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Garden Party

Chapter 1

Princess Luna walked through the garden at the back of the castle. It was something she often did since her return from exile. She had gotten so used to being alone. She wasn't used to dealing with other ponies. Not to mention, after 1000 years, there were so many more ponies than there had been. There were new towns, and cities—sometimes Luna even got lost in the castle. Everything was new, like Luna was a newborn foal.

In this garden, Luna could be alone, and the world outside faded away. It was almost like being back on the moon. Well, except that it was prettier and smelled nicer, and there were sounds of birds, and, if she wanted, her sister was usually right inside the castle.

There was a sudden rustle in the bushes nearby. It wasn't unusual for squirrels or rabbits or other small critters to to run around the garden. Still, Luna's head looked to the right, in the direction of the sound.

“Hello?” she tentatively called.

No one, not even her sister, ever came to the garden. The only ponies who were ever in the garden other than Luna were the caretakers, and when Luna showed up they always made themselves scarce. Luna had never spoken with any of them.

She moved toward the bushes, which hadn't made another sound or movement. She parted them with her hooves, and let out a small surprised scream, stepping back. The other pony had been lying on the ground trying to hide, but she quickly stood up when she was discovered.

Luna came and parted the bushes again. The other pony, a pure black Pegasus with a silvery mane, stood for a moment. Then she quickly bowed down.

“Your majesty! I-I'm sorry.” The pony stammered.

Your majesty? That as a strange thing to be called, Luna thought. She wasn't sure what to do. Here was a strange pony, in her garden. Had she been spying on her?

She used her best authoritative voice when she spoke, looking down at the filly. “What are you doing here?”

“I'm sorry! I was trespassing, I know.” The pony quivered slightly.

“That still doesn't explain what you were doing here!”

“I just—I was admiring the garden. I like it. I—” she paused and gulped. “Nopony ever came here before you came back.”

So, she wasn't she said.

It was then that Luna noticed that the Pegasus was still bowing. “Oh, you can get up now!”

She stood, nearly as tall as Luna. Lying on the ground, Luna had thought she was a filly. Now she could see that she was a young mare.

“Why is it you were in the garden?” Luna puffed out her chest slightly, trying to seem more superior and authoritative.

“I...I like to come her. It's quiet. And alone.” The mare looked at the ground as if she was ashamed.

Luna was taken aback. She herself came here to be alone, in a quiet place, away from other ponies. Other ponies had friends, and lives, and real jobs. Right now, Luna had nothing. Well, she had a large castle and a plethora of guards and a lonely garden, but nothing that gave meaning to life.

Luna's train of thought was broken when the black pony cleared her throat. She'd been staring at the black pony, who looked up at Luna as things went awkwardly silent.

“You should leave.” Luna said firmly.

The black Pegasus' eyes went wide. “Leave? Shouldn't—aren't I to be punished?”

Luna hadn't even thought of the fact that she had the authority to punish other ponies. It wasn't like Equestria had a high crime rate, so never before had she had to give out a “punishment.”

“Well, uh, just don't let it happen again.” Luna's voice lacked authority this time, having been caught off-guard.

“Al-Alright then.” The Pegasus slowly walked to the far end of the garden, and Luna followed a short way behind her. When she reached the back wall, her wings flapped and she left the ground. She paused at the top of the wall, standing on it, and stretched out her wings to glide off.

“Wait!” Luna called, taking a couple steps closer to the wall. She saw the Pegasus wobble on top of the wall, and then get her balance. Her head turned back to look at Luna.

“Will you come back?” What compelled Luna to ask, she wasn't sure, but she knew that for some reason, she needed this mare.

“What do you mean, your majesty?” The strange black Pegasus asked, wobbling slightly on the wall again as a gust of wind blew from behind her.

Luna yelled back up at her. “Will you come back to the garden and see me?”


“Tomorrow, at the same time.”

“If that is your wish, your majesty.” The Pegasus turned and prepared to leave once again.

Luna turned as well, to go back inside, but turned back to speak once more. “It's Luna, if you please.”

The Pegasus turned her head around once more. “If that is your wish, Princess Luna.”

The black Pegasus jumped off the wall, gliding beyond Luna's view. Then she saw her rise into the sky, flapping her wings. The Pegasus made a u-turn and headed in the other direction, toward Ponyville would be. Luna watched her fly overhead, and mumbled to herself, “I meant just plain Luna.”

