A Whispered Lullaby

This story is a sequel to The Endless Song
The deepest loves and cruelest hatreds are born out of isolation.
I have been consumed by one and watched the other consume my only friend.
My name is Artemis, and this is the story of a fool who almost lost everything.

https://www.fimfiction.net/story/369009/a-whispered-lullaby

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1. From distant dreams...

Editor: Silentcarto
Beta-reader: Coandco
Art: SiMonk0
Disclaimer: Hasbro owns My Little Pony and all related characters. I do not.

It began with a song.

The song wasn’t very good at first, but it was enough to awaken me. I’m still unsure whether I existed before the song. My ‘body’ has been around far longer, of course. It’s possible that the song was merely a catalyst to awaken what already existed. Or perhaps I was created by it. Magic can work in mysterious ways, after all.

I wasn’t the intended target for the song. That honor belonged to my elder brother, Sol. ‘Brother’ might not be the best word to describe Sol; it’s not like either of us has gender, much less heredity. Still, something in the connotation of the word – something in the concept it invokes – fits him.

The song was weak in those early days, unsure and untested. Sol stirred and listened sleepily, but never paid it any special attention. I was far more easily swayed, and listened intently to each note. The voices that sang the song were rich and varied, constantly shifting and changing as old individuals left and new ones arrived. It produced an ever-changing symphony that was fascinating no matter what they sang.

It took them a thousand tries, tens of thousands of voices, until they finally found it. For the first time since I was ‘born’, there was silence. Then, a sound as though the entire world beneath us drew in a deep breath. A hundred voices resounded in perfect harmony and the song poured forth, powerful and beautiful, more perfectly formed than anything I could have imagined. Its magic swept into and through me, and I danced.

Where I had once drifted, now I pirouetted in perfect time within a greater pattern. The Æther thrummed with chords of magic, guiding and shaping all of us within a cosmic choreography. Even Sol awoke and took his place.

Only a short time after the song began, Sol spoke. At first I didn’t understand. I had never spoken, nor had I ever heard him speak. I had not ever considered the possibility that I could, but even if I had, to whom could I have spoken? There were only the voices and silence. Yet Sol spoke, and it was undeniably him.

“I AM SOL,” he boomed. Moments passed as I absorbed the name. It was more than a mere word. I had words aplenty from the voices that sang. This was more. This was not a thing, this was a sense of self, an awareness that I had not even known I was missing. The beginning of the song had awakened me, but I was not me, not truly an individual, until my brother turned his attention towards me. Brilliant and unforgiving light poured from him as he watched me.

“YOU ARE ARTEMIS,” he declared and turned his attention elsewhere. I had a name. I had a brother. No longer was I a lifeless piece of rock and dust. I was Artemis.

………

Those halcyon times seemed to last forever when I look back on them. The song was constant. It filled the world and beyond, saturating everything. Voices moved in and out of the choir. Sometimes they left for good; sometimes they returned after the briefest of spans. The song itself never wavered. The voices unceasingly outlined our paths, wrapped us in beauty and dominated our awareness. Even when Sol rounded the world and I was alone, they still sang. With fewer voices and more quietly, but that was all to the better. Although I loved the song without reservation, the softer, quieter moments were more to my taste than the loud, bombastic passages my brother seemed to prefer.

Yet, the longer I listened, the more it became clear that I was an afterthought. An unexpected bonus to the agenda of the voices. Sol was the one they had sought, the one they had desperately hoped to influence. I did not protest this, but in a quiet way, I begrudged them.

It was a lonely time for me despite the unceasing joy and splendor of the song. I tried speaking to my brother, but had no success. He was entirely focused on the voices, seemingly unable to hear my own much softer entreaties. I wished for change then, uncontent with my lot, and I swiftly learned that not all change is good.

Even now, knowing the true cause of the pain and suffering that followed, I cannot help but feel that my selfishness and ingratitude bear part of the blame.

The singing abruptly stopped, with only a muffled scream followed by a low cackle to give any clue to what happened. A new power was brewing in the world below, and it terrified me. Sol was upset that his music had been taken, and rightly so, yet he seemed ignorant of the true impact of what had just happened.

The distant screams of despair reached me next. Those creatures driven to the edge of sanity by a cruel and uncaring master. I felt strange and disturbing magic ply the surface of the world. I exerted my senses and searched for our singers, but I wish that I had not. For I found nothing but ruin, and in the process, I drew His attention.

He was a madman.

