• Published 4th Sep 2014
  • 1,838 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 5: Revealing Roses

In all the times Rose had been to the Whitetail Woods west of Ponyville, they had never felt as empty as they did staring down at the single spot of vibrant color at her feet. Trees that should have been verdant green were dull brown, and dull brown was grey.

Only the rose had any color.

The smell of a train, oil and hot steel mixed with coal and smoke, wafted up from the petals, and she heard the first half of a question that set her heart racing, in a voice she recognized. Post Haste.

“Rose, will you—”

She could let him finish that question. She bent and took a deep breath.


“—be okay?” Post Haste nudged her further up the train platform’s steps.

“Of course. Why wouldn’t I be?” Other than your mother intruding on every spare moment I have! She stuffed the stray thought back into its box and forced a smile. “We need this, Post. I need this. Ever since we’ve been trying I feel like life’s been coming at us so quickly!”

“It’s been two months, dear. Just think about how much we’ve been up to. It’s a lot to take in. We’ll get there.”

“I know!” Rose bristled as his words brought back the last visit his mother had made to their home. Their home. She’d made the first payment to Goldie, and had enough bits to make the next. “It’s just... she’s been coming by almost every. Single. Day.”

“Every other day, isn’t it?”

“Maybe. Sometimes.” Rose tapped a hoof against the wooden platform and closed her eyes. “She keeps telling me to try this, or try that. Eating more of this will help, or eating that...” Rose didn’t dislike Swift Delivery—at least, not much. But she was not exactly the most patient of pegasi.

“I’ll talk to her again. I think she’s just...” Post shrugged and buried his muzzle in her mane to kiss the back of her neck. “I’m almost twenty-five, Rose. She’s been waiting a long time for me to find a mare I could love enough to have foals with.”

“You’re twenty-three. Don’t push yourself past the quarter-century mark just yet, dear. She’s just so... pushy. I think she might try to... to...” Rose huffed, relaxing as Post nibbled at her neck, his action hidden by her mane. Serenity settled over her again. “It doesn’t matter. We’re going on vacation. Let’s just enjoy ourselves.”

“I intend to.”

Rose laughed.

The train and train station faded away. Roseluck stood on an empty platform with nopony else about and only the smell of a rose lingering about her nose, leaving the impressions of oil and steam and the hot smell of coal mixing with unicorn magic.

There was no train there. Just the tracks and the station-house, with its side plastered with notices and announcements from ponies who wanted to pay the ten bits to rent a square space.

There was one that caught her eye.

Charity auction Sunday, Planting 4th.

Lilies, Daisies, Carrots and Apples

Proceeds go to the Roseluck—

Another poster was plastered halfway over top of it. That the charity flyer was almost on the top layer said that it was recent. If time meant anything in the world she was in.

But the date. Early spring. When did I...

She shook the thought off. It warmed her heart to know that her friends missed her and were looking after her family.

“My family.” It sounded right. “I need to remember everything. I want to remember everything.” She cast one last glance at the flyer and dashed back up to the station platform and the rose waiting for her at the very end.


The train ride passed in mostly comfortable quiet. The train wasn’t exactly crowded, but they weren’t alone either. Leaving on Marketday had been risky, but it had paid off. Most of the ponies who would have reason to be in Manehatten were there already or had taken a train earlier in the week.

The late afternoon sun drifted down at a leisurely pace as the train rattled and clanked through the countryside. Its whistle blew at each minor crossing where sometimes a pony or a family would be waiting to wave at the passing cars. Roseluck smiled out at them, farm ponies and villagers for whom the train’s passage meant that the world continued, and sometimes waved back.

Post made a point to wave to them, but seemed content to nap in between crossings. Rose was increasingly absorbed in a book she’d borrowed from Swift as the afternoon light began to turn to evening. The running lights in the car flickered as their unicorn tender walked by, then sputtered to life under his spell.

Rose nodded her thanks to the stallion, then turned her attention back to her reading. The book was the one thing she’d asked for, and Post’s overeager mother had taken it to mean that—

Rose snorted and turned her attention back to the page. Swift Delivery’s assumptions aside, the book was a fascinating look into the history of Post’s earth pony father’s side. Names, dates of birth, marriages, few partings. Offspring...

She turned her head to look at her flank and smiled. Some day soon, I’ll add another entry to the book. She brushed a hoof against her still flat flanks, imagining for a moment that she was heavy with foal.

Post’s hoof joined hers and he smiled, then leaned forward to whisper in her ear: “I love you.”

“I love you too.” Rose nuzzled his cheek and propped the book against the fold-out tray on the seatback in front of her.

“Enjoying the family history?”

“Mm.” She leaned against him, cheek pressed against his neck. “You have a lot of distant relatives.” Her hoof rested on the tray to twitch the page back and forth over a long section of almost scribbled genealogy chart.

Her attention soon wandered between the countryside rushing by outside in the lengthening shadows and the book that held the history of the family she hoped to become a part of. Sometime between Cherry Fizz and Greentail, her wavering focus drifted away and she closed the book.

Sleep crept up on her, and the warm, solid beat of Post’s heart against her ear soothed away the fears that she’d taken on as added baggage.

The gentle rocking of the train droned on, and the cheerful wail of the whistle sounded again, heralding dreams of a life filled with joys.

Through the night the train steamed on, rattling and clanking on its merry way to Manehatten. A few times the train stopped to take on more water, and Rose took the time to stand up and stretch, use the mares’ room, and to socialize with a couple from Las Pegasus sitting just across the aisle.

Then the train would be off again, the slow chug of the distant engine and the crackle-crunch of the cars jerking along after it soon dwindled into the steady rhythm of the tracks again, and Rose would lull herself back to sleep with her cheek pressed to Post’s chest.

Morning dawned with the chiming of the arrival bell, and the distant smell of salty sea air as the train chugged up the side of the bluffs just outside their destination. The train wouldn’t get to the city proper, but drop them off at the large platform just outside the farthest outskirts.

