• Published 18th Jun 2018
  • 361 Views, 11 Comments

Faint Glimmer - SoloBrony



The final sidestory to The Queen and I. Are you sure you want to read this?

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It's not always easy.

I was relaxing in the living room, sipping on some cider and reading over the latest academy reports when I heard the door slam.

Wha-?!

I jumped out of my chair and wheeled around in time to see the familiar sight of a grey-coated, blue-maned filly.

Familiar aside from her lack of fangs and puffy, red eyes.

"Ver? What's wrong?"

Laverna froze stiff in surprise, eyes wide, and then waved a hoof at me frantically.

"Nothing, nothing! Just... uhh... aren't you supposed to be in Cloudsdale, Soarin?"

She wasn't expectin' me here, huh?

"Ver, talk to me."

Laverna shook her head and averted her eyes.

"Look, dude, I didn't know you'd be here today. I wasn't thinking. Don't worry about it, 'kay? It's no big deal."

I almost objected, but stopped myself. I chewed over my lip for a second.

Still getting the hang of where the lines are. I guess it's her business...

"... If that's what you want, sure. You wanna do anything to take your mind off it?"

Laverna looked at me for a moment, and sniffled. Then she shook her head.

"Nah, man... thanks, though. Like I said, don't let it bug you. I'm just being stupid, it's nothing. I'm gonna... just go clear my head."

I nodded and grinned at her, though it wasn't genuine.

"Alright, kiddo. Won't bug me if it doesn't bug you."

Laverna nodded and sauntered to her room.

Okay, don't worry about it.

I spent the next half-hour worrying about it intensely.

I was still staring at the reports and running possible disaster-scenarios through my mind when Laverna quietly strode back into the room.

"So, uh... Soarin? You wanna go, like... get some food?"

I looked up from the table at her, and found myself drawn to the lack of fangs again.

That struck me as weird when she first got back, but I figured there was a reason... she should have turned back by now.

Laverna shifted uncomfortably and I realized I was kinda staring.

"What? Something wrong?"

"Ver, where're your fangs? And... did you change your face and other stuff, too?"

It was hard to be sure, but it seemed like she was taller and more lithe than usual. Laverna cringed and blushed terribly, averting her eyes and shaking her head.

"So what? Dude, I went around transformed all the time in public before. It's no biggie."

"Yeah, before. If we're going to hit the town, I'd rather be seen with you, Ver."

Laverna squared off and frowned up at me indignantly.

"So, what, you get to dictate what I should look like, now?"

"Huh?"

Ah, ponyfeathers. This is gonna be complicated, isn't it?

Laverna snorted and rolled her eyes.

"I don't get to decide what to look like when we head out together. That's what you're sayin', right?"

"I just mean you shouldn't go out transformed. Twilight said it was important that you spend most of your time in the form you're most comfortable with, remember?"

Laverna grimaced.

"So what, man? Right now, I'm most comfortable looking like this, alright?"

I groaned and rubbed my forehead with a hoof.

I have no idea what the right way to handle this is.

After rubbing my head for a few moments, I stopped and looked at Laverna.

"Look... I have no idea what the right way to handle this is. I may have zoned out a few times during Twilight's lectures, but I know that's not how your transformations work... but if this is something you need, I mean, I dunno. I just don't want to see you hurting yourself."

Laverna shuffled and shrugged.

"Whatever. It's not your problem, don't worry about it."

Finally, something simple to respond to.

"Ver, if it's your problem, it's my problem."

Laverna groaned and rolled her eyes, staring at the ceiling. Her voice came out exasperated.

"What, 'cuz you're my guardian?"

"No. Because I'm your friend."

Laverna flinched a bit from that, and I stood up and strode over to the couch. I patted a seat next to me, and she reluctantly parked herself on it.

"Look... I get that it's your business, and all, but could you just tell me what's going on?"

Laverna shrugged, looking away.

"Nothing, I just feel more comfortable this way now."

"Comfortable for you, or comfortable for everypony else?"

Hey, that almost sounded profound.

Laverna fidgeted, and looked at the floor. She opened her mouth, then frowned and closed it. I was about to say something when she unexpectedly leaned in against me and pulled one of my wings over her.

