• 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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Reunion

Reunion

"What do you mean this isn't enough? I have well over 300 franks in gold!"

The officer groaned and shook his head, feeling a pounding migraine come on from the young mare's screeching. The sun hadn't even peeked over the horizon when the young mare came barging into the station, demanding that her father be released at once. Behind her followed another mare, dressed in black from head to toe. The officer recognized the older mare immediately, yet tried to advert his eyes from hers; she made him feel like a fly caught in a spider's web.

"I'm sorry mademoiselle, but it is not enough, as I've told you now for the fourth time."

Fluttershy's eyes narrowed into hateful slits. She wanted to leap across the counter that separated her from the police officer and strangle him. It seemed as if some of Discord's violent ruthlessness had rubbed off on her.

"What crime has this stallion committed?" she barked at him, her hooves flattening on the counter top, as if preparing herself to vault over it and throttle him. "He is an old stallion, gentle and harmless; he's MY FATHER!" she shouted, not caring if her scream caused the officer to wince in pain. "I DEMAND THAT YOU RELEASE HIM AT ONCE!"

"I CAN'T DO THAT!" the officer shouted back, his own rage clearly seen in his pale brown eyes.

Madame Luna, who had been standing by and watching the scene this whole while could not be silent any longer. She had entered the station, determined to keep her mouth closed, knowing that this was Fluttershy's battle, and thinking that with over 300 gold franks. Time Turner would be in the mare's arms before one counted to ten.

Something wasn't right; a stallion like Time Turner could be released with less than 100 franks. No, they were keeping him for some reason…or for some one. And Madame Luna had a good idea who was behind it…

"Why exactly can you not release him?" she asked, very calmly, surprising both Fluttershy and the officer with her tone. Yet despite the tranquility of her voice, her eyes held only dark wrathful promises if the officer did not respond to her liking.

"I…that is…" he swallowed the growing lump in his throat, trying to keep his wits about him despite the cold stare she was sending his way. "This stallion is a lunatic, for one."

"HE MOST CERTAINLY IS NOT!" Fluttershy shouted, pounding her hoof down on the counter.

"The stallion was raving about a monster!" the officer continued, ignoring Fluttershy's protests. "He came in here, talking about some sort of masked fiend that had stolen his daughter, or something like that. He was clearly mad! Such a stalion is not safe in public!"

Fluttershy's teeth clenched at the man's words. "I am his daughter!" she hissed. "And I am here, now, so you can release him!"

The officer turned back to Fluttershy, weary of the mare's screeches and fits of temper. "Yes, mademoiselle, I see that, but all the more reason to point to the stallion's lunacy! And how do I know you're the stallion's daughter? You could be some strumpet that was hired–"

"You dare you speak to a mare in such a way?"

Both Fluttershy and Madame Luna had been prepared to throw their hooves at the officer for saying such things, but the third voice stopped them and they turned to see who had spoken…both completely shocked at the figure that stood in the doorway.

"Monsieur Prince!" the officer gasped, bowing as if being presented before royalty. "I…I didn't mean…that is…I beg your pardon, monsieur, but I–"

"You were simply being an imbecile," Blueblood growled at the officer. "Now apologize at once to the mare!"

The officer stared at the Prince as if the stallion were a strange creature from another world. Then, he immediately turned toward Fluttershy and began apologizing for his behavior in a series of blubbers.

Madame Luna simply watched with narrowed suspicious eyes.

"It's a start," Blueblood growled once more, turning away from the officer to face Fluttershy.

Fluttershy stared up at the hoofsome Prince, not sure what to say or think. Of all the ponies in this world who would come to her defense, he was the last stallion she had ever imagined doing so. True, while the Prince had the appearance of a gallant knight coming to a maiden's rescue on a charging white steed, she knew him to be pompous, arrogant, and extremely conceited. Also, his behavior in the past did not win him merit for being chivalrous. So what was he doing there?

"Mademoiselle," Blueblood greeted with a deep bow. "I apologize for the rudeness you had to endure just then; I promise you I shall speak with this stallion's superior on your behalf."

Fluttershy gave a slight curtsy out of politeness, but still looked at the Prince with wary eyes. "I thank you for your offer, but that is not necessary–I'm sure nothing of the sort will be necessary if he simply accepts my offer and gives me what I have come here for!" she hissed once more at the officer.

