• Published 14th Jun 2018
  • 1,148 Views, 102 Comments

Discord vs. Harmony: The Greeting-Card Industry Strikes Back - SoloBrony



Unauthorized sequel to Fire Gazer's Reticence, also sequel to Discord vs. The Greeting-Card Industry. Discord gets up to more romantic meddling, now with Twilight's scholastically-motivated approval!

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Shameful Pride

"And some extra bits, just in case... Okay!"

Starlight nodded to herself in satisfaction at her saddlebags, trying to calm her nerves. This was her second shot at organizing a date with Chrysalis, and after the way the first attempt had ended... well, she just wished she had Chrysalis' seemingly effortless confidence about these things.

That very same Chrysalis was now nearly dancing on her hooftips outside, awaiting her marefriend. After the 'incident' in Canterlot, the changeling ex-queen intensely wondered whether or not she was more trouble than her marefriend deserved, and even whether this whole 'be friendly with ponies' thing was a terrible mistake.

What if another mob shows up to interrupt our date? Celestia's not going to show up to straighten things out this time! I mean, she did her best to make us feel welcome, but...

Chrysalis took a deep, steadying breath, and considered. Really, the ponies of Equestria, angry mob aside, had done a tremendous amount to make her feel welcome and important. If Starlight had the guts to give this another try, then Chrysalis owed it to her marefriend to calm down and do her best to enjoy all of this.

Knowing Starlight, she's probably planned for every possible contingency anyway.

Starlight pushed open the front door of the castle, and locked eyes with her marefriend. Both of them smiled warmly, trying to cover up raw nerves. Starlight danced down the steps of the castle and pressed into Chrysalis, and the warmth of their proximity washed away the knots in their chests. Chrysalis gave a faint chuckle.

"Don't worry, Starlight. Even if something goes wrong, we can just keep trying."

Starlight stiffened slightly, and then just quietly pressed into her marefriend and hummed a bit. Chrysalis' words had been a deep comfort.

She really wants to make this work. I shouldn't worry so much about what I can't control.

Meanwhile, Chrysalis had no read on her marefriend's reaction. Had she just made things worse? Had Starlight even been worried before she brought it up? Chrysalis rolled her eyes at herself. It'd work out regardless, she was sure. Starlight stayed buried in her for a few moments before leaning away and nodding.

"You're right. I mean, it's us. Who's going to get between us and what we want?"

Chrysalis laughed malevolently. "No one with any sense of self-preservation."

"Exactly!" Starlight said cheerily, leading the way. Chrysalis promptly followed, grinning almost giddily.

Starlight's right. As long as this is what we both want, everyone else will just have to stand aside and watch. I don't even know why I worried!

As the two briskly trotted through Ponyville, Chrysalis found herself following that line of thought farther than she had before.

This mare is beautiful, powerful, ambitious... and really gives a buck about what I want, how I feel. Even if I had taken over Canterlot, could I have ever had something like that?

Thoughts of a brainwashed Shining Armor came to her, prompting a slight shudder of disgust and embarrassment from the ex-queen.

... I haven't lowered my ambitions, I've raised them. Now I understand why the ponies seemed so confused by us.

Chrysalis laughed softly, prompting a curious glance from Starlight, but the changeling simply waved it off, and Starlight gave a shrug before focusing on the path ahead of her.

That. That right there. She knows what it's like to have thoughts you don't want to share. How often did I have to tell my own subjects to leave me to my thoughts in privacy? And yet she gets it.

The two of them came to stop at a small outdoor cafe in Ponyville, and promptly took seats. Starlight fidgeted a little, smiling nervously. "I know this is pretty simple, but they serve some good food here, including some stuff reformed changelings seem to really like, so... I figured we'd give it a shot?"

Chrysalis gave a warm smile. "Simple is a good choice right now, and I'd like to see what my subjects have been eating. Good choice."

Starlight brightened and nodded, and placed a couple of orders when the waiter came around. Apparently, Chrysalis was to eat something called a 'nectar salad' – she wondered whether they were actually using changeling nectar, and if so, where the buck they got some – but held her curiosity in check. Starlight had been fidgeting since they had set off, but kept smiling to herself.

