Author's Note: This story has parts with musical accompaniment. At the link, remember to open in a new tab. I also recommend using headphones if available. Enjoy!
A complaint was made of loud groaning noises coming from old Frederic Horseshoepin’s apartment. They seemed to be long, incessant wails of anguish; however, the neighbors needed their sleep for another busy day in Canterlot. Horseshoepin’s next-door neighbors called upon the old gelding’s caretaker to come see what the problem was in the retired musician’s flat. The young colt trudged up the stairs grudgingly in his pajamas with a candle to light the way. Being called at half past the stroke of midnight to inspect whatever was wrong with his grouchy patient didn’t quite sit well with the caretaker. He approached the door to his master’s chamber and rapped impatiently with a sharp tempo.
“Monsieur Horseshoepin, what’s the matter that you wake us all up in the middle of the night?”
No answer, only another moan of pain. He grunted and rapped thrice again on the large wooden door.
“Monsieur Horseshoepin, open the door this instant!” he growled. The caretaker heard a shuffling of hooves across the floor from the other side.
A pause. He heard a muffled shout.
“Octavia! Octavia! I admit it, I murdered you!” The voice deteriorated into a sob. “Oh, please forgive me, Octavia!” The colt rolled his eyes, taking these as mere ramblings of senility. He hadn’t a clue whom this, “Octavia” was. He pounded furiously on the wooden panels.
“Monsieur, if you don’t open this door, I’ll have you admitted into the nearest asylum! Now stop this nonsense!”
No response. An eternity of deadly silence followed. The colt was becoming a bit worried. Old Frederic never acted up quite like this before. Mostly, he was an elderly, grouchy pony who obstinately resisted any form of assistance. He resisted taking his medication, complained when it was bath-time, and threw temper tantrums when his caretaker insisted that he engage in his daily exercises. However, Horseshoepin was never quite so melodramatic…
So… suicidal. The caretaker stammered.
A crash was heard from within along with an unnerving wail. An instant later, he heard a muffled cacophony like somepony slammed his body into the keyboard of a piano. The caretaker froze in his angst and worry. A small, drawn out moan was the only other sound he heard.Gathering up his strength, he braced his shoulder and ran into the door, breaking it off its hinges.
The floor was soaked in blood.
The crimson stream ran in rivers along the floorboards and filled up the cracks. The caretaker, overcome with nausea, followed the vermillion flow to the spouting neck of his limp patient whose eyes rolled back in his head as he made grotesque gurgling noises of a most shiver-inducing nature as his throat spilled out a sputtering stream of hearty red. Horseshoepin lay on the floor, moaning and gurgling with his hooves outstretched to heaven, as if calling for the angels to take him to paradise or hell, whichever he deserved. In his outstretched limbs, he held a small shank in one hoof that he drew sharply across his own throat, and in the other, a cello bow.
No time was wasted in calling an ambulance and paramedics, who hastily bandaged the old pony’s neck and stabilized his heart rate with a generous shot of adrenaline. Once they made sure the old pony was alive, they hurriedly lifted him onto a stretcher and hauled him out to the waiting ambulance. The paramedics hoisted the semi-conscious gelding onto the cart and hollered at the runners to hurry up. The ambulance sped away through the dark streets of Canterlot as the snow gently fell on Horseshoepin’s pale, chalk white face. As he lay in the rattling wagon swerving through the streets, it passed by a well-lit building with the sound of laughter and dancing as well as a warm candlelight pouring from the windows. It was most likely a high society Canterlot party. But the sweet song of a serenading string orchestra landed softly in Horseshoepin’s eardrum as the snowflakes landed softly on his brow. It was then, at the sweet sound of this music that he let out a most piteous groan of anguish, like one bearing an ultimate guilt and hearing the accusations of his enemies. The paramedics made no notice of this as they sped onwards toward Redheart Hospital.
All the while the paramedics folded their ears in annoyance as Frederic Horseshoepin kept moaning, “Octavia! Octavia! Forgive your assassin, Octavia! I killed you and ruined you, I confess it!” The ambulance dashed onward, swerving as it rounded a corner and pulled up to the emergency entrance. Horseshoepin seemed oblivious to the world around him. He shivered violently as if in a seizure of the throes of death. The elderly pony screamed up at the night sky.
“Speak for me! Speak for me! I don’t wish to burn! Oh, please absolve me, dear Octavia! Absolve me!”
Paying no heed to his ramblings, the burly paramedics lifted the stretcher and carried him inside where he was operated on through the night against his will. The doctors put him under a heavy anesthesia that knocked him out till morning while a surgeon stitched his neck shut and sent the orderly to take him to a private ward. While asleep, the old pony was set in a secure wheelchair as he would be weak from blood loss. He would wake in the morning feeling quite groggy.
Snow crunched under the hooves of the pony priest as he trudged up the walkway to the hospital entrance. He was employed by the Church of Equestria as a priest specializing in hospice care. His job usually entailed hearing the confessions of the invalid who were thought to have little time left in this world. He pushed through the rotating door of the lobby to be greeted by a wave of heated air and the sound of complaints and grumbles of ponies waiting in line for a doctor for their various illnesses. A few looked up at the passing pony of the cloth garbed in the attire of his trade and gave him a nod and addressed him as, “father.” He acknowledged them politely as he briskly trotted over to the information desk where a nurse sat with a clipboard. He removed his tri-cornered hat and cleared his throat as a subtle request for attention. The nurse mare glanced up attentively.
“Excuse me, miss.” He began quietly, “I’m looking for a Mr. Horseshoepin?” The nurse abruptly stood up and checked the listings.
“Horseshoepin, eh? I heard he tried doing himself in, poor soul. Can’t imagine why. Wing P, Hospice Care, Room 69. Just follow the signs, father.”
“Thank you, miss.” He continued down the hallway as the sound of the nurse humming “Ave Celestia” grew fainter and fainter. After a good five minutes of an overly complicated navigation through the hospital corridors, the priest stood outside a white door with the number 69 tacked to the doorpost. He raised his hoof to knock, but stopped as he heard a faint musical sound coming from the other side. It was a slow, sad, but sweet tune that he didn’t recognize through the bit of musical education he received. He decided that, regardless, he should enter and conduct the confession. He eased the door open and stepped into the hospital room where he saw the old musician ensconced in his wheelchair in front of a small spinet in the corner by the open window opposite a vacant bed. The cold wintery breeze blew the flowing curtains away, casting an early morning sunshine on the floor, lighting up the room. Horseshoepin took no notice of the priest at first, continuing to play the melody with a sad look on his face as his hooves danced across the keyboard mechanically, but with a powerful feeling. He looked quite uncomfortable as he strained against his neck bandage to look down at the piano that was littered with collections of scherzi, waltzes, and sonatinas he had fetched from his apartment. He played with such a passion and familiarity that it was a shame the piano’s sound was humid and muffled. The priest watched him for a minute until he pulled up a chair and sat down. Horseshoepin heard the scraping of the chair across the floor and turned to see who the visitor was without stopping or slowing the tempo. He looked up and saw the pony dressed in the traditional long, flowing robes of the Church. He scowled slightly in disappointment.
