• Published 2nd Feb 2013
  • 17,961 Views, 1,035 Comments

The Opera Phantom Discord - Alexandrite Ward



Fluttershy's father is captured by the villianous Discord, Phantom of the Opera! Can she save him while being pursued by the handsome and charming Prince Blueblood?

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Merriment

Merriment

Blueblood groaned and rubbed the bridge of his nose while the managers before him argued back and forth about the notes they held in their hooves. He had come to the Opera House that day to complain about the staff that was being careless overhead, bringing the infamous shoe that had fallen into his box. The managers however had other things on their minds.

"We can not ignore these any longer, Flim! Something has to be done!" Flam shouted, throwing the notes he was holding up in the air.

Flim rolled his eyes. "And what do you suggest? Going through with his orders? Stopping our schedule to rehearse and perform this…this…garbage?" Flim said with disgust, motioning toward a copy of the finished opera that lay on his desk.

Blueblood's eyes flashed to the score that lay on the desk and felt the anger rise within him. This Phantom thing was really going too far.

"What is that…" he asked, his voice clipped, "and when did it arrive?"

Flim waved his hoof nonchalantly. "A few days ago. Dreadful thing; I don't know why I haven't destroyed it yet." Although Blueblood knew the answer to Flim's query. While the older manager was not ready to admit it, his superstition towards the infamous Phantom was growing like his partner's.

Flam was massaging the temples of his head. "We have to do something; I mean it's going too far!" Before the others could protest, he quickly continued. "I'm not saying I believe that there is an Opera Ghost! I'm just saying…we can't treat this lightly anymore! I mean…look at these notes!" he practically thrusted them into Bluevlood's face. "Sabotage! Destruction! Death! Why, he's even threatened to cut down the chandelier if we do not comply!"

Blueboodl's hoof hit Flam's, causing the notes to fly about, telling the younger manager exactly what he thought of the Phantom's notes.

Flim, who always thought himself calm, collected, and realistic, found he too was at a loss. "I for one do not believe we should give in to the Phantom's demands…but…" he sighed, "Flam is right, something needs to be done about this character."

Blueblood groaned and withdrew a cigar from his pocket. "So you're suggesting we light torches, grab our pitchforks, and storm the backstage of the Maris Opera House?" he took one long puff on the cigar and blew a cloud of smoke at the managers. "Thank you gentlecolts, for showing me that I am indeed the patron of an insane asylum."

Flam ignored the Prince's sarcasm. "Monsieur, like you, I do not believe there is a 'Phantom of the Opera'." Blueblood began to scoff, but Flam quickly continued. "I, like Flim, do not believe in ghosts! But I do believe in pranksters; and I believe that is the case we have here."

Blueblood took a long inhale from his cigar, pondering Flam's words. Perhaps these stallions had brains after all.

Flim stepped forward nodding his head. "I too believe that is what we have here; somepony who thinks it a great joke to make demands of the Maris Opera House in the name of its infamous ghost."

Blueblood exhaled the smoke from his cigar. "That's what I've been telling you all along," he muttered, his gaze turning toward the fireplace in the office, his green eyes glowing with the fire's reflection. "Yet I do not find these jokes, these ghost stories amusing…especially since I'm losing more money than gaining, from them."

At the mention of money the managers tensed and began looking at each other nervously. Blueblood took instant notice and felt his anger begin to boil again. "Tell me."

It wasn't a question; it was a demand.

"Well," Flim started, his hooves moving to straighten his suit jacket while his eyes avoided the Prince's. "It is simply…you see, Fleur De Lis…"

Blueblood was growing most impatient and he rubbed the burnt tip of his cigar on Flim's desk to show his irritation.

"She refuses to sing," Flam finished.

If Blueblood had been smoking at that exact moment, he would have begun choking. Instead, he looked as though somepony had just come along and punched in him the stomach. "WHAT? WHY?" he demanded after the shock allowed him.

Flam quickly continued. "She's been receiving death threats! Personal letters sent to her! We only just found out about these yesterday," he quickly answered before Blueblood could demand why he had not been informed of these threats to the Opera House's star.

"The last few performances have been disasters; she's been drugged, kidnapped, and taken ill by mysterious circumstances. And now with these letters…" Flim sighed and handed the fuming Prince one of Fleur De Lis' notes.

"My dear madam," Blueblood began. "Your days at the Maris Opera are numbered. Be grateful it was not strychnine in the glass that you consumed before the performance of Hannibal. I will not be so kind in the future. A new rising star is coming down from the heavens to replace you…I suggest, senora, that you take my advice and end your time here in Maris before I end it permanently. I remain, ever, O.G."

Blueblood's voice had become a hiss by the end of the note. He had not failed to notice that when the note was sealed, the wax seal was a red skull. This prankster did indeed have a flair for the dramatics.

"She destroyed all the other notes," Flam explained. "But she swears this one was her seventh."

Blueblood immediately crumpled the note in his hoof and tossed it into the roaring fireplace. "I have not invested this much money into a project, only to see it go bust due to a myth!" he spat, turning on the managers, his eyes ablaze with fury.

