• Published 23rd Dec 2011
  • 3,825 Views, 37 Comments

Under Cover of Night - Gordon_Blue_4



A look at Luna's experience later on Nightmare Night

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Chapter 1

Author notes: This story was very kindly pre-read to me by user Film Reel on EquestriaForums. Also, usual boilerplate of owning nothing and I owe all inspiration to the Great Lauren Faust.


Chapter 1: Dancing in the Dark:


Twilight sighed a little; despite a rocky beginning and an almost disastrous middle section, the Nightmare Night was heading for a glorious end: Luna had managed to find some middle ground in dealing with the ponies of Ponyville. Now that the all ages festivities had finished and the children were being led home, the grown up party was starting up.

“Twilight Sparkle, W-I mean I do not understand, has the whole affair concluded?” Luna asked, clearly confused.

“Well yes, but we’re having a more adult orientated party now at the town hall: dancing and silly competitions: I also think there’s a best costume prize” Twilight had never been to a Nightmare Night after party even when she’s come of age.

“I see” Luna seemed to get a bit reserved.

They entered the town hall, streamers and jack ’o’ lanterns decorated the walls and roof. There was also a large ball of covered in small mirrors; coloured lights in the roof were pointing at it and making a rainbow appear all over the floor. Luna seemed fascinated by the electric lights.

“Hey Luna!” all of a sudden Luna found her personal space invaded by a pink ball of energy and mane.

“Pinkie Pie” Luna greeted cordially.

“Thirsty?” Pinkie’s eyes motioned up at a tray balanced on her head.

Luna took a brief glance at the tray: there were several glasses of liquid, some in colours the Princess did not think possible. Before the situation became too awkward Luna smelt something familiar: apples.

“Thank you Pinkie Pie, it has been a long time since I enjoyed a drink” Luna gently levitated the glass of mulled cider towards her; remembering to speak at a more temperate volume.

Pinkie nodded before gambolling off to serve drinks to other guests. Luna gently sipped on the alcoholic beverage comforting warmth spreading through her. As she looked around the room, Luna couldn’t help but smile a little: it they may not be outside, but they were enjoying the night in some way.

‘Gentle steps’ Luna thought as she continued to scan the room.

It did amaze her how things had changed over 1000 years; not just technology but socially also. One of the central couples on the dance floor was Lyra and Bon-Bon; a musician and candy maker respectively and both Mares. There was also Ingot and Haute Cuisine, a metal worker and a chef, both Stallions. There were many other couples dancing, stallions with stallions, mares with mares and mares with stallions (and one young dragon doing his damndest to dance with a young white unicorn mare) but all had one thing in common.

“They are very happy” Lune whispered to herself; feeling a terrible guilt wash over her as she finished her cider in a single gulp.

As stealthily as she could, Luna left the town hall: the loud party music covering her exit quite nicely. However, Applejack and Twilight had seen her leave and Twilight made a move to go and stop the Princess but found herself stopped by Applejack’s hoof on her haunch.

“A sad face like that, Ah don’t think it was one you can lecture her out of” Applejack shook her head wearily.

“But it was going so well” Twilight looked a little distressed as she saw the Princess of the Night leave the room.

“Ah know Sugarcube, but....” Applejack pawed at the ground, trying to find words.

“But what?” Twilight seemed curious as to what her farmer friend was getting at.

“Ah’m guessing she still feels guilty for the Nightmare Moon episode; and not ta sound cruel, but she should” Applejack really did look like she didn’t want to say that but honesty was her element, and honesty wasn’t always kind.

Twilight felt her ears droop: neither of them harboured Luna any true ill will, and the full story of her actual transformation was still unknown, even to them. However, to many Luna had been the one to attempt a coup and skies above knew what else her ‘eternal night’ plan would have done to Equestria itself and so was the sole object of blame.

‘I’m sorry Luna’ Twilight thought.