I was barely aware of the meaning of ‘sanity’, having so few examples for comparison, yet even I could tell you that He was insane. He believed that the world and everything in it were His playthings. Then, after I entered His awareness, His playthings included more than just the world. I was swept to and fro by His barest whims. Then, I was drawn from the heavens and shrunk to an infinitesimal size simply for a joke on his part. And not a particularly good one, at that. I should not have told Him so, as unfortunately, He seemed to be the only creature that could hear my quiet voice.

He shifted me, transforming me into a soft, carbon-based, water-logged organic creature called a pony. I have never spent a more terrifying month in my entire existence. True, I learned much in that time, including the nature of ‘the voices’ I had long enjoyed, and their reason for singing. Yet nothing could shake me of that horrifying feeling of vulnerability and weakness. Save for very rare circumstances, my true body is nigh indestructible and subject to very few whims of fate. As a pony I was small and helpless, set against a world of chaos, all of which seemed determined to exploit any one of my many weaknesses.

In the end I survived the month, and He sarcastically congratulated me, returning me to the safety of the void with a reminder about His views on critics. I kept silent in that time even as His madness seemed to only feed upon itself. I tried to reach out to Sol, but he was nearly gone, drifting back to sleep without the song to fill him with life.

I envied my brother in more than one way. For all the humiliations He put me through, for all the threats to my very existence that He conjured, He barely touched Sol. At times He would cause Sol’s light to disappear, or jerk him across the sky, but those pranks were nothing compared to what I went through, fully conscious of His machinations.

And deep down I knew why. I had discovered Sol’s importance during my time as a pony. They needed Sol. Everything and everyone needed him. My brother was vital to all that lived on that world. Without him, plants would not grow and life itself would grind to a halt. The world below would freeze without his light.

Me?

I was nothing. The ponies I met barely even noticed that I was gone amid all the other chaos He had wrought. I did nothing but alter the tides and provide the weakest of lights, even that being a mere reflection of my brother’s brilliance.

I had given up hope and consigned myself to the whims of a mad god, when the laughter suddenly stopped. Sol drifted aimlessly, still half-asleep, or half-dead for all I knew. He was not the only one diminished by the disappearance of the song, but I was less affected. Aware, if no longer alert. Had silence reigned, I believe both of us would have lost ourselves, slipping into a permanent slumber without so much as a whimper.

I was just starting to lose myself when the silence was replaced by a single voice. To say she was beautiful did not do her justice. Tens of thousands of voices had passed through the chorus in my time of listening, but none of them could match her. Her melody echoed through the Æther; a perfect match to the song we had once known. Sol stirred, at last woken from his slumber. The pattern was clear, our movements outlined, and the music waited for us to begin dancing in the cosmic design in which we played a vital part.

I stayed my distance and was not surprised that my brother did likewise.

We had been hurt. We had been betrayed.

The song had promised us fulfillment before, but we had seen where that had led.

The singer persevered despite that and sang without rest. Her stamina amazed me. I had, however briefly, occupied a mortal body. I understood the needs and weaknesses to which they were subject. Yet Sol raggedly circled the world below us seven times before at last she broke.

She begged him in tears to follow her song, to fall back into that perfect pattern. Then, despite her broken voice, despite her pain, she began to sing again. Sol hurried to her call, his defenses finally worn down.

I remained aloof. She had spoken no words to me. She had not sung for my benefit. As always, I was an afterthought. Sol was the important one.

I was just there.

Sol moved to her song, happier than he had been in ages. Slowly, things returned to a sort of normalcy. She did not sing as frequently as the previous voices, but as she was alone, that was no surprise. The singer did make an effort to reach out to me with a song similar, yet distinct from the one that commanded Sol’s attention. However, it was long after she had returned Sol to his stable orbit. To me, that delay only showed how little I was needed. Clearly she had had more important things to do after securing Sol’s help. I kept my distance, leery of her or any other voice.

I was … perhaps … immature.

At the same time, I do not regret those actions. How could I when they led to the best part of my existence?

For years I kept myself apart, still unwilling to return after what I had been through. Sol’s singer had tried more than once to restore me to the pattern. She had tried several songs, many of them entirely new, dedicated solely to me. But they were too loud, too brash. She sang with the force of the heavens themselves, and what pleased Sol drove me away. At times there was another voice that tried to imitate her bold, powerful songs, yet it could not live up to the command of the first voice. It was even easier to dismiss.

Until one night when the second voice sang again.

This song, though, was different.

