• Published 16th Nov 2012
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Address Unknown - remedy

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

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7. Conquering the Past and Cherishing the Present

Chapter 7 – Conquering the Past and Cherishing the Present

Derpy watched in awe as Spike had set beautiful and fragrant plates in front of them. Twilight and Spike had made a tossed greens salad – complete with Spike’s mangled arugula – to begin with, followed by steamed carrots covered with a decadent brown sugar and maple glaze, grilled bell peppers stuffed with fresh mushrooms and caramelized onions, and to finish off the meal, vanilla and cinnamon custard-filled cannoli topped with roasted pistachios and candied orange peel.

Now, they sat around the remnants of their meal; there was still an abundance of food left over, but compared to the mountain of food that they had started with, it was obvious that each of them had eaten their fill. As Twilight had predicted, the entire meal as a whole had been nothing short of amazing.

Leaning back slightly, Derpy looked blissfully at her hosts, though her attention was mostly devoted to Twilight. She was sitting contentedly, returning Derpy’s gaze with fondness, while Spike continued picking and nibbling from his plate, oblivious to the significant looks the mares were exchanging.

“Twilight, Spike, thank you so much for making dinner for us tonight.” Derpy grinned at Twilight. “Alright – since you asked me to, Twilight, I’ll be brutally honest about how I liked it.”

The unicorn shrank back a bit, afraid to hear the verdict.

“It was, by far, the best thing I’ve ever eaten. And I am not exaggerating.” She turned to Spike. “Do you think someday you might be able to give me cooking lessons? I’m pretty bad…”

Spike chuckled as he got out of his chair, slowly making his way toward the stairs for a post-meal nap. “Sure thing! Just make sure you bring gems the first day of class!”

Derpy looked at Twilight with confusion as the dragon left.


Twilight giggled. “Oh, that’s just like Spike. He’ll try to get as many gemstones out of you that he can – they’re like candy for him.” Her voice dropped in volume and she leaned closer to Derpy.

“Don’t tell him, but I have plenty stashed away, so you have plenty you can bring him to make him happy.” Twilight grinned at the dragon, who had stopped on the top step to see the mares speaking in hushed tones. As Twilight acknowledged him, he waved her off and headed to bed.

Derpy’s gaze never left Twilight; she had been steadily becoming eager to ask Twilight the one question that had been on her mind for weeks, and now seemed like an opportune moment to do so.

“Twilight? Have you found anything that might help in curing my eyesight?” Her brazen statement immediately struck her as sounding brash and demanding, and her face flushed as she shrank back slightly. “That is, if you’ve… you know, had the chance to look. I was just wondering what you might have found…”

Twilight gave her an understanding smile, and though it was genuine, her demeanor reflected a hint of sadness.

“I know you must be incredibly excited, Derpy. It’s really no surprise to me that you’d want to know what I’ve found.” She let out a sigh; her shoulders slumped slightly and she gave her head a small shake. “I’m sorry to say I haven’t found anything yet. I’ve gone through every book I could find that would be relevant to the subject, but I’ve come up emptyhooved every time. I’m sorry…”

Twilight watched as her friend’s outlook deflated; Derpy’s ears drooped and her eyes drifted downward at the news she had feared most.

“I still plan to visit the Canterlot Archives,” Twilight continued, in an effort to prevent Derpy’s hopes from sinking any further. “Their medical wing ought to have something there that should help. And, if that doesn’t prove successful, I still may have one more backup plan. I can’t promise any of them will have a cure, or even something to make it slightly better, but I’m not done yet.”

Derpy regained some of her cheerfulness at the statement, and though it was clear she had been disappointed, she raised her eyes to meet Twilight’s as a slight smile played across her face.

“Thank you, Twilight. It really means a lot to me that you are willing to go through all this work for me; I’m sure that it’s stressful for you.”

“It’s not stressful, and it’s more than worth the effort if it helps you at all. Even if I don’t find anything, as long as it results in you being happier, then I’ve succeeded.” Twilight returned Derpy’s smile, and she eased from her seat with a stretch and offered a hoof to Derpy to help her out of her own chair. “Come on - the sofa is cozier, and I’m sure we can find plenty more to talk about there.”

Bolstered by Twilight’s optimism and outgoing spirit, Derpy followed the unicorn into the dimmed library, with Twilight lighting candles as they went. The pair made their way to the sofa, which was still in disarray from Derpy’s earlier nap. Derpy sat on a comfortable looking cushion, and Twilight sat beside her, not even bothering to straighten out the cushions from their previously inhabited state.

Derpy noted that Twilight had chosen to sit quite close to her, rather than at the opposite end of the sofa, and she felt infused with a sense of joy. Somehow, simply being close to the unicorn generated an immeasurable amount of happiness in her. Unconsciously she shuffled on her cushion, nudging her way closer to Twilight in the dim light of the library.

