• 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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Conflict

Conflict

Rarity bit her lip as she slowly peeked her head through the entryway of Discord's chamber. "M-m-master?" she softly called out, but to which she received no reply. She took a deep breath and entered the chamber, prepared to deal with the gathering storm that was surely ready to break should the Master be disturbed, but gasped loudly at the sight before her.

The place was in shambles. Curtains were torn, music strewn about, and many of the stone busts and figures that decorated the chamber lay smashed into thousands of pieces across the floor. A hoof flew to Rarity's mouth as she realized that the piano had been overthrown as well, the ivory and ebony keys lying in a heap on the ground, while several long stiff wires from within the instrument had been pulled, looking like some grotesque sculpture from one's nightmare.

"What are you doing here?"

Rarity nearly screamed as she felt two strong hooves grasp her by the shoulders and whirl her around. Her hoof flew to her heart and she panted with relief when she realized the voice and hooves had belonged to Shortround.

"You shouldn't be here," Shortround warned, glancing up and quickly ushering Rarity away from the ransacked chamber.

"What happened?" Rarity whispered, constantly glancing back at the chamber's entryway.

Shortround sighed and looked down at the ground. "Did you hear those noises last night?" he whispered.

How could she not? Sleep was impossible, they were all too saddened by the news of Fluttershy's departure, but their silent sorrow was interrupted by loud crashes and anguished cries that filled the night air.

There was no question as to who was causing the noises…but now she knew what the Master had been doing.

"Did you see his piano?" Rarity murmured. "I…I never imagined him destroying…" she knew that the Master's sorrow was great…she just had not comprehended the lengths his sorrow could go. To destroy his own music and the instruments he dearly cherished, the only things that brought joy into his life…

There was no joy left in this world. All that was good, all that which had caused delight in their lives, had vanished with Fluttershy.

"The Master needs his time…we must grant him that, at the very least," Shortround whispered, moving away from the chamber's entrance.

Rarity silently nodded her head, but a cloud of worry was already washing over her. If the Master was capable of destroying his precious piano, he was also capable of behaving most irrationally when it came to his own health. "Shortround…you haven't by any chance seen Derpy today, have you?"

Her heart sank as Shortround shook his head. "I'm sure she is fine," he reassured, a weak attempt at trying to ease Rarity's worry. "We all just…need time. Time will heal…" although not even Shortround was certain his words provided any comfort. Could time heal such wounds as this? He glanced once more at the wreckage of the music chamber and sighed heavily. Shortround always had his books to fall back on when things seemed bleak; it would take a miracle to lighten the despair that hovered over their dark world.

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Blueblood groaned and rolled over onto his side, his chest slick with perspiration. He reached for his jacket, which was lying nearby, and pulled his cigar case out from his inner pocket. He lit the cigar and inhaled deeply, relaxing as the smoke filled his nostrils.
"I think those things are disgusting," came the voice beside him. Blueblood shut his eyes, as if that gesture alone would shut out the mare's voice. "However, you smoking after we make love is always a sure sign that I pleasured you greatly…" she purred, moving her head to nestle against his chest, her tongue flicking out to tease his ear.

Blueblood grunted, but not out of pleasure–more out of annoyance. He stiffened at the words "make love"; he always made it clear that what he did was "fucking", never "making love". When a stallion made love to a mare it meant he owed her something, and Blueblood never wanted Celestia to think he owed her anything.

He took another long puff on the cigar, before gently pushing the blonde soprano's head off his chest. Celestia pouted as she felt Blueblood rise from the bed, and her pout only increased as she watched him pull on his breeches. "Why do you always rush off?" she complained. "If you stay a little longer, I'll do that thing with my tongue that I know you enjoy…" she grinned, running her tongue seductively across her lips.

Blueblood showed no amusement at her offer, and only continued to get dressed.

Celestia's grin quickly disappeared, and her eyes narrowed into angry slits. "I swear, sometimes you make me feel like a cheap whore," she spat, angrily folding her arms across her chest.

Blueblood said nothing; the truth would only infuriate Celestia further.

She glanced at him again; annoyed that he was not even acknowledging her presence. With an outraged shriek, she grabbed one of the bed pillows and flung it at his head. Blueblood took a deep calming breath before finally turning back to the pouting soprano. "You have something you wish to express, my dear?" he asked sweetly, although the tone was dripping with sarcasm. He took the pillow that she had thrown and flung it back at her.

Celestia glared at him and quickly sat up, fire burning in her eyes. "I'm getting tired of this Blueblood," she hissed angrily.

Blueblood cocked an eyebrow at her words. "Truly? I thought you enjoyed our 'meetings', my dear," he could not help but grin at the angry frown she cast his way.

