• Published 5th Jun 2013
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Playing With My Heart - ObabScribbler



Four years ago Vinyl and Octavia broke up. It was messy, painful and left scars on both. Four years on, Vinyl receives news that Octavia has been in an accident and is in a coma from which she may never wake. Can she succeed where medicine failed?

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12: “Please don’t leave me!”

A/N: Hi everyone. Been a while, hasn't it?


12: “Please don’t leave me!”


Vinyl’s throat closed up. She wondered whether the floor might actually be able to open up and swallow her in a dream. Maybe she could will it to happen.

“Do not be frightened.” Princess Luna took a step toward her. “I intend you no harm.”

Vinyl opened her mouth. A small squeak came out. She shut it again.

“Such shyness from the great DJ Pon3.” Princess Luna smiled. It was like moonlight on a foggy night, piercing the gloom to guide ponies home. Unbidden, Vinyl felt her muscles unclench. “Thrice I ask thee – I mean you – you will try to what?”

Vinyl sucked in a breath. “I will try to not poop myself in fear right now,” she squeaked.

It was as if the whole universe stopped. Princess Luna stared at her. Even her mane and tail seemed to cease undulating. Vinyl cursed her mouth, her brain and any other body part that had caused that very, very stupid attempt at levity.

Rule number one of talking to royalty: don’t mention poop in front of a friggin’ princess!

Luna opened her mouth to yell at her for her temerity. Vinyl covered her head. She had heard all about the Royal Canterlot Voice. Stories said it could flay the flesh right off your face if you stood too close to the princesses when they used it.

Luna laughed. It thrummed around them, sweeping the clouds into a swirling vortex of humour that buffeted Vinyl’s own mane. She vaguely noticed that it still appeared uncut in her dream, the trimmed off pieces glued back on like it was Pearl who had been the dream.

“Twilight Sparkle was correct!” Princess Luna roared, grinning widely. “You are indeed a character.”

“Twilight Sparkle?” Vinyl tried very hard to make herself sound less like she was being strangled. She even lowered her hooves from her face. “You talked to her about me?”

While Twilight was the approachable princess who had once been ordinary pony, the alicorn before Vinyl was anything but. Princess Luna was mysterious and elegant. She was the enigmatic diarch who had not been seen for a thousand years and returned in a blaze of prophecy and dark magic. Something ancient clung to her and Vinyl had never quite been able to shake the idea of her as a hostile phantom from Equestria’s past. Hearing her laugh like a regular pony was weird enough but to know the pony responsible for raising the friggin’ moon had talked about her with one of the saviors of the whole country was … weird cubed!

Tiny cubes of light rose around Vinyl. She blinked, confused.

Luna’s laughter abated. She tilted her head at the slowly rotating cubes. “Curious.”

“Um … what?”

“Your dreamscape is a very visual place.”

Vinyl looked around at the endless dark. “You think?”

“To answer your previous question, Twilight Sparkle and I have indeed talked of you. We talk of a great many things in our pursuit of the ways of friendship.” Princess Luna said this with more than a hint of pride, as if counting Twilight among her friends was one of her life’s greatest achievements. Vinyl supposed it was. Everypony knew the story of how Twilight Sparkle and her friends had used the Elements of Harmony, long since though lost, to save the lost princess and bring her home to her sister.

“Oh,” Vinyl murmured. “Spiffy.”

“Are you not going to ask why I am here?”

“To be honest with you, your majesty, I’m trying really, really hard not to just run shrieking into that blackness over there. Hanging on to my nerve by a thread, really. A very thin thread.”

Princess Luna’s head tilted the opposite direction. “You do not exhibit the kind of deference we might expect from somepony who has not experienced the dreamscape in such a manner before.”

“Um … should I bow?”

“No, it is not necessary.” She cleared her throat, muttering, “Though it might have been nice.”

“Oh. Sorry.”

“We often visit ponies in their dreams.” Princess Luna opened her wings, which seemed even more expansive in the void.

“We?”

I often visit ponies in their dreams.” The barest hint of irritation frosted her words. Vinyl shrank back. “Do not be afraid, little pony.”

Easy for you to say.

“Perhaps you would be more comfortable in a more familiar setting?”

Bright light momentarily blinded Vinyl. When she reopened her eyes, a baying crowd lay before her. Sheets painted crudely with her name were strung across the safety barrier and similar posterboards stuck up from random points in the throng. The beveled roof of the Palladium arched above them all, enclosing the sound of thousands of voices raised in a single repetitive shout.

“We want DJ Pon3! We want DJ Pon3! We want DJ Pon3!”

Vinyl stepped back. The scene was bathed in lurid pink and her nose felt pinched. She took off her sunglasses to survey the stage. Her equipment was meticulously set up, everything perfect right down to the position of her water bottle in a hidden compartment and an energy bar just in case she did an encore.

She stepped back as if stung.

“We want DJ Pon3!”

“I did not think it possible for a pony of thy hue to appear even paler,” Princess Luna murmured into her ear.

Vinyl was too gripped by panic to even acknowledge her closeness. “Please … take us somewhere else.”

“As you wish.”

More bright light. Vinyl tried and failed to keep her eyes open this time. When she could focus again she was inside a messy apartment. Take-out boxes not entirely devoid of food lay strewn across the floor and coffee table. There was a dark stain on the carpet. Automatically her gaze flicked to the corner, which was bare. Of course it was. Tavi had taken her cello with her when she moved out.

Except that Vinyl, too, had moved out of this place a long time ago.

“Curious indeed.” Princess Luna levitated a rotting box of Chineighse noodles up to her face and sniffed delicately. “Even the odours. You remember this place exceptionally well.”

“What?” Vinyl looked around, recognizing the old lamp, the peeling sideboard and the ugly flowery wallpaper neither of them had ever liked but which the landlord wouldn’t let them change. “Why did you bring me here?”

