The Mirror Dance: Fractured Ruminations

by Korenav

Chapter 2

Chapter 2

Nothing was said as the maid silently glared, her gaze practically burning into Victoria, expression radiating with anger, disappointment, and a mild curiosity. Victoria looked back at Elise with a fear similar to how one would look to an oncoming train, her icy blue eyes piercing the dead thick air between them. Elise stared back like a hawk, and it was only a matter of time before Victoria stole away her gaze, looking to her hooves as her face flushed red. The maid sighed, her eyes following down the rest of her now, noting the similarities of this mare to the stallion that lived here not long ago. Victoria could feel those eyes search her, scanning her every inch, piercing her thoughts as she cringed like a foal under a parents scolding eye. It seemed as if an age went by before the silence was shattered.

“...Viktor? Victor Alan Vanity?” She asked with a mildly curious but largely flat tone. The other mare didn’t respond at first, rather her ever growing need to put away the books motivated her to glance to the shelves and find their resting place.

“...Yes...Its actually...changed now…” Elise’s eyebrows raised at the gentle sounding voice. Victoria pulled an envelope from her bag and levitated it to Elise with the gentle hue of her magic. “It has the paperwork in it…” She was unsure what to make of the maid’s reaction. She was being far too calm.

“...And what shall I call you?” Elise took the paperwork in her hooves, but the earth pony did not open it.

“Victoria Elana Vanity…” She eyed the vacancy on the bookshelf that formerly held the books she found in the hallway. It looked like nothing else was moved, but that didn’t matter. Even as she slid the books back into their original spots, she was scanning the whole row, looking for the slightest hint of inconsistency.

“ Lady Victoria?” Elise said with a hint of emphasis on her new title.

“Umm...Yes, that’s right.” Victoria ran a hoof past each book, going from one row to the next, unable to stop herself. The trap laid by the maid was very effective, trapping the younger mare with her own obsessive compulsive disorder that was now running wild in her mind, stimulating her joyfully with every compulsive action.

Elise, though, still had her quite nervous. The maid’s stare watched her every movement, inspecting, analysing, and judging her before an upset sigh left her lips. Anypony who knew Elise would cringe at the very sound, knowing very well what would soon follow.

“...You are such an idiot! Have you no respect for this house? No patience?” Elise scolded her. It was a tone she knew very well, a tone a parent spoke to a child with. Elise may be the housemaid, but she was the closest thing she had to a mother for most of her life.

“I do! I love my house and family! That’s why I must do this!” She stated sharply, her attentions however were barely pulled from the bookshelf and its contents

Elise scoffed. “Turn yourself into a mare so that you can marry yourself off into more riches? Do you really think its that easy?”

“No...But I have to try. Its the best option-”

“No its not the best option! You think the houses are going to just openly throw suitors at you? They aren’t just looking for someone to marry, Viktor, they want something to gain. You think they feel anymore compelled to marry off to you knowing you are this desperate and stupid?”

“It’s not going to happen like that-”

“And this is traditionally a patriarchal family. You think the other families won’t try to capitalize on that? They will want to merge this house into their own, and then there won’t be a House Vanity anymore!”

“Traditions can change. Recently House Dusk-”

“House Dusk has the money and family count to do whatever they want. House Vanity does not. House Vanity is running out of money, your father in a coma, brother gone, and you have lounged around for the last 5 years as the family businesses have fallen to shambles. And now you do this? For what?”

Victoria’s hooves were starting to shake as they trailed across the spines of the books lining the shelves. Heart beginning to race and breathe deepening, she counted off a few more books before attempting to formulate her reply.

“I-I...Couldn’t do it before. N-not like that. Not like how I was... It works out better this way…” Though her words were of her heart, they were scared and lost. “I will make this work. It is for the better of House Vanity… My family. Arty...”

Her book skimming had stopped, being no longer able to read them with the tears that blinded her eyes. Why did they come to her so easily now? She knew the answer was related to the new hormones in her body, something she was already learning to hate. Feeling too prideful to let Elise see her face like this, she tried to subtly wipe her eyes with a simple swipe of her trembling hoof, her back still toward her.

Elise was no simple maid of the house, being just a few years shy of Victoria’s father at age 49, the maid had spent a majority of her life working for House Vanity. She was practically family and had more perception and insight than most others. Having been there to help raise her, it was not hard for Elise to see the trauma surfacing in Victoria. With a sigh, she approached the crying mare.

“Alan…” She put her hoof on her shoulder. “I have known you since you were a foal, and you’re a smart pony... I’m worried about you.” Elise pulled her in closer, wrapping her hoof around her shoulders in a hug. “I want the best for you, and I don’t know if this is it. I don’t understand it, but...I am here for you, even if you make stupid decisions sometimes.”

