• Published 1st Aug 2021
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A Sweet and Seemly Thing - Freglz



An ancient enemy seeks redemption. Or so she claims.

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A Changeling Comes to Court

Chains bound Queen Chrysalis in the centre of the throne room, and guards watched her, but no eyes were more piercing than the ones glaring at her from the throne itself. Yet try as they might, they couldn’t restrain her smile.

“It’s good to see you again, my dear princess,” she said, every note in her voice as light as a feather, then peered to her left and gently bowed. “And you too, former husband-to-be.”

Neither Cadance nor Shining Armor appeared the least bit amused; where the captain of the household guard had to maintain composure if he hoped to lead his troops by example, his wife had no such obligation. Her ears were flat, her brows low and furrowed, and the corners of her mouth downturned. For a mare so renowned for her beauty, it truly was an ugly look, and one Chrysalis delighted in.

“Long time no see, as they say.”

“Not long enough,” the princess groused. Even sounding assertive hardly suited her, like a mouse thinking itself a lion. “Why are you here?”

“Oh my sweet child,” Chrysalis chuckled, “we both know there are more intelligent questions to ask.”

Cadance deepened her boorish frown, a sight that would make even the Ghastly Gorge blush. Her husband burned with resentment, no doubt itching for his mistress to say the word and let him gag their greatest adversary. But the young princess said nothing of the sort, and merely continued to scowl.

“Is it not enough that I simply wish to visit a couple of old friends?”

Cold flames sparked behind her violet eyes, and her lips peeled back like flaking paint into a hideous snarl. “You kidnapped me, impersonated me at my wedding, hypnotised my fiance and left me and his sister to rot in the catacombs, hoping she’d kill me because she thought I was you.”

Chrysalis beamed only brighter. “Adversity forges the strongest bonds.”

“Oh yes, you’d know all about that, wouldn’t you? Considering how often you’ve tried taking over Equestria, and failed.”

Her grin remained, without even the faintest hint of irritation. “Lessons were learned.”

“Which brings me back to now.” Cadance leered forward. “You’re up to something. Everypony knows it. How giving yourself up on a silver platter plays into it, though… that’s what I’m having trouble with.”

“Or perhaps I’ve merely accepted the inevitable.” Chrysalis glanced down at the collar around her neck, traced one of its chains to the unicorn holding it, and stared at him from the corner of her eye just long enough to see his stalwart gaze waver. “Why waste energy on wars I’ll never win? Where’s the fun in that?”

“As I recall, ‘fun’ wasn’t on your list of priorities when you were swearing vengeance.”

“Passions were high.” The queen lessened her grin to an amiable smile, cocking her head in a quaint and entirely innocent manner. “I’m sure you can appreciate that, being the Princess of Love. And mother to a beautiful little girl, as I’ve heard.”

Cadance stiffened, ears standing at attention as the feathers in her wings puffed out like the hair on the back of a frightened cat. “What does my daughter have to do with any of this?”

“Oh, nothing, nothing at all. I simply mean to remind you, one mother to another, that we often say things we don’t truly believe in the heat of the moment.”

A pregnant pause settled, the air so thin and silent it was as if the two were standing snout to snout, clutching daggers they both knew they had beneath their cloaks. “Some more than others, I suspect.”

Chrysalis laughed and took a step closer, only to feel iron dig into her carapace as the guards yanked on her short leash. Nonetheless, she rolled her eyes and blithely shook her head. “Oh, Mi Amore Cadenza, my dear, sweet Cadance, I would never lie to you. What good would it do? The last thing I’d want is to sour your judgement of me. Unless of course you don’t believe in second chances.”

“I believe you lost my respect long ago, and you’ve had more than enough chances since then.”

There was another pause, and the queen’s smile withered itself down into a quiet, shrewd smirk; every code had its pattern, every defence had its flaw, no matter how polished and refined. “Once a villain, always a villain.”

“If that is how you wish to see it.”

Shining Armor glanced at his wife, too quick to catch the emotion behind it, but the action itself reeked of a fascinating cocktail. Shock, confusion, a dash of outrage and a pinch of anger – Chrysalis could smell and practically taste it all, even with the ring around her horn. For as much as he loved her, he evidently agreed more with his sister than his wife.

