• 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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Comforting Fear

Marble readjusted herself in her seat for what had to be the hundredth time since boarding the train. Ponyville was coming into view, and it was only now truly dawning on her that she was visiting a completely new city. Somewhere she'd never been before, without any familiar faces.

Except Minuette.

That one thought was all that kept the shy grey pony from leaping off of the train and running for home, she was sure. Her thoughts had been so consumed with the idea of seeing Minuette – and three days, no less! – that she had completely ignored the context.

They were going to a show; that meant lots of other ponies, strangers, sitting close to them, in an strange city. Marble quailed at the thought, but in the end it didn't matter.

She was going to do this. For Minuette.

And hey, as long as Minuette was there, it would be fine. Marble always felt so much stronger around her marefriend – hee, even the word made her feel warmer.

Then again, it had been a long time since they'd seen each other, hadn't it? What if Minuette's feelings for Marble had cooled?

Or... even worse... what if Marble didn't feel the same way around the perky blue unicorn anymore? What if...

Actually... what if Minuette was having the same concerns? Did she think Marble didn't like her anymore, and had just been making excuses not to visit her? She couldn't think that, could she?

But if Marble was thinking it...

The thought of that beautiful, wonderful blue mare feeling lonely sent a spear through Marble's chest.

The train started to come to a halt, prompting a startled gasp from Marble. She clenched her jaw. There was no more time to worry about it all.

If Minuette didn't know she loved her, she'd fix that.

With that thought held at the fore of her mind, Marble grabbed her bag in her teeth and made her way off of the train. Thankfully, almost no one had boarded on the Ponyville-Nickerlite line, so there was nopony in her way as she disembarked. As soon as she stepped onto the platform, she spotted Minuette, though for a moment she almost doubted it was her.

The Minuette she'd always known would have smiled wildly, waved, run straight to her, and probably yelled something encouraging. That wasn't what this Minuette did at all.

Instead, Minuette just gave a slow, uncertain wave, matched to a nervous-looking smile.

Marble felt that cold tendril of fear creep up her back again, whispering her doubts back into her mind. Was Minuette going to break up with her? Was she unhappy to see her? Why was she acting like this? The thoughts made the grey mare's legs shake.

Marble couldn't convince her forelegs to wave at Minuette, so she settled for planting one shaky hoof in front of the other, instead. She wanted to bolt to her marefriend, but she couldn't force herself to do more than trot.

Then again, it was only a dozen steps.

Face to face at last, Marble carefully set down her bag, watching Minuette for any sign of what was wrong. Minuette, for her part, was watching her with the same intensity.

"Are you worrying my feelings changed?" Marble's voice came out barely above a whisper, and she only realized it was her speaking after a second. Minuette's eyes widened a little, and she suddenly looked ashamed, trying to look away.

She didn't get the chance. Marble had snatched her into a kiss before she even felt her hooves move.

First came the shock, the excitement, like arcs of electricity running from her face and down her whole body. Then came a wave of warmth, lighting up her cheeks and flushing over her whole being. Marble wasn't sure how ridiculous she looked or how deeply she was blushing, but she pushed down the thought.

All that mattered was Minuette. She tugged the her marefriend closer, pulling her into a full embrace, and felt a shudder – from both of them – when their fur mingled. She felt more than heard Minuette moan into her mouth, and her body echoed it before she had a say in the matter. She was happy Minuette was happy; Minuette was happy she was happy. Marble's brain just kept bouncing between the two, until the difference seemed to break down entirely.

She could lose herself in that terrifying, wonderful sense of static and warmth forever. It was intoxicating, to the point that Marble barely registered that they had gone way beyond the pecks on the lips they had tried before. She wasn't sure how long they stayed lost in each other like that – it felt like she had somehow slipped into a different universe and lifetime, something utterly different from life in Equestria, and lived out a full life in that moment.

Slowly, like a whisper in the back of her mind, a thought came to her. She hadn't told Minuette she loved her, yet. Marble needed to do that, at some point.

Eh, she'd get around to it. Eventually.

The thought elicited a slight giggle from Marble as she and Minuette kept up their emotional dance. That was how it felt; like dancing, or their first time ice-skating, like no words were needed to or could express the most important things in the world.

But it was still important to say them. That thought got more persistent, until Marble finally, gently, pushed Minuette away, just a few inches. She looked into her marefriend's eyes. "Minuette, I—"

Marble blinked. Minuette's eyes fluttered open, but lolled around unfocused for a few seconds, in such a goofy manner it made Marble giggle again. She finally, sleepily, focused on Marble.

