The Birthday Wish

by Hail King Sombra

First published

Princess Luna's daughter, Dawn, has one simple wish for her birthday that is anything but simple to grant. She wants to see her father.

Princess Luna's daughter, Dawn, has one simple wish for her birthday that is anything but simple to grant. She wants to see her father. Problem is, he was banished for 1,000 years and despite her insisting he is not a bad pony and that there is still good in him, she may never get the chance to find out. How can a mother who is also a demi-Goddess and Princess of Equestria bear the weight of refusing her child's deepest, most fervent wish, especially when she was the one who had to destroy him in the first place?

Cover art by Oriana-jua. Thank you for letting me use the beautiful piece of artwork that inspired this story.

The Reality in Dreamwalking

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“Are you ready, Dawn?”

The little filly nodded, snuggling down deeper into the covers in her bed. “I’m ready, mommy,” she told the Princess of the Moon.

Luna smiled, bending to kiss her daughter tenderly on the forehead, moving a stray lock of deep blue hair aside. Hair that matched her own body's color, set against a small curved, blood red unicorn horn that had only recently grown tall enough to tower over Dawn's pony ears. Sweet, teal blue eyes that matched Luna’s looked trustingly into the hovering alicorn's above her.

“Now remember, my little one, tomorrow is your fifth birthday. I want you to wish very, very hard and dream of what you want most in this world,“ instructed her mother. “Perhaps tomorrow you might find it will come true.”

Dawn nodded. “Okay,” she said slowly, emphasizing each syllable in a very adorable way. Eyes watched from the bed as the Princess moved to the door, turning the light out. Once the door shut behind the alicorn, the filly turned onto her side and went to sleep.

Outside Luna sighed heavily. It had been a brutally emotional week. She secretly dreaded what Dawn was going to wish for, knowing that even though her mother bore the title of Princess of Equestria, there were some things she simply could not give her child that she needed the most.

Luna was weaving her psychic tethers to the minds and dreams of ponies all over Equestria when she felt the tears coursing down her own face. Setting their feel aside for the moment, it had only taken an instant in reality to address the fears and monsters in her subject’s minds throughout the land, then she came back to the odd sensation that had distracted her earlier.

Reversing the spell of dream walking, the Princess floated back down to the palace floor in the Room of Dreams where she nightly tended to her ponies nocturnal needs. A hoof came to her cheek and came away wet and salty. Tears, definitely tears of pain, of longing and of sorrow.

It only took as long as wondering why she was crying before she realized her daughter Dawn was their source. Wasting not a moment, Luna trotted out of the room and headed for hers and her little one’s chambers.

“I got you!”

Dawn giggled madly as the levitation spell of the unicorn stallion snatched her from the ground as she galloped away from him. She was deposited onto his broad back where she grabbed hold around his neck to hang on for dear life as he increased his speed across the lawns of the royal palace of Canterlot.

“No!” she screamed, laughing. “You’re going too fast!”

“I take no orders from prisoners, little mare!” he said in a mock sinister voice. He slowed down anyway. “But I will slow down because it pleases me.” He glanced back at her with red crystal eyes, a smile stealing across his features at the sight of her laughing, eyes tightly shut. The charcoal grey bodied stallion seemed not to react to the tiny tears gathering at the edges of her eyes for he said nothing, though, to her relief, he was slowing his gait until it was no more than a gentle trot across the manicured grounds.

“So, do you yield, beautiful maiden?”

Dawn’s eyes popped open at the question. “Yeah,” she relented. “but only if you carry me to the lake.”

“What, am I a royal carriage now?” he said in mock disgust. “Is my fate to be bossed around by a miniature tyrant?”

“Yes,” she said without hesitation. “I am a crystal tyrant and I command you to carry me around the castle.”

The stallion stopped, bowing. “As you command, my Moon Princess!” As he planned, the act of bowing with his head touching the ground caused Dawn to topple giggling over his head and luxurious black mane, landing with a gentle bump onto the soft grass.

“Ah!!! I’ve been overthrown,” she cried out, attempting to grab onto his mane to stop her fall, but to no avail.

Luna watched the tender scene between her daughter and father, a wistful smile falling to her lips as well as a deep ache in her heart. Tears came to her eyes as they had to her little one’s, despite the happiness she felt the child experiencing in her dreamland slumber. It was a sign of a budding dream walking talent that her body reacted to the deeper, more true emotions in her dreams than the false joy her mind was attempting to fool her with. Some grew out of such a rare gift, but others, like Princess Luna herself, found it was her true calling - and at times like this, a deep curse that would never let her forget the heartaches of real life.

‘Is this what you want for your birthday, little one,’ she sighed. ‘Of course. I should have known. Once you saw him by my side in my dream - our dream,’ she corrected herself. ‘There could be no other wish in yours or my heart!’

