• Published 8th Feb 2015
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I Prefer Show Tunes - Harmony Charmer



Sequel to "Hidden Voices". After Sweetie Belle wins the Talent Competition against Diamond Tiara, the two fillies face off once more to gain a part in the school play.

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Chapter 7: Something's Off

Sweetie Belle couldn't find Diamond Tiara after the show ended that night.

After their performance together, Diamond had been avoiding Sweetie, more so than she had been previously during the show. She constantly ducked away from Sweetie and even went so far as to hide behind some stage equipment to avoid being seen, although it was a futile attempt at best. That blonde wig made it difficult to go anywhere without being noticed.

The last time she saw Diamond was at the finale.

Luna had been freed. The Nightmare was gone from existence, save for within the memories of the princess and those who she affected. Sweetie had entered the stage, a weak smile on her face as she was surrounded by celebrating townsponies and laughing foals, all of whom were glad to see the Nightmare gone from existence. But, when the crowd was gone and Sweetie was left to her own, her smile was gone. The lights faded, enveloping her in darkness as the sound died down from around her.

"I can't say that I've been changed for the better..." she said, looking to the sky.

Another light came on, showing the form of Diamond. She wasn't wearing the purple robes that Platinum had been wearing throughout the play nor any of her other royal attire. Instead, she wore a simple white gown, a glow of ethereal light surrounding her.

"But, because I knew you..." Diamond crooned, her expression serene and peaceful.

Diamond looked forlorn and regretful, tears sparkling in her eyes as her voice echoed through the stage. Then, the chorus of school foals who had gotten the parts of bat ponies entered behind her. They all smiled at Sweetie Belle, almost as if they hadn't seen her for the longest time. The thought made Sweetie want to cry.

"I know I'm not the same," they all said together.

Sweetie looked on with remorse as the angelic looking ponies walked away, their light going with them. Diamond paused as the music played on, looking back at Sweetie Belle. Sweetie nodded, a sign for her to continue on. Diamond looked away and walked away without looking back.

Diamond didn't even show up for the curtain call.

* * *

The weekend came and went. Any celebrations that were for Sweetie Belle didn't leave any lasting impressions on her, or they were just simply too generic for her to care. She didn't feel like celebrating when she didn't feel like she was victorious over anything. If anything, she felt like she had lost.

"Hurry along, darling," Rarity told her. "You have to keep up a good trot if you wish to make it school on time."

School. The place where she would have to confront all the ponies who had seen her performance. The place where she would have to see Diamond Tiara, who she still was having trouble trying to read. The place where she would have to confront her friends on her terrible behavior.

Her friends. That was another thing she felt like she had lost. She had gotten so caught up in the show that she had forgotten to check on how they were doing. And it didn't even start there, either. Sweetie knew that she had been ignoring her friends before the play began. She knew that she had been selfish. Yet, she she also knew that maybe she could better achieve her talent away from her friends.

Princess Luna, she was so dumb.

Now here she was, standing in the schoolyard, feeling like a loser. Because that's what she was: a loser. A loser who couldn't even get over herself enough to care about how her friends were feeling. She had Button, of course, but she knew that having him wasn't the same as having Apple Bloom and Scootaloo.

She ditched her own best friends for the company of their worst enemy. No wonder they hated her.

They hadn't done well to hide it. She remembered hearing them talk about her before coming into the clubhouse, then walking in like nothing had happened. She remembered all those comments that Scootaloo would make whenever she said something about Diamond. She remembered how much it hurt when they ignored her on opening night just as she ignored them all those weeks.

She had been a bad friend.

"Here's your lunch, dear," Rarity told her, giving her a brown paper bag that has name written in rhinestones. When Sweetie frowned at the sight of it, Rarity sniffed. "I didn't like the brown paper bag look, so I spruced it up for you. Go along, dear. Go to your friends."

The friends that were mad at her for going overboard with the whole show. The friends that had avoided her for the few days of rehearsal and on opening night. The friends who didn't even bother showing up to walk with her. The friends that she learned had been so mad at her for leaving them to do things by herself when she should have been doing it with them.

