• Published 17th Oct 2016
  • 1,157 Views, 28 Comments

Old Fences - Purple Patch



Derpy Doo, now a mother, must struggle to come to terms with her past beside her friends and protectors in Ponyville

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2
 28
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Chapter 2

“Mailmare!”

It still sounded odd, a mailmare paying a visit to her house.

Derpy rose from the breakfast table, still sleepy from her restless night, tripped over several pieces of furniture and managed to open the door. A jasmine pegasus greeted her with a smile.

“Hi Raindrops” she yawned.

“Hey Derpy. You feeling okay?”

“Yeah...I think so...”

“Yeah? Okay, Derpy. But we’re all here for you if you ever need us”

“I know...you told me yesterday” The grey pegasus’s face dropped in unease.

“Well, we meant it. And besides, we’ll want to know how this little adventure ends” She handed her a letter. It was crisp, clean, immaculate and quite expensive, with a gold ribbon lining the envelope and the Canterlot crest emblazoned in the upper-right corner.

“That looks like a pretty important letter written by a pretty important pony”

“I...I guess...” Derpy examined the envelope and looked more closely at the seal. It was a pair of glasses, the lenses shaped like the letter ‘G’ facing each other on opposite sides.

The Glass Family seal.

“I’ll see you later, okay” Raindrops said, noticing her friend’s worry.

“Okay” Derpy mumbled as her hooves began shaking. The letter fell to the floor as did Derpy when she tried retrieving it.

“Here” Raindrops picked up the letter and hoofed it to Derpy with an awkward glance.

“Thanks” Derpy took the letter and held it in both hooves, unsure of what to do.

“Derpy” Raindrops called back to her before leaving “Don’t leave us out of this, okay?”

Derpy paused, staring at Raindrops, then the envelope, then Raindrops again.

“Okay...I won’t”

It hurt to lie.


The Doctor had been up early to get groceries around Ponyville and, if the town was lacking in an essential item, time and space. He had been saying about how he always went to a grove in Villengard, whatever or wherever that was, for bananas.

‘Bananas are good’ he had said.

And with Dinky sleeping safely in her crib, Derpy was largely alone. Her mind flooding with thoughts, she went to her room, sat on her bed and opened the letter.


Irregular Kaleidoscopa Glass

For your convenience I shall be brief.

Your uncle, the Lord Magistrate of Canterlot, is hosting a party at Invitro Hall this afternoon.

You shall be there, without fail. Matters of the family require your commitment.

A sky carriage will take you to Canterlot in precisely a quarter of an hour.

My coachponies have instructions to ensure you cooperate.

Bring nopony. Tell nopony. You will not avoid my attention.

Do not attempt to do so. You will not enjoy the consequences.

Sincerely.

Countess Magnifying Glass of Invitro Hall

P.S. This message will self-destruct two minutes after opening.


There was a flash and the letter disappeared in a puff of smoke leaving behind a few cinders that floated to the floor and turned to dust.

Derpy backed away from it with a jump and thought a moment.

Her aunt really did want to see her.

Nothing in the letter suggested she wanted to mend ties with her.

What was she supposed to do? She couldn’t leave Dinky alone. Not while the Doctor was out.

She pondered in the living room, ambling back and forth, struggling to collect her thoughts.

She thought.

And she thought.

And she thought.

Thinking had never been easy for her.

There was a hefty knock on the door that nearly made her fall over her hooves in shock.

Bumbling and crashing to the door, she opened it, groggily.

“Hello?” she asked.

Standing before here were two khaki stallions, dressed in grey coveralls with pieces of simple armour. Emblazoned across their chests were the Glass family crest.

“Irregular Glass?”

“...yeah...” The name felt degrading, bringing back so many bad memories.

“We are here to escort you to Invitro Hall, ma’am” The first stallion said, his voice calm and emotionless “Please come with us”

“I...I-I can’t right now. I just need to wait a few minutes”

“Ma’am, we were instructed specifically to bring you immediately to Invitro without delay”

“Can you please just wait a couple more minutes. I can’t leave Dinky on her own. I need to wait for...my flatmate”

“Ma’am. Please do not delay us” The second one meaningfully placed a hoof on a truncheon by his belt.

Derpy took a step back and comprehended the situation.

Inside her home were two ponies who weren’t afraid to hurt her.

“Just...please...” she pleaded “Just let me write a note. It’ll only take a few minutes”

“We don’t have a few minutes”

“Please!” Derpy grabbed a piece of paper and crayon she’d left on Dinky’s high-chair and scrawled a message.

I have to go out. I do not know when I will be back. Please look after Dinky.

