Clair de Lune

by SPark

First published

Princess Luna knows that things are what they are. Fish do not fly, birds do not swim, and she cannot be other than who and what she is. Or can she?

Princess Luna has always been more at home on the battlefield than in a palace. The reasons for that were left mostly unexamined, for things are what they are, so why try to fight fate? Fish do not fly, birds do not swim, and the princess of the moon cannot be anything other than what she is. But when a dream reveals that in this modern age the impossible can become reality, she begins to examine who she is in an all new light.

A story about identity, discovery, and love.

This is technically set in the same world as Over a Cardboard Sea, but the two stories are only vaguely related and you do not have to read one in order to appreciate the other. It also takes place in the same world as Either Or and shares some themes with it.

Gorgeous cover art by blankflank.

An Evening Dialogue

"This night of thine is lovely, Luna."

"I thought of thee when I fashioned it," said Luna, her face still, peaceful and unreadable.

Twilight smiled at her, though the smile was a little bit sad. "I'm glad," she said simply. For a long time after that there was no sound but the gentle night breeze stirring the leaves of the trees below the high balcony of Twilight's tower. Both alicorns sat side by side, looking up at the stars, half-obscured by branches, in silence. This was not one of those nights where Twilight got out the telescope and the notebooks and studied the sky. Nor was it one of the nights when they spoke about the theories and realities of astronomy, and how Luna's nights were made. This was a night to simply sit together, and be friends.

Eventually Luna said, "I am glad of thee, Twilight. Thou hast done much for me. From great things to small."

"You have... I mean, thou hast thanked me a lot already, Luna. Thou needst not thank me again. Anyway, I haven't been able to do everything. I know thou dost want... more than I can give thee."

"Hush. I have said we shall not speak of that. I do not need thine apologies, Twilight. Thou hast done naught to shame thyself in this matter."


"Nay. Things are as they are, Twilight. Many things may change, but a fish cannot fly, nor doth a bird swim."

Twilight smiled a bit, and it was warmer this time. "Actually, there are birds that swim. And fish that fly, come to think of it."


"Yes. I can show you some illustrations, if you like." Her language slipped as her enthusiasm for the natural world once again got away from her. "Flying fish aren't true fliers, admittedly, they just glide, and there is only one species I know of, but there are a lot of kinds of penguins, which are birds that can't fly at all, their wings are entirely adapted to swimming. So you see, fish do fly and birds do swim."

"I should like to see these flying fish and swimming birds. Yet... that changeth naught, Twilight," said Luna with a gentle smile. "For a fish that doth fly is surely born with its wings, and likewise these penguins of thine are hatched thus, I am certain. Creatures are as they are. Thou art born as thou art, and I likewise." Luna nuzzled Twilight gently.

Twilight sighed and leaned against Luna's side. "Yes. Y- Thou art the Princess Luna, and I... I am the straightest pony ever. But oh well. I always kind of figured I'd be a spinster, all alone with my telescopes and my books, anyway. So it figures that the pony who likes me best is one I can't like... like that."

"Ah Twilight. I am most certain that there shall be a stallion for thee someday, one whom thou canst share thy nights with in all possible ways." Luna's smile was peaceful and genuine. She'd had a lot of time to come to terms with this particular issue. Twilight was not the first straight mare she'd loved in all her long years, though in the past she hadn't used the word "straight". Whatever the name was, the situation hadn't changed in several thousand years. It never would change. "Until then, thou canst share the stars with me, and I shall fashion nights of beauty and wonder for thee."

A Nightmare and a Dream

Luna soared through the night sky, while a full moon shone down from above with brilliant white light. Yet the stars were not washed out at all by this display; they too shone in their full glory. For this was the dream realm, and Luna flew on wings made of magic and will rather than feather and bone. Below the unreal sky other lights twinkled, here one alone, there a great, crowded cluster. Each light was a dreamer. The colors revealed how they dreamed. Most were soothing blue, gentle purple or warm yellow, but a few shone uneasy orange, sickly green, or nightmare red.

She chose one of those that glowed red and swooped down out of the sky towards it. She passed easily through the translucent walls of a house, into a bedroom, where a translucent mare with glowing strands of red twisted all around her lay in an equally translucent bed. With practiced ease Luna reached out and touched a strand, stepping into the mare's nightmare.

She had known many nightmares over the years. Most were fairly predictable. Pursuing monsters was a common theme for adults and foals alike. Only adult ponies tended to dream of their teeth falling out, however, and that was generally more an orange dream, though for some it was the red of a true nightmare. Then there were falling dreams, especially common among pegasi, for whom having their wings fail them was a deeply seated fear. And of course those dreams in which one has to return to school, or when one is publicly caught in some compromising activity, or fails at some vital task. All these she had seen in countless variations. But none of those dreams were quite like what she saw when she stepped into this one.

There were no monsters. There were no other ponies, either. There was only a single pony, sitting and wailing in despair at an empty sky. "No!" screamed the pony again and again. "No! No! Please no!" Yet the dreamscape was nearly empty, a blurry, featureless field with a nondescript sky above, all of it tinted nightmare red. There was nothing for him to be afraid of. And that too was strange. Ponies did not always appear as themselves in their dreams, but most did. This pony, however, seemed to be a male version of the mare she'd seen sleeping.

Slowly, trying to feel her way through the layers that lay beneath this dream, Luna approached the pony. He spun around at her approach, then cringed away from her, tears in his eyes. "No. I don't want anypony to see me like this. Please, no."

"Fear not," said Luna, trying to speak gently. "'Tis but a dream. Whatever you fear, little one, 'tis not real."

"Not real." The pony blinked at her, then slumped with relief. "Oh sweet Celestia, thank you. It's not real. I haven't turned back into him. Thank you." Suddenly a mare was sitting there, rather than a colt.

Luna felt a flicker of old pain mixed with amusement at the way this pony invoked her sister while thanking her. But that was her own fault for forcing Celestia to banish her. In her day ponies had still sworn by both princesses, even if they'd never truly appreciated her night. Yet in this day ponies stayed up after dark far more frequently, and had even invented the science of astronomy to study her stars. She would rather her night be loved than her name be known, truth be told.

She put those thoughts aside and ventured a question. "If 'tis not unseemly to ask, might I inquire about the nature of your nightmare? I must confess I have never before encountered one like it."

"I was just dreaming that I'd been turned back somehow, and that this time I would be stuck this way forever."

Luna blinked at the mare. "...back?"

"I used to be a colt," said the mare with a shrug. The world around them began to waver, so Luna knew that the dream was about to end. She stepped out of it, back into the larger dream world, where she could see the dream-shadow of a real mare who still slept soundly in her bed. Faint golden lines forming around her indicated the beginning of a new dream, but Luna didn't step into it. Instead she set out towards the palace and her own sleeping body, with a mind that spun with questions.

A single phrase had the potential to make her world waver and shift like a dream about to end. If it meant what it seemed to mean, the consequences were stunning. She needed to begin researching it immediately.

Dawn found her at the library doors, once again considering if it would be worth the trouble to arrange for the Canterlot University library, at least, to be open all night. Once again she decided against trying and simply waited until the library opened, less than an hour after sunrise.

Luna considered asking the librarian for help, but she wasn't sure what to even ask for. In the end she paged through the card catalog, looking for anything that seemed relevant. It was the long way to do it, but if her suspicions were correct there would have to be some sort of book on the subject somewhere in the library.

She only had to go as far as "G" for "gender studies", which seemed most likely to contain that which she desired. A shelf in the psychology section proved to hold books on herd behavior, marriage, pony sexual practices, and gender.

She pulled a book on the latter subject out and carried it floating behind her to a small table nearby. She squared it up carefully on the table and opened it to the first page. It was time to begin to learn if the world really was about to become something new and strange.

Some hours later her rumbling stomach dragged her from the pages. There was still more to know, but what she'd read so far was enough to leave her feeling as though her head was spinning. The planet had shifted beneath her feet. Birds might perhaps swim, and fish perhaps fly, even those not hatched to such a fate.

She placed the book on a reshelving cart and wandered out of the library, towards a possible breakfast at the palace, her head spinning. Her mind bounced from thought to thought, an unruly tumble, seemingly at random. She thought of a mare she had known twelve centuries ago. She remembered a moment a century before that, donning armor, preparing for battle, with Celestia helping her adjust the straps correctly. A stallion she'd rather liked who had courted her with flowers and flowery poetry a few years later in time flashed through her mind. It was followed by a memory from much further back, a fight over some formal occasion, and her anger at once again letting herself be talked into wearing some frippery in the fashion of the time. Little moments, dozens of them crowded around her. Moments that had made her who she was. Moments that had defined her. Moments that might perhaps re-define her, if she chose.

Only a few hours ago she had known who she was. She was Luna, the all too awkward princess of the night. She was such because there was nothing else she could be. But now, who was she? Who was she really?

Celestia was seated in the whimsically named Extraneous Parlor when Luna arrived. It was one of Celestia's favorites, a lovely room with broad windows that had a perfect view of some of the nicest of the palace gardens, so it was the place where she most often had breakfast.

Luna sat beside her at the table. Celestia had the remains of a generous repast scattered in front of her and was now simply sipping a cup of tea. "Good morning, sister. Up early, I see."

"Yes," said Luna absently. An efficient serving pony appeared at her elbow and asked if she wanted to have her usual. She gave him a distracted nod and began to toy with the place setting in front of her.

"Did you get much sleep?"

Luna frowned just a little, still rather wishing that Celestia wouldn't be so formal with her. She knew, of course, that in this modern day "you" was the familiar term, and "thou" was never properly used at all save in historical reenactments. But it was hard to shake the feeling that all the ponies around her were being coldly formal towards her every time they spoke. Including her sister.

"Nay, I have not yet slept," she replied.

"Did anything happen last night?"

Luna looked up at Celestia. She was serene, as she always was, and her smiling expression bore the perfect amount of faint concern. Luna decided that she was not remotely ready to discuss the shift in her world with her sister. Too many of her feelings for her sister were tangled up in all that had now perhaps changed. "Naught save a few dreams," said Luna.

"I see." Celestia smiled and took another small sip of tea, managing as always to not slurp when she did, not even a little bit. Luna wished she knew how Celestia did that. Or did she? Her thoughts wouldn't stop bouncing. Even such a tiny thing as a sip of tea, now seen in a new light. "Well, should you ever need to talk about anything, sister, you know that I am here for you."

"I know," said Luna, and went back to toying with her place setting. A moment later her breakfast was set in front of her. A high-piled plate of fried, shredded potatoes, half-drowned in gravy, and topped with melted cheese. A dish she had only recently become familiar with, but which was already a great favorite. On a plate to the side were several decadent pastries, and severed along with it was a large glass of milk and a mug of hot chocolate. She dug into this bounty eagerly.

Celestia shook her head faintly at the food piled in front of Luna. They were both larger than most ponies, and indeed Celestia ate an even greater volume of food than the amount which Luna was currently inhaling. Celestia's meals, however, were always dainty morsels, each one some careful, exquisite balance of flavors. There were a lot of them—the palace employed multiple master chefs who all worked solely to supply this quantity of food to the princess—yet still each individual dish was only a few bites. Celestia loved food, and the endless variety of palate-teasing morsels in her meals was one of her few true indulgences.