Making a decision, Luna crossed the dimension of reality and stepped lightly into her daughter’s dream. The two grey ponies were laughing and giggling, her father - Luna’s mate - gently nuzzling his cold, wet nose into Dawn’s belly fur as he had her pinned upturned in the grass. She was currently begging him to release her between gasps and giggle fits, but he was relentless.

As if sensing her presence, the handsome stallion ceased his tickle attack and looked up. His attentiveness to her presence made Luna canter back a step, suddenly embarrassed to intrude. ‘Does he know this is just a dream? she wondered. ‘Is he just a product of her imagination this time or is it really - ‘ she trailed off the thought, not daring to hope. ‘If it be him, can he have that much awareness in his thousand year slumber?‘

Dawn grew quiet, no longer being assaulted and lay catching her breath in the grass. Her father finally looked away from Luna and across Canterlot Gardens. “So this is Canterlot?”

Luna followed his gaze. “Yes,” was all she replied.

“It is quite lovely,” he replied conversationally, then paused. “Though I still prefer my kingdom.” His ears laid back. “My old kingdom,” he corrected softly.

The subtle sadness in his tone made her heart ache.

“You did not know you were with foal when we fought, did you?”

Throat tightening violently from emotion, she found herself choking on the reply. “I - no. If I had - ” she said impulsively.

He turned and lay a gentle, unshod hoof against her lips. “You do not need to pretend with me, beloved. I know it would have changed nothing.”

Eyes widening, she gasped. “Oh Goddess, it is you, isn’t it?” She dissolved into great, heaving sobs into his hooves as he gently held her.

The Truth

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One Week Earlier…

The Truth

“Mommy, why doesn’t daddy come see me?”

The Princess of the Moon paused her fork in mid-air at the question. Stealing a glance at her sister across the table, she could see that Celestia had also not expected the four-year old to ask such a question at dinner this night.

Fortunately the Sun Princess was quick to handle her end of the awkwardness of the moment. Turning to the serving staff, she smiled. “Thank you, that will be all for now.” The staff bowed and dutifully left, leaving the royal family to their privacy and the unenviable task of answering a child’s simple question.

The charcoal-coated filly looked around as they left, worry suddenly etched in her features. “Am I in trouble? Did I ask something bad?”

Celestia opened her mouth to answer when Luna beat her to it. “No! No, little one,” she softened the urgent tone she had accidentally used to address the filly’s second question. “Auntie ‘Tia merely wanted me to answer you in private, that is all.” She smiled. “Remember what we said about privacy?”

The filly frowned, wanting her question answered, but knowing she would only get her answer if she answered her mother’s question first. “There are some things we keep private for the sake of our subjects?” she said in a questioning voice, hoping she got it right.

Luna smiled, but even the little unicorn could see there was something wrong with the smile, how strained it was, a hint of sadness about the subject at hand she regretted making her mother feel every time she asked such things about - him. “That’s right, my little one. Every family has - “ Luna hesitated, not wanting to say the word, ‘secrets’. Secrets were too tempting to tell other children and made the answer sound like something bad or to be ashamed of.

Which is exactly what it was. Something bad she was ashamed of. Did that not then make the product of that secret, her daughter Dawn, bad as well? She shook her head vehemently to banish such an absurd thought. She could not look at that adorable little face that carried her own soft teal eyes and ever think her -

“ - stories, Dawn.”

It was Celestia who had come to the rescue with the answer when Luna could not. The big sister who always knew what to saw when pain and memories overwhelmed the Moon Princess in such times of reminiscence.

“Stories,” Luna picked up from ‘Tia’s rescue. She cleared her throat. “Stories about our family that other children might find hard to understand.”

The filly processed this information, given to her in basically the same explanation as every other time she had asked the same question, only now she was starting to become old enough to understand there was something more she was not being told. And though she was unaware she was doing it, the alicorns knew Luna’s little one was testing them - searching for an answer that made more sense than the ones she always received about her father.

About him.

“Stories like about why my horn has a curve and not a spiral,” Dawn almost whispered.

Luna frowned. “Are they teasing you about that again?” she asked, her voice raising as before, but now for a completely different reason. “How dare they - “

“I will speak to your teacher about it in the morning, Dawn,” Celestia said smoothly. She glanced at Luna. “Perhaps it is time to start your private lessons instead of going to school - “

“You know how I feel about that, sister,” Luna interrupted. “Dawn needs the interaction of other children her age.”

“I like my friends,” Dawn mumbled. “They don’t tease me - much.”

The two sisters traded glances over the child’s head, Celestia sad, Luna fuming, knowing her daughter did not want to cause trouble. For a daughter of such parents as herself and her father, she was surprisingly, painfully shy.

Dawn winced as sunlight streamed through the stained glass windows, the sun beginning its final overhead journey towards the west. Like her father, Dawn shunned like the sun, preferring the darkness, but for the innocent, unavoidable reasons of genetics and nothing else.

No, absolutely no other reason at all. None.