Blueblood turned his head, his eyes catching the officer who was fidgeting nervously from all the stares he was receiving. "And what offer is that, mademoiselle, if you don't mind me asking?"

Madame Luna wanted to open her mouth and shout at the Prince to stop playing games. He knew why they were there, she was sure he was responsible for Time Turner's imprisonment; she just needed proof.

She was surprised when Fluttershy responded to the Prince's question. "They are keeping my father prisoner," she explained, lifting her chin in defiance. "I offer over 300 franks in gold, and yet I am told it is not enough to release him!"

Blueblood's calm coolness almost fell away at the mention of the amount of money she carried. Over 300 gold franks? Compared to his vast wealth, the amount was nothing; but where did she obtain such an amount? Fluttershy's puzzled expression reminded him that his questions would have to wait for a later time.

"Keep your money, mademoiselle, I shall take care of the payment."

Everypony in the small lobby stared at the Prince, as if he had just announced he was going to fly to the moon by simply sprouting wings. "I…I b-b-beg your pardon?" Fluttershy finally stammered after the shock had washed over her.

"Monsieur?" the officer asked, his eyes filled with confusion.

Blueblood reached across the counter, grabbed the officer by this coat collar, and shook him hard. "RELEASE HIM!" he roared, before pushing the officer away from him in disgust.

The stallion didn't say another word; he scrambled away from the Prince and went through a door that led to the prison cells. Madame Luna eyed the Prince suspiciously once more; she had not missed the officer's surprise by the Prince's declaration.

Fluttershy's heart began to lift as she saw the officer disappear, wondering how her father was, anxious to see him and to hold him close. She looked up at the Prince, joy lit in her face, but confusion still clouding her eyes. "W-w-what do you mean y-you will take care of the payment?"

"I mean exactly that," Blueblood said, bowing to her once more as he had done before. "Keep your money and allow me to do this for you."

"But monsieur, there is no need for that–"

"Nonsense," he interrupted, reaching out and taking her hoof in his. "It may come as a surprise to you, mademoiselle, but I remember your father's kindness to me. And if there is any way I can help either of you, please, do not hesitate–"

Madame Luna was seething, but before she could do anything, the door the officer had gone through burst open once more, and several stallions came out, each hauling another stallion forward.

"PAPA!" Fluttershy cried, rushing past the Prince towards the frail old stallion, pushing through several of the officers so that she could throw her arms around her father.

But she stopped short, her breath catching in her throat and her face paling at the sight. "P-p-papa?" she whispered, her voice barely audible. Her father wasn't walking; these stalllions were dragging him. A hoof flew to Fluttershys mouth as she took in the sight of her father–there were bruises on his face, a cut on the side of his lip, he was covered from head to toe in absolute filth, his clothes were mere shreds of fabric, and he looked so thin and frail…as if he could snap in two by a simple twitch.

Cold silent tears coursed down her cheeks. "What have you done to him?" she gasped, her eyes wide with fear and anger at the officers who were holding him. "YOU MONSTERS! WHAT DID YOU DO TO HIM?"

Time Turner let out a great cough and Fluttershy's attention fell to her father once more. She pushed the stallions away from him and wrapped her trembling arms around her father's weak and feeble form. "Papa…Papa, it's me, I'm here…I'm here," she whispered into his ear as she held him even tighter, fighting back the sobs that threatened to burst forth.

"H-h-he d-d-did it to himself, mademoiselle, I swear!" one officer argued, but quickly shrank away at the cold stare Madame Luna sent towards him.

"Papa? Papa, it's me, it's Fluttershy, I have you now, you're safe…Papa, don't you understand me?" there was still no answer from the frail old man. "Papa?" Fluttershy turned her face up towards the officer who had been there earlier. "What's wrong? Why can't he talk?"

The officer sighed, glanced briefly at Blueblood, and then looked back at Fluttershy. "He's been sick for some time mademoiselle–one prisoner that we brought in had Consumption…he infected over half the prisoners and two officers."

Fluttershy's eyes widened in horror at the stallion's words. "WHY DIDN'T YOU GET A DOCTOR?"