"You know what I mean!" she snapped, gathering the sheets around her body. "At first I thought you were simply an awestruck admirer."

Blueblood smiled fondly at the memory. "Tis true, I can not deny that upon our first meeting, I was indeed awestruck," he grinned, remembering the way he had her beg for him rip her dress off and take her between acts in the corridor just past the stage.

Celestia did not show any sign of fond remembrance. "As time went on however, I began to realize that it wasn't the 'pleasure' of my company that you sought, but rather…an opportunity for you to get something!"

Blueblood closed his eyes briefly, his hoof rising to rub the bridge of his nose. He would need all the patience he could muster for this one.

"I know all the stories about you, monsieur," she muttered with disgust. "And don't think that I've forgotten how you wanted to seduce my costume mare all those months ago!" she accused.

Blueblood pasted a look of hurt across his face before sitting back down at the edge of the bed. "You believe those vicious rumors? They are spun by silly dance mares who are jealous of your beauty, your talent, and your charisma in the bedroom–"

Celestia rolled her eyes and rose from the bed, gripping the sheets tightly around her body as she began to stalk back and forth across the dressing room floor. "You are a worse liar than those two imbeciles who run this opera house!"

Blueblood let out a long frustrated sigh before rising once more. "Clearly you have something on your mind, and clearly it's not entirely about my hasty departure. So why don't you simply say what's bothering you, after all, you never hold back your disdain to anyone else," he growled, while leaning against the dressing table.

Celestia cast him a vengeful stare, before fully turning and facing him. "You all must think I am a complete idiot!" she charged, her face darkening with anger. Blueblood held his tongue, although the temptation was extremely great. "But I am not as blind as you may think, Monsieur Prince," she spat.

Blueblood groaned and rubbed his nose once more. "Meaning?"

"Meaning this pile of shit that you and the managers dare call opera!" she screeched. "I am not blind Blueblood! I have noticed how Fancypants has been singing the lead at rehearsals…but what I find interesting is that we have no female lead. In fact, we are conveniently skipping her scenes and songs altogether!"

Blueblood gripped the edges of Celestia's dressing table to keep himself from reaching out and throttling the prima donna.

She eyed him suspiciously and slowly sauntered over to him. "In fact…I think that your 'visits' are simply a way to keep me distracted from what is really going on," she murmured, running her hooves along his chest. "Am I wrong?"

Blueblood smiled down at her, although it was not a smile of seduction, rather of one that was obviously covering up feelings of annoyance.

Celestia returned the smile, however hers was one of calculation and triumph. She turned on her heel and began to walk away from the Prince. "I want a copy of that piss-awful opera in my dressing room within the next hour," she ordered.

Blueblood eyed Celestia's back and watched as the diva dropped the sheets, before stepping into her dressing gown. "Are you threatening me, senora?" he calmly asked, resuming his cigar smoking.

Celestia turned to face him as she finished tying the sash of her dressing gown. "If you wish to call it that," she replied haughtily.

Blueblood moved away from the dressing table as Celestia marched towards it and sat herself down, running a brush through her disheveled waves. He continued to watch her as a hawk watches the prey its about to devour. "And if I do not comply with your orders?" he simply inquired.

Celestia put the brush down and stared back at him in the reflection of her mirror. "Maris is not the only city that wants me, monsieur," she spat. "I have many offers. Vienna has been begging me to come and perform on their stage for over a year. And Brussels has made an offer that by far exceeds what this company pitifully calls a salary."

Blueblood could not help but smile at her threats. "Why, I'm sure that even your beloved Venice would sell its soul for the opportunity to have its prima donna grace the stage once more."

Celestia slammed her brush down once more. "Perhaps they would!" she screeched. "And perhaps I will take their offer! I should, after the horrible ways that you and this company have treated me!" she grumbled.

Blueblood's smile darkened and his eyes locked with hers in the mirror. "But you won't," he simply said.

Celestia whirled around and stared at him. "Who says I won't? You? HA!" she laughed. "You silly aristocrats, thinking that you can buy anything, even stars like myself!" She turned back towards the mirror and began to powder her face. "I can not be bought, monsieur, and I will not be used any longer! I will have that role in this opera, or you will be the one to suffer!"

Blueblood cocked an eyebrow at her words. "How so?"

She couldn't help but grin evilly. "Money matters very much to you and the managers. If I go, so go your ticket sales."

"Ah, but there you are wrong," Blueblood sighed, his arms moving around his back. "You see my dear, you weren't the only one doing some detective work."

Celestia froze at his words. "W-w-what do you mean?"