It was not even aimed at me. This song was softer and more hesitant. Gentler and less sure of itself. I listened as her sweet lilting song drifted across the Æther. She was sad and lonely, feeling useless in a world where she was supposed to be an equal to her sister, yet fell short in every way that mattered.

I drifted closer and closer, unaware of my own movements, simply hoping to hear her song better. It was not until she stopped in shocked silence that I realized how near I had drifted. I hung over the world so close that I almost endangered it. Like a moth to the flame I had not even realized the danger. I fled, putting it behind me, embarrassed at my senseless actions.

Hello? Her presence stretched across the void, quiet but hopeful.

I said nothing. Why bother? The only creature to have ever heard me was Him, and that had only ended badly.

Hello? Sadness colored her presence as I continued my silence. She had learned what it was to fail. She knew the pain and loss of being incapable, of feeling useless.

Yet, she did not give up.

I’m Luna.

An endless moment stretched between us. I could feel her loneliness, her desire to have someone, even if that someone was a worthless piece of rock in the sky above. And I too longed to have someone to speak to. Someone to share with. I was tired of my exile, and her song had been so sweet.

Hello. I’m Artemis.

There was only shocked silence for a moment.

Umm… I am talking to the moon, right?

I had learned that name for myself in my brief time among the ponies.

Yes. Although, I prefer Artemis.

Oh! Sorry! I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings, it’s just that Tia says that the sun never talks to her. Not directly at least. She just gets a kind of feeling about it. Or him. It’s kind of confusing how she describes it.

That fits my brother perfectly, I replied dryly.

She giggled unexpectedly. I felt a warm rush go through me at the sound of her amusement. I didn’t understand it then, I barely understand it now, but it made me feel good. It made me want to continue talking with her.

What were you singing?

Embarrassment raced through her. It’s just an old song our mother used to sing to lull us to sleep.

I like it, I declared.

More embarrassment flooded from her. Why? I know that Tia hasn’t been able to restore you to the night sky. Neither have I, but that’s even less of a surprise.

It shouldn’t be. Your voice is sweeter.

No, it isn’t, she said with tired certainty. Everypony praises Celestia’s singing. Everypony knows that she’s better.

Not to me, I quickly responded. She’s louder and more powerful, but that doesn’t count for much in my opinion. I’d rather hear you sing.

Another long moment of silence stretched between us, and I wondered if I had been too forceful, too brash.

Really?

Yes.

She began to sing again, starting weak and embarrassed. She sang in a whisper, so soft that I barely heard it. Yet, there was a perfect blend of sweetness and sorrow in her voice. I relaxed for the first time in unknown ages, and before I knew it, the pattern had opened around me, welcoming me back. She was part of it and so was I. In that single moment of clarity I realized that neither of us were afterthoughts. We were both vital in our own subtle ways.

I almost interrupted her to share that news, but I held myself back. I couldn’t bring myself to stop her lullaby and instead let myself be carried in its flow.

I don’t know if that would have changed things. If I could have altered what was to come. I wish that I had told her, but for all I know, the pain that followed was our role in the pattern. I would hope not, but it’s possible. Despite all his anger, Sol is the optimistic one.

………

Time passed, and we talked to each other more and more often. I think Celestia was quietly jealous that I replied so readily to her sister while Sol stayed silent, but to all appearances she was genuinely happy for Luna.

I could fill books with the contents of our discussions. Here I will merely say that we shared everything. I shared all of the oddities I could remember from my dim recollection of eons past and all of the stories from my brief, frightening time as a pony. Luna told me about her sister, her kingdom, and all of the mortal drama and maneuvering of the noble court. The most common topic by far was her struggles to gain recognition among her ponies. In theory, she was her sister’s equal, yet the reality was far from it. Celestia’s word held far more importance, and ponies flocked to her for guidance. Luna had her dedicated few, but they were so easily overshadowed by the throngs basking in the light of her sister.

I seethed with the unfairness of it. Luna deserved better than that, and I was not shy in telling her so. She agreed, but at the same time had grown used to it, even suggesting that it was like how I had grown used to Sol being the focus of attention. I tried to explain how those two were different, but I don’t think I got my point across very well.

Together, we devised a plan and delved deeply into the old magic that it required. After a much study, trial, and error, she animated a glowing ball of living magic, a Sol in miniature. Together we named him ‘Polaris’. With my help, Polaris climbed into the heavens and began to circle the world. He was curious and precocious. I don’t remember being so of full of questions when I was young. Polaris was soon joined by many siblings, and they danced within the larger pattern, helping me to illuminate Luna’s kingdom during Sol’s absence, inspiring countless ponies.

