• Published 4th Sep 2014
  • 1,836 Views, 241 Comments

Ghost of a Rose - Noble Thought

Roseluck goes on a journey through her past to discover what her future holds.

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Chapter 4: Three Roses

“Are you sure it was me?” Pinkie asked, sitting at the edge of the trail from the Whitetail Woods. “I mean, what if it were—”

“It was you, Pinkie.” Rose looked at her. “Unless you know of any other pink party mares who like to announce... everything?”

That didn’t seem to settle the pall that had fallen over her friend. If anything, Pinkie withdrew into herself even more. That worried her.

“Come on. If you can’t remember, then we’ll need to find—”

“It’s not important.” Pinkie stood up and shook her head.

“Not important?” Rose stood up and trotted to her friend. “Pinkie, of course it’s important. Just think about how much I forgot. Forgetting one thing might not seem important to you, but when I realized how much I lost... Pinkie, don’t discount your own memories. Every one of them is precious.”

“You’re different. You...” Shaking her head again, Pinkie brushed Rose aside and moved down the trail to sit at the start of the path down to Ponyville. “You...” Pinkie sighed and watched the still, dead town below.

“I what?” Rose moved to sit by her, but a warning glance from Pinkie made her sit farther away. “It’s okay.”

To Rose, Ponyville was still shrouded in mist, though it was far lighter than it had been however long ago Rose had started. She could feel her memories waiting for her to reclaim them—a whole undiscovered life.

But there was one tugging at her the hardest. A memory that would lead Rose to her. Whoever she was. Vague memories of her kept coming back to her since the last rose faded away in her hoof. She was connected to Rose, and to Post Haste.

But how? A thought—more of a fear in the form of a foal’s doll—teased the edges of her mind. Rose turned aside from it and shook her head.

She turned to watch Pinkie, still sitting completely still and staring at the town. “Pinkie, you were a part of my life. You are one of my best friends.”

“Was I?” Pinkie didn’t look at her. “I barely remember you and Post being together. I remember you telling me you were so excited to have a special somepony.”

“Pinkie... of course you are. I’d be... gone if it weren’t for you.” Rose got to her hooves. “Maybe you’re like me. Missing a few—”

“Maybe you’re right.” Pinkie stood up abruptly and smiled at her. “Maybe I’m just... forgetting something.”

“I remember...” Rose took a step closer to her friend and bumped her head against Pinkie’s cheek. “I remember you asking me not to forget you.” Flashes of Pinkie, and snippets of her voice flew through her mind. “So many times. I promise, Pinkie. I won’t forget you.”

Pinkie’s smile brightened, and she threw her hooves around Rose in a tight hug. “Thank you. Let’s get your memories back. Worry about me later, okay?”

The comforting aroma of burnt applewood chips and the roar of the fire was soothing to Rose’s spirit. Though not as comforting as Post Haste’s warm body tucked up against her on the plush rug in her living room.

Something’s missing. It wasn’t the emptiness of the house. Sure, Goldie was gone more than she was there, but Post was spending more time with her—even when Goldie was there. She wiggled against Post and leaned in against him. It didn’t take her long to pin down what was missing. ”Foals,” Rose said.

Post turned his head to look at her, a quizzical expression on his face. “What about them?”

“I want to have foals. I want us to...” She pulled at the edge of the plush carpet and frowned. “I want us to have more joy in our lives, and a foal we can share that joy and love with.”

“I do too. But—”

“We’ve known each other for only half a year.” Rose sighed and lowered her head. “I know. I just... it feels like we fit together.” She hooked her ankle over his forearm and squeezed. “Our worst argument has been about where to live after we get married.”

He grunted, opened his mouth and glanced at her then closed his mouth again.

“Okay... maybe not the worst. That’s not the point.” She squeezed his forearm again. “We’re already talking marriage, Post. Why not foals too? Why not that next step?”