The officer stared at her as if that were the oddest thing to suggest. "Beg your pardon, mademoiselle, but…they're prisoners. It would be a horrid waste of money–"

"Do shut up," Blueblood growled at the stallion, jabbing the officer's stomach. He glared for a long time at the small crowd of Maris policestallions before kneeling down to where Fluttershy held her father on the floor. "I have a carriage just outside. Is there some place I can take you? I will have my valet fetch my doctor and he will examine your father."

Fluttershy was so overtaken by the shock of the situation that she had barely heard the Prince's offer. She simply stared up at him, her cheeks moist with tears.

"There will be no need for that," the dance mistress hissed, pushing her way past the stunned Prince and bending to help Fluttershy lift the old stallion to his hooves. "I have my own carriage to transport us, and I will have my doctor fetched to help Monsieur Time Turner. Good day to you monsieur!" she icily snapped.

Blueblood's eyes narrowed at the figure of the dance mistress, but he did not hesitate to help carry Time Turner out of the station and to Madame Luna's carriage. Any other day, Madame Luna would have told the Prince to shove off, but both she and Fluttershy were struggling to carry the old stallion, so for this moment, she bit her tongue.

Once Fluttershy's father was securely inside the carriage, Fluttershy turned to face the Prince and gave a small curtsy. "Thank you, monsieur," she said simply, before climbing into the carriage herself.

However, before the door shut, Blueblood reached out and grasped one of Fluttershy's small, gloved hooves. "Please, should you need anything…anything at all, do not hesitate to ask."

Madame Luna took hold of Fluttershy's wrist and pulled her hoof away from the Prince's. "You're too kind, monsieur," she muttered sarcastically, before shouting instructions to her driver.

"Do send me word when he recovers!" Blueblood called out to Fluttershy, watching as Madame Luna's gray carriage disappeared around a corner. He stood there for a long moment, gazing down the street, contemplating on all that had taken place.

She was free.

Her face, while he was pleased to see it, was the last he had expected to greet him at the police station that morning. And he had not failed to notice that Madame Luna was with her; somehow Madame Luna had learned that Time Turner was being kept there, yet it seemed she had not managed to figure out how he had come to be there, or who was responsible for keeping him there.

Just as well, he would not have his plans ruined, not when he was so close to obtaining that which he desired more than anything. How she managed to escape the Phantom's realm he knew not, but that would be learned soon enough. Right now, he had more pressing concerns to attend to.

Fluttershy paced back and forth in her room, hugging the red shawl she wore around her shoulders ever closer to her body. She could not stand this suspense; it was driving her mad! The doctor had been summoned the second she and Madame Luna reached the older mare's town house. Madame Luna ordered Soles to immediately begin boiling water, and had Cosmic carry the old stallion up to Madame Luna's own room. Within the hour, the doctor was there, and had been there all morning and a good portion of the afternoon. While the doctor said nothing, Fluttershy's worst fears were growing by the second…

Her father had Consumption, or heaven forbid, Influenza. The way the doctor hovered around him, checking his pulse, checking his heartbeat, ordering for more hot water, fresh linens, and more pillows to elevate his head…

Fluttershy could not bear it any longer, she broke down in sobs and the doctor had to order her to be taken out of the room. She sat in the tiny servant's bedroom just a few doors down, but she could still make out some of the hushed whispers between the dance mistress and the doctor.

It wasn't looking good.

The doctor kept commenting on her father's breathing, how it wasn't regular, it wasn't right. He would also comment on how weak his pulse seemed to be growing, and Madame Luna would respond if there was any more she could do, but the doctor never responded, he simply commented on how they had to wait; wait and see what happened.

Fluttershy couldn't sit still, she had been pacing for what felt like hours, and her eyes were red, swollen, and dry from all the tears she had shed. What would she do if her father never recovered? She didn't want to think of such things, but the impending doom of the situation continued to grow further and further with every passing hour.

She couldn't lose her father after finding him again. There were so many things she needed to tell him, so many things she wanted to say.

She wanted to apologize for being so selfish and losing herself in the arms of another stallion, a stallion who was in fact the enemy, a stallion who had attempted to kill her father, and in the end, threw him out onto the streets to suffer at the hooves of the elements and the cruelty of humanity.

She had been so foolish. She was an ungrateful child, playing princess in a dark mystical realm like the characters from her gothic novels, never thinking about the world above, never thinking about the suffering her father was enduring, not just physically, but emotionally as well. He must have been so worried for her…and what had she done?