Garden Party

Chapter 2

Luna strode into the garden once again. She wasn't sure what type of pony this black Pegasus was. When it came to meetings, some pony's were early, while others were late, while some arrived almost exactly on time. Then there were those that arrived at different times to every occasion, and you just never knew what time they were going to show up.

Luna had thought of having a tea party, but she remembered that Pegasi didn't have horns, so her guest wouldn't have any way to hold her cup to drink. Luna wasn't sure how Pegasi and Earth ponies did things with just hooves. So she had scratched the tea idea. Besides, not everypony liked tea.

She hadn't told the Pegasus exactly where to meet. The plan had been so rushed yesterday. Princess Luna realized that she hadn't even gotten the mare's name. She was so stupid!

The Summer Sun Celebration had also celebrated her return...and defeat. Everypony knew that she was back, but many still did not trust her. They had good reason not to.

Luna turned suddenly in surprise as the grass rustled behind her. The black Pegasus stood there, her wings still stretched out from landing. She closed them hastily when Luna turned.

Luna composed herself quickly. “Hello there.”

“Hi.” said the Pegasus quietly. She lowered her head under Luna's gaze.

There was a short silence.

“Is there a specific reason you called me here?” the Pegasus said, raising her head and trying to be more confident.

Luna visibly swallowed. “I thought we could just talk.”

“What about?” said the Pegasus, taking a step toward Luna. Luna nearly backed up, but stopped herself. She didn't need to be intimidated by anypony. She was Nightmare Moon! No. Nightmare Moon was gone. Luna was Luna. She was no longer Nightmare Moon.

The Pegasus took another step toward Luna. “Are you okay?” she asked.

Luna had been looking past the Pegasus, staring off at nothing.

“It's nothing. I'm fine. It's nothing.” Luna shook her head, trying to get rid of the image of Nightmare Moon.

“What did you want to talk about?” the Pegasus asked again.

Luna looked sheepish. “Well...first off, I never got your name.”

“I'm ShadowMist.” she ducked her head shyly.

“Why don't we take a walk?” Luna turned and took a couple steps, then turned back. ”You like the garden, don't you?” Luna was still scrounging for something to do. Something that normal ponies liked to do, that wouldn't be too forward or awkward or whatever.

“Yes, of course. I—” ShadowMist stopped herself.

“Yes?” Luna pressed her to finish.

“I already told you yesterday. I used to come here a lot.” ShadowMist scuffed at the ground with a hoof.

“Well, come along then, if you like it so much.” said Luna, turning away again and starting to walk. ShadowMist followed, quickly coming up beside Luna.

They walked in silence until they came to the fountain in the center of the garden. Atop it was sculpted Celestia and Luna, in a yin-yang pose. Both spit water out of their mouths into the fountain below.

Luna sat beside it, and ShadowMist came and sat next to her. She looked away from the princess, out across the garden. In the silence, ShadowMist felt rude looking away, and turned back to Luna. She was staring at the ground, but looked up and met ShadowMist's eyes.

“So, where is it that you live?” Luna said suddenly.

“I'm just from Ponyville.” ShadowMist said modestly.

Luna looked surprised. “Ponyville? Isn't that a little far to travel just to see a garden?”

“Well...I suppose so.” ShadowMist mused.

“What makes this garden different from one closer to your home?”

“This one is quieter. There aren't any other ponies here. It's...more lonely.”

Luna tried to hide her confusion. “Why would you want to be lonely? Don't you have friends?”

ShadowMist lightly cleared her throat before she spoke. “Not really, no. I don't get along well with other ponies?”

“Why is that?”

ShadowMist paused as she considered her words. “It's in my name. I am merely a shadow in the eyes of other ponies.”

Garden Party

Chapter 3

“What do you mean by that?” Luna was intrigued by this strange pony.

“It's nothing...just that I often found myself place on the outskirts of the crowd during any time of social activity. Like I wasn't even there. So, recently, I've decided to just “fly solo”, as it were.”

“I see.” replied Luna. Before her exile, she had been somewhat of an outcast as well. She wasn't the social butterfly that her sister ones, and she often felt pushed aside, unnoticed in the light of her sister's glory.

“So, what is it that you do here? I mean, if I'm not being too forward in asking. It's just that I haven't seen you at any of the public event's Celestia has attended recently. I know, wondered why.”

“Isn't it obvious? Most ponies still consider me a threat to Celestia and all of Equestria. After everything that happened with Nightmare Moon though, I don't really blame them. Whatever they think of me, I've brought upon myself.”