“Is this because of the blizzard? I mean, look at it.” Post flicked an ear at the window, where snowflakes the size of his hooves battered the storm shutters. “I’m glad we got a warning this time.”

“Don’t change the subject.” Rose nipped his muzzle. “But, no. It’s not because of the blizzard.” She leaned more firmly against him and rubbed her cheek against his neck. “I’ve been thinking about it since the Running of the Leaves. We’re meant to be, Post. I can feel it. And I want to have your foals.”

“Nothing would make me happier. I want to make sure we’re ready. A foal... that’s huge. Are we ready?”

It feels so odd; planning to make a life. “I...” It wasn’t something that Rose had forced herself to face. Planning a new life, a child. It felt cold to her. Shouldn’t it just... happen? “I want this, Post.”

He didn’t answer for a while. The roar of the wind and whisper of the fire filled the room.

Rose could tell he was thinking. It was that look: the furrowed brow, the way he pursed his lips and chewed on the inside of them. She waited, soaking up the warmth of the fire and their flanks pressed together. She didn’t stop stroking his forearm with a gentle hoof either.

“Rose... Do you remember when we were sharing our past relationships?”

She tensed. That was our worst fight. “Maybe? I’d rather not. That was a terrible idea.” Rose forced herself to unclench her neck and settled against him again. Still, her mind wouldn’t let it go after he brought it up. “I remember it was when you were traveling with the Manehattan Wandering College.” She squeezed his leg again. “I told you then that I only cared about you right then. Not who you’d been with before.”

“I know you did. Then you—” he clicked his teeth shut and she was grateful he didn’t continue. That episode had been unpleasant, to say the least. “I didn’t tell you why we’re not together.” He fell silent again.

A log popped in the fireplace, loosing a small shower of embers and a fresh waft of toasted applewood. Outside, the wind continued to howl above the quieter whispering scratch of snowflakes battering their shutters.

Rose was content to let the silence continue. They would have foals eventually. Maybe it’s best not to press him. Still, the cold winter nights spent snuggled together for warmth had turned sensual more than once after the Running of the Leaves—though they still stopped shy of sex. Barely.

Post shuffled beside her. “Quiet Step was her name.”

He apparently wasn’t thinking along the same lines Rose was. “Are you sure you want to tell your current marefriend about your past marefriend? After...” Rose quirked an eyebrow at him and stroked his leg slowly back and forth.

“She’s long gone from my life. I told you that then, even if you didn’t want to hear it. I meant it. You, Rose, are the only mare I have eyes for.” It was his turn to scratch at the edge of the rug. Post didn’t say anything for a long while, and the only sound in the house was the cheery crackle of the fire and the lonely whisper of the wind and outsized snowflakes against the storm shutters.

Rose was content to let him be quiet. She didn’t want to reopen what she had considered a closed chapter of their lives; one fraught with mistakes. Especially not with thoughts of making foals running through her mind.

“In retrospect, what she and I had was just a mutual crush that couldn’t survive our different paths in life. I wanted to stay with the College. She wanted... I’m still not sure I know.” He sighed and looked down at Rose. “I knew her for barely a month. I thought she was the one. My mentor cautioned me against it, though.”

“Wise mentor.” She looked away. “Is that why? I’m wanting things too soon?”

He grimaced and nipped her ear. “If you want to put it like that, then it’s not unfair to say. But it’s more complicated. Quiet wanted to have sex early on. She was a lively dancer, and she wanted to dance with me in more than one way.”

“Did you?” He was quiet for long enough that Rose feared the answer. “Post... you didn’t? Did you?”

He looked away, his ears flattening. “I don’t know if—”

“You’ve already told me too much. You can’t just expect me to leave it be!” Her pinching grip on his forearm tightened. “If you don’t tell me...” She shook her head. “It’ll fester. Just like last time. Please, tell me.”

