• Published 10th Jun 2014
  • 1,206 Views, 35 Comments

Hoe Down - Talon and Thorn

Octavia isn't finding it very easy to adjust to her new life in Ponyville. The place is full of crazy ponies! How will she cope when the inhabitants decide to throw a part in her and her fellow element bearers honour? A Cadenceverse story.

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Household Strife

Octavia Philamonica third daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Cheineigh awoke in a minimally furnished room and for a moment didn’t know where she was. Her eyes flicked open and tried to take in her environment, barely illuminated as it was by the pre-dawn light. The lack of decoration to the room was not unusual to her, she preferred a spartan existence, it was the size of the room that surprised her. It was smaller than her room at Princess Cadences School for the performing arts, where was she? She stuck a leg out from beneath the covers and the hurriedly retracted it, the room was cold. Turning to one side her momentary panic was alleviated by the familiar picture of her family gazing down upon her from the sideboard. Her father was smiling warmly with a hint of mischief in his eyes, her mother’s gaze was calm and loving, her sister Viola was dressed in her usual outlandish garb and her eldest sister, Melody, was as stiff and composed as always. The familiarity of the scene relaxed Octavia enough to allow her brain to fully reboot and memory returned to her. This was the room she had rented above the sweet shop in Ponyville. I was no wonder she hadn't recognised it, she had lived here for less than a week now.

For a moment Octavia considered burrowing further into the sheets and returning to dreamland, she was still tired. One of her new friends, Vinyl Scratch, had unexpectedly requested that she help her move her equipment to the train station in preparation for a concert or ‘rave’ as she called them. That had resulted in a severe upset to Octavia’s schedule and she had not gotten to bed until much later than planned. However, the sun would rise soon and she considered it her duty to play for the princess at dawn each day, the physical distance between her and her mentor did not alleviate that need. Plus now that she was more aware her body was informing her that certain biological needs had to be met urgently, or she would embarrass herself, maybe that second cup of soothing tea last night had been a mistake.

Mumbling quietly to herself Octavia threw off her blanket and shivered, despite being spring mornings were still decidedly nippy in Ponyville. The door to her balcony did not shut properly and let in a draft, she would have to raise the issue with her landlady, Bon Bon, when she remembered. Her bladder once again raised its objections to further ruminations at this time and she staggered out of her room and towards the bathroom with an awkward gait. As she approached her sensitive ears picked up the sound of running water, it appeared Bon Bon was currently using the facilities.

Upon reaching the bathroom door she dithered around for a moment, she was not sure of the protocol in this situation having never had to share in this way before. Her sense of propriety insisted that she wait rather than cause a fuss, but judging by the sound of the water hammering down like a waterfall within the neighbouring room her landlady could be some time. Octavia crossed her hind legs and tried to think of something else. As she had been assigned to Ponyville to report to Cadence on the towns musical culture she felt she should start a survey of that music, maybe question some of the locals. She could visit the farms that ringed the town itself, she knew a downpour was scheduled for this afternoon but she could visit at least some of them before the rain began to hammer down from the sky forming temporary rivers of liquid, flowing...

Giving a little whimper of discomfort Octavia began to trot backwards and forwards. How much longer would Bon Bon be? The persistent sound of water behind her continued, seeming to burrow into her mind, becoming her whole world. Almost out of her control her hoof shot up and rapped smartly on the door. “Bon Bon!” she cried trying to keep her voice under control. “How much longer are you going to be?”

For a moment she wondered if the cream mare was ignoring her, then she finally heard a reply. “Just a few more minutes Octavia.”

“Please hurry,” she replied desperately, not sure if the other mare heard her. She once again tried to clear her head, to focus on music. There was a new tune she was trying to master well enough to play for Cadence’s sun rise. It was an interpretation of a spring morning, the feel of plants pushing through the earth in musical form. The feel of those plants rising up to try and touch the sun, leaves drenched in early morning dew rolling off their leaves and splashing onto the ground below... oh dear.

Octavia’s situation was almost at a level where she was willing to throw away her dignity and find herself a bucket when the door finally opened and Bon Bon stuck her head out wiping her two tone mane with a thick towel. “I’m sorry I took so long, there might not be much hot water left I’m afraid.”

Octavia rudely shoved past the chatty mare and slammed the door behind herself before rushing towards the toilet.

“You’re welcome,” mumbled a somewhat shocked Bon Bon staring at the door as she absently continued to towel off her mane.

My little pony...
Ah ah ah...
(My Little Pony)
Friendship sounded so off-key to me.
(My Little Pony)
But now you're here, and now I see...
A loyal backing
Honest melodies!
Songs to share
With loving harmonies!
Joyous dance --
Such a lovely feat --
And magic makes the perfect beat!
You are my little ponies...
Friends make the best music of all!

“I’m sorry about the bathroom,” said Bon Bon as Octavia made her way down to breakfast. “I’m not used to my lodger being up so early, most ponies aren't unless they have to be.”

