• 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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Two Mothers

Flurry had, in her own way, surpassed all expectations. Chrysalis always knew that convincing these ponies to let her into their home would be easy, but assumed that gaining their trust would take far longer; what progress she thought would span months she actually made in a matter of days. Quite surprising, considering how perceptive and analytical the young mare was. Not unlike Twilight when they first clashed.

She’d call her gullible, if she weren’t similarly impressed by Flurry’s thirst for knowledge – knowledge her family would never have shared. Despite herself and her intentions, the queen couldn’t help recognising the wisdom of an open mind, and it was refreshing to face a foe she could respect for once.

But such thoughts were better left unsaid, or they’d spoil the garden in which she’d grown her lies, each so perfect one could scarcely see the thorns beneath their innocent petals. “I went to Zebrica once, you know.”

“Really?”

“Indeed.” Chrysalis led Flurry through the corridors of the palace, familiar to her even before she officially arrived. “But only once. You see, the tribes, chiefdoms and empires there are very… spiritual in nature. Shamans travel the land in search of the sick and downtrodden, helping where they can, but the key role they play in everywhere they go… is to determine the truth. And believe me when I say, they’re quite adept at what they do.”

“How do you…” Flurry yawned into the bend of a foreleg and rubbed at her eye with a wing. “Pardon me. How do you mean?”

“Well, the specifics are a mystery to me – a trade secret, never written down or whispered outside their circles – but they appear to have… a sense when it comes to these things. Similar to earth ponies and their internal compass, or how changelings can feel what others feel.”

“And pegasi and their wings?”

The queen angled her head and raised an eyebrow. “How do you mean?”

“Pegasi can… sense changes in thaumatic pressure through their… their feathers.” Pausing to yawn again, Flurry began to lag behind. “Like unicorns and their horns. It’s all… interconnected.”

“…I see,” Chrysalis murmured absently, slowing her pace to match, then curled the corner of her mouth into a smile. “And I also see that someone is in need of a good night’s sleep.”

“I’m not that tired, I swear! I just yawn a lot when it gets late.”

“Come now, Flurry Heart, I thought we promised to be honest with each other.”

“Since when have you ever been?”

“Ha! Soon you’ll be witty enough to challenge Discord himself.” The queen chuckled and considered draping a wing or foreleg over her withers, but remembered the height difference and thought better of it. “Until then, however, you still have your limits, little one. Now, don’t be so stubborn like the rest of your aunts and accept it is your bedtime.”

“Hey, that’s not fair!” Flurry side-stepped away with a grin and turned to face her. “I’m supposed to be babysitting you!

“Don’t argue with your elders. You know I’m right.”

“I know, I know.” She yawned once more and picked up the pace, starting off with a bounce and an eager kick. “But it’s not my fault you kept me up this late. You know I like these stories!”

“Yes, it’s all a dastardly ploy to get you in trouble.” Chrysalis lowered her head and softened her voice. “But then again, if I got you in trouble, then I’d be in trouble as well. Who’d be there to teach me about friendship while you’re grounded, hmm?”

“Starlight, probably. Or Sunburst. They’re the most available.”

She waited until the filly’s attention was firmly grounded on the way ahead – or lost in a daydream, it mattered not – before she straightened her neck and allowed an inkling of disgust to pull on her lips. So many names had been the bane of her existence, and the thought of them finding happiness, especially together, didn’t make her sick as much as it filled her with scalding, resentful bile.

But their time would come eventually, she reminded herself. And besides, today had been too nice to end with bitter memories; she had an image to maintain, a mask to wear, a role to play. And as they rounded the corner into Flurry’s bedroom, she flicked on the light switch with a wisp of magic to reveal a candid grin.

Toys lay scattered about the floor and clumped in corners, the chest in which they belonged open and empty – the aftermath of a good morning’s romp through imagination. A filly-sized castle stood near the doorway, protected by a hundred odd wooden knights, and a large goosefeather bed lazed at the opposite end, lined with a collection of stuffed animals. The famous Whammy sat at the head of the pack.

Flurry was already bounding onto the mattress, and caught every toy she dislodged in her magic before they hit the carpeted floor. It all smelled of… affection… and strawberry and vanilla – freshly cleaned sheets and scented candles – and the queen’s wings fluttered beneath their shields in response.

“You’ll need to tidy this place up tomorrow, I reckon,” Chrysalis informed, her tone even and steady as her gait. “The servants may dust and polish your shelves and trinkets, but I’m sure they left your toys alone for a reason.”

“Tomorrow.” Flurry burrowed into the quilt and started making room for the rest of her stuffed animals, hugging Whammy close. “It’s nighttime now. I need my sleep.”

“So it is.” Flicking the main lights back off and switching the bedside lamp on, Chrysalis strolled forwards and sat on her haunches. “But for the record, I only tell stories when you ask for them, so it actually is your fault that you’re up this late.”

“Liar.”

“Cross my hearts.”

“And hope to fly, stick a cupcake in your eye?”

“Yes, even that.”

The young mare giggled and pulled the blanket under her chin. “Goodnight, Chryssy.”

“Goodnight, little dove.” The queen bowed and gently planted a small, tender kiss on her brow, then beamed with utmost sincerity at the wide eyes and cute button nose squished between toys on either side. Flurry was cosy, snug as a bug in a rug, and the warmth she felt flowed into Chrysalis like a thin coat of water rolling down her hide. “Sweet dreams.”