Victoria was pulled away from the bookshelf by her hug, tears running free down her eyes. So much effort was put into keeping herself quiet, wanting to be a newer and stronger leader for the household, but nothing could hold back the tide of sobs that trembled from her lips when the now taller maid rested her head on her own. Her whole body started to tremble and all inhibitions gave way as she leaned into Elise, burying the side of her face into her neck. Never before had she felt herself want to cry so hard, always having hidden it away for fear of showing weakness and being mocked, but right now, it felt...necessary...and good.

As time passed, Victoria let her emotions pour from her tears, not letting Elise go. The maid herself felt a tear or two tempt themselves from her eyes, but kept silent for the most part. It was not like this five years ago, when the house was not in such a dire situation. Victoria’s father, Audric, was still conscious, his words carrying strength and demanded respect by many of the other houses. Close behind him was her brother, Keaton, having many ambitions for the house, and being already quite accomplished with his stellar service to the Royal Guard. Her father had spent considerable time grooming him, leaving Victoria to her own devices that, often, received scolding from her father. She knew her father loved her, and he did show it, but her brother was always the favorite one. Keaton even managed to win the heart of a member of House Horizon and married her, something that had not happened for centuries. House Vanity was prospering, and she was overshadowed by it all.

Until Nightmare Moon returned.

“, Elana...Perhaps you need some time to collect yourself.” Elise said, using her middle name. It was customary in their family to use middle names when being much more personal and sensitive among other members. “Maybe some time in the yard to think. Do not get me wrong. I am here for you, but...little Reginald is due to arrive soon. I doubt you are prepared to see him at this moment.”

Victoria took one last breath and wiped her eyes on Elise’s fur before pulling away. She had forgotten that it was just about time that her nephew was getting home from school, and considering the teary mess she was now, it was best she avoided him until ready.

“I...Suppose so. Yeah. I will tell him before dinner time...I think I’ll visit the Hall of Mirrors...Just for a little while.” Victoria’s voice cracked as she tried to speak, still shedding a few tears. Elise couldn’t help but smile and give her one more hug.

“I will see to Reginald and get him ready. And I dare look lovely, even with tears.” She released her and stepped away. “Come now, lets go before we have any-”

A bell echoed from the entrance of the house.

“-surprises...Off you go My Lady. I shall see to little Reginald. You collect yourself by dinner time.” The maid bowed, going as far as to insure she went below Victoria’s height now, before leaving to tend to the door.

Victoria wiped her eyes once more before forcing herself to get a move on out of the study. While she still felt a draw toward the book shelves, it was mostly out of her mind by now. The new mare trotted out and around the corner, seeing Elise watch her go as she waited by the door for her to be out of sight. In moments, Victoria disappeared into the mansion, a feat not too terribly difficult to do considering its size and many now unused rooms. Passing through a few halls, she exited to the outside again into the back courtyard. She didn’t realize how confined she was feeling inside until that moment when she took in a few breaths of fresh air.

The courtyard, much like the rest of the estate, had fallen victim to overgrowth and weathering. Vegetation grew between brick and stone paths, gardens covered in weeds, and hedges that were in dire need of trimming. Despite it all, the wild feel of the property only aided Victoria in getting away from her emotions. The uneven ground made her stumble a few times, falling once or twice as her hooves were still feeling like jelly from earlier. Cursing her clumsiness, she brushed herself off and carried on.

The Hall of Mirrors was barely visible from the mansion, being hidden away by the small forest that surrounded it for the most part. The pathway was among the only ones that was maintained somewhat, being perhaps the only path that anypony here ever traveled. The hall itself resembled more of a temple from the outside, though it was overgrown with weeds and moss from the many years it was left unattended.

Victoria pushed open the ancient wooden doors, proud of how they were nearly silent thanks to her efforts in keeping the interior of the hall in good shape. It was one of the few places she intentionally indulged her OCD in keeping clean and in shape. The hall represented her family's culture and history. Inside, the entranceway was nothing but mirrors, confusing any pony who did not already know the layout. She knew it represented how a pony saw themselves as who they were, having an honest understanding of themselves and those around them. Victoria could see herself more easily now than ever, the many mirrors, which she had been sure to keep clean herself, reflecting back the mare that had replaced her previous image. Normally she would simply stroll through but it made her pause this time around, considering her new appearance. Now that the initial shock was over, she could really see herself now compared to what she was before.

One of the first things she noticed with herself at a distance was how she looked smaller. Walking about, she didn’t feel it was the case, but being near doors, tables, a especially Elise, she noticed her height had fallen. Seeing herself in so many mirrors aside the door she knew so well, it was hard to miss. She frowned to herself at this, having always enjoyed the fact she was taller than the maid in the past, especially when they butt heads. Her slimmer legs and body didn’t do much to help her feel any better, only adding more a sense of fragility to herself. Victoria never considered herself a great fighter, but it had its appeal for glory to her. Any chance of her achieving that now were gone.