"... Whoa."

Marble nuzzled her, though it started to feel like her cheeks were going to permanently burn out their capacity to blush. "I love you."

Minuette wrapped her hooves around Marble, eliciting an excited squeak from her. "I love you too, Shy Pie. Though after that... wow. Maybe that's the wrong nickname for you."

It turned out Marble could blush harder. It actually hurt a little. "Uhh... that was alright, wasn't it?"

"YES! Oh Celestia, do not think that was not okay!"

Minuette laughed and tightened her hug, and Marble's mind exploded. She only came back down to Equestria when Minuette snickered while nuzzling her.

"Turns out my marefriend is an amazing kisser! Who knew?"

Now Marble's neck hurt from blushing so hard. She didn't even know that was possible. And her, an amazing kisser? How? It was her first time, yet...

Well, it was amazing. Marble couldn't deny that.

"I, umm, I'm glad you liked it."

Minuette leaned back from the hug and gave Marble a sly look. "So glad you promise to do it again?"

Marble blinked a bit, and then nodded hurriedly. "Mmmmmhm."

"Good! We've still got half an hour until—"

Minuette's eyes narrowed, and Marble followed her gaze up to the station clock. She gasped lightly, as did Marble.

"8:10?! We were... I... I lost track of time."

Marble knew from Minuette's letters that her special talent was not, in fact, directly related to dentistry. It was actually keeping track of time and timed tasks, which made her a lot better at her job. She had never, ever lost track of time before.

"I'm sor—"

Minuette snatched Marble's head around to look at her. She was smiling wildly. "I lost track of time! Me! Jeez, Marble! You kissed me so hard you fried my brain!"

Minuette just laughed wildly, and eventually Marble laughed alongside her. Still giggling, Minuette sprang to her hooves and beckoned Marble to follow, her horn lighting up and carrying Marble's bag. They began trotting towards the center of Ponyville.

"I'm really sorry about calling you to a new town," Minuette said, inclining her head at the houses, "but Ponyville is a small, friendly place. I figured you might like it here once you get to know it, and I come around here often to visit my friend, Lyra. Anyway, this is where the show is, so..."

Marble gently swerved a little closer, so that their coats brushed slightly as they walked, sending enjoyable tingling sensations through her skin. "It's okay. I was nervous at first, but you're here. I'll be okay."

Minuette smiled at her, and just the sight filled Marble with a warm feeling again. At least it stayed off of her face for once.

"Thanks, Marble. I'm glad you're open with me about what you're uncomfortable with... and what you're, uhh..."

They both giggled again. Marble's cheeks heated up again, but she just ignored it this time. "I'm sorry if that was too forward, it's just, after being away for so long, I thought maybe you were worried I didn't like you anymore."

Marble could see Minuette nibbling on her lip as she considered her response for a few seconds. Finally, she just sighed. "Yeah, I was. It was stupid, but I thought maybe something had happened, like you had finally met that stallion from the Pairing Stone or something."

"I'd tell you if anything happened," Marble snapped out without thinking. She blinked in surprise, but took a deep breath and pressed on. "If my feelings ever change you'll be the first pony to know. I'd never hurt you like that. And... I was worried about the same thing, so don't say it was stupid. What was stupid was me not putting my hoof down and insisting on seeing you. That's never going to happen again."

Marble noticed Minuette staring at her in surprise, and suddenly withdraw her face behind her mane. Had she said too much? That was so forceful. But... she felt really strongly about it, so shouldn't she be firm about it?

Minuette laughed and shot another sly look at her. "Are you trying to get another kiss in before the show? Because I'm not going to fight you on it."

Marble considered taking her up on that, then and there, but her earlier bravado had faded. She just squeaked, but then she felt Minuette's comforting hoof around her shoulder.

"Hey. I'll remember that, okay? Thanks."

Marble just gave a little nod and smiled. Whatever problem there was, she had fixed it. That thought released tension from her chest, like air rushing in. She felt Minuette come to a halt and she did likewise, glancing at her marefriend.

"Oh, wow, we need to clean up."

Minuette was wiping her chin with a hoof and smirking. Marble reflexively did the same, realizing her chin was wet too.

"Oh! I'm—"

"Apologize for that kiss and I'll never forgive you."

Minuette stared at Marble with a goofy-looking faux glare, and Marble snickered. "Okay, I'm not sorry, but I didn't realize we were so... messy."

Minuette laughed and threw her hooves into the air. "Who cares?! Totally worth it. Let's just hit our hotel room and clean up."

"But what's the point? We'll just... UMM..."