“Wake up, dear.” Rose kissed him gently on the lips. She saw his eyes flutter, but he didn’t wake up. “Come on, sleepyhead.”

“Mmf.” He turned and kissed her back, then blinked owlishly in the bright light streaming in through the window. “Morning, lovely.”

“We’re about there. You might want to stretch out a bit first.” She kissed him again and stepped out into the aisle to do the same. Other ponies were chatting with neighbors and getting their luggage pulled off the nets hanging above the seats. Most of the passengers weren’t actually from Ponyville, she discovered.

Many of them had accents from places as far west as Seaddle or as far south as Appleloosa. There was even a pair of mares from the Crystal Empire standing as aloof as possible from the rest of the crowd.

Rose got the feeling, watching them, that they were uncomfortable with ponies admiring them for their look when that was how everypony looked back home. Still, it brought to mind a question.

“Post... do you think I look as nice as a crystal pony?”

“What?” Post stepped out into the aisle with her and glanced at the mares. “They’re not you, Rose.”

“I...” Rose chewed her lip. “You’re right.”

“What’s bothering you, dear?”

“I don’t know. We’ve been trying for almost two months. What if I’m—” She couldn’t say the S-word. Dr. Cure said I’m not... but what if she’s wrong? “I want to, so badly.”

“Is this one of those clock things you and my mother were discussing?”

“Maybe. Just... lately, I’ve felt so...” Rose sighed and reared up to snag her luggage. “I ‘unno.” She spat the carry strap out after setting it on the bench. “I just don’t know, Post.”

“Relax.” Sitting back, he pulled her close with both forelegs. “We’re on vacation. For four days I don’t want us to worry about anything but each other. Can you do that?”

“I guess.”

“Come on now, no guessing. Vacations are serious business.” He tilted his head back. “Let me see you smile.” He waited until she did, then pressed his cheek to hers. “Don’t worry about anything. Okay? I will be keeping an eye on you to make sure you don’t worry!”

She laughed and nuzzled up closer. “I’ll do my best.”

“Good. I’m counting on you to have the best time of your life!”


How does he do that? Rose asked herself as they trotted along the cobbled road to their hotel on the outskirts of town. Just five minutes ago, she’d been wallowing in a sudden wave of worry. Then... How can he just lift my spirits without even trying?

She giggled, and shrugged mentally. Maybe it was getting away from the train and its chimney-like smell. The fresh air flowing up the bluffs from the sea was washing away the tingle in her nose.

Maybe it was him. Rose paused and waited for him to catch up, then bumped shoulders with him and slowed her pace to walk alongside him.

“Thank you,” she said.

“For what?”

“For being you. For knowing what to say to make me feel better.”

He laughed. “You’ve been a bit difficult to keep up with this last week. But you do have a pattern even when you’re being moody.”

“I am not being moody.” I’m not, am I? Rose shook her head. “I’m not.”

Post looked about to say something else, but closed his mouth and smiled at her. “Of course not.”

“No.” Uncertainty pulled her happy mood into a mire, and she fell quiet until they reached the hotel. Queasy sensations rolled in over her while she thought about the last couple of months. Are we ready? It was a silly question.

But she had to ask it anyway. Maybe hearing his answer would get rid of the uncertainty gnawing at her stomach. “We’re ready, aren’t we? I know... I know we’ve talked a lot about it lately, but are we?”

“Of course we are. Rose, I want...” he smiled and shook his head. “Soon. We’ll get there. Don’t worry about anything. That’s what I want. Just...”

“Be happy.” If only it were as easy as flipping a switch. “I’ll do my best.” Rose put on a smile, but couldn’t get rid of the nagging, queasy uncertainty that had settled stubbornly in her stomach since she woke up.

“That’s my beautiful Rose.” Post kissed her cheek. “Let’s get washed up and have something to eat, okay?”


Their morning together was one of the most enjoyable Rose could remember in recent weeks. Between worrying about the upcoming vacation and making sure that everything would be taken care of while they were gone—and that her customers knew she would be gone—she hardly had a moment to breathe; at least it felt that way to her.

Adding onto that was their public announcement of an intention of being more than just a couple, and Swift Delivery’s blatant desire for grandchildren. Rose felt like her life wasn’t her own anymore; she was living at the behest of others.

But vacation with the stallion she loved, even just that morning away from everything, had rejuvenated her. Making love in an actual shower, with heated water instead of a sun-warmed cistern, had been even more of a treat and the blissful warmth within and without had carried her smile well into the afternoon.

They had an early dinner at a small diner at the edge of the Manehattan Apple Family orchard, dining on a tourist’s sampling of apple treats from all over Equestria, and a few native to Manehattan alone.

It was the perfect way to spend an afternoon together.

“Tomorrow, I’d like to see if we can get into the botanical gardens. I was disappointed to see the tours were already filled.” Rose looked back down the broad avenue towards the bridge leading into town. “I want to show you the rosebeds that I cared for while I was a student. They have some of the rarest—”

And then the wind shifted. Instead of blowing from the west, from the apple orchard that stretched outward from the bluffs, it came from the east and the bay full of ships, bilge, and rotting seaweed. The stench dug into her nostrils and crawled down her throat.

“We’ll get in, Rose. Don’t worry,” Post said, lifting his nose to the breeze. “Ah... now I remember why I never wanted to settle down here.” He stopped and looked back at her. “Are you okay? You look a little—”

Rose lunged for the nearest wastebin as the contents of her stomach surged, and filled her mouth with bile and acid. Her cheeks burned as she caught a glimpse of ponies staring at her and pointing hooves. The bin smelled foul, and flies buzzed up from it, disturbed by her vomiting. But with her head below the rim, she didn’t have to watch as others stared at her indignity.

Post stood between her and the rest of the ponies walking up and down the boardwalk and stroked her back gently. “Take it easy.”

Passers by looked away as she lifted her head from the bin on the sidewalk and took a fresher breath of air. The stench of the bay was still there, and it still crawled unpleasantly down her throat with every breath, but it no longer threw her stomach into spasms.

