The Musician and the Mailmare

by DoctorDerpy

The Musician and the Mailmare

Another night, another sea of faces. Nearly every chair in the audience seated the 'best' Canterlot had to offer. The majority of the rich and well respected were usually present at the Canterlot Symphony Orchestra's opening night every year. It was traditionally the time where they would show off their heavy bags of bits by buying the most expensive seats they could and then bragging about it afterwards. Suffice to say the prices rose due to these practices, leading to only upper crust of Equestrian society being in attendance on most nights.

Octavia Melody sat, not in the crowd but on the stage; she was the first-chair cellist accompanying the rest of her musicians in weaving musical masterpieces fit for a princess (rightly so, as they came often). Octavia knew most of the faces in the front row as they were the richest and most respected of the lot. Every night the orchestra performed it was always the same, money and politics, image and prestige.

It had come to a shock to Octavia when, during her first few months of playing in Canterlot's most reputable orchestra, that the audience was so much colder than what she was used to. They clapped of course, but nopony had wept in joy or sadness, there was almost no emotion at all usually. Nothing except for the looks of smug satisfaction some had when they sat down in their expensive seats. Octavia could almost feel the years of hard training hitting her. The years she spent trying to become the best cellist in the whole of Canterlot. All that work, so she could end up being a background pony in her own performances as the social ladder took precedence. Emotion began to well up inside of her but she pushed it back, it would be dealt with later with a nice glass of wine and maybe something stronger afterwards.

With a rising crescendo the second last song was completed, and the orchestra moved on to its last musical performance for the night. It was then that Octavia noticed something odd. A pony who looked so out of place she wondered how she hadn't noticed her before. She supposed that normally now, she would only look at the crowd as a whole and didn't normally give any pony more than a cursory glance. It was a pegasus mare, with a dull grey coat and a bright daffodil coloured mane. This mare, unlike so many around her, wasn't wearing anything, not so much as a saddle. This was almost unheard of, as nearly everyone wore at least some clothing, Octavia herself usually wore a simple pink bowtie as she liked to keep minimalist. And nearly everypony else in the vicinity had the most extravagant yet gaudy dresses imaginable.

Octavia studied the pony as she played; she needn't concentrate on her instrument as her hooves moved with practised ease. The more the cellist looked at the mare the more she was intrigued. Octavia was surprised when she noticed that both the mare's pupils, while looking in her direction, were pushed apart as though they were both the same side of two magnets. But she was even more surprised when she saw that the mare was watching the performance eagerly with bright eyes with such genuine joy. The pure emotion on her face touched something in Octavia that she hadn't felt in a long while. A little spark lit something inside of her and she straightened her back slightly as she stood and her drew her bow move more fluidly across their strings. When the orchestra finished their last piece the crowd applauded as was expected. Octavia placed her cello on its stand, fell to all fours and bowed as she was expected, even though they didn't deserve it. But her eyes drifted once more, to the mare with the daffodil mane. Well, most didn't deserve it. Octavia followed her musical companions off the stage, trotting into the dressing room to pick up her belongings. But first…

With a sigh she sat down on a lonely couch as some of the other mares of the orchestra trotted inside. Her relaxation would not last long unfortunately, as she had to head home to prepare for that blasted evening party. Every few months there was a traditional evening party which was held by one of the musicians of the orchestra, and this time it was Octavia's turn. She had not being looking forward to it, if she was being honest with herself and had only just started organising it a couple days prior.

“Octavia darling, that was brilliant playing as usual.”

Octavia turned to look at the mare who had spoken, one of the over cello players, Silent Strings. This mare was one of those who loved to dress up in a new, ridiculously frilly dress every night. She was the daughter of the conductor, and a fairly new member. Octavia assumed it was because she couldn't get through her father but she was often seen complimenting and flattering others in higher positions to try and charm her way up in the orchestra. Octavia had managed to avoid the menace for the time that she was here, but she knew that she couldn't keep it up forever. She felt that any conversation with the mare would cause Octavia to lose her temper, and she knew that if she snapped at her, she would be kicked out for sure. So she gave the mare a smile she usually reserved for those especially irritating nobles.

“Thank you, Silent Strings. You played quite well yourself.”

Silent gave a simpering laugh and pretended to look bashful. “I'm nothing too spectacular, but thank you all the same. Anyway, how is the party planning going? I just know it will be a simply wonderful evening tomorrow!”

“It is going quite well, in fact I was just about to leave and continue setting up my apartment for it. So I do apologise.”

