Tacet (Roseluck, RGRE, COMPLETE)

Jan 26th, 2017
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  1. >Be Roseluck.
  2. >Your flower arrangements drifted in the light morning breeze as you waited on your stool in front of your stand, eyes drifting across the early morning crowd.
  3. >You set up, same as every day, on a small bend, giving you a view of a long dirt path with carts, tents, and small shops to either side.
  4. >There was Applejack, setting up her apple cart with her little sister, Carrot Top fiddling with her vegetables, making sure each carrot was in a row.
  5. >Time Turner even organized science instruments in his own, slightly spastic ways, fussing over odds and ends with his hooves.
  6. >It was rather cute the way he was, you had to admit.
  7. >You passively wonder if Twilight or Derpy will win his attention for their respective herds.
  9. >But your gaze wasn’t there for them.
  10. >You had someone else you always looked for, despite how much you hated yourself for it.
  11. >He didn’t come everyday, you had to remind yourself, but you could never stop from hoping you’d see him—the human.
  12. >A tall creature stepped out from behind a hawker’s tent and your heart skipped a beat.
  13. >A nervous smile grew on your muzzle, though at the same time, a heavy, familiar ache welled up in your chest.
  15. >It’d start soon, like it always did when you saw him.
  16. >Whispered notes on the breeze—an echo of old magics.
  17. >Sometimes you resisted or ignored it.
  18. >That was the right thing to do.
  19. >But deep down you knew why you sometimes sang anyways.
  20. >Your ears went back as you watched him bounce from seller to seller, his smile brighter than the morning sun.
  21. >He’d be down to your stall soon enough.
  22. >Anon always ordered the same thing, a simple rose centered arrangement.
  24. >You parted your lips, letting the smallest fraction of the song out into the crisp morning air.
  25. “What is this feeling…”
  26. >Your heart fluttered as Anon seemed to pause for a moment, examining a bauble from Turner’s stand.
  27. >He put it down and moved onto another merchant.
  28. “That I can’t contain…”
  29. >You could almost hear the echo of the other side of the duet, the return of the melody in a lower register.
  30. >Hope flickered in you again as Anon seemed to pause, facing your stall down the dirt path before looking back to his list and turning around.
  31. >You let out a small groan.
  32. >Why did you do this to yourself.
  33. “Your smile lights a fire within me…”
  34. >Your eyes glazed over with tears and you looked down with a sob.
  36. >Every fiber of your being wanted to leap up and sing your heart out.
  37. >But you didn’t dare sing any louder.
  39. >The memory of the first time you sang to him still sat fresh in your mind.
  41. --
  43. >You stood, beaming up at him in the marketplace, chest heaving after you let out the first verse.
  44. >A warmth surged in you as you waited for his lines to come.
  45. >Everyone stared wide eyed at the two of you, waiting to bear witness to something few ever even got to hear about.
  47. >Anon had been around for a few weeks, getting his bearings while living in Twilight’s castle.
  48. >You’d heard stories, caught bare glimpses from far away…
  49. >I want to meet him, you’d thought. He sounds nice.
  50. >But when your eyes met, everything changed.
  52. >Everypony knew the legends.
  53. >The songs that come when soul mates meet.
  54. >It was a thing of fairy tales; songs that herald great magics, an old power beyond even Celestia.
  55. >You wouldn’t have believed it existed if not for Ponyville’s very own Cake family.
  56. >There were precious few like that.
  57. >Everypony else herded.
  59. >Happy tears welled up in your eyes as the feeling in the air surged and Anon’s melody came, lyrics hidden to all but him.
  60. >Your heart beat in your chest like a drum, hardly able to bear the happiest moment of your life.
  61. >You never imagined it… a one and only somepony… just for you.
  63. >He looked down at you, a mix of confusion and embarrassment playing across his features.
  64. “Um… nice to meet you t-too.”
  66. >Your smile melted and you took a step back.
  67. “What?”
  69. >He looked at you like a deer in the headlights before glancing around, his gaze seeking answers.
  70. >“I don’t understand. Is there something I’m supposed to do?”
  72. >Everyone turned to face you, the music hidden to all but the two of you.
  73. >They weren’t part of it.
  74. >Their silence was deafening.
  75. >A few narrowed their eyes.
  77. >You stood stock still, waiting, hoping.
  78. >Something had simply gone wrong.
  79. >There was some part that Anon only knew, you had to trust him.
  80. >You felt the pull of the music, driving you instinctively to answer a verse that had not come.
  81. >You sang, a beautiful melody that made your heart soar, keeping your eyes only on him until you passed it back once more.
  83. >He merely stared at you.
  85. >A dull ache welled up in your chest at the passing of his chorus answer.
  86. >You didn’t sing the return this time.
  87. “What’s going on…?” you said, eyes widened. “Anonymous, you keep missing your half.”
  89. >He gave you a strange look, head cocked slightly to the side.
  90. >”I don’t know what you’re talking about, but um, well it was nice meeting you, miss,” Anon said with an awkward shrug. He ruffled your mane casually and walked past, his groceries in tow.
  91. >You sat there for a moment, frozen in place.
  92. >Ponies around you whispered questioningly, some sounding harsh and biting.
  94. >You sank to your haunches, staring down into the dirt with a blank expression.
  95. “I don’t get it… he… didn’t sing back? Why? I don’t understand. Does he not…”
  96. >Your skin turned cold, and your chest felt like someone had dropped a house on it.
  97. >You felt warm liquid drift down your cheeks and drip onto the road at your hooves.
  98. >Were you… crying?
  99. >You touched a hoof to your face and pulled it back with a sniffle.
  100. >Oh… you were…
  101. >That didn’t make sense.
  102. >That wasn’t how the stories went.
  104. >This was supposed to be the happiest day of your life.
  106. --
  108. >“Rose, you okay?”
  110. >You jerked upright, almost losing your balance on the stool.
  111. >Anon stood in front of your stand, his brow knit together, mouth a small frown on his face that made you want to leap up and give him a hug.
  112. >Why did he have to look at you like that...
  113. >“Something wrong, Rose? You seem… kinda down.”
  115. >You blinked, mouth slightly ajar.
  116. “Oh, um. It’s… nothing. Just thinking I guess,” you said with a limp shrug.
  117. “You here for the usual?”
  119. >He nodded and gave you that beautiful smile of his.
  120. “You know me well.”
  122. “Yeah…”
  124. >He had an amazing sense of direction, liked extra maple syrup on his pancakes, was adorably susceptible to brain freezes, and disliked carrots unless they were honey glazed...
  125. >And he loved the smell of spring, particularly fresh roses.
  126. >The two of you had spent plenty of time together since you met.
  127. >Anon had made you come out of your introverted shell, and the last month had been some of the most fun you’d had with another pon—person.
  128. >It didn’t matter what you did, it was enjoyable if you were together.
  129. >He wasn’t an overwhelming ball of energy like a certain mare in town.
  130. >Anon was honest and clever and caring…
  131. >But there was always a barrier between you.
  132. >He never brought up the song, so neither did you, yet it was always there when you were with him, hovering at the back of your mind and hoping to be sung.
  133. >He was only a friend…
  135. >It had been a while since the two of you did anything together.
  136. >Lately it had hurt to spend time with him, so you’d made up excuses.
  137. >You loved being with him.
  138. >But it had gotten too hard to be a friend.
  140. >You ignored the sting and shook the thought off as you hopped off your stool, turning to your trimmers and the flowerboxes.
  141. >Anon always came to take home a simple rose centric arrangement every three days or so.
  142. >Despite knowing exactly what he liked, you never pre-crafted his, unlike the other regulars, instead opting to make it with him there.
  143. >You bit your lip as you snipped a thorn, unable to stop the same thoughts that happened every time.
  144. >Maybe this time…
  146. >You glanced over at him, meeting his eyes for a just a moment before returning to your flowers.
  147. >It was enough to make your heart skip, and with it, you felt the notes on the breeze, just like you always did.
  148. >The melody welled up on the wind, aching to be released, but you held it for a moment.
  149. >It was familiar to you now— there were slight variations each time, but always with the same beauty that made you leap to feel it within you.
  150. >Although, It had gotten quieter, more subdued with time.
  151. >Sometimes it came late, like a slow, icy river, remembering to flow in spring as the sun warmed its banks.
  152. >Maybe one day it might not come at all.
  153. >Then maybe you’d stop torturing yourself, you thought.
  155. >You glanced over to Anon, watching him rock on his heels and look out over the early crowds.
  156. >Sun, he was so handsome.
  158. >You lightly hummed the notes as they came despite yourself, letting them waft off on the wind.
  159. >The other half’s verse entered, filled only by the distant echo of the unsung notes in your mind.
  160. >You hummed again in answer, the notes sounding wilted but still beautiful.
  161. >Why do you do this to yourself…
  162. >You glance over to Anon to see him watching you, head cocked slightly as he listened.
  163. >The next notes came, lyrics crafting themselves effortlessly over them, but you held the words down, sticking only to the melody.
  164. >Anon paused, and took the slightest step toward you.
  165. >His mouth worked and you could see a look in his eye, like he was seeing something for the first time.
  167. >Please… Anon, you thought.
  168. >Please, don’t sit there silently.
  169. >Don’t do this to me anymore.
  170. >I don’t know how much longer I can take this…
  171. >An answer verse passed, unsung once more, and you picked up the barest hint of your part.
  172. >You snipped the last rose petal and turned to him, looking him in the eyes.
  173. >A spark—the barest hint of something reflected in his eyes back at you.
  174. >Please…!
  176. >He took a breath.
  178. >“Hey, big guy! Whatchu doin here so early?”
  180. >Anon jerked up and looked over to a mint green unicorn who waved at him from a little ways away.
  181. >You felt a pinch of nausea as the melody washed away.
  182. >No! Don’t leave, you yelled in your head.
  183. >He felt something for sure this time—just a few more notes and… maybe...
  185. >No matter how much you tried to get it back, you couldn’t recall how the song went.
  186. >Your chest ached as Lyra bounded over to him and he smiled, giving her a mane tussle.
  187. >You never learn, do you…
  189. >He talked to her for a moment, while you stared numbly at the two of them like a zombie.
  190. >Lyra looked so happy talking to him.
  191. >You don’t blame her.
  192. >A colt like Anon was one in a million, even if not everyone thought so.
  194. >“I’ll see you tonight then, champ,” Lyra said with a salute.
  195. >She glanced in your direction as Anon turned for his flowers.
  196. >Her chipper demeanor shifted, and she gave you a pitied smile, like someone looking at a foal in time out.
  197. >Neither of you said a word and she left through the thin crowd.
  198. >She didn’t have to say anything.
  199. >Lyra wasn’t a bad pony.
  201. >But like everyone else, she didn’t believe you.
  203. --
  205. >Be Lily.
  206. >You let your watering can down with a clink and wiped the sweat from your forehead.
  207. >The Amaryllis, Tulips, and Zinnias all sat in their rows, neatly trimmed and watered, new soil piled up carefully around them.
  208. >The front screen door slapped against its frame and your sister, Daisy, gave a glance at your work.
  210. >”Good job. We got them planted late but they’re growing fast with that new fertilizer. We may be able to capitalize on seasonal dye colors with Rarity still.”
  212. >You rolled your eyes and gave a shrug.
  213. >It felt like sometimes your sister took all the artistry out of being a florist.
  214. >Each bed was a certain allocation of bits, an investment of time and energy, rather than a labor of love.
  215. >Though you had to admit. if not for her, you and Rose would have been out of business long ago.
  216. >Still...
  218. >Your sister leaned down, examining the petals of one of the lilies before stopping on one in particular and plucking it out.
  219. >She twirled it in her hooves, a quiet look of peace on her face before she turned to you.
  220. >Daisy placed the flower in your mane and swiped the dirt from your coat in her own, rough but sisterly way, then gave an affectionate smile before trotting back into the house to finish dinner.
  222. >You smiled to yourself.
  223. >Your sister may be more focused on economics, but she still did love you and Rose.
  224. >You wouldn’t give up your sisters for the world.
  226. “Speaking of which, Rose should’ve been back by now,” you mumbled to yourself.
  228. >You turned and looked toward the sunset, where the market was held in ponyville everyday.
  229. >Where the heck was she this late?
  230. >The market closed an hour ago.
  231. >Just as you were about to head off to look for her, Rose shuffled out of a side street into view, the flower wagon empty.
  233. >Your face lit up.
  234. >Hey, must have been a good day. No leftovers.
  235. >You raised a hoof to call out to Rose, but stopped.
  236. >Your sister trudged through the streets toward your house, face staring at the ground.
  237. >Her eyes seemed faded, and her mane and tail hung limp.
  238. >In the back of the wagon lay two bottles—cheap Red Madeira wines from Home Brew’s bar down the street.
  239. >Your hoof drifted back to the ground and your smile melted.
  240. >Oh Rose…
  242. >Your sister came up to the shop and shrugged off the wagon harness, before turning and grabbing the two bottles with a blank expression.
  244. “Hey, Rose, uh… how was the market today?” you said, perking up as best you could.
  246. >She meandered past you and lazily slipped inside, letting the screen door slap behind her.
  248. “Rose?” you said, coming in after her.
  250. >Rose headed to the living room, past the table already set with a steaming fresh vegetable dinner, and flopped down on the couch.
  251. >She curled up, facing away from the room.
  253. >You and Daisy shared a worried look as you sat at the table.
  254. ”Hey, Rose?” you said, keeping your voice gentle. “Daisy made dinner. Slow roasted potato casserole and green beans, one of your favorites. Why don’t you come to the table?”
  256. >>“I’m not hungry…” she said, her voice sounding raspy and tired.
  258. “Come on, you’ll feel better with some food in you.”
  260. >Rose didn’t answer and instead uncorked one of the wine bottles.
  261. >She took a sip, and you could see her shudder, then let out a series of small coughs.
  262. >Your sister wasn’t much of drinker.
  264. >You let a breath out through your nose and sat on your haunches.
  265. >It hurt to see her like this.
  266. >Every so many days she’d go down to market, despite you suggesting someone else take the shift.
  267. >But no… each time she looked off toward the market like a little lost puppy, and you know you didn’t have the heart to stop her.
  269. >”Leave her be,” Daisy said, sitting down with you. “I’ll make her a plate she can warm up later if she wants. We can talk about the herding thing tomorrow.”
  271. >Rose perked an ear up and rolled halfway to look over at the two of you.
  273. >”It’s not what you’re thinking, Rose. We’ve just been considering some of the single colts around town.”
  275. >>“...like who?”
  277. >“Timer Turner, Lucky Clover, Noteworthy, Thunderlane…”
  279. >>“... and Anon?” she said, sitting up now.
  281. >Daisy paused, fork halfway to her mouth.
  282. >She sighed and set it down.
  283. >“Rose, we’ve had this conversation. No. Not Anon.”
  285. >Roseluck furrowed her brow, and frowned.
  286. >>“Why not?”
  288. >”Because, Lily and I just don’t feel that way about him. If we’re going to herd, we have to at least all have feelings for him.”
  290. >>“You’re not even going to consider him?”
  292. >“Consider him?”
  293. >Daisy gritted her teeth.
  294. >”Rose, this is absurd,” she said. “We’ve had to watch you torture yourself over him for weeks now. Can’t you think of anyone else? Besides, even if Lily and I had feelings for Anon, are you really willing to share him with us? Can you look me in the eyes and tell me that’s what you actually want?”
  296. >Rose turned her gaze to the floor, her eyes hidden by her mane.
  297. >She pursed her lips and drew herself inwards.
  298. >>”It’d be better than nothing…”
  300. >The room fell quiet, only the clink of your silverware eeking out as you idly pushed your peas around.
  301. >Rose sniffled and you glanced over to see her shivering.
  302. >Tears drifted down her cheeks, staining them dark.
  304. >Daisy worked her mouth, searching for something to say.
  305. >She grumbled, put her plate up by the sink, and started up the stairs.
  307. “Daisy, where are you—?” you said.
  309. >”I can’t watch her self destruct like this day in and day out. I’m going to bed.”
  310. >She rushed up the stairs, the door at the top slamming shut.
  311. >The clock ticked in the quiet, punctuated by a sniffle from Rose.
  313. “Rose... “ you said, turning to her. “There are other stallions. Why can’t you at least meet some with us. Daisy and I both have colts we like. We want you to be a part of that. Don’t you want to… be happy? Can’t you give THEM a chance?”
  315. >Rose sat stock still, eyes cast down at the floor.
  316. >You sighed, and moved to put your plate up and settle in for the night.
  317. >Maybe tomorrow you could talk to her.
  319. >>”Do you even believe me?” Rose said, half under her breath, like a thought that traveled too far.
  321. >You flinched as if struck and your ears went back.
  322. “It’s not that we don’t believe you, Rose. It’s just…”
  323. >A hoof moved to rub the back of your head.
  324. “Well… we don’t know what to think. You’ve been trying for so long, and he still doesn’t sing back, or even feel the same way. That’s never happened before, so what are we supposed to believe?”
  326. >>”It’s so beautiful and painful at the same time, and no matter what I do, I can’t stop hoping that one day he’ll let me hear his side of the song. If only you knew what it felt like to be filled with it, Lily.”
  327. >She reached for the wine bottle and took a heavy gulp, shuddering at the burn as it traveled down.
  328. >Rose took a breath and looked you in the eye for the first time that night, tears in her eyes, and a sad smile on her face.
  330. >>”If you had any idea…you’d have never asked me to see other colts.”
  332. --
  334. >Be Rose
  335. >You sat on Anon’s front porch, staring blearily in the evening light at his front door.
  336. >Your face felt numb and hot despite the cool night air, and your throat still felt the burn from two and a half bottles of red wine.
  337. >A bottle clinked to your right as you swayed into it, making it roll out of reach.
  338. >It stopped against the side of his house with a hollow sound.
  339. >Oh…
  340. >Make that two bottles of wine.
  342. >You turned back to the door again and blinked, trying to get your eyesight to stay steady.
  343. >Your hoof drew circles on the wood absently.
  344. >Why were you even here...
  345. >You couldn’t concentrate through the fog in your mind to remember why exactly, but if you had to guess...
  346. >Your thoughts started to wander to Anon’s smiling face today—the way he waved at you in the market, looking almost excited to see you.
  347. >An ache welled up in you and your eyes turned back to his door.
  349. >Anon...
  351. >Before you could second guess yourself, you reached out a hoof and knocked.
  352. >Some muffled voices echoed in reply behind the door and you heard hoofsteps before it swung open, revealing Lyra and Bon Bon.
  353. >You could see past them a little ways into the kitchen, where Flitter and Cloudchaser leaned around a wall, trying to get a glance over their herdmates’ shoulders.
  355. >What were they doing here?
  356. >Shouldn’t they be at home?
  357. >Unless...
  358. >Your shoulders slumped as your sluggish mind put it together.
  359. >Oh…
  360. >Lyra and her herd were courting him.
  361. >You felt your eyes sting and start to water.
  362. >Th-That’s nice for Anon… Lyra was a really nice mare.
  363. >He’d be real happy...
  365. >Lyra looked at you with surprise, then worry, while Bon Bon’s expression soured.
  366. >>“We’ll be right back, girls,” Bon Bon said. “There’s something we need to take care of for a second. Go ahead and keep Anon company in the meantime.”
  367. >She stepped out, closing the door behind her and Lyra.
  368. >Bon Bon stood up straight, glared at you.
  369. >>“What are YOU doing here?”
  371. >She took a step closer and Lyra put a hoof against her chest, coming between you.
  372. >“Hold on, Bonnie. Let’s just talk for a second,” Lyra said and turned to you, her inner eyebrows angled up.
  373. >“Rose… why did you come to Anons house? We—”
  374. >She paused and sniffed, then spotted the wine bottle.
  375. >”Is that YOU that smells like alcohol? Have you been drinking?”
  377. >Bon Bon sniffed and circled to your side, then pushed your shoulder.
  378. >You lost your balance and fell, catching yourself partway with your hooves.
  379. >The world spun from the sudden movement and you groaned at the dizzying sensation.
  381. >>”She’s completely smashed,” Bon Bon said. “What the heck were you hoping for, Roseluck, coming to Anon’s like that?”
  383. >You gritted your teeth and clenched your eyes shut.
  384. >Even in your drunken haze, you knew the answer deep down.
  385. >Sun, you were so pathetic…
  387. >She took a step closer.
  388. >>”Were you thinking you could take advantage of him or something? What’s the deal?”
  390. “No!” you said. “I just…”
  391. >Your bottom lip quivered and you barely suppressed a sob.
  392. >The answer was there.
  393. >You’d gotten drunk to try to not think, but you couldn’t avoid it.
  394. “...I just wanted to see him,” you whispered.
  396. >Bon Bon stiffened and snorted.
  397. “Oh I bet, you little liar.”
  399. >“Whoa, relax Bonny…” Lyra said.
  401. >>”Lyra, come on. After she pulled that stunt like she did with Anon, saying she heard a duet when he clearly didn’t have a clue what she was talking about? And now she’s here, drunk as only Celestia knows? I don’t trust her. She tried to manipulate him with something he knows nothing about. Can you really defend her after that?”
  403. >”Well… no,” Lyra said, rubbing a hoof against the back of her neck.
  405. >You didn’t move a muscle but it hurt just the same.
  406. >Ponies didn’t say it out loud but you could catch whispers of ‘liar’ or ‘how could she do that to him?’
  407. >You’d still held out for Lyra, hoping she may believe you, even a little bit.
  409. >“But, we’ve known Rose for a while. I don’t know why she did that but, maybe she’s just lonely, and the way they just mesh sometimes… Well, imagine you had a thing for a colt real bad and—”
  411. >>”I’d know how to control myself and not lie to everyone in town about something special.”
  413. >Lyra winced.
  414. >“Yeah… that’s probably the better thing to do, but…”
  415. >She looked over at you and her expression softened.
  416. >“When I see the way she looks at him sometimes, I think, maybe if he just saw a little of what she does in him, he’d give her a chance. What if WE gave her a chance?”
  417. >She kicked a hoof out and cleared her throat.
  418. “Would you want to join our herd, Rose?”
  420. >Your eyes widened and your heart skipped a beat.
  421. >What…?
  423. >>"Lyra, you can't just spout offers like that."
  425. >Your ears went back.
  426. >Oh…
  427. >You’d almost gotten excited.
  428. >Ha.
  430. >"But… she really likes him."
  432. >>"So do a lot of mares!” Bon Bon said, frowning. “So do I. And Flitter. And Cloudchaser. Being a herd is about being a sisterhood and only you know Rose well enough. Besides, we don't know if Anon would even take our herd with her in it."
  434. >"Bonnie!"
  436. >>"I'm serious. Who knows what he thinks of her considering what she tried to pull."
  438. >"But... I mean... gosh, Bonnie, she's right there..."
  440. >>“No… She’s a liar. I don’t care how she feels, and neither does Anon!”
  442. >A sickening pang went through your chest and your eyes widened.
  443. >It felt like she’d struck you.
  444. >Fresh tears came to your eyes and you sank the rest of the way to the floor.
  445. >No… please…
  446. >Don’t think about it.
  447. >Your hooves curled up to your center and you lay there, water pooling to the side of your face.
  448. >You wanted to throw up, to yell, to hit Bon Bon and make her shut up.
  449. >You wanted to scream and break things and make her feel pain like you felt.
  450. >You HATED her.
  451. >But—
  452. >You shuddered.
  453. >None of that would change a thing.
  455. >Because she was right.
  457. >The door to Anon’s house creaked open, pouring light out over you.
  458. >A male voice rung out, sending tingles through your skin.
  460. >>>”Rose…?”
  462. >You froze, your eyes widening an inch, and slowly turned your head to look up at Anon.
  463. >He looked down at you, worry marking his features.
  465. >You put your hooves around your head and turned away, sobbing.
  466. >Why’d he have to come out and see you like this…
  467. >Couldn’t you be a miserable wreck without alone?
  469. >>>”What the heck happened?” he said. “I just came out to check on what you guys were doing out here and…”
  470. >He looked across the faces of the other two ponies.
  471. >Lyra slumped her head down and sat on her haunches, looking like a scolded dog, while Bon Bon simply stood still, her mouth a thin line.
  472. >Neither could look him in the eye.
  474. >>>”What was all that yelling. What happened?”
  476. >Bon Bon worked her mouth, searching for words.
  477. >>”I—I was just trying to defend you, Anon. What Roseluck has been doing to you is wrong, and—”
  479. >>>”What? The heck are you talking about?“ Anon said, crossing his arms. “Rose didn’t do anything to me.”
  481. >A confused and wide eye Flitter and Cloudchaser came around Anon’s legs
  483. >>>>”What’s going on...?” Flitter said.
  485. >>>”I”m trying to figure that out. Bon Bon?”
  487. >She took a step back, shrinking away at his gaze.
  488. >>”It’s just the song. Er, I mean, the one she lied about. It was wrong of her, okay! I’m just trying to stop you from getting hurt, and she was drunk so I thought she was trying to… I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to upset you.”
  490. >Anon relaxed, and rubbed his forehead.
  491. >>>“Bon Bon, maybe your heart is in the right place…”
  492. >He slumped against the doorframe and let out a long sigh.
  493. >You felt his eyes on you and you winced internally.
  494. >He was going to tell you to leave.
  496. >>>“I think I’m going to need my space tonight guys,” he said. “I need to talk to Rose, just the two of us.”
  498. >Your mouth dropped and you peeked up at him.
  499. >What?
  501. >Bon Bon’s mouth dropped.
  502. >>“Huh?! Just the two of you? Alone?! But—!”
  504. >>>“Bon Bon,” he said firmly. “I get that you’re a bit worried but this is just something I need to do. Please respect that.”
  506. >Bon Bon hesitated, looking between you and him.
  507. >She frowned and opened her mouth to say something but Lyra came in front of her.
  509. >Lyra stepped in looking up at Anon.
  510. >> “We can go for tonight. It, um. It was good getting to talk to you a little. We’ll see you tomorrow, Anon.”
  511. >Lyra gave a short bow, and pulled Bon Bon with her, heading out down the path away from Anon’s home.
  512. >Bon Bon balked at her herdsister, looking like she’d protest but instead followed her with a sulky expression.
  513. >She spared the two of you a disatisfied glance then gave a snort and continued with Flitter and Cloudchaser behind her.
  515. >Anon leaned down, picked you up and cradled you prince style.
  516. >>>“Here, let me get you inside.”
  518. >A groan escaped you as the world shifted and you grabbed at him for some stability.
  519. >Sun, you would do something so unmarely.
  521. >But Anon just chuckled and walked inside, shutting the door behind him.
  522. >>>”Sorry, Rose. I’d shoulder you but you can barely stand. This is easier for the both of us.”
  524. >Your squirmed in his arms as soon as the indoor light hit your eyes.
  525. >Stupid… candle things.
  526. >Why were you being moved again…?
  527. >Everything felt hazy and strange, like a dream.
  528. >Sun… you were so tired.
  529. >Your tears dried at some point during the talking and you hung limp in his warm grip.
  530. >You wanted so bad to nuzzle into him even a fraction more, but every part of you felt completely drained.
  532. >Anon set you down on something soft as his face started to blur with each tired blink.
  533. >>>“Hey… go ahead and rest, you look beat. We can talk in the morning.”
  535. >You instinctively whined and reached up as his hands left you, but you hadn’t the strength to pull at him, your hooves instead falling limply to your sides.
  536. >He blew a few hanging candles, and darkness fell around you.
  537. >In mere moments, you felt yourself drift to sleep.
  539. --
  541. >Be Anon.
  542. >You sat in your recliner, sipping some cocoa while a little red-maned pony slept fitfully nearby.
  543. >The ponies didn’t really feel the weather sometimes but you sure did.
  544. >It felt good to warm yourself up a bit.
  546. >You couldn’t seem to settle down tonight with all the thoughts swirling around in your head.
  547. >Everything seemed to come back to Rose’s song…
  548. >You’d asked Twilight about it but she hadn’t known much more than what you’d gathered from others.
  549. >A magical song that just… came to you and signified a deep connection?
  550. >How does something like a song do that?
  551. >It didn’t make any sense.
  553. >You sighed and your gaze drifted over to your bay window.
  554. >The full moon shone above, surrounded by innumerable, twinkling stars.
  555. >Equestrian nights really were something…
  556. >Not nearly enough artificial light to block out the view like where you’re from.
  558. >It wasn’t uncommon for you to get a little restless at night.
  559. >Years of internet addiction still showed their effects even after coming here, but it let you appreciate of the beauty of this place.
  560. >You let out a breath and relaxed back into your chair.
  561. >Despite everything, something about Equestrian nights put you at ease…
  563. >A wet gurgly burp echoed in the dark to your left, and you heard a feminine voice moan.
  564. >You lit a candle in time to see Rose roll over the edge of the couch and flop onto the floor.
  565. >She shakily got to her hooves and peered around with squinting eyes.
  567. >She saw you and her ears went back.
  568. >“Non…?” she said, sounding almost like a scared filly. “Where’s the bathroom?”
  570. “You need to puke?”
  572. >She hesitated a moment, then nodded.
  573. >A rueful smile worked its way onto your face.
  574. >So much for being at ease.
  575. >You got out of your chair and gestured for her to follow you.
  577. >A few moments later, you found yourself holding hair back as she retched red-tinted bile into your toilet.
  578. >Not what you thought you’d be doing tonight, but life was weird that way.
  580. >Rose gagged and coughed, finally seeming to have gotten everything out.
  581. >She sniffled, and you reached up toward the tissues above the toilet, wiped her nose, then tossed it in and flushed.
  583. >”I’m s-sorry, Anon,” she said, shuddering.
  584. >You smiled to yourself and rubbed your hand in circles on her back.
  585. “Shhh, you’re not doing anything wrong, Rose.”
  587. >”But you d-don’t have to help me. It’s probably really gross.”
  589. “A little, but I’m going to help anyways.”
  591. >The two of you stayed like that for a moment, the little pony leaning into your touch.
  592. >Poor girl really had a rough night.
  593. >You absently ran your fingers through her fur, then switched to combing through her mane.
  594. >She let out another small moan, this time sounding much more contented.
  595. >You’d been sick with the flu a handful of times, and you remember your mother doing this while softly singing lullabies to you.
  596. >You smiled thinking back.
  598. >As you continued to brush her back, you began to hum, just barely loud enough to hear over the water in the pipes.
  599. >You paused, trying to remember some of the songs your mother used to sing to you.
  600. >Nothing came to you.
  601. >You began feeling out a directionless song, letting the moment take you.
  602. >It came in baby steps—a few notes then a pause—as you felt your way through it.
  603. >What came sounded strangely beautiful.
  604. >Tired and sad in a way… but it made you feel good to sing.
  606. >Rose’s ears shot up and tilted toward you, her body going rigid.
  608. >You stopped.
  609. “Rose?”
  611. >“I just thought I heard…”
  612. >She sat there, ears angling, searching for something.
  613. >Apparently not finding it, she sighed.
  614. >“Nevermind. I must be imagining things.”
  616. “I was humming. Was that it?”
  618. >“I heard THAT, but then… I don’t know.”
  619. >She shrugged.
  620. >“Anon, do you mind if I get some fresh air or something? I don’t think I can sleep right now.”
  622. >You can only imagine.
  623. >The girl probably had a lot on her mind.
  624. >There was a lot for the both of you to get off your chests.
  626. “Do you mind if I come with you?”
  628. >She hesitated at that, then gave a half-hearted shrug.
  629. >”If you want…”
  631. --
  633. >A night breeze swept by, rustling the grass underfoot and you tucked your hands in your jacket’s pockets, thankful for bringing something to keep you warm.
  634. >Ponyville stood to your back a ways behind, with nothing but an open field to the Everfree ahead.
  636. >Rose sat curled up beside you, staring out across the field.
  637. >Neither of you spoke.
  638. >You hadn’t felt the need just yet.
  639. >Instead you found yourself watching her.
  640. >Rose’s stomach rose and fell with her breathing, while the moon lit her face in a peculiar and fascinating way.
  641. >Her eyes almost seemed to glow a beautiful fern green, while her hair and pelt gained a silvery shine in the moonlight.
  642. >The wind gently brushed across her peach fur and she flicked an ear subconsciously.
  643. >You found yourself smiling, a warm feeling spreading in you.
  644. >It felt nice… sitting out here, just the two of you.
  646. >Her eyes flicked up to yours and she stilled.
  647. >A faint shade of pink spread across the bridge of her nose.
  648. >”What? Is there something on my face?”
  650. >You gave a start.
  651. “Huh? Oh no, I was…”
  652. >Realizing you’d been staring at the poor girl, you sat up and cleared your throat.
  653. “Sorry, I was just thinking—didn’t mean to make you nervous.”
  655. >She frowned and lay her head on the grass.
  656. “S’okay…”
  658. >The silence which had been relaxing up until now seemed to hang in the air like a weight.
  659. >At some level, both of you understood why you’d wanted to come along.
  660. >There was a lot that needed to be said—you couldn’t let things lay as they had.
  661. >You weren’t blind.
  662. >But you were also a coward.
  663. >A coward who hadn’t said a word as you walked all through town.
  664. >And now here you were, with nowhere farther to walk and not a single word uttered between the two of you.
  665. >If you walked back now, you’d be putting her off again.
  666. >You couldn’t do that any longer.
  667. >But Rose was the first to break the silence.
  669. >”Anon… what do you do with those the flowers you buy from me?”
  671. “The roses, you mean?” you said quirking an eyebrow.
  673. >She nodded.
  674. >”Flowers are usually a sign that someone is courting a stallion. Mares come to our stall for arrangements to give to colts all the time, sometimes with a flower theme that fits them.”
  675. >She dug her hooves into the dirt, tracing little circles.
  676. >”I saw you had them set up by your front window. If you’re looking to start courting with Lyras herd, um… you should probably take them down. They’ll give the wrong impression.”
  678. >”I know. Lyra asked if I had been seeing someone the first time I put them up, and I had to ask Twilight what may have given her that idea.”
  680. >She sat up and gave you a searching look.
  681. >”... you knew? Then why’d you keep buying from me?”
  683. >You shrugged.
  684. “It’s not easy to explain. When I first came here, mares seemed really interested in me, and that was new and felt really good. At first I thought it was great but… it grew overwhelming. It was hard just going places, shopping for things, going to work for Twilight without getting attention, good and bad. I remember how much I hated...”
  686. >You paused choosing your words carefully.
  687. “I remember how much I hated turning away some mares. Some were crass and it didn’t bother me too much with them but… well, others were really nice, and I hated seeing how hurt they looked. Back in my world, things are pretty different and I remember what it was like, putting yourself out there, only to have your feelings not returned…”
  689. >Rose looked away from you.
  691. “Eventually I didn’t want to have to keep doing it to them,” you continued. “For a long time I didn’t even know if I could feel that way about a pony. And then there were all the cultural differences—all the nuances about scent, and being a proper stallion, or how to act with a herd—how to even handle courting a herd in the FIRST place and…
  692. >You sighed.
  693. “It was hard to understand everything. The flowers helped give me time to think. I needed to see how I felt I guess.”
  695. >Her tail curled around her hooves and her ears went back.
  696. >“And now?”
  698. “Now? Well, I don’t know if I could be part of a herd.”
  700. >”Really?” she said, furrowing her brow slightly.
  701. >”A bunch of mares all to yourself, to protect and support you? You don’t want that?”
  703. >You snorted.
  704. “I remember a time when I did. Where I’m from, that’s an unattainable fantasy. But at some point I realized what it would take. I’d have to try hard to love everyone equally. I’d have to get to know them on a level that usually takes humans so long to cultivate. All it takes is one pony I don’t feel that chemistry with and everything falls apart for everyone. What if they kick her out because they’re afraid of that? What if they don’t and the mare thinks it’s all her fault when things aren’t working? What if I don’t want a whole herd and just want—”
  705. >You paused, opening your hand and letting the grass clippings you’d unconsciously been picking fall to the ground.
  706. “From everything I’ve seen, herding is just the way it’s done, but… then there’s the Cakes. Watching them, you can tell they’ve dedicated everything to fostering a relationship with one another and, it seems so...”
  707. >You gestured with hand, trying to find the right word.
  708. “I don’t know what to call it, but it seems… nice, in a way.”
  710. >Rose sat eerily still.
  711. >”Nice…?” she said, her voice sounding choked and unsteady.
  712. >”So… you want something like what the Cakes have. You liked monogamy this whole time… who knew, right? Here I was thinking I couldn’t compete because I was only one mare, and hey, that was something I could understand at least, b-but now?!”
  714. “Rose, I didn’t mean—”
  716. >You could hear the hurt in her voice as she trembled.
  717. “Is there something wrong with me or something? Do you hate me? Do you think I’m ugly or dumb or just some stupid stalker or something? You haven’t even given me a chance! I mean… you know what the song means, don’t you?”
  719. >Tears streaked down her cheeks and she looked down at her hooves.
  720. >Her brilliant red mane covered her eyes from you.
  721. >”Do you just ignore it all the time? It is easy for you, because that’s not how it is for me. I want to go and sing so badly my chest hurts sometimes, but no, because you’ve never let out a single note, so what choice do I have but to bottle it all up? All I can do is hum and sing little melodies as quiet as I can, hoping with everything I have that one day you’ll actually acknowledge me.
  723. >“If you don’t care about me then just reject me outright already. This stupid song... I don't want to hear it anymore. It’s getting quieter and quieter by the day so just end it already. Tell me you never want to see me again. Hit me. Throw me out of your life and call me names! Tell me I’m just some stupid bitch who doesn’t know when to give it up.”
  725. >You made a move to reach toward her but stopped.
  726. “Rose… I can’t—”
  728. >“Just do it! It’s how you feel anyways. Anon, you big… s-stupid, d-dumb—”
  730. >You leaned down and wrapped her in a hug, cutting her off.
  731. >No matter what she said, you couldn’t hurt her, not like that.
  732. >You didn’t have it in you.
  734. >”Anon—don’t...”
  735. >She lowered her head into your shoulder and shuddered.
  736. “I can’t hate you if you act nice to me. Anon… please, let me be mad at you. If you don’t then I’m just going to go right back to… to...”
  737. >Her grip on your back tightened and she pressed herself into you.
  738. >She felt so small, so vulnerable right then—a child gripping hard to a life raft and afraid to let go.
  740. >You moved a hand up and brought it behind her head, hugging her to your chest.
  741. “I’m sorry, Rose. I’m an idiot.”
  743. >“Yeah,” she said, her voice muffled into your shoulder.
  745. “And selfish, and oblivious, and stubborn.”
  747. >“And… a two timer and selfish…”
  749. “Mmhm.”
  751. >“And a janefilly and cute and—”
  752. >She let out an ‘eep’ and stiffened in your arms.
  754. >You smiled to yourself and ran your hand along her back.
  755. >This little pony…
  756. >She was an amazing gem, even if she couldn't see that right now.
  757. >But while you really liked her, you didn’t love her the same way she loved you.
  758. >You ran your hands up and down her back, feeling that beautiful soft coat.
  759. >It wasn’t right that she had to feel like this.
  760. >You had to tell her.
  761. >It would hurt, and you’d hate it, but couldn’t go on anymore.
  763. “Rose?”
  765. >”...yeah?” she answered, tensing up.
  767. “I don’t hate you. There’s no way I could hate a sweet pony like you. But I also didn’t feel or hear anything the day you first sang to me. For me, that was just the first time meeting a stranger.”
  769. >She looked up at you, eyes moist, searching your face.
  770. >“You really didn’t hear anything? Nothing at all?”
  772. >You shook your head.
  773. “I still don’t. And… I don’t feel the same way about you.”
  775. >A small light seemed to flicker out in Rose and her grip loosened on you.
  776. >She sank to her haunches with an empty, far off look in her eyes.
  778. “Rose?”
  780. >The pony in front of you just sat there, looking pale even in the faint moonlight.
  781. >A small shiver went through her.
  782. >“I-It’s gone… I can’t hear it anymore.”
  784. >A cold feeling went over you.
  785. “What…?”
  787. >She didn’t answer you at first.
  788. >Rose sat frozen in time, eyes wide open and looking at nothing.
  789. >“Anon… could you… go and wait for me by Ponyville. I think I need a minute.”
  791. “Yeah sure. Whatever you need, Rose.”
  792. >You got up and started toward town, hands in your pockets, your stride a touch jerky as you fought the weakness spreading in your legs.
  793. >The faint howl of wind and shuffle of grass beneath your feet were the only sounds to accompany you, and it somehow punctuated the lack of hooves trotting at your side.
  795. >Your stomach felt like you’d swallowed a rock and your hands tightened into fists.
  796. “Dammit…”
  797. >It was the right thing to do no matter how you try to look at it.
  798. >She wasn’t going to get any better if you weren’t honest with her.
  799. >So why did it feel like you hadn’t even tried?
  801. >You paused and leaned against a wooden post that set the boundaries for Ponyville.
  802. >Letting your breathing still, you trained your ears outwards.
  803. >Nothing but wind and grass echoed through the night.
  804. >Was there something you were missing?
  805. >Why couldn’t you hear it?
  806. >Was it even there for you?
  807. >Rose had sung to you before and you didn’t recognize it as anything but pretty sounding.
  808. >Would this world be so cruel as to only give the song to one of the two?
  809. >You had to admit, you knew nothing about magic, nor could you even seem to use it.
  810. >But everyone here had magic in them, even you; Twilight had said so.
  811. >So why, if you were really meant for each other, would it not work?
  812. >It was all so impossible to understand…
  814. >Could it be that you had to feel for the first notes and the rest would sort of come to you, like a muse?
  815. >Your thoughts wander back to Rose.
  816. >The way she looked at you when you waved at her in the morning.
  817. >How the two of you got along as well as you did.
  818. >The shimmer in her cherry colored mane that had just a bit too much cute messiness to call it straight.
  820. >You whistled clear and crisp three notes into the air, then listened.
  821. >Nothing.
  822. “Come on… I’m trying for her at least. That’s worth something, right?” you said toward the sky.
  823. >Another few notes issued from your lips.
  824. >Only wind answered.
  825. >You took one more breath and hummed a full verse, feeling your way through, repeating again bits that felt right to you while discarding parts that didn’t.
  826. >You paused and listened, only to hear crickets off in the distance.
  827. >A sigh left you and you leaned back against the post.
  828. >That was that then...
  830. >“That sounded nice.”
  832. >You looked up to see Rose standing there, looking like all the life had been drained from her.
  834. “Would it happen to have been the duet song?”
  836. >She shook her head.
  837. >“No—but I liked it,” she said with a faint smile. “It sounded really pretty.”
  839. “Alright then, I’ll uh, see if I can remember what I was singing.”
  840. >You felt your way through again, humming a verse here, adding a new chorus this time that you thought might fit.
  841. >It wasn’t perfect, not by a long shot.
  842. >But looking at Rose you didn’t want to stop.
  843. >Her green eyes stared directly into yours and you felt your heart leap when you saw that beautiful light in them coming back a bit.
  844. >It was faint, like a dim candle at the bottom of it’s wick, but it was there.
  846. --
  848. >Be Rose.
  849. >You’d expended everything tonight—Felt as much pain as your body would let you until nothing seemed to hurt anymore.
  850. >Tomorrow you’d wake up remembering how it was all over and you may cry, or stay inside all day.
  851. >But for now, you were by his side, listening to him finally sing.
  852. >It wasn’t your song, not even close.
  853. >The one you heard on that first day was so upbeat, so full of joy.
  854. >Anons felt deeper, slower and more content sounding.
  855. >The notes weaved in a simple, light-handed way, letting you savor them instead of hitting you with a catchy melody.
  856. >You don’t think you would have picked a better way to end your night with him.
  857. >You smiled to yourself as you felt your heartstrings tug.
  858. >It may be some time before you fully got over him…
  860. >Anon paused, letting the last few notes ring in the air.
  861. >Something in the breeze seemed to stir and a few scattered notes echoed out, as if from miles away.
  862. >You paused.
  863. >... what?
  864. >Your mouth hung open slightly, and you tilted your ears around you.
  865. >Anon continued again, a mirror of the previous melody.
  866. >The return, slightly altered and barely louder than a breath, met your ears once more.
  867. >You sang it softly, almost to yourself but loud enough that the both of you could hear in the quiet field.
  868. >Anon returned it without meaning to, as he kept on with his part of the song.
  870. >The both of you stilled and looked each other in the eye.
  871. >You picked up where he left off, following that faint sound, that instinct that sparked in your chest.
  873. >His eyes widened.
  874. >“Rose, how are you doing that?”
  876. “You can’t hear that…?”
  877. >He shook his head.
  878. >Your heartbeat picked up.
  879. “Keep going.”
  881. >An open smile spread across your face as his side rang out.
  882. >You could hear it again, the first duet, but not the way you’d heard it the first day you met Anon.
  883. >It was a fluid thing, a melody suite that could shift, change tempo for your moods.
  884. >The song was drowsy when you were sad, upbeat when you felt happy.
  885. >But it was always recognizable.
  886. >You couldn’t ever recall it after it came and went but you’d never mistake it, not in a million years.
  887. >And now…
  888. >The song was changing, notes shifting their tone, tempo slowing to match Anon’s.
  889. >You sang back in return as Anon led.
  890. >He kept on, unsure of his steps but every note he sang you were sure was right, and you were able to keep with him exactly now.
  891. >Your voices sang in perfect harmony and he slowed to a stop.
  892. >The song hung in the air, ready to be picked up at any moment.
  894. >Anon seemed breathless.
  895. >Something changed in his expression.
  896. >He looked at you like seeing someone for the first time and took a step back.
  897. >You could see his hands trembling but more than that, you could feel him.
  898. >His heart was pounding, his skin felt hot, and he felt something strange and wonderful welling up in his center.
  899. >“Rose… what is this?” he said.
  900. >Warm, happy tears streaked down your face and you let out a small laugh.
  902. “I think it’s the start.”
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