She looked away from ShadowMist, gazing over the beautiful garden. It was so peaceful here. And yet, even with all it's tranquility, it was still such a lonely place.

“You seem that a lot.” ShadowMist observed.

“Do what?” said Luna, quickly turning back to face her, her train of thought broken.

“You just...all of a sudden start staring off at nothing. Not that there's anything wrong with it. I mean, I do that all the time. Just...not generally when I'm talking with somepony.”

“Oh my goodness, I've been so rude!” Luna exclaimed.

“No, I mean—”

“Would you—would you like to see the castle?” Luna blurted.

“If—if that is what you wish, your majesty.” ShadowMist replied as though touring the castle would be more of a duty than a pleasure.

“Well, if you don't want to, we don't have to.” Luna said quickly.

“I am your guest, Princess Luna. Whatever you say we shall do, than that is what we shall do.”

Luna seemed slightly flustered by this. “Whatever you want to do is what we'll do. We should do something that you'll enjoy. Something—something that normal ponies like to do.”

Well, normal ponies actually liked to spend time with their friends and family. ShadowMist lacked the former and didn't live close enough to her family for the latter.

“Normal ponies like tours of castles.” ShadowMist said.

“Do you want to tour the castle?” Luna asked.

“Yes.” ShadowMist replied flatly. Debating with Luna was getting them no where. Besides, she thought that a tour of the castle might actually be somewhat fun, and anyway, it was something to do.

“Come along then.” said Luna, leading the way to the door. ShadowMist followed, slightly nervous. It was one thing to be friends with another pony. But when that pony was a princess, things were entirely different.

* * *

They spent the next couple of hours exploring the castle, more than actually having a tour of it. It seemed to ShadowMist that Luna knew about as much about the castle as she herself did.

However, having a private tour of the castle with one of its princesses was a once in lifetime opportunity, and she was happy to oblige. She was also enjoying the time she got to spend with Luna. It seemed that Celestia and Luna, sisters though they were, had nearly opposite personalities.

After sometime of going through room after room and hallway after hallway and climbing various staircases, ShadowMist realized that it was nearly sunset.

“Luna.” ShadowMist said, and Luna paused, turning to look back at her. “Thank you for the tour. Today was...a lot of fun. But it''s probably getting a little late. I have to fly home before the sun sets...flying in the dark isn't the most safe or fun thing in the world.”

“Oh, of course! I should have thought of that.” Luna turned and headed back down the way they had come. When they reached the bottom of the spiral staircase, Luna looked around at the many doors and hallways leading to different places in the castle.

“Do you—do you know which way to go?” ShadowMist asked tentatively.

“Well,, not—not entirely.” Luna stammered, nervously stamping a hoof up and down on the ground.

“I know the way.” offered ShadowMist, heading down one of the many hallways. She paused, waiting for Luna to follow.

“How do you know this is the right way?” asked Luna, coming up beside her.

ShadowMist began walking again as she replied. “I'm observant, that's all. It helps me to be good with directions, even in new places.”

They continued on, Luna having to trust ShadowMist's lead. She seemed to be more familiar with her surroundings than Luna was, and Luna had grown up in this castle! Well, part of it at least. She couldn't quite remember the layout after being gone for a thousand years, but she was pretty sure the castle had been expanded upon in her absence.

“This place isn't as big as you think, Princess. Maybe if you...brought a map next time?”

ShadowMist was trying to be polite in her suggestion.

“I probably won't come this way again.” Luna mused. “There's not a whole lot up here, just a lot of spare rooms and storage areas. But, perhaps you're right, all the same.”

ShadowMist had half expected Luna to chide her for her seemingly rude remark, but she took it very well, as if she was the same as a pony who simply had trouble finding her way around the house.

It didn't take long for them to reach the door which led to the garden again. Luna thought that perhaps the castle wasn't so large after all, and that she had simply led them in circles...but that ShadowMist just hadn't said anything.

They stood by the door, and ShadowMist made an attempt at saying good-bye. “Well, Ponyville's kind of a long flight, so I guess I—I'll—”

“Do you...want to come visit me again? I know that a lot of ponies still don't trust me, and perhaps you're one of the ponies that's scared to be around me. Which is perfectly fine, I mean, I understand that.” Luna tried not to project the sadness she was feeling inside onto her face.

“I know that you're not Nightmare Moon anymore. I don't see any reason I should fear you.” It was true. ShadowMist could see that Luna was a changed mare. Whatever had happened between the two sisters was their business, their quarrel.