“It is not I choosing our destinations.” Princess Luna deposited the box back in the mess. If telekinesis could have shaken itself like a hoof, hers would have.

“Huh?”

“This is your dreamscape, DJ Pon3.”

“Don’t call me that.”

“Your name is immaterial. Whatever you call yourself, this is your mind in which we stand, little pony.” She waved a silvery shoe. “Your memories. You selected this destination from the myriad possibilities you could have taken us.”

“No I didn’t!”

In answer, Princess Luna merely raised an eyebrow.

“I didn’t!” Vinyl protested. “I’d never choose this dump! I hated this place!”

The eyebrow climbed higher.

“Nothing but bad stuff happened here.” She kicked the coffee table. A glass of what had once been juice tipped over and oozed across the detritus.

The eyebrow descended low across Princess Luna’s eye, pulling its twin into a frown. “Nothing but ‘bad stuff’?”

“Take a look around! Does this look like a happy place to you?”

The princess did look. She looked very, very hard. A smattering of voices bubbled up in the room.

“I’m telling you, the rent is great! It’s a bit of a fixer-upper but totally worth it.”

“You say fixer-upper, I say deathtrap.”

“Aw c’mon, Tavi. Please? Don’t you wanna live together?”

“You know I do. Hmmf. Well … at the very least can we get rid of that awful chintzy wallpaper?”

“Done and done! You just wait, Tavi, this is gonna be so friggin’ sweet!”

Princess Luna looked at Vinyl. It was like being stared at by a piece of eternity. Vinyl found herself turning her head away, unable to meet that gaze.

“Nothing but ‘bad stuff’?” Princess Luna repeated softly.

Vinyl shut her eyes. “Why are you doing this to me? Don’t you have more important ponies to visit in their dreams?”

“That depends entirely on your definition of ‘important’.” Luna’s steps drew nearer. “You, for example, are important to my friend Twilight Sparkle. She asked me to check on you. She was concerned for your wellbeing. Given that a visit from either of us to Manehatten General Hospital might garner more attention than you would want, this seemed a preferable option.”

“Twilight … uh, Princess Twilight asked you to check in on me?”

“This surprises you? Your name is hardly uncommon to hear these days. One may hardly pick up a newspaper without seeing it.”

“You read newspapers?”

“I like to keep up to date on current events. I was absent from Equestria for a long time.” The scene around them fluctuated at the edges. Princess Luna glanced upwards. “Twilight Sparkle reads a lot, as you may know. She was worried at the stories the … media have reported of you.” She seemed to struggle with the word as if it was unfamiliar to her mouth; something to be tasted and then spat out like a bad grape. “They have perturbed her of your welfare.”

“Um, kind of comes with the territory, princess. You get famous and suddenly everypony cares about your private life.”

Princess Luna tilted her head to one side. “Indeed. I am aware of this phenomenon. I, too, have been the subject of some controversy in the … media.”

Vinyl blinked. “Oh. I … I guess you have, huh? Sorry. Um, I mean, my apologies your high –” She was cut off by a raised hoof.

“Spare me your platitudes, Vinyl Scratch. My status as an alicorn grants me a little distance from the ponyrazzi.” If possible, she managed to inject even more disdain into that word. “Photographers and reporters are more hesitant to climb my balcony when a swathe of guards await them at the top and the subject of their torrid stories may literally drive them insane with nightmares.”

Vinyl’s ears dropped so flat they were attempting to burrow through her skull to her brain. “Uh …”

Princess Luna smiled. It was … playful. Could an all-powerful deity smile playfully? Apparently so. Could that playful smile be anything less than creepy though? The jury was still out on that one.

“Be not afraid, Vinyl Scratch. I learned my lesson long ago of the power of nightmares.” She paused. “I also learned the power of reputation and other ponies opinions; and how, though one may convince oneself that one does not care what others think …”

“One actually really, really does?” Vinyl finished for her.

Princess Luna paused before saying, “Indeed.”

“So … Princess Twilight asked you to come and give me a pep talk?”

“Uh … I think so?” Luna’s nose wrinkled. Evidently cute and creepy could also be bedfellows. Who knew? “A pep talk is when one comforts and buoys another pony’s mood and demeanor through the power of well-chosen words, yes?”

“Um … I think so?”

They stared at each other for a moment.

“This is … not how I imagined this going when you turned up in my dream,” Vinyl admitted.

“Nor I.” The barest hint of a pout tugged at Princess Luna’s bottom lip. “My sister makes well-chosen words seem very easy to summon whenever they are appropriate.”

“I guess she’s had a lot of practice.”

“Yes. Over a thousand years.” An invisible fish-hook indented the royal lower lip even further. Princess Luna seemed to realise this and shook it off admirably. “All ponies are prey to the same pettiness and … mortalities. Even royal ponies.”

“Immortal royal ponies are prey to mor-“ Vinyl screeched to a half in the middle of her sentence. “Never mind. Can I wake up now please?”

Princess Luna blinked at her. “Wake up? My dear little pony, you are beyond exhausted. Every scrap of your mind screams out for rest.”

“It does?” Vinyl processed the princess’s words. Her eyes widened. To her own chagrin, she found herself clamping her hooves over her ears. “You can read my thoughts?”

“No. I can read your dreams. The sleeping mind is an unprotected place. It is my duty to safeguard my subjects and ensure their rest is peaceful.”

Vinyl could not imagine a less peaceful kind of sleep than one containing a royal deity who once tried to murder the Sun Princess and wasn’t currently a figment of one’s own imagination. She managed to keep this unvoiced, however. It helped that Princess Luna had not finished speaking.

“Ponies in this modern age are very … loud when they sleep.”

“Hey, we can’t help it if we snore –”

“That is not what I meant. Their minds broadcast emotions and hold nothing back. Mostly I am able to blend their minds together into a mélange that protects their privacy as one might hide a face in a crowded room. However, sometimes troubled minds broadcast even louder than most. In those cases, it is my responsibility to soothe those minds in order to allow their owners the rest their bodies require. Otherwise they may wake even more tired than before they retired to bed.”