Luna was, for once, given the praise she deserved and spent many excited nights telling me about the progress she had made, the friends she had found. Celestia embraced this and encouraged ponies to enjoy her sister’s nights. For a time all was well, but in a mere century her status waned again. Her friends had passed on and younger generations were unimpressed by the symphony of light she had crafted merely because it had been there for all their lives. There was a core of ponies that stayed at her side, that were truly loyal to her, but to the common pony she was all too soon relegated to a lesser role. Again.

Even when they worked together to cast down the power hungry Sombra, Tyrant of the North, Celestia received the vast majority of the praise and adoration. She gave Luna her due, but all too many quietly took that as mere modesty on the part of Celestia. Such sentiments only furthered the divide growing between them, and Luna grew more withdrawn and bitter than ever. She still sang to me, and her voice had lost none of it sweetness, but there was an edge to it. A sharpness hidden in the silk of her quiet arias. I comforted her as best I could, and she named me her truest friend for it, yet I knew that my friendship alone could not fill the emptiness she felt.

Seasons turned and time passed, and things went on just the same, until she surprised me by seeking my aid.

Artemis. I require your help. Will you lend it?

Want do you need? I thought it was only a formality, since I had never denied her anything within my power. Yet, strangely, she hesitated at that response.

I’ll tell you in a moment, but first I need to know if you are willing to help me, no matter what.

I should have paid more attention to those three words at the end of her sentence. I should have realized where this would lead. Instead, I merely noted the oddity and went on. Luna, you’re my oldest, closest, and only friend. I would do anything for you. Without a second thought, I gave her my word, hoping to make her happy. I wanted to hear the smile in her voice again.

Good, she replied, in a tone of finality. Then, you should know better than anypony that it is time that I finally received my due. It’s time I was respected as my sister’s equal. I have a plan that will show all of our ponies the wonder and glory of my night.

Her comments and mentions of her sister had grown less and less loving over time, but why did she sound so bitter? Oh, I understood the cause of it, but the quiet venom hidden in her words was altogether new to me.

Luna, what exactly do you mean by that?

Exactly what it sounds like, she told me imperiously. She has seen fit to deny me what I deserve so I will take it for myself. You should understand that best of all. Constantly outshone and undervalued compared to that mute brother of yours. I say ‘no more’. The diarchy shall fall, and you will aid me. For the barest of seconds her voice returned to a softer tone, almost vulnerable. You promised.

I had. Everything about this situation was wrong, but I could not leave her. She was the one who rescued me from my loneliness, who sang to me, who gave meaning to my existence. I would do anything for her. The diarchy will fall, I echoed hollowly.

One way or another, that was certain to be true.

………

The coup took time to arrange. Out of her meager support Luna organized a fanatical group of ponies, loyal unto death. With forbidden spells, she warped them, granting them greater power and ability than that of any normal pony. Celestia was blind to it all, cheerfully singing to Sol as if nothing had changed. Fully convinced that her sister’s withdrawal from palace life was ‘just because she needed space’.

The coup began while Celestia was away on a diplomatic mission. Over a dozen powerful nobles were slaughtered in their own beds over a single night. They were all Luna’s staunch political opponents, and her fanatics left no doubt who had been responsible. Chaos and fear gripped the nation, and most ponies quickly fell into line.

Mere ponies, however, were not her true goal. Luna returned to the castle and began a new song. It was smoky, sensual, thick with dark promise. Sol froze in place, pausing for the first time I had ever known. The song drew him in, capturing him and closing him off from the world. I was to join in, supplying a subtle counterpoint that kept him contained after the danger was realized. I hesitated, and if Sol had been a bit quicker, he might have freed himself. As it was, I joined her song, twisting his thoughts, leading him in circles, leaving him helpless despite all of his power.

To my eternal shame, there was a part of me that enjoyed it.

For so long I had been his lesser, his inferior. It felt good to finally reverse our positions. To be the one in control, to hold the power.

Yes! Luna hissed, a cruel pleasure in her tone. Any triumph I felt vanished, and a sick sense of dread grew within me instead.

Luna, please don’t do this. Please don’t ask me to do this.

She was silent for a moment, and I could sense the doubt in her, but it was washed away in an unstoppable flood of anger.