She lost herself to passion. The fires were kindled within her heart, but how quickly they were extinguished when reality came crashing down.

Discord had been right…

This was no fairy tale. He was no gallant hero that turned into a hoofsome prince from true love's first kiss…

She had been such a fool. A fool for losing herself in passion, a fool for giving her body away too easily, a fool for…for falling in love…

God above, help her. She still loved him…

She collapsed onto the bed, pulling her knees up to her chest and curling up into a tight ball. How could she have been so blind? She always thought of herself as being a sensible person, thinking with her head instead of her heart. Perhaps that was the problem…perhaps she had clouded her head with too many gothic romances?

She shut her eyes, praying to drown out the sounds of servants, rushing back and forth along the corridor carrying pots of boiling water and clean linens. She didn't want to hear the doctor give yet another poor diagnosis, she didn't want to hear the hopelessness in Madame Luna's voice, she didn't want to hear her father's gurgled breathing, but then when it stopped, her heart would only freeze with horror that perhaps he had stopped breathing.

She just wanted everything to be as it had been, before coming to Maris, before losing their farm, before her mother died…

"Fluttershy…"

No. This was the last thing she wanted to hear…

"Fluttershy…"

"Go away," she whispered into the sheets, burying her face against them, wanting his voice to vanish completely from the world. She did not think herself strong enough to listen to his voice, to the seductive combinations of his baritone and tenor.

"Fluttershy, I have missed you…"

"Discord please," she whimpered against the sheets. "Do not do this, leave me be."

"Come back to me…come back and stay with me…"

Her heart skipped a beat at the words. "I can't…you don't love me, you told me it was all a lie…"

"I do love you Fluttershy…I'm sorry for hurting you, I wanted to spare you of the life you would have lived, locked under ground, separate from the world above–I thought I was doing the right thing, sacrificing my desires so that you would not be condemned to the same life I am."

Fluttershy held her breath at his words. He loved her? Everything he had done…all those horrible things he had said…they weren't true?

With a shaky breath, she lifted her head away from the sheets, her eyes glancing upward towards the wall in front of her. She let out a gasp as she saw his shadow cast against the wall from the setting sun.

She was not sure she had the courage to face him. "No more lies Discord. I…I don't know what to believe anymore…"

"Believe that I love you. I know that I have betrayed your trust, I know that I have caused you pain, and I curse myself for every tear that I caused you to shed. I…I thought I was doing the right thing…I thought I was being selfish, keeping you in my world, a world without sunlight, a world without fields, forests, and horizons. I thought that perhaps…it is better that she leave, but that she leave hating me, despising me, wishing she had never known me…and then perhaps her pain would be less. Perhaps she could live the life she was meant to live, forgetting me completely, or at least sooner than…than I would be able to forget her. In truth, I would never…I could never forget you. You not only taught me to love, Fluttershy…you taught me that I was not a monster, but a stallion. You showed me passion, faith, hope…and goodness. I…I do not blame you if you hate me, in fact, I do not ask for your forgiveness for I do not deserve it. I do not believe I am worthy of your forgiveness, let alone your love. But I do realize that what I did, saying what I said, forcing you to go…was the most foolish thing I have ever done in my whole life. I understand if you struggle with trusting me, I do not blame you…but please know this…I will spend the rest of my days telling you and showing you, how deeply I love you. I will gladly worship the ground on which you tread, and spend my life pleasing you in whatever manner I can."

Fluttershy did not think she had any tears left in her body, but slowly, she began to feel them trickle down her face. She looked down at her hooves; they were shaking. "You…you really love me?" she asked, her voice barely above a whisper.

She let a long shaky gasp, as she felt his paw touch her shoulder, gently, but warmly. "More than music itself," he whispered back.

She could not hold back any longer. Her heart was bursting, just as the tears were bursting forth, gushing in streams down her cheeks. "Oh Discord!" she turned then, ready to throw her arms around her lover, her friend, her Phantom…

"Fluttershy! Fluttershy!"

Her eyes flew open as she felt her body being shaken. She looked up through wet lashes, her hopes sinking as the face she gazed at was none other than Madame Luna's.

It had been a dream.

