by Sharkrags

Chapter 1

She looked bored, lying up there in the crescent moon with only clouds and ice-white stars for company. Glass slippered hooves dangled over the edge and swayed. Her chin rested on a blue foreleg.

“Hi there,” you said from the ground below and hoped you called loud enough. Far, far above, her hair flowed like sap, like smoke, and refracted the night air as her head poked down towards you. Her chin did not move from her foreleg.

A second stretched out for hours before she responded by yawning.

Another second passed like a year before she responded with the word, “Hello.” The timbre of her voice drifted from her lunar perch and reached your ears, sounding clear thanks to the crisp air. The winds textured the word a little.

“Is there something I may assist you with?” she asked, but her half-lidded eyes and half-sleepy voice did little to hide her disposition to not assist anyone.

“No, no, I'm fine. I'm curious, is all,” you said, hands in your pocket.

“About...?” She raised an eyebrow.

“I see you up there-”

“It's difficult not too.”

“But you're not always up there.”

“I don't always need to be.” The wind blew a curl across her forehead that shimmered beneath the pointed tip of the moon. “But tonight requires my personal attention.” She blew the curl off the side of her muzzle.

“You don't look too busy,” you said with a knowing lack of tact.

She frowned. “These vigils require much focus,” she closed her eyes. “Do not mistake my reserved poise for a lack of vigilance. Oh no, dear walker in the night, I am wholly engaged.”

The curl fell over her eye again. She did not blow it away.

You shifted from the front of your shoes and back to the heel. “Oh, I can see it now. Sorry, it's hard to tell from way down here.” You cleared your throat. “Mind if I ask what you're engaged in, exactly?”

Her right hoof lifted and made a slow sweep against the sky. “This,” she said as the stars twinkled and the clouds swirled as she stirred the air like a pond covered in leaves. “Is my engagement.”

You nodded. “The whole thing, that's a lot.”

“All to myself.” Her leg dangled over the side of the moon again.

“So why don't I see your sister hanging around the sun during the day?”

Her head titled to the side and you knew those great blue eyes of hers were rolling over. “Do you stare into the sun often?” she asked. If you said yes, she wouldn't feel surprised. “I recommend a pair of tinted glasses. To avoid discomfort.”

You looked at the grass and scratched you eyebrow to hide your smile. “I just can't help but notice we get more royalty appearances at night.”

The volume of her voice kicked up. “Yes, yes, tell me how graced you feel by my nocturnal vigils.”

“I can hardly sleep on the nights you're up there, I feel so graced. Bursting at the seams with the stuff, hey!”

Her hoof waved. “Keep going.”

“The town should hold a party every night you show up. Shouting their, I dunno, what do they shout? Uh, pledges of fealty. Unwavering gratefulness and free drinks with the purchase of a full meal.”

“Mmmhm, indeed. You may stop now, your highness is satisfied.”

“Guess that means I can go home now.”

She shook her head and said, “But you haven't finished your normal nightly-stroll.”

“So you've noticed?” you asked while crossing your arms.

She shrugged. “I notice a great many things up here. It's difficult not too. Your walking habits are a regular feature. Very commendable. Good for the circulation.”

You bit your lip. “What else do you notice, hanging around up there?”

“I can't be too specific. Respecting other's privacy, understand? But...oh, little things, amongst the big things,” her wing swept the sky and the clouds spun again. “Animals in the field. Fish in the rivers. Those who've reveled a bit too vigorously and swagger home. Sweethearts who creep out of windows when their parents believe them sleeping. Those who can't sleep at all and wander the countrysides, looking for whatever's keeping them awake.”

“Do they find what they're looking for?”

She stared you down with a knowing look and said, “You tell me.”

You smiled, but didn't look down this time. “I'll let you know when I do.”

She raised her chin and smiled. Her eyes glowed blue beneath her dark lashes. “I'll be here.”

“Tell me about the big things you notice.”

She crossed both her forelegs and lifted her head higher. “So many big things. The stars, well, those look small, but it is their number that makes them big. Can you imagine all the stars I must keep track of? I guarantee you cannot. That is not me being disparaging towards you, but the number is,” she huffed, “immense.”

