• Published 27th Feb 2018
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Collaboration - FerociousCreation



Backdrop is well-known throughout Canterlot for his skill in painting. When he is requested by Princess Luna to paint for her, he was presented with a much bigger project than what he was prepared for.

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Origin

Why am I so scared to see her? I asked myself again. Of course, I knew the answer, but my brain continued to regurgitate the same question. Luna stood beside me as we stood on the train platform. Vega chose to stand beside me personally while Nova flanked Luna.

Ponies exited the train, several of them charging into loved ones, families, friends, and the sort. “Are you expecting Pillar to try and run you down?” Luna asked with a smirk.

“I hope not…” I said.

Luna rubbed my shoulder, “The talk will happen. But let’s enjoy the moment. The pony you love approaches.”

The crowd around a particular white mare avoided her as she lugged a cart with heavy-looking luggage. Pillar’s signature red bun bobbed about when she managed to get the wheels rolling. “Go help her, you two,” Luna ordered. Vega and Nova went to my beloved. Pillar shrank when they approached. But when Vega gestured a hoof to me, Pillar’s smile pulled me forward.

“Backdrop!” she cried.

I didn’t say her name, but I scooped her up and flew a few feet off the ground. We spun around a few times, the moment relieving and joyful. Finally, White Pillar and I were reunited.

I touched down and released Pillar. “How was your trip?” I asked.

“The experience? Fantastic! The train ride? A trip through Tartarus.” Vega giggled while her sister tried to fight off a smile. However, Pillar’s joke only made me kiss her on the lips.

“And how much did you miss me?”

“How much?” Pillar mimicked. A grin that almost scared me sprouted onto the earth pony’s face. “You’ll find out later.”

I hope so…

Princess Luna approached White Pillar with a genuine smile. “You must be White Pillar. Backdrop here has said a lot about you.” At once, Pillar bowed, her bun almost coming undone. “There is no need to be formal with me. Friends of mine don’t need to curtsy every time we meet.”

“Really?” Pillar’s eyes widened. “I…” She looked at me and beamed. “It’s good to be home. So much has happened while I was away, and I can’t wait to tell you in full detail.”

“And I am sure Backdrop and I will do the same for you,” Luna said. She looked so calm and formal, while I felt the muscles in my face twitch. Her Canterlot behaviors were in full effect. “But first, let’s take your cases home. And as the first order of business, Backdrop will show you what he painted in my own estate.”

“We are going straight to the castle?” Pillar giggled with glee. “I feel like a V.I.P!”

“You are always one to me,” I added.

“Can you not embarrass me right now? That’s for another time.”

I hope there will be another time…

***

Pillar and I walked hoof in hoof as we walked through Canterlot Castle with Princess Luna and the twin guards. Luna and I allowed my dearest to describe her work to us in full detail because I was curious about Pillar’s experiences. A pony could only describe so much in a letter.

“And I said, ‘How many bats?’ The count than said, ‘Two dozen!”

“By my sister!” Luna exclaimed. “I can understand why your work delayed your return.”

Pillar smiled, “But over the time I spent crafting bats, I fell in love with the little things.” She bumped her rump into me. “If you want to get me something nice, consider bats.”

“I’ll consider, but I might think of something better,” I said. Pillar was a strange one, her favorite animal always jumping from one to the next. The previous animal Pillar loved was crocodiles. And she once got very upset when I got an alligator confused with a crocodile. At least bats were much smaller than the reptile of the river.

Luna’s door came into view, and my heart began to pound in my ears. The time had come to discuss my treacherous ways to Pillar.

“Are we going to see your completed project?” my love beamed. “Hehe, I can’t wait!”

Luna caught my frown and nodded at me. She was prepared, and so was I. The door to the princess’ room opened to reveal two features: the painting on the ceiling and Starswirl the Bearded.

“Princess Luna,” Starswirl spoke without looking away from his book, “I have come as you have requested. You said there was something troubling you?”

“Indeed,” Luna answered.