"I'm not... actually a changeling, right? Twilight was wrong about that, wasn't she?"

I blinked at her in confusion, then cringed as I started to suspect what was going on.

Someone must have said something nasty to her about it.

"Ver... I'm sorry. We don't know who your parents are, or what they are, but it wouldn't matter if you were."

Smooth phrasing, me. Ugh.

I felt her shudder through my wing as her breath hitched.

"It matters to me. I'm not a monster."

Both of us were quiet for a few moments, and I felt how ragged her breathing was.

That's not just her being upset, is it? Does she have transformation fatigue...? Has she been transformed all day?

I cleared my throat and tried to speak carefully.

"Ver... I hope you know I'm here for you."

Laverna sniffled and chuckled.

"Uh-oh. That sounds like you're about to say something I won't like."

"Huh? No, I just... I dunno. Where do I even go with this? It's a lot to take in, y'know? I didn't know you felt that way."

"Well why wouldn't I?! Would you want to be a changeling?!"

"That's the thing, I just don't get why it's such a big deal."

I felt Laverna huffing, and I hurried to add something.

"Could you explain it to me? Please?"

Soooo bad at this...

"Dude... changelings invaded Canterlot, took two princesses hostage, tried to take over and suck everypony dry of their love... what in Tartarus is that all about? And with the exchange program, we've found out that there's all kinds of other messed-up stuff they've been doing for years. It's like their whole society just exists to make life suck for everypony else. How could you be okay being part of that?"

"Well, did you mean being a changeling physically, or being from their hive?"

Laverna blew a raspberry.

"Totally missing my point, dude."

I felt somewhat numb, and shook my head.

"I'm serious. When you asked if I'd want to be a changeling, I thought you meant physically. Isn't that what you meant?"

"I know what you're going to say, but—"

"Ver, do you want to be a monster?"

Laverna pushed away from my torso, though she was still wrapped in my wing, and looked at me indignantly. I noticed her eyes were glassy and wet.

"No, dude! That's basically what I'm saying!"

"Then you aren't one. End of story."

Laverna just squinted at me in confusion, and I looked away from her while pulling her in tight.

"Ver, monsters don't spend their time fretting about whether or not they're monsters. They just hurt ponies. The stuff you're talking about... it's messed up, yeah. And the fact that you know it's messed up, that you don't want any part of all of that... that means you aren't the type to do that stuff."

Ver sniffled and I felt her head nuzzle into my side.

"Hmph. That's easy for you to say."

I scrambled mentally to find a point of comparison. I came up blank until I remembered something that had bothered me in a similar way, once.

"Ver, you remember the lessons about Sombra, right? All the awful stuff he did?"

Laverna was quiet for a few moments, but then nodded. I sighed.

"When I heard about everything he'd done... I dunno. It changed how I thought about ponies. 'Wow', I thought. 'We're capable of some terrible stuff.' I kinda looked at everypony a little different for a while. But then I realized something."

There were a few moments of silence. I could tell Laverna was hesitant to encourage me to go on, but her curiosity finally got the better of her.

"What did you realize?"

"Back in the old days, before Equestria, a pegasus like me would probably have said, 'well, Sombra is a unicorn'. So we would have been suspicious of the unicorns, because Sombra showed how bad they could be. But that had nothing to do with us, because we're pegasi."

"What? That makes no sense, though! It's not like unicorns think differently from pegasi!"

I shrugged.

Got'er.

"Sure, but that was just how ponies divided things up back then. Now, we just think of ourselves as ponies, so my immediate reaction was to think about how Sombra's actions reflected on me... on all of us. But in the end, Sombra was just Sombra. He was his own thing – and we've seen our share of villains from all walks of life in Equestria. There's no reason to think changelings think differently either, so... yeah."

"Soarin, their entire society took part in the invasion. It's not like that was just an isolated thing, just one pony acting on their own. It's not the same! It kinda seems like they don't care. Or can't care."

"Well... you care. So if you're a changeling, then that's not the issue. That's why I said it doesn't matter; it's not like you're just going to change and start, I dunno, stealing love or whatever just because we find out more about you. Ver, you're you – nopony can take that from you, and nopony else can make you look bad. Nah, they all look bad when they have to be measured against you – think on that!"