"I WANT TO KNOW WHO THIS PONY IS!" he shouted. "I WANT AN INVESTIGATION CONDUCTED ON EVERY EMPLOYEE OF THIS THEATER!" he turned and gazed at the shoe that had fallen into his box the previous night. "There are ponies here who are not showing their betters the proper respect…AND I INTEND TO SMOKE THEM OUT!" he threw the shoe into the fire at that point, and both Flam and Flim jumped as the thing erupted into flames.

"An…an investigation, monsieur?" Flam asked, unsure what exactly that entailed.

"Yes," Blueblood hissed. "I want every stallion–" he paused as he saw Madame Luna pass the office, "–and mare interrogated. I know that these 'ghost stories' are popular amongst the dancers and that they are spread about by the stagehooves. Start there…" he instructed. "But I want everyone questioned. And I want it done now."

He turned to go but both Flim and Flam tried to call him back. "But monsieur! We have never gone about such things! How on earth do we do this?"

Bueblood grabbed his gloves and hat before turning and snarling, "Just get it done! Or I'll remove my patronage from this place by the New Year!" He slammed the door shut to the office and stalked off in the direction Madame Luna had gone. Lucky for him, she was still in the grand foyer.

"Good morning, madam," Blueblood said with a courteous bow, although it was all done for dramatic effect. She was on the top of his list of "would-be Phantoms".

Madame Luna turned with slight surprise at the Prince's voice, but returned his bow with a cold but courteous nod of her head. "Monsieur Blueblood," she whispered.

"I trust you are in good health?" Blueblood asked, although he continued onward, not giving her the opportunity to reply. "I apologize if you overheard that dreadful argument in the manager's office."

"No apology is necessary monsieur," Madame Luna replied icily. "I do not make it a practice to listen to the private conversations of others."

Blueblood flashed the dance mistress a smile, although they both knew it was false. "We were discussing the letters that the 'Phantom of the Opera', or 'O.G.' as he addresses himself, has been sending. The content of some were rather…dark and monstrous. I pray, you have not been threatened by any means?" he asked oh so sweetly.

Madame Luna smiled, although it was a cold sarcastic smile. "I am touched by your concern monsieur…but I assure you, no threats have reached me, at least not yet."

Blueblood was not surprised. "For that I am glad to hear. I must say…all these sudden threats and demands; oh I know letters have been sent before, but I have never seen this many. It seems this 'Phantom' is working extra hard to have things go his way, does it not?"

Madame Luna nodded her head. "Indeed. It is rather fascinating, I must say."

Blueblood lifted an eyebrow. "Fascinating?"

Madame Luna could not hide the smile that was threatening to break. "Oh yes, quite fascinating. Fascinating that a character that you claim does not exist and that you have repeatedly sworn is nothing more than a myth…is causing you so much stress and costing you so much money."

Blueblood's mouth fell open and he stared at the smiling dance mistress. She bowed her head to him, saying, "Good day monsieur," before leaving him standing stunned in the foyer.

He felt his face burn, his coat turning red, red as fire, and before the anger threatened to burst, he stormed out of the Opera House, slamming his hat on his head, and took quick long strides to his carriage. Yet before he climbed in, a voice erupted from behind.

"Monsieur! Monsieur Prince!"

Blueblood was in no mood to speak to anyone, but the last pony he expected to see come running toward him was the stallion he had hired to find Fluttershy.

"Oh thank Goodness monsieur, the housekeeper told me I could find you at the Opera House, but I have been looking-"

Without a word Blueblood reached forward, grabbed Crafty Crate by the collar of his coat, and pulled him into the carriage. "Idiot!" Blueblood growled, his eyes searching the streets to see if anyone had taken notice, but people were going about their business as usual. He turned and eyed the private investigator who was mopping up his sweaty brow with a hoofkerchief. "I thought it was made quite clear that you were not to seek me out or come to this place!" he hissed, resisting every urge to beat the smaller pony with his cane.

Crafty Crate bit his lip and glowered in his seat. "Forgive me monsieur, but…I had to come here! I have no choice," he groaned, hanging his head in shame.

"I am at a brick wall, monsieur," Crafty Crate sadly moaned. "I have been searching for the whereabouts of Mademoiselle Fluttershy for weeks, but I have been unable to find anything new. As you know, I have been to the residence of the Marquise Filthy Rich, but the household knew nothing about the young mare. The Marquise's valet was kind enough to speak with me and told me of the village that Fluttershy and his family had resided in, but when I reached the village–which is a small farming community, nothing more than country bumpkins if I do say so monsieur," Crafty Crate added but quickly continued based on the look of annoyance on the Prince's face. "When I reached the village, no one could give me any information that I had not already learned through the Marquise's household. That the Marquise had seized the farm which had been the home to Time Turner and his daughter, and the two had gone to Maris with hopes of finding work at the Maris Opera House."

"Yes, yes, you're right, nothing that we didn't already know," Blueblood muttered. "So there better be a point with this story, and a good point at that."

Crafty Crate sighed. "I was able to discover the apartment that Time Turner and the mare had been renting. The mare who runs the place informed me that the last time she had seen Time Turner and his daughter had been on the morning of October 24."

Blueblood's head perked up at this. "The day of the opening gala," he whispered.

Crafty Crate nodded his head vigorously. "The mare has not seen either of them since, and neither had given any indication that they would not be returning. She held their place for a month, and after that, she gave their apartment to new tenants. She still has had no word."