Octavia stood up, nodded her head to Silent and went to collect her saddle-bags. She could see out of the corner of her eye that Silent String's own smile had fallen into a scowl. Her mood picked up at that. Octavia lifted her bags and slung them onto her back, she then proceeded towards the door. But stopped however, when a familiar set of eyes caught her own. That same wall-eyed mare, with the daffodil mane was looking around the room apprehensively, her wings were fluttering slightly by her side. The cellist walked over, eyebrow raised.

“Hello, is there anything I can help you with?” she asked with a small smile to show the mare wasn't unwelcome.

“Oh uh, hi! I just came here 'cause I wanted to say that you all played beautifully, I've never heard “A Starlight Waltz' played so well.” the mare said in a rush.

Octavia's smile grew and she felt a little tingle as the fire from before grew, “Thank you very much, I appreciate the compliment, and know the rest of my orchestra would too.”

Sadly, she doubted this would be the case.

The mare grinned back at her and her face reddened a little as she continued. “I saw you playing your cello, you're amazing. I think you are definitely the best player here.”

Octavia wasn't normally affected by attempts at flattery, but this felt like such a genuine expression of praise that she blushed and her mouth failed to move. Sadly, somepony else decided to speak for her. Silent String's grating voice called out as she stage-whispered to one of her friends.

“Who is she, I hope she isn't the new standard of pony that watches our performances. I don't want those eyes watching from the audience.”

They both giggled nastily and Octavia's eyes widened, she whipped her head around at Silent, who was watching the pegasus with a sneer. Hoping the mare hadn't heard, Octavia turned back. It seemed, by her lowered ears and the slight trembling of her lips that she had.

Octavia looked apologetically at the mare. “Miss...”

“Anyway, it was nice meeting you!” she interrupted with false bravado, “See you.”

And with that the mare turned and left. Octavia lifted a hoof to call her back but the words died on her lips. She stood there for a moment, indecision coursing through her. Casting a disdainful glare at Silent Strings, who had gone straight back to her conversation, she followed after the mare. Leaving the dressing room, Octavia looked toward the hall and saw the grey mare turning into the lobby. It had emptied out fairly quickly, so there were no others around. Octavia hurried forward and managed to catch up to the pegasus just as she was leaving the building.

“Miss! Wait miss!”

The mare looked around just outside the door, out in the chilly night air. Her expression was one of surprise as she saw Octavia galloping to catch up. The cellist skidded to a halt on the other side of the door.

“Yes?” asked the mare cautiously.

“I-uh,” Octavia stuttered for a moment, “I was wondering if you would like to come to the orchestra's 'first night' evening party I am hosting tomorrow afternoon?”

The grey pegasus stared at Octavia for a moment and then found her voice. “And see all those famous musicians? Yes! I would love to come!”

Octavia was surprised at the mare's sudden change in emotion. Her whole demeanour was now one of joy; she was bouncing slightly on the tips of her hooves and her face had brightened with a large smile. It was touching, and rubbed off a bit on Octavia as she now didn't dread the party so much anymore.

“Excellent!” she tittered, producing a slip of paper and pen from her bag. Writing her address she hoofed it over to the mare. “It starts at seven o'clock, I'll see you there.”

“Yes, of course!” the mare then stopped, “I'm sorry I forgot to tell you my name! I'm Derpy, Derpy Hooves.” she lifted a hoof to shake.

“Charmed,” the musician smiled as they shook, “I'm Octavia Melody. Well Miss Hooves, I'll see you tomorrow.”

And with that, she nodded her head at the pegasus and then continued on her way. She had a party to prepare.


It had taken Octavia the night, then most of the following day to clean and dress up her apartment before the catering crew arrived. The place was spotless. There were chairs around in case anypony decided to sit down at some point, and an open space in the middle for most to mingle. She had some nice lighting installed for a grand effect and lastly an expensive sound system to play music. She was feeling somewhat exhausted and was looking forward for the many selections of wine that were on their way. A few minutes after she put on a simple dress, the catering crew arrived and started to set up, preparing a large selection of fine foods and placing glasses of wine on silver platters. Octavia sneaked off with a glass or two of wine when the caterers weren't looking and slipped into her room.

But alas, it wasn't long before the doorbell rang and Octavia had to collect herself before walking to the front door.

“Ah, Beauty Brass! So glad you could make it!”

“Hello Octavia, how are you?”

The party had begun.

