Clair de Lune

by SPark

Chapter 5: A Long Road

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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.

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