Blueblood was gazing out the window of his carriage at the Opera House. This mystery was growing more and more intriguing by the minute. For it was the night of the opening gala that Time Turner had come bursting into his club, raving about a monster–no, the Phantom–who had kidnapped Fluttershy and was keeping her prisoner.

And since that day, the mare had not been seen since.

Blueblood's eyes narrowing at the sight of the Opera House, a cold feeling running through his blood.

"So you see monsieur, I have no choice…I must continue my investigation here," Crafty Crate explained, looking most distressed. "But not to worry, I will be most careful, I will avoid Madame Luna at all costs…although it will probably not matter," his voice sounded muffled, as if he was about to cry. "She has extracted her case from my services, believing me to be an imbecile," he wailed, quickly dabbing his eyes with the hoofkerchief.

Blueblood groaned at the sound of Crafty Crates lament. "Get a hold yourself!" he hissed, returning his gaze back to the Opera House. A plan was forming in his mind…

"What do you know about the Maris Opera House, Crafty Crate?" he casually asked, his gaze never leaving the grand building.

Crafty Crate blew his nose and followed the Prince's gaze. "Regarded as one of the greatest architectural gems of Maris. Why, it's hailed to be one of the greatest arenas for music in all of Equestria. But I do not consider myself an opera stallion to be honest," he sniffled.

Blueblood ignored François' last comment. "Have you ever heard of the place…being haunted?" he asked, turning his attention back to the private investigator.

Crafty Crate was surprised by this question. He had considered the Prince to be a stallion of reason, not a stallion who was ruled by flights of fancy. "I'm afraid I have not, monsieur…but every building has a story, does it not? And…from what I understand, ponies who work in theater are a superstitious lot."

"Indeed," Blueblood muttered, glancing at the Opera House one last time before focusing all of his attention on Crafty Crate. "There is a ghost story that haunts the Maris Opera House…a specter known as the 'Phantom of the Opera'. There's no such creature of course…but somepony has decided to take this 'myth' and try to make it real."

Crafty Crate nodded his head, reaching into his coat pocket for a pen and some paper. "So you'd like me to track down this 'Phantom' for you monsieur?"

Blueblood's eyes widened at Crafty Crate's words. "No you fool! I'm not giving you a new assignment, especially since you haven't solved the old one!" he turned from Crafty Crate in disgust. "I am conducting an investigation of every employee of the Maris Opera House," he paused, his eyes reflecting the fire that had blazed in them back in the managers' office. "I intend to smoke the villain out," he growled low beneath his breath. "And if anyone becomes suspicious as to why you are going about asking questions of the allusive Fluttershy this is to be your cloak of disguise."

Now Crafty Crate understood, although he had rather hoped that the Prince would change his mind about the mare and pay him for his troubles or give him something new to chase. He was finding this search tiresome. "I shall between my inquiries–"

"Today," Blueblood finished, rapping his hoof against the ceiling of his carriage.

Crafty Crate paled and found himself stuttering. "T-t-t-today?"

Blueblood nodded his head while the driver opened the carriage door. "And I want the information by Christmas," he added with a wave of his hoof, indicating to Crafty Crate to leave his carriage.

Crafty Crate's mouth fell open. "C-c-c-christmas? B-b-but that's less than a week!"

Blueblood rolled his eyes and grabbed the stallion once again by the collar of his coat, practically throwing him out of the carriage. "I'm paying you handsomely enough for you to deliver that information to me by tomorrow! Don't prove me wrong!" he roared, slamming the door shut and shouting to the driver to move on.

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It was a cold morning, the day Christmas came. While the rest of Maris sat huddled around the fire, throwing on shawls and rubbing their hooves together to bring life back to them, the family that lived beneath the Maris Opera House felt nothing but warmth spread throughout their bodies and souls.

Fluttershy had been dreaming quite contently when she was awoken by the sound of an exuberant Derpy coming to tell her that it was Christmas morning. "H-h-h-hurry!" she shouted, jumping up and down. "R-r-rarity is a-a-already making us a feast! A-a-a-and Shortround w-w-will lead the s-s-songs and there are p-p-presents, a-a-and stories…oooh hurry Fluttershy!"

Derpy's enthusiasm was contagious, and like a filly, Fluttershy threw the blankets off and leapt out of bed, surprised to find her chamber warm and comfortable. The fire in her small fireplace was blazing brightly; Fluttershy was always amazed by how strong it burned when every night it seemed to have been reduced to a few glowing embers. Yet despite the warm comfort in her chamber, Fluttershy knew it was not so in the stone tunnels between the caverns. Each cavern and chamber had a fire pit, and during the winter months, she had learned that they kept them blazing almost every day. But the tunnels was where the cold air trapped itself, and while the gowns Discord had retrieved for her were lovely, they were not equipped for the cold December weather. With Rarity's help, Fluttershy had been able to make herself three plain dresses, each made with a sturdy thick material that kept out the cold as best it could.

A sad sigh escaped her lips as she slipped one of her winter dresses on. Her eyes had fallen to the beautiful ivory gown that she wore on the night Discord took her to the opera. She truly felt like a princess in that gown…and for one night, she could pretend that Discord was her dark prince.