“The smell was bad, but I didn’t think it was that bad.” Post said as he stroked her back gently. “Are you feeling better?”

Shaking her head, Rose tried breathing through her mouth instead. The stench of the bin and the bay coated her tongue. She spat and wiped her muzzle with an ankle. “I think it was the onion burger for lunch.”

“I still can’t believe you ate it all...”

“Hey, I like onions, o-okay?” Rose bent over the bin again and felt the onions crawl their way up, tormenting her with their bite.

“Okay. Just rest easy. It’s not far to the hotel.”

It didn’t take long for Rose’s stomach to settle, even if it felt like an hour spent trying to decide whether the stench in the wastebasket, or the more distant but fouler smell of sewage and rotting dead things was worse. The hoof on her back helped.

“Let’s go... I don’t want to smell that any more than I have to.” Rose pushed herself away from the bin and hobbled away on legs like noodles, while her stomach tied itself in knots.

Post held himself gently to her side, and walked with her the rest of the way back to the hotel.


After half a night of fitful sleep followed by a dead-tired, dreamless slumber, Roseluck’s stomach had quieted somewhat. She suspected that was more because there was nothing left to come up than through the blessed antacids the front counter of the hotel sold them.

You’re pregnant, came the quiet thought in the sleepy moments before she opened her eyes. It drifted away before she could latch onto it and examine it as the sound of the door opening, and a cart clanking noisily over the threshold into their room drove it from her mind.

Post had apparently been up for at least half an hour before her. The smell of breakfast and a fresh pot of coffee greeted her. Thankfully, neither aroma set her stomach off.

“Good morning, beautiful!”

“M-morning!” Rose fought back a yawn. She was successful right up until the smell of coffee grew stronger with the opening of the carafe. “S-sweet Celestia...” she yawned again, stretching out across the princess sized bed. “Why does that coffee smell so good?”

Stifling a chuckle, Post pushed a cart up to the side of the bed. “Breakfast in bed? I’ve got nutcakes and syrup, baked spiced carrots, orange juice, apple juice, and an apple fritter. And... hazelnut coffee.” He blew a cloud of richly aromatic steam at her nose, making her yawn again.

Rose reached out to swat him. “That much?” Rose rolled to her stomach, and dangled her hooves over the edge of the bed. “I’m... not sure if that’s a good idea.” She stroked a rear hoof against her flank while faint memories of the stench wrinkled her nose.

“Rose, dear, you need to eat. Everything you ate yesterday, or most of it...” Post coughed. “I want you to feel your best while we’re here. Being hungry is not going to make you feel good.” He pushed the cart a little closer. “Eat.”

“It does... look tasty.” Rose looked out the window, where the sun was just starting to rise over the bay. “You must have been up early.”

“I was up an hour before you to get things ready for today.” Two tickets appeared as though by magic from under the plate. “For the noon tour.”

Rose stared at them. Tickets for the Garden Tour. “But you must have been there before the gates even opened! How did you—”

Post’s hoof pressed to her mouth gently—it smelled faintly of dew and dirt, with a stronger overtone of blackberry and honey scented soap. “Shh. Eat. I’ll tell you later. I promise.”


With a full stomach and coffee singing a sweet good morning to her nose, Rose was ready to face the day. The night’s fatigue was already fading from her mind and the deep, thrumming bliss was again filling her from hoof to tail. I really need to look into a water heater for our house.

The clean smell of the apple-scented shampoo and coat-scrub was fading, but the rich, earthy aroma of the orchards quickly took its place. It was a welcome respite from the terror that had wafted up from the bay through half the night.

“How long do you think we should get there ahead of time?” Post looked at the ticket again and tucked it back into his saddlebag. “It says noon, but... that crowd looked large even at, what was it? Four in the afternoon?”

“If you want, we can go there early and wander around the public portion of the gardens. They’re not as beautiful, but they still get maintained like the private gardens.” Rose stepped outside into the late morning air and breathed in deeply. The tickle in her throat came back.

No! I won’t let that ruin my trip! She took a sip of the apple juice in her canteen to wash down the tickle and let it fall back to its strap around her neck.

“You okay, dear?”

“Fine.” Rose smiled and tossed her mane. “More than fine. I’m pregnant.” What? The word had popped out. She slowed to a stop, staring off into the distance as the implications of what she’d said percolated through her stunned mind.

“Good.” Post nodded, then slowed to a stop, too. He shook his head and rubbed his ear lightly. He turned around, eyes wide and ears flat. “What?”

“I… think I might be pregnant.” She shook her head, too, and sat down heavily. “The sickness just came on yesterday. That was… that was the last thing your mother said to look for.” She rubbed at her stomach with a single hoof, then looked back up. “The sickness… not from onions.” She shook her head. “You said I was being moody…” Certainty grew in her mind, pushing aside earlier fears. “Post… It all fits.”

“W-what…” Post shook his head and bounded to her side. “That’s wonderful! Oh my goodness!” He nuzzled her swiftly, then rocked back to sit on his haunches, and took a deep breath. “I’m going to be a father.”

“I’m pregnant…” A desire to know for certain surged through her. “Post, we need to get home. I want to see Dr. Cure right away.”


The sun was reaching up into the noon sky, not quite ready to descend in its track towards night when Rose and Post finished packing and spent another hour getting her stomach to settle. By then, the station house was almost empty of arriving passengers.

“No trains back to Ponyville until tomorrow morning? Isn’t there something going there sooner than that? Anything?” Rose asked the ticketing clerk, a bored looking unicorn poring over a list of times and dates.

“I’m sorry, miss. There’s nothing. Not even a produce train. Ponyville just has the one train out and one train in per day to Manehattan. That’s the morning train.” He plastered the schedule against the glass for her to see and floated a quill around front to tap the glass on the right square. “See?”

Sighing, Rose nodded. “I see. Then please change our tickets for the morning.” This is one of those times I wish I’d planned things ahead. “Do...” She sighed again. “What time does it leave?”