Soon her apartment was filled to the brim with ponies, all chatting theatrically about what noble said what, how much that night's outfits cost and who was going out with who. Octavia had been roped into a conversation with the Duke of something or-rather and she was having a rather dull time. She smiled as he pompously informed her of the many properties he had managed to buy the other week and even had to fake a few laughs whenever he made an attempt at humour. But on the inside she was cringing and looking for an escape; he'd been at it for nearly half an hour, with no sign at stopping. Fortunately the doorbell rang as a few latecomers arrived and she sighed inwardly in relief. She was saved by the bell it seemed.

“Please excuse me sir, I need to meet these newcomers.”

“And that was when I said something enormously witty, although I can't quite remember what it was but I'm sure you would have loved it-”

Octavia just shook her head at the fact that he hadn't even notice that she had spoken. So she left the Duke and walked over to the door and opened it. She greeted her new guests cordially and was about to get another glass of wine when a certain daffodil coloured mane caught her attention. Derpy Hooves had just arrived and was making her way to the front door, looking a bit awkward. Octavia stared, a little stunned, for the once clotheless, mare with the slightly dishevelled mane now stood in her doorway wearing a slim fitting cocktail dress. Her hair was done up in a bun and her face had just a touch of make-up to accentuate her facial features. The cellist had to shake her head to get it out of the clouds.

“Welcome Miss Hooves! I hope you found the place well?”

Derpy nodded and peeked behind Octavia at the bustling apartment. “Yes! It looks amazing, you must have spent a week setting it up.”

“Oh, ah, that is correct! I spent quite a while to get it looking just perfect for the party,” out of the corner of her eye, Octavia could see Silent Strings walking towards them an ill intent in her eye, “Now come inside, we must talk about your dress, it is simply stunning!”

“You really think so-eep!”

Octavia had grabbed the hoof of the now blushing pegasus and lead her inside her home, passing a crowd of ponies. A few of her guests raised an eyebrow and some scoffed, but it didn't matter, as long as they escaped their tormentor.

They stopped when Octavia was sure they were far enough from her colleague and she took a glass of wine from a passing caterer and hoofed the drink to Derpy. She then took another for herself.

“Here, '32 Celestial Merlot. Try it, it's very good.”

“O-oh, thanks.”

Octavia smiled then took a sip of her own drink. Derpy sniffed hers then took a tentative gulp. With a cough she cringed at the taste. “Hmm, wine is an acquired taste though. I assume you don't drink it very often?” Derpy's cheeks glowed pink as she wiped her lip with a hoof.

“I'm more of a cider mare, sorry...”

“It's quite alright. I'm afraid though, that most ponies in this part of Canterlot don't drink cider so you won't be having it at this party, sadly.” Derpy was still looking a little embarrassed so Octavia decided to change topics.

“So Miss Hooves, you know what I do with my time. What about yourself? What do you do for a living?”

“Well, I work as a mailmare,” the pegasus replied, a bit of her unease ebbing away, “Not anything special, but I don't mind.”

“Well I know for a fact that getting ponies their mail is a very important job. I wouldn't be able to speak with my father from Trottingham if the mail service was not around.”

Derpy's blush came back and Octavia could feel a bubbly happiness at being able to bring that kind of a reaction out of someone.

“Y-yeah, my friends usually say stuff like that. I know Princess Twilight keeps telling me that 'although dragonfire is fast, it will never beat the excitement of finding post from a friend in your mailbox'.”

“She sounds like a very knowledgeable m- Wait did you say Princess Twilight?”

“Yeah! She came to Ponyville a few years ago, before she became a princess. That's how I got tickets last night, she knows I'm a fan of classical music so she got me a seat. She's so nice, I could introduce you to her if you'd like!”

“We've already met I'm afraid, not under the best circumstances I'll have you know. Her friends made quite the spectacle at the Grand Galloping Gala a few years ago.”

Derpy's eyes widened. “You went to the Gala?!” she began bouncing a little on her hooves, “I would have loved to go, I hear they hire some amazing artists.”

“Well it just so happens that I was the cellist that played on that particular year, I never did go back though after the fiasco it became.”

“You were the cellist?! That's so cool!”

“Quite.” Octavia found herself amused by the pegasus' child-like enthusiasm, it was so refreshing to the fake interest she ordinarily received. Indeed, she felt her own spirit lifting considerably. “Until that pink pony jumped on stage and ruined my performance with a demands to play the 'pony pokey'… It was simply horrid!” she cried in fake annoyance and Derpy giggled.

Octavia grinned at that, the mare was cute when she laughed.

“That was Pinkie Pie, I heard about the mess they made at the Gala, seemed like Celestia liked it though!”