That night had only been a week ago, but since then, Discord's behavior had changed back to being aloof, antisocial, and melancholy. Their rehearsals were shorter than normal, and he only spoke to her when instructing her. When she attempted to speak to him of things other than music, Discord would calmly ask if she would be so kind as to leave, never raising his voice, never criticizing her efforts, yet never praising them either. It was like he had become a shell…and yet she noticed he was more obsessed with his work than ever before.

One night while she was reading in her chamber, she overheard Rainbow Dash complaining to Shortround about the note errands she was running for Discord. "I've been delivering notes every night this week! Last night he had me go on three different trips!"

Fluttershy wondered what these mysterious notes were. She remembered how Discord had revealed to her his desire to have his opera performed by the end of the season, but she had never truly understood how he would go about convincing the managers, not to mention Fleur De Lis, to allow such a thing to occur. Were the notes he was having Rainbow Dash deliver letters to entice the managers to obey him? A cold feeling ran through her, as Fluttershy knew that Discord ruled the world above using fear and fear alone. If there was any sense of enticement in those notes, it was enticement to not disobey him.

Her hooves did up the buttons on the front of her dress and she glanced once again at the ivory gown which lay across a chair near her dressing table. Would Discord be there with the others? Did he celebrate Christmas? If Rainbow Dash celebrated it, then Discord by all means should. She tried to smile at this new hope, believing that at Christmas, Discord would make the effort to join the others in celebration…but a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach told her she was being silly for hoping such a thing.

She missed their conversations, the walks they would take around his underground labyrinth and the theater above after the lights were off and everyone had gone home. She missed sharing her ideas with him, her hopes and dreams, and she missed hearing his. Even after Discord opened up to her, he was still as mysterious as ever. There were still so many things she didn't know about him, but she felt that in time, when he was comfortable, he would share his hopes and dreams for the future, but now…now it seemed he was avoiding her and the friendship they had created. She wanted to make things right again, to gain his trust…and perhaps more.

Deep in her heart she knew the things she wanted, and it was more than friendship, more than trust. But for today, her Christmas wish would not ask for more, at least…not yet.

Fluttershy grabbed a shawl and quickly set off toward the chamber that the others occupied, clutching the fabric around her shoulders to keep the chill of the tunnels from her. With each step, hope arose that perhaps Discord would be there, perhaps he greet her as she entered, extend his paw to her and raising her hoof to his lips, wishing her a most merry Christmas.

"Fluttershy!" Derpy greeted warmly from the moment Fluttershy appeared in the passageway of the chamber. The others turned and greeted her as well; Rarity, Shortround…even Rainbow Dash, who was sitting huddled in a shadowy corner with a bottle of mulled wine in her good hoof, lifted it in her direction as a greeting…but Discord was nowhere to be seen.

"Now c-c-c-can we o-o-open our p-presents?" Derpy asked Rarity, bouncing eagerly from one foot to the other. Rarity grinned and nodded her head, and Derpy leapt for joy again before diving toward a small meager pile of boxes, each tied with a single blue ribbon.

"Now Derpy, remember your manners," Rarity scolded, although everypony including Derpy knew it was not serious. Derpy grinned and quickly began passing everyone else their own present before opening her own.

"Oh! OH!" she cried happily, clutching the new book she had received to her chest. "T-t-t-thank you!" she murmured, her large hoof lovingly caressing the book's cover as if it were precious gold. "A-a-a-aray…a-a-aray-b-ann–"

"Arabian," Shortround kindly corrected to which Derpy thanked.

"Arabian," he repeated. "Arabian Nights. H-h-have you r-r-r-read it Shortround?"

Shortround smiled but shook his head. "I'm afraid not, but I have heard of the book. I look forward to you reading it to me though," he added kindly.

Derpy grinned and watched while the others opened their gifts. Rarity gasped with surprise at the beautiful yards of fabric she had been given. The colors were a rich scarlet, a deep emerald, and a royal purple. They looked like velvet but felt like silk. "Oh they are too lovely! But I couldn't possibly use them for dresses–"

"Why not?" Fluttershy interjected. "You would look like a queen wearing such finery," she grinned.

Rarity blushed deeply. "I'll be sure to make you something from them my dear–"

But Fluttershy refused. "Thank you, but they are for you and you alone. I have many splendid costumes, but for all the hard work you do, you deserve to be seen and dressed as the rightful queen that you are."

The others, including Rainbow Dash, gave a hearty "Here! Here!" to Fluttershy's words.

Rainbow Dash said nothing of her gift, although anypony could see that she deeply appreciated the new jacket she had been given to replace the tattered one she already wore. And finally, Shortround opened his gift, a small package, but what it held stunned him silent.

"What is it?" Fluttershy asked, seeing the awed expression on his face.

"It's…it's…" he finally murmured when he found his voice. "It's…an old rosary that…that the monks gave me when I came to them as a baby," he whispered, choking back the tears that threatened to break forth. "But…look at it!" he gasped, holding up the beautiful silver rosary for Fluttershy to see. "It was tarnished, rusted…beyond any hope for repair…and the chain had broken too…but…this is the same rosary, this is my rosary and it looks like it did when I first received it!"