White Pillar didn’t hear their conversation and began admiring my creation. “You did this in two weeks? It looks wonderful! I feel like I am looking at an old book with ancient text.”

“That was the intended effect,” I said. I heard the door close behind me. I saw both Vega and Nova stand at the exit with strong gazes. But they both knew they would be used in the discussion that was to come, and their expressions would easily warp.

Starswirl looked at White Pillar. “And… who is this guest?”

“She is White Pillar,” Luna said. “She will be involved in our discussion.”

Pillar stopped looking at the constellation. “Discussion? I didn’t know we were going to have a discussion.” When Pillar noticed Starswirl, her smile almost touched her eyes. “You’re Starswirl? Wow! Your beard is as long as they say!” I laughed at how oblivious Pillar was behaving. Then again, art is in her blood and at her flank. Her priorities were a little odd.

Starswirl’s book closed with a hard whump. “Princess Luna, you told me you were having trouble with your studies about alchemy. But instead, you bring the artist and another guest instead.” He rubbed his beard, “I don’t have any issue with Backdrop as I know how good of a friend he is to you, Luna. And he has done a good job with making me look very handsome in the constellation. But I need to know what is going on here?”

Pillar walked up beside me, “What is going on here? You didn’t tell me about Starswirl being here.”

The moment had come. After days of preparation, I readied for the moment. Luna and I looked at one another and nodded. Time to begin.

“White Pillar,” I started, “there is something that needs to be addressed to you. And to Starswirl.”

“Oh?” Starswirl hummed. “And what might you have for us?”

The room grew quiet. A pulse in my ear was the only thing reminding me I hadn’t gone suddenly deaf. “As you both know, I had painted the consolation above. And during my endeavors, Luna and I have- spent a lot of time together.”

“As expected,” Starswirl said.

I attempted to continue, but my mind refused to force the words out. Thankfully, Luna was there to fall in and aid me. She faced White Pillar and smiled, “Your fiance has been a wonderful friend, helping me through my difficult studies by providing great moral support.”

“Why else do you think I love him?” Pillar beamed. “He excels at being sweet.” I didn’t deserve the compliment, but it made my heart flutter.

“But that was the issue…” Luna continued. “He was just- too kind and gentle.” The wooden chair Starswirl sat on squeaked as he straightened himself. “And… and…” The pressure was too great for the princess, and Luna started to lament. “I’m sorry! I’m so sorry, Pillar!”

Pillar appeared like she was ready to panic. “Wh- Why are you sorry? You did nothing wrong.” She snapped her head at me, “I don’t understand.” Pillar asked Starswirl, “Do you know why she’s sorry? Because I don’t.”

“This is all new to me,” Starswirl said. His gray brows creased, “Backdrop, explain why Luna is crying. You both know something that nopony else does.”

I pointed a hoof at the guards, “They know exactly what happened.”

“Well! Speak up about ‘what happened!’ Just- explain why my student is weeping!”

I swallowed a lump in my throat. I didn’t want to look at Pillar, but she needed to hear the truth directly from me. My ears drooped, and I saw Pillar’s eyes shift before falling back onto me. “I should be the one who’s sorry, Pillar. And you are in every way right to be furious.”

“What could you possibly have done for me to be angry with you? I can’t think of anything that-”

“Pillar,” Luna interjected, “I am the one you should hate.”

My love took a few steps backward. “What’s going on? I’m so confused!”

I was not going to allow Princess Luna throw herself into the fire without me laying on the coals first. “I… I slept with… with…” I rose a shaky and guilty hoof, “...her.”

A gasp as quiet as a mouse echoed throughout the room. “Wh-what?” Pillar squeaked. A pair of old eyes singed my forehead; Starswirl was not in the slightest amused. I didn’t dare look away from Pillar. I needed to look at the pain I created.

“I will admit,” Starswirl growled, “I am not happy to know that you managed to use your closeness with the princess so you could get in bed with her.”

“There’s more to it than that,” Luna sniffed.

