It was a peaceful slumber that Seth awoke from the next morning. He blinked slowly, his vision still slightly blurred from sleep. He yawned, a big expression that felt good. He smiled. He was rested, warm and comfortable.
Seth stretched slowly, feeling his joints creak from a lack of use. He stopped when his legs hit something warm. He looked across, and his smile grew even larger. Octavia was still sleeping deeply next to him. Her breaths came in evenly, her body rising and falling gently with each one.
Celestia, she is beautiful, he thought as he scooted over to get closer to her. He reached out with his hoof, and began to lightly stroke her mane. Sunlight was streaming through an open window, the dust motes dancing gently in the air. Seth looked back over to the mare just across from him. A soft smile now graced her lips as she continued to sleep peacefully.
It was the best feeling in the world. Seth was sure of it, and he was living it. It was a golden bubble of warmth and hope and joy. It was contentment incarnate, manifesting itself as living flame inside the pony, reaching out and touching all of his emotional responses. Driven by this flame, Seth reached over slowly and kissed the grey mare on the forehead. She stirred slightly, her eyes blinking open.
“Seth?” she asked, her voice soft.
“Right here,” he said kindly.
Octavia smiled and closed her eyes again, content in the knowledge that he was there. Seth reached out and pulled her close, holding her against his body. She snuggled in a little closer.
They stayed like that for a long time. However, Seth’s peace was shortly interrupted by a rapidly beating heart: Octavia’s. Seth couldn’t help but notice that the musician was beginning to become… restless. It was subtle though, almost like she was trying to hide it. Seth hugged her closer, attempting to reassure her while his mind ran through all of the possible worst-case scenarios.
“Octavia, is everything ok?” he asked, concerned.
Suddenly, she shifted away from him and moved away to the other side of the bed. He looked at her expectantly, confusion clear in his expression. She looked down at the mattress, unsure. Seth raised an eyebrow. Now it was his heart rate that was increasing.
She smiled at the sheets. “Yes, everything is fine. At the moment, everything is more than fine. Things are perfect.”
Seth’s heart fluttered a bit at her words, but his stomach had tightened. There was definitely something on her mind. “But?”
“I… I have to tell you something, Seth. I need to tell somepony and I am not sure how much longer I can keep it on my shoulders.” She looked up at him, her eyes pleading. “I hate to ruin this moment, but, but…” Her eyes started to mist over as she lost control of her words.
Seth smiled at her and raised a hoof to cover her mouth. “It’s ok, Octavia. I am here for you. You know that, right?”
She nodded weakly as Seth removed his hoof. “I know that. I do, please believe me. Honestly, I am just scared that you will no longer feel the same way. It’s silly, but I am scared.”
“You don’t need to be scared. You have nothing to be scared of. It’s cliché, I know, but I am not going to suddenly change my opinion of you just because you have told me the truth.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, I am sure. I like you for you, Octavia.”
She smiled at him and shook her head. “Ugh, I am acting like such a little filly. You do this to me, you know. You even make me blush for goodness sake.”
Seth laughed and kissed her gently on the nose, and right on cue, she blushed, causing Seth to laugh even harder. “I am here for you. You don’t have to go it alone anymore, Octavia.”
“Thank you,” she said with a warm, gentle smile. “Thank you.”
“Anytime,” Seth answered, nuzzling her kindly.
Octavia took a deep breath, obviously trying to collect herself. Seth sat there patiently, trying not to guess what it was that had been plaguing Octavia for so long. He was happy though, that she was finally opening up to him.
“I grew up in the outskirts of Trottingham with my parents. At a young age they noticed the love I held for music in any shape or form, and so they pursued that love, introducing me to many different types of instruments. When they finally put a cello in front of me, well…” She trailed off, a distant smile on her face. “Well put it this way, I got my cutie mark that day.”
Seth smiled as she obviously reminisced over a good memory.