"Hey, Sweetie Belle!"

The friends that were calling out her name in a beckoning man-- Wait, what?!

Sweetie looked up to see Scootaloo and Apple Bloom at the picnic table with Button, who was smiling at her in only the way her could. She smiled back, then rushed over enthusiastically.

"Hi, guys!" she exclaimed, excited. She blinked in surprise. "But, I thought..."

"We were mad?" Scootaloo guessed.

Apple Bloom nodded. "Well, kinda. Ah mean, we did get mad when we saw how you were acting with Diamond." She rubbed the back of her a bit awkwardly. "And Ah guess we were still kinda mad this mornin', too."

"But..." Scootaloo sighed. "It wasn't cool of us to get mad at you like that. I mean, sure, you were going a bit overboard, but you were just trying to do something you're good at."

"And we shouldn't have gotten mad at your for tryin' to get your talent," Apple Bloom concluded. "'Cause if there's anything you're good at, it's singin', Sweetie."

Sweetie blushed. "Well, thanks, but... I did go overboard. And I haven't been a good friend to you guys. I kept ditching you to go do stuff without you and that wasn't OK. I should have at least tried to include you."

"Yeah, we may not like it, but it's nice to be thought about," Scootaloo said. She winced when Apple Bloom elbowed her side. "Ow."

Sweetie smiled for a moment, then she frowned as a new thought came to her. "Hey, guys?"

"What's up?" Scootaloo asked, refraining from rubbing her aching side.

"Have you noticed that Diamond Tiara was acting... weird, on opening night?"

"Weird, how?" Apple Bloom question, furrowing her brows.

"Nice," Button clarified. "Diamond Tiara, the bane of our existence and the enemy that we have quarreled with us for the better part of this club's duration, was being nice."

Scootaloo and Apple Bloom's jaws dropped collectively, practically slamming against the picnic table.

Button nodded in affirmation. "I know. Total shocker."

Sweetie rolled her eyes. "Yeah, OK, we get it, Diamond is a jerk and her being nice is like Rarity deciding to jump in the mud and act like a hick."

"Only when she likes a guy?" Apple Bloom guessed, recalling the incident with Trenderhoof and finally managing to get over her own shock.

"Exactly." Sweetie put a hoof to her head. "But what I can't wrap my head around is why she was being nice... She even gave me a compliment."

"And she gives those out like gems," Scootaloo grumbled. "Geez, why did you get all the special treatment?"

Sweetie frowned. "I never asked for her to be nice to me! She just... She just saw that I was freaking out about my stage fright and she snapped me out of it."

"Wait a minute, Diamond Tiara, the pony who has been trying to sabotage you and try to prove that she's better than you, actually helped you so that way you wouldn't back out of the show?" Scootaloo threw her forelegs into the air. "What backwards, opposite world do we live in?!"

The bell for class rang, making the group jump collectively in surprise.

"We'll talk at lunch," Sweetie concluded.

The group walked in, Button at Sweetie's side, just as they were before the play started. She smiled at him and he returned it as they took their seats in class.

"Hello, class," Cheerilee greeted. She smiled as Sweetie walked past. "Wonderful job on your solo, Sweetie Belle!"

"Thanks," Sweetie replied, a bit embarrassed. She saw the looks her classmates gave her and she just about covered her head with her saddlebags. 'Now I'm gonna be getting stares all day...'

"Hey," Button said as she sat down beside him. "What's up?"

She sighed. "I don't like getting stared at... It makes me uncomfortable."

"I can jump on my desk and tap dance to take the attention away from you, if you want," Button suggested, although he didn't look 100% invested in the idea.

Sweetie giggled. "No, it's fine. I'll get used to it."

'I'm gonna have to, if I wanna sing in public again.'

"Alright, let's call roll!" Cheerilee called out. "Peachy Pie?"

"Present!" Peachy Pie replied.

"Snips?"

"Here," Snips squeaked out.

