Subdued Radiance

by Lulubell

First published

Twilight admires the night.

Ponies say that the beauty of Celestia is unrivaled, but Twilight has a different opinion. Luna explains the origins of the stars, and Twilight learns to craft them.

Admiring the Night

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Some ponies believed that Celestia was the epitome of beauty; radiant, lovely, angelic. Pristine ivory fur and feathers, slender form and frame. She shone brightly with a warmth that was unrivaled. A smile would melt you, set your insides ablaze. Yes, Twilight would agree, she was quite beautiful.

But there was another who’s more subtle beauty appealed to Twilight all the more. Twilight watched from the doorway, hoof still on the handle as she felt her breath catch in her throat.

Princess Luna stood on the balcony to her room, hooves draped over the railing, wings spread and horn aglow in a pale blue light. The dying light from the sun shimmered across the iridescent inky midnight blue of her outstretched feathers, playing across every crease and groove. A nebula of blue and purple mane cascaded around her face and shoulders. Impossible and tiny stars somehow twinkled between the twisting locks.

Her face was an intense calm as she guided the moon higher into the darkening sky, the glow around her horn flaring with concentration. The glow illuminated the Princess’s face, highlighting the curve of her jaw and cheekbones. Twilight could make out the faintest beads of sweat forming on her brow as she worked.

When at last Luna was pleased with the placement of her moon, she sighed and the light around her horn dimmed for a moment. A second’s reprieve before it flared once more. Across the blackened sky, Twilight watched as stars began to twinkle back into existence. Like an artist, Luna painted her stars across her canvas, forming the constellations and formations Twilight had grown up studying, admiring.

At last, when her work was complete, the glow faded from her horn. Luna swept her gaze across the sky, making sure all was in place. She gave a brief, half nod to herself and folded her wings. As she stepped down from the railing, her eyes snapped to Twilight. A smile flitted across her face, one that warmed Twilight from the inside out.

“Twilight? Did you need something?” Luna asked, cocking her head to the side as she studied Twilight’s face.

Twilight shook her head and returned the smile in full, “Just admiring the night.” She let her eyes drag over Luna, letting the implication of her words set in. She swore she could see a blush staining her cheeks. Twilight’s smile grew- though they had been together for some time, compliments seemed to have the same effect on her wife as it did when they first began courting.

Luna stepped forward, brushing one of her wingtips along Twilight’s face as she leaned down to place a soft kiss against the other mare’s lips. Twilight hummed in appreciation, nuzzling in the soft fur of Luna’s chest after they pulled away.

"You're a flatterer," Luna teased, nudging Twilight with her flank, "But you know, you don't have to admire from so far away. I could teach you...I wouldn't mind sharing my sky with you, love. Perhaps your cutie mark has another meaning as well." She gestured toward the six pointed star emblazoned on Twilight's flanks.

Twilight glanced upwards at the stars. Each was placed with precision and purpose. Could she really do that? The thought enticed her- her and Luna's love made into art, for all to see? The things they could create...and to be shared for the perpetuity of all time. It made her heart ache with the sheer devotion of it all. She trotted toward the rail and propped herself up facing the sky, "Could I really? You make it seem so easy but I'm sure there's more to it. How do they even come into being. How do you just..." She paused, gesturing around for the right words, "Will something into existence?"

Luna joined her side. She took a moment to think, before slowly saying, "I'm not sure of the process, truly. They come from me, I think." She tapped a hoof to her chest, "I envision the warmth inside me- I nurture it until it grows. I don't know what feeds''s an essence of myself? Part of my soul? I don't know. It grows, and grows...the warmth hurts sometimes. I close my eyes- and when I open them again, a star is born."

"Each one is a part of you?" Twilight asked, not even attempting to hide the wonder from her voice, "Doesn't that hurt? There's so much of you out there. How is there enough still inside?"

Luna shuffled her hooves, looking embarrassed, "I don't know if that part is true, if they are really a part of me. They FEEL like they are." She cleared her throat, suddenly self conscious of her explanation, "But I think you could do the same. There's so You love so freely, Twilight. I think anything you make would be beautiful."