Vinyl felt like she was expected to make some comment on that. She searched her mind for an appropriate response. “Huh.” It was much easier to come up with insults to fling at herself for saying such a dumb response. “Mélange. Good word.”

“I am grateful for your approval.” Without even seeing it, Vinyl could hear the tiniest of smiles in Luna’s voice.

“So … you’re keeping me asleep against my will?”

“Your body wills it. I cannot compel ponies to sleep. I can only soothe them so that their slumber is restful.”

“So if I chose to wake up right now there’d be nothing you could do about it?”

“Do you truly find my presence so abhorrent?”

The question caught Vinyl by surprise. “No, no, no! That’s not it at all. I was just … uh … asking … for … research?”

Princess Luna quirked at eyebrow at her.

Vinyl dropped her head. “Aw crap, even in my dreams my excuses friggin’ suck.”

“Do you wish for me to wake you?” Princess Luna asked softly. “Such a thing is within my power. Though, as I say, your body in the waking world is exhausted and I would not recommend waking before you have replenished it with sleep.”

“You can force ponies who are asleep to wake up?” Hope, that fleeting sliver, darted through Vinyl’s mind. She lifted her head; reached out to grab it. “What about ponies in comas?”

Princess Luna’s face seemed to fold in on itself and straighten into a calm mask all at once. Vinyl was aware of their surroundings wavering but she was too fixed on the alicorn to pay much heed.

“Long ago, in the time before I … fell from grace. Before I was banished to the moon.” She blinked slowly. “We did not have the words you have today. ‘Coma’ was not in our vocabulary. Back then, I called it ‘the dreamless sleep’.” Lashes down. Lashes up. Perfect moonlit pupils shining down with the cruel honesty of someone trying their best not to be so blunt that they brutalized their listener with the truth. “This dreamscape is my realm, but it is not the only realm of the unwaking world. There are many layers to it where dreamers – and myself – may roam, but there is also a place beyond it. Below it. A dark place where sleeping ponies no longer dream. And without dreams … I cannot reach them.”

Vinyl’s hope flickered and died. “Can you at least tell me whether it’s even possible for her to wake up anymore?” She didn’t need to say the name. Their surroundings had settled into a theatre with a troupe of ponies performing on stage. Vinyl squeezed her eyes shut. She didn’t want to see this again.

“All dreamers eventually wake.”

“Is that a euphemism for ‘someday they die’?” she demanded bitterly.

Princess Luna did not reply. Vinyl opened her eyes to find her staring at the stage where a single grey pony now stood beneath a creaking stage light. The princess’s horn glowed and everything froze in place before it could play out.

“You blame yourself. Why?”

“Huh? I don’t blame myself. The light falling was an accident.”

“And yet you carry guilt in your heart.”

“Well … yeah,” Vinyl conceded. “But not … over that. Over a lot of crap that went down between us. But not that.”

Princess Luna raised an eyebrow but said nothing.

“I mean … doesn’t everyone carry around a bunch of junk and guilt and regret inside them? That’s just … that’s life, y’know? Show me a pony with no regrets and I’ll show you a friggin’ liar.”

“I am rather familiar with the concept of regret,” Princess Luna said quietly. “It is often quite irrational. It … defies logic. We seek to suffocate it, to have the forgiveness of others squash it, to at least quiet the buzz of it in our minds through work, friendships and other pursuits. Yet it persists. Irrationally.”

Vinyl stared at her. She opened her mouth to ask which one of them the princess was talking about but snapped her jaw shut again like a steel trap on the leg of a very stupid manticore.

“My sister sometimes says that the purpose of negative emotions is that they contrast the good. How might one recognize happiness without unhappiness? How might one know what it is to be content without sadness? And, indeed, how might one understand satisfaction without regret? One may only prize the decisions one has made that are positive if one has poor decisions with which to compare them.” Princess Luna’s brilliant blue eyes slide sideways, pinning Vinyl beneath their stare. “I … disagree.”

“You do?” Vinyl rasped.

Princess Luna nodded. “I cannot see the value in something existing only for the sake of another thing. Everything exists in and of itself and for the sake of itself. At least, that is how I perceive the world. My sister may accept disharmony as a means of defining harmony but I feel that things are a little more complicated than that.”

“So I guess you weren’t real big on Discord being let loose then, huh?”

Princess Luna stiffened. “We ... had words about that unilateral decision of hers, yes.” She exhaled something that might have been a sigh. “To value something only for being not something else is … disheartening to me.”

“Like the night not being the day?”

“You tread an interesting line considering only a short while ago you expressed you were about to soil yourself at my mere presence.”

“I … holy crap, was that a joke?” Vinyl clapped both forehooves over her mouth. “Holy crap, did I just say holy crap in front of a princess!?”

Princess Luna, regent of the night and all its glories, stared at her. And then laughed. “I find myself amused by you, Vinyl Scratch. I understand now why Twilight Sparkle bestowed such attention upon you and your wellbeing despite her new status and responsibilities.”

“Twilight is a cool mare.”

“Cool.” Luna seemed to process this. “Yes. Inasmuch as I understand the term, I agree.”

“Um …” Vinyl searched for words. “is she okay? Bring a princess and everything? Seems like a lot of … pressure.” She paused. “I mean … living in the public eye is a pain in the patoot when you ask for it but when it happens to you by accident…”

“You speak from experience.” It was not a question.

“Sure I do. If even you’ve seen my face splashed across the media … um …” She regretted her sentence the moment it passed her lips.

Princess Luna, however, did not appear to be offended. “Indeed, I am not exactly a connoisseur of pony pop culture, despite my efforts to educate myself on this modern age, but even I in my ivory tower have heard of your, ah, exploits.”