"Oh dry your eyes," Rainbow Dash muttered, taking another swig from her bottle. "It's just a silly little cross…" but Shortround could tell that Rainbow Dash was hiding something.

"You did this, didn't you?" he asked.

Rainbow Dash's eyes widened at what she considered was an accusation of murder. "What? I did nothing of the sort!"

"You were the only one to whom I mentioned about losing it! I remember very clearly, a few weeks ago, telling you of my distress."

Rainbow Dash rolled her eyes. "Well it had no proper chain so naturally it was easy to lose–"

"Did you get the chain?" Shortround asked, feeling his heart warm all the more.

Rainbow Dash laughed. "Me? I'm the last pony who would go up there to find you a stupid chain for your stupid cross. I had nothing to do with it," she grumbled, folding her arms over her chest and focusing on the fire pit in the center of the cavern.

Despite Rainbow Dash's words, Shortround knew that the mare had something to do with his newly restored rosary. Perhaps it was something as simple as cleaning it, but whatever she did, Shortround was most grateful.

Fluttershy found herself speculating whether Rainbow Dash did have anything to do with Shortround's gift, but when she saw a tiny smile flicker against Rainbow Dash's lips when Shortround wasn't looking, she knew she had her answer.

"Open y-y-yours, Fluttershy!" Derpy cried out, pointing to the large box at her hooves.

Fluttershy blushed, not truly expecting a gift from anypony, but smiled broadly in thanks. "Who is this from?" she asked, noticing that there was no tag on the box.

Everypony chuckled and shook their heads. "We don't share that information, no matter how hard some may try to learn it," Rarity said, looking directly at Shortround.

Shortround laughed at Rarity's comment. "Half the fun is trying to guess who got who what. But for now, just consider it a gift, from all of us…"

Fluttershy giggled with the others, but a sudden realization came to her. "I…I didn't get anyone a gift," she murmured, feeling utterly horrible. It was Christmas! She knew it was Christmas, but she had forgotten to do anything for the kind hearts of her new friends.

"Oh my dear," Rarity soothed, coming towards her and patting her hoof. "Don't fret about such things, you have brought us all a gift if I may say so…you have brought light to our dreary little world here…and your friendship is a gift far finer than any fabric in the world."

Fluttershy blushed and felt a tear trickle down her cheek at Rarity's kind words. Derpy rushed forward then and enveloped Fluttershy in a huge hug, practically crushing her bones, but she smiled the whole time, even while Rarity scolded her to let her go. "O-o-open it Fluttershy!" she whispered excitedly, wanting to see her reaction to what was underneath.

Fluttershy smiled and untied the ribbon, making the process agonizingly slow, especially for Derpy who wanted to see what was inside. Finally, Flutterhsy could not contain her own excitement, and ripped through the box like an enthusiastic filly. "OH!" Derpy cried out, extremely alarmed. "No! B-b-b-be g-g-g-gentle! You'll s-s-scare her!"

Fluttershy stopped and stared up at Derpy. "Her?" she asked, wondering what was inside her package. But she did not have to ask any further, for a tiny furry black head popped out and let out a great loud "meow!" that echoed off the cavern walls.

"What the hell is that?" Rainbow Dash cried out, pointing at the furry thing that was scrambling to get out of the box.

"Well it's obviously a cat," Shortround explained. "Or has the wine taken its full effect?"

Rainbow Dash ignored Shortround's joke. "I don't like cats…we are not having any cats down here!"

Derpy stood ready to protect the black kitten that was playing with the blue ribbon from Fluttershy's present. "She's F-f-fluttershy's gift. She w-w-won't harm anything!"

Rarity sighed and shook her head. "I guess we know who's responsible for Fluttershy's gift," she looked up at Derpy with scrutiny. "We've talked about this before Derpy–"

"S-s-she was s-s-starving!" she defended. "And she's an o-o-orphan! She would have froze if I h-h-hadn't helped. I j-j-just thought…that Fluttershy would like her," she whispered, looking down at her hooves, her face turning a deep shade of red.

Fluttershy was deeply moved by Derpy's tale, and her heart went out to her. "Oh thank you for giving her to me, Derpy," she whispered with deepest sincerity. "She's so beautiful…and quite lively too!" she grinned, pointing to how the kitten was attacking the box she had been placed in. The others couldn't help but laugh a little at the sight.

"S-s-s-so you l-like her?" Derpy asked, her giant hoof reaching down and very gently petting the tiny kitten.

Fluttershy smiled up at him. "I do, very much. But…you know, I confess, I know nothing about how to take care of cats…do you think you could help me look after her?"

Derpy's face lit up like a candle's flame. "Oh! OH! Yes! Yes! I p-p-promise to do my b-b-best with helping!" she grinned broadly, looking happier than ever.

Fluttershy smiled and picked up the blue ribbon, purposefully waving it in front of the black kitten, enticing it to play. "What should we call her?" she asked.

Derpy couldn't help but grin. "I…I actually already g-g-g-gave her a name," she blushed. "C-c-c-carmen…after the opera."

Fluttershy nodded her head. "I like Carmen; a well suited name for a cat," she said with a smile.

"Bloody hell," Rainbow Dash muttered, taking another long swig from her bottle. "Just keep the hairball away from me."

