• Published 16th Nov 2012
  • 20,194 Views, 1,026 Comments

Address Unknown - remedy



Derpy's suffered scorn for a mold she doesn't fit. Will a chance meeting change her life for the better?

  • ...
53
 1,026
 20,194

4. Of Business and Bubbles

Chapter 4 – Of Business and Bubbles

The rest of the day’s work went surprisingly fast. Ponyville was much easier to navigate than Cloudsdale, due mostly to the fact that Ponyville did not have a vertical component built into its mailing system, and streets in the earthbound village were much more organized than its skybound counterpart.

Derpy didn’t need much in terms of assistance from the mare trotting next to her, though dividing the weight of the mail and having a personal guide for the day was very helpful, to say the least. As it was her first day on the job in Ponyville, she still was not the most familiar with the town layout, even if it was less complicated than Cloudsdale.

Twilight noticed that the mailmare occasionally stopped to inspect the mail she was delivering, and though the pauses were curious, Twilight decided not to mention the oddity in favor of continuing their casual talk.

The frivolous conversations helped, in a way. Rather than distracting Derpy from her route, they distracted her from her own fears of inadequacy and expectations of impending doom around every corner. She was able to accomplish her job as she was meant to – comfortably, confidently, and even slightly ahead of schedule.

As they neared the post office, Derpy and Twilight stopped for a moment before Derpy would have to finish up for the day. They turned to face each other, and Twilight couldn’t help but notice that Derpy was happier than she recalled ever seeing her before.

While she was reflecting on this, she didn’t notice Derpy moving slightly closer. Before Twilight knew what was happening, Derpy had quickly pulled her close with a hoof around her shoulder, nuzzled her ear, and gave her a short, tight squeeze. Then, just as quickly, she stepped back, a large grin spreading across her face.

The pegasus sighed, and cheerily said, “Thank you… just… thank you so much again! You can’t know how much today has meant to me. I’ll see you tomorrow, Twilight!” And at that, she turned and headed through the post office doors.

Twilight was left on the path, slightly confused, slightly stunned, and mostly reddened, with a hammering heartbeat that felt as though it was centered in her throat. Slowly she turned to head home, a large smile working its way onto her own face as well.

****************

Derpy walked into the office, still smiling. She had delivered her mail successfully, she had fun doing it, and she had made a wonderful friend all in the same day.

Post Haste, who was working behind the counter, looked up with a start when he noticed Derpy’s entrance out of the corner of his eye. She had returned earlier than he'd expected. Most mailponies tended to be on the slower side, and it was a rare sight to have a pony return early. He looked up at her with somewhat of an uncertain smile adorning his face. It was enough to slow Derpy’s entrance, turning her afterglow feeling to one of wariness.

“Good afternoon, Post,” she addressed him. “Is everything alright? You look a little… stressed.”

Post nodded at her, agreeing. “Yes, I have a little bit of a strange situation going on at the moment. I need to make sure that I address it today, and that I address it correctly.”

The mailmare cocked her head to the side slightly as she looked at him. She knew what was coming. Her smile vanished and she took a seat, fully expecting that he needed to speak with her about something serious. She was exactly right with that bit of intuition.

“Derpy, I have some news to discuss with you, but I would like you to hear me out before you jump to any conclusions. The news is all related, and I’m not sure how you might view it…”

He paused slightly, trying to not alarm the poor mare more than he was already. “I’m not sure if you will think of this as good news or bad news. Are you willing to speak with me for a little bit about it?”

Derpy seemed to turn an even darker gray than normal as she mutely nodded.

“I understand there was a bit of an accident by the library this morning,” he began.

Derpy nodded glumly, eyes downcast. This was going to be the conversation she had expected and dreaded after all. “It seems the Cloudsdale Postal Service was watching your first day on the job down here in Ponyville, and almost immediately after your accident they sent word to me that they were relieving you of your position in Cloudsdale.”

It was just as she thought. She was fired, no two bits about it. She slumped, speechless.

But…”

Her ears perked up as he continued; she was not expecting there to be a ‘but’.

“Spike visited me shortly afterward to inform me of exactly what happened - or, at least, what he knew of what happened. It turns out that Cloudsdale’s Postal Service did not stay around long enough to watch anything more than the crash. Spike let me know that he and Twilight ran into you – literally – and that it was in no way your fault.”

He now had Derpy’s full attention. She had no idea where was this one sided conversation was heading.

“Contrary to the fact that you had a major mishap in your rounds today, you returned to me early with empty mailbags. I assume all of the contents were delivered?” he queried.

