Night's Embrace

by Carapace

Chapter 1: Midnight Kisses

Her breath came forth in a silvery mist, spiraling upward to the night sky like a winding snake. Or like the trail of smoke from the Friendship Express.

It had been several years since she spent the winter in Canterlot, several wonderful years spent celebrating Hearth’s Warming with her friends—first in her old home, Golden Oak Library, and more recently in her crystalline castle. Twilight hummed in thought. Come to think of it, she should probably christen it as the new, official town library for the foals.

Something to take care of when she returned home.

Twilight let her gaze sweep out over the Canterlot skyline, a smile tugged at the corners of her mouth as she took in her birthplace. The winter snow had yet to melt—Canterlot always went last in Winter Wrap Up so the surrounding towns could have a chance to get things sorted out to prevent flooding—and the glow of the lights in the houses gave it a look like something out of a fantasy tale.

Then again, it very well could be. Canterlot was, in all fairness, the city in Equestria. Not just the capital, but the heart.

What else would you call the city on the tallest mountain in the land, where Princess Celestia built her castle from marble and gold, and let Cadence and Twilight herself learn at the foot of her Throne? Or where she built her school?

Or, more importantly, where the Princesses came to call home?

Specifically, the one Twilight awaited most eagerly.

It was almost funny how such things worked. As a filly, she’d long been fascinated with the night sky. How the stars formed constellations, how different types of stars burned different colors. It was almost like Hearth’s Warming every night—like somepony had decorated the beautiful, midnight blue canvas with strings of lights and a bright, shining moon so the darkness might recede just enough that ponies might behold its beauty. Or so they might find themselves less frightened of what might hide in the shadows.

Or entice them to step outside, just as Twilight had, and enjoy the gentle touch of its cool breath across their coat. Almost on cue, a cool breeze blew across the balcony. Her mulberry feathers fluffed, a shiver ran down her spine.

If she didn’t know better, she’d say Luna had snuck up behind her, as the Princess of the Night and Guardian of Dreams (not to mention several other titles she hadn’t mentioned or translated) was so wont to do.

Twilight shook her head and let a fond smile spread across her face. “Ladies and gentlestallions,” she muttered softly, “the Crown Princess of the Night, Mistress of Tricksters, and your benevolent ruler. Princess Luna.”

Another breeze teased its way through her mane, drawing a snort of laughter and a toss of her head. She shot a playful glare at the moon. “Starting a breeze up doesn’t change anything!” she called, her voice full of mock severity.

No answer came. Yet.

Luna had her ways of knowing when Twilight made teasing comments in her absence. ”The Night has eyes and ears everywhere, my love,” she would purr, always with Twilight trapped in the embrace of her mighty midnight wings. Then, she would trail her hoof beneath Twilight’s chin and whisper, “Thy voice will always carry to me, no matter where thine hooves and wings might take you.”

A dusty pink colored her cheeks. Luna had a way with flowery words. But much like the night she governed over, a double meaning hid in the shadows.

Namely, the Night Guards lingering out of sight somewhere. If her memory of their rotation served, Umbra and Cygnus were keeping watch tonight. As cunning as foxes and adept in stealth as any of King Thorax’s changelings, they would stay hidden at their posts to allow her a sense of protected privacy unless she called them forth.

Twilight rolled her eyes. That had been a battle she’d lost miserably. Why she should bother establishing her own guard team in Ponyville, of all places, was beyond her.

Why bother when the nasty creatures that lurked in the shadows checked beneath their beds for fear that the Princess of the Night might come for them?

Her smile fell. Twilight furrowed her brows and searched the rooftops. Luna was running late.

True, she made her rounds at midnight every night, always accompanied by her trusted guards as she checked that families were safe in their homes and the city gates locked tight. For them, a show that their Princess watched as they slumbered, like a mother pegasus guarding her foals from hawks.

For the monsters, a warning: Tread not among the Night’s ponies, or face her wrath. Her ponies would always be safe when the sun set and Equestria truly became hers.

But where was she?

Twilight hadn’t seen a hint of midnight coat or ethereal starry mane and tail soaring over the rooftops, nor along the darkened streets or even the echo of her laugh carrying on the wind as she indulged her softer, more playful side and helped parents chase their naughty foals to bed.

Nothing. Not a peep or a flash.

The night was quiet.

She let out a breath through her nose, again watching as the silvery wisps arched and writhed their way skyward. As if they were trying to reach out and touch the stars.

Why not? The stars were beautiful. Luna had done a magnificent job crafting such a wonderful winter night.

Now if only she would show.

A cool breeze washed over the back of her neck. Twilight sucked in a breath through her nose and arched her back. Her coat stood on end as she felt the gentle touch of a pony’s snout nuzzle into the crook her neck.

“You’re out late, young mare,” Luna teased, her breath tickled the tip of Twilight’s ear. “Could it be that my sister’s favored pupil has scorned the sun and garish day for the sweet caress of moonlight?”

Twilight gave a breathy laugh. “Don’t let Celestia hear that,” she whispered in reply. “She might lock me in my room and put wards around just to prove a point.”

Luna snorted, amused at the notion. “She would do no such thing. Or I would ensure the kitchens find ingredients for her favorite sweets in short supply.”

“You’re terrible.”

“Nay.” Soft lips pressed against her cheek. “I am in love with a mare more beautiful in mind, body, and soul than my jeweled sky, no matter how hard I may try to match it.” Another kiss, this time right next to her ear. Twilight let out a shuddering gasp as she felt Luna’s lips brush against the edge. “Does this mare surrender herself to the Night’s embrace?”

Twilight bit her lip, trying in vain to stop her wings from rustling and tail from swishing. “Y-You already know the answer to that,” she stammered.

Luna hummed. “Perhaps I do.” Her teeth nipped at Twilight’s ear. “But I should like to hear it again … unless you wish me to exact retribution for the heinous slander my faithful guards tell me spilled forth from your lips this night.”

“I-I’m quite sure I don’t know what you’re talking about!”

Midnight feathers trailed up her sides, drawing another gasp and a fluff of her own. “Testing the Night at the height of her power? Such a brave mare.” Another kiss, then a nip. “But foolish if she thinks my guards did not hear her accuse me of playing tricks with the cool night breeze. And saying such while I have her here …” Powerful hooves wrapped around her barrel at the same time Luna’s wings encircled her body. “Wrapped in my embrace.” Luna pressed her snout into Twilight’s mane, inhaling deeply to drink in her scent. “The Night is young,” she whispered, “but impatient. She will have your answer.”

Her heart racing, Twilight leaned back into Luna’s torso and turned just enough that she could meet her lover’s eyes—those beautiful moonlit teal eyes.

They drew in close, in near perfect unison, stopping just short of a kiss.

Just enough that Twilight could give her reply.

“Yes,” she whispered.

Purring, Luna captured her lips. Midnight kisses were always worth the wait.

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