• Published 27th Dec 2020
  • 222 Views, 8 Comments

The Show Must Go On - libertydude

Trixie and Octavia must work together to put on a holiday show. Too bad only one of them wants to do it.

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What's Old is New

The crowd gathered in the dance hall like they’d never seen one before. Ponies shuffled around in awkward semicircles, while the young children ran about through the gaps the adults provided. Low murmuring voices of unimportant small talk combined into a dull cacophony nopony paid any attention. The only pony moving with any sense of purpose was the stallion behind the bar, his hooves flashing fast with various cocktails. His clients showed their appreciation through quick gulps and even quicker demands for another.

Yet the townsfolk showed no misapprehension or impatience with the environment. The past days of the storm had taken a toll on them, and their desire for any kind of amusement overwhelmed any sense of entitlement. The fast approach of the even colder night likewise hastened their desire to stay inside. Some of the more indelicate members even proclaimed they’d stick around as long as there were drinks.

The mayor stood at attention towards the back of the dance hall. His eyes shifted to the clock above the bar every few seconds, his mind wandering to possible causes for the delays. Even he knew that boredom would only keep the ponies here for so long, and if there was one thing he knew stained a politician’s standing, it was not living up to one’s promises. Even if said promise dealt with a mere holiday show.

“Fillies and gentlecolts!” a feminine voice boomed. The room snapped to attention, every head turning to the still-empty stage. “Welcome to the first ever Hearth’s Warming Eve Spectacular in Hilltop!” The voice seemed to come from everywhere in the room, as if the same speaker stood in multiple spots.

The mayor’s face filled with confusion. We don’t have a microphone, he thought. How the hay are they pulling that off?

“Without further ado,” the voice continued, “please welcome your tour guides of talent!” A large puff of smoke filled the stage. Where once nothing had stood now showed two mares. One stood tall, a cello pressed against her body and a bow in her hoof. The other stared down at the ground whispering unintelligible words. Her wizard cloak waved from invisible winds coursing along the stage floor.

“Behold,” the cloaked one whispered. “The first Hearth’s Warming Eve!”

Another flash filled the stage. Some ponies glanced away in the bright light, while others stared transfixed. Now amongst the two mares on-stage were a collection of ropes lying flat on the stage. Octavia drew her bow across the cello, and the ropes began to form into the shapes of ponies. A different ethereal glow filled each rope’s outline. Small dots formed along the section most would identify as a pony’s head, combining until vague faces could be made out.

Hushed whispers went out amongst the crowd. Recognizance of the cloaked visage of Clover the Clever and the helmeted Commander Hurricane filled the auditorium. The rest of the ropes likewise bore striking resemblances to the other material characters of the Hearth’s Warming legend.

Octavia held on a long note, giving the audience time to soak in these new developments. Then, faster than the townsfolk could gasp, she struck a hard sharp note.

The ropes all shot toward her, their pony shapes remaining intact. Children in the audience screamed when the ropes’ expressions, otherwise taciturn, twisted into unmistakable rage. Even their forehooves reached out for Octavia’s throat like a real pony filled with murderous intentions would.

At the last possible moment, Octavia’s whole body shifted to the right. No muscle in her whole body twitched to force her away from the onslaught. Her entire movement seemed quite weightless. The ropes collided into a mess and mashed against each other. Their pony forms seemed to be thrashing and kicking one another like any pony in the old times would.

The mayor gave a small smile. A rolling platform, he thought. Not even an inch high and with wheels. Lets the gals look like they’re moving without moving. Least I can figure that one out.

Octavia’s bow pushed harder against the strings, a dark tone filling the room. A sharp whistle went over the crowd before a white form appeared near the bar. The figure appeared to be that of a pony, only emaciated and glowing with hot energy. A deep snort and cry came out from its lips while it dashed over the gawking ponies’ heads. Several more whistles filled the hall, and more of the thin horses started galloping in a circle above the townsponies’ heads.

The crowd shrunk back. They knew Windigos when they saw them.