“Yes,” this time Octavia gave a little frown, “I bet she was the one who put them up to it. I swear after that stunt I almost feel like donning a stealthy disguise and vandalising her statue in central Canterlot with a can of spray paint! But then I realised that that would be a stupid idea. All I needed to do was convince the conductor to throw out Celestia's favourite piece last year, so that when she came she would miss out. And that is what I did.”

“How did that turn out?” giggled Derpy.

“Terribly,” Octavia laughed, “When we got to the last performance of the night she somehow copied the sheet music over the top of our last song. I wouldn't have guessed it was her but when she came to congratulate us she gave me a little wink. She's a clever one, I'll give you that.”

“And she has a good taste in music! Marezart's 'Piano Concerto Number Twenty' had some beautiful movements.”

Octavia's blinked in surprise, “Yes, this is quite true. But I feel her 'Overture to The Magic Mark' while more obscure, has some incredible juxtaposition that I simply adore.”

“Oh yeah, I forgot about The Magic Mark. I can definitely see why you'd like it, Mrs 'Strings Mare'.”

Octavia laughed at Derpy's playful mocking.

“Hey now, that piece isn't that strings heavy. And it's not my fault it just happens to have the best cello solo out of all of her works.” She lifted her head up with a huff in imitation of the ponies around them.

Derpy snickered and it wasn't long before Octavia joined her. She was feeling better than she had done in months, her earlier gloomy mood was completely forgotten as she talked avidly with the grey mare, her glass lay forgotten on the floor beside her.

They had to pause for a second when Octavia noticed Fancy Pants and his wife, Fleur Dis Lee walking into her apartment.

“Apologies Miss Hooves, I just need to go see these two in. Why don't you speak to a few of my friends over there,” she pointed at Beauty Brass a couple of other mares who were in conversation, “They're lovely mares, and one of them was from Ponyville originally!”

The cellist moved through the crowd, eyes on Fancy, but then a familiar smug smile entered her vision as Silent Strings stepped in front of her.

“Octavia! How are you? We haven't really talked tonight.”

“I'm well, now if you'll excuse me I've got to see to my position as house guest, thank you.”

She tried to walk around Silent, but the mare side stepped right into her path.

“I must insist though! I'd just like to ask what she is doing here. You didn't invite her did you?”

Octavia could feel rage climb it's way through her body at her words. She had to grit her teeth to stop herself yelling. She took a breath to calm herself and then put on a plastic smile.

“Silent, while I'm sure you are a lovely mare and I'm sure we would have a lot to discuss if I were available, sadly right now I have two important guests to see in. So would you please step aside.” she said, putting a bit of venom into her last two words.

Silent Strings froze, her expression turning icy. She was about to retort but Octavia just walked around her. She trotted over to the couple on her doorstep and they both brightened when they saw her. She smiled warmly in return. “Fancy Pants and Fleur Dis Lee, welcome! It has been some time, has it not?”

“Quite so!” replied Fancy, adjusting his monocle, “My last garden party it was I think.”

“Yes, that was it. You two are doing well then I presume?” said Octavia as she lead them inside.

“We're doing wonderfully, I must apologise but I would love to eat as soon as we are able. It's been a long day I'm afraid and I'm famished!”

Fleur gave Octavia an apologetic look and she took it in her stride. “Of course, it's right this way. If you'll follow me.”

Octavia once again, walked through the throng of ponies and they came to the food set-up. Fancy took a plate and began to add a bit of everything onto it.

“If you need me I'll be right over there,” smiled Octavia as she pointed with a hoof to where Derpy stood. She saw that the mare wasn't talking with Beauty Brass and her friends, she was alone and her ears were splayed back. She went over to her, worried.

“Why Miss Hooves, whatever is the matter?” she cast her friends a glance, hoping silently.

“N-nothing, I'm ok.” Derpy sniffled.

Octavia frowned. “Please, you can tell me. I just want to help you.”

“O-oh, well… I tried talking with your friends but they kept ignoring me.”

'They what?!” Octavia was shocked, “Oh I'm going to have a word with them...” Octavia marched away, heading towards her 'friends'.

“Wait, it's no trouble!” called Derpy behind her, but she ignored the mare.

The small group of mares looked at Octavia as she approached, looking annoyed. “Good evening ladies,” said Octavia a little coldly, “I would just like to ask why you were so rude to my friend just now.”

Two of the mares looked abashed but Beauty Brass stared resolutely back. “'Friend' now is she? So you're not even hiding it.”