“Oh.” The paper flipped around, and she wrote on the schedule, then plastered it back to the window. “Two hours after sunrise.” The ticketmaster shredded their old tickets and scribbled out new ones, stamped them, and passed them under the glass. “Here you go! Thank you for travelling with the Friendship Express!”

“Thank you so much.”

“Next!”

Rose found a place out of the way, but close enough to the bathrooms that she could make a dash if she needed to. And far enough away that the stink was only able to crawl halfway down her throat.

She waited, and didn’t have to wait long, before Post came into the station, reared up and waved a hoof at her.

“So...?”

“Tomorrow morning,” Rose said glumly. “There’s just the one train each day from here to Ponyville.”

“We must have missed it during breakfast.” He brushed past her, nuzzling her cheek and dropping to nuzzle her flank before he came back around to sit on her other side. “What do we do, then?”

“Do you still have the tickets?” Rose asked as she leaned against him. “We could go see the gardens.”

“I suppose,” he said with a smile. “I guess I won’t have to…” He looked askance at her, then nipped her ear gently. “I want today to be even more special.”

“I don’t know what could do that.” Pregnant… I’m going to be a mother. She shook her head lightly and flicked her ear at his chin. “Did you have something else planned?”

“Oh. Well... I guess you’ll just have to wait and see, won’t you?”


I’ve done a horrible disservice to the public gardens... Rose thought as she and Post walked down the pale gravel paths, surrounded by blooming flowers of all the mundane varieties that were common in gardens throughout Equestria. It’s not the exotic and rare flowers that deserve all the attention.

The gardens had changed significantly since she’d last tended their winding pathways. She’d heard that her old instructor, the previous manager of the gardens, had retired, but she hadn’t realized that the new management would have such a drastically different vision of how to arrange the plots and pathways.

More than once, Rose found herself wandering down a dead end of the not quite maze-like gardens without realizing it. Not that finding themselves alone was a bad thing.

“Did you know that in all the times the college stopped by Manehattan, I never once came to visit the gardens?” Post asked as he stopped to sniff a red and gold tiger-lily standing out amid a bevy of white hyacinth. “I feel like maybe I should have.”

Rose smiled and nuzzled his cheek. “We might have met a lot sooner, that’s for sure.”

“True. But...” He turned from the flower and burrowed his muzzle in her mane to take a deep breath. “I don’t think that I would have been ready.”

“Oh?”

“Meeting you here, in the middle of a time in our lives where we were still just learning about ourselves away from our families... I don’t want to think that you would have been just another part of that education. I’m glad I met you when I did.”

“Me too.” Rose pulled away, then turned and kissed him gently. “You’re acting strange this morning. Breakfast in bed... coffee... Post, are you planning something?”

He smiled and touched a hoof to her chin, then leaned in for a deeper, more passionate kiss. The kiss lingered long enough for her pulse to quicken and a flush to creep along her ears before he let go.

“Maybe,” he said softly. “Don’t worry about it. I’ll tell you when it’s time.”

Rose smiled and pressed her cheek to his. “I won’t.”


“Would everypony please gather around?” The tour guide, a young pegasus with a creamy yellow mane and blue coat, stood beside a statue of the celestial sisters, Luna and Celestia. At their hooves lay beds of flowers in the shapes and colors of their cutie marks.

The guide waited until everypony was more or less paying attention to her before she flashed a bright, sunny smile.

“I would first like to welcome everypony to the gardens. I am Sunny Skies, and I will be your guide today! A few ground rules. No eating! I say that for your safety. Some of these plants are toxic to us. No wandering off! This garden is arranged as an homage to the Canterlot Royal Gardens, a maze...”

The tour guide droned on for a few more minutes laying down the common sense rules that were there for the protection and safety of the visitors. Rose obediently paid attention on the surface, but her thoughts wandered.

“Just how did you get those tickets?” she whispered to him as the introduction droned on. The question had been floating around the back of her mind since he’d presented them. Old memories of schedules and complaints by eager patrons had trickled back in after the initial excitement of pregnancy faded, and the resignation of having to spend another day settled in. “They sell out weeks in advance this time of year.”

“I bought these tickets weeks ago,” he whispered back, a smile growing. as he brushed her foreleg with a gentle hoof. “When we first started planning.”

“How?” A moment later, Rose shook her head and rolled her eyes. “Mail order.”

“Yep. I finally had a chance to pick them up today.” He kissed her cheek. “I didn’t want to give away the surprise by having them delivered.”

Rose smiled back.

“Are there any questions?” The tour guide stomped a hoof on a metal plate and the gate to their left swung open. “If not—”

Post jumped, then stepped back. “I do! I have a question.”

“Post—”

“A moment please, Rose.”

“Ah, yes? What’s your question?” Sunny Skies looked, and sounded, genuinely surprised that anypony would ask a question.

“Roseluck, this past year has been the most wonderful year of my life. And... I... just a moment.” Post paused to dig into his bag and came back with a velvet coated jewelry box that he balanced on one upturned hoof.

Rose’s heart leapt into her throat. “Post...”

He opened the box gingerly to show a simple, very familiar, silver ring just large enough to sit around the base of her ear.

Where did he get...

“Roseluck, it would make me the happiest stallion in Equestria if you would be my wife. Will you marry me?”

Yes! Rose nodded swiftly, trying to find her voice. “O-of course! Yes!”

Post pulled the ring from its box gently and stepped forward to slip the ring over her quivering ear, where it lay clinging and heavy, unfamiliar and welcome at the same time.

“I’m so glad, Roseluck. I...” He blushed and looked aside. “I was going to buy a ring later... but your father—” He smiled. “He said your mother would have wanted you to have it.”

A smattering of cheers and the stomping of hooves brought Rose back to reality and she blushed, looking around at the twenty or so ponies congratulating them on their newly engaged status.

Sunny chuckled and waved a hoof at the crowd. “If nopony else has any questions...” A smattering of laughter sounded from the tour group.

