• Published 8th Nov 2014
  • 8,051 Views, 623 Comments

An Affliction of the Heart: Volume Five - Anonymous Pegasus

A newly christened Queen attempts to reign in the changeling race and inegrate them into pony society. Even though there are those who would prefer such an effort fail...

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Hard Farewells

Author's Note:

This chapter is so not worth the wait, but it is necessary to start pushing the story forwards again. Next chapter shouldn't be a year before release. Christ. Sorry.

“They’re probably burning the place down already,” Kuno whined in a hushed tone.

“We’ve been gone half an hour, your changelings can survive without you,” Warden responded, lips pursed.

Their conversation attracted an angry glower from an elderly mare sitting in the front row of the seating. The seats had been laid out in front of a simple wooden casket bearing a picture of Green Hoof; and a large potted plant. Stunning Facet and Mint Green were sitting in the front row, right at the centre. Stunning Facet looked stoic and reserved, his expression stony and unyielding.

Poor little Mint Green just looked tired and exhausted. His eyes were rimmed with red, but no tears were present. He just looked drained.

Warden knew he had been crying for so long that he couldn’t cry any more.

“It hurts, doesn’t it?” Kuno asked softly, leaning her cheek against his own gently.

Warden nodded carefully. “I want to hug him and tell him it’ll be alright. I just… I know how he feels. To cry until you can’t cry any more and you just want something to dull the pain for a little while…”

Kuno nudged him lightly. “I know. You have my sympathy.”

“Oh, thanks,” Warden said with a sarcastic roll of his eyes.

“I don’t know what else to tell you, Warden. It’s a… complicated situation,” Kuno admitted, frowning and licking her lips, casting her glance nervously about.

“Yeah… at least he has Stunning Facet to lean on,” Warden said glumly, staring down at his hooves for a moment, and then heaving a long sigh. “Would you stop being so nervous?”

“Ponies are staring and muttering,” Kuno said quietly.

“You’re an alicorn-sized bug-monster that lives by stealing love from your closest friends and family,” Warden said bluntly. “They have reason to stare.”

“I know you’re in withdrawal, Warden, but I want to slap you right now,” Kuno grumbled, pulling him tighter against her side and squeezing a little harder than necessary.

“There’s not many ponies here,” Warden observed.

“No, not really. Green Hoof wasn’t originally from these parts so I sup-” Kuno started, before being interrupted.

:”If you don’t mind,” the stony-faced mare in the front row scowled. “You are disrespecting the dead! Bad enough that you bring… that here.”

Warden’s eyes narrowed slowly.

Kuno lifted a hoof to stroke on his wings soothingly. “I’m very sorry,” Kuno said, turning her attention to the mare. “We meant no disrespect.”

Don’t address me, monster. Without you, my niece would still be here,” the mare said, spitting on the ground with an exaggerated show of disrespect.

You are disrespecting the memory of my wife,” Stunning Facet growled, turning in his seat, eyes narrowed dangerously. “They are here by my invitation.”

The mare went silent, but continued to glower.

“We should leave,” Kuno said softly. “We’re just causing issues.”

“I’m not here to please them,” Warden said bluntly. “I’m here to honour Green Hoof and pay my respects.”

Kuno pursed her lips, and her wings quivered with the repressed urge to buzz anxiously. “Very well, then.”

Warden carefully touched at the leaves of the sapling in the pot by Green Hoof’s casket, and frowned slightly.

“What are you thinking?” Stunning Facet asked from behind him.

Warden tilted his head slightly to the side. “I’m thinking that the pH level in this sapling is a little too high and it needs more water. Someone will have to tend to it after it’s… after it’s planted.”

Stunning Facet nodded glumly, and then fixed Warden with a stare. “I’m… glad you came. I don’t know any of these ponies.”

Hesitantly, Warden turned, and lifted a hoof to rest on the stallion’s shoulder, staring into his eyes. “I’m… I’m sorry for your loss.”

Nodding, Stunning Facet stepped closer and buried his face in Warden’s mane in a rough hug. “I know it hurts you too,” he murmured, pulling back slightly after a moment and just fixing Warden with a long, mournful look.

Warden realised that his mane was wet where Stunning Facet’s face had been.

“I… I need to look after Mint Green. But I… I appreciate you being here. I just wanted you to know,” Stunning Facet almost stammered. “M-Mint Green will be safe with me.”

Nodding, Warden pulling the stallion into another hug, supporting his trembling legs with his own firm stance, and nudged him lightly. “Are you composed yet?”

Stunning Facet nodded, clearing his throat and wiping his eyes with a hoof. “I can manage.”

Kuno stepped closer to the pair, turning to Stunning Facet. “If you ever need… I mean to say. I have an army of changelings at my disposal now. If you need… time with her again, it can be arranged.”

Warden hissed slightly and stepped on Kuno’s hoof, making her give a strangled yelp. “What?!”

“This is hardly the time!” Warden growled between clenched teeth, before turning back to Stunning Facet. “I’m sorry.”

Stunning Facet shook his head, and smiled blankly. “She’s just… trying to help, in her own way. She can’t help it if she doesn’t… If she doesn’t know that that is not right.”

Warden gave a soft chuckle. “You’re trying really hard not to outright say it was incredibly insensitive.”