/////////////////////


Luna had made an easy trot to the outskirts of town, nearing the farm belt of Ponyville. The further away from the town she got, the lesser the din in her head. The full depths of her powers were unknown the most ponies: such as her ability to pick up on desires and feelings of those around her. Seemingly without warning Luna felt as if she was going to sink in some kind of emotional mire

“NO!!” with a mighty bellow, she reared up and brought down a bolt of lightning on a large boulder that sat in the middle of a field.

“Wow, that was impressive” an ever so slightly slurred baritone voice drew Luna’s attention from the half-melted rock.

Big Macintosh, if she remembered Applejack’s information correctly, was the actual owner of Sweet Apple Acres. A large draft Earth Pony who looked cut from the very stone heart of the Earth itself.

“Excuse me, WE wish to be alone” Luna was in no mood for company; especially drunk stallions.

“You want a drink?” to the Moon Princess’s surprise, Big Macintosh did not leave but offered her a bottle of hard cider.

“We said we wish to be ALONE!” Luna turned on the admittedly brave stallion, flaring her wings out and letting her eyes glow to get her point across.

“With respect Princess, wasn’t being alone what made you miserable all those years ago?” though outwardly calm, Macintosh was sweating bullets: there was living dangerously and there was this.

To his surprise, Luna backed down almost instantly as if struck by a great force. Her anger seemingly drained away, however a long held guilt lingered making her teal eyes look like heavy stones. Macintosh shifted his gaze to the boulder Luna had nearly turned molten.

“You always that powerful?” he asked

“Depends on my temper” Luna shook her head, mane shifting like a cloud.

There was a brief pause before Luna took a hold of the hard cider bottle with her magic and took a powerful slug from it. It tasted stronger, almost heavier than what was at the town hall.

“This is a bit stronger than what’s available at the party” Macintosh took another slug from the bottle himself.

“Oh please, we are not a dainty school filly” Luna shot Big Macintosh a somewhat sardonic look.

“Ah can see that” Big Macintosh again allowed his gaze to wander to the boulder, but soon found its way back to the dark coloured Princess.

Big Macintosh found himself again wondering what kind of foolish idea had taken root in his brain: it had all started with Luna’s entrance to Ponyville: an event that put even the Great and Powerful Trixie (who was a fantastic showmare if nothing else) to shame: thunder and lightning, the rather intimidating guards and a chariot that looked more like the throne of a comic book super villain. Power radiated off the younger Princess and Big Macintosh found himself rather intoxicated with her.

‘Don’t hurt that she is beautiful’ Big Macintosh smiled to himself as the night Princess seemed to calm further.

“You are Big Macintosh, are you not?” Luna asked.

“Yes Princess...” Macintosh found himself cut short when Luna chuckled sarcastically.

“Please, drop the appellation, we do not...deserve it” Luna took another slam from the hard cider bottle.

“What on Equestria does that mean?” Big Macintosh was honestly taken aback.

“I do not feel like I am a Princess” Luna lowered her head; gentle tears appearing at the corner of her eyes.

Big Macintosh was as confused as all get out; the start of the night she’d come down literally bellowing her status as Princess of the Night, but now she was ranting about not deserving her title. He thought women had been complicated when tried dating high school, but this was spectacular. However, his father had told him that the best parts of life are achieved with hard work.

“Why are you out in this field, the merriment is back in the town is it not?” Luna turned a penetrating gaze on the red Earth Pony.

“Ah...dislike the big crowds. Gettin’ hit on by unsubtle drunks is as unappealing to me as it is to you” Big Macintosh smiled gently to the Moon Princess.

“You do not find my nature ABBRASIVE?” Luna emphasised the last word in finest Royal Canterlot voice.

“Have you met Applejack, or Rainbow Dash for that matter?” Big Macintosh asked, raising an eyebrow.

“I remember fair Applejack, an honest young Pony. I do not remember her to be as abrasive as I am” Luna replied looking a bit confused, or slightly drunk: Mac wasn’t sure.

“Mah sister is as honest as the day is long, but she’s got a stubborn streak wida’ than Ghastly Gorge. When she gets in one of ‘er moods, abrasive is a kind way ta put it” Big Macintosh smiled as he recalled his sister.