Luna, meanwhile, felt that food was what made you not hungry, and tended to like dishes that were hearty to the point of being nearly disgusting to more refined ponies. Hence her current breakfast favorite being the greasy mess in front of her, which was colloquially known as "hash".

When she finished, she slugged down the last of the hot chocolate and rose, just as Celestia was setting down her now-empty teacup.

"It was good to see you this morning, Luna," said Celestia.

Luna rose, nodding but still only half-hearing Celestia. "Likewise," she said as she ambled out of the room. She wasn't certain where she was headed, all she knew was that she needed to think, and perhaps to talk to somepony about this revelation. But who? Not Celestia. Not yet. Twilight? Luna considered that for a moment, then thought through the consequences and threw it out instantly. Eventually she would need to speak to Twilight, but not yet. Who then?

She wandered up to her room, climbing the long flight of stairs to the tower without really seeing the steps. With the same inward-turned abstraction she ambled through her rooms and out onto her balcony. The mid-morning sun was warm on her dark coat as she stood and gazed off into the distance. Eventually her eye fell on Ponyville, standing practically within the shadow of Canterlot mountain. She couldn't talk to Twilight, but there were five other ponies living in that town that she counted as friends. Perhaps one of them could help her.

She launched herself from the balcony and set out for Ponyville, her broad wings beating steadily. As she flew, she considered which of her Ponyville friends she should speak with. Pinkie Pie could keep a secret until the end of time, and as the pink party pony knew every single person, pony or otherwise, in all of Ponyville. She might well be personally acquainted with some of the ponies whose existence Luna had suddenly become aware of. Yet Luna didn't know if the happy-go-lucky Pinkie would understand her sudden uncertainty. Applejack too could be trusted to keep a secret, but such a straightforward pony might also find it difficult to understand.

Perhaps Fluttershy? But although Luna found the shy mare entirely charming, she couldn't picture herself pouring out her concerns to Fluttershy. She had done Luna several favors, but they were not as personally close as Luna was to some of the others.

Rainbow Dash also was a friend, but not one Luna counted as a truly close friend.

Which left Rarity. She and Luna had bonded almost instantly. They were nearly as close as Luna was with Twilight. They shared a passion for art, and Rarity was the only other pony Luna knew who truly understood how deeply Luna had been wounded by the way ponies had failed to appreciate her night. Even Celestia knew it was so without having the true empathy that came only from shared experience. But Rarity too had had her work scorned at times. She knew well the pain that came when you laid out your very best and it was greeted with little more than indifference.

Luna also thought that as cosmopolitan as Rarity was, she would hopefully not be shocked at the topic Luna wished to discuss.

So when she arrived at Ponyville she landed directly in front of Rarity's boutique. The shop was open, and the door chimed cheerfully as Luna stepped inside.

"Welcome to... oh! Princess! How delightful to see you here, my dear. Come in!" Rarity positively flew to greet her, and Luna smiled at the unicorn's enthusiasm. "Don't tell me you have finally given in and decided to buy a gown?"

Luna had to laugh at that. "Nay. I do not think I shall budge on that point. Rather I came to speak with thee." Luna halted and corrected herself. "With you." Rarity was her friend, and it sounded so strange to speak formally with her, but Luna knew she would never get used to the modern usage if she didn't try to use it herself. "I have a matter to discuss with you, if you have the time to spare for't."

"Of course! Come in, we'll have tea. I may have to go check on a customer should any turn up, but I can always spare the time for you, Luna dear."

Luna smiled. "Thank you." She followed Rarity into her kitchen and sat at the table while Rarity made a pot of tea. Luna was not a tea connoisseur like her sister, but she didn't mind the occasional cup. Rarity favored a Trottingham Breakfast, which was at least a relatively robust tea and not the insipid stuff that Celestia usually drank.

Having poured two delicate cups from the matching teapot, Rarity seated herself across the small table from Luna and took a sip. "So, what brings you here to Ponyville?"

Luna took a sip. The cup wobbled just the tiniest bit as she lifted it in her magic. She felt suddenly afraid, as well as uncertain. How to start? And what if Rarity wasn't cosmopolitan enough after all? She took a second sip to give her a moment more, then finally said, "I require advice."

"And you thought of me? I am flattered, darling." Rarity smiled delightedly.

"I hope that thou—that you shall still consider it flattery when all is said," said Luna, her voice a little softer now. She took another sip of tea, and took a calming breath as well. Her heart was beating fast.

"I promise that whatever it is, I won't mind," said Rarity, with sudden sincerity, sensing that Luna was nervous.

"Are you familiar with, well... ponies who were once stallions and are now mares?" asked Luna.

Rarity blinked at her in silence for a moment, then said, "Well yes darling. I know one or two. The fashion industry tends to rather attract colt cuddlers and other such atypical ponies, you know."

Luna nodded. "And hast... Have you also encountered any mares who became stallions?"

"Not that I know of. Though of course one can't generally tell unless the pony in question lets one know. The spells that make such changes are quite good these days. So I might have met any number of them and never known."

"And it is true that any pony may have this change made, if they so desire?"

"As far as I know, yes. But why are you asking this, Luna dear? Have you met some dashing suitor, who was not a stallion from birth?"

Luna shook her head. Her teacup rattled against the saucer as she set it down. Her nervousness had reached an intolerable peak. But if she were to get Rarity's advice, she would have to put words to the uncertainty that had shaken her world. "No. 'Tis not that. But I..." She swallowed. "I think mayhap that I myself wish to become one."

Author's Notes:

Welcome to my latest story! It's all written, so I'll be releasing a new chapter monthly until it's finished. There are eight total, so six more to come. I hope you all enjoy going on this little journey with Luna and I. Comments are very welcome, so do please let me know what you think of it so far! Questions are also welcome, though some will no doubt be answered by the story itself as it progresses.

Fragile New World

Rarity looked slightly shocked, though not, as Luna had feared, horrified or disgusted. "You? But you're so..." She stopped suddenly. "Oh dear. I was about to say something very gauche. My apologies, Luna. Or have you picked out another name for yourself?" At Luna's blank look she stopped and shook her head. "I am getting quite ahead of myself here, aren't I? You say 'mayhap', so you're not certain yet, is that it?"

"That is the heart of the matter, aye. And 'tis why I wished your advice, Rarity. My head is a-whirl and I know not what to think."

"Can you tell me what leads you to consider becoming a stallion?"

"Many things." Luna closed her eyes, casting her mind back among those thousands of moments that had defined her, those times when she had been Luna, The Mare Ill At Ease With Herself, which was how she thought of herself far too often. "I was once the goddess of war, did you know? Mars shone within my night, and its auspices were counted as mine. Though it 'twas not that ponies imposed such a role upon me, I took up that mantle willingly. I donned mine armor and fought for long centuries at the side of my warriors. 'Twas Celestia that directed our strategies, but 'twas I who led on the field of battle. I felt at home there, among soldiers. I have never relished the death of war, 'tis a horror. I was always glad of peace. Yet some small and oft-guilty part of me reveled in the chance to don mine armor and do battle. But were that all I should not wonder as I do. There is yet more."

Rarity nodded. "Tell me what else."

"There hath also been the matter of romance. I have fancied both mares and stallions in my time, and have been courted by both. Yet 'twas mares that most often won my heart, for stallions... Always they did beseech me with poetry, and speak of me as soft, delicate, and feminine. And even when I did find them attractive in all other ways, this was so deeply abhorrent to me that I could not abide it. 'Twas not what I wished! 'Twas not how I would be seen! I would have them be as comrades in arms, and treat me as a brother. All my life I have felt ill at ease with the trappings of marehood. Every attempt to press them upon me hath left me wishing to cry out: 'This is not me, this is not Luna, I am not thus!' Even in mine ancient foalhood I did not wish to be delicate and proper as Celestia was."

Luna sighed. "And much of my heart is tangled therein. 'Twas not only her day that I envied, Rarity. 'Twas much more than that. She is..." Luna waved a hoof, trying to come up with a way to put it into words. "She is all things female. She is the maiden and the matron and the wise elder mare, all together. She is graceful in all ways. Even the manner in which she takes a sip of tea is the very ideal of femininity! She is all that I was not, and could not be! I tried, oft times, to ape her, yet that merely left my soul in despair, crying out that this was not right. Oh how I envied her beauty, and her ease with it!"

"Luna, darling, I hope you won't take this wrong, but you are very beautiful."

Luna sighed. "So I have been told. Yet somehow it doth always ring hollow. 'Twas in truth the ease, not the beauty, that I envied. Beauty was not what I desired, and yet I knew not what it was that I did desire. Until this very day."

"What changed?"

"I learned that birth doth not command destiny. I learned that 'tis now possible that which was considered impossible in my youth. For so long have I thought that what is, is, and cannot be changed. When stallions praised my beauty, I thought that the error lay within my mind, that I could not be glad of their praise. When I wore the trappings of marehood so reluctantly, and wished to tear them from my flanks, throw them upon the fire, and don mine armor instead, I thought that I was mad to wish such things. And when I aped my sister's grace, and felt so ill at ease no matter what grace my body might learn, I thought that yet again the error was that I felt ill at ease with it. For a body is what it is, and it could not be changed. Spells of transformation were, in my day, always temporary things, and I did not wish to merely play at being a colt. I knew some, yes, who played at such things. Stallions who became mares for a night of fancy were not common, perhaps, but I knew a few across the ages. Even some who perhaps desired something deeper than illusion in their hearts. Yes illusion was all I thought I might have, and I would not taunt myself by playing at what could never be real.

"Yet now! Now I know that I may do more than play, that I may be changed in truth. That many ponies live contentedly with such changes. And thus I wonder if perhaps all this time the error lay not in my mind, but in my body, that caused me to have such unease. And thus I wonder now if this sense of wrongness and unease that doth plague me could be so easily cured. Would I be happier should I embrace stallionhood? I did not before, for what use should there be in such a sham? Fish do not swim. Birds do not fly. Yet Twilight Sparkle hath told me of flying fish, and of swimming birds, so perhaps now a fish may swim, and a bird fly! Dost thou see?"

"I think I do, yes."

"Then what shall I do, Rarity?"

"Well... I can't make your decisions for you, darling. All I can do is offer a little advice. I think that after two or three thousand years of living as a mare that diving straight into being a stallion might be a little rash. But from what you describe it does seem that you might perhaps be happy as a stallion. At least as far as I can tell, I am hardly a professional therapist. So I suppose the next step would be to learn more about it. About the spells, about what it's like, and about yourself and how you feel." A tiny, thoughtful furrow appeared on Rarity's forehead as she considered the options. Her horn glowed and she poured herself another cup of tea while she thought. After a sip she added, "I know that in Manehattan there is a support group for ponies who have undergone such changes. I suspect Canterlot has one as well. I don't know if Ponyville is large enough to have one, but I can ask around if you'd rather go to one here."

"Support group?"

"Yes. A group where ponies who have had changing spells cast on them, as well as their close friends and family, can go to talk to each other and help each other."