“Go away.” He stated firmly. The priest sat up, not willing to let him wallow in the sins he regretted. He cleared his throat.
“How could I leave a tortured soul to suffer before he goes to heaven?” He said raising his eyebrows sympathetically. Horseshoepin rolled his eyes.
“If you knew what I have done, even you, dear father, would know that I’m not going to heaven.” He said gloomily.
“That’s not true.” He said with a firmer tone. “Offer me your confession, and I can offer you the forgiveness of the gods and goddesses of Equestria past.”
“You mean those dead alicorns now living up in the sky?” inquired Horseshoepin dryly. His hooves moved with a mind of their own, pressing the keys with a methodical rhythm. “I don’t think they would quite forgive me for the destruction of their beloved.” He said looking out the window with a look of sad longing and regret.
“Octavia… Crescenda Treblus Octavia.” said Horseshoepin with an agonizing sigh. The priest leaned forward.
“The mare you accuse yourself of murdering? She died decades ago when she was still young. Is it really true you killed her?” Horseshoepin turned away, not wanting to hear any more from this clergypony. He slowly looked back down almost lovingly at the piano as he continued to pour his feelings from his beating heart, translating them into the strokes of his calloused, but dexterous hooves. He scoffed at the idea of communicating with the gods through a mere, fellow mortal. But Music! Ah, Music! That is the very voice of heaven and the celestial bodies themselves, as the angels sing their lofty songs with harp and lyre to the gods and the demons chant their accusatory tones from the crucible of hellfire. What better way to communicate with them than in their own language?
Nothing daunted, the priest pressed further.
“Please, my son.” He begged, “If you have anything to confess, tell me now.” Horseshoepin turned toward the determined priest with a gloomy glare. All the while, his hooves never ceased to continue the piece he was playing, as he knew the feel of the piano from playing it for all his life. He thought for a moment and the scowl turned into a look like he thought of an interesting question.
“Are you a musician at all, father?” The question caught him off guard a little as he made a small, perplexed scowl.
“I was taught a bit of music when I was a young colt.” Horseshoepin’s look softened as he grew eager to hear more.
“Where did you study?”
“Here in Canterlot.” The old pony’s face lifted itself into a happy, hopeful smile as it seemed his heart melted for a bit.
“Ah, good! Then you must recognize this melody.” However, the priest frowned.
“I can’t say that I do.” Horseshoepin sank in disappointment as the smile ran away from his lips. “What is it?” asked the priest.
“It was my most famous Nocturne from the peak of my career! It took me months to write and perfect. Never did a day go by for a decade after it was published that I didn't hear it hummed or played ubiquitously." Frederic paused and let out a bitter sigh.
"Can you really recall none of my work? I was the most famous composer in all of Equestria. I was the toast of Canterlot! Ponies waited months to purchase tickets to my concerts and still, they waited hours at a time on line to see me! Now I’m nothing as I’ve watched my fame fade away, disappearing. This, you see, is my punishment from the gods for what I’ve done! As I die, not only am I watching my body deteriorate, but I am yet forced to watch my name turn to nothing! Blown away, as a nebulous puff of stardust lost in time that nopony will remember with love. But Octavia…” He trailed off. He shot an accusing glare at the priest. “Does that name sound familiar at all to you, father?” The priest shifted uncomfortably in his chair and rubbed the back of his neck nervously, not wanting to respond to the stern gelding staring him down.
“Oh, come now father. Surely you’ve heard of Octavia before? The legendary cellist of Canterlot most famous for composing her 25th Symphony, Ode…”
“To The Heavenly Sisters.” Finished the priest, with an air of guilt for confirming his suspicions. He expected an outburst from the musician, but the elderly pony’s face sank lower as the melody was dying out. “Who was she, Mr. Horseshoepin?” pressed the priest. The old pony turned towards him and with a sigh, prepared to answer his question.
Who was Octavia to Frederic Horseshoepin? A rival colleague? A lost love?
Horseshoepin chuckled much to the chagrin of the priest who grimaced in his seat. Horseshoepin raised his arms and held his forehooves together as if in prayer.
“Bless me father, for I have sinned.”
I had never really had a hard life before now. My career was as enjoyable as it could possibly be. Even my childhood, I have no complaints about and as far back as I can remember I have always been a musician at heart. My first encounter with it was at a Summer Sun Celebration that my parents forced me along to when I was but a young colt without a cutie mark. I stood there near Celestia’s platform where she would raise the sun that morning. I, myself, had no interest in Celestia moving the sun like she did every morning just this time in front of her subjects. I rubbed my eyes feeling quite bored and out of place as I was dragged here by my parents in the early morning hours. All of a sudden, there on the platform came a presence slowly rising, but then grew more pronounced and majestic with the sun as it rose. And no, I’m not talking about the alicorn princess as she rose into the air to raise the sun. Hang the Princess! I’m talking about the music that accompanied it! When Celestia reached the peak of the ritual as the sun glowed powerfully in the sky, the band played a symphony that nearly brought me to my knees as the melody overtook me. It was as awesome and powerful as the life-giving sun itself as the music pulsed through the air with such a presence of awe. Before I knew it, I discovered that my face was wet with the downpour of tears that gushed from my eyes as I had never felt such emotion before in my life.
It was beautiful as I realized what music could do.
It was then through the magic that rang in my eardrums that I knew my place in the universe. I wanted more than anything to play such beautiful sounds that would bring others to such a display of emotions as they had brought me. I desired more than anything to labor and toil to make melodies pulse through the air, singing to the gods. The burning longing to produce beautiful music that would last throughout the ages swelled within my heart, flesh and bones as I looked up at the majestic princess with tears in my eyes and thought of an idea.
Now, I was a loyal subject of the princess and I duly acknowledged her godly position and divinity that was the foundation of the Church of Equestria. It was then that I offered the most important and sincere prayer I would ever offer in my lifetime:
Sweet Celestia, I thought, please hear my prayer. I know now, ahead of a mark on my flank what I want to do in this world. I want to sing, to produce music in your glory that others will hear and cherish forever. Let my melodies fill the ears of your subjects for all time with love and admiration in your name, O Goddess! Let the name of Horseshoepin be remembered forevermore. In return, I pledge to you a vow of charity through my industry. Let my music proclaim your name and make mine immortal!