Vinyl did not fight the urge to cover her face. Luna stamped her hoof with a loud metal clang. A whooshing sensation signaled the departure of Octavia’s accident and entry into a landscape of stars and effervescent swirls of mist.

“I myself have endured some … unpleasantness in that regard.”

Vinyl stared around at her new surroundings, unable to look at the princess directly. “Ah … yeah … I remember reading some of it.”

“In times of old we took traitors and criminals and made public spectacles of them in an attempt to dissuade others from perpetrating their same mistakes. It seems to me that while Equestria has progressed much in my absence, things are not so very different now.” Princess Luna sighed. “I committed many crimes that led to my imprisonment on the moon. And several more upon my return, before Twilight Sparkle and the Elements of Harmony saved me. I cannot blame ponies for being suspicious of me. Though it is indeed unpleasant, it is fathomable to me.” There was a heaviness to her words that, inexplicably, made Vinyl want to give her a hug. “Though I must admit, the gamut of what is acceptable behavior and what is not is more … nuanced than I remember. Crimes much smaller than my own are treated to public besmirching with no less vigour.”

“You’re not friggin’ kidding.”

“Your public lashing in the … media is simply because you lay with mares?”

“Uh … sort of.”

Stars jingled when Luna shook her head. “In times of old I lay with both stallions and mares and no comment was made.”

“I think ponies back then might have been too scared to say anything, to be honest.”

“Mayhap. Nonetheless, it perplexes me how sensibilities have altered to the degree that love must be quashed for the sake of modern propriety.”

Vinyl looked up at her. “Um … thanks, princess. That … actually means a lot to hear, coming from you.”

“It does?” Luna smiled. “That pleases me.”

“It pleases you to please me?” Vinyl’s eyes widened. “Um … that didn’t sound so smutty in my head.”

Luna barked a laugh that made the starscape ripple. “You have allies, Vinyl Scratch. You must remember this in time of hardship and woe. Friendship is a valuable commodity but one we oft underestimate when we are at our lowest ebb.”

“Yeah … I know. I’ve … been a crummy friend lately.” She thought of Sapphire. Her stomach sank at the memory of her expression when she left after their argument.

“Nopony is perfect. All we can do is our best.”

“Easier said than done.”

Luna nodded. “This I know. Categorically.”

“My … well I guess she’s my bestie. We fought. It was … really bad.”

“Very little is as unfixable as it first appears. I am living proof of that fact.”

“I guess.” Vinyl bit her lip. “We fought about … Octavia. About her maybe never waking up and me … not wanting to move on from her. Um, romantically.”

“Your heart is still hers.”

“Yeah.”

“Is your heart your own?”

Vinyl blinked at the question. “I … uh … how do I answer that?”

“A query pondered by many minds over the centuries. Libraries have been filled with their cogitations on the topic. When one falls in love, does one give one’s heart to the object of one’s affections? And if one does give it, does one give it wholly and totally or merely a piece?”

“What did all those egghead ponies decide?”

“They agreed to disagree. There is no categorical answer to the question, you see. Love is love, but love is different for everypony. It is not always constant. It is not always eternal. It is not always easy. But then, nothing in life is any of those things. We cannot expect love to be if that is not the natural order of the world. Nothing lasts forever so we must enjoy it for what it is while it is.”

“Aren’t you eternal? I thought alicorns were immortal. So don’t you buck the natural order?”

“Nay, Vinyl Scratch. Do not confuse longevity for immortality. Alicornhood extends our lives but we shall someday meet our end as surely as anypony.”

“So … everything ends and I should just suck it up and accept it?” How was it possible to get a lump in your throat in a dream where you didn’t actually have a throat?

“Something like that.” Princess Luna stepped closer and tilted Vinyl’s chin up so that she was forced to meet those glittery eyes. “Things end, Vinyl Scratch. All things. To fight that is to fight the entire universe – and that is a battle nopony can win. And in fighting to keep something, we stop ourselves from enjoying it. We focus on what we have lost or what we think we stand to lose, not what we have had. Grief is an overwhelming emotion. It consumes us. It changes us if we let it. We cannot fight it. We cannot stop it. Yet we can accept it and learn how to live with it as a part of us.”

“I … I …” Vinyl stared at her. She felt something wet slide down her face. “ I c-can’t …”

“You can,” Princess Luna insisted gently. “The future is as yet unwritten, Vinyl Scratch. You are not beholden tomorrow to the choices you make today – or do not make today, as the case may be. Yesterday I chose to let darkness and bitterness consume me. Today I am no longer beholden to that choice.”

Vinyl felt the ghostly imprint of a hug that smelled of bow resin. It was so fleeting and yet so familiar it made her choke on her tears. Princess Luna’s hug tasted of starlight and sounded like vapor. Vinyl’s senses went crazy trying to process it – and then she was tilting backwards and falling, falling, falling …

She smelled darkness. Starshine flitted from her tongue and sculpted her sight into a chaotic mix of black and dark and dark and black and tumbling down, down, down, falling, falling, falling into, under, through, beyond –

A hug of old sweat, smiles, missed schooldays and sorrow. She clung to it, buried her face in fur and fear and needles and musty despair.

“I’m so sorry, baby. I let you down. I’m so sorry I wasn’t strong enough to be what you needed. I’m so sorry I left you behind …”

Vinyl held tighter but was still falling, falling, falling, down, down, down. She pulled the despair and sorrow with her until she wasn’t sure if she was holding it or it was holding her. Vice-like hooves locked around her, squeezing tight, holding her prisoner in something she wasn’t sure she wanted to break out of.

“Mom!” she tried to shout. “Mom, please don’t leave me!”

Moonlight and the darkness between breaths, between heartbeats, between moments of moments of moments. And down further still, beyond words or thoughts or even space and time to something as close to infinite as the universe was capable of being.

Vinyl screamed into it.

