by darf

Chapter 1

Innocence means never sacrificing your dreams, or your inner child.

The weather was bright that day, and Fluttershy closed her eyes as the sun cascaded down from the sky. Her hair flittered in the breeze like petals on the stem of a delicate flower, and the sky whistled its gentle passing as it streamed past. The day was the best it could have been, the epitome of summer, and Fluttershy loved every moment of it.

She sighed wordlessly as the breeze dwindled, letting her bright pink hair fall to her chest and the sides of her shoulders. Her eyes parted gradually, taking in every ray of the sunlight above as it streamed downward. Each twinkle of the brightly burning star illuminated the flora around her, blades of grass dancing in a performance orchestrated by nature itself.

“Isn’t it a wonderful day, Angel?”

The white rabbit at her side simply glowered. Angel was forever the type to resent every moment of perfection the world cared to throw at him. Most days, Fluttershy would have contented herself with her friend’s inherent bitterness, but today, the serenity of the world’s majesty only made her want to try extra hard. With a quick turn, Fluttershy wrapped her arms around Angel and scooped him up from the ground, earning a turn of his expression from generic disgust to sudden surprise.

“Come on, silly! There’s no way you can stay so grumpy on such a beautiful day. Just look around!” Fluttershy grasped Angel between her hooves and turned him in a far-reaching panorama of the sparkling summer in every direction. Angel kept his eyes open for the duration, but most seemed more likely engaged in a display of begrudging pity than anything else.

Fluttershy smile shone wider, interpreting her stoic companion’s silence for a form of acceptance, and she hugged him tight, eliciting a gasp as the air was squeezed from his lungs, followed by an exasperated eye roll as the hug continued well perhaps the normally comfortable duration.

Fluttershy was in a mood, and Angel was alas the only available target.

At last, Fluttershy lowered Angel to the ground and gathered the picnic basket she had lowered to her side. The pair moved forward into the grassy field, Angel dragging his feet like a schoolpony on his way to detention, and Fluttershy skipping and humming like the same child being told he was on his way home to a birthday cake of hay and ice cream.

As the two of them settled into their picnic, a glimmer of silver shone in contrast to the golden brightness overhead. It sparkled once, and turned away, vanishing into the sky.

“Whew! I’m beat… wasn’t today just perfect, Angel?”

The glare and silence spoke as much in nothingness as Angel ever did. As he glowered, the bunny rubbed his feet with his paws, wincing tenderly as the soreness worked its way out under the ministrations of his own touch. Fluttershy smiled at him bashfully.

“I’m sorry… I know you get tired after too much walking – but I just couldn’t help it! Everything about today was just wonderful. The breeze, the birds, the sun and the smell of the grass…”

Angel rolled his eyes as Fluttershy pranced around the living room lost in thought. She hummed to herself as she twirled her hair back and forth, bouncing haphazardly across furniture with little or no regard for the safety of her appliances. Angel thought about guiding her to pause, but his feet were still soar, and Fluttershy seemed to be in a perfect equilibrium between obliviousness and movement with hidden purpose. Besides, the lamps were always replaceable – and as inherently cynical as Angel might be, he couldn’t bring himself to tell Fluttershy to cease her whimsical dancing for even a moment.

Eventually, the tune in the air or inside Fluttershy’s head subsided, and she opened her eyes as if waking from a dream. Angel stared at her obliquely, still absent-mindedly massaging his fatigued appendages.

“Oh, um… I’m sorry. I think everything today must just have gotten to me. I feel like I’m going to burst with happiness!”

Angel managed a weak smile.

Fluttershy, still beaming, made her way to the nearby living room window, pressing her nose against the glass and staring out into the night. The chill of the glass against her skin made her shiver slightly, but she persisted, and forced her gaze past the glass. The twinkle of already beaming stars over head made her smile wider, and a sliver of the crescent moon in the corner of her eye shimmered against the already present glow behind her eyes.

She turned her head suddenly back to Angel, her eyes wide and questioning. Angel’s face melted into a cross between a grimace and a sigh.

“Um, oh… I’m sorry. I don’t suppose… the evening just looks so wonderful… do you think you’d be up for another walk?”

Angel’s glare reached a level of deadpan that could beat the amusement out of a clown in a pie parade.

“Ahaha…” Fluttershy laughed nervously. Angel blinked, and said nothing.
` “Well, okay. You just stay and rest those sensitive little feeties of yours, and I’ll go out for a quick evening flight.”

Angel couldn’t muster his disdain fast enough. ‘Feeties?’ his tiny eyes said with a steely gaze.

Fluttershy ignored him, and floated up on her wings, pushing the door open as she soared out into the night.

Angel simply sighed, and shook his head.

The tune in Fluttershy’s head was an incomprehensible mixture of ‘la-la-la’s and other twinkling sounds best not brought onomatopoeia, but she hummed it to herself anyway as she flew, reaching greater speeds than she could ever provoke herself to under normal circumstance. The night was brilliant around her, sparkles of silver against the grass below, and the glow of the moon above illuminating every tree and dancing flower that bent to make way for her passage.