Post shook his head. “I’m sorry for interrupting... but you just gave me the perfect opening.”

“No... it’s fine. About once every other week somepony is proposing. But you’re the first to do it during the introduction.” The young guide shook her head and smiled again. “Congratulations, you two. Now, if you all will follow me, please.” She walked on through the gate, already back in her narrative voice. “The gardens were founded almost two centuries ago at the behest of Princess Celestia...”

Rose’s heart leapt with joy as she pranced after the group, Post Haste by her side.


Rose barely paid any attention at all to the tour. Her heart was in the clouds and her mind clouded by visions of their life together. But while her heart and head were soaring, her stomach remained stubbornly grounded. More than once, she had to stop and take a deep breath to hold back the tickle in her throat. The canteen of apple juice helped as well, but it soon ran dry and she was left with a stomach that wanted to flip flop at the slightest foul odor.

Rose tried to stay away from those she remembered as particularly foul smelling. The few she encountered early on, she tucked her nose into her canteen and moved on.

Then came the worst... the rotting corpse flower that she could smell from around the corner. It had been at the end of the tour when she’d tended the gardens. Even back in her college days, it had made her queasy. With her stomach roiling and the heat of the day rolling in to stifle her ears and nose, it was harder to ignore the oily taste of it on her tongue.

“I can’t go near it,” she said as the group rounded the corner. “It—” That familiar crawling sensation began sneaking down her throat. She threw a hoof over her muzzle, turned, and hobbled away from the rest of the group following the tour guide.

“Your stomach again?”

Rose nodded and continued hobbling away from the stink. If I can just get back to the crystal hyacinths...

“Miss! Miss, please don’t leave the group.” Sunny trotted back through the small crowd to catch up to Rose.

“Sunny, is there a quick exit out of here? My...” Post couldn’t disguise the smile in his voice, “my fiance is pregnant, and her stomach….” He flicked both ears back briefly, embarrassed, and nuzzled Rose gently.

“Oh!” Sunny bit her lip and looked up at the sky. “Of course. Just a moment, please.” She turned from them, stretched out her wings and addressed the small crowd. “Everypony, please stay together. I’m afraid we have a, erm, sick guest with us, and I will need to go get her some help.”

Sunny smiled at the guests. “I’ll be right back! I promise. We have staff on hand for just this sort of issue.” Then she was off in a rush of wind and the beating of wings.

Rose buried her nose in Post’s mane, taking deep breaths through the filter of his curly hair. His faint masculine odor, masked by sweet apple shampoo, settled the roiling in her stomach somewhat.


Sunny returned with a pegasus carrying a medic’s kit a few minutes later.

“How’re you doing, sweetie?” the burly pegasus asked. He looked around after a moment and chuckled. “You didn’t say it was near the corpse flower, Sunny.”

“I didn’t think I had to. It’s the only place we’ve ever had somepony throw up.” Sunny paused and glanced at the map sewn to her foreleg sleeve. “Oh. Well, I guess the troll-toe fungus is pretty foul, too. But we haven’t gotten there yet.”

The stallion rolled his eyes and smiled. “I’m Quick Assist.” He slung the pack down from his back and started rifling through it with a hoof. “You must be that couple that Sunny was jabbering about on the way over here?”

“We must be, I guess. I’m Post Haste, and this is my fiance, Roseluck. We’re visiting from Ponyville. My fiance...” he paused to smile, and chuckled. “I’m sorry I just can’t stop saying that. Rose has been having some issues with smells lately.” His smile broadened as he added: “She’s pregnant.”

“Probably pregnant,” Rose said, shaking her head lightly as she pulled her muzzle up from Post’s mane. “I’ve been feeling a bit queasy since the train ride.” She blushed and pushed her muzzle back into the thick tangle of mane behind his ears.

“It’s okay, miss. Do you need something for the nausea, or do you think you can walk with me?”

Rose shook her head, careful not to take her muzzle from Post’s mane. “I can walk. I’d rather not take any medication that doesn’t come from my doctor.”

Quick laughed and nodded. “I hear ya. Me and the missus have been trying for our second for the last few months.” He flipped the bag closed and tossed it back over his back. “Come on. I’ll show you two out.”

Sunny smiled at them and waved a wing. “Good luck!” She turned back to the crowd. “That turned out better than last month! The corpse flower, whose name comes from its smell, is one of the most foul smelling plants in Equestria. But it does have a certain macabre…”

Her voice drifted out of focus as Rose and Post followed Quick Assist through the convoluted maze of plants, all of them smelling better than the aptly named corpse flower.


Morning came slowly after an almost sleepless night, interrupted by a queasy stomach that roiled and settled, then surged when her focus left. Post had been there for her each time, holding back her mane and helping her relax as much as she could in the bathroom.

Haggard, Rose blinked blearily at the station interior, resisting a yawn as they waited in the early morning for the train to come.

“Are you sure you don’t want to wait back at the hotel?” He kissed her ear, then nuzzled her cheek. “It’s still an hour before dawn.”

“It’s okay. We can just wait here, Post. I don’t want to miss the train.” Rose sat down and turned to let loose the buckle on her saddlebags. “I’m happy.” She flicked her ear and tucked her muzzle back into his mane. “Happy just to be here with you.”

He smiled. “Me too.”

Rose closed her eyes and drifted off into a nap while the scent of him saturated her mind and eased her stomach a little. The sounds of the station faded out.

Rose opened her eyes again to find herself sitting once again on Ponyville’s station platform. Flickers of memory swirled through her mind—sounds and smells of the train ride home, and a queasy uneasiness in her stomach that erupted again into vomiting halfway through the afternoon as they passed by what must have been a pig farm tucked behind a hill.

It had been night for hours by the time the train chugged back into town.

And there was a rose laying at her feet. The smell of home wafted up from it, welcoming and full of everything that made her... their home the heart of their lives.