Pinning it to the fridge with a bubble-letter-shaped magnet, she stood before the coachponies nervously.

“Miss Glass?” The first pony asked.

“Wait...please...just a moment”

As the two began to step forward, the hum of the blue box sounded from the spare room.

For a moment, Derpy imagined the Doctor rushing in and knocking down the two ponies intent on taking her away.

But then what would her aunt do?

“Okay...” she almost whispered “Let’s go...”


*


Invitro Hall had stopped being pretty for her a long time ago.

Without her grandfather, it had lost all its charm and cheer.

The gravel flew up like waves as the sky carriage landed and came to a halt.

The door was opened for her as Derpy placed a hoof onto the ground as a pony would place their hoof in a bath of hot water.

She looked up at the high walls of Invitro Hall and breathed in deep.

Derpy had arrived.

No, she wasn’t Derpy, not here. She needed to remember that.

Not Derpy. Irregular.

There was noise around the corner, chattering and calm music. She turned and the sight of the garden party greeted her misaligned eyes.

The ponies there were very different to her friends in Ponyville. Dressed like gaudy birds, preening and posturing incessantly, everything about them seemed so fake.

Pretending never came easily to Derpy. She had always been unmistakable.

It was a hot day, she only just realised. Odd for this time of year. Finding the prolific buffet, she noticed an ice cream stand. It was rather out of place in a noble garden party but then that rather suited her. A slim alabaster mare in an apron and cap smiled welcomingly with a hint of desperation on her face.

She made her way over, largely ignored by the crowd.

“Hi” She waved her hoof at the ice-cream mare. Looking closely at her, she noticed that she looked really quite pretty. Her primrose-pink mane was tied up in a ponytail behind her head to keep it out of the way and her mauve eyes were shadowed with violet makeup that was prominent but not excessive. Her smile, however, was the most enchanting thing about her. So natural and comforting, she looked startlingly like the Princess or somepony very much like her.

Nonetheless there was something about there that suggested she was somewhat nervous, down on her luck, perhaps even a little lost.

They had something in common.

“Hello” she began, her accent refined but definitely local “Would you care for some...frozen dairy puddings?” She struggled to find a more refined word for her craft.

“Yes please” Derpy gave an excited hop on her hooves “Could I have some er...” She browsed the wide variety of flavours “Ooh, blueberry, please...with a flake”

“Certainly” With a flash of magic that matched the colour of her mane, the scoops went to work serving Derpy a generously-sized sundae. The grey pegasus accepted it gratefully.

“Y’know, when I was little, I used to put an ice cream cone on my head and pretend I was an alicorn princess...” she chuckled before realising what she’d just said “I hope that doesn’t sound weird”

“Not at all, darling, all foals try it now and again, it’s practically a tradition” She gave a lilting laughter, so gentle and sonorous.

She couldn’t simply have been an ice-cream pony. There was far more to it. Even Derpy could realise that.

Still, it was rude to pry.


“Well...thanks for the ice-cream,” Derpy said, walking backwards awkwardly “I hope I get to see you aga-whoah!” There was a crash, a splash and she fell in a heap. She stumbled round and found the stallion she’d bumped into, sprawled on the ground with a jug of pink lemonade rolling on the grass beside him. His white shirt was now almost entirely pink.

“I say...” he declared, getting to his hooves “That’s one way to make an introduction”

“Oh my gosh...I...I...I’m so sorry! I’m so, so sorry, please don’t be mad at me” Derpy began whimpering as she realised at once this was somepony important from his attire. Attire she’d just ruined.

To her surprise, he showed no sign of being inconvenienced.

“Not to worry, young madam, I’m not hurt” He helped her to her hooves and there the two got a closer look at each other’s faces.

“Upon my word!” the stallion exclaimed “I do believe I remember you!”

There was no mistaking him. The monocle, the moustache, the accent.

“Mr...Fancy Pants?”

“Yes, yes, and you, madam...” his smile was apparent “You’re Derpy Doo, Can and Looking’s daughter. And, my goodness, the star of the Ponyville Rejuvenation Festival Open Theatre. How wonderful to see you again. I didn’t get a chance to talk to you after the play. Dreadfully sorry. I wished to commend you thoroughly for your tenacity, dear girl”

“No, no, it...its fine” She started stumbling over words, something she did when she was nervous “I’m so sorry about your clothes”

Fancy Pants glanced as if he were only just becoming aware.

“Oh, it’s no problem. I have plenty of whites back home and besides...” he gave a smile “I rather like a dash of colour to my apparel”

“Are you two alright?” The ice-cream pony appeared behind them, holding Derpy’s sundae in mid-air with her magic “I managed to catch this. You two aren’t hurt are...you...” Her eyes widened as the stallion looked up “Oh...I...I...listen...this isn’t what it looks like!”