“Please don’t leave me!”

Somewhere in the darkness beyond darkness she spun and reached and screamed – and fractionally felt something spin and reach and scream back. The darkness became a mirror, pristine and smooth, and Vinyl found herself staring into her own eyes.

Her own … purple eyes?

“Vinyl …”

Her world exploded in light.

Vinyl staggered back out of Luna’s embrace. The princess seemed dazed too, though much less so. Vinyl’s legs trembled. Her breathing was ragged. Sweat ran into her eyes.

“What … the hell … was … that?”

“You dream.” Luna blinked at her. “It was … your dream.”

“I … I saw …” Vinyl gulped air she could not convince herself she did not need. “I saw my … m-my mom … I think. And … and …”

Another burst of light shot down from above and engulfed Vinyl.

“Huh?”

She heard a clatter of hooves and a jangling that sounded kind of like bells.

“What’s going on?”

“You are waking up,” said Luna somewhere outside the light. “Goodbye, Vinyl Scratch. Heed my words and remem-”

Vinyl jolted backwards so hard she overturned her chair. She hit the floor with a ‘whump’.

“OhmigoshI’msorryyyyyyy!” squealed a voice.

“… Ow …” Vinyl found breath enough to groan but not to move. “ … much ow … very hurting …”

“Are you injurieded?” the voice continued to shriek. “I’m so sorryyyyyyyyyyyyy!” The word resolved into the unmistakable whine of a foal.

“M’fine,” Vinyl mumbled just as Pearl’s voice drowned her out.

“Landsakes , child, what a racket. An’ here I thought you was such a big girl. Now you’re carryin’ on like a lil’ ol’ baby.”

“I’m not … a baby …” sniffed the foal.

“ … so much ow …”

“Vinyl, quit whinin’. You barely bumped your tushie.”

“My tushie is fine. It’s my head that aches.” Vinyl squinted at her legs, wrapped around the edge of the upended chair. She noted with consternation that she had a tiny rise of belly. When had that appeared?

“I’m sorry Miss Vinyl,” sniffled the familiar childish voice.

“S’okay.” Vinyl untangled her legs and rolled onto her front. “Um … Jing-a-Ling?”

The little white filly had a nose running with snot and eyes red with crying but her name and face popped into Vinyl’s mind like a balloon being pricked by a surprising drawing pin. Despite her tears, the filly beamed.

“You remember me!”

“Um … yeah.” Vinyl got to her hooves and cast about. “Did you come all the way up to this floor from your ward on your own?”

“Silly.” Jing-a-Ling sniffled the river of snot back into her snout. Vinyl fought the urge to grimace. “I got released from the ward ages n’ ages n’ ages ago. I came back as an out-pay-shunt.” She enunciated each syllable with the carefulness of one who has taken great pains to learn the proper term.

“Lil’ tearaway came sneakin’ in here like a thief in the night,” Pearl added. “If it weren’t for them bells she’s wearin’ even I might not have noticed her.”

“I heard the lady doin’ drawings in the lobby talking about you so I snucked away from my mommy an’ sisters an’ came up to find you.”

“That’s … wow, they must be worried about you! Didn’t you tell them where you were going?”

Jing-a-Ling shook her head staunchly. “I’m a big girl now,” she replied, as if this solved everything.

“Oh my stars an’ garters!” Pearl exclaimed. “Your poor momma must be worried sick! Child, we gotta find her an’ tell her you’re okay –”

“No!” Jing-a-Ling darted away from Pearl’s outstretched hooves. “Mommy always told me not to talk to strangers an’ not to let ‘em touch me ever!”

Pearl withdrew her hoof. “Fair enough. But Vinyl here ain’t no stranger to you?”

“We did singin’ in the ward. Once.” Jing-a-Ling turned such a stony look on Vinyl that she was remined of cockatrices. “Medley brought her. She’s the music theh-rah-pizz. Vinyl helped Ace walk again. He couldn’t walk an’ after Vinyl came he changed. He was nice an’ not so grouchy anymore ‘cause of her.”

“That right?” Pearl’s questioning look made Vinyl turn away.

“Um, y-yeah. It was a while ago.”

How long ago exactly? Time blurred in her mind. She had always meant to go back, she honestly had, but then … things had gotten complicated and it just kept slipping her mind. Legal paperwork and meetings and endless, endless phone-calls to all and sundry, not to mention the swift gear change on her career and all that had entailed. Guilt gnawed at her even as the logical part of her brain pointed out all the ways she hadn’t done anything wrong. Same old story, really.

Pearl sighed gustily. “I’ll go tell them nurses so’s they can fetch this poor filly’s momma up here. Can you keep an eye on her for a spell?”

“A spell?” Jing-a-Ling’s eyes shone. “You gonna do magic with your horn, Miss Vinyl?”

“Um …” Vinyl stared helplessly at Pearl but the older mare was already on her way out the door, hailing Nurse Flowerheart with the aplomb of a ringmaster in a circus. “Maybe … not right now, Jing-a-Ling.”

“Oh.” The filly’s face fell.

“Well … maybe a little telekinesis wouldn’t hurt, I guess.” Vinyl’s horn glowed and the chair levitated back onto its feet. Jing-a-Ling sat back on her haunches and clapped her forehooves, giggling. The reaction brought a tiny smile to Vinyl’s lips. With a quirk of her magic, the chair did a little loop-de-loop and wiggled from side to side like a dog wagging its tail. Jing-a-Ling’s giggle increased.

“I wish I was a unicorn,” she sighed. “Then I’d be the best bell-ringer in the whole school orchestra, ‘stead of just bein’ a stupid triangle player.”

“So you’re back at school now, huh?” Vinyl asked, trying to keep her occupied while Pearl did her thing.