“As a result, they enrolled me in the Academy for Talented Musicians. I was accepted a week later. It was a dream come true. For the next few years, life was fantastic. My music progressed in leaps and bounds and I made some good friends. However, things… things fell apart. As I grew older, the teachers became more and more unsupportive, the students more and more competitive. Me, being the stubborn foal I am, kept the pressure inside and didn’t tell anypony about my rapidly-fading passion.” She stopped, and cleared her throat, not looking at Seth.
“Well, one day it simply became too much. I came home and exploded at my parents, attacking them for the position I perceived that they were responsible for putting me in. I told them I was leaving, and that very same day, I left home. I have not seen them since.” Octavia choked, tears in her eyes. Seth reached out and pulled Octavia back into his embrace.
“It… It will be ok, trust me.” Despite his good intentions, the words felt… empty, even to Seth.
“But I left them Seth! I, their only daughter, left their house after everything they had given me and never returned. I am a terrible pony, and I always do that exact same thing, I push away the ponies that mean the most to me.” She had started to gush so Seth silenced her with a kiss.
“Relax. Breathe,” he told her gently. “It will be ok. You are not a terrible pony. That’s all in the past.” Seth’s voice was firm; he knew that Octavia would stew in guilt otherwise, like she had obviously been doing for a while now. “That doesn’t change anything to me.”
“Really? It doesn’t?”
“No,” he affirmed. “It doesn’t. I like you for who you are now. That’s in the past.”
She smiled at him, and he kissed her gently. “Thank you,” she said. “I… I feel better,” she admitted with a nervous smile. “I haven’t really told anypony about that before… it all seems so trivial now.”
“It’s not trivial. But it doesn’t change the way I see you.”
She nuzzled up to him, a smile on her face. “Thank you.”
“Anytime.” They stayed there for a time, leaning against each other as the morning passed peacefully into afternoon.
Eventually though, Octavia had decided that they had stayed in bed long enough, and had forced Seth out into the kitchen where she could make, considering the hour, lunch.
While Octavia fried some sort of vegetable (frankly, Seth didn’t care what), he sat at the kitchen table, basking in the contentment of the moment. A pleasant smell reached his nostrils, making his stomach grumble. The sun was warm, streaming in through the window across the room.
“That smells delicious.”
“I’m glad you think so. Do you even know what it is?”
“I haven’t a clue.”
She laughed at him. It was a warm sound that filled the room up with happiness. Seth smiled.
After lunch, Octavia had insisted that the unicorn take a shower, pressing something about being a ‘terrible host’. Once Seth was satisfied he was presentable, he left the bathroom, making sure to leave the towels folded neatly and not crumpled over a chair like he did at his place.
“There, you look dashing now!”
Seth rolled his eyes. “Please, that is one word I would not use to describe myself.”
She giggled and kissed him lightly on the lips as she walked passed him to take a shower of her own. “Simply debonair,” she shot over her shoulder as she closed the door.
Chuckling, Seth began to wander around her apartment. He loved to just admire all of the paintings she had up. His favourite was still the sunset she had painted, but he also had a thing for a particular piece by an artist whose name he was not familiar with. It was another landscape, this time of an ashen and ominous skyline, punctuated by a single shaft of light bursting forward from the grey and illuminating the ground beneath it. The picture was simple, yet majestic in its concept. I really need to get some of these for my place…
The pony continued to explore absentmindedly. He had been there several times before, but he could swear that she changed the layout of the photos every time he visited. He smiled at the pictures of her and her bandmates. She was lucky to have such good friends. Seth noted though, the absence of any foalhood photos. It made a lot of sense now.
Seth paused, mulling over the musician’s confession earlier that morning. It all added up now. He knew her well enough to realise that something like that would cripple her with guilt. He wished that he could do something to help, other than just comforting her. If he was being honest with himself, he felt kind of useless. It made his relationship with his parents look incredible by comparison.
The soft pit-pat of hoofsteps made him turn. He smiled at the pony in front of him. Octavia’s mane was still damp from the shower and hung about her sides like a curtain. Seth had to admit, he kind of liked it like that. Not that he would ever admit it out loud.