Trixie, who stood nearly invisible against the back wall of the stage, released a quick burst of magic. The Windigoes faded from view with each second. This was Octavia’s cue for the next movement, and she released a new major chord. The ropes tore themselves away from one another and started walking around the stage on their artificial hooves. The way they moved made them seem both weightless and heavy, their legs hovering just above the ground and compressing like they’d touched anyway. Every so often, their limbs shot up to their eyes, scanning some distant horizon as their historical bases had.

Per the legend, the land of Equestria was soon found. Octavia released another quick burst of sharp notes from her cello. As before, the ropes lunged toward her, but the magical aura Trixie cast upon the rolling platform tugged Octavia away just in time. Again the appropriate historical ponies fought amongst each other, while others stood off and shook their heads at the unrefined scene. Another burst of whistles filled the room, and the Windigos returned. Their frenzied gallop around the crowd correlated with the fighting ropes’ ever-growing sluggishness. Their thrashes against one another became slower, and their lining color began to change to a solid blue. Eventually they stopped moving altogether.

Octavia stopped her music. Trixie stood back against the wall, cracking her hooves. The crowd stood silent. Fillies and colts held their breath. Even the mayor gripped the wall in quiet anticipation.

Suddenly, a burst of pink filled the room. The ropes dispersed with their equestrian forms and coalesced into a singular heart shape. Pink fire seemed to envelop the outline to where many were sure the roof would soon be alight. The Windigos once dominating the room began to squeal and dissipate the stronger the heart burned. In just a few seconds, they were all gone.

The heart stood triumphant against the roof, shining down on the Hilltopians like Celestia’s very Sun.

Octavia and Trixie shot each other a quiet smirk. Trixie nodded her head. Octavia gave one last trill, then hit the practiced high note.

The heart burst into a thousand pieces. Each piece of rope tore itself apart and let the fire usurp their mass. Little bits of hemp dissipated before they even got a foot above the ponies’ heads.

For a moment, all was quiet.

Then a voice said: “That is the story of Hearth’s Warming Eve.”

The applause had been deafening. Ponies kept cheering for a solid ten minutes after the show, along with the occasional encore demands being thrown out. The little fillies and colts jumped up and down with giggling ecstasy. The entire town, for the first time since Octavia could see, was animated with holiday cheer.

Yet neither she nor Trixie made any move to attempt a solo act. Not only was the audience too enthralled in praising the last performance, but any further attempt would’ve been fruitless. Nothing would top the magic-symphonic rendition of Hearth’s Warming Eve they had performed, both in the townsfolks’ eyes and their own.

The requisite post-performance theatrics continued as they normally did. Firm hoofshakes congratulating the mares on a fantastic show. Polite, if somewhat overeager offers to buy them drinks from both artistic appreciators and tipsy would-be suitors. Little fillies running around them singing, “Again, again!” until they became too tired to cheer and needed to be courted back home for bedtime.

All of this passed by in a blur for Octavia. It was only near the end of the theatrics, when all but the most inebriated ponies had gone homeward, that she snapped out of her post-performance haze. She smiled when the portly stallion who made this all possible drew nearer and gave an appreciative nod.

“Well done,” the mayor said. “Never seen a better show here in all my life.”

“Thank you, Mr. Mayor,” Octavia said. “I’ve never performed in a better town.”

“Flattery’s my job, Miss Octavia. But thank you nevertheless.” He stared down at his hooves, kicking at a discarded napkin on the floor.

“What’s the matter, Mayor?” Octavia said.

The mayor sighed. “Well, I just got word ten minutes ago that Slush Puppy’s just gotten back from down the mountain. Says he’ll be ready to take you whenever you’re ready.” He kicked at the napkin again. “Just hate to see you go. You brought a nice bit of fun to this place.”

Octavia gave a confident smirk. “Who said the fun had to end here?”

The mayor gave her a surprised glance. “But you were fixing on getting back home! For Celestia’s sake, don’t stay here on account of an old geezer’s yapping.”

“But tomorrow’s Hearth’s Warming,” Octavia said. “Who wants to spend that going down a cold mountain?”

The mayor chuckled. “I can see where you’re coming from. Oh well. Slush Puppy will like a day of rest.”

“Days,” Trixie’s voice called out from behind them. “Octavia and I figured we’d stay until we experienced all of Hilltop.”