“Never all the way. Playing around. Hoofsies, kisses, little licks in the right places. She wanted more, though, and when I didn’t want to go all the way... she pressed harder and harder, until I refused her outright. She left the College at the next village.”

Relief flooded her, and she settled in closer to him.

“She was in season, I found out later from one of my mentors. I knew what a season was, but I’d never actually gotten involved intimately like that with anypony. And not another until you.” He coughed. “Honest truth. I want to be sure that we work, Rose. I’m afraid that maybe there’s something that won’t work. Some reason. Something.” He looked at her and smiled weakly. “Maybe it’s just silly.”

“We’ll work it out. I want to be with you. I love you. And do you know how I know that we’re going to work out anything that comes up?”


“Because we’re both adults. You’re not barely out of colthood and I’m not a mare having her first season.”

“That’s no guarantee.”

“Shush. Stop trying to poke holes in my arguments.” She nipped his chin. “We’re both reasonable. We’re both comfortable with each other. I’m not exactly... comfortable knowing that you almost had sex with another mare—even if it was before you knew me. Maybe I’m being—”

“You are not being silly. It’s understandable.”

“I’m being jealous.” She shook her head when he opened his mouth. “I know myself well enough to recognize it.” Rose leaned over to kiss him gently on the cheek. “I can get over it. And maybe even accept it. You were accepting enough of that one night I spent with a mare.”

“I forgot about that.” Post grinned and nipped her nose gently. “Because there was totally this other mare—” He laughed and rolled away from her snapping teeth. “Okay! That was a lie. You’re the only mare.” He paused, looking at her and reaching out a back hoof to stroke her hindquarters. “You’re the only mare for me.”

He shivered and curled his tail up over his flank.

Rose’s gaze settled on his belly—at something resting against his belly. She flushed and looked away from his groin and and turned to lock eyes with him. Resisting the urge wasn’t something she wanted to do, nor was it something he would do. She bent down to catch his muzzle in a hungry kiss and trap the first of many moans.

I want this.

The memory slipped away afterwards in a haze of fading arousal and a blissful pleasure that thrummed through her with every beat of her heart. Another part of the ragged hole in her memories filled in. The silence of reality pressed down on her and she shuddered. Her house... what had been her house felt less empty than it had the last time she had been there.

“I remember. The last time I was here.” The cobwebs were gone, and there was no dust anywhere in the house. The colors were even a little brighter. Maybe that’s my imagination.

“You... um.” Pinkie stepped out from around the corner, ears flat and looking everywhere but at Rose. “You were making noises. And then you started...” Pinkie looked down at her hooves. “I don’t have to ask what that memory was about.”

Rose stared at the floor for a long moment, a flush creeping up her neck, before she looked up at Pinkie. “Please tell me you didn’t stay.”

“Nope. Soon as you started making kissy noises, I was gone.” Pinkie pointed a hoof back down the hallway.

“I’m sorry, Pinkie. I got lost in the—”

“Don’t you dare apologize!” Pinkie snapped. She took a deep breath, held it, and then let it back out again. “It’s your life, Rose. Don’t you dare apologize for your life.”

Rose stared at her. ”Is everything okay?”

“I found something while you were... busy.” Pinkie coughed and looked away again. “Please come take a look.”

“But—” Rose waved a hoof at the rose on the mantlepiece. She could smell it from where she stood—winter chill and the beginning of a spring bloom were only two small parts of the cacophony of memory the scent elicited in her mind.

“Roseluck. Please. This is one of those show, don’t tell things. Telling you...” Pinkie shrugged and waved a hoof at her again before disappearing around the corner.

Rose glanced between the rose and where her friend had gone. Memory that might wait... or friend that wouldn’t—and a world that might change before she could see what Pinkie wanted to show her.

Why not both.

Rose snatched the memory off the mantelpiece and held her breath, then dashed after Pinkie. She caught up to her—lungs burning—and dropped the rose to a table in the hallway before taking a deep breath.