Sweetie Belle felt a bit of annoyance as she realized that Cheerilee was going to be calling Diamond's name, meaning that she'd have to hear the same suck up tone that Diamond always used to get her way.

'She may not be as nasty as I thought, but that girl is pretty manipulative,' Sweetie thought.

"Silver Spoon?" Cheerilee called out.

"Present and punctual!" Silver chirped, her tone too sweet for Sweetie's liking. She sat on the other side of Button that day, so she got to see him roll his eyes a bit when she did that. She tried not to giggle.

"Diamond Tiara?"

There was no answer.

"...Diamond?" Cheerilee looked up from her clipboard. "Diamond, are you here?"

Sweetie Belle looked around the room, as did everyone else. She looked at Button, who spared her a clueless look and a shrug that affirmed how much he knew about the matter.

"Hmm, that's strange..." Cheerilee observed aloud. "She's never absent..." She shrugged. "Perhaps she came down came down with something over the weekend. She did look a bit feverish onstage."

Sweetie looked back at Button once more, who had turned his attention to Silver beside him. She looked perturbed and perhaps a bit shaken, even.

'She doesn't know what's going on, either,' Sweetie realized. 'If she doesn't know what's going on, then who else would?'

Something was wrong. Very, very wrong.

* * *

"Oh, heck no!" Scootaloo exclaimed. "I'm not doing it!"

Sweetie Belle was thankful that class was over with for the time being. She didn't have to feign interest or deal with the stares that her classmates kept giving her. They all seemed to think that she was the reason for Diamond's absence and whenever Cheerilee wasn't looking, they'd all sneak a suspicious glance her way.

"Well, Ah knew Ah ain't doin' it," Apple Bloom commented.

"And I know I'm not gonna do it, either," Button added on. He looked to Sweetie. "Sorry, Sweets. Looks like it's up to you."

Sweetie sighed. "You know, this is one of the few things I didn't miss when we weren't hanging out."

Scootaloo shrugged. "Hey, we didn't start the fire."

Button spared her a look, but he relented upon looking at Sweetie. "You know, I could go with you, if you want."

Sweetie smiled. "Thanks. In fact, how about all of you come with me."

Scootaloo frowned. "I said I wasn't gonna do it!"

"And you're not. You're moral support. Now, come on, let's go."

Apple Bloom and Scootaloo grumbled a bit as Sweetie began to trot. Button was at her side, so she wasn't as apprehensive as she could be. She was about to do something very dangerous and very stupid, which is something she's amazingly not gotten used to in her time as a Cutie Mark Crusader. Dangerous and stupid were parts of her everyday life.

"We don't have to do this," Button reminded her. "We could do this alone if we wanted."

Sweetie shook her head. "She's a part of this, too, Button. If we leave her out, we'll be acting insensitive."

Scootaloo sighed. "And just why do we care about being insensitive to her? She's been just as nasty and mean as Diamond has been!"

"Hush up, she's right there!" Apple Bloom hissed, elbowing Scootaloo in the side.

Scootaloo rubbed her side silently as the group approached the picnic table, where only one pony sat. There was a large spread of food on the table, but the filly sitting there wasn't eating any of it. She looked up from her meal and frowned upon seeing the group before her.

"What do you three want?" Silver Spoon said with a sneer.

Button cleared his throat. "I think you mean four."

Silver rolled her eyes. "Like I care."

Sweetie climbed onto the seat so she could be on Silver's level. "We just wanted to talk."

"She wants to talk," Scootaloo emphasized. "I'm here for moral support."

Sweetie spared her a harsh look, but she returned her attention back to Silver. "Look, I get that you don't like me—"

"I don't," Silver clarified.

Sweetie sighed. "—but I know that you care about Diamond, and that you're wondering why she isn't here just like us."

"I'm not," Scootaloo said. "Ow! What was that for?"

"You're an idiot," Apple Bloom said simply.

Silver sniffed. "Please. Why on earth would you want to know where she is? I thought you hated us."

