• Published 14th Jun 2018
  • 1,144 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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Loud Silence

Six months. Marble Pie and Minuette had been dating for six months, now, to the day, and had only as many dates. That first month had been a whirlwind, but one by one, issues had come up to keep the two ponies apart. First had been Maud earning her rocktorate and moving to Ponyville, and the family upheaval that caused. The extra work around the farm had kept Marble from being able to schedule a date with Minuette for weeks.

Then Minuette had to go to a dentistry conference in Manehattan for a week. And then there was Maud's new boyfriend, and the craziness in the family over her not even bothering to consult the Pairing Stone.

On one hoof, it was good to not be the only rebel in the family. On the other hoof, Marble knew her parents silently blamed her for breaking tradition first, which they saw as paving the way for Maud's behavior.

Limestone's own Pairing Stone partner had been an even bigger problem; the stallion that the Pairing Stone had picked decided he wasn't ready for a relationship, which suited Limestone just fine, and so things had remained to this day. As far as Marble knew, Limestone and Lemon Hearts hadn't seen each other since.

Then there was harvest season on the farm, which needed absolutely all hooves on deck, every day, for two months. The four of them were barely able to harvest and replant all of the rocks in time for Winter Ramp-Up, and then that had been a week of non-stop labor itself. Once upon a time, the simple, focused work and quiet of the farm had relaxed Marble, but things were different, now.

Pinkie was gone. Maud was gone. Her parents barely spoke to her. And Limestone had been in an even worse mood than before, ever since Maud informed them she was staying in Ponyville. The quiet comfort of the rock farm was nowhere to be found; for Marble, every day had become a quiet struggle with anxiety and guilt. If it hadn't been for Minuette's constant letters, she wasn't sure she would have been able to handle it all. These days, when she was out on the fields chipping away with her pickaxe or pounding with her hooves, she just kept asking herself the same few things.

What happened to happily-ever-after? Was this really good enough?

Those thoughts brought feelings of shame. Her parents needed her. Her sister needed her. Marble had seen how Limestone reacted to Maud's departure; she couldn't do that to her sister. And she had seen firsthoof how much more work there was around the farm, now; how could she leave all of that to her parents?

But how could she leave Minuette alone in Canterlot?

This intractable conflict consumed Marble, and it was what was on her mind when Limestone interrupted her from her work in the field with the latest letter from Minuette. This had become routine by now, and Marble was already tearing into the letter before Limestone had even trotted out of sight.

Dear Marble,

Though it was a pretty standard greeting, being called 'dear' still brought heat to Marble's cheeks.

I got a pair of tickets to a performance in Ponyville! It's for this weekend, and I'd like to go with you. Can you be at the Ponyville train station around 8 PM on Friday? The performance is multiple-night, so we can make a long weekend out of it if you can spare the time! Please let me know if you can make it!

Love, Minuette

Marble turned the idea over in her head. Winter ramp-up was taken care of, so things had mostly calmed down at the farm. It should be okay for her to leave for an evening, but three days? Just imagining how her parents would react put knots into her stomach. Her legs were actually starting to shake when she made her decision.

Dinner that evening was its usual quiet awkwardness. Marble hated this kind of silence; loud with unspoken thoughts and unresolved tension. She barely remembered how she used to enjoy the quiet times around the house; quiet used to mean that Limestone was content or too distracted to be upset, that she could safely focus on her thoughts without concern that somepony might force her to talk.

But now she had to force herself to talk. Just the thought was making her hyperventilate. Every time she glanced at her parents from behind her mane, all she could think of was how she would just be adding more shame and anger onto the pile with such a big request. How could she do this to them?

Then again, how could she turn Minuette down? They hadn't seen each other for months. Minuette was always upbeat in her letters, but if she felt anything like Marble did about the situation it was awful. They may not have seen each other often, but Marble remembered clearly how Minuette reacted when she thought they were breaking up; if she turned the invitation down now, it would be crushing.

Just like it would be if it was Marble making the invitation.

That was it. There was no backing down. Marble needed to take a stand! She drew a deep breath, trying to stop her hyperventilating and calm down. Just as she was about to speak, Igneous looked over at Limestone and spoke, prompting a brief 'Eep!' from Marble.

"Ist thee still in correspondence with that Canterlot lass?"

Limestone grunted an affirmative. "Her name's Lemon Hearts, pa."

Marble blinked in surprise. Limestone was still in contact with Lemon Hearts? Really? Did this mean she was...

"Dost she pursue thee still?"

Limestone sighed. "Still just friends, pa."