Pinkie waited for her at a bedroom, looking inside, but staying out. To Rose, she seemed skittish and even less like Pinkie.

Somber. She seems somber. Why?

“Rose.” Pinkie touched her shoulder gently, bringing her back to reality and the present. “Please look.”

She didn’t want to. This was the bedroom Rose had found the doll in. “I remember this bedroom.” Rose touched a hoof to the doorframe and looked inside. A small bed sat against one wall, covered in pillows arranged like a nest. One not quite mauve, not quite pink pillow sat in the center of the nest.

She walked inside the room and touched a hoof to the dresser with its empty top, then the trunk under the window covered with a thick blanket decorated with bunnies and squirrels dancing under rainbows and bright white clouds. It was a child’s blanket, a warm winter blanket set aside for the summer.

Rose looked back at the door.

“I’m here.” Pinkie lifted a hoof and started to gesture at the bed, then set it back down and came farther into the room to join Rose at the foot of the bed.

The pillow at the center of the nest was embroidered with a name in bright pink lettering.

“Raspberry Rose.” She smiled as a warm feeling engulfed her just from saying the name. “Berry.”

“You said that name before.” Pinkie put a hoof to her shoulder and looked around. She pointed at a toy and a doll sitting together in the corner of the room, almost hidden behind the dresser. It looked like the same doll.

“Pinkie... I think she was my daughter.” The memory of the winter night came back to her. “We were talking about foals. In my memory. Before...” Rose shook her head and looked aside. “I think we did have a foal. A daughter.”

“I... you’re right.” Pinkie’s smile was uncertain, but she put a hoof around Rose’s neck and pulled her close. “I wish I could see her. I’m sure she’s absolutely—” Pinkie shook her head.

“P-Pinkie... she’s going to grow up without a mother!” Rose pushed herself harder into her friend’s embrace and sought the warmth and comfort that could soothe the ache of not being there to watch her daughter grow up. “I won’t see her—” Do anything...

Pinkie held her close while she wept, and wondered where her own tears were. It hurt, seeing Rose in so much pain. But at least she wasn’t running.

It hurt, knowing she couldn’t help—except to be there for Rose.

“Shh-shh.” Pinkie whispered in her ear. “It—” Pinkie squeezed her eyes shut, hating that she couldn’t cry. It’s not alright. “I’m here for you.”

Roseluck sat up in her daughter’s room. She had exhausted herself crying into Pinkie’s shoulder and fallen into a troubled sleep while Pinkie watched over her.

“Good...” Pinkie looked out the window and sighed. “Afternap, Rose.”

Looking around, Rose felt the pain of her missing memories grow more acute as the fuzz of sleep drifted away. “I’m sorry, Pinkie... I didn’t mean to fall asleep. I just got so exhausted—” She shook her head and tapped a hoof on the ground. “Post Haste will look after her. I know him. He will give her all the love that I c-can’t.”

She sucked down a ragged breath and waited for the ache in her heart to fade. Even a little.

“I’m sure he will.” Pinkie reached up to brush at Rose’s face gently. “He was an amazing father.”

The ache in Rose’s heart wasn’t going away. “He is an amazing father. The rest of the house... I don’t know how he managed. I remember it being a mess.”

“It was. But only because of grief. Losing you...” Pinkie sighed and pulled her in close for another hug. “I wish I wasn’t—hadn’t forgotten.”

“I’ll keep telling you about my memories, then. Maybe that’ll spark something.”

Pinkie smiled and gave a half shake of her head, then stopped. “I would like that.”

“Happy Hearts and Hooves Day!”

Rose startled, and looked around, only to have to look up to see Pinkie dangling over the edge of a hot air balloon tethered at the entrance to the lakeside fairgrounds.

Spike had his claws around her hind legs, and looked more than a little perturbed by Pinkie’s antics. “Pinkie! Don’t do that! I haven’t tied the rope around you yet!”