Silence again sounded all around her except for a patter like raindrops. She looked down to see a small puddle of tears forming around another perfectly formed, brilliantly colored rose.

Another piece of memory snapped into place in her mind, further narrowing the void that still tugged painfully at her. Half remembered images of a white office and a familiar voice tugged at her from the scent of a rose at her hooves.

“Pregnant.” Raspberry Rose. “My daughter. My husband.”

The silence on the platform closed in over her again. There was no smiling pink pony to cheer her up or ask about the memory. Everywhere she looked was the same grey landscape, and the same grey buildings—and maybe her friend, as well.

“Pinkie?”

She waited while her heart hammered in her chest, desperate to dive back into the past and relive her life as best she could. But Pinkie had seen her through so much. “I won’t forget,” she whispered as she bent to take a deep breath.


Rose bolted out of bed. Not again!

Throughout the whole night, her stomach had retained the queasy, uneasy feeling from the rocking motion of the train, and the smell of the coal dust and smoke that clung to her coat and mane... but she’d been too tired to fill their tub and douse herself. She was just going to get up again in a few hours anyway.

She dashed out of the bedroom and down the hallway to the bathroom. She barely kicked aside the cover for their toilet before the rush of acid and bile choked her.

“Rose?” Post’s groggy voice sounded from just behind her before his hoof found her mane and pulled it aside. “Just hang on a little longer okay, honey? As soon as Dr. Cure’s office opens, we’ll be there.”

Rose nodded and flicked her ear. She didn’t trust her stomach to try and speak.

Post sat with her while she breathed in and out slowly, and flushed the toilet for her when she tried to sit up. “Shhh. Just stay down. Don’t stress yourself.”

A knock sounded from downstairs at their door, followed by a too familiar voice that Rose had been dreading. The small town gossip mill must have been working overtime since she and Post returned. “Roseluck! Post Haste! It’s Swift!”

Of course it is. Rose leaned her head against the wall and nodded to Post.

“Okay. Just take it easy. I’ll go talk to her, okay?” Post kissed her ear and clopped down the hallway.

Rose bent over the toilet’s hole, dry heaving, while her pulse thundered in her ears.

“Roseluck,” Post said from the doorway. “Swift says she can help with the nausea.”

What? Rose shifted on her stomach, a mistake, and caught a glimpse of Swift Delivery’s red-gold mane before she was bent over the toilet again, ears folded back. Please don’t let her see me like this!

Swift’s voice came as a prelude to the touch of a foreign hoof on Rose’s ear. “Post Haste, you didn’t tell me you proposed!

Rose jerked her head away from the touch and turned her head to glare up at Swift. The sudden motion was a mistake, and her stomach recoiled. Rose bent over the hole again and gagged.

“Mother, please.” Post sat down next to Rose, imposing himself between her and Swift. “You said you could help her.”

“Oh.” Swift stepped back. “Of course. Where do you keep your hoof-towels?”

“Linen closet,” Rose said, her voice hoarse and weak, “where they were the last time you were here.”

“Rose... please.” Post nipped her ear gently. “She’s going to help. Right, mother?”

“Of course.” Swift pulled out a small green hoof-towel and turned on the cold water faucet. “Just rest easy, Roseluck. I promise this will ease the nausea. My mother showed it to me, and now I’m showing it to you!”

Her future mother-in-law’s oh-so-helpful demeanor dug its way under Rose’s coat. Why does she always have to butt into our lives? She rolled her eyes, earning another nip from Post, but she bit back the bitter complaint and closed her eyes.

Maybe if I pretend she’s not here...

“This is going to look weird, and probably feel weirder, but I promise you it will help.” The water shut off and Rose heard hoofsteps coming closer. The gurgling in her stomach increased. “Oh, sweetie... you look so miserable.”

Without any more warning than that, a cool rag plopped down over Rose’s muzzle and dangled over her nose. She jerked back, and the rag almost tumbled down into the porcelain bowl.

“Oops! Sorry, Rose. I didn’t mean to startle you.” Swift’s hoof came up to brush the rag back down smooth over Rose’s muzzle. “The rag helps filter out the smells, and it’s a breath of cool air. With summer coming on, I’m betting that you were sick in the afternoon?”

Reluctantly, Rose nodded.

“It’s the heat.” Swift reached out to flush the toilet again. “Just get rid of that mess. Nothing to be ashamed of, dear. I remember when I was pregnant with Post,” a wing swept forward to touch her son’s shoulder, “I couldn’t even go outdoors for a week.”

A week? Rose slumped and leaned against Post.

“Don’t worry! The rag will help. I promise. I’m so glad that my mother showed it to me. Now I can show it to you!”

“You’re not my mother,” Rose said. She took a deep breath through the cloth, and to her surprise, the cool air down her throat eased the burn. Even the smell wafting up from the toilet was muted to an even fainter aggravation.

Post nipped her ear again.

“But thank you, Swift.” Rose looked up at Post, smiling down at her. “I... appreciate your help.” Now please leave. I’m too tired to be polite much longer.

“Of course.” Swift reached out to stroke Rose’s cheek. “Just relax. This is the hard part, but it’ll pass soon.”

From all the stories you’ve told me… why do I find that hard to believe? “Thank you for helping.” Rose pushed the foreleg away with her nose, and felt a pang of annoyance when Swift had the temerity to look hurt.

“Post, why didn’t you tell me you were going to propose? I thought you were just going on vacation.”

“For the same reason I didn’t tell Rose. I wanted to surprise everypony. I...” Post smiled down at Rose and slid down to lay beside her. “I did ask her dad first.”

Swift’s foreleg curled tighter against her chest, and her lower lip quivered. “Why?”

“I was going to wait until this summer when I had enough bits squirreled away for a ring, but he surprised me—the day we started making plans—with his wife’s engagement ring.”

“Oh.” Swift looked down at her hooves and lowered the leg. “And you didn’t think to ask me for help?”

“We don’t need you for everything, Swift!” Rose clicked her teeth shut after the words had already left. Why did I say that? Oh! Because she makes everything about her.