"Ah." Luna considered. Attending such a function in Canterlot seemed extremely intimidating. There might be ponies there that she associated with formally in her role as princess. Palace servants. Politicians. Ponies who knew Celestia. Speaking with ponies here in Ponyville felt much safer. The only ponies here who knew Celestia were her friends. "If there is such a group here, I should prefer to attend it, rather than one in Canterlot," she said.

"I'll find out for you then, darling."

"Thank you."

"Have you told anypony else?"

Luna shook her head. "Nay. I am not sure I wish to open up old wounds in discussing this with Celestia, for my discomfort hath lain at the root of many of our quarrels. And of mine other friends, I am not sure which would think well of me, and which ill. And Twilight..." Luna sighed.

"Hmm?" Rarity cocked her head to the side and raised her eyebrows in a perfectly graceful gesture of inquiry.

Luna found herself flushing slightly. "Twilight... We are boon companions. But I have oft wished that we could be more. I..." She hesitated, then plunged on. She had told Rarity everything else, after all. "I think I love her."


"But she doth profess an attraction to stallions, and an inability to enjoy a romance with a mare. I have been in such straits now and again over the years, and learned that I must let such mares be, lest I lose their friendship also, so I have not pressed her. Yet now I feel such great hope, and such dreadful fear, all strewn betwixt these new thoughts. For if I should become a stallion, perhaps she could love me. Yet if she still doth not love me, even as a stallion... I do not know if I can bear it."

"If you do end up going ahead with this, she will need to know someday. And sooner is generally easier than later, darling. I doubt she would appreciate it if you turned up on her doorstep as a surprise stallion."

"Aye. I know."

"And even if it's here in Ponyville, word that Luna, the Goddess of Night, is turning up at support meetings is bound to get out eventually. Twilight shouldn't hear such news from somepony else."

"Aye," whispered Luna. Fear clutched at her heart, but she knew that Rarity was right. She could go to these meetings in disguise, of course, yet she wished to discover her own truth. Even if she did hide herself thus, truth would out eventually, one way or another.

Rarity reached over and put her hoof gently over Luna's. "You don't need to run there and tell her everything this minute. Just... the more certain you are that you want to go through with this change, the more she will need to know. Your sister as well." Rarity grinned then. "If nothing else because poor Celestia will have to deal with all the gossiping press. And you will too, poor dear. It will probably be front page news in all the worst rags the first time a rumor slips out. It will be front page news in the better papers as well if you do actually go through with the changing spells. Half the reporters in Canterlot will think they've died and gone to heaven, to have such juicy news to report!"

Luna stuck out her tongue at Rarity. But perversely the idea of being juicy gossip was somehow comforting. It was so trivial. She would be across the page from the latest of Blueblood's ridiculous social gaffes. Somehow that made the whole mess seem almost ordinary. Everyday. Something she could get a handle on and deal with.

Rarity chuckled at Luna's impudent gesture. "I should probably get back to work soon, darling, but I'll send you a letter to let you know what I find out about support groups. And," she gave Luna a conspiratorial wink, "I should let you know that I do also tailor suits, if it turns out you are a stallion. Just for your information. No pressure."

Luna laughed. "Thank you, Rarity, I shall keep that in mind."

Luna sat at her workbench, toying with a kneaded eraser. She shaped and reformed it in her magic restlessly, making balls and snakes and other such simple shapes without her attention truly being on what she was doing.

Next to her on the table, atop the sketches she'd been working on, sat the letter that had arrived that morning from Ponyville. From Rarity. It had informed her that there was indeed a change support group in Ponyville. It met every other Tuesday evening in the town hall. Luna squashed the eraser a bit more, then set it down with a sigh. Today was one of those Tuesdays. The meeting would be starting in about an hour. Just enough time for her to fly there if she decided to go.

She almost put it off. There would be another meeting on two weeks. She might be better prepared by then. But how easy would it be to put it off until the next meeting, and the next, and in the end never actually go? So finally she walked out onto her balcony, spread her wings, and soared into the late afternoon sunlight.

The sun was just touching the horizon when she landed at the center of Ponyville. Luna paused and watched it sink slowly out of sight. She gathered her magic, her mane flowing around her as she did, and gently eased the moon into the sky. The soft, silvery light calmed and comforted her, as it always had. She stood in front of the Town Hall for a moment longer, then took a deep breath and went inside.

The building seemed at first to be empty. The curtains were drawn across the stage at the far end of the room. At the sound of her hoofsteps a head poked out from between them. "Are you here for the..." the pony trailed off as she saw Luna. "Your Highness!"

Luna swallowed. Of course she would be recognized, there were only four alicorns in all of Equstria after all, each quite distinctive. "Good evening," she said, trying to muster a friendly smile. "Would this be the location of the change support group?"

"Uhm. Yes your Highness."

"Please, I have not come in any official capacity. You may call me Luna." She walked up to the stage. "May I join you?"

"Of... of course." The pony pulled aside the curtain. Luna ascended the steps to the stage and stepped in. Behind the curtain several chairs were set up. One was occupied by a purple unicorn mare with pink and black streaked hair in a slightly untidy cut, who was sitting reading a book and took no notice of Luna. The pony who had greeted her was the only other pony present. She was a green-coated earth pony with orange hair. Her cutie mark was a gavel, and Luna thought she looked vaguely familiar. No doubt she was a town official of some sort.

Luna seated herself, trying to ignore the nervous way the green mare was hovering. More hoofsteps sent the mare flying to the curtain, to greet the next arrival. This proved to be a pale pink earth pony with long, wavy golden hair. She had long, dark eyelashes and perfectly applied makeup that accented her deep lavender eyes.

While she was seating herself another pony arrived. This one Luna wasn't quite certain of. The pony was a pegasus, and had a coltish build, leggy rather than stocky, but with a quite distinctively blunt muzzle. But his—or her?—mane was pulled back in a ponytail tied with a magenta bow. Her coat was patched with brown and white, as were her mane and tail, both quite long. Almost on her—or his?—heels a final arrival, a sea green unicorn mare with darker green mane and tail, came in and found a seat.

They all sat around looking at each other, not talking, for a few minutes. The one with her nose in a book ignored everypony else, but the others kept staring at Luna. Then the green pony who seemed to be in charge looked up at a clock that had been hung on the wall and nodded. "Time to start." She straightened in her chair and surveyed the four ponies gathered with her. "Welcome to the Ponyville Permanent Magical Transformation Support Group. My name is Justice Gavel. I've been asked by Mayor Mare to help organize this little get together." She smiled. "Now I know some of you come here quite often, but we have two new faces today, so I thought we should all go around and introduce ourselves. You can say as much, or as little, as you like. We don't want to pry into personal details that you don't want to give. We're just here to help in any way we can. Would somepony like to go first?"

"So you ain't been changed then?" said the piebald pony. Her voice had a rough country accent, but was pitched high and a little breathy.

Gavel smiled and nodded. "I haven't, no. I know that means I can't always understand, but I will do the best I can."

"Nah, I don't mind. Jus' making sure." The piebald pony grinned. "Guess I'll go first. My name's Kicks. I'm still figuring all this out. Born with stallion bits, I guess it probably still shows. Never been really into pretty, fluffy filly stuff, but never felt right as a colt neither. I been trying out this filly thing, and it feels... dunno. Right. So here I am. Ain't taken the change yet, dunno if I will, but I feel like I might."

There was a silence. The pink pony eventually spoke. "I guess I'll go next. I'm Softheart. I've been coming to these for a few years now. I finished my change two years ago, when I was sixteen, and I've been very happy ever since. But I still come, I think I should give back, since I was helped so much when I was still new and nervous about it."

The pony with the book had finally set it aside. She waved a hoof. "I'm Lavender Star. My situation's a bit different from Softheart and most of you all. I didn't choose to be changed." She made a little grimacing face. "I had an incident with a magical artifact. Involuntary gender swap spell. I'm working on finding a counter for it, though I'm told it may not be possible. But to be honest some days it's better this way than it was before. I'm still figuring that out."

The sea green unicorn shifted nervously, then glanced over at Luna as if she wished Luna would go first. Luna hesitated, looking down at her own hooves. The silence grew uncomfortable, and Luna almost spoke, but the other pony finally filled the silence instead. "I'm Green Wheat. I, ah... I know some of you probably think it's horrible, but I was an earth pony."

Luna found herself blinking in surprise. She hadn't even known that was an option.

"It's not horrible, Green," said Gavel gently. "I know there's a certain stigma to it, but it really isn't. They wouldn't have cast the spell on you if you hadn't shown there was a good reason for it."

"I just never connected to the earth. I never had the earth pony magic. I know not all earth ponies do magic as such, and they're not all farmers, but there's always something, you know? Some way the power comes out, even if it's just being good with your hoof-writing. But I never had any of it. I was clumsy and awful at everything and I didn't even get my cutie mark until I'd nearly graduated school. Being a unicorn is just so much more right! The magic was so easy the very first time, and I don't have to use my clumsy hooves to do everything anymore. I knew it was right. But sometimes it's still so hard. Ponies don't understand."

There was a murmur of supportive agreement that no, ponies didn't understand from the others, and then a long silence.

Now all eyes were fixed curiously on Luna. She realized that it was her turn to introduce herself. It felt a bit silly, but she could see the curiosity in their gaze. They knew who she was. They wanted to know why she had come. "I... I am Luna. I deem it likely that such an introduction is not truly needed, for no doubt you all know my name. As for why I have come..." She trailed off, searching for words. "I have come to discover what I am," she said finally. "In my day there were no such changes possible. Mares and stallions were marked by birth, and change was not thought of. I am still learning. I have so much to learn! But it doth seem to me as though perhaps... perhaps..." she swallowed, not knowing how to continue.

"It's okay honey," said Kicks. "We all get nervous. I just about didn't come, I was so nervous."

Luna nodded. "Yes. I will admit that it doth frighten me. Yet it seemeth that perhaps I might be more content, more myself, were I born a stallion and not a mare. I have entertained such thoughts as an idle daydream on rare occasion, but it did seem... foolish, I suppose, to dwell on what was not possible. Now I have learned that it is possible, and I wish to discover if it truly is the path to happiness for me."

"Well, that's part of why this group is here, to help ponies figure these things out," said Gavel.

"How does one know, though? How can I know with surety if I should make this change?"

"I don't think it's the same for everypony," said Softheart. "For me I just always knew. All my life I knew. I never doubted I was really a mare."

"See, for me I thought about it a lot, but I wasn't sure," said Kicks. "I'm still not quite one-hundred-percent. But I'm getting close. I put my hair up, started just... thinking of myself as a filly, flirting with the colts, that kind of thing. Always before it felt like I was acting, pretending to be a colt, pretending that that's who I was. Acting like a filly didn't feel like a fake. I've started seeing a counselor, and she says she's not ready to give me the go-ahead yet, but that it looks good, and I seem happier. So I figure maybe this is who I am now."

"Should I then attempt to be a stallion?" asked Luna.

"Why not?" said Kicks. "How else will you know if you like it?"

Author's Notes:

I will admit I feel this chapter is probably the weakest one in the story. But after working it over several times I finally decided it was going to have to stand as-is. It's not awful, at least.