The others couldn't help but laugh, and Christmas continued in the Phantom's labyrinth. While Rarity cooked over the fire pit, Shortround read to the others. Even Rainbow Dash listened, although she would never admit it. Afterwards, Fluttershy led them in singing Christmas carols, and then time came for the Christmas feast.

It was meager compared to the grand feasts that stallions and mares of great fashion and wealth would have on this day, but the glow of friendship that surrounded the table made the goose stew, the roast potatoes, the bread, cheese, and apples, seem like the grandest feast in the world. Even little Carmen got her share of goose stew, with much thanks to Derpy who was sneaking it to her under the table.

And yet, while the others shared jokes and passed the wine around, Fluttershy felt her heart grow heavy with memories of the past. True, this was one of the grandest Christmas' she had ever experienced; but she deeply missed her parents. Her mother would spend all Christmas morning and afternoon cooking for the three of them, and it was always more food than three people could eat, but it was her mother's greatest joy. Fluttershy's father would play carols with his violin, and the three of them would sing into the night in front of the fireplace till sleep finally conquered.

She wondered what her father was doing on this cold day. Was he alright? Was he warm? Was he getting enough food? Was he scared and worrying for her? She wished she could tell him not to worry, that she was truly alright, that she was even happy…but more than anything, she longed to see him again, to hold his hooves and hear his voice.

"Fluttershy?"

She was startled and looked up at Rarity who was looking most concerned. "Are you alright my dear? You look…distressed."

Fluttershy tried to smile, but it was no use. "I…I was just…" she didn't want to ruin their happiness with her own worries. "Where is Discord? Will he be joining us?" she asked, hoping for a positive answer, that he always came for the Christmas feast…but everyone looked away and she knew what the real answer was.

"He told me yesterday to bring him a tray," Rarity explained. "He is working very hard, getting things ready for his opera, as you know," she whispered.

Fluttershy nodded her head, but still felt her heart break at the other mare's words. Why? Why was he acting this way? Why couldn't he just, for Christmas, leave his vast rich chamber…and be with the ones who…who loved him? She felt her cheeks darken at this thought.

"Has he received a gift?" she asked, wondering if Discord participated in the gift-giving mystery.

Once again, everypony looked away. "The Master's not one for games," Rainbow Dash muttered, picking a piece of potato from her yellow teeth. Yet despite her gruff exterior, Fluttershy could tell that even Rainbow Dash was affected by Discord's absence, not just from the feast, but from everything they did for Christmas.

As if to change the subject, Shortround slammed one of his hooves down on the table. "I've got it!" he cried. "Rainbow Dash is responsible for my present–" to which Rainbow Dash groaned again. "–Rarity is responsible for Rainbow Dash's, I am responsible for yours, Rarity," Shortround said with a grin.

"You did that?" Rarity cried. "Oh! Shortround! You know I don't like it when you spoil surprises!" but she was truly smiling despite trying to sound cross.

"Well, I shall keep it a secret to how I came upon the fabric," he grinned, to which she threw a bread roll at him. "And as we all know, Derpy is responsible for giving Fluttershy her new kitten."

"But that still leaves Derpy's book," Fluttershy pointed out.

"The Master!" Derpy exclaimed. "H-h-he got me m-m-my present?"

"He's the only one left," Shortround grinned.

Fluttershy looked confused. "But…I thought you said–"

"The Master doesn't like it when we give him anything," Rainbow Dash muttered. "But that doesn't mean he won't participate by exchanging something with one of us."

Fluttershy was troubled by this new information. It was nice that Discord had participated somewhat in their Christmas…but it still upset her to think that he would have nothing to do with it, even by rejecting gifts for himself.

"Are you alright my dear?" Rarity asked, noticing the troubled expression on Fluttershy's face.

She faked a smile and nodded her head. "Oh, I'm fine, I um…I think I need to lie down actually, that dinner was so good but so filling…oh Rarity, you're a wonderful cook."

Everypony around the table clapped for Rarity who blushed but thanked all of them. "Well look after yourself my dear! Don't want you hurting your pretty voice."

Fluttershy smiled and asked Derpy if she would be so kind as to take care of Carmen for the evening, to which she was all too pleased to do. She left the merry group then, intentionally heading back to her chamber, but upon second thought…found herself wandering through the cavern's many cold passages. It wasn't long before she came upon the underground lake and without second thought, climbed into the boat and rowed herself across.

Despite the darkness that surrounded her, Fluttershy moved with ease through the passages, climbing steps, slipping in through empty chambers, and dodging weakened floor boards to avoid injury. At last, she finally reached her destination; the tower that led to the Opera House's roof. She climbed the narrow steep steps with ease, although she knew that later when she wished to come back down, she would have much more difficulty. But right now, all she cared about was breathing in the cold evening air, having a chance to be by herself and wrestle with her thoughts alone. She opened the trap door and was greeted by a blast of cold wind, but she welcomed it, climbing through the opening, breathing in the freshness of the cold air…and gasped when she felt a paw grab her arm and pulled her up.

"What are you doing here?" came a deep voice etched with darkness and surprise.

Futtershy didn't have to look at the face to know who it was. She wrestled her arm free and refused to meet his eyes. "Can't a mare get some fresh air if she wishes?" she retorted, walking directly past Discord and looking out towards the quiet city. In the distance Notre Mane chimed the hour.