“Excuse the mane,” she said. “It takes a while to dry.” She looked at her mane, annoyed at it for being difficult.
“That’s not a problem. It looks great.” Octavia rolled her eyes, and Seth, all too keen to get away from the topic of Octavia’s mane before he said something he would regret, quickly changed the subject. “So, uh, what are our plans for today?”
“Well, I actually have concert practice planned for today.”
“Oh…” Seth felt his heart sink.
“But I would love it if you would could come,” Octavia said, not quite looking at Seth.
Seth felt his spirits soar. Oh yes! “That sounds fantastic!”
Octavia smiled at him.
They left soon after, walking very close, almost touching. Seth had offered to carry her cello for her and to his surprise, she had accepted. The couple moved through the streets of Canterlot in high spirits. Even the weather mimicked their joy as the sky had been cleared expertly by the city’s weather teams early in the morning.
As they walked, they chatted about whatever topic they could think of. It was inconsequential and forgettable discussion, yet to each other they were some of the best conversations they had ever had. Every now and then one would look over at the other and they would smile, filled with relief. Everything was out in the open, and everything was ok. In fact, everything was more than ok.
Occasionally, they would bump into each other as they walked, each accident bringing on a wave of blushing and apologies. Seth felt his heart jump every time they touched.
Ok, just do it. Just do it. It’s not that big of a deal… just do it. He had been debating with himself for close to five minutes now. Slowly, he began to reach out. That’s it! Just like that! Suddenly, Octavia shifted slightly and Seth pulled away. Foal! It’s nothing that scary! Be a stallion and do it!
Seth sucked in a deep breath, and counted to three. Mustering whatever courage he could. One… two… th- His heart froze as he felt Octavia’s tail suddenly intertwine itself with his. He looked over at her, and saw that she was smiling at him mischievously.
“You took too long,” she teased.
Oh Celestia damn it! She beat me to it! Seth sulked for the rest of the trip, but tightened his grip on her tail all the same.
The pair wandered into the CCMA in high spirits. Seth couldn’t help but notice the small bounce that had appeared in the musicians step. It was subtle, as Celestia knows she would be trying very hard to keep her emotions in check, but Seth could sense her excitement.
“I think we are going to keep most of the second half of the set. Melody is playing magnificently and it would such a shame to waste that.”
“That sounds great to me.”
Octavia laughed at her companion. “It’s ok, darling. You will soon learn all about music, rest assured.”
Seth chuckled back at her, yet the pony was more focused on the promise of spending more time with her in the future than the patronising tone she had teased him with. “I have a feeling that is probably going to take a very long time.”
“We will see,” Octavia said, suddenly seeming very reserved. Her ears had pricked up attentively.
Seth felt his stomach drop. Did I do something wr… Seth’s thoughts were interrupted by the voices of Octavia’s bandmates floating down the corridor to them.
“Do you think she will show up today?” That was definitely Golden String.
“I sure hope so,” said Melody in her quiet tones.
“She was a mess the other day. She left without even playing a single song.”
“Just give her some time.” This time it was Troy who spoke. “She’ll be here, don’t worry.”
Seth turned to look at Octavia, his eyebrow raised. It was dark in the wings of the stage and he couldn’t make out her face properly.
“I… Seth, don’t worry about it. That was before last night. I was a bit of a mess,” Octavia admitted quietly. Seth felt a twinge of guilt. She looked down, not able to meet his eyes. “Seth, could I ask a favour from you?”
“Of course,” Seth offered quickly.
“Could we not tell them about… about us? At least, just for the time being?”
“I…” Seth was confused. Did she not want other ponies to know that she was with him? Had he done something wrong? “I guess so. If that’s what you want.” It was something in her eyes, a sadness, perhaps. Even in the gloom, one look and he had crumbled.
“Thank you.” She smiled at him. “It is only for the time being, I promise.”
“That’s fine.” He smiled back at her. She paused, not sure how to continue.
“Seth, can I please have my cello back?”
He laughed. “Oh, since you asked so nicely…” Using his magic, he levitated the instrument off of his back and onto hers.
