• Published 24th Jul 2012
  • 4,941 Views, 465 Comments

Symphony for Moon and Sun - GrassAndClouds2

Lyra must help Octavia play a piece of forbidden music. Both will be ruined if she fails.

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Opening themes

“Okay, so Octavia’s about to kill her own career?”

Lyra hadn’t wanted to eat, but Bonbon had absolutely refused to let her panic on an empty stomach, so Lyra had reluctantly wolfed down some pancakes. That done, the two mares had then moved to the living room. Bonbon had tried to get Lyra to sit down, but the green mare was too agitated and just kept pacing around. “I don’t know!” she said. “I mean, I don’t even know who sent me this invitation! For all I know, this is fake or a really sick joke! But if it’s true—“

Bonbon hesitated. “Lyra, dear, she betrayed you. She tried to trick you into working for the Court. I’m not sure you should--”

“I know, but still – she would never do this, something’s really wrong” Lyra began pacing faster. “I don’t understand any of this. There’s nothing in the world she likes more than performing, so she’d never throw away her career like this! Greengrass doesn’t have enough money in the world to make it worth it for her – Hay, Luna doesn’t either. Is it some kind of scam, or…”

Bonbon pulled Lyra into an embrace. “Alright. We’ll figure it out, okay? But not by panicking.”

Lyra took a few deep breaths. “…yes, of course. Right.”

“So – why would she do it?” mused Bonbon. “First option. Maybe she really thinks she can pull it off, and she wants to be the only mare that ever did it. I mean, she’s working for Greengrass. Maybe his ambition rubbed off on her.”

“She wouldn’t think she could do what everypony in nine hundred years couldn’t. She’s really good, but she’s not arrogant like that. Even if she did, she wouldn’t take the risk.”

“Then maybe she found the ending somehow,” suggested Bonbon. “Maybe what Luna doesn’t like is that the later performances don’t have the right final movement. If she has it, she might think she can play it without making Luna angry.”

“It’s been gone for nine hundred years, at least according to the legends,” said Lyra. “I doubt she has it.”

“Could Greengrass have gotten it for her?”

“I don’t know how he could have it either.”

Bonbon hesitated. “Well, maybe it really is just some dumb prank. Some jerk who wants to panic you.”

“That could be…” Lyra smiled, although it was rather wan. “I hope that’s all it is.”

“Why don’t we write the concert hall and see if she’s really playing?”

“But if it is a prank, they might even have scheduled a fake booking. It’s been known to happen,” said Lyra. “Maybe I should write Octavia herself and ask.”

“Okay,” said Bonbon. “We’ll—“

“Wait, no, that won't work. Trixie mentioned that Greengrass is probably watching her mail, since she’s one of his agents that’s also close to his enemies. He’ll interfere.” Lyra paused. “I guess I could go and ask her in person. I know where she lives, after all.”

“Lyra. There’s another possibility. That this whole thing is a trap to lure you to Canterlot,” said Bonbon. “Once you’re there, it will be a lot easier for Greengrass or any other noble to get you.”

“But what if it’s not? What if she’s in real trouble?”

Bonbon paused, and then snuggled close to her marefriend. “Lyra, please don’t do anything rash. Please. If you get hurt or something, I don’t know what I’ll do.”

Lyra hugged Bonbon. “I don’t have any intention of getting hurt. But… if you were in danger, I’d fight any monster to rescue you.”

Bonbon smiled a little. “You already did, remember?”

“It’s just who I am. I know Octavia hurt me, and I know that, if she’d succeeded, she might even have torn us apart. But she was my closest friend in Canterlot for years. She taught me so much of what I know. I wouldn’t be half as good as I am today without her. And if you’d met her then…” Lyra paused. “All she really wants to do is perform her music for others. When she was at the university, she was one of the most selfless mares I knew. She practiced endlessly because she felt it was her absolute duty to play the best possible music for her audiences. Any less would be disrespectful to the music itself, and to the ponies who wanted to listen to it. I can’t believe she’s changed so much that she doesn’t care about that anymore. Maybe Greengrass led her astray, but she can’t be totally corrupted. She’s worth rescuing if she needs it.”

“I hope you’re right.”

Lyra nodded. “I’m going to go to Canterlot.”

“Not without a plan,” said Bonbon, hastily.


“No. I am not letting you run off without a clue, especially if this might be a trap.” Bonbon shook her head. “… I won’t stop you from going, but we’re going to do this right. I will ask the theater and the papers if this concert is really happening. You’ll set up a place to stay, train tickets, everything. And you’ll write Octavia.”


“If you wander into some Court trap, that won’t help Octavia! It’ll just hurt you – and me too. If you get hurt, Lyra, I’ll… I’ll…” Bonbon looked away. “Like I said. I don’t know what I’ll do.”

Lyra hesitated, then hugged Bonbon as tightly as she could. “Alright,” she said. “We’ll plan it out. Octavia is strong, she can last two days without me. We’ll get everything set up, okay? Don’t worry.”

“Good.” Bonbon smiled. “Please be careful…”

“I will. And hey, hopefully, this is all some dumb joke and I’ll be back a few hours later. It’s just, if it’s not…”

“What will you do?”