“Fleur?” Fancy Pants adjusted his monocle “I...I don’t understand”

The slim mare broke down, stammering and struggling for words.

“Alright, alright, I lied! That night after the play...when you took me to dinner...I lied about my work” The mare known as Fleur hung her head and threw off her hat and apron dejectedly “I am a model but...don’t get any of the high-paying profiles...this is how I make ends meet...it’s a family business...None of the big brands want to hire me. It’s...my background”

“Your background?” Fancy Pants tilted his head “You told me your parents are Prench and Bitalian”

“They are. But I made it sound like they’re royals or something. In fact, I didn’t say anything at all” She sighed, wiping away a small number of tears “They’re ice-cream ponies from Ponyville, nothing more”

“Fleur” Fancy placed a hoof on hers and smiled “There is no ‘nothing more’ about it. If you’d told me, honestly, I wouldn’t have judged you”

“You...you wouldn’t?”

“Of course not. In fact, I’m astoundingly impressed by your resolve. I’ve known a lot of models...well, not a lot, exactly, but enough. But not one of them ever took a second job to get where they were. Too often there are those who simply got where they were using their family name or influence but not you" He paused and smiled in newfound admiration "Not you”

“I...” The two looked at each other in a completely new way. It wasn’t just attraction under deep levels of bashfulness. They had a newfound respect and rapport for one another. The beginnings of a beautiful friendship.


“Heh...” Derpy brushed her mane nervously “Sorry...should I...leave you two...”

“Oh, apologies old thing” Fancy chuckled “Fleur and I met after watching your play, you see”

“Er...you’re welcome” Derpy giggled.

“Thank you for bringing us together” Fleur said earnestly “How’s your foal?”

“Oh she’s...” Just thinking about her reminded her just how much she missed little Dinky. She hoped the Doctor would take care of her.

“She’s wonderful” It was all she could do not to cry. Already she felt like she'd separated from her for far too long “I’m happy you two made friends because of me and her” Sensing awkwardness, unusual for her on a normal day, she walked out of sight, taking her sundae with her.

Fancy and Fleur paused before turning back to each other.

“You know, Derpy was the only guest here who actually wanted something so...” Fleur picked up her hat and apron and threw them on the chair behind her stand “I suppose I can consider myself on a break”

“Splendid. I’d quite like to know a lot more about you, dear Fleur, if you’ll appease my curiosity” Fancy Pants chortled, browsing the expansive range of flavours on Fleur’s cart “But first, before we excuse ourselves, I would very much enjoy some of that ah...frozen dairy pudding as you described it. My favourite’s honeycomb if you have any. And some of those little caramels. Ooh and we mustn’t forget the wafers”

Fleur gave a giggle.

“Of course. Coming right up, sir”

Derpy watched, largely ignored from behind a statue, as Fleur carefully prepared a lavish sundae for her new admirer.

“Goodness, I’ll never be able to eat that much”

“Oh that’s fine. We can share it if you...Oh no!” She gasped, covering her mouth and most of her frightened face with her hooves.

“We need to run”

“Pardon?”

“Please, Fancy. We need to get away”

“Ah. Very well, there are some benches in the inner gardens. This way”


The two scampered off as Lord Nitpick, Countess Magnifying Glass and Sir Cumbersome marched out into the garden, scowls of indignation carved into their expressions. Derpy realised that they were following somepony. A bespectacled mare with a red neckerchief and a black mane tied up in a bun.

“Not so hasty if you please, Miss Inkwell, we are not finished with you yet!” Derpy’s uncle growled. She had rarely met her uncle but he wasn’t any more friendlier to her than her aunt was and his friends were worse. She remembered Sir Cumbersome from the contemptuous looks he gave her, as if the niece of his friend and benefactor was some sort of sub-equine mutant fit for discarding.

From the look of the mare called Inkwell, she didn’t fear the three nobleponies. In fact, in her expression of annoyance there was a glimmer of smugness.

“I don’t see what else we have to discuss, my lord” she said. A unicorn’s horn poked out of her mane and glowed red. With her magic, she poured herself a glass of cider and sipped from it nonchalantly.

“There must be a mistake with these reports! I was assured that my place in the polls was high and secure”

“Well, apparently not high and secure enough” Raven Inkwell shrugged “It would seem that the majority of Equestria’s citizens wish for Fancy Pants to assume another term in office”

“I shouldn’t have to remind you, Miss Inkwell...” Countess Magnifying spat “...that my husband’s campaign for Council Chairstallionship is backed by no less than nine of the most affluent noble stallions in Canterlot!”

