• Published 19th Nov 2018
  • 14,913 Views, 1,500 Comments

Bedbound (And Beyond) - Cackling Moron



Freshly-arrived human in a state of some disrepair is tended to by local deity.

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The Sun

Author's Note:

THE SUN THE SUN THE SUN THE SUN THE SUN THE SUN THE SUN

It wasn’t weird what I was doing.

He’d just smelt so different, the human. So unlike anything I’d ever smelt before, which - given my age - was saying something. How unexpected to find something new! Not to mention friendly.

He was gone now though, and I was already finding myself pining somewhat for that smell of his. And his company. But his scent reminded me of that.

Which was why I’d taken one of the pillows from his bed. And had my face buried in it.

Nothing weird. Just trying to pinpoint exactly what it was about the smell that was so compelling. That was perfectly ordinary. Anypony would have done the same, in my position.

And I wasn’t doing it in secret. I was just doing it in private. There was a difference.

It was just so dull again now...

The more time you see pass the faster it all seems to roll by. I’ve always thought it’s rather like running downhill, with the hill itself growing steeper year on year. Before too long you’re careening down fast enough that you can barely pause to notice what you’re passing, and you certainly can’t stop.

Which means that when something does come along that you want to savour and enjoy every minute of you can feel it slipping out of your hooves almost from the very instant it’s arrived.

It’s not pleasant.

New things were rare. New, nice things that seemed to get your jokes and had unusual, oddly engaging smiles and tiny, funny little eyes were rarer still. As close as to unique as you got, actually.

And sometimes maybe the desperate need to hold onto these new, lovely things can lead to occasional instances of perhaps acting with undue haste. Rushing into things, you could say. Not properly thinking through the possible consequences of one’s actions, as it were.

Not that that applied or was relevant here. It was just one of those things. Nothing to do with what was happening right now at all. Don’t even know why I thought of it in the first place.

I wondered what he was doing. Twilight would be taking good care of him, this I knew, but still. I wondered what he was doing. Hope he liked the book. Choosing it had been harder than expected. So many options, didn’t want to give the wrong impression. Wasn’t sure why I’d been so worried, but just one of those things.

He’d be fine. And then he’d come back. If he wanted to, obviously. And then we could talk again. Or we could do something else! Could show him around Canterlot, that’d be fun. We could get donuts! Ooh, that’d be good. Wonder if he has donuts where he comes from…

Oh, yes. Should also probably work on getting him back home, too. That’s important.

Even if him going home would be even lonelier than him being in Ponyville.

The smell of him was already getting faint, too. Maybe I’d spent a little too long with the pillow. It had barely been a day or two! But still. Maybe not sleep with it next time.

So just one more for now, just to really try and cement his scent in my head…

The door banged open and I scrambled to stuff the pillow down beneath the table. I half-succeeded before Luna was in the room proper. She didn’t look especially happy, though with my sister it was always a little tricky to tell. Infuriating poker face.

“I remain unconvinced that nobles are required, sister. Their attitudes suggests we are here to cater to their whims. There was one who was quite insistent that we mandate the construction of ‘toy forges’, as though I were aware of what such things were. Are you sure we cannot be rid…”

She trailed off and sniffed, squinting at me and then dropping her eyes down to where I’d entirely failed to hide the pillow under the table in time.

“Is that one of the human’s pillows?” She asked.

I very slowly inched the pillow further down and not-altogether out of sight.

“No,” I lied brazenly. How good was her nose? How did she do that? She’s clear across the room! Was she cheating?

Luna frowned and yanked, the pillow slipping up out of my grip as she pulled it away. I fumbled to try and grab it back, but my heart wasn’t really in it. I’d been found out, after all.

It covered the distance between us and she held it up, turning it one way then another, looking at it closely. Then she looked back to me.

“This is highly questionable.”

“It’s not what it looks like,” I said, continuing to lie. Always important to look confident, especially when lying. You’d be amazed the number of times others will back down in the face of obvious lies if they’re delivered confidently.

Probably not this time, though.

“So it is not the case that you were surreptitiously smelling this article of the human’s bedclothes, clearly aware that it was an unusual activity you were engaged in given the alacrity with which you hid the offending article on my arrival? So fast, in fact, that you failed to adequately hide it, leading to me spotting it, leading to this?”

Oh well. I tried.

“You’re no fun,” I said, sulking and yanking the pillow out of her grasp and back to me where I actually, physically held onto it properly, not as loosely as last time. Luna frowned ever-so-slightly and circled around the table, stepping close. She didn’t sit.

“You have an infatuation with him,” she said.

I gasped, indignant.

“I do not have an infatuation with him, I miss him! He’s different and I like him. What’s wrong with that? And I can talk to him without having to look down!”

As an afterthought I added:

“And he gets my jokes…”

“I had thought having some distance would have improved matters. I have succeeded only in making the situation worse…” Luna said, hoof pressed to her face. I glared.

“What do you want me to do?”