Now it was the lamp’s turn to go out, easing the room into shadow and leaving the pale glow from the hallway as the only source of illumination. The parents were wise to choose a space so deep in the palace as their nursery, but although it made strategic sense, the lack of windows left something to be desired, and the glow-in-the-dark stars that plastered the ceiling were a poor substitute for a naked view of the night sky.

Even so, unless she were to somehow convince them both that Flurry deserved to see the sunrise when she woke up, things would remain as they were. And talented though she was in the art of persuasion, she knew that no idea she could propose would be above suspicion. Once a villain, always a villain.

Chrysalis stood on all fours once more and walked for the exit, taking care to avoid the silhouettes on the carpet and keep her footfalls quiet. She had her own room to find, and quite a lot of thinking to be done before the break of dawn – conversations to ponder and dissect, new information to memorise. Plans to devise and later put in motion.

“Chryssy…”

The faint call stayed her hooves halfway from the bed to the door, and she raised her ears and arched an eyebrow as she looked over her shoulder, peering into the gloom.

Flurry held her gaze without reply for a moment, unease creeping through the air. But there was courage too – a confidence built upon the many hours they’d spent together. “Do you think you’ll ever want to see your children again?”

A question that was bound to rear its ugly head sooner or later; as they were, no, she didn’t care for them, because they’d betrayed her and everything she taught them. But she couldn’t deny their loss had… affected her. Made her less than whole. Driven her into the wilds of the unsettled west, in the hopes that reconnecting with her past would somehow fill the emptiness within.

They were alive, at least, but not who they used to be. What she raised them to be. And even if she set the world ablaze, watched as kingdoms and empires cracked and burned beneath the weight of their hubris, they would never welcome her as their queen again. Not unless she, too, surrendered to these… misguided notions of friendship and benevolence.

But Flurry expected an answer, not the maddened musings of a matriarch, and Chrysalis knew that saying ‘never’ wouldn’t be acceptable, especially to an acolyte of Twilight herself. “Not yet.”

“I think they’d like to see you.” Flurry yawned yet again, then settled back down into the pillow. “You can’t have been that bad, if you cared for them.”

Chrysalis flinched internally – why, she wasn’t entirely sure – and that unpleasant, almost painful chill she felt a few days prior returned. Flurry surely meant well, but for whatever reason her words struck deep, and the queen was glad that if her mask had slipped, the shadows would keep her expression in the dark.

Choosing to forego another response, she continued walking and shut the door behind her, then closed her eyes and sighed to herself. Every plan had its dangers, some more so than others, and some were doomed to fail from the beginning. Where this one fell on the scale was hard to say for certain, but she hadn’t been prepared to answer questions about a future that didn’t interest her.

She’d have to keep that in mind for the rest of her stay, if she could be bothered coming up with a couple of phony responses, the pledge of honesty be damned.

“What do you think you’re doing?”

Her eyes languidly opened and she looked to her left.

Cadance glared back at her, just over a few strides away. She must’ve been coming to bid Flurry her own goodnight when she caught sight of Chrysalis exiting the bedroom. Without her peytral and assorted regalia, and her mane tied in a loose bun for the night, she seemed almost ordinary – perhaps even a common servant, if it weren’t for the horn and wings.

Chrysalis quietly groaned and rolled her eyes, turning in the opposite direction and heading for her room. “I’m not in the mood, Candy.”

“You’re also not meant to be in there,” the mare groused, matching her pace. “Or have you forgotten that you’re only here because I allow it? You’re on thin ice, Chrysalis, so one more infringement like that and you’ll be spending the rest of your days in a cell.”

“You know, for the Princess of Love, I haven’t seen much of it from you.”

“What’s there to love in you?”

The queen scowled. “Something Flurry sees that you don’t,” she rumbled, using her next step to pivot and stand side-on to Cadance, blocking the corridor. “You could learn a thing or two from her, or any of her aunts, if you were as open to change as I am.”

“But this isn’t about change, is it?!” barked Cadance, flattening her ears and flaring her wings, slamming both forehooves so hard into the floor that it nearly shook the walls. “You’re no different from when we beat you the last time, are you? Which means this is another one of your schemes, and I don’t need to be the Element of Honesty to see it. Whatever you’re plotting, however my daughter fits into it, you won’t succeed, so the instant I catch a whiff that you’ve been a bad influence on her, that’s it.”

If she weren’t constrained by the ring and her own façade, Chrysalis would’ve slapped her like the insolent brat she was. She hadn’t endured for millennia. She hadn’t suffered for tens of thousands of children – bled for them, and worse. She was a foal, a mere babe, pretending to be a princess, and she had the audacity to address a queen in that tone of voice, and threaten her as if she were more experienced.

Chrysalis gritted her teeth and bared the tips of her fangs, tensing her haunches, itching and quietly praying for an excuse to pounce – throw caution to the wind and tear flesh, crush bone in its place.

“No more chances.” Cadance straightened herself a little, but still had the wild look of a jealous mare scorned. “Come what may from Twilight and her friends, even Celestia herself, I’ll see to it that you won’t see me, Shining Armor, and especially Flurry Heart ever again.”

And in a flash of magic, she was gone, teleported elsewhere in the palace, probably to join her husband in bed and find some comfort in his embrace. For what good that would do either of them.

Meanwhile, Chrysalis was left staring at the empty space where she used to be, and suddenly had nowhere to channel her rage. She instead settled for whipping back around with an incensed huff, then continued marching down the corridor, stomping with every step.

Who was she to rip another child away from her?