Blueblood could not help but grin. "Simply that I decided to investigate these so-called 'pleas' that you have been receiving," he paused as he watched the color drain completely from Celestia's face. "There are no pleas. Vienna could care less of what became of you, and Brussels has actually pleaded that we do not release ourselves of you, in fear that you would come to them," he leaned down till his face was just hovering over her shoulder, staring back at her in the mirror. "No one wants you Celestia…not even your beloved Venice. The great La Celestia is no longer great; she is simply a memory of someone who perhaps at one point in her career had some talent…and you're scared as hell if Maris releases itself of you."

He straightened himself up and continued to watch as the prima donna sat completely still, not even moving an eyelash…save for a single tear that trickled down her over-made up cheek. "In truth, senora," Blueblood continued, reaching for his suit jacket, "it is I who have helped you maintain your fame and fortune here in Maris. I am regarded as the patron saint of the arts in this city; whatever the Prince deems as worthy to patronize, so goes society. I have filled society's ears with praises of your great name and talent, although we all know that's a white lie," he sighed. "In a manner of speaking, I have brainwashed society into still believing you are the great star that at one time you were. My scheming, with the power of your name, has brought much wealth to this opera house, but in the end, it is I who holds the cards Celestia…not you."

Blueblood adjusted his jacket and picked up his hat. "I bid you good day senora…and I trust that you'll go along with the instructions for this opera. I have too much resting on it to let some spoiled soprano ruin it for me." He calmly opened the dressing room door, only to find Fancypants standing on the other side, his eyes wide with horror at being discovered by the Prince. "Ah! Senor, I do believe I am finished; by all means, have at her."

Blueblood never looked back as Celestia's angry screams filled the corridor, along with the sound of smashing vase.

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"More?" Fluttershy inquired, grinning as her father finished a third bowl of soup. He was too busy slurping the bottom of the bowl, to hear Fluttershy's question. "Well, its good see that at least your appetite has returned," she giggled, taking the empty bowl away and placing it on a tray.

Time Turner smiled and took his daughter's hoof in his own. "I must say, I do feel my strength improving," he sighed happily. "Although, I believe most of that is because of you," he said, squeezing her hoof.

Fluttershy squeezed his back, so happy that he was alright and they were together. But there remained that gnawing feeling of despair, a feeling that she feared would never fully leave.

"Are you alright dear?" Time Turner asked, his smile disappearing and being replaced with a look of concern.

Fluttershy was startled by the question. "What? Oh! Oh, I'm fine, truly Papa, I was just…thinking about how we could ever repay Madame Luna for her kindness to us these last few days."

The old stallion's smile returned and nodded his head to his daughter's words. "Yes, both she and her daughter have been true friends to us these last few days, as you said," he sighed, leaning back in the bed. "Both they and the Prince."

Fluttershy's head snapped up. "The Prince?" she asked, her eyes growing wide from the revelation. "Prince Blueblood?"

Her father returned the puzzled look, his brow furrowing at the way she spoke. "Why yes, of course…I had assumed that he had been the one to tell you of my whereabouts."

Fluttershy rose to her feet, although her legs felt rather shaky. "Madame Luna had recently learned of your imprisonment and was the one who took me to you…w-what does the Prince have to do with all this?" she asked, her voice somewhere between trembling suspense and screeching hysteria.

"Calm down my dear, you say that as though the stallion has done some great ill against us, when in truth, he has shown such loyal friendship."

Fluttershy took a deep breath to try and calm herself, but in truth, she desperately needed answers. "Papa, please, explain to me about how the Prince knew of you being in the prison."

Time Turner stared at his daughter as if he were afraid she'd leap out the window. What had gotten into her? She sounded ready to go mad! "The Prince learned of my imprisonment and came to visit me," he explained. "Unlike those imbeciles who call themselves detectives, he believed me when I told him about the Phantom kidnapping you."

Fluttershy's eyes narrowed with confusion. "You…you told him that?"

"Yes, of course! I wanted to save you, but…those idiots wouldn't listen," he sighed with annoyance. "They thought me mad, and locked me up. But the Prince learned of my whereabouts and came directly to me. He tried to have me released, fully prepared to pay the bail himself, but those idiots claimed that I could only be released to a member of my own family. Huh, can you believe it?" he asked, folding his arms across his chest. "A stallion with the connections, the wealth, and the power of the Prince, was not regarded as good enough to believe. He even implored them, telling them that my words were true, that you were in great danger, but still, they wouldn't listen," a small smile creased at the corners of his mouth. "I suppose in our misunderstanding, the Prince and I are not very different."