Limestone kept her eyes on her soup, while Igneous watched her carefully. He seemed to be chewing over his cheek, considering saying something further. Probably something to discourage her from entertaining ideas about pursuing Lemon, Marble figured. She wasn't sure why he had even allowed them to continue speaking this long; for that matter, why hadn't Limestone even mentioned it before?

Well, Limestone wasn't the most open sort. She probably just didn't feel like it was Marble's business. That made sense.

"Limestone, lass... I just wish thee to understand—"

Limestone slammed a hoof to the table, causing Marble to actually pop up off of her chair, landing with a thud on her rump. Igneous reeled back slightly in surprise.

"I know, pa! The Pairing Stone already picked somepony out for me, and I'm fine with that! I'm not going to run off like everyone else. Stop worrying about me and Lemon Hearts, there's nothing there!"

Limestone was panting now, furious and flustered. Marble leaned back behind her mane as much as she could. Limestone had a short temper, but it was rare indeed for her to lash out at their parents.

Which meant this had to be a really sore point for her. Did she really resent her sisters so much for their choices? The thought felt like a knife through the heart to Marble. She had no idea that Limestone was so upset by all of this.

Had she really been so self-centered not to see it? Was her love of Minuette blinding her to her own family? She felt her eyes stinging and screwed them shut.

Maybe this was what the Pairing Stone had meant all along. She thought she had let that go, but that old fear resurfaced whenever she had doubts, and now it sent icy claws down along her back. Could she really not have Minuette and keep her family? Would she have to choose? How could she—


Marble's eyes snapped open to see Igneous leaning forward slightly across the table. At first Marble felt her throat lock up, anticipating a full-blown fight, but then she saw his expression. He just looked... concerned?

"Lass. T'was not at all what I meant to say to thee."

Limestone, who had looked ready for a fight, narrowed her eyes at Igneous. He pressed on after a moment.

"Thine mother and I hath discussed the matter to length. Maud and Pinkie hath found happiness. Indeed, Marble hath grown much as a mare since meeting Minuette as well. 'Tis not our place to say how our adult daughters liveth their lives. And to that end we hath decided to give our blessing regardless of thine choice in the matter. If thou desirest to court this lass, 'tis thine right to make such a decision – and likewise if thou shouldst wish to refrain. We love thee, regardless, Limestone. Know this."

Igneous, satisfied that his message had been delivered, went back to eating his soup, as did his wife Cloudy, who had simply watched the exchange sternly. Marble and Limestone merely sat in stunned silence. Marble's mind reeled with the implications of what her pa had said; did he really believe her relationship with Minuette was good for her?

Her parents had, in their own neutral way, just encouraged Limestone to date Lemon Hearts, too! It was virtually unbelievable. Marble's mind raced to make sense of it all, before she realized all of her earlier doubts had overlooked one simple fact:

Her love for her family wasn't one-way. They wanted to support her, too. No matter what, they'd be family.

Limestone looked down at her soup in thought, and then grunted. "Thanks, pa. May I be excused?"

Igneous nodded, not even looking up from his supper. "Aye, lass. Go and think; we shall leave some supper on the hearth for thee when thine appetite returns."

Limestone scooted her chair back and slowly trotted out of the room, as if in a daze. Marble chewed her cheek over, considering following her, but remembered she still had a job to do here, first. Encouraged by Igneous' earlier words, Marble took a deep breath, as though about to dive into a pit of icewater.

Now or never.

"Ma, Pa, Minuette sent me a letter. She, umm... she wants me to go to Ponyville with her. For the weekend...?"

The last part of her sentence came out sounding like a question, as Marble's eyes darted between her two parents. Cloudy and Igneous looked at each other, and then back to her. Igneous gave a small, almost imperceptible smile.

"Certainly, Marble. Thou worked hard these past seasons, though I know it pained thee to be away from her so long. Enjoy thineself."

To Marble's surprise, Cloudy leaned towards her across the table, and placed a gentle hoof on her shoulder. "I am proud of thee, Marble! Not so long ago, we would have needed to guess at thine intent, for thee wouldst never have stated things so clearly. Take heart in thine growth."

Marble, who had just barely kept from passing out prior to asking, just nodded and smiled at the both of them. As happy as she was that they seemed so accepting of her relationship now, there was a much more important thought on her mind right now.

She could go! She could see Minuette again!

Author's Note:

Did my best to best to replicate Fire Gazer's narrative style, let me know how I did!

Marble's theme song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-sfG8BV8wU

Also, wow, only ~1800 words? That's so short. It felt ten times longer. I can see why writing this stuff was so tiring for Fire Gazer!