“Sister, it is getting close,” Celestia’s voice shook Luna’s wandering thoughts out of her head.

“Yes, of course.” The Moon Princess rose from the table, as did Celestia. Luna went over to Dawn and rubbed her head gently against her daughter’s side. “Why do you not accompany me tonight, little one? I will raise the moon and you can help me paint the sky with stars?”

The filly didn’t reply. That was something she had inherited from Luna’s side. Stubbornness.

“Then I will answer your question,” the alicorn relented.

Dawn immediately got up from the table then, ready to follow her mother and aunt to the balcony. Celestia and Luna traded amused glances. The child would grow up to be a natural negotiator one day - a talent that as a Princess she would find quite useful!

If they looked carefully that night, anypony gazing up at the sky who oft admired Princess Luna’s work would frown, seeing a clump of silver and red stars in the poorly configured shape of a unicorn. Luna knew who it was meant to be and while she helped tidy up her daughter’s ‘artwork’, she mostly left it as she had created it, adding one particularly bright red star in the eye of the rearing stallion. And though its chosen position was from an innocent child’s viewpoint of the majesty and power of her father, Luna turned away once her thoughts started to wander at how reminiscent it was of the way he had taken her that night, how seductively overpowering he had been, how clouded with lust they both were as he had left the seed in her womb that had resulted in the beautiful little filly that now stood by her side admiring the breathtaking works of her mother’s nighttime sky.

“Your turn.”

Luna sighed. It was and it was also time for a new grain of truth in the story she had been telling Dawn about her father ever since she had been old enough to ask.

Dawn’s bedroom was just off her mother’s own chambers, the little bed’s pale blue crescent design nearly identical in design to the Moon Princess’s. Curtains above and comforter and sheets below were splashed with stars and the framework of the bed rested on swirled, white clouds, giving it the appearance of a sleigh of sorts. Dawn loved her bed and loved it even more because it looked just like her mother’s.

The little charcoal filly let her mother tuck her in, but her sharp eyes were neither tired nor forgetful of the promise her mother had made earlier in the evening to answer her question. “So, little one, you asked me why your father does not come see you,” Luna began, gathering her thoughts. “Don’t you believe me when I tell you he is very, very far away?”

“Is it because he doesn’t love me?” Dawn asked point-blank, tracing a star on her comforter with her little hoof.

That about broke Luna’s heart right then and there, along with her resolve to get through this without tears. Eyes sparkling, she cleared her throat, masking a tumult of already hard to process emotions waging war in her head. “No,” her voice cracked anyway. Dammit. “No,” she began again. “Not at all, Dawn. He hasn’t come to see you because he does not know I gave birth to you.”

Dawn’s look of shock almost broke her mother's heart a second time. “But - “ The teal blue eyes filled with little tears of their own.

Luna quickly put a hoof to her daughter’s lips. “Your birthday is in one week, Dawn. You will be five and while it is still a bit young for you to understand, I want to tell you the truth - the whole truth of why he does not know you exist.”

The Moon Princess climbed into bed with her daughter, levitating the covers away and snuggling under them with her. She cradled the confused and hurt child in her forearms, kissing her forehead, stroking the dark blue mane tenderly. “I loved your father once very, very much,” Luna confessed heavily. “He was kind and gentle and the king of a great Empire.”

“The Crystal Empire,” Dawn murmured into the safety of her mother’s chest fur.

“That’s right,” Luna paused, levitating a handkerchief over. All hope of getting through this story without crying was already a lost cause, she knew.

For both of them.

Dabbing away first her daughter’s tears then her own, she set the cloth aside and continued her story. “Remember I told you we could not be together because of my duties to our ponies in Canterlot?” the Moon Princess went on. A nod. “This is my home and the Crystal Empire was his and he had ponies he was responsible for there, too.” She looked up, outside Dawn’s windows, to the sky full of her stars and the stallion of glimmering light created from a child’s simple wish.

Brushing away tears, Luna continued. “He was mortal and I am immortal and we only realized after we had fallen in love that it would not work if we stayed together.” She choked, clearing her throat once again. “Love is very, very powerful, Dawn. As powerful as the love I have for you. It doesn’t stop just because you realize you can’t stay with somepony. And it can hurt very, very badly when you must leave them.”

For some reason at that moment the image of Sombra the last time she gazed upon him came to Luna - his handsomeness twisted by the wickedness in his heart to such an extent that only then had she realized too late he was beyond her help.

She knew her daughter could grasp the concept of how much it hurt to be apart from the times she missed Luna when away from her, but somehow the Moon Princess was still not prepared for the child’s leap of logic when she asked, “Did the pain make him evil?”

“Yes,” the alicorn told her slowly. “But there is more to his story, little one and I believe now, at last, you are old enough to understand.” Luna braced herself emotionally. Or tried to. She knew this would be the hardest part of the story to tell her daughter. “He loved me so much he was desperate to find a way we could be together - at any cost. So Sombra - daddy,” she corrected. “Struck a deal with powers who could give him what he wanted - immortality.”