“Oh! Why didn’t you say so?”

Spike groaned and pulled her back in.

Rose stared at the antics of one of her best friends and sighed. She’s never going to change. Nor did she really want Pinkie to change. She giggled and watched Pinkie do it again, this time with a rope around her barrel. Pinkie’s antics brought plenty of smiles to everypony around her, even if they were sometimes a little off color or crass.

“Our second time here,” Post murmured in her ear before nipping it. “Remember the first?”

“Of course.” She nipped his neck in reply. There was a heat in his question—and her response—that hadn’t been there during their first Hearts and Hooves day when they ran the Promise booth together, and stole kisses from each other while all around them the sounds of established couples coupling filled the air.

The distant memory of that day was growing hot in her mind. But she couldn’t let herself go. Not yet. “Go find the stallions, Post. I’m going to go find the mares, and I’ll see you again in a little while.”

There were no secrets between the mares and the stallions as to what each did at their camps before the mingle and the games. That didn’t mean there wasn’t at least a modicum of an attempt to keep to an old tradition. Especially considering who the organizer was that year...

“Goldie! It’s so good to see you again!” Rose rushed up to greet her old housemate and locked her into a tight hug. “I guess Applejack’s the ‘stallion’ again this year?” There were a few stallions in the mare’s camp too, from the few coltcuddler couples in town.

“Shush!” Goldie laughed, though her blush spoke volumes more. “I wanted to see you again before the insanity started this year. Applejack’s had a blast organizing the whole thing. There was one thing that made her so excited, and me too, when she told me.”

“Oh? What’s that?”

Golden Harvest sidled up closer and looked around at the other mares and smattering of stallions chattering away. “Lily and Daisy said you’d declined the request to run the Promise booth this year.”

It was Rose’s turn to blush. “I think I’m ready, Goldie. We’ve been with each other for... it’s a year last month. He even moved in with me last week.” She scraped the ground with a hoof and looked away. “We’ll get the bits to cover your half of the—”

“It’s a gift, Roseluck. I’m living with Applejack now, full time. I’ll drop by the Mayor’s office tomorrow and sign the deed fully over to you.”

“Goldie, no! We agreed, remember.” Rose sidled up beside her friend and put a leg around her neck, then swept her other hoof across the sky. “Just imagine. You can use the money to buy the biggest rose bouquet—”

“Alright, alright! Geeze.” Goldie tossed her head and snorted. “You almost distracted me. You were saying...?”

The blush crept back up Rose’s neck. “I...” She looked around and pointed a hoof at the hoof painting booth. “Do you want to—”


She sighed and stepped closer. “I want to win the Three Rose Crown this year,” she whispered. “Win it, not just buy three roses. I’ve been running more, and trying to get fit.” She leaned closer. “I just came into my season, too.” She looked down, her blush deepening.

“I was wondering why you were looking exceptionally twitchy this morning. Does he know?” Goldie’s tail twitched.

“He didn’t say anything. But it feels like...” Rose shrugged and sat down to help mask the scent.

Aloe and Lotus stopped to glance her way, their tails twitching. The sisters winked at her and giggled in perfect synchronicity. “Good luck!” they chorused, before trotting off to see to their tent.

I will never get used to that. Rose blushed and waved back at them. Their reaction took a moment to register, and she glanced around at the large canvas-walled enclosure. How many others already know?

“You two haven’t...” Goldie sat back and tapped her hooves together several times.

“No! Not that. We have... you know...” She pursed her lips and lifted a hooked ankle to stroke the air. “I am only a pony, Goldie. And he’s so—” She flushed darker and sauntered closer to her friend. “He doesn’t mind...” She licked her lips.

“Oh, he’s a keeper. Want me to give him some—”

“Stars above, Goldie!”

“Sorry. You just—” Goldie waved a hoof under her nose. “You smell... how do I put this? Remember that one night? You’re giving me flashbacks.”