I opened my eyes to the sight of the crowd cheering on their princess as the sun of the new day shined brightly in the sky. Celestia waved and smiled to her subjects as though part of a very familiar routine. However, all of a sudden as I finished my prayer, she looked as if she had discovered something amazing. She subtly turned to me and smiled lovingly, and with a nod, I could have sworn that her horn glowed with a faint aura. She shifted her head in a small gesture for me to take notice something.
“Frederic, look!” said my father with his voice full of surprise. The crowd around me made a small gasp and quickly burst into another fit of cheering. I stared blankly, not knowing what was going on.
“What? What is it?” I inquired with a scowl.
“Your flank!” said my mother excitedly. I turned around and saw what had appeared there. I gazed upon the black and white eighth notes that confirmed every hope I had of the princess hearing my prayer. You can imagine how I jumped for joy in my ecstasy as I started the long journey of fulfilling my purpose on this earth.
From that point on, never did a day go by where I wasn’t practicing and composing exercises for hours at a time. My family’s formerly dusty music room soon became littered with dozens of scores and sheets of music and theory exercises I bought with my allowance now instead of frivolous toys my peers would chose. I especially enjoyed it when I could get my hooves on Neighthoven’s piano concertos, for not a day passed when his sonatas didn’t fill the air of my family’s small home. There was never enough existing music to satisfy me. I needed to create my own art. Fairly soon though, I knew enough theory that I started composing more complicated pieces at an exceptional rate. By the time I was about sixteen years old, I had already composed a dozen etudes, six waltzes, three symphonies, and a full scale opera. All of them published and featured by the Canterlot Symphony Orchestra! Two years later even, I became the personal music teacher to Princess Celestia herself! Isn’t that incredible? I sat by her majesty’s side and played duets with her, correcting mistakes and teaching her sight-reading and music theory. Actually, Celestia probably has the worst ear for music in Equestrian history, but that mattered little. But don’t think I didn’t keep the promises I made at the Summer Sun Celebration. I was a paragon of virtue! I charged a minimum for my services as a maestro for local orchestras, and had countless pupils, most of whom I taught for free, and I donated most of my profits from my compositions to charity to help other musicians across Equestria! And by the time I was twenty-seven, I was commissioned for my nineteenth symphony as well as my eighth opera that sold out for a full year! From the stage door I would frequently peek out before Showtime and watch the endless line of ponies queuing for hours to get into the show.
Everyone loved me and my music. I couldn’t be happier.
Until she came along.
I once attended a Young Musician’s concert sponsored by the Celestia for Homeless Fillies and Colts Foundation as a fundraiser. As a member of the board, along with countless other charity committees I was on, it was an obligation for me to attend. As I trudged into the Canterlot Performing Arts Center, a grandiose, gothic structure that look more like a church on the outside than a theater with high archways, a stone brick structure, and even grotesques and gargoyles mounting the buttressed roof, I didn’t expect much from this event, as the musicians were a mix of talents, some good, some not so talented. Hence, I sat down in the front row of velvet chairs that ran along the floor of the dark, cavernous theater overlooking a small stage in front of the drawn red curtain basked in incandescent performance lighting. I regretted having gone to bed at a late hour the night before as it would be hard to not fall asleep at this point and not be rude. The first hour or so simply conformed to my predictions as I heard a mix of sloppy piano solos, screechy violin duets, and obnoxious clarinet quartets. A pink filly even came out playing a polka all by herself on a bass drum, trombone, harmonica, and countless other instruments I had no idea could be played simultaneously by a single individual. The audience burst out laughing at her, who took it surprisingly well and seemed to laugh with them at the end of her performance. I suppose laughter must have been her forte. In the second hour after hearing countless suites on out of tune violas, I nearly fell asleep again until I heard the next name called.
“Octavia will now perform a Cello Suite.” The announcer called dryly. A bored applause leaked out slowly from a glazed audience as the performer ruffled the stage curtains trying to find the slit. When she stepped out, I couldn’t see very much as her long, flowing charcoal colored hair was in her face while she quickly made sure her instrument was tuned. With a little blush of embarrassment, she lifted her head and began to play.
The siren had cast her spell at the first sight of her.
At first, it was a bit of a surprise to see how old this musician was. She was more like a young mare closer to my age than a filly as I observed the purple treble clef that adorned her flank, displaying her talent. And how talented she was! As the fairly simple tune she played began to develop, I could see the raw passion displayed by her countenance that jolted me awake with more effectiveness than a steaming cup of coffee saturated with cream and caffeine. Standing before me was an angel fallen from heaven, I was convinced. Her purple eyes, matching her cutie mark met mine for one infinitesimal instant in time that I cursed Celestia silently for the first time that it should pass. Never before had such a desire filled my soul before, even more so than my desire to become a musician at that Summer Sun Celebration long ago, as it immediately started to burn away at my heart. I hung on to her every movement with an unbearable longing as I watched her stroke her bow across the cello bridge, putting emphasis and passion in every single note. She was quite unlike any other performer I had ever witnessed. The emotion she displayed in playing the piece set her eyes ablaze with a flame that made me sweat profusely in my seat. Indeed, I had no doubts that this could have been no normal mare, but a musical angel of beauty that would leave Celestia with her gaudy, flowing mane jealous. In that instant, nothing else in the world, not my family, not my friends, not even my music mattered other than my desire to be with her. I reasoned that I could get to know her better under the right circumstances. I just needed to find a way to see her more. I thought for a moment until I came up with the perfect plan that would set us up together. I had confidence that such an ambitious budding musician wouldn’t be able to refuse the offer I would give her.
As she continued to play I noticed in the duration of her performance that she looked forlorn, lost, almost sad, which peaked my interest in her. On the outside was a mare of talent and beauty that I became so infatuated with, but I could see through her expression that all was not as it seemed. As the tune drew to a close, I could see that everypony in the audience admired her talent as well as I did as some already started to applaud Octavia before she even finished the tune. By the time she came to the end of the Courante, her face lit up in a proud smile that set my heart aflutter as I, along with the entire audience burst into a fit of cheering. Octavia’s cheeks turned a cherry red again and bowed her head modestly.
Here, I seized my opportunity.
I waited outside the stage door to the concert hall where the colts and fillies were filing out with their instruments. I was afraid I had missed her until I saw her trotting down the steps with her heavy cello case and her unmistakably long hair blowing in the cold, winter air. As she reached the bottom of the steps, I moved in closer and gave her a tap on the shoulder.