I look like a mare made of sticks. Do I even have the strength to do the things I used to?...Is anypony going to even let me?

Victoria looked herself over again. She had seen many noble mares with her body type, and often times those mares were given such chivalrous service that the idea of it being applied to her made her groan.

Oh heaven’s, they are going to try and treat me like I’m helpless aren’t they? Fleur De Lis already abuses that, and now I’m her size and shape. I can’t let anypony do that to me and make me out as some kind of...damsel… And damn that blush!

She frowned harder as she looked at herself in the mirror, her face starting to flush red. Whenever she got upset in the past, she was usually laughed off, and now it was only more apparent that, with her current frustrated look, she was only going to get more of the wrong kind of response. Aggravated, she whined and fell back onto her rump with a sigh. She needed to be taken more seriously if she was going to make any impressions on the nobility. Having her fathers eyes she thought would enhance her seriousness, but in this case it only made her look that much more innocent, if not doe-like.

Staring at herself in the mirror longer, she looked at her cheeks and snout, turning her head about. Eventually she took this further, and stood up to spin herself about, getting a more casual look at her new self. At least she did not come out ugly or lacking in any departments, there was no denying that there would be somepony interested in her.

...Stallions interested in me. Now there’s a disturbing thought I wasn’t sure I would be ready for.

Victoria knew that all this would entail an inevitable coupling with a stallion that she might not be entirely comfortable with. Being a mare when she was raised a stallion her whole life did not bother her as much as it would others. If anything, the idea was a curiosity, and it always amused her how stallions took so much pride in their ‘manliness’, as if there was something horribly wrong with the other end of the spectrum. Even so, she wasn’t quite prepared to face the idea of it with so little experience.

I’ll just have to make sure none of them play me. I have seen how some of the stallions act up close. I have the advantage.

Breaking her gaze from the mirror, she decided to move on beyond the entryway of the Hall. As designed, the entryway gave those entering a chance to reflect on themselves, and rarely was an exception ever made. Entering the main chambers, Victoria was greeted by a cathedral like interior, adorned with mirrors, and reflective mosaics, depicting various chapters of history. House Vanity was no simple rich family that bought itself into nobility, but had founded itself on the very artifact that laid in the center of the room. A magical artifact that her family was entrusted with as keepers and guardians because of its self reflection and loyal duty to knowing oneself in service to equestria. The Mirror Pool.

Victoria walked past mosaics that depicted many events of the past that her family had struggled and prospered through, a rich history that her father had taught to both her brother and herself. Centuries of history that her name stood for, that she now had sole responsibility for, that made her who she was. All of it started with the Mirror Pool. All that was left of it that is.

Victoria looked down into the pool, the steps that led into it along its border were dry till the very last one, the pool itself being merely a couple inches deep. Ever since she had seen the pool, it had been anything but the glamorous magical artifact that the stories and history made it out to be. Of all the many rumors that surrounded it about the magical properties and spells it could perform, Victoria had not seen it once do anything magical, partly because her father urged no one to try with it in such a weakened state. None of the official historical texts mentioned its use since the days of Nightmare Moon’s first uprising, and neither did it state how to use it, or what it could even do. All that was known were rumors and legends.

Victoria laid down at the pools edge, staring over into it as her hoof dangled lazily. She had been here many times before, staring into the mirror pool, seeing her reflection, and contemplated much of her life’s situation. This was it, all that she held dear, her family and its dying legacy, or at least what was left of her family. Five years ago she never could have dreamed that she would ever be responsible for its future like this. That was destined to be up to her father and brother, not the family runt, the one who was left to her own means of success that she never achieved, but fate was to be cruel. Her father comatose, mother passed away, brother and his wife dead, she was the sole pony left to govern the family and its legacy with her little nephew, maid, and a dried up pool. All she managed over the four years after those events was to seclude herself in depression as the coffers ran dry. It wasn’t just up to her to save her family, but to redeem herself from being the pony that brought about its end.

A soft sob escaped her lungs as she stared down into the mirror pool at her own reflection. Even though the pony she saw was a stranger, she could still see the face of her original self, the one who did nothing to help her family, the one she didn’t want to see. It served only to be a reminder of how, even with this big change in her life, she still could fail and lose it all. More and more she began to think about what Elise said, about if this was the right choice, or if she was just desperate enough to do anything to be somepony other than Viktor, the family runt. All her previous logic was starting to make less sense to her as more guilt and despair filled her. Staring down at that crying mare in the mirror pool seemed to only fit the image of helplessness she was feeling now.

Father, Mother, Keaton, Sinnie, Elise...and Arty...I’m sorry...I hope I can at least make it last long enough for someone else to do better...I’ll do Arty good at least.

Her mind drifted tiredly to the stallion nobles she could marry to, thinking of who would be best for her family. She didn’t have to think long as she softly fell into sleep.