• Published 1st Jul 2014
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Foal Fever - Distaff Pope



With a filly on the way, Vinyl's started dreaming about her glory days as Equestria's premier DJ. A mysterious potion offers her a chance to feel young again, and with Vinyl's youth restored, Octavia's pregnancy is suddenly a lot

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25. A Melody Alone (Octavia)

Damn it, I was crying for some reason. Yes, I had just kicked my wife out of the house and wasn’t currently considering any plans to allow her back in, but she deserved everything I did to her. First she forced me to drink the potion against my will, then she lied to me about it, and finally she decided it was appropriate to wipe my mother’s memory. I could understand that the monkey paw didn’t have the desired effect for the last wish, but at this point it was the principle of the thing. She had proven willing to lie to me and use dark magic to get her way, and those were two things I was very strongly opposed to

Vinyl Scratch had done all that, and I was still crying. Why was I so upset? Hormones, damnable hormones, they were compromising my judgment and making it almost impossible for me to think rationally. I closed my eyes and took a series of deep breaths, trying to regain control of my mind and process just what had happened and what my next actions should be.

Right now, I had no business related to Philharmonic Hall, my father and mother were at the doctor’s office to check for a solution to my mother’s sudden loss of memory, and I had addressed a letter to Luna earlier that day explaining the situation, so the only issue I hadn’t dealt with yet was Lyra and Bon-Bon’s unexpected appearance. Yes, they come with Vinyl, but I could at least hear what brought them here. Hopefully, Vinyl had taken my hint and cleared the house… I… I didn’t want to see her right now. And why should I? After all she had done to me, it would be foalish of me to desire anything from her. The mare I loved was gone, consumed by the infernal potion, and right now I couldn’t see any way to get her back. Maybe if Lyra was lucky…

I entered the main den, a large room with a sitting area on one side and a large dining table on the other. It was the primary living area for the wing I had made my home. This house was far too big for just five ponies. Unfortunately, a cursory inspection revealed the room I expected to house my guests was completely empty. “Damn,” I muttered to myself. “I apparently have two guests wandering the estate with no idea where they are, and… where is Woodhoof?”

We had guests and he was just letting them wander unsupervised without informing me… the whole thing… Allowing such to happen was a failure of my ability as a host. Instead of tending to the needs of my guests, I had tended to my own emotional weakness and – I groaned – I had let them witness our fight in the first place. How in Equestria could I forgive myself for my breach in proper etiquette? If I am going to be tending to Monticello, I can’t carry on as I have during the past few years, I reminded myself. During the past few weeks, I had saved my family’s legacy, ensured we would keep our ancestral home, and ensured we would continue into the next generation; I couldn’t let all that slip through my hooves now.

My mind drifted back to Vinyl as I searched the house for either Woodhoof or my guests. A part of me wanted to go back to her and give her another chance, but it was too late for that, she had revealed herself to be the same as my parents and… another pony I would prefer not to think of. Going back to her now would be surrendering my freedom to another pony who wished to control me. Granted, her means of control might be more… affable than others I’d experienced, but she was right; the pink stripe reminded me to be better, to resist such influences, and right now, that meant resisting her.

“Woodhoof,” I called as I searched the house, “where are you?” There was no answer. After long minutes wandering the halls, I finally heard sounds coming from the third-floor atrium. I knocked on the door and listened for a response. Instead, I heard what sounded like a faint chanting as lights flashed from under the door. Against my better judgment, I opened the door to find Lyra sitting in the center of the room, the paw floating before her as a vortex of magical energy swirled around her, howling all the while. This… probably wasn’t something I should interfere with. I closed the door and went back to my search for Woodhoof as a loud boom shook the house. Interrupting Lyra would almost certainly be a bad idea right now, although it would be nice if I knew what she was doing.

Finally, I found my butler polishing the brass in the guest parlor. “Ah, hello Miss Octavia, I heard about your fight with Miss Scratch. How are you holding up?”

“I’m fine,” I said, sniffing at the air. “She made her choice, I made mine, and now we just have to deal with the consequences. While reconciliation would be nice, I really don’t think it would be appropriate, and… I suppose I have a hard time forgiving some of the things she’s done.”

“Yes, well, I believe the monks of Neighpon had an adage I was quite fond of. It has been some time since I last heard it, and something is always lost in the translation, but I suppose it would loosely translate as ‘Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.’”

“That’s…” I stopped as I suddenly recalled a bit about Equestrian history. “Why were you in Neighpon after the Last Great Equestrian War? It was fought against the Griffon Empire and Neighpon had absolutely no involvement. The played a key role in the Third Great Equestrian War, but that took place hundreds of years ago.”