I do still absolutely LOVE writing Luna's dialogue!

P.S. If you want to encourage me to keep writing stories like this, or give me ideas for stories like this, (or stories not like this!) or get pre-reading access ahead of time, or any one of several other perks, please consider supporting me through Patreon.

One Hoof on the Path

The rest of the support group meeting had passed pleasantly enough, though Luna found herself often disinterested in the topics at hoof. With the other four ponies all being mares there was a certain amount of talk about accessories, makeup, and fashion, which Luna had no interest in. She did listen with pricked ears, however, when Softheart shared the story of the first time she had gone out in public as a mare. Luna concluded that this was the next step in her discovery, to spend a night looking like a stallion. With her magic she had no worries that she could pass for one easily.

But when it came to reinventing herself almost completely she wasn't quite confident enough to do it unaided. Which was why she was currently back at Rarity's, enlisting the fashionista's help.

"Here we are!" Rarity trotted out into the room, a roll of elastic bandages floating obediently behind her. "A little trick I learned while modeling, for when your dress was designed for a unicorn or earth pony but you need to stuff a pegasus into it. This should do nicely to bind down your wings, darling."

Luna nodded. "I greatly appreciate thine expertise." She scowled as she realized she'd fallen back into the archaic form again. It was so hard to remember. It didn't help that right now her mind was very much on other things.

"There." Rarity snugged the bandage over Luna's folded wings. "That way you won't forget and hit some poor pony in the face with a wing they can't see."

"Is there aught else you would suggest?"

"Let me see you with the illusion, and I'll see what I think."

"Very well." Luna's horn lit, and a moment later the image of an alicorn mare standing in Rarity's bedroom vanished, to be replaced by a unicorn stallion. She'd chosen to stick as close to her real body proportions as she could, since her greater than average height that made it relatively easy to pass for a stallion with only a few changes. Her cutie mark had been altered slightly, it was still a crescent moon, but plain white on the blue of her coat, with no black backdrop. Her mane and tail seemed to be normal hair, short and pale blue. She looked at herself in the mirror. It wasn't that odd to see her natural hair color, she saw that every moon dark, when her powers waned. But the heavier build, the blunter muzzle, the slightly thicker horn, and the heavier hooves with their long fetlocks, those were all quite strange.

"You look quite handsome," said Rarity with a wink. "Let me see how you look with cuffs. Silver cufflinks, I think. And... hmm. Tie, or bow tie, do you think?"

Luna shook her head. The colt in the mirror shook his too. "I shall trust your taste in such matters, Rarity." The spell had altered her voice as well. It was a subtle change, but it was now deeper than it had been.

Rarity floated a pair of starched white cuffs with plain silver cufflinks over and put them on Luna's front hooves. A starched collar with a tie followed. Rarity considered. "Hmmm. No, that won't do at all. Oh, I know! A cravat! Just the perfect old-fashioned touch." Her magic whisked away the tie and replaced it with a silk cravat in a soft dove gray. She adjusted it carefully. "Yes, there it is!" Rarity clapped her hooves together in delight. "Oh, you look simply divine!"

Luna smiled at her reflection. He smiled back at her.

"Now, how shall I introduce you? You are my out of town friend, of course, who I am showing around the Ponyville night life, such as it is. But I cannot call you Luna."

"Nay, that will not do at all." Luna considered. "I... I cannot merely snatch a name from the air. I wish to feel myself, Rarity. I wish that Luna could be rendered a stallion's name."

Rarity gave her a little smile. "Perhaps something to do with the moon?"

Luna considered. "Perhaps. Yet after my long association with it, all things lunar are most oft considered female."

"That is a bit of a problem. Well, you are to be foreign, perhaps merely a foreign way to say 'moon' would do well enough, even if it's not terribly butch. How do you feel about 'Lune'?"

Luna considered it. It was, in truth, merely a shortening of her own name. It would do. She nodded. "Yes, that will do well enough for tonight, at least."

"Well then, Lune, darling! Are you ready to go and enjoy a night on the town?"

Luna looked in the mirror again. Lune looked back, handsome in his cravat and cuffs. Lune. That is who I am tonight. Perhaps just for tonight, perhaps... perhaps for longer than that.

Lune took a deep breath, then nodded. "Let us go," he said.

"Having fun yet, Lune my dear?" Rarity had to speak up a bit to be heard over the music.

Lune grinned at her. "Yes!" He was sweating and a little short of breath, but still dancing energetically with a crowd of other ponies at the center of the small dance floor. Bright lights flashed all around and music boomed out with a deep beat, loud enough that Lune could feel it vibrating through his body, as well as hear it.

He'd been petrified when he'd first stepped into the noisy bar, but now he was having the time of his life. Nopony seemed to notice anything strange about him. He'd even danced next to Pinkie Pie, who had been doing an enthusiastic swing number with a colt Lune didn't know, and she hadn't recognized him as Luna.

"I believe I am nearly danced out! Shall we head for the bar for a bit?" That was Rarity, speaking nearly in his ear to be heard over the music.

"Certainly." Lune readily followed Rarity's lead away from the noisy dance floor and to the slightly less noisy bar in the adjoining room. He took a seat on one of the tall stools there, with Rarity beside him.

"May I buy you a drink?" asked Rarity

Lune gave her a little smile. "Would that I had planned ahead with more foresight. I should have brought bits of my own, and purchased one for you. Is that not what a gentlecolt does for a beautiful mare?"

Rarity laughed and batted her eyes playfully at him. "Why Lune! How suave of you! But I am a modern enough mare to enjoy buying a stallion a drink. So consider this one on me. Consider the night on me, really, I want you to enjoy yourself. What would you like?"

Lune regarded the wall behind the bar, which was entirely covered in bottles. They were all completely unfamiliar. Except... "Those doth seem to be wine bottles."

"They are," said the bartender. "Lemme get you a wine list." He rummaged under the bar, then slid a sheet of slightly stained paper over to Lune, who looked at the names on it.

He shook his head. "I do not know these. Mayhap you could recommend something?"

"I'm not a wine snob, mister. I know more about whiskey than about wine. The list has tasting notes though."

"Ah, so it doth." Lune turned his attention back to the list, reading the little block of text next to each. He smiled. "I shall have a glass of the Caberneigh, then. I do appreciate a full bodied wine."

"I like a colt that appreciates something... full bodied." That was a mare seated on Lune's other side. Her coat was plum-pink and her curly mane and tail a darker raspberry. Her generous flank, adorned with a cluster of fruit, gave the term "full bodied" a quite different meaning. She gave him a slightly inebriated grin and raised her own glass, which was filled with a dark red liquid. "I'm having the Marelot myself, but the Caberneigh is pretty good."

"Do you visit this place often then?"

"Yup! You seem to be new though."

"Indeed. I hail from some distance afield. I am here visiting my good friend Rarity."

"Yeah, you don't sound like you're from around here. I like it though. Talk to me some more!" She giggled and took a swig of her wine.

The bartender had finished pouring Lune a glass, so he lifted it and took a sip. He held the rich, complicated, faintly bitter flavor on his tongue for a moment, savoring it, then swallowed. "This is most excellent."

"Told you! But come on, I want to hear your accent some more. Tell me something. What do you do?"

"Nothing of great interest," said Lune, scrambling mentally to think up something to say. Telling the mare "I raise the moon," would hardly be a good idea. He took a larger sip of the wine, cooling his parched throat as well as buying himself some time. "Bookkeeping doth occupy a certain amount of my time." The best kind of lie, a technically true one.

"What, a colt like you is a bookkeeper?"

Lune raised one eyebrow. "A colt like I?"

"You know, all foreign and exotic and all. I figured you'd be a diplomat. Or a spy!"

He gave the mare a wink, feeling quite cheerful. "Mayhap I am a spy. But 'twer that the case I should hardly admit it in public, should I?"

She laughed. "True! I'm Berry Punch, by the way."

"I am Lune."

"Lune, darling, will you be fine on your own for a teensy little moment?"

Lune turned to Rarity and nodded. "Aye."

"Oh good." She climbed down from her stool and started across the room, a rather seductive sway in her hips as she did. Lune saw her target, a handsome young stallion, sitting alone at a table nearby. He smiled and mentally wished her luck before turning back to Berry.

"So, what of you? Have you an occupation?"

"I work at a winery. If you like Pinot Noir I can recommend a bottle here that I bottled my very own self."

Lune consulted the tasting notes, finding the Pinot Noir. He read it out loud. "'Viscous, tannic, round acid, good length in the finish, with notes of plum, toasted oak, raspberry, coffee, and cocoa.' Well. I am cautious of anything that doth call itself 'tannic' but I could quite readily venture a taste." He took another sip from his glass. "I must do justice to this excellent vintage first, however."

"It looks like I've done mine a heck of a lot of justice." Berry peered down at her empty glass. "I think I'll have another!"

The bartender poured her a glass. She took a sip and sighed. "Always good. Every time. Here, you try this one! And I want to try yours." She held out the glass to Lune.

He took it in his magic and took a sip, quite willing to go along with what was looking to turn into an impromptu wine tasting.

"What do you think? The notes say... say... Lemme find 'em. Ah! 'Ripe black cherry, coffee, blackberry, eucalyptus.' You taste all that?

Lune chuckled. "'Tis rare that all palettes agree on such things. But I taste something like it, yes. It hath a very pleasant aromatic finish, of a certainty."

"Good for you, you've got a good tongue on you." She suddenly started giggling madly.

Lune, realizing what she'd said, blushed. He turned his attention back to his glass, which was half gone by now. "You said you wished to try some?" He held it out to Berry, who took it and took a generous swig.

"Yup, that's good stuff!" She lifted the glass dramatically and declared, "Definitely fruity notes, but a good, rich, oaky body with a lovely buttery aftertaste." Looking very satisfied with herself she gave the glass back. Lune smiled and tossed back the last of it.

"You want that Pinot then?" asked the bartender.

Lune considered. Sticking to one drink might be wiser. But then Rarity had said she would treat him all night, and that he should enjoy himself. So why not? "Certainly."

"You'll do that one justice too, eh?" said Berry, still grinning at him.

He grinned back. "I believe I shall do quite a lot of justice to it, yes."

Some time later there was a clutter of justice-done glasses on the bar before the pair. They were leaning together on their stools, and Lune had put a hoof around Berry's shoulders, who'd returned the favor with one around his waist. He found himself glad of the wrapping that kept him from forgetting and spreading his wings. He also found he was very glad of a few other things, including the fact that the high level illusion spell he'd used covered touch as well as sight, and that it would maintain itself until dismissed, without need for his conscious attention. He was far too drunk to be keeping a spell of any sort going; he'd been lifting the last glass he'd finished in his hooves.

"My, it looks like you two have been enjoying yourselves." Rarity's amused voice sounded next to Lune.

He smiled with slightly unfocused joy at her. "Indeed! Thy suggestion to come here this ev'n was most inspired!"

"He's fun. And he talks even better when he gets a few glasses in him." Berry giggled.

"Thy praise falls most sweetly upon mine ear, oh fair, fruit-mark'd maid!"