Her sudden exodus lead her to the trees, a sea of obstacles under normal circumstance that under the moonlight looked like a series of elegant pillars, parting to show her the passage to the center of the forest. Fluttershy smiled and continued singing to herself, zipping between the giant trunks of oak as she made her way deeper into the forest.

After what could have been forever passed by in the instant of her midnight exuberance, Fluttershy found the treasure trove amidst the natural forest architecture – a great clearing that spread out around her vision like a horizon of open grass, inviting her down from her flight. It was an invitation she couldn’t resist, and the ground welcomed her like a blanket, each blade of grass parting to the weight of her body, cooling the collected heat of her rapid movement with tiny drops of dew. Fluttershy sighed as she nestled down into the soft carpet. The moon beamed overhead, and begged her attention, which she granted.

A glimmer of silver and darkness flickered across the surface of the celestial body for a moment, and Fluttershy blinked in spite of herself. Where she would have jumped and spun in alarm before, the serenity of the summer forest somehow told her there was nothing to be afraid of now.

There was a glimmer of recognition across the back of her mind to address, however.


A leaf on a nearby tree shook ever so slightly before falling from its fixture, spiralling to the ground in a frenzied dance of a descent that it had deemed suddenly necessary. The echo of its impact was muffled by the sound of hoofsteps on grass, crinkling in the dewy vegetation.

“Good evening.”

The voice that pierced the softened blanket of settled night air was one that demanded attention even from the leaves of the forest. Fluttershy had heard it in a panic before – in her right mind, the sensibility of that reaction seemed even further from appropriate that it had been in the first place.

The word ‘Princess’ jarred across Fluttershy’s senses, and an impulse in her body jerked her to her feet, before forcing her back down into a kneel. Her hooves twinged with cold as she shuffled them into the dewy grass with her legs bent.

“Oh, forgive me, Miss Princess Luna… I didn’t realize you were here… I can leave, if I’m bothering you…”

Luna regarded Fluttershy’s bow almost as if it was a gesture of intent to offend. Awkwardly, Luna waved one of her hooves about in the air.

“Er… no, that’s quite alright. Please, no kneeling…”

Fluttershy’s brain began to spin the fabric of a new apology, but her common sense (sometimes absent in the presence of royalty or conflict) dictated otherwise, and as a concession between the two she issued a small curtsy before bringing herself properly upright. Luna’s mouth twitched as though stifling a sigh – but if she was unimpressed or offended, the Princess said nothing.

“What brings you to the middle of the forest late so late at night, Princess?” The question jumped from Fluttershy’s mind the instant it formed, and a squeal of panic burst to life only in her mind, a tiny version of herself screaming at her own consciousness. To her surprise, Luna didn’t bat an eyelash at the question.

“The night is when I am most comfortable, understandably. As for the forest… I must confess, the view from the castle made me wish to see if Equestria summer evenings are still as sublime as I remember them.”

“Today was… amazing. The night too. Every bit of it has been just the perfect day.”

Fluttershy’s voice couldn’t break its timid timber, but something inspired by the beauty and events of the day passed gave her extra force, a reassurance behind every statement. Luna nodded and stared absentmindedly at the ground underfoot.

“Indeed. Celestia was truly at her peak in bringing the sun’s full beauty to everypony today.”

Fluttershy balked. Had the Princess thought she had meant to show preference? She had said ‘the night too’ – maybe she hadn’t emphasized, or emphasized something else too much? As at ease as she might be from a day of relaxation, the familiar tension of social interaction was beginning to compound on the looming fear of errors with royalty… Fluttershy desperately wanted to avoid the thought of a banishment dungeon, if possible.

“Oh, no no no – I mean, yes, the day was very good, but the night is amazing, much better!”

Luna turned and tilted her head half to the side, raising an eyebrow curiously.

“Do you really think so?”

Fluttershy managed a panicked nod. She couldn’t tell if she meant the words the brain was giving to her, but every thought seemed clouded – like a blur behind a screen she was just able to read the gist of. Something told her to say ‘yes’ - something that felt like a very insistent voice in the back of her head, reminding her cold she was, and yet that her body still burned from the inside out, lingering from her fast-paced flight.

Luna smiled at Fluttershy’s nod, and Fluttershy felt a strange spasm in her chest for just an instant.

“I’m flattered you think so. Celestia has always had the… monopoly, in regards to ponies enjoyment of either part of the day.”

“The dew feels amazing,” Fluttershy blurted.

Oh gosh why did I say that. Fluttershy felt like her tongue was sweating, despite the cool air surrounding her. Why was the night so warm?

Luna raised an eyebrow, but said nothing. After a few seconds, to Fluttershy’s surprise, her face broke into a smile, and she giggled with an echo across the clearing.

“It does, doesn’t it? One of the benefits of a summer night, to be sure.”

The two ponies stood in the clearing for several moments, neither of them uttering a word. Fluttershy became acutely aware of her breathing, each intake of breathe followed by an exhale, the cool mist of the night air parting as her increasingly heated breath dissipated in front of her. Her lips felt dry, as though a day’s lack of hydration was catching up with her.