"You fell asleep my dear," Madame Luna informed, helping Fluttershy to sit up. Fluttershy's heart sank even further as her suspicions were confirmed. She should have known that it was a dream, after all, how could Discord have been there in Madame Luna's home? It just…it had all felt so real, even the touch of his paw on her shoulder…

"I have wonderful news!" Madame Luna said excitedly. Fluttershy quickly wiped her cheeks, took a deep breath, and turned to face the dance mistress, determined not to give anything in her eyes away about her recent dream. "Your father…" she began.

Fluttershy's face lit up at the words. "Is he better?" she asked, her voice so shaky. Lord, she prayed that this wasn't a dream either…

"Oh much better than that!" Madame Luna grinned. "He was suffering from a severe fever, but it has broken. The worst is over! And he did not have Consumption as we had feared. And…" she smiled, squeezing Fluttershy's hooves. "He is calling for you…"

Fluttershy's eyes widened. "He's…he's awake?"

Madame Luna simply nodded her head, and watched with happiness as the mare leapt from the bed and ran to the room where he was lying. "PAPA! PAPA!"

Time Turner's head lifted at the sound of his daughter's voice, and he cried out happily as she burst through the door and flew to his bedside. "FLUTTERSHY!" he gasped, so pleased to see his daughter safe and sound, his frail arms wrapping around her as she collapsed against him, hugging him so tightly.

"Oh Papa…" she cried against his chest, her arms holding him even tighter. He was safe, he was awake, and he was breathing strongly; everything was going to be fine.

"Oh my sweet mare," Time Turner murmured into Fluttershy's hair, his hoof running through the pink tangled waves. "How I have missed you and how I have longed to know if you were alright."

"I'm fine, Papa, I'm fine," she grinned through the joyful tears that were trickling down her face. "Oh I missed you so much, I was so scared, so very scared…"

Time Turner's arms, while still very weak, tightened around his daughter at her words. "Hush my dear, there's nothing to be afraid of anymore…you're safe."

Fluttershy frowned slightly at his words, and then realized what he meant by them. "Oh Papa, no, you misunderstand, I meant I was scared that you weren't–"

"How did you escape?"

Fluttershy was taken aback by her father's question. In truth, it was something she had not considered. Would he believe her if she simply told him that the Phantom had released her? Would anyone?

Her father gripped her by the shoulders and forced her to look at him, fear written across his face. "Did he hurt you?" he asked, his voice shaking with terror, but trying to sound strong. "Did…did he…" he couldn't bring himself to say the words; it was too horrible to even comprehend.

Fluttershy took hold of one of his hooves and gently squeezed it. "I am fine Papa, no, he did not harm me in any way…"

Other than breaking my heart, she thought to herself. But even that seemed odd. His words at the time were biting and horrible, meant to cause grief, anger, and pain. And yet her recent dream…made some sort of odd sense. His face had been so cold, and yet…did she not see pain in the very depths of his eyes? And if truly he had only meant to use her for his own purposes…why was he so gentle with her when they made love? Why pretend to love her? Why pretend to be tender, to be caring? Why care at all to how she felt when they laid together? Even the greatest actor in the world could not pretend all that.

Or did her heart simply want to believe in her dream?

"Fluttershy, please! I need to know!"

She awoke from her trance and gazed back at her father who looked desperate. "Answer me, please…how did you escape?"

Fluttershy did not know why Discord had said those cruel things, but a part of her, once a tiny voice now growing louder and louder, wanted to believe that his cruelty had been the performance, not his love. "I didn't escape Papa," she murmured softly, taking his hooves in hers and smiling gently into his eyes. "He let me go."

Time Turner stared back at his daughter, his brow furrowed with confusion. "W-w-what?"

"It's true," Fluttershy sighed, squeezing his hooves tighter. "He released me…he told me I was free to leave."

Time Turner continued to stare with confusion. This didn't make any sense! "That horrible…monstrous…fiend, simply let you go?"

Fluttershy knew it would be too hard for her father to believe. After all, his only encounter with the Phantom had been one filled with malice, fear, and revenge. How would he even begin to understand that during the long months she had spent with Discord, she was treated more like an equal, than a prisoner?

"He's…he's different now, Papa…" she softly murmured, unsure if he heard her.

