Clair de Lune

by SPark

Chapter 4: One Hoof on the Path

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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.

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