He laughed and shook his head. “No, I was just touring the world after the war ended and thought I would spend some time in Neighpon.”

“Of course,” I said, twisting my lips up in a small smile. “So you’re saying I should forgive the mare who tried to twist me to meet her own ends.”

“Partially, but I’m also trying to say that Miss Scratch might have been twisted to meet another’s ends earlier. As Miss Heartstrings explained it, the paw corrupts everything touched by its wish, or at least… twists it. She’s working on the theory that her original wish infused the potion with dark magic, though she needs a sample of uncontaminated potion to test her theory.”

“And where is she going to get that?” I asked, raising an eyebrow at him.

“Oh, I’m sure a resourceful mare such as her will find a way,” he said, “but on that note, I really would advise against disturbing Miss Heartstrings, the disenchantment process is quite delicate, and any possible disturbance might backfire terribly.”

As if to punctuate his point a booming voice filled the house. “Release me from your grip, infernal mage, and I shall reward you. Power, Wealth, Love, all you wish for will be yours.”

“I saw her earlier and gathered as much. So, how much of our trouble is the paw responsible for?” I asked, taking a seat on the chaise.

“She didn’t specify,” he said as he finished cleaning the room. “What she did say though is that anything touched by the paw is slowly turned towards chaos and madness, and that such effects will continue until the paw is properly disenchanted.”

“Which is what she is doing now?” I asked as a very loud series of thumps came from above us and a chorus of voices chanted in an unknown language (or unknown languages, it was rather hard to make out any details beyond the fact that it hadn’t been heard in Equestria in quite some time) as the gas lights in the house flickered.

“Indeed it is, the ritual should conclude in less than a day, and after that, the paw’s influence in your life should abate,” he said, moving to sit next to me. “At least, that’s how it was explained to me.”

I frowned at that. “You say that, but I really haven’t detected any negative influence on my part. Yes, I have… regressed, but as long as I control my hormones I feel as normal as I ever have. Vinyl’s inability to control herself in her state speaks volumes about an inherent weakness that had previously been hiding beneath the surface. I tried to ignore it, but now the evidence is irrefutable.”

“If I may speak freely, Miss Octavia, I feel you should wait until after the paw has been dealt with before passing judgment. Acting now might be premature, wouldn’t you agree?”

“Perhaps,” I said, sighing and rolling my eyes. Again, such things seem to come naturally to teenagers. “I doubt a good night’s rest will change my opinion on her weakness. Also, I doubt I will be able to get a good night’s rest considering all this noise.”

He smiled at me. “All I ask, Miss Octavia, is that you try.”

***

The next morning, my mood had not improved too much. The night before, I had spent some time searching for Bon-Bon before eventually being informed that she had departed with Vinyl because Lyra and Bon-Bon worried about either of us being alone right now, and my parents returned to inform us that the doctors could find no way to restore my mother’s mind. Hopefully, the letter I had sent to the princesses the previous day would have some effect. Otherwise, I couldn’t think of a solution to the problem of my mother’s memory. On the other hoof, she was substantially more tolerable than normal, and I felt no great need to restore her to her old self immediately.

My attempts at sleep were stymied by the howling coming from Lyra’s room compounded with a sense of sadness I couldn’t quite quench. Vinyl had wronged me deeply, done something terrible to me, why in Equestria should I miss her? I was… I was better off without her, even if the guttural instinctual part of me failed to realize that. Maybe someday she might return to normal, but even then… Could I accept her knowing what weakness lurked just beneath her surface, waiting for a chance to return? Such thoughts plagued me as I tried to shut out the screeching of the damned, and ensured that when morning found me, I was particularly unhappy.

“Good morning,” Woodhoof said as I descended into the breakfast room (differentiated from the dining room by its east-facing windows and homier decor than the rather ostentatious dining room). “How did you sleep last night?”

I pointed a hoof up at the ceiling as a gurgled shriek echoed through the house. “That wasn’t Lyra screaming was it?”

He shook his head. “No, I don’t believe it was. If not for the fact that she said she needed absolute concentration for the ritual, I would check on–” The house suddenly went completely silent for the first time since Lyra started her ritual.

“Do you think she’s done?” I asked, raising an eyebrow.

“It’s worth investigating, I think,” he said. As we got to our hooves, we heard excited hoofsteps upstairs. Before we could even clear the room, a mint-green blur burst through the door, a small black object trailing behind it.