At least he seemed different, Fluttershy thought to herself, sadly.

Time Turner shook his head, confusion still etched across his face. "I just don't understand…I truly don't understand…"

Fluttershy gave his hooves another squeeze before bending her head to kiss his brow. "The important thing is that we're together, and we're both safe," she smiled, tenderly touching his cheek.

Time Turner gazed back up at his daughter and returned her warm smile. "Yes, yes, you're quite right. And while I do not understand how…how such a beast could show such mercy by letting you go…I am grateful that you are here. Oh Fluttershy, I have missed you," he sobbed, pulling her back into his arms and holding her close.

Fluttershy smiled, despite the tears, and hugged him just as tightly. But was it truly mercy that Discord had shown? While she was grateful to be reunited with her father, she also longed for her Phantom.

She cursed herself for being silly and selfish; basically she wanted her cake and to eat it too, but in truth, that could not be. She could not have her father and stay with Discord, and vice versa. Perhaps the dream had been truer than she had thought; perhaps Discord had long since realized that the two of them could never be…and decided to end this fillyish fantasy.

She quickly wiped her eyes before looking back at her father, forcing a happy smile. "I will go down at once and get you some hot soup. You need to eat if you are to get your strength back," she smiled, leaning once more and kissing his forehead.

Time Turner smiled as Fluttershy rose from the bed and walked towards the door. "It is so good to see you again," he sighed happily.

Fluttershy turned and smiled back, forcing her breaking heart to stop its selfish splintering. "I love you Papa," she whispered.

"I love you, my mare," he murmured back, before settling under the blankets and gently closing his eyes. She watched him for a moment longer, before finally turning and shutting the door.

"Soles is making some soup," Madame Luna murmured, startling Fluttershy in the corridor. "You look tired my dear, perhaps you should get some rest?"

Fluttershy's eyes went wide at the dance mistress' suggestion. While she could not deny she was tired (unless one finds oneself greatly worrying over something, one will not understand how exhausting worry can be), the mere thought of falling asleep and having another dream, frightened Fluttershy. She was not sure if she could bear the reality that the last dream had presented, again.

"I'm fine," Fluttershy lied, smiling at the dance mistress. "I'm just so happy that he's alright. Oh Madame Luna, I cannot thank you enough for all that you've done."

The dance mistress smiled, but she could not stop thinking about the words Fluttershy had spoken in her sleep earlier, when she had gone in to wake the poor girl up.

Discord.

Fluttershy had cried out Discord's name, and she had said it in such a way that Madame Luna found herself doubting her original suspicions about what had gone on between the Phantom and his prisoner. Was it possible? Did Fluttershy return Discord's affections?

"Madame Luna?"

The older mare shook her head, realizing that Fluttershy was looking at her with some worry. "I'm sorry my dear, I believe I am feeling a little exhausted myself. But sleep will have to wait," she turned towards the stairs and began to descend them. "I must go to the Opera House and see how the dancers are doing with rehearsals. But I will be back shortly, as will Twilight," she smiled up at the mare.

Fluttershy had forgotten all about the opera. She remembered Madame Luna mentioning something about it the night before to Twilight. She decided it was something she need not think about at the moment, besides, after recent events, she was not even sure if Discord would want her in it. She was not even sure if she wanted to be a part of it…

"I'll tell Soles to bring the soup up when it's ready," Madame Luna informed, before disappearing through the kitchen doors.

Fluttershy smiled faintly, her thoughts already filling with questions about Don Juan Triumphant, but those thoughts quickly disappeared when she heard a strange sound come from the servant's bedroom she had been occupying earlier.

Her heart leapt into her throat as she distinctly heard the sound of a stallion's voice, grunting. Was it possible? Was Discord…had Discord…?

She flew down the small corridor to the room she had been in earlier, throwing the door wide open. "Discord?" she called into the growing darkness.

Something moved in one of the shadowy corners. Fluttershy held her breath as she watched the figure, which had been crouched on the ground, rise to its full height…

"F-f-f-fluttershy?"

Fluttershy gasped at the voice, and slowly, her eyes adjusting to the shadows, she realized who exactly had crept into the room. "Derpy?"