Marble suddenly covered her face in her hooves. Why did she always speak without thinking around Minuette? It was just so easy to voice whatever she was thinking. Too easy. Then again, did Minuette ever hold it against her?

No, it was always her who had the problem. Marble might have dug a little deeper into that, but she was shaken by Minuette laughing.

"O-hohoho! Well then!"

Marble slumped down a little, only for Minuette to pull her into a hug. Her voice came out gentle, comforting. "Marble, thank you. I get that you're really putting yourself out there for me, and here I was worrying how you felt. It's... good."

Marble just snuggled into her marefriend. It was good to be wanted. She knew.

The two of them ultimately did pass by the hotel room (Marble noted that there were two beds, and had a brief fit of embarrassment when she automatically questioned why they needed two), and lost an extra ten minutes to snuggles before they headed back out to the show. Minuette had managed to keep them perfectly on-schedule, such that they arrived just as the show was about to begin.

There was a fabulous-looking stage made out of wood, gold, and marble in the center of town, large enough for a full musical concert, with massive curtains that towered above the nearby houses. Marble wondered how anypony had managed to move something so massive to Ponyville, or if this was just a normal part of the town. Given that it was in the middle of the road, she figured on the former, and that just added to her confusion.

"Whoa. That's new. Trixie's really stepped up her game." Minuette chuckled. They had a pair of seats in a private tent off to the side of the main seating area, for which Marble practically exploded with gratefulness. This way, she could focus on the performance without worrying about other ponies.

Minuette snuggled up nice and close, sending a wave of warmth over Marble, and another wave of gratitude she didn't have to worry about prying eyes.

There were other things she could focus on, too.

Before she could follow that thought to its conclusion, however, the lights dimmed – all the way down to the level of romantic candlelight – and a blue unicorn in a starry cape and perfectly-tailored tuxedo stepped out from behind the massive curtains.

Minuette hummed. "Huh, Trixie isn't wearing her hat. Great tux, though. Really adds to the 'great magician' feel."

Trixie, though too far to have possibly overheard the exchange, nonetheless looked straight at Minuette. She spoke softly, yet her voice carried all through the audience.

"Why thank you. I felt that for tonight, this ensemble was, one might say, better suited."

A few groans and chuckles went up from the audience, and Minuette's eyes went wide. "She can hear us?"

Trixie simply winked at Minuette. "Only if you talk about me, don't worry."

Confused murmurs went through the crowd, and Trixie glanced somewhere off to the side. "Now, now. There's no need for that kind of talk. Tonight isn't a night about showing off or impressing a crowd."

Trixie's horn lit up, and shot a beam into the sky. A huge, multi-colored energy dome closed around the entire audience and stage. When Trixie spoke again, her voice had a faint echo to it, as though it resounded off of the edges of the enclosure.

"Tonight is a night about magic. And that most special kind of magic of all, love. Tonight is a night for lovers old and young, new and veteran, for all of the ponies who have that special somepony in their hearts."

Marble was entranced by the show of powerful magic, which was, if the silence was any indication, the same as the rest of the audience. She glanced at Minuette, only to see her blushing furiously. Minuette's voice came out as a whisper. "I didn't know this was a romantic magic show."

Marble just gave her a gentle nuzzle. "I don't mind." Minuette's blush only grew deeper, but she smiled.

Trixie cleared her throat. "To all of you who are carrying watches or other timepieces, please remember to set them back an hour. Many of you may have thought we were kidding when we said that this was a two-hour show packed into one, but we wouldn't want to inconvenience anypony when you discover that the flier was quite literal."

Chuckles went up from the crowd, along with a few murmurs, and Trixie just rolled her eyes with a smirk. "Suit yourself; it is not Trixie's fault if you wake up early tomorrow. Now... please enjoy the Great and Powerful Romantic Magic Show, brought to you by Trixie with the indispensable assistance of her friends."

Trixie bowed her head, smiling deviously at the crowd as she slowly backed away into the curtains. A gentle roll of thunder shook the crowd, and rain began to fall, pattering on the top of the dome and running down its sides. Soft flute music began to play, intertwining with the bass of the thunder and the sounds of the rain, creating a soothing atmosphere.

Marble breathed a deep, contented sigh. "This is... so nice." Minuette snuggled into her a bit, and nodded. "I never knew Trixie could make a show so... peaceful."

Trixie's voice echoed around the dome, this time far more sinister in its aspect. "Prepare yourselves, little ponies... for a show unlike any other."