“So he could be with you forever?” she asked, looking up at her mother.

“Yes, sweetheart. Forever,” Luna replied. “At first I was overjoyed.” She looked again out the window, letting the silent, stallion-shaped star cluster remind her of happier times. “He was so handsome! Immortal at last, his love for me so radiant! With wings of darkness he enfolded me and took me to his bed. He planted the seed within me that months later resulted in you.” She kissed her daughter’s forehead, then drew back to look into her eyes.

“Then what happened,” the filly asked, her voice muffled by the covers and her mother’s warm, comforting body.

“He paid a price for immortality, Dawn. Every pact with evil has a terrible price for the power sought.” She sighed. “Sombra thought he was strong enough to resist it, that our love would overcome any price, any burden he needed to bear. But all it did was create strife and anger, jealousy and hatred. I blamed Aunt ‘Tia for his desperation to do what he did, she blamed him for succumbing. The truth is, he could not bear the thought of us being apart and it broke his mind as well as his heart.”

The two were silent for a moment, the only sound the crickets in the royal gardens below. Almost reluctantly, Dawn asked the next, inevitable question, “Then what happened?”

Luna almost missed the question, lost in a fevered memory of anger, pain, loss, the sounds of war, blades clashing and their final battle against Sombra in her head. She shook herself gently to refocus back to the present and her daughter’s needs. “You know the rest, Dawn. Aunt ‘Tia and I fought him and his armies when he would not listen to me and relinquish his power.”

“So you and Aunt ‘Tia sent him away,” came the sad reply, a strange lack of emotion, almost acceptance in her voice.

“The Elements of Harmony banished him, little one. We used them to stop him hurting his ponies. The Elements felt it best to put him in a deep sleep in the Frozen North. Hopefully when he awakens again, he will be well, he will listen to me, he will put aside this evil and come home,” she finished in a haunted whisper.

When Luna could begin again, she took a steadying breath. “Remember I said he left a seed inside me that resulted in you?”


“That seed takes months to grow, Dawn. By the time I realized I was carrying you, he was long gone to his sleep.” Luna felt tears overwhelm her, cascade down her face. “It was too late to tell him. He never knew you were going to be born.”

More silence followed until Dawn’s small amount of magic levitated a handkerchief to her mother’s face. Luna looked up, startled she had let her pain show so clearly in the tide of tears she was utterly unable to stem. She accepted the compassionate gesture of their daughter gratefully.

“I’m sorry, mommy,” the little filly said simply.

Luna hugged her daughter tightly. “So am I, Dawn. So am I!”

The Lies, The Silence

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The Lies

Luna quietly shut the door to Dawn’s room and headed back towards the balcony she always used to raise and lower the moon when in Canterlot. The night was still very young and there were many ponies dreams that required her protection, attention and care. Not caring that the guards would see her upset, she walked slowly, head and ears down, a deep, sad bitterness gnawing a hole in her heart.

Hearing her sister around the corner, she put on a brave face, the “smile and wave” face as she called it, lowering the mask in place just as she ran into Celestia.

“How did it go?”

“It went - well.” Luna’s voice was carefully even. Too even to be genuine. She knew only after hearing the tone in her own voice that her sister would catch it immediately. Seriously, how could ‘Tia even ask, she wondered in silent anger. “Perhaps it will be enough for her curiosity to spare us this awkward conversation for a few more months,” she said aloud.

Luna moved past the Sun Princess, but apparently her sister had not finished the conversation. “I did not mean her, Luna.”

“I know,” Luna said barely audibly. Lie Number Two. Please do not pursue this, sister.

“It would help if you talked, Lulu.”

She paused. There was just no letting this go, was there? “No,” she told her older sibling. “No it would not, sister.”

Celestia knew whenever Luna called her ‘sister’ in private it meant she had made up her mind and would not back down. It could also mean she was upset at Celestia. In this case, the Sun Princess knew it meant both. She came up to her. “You can’t hold this in, Luna - “

“Watch me,” she said through gritted teeth. That was probably lie number three. She didn’t want to hold it in. She wanted to scream, to vent her fury, to cry until there was no strength left in her, but damn it all, as a Princess, she was not allowed that luxury.

“Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do, ‘Tia? We aren’t allowed to feel? Isn’t that how I got Sombra corrupted and killed in the first place?” she whirled on Celestia, a flash of anger tinging her eyes green for an instant, wisps of violet expelling their dark energy at the corners. The Princess of the Sun had cantered back a step, startled at the sheer vehemence in Luna’s voice and manner and had blinked - blinked at the wrong time and thus missed the dark turn of fury so visible in her sister’s magical aura.

Celestia recovered her composure. “No! That was not your fault! He chose his path.”