Stunning Facet gave Warden a hollow stare that he didn’t think he’d ever forget. “You… you have to be careful to keep ponies your friends. You never know when they’ll be gone for good…”

Warden’s smile slid off his face.

“I forgot how awkward funerals are,” Warden muttered, staring at his hooves. “If I wasn’t so drained from the withdrawal I’d probably be as pathetic as all of the rest of these ponies.”

The small crowd that was watching the dirt being thrown on Green Hoof’s casket were all crying, except for Stunning Facet.

Warden had felt his heart breaking watching a tear-stained, stumbling Mint Green throw the first hoofful of dirt, and a pretty red flower, down the hole. Stunning Facet was trying hard to appear strong and stoic, but Warden noticed with every intake of air, his frame shuddered slightly.

“You’re not in mourning,” Kuno said quietly. “You’re sad, and angry. But you’re not in mourning.”

“Every time I look at Mint Green I want to find whoever killed her and…” Warden trailed off, staring down at his hooves. “Am I a bad pony?”

Kuno shook her head, leaning against him lightly. “You all deal with grief in different ways.”

Warden frowned slightly, and then nodded, scratching at the ground with a hoof. “I guess so. I feel like… like everything I’ve been through has made me numb to my own emotions.”

“That’s probably the withdrawal talking,” Kuno chided softly

Warden nodded glumly. “I guess you’re right.”

“Kuno, I need you to do me a favour,” Warden murmured.


“Take Mint Green away. Take him back to town. Get him some ice cream. Take him to a gaming parlour. Somewhere that’ll take his mind off things.”

Kuno peered at her husband sideways. “Is this entirely necessary?”

“It is,” Warden said stiffly, motioning towards the lingering forms of Mint Green and Stunning Facet. The rest of the mourners had left, leaving the funeral site nearly empty.

“Very well,” Kuno said, scrunching her nose. A flash of green consumed her, and in her place stood a very generic-looking mare. “Good enough?”

“Good enough,” Warden said grimly, as he stepped towards Stunning Facet and Mint Green.

“Warden,” Stunning Facet said, waving a hoof lamely. “It’s… it’s all done.”

“Mommy is gone…” Mint Green murmured. “S-she’s ‘at peace’”

Warden pointedly looked away from the foal, biting his tongue so hard he tasted blood.

“C’mon, Minty, let’s get you some ice cream. What’s your favorite flavour?” Kuno said warmly.

Mint Green’s ears perked up, and his expression lifted the tiniest amount. “I-I like strawberry… Mommy used to always save it for me. She liked the plain flavour.”

Stunning Facet stared at the foal, and Warden could see that he, too, was biting down on some part of his mouth.

Only when the two of them were out of earshot, heading back down the path towards Ponyville, did Warden turn to Stunning Facet.

“So what;’s this about?” Stunning Facet asked hollowly. “You here to talk to me about Mint Green?”

Warden frowned and shook his head, and then forcefully turned the stallion towards the now-planted sapling and pulled him towards it. “Sit with me.”

Stunning Facet sighed softly, but did as told, sitting beside Warden, almost close enough to reach out and touch the tree.

“I still remember what it’s like,” Warden said calmly, staring at the tree. “Sitting in front of the apple tree where my wife is buried.”

“Kuno?” Stunning Facet asked, confused.

Warden shook his head. “Swarm. My first wife. Colthood sweetheart and all. She died, before I even met Kuno. Kuno rescued me from that.”

“I’m sorry for your loss,” Stunning Facet tried to say.

“I’m over it,” Warden said flippantly.

Stunning Facet gave him a long stare. “No… you’re not.”

Warden paused at that, and then let out a long, defeated sigh. “You’re absolutely right. But this isn’t about me. It’s just... Related. Relatable.”

“We are awful at this whole talking thing, aren’t we?” Stunning Facet said with a heavy sigh.

Warden chuckled and nodded. “The worst.”

“I get what you’re trying to do, Warden. I know you’re trying to help. Even that you went through the same thing. It… helps to know that you’re here.”

“You’re taking it a lot better than I am. I was a wreck,” Warden said with a faint smile.

Stunning Facet nodded sadly. “Gotta… gotta keep it together for Mint Green.”

“He’s not here right n-”

“-People don’t eat the apples from the trees, do they?” Stunning Facet cut across him, staring at the sapling. “I mean, I know it’s an earth-pony tradition and all. But would eating the apple from one of these trees constitute, like, cannibalism?”

Warden frowned at that, but allowed Stunning Facet to change the subject. “I… I don’t know? Would Green Hoof think it was nice? Would she view it as a special thing?”\

Stunning Facet let out a laugh at that and shook his head. “Celestia no! Can you imagine? I can just see her standing in the doorway while I’ve got the apple, and she’d cross her hooves and do that cute little scrunch thing with her mouth and say: ‘Are you actually going to… to…’ “ He paused, choking on his words, ears flattening and eyes glimmering with withheld tears. “She… she’d…”

Warden shook his head slightly and wrapped a hoof around the stallion’s shoulders, pulling him against his side and laying a wing over him warmly. “You don’t have to be strong, Facet. You have friends. We… I’m here for you.”

Stunning Facet stared at the sapling, and his bottom lip quivered, before he dissolved into wracking sobs. “I-I just can’t believe she’s gone…”

Warden allowed a few silent tears of his own to fall, and squeezed the stallion soothingly. “Me either.”

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