“I like to rise early to play for the princess when she raises the sun,” noted Octavia. “I get up even earlier come mid-summer.”

“The Princess! She was here?” said Bon Bon her eyes flicking around the room as if Cadence was suddenly going to pop out from the bread bin shouting ‘surprise!’.

Octavia sighed, “I mean I play in tribute, although I have had the honour to play in the princess’s presence as she carries out her duties on a number of occasions.” She straightened and allowed herself a moment of pride for her hard won skills.

“Oh, well I have to get up early to prepare my stock for the day, some of my treats keep for a while but others have to be made fresh each day. Maybe we could work out some sort of roster for the bathroom?”

“That might be just as well, although I am paying for the use of the facilities,” Octavia cringed a little as the words left her mouth, she hadn’t meant to sound quite that harsh.

If she was offended Bon Bon didn’t show it. “I made you breakfast,” she said pointing at a plate piled high with pancakes dropping gooey syrup.

Octavia felt her mouth water, it looked so good but she was probably gaining pounds just looking at it. She shook her head exercising her will power. “No thank you, I am afraid I will have to pass. I have a balanced diet, to keep me in perfect shape for my craft.” She compared her own form with the somewhat plusher Bon Bon. “I will be having oats this morning.”

“Are you sure? It doesn’t hurt to treat yourself now and again.”

“I am sure, thank you,” said Octavia scowling a little. She took a bowl and spoon from a drawer and a box from cupboard before half filling the bowl with oats, she stared at it for a moment before returning a small amount back to the box before packing it away.

“Not in there,” announced Bon Bon. “Make sure you put it back where you found it, I have a system.”

Octavia frowned, “Really?” she said sitting down to her breakfast. When she had first tried to cook she had found the ingredients and implements to be scattered all around the kitchen with no order she could make out, she had meant to get round to rearranging them to make more sense.

“Oh, yes. Ask me where anything is.”

Octavia took a mouthful of oats and thought for a second. “Flour?”

Bon Bon closed her eyes for a moment. “General flour, second cupboard along third shelf up third package from the left, a full bag. Self raising, fourth cupboard bottom shelf furthest on the right, a quarter of a pack left. Teff flour, under the stairs, fourth shelf behind the salt.”


Bon Bon rolled her eyes. “There are over a dozen types of sugar in this kitchen, care to be a bit more specific?”

“Um, demerara?” Octavia didn’t know that many types of sugar even existed.

“First cupboard, second shelf in the middle, not much left, oh the delivery was late again I’ll have to get some more from somewhere,” she mused. “Like I said I have a system. All the ingredients I need for my most common recipes are kept in the same place,” she said with a smile.

“Very well I will make sure to return things to the position I found them in,” said Octavia testily taking her bowl over to the sink to clean, she subtly opened one of the nearby cupboards, there was the flour just as Bon Bon had mentioned, even the amount was the same as she described. She dried the bowl and put it in a nearby cupboard with the rest, behind her Bon Bon made a noise in her throat. Octavia closed her eyes and tried not to grind her teeth. “Where does it go then?”

“Well you were close but there are already a dozen bowls in there so it goes next to it.” Octavia opened the relevant cupboard and added it to a slightly shorter stack. “Thanks!”

“I shall be off for a jog this morning,” said Octavia. “I intend to have a look around town and maybe arrange to interview some of the locals about their musical skills.”

“Ok, maybe you could try the Ponytones, they’re a local group, or your friend Bluenote must know most of the local musicians. Oh, or maybe you could try Sweet Apple Acres, Applejack holds dances there each month. Wait a minute and I’ll draw you a map.” The cream mare grabbed some paper and a pencil in her mouth and started to scribble away.

“There really is no need,” noted Octavia.

“Not a problem,” noted Bon Bon spitting out the pencil.

Octavia took the map, it seemed to consist of a number of symbols seemingly placed at random, she couldn’t make head or tail of it. Her confusion must have shown on her face at Bon Bon moved next to her and started to point them out. “This is here, so I drew a sweet and that’s Rarity’s place so I drew a dress and that’s the library so I drew a tree.”

“Because books are made out of trees?” asked Octavia raising an eyebrow.

“No silly, because the library’s in a tree.”

Octavia frowned she had noticed a large tree near the town centre during her previous trips through the town but she had not considered that it was an actual building. Tree dwellings had been somewhat of a fashion almost half a century ago now but the time and effort required for even the most talented earth ponies to make them meant that they remained rare. It appeared that the town had at least one of them. “Thank you,” she said politely, “I will see where my hooves take me for the moment but those seem good ideas. I shall be off now.”

“See you later,” said Bon Bon with a wave as Octavia headed out of the house. She looked at her own empty plate and the pancakes she had made for her boarder, there was no sense letting them go to waste, she thought digging in.