Derpy slowly emerged from her hiding place, looking both happy and bashful at the sight of her. "Oh Fluttershy!" she cried out, engulfing her in her big arms and pulling her tightly against her

Fluttershy was happy to see the hunchback too, but had to push against her slightly so that she would not crush her completely. "I…I k-knew I c-c-could find you!" she grinned. "I…I just…I just f-f-followed your f-footprints in the snow…a-a-and w-waited till it got d-d-dark, before c-c-climbing through the w-window," she stuttered proudly.

Fluttershy stared up at her as realization slowly dawned on her. "You mean…you followed me all the way here last night?" she gasped.

Derpy nodded her head.

Fluttershy shook her head, trying to grasp everything Derpy was telling her. "But…but if you've been there all day, why didn't I see you when Madame Luna and I took the carriage and left for the police station?"

Derpy looked down at his feet. "I…I didn't want M-m-madame Luna to s-s-see me. I was a-a-afraid she would force me t-t-to go back. S-s-so I hid u-up in the rafters when you t-t-took the carriage…a-a-and when you brought it back."

"But why Derpy? Why did you follow me?" All she could think about was poor Rarity and how worried the mare must be.

Derpy looked at Fluttershy strangely. She had thought it had been obvious to why she had come. "Y-y-you l-left w-w-without s-saying goodbye," she whimpered softly. Fluttershy felt her heart sting with pain. "A-a-and you f-f-forgot Carmen," she explained, reaching into her pocket and pulling out the black kitten, which mewed in protest from being removed from its warm cozy pouch.

Fluttershy bit her lip, determined not to show Derpy any tears. She reached out and gently rubbed her hoof against the kitten's furry head. "Thank you, Derpy," she whispered, taking the kitten in her arms and gently petting it till it began to purr. "But now that it is dark, you must hurry back. Rarity must be sick with worry–"

"B-b-but you're coming w-with me, a-aren't you?"

Fluttershy looked up at Derpy's face and saw the hope within her eyes. Of course, she should have realized. She had come not to say goodbye, but to bring her back…to bring her home.

"Derpy…" Fluttershy placed Carmen on the bed, and then reached out to take Derpy's hoof in hers. "I know that this might be hard to understand…but I can't go back…" Even if I wanted to, she silently thought to herself.

Derpy's face scrunched up with sad confusion. "B-b-but w-why?"

Fluttershy sighed. "Well, you see, my father was in prison…but now he's free. But he was very sick and is only just now getting better–"

"You c-c-can bring him!" Derpy cried, hope once more returning to her voice. "I mean…w-w-when he g-g-gets better, y-you can bring him b-back w-with you."

Fluttershy couldn't help but smile at Derpys solution. If only it were that simple. "I wish I could," she sighed. "But…my father needs me. And…I need to stay with him…here."

She could not have both worlds, it was just not meant to be. She couldn't be selfish any longer, she had to make a choice…and she had made hers. Either way, her heart would break.

Derpy looked back at her, the sadness returning to his eyes. "B-b-but…b-but I thought…I thought you liked us…"

Oh God, give me strength, she prayed. "I do, Derpy, please believe me, I do like you…all of you, and I will miss you very much."

"Is it b-b-because of t-t-the Master?" she asked.

Fluttershy felt her body grow tense. Did Derpy know all that had happened?

"I k-know t-t-that the Master c-can be s-s-scary sometimes," she continued. "A-and I know that he's ugly–"

Fluttershy had to interrupt. "He's not ugly," she stated firmly. "None of you are ugly. It's the world that's ugly, for not seeing the beauty within the heart and soul of it's fellow pony."

Derpy couldn't help but blush at her words. "All p-ponies s-should be like you Fluttershy…"

Fluttershy smiled, but quickly shook her head. "No Derpy…" she murmured, her hoof rising to touch his cheek. "All ponies should be like you and your family."

Derpy blushed again. "Rarity is right…"

Fluttershy bit her lip. "R-r-right about what?"

Derpy smiled softly. "T-t-that the Master h-has n-n-never been s-s-so happy s-since he met you."

Fluttershy felt the tears trickle once more down her face from Derpy's revelation. How she wanted to believe her words, how she wanted to believe that voice in her head that kept telling her that something was wrong, that Discord didn't mean what he said the other night. But she didn't know what to believe; she wasn't sure if she could trust her heart.