“And that is exactly what I was going to segue into! Why does this… pony’s issue involve me? And more importantly, why were you sleeping with him?”

“Just let him speak, first! We are both at fault. But Backdrop needs to confess with his own words.”

Starswirl snorted, “Fine. But don’t expect me to give him any positive gazes anytime soon.”

The tears on White Pillar’s cheeks gushed too fast for me to count the tears. Yet, I still tried to. “Why…?” she whispered.

“Because…” Just tell her the truth. Hold nothing back. “...I was tempted.” Pillar made for the door, and I did nothing to step in her way. But I did continue speaking, “And I missed you!”

“Missed me?” Pillar turned around and approached with heavy steps. “If you missed me you would have waited patiently as I have done for you! But instead you chose-” She looked at Princess Luna and frowned. “...you chose to sleep with a mare much prettier than me who is also a princess…”

Luna clenched her teeth. “I was the one who tempted him, Pillar. I… I was the one who used his loneliness to my advantage. The evening prior to when we had sex, Backdrop and I-”

“You both had sex?!” Starswirl roared. Pillar scowled at me with disgust, and it wasn’t because of my terrible meal preparation. “How-” He directed his anger toward the princess. “I am very disappointed in you!”

“I don’t blame you,” Luna said. I wanted to see how the guards were reacting to the princess being scolded, but there was only one mare who needed my attention.

Pillar tried to size me up, but her small body didn’t match my height. I did shrink a little because of her justified anger. “How could you do this to me? I thought you were loyal!”

“And I-” My tongue refused to defend me. My brain halted any possible arguments I could come up with. But my heart still wanted to hold onto White Pillar. In what might be the last attempt, I mustered up the will to speak. “I thought I was loyal, too… But instead, I chose to poison what we had built over the last three years. There is nothing I can say or do to force you to convince you to stay with me any longer. However…” I knelt down to show my humility and allowed myself to let my own tears loose. “...all I can say is that I am sorry. I wanted to tell you my terrible act right away because of two reasons. One, you don’t deserve letters on paper. You deserve my words from my mouth as they always have been. And two, because you deserve the truth. It has nothing to do with the chance that… Luna might possibly be pregnant because we had sex.”

Starswirl jumped off his chair. “I’ve heard enough-!”

“Quiet, wizard!” Vega barked. “Let him speak!”

“You dare tell me to be silent?!”

Nova stepped in front of her Vega. “Sister, please! Don’t lose your temper!”

Luna intercepted Starswirl’s path toward the guard. “Starswirl, ignore her.” She scowled at the heated mare. “Vega, hold your tongue!” Vega stepped back but continued to scowl at Starswirl. For somepony who said very little, Vega was being very wordy. And defensive. However, I commended her for stopping the wizard. I wanted to make sure White Pillar heard everything I needed to say.

All eyes eventually returned to me, so I resumed, “Pillar, I deeply love you. My actions do not reflect that notion, but I mean it. And you have every right to leave me. The ring I gave you on that very night I proposed to you is still yours. Don’t attempt to give it back; I’ll refuse it. Go sell it and buy yourself something beautiful. Or throw it in the river. Also…” I fanned out my wings and removed my own wedding ring from my ring feather.

“You should take this back as well if you choose to leave me. Give it to somepony who isn’t untrustworthy. But understand that I don’t want you to go. I want to love you until the day you grow your own wings and we fly off to the heavens. Just say the words and abandon me. I deserve nothing from you.”

Pillar’s glare began to dissolve into a more gentle stare, but that didn’t ease the pain. Her eyes looked at the ring in my hoof, and then back to me. And like she had done for me so many times before, I waited. I waited patiently to hear her speak again.

But instead of addressing me, Pillar asked the wizard, “Starswirl, what should I do? You must know the best solution to this.”

Starswirl snorted, “I think Backdrop said it best with his own words: ‘throw it in the river.’ Let him sink. Let him drown in his own miserable emotions. He deserves nothing from a mare such as yourself.” He looked at Luna. “And you!” The princess flinched at his scolding. “I am deeply upset that you would sink so low and get a stallion who was with another mare to sleep with you. Does your sister know of this?”