She kissed him gently and walked onstage with an equally soft ‘thank you’.
“Octavia! There you are! And Seth! How fantastic!” Troy said, obviously thrilled by the sight of them.
Too thrilled… Seth thought.
“Why Troy, it is lovely to see you too,” Octavia replied, her voice suddenly controlled and restrained.
“Hey everypony!” Seth called out from behind the grey musician.
He was greeted by a chorus of “Hey Seth!” that made him smile. Everypony seemed very, very happy. In fact, it was quite disconcerting.
“Wonderful, now that everypony has said hello, can we please get practicing? We… we are a little behind schedule,” Octavia said.
Troy laughed. “Whatever you want, Octy. Alright girls, you heard the mare, let’s get set up.”
Seth retreated to his normal chair in the middle of the third row. It was close enough to be able to still talk to the musicians on stage, but not too close that he was forced to stare up the whole time.
When he was satisfied that he was comfortable, he returned his attention to the performers onstage. Octavia was the only one not ready, still tuning her cello to perfection. Troy tapped a hoof on the ground impatiently. When she was finally ready, she lifted up the instrument, standing confidently on her back hooves. With the bow tucked in between her foreleg and leg, she gestured that they begin to play.
The set started like all of the others that Seth had heard, only this time, he could swear that Octavia’s cello seemed louder… more prominent. He paid little attention to her friends; he only had eyes for her, as she swayed gently with the melodies.
He closed his eyes and became lost in the music that was being woven in front of him. It was a pleasant experience, and it fed off the good mood that he had been in all day. Seth gently reopened his eyes as the last notes of the first set faded away quietly.
“Well, that sounds even better than it did last time,” he called out to the musicians.
“See? I told you girls, we sound awesome.”
“Troy, you shouldn’t boast. But thank you, Seth.” Octavia smiled at him.
“Well, I’m not needed now. Seth, I hope you saved me a seat.”
Seth looked around at the totally empty theatre in confusion. Troy just laughed at him and shook his head. “Too easy.”
After Troy had sat himself down heavily next to him, the girls onstage resumed their playing. Seth slowly counted down the seconds in his head. Three… two… one…
“How’s things with Octavia? You two look pretty good.”
“Things are great, Troy. Things are really great.” Seth tried to keep some ambiguity in his words due to his promise to Octavia, but he had a terrible feeling his smile belied the truth.
“Great huh? Sounds good. Celestia knows she needs great.” Troy smirked, looking sideways over at Seth. Seth stared pointedly at the musicians.
“So, how did last night go? You two did catch up, right?”
“What?! How did you know?!” Seth was horrified, nopony should have known about that!
Troy burst into raucous laughter, and placed a hoof on the back of the chair in front of him for support. “Oh Sweet Celestia! You’re just too easy!”
Oh damn it! Not again… “Oh no…”
Troy’s laughter slowly died down into wheezing chuckles. “Seth, you are just too much fun. That’s twice now.”
“Troy… you can’t tell her anything.”
“But why not? She’s happy! After all, she hasn’t stopped staring at you all set.”
Seth couldn’t get his eyes over fast enough, and true to the pianist’s words, their eyes met briefly before Octavia looked away, blushing.
“See? It’s even worse than before. I’m so happy for you two.”
“But she made me promise not to tell you about it yet.”
Troy waved away Seth’s words with his hoof. “She’s just scared. Beyond that snobbish exterior-”
“Hey!” Seth interrupted.
Troy smiled, yet pressed on, “beyond that snobbish exterior, she really just is scared to love somepony. She’s convinced herself that she’ll push them away as soon as they get close.”
“She’s gonna have to push pretty damn hard…”
“That’s the spirit!” He chuckled. “She’s a good mare, Seth, and you’re a good stallion. Perfect match if I ever saw one.”
“She’s going to kill me if she finds out I told you…”
“Oh don’t be stupid. She’s not going to kill you… mortally wound, maybe.” Troy laughed and winked at Seth who gulped nervously. “And besides, just think, you didn’t tell me, I just guessed!”