“Um… Princess. If you don’t mind me asking. Is there… a reason you’re in the clearing just by my house?”

“This clearing is a good deal away from any residence I’m aware of…where might your house be located?”

Fluttershy turned her head to the sky, trying to trace in her head the path she had taken through the trees from home. How long had she been flying for?

“Ah… I think I might have been out for longer than I thought. Nevermind.”

Fluttershy’s tucked her head towards her body as she spoke, her sentence dwindling into a timid squeak. It seemed the more she spoke, the more she was embarrassing herself.

Luna’s laugh bounced off the canopy of trees overhead, causing Fluttershy to jerk her head upwards with her eyes wide. Was Luna laughing at her?

The Princess’ eyes were closed as she subdued her giggling. When she opened them, she found Fluttershy staring back at her, looking more than a little confused.

“I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be so informal. It just sounds like you may have gotten caught up in a night-time stroll without realizing it. It’s a sensation I’m fairly familiar with myself.”

“Do you come out into the forest at night often?”

Luna took several steps forward, now at Fluttershy’s side, and tilted her head up to the stars. The twinkle of the thousands of lights overhead refracted in her eyes as she stared into the distance, and Fluttershy couldn’t help but stare herself; the picturesque beauty of a perfect summer night emblazoned in moonlight and a welcoming blanket of subtle dark skies, all framing the most captivating pose that could be held by the Princess of the Night. Fluttershy felt a tingle in her chest again.

Several seconds passed, with Fluttershy acutely aware of every one of them. She could hear her own breath in her ears, rattling awkwardly with every intake as Luna stood like a statue beside her. After a moment, Luna turned her head. Fluttershy let out a tiny squeak, realizing she had been staring again, and turned her gaze away immediately.

Several more seconds of silence went by before Luna spoke.

“Yes, I do. As you might expect, I feel much more comfortable at night than during the day… regardless of the sun or moon overhead, however, I find something irrevocably appealing about this clearing. The way the trees surround it like a gilded palace of natural Equestrian design… the way the grass feels underhoof… and, most importantly: it’s a place to be apart from the rest of the world.”

Fluttershy squeaked and clutched her forelegs to her chest.

“Oh, I’m sorry! I didn’t realize this was somewhere you wanted to be… alone. I’m sorry! I’ll go now…”

Fluttershy turned to leave with her wings at the ready, crouching low to prepare for a spring into the sky. Her hind legs tensed, and she steeled herself for the whoosh of the cool night air at her sides again-

Luna’s hoof on her back made Fluttershy’s entire body shiver. Her front legs threatened to give out, and it was a struggle to keep herself upright. Her head turned in an instant response, finding Luna even closer to her now, the Princess’ face furrowed in concern.

“Please, do not misunderstand. While I have a healthy appreciation for solitude… sharing something beautiful with another pony creates a feeling that is seldom found elsewhere – especially when that pony seems to have an innate appreciation for natural beauty already.”

Fluttershy blushed. She could feel Luna’s hoof on her back to the exclusion of every other sensation. Luna’s touch, though perhaps not by any intent, felt like a captivating chill, sending shivers along Fluttershy’s skin and making her knees weak. Her breathing was louder than normal again, and her heart was pounding so loud she thought it must be audible in the silence of the clearing.

Fluttershy’s mouth was dry. She managed to turn her head back to face Luna, whom she found smiling softly.

“Um… thank you. I guess, if it’s okay with you… I wouldn’t mind staying a little bit longer.”

Luna smiled brighter.

“That would be perfectly fine.”

Together, the two of them stared into the stars. Fluttershy said nothing about the hoof left on her back – but she had to remind herself of the beauty overhead every so often when the tingle of the soft gilded hoof on her back drew her attention away.

Angel was pacing about the living room when the cottage door finally opened. As his ears perked from the sound, he discarded his oversized watch onto the nearby couch, and dashed towards the front door.

Fluttershy was closing it behind herself as Angel arrived, breathing a restrained sigh of relief before resuming an even more potent natural glower. Fluttershy didn’t seem to notice him at first – after closing the door, she let herself fall against it. Her eyes were closed, and she held one of her front hooves to the side of her face, giving a soft sigh.

Angel’s expression middled between frustration and confusion. He thumped the floor loudly with one of his hind feet – on the second thump, Fluttershy’s eyes jolted open.

“Huh?” Fluttershy’s break from the revelry in her head was less panicked than usual. All of her movement seemed different, almost ethereal, as though she was walking through or waking from a dream. She shook her head softly from side to side for a moment, and then opened her eyes wider, turning her head to the source of the sound. Angel up at her from the cottage floor.

“Oh, Angel, hello. Were you waiting up for me?”

Angel scrunched his face into his best approximation of a look that translated into ‘are you kidding?’ With a quick hop back to the couch, Angel grabbed his watch, and bounded back to Fluttershy, jumping up the front of her forelegs and grabbing onto her hair for leverage as he hovered underneath her face. Fluttershy remained passive despite her use as an acrobatics apparatus, and she blinked in confusion as Angel held the watch in front of her eyes. The watch ticked as she tried to remember what the position of the two hands meant – the large hand at two, and the small one at three.