“Next week? Same time and day?” asked Luna.

“If that's what you want, princess.”

“You can just call me Luna, you know. I'm not really much of a princess nowadays.”

“O-of course, Prin—Lu-na.” ShadowMist said her name slowly, enunciating it, as if she were trying out the taste. She'd used the name before, true, but never by itself.

“I'll be going then.” ShadowMist said. Luna opened the door, and ShadowMist stepped out into the garden. It was nearly time for Celestia to lower the sun. ShadowMist opened her wings and prepared to take off.

“Sometimes I feel like Nightmare Moon is still with me.” said Luna, seemingly to herself.

ShadowMist turned around to look at Luna, folding her wings as she did so.

“But...I thought Nightmare Moon was destroyed.” she said, curious.

“The physical part of Nightmare Moon may have been destroyed. But I can't help but fear that she may still be around.” Luna's voice held a hint of worriment.

“How do you know?”

“Once we were the same, she and I. But things changed.” Luna drifted off and seemed to lose herself in thought for a moment. “You should—” she cleared her throat. “—you should get going.”

“Oh, you're right!” ShadowMist had momentarily forgotten what time it was. “I'll see you again soon.” she said, turning around and spreading her wings.

“Good-bye!” Luna called, just before ShadowMist took off into the air. The same as last time, she made a midair U-Turn and headed back to Ponyville.

Luna trotted into the garden again once she was gone, for a last view of it before the night. The garden was beautiful at night as well, of course, but it was a different sort of splendor entirely. The creatures that were around at night were very different, for one thing. The plants, basked in the glowing light of the moon, gave off a faint, almost ominous, glow themselves.

But as the last bits of sun faded and shadows began to glow, Luna couldn't help but feel a different sort of shadow come over her.

(Author’s Note: Give it time, there’s some really awesome stuff coming up!)

Garden Party

Chapter 4

Luna, for some reason, found herself anxious for her next meeting with ShadowMist. There wasn't anything special about her...she didn't even have a Cutie Mark, Luna had observed. She hadn't mentioned it before because she thought that it might be a touchy subject. After all, the mare seemed more than old enough to have one.

There wasn't enough to do around the castle for Luna to occupy herself. She spent a couple of days exploring more of the castle and trying to better learn it's layout. Then she tried practicing magic. Her skills were far too rusty, however, and after smashing two vases and a window, and then breaking another window in an attempt to fix the first, she decided that magic wasn't something she should use for the moment.

She tried studying recent maps of Equestria and comparing them to much older maps—but she couldn't remember exactly what the world had looked like a thousand years ago, and she didn't recognize most of it now anyway—so she was a bit stuck.

It seemed that there just wasn't enough to do to make time go any faster.

ShadowMist was right on time on the appointed day though, floating lightly down in front of Luna, who was, of course, waiting.

“Did you have a nice flight?” Luna asked.

ShadowMist shrugged. “Same as usual, I suppose.”

“There's—there's something I wanted to ask you about.” Luna began. “You don't have to answer if you think that it's something too personal. You are entitled to your privacy.” Luna stopped, as if waiting for some sort of answer.

“I can't answer if you don't ask the question.” ShadowMist smiled—something that Luna didn't recall her ever doing before.

“It's about—your flank...” Luna paused, seeming to regret starting to ask.

“You mean my Cutie Mark?” ShadowMist turned to look at where hers should have been. “Or rather, lack thereof. I guess I'm just a late bloomer.” she said, turning back to Luna.

“What about yours?” ShadowMist asked, before the silence could settle. “How did you get your Cutie Mark?”

This time, Luna looked down past her flank, to where where the black splotch with the crescent moon lay. “I've almost always had it. Ever since I found out what my destiny was. Celestia had hers first, of course, because she's older.” Luna decided not to press the issue of ShadowMist's lack of Cutie Mark.

“So...why is it that you're the ruler of the night, but I always see you during the day?” ShadowMist asked the questions as if it might be obvious, like she was missing some plain detail.

Luna looked thoughtful. “Oh, well—Celestia is still taking care of things even though I'm back. I'm not as strong—physically or magically—as I used to be, so I'll need to train pretty much all over again. But, Celestia and I haven't really had a lot of time to do that.”

As seemed to happen between the two of them, quiet persisted for a few minutes. Neither pony knew exactly what to say. It seemed that they were almost equal in awkwardness and shyness. Luna's face drifted over the garden as her thoughts drifted as well.

