At the top of the tallest tower in the Canterlot castle, the royal sisters' bedchambers glow at night. And on the northern side of the tower, a balcony extends from the room, designed to give a perfect vantage point for observing both the ponies living on the land below and the movement of the sun and moon in the skies above. And on many nights, a single alicorn can be seen there, dark as the night itself with a mane composed of a unique sea of stars.
It felt odd to Luna to stand on this balcony, to live in this castle. All her memories of royal life before were of the old castle in what was now the Everfree Forest; she hadn't been here when her residual magic changed that place into the cursed wood it was today, or when Celestia had commissioned the construction of the new castle. She was supposed to feel at home here, but it was all so
foreign. As if she was taking something that did not belong to her.
She shook her head. This is your home, she told herself, You are meant to be here.
Yet even months after her return, she still didn't entirely believe herself.
A sound came from the room behind her. Luna weighed the possibilities: Celestia would not have made noise if she had awoken; a guard or servant would have knocked before entering, leaving only one conclusion
Luna quickly jumped back into the room and faced the intruder. "HALT, FOALISH TRESPASSER! HOW DARE THOU ENTER OUR BEDCHAMBERS WITHOUT OUR CONSENT!"
"Blimey, you can shout!"
Luna's hoof went to her mouth as she threw a quick glance at Celestia's bed; thankfully, the sun princess was still sound asleep.
"Doctor!" she whispered. "My apologies I did not know it was you!"
The Doctor cleaned one of his ears. "Perfectly alright I was the one sneaking around. By the way, what was with the shouting and the thou-ing?"
"It is tradition to speak to the common ponies with the Royal Canterlot Voice," Luna replied. "Of course, you are an exception, for very little is common about you."
The colt nodded slowly. "Right
I think you'd better read up on those traditions, your majesty."
"Just Luna, please," she said waving a hoof. "You are more than qualified to use my name."
The Doctor smiled and looked outside. "Beautiful night you've got here," he commented. "And believe me, I've seen a lot of nights, but knowing that you have a direct hand, er, hoof in them makes it look that much better."
thank you, Doctor," Luna said, smiling. "No one has said anything like that to me in a long time. Well, except Celestia, anyway."
"Well, just because they don't say it doesn't mean they don't think it," the Doctor replied. "I'll bet every one of those ponies down there look up every night and say to themselves, 'Wow! Look at those stars! Look at that moon! Luna's outdone herself tonight.'"
Luna's smile faded. "I appreciate your words, Doctor, but even if they are true, they should be saved for someone more deserving."
"More deserving? You're Princess Luna co-ruler of Equestria, bringer of night!"
Luna sighed. "Tell me did Celestia not perform both tasks well enough on her own for a thousand years? And was I not also once Nightmare Moon, the evil mistress of eternal night?"
The Doctor nodded slowly. "Well, yes
"Then why do I deserve the praise of my subjects? Not only did I betray them and threaten to effectively destroy the ecosystem out of jealousy, but I am also unnecessary in the government a proverbial fifth wheel. Nothing I have done merits their admiration."
The alicorn sighed again. "But what would you know about that? You're the Doctor. The Oncoming Storm. Savior of a thousand world, past, present and future. You saved our planet within hours of landing here." She turned away and whispered, "What do you know of failure?"
"You seem to know a bit about me," the Doctor noted.
"The stars have much to say to those willing to listen. And I know from them that you have no idea what it is like to live with the guilt of betraying your own people."
The room fell silent. Luna turned back to the Doctor, who looked in her eyes with an intensity she hadn't seen in anyone since Celestia.
He slowly sat on the floor and motioned for her to do the same. He glanced into the night sky and took a deep breath. "There was a war
Half an hour later, Luna was crying.
The Doctor had told her everything the conquest of the Daleks, the horrors of the Last Great Time War, the plan of the Ultimate Sanction. The greatest war the universe had ever known, fought to save all of creation, had turned into mutually assured destruction, with both sides willing to sacrifice anything for victory.
And so, the Doctor had made the ultimate choice.
Luna could hardly comprehend it: destroying your own homeworld for the sake of all life, and then sealing the war from time travel, so nothing could escape from it. Even for magic, it seemed impossible, and yet the Doctor had achieved it.
And not only that; he had chosen to do it.
"How do you cope, Doctor?" she said between tears. "How do you live, knowing you have committed a crime beyond redemption?"
"Only one thing has kept me doing the right thing since then," the Doctor said softly.
"My companions. They give me a reason to keep going; to keep exploring the galaxy, looking for adventure; to see the good in people. They bring out the best in me because I don't want them to see me at my worst."
"So what would you have me do?" Luna asked.
"It's simple, really: find someone to care about. Not just your subjects as a whole, that's good, too; but someone specific. Someone who needs a pony to look up to, and you'll want to stay on the right path for; not because you're obligated to, but because you want to."
He took a quick look at the clock. "Well, I've taken enough of your time, Luna, and I need to make sure that Pinkie hasn't taken the TARDIS for a spin, so I'll leave you to "
"Hold, Doctor," Luna put her hoof on his shoulder. "I
thank you for your words. I will follow you advice. There's a holiday coming up Nightmare Night. It is based around the Nightmare Moon legend; the tradition is that the children gather candy from their neighbors to give as an offering to me er, her, so that she will not eat them." She chuckled softly at the notion. "I believe I will visit them then."
"I'm sure it will turn out wonderfully," the Doctor said, smiling.
The colt trotted out of the room, leaving Luna alone in the dying candlelight. She would take the matter up with Celestia tomorrow. Surely she would agree to a public appearance; Celly made so many herself, anyway.
She would make her first appearance on a day centered around her darkest hour - and hopefully, she would finally come out of its shadow.