Fluttershy frowned slightly at these words. "Yes, but the difference of course being that you, a poor working class stallion, is deemed a threat to society and must be locked away, while he, an aristocrat who is also telling the same story, is free to go about as he pleases." She could not help but hide the venom in her voice.

Time Turner shook his head, as if the reality of the situation meant little to him. "The world has always been prejudiced to the poor, I was not the first example, nor will I be the last."

Fluttershy knew her father to be right, but she was not as ready as he was to happily draw the comparison between the two stallions.

"I am very grateful to him though," he continued, turning and smiling at her while taking her hoof in his. "I know there was nothing he could do, about rescuing you I mean. After all, we both know how heavily laden with traps that place is," Time Turner murmured, a shudder going through him at the memory. "And it would take an army to overthrow that fiend. Sadly, because the police would not believe the Pince's story, he could not assemble a mob to overtake the Phantom's lair."

Fluttershy felt her blood freeze at her father's words; even more at the hateful tone in which he said them. She pulled her hoof away from his, a gesture which startled the old stallion. "Fluttershy? Is something wrong?"

She inwardly cursed herself for her silly gesture. She couldn't blame her father for his feelings, after all, he had not known the Phantom the way she had. But the very thought of a mob, bursting through the barriers Discord had spent years perfecting, and possibly hurting him and the others, caused her blood to boil with rage.

"If you're finished, I'll take your bowl downstairs," Fluttershy offered, her hoof going out to the empty soup bowl.

Time Turner watched his daughter with sad eyes, cursing himself for being foolish enough to bring up the past. His poor filly, it must have been extremely traumatic, all those months, locked away in a world of darkness. He would never understand the reasons as to why the Phantom simply "released her", as Flutershy insisted, but whatever the reasons, he was so grateful to have her back, safe and sound.

"You should get some rest," Fluttershy whispered, bending and kissing his forehead. "Your health has greatly improved, but you are still on the mend."

Time Turner opened his mouth to speak, but a sudden knock came from the bedroom door. Without waiting for anyone to open the door, Soles burst in, a deep scowl written across her already grim features.

"There's a gentlecolt here to see you, mademoiselle," she grumbled.

Fluttershy's brow furrowed with confusion. "A gentlecolt?"

"Yes, although I don't understand what a stallion like him would want with a mare like you," she muttered, too soft for Time Turner to hear, but just at the right level for Fluttershy. "It's Prince Blueblood, and he's presently waiting in the parlor downstairs."

"Oh! The Prince is here?" Time Turner asked, his face lighting up with pleasure. "Oh Fluttershy, you must go down and see him at once! Please, apologize on my behalf, I would like to see him and thank him personally, but will you do it for me?"

Fluttershy smiled faintly at her father, but in truth, she did not share his enthusiasm for the Prince's presence.

"He is waiting, mademoiselle," the housekeeper grumbled again, her tone clearly of one filled with irritation.

Fluttershy cast an icy glare at the mare, and then lifted her chin. "I shall be down at once…why don't you make some tea for my guest?"

Soles returned Fluttershy's cold glare with one of her own, but walked past the young mare on her way to the kitchens.

"You look lovely, my dear!" her father called out to her as she exited the bedroom. Fluttershy inwardly groaned; the Prince may have been most helpful to her father, but she should have known he was playing matchmaker once more by the way he filled her ears with praises towards the hoofsome noblecolt.

She descended the stairs and took a deep breath before entering the parlor. The Prince stood with his back to her, gazing out the window, his hat, and gloves in his arms. "Good day, monsieur," Fluttershy said politely with a curtsy.

Blueblood turned around at the sound of Fluttershy's voice and his face seemed to radiate a pleasured glow. "Fluttershy!" he beamed, before quickly bowing in response. "I beg your pardon; Mademoiselle Fluttershy," he corrected. He pulled a chair out for her and offered his hoof. "Won't you have a seat?" he asked, his smile continuing to radiate warmth.

Fluttershy smiled back politely, although she could not help but feel somewhat foolish for her lack of manners when it came to being a hostess. After all, it was she who should be offering him a place to sit, but she gratefully took the chair he offered, quickly hiding her embarrassment. "I must say, this is an unexpected surprise," she said while sitting down. She froze as she felt the Prince's lips brush over her hoof, but as soon as he had planted the kiss, he had released her hoof and was seating himself on the chaise lounge directly across from her.

Fluttershy continued to smile out of politeness, however it didn't compare to the beaming grin that the Prince offered her. "I'm afraid Madame Luna is not here, she is–"

"At the opera house, yes," he interrupted. "I just came from there actually, although I did not chance to speak with her."