“Rose!” Post pressed his nose to her cheek and tugged on a lock of her mane. “Please, I don’t want you two to fight. Not today.”

Swift glared at Rose. “You seem to have recovered pretty quickly, hm? Why can’t you just—” She shook her head. “I’m sorry, Post. I just... I hardly ever see you anymore. I miss you.” She fluttered her wings briefly and stood up. “But this isn’t the time for that discussion. You’re right.”

Rose lowered her eyes. “No... I’m sorry, Swift. That wasn’t called for.”

“It wasn’t,” Swift said, smiling, “but you are allowed to be emotional.”

Rose rolled her eyes. “Thank you for—” She clicked her mouth shut before she could finish the sarcastic quip.

“We’ll talk later.” Swift leaned forward to kiss Rose’s forehead. “I do love you. You make my son happy, and that makes me happy. I...” Swift’s smile wavered and a trickle of tears trailed down her cheeks. “I’ll talk to you later. Both of you.”

She trotted out of the bathroom, leaving Rose to wonder what Swift had really wanted to say.


“My mother’s little trick is helping?” Post asked as he trotted alongside her.

“It is. I was skeptical... but it works. I’m actually kinda glad she stopped by this morning.” Rose shook her head. “I... I need to apologize to her.”

“You do.” Post sighed. “I do too.”

“What? Why? You haven’t been snarking at her like I have.”

“We lived together for years, you know. After dad passed away, I was the stallion of the house. We were friends. She was more than just my mother. She was a coworker, a friend, a confidant.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah.” Post shook his head. “I think she misses me.”

“You think?”

He grinned sheepishly. “I didn’t think about it much at first. I still saw both of you. But then I moved in with you.” He frowned at the road as he trotted along. “She’s always been okay with being away from home, though. Up until dad passed away, she would be away for days at a time. I just... I thought she was okay with...” He sighed. “That sounds terrible.”

Roseluck sidestepped and pressed her shoulder to his. “You were her anchor. She doesn’t want to let go. I... I didn’t need an anchor. My dad... he encouraged me to go out, to live my life.”

“He loves you.”

“And she loves you.”

“I know.”

Rose sucked on the loose end of the rag. “Nopony should be alone, Post. Not if they don’t want to be.”


“Roseluck?” the nurse called from the exit to the waiting room. “Roseluck!”

“Come on, honey.” Post nudged her away from not quite staring at the empty foal play area. Toys lay scattered about the small enclosure—rounded edged wooden toys with shiny lacquer surfaces too large for anypony to swallow, but with easy to bite and hold handles.

“I hope it’s not a false alarm.” Rose stood up and walked after nurse Redheart into the long hallway filled with doors. “What if your mother... and the medic... and...” It sounded more and more ridiculous the more people she thought of that were certain she was pregnant. Even I am almost certain.

“Don’t worry about it. We’ll get there.” Post smiled and brushed her cheek gently with his nose.

Redheart chuckled. “You have the look, Rose. We don’t see a lot of young mothers here, but those we do...” She shook her head and smiled. “You’ve got nothing to worry about.”

“Thanks, Redheart. I’m just nervous, I guess.” Rose smiled at her friend and looked aside to Post. “We just got engaged, too.”

“I saw. It’s a beautiful ring. Though I am a little disappointed in you.”

“Disappointed?” Rose’s heart leapt for all of the half a heartbeat it took for Redheart to laugh and flick her tail. “You bugger!”

“If only you’d gotten engaged a month earlier, I would be rolling in the bits, instead of Lily!”

Post snorted. “I would have asked her sooner, but... I wanted to wait for the perfect moment. The tour guide gave me the perfect opportunity.” He laughed.

“And in the Manehattan Gardens too... it was perfect, Post.”

Redheart paused at a door that was already open and nodded them inside. “I’ll let Honey Cure know you’re here. Shouldn’t be more than a few minutes, okay?” She paused before closing the door on them. “You owe me lunch, Rose. I want to hear all about it.”

“Deal! Put it on Lily’s tab at Daisily Days.”

Redheart laughed. “Well, she only won ten bits from me. I’ll talk to you later.”

Post nosed her gently after they were alone. “I was worried that you’d figure out the reason I was staring at you for half the first day. I wanted it to be a surprise.”

“It was. A most enjoyable surprise.” The suite smelled clean enough, though the smell of antiseptic from the sink was burning her nose. Rose eyed it warily, wondering if the nausea would come back—the hoof-towel had dried out in the breeze on their way. “Let’s invite your mother and my father over for lunch tomorrow. You’re still on vacation, and I’m not ‘back’ yet, so we have time to make a nice lunch and spend time with them.”

“We do.” Post kissed her cheek gently. “I want us all to be a family. Do you think you can put up with my mother for an afternoon?”

Before Rose could say anything in response, the door swung back open with a golden haze around the knob.

“Good morning, Roseluck!” Honey Cure stepped inside, a yellow coated unicorn with a darker orange mane, her honeycomb cutie mark obscured by a white labcoat. “Redheart said you had some stomach complaints this morning.”

Post hooked his hoof around Rose’s ankle and squeezed gently.

“Yes. I woke up feeling a little nauseous. It started two nights ago... or the morning rather, after we arrived in Manehattan, actually.” Rose covered her muzzle as the memory of all the grease flooded through her mind. “Sorry... just remembering the smell even makes my gorge rise.”

“Understandable. I have been to Manehattan, and when the breeze comes out of the northeast... it’s the worst.” Honey smiled at her and chuckled. “Hop up on the bed, Rose, and we’ll have a look at you.” She cast a glance at Rose, then at Post, and pulled up the chart again. “Oh. Congratulations, you two.” Rose’s heart thumped, and a moment later Honey smiled, with just a hint of a smirk gleaming in her eyes. “On your engagement.”

Post Haste relaxed and huffed, but smiled at her. “Tease.”