Octavia blinked, confused. “Hiding, what pray tell?”

“That you're trying to get that mare into our orchestra. Just because she's giving you some bright eyes and flattery.”

“Bright eye- What in Celestia are you talking about? Who gave you that moronic idea?”

“Silent saw overheard you talking about helping her get into our orchestra, don't deny it! Why you'd choose someone from the outer towns is beyond me...”

Octavia's blood boiled, as the other two mares nodded, casting Octavia accusatory looks. That was it, she would find Silent Strings and finish this once and for all. And without caring about the consequences, she turned her back on the mares in search for the pony from Tartarus. Unfortunately, when she spotted the mare, she was stalking her own way towards a certain daffodil maned pegasus...

Octavia was frozen. She couldn't move, even when Silent's carrying voice met her ears from across the room.

“Why hello there,” Silent sneered at the mare.

Derpy jumped and looked at Silent, looking scared. “H-hello?”

“You think you can just waltz in here uninvited, is that what you think?” she said, voice growing louder. A few heads turned their way as she did so.

“I-I'm not-”

“Well you can't! You think you can charm a few of the right ponies and then they'll let you into our orchestra?”

A few more heads turned, and the ones already looking began to frown and mutter. Derpy saw this and seemed to draw in on herself. Octavia still couldn't move.

“N-no, I just wanted to-”

“How dare you! You will not sneak your way into our prestigious symphony orchestra. You think you can just strut in here and charm everypony in sight and expect to find a place? Well you must be as stupid as you look, featherbrain. I think you should get out!”

A few mumbles of agreement came from the crowd, and Derpy's eyes glistened with tears.

“B-but I… S-sorry…” And with that, Derpy began to shuffle her way to the exit.


Derpy stopped. Everyone looked over at Octavia, who was in half a mind to run upstairs and drink herself into a stupour. Silent Strings had a victorious expression on her face as Octavia took a deep breath then walked over.

“Please stay Miss hooves,” she said gently, and then did something she had not done for a long time. She hugged the mare.

Silent Strings was upon them. “So it's true then? It seems that she did get through. Are we going to be letting anyone into the orchestra now? As long as they can talk their way into Octavia's pants.”

Octavia could feel all the anger, all the rage that had been building over the night explode into her system at those words. She felt herself shaking as she turned around slowly, baring her teeth.

“Silent Strings. For once in your miserable, pathetic life, please, stay true to your namesake and BE SILENT!”

The record scratched as somepony bumped it in shock and the whole room was silent. You could have heard a pin drop. Derpy let out a squeak behind her and Silent Strings had looked like someone had slapped her.

“I have put up with your constant and blatant attempts take over as first-chair cellist for months now, but tonight you go too far!” cried Octavia, voice rising in anger, “I cannot believe you would stoop so low as to attack the guest I invited because of a ridiculously undeserved desire to become first-chair cellist. You are a despicable pony and I hope you never become the concertmaster, it would be a detriment to us all.”

And with that, Octavia spun around and grasped Derpy by the hoof and walked her out of the apartment.

The two were silent as they walked along the dark street. The cold was beginning to get to them both as they had nothing but dresses on to keep them warm. Derpy was looking at the ground, her ears lowered and Octavia's anger was seeping away fast as the severity of what she had just done started to hit her. She was sure that the conductor had been there during her tirade so she was sure to be losing her job. But, after a moment she found she didn't mind all too much. She felt a warmth on her side as Derpy walked right beside her.

“Thank you,” she said, and Octavia looked at the mare. Her eyes were still tearing up, but she was smiling. “I'm also... sorry that you had to stick up for me, I should have left.”

“Please, Miss Hooves, she was really asking for it. I would have snapped at her sooner or later. And if you had left, I would have been right behind you.”

They both stopped as Derpy stumbled a little. She looked at Octavia her mouth slightly open, “I...” And she hugged the cellist. Octavia paused for a moment, before lifting a leg to embrace the mare back. They both stood there, enjoying each other's warmth.

“Please, call me Derpy.” said the pegasus.

They both drew closer, blushing. Derpy was about to speak when Octavia's lips met hers. She squeaked in surprise her pink cheeks reddening even further, but she didn't pull away. They both stood there, in the cold street in Canterlot City, knowing nothing but each other.

After a while they pulled apart, both of them feeling shy. Octavia got the better of herself and cleared her throat.

“Ahem, so there's a bar near here that sells some good cider I've heard. Would you like to accompany me there?”

The mailmare smiled, eyes glinting in the moonlight. “I'd love to.”