The time… it was there in front of her. But the only thing on her mind was moonlight, and delicate royal annunciation of such beautiful words, alongside the captivating chill of a hoof softly on the small of her back…


Flutttershy gasped in an involuntary response as Angel jammed the watch into her face, pressing it against the front of her nose. He pulled it away again, and tapped insistently at the glass, still holding on to Fluttershy’s hair.

“Oh… um… the time, yes. It’s, uh…”

Twinkling stars and a brilliant night blue mane…

“Uh… a quarter after two.”

Angel tapped the glass again.

“Well… sixteen minutes after two.”

Angel glared as he loosened his grip on Fluttershy’s bubblegum pink mane, sliding down onto the floor. He threw the watch unceremoniously towards the couch, where it landed with a thump. Fluttershy lowered her gaze to meet his… and he did not look impressed.

“Oh, I’m sorry Angel! I completely lost track of time!”

‘Well, that much is obvious,’ Angel’s glare seemed to say.

Fluttershy bit her lip nervously.

“I really am sorry… the… the night was just so beautiful, I got caught up in enjoying myself. I didn’t mean to worry you.”

Angel cocked his head to the side. Fluttershy was a terrible liar at the best of times, but that meant her untruths were usually obvious… whereas the words from her mouth just then had sounded not false, but… just a bit off.

But, it was too late to be overly scrutinizing.

Content that Fluttershy understood his frustration (birthed entirely from concern, of course), Angel ambled over to the couch, where he took a place on a pillow at the end of the cushions. He managed a half-hearted ‘apology accepted’ glare before nestling into the soft fabric. Staying up to scold his caretaker had left him in need of a good night’s proper sleep, especially after the exhausting day that had come before it.

Fluttershy sighed with relief as her perpetually agitated bunny friend drifted off to sleep. She let her eyes fall closed again, and the hard wood of the doorway greeted her as she leaned backwards again. Yes, it was late, very late, and she should be following suit, making her way to bed before the morning proper came around.

And yet… all she could think of when she closed her eyes was the sparkle of moonlight, against a backdrop of delicate dark blue.

The moon’s rays parted through the window across the room as Fluttershy sighed again, bathing her in a silvery glow. Her heart felt tight in her chest again – and when she placed a hoof against her skin, she could almost feel the coolness of the night air on her body.

Fluttershy wasn’t sure what to think. She had woken up in the early afternoon the next day, and jumped up from her bed, leaving the sheets in a forgotten clump as she paced around her room. The sun was bright again, illuminating the motes of dust in the air as they spiralled towards her cottage bedroom floor. Though she had just woken up from more rest than was strictly necessary, her heart was racing a mile a minute, as though she’d just finished a marathon.

She started talking to herself, in the way she would normally have confided in one of her animal friends. The thoughts weren’t hidden by design, but she made no effort to tell them to anyone, simply spitting them out in to the world as though it was necessary to keep her heart from exploding.

“I don’t understand… I mean, yesterday, everything was so perfect, it’s the best day I can remember… is that why I was so flustered at night, when I met…”

Fluttershy’s hooves padded against the carpeted floor of her bedroom as she paced, swishing past pieces of furniture and rambling on to no one in particular.

“I mean, she is a princess.” Fluttershy almost knocked a book of its shelf as she moved past. The volume teetered precariously, preparing itself for a fall, but was paused by a tiny white paw. Angel held it in place as he stared, bemused, at the pacing pegasus in front of him. He wasn’t sure if Fluttershy had seen him, but her aimless wandering continue regardless.

“One of the two most powerful Princess in Equestria… the fact that she even spoke to me is an honor! That must be why I was so flustered… The same way I get when I’m around Celestia.”

But Fluttershy knew in her head that the feelings weren’t remotely similar. Around Celestia, Fluttershy was certainly nervous, and more than once she’d caught herself sweating and stammering as she struggled not to embarrass herself – But, last night was much different. The nervousness had been almost… nice, in a way. It had made her heart race, but the quickening of her pace had only made her feel more alive… and the heat of anxiousness stirring through her body had been cooled by the touch on her skin. Luna’s touch…

Around Celestia, she had been nervous, but she had never dreamt of a clearing in the summer sun, and woken to find herself tangled in her bedsheets, feeling as though her heart was about to burst.

She had lost track of time as she and Luna had stared into the stars together. They hadn’t spoken much, but the words that had come were just what they needed to be – reverent of the moment, natural and understanding. Fluttershy’s had been restrained only when she felt the hoof on her skin that hadn’t left until she and the Princess decided to part ways for the night…

“Should I go see her again?” Fluttershy asked no one in particular. A bounce of white from the ground in front of her prompted a loud gasp.


The bunny stared up at her, his eyes wider and less angry than they were often. Fluttershy blushed profusely, and clasped her hooves to her mouth.

“Ohmigoodness, Angel, did you hear all of that?”