“Don’t remind me. We were both drunk, Goldie, and still feeling out...” She waved a hoof, the flush creeping farther down her neck. “Well, everything.”

“You also doused yourself in perfume to mask your season. But then you had to drag us through Rainwalk Park. Washed it all away. Woosh. You don’t smell quite like—”

“I need to find some perfume,” Rose grunted, deadpan.

“I think you smell—” Goldie shut her mouth and backed up a few more steps, her tail twitching. She kept looking off towards the curtained off stallion’s area, where Applejack was.

Rose settled her rump more firmly in the grass and roughed up some of the turf with both hind and fore hooves to provide at least some cover for her scent. The earthy aroma of wet dirt and the sour tang of mangled grass would only linger for so long before she would need to move again.

The hour of mingling meant she would have torn up half the gathering area by the end. Along with half of the other mares also surely in season besides her.

“Perfume. Now.”

“Right away.”

The hour passed by with agonizing slowness as the mares and few stallions mingled and chatted before the official start of the celebration. It was a large crowd this year, with more young mares coming of an age when they could compete with their sweethearts in the decidedly raunchy celebration of love and renewal.

Even while they waited at the head of the line to receive their cloaks, Goldie kept a respectable distance from her.

“Do I really still... smell that strongly even with the perfume?”

“Rose... let me put it this way. If you were Applejack, we wouldn’t be talking right now.”

“Do I need more perfume? Do you still have the bottle?”

“It’s not going to help.” Goldie smirked and plucked the bottle from her ankle-pouch. “Lover’s Caress, by Fleur.”

“You little horse-apple!” Laughing, Rose shook her head. “I have no idea how you think that’s going to help.”

“If you’re distracting every stallion and mare on the field...” Goldie shrugged at the look Rose shot her. “There’s nothing in the rules against a little outside assist.” She pointed to a group of mares already trying to sneak peeks under or over the canvas walls of the corral. “Just a little nudge and half your competition isn’t going to be able to walk. Of course...”

Rose let her friend’s voice wash over her. She tried to pay attention, she honestly did, but Goldie wasn’t as interesting as the smell of stallion musk drifting over the wall from the other enclosure. To distract herself, she looked around the mare’s enclosure for the hundredth time, sizing up the competition for the crown and looking for the friends who wouldn’t be competing.

Her two ‘sisters’ were already plying the Promise booth, where a steady queue of mares lined up to buy one and two roses for their sweeties. By long tradition, nopony could buy the Three Rose Crown. It had to be earned. They could buy three roses, but the Three Rose Crown was the mark of honor.

Once, it had been a way to choose who the lead mare and stallion would be for the herd, but it evolved over time to become an honor for the couple who completed the challenges. The couple was granted a private clearing in the Whitetail Woods where they would consummate their love, a throwback to seeking the favor of primal goddesses and the granting of a blessing of fertility.

The book she had borrowed from the library was quite graphic in its illuminated depictions of the winner’s circle, surrounded by ponies while the mare wearing the crown and her mate—copulated was too light a word for what they showed...

Stop thinking about it! She forced her tail to stop flagging and clamped her dock down hard. It might have been just a dry historical rendering to the chronicler who had first drawn it and stored it in the Ponyville Library, but to Rose, trying not to think about sex, it was a tease and a distraction.

“—and you’re going to have a terrible time during the Couples Carry.”

“What?” Rose shook her head. The past few minutes had passed in a blur while images of ponies mating... of Post mating with her danced through her mind.

“Oh, sweet sisters. You’re barely there.” Goldie hesitated, then stepped closer, her lips turning up in a smirking grin. “I was saying... about the couple’s carry. You know.” Goldie prodded her flank. “When you have to carry him on your back...”

“Shut up!” Rose closed her eyes, and promptly snapped them back open. The darkness let her mind fill in the details, all the way down to the way it would feel, throbbing against her back. “Just shut up!”