“School is dumb. I liked it better here. It was boring sometimes but with didn’t have to do math.” Jing-a-Ling stuck out her tongue. “Sums are yucky. I wish we had music for every lesson.” As if she had just reminded herself of something important, she fixed Vinyl with that stony stare again. “Miss Vinyl, how come you never came back to see us?”

“I …uh …” Vinyl struggled to answer in a way a child would understand. “I was … kind of busy, Jing-a-Ling.”

“That’s what Medley said too.” It didn’t sound like Jing-a-Ling had believed it then either. She folded her little forelegs, wobbled on her haunches but maintained her stance without breaking eye contact. “We missed you. Ace was sad.” She said this in the manner one might say ‘You broke that poor boy’s heart’. Vinyl’s own heart clenched.

“I’m sorry, kiddo.” She meant it too. “I really was busy, I swear.” She gestured at Octavia.

Jing-a-Ling’s eyes followed to the bed. Instantly, her mouth formed a little moue of understanding. Vinyl blinked at the oddly adult expression.

“Ohhhhhhhhhhhh. Your princess!”

Vinyl boggled. “My what?”

“Medley said you had a sleeping princess you were watching over. We all thought it was just some story she made up because you didn’t like us anymore and she didn’t want us to know; like she thought we’d swallow anything just because we’re kids.” Jing-a-Ling rolled her eyes. “Why do so many adults think kids are dumb just because they’re not all old and fuddy-duddy?”

“I …uh … I don’t …”

“I better find Medley too an’ apologise to her.” Jing-a-Ling pursed her lips. “Phooey. So why didn’t you kiss your princess awake already?”

“Huh?”

“Sleeping princesses need to be kissed awake. It’s the only way to break the spell.” Jing-a-Ling’s brow furrowed. “Oh. Is it because you’re not a prince? In fairytales it’s always princes who kiss awake the sleeping princesses. Maybe it only works if a stallion kisses her?” She nodded as if deep in thought. “Maybe you need to get a prince in here to wake her up for you. But no … that won’t work because it still has to be true love’s kiss, an’ it’d be awful if some stallion came along and woke her up an’ became her true love when she’s your princess.” She scowled in affront.

Vinyl couldn’t tell if she wanted to laugh or cry at the filly’s little speech. “Uh, yeah, I wouldn’t appreciate somepony else kissing her awake.”

“Have you tried it?”

Vinyl blinked. “Uhhhh …”

“You haven’t tried kissing her awake?” Jing-a-Ling boggled. “You gotta! It might not work but you gotta at least try! You gotta! You gotta! YOU GOTTA!” she shouted, voice rising in pitch.

Vinyl frantically waved her hooves to quieten her. “Okay, okay, I’ll try! Just keep the noise down, huh? Ponies will think I’m trying to murder you in here or something.” She already wondered what she was going to say to Jing-a-Ling’s family when they arrived.

Jing-a-Ling stared at her expectantly. “Well?”

“Uh …” Vinyl trotted over to the bed. “Okay.” She pecked Octavia on the cheek.

“Not like that! You gotta do it proper or it’ll never work! On the lips. All princes kiss their princesses on the lips.”

Vinyl made a face. It felt invasive to just plant one on Octavia like this, not to mention weirdly exposed to kiss anypony with a tiny audience watching with bug-eyed intent.

“Sorry about this, Tavi,” she murmured as she leaned in.

Briefly, so gently that their lips barely touched, she kissed Octavia’s mouth. The sensation was familiar and alien at the same time. Octavia’s lips were just as Vinyl remembered from kisses past but there was no reciprocity to the action. She might as well have been kissing a porcelain doll that only looked like her Tavi.

A long moment passed.

Jing-a-Ling’s face fell. “Oh. I guess it does need a prince after all.”

“Sorry kiddo.”

“No, I’m sorry.” Tears filled Jing-a-Ling’s eyes. “I wanted it to work so you’d be happy again, Miss Vinyl. You made Ace happy again. He never smiled before you came down to see us an’ he never stopped smiling after you left.” She sniffed. “You look so sad. She was supposed to wake up so you could be h-happy an’ go h-home …”

Vinyl wavered for a moment before crossing the room to pull the crying filly into a hug. “Hey now, why are you crying? That’s a lovely thing to want for somepony else. You’re a good kid, Jing-a-Ling.”

Jing-a-Ling continued to cry into her shoulder, dampening the fur with tears.

“Oh my freaking Celestia!” said a voice Vinyl had never heard before.

She looked up to see a bright pink pony with frothy blue mane and tail watching them from the doorway. The pony was a teenager and had accentuated her appearance with a barrage of barrettes and more ear piercings than Vinyl could count. She pressed one bedazzled hoof to her mouth, heavily made-up eyes wide above it.

“You’re Vinyl Scratch! I mean DJPon3! I mean … you’re really her!”

“Uh … yeah.”

“Hi Melody,” Jing-a-Ling sniffled. “Is mom mad at me?”

The pink pony’s eyes snapped to the filly. “Your butt is in so much trouble, Jing-a-Ling. Mom hit the roof when she realised you were missing. She thought you’d been, like, stolen by a foal-abductor or something.”

“Sorry. I just came up to see Miss Vinyl.”

“So … when you said she came to your ward … you weren’t making it up?” The pink pony’s eyes widened yet further. “Holy mother of Celestia …”

Vinyl twinkled a hoof self-consciously. “Howdy.”

“Ohmygoshohmygoshohmygosh! I have, like, all your albums! I’ve been to see you in concert, like, seven times. I even dressed as you to take my sisters Nightmare Nighting last year!”

“It’s true. She put talcum powder in her fur and everything,” Jing-a-Ling confirmed.

“Ohhhkay. Well it’s always nice to meet a fan.” The old smile slid onto Vinyl’s face like a hot knife into butter. “Your sister here is quite the character.”

“Uh, she sure is. You should see her when she’s with her twin. They’re, like, total gruesome twosome. Uh … could I … could I get an autograph? Like, literally none of my friends will believe that I met you if I just, like, tell them.”