"Well, I don't hate you," Sweetie explained. "I just don't like all of the stuff you've done to us. And how you act. And how you think you're better than everypony."

"And how much richer I am than you?" Silver added, rolling her eyes.

Sweetie sighed once more. "Not really, until you bring it up."

Silver flipped her mane. "Listen, even if I did know why Diamond isn't here—"

"So you admit that you don't know?" Scootaloo blurted out. "Ow! Seriously, stop that!"

"I'll stop when you stop!" Apple Bloom shouted.

"Guys!" Button interjected, jumping between them. "Can we please focus?"

"I think I've heard enough," Silver said snidely. "Why don't you do me a big favor and leave, before I call Miss Cheerilee over?"

Sweetie glared at her. "Listen up, Silver Spoon. I know you hate me and I know you hate my friends because of our club, but I know you don't hate Diamond Tiara. She's your friend, and for some reason, you like being her friend. Now, I know we've had our differences—"

"Those differences being that you've been mean to us for no real reason," Apple Bloom commented. "Ow!"

Scootaloo smirked. "See? Not so fun, is it?"

Sweetie Belle sighed. "But, I also know that somethings' wrong. Diamond was acting weird on opening night and now she doesn't show up to class? That's a major red flag and you know it."

Silver glared at her. "What's your point?"

"My point is that Diamond isn't my friend and I'm worried about her." Sweetie furrowed her brows. "What I can't figure out is why you aren't."

Silver blinked in shock. "What?" She leaned towards Sweetie in hostility. "What are you implying?"

"She's not implying anything," Button said with a roll of his eyes. "She's saying it as clear as day! You're Diamond's best and only friend!" He threw his forelegs into the air. "So why in the wide world of Equestria aren't you up and arms about her not being here?"

Silver didn't say anything for a moment, shock consuming her features. Then, she looked away. "I went to her house over the weekend."

Sweetie blinked. "She's been at home this whole time?"

Silver nodded. "Yeah... But, she wouldn't let me see her. Her butler told me he wasn't permitted to let anyone see her by her and her daddy's command. I don't really blame her, either."

"She intentionally stayed home?" Apple Bloom breathed. "AJ and Big Mac never let me do that!"

"But, why would she stay home?" Scootaloo questioned, her brows knitting together in confusion. "What could have been so bad that she didn't want to face anypony?"

Sweetie's breath hitched. "Sweet mother of Luna and Celestia."

"What is it?" Button fretted.

"Opening night." Sweetie shook her head. "When we were singing 'Not The Same', I... I started crying onstage because... Luna and Platinum got so caught up in their mistakes that they forgot about how they used to be friends with each other."

Silver sighed. "Oh, great, more play talk. Just what I needed to hear."

Sweetie frowned at her. "And Diamond cried, too."

Silver blinked. "Diamond cried? But, she never cries!"

"Exactly." Sweetie looked at Silver. "And the reason I started crying is because... Luna never got the chance to make up with Platinum."

"But, they sang together on stage together?" Scootaloo observed.

"That was symbolic. They were singing together from different times and the reason Platinum disappeared was because she was never there to begin with. She had been dead for centuries."

"That's a lovely thought," Apple Bloom muttered. "Tell me about that movie where the dog dies while you're at it."

"Oh, you mean Old—" Button started to say.

"La, la, la, la, la, la, Ah ain't listenin'!" Apple Bloom wailed.

"What does this have to do with Diamond?" Silver grilled.

Sweetie was about to answer, but, like before, she was cut off by the bell. She sighed a bit. "I'll tell you when we get to her house."

Silver blinked. "I'm sorry, what?"

"Yeah, what?" Button repeated.

Sweetie put on a determined face. "You heard what I said. As soon as school lets out, we're heading to Diamond's house. And we're not leaving until we see her."

Author's Note:

Updaaaaaaaaaaaate! Don't you fret none, my dear readers, for I have the next chapter prewritten and all I have to do is get to work on it! Just be patient, we should only have one more chapter and the epilogue to go!