“I’m trying to give you a competitive edge, sweetie,” her treacherous friend said with the same falsely innocent expression from more than a year ago. “Just be glad that the cloaks will be covering everything up. Oh... but I guess that won’t help when it’s pressing—”

“Not. Helping.” Rose flicked her tail at her friend.

“Okay, okay! So...” Goldie looked away, covering her muzzle with a hoof and shaking as her almost silent laughter caught up to her.

At least I shouldn’t have to worry about him just losing himself. We’ve... played. We can stop ourselves. Some couples couldn’t; convenient tents were already set up around the whole of the course. By afternoon, half of them would be filled.

With rutting, grunting—Stop! Rose shook herself.

“Okay... I should probably stop.”

“What gave it away?” Rose leaned against her friend and shook her head. “I really want the crown, Goldie. I-I want to be able to bless the harvest.”

“Are you sure? I mean, it’s one thing to win the crown. It’s another to get pregnant doing it.” Goldie sat down beside her as the line to the clothing station stalled again. “Have you talked to him? About foals, I mean.”

“We have.” Rose blushed and looked towards the stallion’s area. “Every day last week. We decided to put a pin in it on Marketday, and then I saw so many new mothers with their foals...”

“Rose,” Goldie said with a hoof hooked over her muzzle, “please tell me you didn’t go foal crazy.”

“A little. Maybe.”

Goldie sighed. “How bad?”

“By Bloomday we were talking about seasons and times of the year.”

“Two days. You held out on going foal crazy for two whole days.” Goldie covered her muzzle with her other hoof and shook her head. “Rose... have I ever told you that you can be far too impulsive at the weirdest times?”

“I’m proud of myself for lasting that long! I’m surprised I didn’t enter my season after I saw the fourth new mother.”

“I’m not so sure you didn’t.”

“Maybe I did.” Roseluck sighed and stood up as the line moved forward again. “Let’s just get our cloaks and get going. I’m not sure how much longer I can stand smelling...” She covered her nose with a hoof. “Nevermind.”

“Rose!” Post came up to her and nuzzled her in the next large, open center of the gathering area. “Are you wearing perfume?”

“Long... short story.” She nipped his ear, then blushed. She had only meant to whisper to him. Control! “I’m in season. Goldie helped by getting me some perfume.”

He stamped a rear hoof and swallowed. “You’re not the only mare in season.” He looked around at the other couples in the gathering area. Some of them were already dashing for the large cluster of tents nearby, thinning the field considerably. “Can you last half an hour?”

She looked up from trying to peek underneath his cloak. “Can you?”

Torture, Rose decided. This is what torture feels like.

The half hour passed with agonizing slowness made all the more agonizing by the sounds and smells of healthy, rutting stallions and mares; and their occasional cries of ecstasy.

Worse than the sound of it was the smell. It burrowed its way into her mind, dragging up visions of her and Post locked together in their first real time together having sex.

Her strategy of drooling had only worked insofar as it made her acutely aware of just how much a pony could drool before her mouth felt dry.

Post had taken the strategy of boring himself out of arousal. Not that it worked. She found herself staring between his legs more than once, and each time, he was as stiff as a board. Each time, he swept the cape back around his legs and bit her lightly on the ear, then returned to staring into the sky with his ears tucked close to his skull and his mouth opened. He claimed that it was easier to ignore the smell if he could only taste it.

She had tried it, but she only managed to work herself up more by imagining something other than air in her mouth.

But they endured. And so did three other couples. Applejack and Golden Harvest stood to one side, apparently calm in the midst of the storm of sex happening all around them.

Cheerful Banter finally gave in to the love bites and teasings his wife Charity—a pink coated, white maned nurse from the hospital—had been peppering him with for the last half of the waiting portion of the contest. Before the final ding of the bell, they were heading for the tents with her giving him the bedroom eyes, and he barely able to contain the nips he made at her flank. Her cloak was half off before they even made it to a tent.