“Considering my line of work, you think I would take more comfort in a technicality.”
Troy burst into another fit of laughter. “Seth my friend, you’re too funny to be around.”
Seth couldn’t help but smile at that. Nopony ever called him funny.
The musicians on stage finished up soon after, and Troy and Seth gave an enthusiastic round of applause with a few cheers added for good measure. All of the girls on stage blushed and Troy gave Seth a high-hoof, snickering about a ‘mission successful’.
“Troy, that wasn’t very nice.”
“Hey, we were applauding your wonderful talent!” Troy said, as the two stallions walked back onstage.
“You enjoyed it then, Seth?” Octavia asked.
“I sure did.”
“I don’t know, Troy seemed like he was laughing a lot more than he was listening,” Golden String reproached playfully.
“I can multi-task,” Troy shot back.
“Of course you can, Troy,” Octavia said, and all of the girls laughed.
“See how they gang up on me?” Troy said to Seth. “That’s not fair!”
“I…” Seth blanked, looking between Troy and Octavia, who were both staring at him expectantly. “I like you both very much.”
“Wimp,” Troy laughed.
“He is actually siding with me, you know,” Octavia said.
“Oh, I know that he is siding with you, Octy.” Troy grinned mischievously.
“Of course he is-” Octavia stopped, and Seth watched in horror as the penny dropped behind her eyes. “Oh you didn’t…”
“Octavia, I didn’t, I promise!”
Octavia looked like a deer caught in headlights. Her face was bright red as she stared at Troy in horror. “I… I…” Suddenly, she turned and ran off-stage. Seth took off after her. He didn’t notice Golden String punching Troy in the shoulder as he left.
Seth caught up to Octavia just as she was about to leave the wings. “Octavia, wait!”
The grey mare halted abruptly and Seth had to pull himself up before he ran into her. “Octavia, I’m sorry, I didn’t really tell him!”
Slowly, Octavia turned, and Seth was surprised to see that she didn’t look mad. Instead she looked embarrassed, or was that fear? Seth wasn’t sure.
“I… I know Seth.”
“Wait -you do?”
“Yes, I do. I am sorry for running like that. I… I was a foal for not realising how easy it would have been to work out, anyway. After all, they knew I was meeting up with you last night, and to see us together the next day… I was so stupid.”
“You’re not stupid. After all, I unwittingly walked straight into Troy’s trap and confirmed it.”
She smiled at him awkwardly. “Well… I’m sorry for that. I was a foal, a foal who was scared.”
“Scared?” Seth was confused now. “What were you scared of, Octavia?” Seth asked gently, reaching out with a hoof to reassure her.
“I… I guess…” She shook her head, annoyed at her inability to put words together into coherent sentences. “I was scared that if I presented you as my coltfriend too soon, you would believe that we were moving too quickly,” she admitted in one breath, not looking at the unicorn.
Seth smiled kindly at her and reached out with a hoof to raise her face up to his. Her eyes slowly met his. Even terrified they were still beautiful. Gently, and with as much affection as he could muster, he kissed her.
“Nothing would make me happier, Octavia. I would love to be your coltfriend.”
Octavia beamed at him, all of her apprehension visibly washing away. Seth kissed her again, this time with more passion.
A sudden ‘woop’ broke their kiss, and they both strained to see who was spying. Octavia was just about to yell out when all three of Octavia’s friends stood out from behind one of the stage curtains, huge smiles plastered on their faces.
“Way to go Seth!” Troy cheered. “I knew you could do it!”
“Oh shut up, Troy,” both Octavia and Golden String said in unison. Seth laughed as Octavia pulled his head back to hers for another kiss, both smiling broadly as they did.
A/N: A light and fluffy chapter this time! I hope you all enjoyed it!
A big thank you to Dacaz5 for putting up with me and keeping me going, another big thank you to HeWhoErasesMost for the cover image and a huge thank you to Sessalisk for editing! Also, thank you everypony for reading this! It really means a lot! :) Don't forget to leave a comment or a star rating! See you next chapter!