“Excuse me, Miss… Octavia? Is it?” She turned around with an impatient look on her face that suddenly gave way to shock when she realized whom I was.
“Oh! Um, y-yes Mr. Horseshoepin?” she stammered as she frantically tried getting her hair out of her face.
“You know who I am?” I asked, a bit surprised.
“Of course!” she said almost gasping. “You’re the Court Composer of Canterlot Castle and Princess Celestia’s music teacher, how could I not know you?”
“Well, I’m flattered! I… I just wanted to congratulate you on your uhh… good performance.” I was just as hopelessly inarticulate as I fell more and more in love with her. Her expression darkened.
“Good?” she said with a weak, quivering smile. I knew she must have taken that verdict as a death sentence sugar-coated with a euphemism. She must have believed I thought she was terrible. I tried to recover from my faux-pas.
“Oh! Well, more than good. You were sublime! I must admit I’ve never seen anypony quite like you Miss Octavia.” At this she froze. “In fact, I want to make you an offer. Where do you train, Miss?” It took a couple of seconds before she was able to articulate an answer after the shock of being praised by one of her idols.
“T-Train? Well, I studied for a few years, uhhh… by myself actually. My mother taught me most of the theory that I know. I just practice a lot. But I hope to make it into the Canterlot Academy of Music someday. That is… if I’m any good.” She said timidly.
“What if I were to tell you that I think so? What if I were to accept you to the academy right now?” I said with a grin. Octavia’s bright purple eyes widened in disbelief. “No, no. I have a better idea. I want to make you my protégé.” Now she trembled with excitement and awe, not believing the words she thought I uttered.
“Wh-Wha…? I don’t even… Y-You can’t be serious, Mr. Horseshoepin.”
“But I am. When can you start?” At seeing her joy at her fortune, I could have died happy then and there. She snatched up her case with a quick enthusiasm.
“Whenever you want, Sir!” she said barely able to contain herself.
“Very well.” I replied, replacing my hat as I turned to go. “Meet me later today at my apartment. We’ll have lessons Monday through Friday for two hours at 12:00 in the afternoon. And please, call me Frederic.” I handed her a scrap of paper that I had written my address and number on. She pocketed it in earnest.
“I’ll be there, Mr.… uh… Frederic! Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!” She called out after me, waving her arm frantically.
“Don’t disappoint me!” I hollered with a wink and smile.
“I won’t, sir! You won’t regret this!” I chuckled to myself at the time.
I wasn’t talking about music.
Octavia fumbled with the lock and key as she hurriedly shoved the door to her small apartment open and slammed it shut behind her. Her flat certainly wasn’t very roomy, but it was comfortable, clean and well furnished. The peach colored walls shone brightly, absorbing the light of the sun coming in through the large French windows overlooking the Western Market district of the city in the late afternoon. She set down her cello in its case and proper place by her desk as she giggled giddily like an excited school-girl with a massive secret bursting forth from the tip of her tongue, waiting for someone to hear it. She sat down and started scribbling in her calendar, scratching off appointments that were now replaced by her education with the Court Composer himself as she uttered an excited whimper every few seconds. She almost wanted to just pick up her cello and just play for the hell of pouring out her joy to whoever would listen.
Suddenly, her euphoria was replaced by a pressing curiosity as a certain odor began to fill her nose: One that smelled unpleasantly of the process of food being turned to carbon by a scorching pan flame. The smoke filled her nostrils, prompting an uncomfortable twitch of her nose while panic began to kick in as the thought of a possible fire incinerating her beloved abode crossed her mind. She dropped her pen in a frantic fit while running to the kitchen to see what was wrong. Over the sink trying to douse a skillet of what looked like the cremated, smoking remains of a dearly departed onion was Vinyl-Scratch who could hardly hear the beeping smoke alarm with the ear buds in blasting her favorite dance tune. The look on her face was probably one of panic since her mouth was held in a tight wince showing her clenched teeth, but no clue came from those enigmatic eyes under her purple shades. But then again, she was in the middle of trying to douse the flame that consumed the pan and its contents while cursing furiously as she carelessly touched the hot skillet every few seconds. Octavia rolled her eyes.
“Third time this month, Vinyl.” She hollered, crossing her arms impatiently. Vinyl wheeled around and gasped, previously unaware of her roommate’s presence.
“Buck! Don’t bucking scare me like that Tavi!” Vinyl shouted with an angry scowl somehow mixed with a sigh of relief.
“I thought I was the only one around here allowed in the kitchen. Now you see why, I hope?” said Octavia with a smug smile. Vinyl tried to change the subject.
“Speaking of which, why are you home so early? I thought you would usually run by the music store by this time. What happened? Did your thingy break or something?”
“Cello!” said Octavia exasperatedly. “It’s called a cello! And no. It didn’t break.” Her expression changed from being annoyed to being excited to reveal her news. Vinyl raised an eyebrow, intrigued.
Octavia rubbed her hooves together excitedly as she told her that she would now finally be receiving a bona-fide musical education from the most important musician in Canterlot.
“DJ-Slaught3rH0rse-5?” asked Vinyl. Octavia facehoofed with a defeated sigh.
“No! Not one of those nightclub DJ’s you like! I’m talking about Frederic Horseshoepin, the Court Composer of Canterlot Castle!” Vinyl nodded her head with a blank stare, not registering any of what she had just uttered. Nevertheless, she knew it meant a lot to Octavia, so she played along. She smiled and raised her eyebrows in artificial surprise.
“That’s great news!” She said.
“I know!” replied Octavia, her eyes wide with feeling. She started talking quicker and quicker as more thoughts for the future raced through her brain. Her hooves vivaciously gestured and sawed at the air as she illuminated the possibilities of the future. “Now I’ll be able to play more instruments, and do more shows, and learn more theory! And more theory means more styles! Think of all the places I could play! Oh! Maybe even the Canterlot Garden party or even the Grand Galloping Gala! Oh wait no! I’ll even start composing and…” She stopped suddenly as Vinyl put a hoof to her mouth as she smiled almost wryly. Octavia blushed. She knew that smile. Vinyl advanced on her, gazing into her roommate’s eyes through her shades as she planted a warm kiss on her now trembling lips. Octavia smiled bashfully. Now it was her turn to change the subject.
“Umm… So what do you want to do for dinner?” she asked, eyeing the pile of burned vegetables in the sink. It was no use. Vinyl tightened the embrace.
“I think this calls for a celebration.” said Vinyl, suggestively.