"H-h-he loves you…" Derpy murmured, smiling back at Fluttershy. "I k-know it. I've s-seen the w-way he looks at you…I c-c-can hear it in the way he t-talks to you. And I know t-t-that you love him," she declared. "So y-you should be together!"

Fluttershy turned her face away and released Derpy's hoof. "I…I want to believe that," she whispered. "But…I can't go back Derpy. I…I need to stay with my father. I need to stay in the world above. And, I think your master understands that too," she sighed, although she hated the reality of it all.

Derpy stared at her, her sadness giving way to anger. "N-no!" she practically shouted. Fluttershy whirled around at the sound of his voice, her eyes wide with surprise; she had never heard Derpy become angry before. "Y-you a-a-and the Master d-d-deserve t-to be together!" she stomped, causing the furniture in the room to shake.

"What's going on up there?" Soles shouted from downstairs.

"Don't you s-see? It's j-j-just like that story!"

"What's causing all that racket?" Soles shouted again, only this time it sounded as if she were climbing the stairs.

Fluttershy began to push Derpy towards the window, knowing that if Madame Luna's housekeeper caught sight of the hunchback, she'd scream till every police officer in all of Maris was there.

"Fluttershy, don't y-y-you understand?" she implored.

She looked up at him, her eyes filled with confusion. "No Derpy, what story are you talking about?"

"The Hunchback of Notre Mane!" he almost shouted. "Y-y-you a-and the Master belong t-t-together j-just like the hunchback a-and the gypsy mare!"

Fluttershy closed her eyes at Derpy's words, feeling her heart grow even heavier.

"The w-w-world t-thought him ugly…b-but the gypsy mare loved him! A-a-and they did live h-happily ever after! See? It c-c-can happen! It d-d-does!"

"IT DOESN'T!" Fluttershy shouted, her hoof flying to her mouth as she realized the words that had just escaped.

Derpy stared back down at her, her eyes wide with horror from Fluttershy's words. Fluttershy stared back; feeling horrible for shouting at her, let alone smashing her hopes. She wanted to apologize, to tell her that she was right, that fairy tales can come true and that sad endings could be rewritten. But the sound of the housekeeper's footsteps coming along the corridor at a quick pace brought reality crashing back.

"You must go!" she hissed, urging Derpy to escape.

"I hear voices!" Soles accused from the corridor. "Mademoiselle? To whom are you talking?"

Fluttershy ignored the housekeeper. "Quickly! Run all the way back to the opera house, do not stop until you get there, don't let anyone see you!"

"Mademoiselle!" Soles shouted once more.

"B-b-b-but Fluttershy–"

"GO!" she hissed once more, gasping and turning around as the housekeeper threw the door open and stomped into the room.

"What the devil is going on in here?" she growled, glaring at Fluttershy coldly.

Fluttershy quickly glanced over her shoulder at the window, a long sigh of relief escaping as she realized Derpy had gotten away. "N-n-nothing," she lied.

Soles continued to glare at Fluttershy with suspicion. "I heard you talking to somepony, and I heard stomping coming from below! What were you doing?"

Fluttershy bit her lip, not sure exactly how to explain herself. "I um…t-t-that is…I w-was praying."

The housekeeper cocked an eyebrow. "Praying?"

"Yes," Fluttershy quickly continued. "I…I was so thankful t-that my father was awake and on the mend, t-t-that I was thanking God, a-and d-dancing for joy…" she weakly demonstrated a giddy dance, hoping that the housekeeper would accept her answer and leave.

Soles eyed Fluttershy strangely. "You are a funny one, mademoiselle." It was clear insult.

She turned to leave, and then let out a shriek. Carmen, startled by the housekeeper's intrusion, leapt to her feet and was hissing at the grumpy mare. "How in high holy heaven did that get in here?"

Fluttershy swooped forward, catching the hissing kitten before the housekeeper could hurt it. "She's mine," she defended, holding Carmen close.

Soles scrunched her nose at the hissing creature. "I hate cats," she grumbled. "And the mistress' daughter is allergic to them! I won't let you keep that beast in this house!"

"She'll stay in this room until my father fully recovers!" Fluttershy practically growled at the mare. "And then you can be rid of us all!"

Soles lifted her chin and turned her back on the mare. "The sooner, the better."

Author's Note:

Enjoy!