“She gets rather busy, you know.” Luna suddenly said, seeming to be half talking to ShadowMist, half monologuing to herself, as if speaking her own thoughts. “Celestia has taken on ruling all of Equestria by herself, these past thousand years...and even though I'm back, she continues to do so, because she knows that I cannot. I guess that's her reason behind it...” she drifted off.

Then Luna turned back to ShadowMist. “May I—ask you something?”

The sudden change in tone and question caused ShadowMist to be taken aback for a moment. “Of-of course Princess.”

“Do you trust me?”

ShadowMist thought about the odd question. Luna had never done anything to her that would make her not trust her...yet, why would she ask such a thing? There was the issue of Nightmare Moon, of course...but she was long gone. But perhaps... perhaps this was what the Princess was referring to.

“You have not given me a reason not to, Princess.” ShadowMist said slowly.

“I suppose not...” Luna turned away, thoughtful again, and missing the fact that ShadowMist had called her “Princess” instead of “Luna.”

“Can I tell you something?” Luna suddenly asked, turning back to ShadowMist.

ShadowMist was taken aback yet again by Luna's sudden forwardness, but she nodded. “What is it Luna?”

Luna swallowed, forcing her eyes to meet ShadowMist's in complete seriousness. “I'm afraid.” she whispered, at first. “Afraid that—that Nightmare Moon might not truly be gone. I still feel her, deep inside myself somewhere. Everypony thinks that she was destroyed. But I'm not so sure.”

Her eyes fell for a moment, drifting to the grass below their feet, before she turned back. “You can't tell anypony though, alright?” Her eyes were wide now, realizing that she'd just revealed a deep secret to an almost complete stranger. “Not even Princess Celestia.”

The last bit caught ShadowMist off guard. Not even Luna's own sister? But why shouldn't she know?

“I promise.” she replied solemnly. “But what about Princess Celestia?” ShadowMist prodded. “Why don't know you want her to know?” She was pushing her boundaries, she knew. After all, it wasn't really any of her business, right? But Luna trusted her, it seemed.

Luna looked to the horizon, in the direction that the sun would set later that day. “There's a lot you don't know about us.”

ShadowMist turned to look in the direction Luna was facing. But she had a suspicion that there was something there that only Luna could see, in her mind's eye. Then Luna spoke, not turning to face ShadowMist as she did so. ShadowMist turned to look at Luna, but her eyes were fixed on something far away.

“When I was on the moon, I went crazy. All I could think about was revenge, and hatred. Eventually it consumed me, and Nightmare Moon was born. She was the strong side of me. Inwardly, I was just a scared little filly. But Nightmare Moon was powerful. With her, I was invincible.

She was like a protective shell. I was only hiding behind her, but as time went on, she gained a mind of her own. I am no longer in control of Nightmare Moon. Once, she and I were the same. But things changed. The longer I waited, the stronger she got. I was trapped, inside a monster that I had created.” Luna stopped, letting a breath escape through her nose.

“But Nightmare Moon was destroyed. You don't have to worry about that anymore, right?” ShadowMist asked.

Luna turned to her, at last, her eyes faced at ShadowMist, but seeming to look through her in that same far away stare. “That's what everypony thinks. I'm just...” Her eyes came back into focus, and she blinked several times, as if she'd been in a trance. She sighed. “I don't know how they can all feel so sure.”

ShadowMist thought for a moment. “Well, you're the sister of a kind and caring ruler. Those traits must run in your blood too. The ponies of Equestria trust Princess Celestia. They know that she wouldn't do something to endanger them. Because they trust her, they trust you too.”

“I...suppose so.” Luna said thoughtfully. “But maybe it's...time we said our goodbyes for the day.”

Things had gotten a bit more awkward than usual, and ShadowMist had a lot to think over after what Princess Luna said.

“You can't tell anypony, alright?” Luna said, to make sure that ShadowMist reaffirmed her promise.

“Of course not, Luna. You can trust me.” she smiled. It was a nice relief after the seriousness the two had been through that day. Luna smiled back, and ShadowMist's eyes flashed confusion for a moment. Luna wasn't one to smile, even less than ShadowMist was. That much ShadowMist had noticed.

As she took to the air, Luna called after her. “Same time and place, next week?”

ShadowMist smiled down at her a last time, climbing higher into the air as she yelled back a “Yes!”

Luna smiled, a different sort of smile, as ShadowMist flew off toward her home.