“Yes, sir,” she gulped. “Tw- Miss Sparkle helped me clean and dry the mail, so it was still deliverable.”

Post Haste sat back with a happy sounding sigh, a true smile gracing his face this time. He waved a hoof dismissively.

“Derpy, I told you, no ‘sirs’ here.” He grinned. “You had a major problem this afternoon, due only to bad luck and bad timing. Instead of giving up, you had Miss Sparkle assist you. I can think of no better course of action, and proof of quick thinking, than having our librarian, especially one so gifted as her, help you solve that problem. More to your credit, you returned to me early, even after losing hours spent fixing a problem you did not cause.”

Derpy now openly gaped, and poked at her ears to make sure they were still in working order.

Post Haste was not finished. “I could tell this morning, and can see plainly now, that you put your heart and soul into your work.” Post now seemed to be positively glowing. “I am honored to offer you a permanent position working for the Ponyville Post Office, if you would like it.”

Derpy sat bolt upright at this. The news that she had been fired from Cloudsdale had been devastating, but that meant she was open for full employment in Ponyville… There could not have been better news, unless he had decided for some reason to give her a ten thousand bit bonus. She flicked her eyes towards Post and noticed that he was still looking at her inquisitively, and then realized that she was still sitting frozen to the spot and had not given an answer.

In a burst of exuberance rivaling those only attainable by Pinkie Pie, she shot out her seat with a resounding “Yes! I accept! I accept!”

Post Haste nodded, glad that he had not destroyed her dreams, but rather renewed the hope of one of the most dedicated mailponies he had met.

“In that case, welcome to the Ponyville Postal Service.”

****************

Twilight was busying herself in the library with yet another reshelving day. In her mind’s eye, she was very much behind schedule in the reorganization, as she had only had a chance to manage five of them in the last two weeks. Every reshelving was a silent, unnoticed tribute to Spike, who somehow was still able to find virtually any book in the library, regardless of the constant shuffles. Twilight happily hummed throughout the ordeal, oblivious to the eye rolling she was garnering from her number one assistant as he tried to keep track of which books were going where during this round of random rearrangement.

The unicorn couldn’t really understand exactly why she was so excited to have Derpy visiting later that evening, but she couldn’t deny that she was anticipating the time she would get to spend with the mousy mare. There was just something about Derpy that felt familiar – something that made her feel as though she had known Derpy for years, though they had only just met. She continued her self-inflicted chore, though with much less attention than usual.

As early evening began to settle over Ponyville, Derpy began her trek toward the library. In truth, she was almost literally walking on clouds. The events of yesterday seemed like they had happened only in a dream, but she knew the dream was now reality.

She reached the door of the great tree and gave a solid knock. She barely had to wait at all before the door was opened with great enthusiasm by Twilight.

Twilight was actually expecting to have surprised the pegasus with such a quick reply to the knock, but when she looked out into the path, she saw an unusually cheerful and unperturbed Derpy waiting for her at the doorstep. Twilight invited her in, reveling in the idea that their collision the other day had been a catalyst to an almost complete reversal in the mood of the pegasus. They settled on the sofa quickly, and Twilight levitated some tea to them with her purple hazy magic, noticing that Derpy almost seemed to be trembling with excitement.

“Twilight – Post Haste offered me a permanent job in Ponyville!” she burst forth, unable to contain her enthusiasm any longer. “It feels like a dream come true! I never imagined I could enjoy my job as much as I have here, and I have you, and you only, to thank for it.”

“Me?” Twilight gave a slight cough, having inhaled some of her tea at that announcement. “How in Equestria did I help? I thought if anything I would have ruined your chances by trampling over you yesterday.”

“That’s just the thing,” Derpy admitted. “It was the best mistake we could have had. The Cloudsdale service was watching me, just waiting for a chance to dismiss me, and they got it. But Post Haste was eager to offer me the job they conveniently released me from. Plus…” she paused, blushing slightly, “he thought getting your help with fixing the mail was as close to brilliance as mailponies get.”

She beamed at Twilight, who was looking both surprised and endlessly relieved at the same time. The fact Derpy would be working in Ponyville from now on meant they would have plenty of chances at seeing each other.

“That’s great news, Derpy! I’m just glad I was able to help you so much more than we had thought.”

That statement gave Derpy a moment of pause. She did have something she wanted to ask Twilight, but wasn’t sure what the unicorn would think of her for it.

No time like the present, her mind reminded her, and she nodded internally to the voice. “Actually Twilight, I did have something else I was wondering if you could help me with tonight. If that’s alright,” she quickly finished, noticing the quizzical look adorning Twilight’s face.

“Of course, Derpy. I’d be happy to help you with anything! What was it you needed?”

“Well…” Derpy hesitated, fiddling with her hooves in nervousness, “I was wondering if you knew of any books with spells that might help fix… well, you know…” She pointed with a small amount of shame at her eyes.

Twilight felt her heart sink within her chest, a deep surge of empathy filling her soul for the poor mare in front of her. Things were going much better for her, but of course she still would be concerned about her uncooperative eyes.

“Let me think a moment, okay?”

Derpy gave a nod.

Twilight hadn’t had a vast amount of medical experience, and had even less actual training in medical magic, but she was confident her magical aptitude would make up for the lack of instruction, provided she found the correct spell with sufficient information on how to perform it.

Memories surfaced of her past dealings with illnesses, and she realized how infrequent they had been, not to mention that she was usually not the pony that ultimately found a solution. Both Apple Bloom’s case of the Cutie Pox and the incident with Poison Joke were the only true health problems she had encountered thus far, not including the situation when Fluttershy had attempted to nurse a bird back to health without knowing it was a phoenix. Both times pony illnesses were involved, Zecora had been the one to ultimately find their solution.

Unfortunately, Zecora was not present, so Twilight thought, her eyes drifting downward while she contemplated, digging through the recesses of her mind for any books that may have mentioned magical remedies for pony ailments. Ultimately, she came up with absolutely nothing. Frustratingly, her magic was more often suited to physical mastery of inanimate objects, control of behavioral responses, or manipulation of living beings as a whole. Twilight cringed inwardly as she recalled her last fundamental change to the structure of a living creature and the frog-orange hybrid that had resulted. Granted, the frog was not the intended target, but regardless of that fact, it did not instill a large amount of confidence in the unicorn.

She gave a heavy sigh as she resigned herself to her best chances – either seeking advice from Zecora, or somehow managing to find a fully detailed spell within her capabilities containing enough information to allow her to cast it comfortably. Other than those options, she had come up with absolutely nothing. With another sigh, she lightly shook her still drooping head, not looking up, still internally searching desperately for some known, but forgotten, secret.

“I don’t know of any offhoof, Derpy. I’m sorry.”

Twilight continued her downwardly distant stare while Derpy sat in silence for a minute, before murmuring, “Um, Twilight?”

“Hmm?” Twilight was snapped out of deep thought, only to realize that in her magical musings, her eyes had become transfixed on Derpy’s flank, causing a substantial blush to suffuse the pegasus’ cheeks. “Oh! Oh, I’m sorry. I was just lost in thought there for a minute…” Twilight gave a weak but unconvincing smile.

“It’s alright.” Derpy gave a slight grin back, her blush fading, though she had to admit to herself she was slightly flattered by the idea of another pony mesmerized by her flank like that. She couldn’t remember ever having somepony show anything remotely resembling attraction to her, and she welcomed the thought. “What were you thinking about?”

Twilight gave the best answer that she could, because she truthfully wasn’t completely sure what she had been dwelling on. “I was wondering about your cutie mark, actually,” she responded, looking up into Derpy’s eyes. “Cutie marks are supposed to represent that special something that makes you different from everypony else. What was it that gave you your bubble cutie mark?”

Derpy looked slightly downcast before replying, “I honestly don’t know. They just appeared when my eyes were starting to get to the point where I had real difficulty seeing.”

Her gaze dropped again. “I never knew what they meant, but everypony else thinks it’s just because that’s what’s filling my head most of the time. It’s the only explanation I’ve been given that comes close to making any sense, but I really hate that idea. I don’t want my special something to be that I’m an ‘airhead’.”

She looked back up at Twilight, expecting to find a sympathetic look, or an incoming hug, or some other similar expression of comfort. However, what she saw was vastly different.

Twilight was frowning, shaking her head and apparently lost once again in deep thought. Derpy watched her with a puzzled look, waiting patiently for several minutes for Twilight to return from her entranced state. All the while, Twilight sat, trying to piece together the timing of the appearance and the deeper meaning that must have accompanied Derpy’s cutie mark. Cutie marks don’t show up solely to ridicule their bearer.

As she thought, though, her frown began to lessen as lights in her brain started turning blinking, wheels and cogs initiated rotations, and quills began inking out a picture of what her friend’s cutie mark must be representing. She reached over absentmindedly and ran a hoof over the cutie mark, sending a slight pleasant shiver through the mare. “No, Derpy. I don’t think that’s it at all. You’re obviously not an airhead, and anypony who thinks that doesn’t know anything about the real you.”

Derpy looked skeptical, but allowed Twilight to continue. “Bubbles are a symbol of innocent joy, but also of beauty. A filly blowing bubbles doesn’t see soap filled with air. If they did, it wouldn’t be any fun for them, would it?” Derpy still wasn’t sure where this was going, but she could tell Twilight was far from finished.

“Bubbles are ever changing; they’re unique, showing brilliant colors and endless possibilities to those who look for them. But, they are also vulnerable, fragile. They are blown about, at the mercy of the winds they are caught in. To really see its beauty, a bubble needs to be in a stable environment where it can be appreciated while it lasts.

"AND…” Twilight gave a smirk and tapped a hoof directly between Derpy’s eyes, which were now rapt with attention and staring back at Twilight with wide eyed wonder, “...when you look through a bubble, it causes significant visual distortion - just like what you were starting to see when you got your mark.

"Derpy, I think your cutie mark set you aside as special because despite your distorted view, you were, and are, a beautiful, unique individual with something nopony else has. You have a deep inner splendor that can only be seen best when you accept yourself and somepony else accepts you just as you are.”

Slowly, Derpy nodded. Though it was very in depth and theoretical, it somehow… made sense. She leaned forward, looking deeply at Twilight, uncertain if she should ask, though she knew she must.

“You… think I’m beautiful?”

Twilight simply nodded, a smile gracing her face.

“Even though… my eyes…?” Derpy let out a sniffle, unable to even finish her sentence. Twilight gave another nod, and slowly took the trembling pegasus in her hooves, pulling Derpy close. She felt Derpy shudder in her arms, and nuzzled close to her ear.

She unconsciously gave the pegasus a small peck on the cheek and stated, matter of factly but also tenderly, “Derpy, never let yourself doubt that. You are a beautiful mare.”

The two embraced for several minutes, though strangely Derpy did not cry. She was touched beyond measure at what Twilight had told her, and her mind lingered on the feeling of the small kiss she had received. Truthfully, it was the first kiss she had received since she was a filly, and she was sure those kisses from her parents didn’t really count. She wished the moment would last forever, but knew it inevitably could not.

As the pair reluctantly separated, Twilight knew she had to press just slightly farther. She knew that Derpy believed her fully, and truthfully, Twilight had meant every bit of what she'd said.

As Twilight looked at Derpy, she began to realize that Derpy was not simply a friend. There was an awful feeling that bit and gnawed at her stomach when Derpy was depressed, and when they had scheduled to meet that evening, she was unable to contain her enthusiasm. Twilight realized that somehow, in some way, she deeply cared for the pony, and if she deeply cared for Derpy, she needed to know how her friend would feel in the future regarding the one thing they had yet to find an answer to: her eyes.

Twilight knew she was in full acceptance of Derpy’s walleyed look, but she had to know if the pegasus could be as well. The unicorn was set on putting Derpy’s problem to an end once and for all: she would not tolerate the continued ridicule that may come and how it might destroy the spirit of a pony that she cared for so much.

Twilight chose her next words very carefully so as to not upset the mare with the question. “Derpy, I know there may not be an answer out there, but would you like me to still look into spells that may help your eyesight?”

Derpy looked back at her, somewhat confused at the question. “Of course! I would be overjoyed if you could find something to, well, ‘fix’ my vision, but I think that even if it’s impossible, thanks to you, I could accept that.”

Twilight gave an inner sigh of relief at hearing that.

Derpy paused for a moment, and then smiled. “You know, occasionally when I’m delivering mail, I get a letter addressed to a place that doesn’t exist. Maybe somepony moved, or maybe somepony miswrote the address.” Now it was Twilight’s turn to look confused. “When we get those letters, we just send them back to where they came from and move on to the next destination. There is nothing we can do in the post office to make that address appear. Maybe that same thing will happen with fixing my eyes.”

Recognition dawned on Twilight’s face, and Derpy went on. “Maybe there is no answer, and maybe there is no fix. It doesn’t mean we can’t look, but if it’s not there, then it’s just an ‘address unknown’.”

She gave Twilight a warm smile. “If no answer exists, then I can move on without any regrets.”

Though she could not explain it, Twilight felt an enormous rush of pride for Derpy, knowing that regardless of the outcome, she would be okay. She sat in awe of the enduring patience and understanding that Derpy seemed to exude, and her mind wandered to their previous night together and the unasked question she had let slip by as Derpy finished her rounds. Though Twilight was fairly sure of the answer, the question itself may give her an opportunity to spend more time getting to know Derpy.

“Speaking of ‘unknown addresses’,” Twilight began, capturing the pegasus’ attention, “I noticed yesterday that you had to stop every once in a while. Were you having some trouble finding your way around Ponyville?”

Derpy’s face dropped slightly, but only momentarily. She shook her head as she reminded herself that, for once, she could be completely honest with somepony without fear of mockery and scorn.

“Actually… that’s not the reason, though I will admit that I don’t know my way around town very well.”

Twilight cocked her head to the side in confusion. She had been expecting an affirmative reply to what she thought was the obvious answer, and that her question was somewhat superfluous. Apparently, though, she had been mistaken.

Derpy looked at Twilight with a slightly crooked smile, appearing somewhat uncomfortable while trying to keep an upbeat façade. “The main reason I have to stop so often goes back to my eyesight. Sometimes it can be really difficult for me to read addresses, especially with the horrible hoofwriting some ponies have.” She rolled her eyes as best she could. “I stop to try to figure out where and to whom the mail is supposed to be delivered.”

Twilight looked at Derpy with dismay as she realized how much of an emphasis she had unwittingly placed on the pegasus’ disability. She dropped her head into both hooves, shaking it back and forth as she tried to stammer out an apology.

“Derpy, I’m sorry… I didn’t… I thought…” She was stopped by a hoof on her shoulder as Derpy looked at her with a truly genuine smile.

“There’s nothing to be sorry for, Twilight. It’s just something that I have to do, and being able to tell somepony about it without getting laughed at actually made me feel a bit better about it.” She smiled again at the unicorn, who was once again staring in disbelief at the patience of the mare in front of her. “In fact, now that you bring it up, it makes me feel a lot better. In Cloudsdale, every time I had to stop like that, squinting or closing an eye to focus better, it made flying almost impossible. I guess that didn’t help my image of being accident-prone. But, down here in Ponyville, I can stop without dropping my mail or losing balance in flight.”

“I still wish I hadn’t brought it up,” Twilight glumly responded. “I guess I was thinking that you were getting lost, and that I could give you a little tour of Ponyville to help you learn where everything was.” She looked down at her hooves in disappointment, only to be jolted upright by an unexpected squeal. Derpy was smiling cheerily and almost bouncing up and down on the couch.

“I’d love that!” she responded enthusiastically. “Just because I wasn’t getting hopelessly lost doesn’t mean I know where everything is. You’d be willing to show me around?”

Twilight nodded, and Derpy’s infectious grin spread to her as well. “Of course! Would this weekend be a good time?”

The pegasus’ eager nods and exuberant smile were more than enough of an answer.


****************


The night had become much cooler since she had arrived at the library, and Derpy gave a slight shudder at the breeze blowing through her fur as she trotted back toward home. She had discovered that it was much easier on her balance to walk rather than fly whenever possible, so her trek remained on hoof rather than by wing until she absolutely had to fly up to her fluffy home.

The cooling sensation was intensified by the light perspiration she had worked up during her time with Twilight. It seemed odd to her that her coat had become slightly damp throughout the night. The room wasn’t overly warm, and she hadn’t been particularly emotional during the evening. She did have some nervous energy at first, when she was working up the courage to ask about the books, but after all Twilight had done to help her accept herself, that energy had dissipated into relaxed happiness.

Her visit had gone better than she ever could have hoped. There had been no instant answer to having her vision corrected, but frankly she had not expected one. Twilight’s offer to search regardless of that fact had lifted her spirits, but that did not compare to the elated revelation that she had found somepony who not only accepted her, flaws and all, but also seemed to deeply understand her.

Her heart skipped a beat as she mused over how long she had misunderstood her own cutie mark. Ever since it appeared, it had been an embarrassment. Every time somepony noticed it she had felt awkward, and, depending on their reaction, it was not a far jump from awkward to complete mortification. It had been a relief to put on her mailbags for the first time – they were large enough to cover most of the bubbles, preventing her from displaying that source of shame everywhere she went.

Now that she had heard Twilight’s interpretation of its significance, though, she felt like it was a source of newfound pride. Once again, the unicorn had gone above and beyond what was necessary of her. She had come to the library wondering if there might be something out there to make her feel less uncomfortable, and had left with a glow of confidence and comfort that she had never experienced before. Her life had been in tatters, and one pony with profound insight and limitless kindness had taken those tattered bits of her soul and rewoven them into something beautiful.

As she reached her home, Derpy’s thoughts allowed her to discern the most important piece of the puzzle – she would not have ever felt alive again without the unicorn, and her newfound happiness intensified whenever her thoughts strayed to spending more time with her new, and only, friend. With little more than compassion and understanding, Twilight had changed her life from never ending misery to a life worth living.

She essentially could not live without Twilight Sparkle.