“Uhh, yeah. You’re right! Let’s go out to eat shall we?” she said, starting to sweat in anticipation for what was inevitable.
“Nah, let’s celebrate right now.” said Vinyl quite seductively. She took Octavia by the hooves and spun her toward the bedroom as she laughed giddily. As fun as it was, Octavia protested another incoming embrace by Vinyl as she remembered her meeting with Mr. Horseshoepin.
“Wait, wait, wait!” she mumbled from under Vinyl’s kiss as she broke free of it. “I have to meet my new teacher in two hours.”
“So? You’ve got time.”
“But I want to be punctual! I even want to be early. I don’t want to disappoint him.” Vinyl rolled her eyes.
“Geez, Tavi you make it sound like the guy’s in love with you, is he?” Octavia chuckled at the thought.
“Oh, don’t be silly! Of course not!” she said, surrendering to Vinyl’s kiss as they stumbled into the bedroom.
As time went on, Octavia blossomed into quite the musician, to say the least. She was unfailing in attendance to her lessons and she absorbed the material like a sponge. Every weekday she would come to my apartment to better familiarize herself with the scales and technique as well as learn how to read sheet music quicker so any piece would be playable to her. Furthermore, she even ventured to let me teach her how to play the violin and the piano. She was so full of ambition and potential. It’s what continued to draw me to her. What surprised me was rate at which she learned. Her retention was quite incredible. She only needed to struggle through a page of music once before she could play it with relative ease the next. If a part from a cello suite took up seven pages of music and each page took five minutes for her to learn at first, it would mean that that it would take roughly a mere hour to be able to play it fluently! The best part of it all however, was the feeling and passion Octavia never failed to incorporate into her music. Her purple blazing eyes would flash open from time to time which always sent a shiver down my spine. Her manipulation of the cello and the bow across the instrument’s bridge was a powerful a sight as it was a sound. Her movements were fluid and deft, almost as if the cello and Octavia were mistaken to be two quantifications of a single entity. Instrument and musician in truth did not exist as two separate beings if you saw her play. She and the cello were one. It was one organism, something out of the most twisted nightmare that produced the sound of the universe, the voice of Heaven. I couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride swell up when I saw her stroke the strings as I had found this diamond in the rough and began to polish and cut it into a thing of beauty:
Although, the only thing that bothered me was a fear that as this budding siren was the artifice in progress of my design, she wouldn’t love me as I loved her. Try as I might, she seemed oblivious to my flirts during her lessons with me where I would make a small comment on how graceful she looked when she played. She simply responded politely that she would like to continue the lesson. It seemed that subtle teasing and flirting wouldn’t work. I eventually stepped up my game and tried more ostentatious methods, such as leaving out flowers and even sweets for her.
My heart hurt when she left without even noticing them. Still, I refused to give up by any means.
That was probably my biggest mistake.
For hours at a time, I paced to and fro in my music room trying to calculate a method for Octavia to notice me, as visions of love kept haunting me until I could stand it no longer. I decided that I needed a moment alone with her where we could talk and perhaps I could get how I felt across to her. I prayed to Celestia that it would work, for I began to fear for the day when she would no longer require my tutoring. That day, my bird would surely fly away never to be seen again. I began formulating a plan that would give me a pretext for taking Octavia out to dinner in a proper atmosphere, then hopefully, to my house again. My muse labored for quite some time until I had come up with the perfect solution.
Simple as it may sound, that was really all it would take, and I had everything planned out. I would ask her to play a duet with me in a live performance; the kind of attention she wanted to grab in this city full of potential patrons. The curtain would go up and on stage, in front of thousands of ponies would be my grand piano, the other keeper of my heart, occupied by me and my lovely protégé serenading the crowd with a touching melody. After all the applause and the shower of cheers, I would treat her to a night of drinking and atmosphere. At least, that’s how I planned it.
The whole scenario went a little bit differently.
“…I still think the first and third beats of that measure should be tonic and dominant.” I suggested while pouring over a score that Octavia had been composing herself. She scratched out a few notes on the sheet of paper she was also hunched over.
“But wouldn’t it be better if the trumpets and bassoons were doubling the voices?” She made a good point. I thought for a minute as to help her decide what instruments in the orchestra should be playing with or in accompaniment to the voices of the choir.
“Bassoons should be doubling the voices with the trombones, while trumpets play on the first and third beats with the percussion.” I said thoughtfully. She scratched out more notes and replaced them.
“Hmm, that’s good. That’s very good. Thank you, Frederic.” She said gratefully.
“By the way,” I started, shifting to the edge of my seat, “I was wondering if you were looking for a chance to perform for a crowd.” She looked up in surprise.
“Oh yes!” she said happily. “What kind of performance did you have in mind?” I knew she would leap at the opportunity to get noticed in the competitive pool of Canterlot musicians. I told her that I planned to have us play a duet of one of my Nocturnes. However, at the proposition of a duet, she turned up her nose almost in disgust.
“Oh, no, no, no!” she said hurriedly. “I won’t get noticed playing with you! Couldn’t I play the violin instead?” I was quite stunned at how she just snubbed me. But then again, it was probably my fault. She had become such an astounding phenomenon; she had a lot to be proud of. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised if she had become a little bit arrogant.
“Why…uhh…of course. It will be a piano-violin duet then.”
That night, things didn’t go quite as expected.
Octavia and I practiced the piece we wanted to play that night for weeks without much of a fuss, as we both wanted perfection. As soon as we were satisfied, we agreed to perform it in honor of Nightmare Night, which turned out to be very rainy and dreary indeed. Almost immediately when I walked up the stone steps of the concert hall I saw something that froze every part of my being as I tried to register what was unfolding before me that shattered all my hopes and dreams in one fell swoop.
I saw them. Kissing.
They were standing in the vestibule between the lobby and the entrance under a plaque with the names of the theatre’s benefactors and founders engraved in the elaborately cut stone with their eyes closed, lost in each other’s conjugation. I barely had time to say anything when a stage manager called for five minutes until the curtain. I ripped my eyes from the horrible sight and staggered down the hallway to backstage feeling faint, trying to comprehend what I had just witnessed. The following, tortuous moments were a blur before I found myself sitting on a bench before my piano behind the apron. I shook violently with a frightening convulsion when I saw her taking her place behind me with a violin under her chin. She glanced at me and smiled with a happy anticipation for the show while I languished in shock. She obviously had the world going for her, with a budding career ahead of her with fans, money, admiration, a lover. A chill ran down my spinal cord as she made a final inspection of her instrument to make sure it was tuned.
“Bitch.” I growled under my breath. With a courteous applause, the curtain rose.