In an unexpected response, Luna threw her head back and laughed; where Celestia’s laugh reminded Big Macintosh of a sort of soft bell, Luna’s laugh was melancholy, like a slow note off a violin. Luna turned a softer sort of smile on the big Earth Pony. Luna thought perhaps it was the drink or the thousand years of solitude in an incorporeal state on the moon, but Big Macintosh looked rather handsome at the moment.

‘Let us take a gamble’ Luna thought and approached Big Macintosh, putting a slight sway in her step.

‘Holy horse apples!’ Big Macintosh thought he’d been crazy to even try this but it seems his impulse was bearing fruit.

“Tell us, Big Macintosh, do ponies still dance?” Luna asked, tilting her head to one side.

Big Macintosh was now looking Princess Luna directly in the eyes, and found his breath stolen from his lungs. When he’d seen them the first time they were a beautiful teal colour, but now with the moonlight behind her it was like looking through Twilight’s telescope at the night sky: swirling lights against an inky backdrop of dark purple.

‘Say something!’ Macintosh found he was unable to speak but responded with what he hoped wasn’t a dumb nod.

“Then wouldst thou dance with us, Master Macintosh?” Luna held out her left hoof.


///////////////////////////////


Back at the town hall, the Nightmare Night party was still in full swing but had passed its peak. Twilight was still worried about Luna but managed to get a good few dances in regardless. The punch (which had been spiked about 30 seconds after the children had been ushered out) was delicious but overwhelmingly powerful. Pinkie Pie was bouncing all over the place, dancing with just about anyone who stood still on their own long enough.

“Always did bring a dance to anyone who looked like they needed it” Applejack smiled as she and Rainbow Dash tried to out dance each other.

“Keep your mind in the game Applesmack, or else the Rainbow Ruler is gonna beat ya” Rainbow Dash, even after the events of Running of the Leaves, still had a competitive streak a mile wide.

“Are you like this all the time?” Applejack loved Rainbow, she really did, but sometimes she was exhausting.

“All. The. Time” Rainbow Dash smirked.

“All the time?” Applejack repeated, emphasising the word all in what she thought was a sly manner.

“You wanna go there, Applejack, fine. Your barn, twenty minutes” Rainbow Dash never backed down from a challenge: of any sort; and with that she zipped out of an open window, hoof pumping as she flew.

Applejack on the other hand, wasn’t quite sure what the hay was going on. She’d just tried to make a joke at Dash’s expense in regards to running her love life like she ran her flying regimen: mercilessly fast and punishingly hard.

‘Oh Nellie, what did Ah just get ma’self into?’ Applejack thought as she went for a drink of the spiked punch.

“Applejack, darling, you look pensive” Rarity, a slight blush on her cheeks from the wine she’d been drinking.

“Ah think Ah just agreed to meet Rainbow in my barn...” Applejack said nothing further, awaiting Rarity’s mortified outburst.

“Oh, she finally dropped a hint big enough to get your attention” the outburst never appeared.

Applejack spun to face Rarity feeling somewhat surprised: Rarity always struck Applejack as rather conservative (insofar as being conservative meant in Ponyville) and didn’t think the high class unicorn would look fondly on such a relationship.

“Wha?” Applejack didn’t manage a sentence as Rarity offered a glass of rose wine to Applejack in addition to our own.

“Oh darling, don’t look so shocked” Rarity couldn’t help but chuckle at Applejack’s expression.

“Ah may be a workaholic, but Ah know there are plenty of pretty mares in Ponyville: why’d she zero in on me?” Applejack asked.

“Have you noticed how well the two of you seem together? You argue like a married couple, and while you are supportive of each other to a fault, you’re never afraid to get in each others’ face and say the other is wrong: I imagine she respects that” Rarity waxed on a bit when she’d had a few wines it seemed.

“You don’t see anything wrong with it?” Applejack wasn’t fussed herself, but didn’t wish to break their group dynamic.

Rarity turned back to Applejack, a very compassionate sheen in her eyes as she leaned in and gently nuzzled Applejack as one might a younger sister before a first date.