“And I seem to recall you had told me this is why we must rise above their mortal ways,” Luna hissed. “Because of feelings we are not supposed to show,” she whirled around, away from her, her mask cracking ever faster. “or even have.”

“Not like this. Not towards each other! We're sisters. You can tell me. We can always tell each other how we feel!”

And every time I have, it ends in being scolded, chided or told I was wrong, she thought painfully. Finally it was too much to hold in. She spun back around to her. “And that will make it BETTER?!?” Luna yelled the last, her Canterlot voice echoing through the hallways. “Tell me - sister - “ she spat. “Will it bring him back? Will it erase what he became? Will it give my daughter back her father?!?” The Princess of the Moon paused a second, registering the guards running, turning the corner from their posts, alerted by Luna’s furious outburst. She ignored them. They and Celestia could all go straight to Tartarus for all she cared!

For a tense moment all stood frozen in place - the guards confused at what had made Luna so angry, Celestia for lack of an answer - and of course there was none - and Princess Luna wondering just how her all-knowing sister was going to answer such an unanswerable question. At last Luna spoke, breaking the silence, voice like ice, “No? I didn’t think so!”

The Silence

The routine returned back to Canterlot Castle and the Royal Family slowly the next day. Luna lowered the moon that morning, then went straight to Dawn’s room to get her ready for school. Celestia had a full schedule of meetings and appointments with no time even for meal breaks until dinner, which passed in strained silence started last night with Luna’s anger and now continued because of Dawn’s unwillingness to talk to either of them.

“I’m sorry, Dawn,” Celestia apologized, pausing between bites of food. “I was unable to make room in my schedule to speak with your teacher today. Tomorrow I will send her word to come see your mother and myself here. I think it would be easier if she - “

“S’kay,” the filly said, not looking up, playing with the remaining peas on her plate.

“Did they tease you again today, little one?” Luna asked her. Celestia had not heard Luna speak one word all day until now and it was a strange sound when her quiet voice suddenly broke the silence.

Dawn shook her head. Gathering the last of her food in one spoonful, she nearly gulped it down. “May I be excused?” she asked Luna.

“Of course, sweetheart,” Luna replied. She nodded to the guard. “No need to escort her. I will accompany her back to her rooms.” The guard bowed. She rose and nodded to Celestia. “Sister.”

It came out formal, yet civil, but Celestia also detected a hint of Luna desiring to talk to her daughter in private. “Luna,” was all she replied, adding a warm smile the Moon Princess didn’t see as she had already turned away and was guiding the filly out of the dining room. Turning back to her own plate, Celestia sighed as her own appetite fell victim to the mood as well and she pushed the meal away, lost in thought.

In His Image

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“Mommy, tell me what daddy looks like.”

It was after Luna and Celestia had exchanged heavenly orbs above Canterlot and now lunar mother and daughter were in the filly’s room for their evening routine of tucking Dawn into bed.

She refused to speak of him in the past tense, the Princess admired. But the question had surprised Luna as Dawn had never asked before. All Luna could imagine was she had been too young to think to ask so directly before now. It was a reminder of how she was changing as she approached this upcoming birthday, holding a promise of newer, harder questions to come the alicorn found herself dreading. “Well, I can show you,” she smiled, putting her thoughts aside for now. She took her daughter’s hoof in her own. “This was - is,” she corrected. “His coloring.”

“Like mine?”

“Yes, like yours. Exactly like yours.” She removed the tiny versions of her own silver shod shoes, set them on the floor next to the bed and tapped Dawn’s hard little hooves. “And this is the color of his hooves.”

There was a comfort in talking about Sombra like this, as if he were still a good pony merely away somewhere else, but would be back home soon. It was a lie, but a sweet one that could be set aside as needed when mother and daughter had to go back to facing reality once more. Cherish this moment, this explanation as one day she will be too old to suspend disbelief so easily, Luna, she told herself quietly.


Luna levitated a mirror over to the bed, holding it before Dawn. “And his horn looks just exactly like yours.” She traced its curve with a hoof. “Same color, same curve.”

“I want to see,” Dawn yawned, snuggling deep into the covers as her mother levitated the mirror back onto the dresser across the room.

“Very well.” Luna drew the image back into her consciousness, imagining his regal bearing and dark, brilliant smile the night he had gained his immortality, before the ugly truth of his poisoned soul became so apparent. She clothed him in the shadowy wings of night and the blood-red hues of his horn, even though this image of him brought up the pain back into her heart every time she recalled it. In the physical aspects of his ascension she would not lie to her daughter as it was quite possible Dawn would live to one day be witness to his return and if he were still tainted by dark magic, she needed to be forewarned of the truth this form bore of the deeply scarred Unicorn Witch King beneath.

With the image in place, the Moon Princess projected it into the room before them both. It had the three dimensions of a real, living being without actually being one and this fascinated Dawn, taking it in with huge eyes.

“He's beautiful!” their daughter breathed, enraptured by the sight of him.