The movement did not go unnoticed by Twilight; she detected the pegasus beside her inching closer, even though Derpy herself didn’t seem aware of her own movement. She smiled slightly, happy to see her friend becoming increasingly more at ease, finally able to find some contentment in her life. Twilight felt tranquility radiating from the mare beside her, and it spread through her body, bringing a wonderful sense of relaxation with it.

She lightly leaned over and rested her head on Derpy’s shoulder. Derpy gave a small start at the unexpected contact, but did not resist the affectionate gesture. Instead, she chose to allow her own head to settle on Twilight’s, basking in the alluring and ethereal glow stemming from Twilight’s horn as the unicorn’s magic pulled in more pillows, cushions, and blankets to surround them in snug warmth.

The pair sat quietly for a few minutes, just enjoying each other’s company, before Twilight lifted her head from Derpy’s shoulder. The candlelight from around the room flickered and danced in Derpy’s amber eyes, and Twilight found herself gazing into them, captivated by their beauty. Something about Derpy intrigued her, charmed her, though she couldn’t quite explain why. As she sat beguiled by her friend, she realized that she knew little to nothing about Derpy prior to her arrival in Ponyville.

“Derpy… Can you tell me more about yourself?”

The pegasus was caught off-guard by the question; she sat back and tilted her head to the side, looking at Twilight with confusion.

“I’m not sure what you mean,” she said, still puzzled. “What do you want me to tell you about? You know that I don’t do much apart from delivering mail and spending time with you.”

“I mean, what was your life like before you came here? What was your foalhood like? Did you enjoy going to school, or have a favorite subject to study? What kinds of things do you like or dislike? How did you end up working for the postal service? I just… I don’t really know anything about you other than what happened since we met, and… I’d like to.” Twilight smiled sheepishly. “I want to know you better.”

Derpy sat stunned; she had never been asked about her past before – she simply wasn’t a pony that other ponies wanted to know about. She shifted nervously at the thought of talking about herself, but knowing that Twilight wanted to know her – not just spend time with her, but know her in a much deeper sense of the word – made her feel secure, and she found the words flowing more freely than she ever would have thought.

“My foalhood wasn’t really all that interesting; I mean, it wasn’t a spectacular failure like everypony would think it was, but I suppose it wasn’t an entirely happy one, regardless,” she began. “When I was young, life was normal. I was an only foal, so I didn’t have any siblings to compete against, and my parents were as doting as most would expect for those with only one foal. I wasn’t spoiled, but I did enjoy plenty of attention. I wasn’t very athletic, so most of my free time was spent simply playing with friends or reading. I always did enjoy reading, back then.”

Twilight smiled warmly with appreciation at another with a love for books, but her smile faded slightly as she realized Derpy had spoken in past tense, and a hint of gloominess was evident in the pegasus’ voice as she had said it.

“School went well for me for quite a while. It wasn’t my favorite place to go, but I really did enjoy geography and aerography – learning about how the world and skies were spread out, the variety of places you could go, navigation around the ground and air – I suppose that probably helped when I joined the postal service. I knew my way around pretty well thanks to those classes. Most of the other students liked meteorology and climatology more, but I guess weather just wasn’t my specialty. I was likely to shock myself whenever we practiced moving clouds, and I’m afraid that tendency hasn’t faded.

“Everything went smoothly when I attended flight camp; I obviously wasn’t the best flier, but I learned quickly enough.” Her expression dropped. “After flight camp, though – that’s when my eyes started to cross. It felt like everything I had learned disappeared as I tried to get used to my sight changing, but every time I thought I was getting adjusted to flight, the crossing simply got worse. I went from being a decent flier to being the most clumsy and awkward filly in the sky. It was a wonder I could even fly at all, and it may have been better for me to stop trying to get better, because every time I did, other fillies and colts would notice me even more.”

She sat silent for a moment before continuing, taking a breath as though bracing herself.

“I had a few friends, though that didn’t last long…” her posture drooped as she spoke. “After my eyes started going strange and I lost all sense of orientation when flying, everything just kind of went wrong. My friends stopped coming over to play, other foals avoided me or poked fun at me… There were a few fillies that were more aggressive with their teasing, like…” she hesitated, unsure of her words for the moment, “...well, who they were doesn’t really matter anymore. Almost all of the ponies who went out of their way to make fun of me were colts, which made growing up even worse. I actually went out of my way to avoid colts because of that, while all the other fillies were trying to get their attention.”

Derpy’s voice shook slightly. “Not even my family was an exception to the discomfort that my eye problem gave everypony.” Her eyes glimmered in the candlelight, and Twilight could see a tear trickle down her cheek. She reached out a hoof to Derpy’s shoulder, giving the pegasus a moment of pause.

“Derpy, you don’t need to keep going if it’s that painful to talk about. I’m sorry - I didn’t mean to upset you.”

Derpy shook her head and looked Twilight directly in the eyes, taking the unicorn’s hoof from her shoulder and holding it between her own.

“No, Twilight, I want to tell you. I’ve never told anypony before, because nopony ever cared enough to ask. You care, and knowing that helps me feel better about sharing.”

Twilight nodded silently, allowing Derpy to continue.

“My mother was always wonderful. She was supportive, reassuring, understanding, patient, and she never deviated from that. My father… wasn’t mean, or hurtful, or uncaring, but he became uncomfortable around me, and started acting cold and distant. He never left us, and I could tell he still cared for me, though it seemed like it was only because I was his daughter. I could tell that being around me made him uneasy. He seemed like he didn’t know what to expect, what to say, or how to act around me. So, he just… didn’t do anything.” She paused to wipe away a few more tears that came more readily than before.

“It stopped feeling like he was my father and more like he was a foalsitter that didn’t really want the job. Spending extra time with me became difficult for him, and I knew he tried to find ways to avoid being around me. He did want to be a responsible parent, at least by being there for us, but that tethered him to me in a way he couldn’t handle. So, he pulled away from me in the only way he could – emotionally.” She sniffed slightly.

“His hugs were there; they were always there, but he wasn’t.”

Her wall broke, and the tears came easily.

Twilight embraced Derpy as she laid her head on Twilight’s shoulder, crying away the painful memory. Twilight couldn’t find any words of comfort, but she felt confident that they weren’t needed. Derpy needed that hug she hadn’t had for so long; one where somepony actually gave it out of love and care, not because of a perceived obligation.

Eventually the tears subsided, and Derpy pulled back, giving Twilight a thankful smile.

“I’ve never shared that with anypony - not even my mother,” she said softly, though her voice cracked when she spoke. She wiped her cheeks and continued.

“My parents brought me from doctor to doctor, each trying to find a way to correct my eyesight, but every one of them said the same thing – the problem had progressed so quickly and severely that there was nothing they could do. None of them had ever heard of a cure for such an advanced case as mine.

“My life has been increasingly problematic since then. I wanted to continue my education, but my reading skills had almost completely vanished by that time. I’ve been able to adjust somewhat, but it’s still difficult. Back then, though… when I was taking our aptitude tests for applications to universities…” she bit her lip, holding back another outburst of tears, “I only was able to make my way through six pages in the test before time was called. Six measly pages, out of fifty. I had no chance of getting in.”

Twilight had to clap a hoof to her mouth to stifle the gasp that she had almost made.

“I joined the postal service after that - it let me at least enjoy exploring the skies like I wanted to - but, thanks to my reading skills, I almost wasn’t hired. The only reason they hired me in the first place was that it would have been considered discrimination if they hadn’t. That didn’t stop them from treating me as if I was worthless, though.

"You’ve heard how eager my boss had been to get rid of me – he’s been trying for years, and I think he gave me the hardest assignments and then watched me extra closely to make sure that he documented every mistake I made. I guess this year was the one that he decided I had made enough mistakes to justify firing me.”

She gave a sardonic chuckle. “With all the colts making fun of me, my father being so distant all the time as well, and my boss actively trying to throw me out since the day I started working, I guess it’s just as well that nopony wanted to be around me. I’ve never felt much emotion for any colts or stallions since my eyes started to go bad, and it’s gotten worse every year.”

Twilight sat quietly as she digested all that her friend had just entrusted to her, then pulled the pegasus back to her in another hug.

“Well, now you’ve got somepony who wants to be around you, so that’s one less thing for you to be bothered by.”

The two sat together, sharing in the remembered pain and diminishing it by doing so, then building friendship where that pain had receded.


Derpy had gone home much happier than she had in quite some time, leaving Twilight with a parting gift of an enthusiastic hug and a just-as-enthusiastic kiss on the cheek before returning to the hug and whispering softly in Twilight’s ear:

“You are the best friend I could have ever asked for, and I didn’t even need to ask. Thank you so much, for everything.”

A redoubled hug, a quick peck on the cheek, and off Derpy went, happily humming as she made her way home.

Twilight had turned back into the library in a mess of confusion. She felt sad over Derpy’s past, but happy that she was able to persevere through it. She was elated to have had the pleasure of being so close to her friend for nearly the entire day, but now, looking into the darkened room with its shadowed books, she was alone. Of course, Spike was inside, but in her heart she felt alone and incomplete.

She lightly touched her hoof to her face, moving it over a spot that felt aflame – where Derpy had given her a kiss. Only there did she feel alive, and she silently wished that the feeling in that spot would stay with her forever.

Twilight lay in the early morning light, staring at the ceiling as she reflected over those last moments the previous night, replaying them over and over in her mind. The entire night had seemed like a blur after all the talking she had done with Derpy, but given how much closer that they had become because of it, it was a good blur. Those last moments, however, were crystal clear.

Hug, kiss on the cheek, you are the best friend I could have ever asked for, another hug, another kiss, and she was gone. Extremely happy, but gone. And Twilight wanted her back.

With that in mind, the unicorn set about getting ready for the long ride to Canterlot.