She looked into the sky's blues and violets as her mane flowed over her shoulders. “Their lights must shine just so, and each constellation must hold its proper place. Many depend on that. And this troublesome thing,” she tapped on the moon and its pale light flickered, “Oh ho. It must go through its proper phases and maintain proper distance, and luminescence this, and tidal stages that,” she closed her eyes and shook her head. “And you wonder why I'm up here more than my dearest sister? The night is so much more busy than the day.”

Her chin planted on her hoof. “Few realize that.”

You couldn't feel smaller if she held a magnifying glass over you and drew it away.

She must have noticed the glaze in your eyes. “I don't mean to look down on you, or go on like this. But,” her wing tips gestured to the distance between you and her, “well...”

“People don't talk to you much when you're up there, huh?”

“Is it so apparent?”

You quietly mouthed, “a little.”

“I don't exchange much conversation. But then again, maybe they see me, but pretend otherwise. Or perhaps others cannot see me at all. Everyone is different. Yet here I am, up here and everyone else down there. Quiet most nights, and yes....” her head drifted side to side and her eyes lidded, “not the most glamorous of stations,” she said while the moon shone and bands of stars sparkled amongst mountain ranges of clouds. “But tranquility has its own rewards.”

“Sounds nice.”

“It can be quite lovely.” Her lips pursed and she toyed with a thought that felt vaguely scandalous. Her ears perked up. “Would you care to see for yourself?”

“Up there?” You pointed up. She nodded, grinning. “Is there room on that thing?” Your finger brushed over the moon's shape.

She told you she is quite capable of scooting over.

“If you say so.” You stepped forward. Stepped backwards. You looked up at the moon and towards the ground, then at the moon again. “Do you have a ladder, or a rope you can lower, or...?”

She laughed and the moon seemed to shine a little brighter. “How about this instead?”

A great whale of a cloud sank its tail from the sky, dropping, dropping and touched a feathery tip on the ground. The other end of the swathe billowed to the edge of the moon, casting a long shadow across the grass. Tree branches rustled and goose pimples flared over the back of your arms.

A wide staircase made of blue-painted mist emerged from the stretch of cloud.

You placed a cautious foot onto the first step and your heart jumped when your shoe failed to fall through the cloud.

You looked up the cloud where the staircase blurred together the higher it went. God, it was a long one. You took another step, then two at a time. You could've managed three, but clouds felt slippery enough to send your heart thumping.. Fog and cotton swirled underfoot as you raced higher, higher. The air grew more chill and the wind stronger, but the moonlight shone brighter and the stars seemed so close you could almost touch one.

She sat up when you reached the top, huffing and shivering. “Higher than it seems, hm?”

“Yeah,” you gasped.

She moved higher onto the curve inside the moon. “Have a seat, then.”

You looked at the thin slice of moon and wondered if you'd slide off the moment you set foot on it. Of course, you didn't run up here to say, “no thanks,” and turn around.

One deep breath and two small steps later, you stood on the moon. The cloud you ran on drifted off, leaving nothing but air between you and the ground. You peeked over the edge, even though the moon was mostly edge, and had a terrible sensation that the moon swung beneath you.

Your knees shook as your rear lowered onto the moon's surface. Its smoothness surprised you, and its surface felt warm where she laid moments prior. It glowed softly through your fingertips when you placed your palms upon it.

Once you felt certain you wouldn't slip off in an attack of vertigo or a strong breeze, you looked out.

The country stretched on and on, into towns, into forests, into rivers and mountains and oceans then mingling clouds, and stars, and clouds made of something more cosmic, then everything beyond, whatever that may be.

She settled next to you and her hair brushed along the moon's curve.

“Wow,” you said.

“Rather, yes.”

“So all this,” you waved a hand.

“All mine.”


She smiled.

Laughter bubbled from you. You doubled over, face turning red and you tried hard not to tip off. You struggled to breathe.

“Are you alright?”