I struck the first chord on the keyboard with shaky hooves and a feeling of panic that I might make a mistake with unsure hoofwork. But then again, my mind was on anything but this damn concert for a crowd of stuffy Canterlot ponies. When I saw her smile plainly at me as she raised her fiddle, I do believe that I experienced a feeling worse than death. Nevertheless, I somehow managed to play the piece as we practiced. Everything was almost serene as the only sound to be heard was my piano.
Until Octavia came in with her violin.
It took all of my willpower not to recoil at the sound and ruin the concert, though I could feel my ears folding, not wanting to hear anything she played anymore. I felt as though I were falling through an endless abyss. I felt sick. It was a miracle that I somehow managed to methodically play the song with a passion. The only difference in the passion between this moment and the weeks before was where my emotion came from. Before, I played the melody with the happy hopefulness of being with my beautiful student. Now I stuck the notes with a pain and anguish bursting forth from my shattered soul.
Of course I knew I could never have her now. That was obvious! What kept sending shivers across every fiber of my being was the unyielding desire to be with her still. I would never be able to get her out of my head. The storm in my mind of rational defeatism clashing with the violent wave of my unrelenting want sent me into a cold sweat. I detected a lump in my throat as the serenading violin made me shudder once again as I thought of my misfortune. I still felt her and saw her no matter how tight I shut my eyes. She penetrated my thoughts with visions and fantasies of disordered blankets strewn about under our bodies as I gently caressed her. I felt drops of hot tears force themselves from my eyelids at the thought of all I cared for in the world being torn from my grasp. I opened my bloodshot eyes to a frightening sight:
That monster, beautiful as ever.
Once again, she manipulated the fiddle with such a grace that stoked the fire of my envy for that trashy DJ pony with a smug grin on her face in the audience under purple shades. She was no doubt watching her lover as I did, fused with the violin as the single being that, once again, scratched out the tears of angels that echoed across the dark theater. The steel strings of her fiddle were on eye level with those purple eyes that flashed open almost directly at me. At that, I panicked even more for I genuinely felt as though I were having a heart attack, as it was all but cleft in twain. I foolishly peered further into her eyes, into her soul that I now hated but lusted after all the same. The tears were pouring now, but I was powerless to look away. I was staring through the cage of those metal violin strings at an absolute beauty.
That is, a beauty that would never be mine.
I wondered what wrong I had done by Celestia that I deserved this. Did I, in fact, commit some egregious sin? Was she actually testing me? Or was this some sort of lesson in humility by some sick game of her craft and amusement? It made no sense to me why she would choose to punish me so. In this fashion even! She was destroying me from the inside, building up my expectations and then utterly shattering them. I feared that this ordeal would never end, and that haunting images of Octavia would forever torment me.
I put the thought to rest as I tried to get through the rest of the Nocturne while maintaining my composure. It proved to be difficult however; I don’t think a single pony in the audience that night didn’t notice how shaken I must have looked. My pupils were shrunken in angst. I must have had a slight slight seizure every time Octavia bowed a screechy chromatic progression. I tried to focus only on the piano by keeping my ears folded and shutting my eyes. I tried anything that would keep me from hearing those accursed, beautiful sounds coming from her violin. I desperately tried keep anypony from seeing how distraught I was. However, with a stream of hot tears continually forcing themselves from my sockets, I couldn’t help but try to wipe them dry.
As we neared the end of the piece that took on a slightly happier note, I wished with all my heart that such would be the case with my predicament, and that all hope was not yet lost that I could, in the end, be happy. The audience began to clap slowly and few at a time with a gradual increase to a hearty applause. It became deafening as I felt something hit me softly on the head. Startled, I looked down to see what had fallen into my lap. A red rose lay there with its rich pedals peeling and falling off from the force of the impact. Such a gesture would have warmed my heart again until I turned around toward Octavia. It seems that I merely caught a bad throw that was meant for the violinist. Dozens of scores of roses by the bouquet were piling up at her feet as she took a bow. The stage around her was littered with roses of red, white, and every color in between. She stretched out her arms haughtily and bowed once more with a triumphant look on her face.
“Octavia!” I heard them all shout as the roses kept leaping out at her from the dark theater. What about me? What about my flower?
“Octavia!” Was I nothing to them now? No roses except that spare one landed near me. They cheered louder still.
“Octavia! Octavia!” I felt myself grow faint as I got up and trotted hurriedly backstage. I thought I saw her motion to me with a touch of concern.
“Frederic, wait!” She hollered over the roar of applause. “Didn’t you want me to see something with you?” I didn’t hear her. I clumsily stumbled to the back door out into the cold air. I tried resting for a moment on the railing down the steps as my sight was nothing but a blur. As soon I could manage to stand, I stumbled drunkenly to my apartment. I felt as though I were intoxicated, not with happy hour whisky, but the bitter spirits of shock and mourning. I lunged through the door of my flat and all but collapsed on the floor. No doubt the papers tomorrow would read of the great and powerful performance by the magnificent Octavia, the rising star of Canterlot. I broke into tears again as I cried myself to sleep that night.
“Damn foals!” I sobbed. “Damn foals!”
The door to Octavia’s apartment swung open as a wave of the laughter of tipsy ponies flooded the entrance. The violinist, blushing with a generous night of drinks in her blood, danced goofily into the hallway with Vinyl cracking up on her shoulder with a host of guests parading behind them, cackling like hyenas. The air began to become saturated with the smell of gin and cheap beer as there wasn’t a single member of that party who didn’t have a bit of the hard stuff in their stomachs. Their laughter shook the walls of the small flat, no doubt to the annoyance of the neighbors trying to sleep at this late hour. Octavia held her hoof up clumsily for attention as she tried to catch her breath in between chuckles.
“No, no, wait! It gets better!” she said as she brushed her now messy hair from a night of celebration out of her face. “As soon as she was done mouthing off to me I actually said this!” She threw her head back in a regal fashion and cleared her throat. “AND WE WONDER IF THINE MAJESTY HAS’T EVER HEARD SUCH MUSIC BEFORE ON THE MOON!” she imitated. The party erupted in uncontrollable guffawing again as a few spilled their drinks onto the floor while holding their sides.
“You should have seen her face!” Vinyl chimed in, gasping for air. “I swear she was gonna bust a gasket! I thought she was gonna send Tavi to the moon!” Her lover took another rather ungraceful swig of beer and threw the empty bottle to the floor while tossing herself onto the couch littered with concertos in every key from A sharp minor to B.