“When he was good, I thought him the most beautiful stallion I had ever laid eyes upon,” Luna agreed, her voice lost in the memory of him. “I was wrong.”


“He was even more handsome this way,” Luna elaborated. She forced herself back to the present for Dawn’s sake. “Before I realized what evil had consumed his soul. And yet, the darkness suited him, too, in a way.”

“The darkness?” the child asked. “Auntie Celestia says the darkness is evil.”

It appears I must speak to my sister about the difference in definitions from the point of view of myself - and of a child - again, Luna sighed to herself.

“It is dark outside right now, little one, is it not,” she asked her daughter, determined to nip this misconception in the bud.

Dawn looked out the window to make sure. She turned back to her mother. “Yeah.”

“Is it evil?“


Good. She was fairly certain in her answer to that. “Am I evil, Dawn?”

The child’s eyes widened. “No, mommy!”

“Are you evil?”

Dawn did pause to think about that, frowning and chewing on her lower lip. She took so long to answer, Luna squeezed her, laughing softly. “Let me answer for you, my little moonbeam.” She rubbed her nose against her child’s. “You are most definitely NOT evil!”

She looked visibly relieved. “We both are of the dark, sweetheart,” Luna went on, confident her daughter followed her logic so far. “We were born to it. It is in our magic and in our blood.

“I know it is confusing, Dawn. Dark magic has a different source for its power, just as the night and day are beautiful for different reasons.” Luna sighed. “I often wish dark magic was not called ‘dark’ because of this.”

Dawn struggled to understand the difference where her father was concerned. “So… daddy is ‘dark’, but that doesn't make him evil,” she put forth to her mother.

“Correct,” Luna said carefully. “He gained great power with his immortality, but those not born to it often find adjusting to both is - overwhelming. And with his heart already so broken over us, the pain of that broken heart and too much power drove him mad,” she trailed off, fading the image. What had started as a simple discussion over Sombra’s fate was wearing badly on her. Truthfully she could not take much more of this painful explanation tonight.

Dawn startled her mother by putting her little hoof over hers. Luna sighed, looking up at the child. There were days the pain was just too strong to allow her to be strong for her daughter and this night was, unfortunately, one of them. If she were not already so drained, this thought would have been the final nail in the coffin of her emotions at the moment.

Luckily, Dawn’s her eyes were already closed as she had fallen asleep. Grateful, the Moon Princess kissed her forehead and quietly left the room, going straight to hers. Casting a soundproofing spell over the suite, she threw herself down upon the bed and cried herself to sleep.

The Dream

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An alicorn’s dreams were the most powerful of all ponykind. They could be prophetic, they often sensed danger and Princess Luna’s especially were often sensitive to the ebb and flow of worlds beyond the physical, reaching from the depths Tartarus to other worlds in other dimensions.

She never thought they could even reach beyond that to realms unencumbered by time itself.

Maybe it had been made possible by the shared grief of two unicorns - one an alicorn, no less, who also shared the same blood with one they loved and had loved. It would not be the first time blood magic had combined with the desire of the heart to create a miracle, but it would be the first time that reaching out had actually produced an answer from a place where none was possible...

In the icy heart of the Frozen North, in realms that were side-by-side with dreams, a new door had appeared, bridging the distance between the two realms. She who often walked through these doors as she stepped through pony’s dreams was unaware of it as she herself slept, but the door was meant for her and like an eddy in a tide that takes one off their normal course, it gentled her towards and through the door that bore snow at its foot, icicles hanging from its top and uncertainty beyond its entrance.

The Princess of the Moon stepped lightly through a vaguely familiar series of long corridors she couldn’t immediately place, but knew for certain she had seen before. Soon she realized they were the corridors of a castle. It was the pale pink, blue and green shimmering crystals that gave it away as being the castle of the Crystal Empire.

“This cannot be!” Luna murmured, pawing at the floor, testing its solidity. “I know this is a dream, but dreams of the Empire died when it vanished.”

It was true. No pony had dreamed any dream of the Crystal Empire since its disappearance - not even herself nor her sister. Time had not only stolen the Empire, its King and crystal ponies, but the very remembrance of it from life itself.

Luna continued through the crystal castle, watching with consternation as the pure, pale colors turned black, sprouting sharp and jagged, deadly points. Seeing no evidence of any other life, she turned the corridor and was suddenly just outside the crystal field surrounding the city.

Statues of stallions garbed for warfare stood all around her. Both sides were represented - Canterlot and Crystal Empire. Pegasus flyers were caught in mid flight, the flapping of their mighty wings halted, as were spears heading towards the hearts of King Sombra’s mind-controlled army drones - grotesque shadow beings clothed in steel armor, sightless neon red eyes their only visible facial features. The Dream Princess walked amongst the living corpses of Canterlot guards mortally wounded, the blood of their wounds also suspended in the air as they bled out their last moments of life. Ears down, she endured the awful scene as best she could, hurrying through it towards the gates of the city.