“Octavia’s my friend, or at least, she was.” Lyra looked out the window, in the direction of Canterlot. “I’ll do whatever I have to do to save her.”

Octavia shut the door behind her agent, and then – permitting herself a rare moment of weakness – sank to the ground in a heap.

It is over, she thought. I lose. Nothing can save me now.

Her agent had just quit. He had informed her that she might be arrogant and foalish enough to risk everything in a lunatic scheme, but he wouldn’t be joining her. Yes, he’d been raking in buckets of bits from her – ever since she became the hot commodity at Court, the other ponies were outbidding each other in an effort to secure her services – but that didn’t matter, and she couldn’t even really blame him. It didn’t matter either that she hadn’t signed up for the concert and that it had just been announced in the papers and magazines as if by magic. All that counted was that she was playing a piece of music that could not be played, and anypony who was associated with the performance would suffer.

She had contacted the most talented of her colleagues and peers, thinking that, perhaps, they could help or advise her. They were all experts in their crafts, and many of them had to be familiar with the Symphony. If nothing else, they could point her to resources on the missing ending, maybe let her know of analyses of the piece that they’d seen in dusty old books. But the reputation of the piece was such that few of them had studied it, and none at all were willing to discuss it. “I wish I could,” said Trumpeteer, one of Canterlot’s young star brass players, “But you know the story behind that piece. Anypony that helps you play it is going to be in trouble.”

“…I recall you promising me a favor when I filled in for your ill cellist at Archduke Fisher’s banquet.”

“Yeah… and I meant it… but this isn’t just a favor. I’m not going to risk my career on this. Sorry, Octavia.”

She’d had a few recitals scheduled for the next two weeks, but they had all been quickly canceled by the organizers, her substantial cancellation fees paid without question. The Music Academy had informed her that, not only was her lecture being rescheduled (for a date ‘to be determined’), but that she was no longer welcome on the premises. And Greengrass, of course, was suddenly ‘unavailable’ when she tried to see him.

At this rate, Luna won’t even need to formally shun me. I am ruined anyway.

But that was all the whining she would allow herself. It was her own fault, she reminded herself, for getting involved with the Duke in the first place. She’d gladly taken the concerts he’d given her in payment for her treachery; she had no right to complain about suddenly having to pay for them. If she could never perform again, it was no more than she deserved, the punishment of a mare who had forgotten honesty and taken a shortcut to success.

She had, after all, had the option of trying to have a legitimate career. That was what other musicians did, at least the good ones. They practiced hard and built up their talents, they started small, played flawlessly, and grew famous by word of mouth. There were musicians, she knew, who had no patrons, who were desired by all the world due solely to their ability and not their ability to please some political master. Octavia could have been one of them. She’d chosen otherwise.

Besides, there is little point in struggling to alter something I cannot change. I can play, or I can cancel – or just not show up. But it’s all the same. To cancel on Luna Herself would be almost as bad as playing that song before her, and skipping out would be the worst option of the three. Octavia sighed. No matter what I do, I am finished. I cannot even take solace in a memorable final performance, because the papers and ponies will never praise anything Luna detests. They won’t admit they like it even to themselves. The performance will be lost like the others: no recordings, no reviews, nothing but deafening silence.

She didn’t know what she was going to do, so she decided to at least start practicing. That way, if she did decide to go through with the piece, she would be ready (as if it mattered). So she struggled to her hooves and, slowly, made her way to her cello. The practice room in the castle: that was her goal. That room was soundproofed, completely isolated from all the other ponies that were now expecting – some eagerly awaiting – her fall. She had to get away from all of them. Then she could play.

The walk to the castle itself was unusually quiet; ponies avoided her as if she was a condemned prisoner. No fans sought her autographs, and not one pony begged her to give her a moment of her time so that they could try to persuade her to play at one of their little soirees or dances. Even the guards seemed standoffish, like she had already offended their master somehow. Normally, Octavia wished that she didn’t have to deal with so many ponies bothering her as she made her way up to her tower; now, she found that she desperately wished one of them would at least say hello.

But then she was in the solitude of her tower, and she hesitated slightly before unpacking her cello. How many hours had she spent perfecting her mastery of this instrument? How many sleepless nights, bloodshot mornings, marathon sessions that lasted from before dawn until far past dusk? And not just lack of sleep – what other privations had she enforced upon herself? Rigorous exercise, strict diet, abstention from any unhealthy food – she had not tasted candy in years, and only drank chocolate or ate baked sweets to reward herself for a successful performance – and the sacrifice of anything approaching a social life, all for the pursuit of her music. And now that was to be taken from her. She could play, certainly, but never again for any kind of audience. Not for the ponies she wanted to reach, to delight, to move.

All that, and all for nothing. A musician with no audience is only a dreamer. I… I do not think I will wake up from this dream.

But she had no time to complain. She had a piece to master, and that wasn’t going to happen if she stood around feeling sorry for herself. That it couldn’t be mastered was immaterial; if she was going to play it (and she very well might), she was going to play it to the best of her ability. She didn’t have it in her to do anything else.

So she set up the score, picked up her cello, raised up her bow, and began to play the first notes of the Symphony for Moon and Sun.