"Ah," Fluttershy added, not sure how else to respond. Perhaps that was why the Prince thought it safe to pay a visit, since the dance mistress was out? Soles entered the parlor with the tea tray and placed it on the small table between the two of them. Fluttershy murmured a polite thank you, to which the housekeeper simply grunted.

"How is your father, if I may ask?" Blueblood politely inquired, although there did seem to be a genuine feeling of concern in his voice.

"He is greatly improving, thank you," Fluttershy murmured, offering the Prince his tea. He gratefully took the cup and saucer, his hooves lingering just slightly over hers as he accepted it, a gesture which caused Fluttershy to shiver, however not in the way she was sure the Prince intended.

"I am glad to hear it," he smiled, his eyes lingering on her face as he sipped his tea.

Fluttershy squirmed just slightly under his watchful gaze, sipping her tea but keeping her eyes to the floor. Had he simply come to inquire after her father? Or was there something else? "Monsieur," she began, "I…that is, I am very grateful for what you did at the police station."

Blueblood smiled warmly. "It was my pleasure," he softly replied, bowing his head slightly and keeping his eyes focused on her face.

She returned his smile, although it still did not hold the same amount of warmth that his held. "I do want you to know, however, that I fully intend to pay you back, when I get the money," she added firmly; however a worried look passed over her face as she wondered how long that would take.

Blueblood's smile disappeared then and was replaced by a look of confusion. "I beg your pardon?"

Fluttershy lifted her eyes to his, somewhat surprised by his surprise. "The money at which you paid for my father's release; I just wanted you to know that I have every intention of paying you back…in fact, I can begin paying you now, actually, I do have that gold–"

Blueblood reached out and placed one large hoof atop hers. "Fluttershy, you owe me nothing," he reassured. "I was more than happy to help you and your father, please…" he gave her hooves a gentle squeeze. "Let this be my gift to you."

Fluttershy eyed him suspiciously for a moment. She had to admit, this did not seem like the Prince that she knew. Well, in truth, she didn't know very much about the Prince, other than the stories she had heard from Discord. Yet even Discord's prejudice seemed justified by Madame Luna's mistrust of the stallion. Besides, she had not forgotten that time he tried to seduce her in his private lounge at the opera house. Does one good deed outweigh a lifetime of sins? She bit her lip at that thought; she wanted to say no, but then she had easily forgiven Discord for the many sins he had committed over the years. Of course the difference there was that she loved him…still.

"Fluttershy?"

She shook her head and returned her gaze to the Prince. "Are you alright?" he asked, his voice filled with concern, as were his eyes. Perhaps she had poorly misjudged the stallion? "You seem…troubled, if I may say. Forgive me if I am wrong, though," he quickly added.

Fluttershy shook her head. "No, I am fine, thank you, just…tired, actually," she lied, hoping that would satisfy his curiosity. It seemed to do the trick.

"Of course, you have been very busy, I am sure, helping your father regain his strength. Forgive me; I am probably intruding upon your resting time–"

"No, please," Fluttershy insisted, feeling somewhat ashamed for her prejudice and rudeness towards the stallion. While she was not ready to trust him, at least not completely, she was thankful for the graces in which he had performed. "I am most thankful for all that you have done, monsieur, it is an honor to have your company."

Blueblood beamed once more at her words and settled himself again on the chaise lounge. "The honor is all mine, mademoiselle, and besides, it is not only I who is honored to be in your presence this fine day…"

Fluttershy was puzzled by his words, and opened her mouth to ask what he meant, when suddenly, the door to the kitchens opened, and both Flim and Flam came bursting forth.

"MADEMOISELLE!" they cried happily, bowing politely, each stallion beaming as brightly as the Prince.

Fluttershy jumped at their entrance and even more so at their outburst. "M-m-messieur's…" she stuttered, her eyes flashing back and forth between Blueblood and the managers. "T-t-this is a surprise!" she added, although she wasn't sure which exactly surprised her more: the fact that these stallions were here, or the fact that they knew the name of Celestia's costume mare.

"So glad to hear that your father is on the mend," Flim stated proudly.

"And so happy to see you once more!" Flam included, taking her hoof in his and giving it a rather dramatic kiss.

Fluttershy simply stared at each one of them in absolute confusion.

"Messieur's, please, we must allow Mademoiselle Fluttershy an opportunity to regain her composure; I think the two of you scared her to death!" Blueblood cheerfully reprimanded, smiling warmly at Fluttershy.

"Oh we do beg your pardon, mademoiselle," Flm apologized, pulling up a chair and seating himself on Fluttershy's left.