“My dear, love is a force of nature and no one, deity or door-colt is immune to it. If it has invited you to its embrace; hold tight and don’t let go” Rarity swatted Applejack’s flank.

“Now get going” she scolded lightly.

“I don’t know what to do” Applejack’s hesitation was waning and her twang was nearly gone.

“Follow your heart...and if that doesn’t work, I hear Pegasus wings are very sensitive” Rarity gave a smile that would ignite the saddle of a lesser pony.

“Got ya” Applejack bolted from the room, bits of hay from her costume floating to the ground.

“Well, that’s two down” Rarity smiled and trotted over to Twilight who was nursing a small cup of cider.

“You look like that cat that caught the canary, Rarity, what did you do?” Twilight asked, a sleeping Spike mumbling the white unicorn’s name before rolling over.

“He’s really sweet sometimes you know, that little dragon of yours. I imagine in ten or fifteen years time he’ll make someone very happy” Rarity sat down beside Twilight.

“I don’t know what you mean” Twilight replied in the most robotic way possible.

“Please Twilight, I may be vain but I’m not foolish. I’ve seen the way he looks at me, sweet as he is he’s about as subtle as a brick to the face” Rarity sniggered as Twilight looked as if a great weight has been taken off her shoulders.

“I did wonder if you knew” Twilight smiled and gently nuzzled the dragon.

“So, now two of our friends are romantically entangled, with any luck by the end of the night. So, that leaves you, me, Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy” Rarity threw her fore hoof over Twilight’s neck and drew her close, cheek to cheek nearly.

“Rarity, two things: 1, please loosen your grip and 2, I’m not looking for a relationship” Twilight choked out.

“Forgive me, Twilight, I just....I just cherish the idea of being in love with somepony, and it is something I hope we all experience” Rarity looked sadly over at Lyra and Bob-Bon.

“Hey, I know Blueblood was a disaster, but he’s one stallion. There are lots of stallions around Ponyville, what about Big Macintosh?” Twilight lamely offered; naming the one actual stallion she knew in town.

“My dear, there is a line of mares for Big Macintosh as long as he is, and barring the gates is our friend Applejack” Rarity turned on ‘that’ smile again.

Twilight went an impressive shade of red, so red in fact she nearly matched the aforementioned Earth Pony in colour. Rarity let loose a peal of laughter at her friend’s embarrassment at the mature direction the conversation had taken.

“Oh come dear, the facts of life must have been explained to you by your parents at some point” Rarity chuckled.

“Well yes they did, but all it did was confuse me” Twilight fussed with her front two hooves as she spoke.

“You confused, over something scientific? Well I never” Rarity shook her head as she observed the party goes begin to pack up and leave.

Rarity gently ruffled Twilight’s mane as she got up to leave, planting a gentle kiss on the sleeping baby dragon before leaving the town hall. Twilight watched her friend leave the party along with the rest of the guests. As Rarity gently swung out of view, Twilight mumbled to herself.

“It wasn’t the science that confused me...it was the feelings” she sighed, gently levitating Spike onto her back.


///////////////////////////////////


Back at Sweet Apple Acres, Luna and Big Macintosh had finished their dance: Luna ended up teaching Big Macintosh an old court dance from when she’d been about Twilight’s age. Then Big Macintosh taught her how to do a Wild West Dance that Braeburn had taught him when he’d last been to Appeloosa. They’d both laughed as they realised how much fun they’d been having when they probably looked ridiculous.

“I was wondering, where did those two guards o’ yours bunk off to?” Macintosh looked around: the two Pegasus were not anywhere in line of sight.

“I dismissed them into the town, or to return home if they liked. Like me, they are not well received” Luna felt that melancholy feeling return slightly.

“They must be fond of ya” Macintosh smiled.

“I was surprised, truthfully. Celestia had kept them on, some of them were trusted with duties most sacred: but she told me they missed their Princess and that their moods improved greatly upon my return” Luna, in a rare moment of openness, shared something personal with another.