Pinkie Pie stepped up on the stage, continuing her role as the announcer for the contest.

That left three competing couples in the arena. And the Couple’s carry was next.

Rose watched as Goldie winked at her, then bent her head back around and started to nibble at the top of Applejack’s tail.

“Ah... Goldie?” Applejack’s voice was more strained than her previously calm demeanor had led Rose to believe. “Goldie!”

Goldie didn’t listen, and continued to nibble until Applejack’s tail twitched and flagged to the side and she drooped her head.

“Goldie! Stop! I told ya I wasn’t gonna give in without a fair struggle.” Applejack stood up and danced away from Golden Harvest. “It don’t mean nothing if I just give it up. I understand. I do. But this is tradition.”

Another couple left the arena: Diamond Dust and Filthy Rich raced for one of the few remaining tents.

Pinkie laughed and stomped a hoof. “And another one bites the tail!”

Rose stood up, her hind legs trembling from sitting for so long while straining not to do anything to excite herself. She looked back at Post sitting with his cloak unfurled behind him, his front legs planted apart while he panted and resolutely stared at the sky

Her eyes refused to move on from between his legs, no matter how much she... didn’t want to look away. Her heart raced as her mind conjured images of it...

“Post... Post... I can’t—” Her tail hiked up of its own accord and quivered, then settled to the side under her cloak. She lifted her head from staring indiscreetly between his legs and looked into his eyes, half lidded and sparkling with the same intensity she felt in her loins. “Tent. Now.”

Rose found herself in the Whitetail woods again, laying down while her sides heaved from the intensity of the memory. The plush interior of the tent, the opulent carpet and cushy pillows were all gone. A large clearing was all that remained of her memory, with a few fallen, split logs that served as benches when the clearing was used to host an event.

Post was gone, and the pleasure of their first time was nothing but a memory. But it stayed with her, and her heart beat more heavily as she touched upon it again. Looking back on it as a memory... she could see the passion and the heat, but also the tender care that followed.

He groomed her mane and tended to her ears while they chatted, giggling, in whispered tones. They mated again, taking their time to enjoy each other, obeying only the thudding of their hearts and the thrill of pleasure that only added to the enjoyment.

She opened her eyes again to look out on the world of greys. The fog that had haunted her since the hospital was all but gone, but the sky was still and grey, and there was no sound but her own breathing and the rushing thump of her heartbeat in her ears, fading slowly back into the silence as it settled and she recovered.


Rose’s voice vanished into the stillness. Pinkie didn’t step out from around a tree or drop down from a branch. The trees weren’t that closely packed—the Whitetail woods were an old growth forest, filled with trees that blocked out the light for all but the smallest of saplings. She should have been able to see Pinkie coming from some distance.

She stumbled to her feet while she waited and dusted off her flank and her rear. A faint whisper trickled its way across her ears, barely recognizable as a voice and so distant it might have been another figment of her imagination.

Still, she waited. Nopony came down the trail or peeked her head around a thick trunk or even burst out of a bit of brush boldly attempting to grow along the trail.

“Pinkie! It’s safe to come out!”

The silence thumped away at her ears and a familiar tinny whine built the longer she waited to hear her friend come thudding down the path.

“Pinkie! I saw you in my memory! You were there!” The silence died away and came back as resolute as ever. “Pinkie!”

“Where are you?” Rose waited again. “Why did you leave me?”


She was alone again. Just like...

Rose shook her head. The hospital was a terrifying reminder of how far she had fallen and how much she had lost. But things were making sense again and the holes in her memory filling in along with... acceptance.

The world she knew was gone. All she had left were memories.

“Happy memories.” She smiled, and warmth blossomed in her heart, pushing back the ache. The scent of another rose, another memory, beckoned her to the trail leading back to Ponyville.

Back to home.