Clair de Lune

by SPark

Chapter 3: Fragile New World

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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.

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