Angel nodded simply. Fluttershy blushed even brighter. Her eyes grew wide, as though she might burst into tears – but instead, she jumped abrubtly and buried herself in the pile of blankets still left atop her bed.

Angel rolled his eyes.

“Oh, Angel, I don’t know what to think… Please don’t tell anypony! I think I’m just confused… yesterday was so nice, I got caught up in the feeling, and then had some strange dreams…”

A thump on the bed beside her drew Fluttershy’s attention, and she peeked out from underneath her covers to find Angel atop her mattress, staring at her. She scrunched her face up nervously as his beady black eyes stared through her protests.

“Um… Do you think… that she might feel the same way?”

Angel would admit readily if he were able that romance was not his expertise. But, he wasn’t one to refuse his dearest friend assistance in a moment of heart-wrenching conflict.

But how to say what needed to be said without speaking?

Angel placed a paw on Fluttershy’s hoof, and smiled at her. Fluttershy could count without effort the number of times she had seen him smile in recent memory. The sight brought a smile to her own lips, uncontrollably.

After a moment, the pair softened their expression, and Fluttershy crawled out from underneath her bed-sheets.

“Thank you, Angel,” she said, tossing her hair back over her head in an attempt to look slightly more composed. Angel gave a small curt nod.

“I think I need to go for a walk… to clear out my head a little bit. Do you want to come with me?”

Angel tilted his head downward, and gestured with a paw to his hind feet – even from several feet away, Fluttershy could see he was still favouring them, with traces of soreness emanating from the air around them.

“Oh goodness! I’m sorry Angel, I didn’t realize. We should get you taken care of right away, make your poor feet feel better…”

Angel waved Fluttershy away as she made to approach. He hopped back in the bed, still using his front paws as much as possible. With one, he pointed towards the bedroom door, and then to the window, where beams of sunlight still streamed in uncontrollably. Fluttershy understood immediately.

“I’ll take a look at those feet as soon as I get back, okay?”

Angel nodded, and waved again. Without further hesitation, Fluttershy was out the door, picking up speed with her wings on the way downstairs and sailing out into the sky as the summer breeze greeted her.

Angel leaned back against a pillow, and sighed.

The summer sun and air were as perfect as they had been the day before, welcoming every piece of flora and fauna to embrace the wonder of a day straight from a pastoral picture book. Fluttershy breathed deeply as she floated across the fields by her cottage. The grass tickled her hooves as she glided low to the ground, and when she swept upwards, the clouds parted above her to make way, welcoming her to fly higher than she ever did under normal circumstance. Fluttershy nodded an accent to their welcome, and made her ascent into the sky, floating above the roof of her home and into the blue above.

As she floated, taking in the expanse of the ground beneath her, a flash of something caught her eye. A bright metal, like silver, just above the trees.

Without hesitation, she plummeted towards it, her body answering the call of her mind’s curiosity with an insistence she couldn’t explain.

She shivered as she descended, from the chill of the stream of air around her – or from a twinkle of remembrance in her head.

After more time flying than she had expected, Fluttershy found herself touching down onto a bed of welcoming grass cleared out in a circle.

The clearing looked different without the moonlight illuminating every blade of grass… the trees looked less majestic, but still just as beautiful. Fluttershy placed a hoof to one, tracing it along the bark and feeling the rough texture underneath her touch.


The voice made her jump, and her hoof scraped along the tree trunk upwards into a nearby branch, sending a cascade of leaves down to the ground with the force of her alarm.

“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you.”

The tone of the speech behind her was calm and composed, even in a sudden apology. Fluttershy scrunched her face together for a moment in an effort to drive out the shaken feeling the surprise had driven through her body. Instead, she thought of twinkling stars, and took a deep breath, turning around when she felt most of the redness vanish from her face.

“That’s okay… I just wasn’t expecting anypony else to be here at this time of day,” Fluttershy said, a smile brightening her face as she turned and greeted the voice behind her. Luna smiled back, though her grin was a good deal more restrained, simply raising the corners of her mouth instead of beaming awkwardly, as Fluttershy couldn’t help but do.

“Normally I would be resting at this time of day, with the night not being too far away. But, for whatever reason, I found myself having a difficult time getting any rest – and Celestia’s sun looked so magnificent from the castle window, I had to come out and see the it had conjured alongside.”

“Oh, yes, the sun is wonderful. Your sister – um, Princess Celestia that is… she’s done a wonderful job this summer. Every day is a brand new adventure of sunlight and summer to enjoy.” Fluttershy realized as soon as the words had escaped her mouth that she might have said entirely the wrong thing. She didn’t meant to imply that the day was more beautiful than the night had been. Yes, she had enjoyed her days in the summer so far, but last night had been…

“Yes, sister has my compliments as well.” Luna nodded, her expression not betraying any response beyond the one she had voiced. If she was offended, it didn’t show. Silently, Fluttershy breathed a sigh of relief.

“The sun has a very lovely trick of making everything it touches seem… more. More vibrant, more alive, more wonderful. The trees stand taller and more impressive, and every flower blooms wider and more emphatically. Even the creatures underneath shine with its radiance… yourself being a perfect example.”