“Just relax, Rose. This won’t take a moment.” Honey Cure’s horn glowed gold, and an answering faint aura hovered over Rose’s head for a moment, a faint tingling and the smell of honey filling her nose. “A little something to combat the smell in here, first,” she said, then swept the golden haze down her body to engulf her midsection. “I’m going to check your aura.”

Rose fought back a sneeze as the magic in her nose lingered, leaving the clean, sweet scent behind. Prickles of magic traced all around her belly, stirring her coat and probing at her skin before settling down in a firm, warm blanket.

“Oh my, yes. Your aura is changing nicely, Rose.” Honey’s horn dimmed and the tingling warmth faded. “Very much what I’d expect to see at the start of a first pregnancy. I’ll have to check your results against our earth pony guide but, off the hoof, I’d say you’re about a month and a half to two months along.”

“That would be...” Roseluck smiled and looked back at Post. He had a dumbstruck, happy smile spreading across his muzzle while he stared off into space.

Honey paused while she scratched out some information onto the clipboard. “Of course, it’s still very early, but I think it’s very likely, given your symptoms. I would suggest a honey steam bath for the nausea, plenty of salted beverages—not straight salt, mind you, and try to stay cool. At least until your body learns to adjust.”

“Okay. Swift Delivery showed me something, too.” She glanced at Post again. Her thoughts were growing fuzzy as her doctor’s assurances began to make sense. Pregnant. “T-to keep cool, that is.” She turned back to her doctor, a smile blooming on her face. “I’m really pregnant?”

“It’s very likely! I’m glad to hear you won’t be suffering as much. Now there are some dietary changes I would suggest. I’ll give you a list, but just to let you know...”

Honey’s voice droned on, comforting and familiar as the feeling of warmth—surely imaginary—suffused her body.

Rose turned to lock eyes with Post, her fiance, the father to be of her children...

His smile was growing wider by the moment, matching the manic grin that Rose felt growing over her face. A mother. I’m going to be a mother! She could almost see the same thought mirrored in his mind. She laughed, and covered her muzzle. “Post... it’s happening!”

“I’ll... just go get the list. You two enjoy your vacation, and congratulations again.” She paused. “And save a spot for me at the table with Redheart, Rose. I want to hear all about it!”

The memory trickled slowly into silence, the sound of laughter lingering the longest after Honey’s voice faded away. At first Rose wasn’t certain she had left it; the white walls of the room in the hospital looked the same: white, and bare. Except... the padding under her hooves wasn’t the same vibrant shade of green as it had been in the memory. Dingy green, almost grey.

There was also the silence, punctuated only by the sound of her breathing and the fading rush and thump of her heartbeat. Joy bubbled just below the surface of her thoughts, waiting for her to touch the memory again and relive it.

She wanted to, but she was still alone with nopony to share the realization with. Pinkie would have wanted to hear it, she was certain.

Or would she? She’d been acting very strangely since her earliest memory of Pinkie greeting her outside her yard. The shock that she’d seen there hadn’t entirely faded, but been replaced slowly by growing uncertainty. Maybe she’d... faded away.

“Pinkie?”

The silent room swallowed up her voice. Rose was still alone.

But not Post Haste. Raspberry Rose would look after him, and he would take care of her. There was solace to be found in the way her life was playing out. Tiny fragments of memories, of being with her daughter and her husband, floated through her mind, disconnected from everything else.

They might have been hopes and dreams, but they felt too real. They felt like they belonged to her, and to her life. Whatever else was going on, Pinkie still needed her—even if it was only to remember that she had been there.

“I promised. I won’t forget.”

She left the room to search for her next memory, and paused to stand in front of the door.

The mirror, which in her memory had shown a reflection her, Post, and Honey all together, instead showed an empty room.


Pinkie sat in a blank white room—what should have been a blank white room. A bed dominated the center of it, the covers and pillows missing. That, she was familiar with.

What Pinkie wasn’t familiar with were the flowers—including a large rose bush in the planter just outside the window—and the pictures.

All along one of the shelves in the room sat the pictures of Rose’s life that had been in her home. Pinkie should have recognized them from how many times she’d visited Roseluck’s home. They were the missing pictures that started Pinkie’s—her—search of the house that led to her discovery of Berry’s room.

“They didn’t disappear from your house for no reason.”

Rose as a filly with the rest of the flower mares. Her as a young mare, standing with her father with a diploma in one hoof and a graduation cap jauntily perched on one ear. Another, later, of her and Post at their wedding down by the lake in Ponyville. Rose was five months pregnant and just starting to show while all around her stood friends and family in light summer finery.

Pinkie was in that frame too, standing close to the bride in a blue dress with three other mares—she had been one of Rose’s best mares.

The picture dragged at her heart. Rose looked so happy, and so did Pinkie. “But not me.” Pinkie shook her head and moved on.

In the next, Rose was laying down with her daughter between her fore and hind legs while Post sat behind with a foreleg draped over both of them—mostly to hold the lively Raspberry Rose in place. She had a dark pink coat, not unlike her mother’s mane, and her mane and tail were a far lighter shade of pink mixed with curly amber highlights.

“She’s beautiful.”

Two more were there as well, one with Rose and Post and their daughter down by the pond, and the other showing them blowing out the single candle on Berry’s first birthday cake in Sugarcube Corner. Pinkie had stuck her head into frame and beamed behind the happy trio.

“I can’t remember any of it. I should... I would if I was actually Pinkie. I made a mistake, Rose.” The mare who had once been a Pinkie reached up to touch the edge of the party picture frame. “Just one more mistake. I’m not the friend you think I am.”

She could still see it even though she didn’t want to look again: the clipboard hanging on the door that confirmed every suspicion in a cramped, hasty hoof.

Patient name: Roseluck

Visitors Allowed:

Post Haste - Husband

Raspberry Rose - Daughter

...

The list of ponies who were allowed to visit Rose wasn’t long, but the last name haunted her and laid bare the lie she’d been clinging to.

Pinkie Pie - Friend of the family

“Not me.”