“No… I am afraid of her looking at me in such a terrible light. Only the ponies in this room know of my deceptive crime.” Luna licked her lips. “I was going to ask you the same question as White Pillar said. What do I do?”

Starswirl expressed his discomfort with a groan. “As much as I hate to say this, and as much as he doesn’t deserve anypony to love, an arranged marriage must be set in place.”

The suggestion, alongside the insult, made me twitch. Pillar looked at me as if I knew the answer to his advice. “What do you mean, Starswirl?” Pillar asked.

“If Princess Luna is to conceive a child, then she and Backdrop need to wed.”

“Why such a major action?” Luna asked. “Besides, I don’t deserve what I tainted.”

“I don’t care if you how you feel about that treacherous stallion! But I do care about how the world views my student! If you two are bound by marriage, then nopony will assume the worst and consider you to be some brothel house whore.”

Luna gasped and stepped away from Starswirl. Even I was taken aback by the harsh word. And Vega was not silent. “How dare you insult the princess with such vile words, you jackass!” Nova did nothing to stop her sister from walking over to him, nor did Luna tell Vega to keep silent. What surprised me even more was the look on Starswirl’s face. Regret.

“Do you understand the degree of what you just said, wizard? You just called a mare a whore! And not just any mare, but the Regal Sister, Princess Luna! If I were you, I would exclude yourself from speaking another word. I don’t care how powerful you are. One word from the princess and I will toss you from the balcony!”

Instead of arguing back, Starswirl kept quiet. And Luna was next in line to speak. “Now you listen to me, Starswirl.” Her eyes bore the most intimidating glare any mare could wield. “You can forget your proposition after insulting me. And to be honest, I don’t deserve love. I’ll embrace the title of being a whore if I have to.” Luna looked up at the wizard with furious tears. “Am I a whore?”

No response.

“AM I a WHORE!?” Luna choked.

No response.

“Get out of my room if you won’t answer me! Backdrop here is braver to speak his mind because he is willing to admit he was wrong!”

No response.

LEAVE!”

In a flash of light, Starswirl had fled. Princess Luna’s rage seeped into my bones, and I saw the true might she possessed. After a few deep breaths, Luna ordered Vega back to her post. A much more composed, yet still saddened princess returned to Pillar and I. “Shall we continue our talk?”

“I think so,” Pillar answered. Her lovely blue eyes stained by streaks of red fell back to me. “You want to know what I think about this entire situation?”

“Yes,” I answered, in fear that she would scold me as Luna did to Starswirl.

“Ashamed. I am ashamed of you both. And no offense, Princess Luna, but I am just slightly more disappointed in you. You must know by now how much Backdrop talks about me.”

“Yes.”

“Then why did you take advantage of him? I did nothing to you.” Pillar directed her attention to me. “And you. Do you know what it feels like to know you slept with another mare?”

“Heartbroken.”

“And do you know why? It’s because I don’t feel pretty or worth enough. You chose to have sex with another mare who is a princess instead of waiting for our wedding night. That hurts the pride in me to know what you two have done.” Pillar lost eye contact with me and continued to stare at the ring I continued to hold.

“But… call me a fool because I am a fool who is still in love…” A cold, relieving wash of cold water splashed onto my spine when a smile I thought was lost forever found its way onto Pillar’s lips. “When I think back to how you greeted me at the train station, I could just tell that you missed me. And even knowing that this talk would come to pass, Princess Luna herself led me into her home as her guest. You both expressed humility alongside each other, and I commend you both for that.

“I also do not want to let go of our three years together. We’ve had such great times. And I don’t want to abandon that.” Pillar shook her head, “Many will call me a fool. But a fool chooses to believe in what they want. I believe you, Backdrop. And I forgive you.”