"We are just so overjoyed to have you with us once more," Flam explained, also pulling up a chair and sitting on Fluttershy's right.

Fluttershy was beginning to feel as if the walls were closing in on her.

"I…I am very grateful that you both are pleased to see me…a-as I am pleased to see you," she added politely, although in truth, she had not thought about the two managers since the day they hired her to work for Celestia.

"I think it would be best if you both explained to Mademoiselle Fluttershy why you are pleased to see her…I do not think it fair to keep her in the dark much longer," Blueblood intervened.

Flim nodded his head in agreement. "Mademoiselle, I know that you have been…away…for some time," he mumbled. "But you should know that during your absence, the Maris Opera House has been having an extraordinary season!"

"Very…unique and original, one must say," Flam added, his smile never fading, despite the somewhat hysterical look in his eyes.

"Indeed so," Flim agreed. "And now, as our season is coming to a close…we have decided to drop the schedule we originally had, and end the opera year with a rather…um…rather…" Flim looked to Flam for help.

"Original!" the younger manager cut in.

"Yes! Rather…original, new piece, titled Don Juan Triumphant."

Fluttershy's face paled at the words and she suddenly felt as cold as ice. "D-d-don Juan T-t-triumphant?"

"Yes, Don Juan Triumphant," Flim smiled. "You know, mademoiselle, you say it as if you've heard it before," he added, his gray brow furrowing with confusion.

Fluttershy's eyes went wide and she turned to look at the Prince, whose own eyes she caught by surprise; they were like a hawk's, eyeing its prey. "N-no, I um…simply, as you said, it is an opera with a…unique name. Not at all what you originally had planned when the season began, if I remember correctly."

Both managers exchanged a grievous look, each feeling the truth of those words.

"Yes, well, we have been rehearsing for nearly a month now, but are still struggling with certain areas…" Flim continued.

"Certain areas in regards to casting," Flam clarified, although the bright smile he once wore was now long gone.

Fluttershy stared at both stallions, her face pale and her eyes wide. Were they asking her what she thought they were asking her?

"Well, I see no point in beating around the bush," Flim sighed, taking one of Fluttershy's hooves in his. "Mademoiselle Fluttershy, it would be a great honor, if you would grace us with your voice in singing the part of Aminta in our opera."

Fluttershy pulled her hooves away from Flim and rose so quickly from her chair that it fell over with a loud thud. Both managers stared up at her in shock, and Blueblood rose to his hooves as well, concern etched across his hoofsome features. "Fluttershy? Are you unwell?"

She ignored him and kept her focus entirely on the managers. "Y-y-you're asking me to…to perform…to perform in…"

"The Phantom's opera, yes," Blueblood sighed, coming around the table and gently placing a hoof on her shoulder. Fluttershy turned and looked at him, her blue eyes wide with questions. "You have a right to know Fluttershy…" Blueblood softly murmured, nodding at Flam, who grimaced as he pulled an envelope from his coat pocket.

Fluttershy stared at the envelope that the younger manager held, her legs trembling at the sight of Discord's seal, a blood-red skull. With shaky hooves, she reached for the note, gasping as if someone had struck her when she touched the paper.

Blueblood, noticing her reluctance, took the note and opened it. "Monsieur Flam and Monsieur Flim received this letter several days ago," he explained. "Almost a month ago they received a letter similar to it, containing a casting list for the Phantom's opera. All parts were assigned by the Phantom himself…with the exception of the main female lead."

Fluttershy attempted to swallow the large lump in her throat but found the chore extremely difficult. "This letter gives strict instructions, as all his letters do, as to who shall play the part of Aminta," he continued. "It mentions one single name: Fluttershy." He held the letter up for her to see, and Fluttershy let out a long shaky breath as she read her name in Discord's unique hoofwriting.

Her world was spinning. Fluttershy shook her head violently so as to make the whirlwind stop. She crossed the room then, her arms gripping the red shawl that she wore ever more tightly around her body. She reached out and gripped the windowsill for support, her eyes gazing northward where she could see the spires of the Maris Opera House overhead.

The managers rose from their chairs, each casting one another and the Prince a look of concern. "We…we do not understand ourselves why the Phantom chose you, mademoiselle…" Flam carefully explained. "But…we do know this much; ever since receiving this opera, the demands have been great, but the accidents few and far between."

"We are hoping that by complying with the Phantom's instructions, and performing his opera, he will…perhaps…cease haunting our lives for good," Flim added, although his voice held something that Fluttershy couldn't exactly make out; a hint of assurance, as if he knew for a fact that the notes would stop after opening night of Don Juan Triumphant.