One last glance back at the carnage, she turned to her forward path only to find she was now at the entrance of a room all too familiar.

The throne room inside the crystal castle.

The scene of the last battle between Celestia, King Sombra and herself. Taking a steadying breath, Luna stepped through the large double doors, uncertain what she would find there...

“Sister!” Luna cried, seeing the radiant white-bodied alicorn felled to the ground, rainbow mane splayed messily around her, golden shod hooves motionless. The younger mare ran up to her. “‘Tia? Oh no, ‘Tia, please!” She stopped short of an inspection for any wounds upon seeing the sickly glow of red and green in the Sun Princess’s eyes, trails of violet mist frozen at their edges as they bled nightmare-induced energies from her mind.

There was no use trying to rouse her, she knew, especially in this dream imagery. Time was frozen here, making the paralyzing nightmare of Sombra’s shadow magic doubly powerful. She frowned, in fact, sensing no life at all about the alicorn that was her sister. This body - unlike the others outside, was lifeless and was meant as a representation of something no longer there.

A weak scratching sound came to Luna’s ears. She turned around.

Upon the ground, next to the throne at the far end of the room amidst the rubble of their titanic fight, lay her former love, King Sombra. Armor shattered, his steel crown broken, he was breathing heavily, black shadows leaching from multiple cuts, grabbing the edges of the wounds, attempting without success to stitch them back together as the shadows disappeared back into his body. How had he been so deeply brutalized, she wondered in shock. She remembered every cut she had inflicted, placed exactly where she had wrought them, feeling each slice as deeply through her soul as they had been into his body. These were deeper, more brutal wounds done out of a pure viciousness she NEVER would have tortured him with. If anything, she would have went straight for a killing blow to make his end as quick as possible.

These savage wounds were the work of a nightmare.

Stepping through the rubble, she went to him, knowing he was finished, yet still pulled by feelings that refused to die with him. She stopped just short of touching him with her hoof as she knelt behind his broken and battered body, as frozen in a single, devastating realization as the shadows of once-living ponies outside the crystal walls of the castle and city.

Why was he not frozen? Why was he still alive and moving?


The weak cry tore at her heart. With his last, conscious breath he was painfully wheezing her name. Impulsively, she came around so he could see her and knelt by the broken shell of the stallion she had once - and still - deeply, painfully loved.

“Sombra,” she choked, hastily removing a shoe to gently caress his face with a bare hoof.

Sad red crystal eyes focused through the pain onto her lovely face. “My dark angel.” Every word was an effort that left him exhausted. “I concede and follow our love to my grave. The battle - is yours.”

“I didn’t want this, damn you!” she whispered quietly, choking. “I love you!”

“As do I,” he groaned, the evil within the stallion a weaker echo in his voice than she remembered it being during the battle. All the signs of his accursed power - the flare of dark magic in his eyes, his double-edged voice and aura of evil were fading, succumbing to the strong stasis field holding him and the Empire prisoner. In the end it had taken this extreme act to rid him of the taint of his dark descent...

But that wasn’t - right. It had not in reality. Had not the Elements of Harmony stripped him of his body and sealed him away under the ice floes of the Frozen North, his dark magic with him? Why was the dream realm playing out so differently from reality?

“Stay with me,” he whispered, pulling her confused mind back to him.

She nodded. It was the least she could do. Settling down more on her haunches, she lay flat and stretched her neck out, her breath mingling with his, their muzzles almost touching. Her ears lay back flat against the sides of her head, more tears coming to her eyes, staining the ground between them.


Luna bolted up, shocked and startled at the sound of a filly’s voice in this land of frozen shadows and death. Another aberration to reality stood before them both, someone else who had not been there the first time. A pony who was still alive and moving, not a frozen shadow held prisoner by a curse.

Their daughter, Dawn.

Secrets Shared

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It was a very haggard Luna and tired-looking daughter who came to breakfast the next morning. With ears down, they both took their regular seats silently.

Celestia frowned. She had not seen Luna’s state of exhaustion from the far balcony she occupied when raising the sun, nor noticed it when they had passed each other in the skies, though now that she thought about it, Luna’s usual radiant reflection of the sun’s light had seemed duller than usual. How careless of her to forget about it until now, she chided herself.

The servants brought the three royals breakfast and left the room at Celestia’s behest. “You do not appear to be very well rested, sister,” she asked, concerned.

“My dreams were - painful last night,” was all she replied quietly.

“How so?” the Sun Princess asked.

Luna took several bites of breakfast, reluctant to reply.

“We were with daddy,” came the reply from another source.

“‘We’?” both adults repeated in unison. They looked at each other during which Celestia could tell this news had surprised Luna as much as it had surprised her. Then they looked back at Dawn again.

“Dawn, how do know it was your father,” Celestia asked, her voice cool and even, yet lined with curiosity.