Fluttershy gave a small ‘eep’ and clutched her hoof to her mouth.


Luna nodded, her face still a relative absence of expression in contrast to Fluttershy’s.

“Of course. The sun is the perfect complement to your coat – the brightest yellow I’ve ever seen, only brighter still under the summer sky. And your hair matches wonderfully… the pink stands out perfectly against the forest grass and flowers.”

Fluttershy body immediately screamed at itself to restrain the blush it knew was impending, but to no avail. Fluttershy felt her cheeks redden profusely as she clutched her hoof closer to her mouth.

“Oh… um… thank you… you look, uh… beautiful in the sun too.”

Fluttershy screamed at herself as Luna raised an eyebrow. There was of course a difference between what Luna had said, and what Fluttershy had translated it to. Looking good underneath the sun was a very different thing that a direct representation of ‘beauty’.

“Thank you. I feel the moon is more suited to my particular appearance, however.”

Fluttershy brain forced her into protest, walking forward as her eyes widened in concern.

“Oh no no no! I mean, yes, you looked… I mean, the moon was – is… it’s lovely, and it makes you look… um… wonderful…” Fluttershy faltered under Luna’s disarming gaze, staring through her the same way Angel’s eyes did. As Fluttershy fell silent, Luna gave her the slightest nod, encouraging her to continue. Fluttershy gasped a deep intake of breath, and struggled to find the words she had been searching for in the first place.

“I mean… the night is beautiful, especially beautiful in the summer… and you’re right, it does match your, um, appearance, a certain way… but you look just as nice under the sun.”

The next few seconds threatened to cause Fluttershy to pass out from lack of air as she held her breath.

Luna smiled, and Fluttershy breathed out a sigh of relief that jostled the leaves on the nearby branches.

“Thank you. That’s not something anypony has ever told me before.”

Fluttershy’s eyes widened in surprise.

“Really? No one has ever told you that you look beautiful?”

“They have, yes, in a manner that accompanies the standard greeting and respect usually afforded a pony of royal affairs… but I think that might be the first time I have heard someone say it with meaning behind their intent.”

“Well… I mean it. You do look, um… beautiful.”

The two ponies shared a moment of silence, both of them smiling, though Fluttershy’s considerably more awkward. As the seconds passed, Fluttershy’s brain willed her tongue into another awkward outburst. Something inside her was making every movement feel shaky and nervous – but alongside that nervousness was a strange sort of security, or assurance. She felt stronger than she had before… and if there was something she needed to know, she had to ask.

“So, are you going to be here again tonight?” Fluttershy blurted. Her cheeks reddened immediately, and she turned her eyes to the grass under her feet. “I mean… if you’re not, that’s fine… but you were right, I think, about something beautiful being better if you share it…”

Fluttershy gasped as she felt a hoof on her chin, the subtle chill sending shivers up her spine. She felt her head being guided upwards until she was face to face with Luna, the Princess’ bright blue coat and brilliant eyes greeting her.

“That is true, yes… but, it is a selective circumstance. Some beauty is much better if kept to one’s self.”

Fluttershy’s heart skipped a beat. Her legs wobbled and threatened to give out, but via sheer force of will, she held herself upright. With that concentration in mind, however, her mouth couldn’t form any kind of response. Her tongue ambled about aimlessly. An electricity jolted along her skin, centering in what felt like the back of her head, making her feel woozy and lightheaded. Luna’s smile beamed at her, shining as bright as the sun overhead.

Without warning, Luna withdrew her hoof, leaving Fluttershy standing precariously under the control of her suddenly uncooperative body. Fluttershy realized suddenly that she was leaning forward, stretching her neck out and pressing her face forward. She had been only inches from Luna, and the air had been on fire between them…

“I will be back tonight, yes. Shall I expect to see you then?”

“Bluh… “ Fluttershy’s brain tried to remember how to speak. Luna raised an eyebrow curiously, provoking Fluttershy to shake her head rapidly in an attempt to clear out some of the pathways necessary to form a proper sentence.

“I mean, yes, of course! Is there a time I should meet you – I mean, that I should be here?”

Luna unfurled her wings, preparing for a takeoff into the summer sky. She took several steps in the direction opposite Fluttershy, her hooves tamping down the grass beneath them softly.

“Just come when you feel the moon is at its most beautiful.”

A shiver up her spine again. Fluttershy swallowed slowly.

“Of… of course. I’ll see you then, Princess.”

Luna turned her head with a smirk as her wings unfolded fully.

“Please, Fluttershy… call me Luna.”

The leaves that had fallen in the clearing floated upward with the force of the breeze as Luna’s wings beat down, launching her into the air.

Fluttershy had felt like a child on Nightmare Night, waiting for the sun to fall and for sufficient time to pass before making her way outside. What amount of time was prudent without seeming too eager? Should she leave as soon as the moon was at its apex, or wait longer to be cordial, and not seem too eager? Did she want to seem eager?