“Sure. You got a pen and something write on?”

The pink pony pranced in place. “Uh, no, but … but wait right here! Don’t go anywhere!” She vanished through the door.

“Why would you go anyplace else?” Jing-a-Ling frowned. “Your princess is here.”

“Exactamundo, kiddo.”

The teenager reappeared holding a wad of tissues and a ballpoint she had clearly filched from the nurse’s station. “H-here,” she stuttered. “Um … you could lean on … my back?”

“Nah, wall’s fine. What’s your name?”

“Um, Melody.”

Vinyl telekinetically pressed the tissues flat against the wall and scrawled. She was suddenly reminded of that first night when she arrived here and that kid in the waiting room who had stood up for her and then shyly asked for an autograph. What was his name again? Something Tone? Sweet Tone? Melodic Tone? Um … Dulcet Tone, that was it! Wow, she hadn’t thought of him since then. It felt like a whole lifetime had passed between that rain-washed evening and now. She felt like a completely different pony, too.

“Here you go.” Vinyl passed the tissues back to Jing-a-Ling’s sister.

The girl squealed, reading aloud what she had written. “To Melody, don’t let anything stop you from achieving your dreams but remember to keep your hooves on the ground too. From Vinyl Scratch aka DJPon3!” She hugged the wad to her like it was the most precious thing in the world. “Like, thank you so, so much!”

“It was no problem. Uh, is … your mom coming up here too?”

“No she’s, like, still talking to that Pearl lady who came and told us where Jing-a-Ling went.” Reminded of the task she had been given, Melody held out a hoof, using the other to keep clutching the tissues to her chest. “C’mon, you. Mom said we have to hurry back or she’ll give all your pudding cups to Ting-a-Ling.”

“Nooooooo!” Jing-a-Ling wailed. “That’s not faaaaiiiir!”

“Well neither was, like, giving mom a heart attack by disappearing like that.”

“If you want, kiddo, I can come down and explain to your mom what you were up to.” At Jing-a-Ling’s glance at the bed, Vinyl added, “It won’t take long. I can’t leave my princess waiting on her own, can I?”

A sharp gasp signaled that Melody had only just noticed the other occupant of the room. “Is that … Octavia Philharmonica?”

“Uh, yeah,” Vinyl replied, unsure of the girl’s tone.

“Woooow,” Melody breathed reverently. “That is, like, so totally romantic. You really are waiting by her bedside for her to wake up, even after all this time.”

“Um … yeah, I –”

“She kissed her to make her wake up!” Jing-a-Ling chimed. Her face creased in childish woe. “But it didn’t work ‘cause she’s not a prince.”

Melody frowned, clearly not fully understanding.

Vinyl sighed. “It’s a long story.”

“I think I probably know most of it. Not that I, like, believe most of the stuff those trashy magazines print.” Melody pointed her nose in the air primly. “It’s all gossip with no, like, substance behind it and even when it’s based on facts they’re all, like, twisted up to make a juicier story and junk. It’s awful. My friend Patch held a bonfire the day after your press conference. All those horrible things ponies printed about you – it was just, like, hateful stuff that wasn’t even true. I watched the raw broadcast. I knew. Patch could see I was upset so she, like, bought all the ones from our local newspaper stand and made a big pile and set fire to them. It was kind of, like, awesome actually. Seeing all that hate go up in smoke.” A private smile turned up the corners of Melody’s mouth, her eyes unfocussed, clearly seeing into the past in that moment.

“You mean your special somepony Patch,” Jing-a-Ling said pointedly.

Melody’s cheeks flamed. “You shut up!”

Jing-a-Ling ducked back, hiding behind Vinyl. “What? She is!”

Melody looked like she was about to explode.

“But she is! Patch is cool an’ fun an’ she plays with me in the treehouse. She even plays pirates an’ doesn’t make me walk the plank like Ting-a-Ling does. I like her.”

“Mrrf.”

Melody sank down onto three legs, one still clasped to her chest, the tissues now a crumpled mess in her tightly clenched hoof. She took a few deep breaths that Vinyl was not inclined to interrupt. She sensed the girl wanted to say something and, quite honestly, she didn’t know what else to fill the silence with.

“I … I got up the courage to … to ask Patch out after … hearing about you and Miss Philharmonica,” Melody mumbled. “I was always, like, so scared before. I mean … I’ve had boyfriends … but nopony ever clicked the way me and Patch do. But … she’s a mare. Mares don’t date mares, right?” She sniffed, as if suddenly on the verge of tears. “I’m popular. Everypony knows it. Including me. I’m Head of the Cheerleading squad. I’m in a band – and not even the bass guitar player, I sing.” Vinyl smirked a little at that. “I … I like being popular. I was so focused on keeping up my rep that I … I just went with it, y’know? I didn’t want to lose it all. But then you … you did give it all up. You sacrificed your rep for … her.” Melody gestured vaguely at the bed, not really looking. “Because you love her. It could have cost you everything but you were willing to take that risk. And it … it made me look at my own life, y’know? It made me really look and … and see what I’d been trying really, really hard to ignore. Like … what was actually important. And it wasn’t pom-poms or singing lead vocals.” She took a shaky breath. “So … I asked her out. Right there in front of that bonfire. She was so shocked she fell in the wheelbarrow we used to carry them all. I was, like, totally ready to turn and run. But … but she said yes.” There was that private smile again. “So … I guess I’d better say thank you.” Finally she raised her eyes, glassy with unshed tears. “For, like, giving me the courage.”

Vinyl’s throat felt closed off but she managed to cough out, “Uh, you’re welcome. But it sounds like that was all you, not me.”

“Are you kidding? I never would have had the nerve to do it if you hadn’t, like, set the example or whatever.” Melody pressed the tissues to her face to wipe away her tears. Milliseconds later she realised what she had done. The smear of ink on her cheek stretched as her mouth fell open. “Oh my … Sweet Celestia, I can’t believe I just did that.”