“Check it out,” Lyra said, waving the paw around. Now that she had stopped moving, I could see that Lyra was completely coated in sweat and her mane frazzled. “Completely magically inert monkey paw. Took me…” She looked at the clock. “Wow, is it morning already?”

We both nodded. “That took way longer than I planned,” she said, looking around the room. “Do you have anything to eat? Dispelling ancient cursed objects really works up an appetite.”

“Are you alright?” I asked as Woodhoof went into the kitchen to prepare breakfast. “You were up there for quite some time and I have to imagine that your ritual was quite taxing and… thank you for taking care of the paw for me.”

“No worries,” she said, panting for breath. “So, paw taken care of, you and Vinyl can get back together now, right?”

“Did the paw really affect her behavior that much?” I asked as Lyra took a seat at our breakfast table. “I feel mostly unaffected, so it’s hard for me to believe that the paw had too much of an influence on her.”

“Well, I think so,” Lyra said, “I haven’t run the tests on the potion, but…” She shouted into the kitchen. “Hey Woodhoof! You got that pure potion sample for me? After I get some sleep, I want to get my tests going as quick as possible, because the sooner we get you and Vinyl to make up, the sooner Bon-Bon can stop watching over her.”

“Uhmm… I’m sorry,” I said, glancing between Lyra and the kitchen door, “but why would Woodhoof have access to a pure potion sample?” I was beginning to suspect why, but that idea seemed too insane to consider. Because obviously, my life was a paragon of sanity.

Lyra shrugged, “I don’t know, I figured he was old so he had a bunch of stuff. After all, who doesn’t have at least a few mystery potions in the back of their closet?”

“I don’t. Vinyl, despite all her failings, doesn’t. The only pony who apparently has mystery potions in her closet is you,” I said, trying to figure out just how Lyra thought everypony had random potions lying around.

“Bon-Bon does too,” she said, frowning and tilting her head in thought, “and I bet Princess Twilight has a few potions in her castle as well.”

“Princess Twilight is–” I paused as I felt the familiar crackle of magic in the air.

“Incoming teleport!” Lyra shouted before ducking under our table. I moved to follow her when a bubble of white light appeared over our table. A second later, Equestria’s solar diarch, Princess Celestia, burst into existence on our breakfast table..

The small shattered sliver of my brain that still desperately wanted to make sense of the world broke completely and left me stammering in shock. The princess turned to look at me. “I apologize for intruding, Octavia, but as soon as Princess Luna told me about your mother’s plight, I came to help.”

There was some more stammering on my part until I could finally form my thoughts back into words. “I appreciate your concern, Your Highness, but you really shouldn’t trouble yourself for my sake, we… you have more pressing issues to deal with,” I said, hearing the faint sound of chimes in the distance. Thankfully, Woodhoof could deal with whoever else was visiting us. I shook my head; it was far too early to be dealing with guests, certainly far too early to be dealing with one of Equestria’s rulers. I hadn’t even had my coffee yet.

“Nonsense,” Princess Celestia said, smiling down at me. “The well-being of my little ponies is of the utmost importance to me, and I know a few spells that can reconstruct your mother’s memories using the memories of those closest to her. Considering all you’ve done to help my sister, helping you now is the least I can do.”

I smiled and shook my head, trying to convince myself that I wasn’t hallucinating, a task easier said than done. “Thank you, Your Highness. If you wish to help, I would talk with my father and Woodhoof, they have the most memories of her, and most of my memories involving my mother aren’t particularly pleasant.”

“Now, Octavia,” Princess Celestia said. “Every memory you can offer will help the reconstruction immensely. Even if they aren’t pleasant, they will be useful.”

Lyra had been silent ever since the princess’s arrival, and was currently glancing between us and the kitchen, trying to decide which was more pressing, overhearing our conversation or working to get some food. After a minute, she chose food.

“Of course,” I said, bowing my head to the princess. “I apologize for questioning you, obviously if you think my memories will be useful, you will have them.”

At that moment, the door to the main hall opened and Woodhoof walked in with Vinyl and Bon-Bon in tow. “Miss Octavia, Miss Scratch has arrived to off–” He stopped as he saw Celestia still standing on our dining table. My eyes darted from him to Celestia to the mint-green unicorn sticking her head out of my kitchen with a muffin lodged in her mouth to my wife to the clock that didn’t even read eight in the morning.

I sighed. This was going to be one of those days.

Author's Note:

So! Posting time tomorrow might be dramatically off because I will be travelling to Washington DC to get ready for BronyCon. Don't worry, tomorrow's chapter is written, so there will be an update, it just might be at an odd time.