Rarity tried and failed to stifle a giggle. "Well I have had a marvelous evening as well. I have a date for Friday!"

"That is most delightsome news, my friend."

"It is!" She clapped her hooves together and giggled again. "He is quite debonair! But what about you, Lune? Do you have a date too?"

"Ooo!" Berry cooed at him. "This has been fun! We could go out again."

Lune's brow creased. Berry was right, it had been fun. He would enjoy doing it again, the plum-purple earth pony was an enjoyable companion. But there was another purple pony, a twilight colored alicorn mare, who might, perhaps, if he was very, very lucky, give her love to a certain midnight alicorn stallion. Only perhaps, but such a chance couldn't be ruined. He stood up, nearly falling as he got off the stool. Straightening himself he declared, "Berry, thou hath been a delight. Though art sweeter than vin glace and more refined than the finest of champagnes, yet I must confess that my heart doth belong to another. I do most assuredly enjoy thy company and thy friendship, but a date with thee cannot be. Forgive me." He tried to bow, but overbalanced and stumbled, just managing to catch himself on the stool before crashing to the floor.

Berry giggled as he picked himself up. "Oh my! I think that's the nicest rejection I've ever gotten. If she breaks your heart, you come here and we'll date like woah."

"'Tis a deal," said Lune. He held out a hoof, and Berry shook it firmly.

"I'll just settle up then," said Rarity, "and we can head home. I think, Lune darling, that perhaps you should stay at my place this evening. I'm not sure you should be traveling all the way home in your condition."

"Thou art wise as well as beautiful," said Lune, beaming at Rarity. "Let us then depart."

Once they had staggered back to the boutique—or at least once Lune had staggered, Rarity was still quite sober—Rarity led Lune to her spare room. He looked about it curiously. "I'm sorry the bed is only a single," said Rarity apologetically. "This is where Sweetie Belle stays when she's visiting."

"'Tis sufficient," said Lune. He removed the cravat and cuffs, setting them on the nightstand. Then he flopped onto the bed with a sigh. His hind hooves nearly hung off of it, but it was just big enough. The room was spinning slightly, he was still quite drunk.

He also became aware, as he lay there, of a faint itch. His wings, still bound, were no longer quite comfortable. The illusion was good enough that he almost couldn't feel them at all, but they were still there. He considered that. "Oh dear. I believe I have a problem."

"What is it?" Rarity looked instantly concerned.

"I am still somewhat drunk," said Lune with solemn deliberation. "And I still have an illusion which doth conceal my wings. I am far, far too awash in wine to even consider performing the magic which might dismiss this illusion. And as the illusion doth extend to touch also I cannot ask thee to feel for the bandage that binds them and remove it. Yet it doth itch most abominably! I shall go mad if it is not removed, I fear." He squirmed, trying to rub the itch against the bed.

"Oh dear. That is rather a problem. And I don't know the right spell to dismiss it for you."

"Indeed." He heaved a sigh. "Were it a matter other than this one I should go to Twilight, but I am not quite certain I am ready for her to meet Lune this very night." He squirmed a bit more, and it seemed like the half-felt bindings shifted. "Though perhaps there may be a solution." Lune began to wiggle and work the bandage against the bed. Rarity giggled as he rolled like a primitive pony rolling in the grass. He tried spreading his wings as well, pushing the oddly immaterial-feeling appendages out against the elastic pull. There was a sudden ping as the fastener let loose and the bandage began to unwind. "Ah, there 'tis!" He grabbed it and pulled it the rest of the way off where, freed from the illusion, it became visible again and he could set it on the nightstand.

"Well, if that's fixed, is there anything else I can get for you, my dear?"

"Nay, I am well enough. Only turn out the light and I shall rest."

"Goodnight then. I am glad you had fun."

"As am I. Thank you, Rarity."

She smiled as she shut the door. "You're quite welcome, Lune."

Lying in the darkness, with a faint hint of moonlight filtering in through the windows, Lune thought about how he felt.

In truth, he felt wonderful. It wasn't just the wine, either. He'd been petrified and nervous when he'd first gone out the door as Lune. But the longer the night had gone on the more comfortable he'd felt. It had felt strange, different, even a bit startling at times, to feel like a stallion, to be treated like a stallion. Yet it had also felt right. So very right. The way Berry had flirted with him had been not only flattering, it had felt like a balm poured on the raw chafe of centuries worth of attempts to court him as a mare. And even with his wings bound up, his body had seemed right, more comfortable, more fitting. True it was only an illusion, but the best kind, the kind that even he himself could feel. Indeed he found himself glad that he did not dare attempt the spell to break his illusion now. He never wanted to break it, he wanted to stay this way, forever.

All the doubts he'd had before had faded. This was who he was. This was what he was. He was not Luna and had never truly been. He was Lune.

Author's Notes:

I can't decide if this chapter or the next one is my favorite. I had fun writing this one, certainly!

This story brought to you as always by my patrons. If you'd like to support me in writing more stories like this, consider becoming a patron.

A Long Road

As the morning sunlight streaming in through the windows fell directly on Lune's face, he woke. He squinted at the light and rolled over with a groan. He'd only had about three hours of sleep, but that wasn't the real problem, that was enough for him, even with the interruption caused when he'd woken an hour or so earlier to lower the moon. The problem was that his head was pounding and the light seemed to stab him directly in each eye. He pulled a pillow over his head and groaned again. He hadn't had a hangover this bad in over a thousand years.

"Why dost thou hate me, Celestia?" he groaned.

Eventually certain needs meant that he had to relinquish his pillow shield and get up out of the bed. He caught a glimpse of himself in the floor-length mirror in one corner and winced. His eyes were very bloodshot. Also the illusion was starting to fray a little, it hadn't really been meant to last this long. His hair was still light blue, but it was long, and had started to sparkle a bit with starlight. He stretched, noticing that as he did his wings extended beyond the bounds of the illusion, so the tips were visible, hovering apparently unsupported on either side of him. He chuckled at that, but didn't stop to play with the effect. He had an urgent need to visit the restroom.

Coming out of it again, he felt slightly more equine. He'd taken care of the necessity and had also had a long drink, straight from the tap. He was considering the subject of breakfast, and putting off the moment when he'd have to dispel his illusion, when he heard a knock at the door.

Rarity would no doubt be sleeping for some hours yet, since she had been up as late as he, so Lune decided he might as well answer the door himself.

He opened it, and found the entire door frame filled with white.

Oh buck. "Uhm. Hello, Celestia."

"Luna." She smiled, apparently unconcerned by the sight of her sister as a unicorn colt, but Lune still felt a sinking sensation in the pit of his stomach. "When you did not return last night I was concerned."

He rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly. "Ahem. Well... Please accept mine apologies, sister. I was somewhat inebriated, and judged it best that I not attempt to fly home last night."

"I'm glad you're being so responsible." Celestia smiled again, that gentle, serene smile she always had, that made Lune wonder sometimes what hid behind it. "Was it also drink that inspired your new look, sister? Or should I say brother now?" Her tone was gently teasing, but the words made Lune's heart race. Brother...

He straightened, drawing himself up and shaking off some of the fog that filled his mind. "Perhaps you should. I cast this illusion sober, sister. 'Twas no drunken whim. I wished to learn what 'twould be like to be your brother Lune, and not your sister Luna."

"I see. And what did you learn, then?"

Lune swallowed. Well, in for a bit, in for a bushel, as they say. "I learned that I am Lune. It is right, sister. It is so very right! All my life I have been so wrong, so ill at ease. Now I feel at ease with myself at last." He found he had to blink away a sudden gathering of tears. "I... please do not take it amiss, sister. Please! I cannot return to being Luna. I cannot! Oh please, do not make me!"

"Oh Luna..." Suddenly he was folded in Celestia's wings, being hugged tightly. "I would never make you do anything you didn't want to." She nuzzled him, and he pressed close to her, feeling as though he were a tiny foal again, safe in her embrace. "Though your illusion is fraying a bit," she added gently.

Lune sniffled. "I know."

"And you should probably at least go back to being an alicorn, or some ponies might get very confused."

"Aye." Lune heaved a sigh as Celestia released him from her embrace. He sat back and lit his horn. A moment later the illusion had been dismissed, leaving him looking like Luna again. He looked down at his hooves. Smaller and more delicate now, with shorter fetlocks. He sighed.

"Luna..." He looked up at Celestia as she spoke. The serene mask was gone, and in its place was a fragile, vulnerable, uncertain expression. "No, Lune. Lune, my... my brother. Is this truly what you want?"

"It is, yes."

"Very well." The mask slipped on once again. "Then let us return to Canterlot. There is much to be done."

"How long?!" Lune's voice hit a high, incredulous note that he didn't really like. But he couldn't help it.

"A year and a day. I can probably start it from when you first attended that meeting in Ponyville, but no sooner than that." Celestia was calm but stern.

"But... but why?"

"A spell of true change is incredibly dangerous, si... brother. You know that they used to be considered completely impossible. We have learned much since then, but the spell is still not something to toy with. I have overseen it most of the times it has been cast, in fact."

Lune's eyes went wide. "Truly?"

"Yes. The possible side effects are horrendous, Lune. And the risk is vastly increased if the spell is cast a second time on the same pony. So it can only be done once. It is effectively irreversible. Not even a failsafe spell will fix the effects. There is no going back once changed. That is why the year."

"I suppose I see the wisdom in't then." Lune sighed. "But I am certain 'Tia. A year from now, I will still be certain."

"I don't doubt that." Celestia smiled gently. "Still, is a year so long to wait, after how long you've waited already?"

Lune snorted. "Nay, 'tis not so long. Yet patience hath never been my strong suit."

Celestia chuckled at that. "Indeed. I've made an appointment for you to see a counselor next week. I've also started the official paperwork. I won't make you wait a day longer than you must, but I also will not make an exception for you. I cannot. The spell is provided to all ponies who wish it, but only after waiting a year and a day, and only after receiving extensive counseling to be certain that they will not change their minds. That is the rule, and it applies to everypony, even my own sibling. I would apply it even to myself, should I wish to do such a thing."

Lune heaved another sigh, looking down at his still-too-delicate hooves. "Very well."

"Would you like me to help you craft a longer-lasting illusion spell, Lune?"

Lune looked up. Celestia was smiling, but once again that honest, tender, vulnerable look was there. He'd seen that look before, when he'd been newly restored from his long exile, when Celestia had been treating him as though he was fragile as an eggshell. She's afraid of hurting me, of driving me away again. He give her a sudden, warm smile in return. "I'd like that very much."

"Good afternoon Prince Lune." The pale green earth pony stallion's expression seemed sincerely warm and welcoming. Lune managed a small, somewhat nervous smile in return. "I'm Doctor Ink Blot. You can call me Inky if you like, or Doctor Blot, either is fine. Come, make yourself comfortable."

Lune glanced around the little room. There were a couple of chairs, and a comfortable-looking couch, but he decided to simply sit on a cushion on the floor. Doctor Blot chose another cushion and sat facing him. "I want you to know that I'm here to help you. I'd like you to feel comfortable here. We may be working together for the next year, after all." He smiled warmly at Lune. "Given who you are, you can have your pick of any psychologist in the kingdom, and I assure you I will have no hard feelings at all, so don't hesitate to let me, or someone at the office, know if it seems you might be more comfortable with somepony else."