Discord ran a paw through his tousled hair, still coming over the surprise of seeing her emerge through the door. He thought for sure it had been a stage hoof or thief, somepony who was not supposed to be up there, but when he saw Fluttershy's pretty face emerge instead–he was flooded with both relief and annoyance.

This was the only place he could conceive of escaping her presence! Her scent was embedded in his chambers, and he could hear her voice, her laughter, carry on the wind that traveled through the tunnels. He had to get away; he had to escape the wild emotions that were confusing his soul, his mind, and his heart. Ever since that night at the opera, things were different. Ever since he held her in his arms, carried her to her chamber, and kissed her forehead…things had changed. He had dreamt of her before, fantasized about her, and how could he forget the incident when he had to seek out relief for himself with his own paw. But it was easier then to disregard what he was feeling; then it was lust, pure and simple. Now…ever since they began to become friends…now it was something more. Something he was not sure he wished to resurrect within himself. And yet what he felt towards Fluttershy was far different than what he ever felt for Pinkamena. But it still frightened him; it was still something he did not feel he could control. So he found himself, once again, avoiding her presence when possible. Yet despite his success of keeping his distance for the past week, Discord knew as he looked upon her now, the wind blowing in her hair, the moon shining in her eyes, the rosy color that painted her cheek…he knew that if something was not said or done, he would go mad and lose whatever control he had.

He did not believe he could harm her; no…he could never harm such an angel. But he may frighten her without meaning to. And he was not sure if his heart could withstand to see fear and hatred in her beautiful blue eyes.

Fluttershy felt his gaze upon her, but she kept her back to him, not flinching one bit, just staring out over the city. Thoughts from before returned, thoughts of her father, and as she clutched the woolen shawl around her shoulders to keep out the cold Christmas wind, she wondered if he was warm enough, wherever he was.

Discord saw something glisten in the moonlight, and realized it was a tear that was slowly trickling down her cheek. His breath caught as he gazed upon her, and he fought the urge to go to her side and envelope her in his arms, to shield her from whatever sadness or fear was causing her such grief. He wanted to feel her body against his again, he wanted to comfort her, he wanted to protect her, he wanted….he wanted her.

"You're thinking of your father…aren't you?" he whispered. It was Christmas after all, and while Fluttershy never spoke of her family, he knew deep within his being that she missed him dearly.

Fluttershy said nothing, simply nodded her head for fear of sobbing. She quickly wiped her eyes, hugging the shawl even tighter to her body.

"I am sorry."

She couldn't take it any longer, she whirled around and marched over to him, practically standing toe to toe with him. "Why? Why are you sorry? What exactly are you apologizing for?"

Discord was momentarily stunned by her change in behavior. He found himself taking a step backwards. "W-w-what?"

"I want to know what you're apologizing for," she stated simply. "Are you simply saying it because you pity me? Well don't. Because I don't want your pity just as you don't want mine!" she snapped. "Or are you sincerely, genuinely, apologizing for something else?"

Discord found himself growing annoyed at her words. "And what should I be apologizing for?" he asked. "Obviously you know a reason, so I am eager to hear it," he dryly said.

Fluttershy lifted her chin high. "Why have you been so short with me this week?" she demanded. "Have I greatly displeased you? What have I done that has caused you to avoid me at all costs and keep our rehearsals at a bear minimum?" she sighed and felt the fight within her sag. "I…I don't want to fight you," she sighed. "But…I do want to understand why this change," she lifted her eyes to his. "A week ago, everything was wonderful. We…we went to the opera together and it was a magical night!" she exclaimed, smiling at the memory. "But the next day…everything was different," she bit her lip and turned away again, gazing back out over the city. "Is it my voice? Have you grown tired of my voice–"

"No, of course not," he interrupted.

Fluttershy softly smiled at this, but it was her next question that would determine whether her heart would break or not. "Is it…is it me?" she whispered. "Have you grown tired of…of me?" she wanted to look at him but was afraid, afraid of what truth she may find in his dark mysterious amber eyes. "I know I can be a bother, wanting to talk about silly things like books and philosophy, when you are a serious composer with an opera you're trying to debut; a-am I simply being…too…too forward? Am I being…annoying or…or b-b-bothersome?" she choked on her last words, trying to hold back any tears that threatened to shed.

Discord said nothing, he simply came up from behind her, his large gloved paw and claw, a paw and claw that had killed stallions and caused terror, a paw and claw that had bled for the sake of music, gently fell upon her shoulders, and without struggle, turned her to face him, his paw and claw falling softly down her arms, not letting her go, but not drawing her closer, although he dearly wanted to.

"Never," he whispered. "I could never grow tired of you…you…" he paused and found himself smiling at a memory. "What was it that you said that night…the toast you made…to the 'angel of music', yes?" Fluttershy blushed at the memory but found herself smiling and nodding her head. "You are that…you are my angel of music, Fluttershy," he whispered with the deepest sincerity. "You have brought light to my darkness, beauty to my music, and…" he wanted to tell her how she brought heaven to his hell, but felt foolish, so he stopped. Reluctantly, he released her, but neither stepped back. "Can you forgive me?" he whispered, his eyes full of hope that she would. He knew he had not given her a straight forward answer for his behavior, but he hoped that she would not further question him on that, as he himself was still making sense of it.