Garden Party

Chapter 5

ShadowMist knew that she was early for her now seemingly weekly meetings with Luna. She expected Luna to already be in the garden, but as she landed near the wall and looked around, she couldn't catch sight of her.

“Luna?” she called lightly. “Princess Luna?” she called again, a little louder.

She decided the only thing to do was wait. She stayed near the back wall, exploring around near it. She'd been in the garden several times, but there always seemed to be something new to see. It was rather large, after all. She began examining the nearby plants, trying to figure out what they all could be—but she was no botanist.

ShadowMist had been staring thoughtfully at some flowers on a bush, but she turned as she heard Luna's faint hoofsteps close by. “Hello again!” she smiled. ShadowMist was feeling surprisingly chipper today. Maybe it was because she finally had a friend, one who trusted her and who perhaps, in time, ShadowMist could trust as well. She reached down to pick one of the flowers for Luna, but as she did so the mare broke into a run, rushing towards her.

ShadowMist looked up in surprise, not having time to react. Her back slammed against the back wall, and Luna's hoof pressed against her neck.

“” ShadowMist breathed. She felt the hoof on her throat, pressing harder against it so that she couldn't breath. She felt it loosen suddenly, and then press down again, harder. It was as if Luna was fighting...against herself. What was happening?

And then it hit her. There were two options...but ShadowMist was in favor of her second theory. One, Luna had turned bad again. Or two...Nightmare Moon was back. Somehow, someone, controlling Luna, right now.

Her fears were confirmed as Luna spoke. “Luna's not here now.” she smiled, but it wasn't the same friendly smile the ShadowMist had seen the previous time they'd met. There's was something different, off, about it. It was unsettling, the way that her eyes now seemed to bore into ShadowMist, and the way the smile seemed so happy to now be choking her against a wall.

And the voice. It wasn't Luna's voice she heard. No, the voice that came from Luna's lips was cold and smooth, thick with malice.

ShadowMist focused on trying to breath. The hoof on her throat remained, no longer wavering it had in the beginning. ShadowMist looked into Luna's eyes desperately searching for the pony she hoped was there. But she felt dizzy, and the world began to spin as her brain was deprived of oxygen.

Reflexively, ShadowMist kicked her legs in a last desperation, her body fighting for the resource it needed to survive. The spinning turned hazy, and dark around the edges. Then ShadowMist felt the hoof against her neck shudder, Luna was trying, trying. Everything inside ShadowMist screamed for breath, but there was no air.

Nightmare Moon didn't let go until ShadowMist's body stopped moving. Then she let it drop to the ground, and unmoving heap of black against the bright green grass.

Luna stood, shocked, looking down. Nightmare Moon's hold slowly drifted away, and Luna was left alone.

“CELESTIA!” Luna yelled, knowing full well her sister couldn't hear her. She paused for a moment, debating leaving ShadowMist alone. But time was precious now, and Luna across the garden, still calling for her sister. She made her way through the castle and burst into the throne room, her hooves pounding against the floor.

“CELESTIA!” she yelled when she saw her sister at last. There Celestia sat, as usual, regally on her throne, taking care of the day's business. She, and the few guards in the room, turned suddenly as Luna burst in.

“Celestia, you have to help me!” Luna's breath came in gasps. “In-in the garden.” she choked out. She couldn't hold back, and tears began to stream down her face. She turned, not waiting for Celestia, and raced back to the garden.

Luna reached ShadowMist's body, still laying where she had fallen. Celestia came up beside Luna, and she looked up at her sister, pleading in her eyes. “Please Celestia! I've never asked you for something as important as this. You have to bring her back! I can't, you know I can't! Please, just do this one thing for me! PLEASE!”

Celestia looked from Luna to the body. She didn't say a word, but placed her horn on the Pegasus' side.

ShadowMist lay unmoving on the ground, Celestia's horn glowing and pressed against her.

Luna tried to calm herself. Everything was going to turn out alright. She smiled.

Then Luna jerked back, fighting off Nightmare Moon. Death was nothing to smile about. Luna pushed against Nightmare Moon, barely keeping her at bay. She backed up, shaking her head, mentally fighting off the darkness that wanted to consume her.

All of a sudden, Luna felt a weight pull off her, and she was herself again. Tears once again formed in her eyes as she realized what she'd done. The only pony that had ever tried to understand her, her one friend in all of Equestria....was dead. The Nightmare had killed her. And yet Nightmare Moon was still Luna.

Luna had let it happen.