"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 just...you 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 to...do 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 youwould you like to see the castle?" Luna blurted.
"Ifif 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. Somethingsomething that normal ponies like to do.
Well, normal ponies actually like 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...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 youdo you know which way to go?" ShadowMist asked tentatively.
"Well, I...no, notnot 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 II'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 happeend 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, PrinLu-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.