Vinyl laughed. It cleared her throat some. “How about we head down to the lobby and I’ll get some paper from that lady drawing portraits to give you a new autograph.” Her mind settled into a decision. “I need to talk to her anyhow.”

“Would you? Oh my gosh, you are so totally even more beyond awesome than I thought you’d be!” Melody jogged from hoof to hoof.

“Can you tell my mom not to yell at me?” Jing-a-Ling asked.

Vinyl reached behind her to ruffle the filly’s mane. “Heh, I can try kiddo.”

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Comments ( 65 )

Demit, i have to reread the story now at 12.30 am

It lives! I can start reading without guilt now!

8981928

i have to reread the story now at 12.30 am

You say it like it is a bad thing...


8981967

It lives!

:yay:

Heh, and I thought I could get more than 3h of sleep today.. ah well, it was worth it.(After all it’s my fault that I didn’t go to bed 4h ago and knocked myself out with whatever I could...)

Thank you so much for continuing.

omg omg omg...it continues.....cant express my excitemnt cause words arnt enough \o/

It lives DEUS VULT!

My god, Scribbler. I didn't think I'd live to see that in my inbox! :pinkiegasp:

I half dread to read it. Will need to wait till the weekend to get nice and comfortable and emotionally prepared. :twilightoops::pinkiesad2:

ow my feels

HOLY SHIT. I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS MOMENT FOR SO LONG :fluttercry:

I’m so excited I’m gonna reread the whole thing again in celebration!

You know, I was worried that Luna had shown up to cast a spell to revive Octavia and pave the way for a happy ending. Glad that didn't happen.

Emotionally preparing to dive back into the heartache :fluttershysad:
Thank you for resuscitating this poignant tale

Four years and one update later...

I just read this whole thing over about 4 hours in 1 sitting. I think I need to go read something else to wash away the feels.

I forgot I tracked this...

This story last updated before I even joined the site. I'm glad you updated it so I could see it... and then binge read it like an obsessed person. Honestly, this is one of the most beautiful things I've read. I will .. rather shamelessly convey my hopes that updates continue. Thar be a lot of beauty here -- and interesting characterizations. I really love this.

It... It lives. :rainbowderp:

It... It lives. :rainbowderp:

7893131
when this is done i expect a reading of it from you, and please have lost as vinyl even if it is a reboot on goombasa's channel, he is not a good Octavia voice nor a good vinyl one but the latter kinda works in this story

It's.... back..... OMG IT'S BACK. IT LIVES..... hell yeah.

WOOO I wasn't prepared for this!!

I appreciate Luna's position on the relationship between good and bad things. To me it always feels like a significant Human failure of perception to value negativity by saying a good thing can't have value on its own. The problem for me at that point though is really being confident on what is bad and what is good when it's almost all perception anyway!

Congratulations to you my friend. It only took you three and a half years to update the story. Thank you or should I say bless you.

This story, the story... The one that got to me on so many emotional levels all that time ago is back... Today is a good day.

Bless you, Scribbler.

A/N: Hi everyone. Been a while, hasn't it?

A little bit.

Rule number one of talking to royalty: don’t mention poop in front of a friggin’ princess!

Well, at least it's not the worst word she could've used in context.

“Curious indeed.” Princess Luna levitated a rotting box of Chineighse noodles up to her face and sniffed delicately. “Even the odours. You remember this place exceptionally well.”

I guess the smell was just unforgettable.

That is not what I meant. Their minds broadcast emotions and hold nothing back. Mostly I am able to blend their minds together into a mélange that protects their privacy as one might hide a face in a crowded room.

Even Princess Luna couldn't escape GDPR.

“Mélange. Good word.”

The Spice must flow!

8983394
To think about it, we may expect a new chapter around my 30th birthday... :pinkiehappy:

holy jesus

Oh my god. I forgot where this was but soon I started it again I remembered everything.
100/10 now to wait 3 more years for it to update again.

~Reggie

You magnificent bastard!

Well that's a surprise.

The story begins 4 years after their break-up and it took 4 years for this chapter to come out. Coincidence? I THINK NOT!!

It's almost like this story was in a coma this whole time and then suddenly woke up...

I'm not going to lie, I went "squee!!!" when I saw this update appear in my feed and my gods was it worth the wait. Excellent job!

ifthere are so many things I want to say, most of which involve manly tears of unbridled joy as this story revives even if only for a brief shining moment. It hurts in all the right ways even reading it the second time.

okay celestia it comes to this, you well bring philomena in and make her cry, or i well kidnap your bird and make her cry, you have been warned.:twilightangry2::fluttercry:

If I wasn't browsing through my 'Forgotten' bookshelf, I never would've noticed that this received an update just days ago. I'll have to find time to refresh and catch up.

great to see a new chapter again :D

I kinda want a side story of Melody's life
Might want to write it myself

It's back, and still as heartwarming as ever.:twilightsmile:

Are you going to put chapter 12 on YouTube please do it. New already read 1 through 11 on YouTube I like it that way so I can listen thanks for being a great YouTuber obabscribbler

8998669
Actually I'm not the one who does the YouTube readings of this fic. I long ago gave permission to Goombasa, so you'd have to ask him about his schedule.

Can you tell goombasa about it if it not any trouble.you don't have to do it if you don't want to

This chapter was amazing! I got the same feeling after reading this chapter as I had back when I started reading back when :)
You are an amazing author Scribbler!!

I was actually surprised to see this story be updated after so long. Kinda forgot what was happening but I remembered as I read along. Really hope things start to look up for Vinyl, seems like they are for a bit so I hope it continues. Can't wait for the more chapters.

I hope you finish the story. I have been watching this one for years. I had just about given up on it. This will be in my top favs if it gets finished.

Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes!!! :twilightsmile:

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