“Well that’s impressive but I’m afraid that’s still only nine votes. Consider appealing to a broader community next time”

“Miss Inkwell, do not take that impertinent tone with us! There is foul play afoot, I’d bet my carriage on it!” Sir Cumbersome blustered “Why all of Equestria knows the Sixth Earl of Speck to be a noble and righteous pony of firm and time-honoured ideals!”

Lord Nitpick and Countess Magnifying nodded enthusiastically. Raven Inkwell, meanwhile, couldn’t have looked less convinced.

“They may have done. Once. Then, I seem to recall that incident at the Royal Theatre”

“Now...now listen...” Nitpick began stammering. Beside him, Sir Cumbersome shifted uncomfortably and the Countess glowered at them both with utter contempt “That...that incident was entirely falsified. I did not found myself in any demeaning or precarious situation”

“Well, that poor mare certainly did” There was definite anger and accusation in Raven Inkwell’s voice “Your status does not give you the right to act in such a way. And that isn’t an opinion, it’s a fundamental law”

“She’s nothing more than a liar and a parasite!” Sir Cumbersome barked “Ponyville mares are all the same!”

Raven Inkwell, a Ponyville mare herself, narrowed her eyes sternly.

“She came to the Town Council in strict confidence. She was in tears when she told us of what happened. What you called her. What you tried to do to her”

“She lies! I don’t even know the mare!” Nitpick screeched.

“Well, she said you very much desired to do so. Against her wishes”

“Nonsense!” He stamped his hoof “She is exaggerating to ludicrous proportions, taking advantage of the situation!”

“I thought you said there was no situation”

Nitpick blanched, as if he’d swallowed something that didn’t agree with him. The Countess cursed discreetly.

“Ah...well...” he stammered “That...exactly! It never happened! Never! At all! Ever!”

“So explain how she exaggerated something that never happened” Inkwell said “I’m waiting”

“I...well...now that you mention it...there may have been some...purely innocent, accidental even...”

“Just be quiet!” Countess Magnifying Glass barked. Nitpick and Cumbersome jumped back and cowered as the Glass family matriarch brandished her crop at the curt Ponyville secretary.

“Do not think of removing the Sixth Earl of Speck from the Chairstallionship Campaigns!” she hissed “We are far from finished! Good day” And with that she spun round and marched off, grabbing her feeble husband by the neckerchief as she did so, dragging him along.

Raven gave a cheeky grin to the discomfited Cumbersome.

“Enjoy the party, Mr Clout”


“M-m-m-my dear...my dear wife...” Nitpick stammered as he was hauled out of sight behind the buffet table “Y-y-you mustn’t let these...these awful rumours upset you, my...”

“Shut up and listen to me, you idiot!” She glared at her husband with cold, harsh eyes “And stop grovelling. I’m not upset, dear husband. Not at all” She gave her husband’s neckerchief too tight a straighten “I’m not upset, I’m just irritated. Very irritated. Now, as a rule, I really don’t care about what you choose to do in your own time. What I do care about, husband of mine, is your total lack of discretion!”

“I wasn’t to know she’d run off and tell the town council. I offered her a generous sum if she’d...”

“Just stop” The Countess snapped, holding up a hoof and closing her eyes in annoyance “We stand to gain a significant amount of power, and all the benefits that come with it, if we succeed in the Elections. That isn’t something that will happen if you can’t keep your damned hooves to yourself, you miserable, thick-skulled reprobate! From now on, I will be watching you closely and if I find out something like this has happened again, I shall...are you listening to me? For Tartarus’s sake, am I talking to myself?!”

“Irregular!” Lord Nitpick was looking to the side of him behind the corner of the buffet table and had noticed the young grey pegasus taking in the entire fiasco.

The Countess jerked her gaze toward her niece who stood frozen in fear to the spot.

“There you are” she sneered “Who’d have thought, you really can get here on time”

“O-of course...” Derpy mumbled, an air of pride blossoming in her voice “I’m always on time. I’m Ponyville’s best mailmare, everypony says so. Just ask-”

“Irregular!” Her aunt’s ferocious growl sapped the strength from her being as Magnifying Glass spoke through gritted teeth “You will not mention the name of that delinquent’s haven in my presence. Is that understood?”

Derpy quaked in her hooves.

“Yes” she said at a miniscule volume.

The Countess raised one eyebrow discerningly.

“Come with me” she commanded in an emotionless tone “We must talk in private”

Derpy slowly crawled over to her aunt who turned in the direction of the topiary gardens. Nitpick made to follow them but found his wife’s crop pointed inches from his face.