“Ye-,” more laughter, “yes. Sorry, I, ah. It's...uh,” You wiped your eyes. “There's a seven year old version of me that's pretty excited.”


“No, not here.” You pointed to your head and then behind you. “When I was younger, I wondered what being on the moon was like. It's a harder trick to pull off back home.” She looked confused. “Call it a cultural fixation.”

Your fingers drummed the surface. Marble. It felt like marble. “I figured I'd need a rocket ship to get up here. Guess not.” You privately appreciated that street clothes were allowed on the moon. No helmets necessary. “Not bad. Not bad at all.”

She seemed satisfied.

The two of you fell silent. Legs and hooves swung beneath the crescent. Long wisps of cloud sailed beneath you. Sleepy lanterns of towns and villages speckled the landscape. If anyone walked the roads or trails, you were too high up to tell, even though the moon provided a comfortable amount of light to see by.

“You must have good vision,” you said, “to notice the little things from up here.”

Her sleek head, blue as midnight, turned towards you. You looked into the stars bouncing off the ice in her eyes. She winked.

Wind brushed your back. You rubbed your elbows. After too long you'd be a shivering mess, but the princess sitting next to you was warm, which helped, amongst other things. You could handle sitting up there for a while longer.

“Okay, no lie, how many loogies have you hocked on folks while on this?”

Her wings closed and she looked at you from the corner of her eyes. “Royal secret. If I told you I'd have to push you off.”

“I'd grab your tail on the way down.”

“That's a hangable offense.”

“Didn't know you went in for that sort of thing around here.”

She leaned close. “I jest.” She leaned away. “Mostly.”

You laughed and rubbed your hands together.

Her eyes widened. “Oh, there it goes.”


“A star just fell. Someone's going to find something fascinating in their garden tomorrow. It's on schedule, more or less.” She saw the puzzled look in your face. “I keep a catalog of all the stars I hang. Very important to know when one's about to burn out. I can't tolerate a shoddy night sky, and believe me, if I let things slip I'll have a dozen notifications from a dozen observatories by morning.”

She flipped her mane over her shoulder where it curled outwards. Lights and clouds glittered within its aether. A hoof reached into the unearthly mass. “I've been doing this for a long, long time. You'd think I'd be trusted to do my job.” She pulled a pointed cluster of glass from her mane that shimmered in her hooves. “But people tend to assume they know better.”

You stared at the crystal she held. “Is that a...a...” you pointed.

“Oh, yes, this is a star. See?” She held it up. “Careful not to touch it, they can be...ah, delicate.” Although volatile would be a more appropriate description, she did not wish to scare you.

“That's real, isn't it?”

Her lips tightened while she fought a laugh and her eyebrow raised. “Well it's certainly not fake.”

“I thought stars were supposed to be huge balls of nuclear gas and radiation and vitamin d.”

She bobbed the star in her hand. “Yes and no...the answer's a little complicated.” Her head tilted back and her eyes squeezed while she rummaged through thoughts. “We can see one thing, expect another, but it's actually neither, yet all of those things at the same time. And...well, complicated, as I've said.”

“Can you say '”it's magic'” and that'll be close enough?”

Her muzzle leaned into your ear and whispered, “Not as close as you'd think.”

Once, twice, her wings flapped and she stepped off the moon and hovered into the air. “I need to set this in order. You are now free to finish your evening constitution. Your company was very much enjoyed.”

She fluttered off, paused and turned around. “Right, you need to get down.”

You looked to the ground. “Yeah, I'll need help with that.”

A few moments later your feet touched terra firma. The rapid change in elevation made you feel dizzy, but you didn't mind.

“All settled,” she said and clicked her heels together. Before she set off, you called her name.

Her head turned, she looked hurried, but not impatient.

“Thanks, -thanks for showing me that. And good night,” you told her.

Her wings held still, but she remained in the air. A smile touched her lips. The princess's eyes lit as bright as the star she held and said, “The night's always good.”

She floated several feet higher and before disappearing in a rush of glass and starlight, she added, “Thank you for noticing.”

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