Twilight blushed this time, warmed by the sincerity in Luna's words. She took a deep breath, and closed her eyes. She felt her wings unfurl, felt the caress of the night wind through each feather, "Okay...I'm going to try. What do I do?"

Luna touched her wingtip to Twilight's briefly, beginning her instructions, "I'll guide you at first. Look within yourself. Travel to the darkest part of yourself and wait. You'll feel it before you see it..." Luna's horn lit up once more, the aura enveloping her's and Twilight's. Twilight latched on with her own magic, two becoming one.

As Luna continued to speak, Twilight found her words harder to hold on to. She concentrated on her breathing as she let herself fade into blackness. At first, she could still feel the light of the moon against her eyelids but even that began to dim until she was engulfed in the void. No sound, sight or touch...just the endless stretching of darkness from every direction. A moment of panic flared in Twilight's chest. It was disorienting at first, but after what felt like an eternity, Twilight felt it. A warmth coming from her left. Blindly she followed it, and from the darkness the tiniest pinprick of light shone. She enveloped it with her magic, drawing it closer. A ball of light, no bigger than a marble was now nestled between her hooves.

It dimly glowed in the darkness. She marveled at it, turning it over in her hooves to inspect it from each angle. A baby star? How would she get it to grow, as Luna had said? She let her magic flare around her, and the star trembled in her grip. Nothing.

Pursing her lips, Twilight thought...if this was a part of herself, what would make it grow? It took only a moment before it clicked. She smiled, touching her horn to the little bead of light and let her memories flow freely into it. Her first star...what part of herself would she give for it? She thought immediately to Luna. To their awkward first meeting. Luna had come to Ponyville, hoping to change the way the locals had come to think of her on Nightmare Night of all days. In the end, it had worked out, and the ponies of Ponyville had begun to warm to the Princess.

As Twilight relived that night, the mote of light in her hooves began to grow hotter. She squinted against the light that was now pouring from it. Before her it began to grow, and soon she found she could no longer hold on to it. It levitated in place as it seemed to feed from Twilight's memory. Twilight tried once more to grab it within her magical aura and found this time, it came willingly. It continued to swell and the endless darkness around Twilight began to shrink rapidly. The heat also grew until it was almost unbearable. She felt her heart beat fast- now what?!

"Let it go Twilight."

Twilight startled to hear Luna's voice again, but she heeded her words. She thrust the star up and away from her with all her strength. With a gasp she came to, blinking in the light of the moon. Luna was there, watching the sky in wonder. Twilight followed her gaze and smiled- it was there! Her star blazed brightly against the night for a moment, marking it's arrival with a flare before it dimmed, matching the glow of it's siblings around it.

"Remarkable," Luna said softly, "I never got to see the process for myself..."

"What did it look like from your end?" Twilight asked, desperately curious.

"Lackluster," Luna admitted, "From a visual stand point, I mean...I felt it. When it came into being. When you released it, I saw it come to life up there," She nodded toward the sky, "It was so very bright...but somehow I expected something more explosive."

"It felt like it should've been." Twilight agreed, still staring at the thing she had made from nothing, "Are they all memories?"

"I suppose...aspects of yourself, or memories, feeling...I find each one is different. It certainly is something though, isn't it?"

Twilight bit back a laugh. She sounded so casual about the whole ordeal. She felt wrecked- exhaustion settling deep into her bones. What a wonder, she thought. Every star, an aspect of Luna. Twilight felt emotion well in her throat. Luna was reclusive by nature. She didn't often share herself with other ponies, or so she had thought. But looking at the night sky riddled with the twinkling of thousands of stars...Luna shared much more of herself than any pony would ever know.

Some ponies believed Celestia was the epitome of beauty; but perhaps if they looked a little harder, they would also see what Twilight saw. Though her light was not as brilliant, Luna shone nevertheless. A subdued light, but when you truly looked at every angle and facet, it was plain to see a beauty that rivaled even Celestia’s.