The mayor’s jaw dropped. “You mean…you’re going to stay for a while?”

“Sure!” Trixie said. “Besides, dogs can’t carry my cart all the way down. Not comfortably, anyway.”

“Hah!” The mayor shook his head. “You keep stalling around here, you might get to liking it.” With that, he tipped an invisible hat and wandered out the doors into the blizzard starting to pick up.

“He’s right,” Octavia said. “I actually am starting to like it here.”

Trixie laughed. “Just remember Ponyville summers. You’ll want out of here in a heartbeat.”

“I don’t have the travel itch like you, Trixie. I could play in one town my whole life. As long as my friends were there, of course.”

“Well, Ponyville will have that for sure.” She began to blush when Octavia gave her a knowing look. “I’m talking about Vinyl, of course.”

“Of course. Though they’ll always be an open dinner table at my home for a certain great and powerful magician.”

Trixie gave a smile, too wavering in the lips to be anything but genuine. “I would be honored.” Her face fell back into its default haughtiness. “Providing, of course, the spot is marked as belonging to ‘The Great and Powerful Trixie’. Otherwise the entire dinner is off.”

Octavia looked down at the floor and sighed. “Well, I don’t know about you, but the cold has started to irritate my hooves. I was wondering if you would join me for hot chocolate? As a fellow colleague in showmareship, of course.”

Trixie smiled. “I would love nothing more.” The magician offered a hoof, and Octavia grasped it with a firm hoof of her own. Their hooves moved to their partner’s shoulders and they began walking out into the freezing night.

“Of course, we’re getting peppermint-tinted cocoa,” Octavia said. “Otherwise, you’re just eating melted chocolate.”

Trixie scoffed. “Only a plebian would focus on peppermint. The Great and Powerful Trixie takes only hot chocolate laced with the fluffiest of marshmallows!”

Octavia gave an exaggerated gag. “Marshmallows? Are you having hot chocolate or a soggy S’more?”

“Do not befoul marshmallows in the Great and Powerful Trixie’s presence! Not even a Super Duper Apology Tour would absolve you from such blasphemy!”

But Octavia could see the miniscule smile building under Trixie’s hat. A smile that would build and build until not even the greatest showmare in the world could hide the friendship it represented.

Comments ( 6 )

Very nice. The performance Trixie and Octavia did was familiar but creative. I liked how combining their talents produced a unique take on an old classic.

And of course a little friendshipping at the end was sweet.

Nice one!

Thanks so much! I loved that you kept them both very much in character. They both got to learn something as well. It was very naturally done. It also left the door open for further interaction.
Happy Hearth’s Warming!

This was a pretty great story

Thanks! I was a little worried people would see the final performance as underwhelming and uncreative, but I'm glad you enjoyed it. And a little friendshipping never hurts.

Really glad you enjoyed it! Yes, I wanted them to both learn a lesson, as I thought just making one of them the antagonizer would've just made the story flat. Trixie may be easy to write as selfish and arrogant, but I also thought Octavia would have some ego issues of her own like any performer (recall that in "Slice of Life", she was more concerned about the Bug-Bear interfering with her performance at the wedding rather than, you know, the rest of the town's safety).

It was very naturally done.

Funny thing is that finding Trixie and Octavia's back-and-forth dialogue was relatively easy once I got into it, but deciding the chronology and location of the story was the hardest part. I knew it had to be after Trixie reformed, but before her friendship with Starlight let her step into a heroic role. I also knew it had to be before Season 9, since "A Matter of Principles" showed Octavia and Trixie together, and it would be weird building that dynamic with that history. I also decided to place them in a faraway town since putting them in Ponyville would've made their issues harder to write, given I'd have to make about a hundred excuses for why they were stuck together instead of them just sulking in their respective homes. So yeah, not as easy a story to write as I thought it would be, but overall a great experiment in creativity.

And now that you mention it, seeing them in another story together post-friendship might be neat. Definitely an idea to keep in the back pocket (that, and I may want to revisit Hilltop as a setting someday).

Thank you so much!

That was a great story!

Thank you so much! It's always my hope that my stories can entertain, so this means quite a lot to me.

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