Lune nodded. He still felt nervous, he thought that was probably inevitable. But Doctor Blot seemed nice enough.

"I thought I'd start by asking if you have any questions for me. You can ask whatever you want, personal questions, questions about the change, anything that comes to mind."

"There is one question that I would have you answer. Why must I wait a year? I feel I know mine own mind. I have few doubts, if indeed I have any. Why so long a time? My sister hath said that the spell is dangerous and thus cannot be repeated, yet surely if 'tis safe enough to be cast once, it can be cast twice?"

"Well, to fully settle that question you might want to talk to one of the unicorn doctors who will perform the spell itself. But since gender studies are my specialty I have read up on the theory behind it, so I'll have a stab at explaining it. Let me show you a demonstration." He got up and went to the desk that stood against one wall and fished around in a drawer till he came up with a pair of rubber bands of differing sizes.

"Here we go. Now, I assume you know what a morphic field is?" Lune nodded. Put simply, a morphic field was a peculiar sort of energy that told the universe what shape a given thing, from a rock to a pony, should be. "Morphic fields are like this rubber band. You can change them," he took a thick rubber band and pulled it between his hooves, stretching it out, "but they want to return to their original shape. That is why true, permanent shape changing used to be thought impossible. No matter what you did, eventually the transformed object would revert. The discovery that happened a couple of decades ago was that it is possible to re-mold a morphic field. Picture if, instead of stretching this rubber band out, I instead melted the rubber, and carefully molded it into a longer shape. It would stay longer without needed to be stretched, yes?" Lune nodded again. "It would be like this." He held up a thinner, longer rubber band. "It's longer than the other one, without needing to be stretched, yes?"

Lune nodded again. "Yes."

"But re-shaping it has made it thinner. If it's stretched too hard now, well..." He pulled the thinner rubber band as hard as he could, and with an audible snap it broke. "A true shape change thins the morphic field. Doing it once is safe, when done by experts who know what they're doing. Doing it twice carries a small but significant risk of breaking it. It's on the order of one in ten thousand, but given how bad the results are, it's considered not worth the risk. I don't know if you know what happens when a morphic field is broken...?"

Lune shuddered. "I have seen it," he said. He recalled an ancient memory, during the days when he and Celestia had battled against the chaos gods. A pony soldier, his morphic field snapped by pure chaos magic, had suddenly begun to sprout organs and appendages, screaming through mouths that formed and closed again, as his form grew more and more chaotic until finally there was nothing left but a bubbling goo. It had been several thousand years ago, when he had been hardly more than a filly, and the memory was still burned deeply into his mind.

"So you understand now why this can only be done once?"

"Yes," said Lune fervently.

"The change will be permanent. There will be no going back. So it really is vital that you be absolutely certain it's what you want."

Lune nodded again. "Aye. I understand."

"Why don't we turn to more pleasant topics, then. Tell me a little bit about yourself."

"I..." Lune hesitated. He had no idea what to say. "Surely you know of my history?"

"I know what I've read," said the doctor. "That doesn't mean I know you. I'd like to get to know you personally. I'd like to be a friend to you, even. So please, tell me something. Would you like to talk about your foalhood, perhaps?"

Lune latched onto that. "Aye, I can do that." He cast his mind back. It was a very long way, but he still remembered. "I never played much with other ponies when I was young. I loved to wander, and ramble, and play in the forest. In truth I was somewhat of a wild thing as a foal. Our parents were oft busy, and when they left, Celestia was busier still. I was left to mine own devices. I never would stray far from Celestia, but there were a plethora of small adventures for a foal to encounter. In those days ponies were not civilized as they are now. We lived in herds, in a nomadic life. 'Twas part of our parents goals to change this. We also worked towards that goal after they were gone."

"You say 'we' and 'our' I notice, rather than 'I' and 'mine'."

"Aye. Celestia hath been with me all my life. I have few memories that do not contain her, save... save for my banishment."

Blot nodded. "Do you want to talk about that?"

"I... mayhap. It is hard to speak of. I betrayed her. I was such a fool." Lune felt tears start to gather, remembering once again the terrible wrong he had committed. "She hath always been there for me. Always. But all I could see then was that other ponies did love her more than they loved me. Of course they did, 'twas always her gift. 'Twas, and yet is, her curse as well. Yet in those days all I wished to see was that she had what I did not. I bore such hatred for't! Then the Nightmare began to whisper in mine ear, and did turn that hatred on Celestia herself. I should ne'er have listened."

"I'd like to be sure I understand. When you talk about 'the Nightmare' are you speaking of something within your own mind, or an outside being?"

"Outside. The Nightmare could dwell within me, being a creature of chaos, but she was no part of me. She could only speak to me, she could not even truly read my heart. Why if she could, no doubt she would have offered me this, that I seek here with you, the chance to be as I am in my heart. She is of chaos, she had the power to remake me in whatever form I might desire. Mayhap then I would not have betrayed her in turn and fought her. I cannot envision what might have chanced then! But she offered me only revenge. In heated anger I did agree, and let her within me. Then she did betray me in that instant, stealing body and will both, and locking me within a prison in mine own mind while she transformed my body into a form of her choosing with which to torment my sister. There I did remain, struggling against her with every moment, til Twilight and her friends freed me."

"I can't even imagine what that must have been like."

"It was terrible. Yet in the end the Nightmare died, and I yet live."

"You do know that most ponies think that Nightmare Moon and you are one and the same?"

"I know. I feel no ill will towards them for't. They know no better, and I feel no desire to educate them on the matter. The Nightmare failed in her bid to rule them with true terror. All know that Nightmare Moon is only a story to tell foals on Nightmare Night, a mere myth, an old mare's tale. Indeed I have found it amusing to ape the form of my former tormentor on Nightmare Night, to delight the foals who love to feel such fright. And... there is a form of power in that. She is dead, all that doth remain of her is me. Why should I remain in fear of what she made of me? 'Tis better to have such fears be the stuff of foalhood games."

Blot nodded, with a small smile. "Obviously it works for you."

"Aye. There is regret in that tale, for I feel sorrow for what I did in giving her power, and the memories of my time on the moon are hard. But for all else that has come of it I have no regrets."

"It sounds like you have some very healthy attitudes."

Lune smiled. "I think that when one has lived as long as I, one learns how to cope, else one goes mad. I suppose I did somewhat of both, but I have learned from my madness as well."

Blot chuckled softly. "To tell you the truth, what is and what isn't madness is still a very poorly defined topic." He picked up a small notepad and consulted it. "There are a few things I'd like to make sure we touch on this visit. We don't have a lot of time left, though if you feel you need more time I can let you stay a little past your scheduled hour. But in any case I wanted to talk about coming out, and what that means for you as a public figure."

Lune smiled wryly. "Ah yes. There hath already been a few stories in the tabloids, composed mostly of rumor, glimpses of me as I now appear, and some fragment of news about my presence at the Ponyville support group. 'Tis quite educational, the tales that they have woven. A few have even come somewhat close to the mark! Though amusingly the general consensus doth seem to be that I was hiding a secret past as a stallion."

"You're not upset about these stories?"

"Nay. I think Celestia hath more anger than I. Yet even she is well used to such tales, and 'tis merely exasperation that they never cease to spread about some new rumor each week."

"I'm told that officially you and Celestia plan to make an announcement about it in three days?"

"Aye. I wish to wear this truth which is also illusion at all times. Indeed I believe I am required to do so, am I not?"

"Well, illusion isn't specific to the requirements, though it's a common solution, but yes, you need to live as a stallion."

"I can hardly spend a year hiding from all Equestria. And should I then continue to hide after? Or don an illusion to make me seem a mare, as if naught has changed? Nay. This must become public news at some point. 'Tis best that point come sooner than later."

Blot nodded. "Are you nervous about it?"

Lune shrugged. "About the reporters, not at all. About how some of my friends may take the news... that doth concern me somewhat more."

"Perhaps you should tell them before talking to the press then?"

Lune heaved a sigh. "Aye. You speak true. But 'tis hard. I know not what my friends shall think. What... what ponies who might be more than friends shall think."

"Ah. You have a romantic relationship with somepony?"

"Nay. Not as yet. But I have hopes of such. She has always been disinterested in me as a mare. Perhaps as a stallion... but I fear that it shall in truth be that she simply prefers me as a friend."

"Having a friend is not a bad outcome."

"I know. Yet 'tis not the outcome I would wish."

"I understand. But you can't hide this, and especially not from somepony you care about. Honesty is very important in both friendship and romance."

"Aye. I will tell her soon."

"You should. And don't let 'soon' get put off too long. I suspect you'd prefer her to hear this from you and not from the press."

Lune had a sudden vision of turning up for one of his regular visits with Twilight and being confronted by Twilight holding up a newspaper with a lurid headline. He shuddered. No, he would tell her as soon as possible. He took a deep breath, bracing himself, mentally committing to his course. "I do swear, I shall give her the news when next I see her."

"That's good. Honestly overall it sounds like you're doing very well. I'd like to meet with you once a week for about a month, just to get to know you better, but as long as you are still doing this well, and not struggling, we can go to once a month after that, just to check up on you. Does that sound okay?"

"That sounds 'okay', yes."

"Good luck to you then. And thank you for coming in."

"No, thank you."

Author's Notes:

Thanks again to everyone who's reading this. It's never going to be my most popular work, but I do appreciate those of you who have upvoted, commented, and added it to your bookshelves.

Just as a note, it's not meant to be an accurate representation of how transition works in our world, or of how transition should work, or anything else. It's just how I pictured things working in this particular version of Equestria. It's like our world in some ways, unlike it in others. It's generally a more positive place, but of course it's far from perfect.

P.S. If you'd like to support me in writing more stories like this one, please consider becoming a patron.

Truth and Beauty

Lune's cup was shaking again, almost enough to spill the contents. He quickly set it back down, without taking a sip. It had hot chocolate in it rather than tea, since Twilight knew his tastes very well. They spent time together every single week—a regular "friend date" as Twilight sometimes called it—watching the stars or visiting the spa or simply enjoying each other's company. Lune had almost begged off tonight, but in the end he had decided that delaying would only make things worse.

"Is something wrong, Luna?" Twilight Sparkle set down her own more conventionally filled teacup and looked at him worriedly.

He looked like Luna again. Celestia had helped him to cast a permanent illusion spell that could be removed at will. The spell was centered on a horn ring, which Lune currently wore on a chain around his neck. He could put it on and look like himself whenever he wanted. He hadn't been able to bring himself to simply arrive at Twilight Sparkle's door like that though.

He fiddled with the ring as he tried to decide where to start. His heart was pounding. Maybe he should have just turned up as Lune. It at least would have given him a place to start explaining. "'Tis not that something is wrong. Merely... I know not how to begin. Forgive me."

"Whatever it is, I am here for thee." Twilight reached out and rested a hoof over Lune's.

"Ah Twilight... thou hast been such a friend to me. I... I know not what I should do were I to lose thee."

"Thou wilt not, Luna."