Are you with me or against, Artemis? I have only one choice here. Be a lackey forevermore or take what destiny owes me. I wielded the Elements of Harmony. I safeguarded the dreams of our subjects for centuries. I fought Discord and restored prosperity to a broken land. I deserve their adoration, and so do you!

...as you wish. I cannot refuse you, Luna.

That was the name of a weakling, a pony that had nothing. I will be called Nightmare Moon now. Already, my loyal troops declare my ascension as they spread terror among the sun-loving masses. Soon, the world will ring with my true name!

In that moment it was hard to remember that barren rocks floating through the void cannot cry.

Celestia could not remain ignorant any longer. The castle had emptied, and Luna waited in the throne room. Soon, the elder sister made her appearance. Celestia was serious and determined, but not truly angry, as if she believed all Luna needed was a stern lecture.

Luna declared herself the new ruler, and I moved to her design. Sol had already been dimmed, but I moved between him and the world to block his light completely. The dark song that I echoed with Luna reached its climax, and suddenly a nightmarish pattern of strange geometries and impossible magics warped into existence. I tried to stop singing, but there was no stopping what we had set into motion. Some malevolent power roared through me, using the dark song as a channel. With a sickening rush, it poured into Luna below.

The darkness transformed her. Power rolled from her in waves, and her voice, once so kind, became unforgivingly harsh. Celestia saw this, and must have understood what it meant, must have realized that her sister had gone beyond the pale. Yet she refused to attack.

Luna fired bolt after bolt of magic but her sister did nothing but evade. Waiting, hoping, that Luna would come to her senses.

Celestia could not dodge forever. A bolt finally struck home, and she plummeted from the sky.

How could you?

Luna seemed confused at that statement. Or maybe I had just been too quiet. What was that, Artemis?

How could you? She refused to fight, she refused to unleash a single spell. She loved you!

She wavered for a second, but then growled at me in anger. How could I? Easily. Her ‘love’ that you speak of was nothing more than a love of control. Even after I freed myself from her, she thought she could command me. I belong to nopony and nothing. I will be the one to rule, and the heavens help the fool that gets in my way!

Even if that fool is me? I asked, fearing that I knew her answer.

I was used to empty silence, but this one was tense and hard. Full of sharp edges and broken things.

Even then, she vowed. Her strange new power exploded from her, and I found myself unwillingly continuing the dark song that kept Sol prisoner. Her magic poured into me, and I could not resist its command. I knew then there was something wrong with her that went deeper than any jealousy. Something deep and precious inside her had cracked open and allowed something hateful to slither in.

had been a fool not to see it sooner. Not to refuse her. And now all would suffer for it.

The world would slowly freeze and die.

Then Celestia rose again. The Elements gathered around her as she cried in pure anguish. Not from any wound she had taken, but from what her sister had become.

And what must be done.

With one last, terrible scream Luna was exiled from the world below. Venom and bile flowed freely from her lips as she fought hopelessly against that bright power. Vile curses were aimed at both her sister and me, making me thankful that Celestia was beyond hearing them.

I accepted them without flinching. I deserved every one.

You haven’t defeated me, sister! I will haunt the dreams of your subjects, fill them with terror and rip your peaceful land apart at the seams! Not one pony will know a peaceful night’s slumber until I find my way back. And rest assured, dear sister, that I will find my way back. You have not stopped me, only delayed me a precious few decades. Enjoy that time while you can!

No.

I drew her into myself, trapping her within my embrace. Luna screamed and struggled, but her cruel power was only tattered remnants now and could not stop me. She cursed me further, and though many of her barbs struck deeply, I hid any pain I felt. Instead, I began to sing.

It was low and soft. Sweet, but achingly sad. I poured all of my pain and sorrow into the song, and she began to slow her threats, cease her struggles. I held her close to my own soul as I sang her to sleep.

And so it ended as we began. With a whispered lullaby.

………

Later, long after her tears ran out and Sol offered his first kind words, Celestia spoke to me. Not in the booming tones she used with Sol, but with a quieter voice that could not help but remind me of her sister.

Thank you, Artemis.

I hesitated in my reply. Despite hearing her talk to Sol, despite the many conversations I shared with Luna about her, I had never spoken with Celestia. But we needed that discussion now.

You’re welcome, but I did not do it for you or your ponies. I did it for her.

I understand, but I must know how this happened. How, she hesitated, fighting back tears. How did I fail her like this?