"More or less, mademoiselle, it is a selfish reason, true, but we, that is the Maris Opera House, can not afford another scandal this season," Flam sighed. "We can not afford NOT to follow the Phantom's instructions. And so, we come begging, that you will help us in this endeavor by playing the part of Aminta."

Fluttershy bit her lip as several tears betrayed her eyes and slowly began to trickle down her face. Blueblood sensed the uneasiness only growing and quickly urged the managers to take their leave. "We look forward to seeing you on stage mademois–" Blueblood shut the door before they could finish.

He groaned and rubbed the bridge of his nose, cursing the two mangers for their lack of understanding. "I'm sorry you had to go through that," Blueblood moaned, turning his attention back to Fluttershy. She remained by the window, only this time she was gripping it as if for dear life. "Fluttershy?" he asked, his voice filled with concern. He quickly crossed the room to where she stood, gently reaching out to touch her shoulder. "Fluttershy?"

"I can't believe this is happening," she whispered, turning her face away so that he couldn't see her tears.

Blueblood exhaled a long worried sigh, before retrieving his hoofkerchief and handing it to her. Fluttershy murmured a thank you before taking the hoofkerchief and blowing her nose. "I know it was horrible of them to ask you to perform, especially after everything you've endured…"

Fluttershy turned to face him then, her face contorted with bewilderment at his words. "What are you saying?"

Blueblood gazed down at her for a moment before folding his hooves behind his back. "I know about the Phantom taking you prisoner. He originally kidnapped your father, but you…" he smiled softly. "You sacrificed your own life for his. I confess, I have never known such bravery."

Fluttershy gave a faint smile to his words, but now was not the time she wanted to hear how brave she was to endure what truly had been the happiest months of her life.

"I can't even begin to fathom the sort of horrors you must have endured all that time…and I am still in awe of seeing you now, safe and alive," he said with wonder. "However you managed to escape, I can't imagine, but somehow you did find a way."

Fluttershy said nothing; if her father had trouble believing that the Phantom had released her, there was no hope with the Prince.

"Fluttershy, forgive me, I know I am being very forward," he reached out and took one of her hooves then, enfolding it in his much larger ones. "But I want to offer my services to you."

Her eyes went wide at the words. "I…I b-beg your pardon?" she was very much aware at how iron tight his hooves felt when holding hers.

Blueblood grinned. "I want to help you, and your father, in any way that I can. I am but your loyal servant," he said with an elegant bow.

Fluttershy gave a faint smile but quickly pulled her hooves away. "You are too kind, monsieur, but that won't be necessary."

Blueblood frowned slightly at this, but remained steadfast. "Please…my name is Blueblood, and it would do me the great honor to hear you call me by it."

Inwardly, Fluttershy was groaning, but she smiled out of politeness and nodded her head. "Very well…Blueblood," she tested the word. "You have done more than enough for my father and me, truly, and I am very grateful for your kindness and charity–"

"I do not do these things out of charity, Fluttershy," he said, somewhat darkly. The change in his tone caused Fluttershy to practically jump. Blueblood quickly smoothed his tone before continuing. "What I mean is…I know that you do not trust me, and there is no use for arguing," he silenced her when she opened her mouth to protest, "because I can read it in your eyes. You don't trust me, and I can not blame you," he sighed, looking down at the floor before him. "This may come as a surprise to you, but I have not forgotten that day either, and I think you know what day I mean…" he looked into her eyes and Fluttershy felt a tremble go through her body. His face was extremely hoofsome, there could be no doubt about that…but it also held a darkness. There was darkness in Discord's face too, however his, while dangerous, also held something sensual. The Prince's cast no such sensual spell; its darkness remained very sinister, despite his fair-haired Apollo-like beauty.

"I am a stallion who has been born into a great many privileges. Wealth, power, titles–and yet despite all these privileges, I never realized until that day that the title of 'gentlecolt' was not one a stallion was simply given; it was one that he had to earn. I had assumed all my life that because of my money, because of my estate, because I was the next in line to become the Prince, that I was also a gentlecolt. However…you taught me that day," he murmured, reaching for her hoof once more. "What makes a true gentlecolt, and it isn't any of those things."

Fluttershy gazed up at him, unsure how to respond. "How…how did I teach you that?"

He smiled down at her, and Fluttershy began to see why many of the dance mares regarded him as so charming. "By snubbing me, and telling me exactly how insulted you were by my treatment of you," he added, wincing at the memory.