“Not you, Nitpick. You will stay here, out of trouble...” She looked over her shoulder and gave him a withering glance.

“I’ll deal with you later”

Nitpick gulped.


*


“Well, this looks like a very nice spot for a private talk”

Fancy Pants and Fleur De Lis sat down on an ornate redwood bench far into the gardens, overlooking an expansive vegetable garden.

“Old Stained Glass, the former Count of Invitro Hall, used to take me and my parents round here every time we visited. He loved his vegetables, did Stained. Won prizes at every fair. He and the wicked Sir Parsley of Hogweed Towers had a bitter rivalry. Stained always won and he never let us hear the end of it”

Fleur gave a giggle.

“Noble life sounds like so much fun”

Fancy Pants paused and looked down slightly.

“Well it certainly comes with its perks, Fleur, but it’s not all smiles and...”

“Ice-cream?” Fleur finished his sentence, gesturing to the sundae she’s supplied him with.

“Well, why not?” With a flash of gold magic, he took a generous spoonful and popped it in his mouth.

Mmm...exquisite” he said with mirth “You’re a master at your craft, dear Fleur. Have some for yourself if you don’t believe me”

Fleur did so, Fancy Pants offering another spoonful and levitated it into the mare’s mouth.

“Not a bad effort” she said modestly “My parents have always used very traditional methods but they like to experiment. When I was little I always volunteered to taste their new creations. Can you imagine they once made a bok-choy and celery flavour?”

“Goodness me!” Fancy Pants chuckled “How did it taste?”

Fleur tilted her head from side to side in a gesture of measurement.

“Refreshing on a hot day. My mother garnished it with sea salt and lemon juice. It’s an acquired taste”

“I’ll bet. Sorry we rather drifted off topic”

“You were saying noble life isn’t easy”

“It is not, Fleur. Take it from me” he grimaced “It’s not all bad, of course. But the bad is just...so noticeable”

“I understand” Fleur felt herself rub her front-foreleg in unease “I had an experience with the bad sort recently”

“Is that why you needed us to run?” Fancy Pants straightened his monocle and eyed Fleur with earnest.

“It is” she said, growing quieter and beginning to quiver.

Fancy Pants cleared his throat and prepared to proverbially sail into uncharted waters.

“Would you like to tell me about it?”

“I would...” Fleur took a deep breath “It was about a month ago. I was working at the Royal Theatre selling refreshments. I never got many customers. No-one really wants ice-cream and soft drinks at the theatre”

“Such stuffiness” Fancy Pants tutted “I’d jump at the chance most of the time” He paused “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt”

“It’s alright. Well, anyway, I was taking the trolley up to the VIP seats when I ran into...an old stallion. He was just looking at me, in the oddest way. Like I was a bargain on the shelf or something” She sniffed “I asked him if he wanted anything on the trolley. He said ‘nothing on the trolley’. So I turned around to leave and...and...” She began breathing out of sync and tears began to fall from the corners of her eyes.


“He tried something, didn't he” Fancy Pants held the hooves of his companion to comfort her.

“Yes” she whimpered “He...he put his hoof on...on my flank and told me to come with him for a...a ‘better view’...I pushed him away and told him I wasn’t interested but he locked the door with his magic and said he was worried about me...how my parents must be worried that I have no...no prospects...and told me I would became a wealthy mare if I...” she nearly choked “If I made him feel young for the day!”

It was all Fancy Pants could do not to seethe with rage at the notion.

“I see” he said flatly “And you saw him at the party just now?”

“Yes. He just came out with his wife and that ugly friend of his”

Fancy Pants look a deep inhale, doing his utmost to remain calm “And what did you do after that?”

“I used my magic to throw something at him, I think it might have been the coffee-powder...then I broke through the door...and ran...and ran...and ran...I hid at my apartment. After a few hours, once I was sure I hadn’t been followed...I went to the library and used a teleportation spell. I arrived at Ponyville and went straight to Lady Justice and the Mayor and told them what had happened. There was a scandal in Canterlot. I wanted to avoid tabloids so I stayed with my parents for a while. That was...when I met you at the Rejuvenation Play” That brought a smile to her face “Everypony said I shouldn’t go back to Canterlot after that. But...” She took a deep breath “I wasn’t going to give up. You see...I got into the School For Gifted Unicorns. The fees weren’t cheap...and after I chose to repeat my thirteenth grade, I promised my parents I’d find a way to pay them back...or just become financially independent, whichever they preferred. I tried becoming a model soon after I graduated but, like I said, the model business is pretty difficult. There’s...some high-powered competition out there that are very protective of their place in the spotlight. I won’t tell what they call me but it’s almost enough to put me off modelling. It’s just...” She paused and checked Fancy Pants who sat on the bench still alert and patient as ever.

