, Som. I would love to have you with me.”

Sombra shot me a crooked smile that brought a comforting warmth to my chest. “Frankly, I should have probably suspected that you were my husband at some point.”

I cock my head to the side, blinking curiously at him and ruffling my wings with the same owlish air. “What might have helped you know my condition before all this?”

“As soon as I realized Tartarus would freeze over before you could cook.”

Author's Note: