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“Octavia, I have a reputation to maintain,” Vinyl muttered, cheeks red with shame as she tried to pull the beanie over her eyes.
“Oh shush, you sound just like Ps—” The cellist stopped talking abruptly, freezing in place.
“Like… a broken record, I meant to say.”
“Whatever, I still look stupid.” Vinyl tore the beanie off her head and placed it back on the hook.
Luckily, the shop wasn’t very busy this early in the morning. Only two other ponies were nearby, and they were too busy obsessing over different coloured saddles to pay the other couple any mind. Which was fortunate, because they weren’t being very subtle today.
The DJ had been so drunk on the fact they shared the bed again (innocently, of course) that she hastily agreed to the plan her roommate set out for the day. It was Thursday, so the grey mare had two tutorials in the afternoon, which meant she wanted to get as much done in the morning as possible.
Remembering the difficulties they experienced on their spicy date a few days ago, Octavia decided that proper clothing was of utmost importance in the event they wanted to venture outside again. She had already secured herself some lovely blue boots and a white scarf, and was now attempting to outfit her roommate in similar clothes.
“But it looked great! It matched your mane perfectly,” Octavia persisted, following the DJ as she walked over to a different rack.
“Hmm… well, this one isn’t too bad I guess.” Vinyl plucked a greyish beanie from a hook and pulled it over her head. Most of her mane still stuck out from underneath it in a spiky mess, making her look rather cute. Octavia didn’t dare say as much out loud, of course. “Pretty sexy, huh?” said Vinyl.
The cellist didn’t reply verbally, instead fluttering her eyelashes and smiling. She may have been new to this ‘flirting’ activity, but she was learning quickly, as evidenced by the DJ choking on air for a moment. “Is something wrong, Vinyl?” Her smile grew.
Recovering somewhat, the unicorn stepped closer. “Dammit, Octavia,” she whispered. “That was totally unfair.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” the grey mare replied innocently, brushing past her roommate in order to inspect the hoofwear section. “Now why don’t you pick out some boots? You’ll need them, especially if we go out walking at night again.”
“Alright, alright.” Vinyl turned and glanced at the display. “How about these dark ones with the black rim?”
“Rather droll, don’t you think? Besides, I expected more colourful choices from you.”
“But grey and black are my favourite colours!” the DJ replied defensively.
“I’m only saying that it’s… rather… odd…” Octavia trailed off, and when Vinyl looked to see why, she found the cellist smirking knowingly at her.
“What?” Vinyl frowned.
“You’re very sweet, but I don’t mind if you want to pick brighter shades. Really, they would suit you better.”
It was Octavia’s turn to frown in confusion. “You mean you’re not doing this on purpose?”
“Doing what?” The DJ was getting rather bewildered at the odd behaviour of her roommate.
Her perplexed look giving way to a soft smile, she waved her hoof slightly to dismiss the issue. “Oh Vinyl, you’re even sweeter than you realise. Don’t worry about it.”
“O-kay…” Vinyl turned her attention back to the boots. “Screw it, I’m gonna get these and I don’t wanna hear a word against ‘em.”
“Not a word.”
On the short trip to the counter, Octavia seemed to stay closer than was really suitable in a public environment, yet Vinyl couldn’t quite summon the motivation to step away. As if standing next to each other in front of a shopkeeper was going to get them in trouble.
Still, she hated how her first thought was of what other ponies might think. That kind of restriction was something she hadn’t experienced in years. Her time in high school had affirmed her self-confidence to the point where very little could shake her.
But now she had a weakness. A gorgeous, incredible, amazing weakness, but a weakness nonetheless. Octavia was the chink in her armour; the soft spot in her psyche. She was simultaneously the most valuable and the most vulnerable part of her.
So now she had to worry about what other ponies would think, for Octavia’s sake. Before, she could ignore the opinions of others on the basis that she had nopony to answer to but herself. Her parents had long given up, and she had no siblings. It was sort of why she became so self-assured in the first place, despite her failings: The world expected nothing from her, so nothing bothered her.
This weakness, she realised, was an inherent part of what she now shared with Octavia. Whatever it was, it was absolutely crucial. It was this gap in her protection that allowed her to feel the way she did.
Vinyl paid for the clothing on autopilot, still deep in thought. They exited the shop and stood for a moment in the street, letting the steadily-growing crowds shuffle by. It didn’t take Octavia long to realise something was wrong when her DJ didn’t say anything.
“Vinyl? Are you alright?” she asked, more than a little bit concerned at the uncharacteristic silence.
“Huh? Oh, yeah, I’m fine.” The unicorn seemed to come out of a daze, quickly donning a grin that put her roommate’s heart at ease.
“Is there anywhere else you want to visit before we go home?”
Home, as in, our home, that we share, together, home.
“Nah, let’s head back. I’m sick of sharing you with the rest of the world,” replied the DJ, cheering internally at the blush on Octavia’s cheeks. It usually meant that she would be treated to an extreme close-up of those pretty amethyst eyes as soon as they got through the door. Which, the fluttering in her chest admitted, was quickly becoming her favourite hobby.
It was fortunate then that the cellist seemed just as enthusiastic about their latest shared activity, because kissing was extremely fun. Staying up into the early hours of the morning, holding each other tightly, with nothing but the soft sounds of lips against each other to disturb the peace… it was magical. More magical than actual magic.
As they walked back through the streets of Manehattan, Octavia seemed to accidentally bump her hips against Vinyl’s a lot more than usual. It wasn’t much, but it pushed the DJ’s mind into uneven terrain. It was a topic that was bound to come up sooner or later, and she guiltily admitted to herself that she wasn’t exactly trying to stop thinking about it. If just kissing was so fun…
But those were dangerous waters to tread. Vinyl buried the thoughts under a pile of worries and did her best to ignore them for the time being. Her cellist trotted along merrily, completely oblivious to the impure thought processes transpiring in the white pony beside her.
As they entered and traversed the university campus, Octavia snuck a glance at Vinyl, who was still grinning at something unseen. The cellist knew, on some level, that she didn’t really have to ‘sneak’ glances anymore, and that Vinyl probably wouldn’t mind in the slightest if she asked to spend the rest of the day (the year(my life(eternity))) just studying her every facial feature. The only thing that stopped her was the ever-present fear of creeping her roommate out.
Sure, she had gotten away with a lot of things lately, but there was no reason to push the boundaries. Vinyl hadn’t even said a word when she woke up and saw Octavia sheepishly pushing her bed against the DJ’s so they could have more room to roll around during their… experiments, she liked to call them.
Because that’s what they were, really. She needed to find out if it was possible to kiss a pony until they could no longer articulate thoughts. It was, but further study was needed. Octavia was good at studying.
And so the cellist found herself wearing a grin not unlike the one on the unicorn beside her, while entertaining some thought processes that were also not far removed from her roommate’s.
As they wandered down the path leading to the student village, the two ponies noticed a particular secret waitress stepping out of their building. She spotted them immediately and trotted over, blue-and-pink mane bobbing with each step.
Vinyl tensed up and edged slightly closer to Octavia on instinct. For her part, the cellist summoned a warm smile while simultaneously mentally preparing herself for what could be a battle of words.
“Octavia, I was looking for you,” said Bonbon as she drew to a halt in front of them. “And, um, hi Vinyl.” The addition was as forced as it was awkward, the cellist noted.
So she is more comfortable with me than with Vinyl for some reason… interesting.
“Hello Bonbon. How can I help you?” Octavia replied, opting for a friendly tone.
“Well, you already have, actually. I just wanted to thank you.”
“Um, you have spoken to Lyra recently, right?”
The grey mare nodded, the surprised reaction of the white pony in her peripherals making her feel a little guilty for not telling her sooner. Lyra was as much Vinyl’s problem as hers. “Did my words influence her?”
“A lot.” Bonbon stepped closer and looked around to make sure nopony else was nearby. “She came into the shop I work at. I won’t go into detail, but she was really depressed. I went over to take her order, completely forgetting that she didn’t know I worked there. It… wasn’t my brightest moment.” The mare reddened, but pushed onwards. “As soon as she saw me, she started crying. I’ve never seen her cry at anything. Granted, I’ve only known her for a semester, but still… she’s not the type to bawl her eyes out. Oh, and please don’t tell anypony what I’m telling you.”
They nodded quickly.
“Alright, well, I took my lunch break and we went into the back room to talk. She broke down and told me all of these things I had no idea about, things I didn’t think she was even capable of understanding. At some point, I asked her how she came to all those conclusions. She told me that you spoke to her, Octavia, and your words made her rethink everything.”
The cellist tried to exchange incredulous looks with Vinyl, but the unicorn was too busy wearing a huge, proud grin.
“Which is why,” Bonbon continued, “I want to thank you. Honestly, I think you’ve saved the best friendship I’ve ever had. I can never repay you.”
Octavia was beginning to realise that Vinyl wasn’t the only pony who was more complex than they appeared. It seemed everypony had their own stories, and even if she didn’t quite understand them, she could at least be happy she helped them.
But there was one little problem…
“I’m very glad to hear that you two are friends again. However, I must ask, did you… tell her about Vinyl and I not exactly being enemies?”
Bonbon’s eyes widened. “Oh, no, definitely not! It couldn’t have been further from my mind.” After a moment, she cocked her head to the side curiously. “I know it’s none of my business, but… are you two… together?”
Octavia had lowered her defences as soon as it became clear that Bonbon’s intentions were good, so instead of replying with a carefully planned and convincing response, she spluttered a few nonsensical noises and fell silent. Fortunately, Vinyl stepped in to reply in her stead.
“What makes you ask that?” she said, trying to maintain an air of nonchalance.
The cream-coloured mare’s gaze focused very deliberately on every article of clothing the two ponies wore. Vinyl followed it, finally realising what Octavia was talking about in the shop.
Grey and black boots and beanie. How did I not see that?!
Still, part of her felt giddy with happiness at seeing her cellist wearing her colours in return. It was completely unfashionable and had a terrible contrast, but she wore them anyway. White and blue on grey…
I could get used to that.
“Uh, so we’re wearing clothing that just happens to be the same as each other’s coat and mane. That doesn’t prove anything,” Vinyl said defiantly. It was a shaky retort, and she knew they were in trouble.
“If you say so. Everything looks pretty clear from where I’m standing, anyway.” Bonbon smirked at them both, making it clear that she wasn’t about to believe any excuses.
Octavia managed to reclaim the ability to form complete sentences. “W-well, I’m sure you’re not the type of pony who would go sharing your theories with others.”
The blue-and-pink maned mare had the decency to look offended. “Of course I’m not! Gossip was what almost ruined my friendship with Lyra in the first place.”
“Regardless, please try and be careful.”
“I won’t tell anypony, I promise. It’s the least I can do for you both.”
“Us both?” repeated Vinyl, raising an eyebrow.
“Well, yes. It’s clear to me now that you’re not nearly as bad as Lyra used to insist. Please understand, she is a very complicated pony.” Bonbon had a strained expression, as if desperate to make Vinyl see Lyra differently. “We didn’t mean anything by the jokes we made in class, I swear. She was a different pony, and I… well, I don’t really have an excuse. I thought they were funny. But we’re still sorry, though.”
Vinyl thought it over for a few moments, then broke into a grin. Ponies who held grudges never got far in the world, she reckoned. “Don’t worry about it.”
The grey mare beside her also started to smile. “I would prefer a friend over an enemy any day.”
Bonbon beamed. “Great! I admit, it was pretty daunting telling you all of that. But Psych was right, you two really are nice ponies.” Their jaws dropped, unnoticed by the happy cream-coloured pony. “Well, I’ll talk to you later, new friends!” She giggled and trotted past, heading back to the main area of the campus.
“Psych…” croaked Vinyl.
“Is there anything that pony isn’t involved in?” Octavia said disbelievingly.
Gasping in realisation, the unicorn rounded on the cellist. “What if he knows? Did he tell her to come see us? How does he know we live in this building?”
“Um, Vinyl, perhaps we should take this to our room.” Octavia knew she couldn’t put off telling Vinyl about Psych any longer. Guilt flooded her mind as she realised she probably should have told her a few days ago.
They made haste into the building and up the stairs, welcoming the warmth inside. The cold was less noticeable when they had clothes on, but it was far from gone. Once inside their room, Octavia deliberately took her time taking off each boot, trying to stall the dreaded moment for just a bit longer.
Vinyl pulled her beanie off, letting her hair resume its former shape. She slipped off the boots and approached her roommate slowly. In any other circumstances, she would move in for a kiss, but she was far too worried to be in the mood.
“Do you know something I don’t?” she asked quietly.
Octavia cringed and looked at the ground. “Please don’t get angry.”
The unicorn felt a stab of pain in her chest at the idea. She quickly moved closer and raised the cellist’s chin so she looked her in the eyes. “I’m not gonna get angry. Just tell me what’s up, cause I feel out of the loop here.”
Taking a deep breath, Octavia took the plunge. “Psych is the current student councillor. When I went to see a professional, it turned out to be him.” Jamming her eyes shut, she continued quickly. “I told him everything. How the arguments were fake, how we became friends, how… how you make me feel…” Her voice dropped to a whisper. “Everything.”
She didn’t dare open her eyes to see Vinyl’s reaction, for fear of seeing those garnet eyes laced with disappointment, or rage, or sadness. It would be too much. “Vinyl, I am so, so sorry. I-I was confused about so many things, and–”
The feeling of lips quickly pressing against hers indicated it was time to stop talking. It was a short peck, meant to silence and reassure simultaneously.
“What did he say?” the DJ asked softly.
“He gave me some advice. It gave me the courage to come back to you and… well, you know what happened.”
“He didn’t say ‘I knew it’ or anything?”
“No, definitely not. He was completely professional.”
Vinyl sighed in relief. “I’m glad to hear he’s not as much of a douchebag as I thought he was, but I’m still kinda hurt that you didn’t tell me.” She immediately found herself enjoying the extreme close-up she had been thinking about earlier in the day. “Mmfgh!” It was impossible to not immediately accept the cellist’s apology. “You know what, I’ll get over it.” With the words out of the way, she moved in to return fire.
This was something she hadn’t considered during her reverie at the shop. She had thought of Octavia as a weakness, albeit one she couldn’t do without, but a weakness nonetheless. That may have been true, but it wasn’t the extent of Octavia’s influence in her life.
As she had just felt, her cellist gave her the strength to not let the little things affect her. She was her greatest strength as well as her most vulnerable weak point. It didn’t matter that Psych knew, or that Bonbon suspected, or that everypony would probably know soon enough.
All that mattered was Octavia, breathing hard and blindly trying to pull Vinyl closer than was physically possible. At the end of the day, as long as she could come home to her cellist, nothing else mattered.
Another new addition to this story’s steadily-growing soundtrack was made by Le Soldat Pony. It’s a delightful classical instrumental that encapsulates Octavia’s mixed feelings and how they conflict with the way she was raised. I didn’t realise that part was apparently so moving!
Regarding clop: If there are any sex scenes in this story, they will be submitted in a separate story altogether and linked to from here. I understand that people like reading pony romance in certain levels, some just like the flirty, playful banter, some like the pure, emotional bond between two beings in love, and some like the full-on progression of events leading to and including sex, so I’m going to play it safe and make any questionable scenes entirely skippable by those who don’t want to read them.
That said, I believe that sex is a fairly important part of romantic relationships, and I will not be avoiding the issue in the main story. As beautiful as their growing love may be, it has manifested inside two beings who I have attempted to make fairly realistic: they have flaws, hopes and desires like any sentient creature. I can’t bring myself to completely ignore the ‘desires’ part on the off chance that a reader might find it disturbing. I hope I don’t lose anyone because of this, but it’s the way it has to be.
To summarise: there will be no clop in this main story, but the issue of sex will not be avoided.
Also this has +1800 favourites now. That’s nuts. You’re nuts. I love you.
(I swear I’ll stop writing massive author’s notes now!)