She sighed. Fancy Pants offered the sundae. Fleur treated herself to three spoonfuls before continuing.

“It’s just that...I’ve always wanted to get myself out there. I’ve always dreamed of being special. I’ve always looked a little...different. Tall and skinny. It got me picked on for most of my life. Instead, I dreamed of being famous for that difference, I dreamed of being...loved. But when that stallion tried to...” She winced “It was the way he looked at me that I hated the most. It wasn’t cruel or sadistic like I always imagined ponies who do that sort of thing would look like. It was so nonchalant...he didn’t even acknowledge I was uncomfortable. Like he could do whatever he wanted. Like I would do whatever he wanted. I’ve never felt more humiliated...more...more worthless...”

She leaned her head backwards, her perfect face contorting with misery.

“Maybe I should just go back to Ponyville and stick to ice-cream making. Not many bits to be made but...at least things like that don’t happen. I always thought I’d love it here in Canterlot but now-”

“Fleur” Fancy Pant’s voice wasn’t as firm as he was trying to make it out to be. He seemed awkward, not nervous, but unsure of himself.

“I...” he began, clearing his throat “...am on...reasonably friendly terms with quite a prominent photographer in Canterlot. She’s very...demanding but when it comes to models she’s comparatively indiscriminate. If you like, I could take you to see her”

Fleur wiped away her tears and stared at Fancy Pants as one would at a guardian alicorn from on high.

“You...you’d do that?”

“Of course” Fancy declared, as if the question needed no answer “Fleur, you have struggled and slaved to get where you are now and even then you are held back by prejudice and hounded by degradation. I wish to put a stop to that. You, madam, are something I admire very much, a self-made pony, and I always try to help those I admire. It would be quite easy for me to arrange a meeting with my friend and well...” he smiled “Canterlot could use a supermodel with a brain...and a heart”

“Mister Fancy Pants...”

“Please...if you like, you can just call me Fancy”

“Er...Fancy” She corrected herself, staring deep into his eyes, looking through his trademark monocle “I don’t...I don’t think I’ve ever met a pony...quite like you...”

“Heh...” Fancy Pants gave a small chuckle “Likewise, Miss Fleur de Lis”

“Please, call me Fleur”

“Thank you” he nodded “I shall”

He paused and then watched, somewhat awkwardly, as the alabaster mare closed her eyes, as if in a trance, leaned over and began to nuzzle the side of his neck.

“Erm...” he mumbled “Fleur?”

Instantly, Fleur drew herself back, breathless and blushing like a beetroot, stumbling with her words.

“I’m so sorry, I...I’m really sorry. I-I-I didn’t know what came over me!”

‘I think I do’ He heard himself thinking before placing a hoof atop hers.

“It’s quite alright. I...” He thought about what exactly he could say. This was all happening rather quickly for him “You should know that I’m not as old as I look”

What reasons, precisely, he had for saying this he had no real clue but Fleur seemed glad he’d said it.

“That’s fine. I’m not as young as I look”

There was an uneasy pause.

“30” Fancy Pants said suddenly.

“26” Fleur said at the same time.

“Oh” they both said at once, mild surprise in their faces. Fancy tugged at his moustache and Fleur toyed with her mane, both unsure of just where exactly they stood. They each ate a spoonful of the sundae in the silence.

“To be perfectly honest, my dear” Fancy said at length “I’ve rather run out of things to say...”

“Well...” Fleur thought a moment “I’d quite like it if you said ‘Would you like to meet some friendly ponies around Canterlot?’ if that sounds alright”

“I think that’s a splendid idea” They rose from the bench “I was looking for an excuse to escape this wretched party”


*


Derpy, or rather Irregular, had walked with her aunt in silence until eventually coming to the topiary garden, largely secluded from the party and very quiet. Once they stood in the clearing, Countess Magnifying Glass spun round and addressed her niece, her cold, tight-lipped expression prevalent on her face.

“Irregular” she began “You should know that I am very disappointed in you” She sniffed “A great deal more so than usual”

“...sorry...”

“Don’t mumble. Your appearance alone is grating enough, Celestia forbid words come out of your mouth” she snapped “Where was I? Oh yes. Irregular, your imperfections notwithstanding, I retained some hope, which I see know was a foolish thing, that you would grow into an at least somewhat presentable young mare, eligible for marriage. There wouldn’t have been an extensive range of suitors but there was always the prospect of union with the noble Glass family to consider, which would sufficiently make up for the substandard means to that prospect on offer. And if that failed” she gave a small smirk “I know of ponies who’d be interested in the...novelty of such an abnormal pony as a wife”

She gave an infuriated sigh as Irregular stared at her hooves.