Octavia took a deep breath of the fresh air outside the house. She couldn’t believe how picky Bon Bon was being, it was only kitchen supplies after all, what did it matter if the flour was in the wrong place? It was not like a few seconds extra to find something would be disastrous. The white mare was being far too possessive of unimportant ingredients. Anyway all the fuss had made her several minutes late, she would now have to pick up the pace if she wanted to keep to her schedule. Maybe she should consider different accommodations, there had to be other places to live in this town. She could keep an eye out while she was jogging. Although she had spent several days in town she was yet to visit much of it, despite its small size. In a way she found it unnerving, her previous homes had been in large cities and although she had tended to cloister herself away from company she had been aware that lots of other ponies were around. Here in Ponyville even in the town centre there were less ponies than she was used to.

Octavia’s train of thought was suddenly derailed as a green blur rushed into the periphery of her vision. “Morning!” cried Lyra causing Octavia to jump. The mint unicorn seemed to have appeared from nowhere.

“Gh.. Good Morning,” said Octavia trying to keep her racing heart under control, it was probably halfway to Sweet Apple Acres already despite the rest of her body not having started jogging yet. “What are you doing here?”

“Well, I was in the area, just going to make sure Bon Bon got this demerara sugar, the delivery was late and my lady is almost out, she can’t make some of her sweetest treats without it.” Lyra was carrying a large brown package in her aura.

“How do you..?”

“I keep track of everything she makes. Could you put it in place for me? It’s the first cupboard, second shelf...”

“In the middle,” finished Octavia taking the box, her face a picture of confusion.

Lyra smiled widely, “You picked up her system! It’s really easy once you get used to it isn’t it? Her last lodger never bothered to learn it, she was always putting things away in the wrong place.”

“Last lodger? What happened to her?” Maybe she was driven away by Bon Bon hogging the bathroom, thought Octavia.

“Oh she wasn’t nice at all,” said Lyra a dark cloud passing over her perpetually sunny face. “She wasn’t right for Bon Bon, didn’t appreciate her breakfast pancakes, even took advantage of her. In fact she almost left town owing Bon Bon quite a bit of rent. Just as well she had a change of heart at the last minute and came back to apologize, and pay what was due.” Lyra’s smile was just a little brittle making Octavia feel a little nervous. “Anyway, after you take the sugar in is there anything you want to do? I’ve got nothing planned this morning.”

“Why don’t you take it in?” asked Octavia. “I’m sure Bon Bon would appreciate it.”

Lyra looked down, “I am not yet worthy to openly send gifts to my lady, it might seem like I’m trying to buy her affections rather than doing it out of the power of my burning love.” She looked up with doe eyes. “Please do it for me!”

“Very well,” said Octavia sighing at her friend’s behaviour and quickly popped back into the house. Bon Bon had her back to her and was working on some sweet or other. She was whistling rather off key, which caused her lodger to flinch slightly. Octavia was just placing the package in the right place when Bon Bon noticed her.

“Oh, the sugar, did the delivery arrive?” she asked.

“Um, I don’t know I just found it outside,” said Octavia, it wasn’t exactly a lie.

“Maybe I missed it, oh well, thanks for bringing it in.”

“You are welcome,” said Octavia as she returned outside.

“Thanks,” said Lyra. “Now what do you want to do this morning?”

“Well, I have been meaning to explore the town and maybe meet some of the other musicians that live here to start my mission for Cadence.”

“Oh, I can help you with that!” said Lyra enthusiastically. “I will accept this quest and not rest until you have seen every corner of Ponyville and have met every one of its inhabitants. Follow me, Ponyville’s such a lovely town, particularly on a nice morning like this one...”

Morning in Ponyville shimmers, sang Lyra as she and Octavia trotted through the streets
Morning in Ponyville shines,
And I know for absolute certain,
That everything is certainly fine,
There's the Dentist en route to her office, she nodded to the professional who responded with a wide smile to the show off her glimmering teeth.
There's the sofa clerk selling some quills,she playfully bounded over to the stallion and threw herself onto a large chaise lounge bouncing a few times before leaping off again and carrying on down the street. Octavia galloped along behind the prancing unicorn “Wait, what? Why would the sofa clerk...“

“Octy, you're breaking the rhythm!” complained Lyra before continuing her singing.

My Ponyville is so gentle and still,
Can things ever go wrong?,
I don't think that they will,
Morning in Ponyville shimmers, getting into the song Lyra grabbed hold of a street lamp and began to spin around. “Wait Lyra, is that safe?” called Octavia running to keep up with her friend.
Morning in Ponyville shines, continued Lyra ignoring the warning.
And I know for absolute certain, she released her grip on the lamp and her momentum threw her into the air.
That everything is certainly... and slammed into a white coated unicorn who had just staggered around the corner knocking both of them flying in a random collection of legs.

Author's Note:

Ah, the problems of living together.

Its possible Octy and Pageturner shared a room in Canterlot but I think they might have had different bathrooms or Page would have left Octy much earlier.

As always comments are appreciated.