Lune's ears were flat down. He already had decided he didn't like hearing that other name. Hearing it from Twilight was somehow worse. He had to tell her. He had to. But the words just wouldn't come.

"Luna..." Twilight moved around to sit beside him and put her hoof around his shoulders. She was still slightly shorter than he, so it was a little awkward, but the comforting gesture still felt good. "Whatever it is, it'll be okay, I promise."

"Do not make promises when thou dost not know if thou canst keep them," said Lune softly.

"I'm sorry. But I can promise I'll always be here for thee, Luna. So please, tell me whatever it is. I'll do my best to make it okay. Is that a better promise?"

Lune smiled just a little. "Aye, 'tis better. Very well. I... shall try." He took a deep breath, looking down at the ring again. "I... I merely cannot find the words. Perhaps I should show thee."

"If that would be easier for thee," said Twilight, smiling gently. It was a little bit like Celestia's smile, Lune thought. Well, Twilight was her student.

He took the ring from its chain and, his stomach tying itself into a horrible knot as he did so, slipped it over his horn. The illusion, real enough to touch, immediately formed over him. His mane was unchanged this time, there was no need to pretend to be an ordinary pony, and so his wings were unchanged as well. But all else was altered subtly.

Twilight looked up at him. "I don't understand. You look like a colt now? Why?"

"Because I am one," said Lune.

"But... that's just an illusion, I can tell. It's a very good one, you... thou hast obviously worked hard on it, but it's not real."

Lune sighed. "Nay. But 'tis what lies in my heart, Twilight. All my life, somewhere in my heart, I was 'The Mare Ill At Ease With Herself', for I could never fit into mine own life, no matter how I should contort myself. It was not until this past week that I fully comprehended the reason why, when I learned that such a change was now possible. Now I know what shape I must be to be at ease, and 'tis this that I wear now only in illusion. But someday I shall wear it in truth."

"Oh. Oh! So you... you want to be a colt, and not a mare?"

Lune nodded.

"Oh." Twilight's ears flicked uncertainly. She obviously didn't know how to take this at all. Lune felt a little bit of the knot in his stomach loosening all the same. It wasn't a rejection. The worst possibility, that she would instantly hate him, was past. "Uhm. I'm not sure what to... I mean I have this sudden urge to go see if the library has any books about it. I'm not sure we do. I don't know anything about gender changing."

"I am still learning myself," said Lune, venturing a small smile.

"Why were y... Why wert thou so afraid though, Luna? Surely thou doth know I'm not the kind of friend to stop being thy friend because of something like that?"

Lune swallowed. "Canst thou call me Lune, please?"

"Lune. Okay. I'll try to remember. But...?" She trailed off uncertainly, and Lune wandered if she'd arrived at the answer to her own question already.

"I am fairly certain, Twilight, that thou art not the sort of friend who would reject my friendship for such a cause, aye. Though I could not help but fear it somewhat all the same. But..." He swallowed again, blushing, "I cannot help but think on a certain topic. I... I... if I can be a stallion, Twilight, canst thou...? Couldst thou ever come to... to... to love me?" Those last few words came out as a faint, almost despairing whisper.

"I..." Twilight stared up at him. "Luna—uhm, Lune—I don't... I don't know. If you... I mean... do you want to be a colt because of me then?"

Lune shook his head firmly at that. "Nay. If thou couldst love me as a stallion I would be in heaven, Twilight. Thou knowest how fondly I think of thee. But 'tis not that. 'Tis who I am. 'Tis how I can at long last feel at ease. 'Tis how I can be happy." He paused, trying to find more to say, but could think of no further explanations to offer. Finally, he concluded, "I know that this is no doubt strange to thee, Twilight. 'Tis strange to me as well."

"It is, kind of." A familiar expression of determination crossed Twilight's face, and Lune smiled a little more. "But new things aren't something to be afraid of, they're something to be studied!"

More tendrils of the knot in Lune's stomach eased. "Oh? Shall I then be the subject of thy study?"

"Sure, why not? A case study on transgenderism in alicorns. The first ever, I'm sure!"

Lune had to laugh at that. "Oh Twilight. Thou art a delight. Thou must never change."

Twilight gave Lune a look of sudden uncertainty. "Thou art changing though."

Lune shook his head. "Nay. Lune is who I have always been. 'Twas merely that I did not know it. Naught shall change save what thou doth see here, that I shall look a very little different than I have looked."

Twilight stepped back, looking Lune up and down. Lune rose, and turned around, letting Twilight see him from all sides. "It is different. But..." she flushed slightly. "You do make a pretty handsome stallion." Her ears went back in annoyance. "And I keep forgetting my archaic pronouns, argh. I'm probably going to forget to call y—to call thee Lune too."

Lune smiled and dared to step close enough to give Twilight a gentle nuzzle. "That thou hast made the effort to make me feel at ease with them, Twilight, is a gift, even if thou dost at times forget. I think at times that perhaps I should attempt to speak the formal mode with thee as well, for I myself oft times forget when speaking with mine other friends. Yet I have always loved that thou hast made such an effort for my sake. With thee I do feel at home, as I do nowhere else in all Equestria." He reached out and cupped her cheek with one hoof. "I thank thee for't, Twilight."

"Thou art welcome L-Lune." Twilight closed her eyes, just feeling his touch. "And I think... I think maybe I could love thee. Only... please, go slowly. I don't want to break thy heart, or mine either."

"I shall," said Lune gently. He bent to her, but only brushed his lips to her cheek softly. Twilight sighed. It was a happy sort of sigh, and it made Lune smile. "The stars do shine, Twilight. Shall we go watch them for a time?"

"That would be nice," said Twilight.

When they reached the balcony Lune glanced at the telescope. But Twilight went to the railing and sat there, staring up at the sky above. Lune sat beside her and put a wing gently around her, as he had many times before. After a long, comfortable silence Lune said, "I should have brought thee flowers. But as I did not, I would give thee another gift." He lifted his head higher, and a faint aura gathered about his horn. It was different from the magic he used for ordinary spells. Harder in some ways; he was working with immense powers. Easier in others; the magic was natural as breathing, part of who he was.

Twilight looked up at him. "What...?"

"Look. There." Lune pointed and Twilight followed his hoof. A shooting star suddenly streaked towards the horizon. It was followed by another, and then a flurry of half a dozen almost at once. Then one more, and then the night sky was still again.

"Oh," gasped Twilight softly. "How beautiful!"

"No more beautiful than thou."

Lune tried very hard not to fidget as he sat across the table from Twilight. They were at the fanciest restaurant in Ponyville, but already Lune was re-thinking everything. He shouldn't have asked Twilight out to dinner. Dinner was boring. Dinner was the most basic of date ideas. He should have thought of something more fun. Or he should have taken her to Canterlot, where there were more upscale places. She wasn't going to be impressed, she was going to think he didn't really care, that he wasn't willing to put in any effort. This had been so lazy. But he just hadn't been able to think of anything else!

"It's a very pretty night," said Twilight, looking up at the moon with a smile, startling him out of his downward spiraling thoughts.

"Many thanks."

"You're welcome." Twilight paused, frowning faintly. "Wow, that was stupid. I sound like you just bought a packet of quills from me or something. I have to admit that I don't know what I'm doing with this dating thing. I've never dated anybody before. I'm probably going to mess something up tonight. Argh. I'm messing up already, I just said 'you' again. Sorry."

Lune chuckled softly. "I was just thinking much the same. When last I courted, the rules were quite unlike the customs of this day. I was also oft the pursued, not the one giving chase."

"Well, thou hast already caught me, I think. I don't know what the future holds, but for the present, I am thine."

Lune's heart skipped a beat. "I... I am thine also, fair Twilight. My heart lies in thy hooves."

"I shall hold it as gently as a baby bird," said Twilight with a smile.

"I chance to recall that thou spoke to me once of birds that swim, and fish that fly. Dost thou recall?"


"I feel as if I am a fish taken flight. All is strange and new and wonderful, yet also all is strange and new and fearful."

"I can imagine."

The waiter arrived with their appetizers, and both fell silent as he set the plates in front of them.

Suddenly another voice called out, "Princess Luna! Princess Twilight! Sharp Quill from the Daily Canter here. Would either of you care to make a statement about yesterday's breaking story? Is it true that Luna has been a secret stallion all these years?"

Lune's ears went flat and he sank down in his seat. He resolutely avoided looking at the reporter and instead lifted his fork in his magic.

Twilight, however, gave the reporter a glare. "We're not available for comment."

"Is it true that you and Princess Luna are having a lesbian affair?"

Lune sank down further, wincing at the sound of his old name, and started contemplating teleportation spells. He could take Twilight with him, but did he have the reach to get them both all the way to Canterlot? Perhaps merely going to Twilight's Castle of Harmony would suffice.

"It's Prince Lune," said Twilight in a dangerous tone of voice. "And if you don't mind, we're trying to eat." Her horn glowed, and suddenly a magenta bubble popped into existence around their table, enclosing the pair and the rather flummoxed waiter who'd been standing nearby, looking as if he were trying to decide between retreat and shooing the intruder out himself.

Everything went strangely quiet as the bubble cut off sound from the rest of the restaurant. Twilight smiled smugly. "There. Selectively permeable barrier. One of the ones Shining Armor taught me when I was just a filly. It won't let sound pass, and it also won't let any pony not attuned to it in, but those inside can come and go as they like." She gave the waiter a smile and a nod.

"I can go through it?" he said, looking mildly terrified. He was an earth pony, and obviously not that comfortable with magic.

"Yep. Go ahead. And while you're gone, could you get me a lemonade? The menu says you do lavender infused lemonade? It sounds lovely."

"Uhm. Yes, of course, your highness." He gave an awkward little bow and turned. He paused at the barrier, and poked it with a hoof first, but when that went through as if the shield wasn't even there, he went ahead and stepped out of the bubble without further hesitation. Lune and Twilight could see the reporter approaching the waiter as he stepped out. The reporter said something, and the waiter gestured behind him at the bubbled table.

The reporter trotted up to the bubble and promptly planted, muzzle-first, right into the hard surface. Twilight giggled. Lune put a hoof over his smile. The reporter scowled and tapped repeatedly at the bubble with one hoof, then turned, looking for the waiter, but the waiter was gone.

"Let's ignore him and enjoy the evening," said Twilight, pulling Lune's attention back to her. That was quite easy to do; she looked absolutely stunning. She was wearing a dress—Lune suspected Rarity's hoof in that—and it looked amazing on her. Though in truth she was beautiful with no need for further adornment. Lune was wearing only his normal regalia and the horn ring that aided with his illusion.

"I offer my sincere apologies for... that." Lune waved his hoof vaguely. "I should have dealt with that interruption rather than thee."

Twilight shrugged. "It was no big deal."

"'Twas more of a 'big deal' than thou makest it to be, Twilight. I would understand if thou shouldst have no desire to gain such attentions. Our courtship should not be a source of vexation to thee. I shall not object if thou desirest to end it lest-"

"Nonsense." Twilight broke in firmly. "I don't desire to end anything. I desire thee." She flushed suddenly. "Oh dear, I didn't mean it to come out like that." She gave a little cough and added, "Though it's not entirely untrue. You are, ah... you make a very handsome stallion, Lune."