It’s not your fault. It’s mine. You and Sol can’t help what you are. You can’t help shining so bright, even if it leaves others in your shadow. Beneath your notice. She flinched at that, but I continued. I knew what Luna felt; I knew her struggles. And I failed to realize that she had opened her heart to darkness. Something poisonous lives inside her now, deeper than I can hope to reach. I … I can’t help her. All I can do is let her sleep.

I will find a way, Celestia declared with the absolute certainty that came from being master of her own destiny, second to none. No matter how long it takes, I will find a magic capable of freeing my sister from her madness.

You will not have forever, I cautioned her. Polaris and the other stars already seek to release her. They understand that I hold her captive, but they cannot understand why. As her power waxes, it will be harder and harder for me to hold her. Eventually, they will succeed, and she will return.

When?

I thought carefully, trying to account for every variable I could. Celestia remained silent, patiently waiting. In one thousand years, on the longest day, the stars shall aid in her escape. My powers will be at their lowest ebb then, and I cannot bring myself to harm any of her precious stars. Whatever she has done, they are innocent.

I understand. Then I have my time, and I will find a way. You have my word, Artemis.

And if you can’t?

There was a long, uncomfortable silence between us.

You have my word, she repeated, ending her part of the conversation.

I wanted to hope, but I didn’t dare.

………

A thousands years passed all too quickly, and it seemed that my fears were soon to be realized. Celestia had found no cure or spell capable of restoring her sister. She pinned the hopes of the world on her untested student.

And that student succeeded beyond anything I ever could have hoped.

Stripping Luna of that dark power left her small and weak, an image of how she had looked before her ascension. But it was her again. It was really, truly her.

It took her nearly a month before she finally worked up the courage to speak to me again. A month of nightmares and self-loathing and Celestia’s patient kindness.

Even then she was hesitant in her speech, so quiet that even I could barely hear her.

Artemis? Her voice was as sweet as I remembered. So similar to when we first met.

I’m here, I replied instantly.

Those words opened a floodgate, and she broke down into sobs. I’m sorry! I’m so sorry. Oh, Artemis, I did awful things to you, I hurt you and used you, and I can’t make it right. I can’t ever make things right after everything I did. I’m not looking for forgiveness because I don’t deserve it. I just wanted you to know. Celestia can guide you now if−

Luna, I interrupted. She stopped immediately. I don’t care.

Pain welled up from her, but so did understanding and acceptance. She readied herself to speak, fighting back fresh sobs. I did not let her.

I don’t care what you did to me. The only thing I need to make everything right is you. I’ve waited so long to have you back, to have the real you back. Please, don’t leave me alone.

Luna began crying again at that, no longer able to hold back her tears. I feared desperately that I had said the wrong thing, but there was a gentle warmth in her voice when she finally spoke.

I won’t. Not ever. I promised myself to never hurt you again. I thought that meant giving you up, even if it broke my heart. I thought it was what I deserved. She let out a long shuddering breath.

The only thing you deserve is happiness. You’ve paid for any crime you committed.

She sighed in disagreement. You and Celestia paid for my crime. I slept for a thousand years while she protected our kingdom and searched desperately for a way to help me. And you languished alone, enduring the anger of my stars with no kindness or companion to ease your burden.

I would have waited another thousand years if it meant having you back.

Embarrassment flooded through her, but there was happiness underneath it. Her guilt and self-loathing were not gone, but a light flickered inside her, helping to keep them at bay. Then as you don’t care for my apologies, let me just say thank you. With all that I am, I thank you.

That strange warmth raced through me. I could feel her smile, and it was a real expression, one from her heart. Centuries of pain and worry faded away in the light of that smile.

Could you sing for me again? Please?

Of course, but don’t raise your hopes too high. I am a thousand years out of practice.

I was mildly amused, but still waited with less-than-perfect patience as she prepared herself.

She began to sing, low and soft. It was the same lullaby as when we first met. It spoke of goodbyes and returns, of uncertainty and trust, of loss and love. The sadness in her voice was enough to inspire tears in even the hardest of hearts, but that selfsame sorrow made the sweet parts all the sweeter. She had been hurt, she had been lost, she carried enough regret to weigh down the strongest of souls. Yet, she could still sing of love and hope.

Despite everything that had happened, she was not broken.

It was the most beautiful thing I have ever known.

The pattern that emerged around me was almost an afterthought, but I still moved into it, dancing in time with the rest of the cosmos. The last strains of melody faded to nothing as Luna fell softly asleep. I watched her from afar feeling a peace I had not known for more than a millennium.

Goodnight, Luna.

...

I love you.

 
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