Whatever she's got in store, it's going to be good. I wonder—

"Hey, I haven't seen you—wait, Chrysalis?"

Chrysalis and Starlight looked aside to the source of the voice. Chrysalis immediately clamped down on any emotional reaction, though she couldn't stop her eyes from widening in shock.

Thorax.

Thorax.

TRAITOR! The one who abandoned the hive, led my—

Chrysalis took a deep breath, as she and Thorax locked eyes. Judging by his expression – some mixture of shock and fear, from what Chrysalis could tell – he was probably going through the same process. Chrysalis' eyes narrowed slightly as she concentrated, thoughts flying across her mind.

This could ruin my date.

Okay. I need to prevent that. So what is the ideal reaction to prevent that?

Thorax and Starlight are friends. Ergo, I need to be friendly to Thorax. What is the best interpretation of his behavior in favor of my feeling good towards him?

Well... if he hadn't discovered how to reform changelings, I wouldn't be here. And he's taking care of my old subjects.

Chrysalis softened her expression and stood up, striding over to Thorax, who immediately stiffened. She saw his pupils – difficult as they were to make out – constrict. A small part of her took pride that she still struck fear in his heart, but she focused on a different source of pride. She patted him on his head, earning a baffled, terrified look from him, and had to suppress laughter.

"Who's a smart buggy?"

"H-huh?! Mooo~m!"

Chrysalis finally did chuckle as Thorax swatted her hoof away. "What do you mean 'smart'? Didn't—"

"Let's leave the past where it is, Thorax. What I meant is I'm proud of you for figuring out what you did, and stepping up to take care of the hive. That's all."

There was a long silence as Thorax regarded her uncertainly. Chrysalis doggedly held on to her polite smile, refusing to let any of the uglier emotions she had underneath show. Finally, he nodded uneasily.

"O-okay. I mean, I'd heard you were dating Starlight, but I... I didn't realize you'd..."

He gestured at Chrysalis, and she choked down a bit of frustration and embarrassment at her own change. Instead, she opted to point out the obvious.

"Can't legitimately date someone without sharing feelings. Obviously."

She hadn't let her smile drop, but she felt it grow a little stiffer for a moment as she pointed that out. Thorax just glanced away and scratched at the back of his neck.

"Oh. Y-yeah. I guess that's true. I just, uhh..."

"You didn't think I was capable of changing. I understand. Neither did I."

Thorax looked back at her in surprise, and they just watched each other for a few moments before he spoke again.

"I'm proud of you, too, mom. I hope you two have a good time."

They gave each other a polite nod, and returned to their tables. Chrysalis was so wrapped up in her own thoughts she nearly jumped in surprise when Starlight spoke.

"That was some impressive restraint, Crissy."

"Oh! Well..."

Chrysalis let out a soft sigh as she looked at her marefriend.

There's no point trying to deny it.

"I need to get used to seeing former enemies if we're going to do this. Besides, I really am proud of him."

"But you feel a lot of other stuff towards him you haven't sorted out yet, too."

"Well, that's my problem. I'll work it out on my own time, but I won't let it get in the way of us having a great time."

Starlight just smiled as their lunch arrived. Chrysalis found herself smiling, as well.

My victories, even over myself, are her victories. We've got this.

As they began eating – and Chrysalis was quite impressed, even if the nectar was just a clever facsimile – Starlight finally couldn't contain a question that had been bothering her.

"Do all of them call you—"

"No, just Thorax. I kept telling him to call me 'Queen' but it just never sunk in for some reason. He's always been an odd one."

"Oh good. That was going to get super weird if we ever visited the hive."

Chrysalis snorted at imagining that.

Author's Note:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VT6LFOIofRE

My feelings on this chapter as the author are very different from the feelings of the characters in the chapter, though I kinda jump back and forth while actually writing. That whole mob-scene thing in the previous story has left a serious wound on Chrysalis' trust of Equestrians' hospitality, which never got addressed in that story.

It's one of several things that still need to be addressed in Chrysalis/Starlight's arc.