None of this was exactly important information, or even secret if one were observant, but knowledge in any form could be a potent instrument. All it required was a changeling’s touch, and centuries of experience in how to apply it.

“No!”

All eyes in the throne room snapped to the ceiling, and to everyone’s surprise, even Chrysalis’, a young alicorn stood on all fours looking back at them as if they were upside down. The golden glow of her horn dimmed and her hooves came loose from the roof, whereupon she spun about midair and spread a pair of resplendent wings. Her flight spiralled, descending, and soon she was trotting along the crystalline floor and onto the carpet.

“You can’t do that, Mom,” she declared, putting herself between Cadance and Chrysalis, though while her tone was defiant her expression was anxious – brows upturned and ears lowered. “That’s not how we’re supposed to treat people like her.”

Chrysalis blinked. Rare were the moments where she found herself unsure how to react, but this was apparently such an occasion; she’d expected an eavesdropper or two, and Flurry Heart would’ve likely been among them, but for the filly to advocate for her? That was interesting. And possibly quite beneficial.

The father didn’t see it that way, however, and marched forward with ears pinned rearward and reproach in his gaze. “Flurry Heart, get out of here, now.”

“No.” The daughter shook her head and withdrew a couple of steps, accidentally bumping her flank into the queen’s leg. “You’re not saying anything about it either, so… someone needs to. And if that someone has to be me, then I’ll do it.”

Stay away from her!” Cadance barked, leaping from her seat and swooping down from her pedestal like a hawk – sacrificing the high ground to get up close and personal. “Whatever your point is, Flurry, you have no business being here. That creature has tried destroying our family more times than I can count and deserves nothing from us.”

“Oh please,” Chrysalis scoffed, “you’re taking this all much too personally. There was never an issue I had with your family, just those who stood in my way.”

“As if that makes it any better.”

“Is this the Princess of Love talking, or the scorned mare?”

Enough!” Flurry interrupted, tearing herself from Chrysalis and keeping distance between her mother, an anguished look upon her face. “I… know who she is, Mom. I know what she’s done. And I haven’t forgotten that. But Auntie Twilight believes in forgiveness. We should too.”

Chrysalis peered across at her, the daughter of this haggard strumpet, and gently cocked an eyebrow. She’d actually planned on making a similar argument herself, albeit with a more… provocative flair. Even if their intentions weren’t the same, she couldn’t help acknowledging the little tyke’s acumen, and perhaps the fact that Flurry had said it first would yet prove useful.

Cadance merely shook her head. “There must be consequences.”

“Unless you’re Starlight Glimmer,” Chrysalis chimed, and grinned when she felt their confusion tingle throughout her body. “Or have you forgotten? She deceived an entire village into giving up their marks, planned to expand this movement across the whole of ponykind, meddled with time itself, and then very nearly destroyed the entire world out of spite. The most she received was a lecture from Twilight. Even the village welcomed her back with open arms. So if that is how Equestria treats its enemies, shouldn’t I be owed the same duty of care?”

The princess narrowed her eyes and snarled, bristling with enmity. “She at least showed remorse.”

“And I came here at her request,” the queen countered, hardening her brows, adding a cold and indignant edge to her voice. “She convinced me to see you, promised that none of you truly wished any harm on me. Evidently she was mistaken.”

Shining Armor strode over, fixing her with eyes that once gazed upon her with reverence and ecstasy. “It’s hard to let go of a grudge when you stole my wife and used me like a puppet.”

“My dear, please, you belittle yourself.” Chrysalis chortled, adding a sprinkle of playful condescension. “You were so much more than that. Besides, I know for a fact you enjoyed the time we spent together, while it lasted.”

Don’t you dare play that card around here.” Cadance stomped forward and shoved her muzzle in close. The difference in their height was laughable. “My husband is loyal, a good stallion and a loving father, and if you ever disrespect him again, I’ll have you locked in the dungeons and throw away the key.”