Fluttershy had considered voicing her concerns to Angel, but felt mortified at the very thought. As understanding as the bunny had been about her early afternoon rant, he was anything but a consult for advice. Something about his stoic silence did make him a good listener, but Fluttershy felt the opposite of the impulses that had raced through her mind earlier. Now, instead of needing to excise her thoughts to keep from exploding, she felt as though she wanted to hold on to all of them, needing to keep them from escaping lest they turn out to be untrue.

The forest path had guided her without issue. She had never been through it before yesterday, but somehow the trees aligned in just the right way to guide her passage. Though she couldn’t say the journey was second nature, something about the flight made her feel safe – as though getting lost would never be an issue.

Unlike the previous two times, the Princess was waiting for her in plain sight this time – her head was tilted back, eyes closed, and the moonlight illuminated her main and coat like a shining jewel underneath bath of silver. Fluttershy felt her legs falter again, and the tingle of electric tension in the back of her mind returned. As she made her way into the clearing, feeling the soft dewy touch of the grass beneath her feet, Fluttershy swallowed, hoping to wash away her tension just long enough to speak.

“Hello, um… Luna. I hope I’m not too early.”

Luna kept her head back for so long that Fluttershy wasn’t sure the Princess had heard her. She was just about to open her mouth and attempt another greeting when Luna lowered her head and turned it to the side. Her eyes opened and caught the sparkling stars above, and Fluttershy felt herself lose the ability to speak for the second time that day.

“Not at all, Fluttershy. I’ve been here for some time, waiting for your arrival.”

Oh. Luna had been waiting for her? Had she kept her too long? And…

Fluttershy swallowed nervously again. If she had claimed to be waiting, she would have felt awkward and horrible. But when Luna said it… it made her tingle again. Her heart was beating fast already.

“I hope I didn’t take too long then…”

Luna waved a hoof in the air dismissively, much the same way that Angel had done early that day in the face of Fluttershy’s protest of apologies.

“It’s of no concern. We are both here now.”

“Um… yes.”

Fluttershy resent the next few seconds of silence as though they had mortally wounded her. Her mind raced for something to say. Why was it so hard to speak now, when she had commanded such a comfortable sense of being only a day ago? Why did her heart feel as though it was about to escape from her chest? And why did her eyes want to close of their own accord as her body dragged itself forward to the pristine beauty of dark blue standing awash in moonlight…

Fluttershy blinked hard, clearing her thoughts for a moment.

“The, um… the moon is very lovely tonight. The stars too.”

Luna smiled, and turned to face Fluttershy, taking several steps across the clearing as she did so.

“Thank you. I must confess, after our discussion earlier today that I did put a small amount of extra effort into their summoning. The way they make the trees look is almost… heavenly, wouldn’t you agree?”

Fluttershy nodded an mumbled a ‘yes’. Her legs were sluggish, dragging her body down like an anchor, but her heart was screaming at her with every other impulse to throw herself forward. She could feel a line of guiding electricity in the air, pulling her in Luna’s direction. Awkwardly, she took a step forward.

Luna smiled even wider, almost giggling, and for a moment Fluttershy felt her legs freeze up. Had she done something wrong? She scrunched her face up, preparing herself an apology. Luna spoke before the words could escape her lips.

“I also feel compelled to say that I was wrong earlier, when I said the sun was your perfect complement… you look more radiant in the moon than I think even I could manage.”

Fluttershy felt like she was ready to faint. One of her hind legs gave out completely, but she shifted her balance to the other side, managing to keep herself upright.

“Oh, I… um… thank you…”

It was all she could manage. Every breath was rattling her chest now, and the swirling maelstrom of impulses and thoughts in her head was almost paralyzing. All she could manage was silence. For whatever reason, Luna saw fit to do the same. Thirty seconds passed with Fluttershy feeling on the verge of collapse. To her great relief, it was Luna who broke the silence again.

“Do you dream, Fluttershy?”

The question was unexpected. Fluttershy felt faltering even in her already flummoxed state, as though her tongue were attempting to weave itself into a knot inside her mouth.

“I, uh… yes?” Was Luna alluding to the dream she had experienced the night before? Could she know about the way the moonlight had kept her tossing and turning inside her own head?

“When I say ‘dream’ in this sense,” Luna continued, obviously seeing the need to clarify. “I mean to dream as a young colt might, about growing up to be big and strong and impressing his father. Or something less mundane… the way you might dream of impressing a friend, or winning the attention of somepony you particularly care about.”

Fluttershy swallowed loudly.

“Um… yes?”

Luna stepped forward, bowing her head slightly as she walked in Fluttershy’s direction. Purely by virtue of time and acclimation, Fluttershy’s limbs no longer felt like they might collapse at any instant, and she managed to turn herself to face Luna as the alicorn walked by to her side.

“I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be so cryptic. It was a foolish question.”

More than she had felt the need for anything, Fluttershy felt the need to protest at that instant.