“Look at me, Irregular” she snapped. Her niece did so, with tears of humiliation in her eyes. The Countess ignored them completely.

“But now, even those sub-par aspirations are dead in the earth” She began shaking with fury “You got yourself pregnant, Irregular?! Without regard for how it would blemish the reputation of the illustrious Glass family?! You bore a foal with a stallion you didn’t know and birthed it in full view of an entire town?!”

“No...It...” Irregular whimpered “It wasn’t my fault. I got drunk!”

The Countess facehoofed.

“Clouds and earth, they allowed you drink?”

“I...I had the bits for it...”

“Irregular!” Magnifying Glass barked “You are a mentally and physically flawed mare! For proof, you only have to look in a mirror, if you can find your own reflection! Anypony with eyes knows it the instant they see yours!” She gestured her crop at to her niece’s eyes “You are not a normal pony and you never will be so stop acting like one!”

“B-but...but I...”

“Are you arguing with me?!” The crop flashed with carmine magic and rose meaningfully.

“N...n...no...” Irregular whined “It’s just that...look, what happened was, I was going out with my friends...at a party...I had enough bits from my job and...I wanted to...”

“Stop!” the Countess commanded, before talking slowly and sharply as if explaining to a foal “Irregular. That is not what ponies like you are supposed to do. Ponies like you do not have friends. They do not go out. They do not spend bits. They do not have jobs or houses or parties and, most crucially of all, they do not have foals!

Irregular cringed, quaking in her hooves.

“Then...” she managed to squeak “what do they...we...do?”

“The answer is obvious, Irregular. They hide. They keep out of sight and let the rest of the world forget them. For their own good. Irregular, you should never have left Invitro Hall” The Countess paced around her “And you certainly should never have had your foal. I told your fetid little town mayor as much. It was my firm wish to send you back to Glanders Gate”

The name of that horrible place nearly caused Irregular to fall into hysterics but she tried her best to remain still. She knew how cruel her aunt could be when she became hysterical.

“However, such an action would cause far too much of a scandal, and you’ve already caused enough of that already. So, for now, I am resolving to be generous. I am giving you back your position as scullery maid at Invitro Hall”

Irregular stared at her aunt, unsure of just how to feel.

On the one hoof, it would keep her friends and foal safe from anything the Countess could do. She wouldn’t have to worry about paying the bills or getting into trouble anything else she did on a regular basis.

On the other hoof, it didn’t take long for her to realise that abandoning the life she had was not something she wanted, no matter how difficult it got. Now more than ever, her life was complete. She had so many good friends, a job she was good at, a warm home, the Doctor and her precious foal.

“I...I’m not sure I want that” she mumbled.


Crack!


She fell to her knee with a cry, her left foreleg stinging like Tartarus from her aunt’s crop.

“That was not an offer, Irregular” The Countess said icily “It was an instruction”

“That hurt!” Irregular wailed.

“It’s the only way you seem to learn” Her aunt’s eyes were narrowed with contempt “I am finished with your nonsense. You will return to Invitro Hall and count yourself lucky. You have brought shame to the family and proper procedure would demand we banish you from society permanently but you have shown us that even that does not keep us safe from your vulgarity. You will live at Invitro Hall and never leave. The burden of your imbecility will be that of the family and none other. I believe that’s quite altruistic in itself. I’ll be disappointed if we aren't publically commended”

“But...” Tears ran down Irregular’s cheeks as she nursed her foreleg “But I love Ponyville!”

“Yes and I’m sure a serial killer loves their torture cellar. It doesn’t mean they should be allowed keep it”

“I’m not hurting anypony!” the grey pegasus wailed which prompted another strike with the crop upon her shoulder, causing her to shriek and curl up on the grass. Nopony at the party could hear her crying. Sometimes her aunt brought her to this spot for that very reason.

“You are damaging the reputation of the Glass family beyond repair” The unicorn mare snarled “That is not something that can continue”

“Wh...wha...what about...Dinky?”

The Countess’s eyes gleamed.

“The foal is your greatest mistake, and that’s saying something. You will dispose of it” she growled “I’ll do it you haven’t the stomach. And we will never speak of it again”


Irregular wanted to say something, anything to make herself feel stronger.

You’ll never make me leave my foal.

You’re a horrible pony.

The Doctor will make you sorry.

But she had never felt strong. Not around her aunt. Here she wasn’t the happy Ponyville mailmare everypony treasured, with dozens of irreplaceable friends who’d look out for her.

Here at Invitro Hall, she was Irregular Kaleidoscopa Glass. A shame and burden to the family, hated and ignored for reasons she would never understand.