“Ah, buck ‘er!” she slurred. “And besides, I’m kind of tired. Should we all call it a night?” The small crowd muttered in agreement with phrases affirming their tiredness as well, how they should be getting back home, complaining about the bucking hangover they’ll all have in the morning, etc. The door shut with the last member of the tag-a-long party filing out with an abrupt slam. Vinyl caught her roommate starting to doze off on the couch and playfully woke her up with a tap on the stomach. Octavia woke up and smiled lovingly at Vinyl who was stroking her shoulder with a back-and-forth motion.
“You really did it tonight, Tavi!” whispered Vinyl. Octavia closed her eyes again let out a satisfied sigh.
“Yep!” she said while stretching her arms out. “You should have seen how many people in the audience were trying to get my autograph!”
“And better yet, how many are gonna be practically throwing money at you now!” Octavia looked perplexed.
“For your services!” said Vinyl, rolling her eyes at how hammered Octavia was. “You can be hired as a maestro, or you can even have students now that you have a reputation.” Now it was Octavia’s turn to roll her eyes.
“I would rather Canterlot hear my music, since they love me so much.”
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t want to conduct, or have students! I want to compose and play at important Canterlot social events.” Vinyl grew a little concerned. She didn’t know much about the workings of Canterlot’s “upper” musical society. Nor was she the type to really care that much about money. But she did know that composition and work in social gatherings didn’t bring as many bits as teaching or conducting. However, she brushed the thought away as she trusted Tavi to know what she was doing. She had, after all, managed to hold on to this nice apartment. Vinyl only hoped that she wouldn’t let a more popular lifestyle drive her to spend more than they could afford. As she dismissed the thought of an irresponsible Octavia at that moment she stood up and poured herself yet another jigger of scotch. Vinyl rolled her eyes again impatiently.
“Tavi, I think you’ve had enough of that stuff for one night! I don’t envy the headache you’re gonna have in the morning.” Octavia whirled around, spilling the contents of her highball glass carelessly.
“Bucking chill out, will you?” she mumbled as she brought the glass to her lips.
Geez, and I thought I was a heavy drinker. I’ve never seen her act like this before. Vinyl tried a different approach.
“Well, we should at least go to bed then, don’t you think?” she suggested almost timidly as Octavia downed the rest of the whisky. When the contents of the glass were in her stomach, diffusing into her blood, she opened her eyes with a wicked smile pointed at her lover.
“Good idea.” She chuckled almost sinisterly. With that, she set down her glass and advanced on Vinyl, sandwiching her between herself and the bedroom. She gave Vinyl a playful push that sent her landing on the bed with a loud Thwump! Octavia shut the bedroom door behind her and pounced on her marefriend.
Sleep was that last thing she had in mind.
The light of a new day shone through the window into my living room onto the bust of its bringer, a wooden statue of Princess Celestia rearing on her hind legs with her majestic wings spread out. I had received it as a gift a while back from the ruler of Equestria herself as a present to show thanks for my teaching service (A bit of an ego trip if you ask me). The hardwood bust, about half the size of a young mare, rested on my piano, basking in the glory of the morning sun brought about by she whom the statue honored.
I knelt before it, my head resting in my arms as I held them up together in supplication. Beside me was the morning’s paper I had dropped to the floor, open to the Arts and Entertainment section. A review in there of last night’s performance had lauded the both of us, mostly that fillyfooler though. Octavia was praised as a new sublime violinist and masterful cellist, new on the scene of Canterlot’s musical society; a musician easy on the eyes as well as on the ears. Surely she is worthy of any patron’s attention now. No doubt she would be flocked to for commissions. When asked of her interest in pupils, she had given no comment. The article merely credited me for another good performance, praising my tearful emotion that was quite interesting.
“Damn foals…” I muttered once more. I took a deep breath and gazed at the statue bathed in sunlight that made it glow and whispered my supplication:
Princess, I prayed, I do not know why you have stuck me such a terrible blow. I do not know, nor do I venture to reason why you have brought that angel into my life that I so desired only to snatch her away from me. I only ask of you to acknowledge that I am humble now. I have changed for the better, I promise you. Please… I whispered still with more tears forming in my eyes. Please get her out of my life. I don’t care how. May she be successful in whatever she does, and may the winds of fortune always be at her back. Just please send her away. Let her find a position in Manehattan or Philydelphia. Anywhere but where I can lay eyes upon her. I can’t take the heartbreak anymore Your Highness. Please.
At that, I rose to begin my day. I always started with playing one of my most favorite Etudes that I composed for about a minute. I smiled at the whimsical tune as I remembered that I would have more spare time on my hooves than usual today. It was reassuring to get back into a routine. I spent the morning practicing piano solos for upcoming performances while also taking some time to jot down ideas for various compositions I was working on, though I threw the scores down angrily at one point. Partly because inspiration eluded me that morning, but also because I had remembered how nopony seemed to be cheering me on at that performance the night before. I had gotten the poisonous idea into my head that they would no longer care for my music. Such a thought frightened me at the time. And yet I foolishly thought that the Princess would never break her end of the deal we had. I brushed the thought aside. The rest of my morning was spent with the dozen or so students I had scheduled for a practice session. Octavia wasn’t one of them. She had informed me before that she appreciated all I had done, but my tutoring was no longer required. Good riddance was all I could think to say after she had left.
After I had dispatched my teaching duties for the day, I had the delight of being able to attend the premiere performance of Fiddler on the Hoof down at the theater. As I turned onto the intersection between Oat Street and Luna Avenue, my walk became quite unpleasant. It seemed that Octavia had become quite the celebrity quickly in this town. Images of her were plastered up on billboards. Her name was flashing and blaring from lights above the street corners.
Music shops were hawking cellos that now sold like hotcakes, as they were the new rage now for any musician who wanted to be like her. I angrily pulled my cloak over my shoulders and tipped my hat down, covering my eyes as I trudged through the slush and snow and crowd of ponies engaged in pouring over tabloids of the new cellist sensation known as “Octavimania.” I thought I would never hear the end of it until I finally reached the theater and turned in my ticket to go to the upper levels. I breathed out a sigh of relief to be free to forget about life for an hour or two as I sat down in my opera box and shook the snow out of my shoes. The performance was quite a touching story involving a village of ponies in land east of Canterlot near Stalliongrad. However, in the middle of If I Were a Rich Colt, I noticed a rustle coming from the royal opera box next to mine reserved for Celestia and her sister. Suddenly, the regal Princess herself came through the curtain and peered down at the stage. This was quite a strange occurrence. The Princess almost never had any time to herself, never mind an afternoon to spend at the performance center, although, she didn’t seem too interested in the show. She kept scanning the opera boxes until she caught me looking her way. She subtly jerked her head to the left, beckoning me to join her in the box. It seemed she had come on matters of business she wanted to discuss with me. I only wondered what she wanted to talk about that she had tracked me down at the performance as she let me in past the guards. Whatever it was, it must have been quite important.