My knees gave in, and I collapsed to the ground. The wedding ring bounced away, but I knew I could find it another time. I was happy, yet so ashamed of myself. Pillar chose to choose me after the horrible act I had committed.

A red bun pressed against my clogged nostrils. The smell of the love of my life was sweet and invigorating. But despite her words, part of me doubted them. Ironic how she most likely chose to continue loving me by believing in me, while I had a hard time comprehending her choice.

***

Once again, I was lying in bed with another mare. But instead of being an unloyal fool, it was an exception to the rule. I sat beside Princess Luna in the hospital room with a small body nestled between us.

My wife was beside me as well, peering down at the gray foal with a night-sky blue mane and tail who rested as gently as a calm summer cloud. “You think he will like me?” Pillar beamed. “I know I am going to love him.”

“I believe my son will gladly call you mother as well,” Luna said.

“But… what is he?” Pillar asked me. “I’ve never seen a pony like him.” His ears had tufts of fur at the tips, and his wings were… like a bat! When he came into the world, everypony was greeted with a loud cry that rivaled Luna’s explosive voice. But the moment she claimed him and started feeding my son some milk, the strange foal went to sleep with his mother for the first time.

My son let out a squeak of a yawn, and the spectators in the room smiled at his simple infant behavior. My parents were there, along with Pillar’s. Vega and Nova did what they do best and stood at the door, but their smiles were easy to spot. Princess Celestia stood off to the side close to her sister, and Starswirl continued to paw at his beard.

“Your child is very peculiar, Princess Luna,” the wizard said. “Do you have a possible hypothesis for your son’s form?”

“I might,” Luna replied. “You see…” She looked at Pillar and I with a frown. I nodded in hopes she would continue. “I believe the cause for my son’s appearance is because of recurring nightmares I have had since the incident between Backdrop and I.” Angry glares hit my forehead from both of Pillar’s parents. They had still not forgiven me for what I had done.

“Are you talking about the bat nightmares?” Celestia asked.

The younger regal sister nodded. “Let me explain, Starswirl. The nightmares began after White Pillar’s return. I think it coincided with Pillar’s then and still current obsession with bats. The dreams consisted of me walking through my Dreamscape garden until I reached a mango tree. Upon approaching, I notice some bats that were feasting on the succulent fruits. But no matter how quiet I approached, they always noticed me. And the dreams always concluded the same: with them attacking me.”

“Why did you not tell me you were having these dreams?” Starswirl asked.

“Because the words you told me many months ago still burns in my head,” Luna glared.

“I told you I was sorry for stooping to such a low level.”

“I know you have, but I now know who to ask when there is a more personal issue involving me.”

Before a conflict could possibly arise, Princess Celestia spoke up, “I think what is most important here is that a unique child has been born today. If he is related to the nightmares, then there might be some form of magic Luna and I are not aware of. Maybe our alicorn magic causes us to give birth to unique children. But until we know more about my sister’s foal, let us celebrate his birth.”

The peaceful Princess Celestia warmed my heart, glad she was more for peace than for conflict. “Well said, Princess Celestia,” I said.

Then a more serious change of subject arose. “What are we going to name your son, Backdrop? There are so many that I cannot even think of one.”

Our son,” I corrected. “Luna and I both agreed that you are his mother just as much as he is to the princess.”

“R-Really? That means a lot for you to say.” Pillar slightly shifted to her side a little. Her belly bulged out as if it wanted to detach from her. “You hear that?” she said to her pregnant belly. “You are going to have a brother.”

To know that I have one child before me and another on the way bore a heavy gravity. I had to care for to children. I pondered how my foals would be treated by others. What experiences they would have with me. So many scenarios were out of reach. All I could do is wait.”

“I have a name,” Luna said as she gently nuzzled my son. “He will be named Thestral, the first of his kind.”

Author's Note:

Thank you for reading Collaboration. It has been quite the experience (and hassle) to get this story finished.

Any feedback is appreciated. Let's just hope I win the Two-Faced Charade contest :3
(and if I don't, this was a fun project to partake in).