“Please...I just...I just wanna go home...”

This is your home, Irregular, and I’m just as unhappy about that as you are” The Countess turned her back to her “But better that than let the whole world bear witness to the Glass family’s greatest dishonour. You will have a week from now to move into Invitro and no longer. Tell nopony. Your only duty to the family is to stay away from society and earn your keep”

Irregular slowly got to her hooves and slunk away, not daring to look back at her aunt, hoping that she was finished with her.

“One more thing, Irregular” The biting voice of the Countess cut through the silence “Just in case you try to be clever, which from you would practically be a contradiction in terms, the Glass family’s influence and connections run strong and wide. We know everything. How do you think I found out about your foal?”

She eyed her niece with those ice-blue eyes of hers. Irregular always felt herself grow colder every time she looked at her.

“If you tell anypony, just let a single word slip, about what we spoke of today, then you shall doom them. The Glass family will dedicate their lives to ensuring nopony knows of your disgrace. We are prepared to use any means necessary. Whether you go to the ponies you delude yourself into thinking you’re friends with or if you have the gall to go to Princess Celestia herself, it will do you no good” She paused “Already we have plans on keeping your insolent, fillyfooling Mayor quiet. We are capable of turning Ponyville into a dust bowl overnight. Take advantage of our generosity once more, Irregular and the pony you talk to will regret ever knowing you”


The khaki guard driving the carriage were as quiet and unfriendly as they had been before. This time, however, they stopped just outside of Ponyville and wouldn’t go further.

Derpy, the beloved Ponyville mailmare, took the hint and made the rest of the journey on hoof and wing. It was late evening, growing dark. Her mind was utter turbulence. She remembered her aunt’s words. Anypony she told would suffer. She thought of all of her friends and the danger she could be putting them in. She had never felt more guilt.

Why did she ever have a fo-

Before she could fully ask the question in her head, she banished to whatever dark corners of her mind it came from. She would never regret having Dinky. Not even if it cost her life. That she knew for certain.

Finding her door after what seemed like days without rest, she gave it a knock.

It was opened to the Doctor, cradling a snoozing Dinky in one hoof. Behind him the light of her home glowed invitingly as if opening out its hooves to give her a hug. Just like her mother.

“There’s my old girl” He said, the smile on his face as warm as his two hearts “You were gone awhile, I got worried. How’s things?”

Derpy looked at the Doctor, the fantastic old stallion that came into her life one day and made everything right.

What would she have done without him?

Venting all the days’ fears, anxieties and sorrows upon him, she fell, sobbing uncontrollably, into his shoulder.

“Derpy!” the Doctor cried, flabbergasted “Derpy, what’s wrong?! Come here” He used his free hoof to cradle Derpy’s head at his neck and rocked it slightly “What’s wrong, love? You can tell me...”

Derpy looked up at him, her mouth opening and closing. Nothing was coming out.

The misery she felt. It like she was being strangled. She couldn't speak. She could barely breath.

Ah-wah...” Both mare and stallion turned to see the tiny periwinkle foal reaching out to her mother, her face as full of concern as a week-old filly can show.

Seeing her precious child was enough to calm Derpy down significantly. Taking several deep breaths, she took Dinky in one hoof, the Doctor in the other and nuzzled them as if they were the two things she couldn’t bear life without.

Which, in truth, they were.

“What’s wrong, Derpy” The Doctor asked again in a milder tone.

Derpy looked into his light-blue, dull but so very alive eyes.

She thought of what he could do, what he did on a daily basis.

And all he’d done for her.

“I just really missed you” She sniffed.

“That’s all”

It hurt to lie.

Author's Note:

Thanks for reading.
I don't think I actually had any references in this one. Quite unique for me but then this was a pretty serious chapter. I didn't feel like being too humorous.
You thought that mention of Nitpick fondling Fleur in the theatre was just a passing gag, didn't you.
To quote Big Mac, 'Nope'
I realise this is kind of turning into a FancyFleur Fic. I would put their character tags on the story but I don't know how to exceed the five character margin.
In any case, I'm intending to take those two into a side-story later. Let me know if you're interested.
I realise that if Derpy told the Doctor or Celestia, this problem would be solved a lot quicker but believe me when I say that whether Magnifying Glass is bluffing or not, she certainly does have a lot of power and knows some very dangerous ponies. Derpy knows this all too well and soon other ponies are going to find out.
If someone actually tries making a bok-choy and celery ice-cream with sea salt and lemon juice, I can live and die content in the knowledge that I've made my mark on the world.
Bananas are good.
Thanks for reading everyone. Please leave comments at your leisure.