“He looked like me,” came the simple reply. “He’s grey, with a horn like mine and a black mane and tail.” She continued to eat her breakfast, seemingly as calm about the subject as if they were talking about her homework from school or what her friends had for dinner last evening.

Her mother studied her hard. Dawn had awakened from the emotional joy of the dreamscape two nights prior to the harsh physical reality of her body wracked with sobs, tears staining her cheeks and now last night had been even worse for her - a shock to the poor filly, coming across her mother clad in battle armor, Sombra’s bloodstains on her hooves and face. Either Dawn had shut down and shut out its emotional trauma or she did not want to upset her mother further after the already painful last two night’s discussions.

Luna’s mind reeled. It had never occurred to her that the image of beloved daughter in her dream was actually Dawn herself. It might have been a reasonable coincidence given the topic’s intensity these past few evenings...

“It might have been some pony you dreamed in his colors and wished he were your father, my little one,” Celestia proposed to the child, echoing her sister’s thoughts.

“Mommy said she loved him,” the filly replied. It was apparent by her still-casual tone that she believed it was her father and it didn’t matter what her aunt believed. The child’s faith in her dream was unshakable.

“So it was no simple, wishful dream - for you nor myself!” Luna breathed, taken aback, speaking when the silence told of Celestia’s inability to refute what Dawn had said.

“You do not have such dreams, sister,” the Sun Princess spoke up, yet failing to draw Luna’s gaze away from the child. “Flights of fancy and fantasy are those reserved for our subjects, but you told me your dreams, rare though they are, never hold anything but prophecy and the truth.”

It was Luna’s turn now to be rendered speechless for a moment, barely hearing what her sister was saying. Once she had thought her sister’s word’s true as well for it has always been so, but the twisted dream of the last battle was clearly not what had occurred in truth!

There was something else now as well. “Luna?” The Moon Princess blinked, focusing at last on her radiant sister. The distracted look in her face concerned Celestia. “Luna, you believe you both dreamed the same dream?”

“I - I am not certain, sister,” Luna replied uneasily. “We hath never shared the dreamscape before this.”

“Did you suspect this at the time?”

“No, I had no idea we may have been sharing - “ she glanced back at Dawn who met her gaze with no reaction and no emotion. “Dawn, did thou know we were sharing the same dreamscape last night?”

Dawn slowly shook her head. “No.”

“Where were you two?” her aunt asked.

Warning bells went off in Luna’s head. She had never told her sister what had happened during that fight while Celestia had been paralyzed by Sombra’s nightmare magic. She only just barely remembered it herself, shrouded in a veil of untapped, furious power she never knew she possessed. “Dawn - ” she began to say to cut her off.

Dawn glanced at her mother. The strange, fearful look in her eyes made the child hesitate. “We were - outside, in the gardens. Daddy was giving me a ride on his back,” she lied, telling her aunt the story of the previous night’s dream instead.

“That sounds like a wonderful dream, Dawn,” Celestia smiled. “Not a cause for such a tired state in either of you, though, let alone both.“

“Twas not my dream, sister,” Luna cut her off, trying to sound casual. “I must have been mistaken.”

The Sun Princess reached over, laying a hoof over hers. “But you did dream of him last night,” she guessed.

Luna lowered her head and ears, nodding.

“Do you wish to talk about it?” Celestia asked helpfully.

“It was of the - fight,” her sister said, careful to frame her words so she did not upset Dawn. “His last moments. I will never forget them, not as long as I live. I - please, I do not wish to discuss it right now!”

“Of course, Luna. My apologies.”

Celestia returned to eating, as did they all for a while. By the time dessert came, the mood was slightly better, but only because Luna, so tired of the past few evening’s heartaches, brutally shoved the dream aside, refusing to give in again to yet another eve’s painful memories.

“It was silly of us to believe Dawn’s dream walking abilities are showing so soon.” Celestia recalled, smiling. “You were at least twelve winters when yours began to show.”

The Moon Princess grasped the opportunity to further better the mood. “I remember,” She nodded. “I retaliated at not having mine own room by showing up in your dreams for a month."

“Yes, and when I yelled at you it was mother and father’s decision on us having separate rooms, you started showing up in their dreams!”

The three smiled, Dawn giggling, picturing her mother and aunt fighting, then her mother harassing her grandparents through their dreams. She turned to Luna, shock on her face. “Mom - ?”

“Do not get any ideas, little one,” the alicorn warned. “Such foolishness landed me in more trouble than you can imagine.” Finishing up her dessert, she caught that Dawn was still staring at her. “What? I was once of such an age as to cause trouble. ‘tis not that incredible a tale, is it?”

Dawn smiled, shaking her head. Celestia put a hoof to her mouth, stifling a polite giggle. Luna and Dawn stole glances while the solar monarch’s attention was pulled away by an attendant, Dawn winking at her mother, a small smile on her face.