Yet Fluttershy's heart felt a glimmer of hope rise within her. Perhaps…perhaps the fearsome Phantom of the Opera was learning to trust and…just perhaps, care for another pony the way a hero and heroine care for one another. "Of course," she whispered back, her eyes sparkling and her smile spreading across her face.

Discord felt a soft smile pull at the ends of his mouth, and for a long moment, the two of them stood close together, practically toe to toe, and Discord found himself bending his head just slightly, while Fluttershy, her eyes going wider all the while, felt her head tilt upwards.

A rush of cold wind blew over them and Discord immediately straightened. "You'll freeze…come, we best get back inside."

Fluttershy awoke from the trance his eyes had created and she quickly nodded her head, her face completely flushed. "Yes, quite right," she whispered, although the cold night air had little effect on the warmth she was feeling.

As before, Discord took the rope that hung from the trap door, expertly wrapping his leg around a part, creating the hold for his foot, and held his paw out to Fluttershy. Last time, Fluttershy had clung to Discord out of fear from falling, her face buried against his shoulder so she would not have to see. But this time, as she entered his embrace, she did not hide her face but locked her eyes with his. Discord's arm tightened around her waist, and slowly, they floated to the floor like a snowflake in a gentle breeze; twisting and twirling with the rope, and the whole time, their eyes never left the other.

"Thank you," Flutttershy whispered after they landed safely.

"My pleasure," Discord whispered back, meaning every word.

They walked in silence then, past the curtains, the stage, and down the steps that led to the underground lake. Fluttershy broke the silence, telling Discord about the Christmas celebrations that went on with the others. She warned him that a new face had come to stay, meaning the black kitten named Carmen, to which Discord groaned at first, but found himself chuckling. While they were on the boat, Fluttershy felt it was time to finally ask Discord, "Why is it that you don't celebrate with the others?"

Discord said nothing at first, his whole concentration on steering the boat. "I'm not one for celebrations," he simply said. "I wouldn't want to drag the spirits of others down."

Fluttershy frowned at this. "If Rainbow Dash can celebrate and not bring spirits down, I do not think you are in danger of doing so."

Discord found himself chuckling again. "Perhaps not…but I am very busy, and had much to do."

Fluttershy frowned more at this. "So busy that you needed to retreat to the roof of the Maris Opera House?"

Discord said nothing, simply climbed out of the boat and tethered it before helping Fluttershy out. She sighed as she realized he was not going to answer her question. "We missed you," she explained. Still, he said nothing; his face was entirely unreadable. "I missed you."

That caused him to pause. He slowly turned to look at her, his face shadowed by the collar of his cape, but his eyes seemed to glow like those of a panther.

Fluttershy could tell he was still not going to say anything, so she took a deep breath and continued. "I…I just…" what was she trying to say exactly? "I consider you all to be dear friends of mine…a family to me, actually," she whispered. "And…I felt that a part of my family…was missing when you weren't there."

Discord straightened himself to his full towering height and looked down at her with curious eyes. She wanted to know what he was thinking, but he was still so unreadable in these shadows.

"I apologize," Discord finally said, bowing his head. "I did not mean to cause you or the others sadness," he took a step closer towards her. "I just have never felt that my presence would be…desired at such occasions. Perhaps, I simply felt I was not worthy to partake."

Fluttershy found her hoof rising and to the surprise of them both, caressing his unscarred cheek. Discord froze at the touch of her hoof, his heart practically coming to a stop. "You think too little of yourself," she said with all the honesty and caring she had. "You are worthy of happiness Discord…you bring happiness to all of us here…" and she thought of the happiness that he brought especially to her life.

She found herself blushing furiously as her other hoof rose and touched the smooth surface of his mask that covered the disfigured side of his face. "Derpy deeply loved the gift you gave her…but I learned that no one has given you a gift. So," she said, swallowing. "it is only right that…that I give you your gift, as I am the only one left who hasn't given a present."

Discord who had been frozen this whole time, yet relishing the feel of her small delicate hooves upon him, finally opened his mouth to ask what she meant…but was stopped short, when Fluttershy held his face, stood up on the tips of her toes, and placed her lips against his own.

The kiss was brief, but it felt like a sweet eternity. It was just the gentle brush of her lips across his, but in that moment, in that gentle brushing of lips, Discord felt his heart explode with wonder and amazement, and Fluttershy felt her love finally pouring out and shouting for joy at being free. Neither of them moved, and finally, Fluttershy leaned back, back down to her height, her soft hooves releasing his face, and the two of them stood in front of the other, neither speaking, neither moving, simply staring at the other and breathing erratically.

"Merry Christmas Discord," Fluttershy whispered, before moving past him to return to her chamber.

Discord said nothing, he simply stood where he was, his chest rising and falling as if he had run a marathon. Truly, he had been holding his breath the whole while. He closed his eyes, the feel of her lips still fresh upon his own. He ran his tongue along them and could taste them there.

It was the first Christmas present he had ever been given…and the sweetest.

Author's Note:

Edtied: 2/9/2016

Kissy time ;) plus guess what guys? We are now 33% done with the story! Yay!