"And thou... I would write poetry to thee, dearest Twilight, but thy beauty is beyond all words. Perhaps soon I shall make the attempt all the same."

Twilight flushed, and Lune smiled. A moment later the waiter returned with Twilight's lemonade, and the news that the reporter had been shown the door. Their meal and conversation remained undisturbed, though Twilight left the shield bubble up until the meal was over, much to the waiter's dismay. Lune made certain to leave a very generous tip when he paid for their food.

Later, they walked together through the streets of Ponyville, enjoying the cool evening air. They spoke of many things, from the life cycle of the flying fish to Lune's long-distant foalhood. Eventually, they halted in front of Twilight's home. Twilight looked up at the grand, tree-like castle and gave a little, wistful sigh. "I suppose I should go to sleep eventually." Then she shot a sly, but blushing look at Lune and added, "Though it's tempting to invite you up to stay the night."

Lune found himself blushing too. "I... ah... thou... thou art tempting indeed."

"We should probably take it slow, though. This is only our first date."

"Aye. And in truth..." Lune sighed, looking away from Twilight. "In truth mine appearance is but an illusion. I cannot love thee as I might wish. In a year's time, when I can be myself in both body and mind, then, should we yet be inclined one towards another I should do more than merely court thee. But for now... For now I shall content myself with this." He leaned in a kissed her once, briefly, softly.

Twilight nodded, still blushing. Then she suddenly flung her forelegs around Lune, hugging him close, and kissed him rather more enthusiastically and at some length. When they broke apart Twilight was panting a little bit and Lune was feeling blissfully dazed. The kiss had been electrifying.

After a long pause while both processed what just happened, Twilight said, "I have no idea where we'll be a year from now. I have no idea how any of this going to go. But right here and right now, my heart tells me that we'll be together, and that it will be worth the wait."

There was a rustling in the bushes beside them, and a unicorn's head popped up out of the greenery. "I just want one brief comment on-"

This time it was Lune's horn that lit, and the reporter vanished with a pop. Twilight blinked. "Where did you send him?"

"As far as I might manage towards Appleloosa. I do not think I quite sent him the full distance, but I did seek to aim along the tracks, so he should at least not wander lost." Lune grinned. "But the train doth not stop along that stretch, so methinks he shall have a memorably long walk home."

Twilight laughed. "Remind me to not make thee angry, my love!"

Lune felt a tingle go through him at hearing Twilight say "my love". "Ah Twilight. I do truly hope that such as he shall not make thee regret our courtship."

"Never. Anyway, I'm sure once word gets out that you're punting them across Equestria, they'll stop bothering us." She smiled cheerfully. Then her smile softened. "But even if nosy reporters follow me around for the next whole year, I said it would be worth the wait, and it will be worth putting up with them too."

"Thou seemest so certain..."

Twilight shook her head ruefully. "I'm certain of very little. But I know that I've enjoyed this evening, and that the kissing was... really nice. And that thou shalt always be dear to me, whatever happens. It's not exactly true love from the ballads, but a lot of those ballads are pretty silly. Whatever it is, it's good."

"It is good, aye." And Lune could not resist stepping in and kissing her again, tenderly this time, but at length, and with a rising passion that would have given the reporter something to write about had he still been there.

Author's Notes:

This concludes the main arc of this story. There is a finale, and something of an epilogue, that will both post next month. Thanks everyone for sticking with me this far, and thanks also for the civility of the comments. I always worry a bit when I post stories with touchy subjects, but people have been pretty good with this one. It's barely even gotten any hate downvotes!

P.S. This story brought to you in part by my patrons at Patreon. If you'd like to support me in writing more like this, and get early access, voting on story subjects, and other perks, please consider becoming a patron.

The Same Three Notes

Lune sat beside Celestia in the royal box as the concert hall began to fill. His mind wasn't really on the coming performance. He was thinking about what would happen tomorrow. Tomorrow was the day when the spell would finally be cast, and the illusion he'd lived with for so long would become a reality.

He felt a little bit nervous. Even though the unicorns casting it would be the best casters in the nation. Even though they'd be overseen by Celestia herself. Even though as an immortal, his morphic field was even less likely to fray and snap than that of an ordinary pony, the thought of that million in one possibility still made him nervous.

And there was always a flicker of fear, that despite how everypony had accepted him, somehow some of them might not, once it was real and not illusion. Would Twilight really still love him? Would Celestia? Would he still feel so at home, once it was truly flesh and blood and not magic alone that shaped the body that seemed so right?

The lights dimmed, and Lune directed his attention to the stage as all around him ponies fell silent, preparing to listen. A single piano stood there, with a unicorn pianist before it. He lifted his head, horn lighting, and began.

Three clear notes dropped into the stillness, crystalline and perfect, like drops of water into a still pond. Slowly, hesitantly, more notes followed, each one perfect, gentle sound building towards a crescendo note by note, chord by chord. It felt beautiful: as peaceful and melancholy as a moonlit night. It made him think of his foalhood, of serene nights beneath a moon that he had only just begun to know. Then the notes began to come faster, a flurry of dark minor notes like a sudden storm. The mood became tense, the storm growing. Lune found himself holding his breath as deep, crashing chords poured forth from the piano. They built with chaotic majesty to a single moment of sudden peace, a moment of realization crystallized out of the chaos that had come before. Now rippling, soft, liquid notes filled the air with gentle waves of sound, each one once again ringing with crystalline perfection. They rose and fell, building and retreating, like drops of warm rain. Then, finally, those same three notes sounded again, repeating in soft, endless variations, all different, yet all still the same three notes, spinning finally, peacefully, out into silence.

Ponies burst into applause, stomping their hooves against the concert hall's floor. Lune applauded too. It had been beautiful.

Celestia leaned over and spoke softly in his ear. "That song is called Clair de Lune. I asked them to play it in your honor tonight."

Lune's breath caught. "'Twas perfect," he said. "Thank you, sister."

She spread one wing over him and hugged him gently. "You're welcome, brother."

As the next performer took the stage Lune leaned against Celestia, all his nervousness and fear gone. The song had been perfect. Tonight was perfect, and tomorrow would be perfect too.

Author's Notes:

And here our story ends. I know there is more I could say. Indeed, there's an epilogue that has a few amusing afterthoughts, and there will be a small, M rated sequel to say some additional things that didn't suit the tone of this story.

But everything I truly wanted to say has been said, and further explorations of Lune's life will have to wait for another day.


Twilight paced back and forth in the waiting room. It had been over two hours. Hadn't Celestia said it would take about two hours? Had something gone wrong? She paced a little faster, worry gnawing at her heart. She knew how dangerous messing around with morphic fields was.

"Settle down, sugarcube," said Applejack.

"Sorry." Twilight sat down next to her friends, who had all come along to be there when Lune was finally fully himself. "I just can't help but worry. It's taking so long, what if..."

The door swung open and Celestia stepped out into the waiting room. Twilight shot to her feet. "How did it go? How is he? He's all right?"

Celestia smiled. "It went well. Lune is fine. The doctors are doing a final scan for their records, but nothing went wrong."

"Thank heavens! Can we see him?"

"Yes, he'll be out in just a moment. Although..." Celestia's smile broadened just a little, in an expression Twilight knew well. Her usually well-hidden prankster side was amused at something. "There was one very small complication that I hadn't foreseen."

Twilight swallowed. Complication? But surely Celestia wouldn't be smiling like that if it was anything bad?

Just then, the door opened again to reveal Lune, standing in the doorway. He stepped into the room and for a moment, Twilight and her friends just stared.

"Oh my," said Fluttershy.

"Wowie Zowie!" said Pinkie Pie.

"Woah!" said Spike.

"He is huge!" said Rainbow Dash, actually saying what every other pony in the room was thinking.

Lune chuckled. His voice was noticeably deeper than it had been, even with his illusion. "Indeed." He stood almost exactly as tall as Celestia, but with a stallion’s heavy build, which made him seem twice as broad. He was absolutely enormous. Twilight found herself feeling very strange as she looked up, and up, and up at him.

"It seems we both had forgotten about the size of alicorn stallions," said Celestia with a smile.

"Ah don't get it," said Applejack. "He was being a colt with magic before. How come he was normal colt sized then, but not now?"

"Because before, Lune and I shaped his illusion with our will, simply picturing how he should look. The permanent spell, however, remade him as he would have been if he'd been born a colt. Alicorn stallions are quite large. Indeed Luna was on the small side for an alicorn mare of her age and Lune is actually still rather on the small side for an alicorn stallion of his age."

"Oh my," said Rarity, looking up at Lune. Twilight couldn't help but agree with that sentiment. It was hard to imagine him as being any bigger than he was now!

Lune chuckled. "To proceed to more important matters, I believe I was promised a celebratory donut, sister? Perhaps you should buy me two now."

"She should buy you a whole dozen," said Spike.

Celestia inclined her head graciously. "I would be thrilled to buy you two. Or even a dozen. Shall we?"

"Let us." The little group proceeded out the clinic doors, into a lovely Canterlot afternoon. As they walked towards Donut Joe's, Twilight fell in beside Lune. He spread a wing over her and gave her a brief hug. His wings were enormous too, even larger than Celestia's.

"Does it feel very different, now that it's not just an illusion?" asked Twilight as they walked.

"In truth the strangeness of towering over all others hath rather distracted me from considering aught else."

"I'm not surprised, you are sooooooooooooo huge!" Pinkie Pie suddenly popped up between Twilight and Lune.

"Uh. Hi Pinkie," said Twilight.

"So now that Lune really is a colt, are you two going to go test out the equipment?" Pinkie grinned and elbowed Twilight in the ribs. "I bet it's huge too!"

Twilight blushed brightly. Lune blushed too. "Pinkie... ah..."

"If you aren't, Twi, I'd be happy to volunteer!" Pinkie winked at Lune.

"No thank you, Pinkie," said Twilight with sudden firmness. She picked up Pinkie in her magic and gently set the earth pony down next to Applejack. Pinkie giggled, but made no move to step back between the two of them. Thankfully, the rest of her friends seemed to recognize that she and Lune might want a little space to be alone together.

For a long moment there was an embarrassed silence as they walked. Then Lune cleared his throat. "So... Twilight, hast thou made any plans for this evening?"

"No, not really." She could feel that she was still blushing.

"Pinkie is somewhat... over direct. But 'tis true that I have a certain, ah, curiosity about the 'equipment' as she hath put it. And 'tis no pony I would wish to perform such experiments with save thee."

"Experiments, hmm? Well, thou knowest how much I adore science." Twilight was still blushing, but a smile was also tugging at the corners of her mouth.

"Indeed. After the donuts, then, shall we retire to my chambers and perform this science that thou dost so adore?"

"I would be delighted to." She paused, then added, "Though Lune... It's not really the science I adore. It's mostly thee. I love thee, as I hope thou knowest."

"I do know. And I love thee too."

Author's Notes:

And that's the end! Thanks for coming along for the ride with me.

This story was brought to you in part by my wonderful patrons at Patreon. If you'd like to support me in making more stories like this, and get early access and other perks, please consider becoming a patron today.

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