Fluttershy couldn't help but smile slightly. Perhaps he was learning after all. "From that moment," he went on, "I began to realize that my treatment of mares was utterly disgusting, and while I am by no means a perfect stallion," he softly chuckled, "I do owe you my thanks for helping me realize the stallion that I want to be…"

Fluttershy began to feel slightly uncomfortable with their closeness, and slowly tugged her hoof free. "You flatter me, monsieur, in ways that I do not deserve."

"I do not think that is possible. I think you deserve every ounce of flattery in this world, and beyond. But I can tell that my boldness is making you very uncomfortable, so I shall cease," he said with a polite smile, taking a step away from her. "But my offer still remains; I would like to be of service to both you and your father, and…if I may be so bold as to make a suggestion?" Curious, Fluttershy nodded her head.

"Madame Luna has been very kind to both you and your father, opening her home and allowing you a place to stay while your father recovers. That is kindness indeed," he smiled. Fluttershy returned the smile, however she was unsure where he was going with this. "However…I have noticed a few…tensions in the household?" he cocked his head in direction of the kitchen to where Soles had disappeared earlier. "And while I know that Madame Luna would never dream of urging the two of you to leave, I did notice the small pile of newspapers when I first entered the house near the door…all of which were turned towards the listings of available apartments."

Fluttershy felt a flush invade her cheeks, somewhat amazed by the Prince's eye for detail. "I have been making inquiries," she explained. "My father is quickly improving, however as soon as he is well enough to venture outside, we shall not intrude upon Madame Luna's hospitality a second longer."

Blueblood nodded his head in understanding. "And have you had any luck in your search?"

Fluttershy grimaced slightly. "What we can afford is not much," she whispered. "But we shall make due, we always have in the past," she gave an optimistic smile, despite how she truly felt.

"Yes, well, we can't have that now, can we?" Blueblood murmured, his eyes twinkling as he gazed down at Fluttershy. "I know you already feel greatly indebted to me, but please, allow me to make this one other offer. I have friends from the country who sometimes come and visit me when I am in Maris. I keep an apartment for these friends when they visit, but right now, it is available. I already pay the monthly rent for it, and knowing that it is being used by someone, rather than simply collecting dust as it is presently, well…in all actuality, you would be doing me the favor."

Fluttershy gazed up at him, her eyes wide with amazement at his offer. "It is too much…"

"Fluttershy, please, let me do this for you," he implored. "At least let it be for a temporary period. Once you find something that is not only comfortable, but also affordable, you may feel free to move out, no questions asked. But let me help you now…please…"

She gazed into his emerald eyes, searching them for a long time to see if there was any sign of expectation for accepting his offer. She could not find any. Perhaps he truly was changing? "Very well," she whispered. "I shall tell my father the news and when he is ready to move, we shall do so…but it will only be for a temporary period," she emphasized, perhaps a little too bluntly.

Blueblood said nothing; he simply bowed his head to her. "You do me a great honor, Fluttershy," he smiled. "I shall begin to make the arrangements for your stay," he pulled his gloves on and put on his hat, walking briskly towards the door. However, once reaching it, he paused and turned to face her once more. "And what of the opera?"

Fluttershy's smile vanished at his words and she felt that chill return. "I…I don't know…" she whispered, avoiding his eyes.

Blueblood watched her closely for a moment before speaking again. "As Monsieur Flam said, we do not understand why the Phantom requests that you sing in his opera, and I understand your reluctance Fluttershy…"

She highly doubted that, but she said nothing.

"However, I see this as an opportunity to take something and make it your own."

She looked up at him, her eyes narrowed with confusion. "What do you mean?"

"Simply that you take this opera, you take this role, and you mold it into something uniquely your own. That way, you have complete control over it, that way you have nothing to fear; it does not rule you…you rule it."

Funny, Fluttershy thought, but those words were so similar to what Discord had once said.

"It is your way of gaining the upper hoof on our masked friend," Blueblood muttered sarcastically, that cold darkness returning to his voice once more. Fluttershy eyed him warily; was he talking about her or himself? "Besides," Blueblood continued, the lightness in his voice returning, "do you really want to see Celestia butchering this role which is rightfully yours?"

The Prince's words caused Fluttershy to stiffen, and a cold wave of realization hit her like an ocean wave. If she didn't sing Aminta, Celestia would…and despite what happened between her and Discord, she couldn't let that witch murder Discord's work. She didn't know what was true; that gnawing voice in the back of her head that told her to not believe Discord's hateful words was continuing to grow louder. Whether Discord envisioned her to play Aminta or not, Fluttershy believed that she had earned the right to play that part after months of intense training. It may be the Phantom's opera, but it was her character.

"Please tell Monsieur Flam and Monsieur Flim that I shall report to rehearsals at the beginning of next week."

Author's Note:

Enjoy!