Such venom, such vitriol – scarcely a substitute for the sweetness of pure, unfettered love, but coming from her it was delectable all the same. “What would Twilight say to that, I wonder?”

“I am not Twilight.”

“Clearly. She’s far more… principled.”

“Okay, I said that’s enough,” Flurry reaffirmed, shouldering herself between them and pushing her forehooves against the queen’s breast. She wasn’t strong enough to force her back, but Chrysalis nevertheless humoured her, and the guards slackened their grip just a little. “You gave yourself up for a reason. What do you want?”

Her cyan eyes shone with conviction – a sense of unshakable faith in the lessons she’d been taught, the stories she’d been told. Barely fifteen years and this Twilight Sparkle had already become legend, inspiring the next generation. The very notion of it was… bothersome.

But Chrysalis continued beaming a gracious smile and, after a brief moment to remind herself why she’d come here, what she’d set out to accomplish, she put a hoof forward and slowly bowed. “Peace.”

Peace?” the prince-consort spat. “After everything you said about my wife? About us?

Cadance snorted in disdain. “She certainly has a funny way of asking for it.”

“I do not ‘ask’,” Chrysalis snapped, standing straight, “I take, one way or another, as I’ve done for centuries. But I’m not above admitting defeat. And make no mistake, you have beaten me. Robbed me. Of my dignity and my family. Left me with nothing and no one, but the echoes, the memories of everything I once had, all I did and endured for them. My children. Who’ve now outgrown me. Become… twisted versions of themselves. Because they suddenly trusted some… miserable worm mindlessly blathering on about the philosophy you preach, so high and mighty and sanctimonious.”

The entire throne room fell into an almost deathly silence, where even the first breath might cut the invisible wires and set off a trap. The guards, dutifully, remained quiet and still, if a little unnerved, and the same could be said for Shining Armor. Flurry appeared horrified, eyes wide and mouth lolling open, where Cadance merely blinked.

Queen Chrysalis, however, bared her fangs and snarled, glaring back at the princess with steam rising from her ears. “I won’t grovel for mercy like the spineless sycophants you’re accustomed to. I will have it because you will give it.”

Nobody in the hall dared move a muscle; over a thousand years of experience and hardship fueled her indignation, and she would quash anyone who downplayed her pain. They knew this, and they were right to be afraid. It was the only solace she could find, the only twig that hadn’t snapped, to keep herself from lashing out.

Ponies were indeed fearful creatures. Some better at hiding it than others, either through training or through their own nature. But even the bravest could be frightened by sudden terrors – why else would they restrain her, if they did not fear what she could do? And before too long, they would know how much fight was left in her yet.

She still had a plan, after all.

“And I’ll help you,” said Flurry.

Chrysalis peered at her and, despite herself, felt the cold, unwelcome shiver of surprise course through her veins. It wasn’t because the filly’s assertion had thrown a wrench into the works, but because her lowered ears, upturned brows and wide eyes glistened with pity. She’d suffered enough of it from Starlight already.

Cadance slammed her hoof. “No.

Yes.” Flurry steeled her gaze and shuffled closer to Chrysalis once again, almost standing alongside her. “She needs someone to give her a chance. If you won’t, I will.”

“Or we could let Twilight handle this.”

“And pass our problems on to her? We need to take responsibility, Mom.”

“No, we don’t,” the princess growled. “We’re not obligated to help her, all because, what, she says she wants peace? She hasn’t even apologised for all she’s done!”

“There’s no use for apologies, Mi Amore,” Chrysalis intoned, leering back at her. “Friends are honest with each other, are they not? We both know I’d only be lying.”

Cadance prowled a step forward and glared daggers. “You have no friends here.”

Mother…” Flurry implored. “Please…

She paid her an irritated glance, which slowly withered into a weary stare, until she eventually tore her gaze away with a grunt. “But I know Twilight would disagree… and Celestia by extension,” she grumbled, and begrudgingly locked eyes with Chrysalis once more. “Don’t think you’ve won yet, Your Majesty. We’ll find out what you’re planning sooner or later, and when we do… nothing will save you then.”

The queen thought about smiling one last time, but settled for a truthful glower instead. “All in due time, child, I assure you.”