“Please, sit.” She motioned to the extra seat meant for her sister. It felt a bit insubordinative to be sitting in Princess Luna’s place, but I obliged the ruler of Equestria. She took her own seat beside me and didn’t say anything for a few minutes, like she was gathering her thoughts in order to figure out a way to carefully articulate them. I sat there, shifting uncomfortably in Luna’s chair floundering to guess what was on the Princess’ mind that she seemed so somber about. I wasn’t worried that she would fire me or none the like. I just wish she wasn’t so severe. Finally, she turned her head to me.
“I need your help Mr. Horseshoepin.” she began quietly. “Do you think you can assist me?”
“To the best of my ability, Your Highness. What is it you need my help with?” She motioned to an extra seat on her left. I noticed somepony else who had followed the Princess sitting there, looking bored out of his mind, half paying attention to us and the other half drolly watching the show. I recognized him as her nephew, Prince Blueblood. I had never really made his acquaintance before now. He always seemed to be in a sour mood whenever I saw him, that is, whenever he was among the common folk. I figured he was one of those snooty upper crust types that it was best to stay away from. He turned his head lazily my way and nodded, acknowledging my presence. Then with an annoyingly loud yawn, he shifted his glazed eyes back to the show. It was quite obvious he had absolutely no desire to be here right now. Celestia cleared her throat again, a bit miffed at her nephew’s rudeness.
“You’ve met my nephew, haven’t you? Give Mr. Horseshoepin your salutations, Blueblood. Be polite!” Blueblood shifted slightly in his chair, as if he considered turning my way but thought better of it.
“That’s quite alright, Princess. I see moving too often is a bit of a strain for him.” I said loudly enough for the Prince to hear. He snorted indignantly, but made no motion to respond. Celestia chuckled quietly.
“Indeed. Though I believe I brought him here against his will.” She said, shaking her head disappointedly at her relative.
“Pray tell, what for, Your Highness if you don’t mind my asking?”
“I’ve decided that my nephew should take up music and try his hoof at an instrument.” This was too much for the grumpy Prince who wheeled around to face his aunt, his cheeks red with anger and probably embarrassment.
“I told you, I don’t want to take up another one of your useless “skills,” dear aunt!” he said too loudly for the auditorium, as a few patrons looked out way, perplexed and annoyed. Celestia glared at him.
“And I told you, a true statesmare or stallion is well versed in many different fields that gain him the admiration of his followers and suitors: Fields such as History, Martial Arts, Philosophy, Literature, and Music to name a few, and I am growing very impatient at your resistance to broadening your horizons as a member of the royal family! I am now done asking that you cooperate. I am commanding you to do so! Now be quiet!” she hissed. Her horn subtly glowed with a faint, gold aura. The next instant, a look of panic washed over Blueblood’s face as he held his hoof up to his mouth, finding that he was unable to open it to back sass Celestia. The shock of his aunt’s silence spell made him noisily fall to the floor. He got up with a muffled yelp and ran out the door. I couldn’t help but chuckle quietly at the Prince getting what he richly deserved. Celestia looked down and sighed almost remorsefully.
“I’m terribly sorry you had to bear witness to that little display Mr. Horseshoepin.” She said wistfully. Indeed, I felt bad knowing that it must have been quite embarrassing for her.
“It never happened.” I said crossing my heart. She smiled thankfully. “Now, as Your Majesty was saying?
“I was saying that I wanted my nephew to take up the art of music. I wanted your counsel on this issue, seeing that he needs a teacher.” As unpleasant as Blueblood was, a student was a student with bits to pay all the same. And money was always a useful thing to have in your pocket. I was happy that Celestia had charged me with the task of teaching another member of royalty that would indeed pay quite handsomely.
“Your Majesty!” I said with an air of pleasant surprise, “I’d be honored to teach your nephew.” Celestia shifted her eyes back and forth in a moment of awkward silence.
“Um… I was thinking of employing Miss Octavia.”
I won’t bother to describe the feeling of rage that passed up through my spine like an electric current and heated the filament of my cheeks, turning them a cherry red that I had to stifle in front of my boss. I wasn’t quite sure whether to think that Celestia had completely ignored my prayer, or to consider the possibility that my prayer hadn’t been uttered with the utmost sincerity. It was known that Prayer was a strange medium of communication with the princess. As a goddess, Celestia had could hear what transpired on a divine, cosmic plane of existence that was inhabited by the gods that had ruled Equestria long before her. In that plane was also the essence of prayer of those living in this world, each prayer flying about on its own like globs of wax in a lava lamp. But only those prayers that were pure would be clear to her. I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt that what I had said that morning could very well have been missed by her royal ears. Nevertheless, don’t think for a moment that I was going to simply let that fillyfooler have a place in Canterlot Castle. I wouldn’t be able to bear it; to have something I longed for so constantly be right in front of me and yet out of my grasp.
“Well.” I began, clearing my throat, “I certainly see why she would be a viable candidate.”
“Candidate?” she asked, raising her eyebrow.
“Surely we wouldn’t want to choose a teacher for Your Majesty’s nephew based on fleeting favoritism, but rather on his or her worth.” Celestia wasn’t convinced.
“And you believe Miss Octavia isn’t worthy of teaching Blueblood?” She whispered.
“No, no, not at all. I simply meant that there are other viable musicians in Canterlot to choose from. If it pleases Your Highness, I would set up a committee with some of my most trusted colleagues to advertise for the post and to judge whoever comes and to select the finest teacher we can find.”
“I see.” She said quietly. “Well, that settles that, then! I appreciate your dedication, Mr. Horseshoepin. Please tell me when you have selected a teacher.” She got up from her ornate chair and prepared to head back to the palace to continue managing her daily affairs.
“Won’t you stay for the second part, Your Highness? This show is quite splendid.” I suggested in a friendly fashion. Celestia shook her head regretfully.
“My apologies, Mr. Horseshoepin, but I really must be getting back to the Castle. I believe I have a very indignant nephew waiting for me.”
As she left, I gave a small polite bow and sat back in Luna’s chair, left alone for the end of the first act, seething over the fact that Octavia would never leave now. She would always be in Canterlot if she had that position. I made a promise to myself right there that either Octavia would be out of my life, or I would make hers in this city miserable.
I vowed to destroy Octavia, my love, my most bitter rival, my most hated enemy.