“Oh, no, don’t be sorry, please! I do dream, I do… I’ve dreamt of opening up a bigger reserve for animals, and of taking in creatures from all over Ponyville to take care of… I, um, dream of someday getting over my fear of heights, and learning how to dance, and um-“

Luna laughed, and raised a hoof to Fluttershy’s mouth, hovering it only inches away from her open lips. Fluttershy gasped and fell silent immediately, though she felt herself blushing brightly as Luna’s laughter echoed off the boughs of the trees surrounding the clearing. After several chuckles, Luna lowered her hoof, and raised it to her eye to wipe away an invisible tear of mirth. Somehow, Fluttershy didn’t feel embarrassed that Luna had found her sudden confession amusing – she only felt happy it had made her laugh.

“That’s more or less what I meant, yes. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to imply I needed such an elaborate response. I only asked in the first place because…” Luna paused, and tilted her head skyward again as she spoke. Fluttershy followed suit of her own accord, finding the millions of stars dancing overhead shining brightly back at her. She stared up past all the constellations and into the brilliant darkness of the veil overhead, cut in a perfect arc by the crescent moon. Fluttershy felt a hoof on her shoulder again, just aside her neck. Her skin twinged with electricity.

“I asked because I feel the night is akin in some way to dreams. Those in the more conventional sense, of course… but it’s a word I feel a strong attachment to.”

Fluttershy nodded simply, her eyes wide as the ability to speak again left her mind. The hoof on her skin was sending memories of shivers and tossing and turning under the moonlight through her mind.

“What’s your dream, Princess?” Fluttershy was surprised to find the words coming out of her mouth, though she had made no effort to will them there. To her disappointment, the question prompted Luna to remove her hoof, as well as to turn and tilt her gaze into the trees. Had she said the wrong thing?

“My dream… haha.” Luna’s laugh was more restrained this time, bouncing simply off a nearby tree before disappearing. “It’s quite a simple one, really, and one I’ve held on to since I was just a filly.”

Fluttershy’s legs moved of their own accord, bringing her closer to the sublime beauty of the silvery blue alicorn in front of her. The ever-so-slight chill of the dewy grass under her hooves swept across her skin, and the lingering touch of Luna’s hoof on her body still tingled – but despite the electricity arcing through her veins, Fluttershy managed to move, standing next to Luna and placing her own hoof on Luna’s back. The feeling of her feathers and fur was warmer than her touch had been, and Fluttershy caught herself biting her lower lip ever so slightly as she ran her hoof across the texture of the Princess’s body.

“Tell me,” Fluttershy whispered.

The moon shone down like a silver sun, illuminating everything below, and casting the clearing into a hauntingly beautiful glow.

Luna raised her head and turned to Fluttershy.

“More than anything, since I was young… I’ve dreamed of finding someone who cherished the beauty of the night as much as I do.”

Fluttershy felt the electricity in her body pulling her forward. Her hoof grasped tighter to Luna’s back. The moonlight overhead was a curtain of magic, bathing the two of them in a picturesque shimmer. Luna’s mane sparked against the beams of light from the night’s sky, and Fluttershy’s heart threatened to stop as the fire in the air between them intensified. Their faces were only inches apart.

“Luna…” Fluttershy managed to squeeze the words from between her lips. They fought a struggle against impulse to keep from pursing, losing the battle as Fluttershy leaned further forward. Luna, as restrained as she had been, followed suit, lowering her neck to bring her head level with Fluttershy’s body. Her eyes glimmered as her eyelids began to close.

The moonlight was the candle flame lighting the fuse of electric gravitation pulling them together. Fluttershy’s skin was ablaze with tension, her breathing was tight, stopping altogether. Her eyes could still see the glow of the moon as they fell closed. Her lips were almost together, parted only slightly as the feeling of skin inches away greeted them.

“…you’ve made me see how beautiful the night can be.”

Fluttershy felt the sense of reality leave her body as her lips pressed to Luna’s. Their mouths met in the purest embrace, sizzling with the touch of skin on skin. Fluttershy’s wings fluttered of their own accord, and every inch of her skin sparked with electricity. Her breathing returned with a sharp intake of air.

The faintest moan caught in her mouth from Luna’s as the two of them shared the kiss. The night’s sky above shone the moon down like a spotlight on their moment. Every part of Fluttershy’s body was on fire, pressing her forward, needing more, parting her lips and shaping her lips against Luna’s, the two of them breathing as one for a moment, yielding to each other’s touch with a simultaneous tension and release that threatened to send Fluttershy’s legs tumbling out from underneath her.

The world around them had stopped for a moment, every second of Fluttershy’s concentration focused on the way her body felt at that moment – perfect, intense, and consumed with the beauty of the pony returning her kiss.

Time returned as Luna’s mouth withdrew, giving the slightest tap of her tongue against Fluttershy’s lips. Fluttershy’s heart had beat too hard to burst, and now was at its fiercest calm, reveling in the sensation of the most amazing feeling she had ever experienced.

“Then perhaps there’s no need to dream any longer,” Luna smiled.

Fluttershy smiled back.

The moonlight beamed its brightest all night, casting the clearing into its own private illumination, shared only by the two souls beneath.

When the day came, they looked just as beautiful in the sunlight.

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