Two huge, spectral snakes slithered onto the stage from under the curtain. They glowed various hues as they caught the light, not unlike crystals, and squared off in the center of the stage. Marble tensed up. "Are they... about to fight?"

Minuette hummed slightly. "I don't... think so?"

Inwardly, Minuette was panicking about how different this show was than she imagined. She had several of Trixie's shows in the past, but none were anything like this. Then, the flute was suddenly accompanied by gentle vocalization, slowly rising in timbre and volume, and the rain's tempo changed. It almost seemed to fall on the dome in intervals, like a drumbeat. The two snakes began to bob their heads.

"Oooh!" Minuette held a hoof up to her mouth. "I've heard of this! It's a snake dance!"

As if on cue, the two snakes began darting their heads left and right in sudden, snappy motions. Then they began circling each other, heads still darting back and forth with the beat. Marble leaned forward in sudden interest. "They almost look like they're made of bismuth, but the faceting is definitely different. You can see through them slightly, see?"

Marble pointed excitedly, and Minuette squinted. "Oh, you're right! I've seen bismuth before, but that's definitely different. They look a bit like crystal ponies!"

"Crystal what?"

Minuette didn't have a chance to answer before the music's tempo suddenly increased, and the two snakes leapt at each other, coiling and spinning on each other in midair.

The dance grew more intense, with the two snakes dancing around on each other, leaping into the air and kicking off of other another only to dart back together on the ground. There were occasional lulls in the music, where the two snakes would coil together and stare at each other.

Marble had been so intent on the show, she didn't realize that Minuette had been snuggling closer and closer until she felt her weight press down on her shoulder. Marble's cheeks flushed crimson, but she certainly didn't mind it.

String instruments that Marble didn't recognize joined the music, and the dance became far more aggressive, with the two snakes squaring off and pulling stunts near each other. Their dance became asynchronous, and each snake demonstrated completely unique movements. One of the snakes coiled up, and then stretched itself up into the air, forming an elongated helix; the other snake leapt on their head, and bounced off of their head into the air, forming themselves into a loop and spinning wildly in the air before landing in a wild horizontal spin.

Hoofbeats went up from the crowd in appreciation. Marble wanted to applaud as well, but that would mean breaking from Minuette, and that just wasn't an option. Minuette, for her part, clopped her hooves together, but stayed resting on Marble's shoulder.

Without warning, the two snakes suddenly leapt towards the crowd together, coiling together in midair in the process. Marble could not see what happened next, but she heard cries of alarm followed by laughter and hoofbeats of applause. She worried for a brief moment, but felt Minuette clamp onto her and snapped her attention to the side. At first, she thought her date might be going for a kiss, but then she heard an alarmed gasp and her eyes darted to the floor near Minuette.

There was a tiny spectral snake on the ground, weaving towards Minuette's chair. Marble's mind went blank, and she felt something impact her hoof sharply. She only realized what happened a moment later; she was out of her chair, and she had slammed her hoof down on the intruder. The ground under her hoof split, sending a fissure straight out towards the stage. Marble gasped in surprise, both at the gap and at what she had done, but when she lifted her hoof she saw crushed gem.

At least it hadn't been a real snake, but where had that sudden aggression come from? She didn't even have the time to feel anger! She had just acted. It didn't matter now, though; she had ruined the show! That fissure kept growing, spreading towards the stage—

And then stopped. The ground suddenly yanked itself back together, and there was a faint, pale glue glow from the tiny crack that remained, and it sealed itself up. Minuette, though panting heavily from the surprise, pulled Marble back to her chair.

"Marble! Marble, it's okay! Calm down!"

Marble realized she was breathing rapidly and sweating, but Minuette's embrace was rapidly calming her nerves. She took a few deep breaths, calming herself down, and looked at the dust on her hoof. What if it had been a real snake? Would she have—

"Wow, Marble! I had no idea you were that strong! Not to mention protective!"

Minuette curled up into her, eliciting a squeak from Marble. "I-I didn't mean to, I just..."

"It's fine! No, really, that was... thank you. I think spooking us was the whole idea, you know? It's like a thriller."

"A thriller?"

"Yeah, a show that shocks and scares ponies. Couples go to them sometimes."

Marble's face scrunched up in confusion.

"Why would anypony go to something like that? Especially a couple?"

Minuette pressed into Marble's side tightly and giggled a bit. Her voice had a playful tinge of sarcasm to it. "You'll keep me safe, won't you?"

Oh.

Marble got it.

Author's Note:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hinoDbJP25U

Writing this chapter filled me with infinite embarrassment

the things I do for TWILIGHT SPARKLE