“Think of something else! Let him out of your mind awhile, let him enjoy his time in Ponyville while you enjoy your time not having to play nursemaid. He does not need you hovering over him and you do not need to do so either. There is life beyond two days of hijinks and canoodling.”

“...hardly any canoodling…” I muttered. “I mean, no canoodling at all. I was just looking after him, that was all.”

There had been a profound lack of canoodling. Now that Luna brought it up the absence of canoodling suddenly seemed like a rank injustice.

“...there was that bit in the bath, I suppose, but I really was just trying to get him clean. Him being in bed all that time, you see. But looking back on it…”

I lost the thread when I noticed the look Luna was giving me.

“It would be well to remember that he is a thinking being and he likely wishes to return home. You will not be able to keep him forever,” she said.

What kind of insinuation was that!

“I wasn’t going to ‘keep him’, thank you! I just wanted to look after him. I still want to look after him. I enjoyed it! I just wanted to make sure that he was okay first before he went home. If he wants to go home.”

“Why would he not?

“I - he just might not. That’s up to him. He may, he may not. We shall see, won’t we?”

“Would you prefer he choose to stay?” Luna asked. Probing. I wasn’t rising to that. I drew myself up a little, adopting just a sliver of regal poise. I had poise to spare, but even a sliver was potent. Usually.

“I would prefer he choose whatever made him happiest,” I said.

This was true. And if a tiny little itty bitty insignificant part of me was hoping that what made him happiest would be staying here and keeping me company then I couldn’t help that. Maybe he would choose that! That would be his choice.

“Still,” I said, seizing control of the conversation. “Let’s not forget what’s important here: I am not infatuated. I am a grown mare, not a filly. He and I are friends at most and that is that. I found him, I nursed him back to health, we get on well. That is all. Not even a hint of anything more. I don’t know where you get such ridiculous ideas from, sister.”

“You are cuddling his pillow,” Luna said, pointing.

I refused to give her the satisfaction of looking down and so instead I calmly put it on the table in front of me and pushed it away. A second after that I lent over and pushed it a little further. Just to be sure. Then I sat back.

“That doesn’t mean anything,” I said. Another lie. I was racking up quite the tally. Luna snorted quietly and looked away.

I had failed to properly seize control of the conversation and now it was dead. The silence was worse than her telling me off. Reaching out across the table I pulled the pillow back again and started fiddling with it between my hooves.

I was thinking.

“I heard him first,” I said.

“What?”

“When I found him, I heard him first. It was after a long day, I wanted some space and so I went to the gardens and I heard this strange sound. Thought I was imagining it at first it was so faint, but it got louder the deeper into the gardens I went until I found him.”

It wasn’t a particularly nice memory. The human was so hale and hearty now by comparison that it was easy to forget what he’d been like when first I’d found him. It stuck with me though. Whenever I’d been listening to him speak it had just been there in the back of my mind. The noises I’d heard him making when I’d found him.

“He wasn’t talking as such, but he was speaking. There were words, they just didn’t make any sense. Half-words, talking to no-one. Looking at no-one. He didn’t see me, I know that. And he was so pale. I could tell he was intelligent, not an animal, and I could tell he was dying. So, so close to death. If I hadn’t intervened right then - if I’d gone to get help - he would have died. I know that. So what choice did I have?”

Luna didn’t say anything. She seemed to be waiting for me to finish. I appreciated this, licking my lips and taking a breath before continuing. It was hard summing up how I felt about it, if I’m being honest, hard to know if I was properly conveying what it had felt like at all.

“And even after I’d helped it wasn’t clear he’d pull through. He was so weak. Drifting in and out, babbling. I did the best I could with him then, staying with him in case he took a turn for the worse, soothing him those times he thrashed. I don’t even know why he did that. I’m surprised he could.”

I released the pillow, pushed it away again. Shouldn’t have taken it back, really, though even now I did want to keep hold of it. Just to have something to do with my hooves.

“Looking back, of course I can see points where I should have taken a step back. It’s easy now with him better to say this or that stop is when I should have let others take over. It wasn’t as easy then. I was worried. He seemed to change by hour. And then he woke up! And he spoke to me! And saw me.”

The first look he’d given me hadn’t been especially flattering, but what could I have expected? He’d given me nicer looks since. Much nicer, in fact. Some so nice I was still thinking about them.

“And...maybe I made a selfish choice. Maybe it was stupid, thinking I could keep on keeping it secret. Aren’t I allowed a bad decision every now and then? A selfish one? Just a little one?

No, not really. That’s not what being a princess is about. I knew that even as I was saying it. Luna knew it, too, and knew I knew it. So she didn’t need to say it. I just let my head hang. The answer was obvious.

No. No I was not allowed.

But I’d done it anyway.

“Could I have handled this better, do you think?” I asked.

“Possibly,” Luna said, almost at once. I groaned and let myself flop forward, face resting on wood.

“Urgh that just means yes…”