Laverna giggled and jabbed me lightly in the ribs. The pain was worth the relief of hearing her laugh again.

"Okay, yeah, it does suck to be stacked against all this awesome."

We were quiet for a while then, just sitting together. I found myself thinking over the conversation and bucking myself over what seemed like stupid mistakes, wondering if I'd made her feel better or worse.

After a good five minutes of suspense, Laverna finally spoke up again.

"You've got a lot of faith in me, huh?"

I shrugged.

"I dunno if I'd call it faith. Just, I've seen how you act, and you've earned my trust. I dunno if that counts or not, heh."

Should've just said 'yes', idiot!

Laverna chuckled.

"Thanks, Soarin. I think... I'mma ask Twilight to stop teaching me about changeling stuff."

I chewed my lip for a bit, then nodded.

"She's been emphasizing that stuff for you?"

"Yeah, she thought it was important for me to 'connect with my likely heritage' or whatever. But I don't really 'connect' with any of that stuff. Actually it just disgusts me!"

That last bit had come out hot and angry. Laverna was breathing hard, and tried to steady herself. I chewed my lip.

"Sorry..."

"No, go ahead. It's okay to say what you feel. So... it disgusts you?"

"Well... yeah! All of the horrible stuff they've done, and the fact that they did it with a straight face, basically – like, there aren't records of rebellions or protests or anything, and the whole Ceremony of Names thing with the changelings having to pick a role and stick with it for life... it's all just so messed-up! The more I learn about it the more I want to back away and put as much space between that stuff and me as I can. I can't even think about it without my skin crawling. I don't know why, it just... it really rubs me the wrong way. I don't get how a whole society could be so messed-up all at once like that. And like you said, if they really aren't that different from ponies, is there some way that could happen here?"

I chewed my lip over a bit harder, and sighed, unsure of what to say or do.

"I've worried about the same kind of thing. You feel really strongly about this, huh?"

Laverna's voice came out watery, but hot with anger.

"Of course I do! Celestia and Twilight have been nothing but angels to me, the idea of someone screwing with them like that, it makes me want to strangle something! How am I supposed to 'relate' to this 'culture' when they tried to attack the only good ponies I've ever met? Maybe if I'd just kept my distance, if I wasn't getting tied up in this, I'd be like, 'okay, I don't understand you at all, but whatever'. But I guess Twilight telling me 'oh, these are your ponies, you should study them', well, I took a close and hard look, a lot more than I think I probably should have. And I'm just sick of it. All it's made me feel is sick. Revulsion and contempt – that's what I feel for the hive, some mix of those two."

I flinched slightly from the onslaught, partially because of how unsure I was of how to proceed.

"Whoa. It sounds like you've been bottling this stuff up for a while, huh? Why didn't you say something sooner?"

That got an entirely unexpected reaction. Laverna, so hot with anger a moment before, started shaking violently in my wing until she just started crying into me. I froze in alarm, unsure of what to do, and my mind uselessly zipped to half-remembered methods for calming crying foals.

So bad at this! So bad at this!

I settled for gently brushing her deep blue mane while trying not to panic. As her own violent sobs began to subside, I realized that I felt horrible. A crushing, draining sensation had snuck into my chest during our conversation – a reaction both to Laverna's suffering and my shared frustration with the whole situation. Eventually, Laverna's hoarse voice came out again.

"I figured as soon as I said anything, somepony would jump all over me telling me how wrong I am, or something. There's some stupid reason why I'm not allowed to be angry or put off. I'm sure I'll be told I need to go meet and talk to some changelings, or go study more, and I don't want to study more. I've read way too much as it is. I wish I could just unlearn all of this junk about changelings! I don't want Twilight to tell me I need to be like them. I'm not like them. I'm not a monster. I'm not a monster."

I pulled her close.

"I know, I know. You're not a monster, Ver. You're fine, okay? And I don't think Twilight or anypony else is going to tell you to be like that, okay? Nopony wants you to change. We love you the way you are."

I cradled her while speaking, and kept her close while she cried the rest of it out.