‘Then again....’ Luna mused.


//////////////////////


In the Ponyville Pub, The Pickled Badger, two Royal Selenic Guard sat drinking pints and playing checkers in a discrete booth at the back of the pub.

“Crown me” Shadow Step smirked as his partner’s face contorted with comic rage.

“Again? How do I keep missing these things?” Starburst groused and took a long swig from his pint glass.

“You reckon she’s okay?” Shadow Step asked as he placed a marker on his game piece to denote its promotion.

“Considering how the night went, I doubt it will get worse” Starburst shrugged, signalling for the serving mare to bring another round.

“Who was that fella we saw her with after she bolted from the town hall do you think?” Shadow Step mulled aloud.

“Dunno, big though, looked bigger than Morning Star” Starburst nodded before turning a friendly eye on the mare who was serving them drinks.

“Was he red?” she asked, levitating the cups down.

“Uh, yeah, red from memory” Shadow Step gave his partner a pointed glare for flirting.

“Oh, that would be Big Macintosh” she replied brightly.

“You know him?” Starburst asked, still trying his charming smile on.

“I know him very well, we were lovers once” the unicorn checked the bits to make sure they hadn’t overpaid.

“What’s he like?” Shadow Step grew curious: he knew few that spoke of ex-lovers this fondly.

“Well, he loves the mares” she smiled softly, a look of pleasant nostalgia in her eyes.

“The town stud then” Starburst rolled his eyes, hoping the Princess didn’t hurt him too much if he got fresh.

“Oh don’t misunderstand me, when I say he loves the mares, I mean he loves the mares. He had a few lovers when he was a bit younger: but he didn’t play us. No he...loved us, for as long as we needed” she explained.

“How do you mean?” Shadow Step was very engrossed now.

“Each of us was special to him; I remember he caused a stir when he got on with Cheerilee, the local primary school teacher” the two guards urged her on.

It happened a week or so after Cheerilee had arrived at Ponyville to start her new job; she’d come out of a terrible relationship with a colt in Fillydelphia and as such wasn’t as happy as she would have been normally. Then one night at this very pub, she’d run into Big Macintosh: he bought her a drink and listened to her troubles. What followed was a whirlwind affair between the recently of age Macintosh and the much older Cheerilee, caused a bit of a scandal among some parents. Then Cheerilee’s ex had made a rather appalling show of himself in front of the school.

There were few witnesses, but the most commonly accepted version of events was, she explained, that the colt had stood drunk outside the school house yelling obscenities at Cheerilee. Then Big Macintosh had show up and informed him that he was not treating the lady with due respect: and that unless he wanted a hard lesson in manners, to get lost. He had refused, and popular rumour had it they were still finding teeth a week later in the bushes next to the schoolhouse.

‘I like the sound of this stallion’ Shadow Step thought.

“Sounds a solid sort of stallion: why didn’t he stay with any of you, I mean I have never seen so many attractive mares in one place before” Starburst blurted out; Shadow Step gently placed his helmeted head between his hoofs.

“The attraction last only as long as it needed; at the end of it we just...float apart with fond memories and a renewed sense of being” she answered, seeing the bar-stallion was waving her back.

“Hey, what’s your name?” Starburst called out; Shadow Step was groaning now.

“Sugar Lump, night handsome” she threw a flirty wink back at Starburst.

Shadow Step looked up to see Starburst smiling smugly to himself and winced as his friend gently punched him the front haunch.

“I’m in there” he said confidently.

“Oh shut up and lose the game already, I wanna go back home” Shadow Step muttered.

Before Starburst could offer a witty retort about the game or any other aspect of their life a sudden impulse ran through his brain and made him look up at his friend.

“Hey, Shadow, you don’t suppose...” Starburst couldn’t bring himself to finish.

“NO...I think” they both paused.

The pair almost looked like they were having a moment as they stared right at each other and seemed to pass information between themselves through psychic waves. Suddenly they both sculled their pints and bolted for the door, taking to the sky as soon as they were clear of the eaves of the building and flying towards Sweet Apple Acres.