Nine Is A Crowd!

by TheWritingWorkshop

First published

Rainbow Dash has pulled off a Double Sonic Rainboom, and by Celestia was it glorious! However, where do all the ponies without homes go now? Well...

Rainbow Dash has pulled off a Double Sonic Rainboom and by Celestia was it glorious! However, where do all the ponies without homes go now? A few got destroyed after all. Well...for Carrot Top, Snowflake (better known as Roidrage), Miss Hooves, her daughter Dinky, Octavia, Berry Punch, her sister Pina Colada, Minuette 'Colgate' and Vinyl Scratch...they find shelter in a volunteered communal home whilst the town and their respective houses are repaired.

It shouldn't be too long of a wait thanks to the industrious and hard working nature of Ponyville's finest crafts-ponies, right?

Surely the temporarily cramped conditions will go by in a flash...a harmless, uneventful, flash.

Hello eeeeverypony! I'd like to thank all the awesome bros that helped with this collab, MrPockets as a writer and editor and MerlosTheMad as a writer and then MrPockets AGAIN for making that awesome covert! Wowie! Anywho, please enjoy!

The Aftermath of the Double Sonic Rainboom

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A brisk wind blew through the decimated town. Loose tree branches fell in the stiff breeze to the already cluttered streets, adding another layer of rubble and refuse. The pegasi were busy helping around town, so the weather was kept only mildly in check. It was hard to believe that only yesterday, things had been completely normal in Ponyville.

Carrot Top trotted gloomily in the early dawn light through the destruction. She had just gone to check on her prized carrot patch, and like the the rest of the town, it was utterly destroyed. Her home, like many others in town, was a nasty little ruin of a building, and so, Carrot Top found herself sidestepping scattered bricks along the way to her temporary living arrangements.

Though the town was in shambles, it was far from idle. Even in the early hours of the morning, reconstruction was already underway. Plenty of townsponies willing to lend a helping hoof were busy clearing the streets, patching roofs, and repairing damaged homes. Ponyville had been trashed so many times now, its citizens were getting pretty good at fixing it back up.

Carrot Top brightened a little at the sight. Things may be bad now, she told herself, but we've been through much worse. I'm sure my place will be fixed up in no time, then I can move back out of Mr. Waddle’s house, and start growing my vegetables again like nothing happened! She smiled to herself, swapping her mopey walk with a skip as she continued to the far side of her hometown.

Rounding a fallen clock-tower, Carrot Top noticed three of her friends chatting while clearing out a debris-filled flower bed.

“...some of the best tulips in town came from this patch!” Daisy lamented, shaking her green-maned head, “Now what am I supposed to use in my exotic tulip garden salads!?”

“How about petunias? They're so colorful, and have a wonderful flavor.” Lily suggested, holding up one hoof with a nervous, but encouraging grin.

Daisy sneered back in return for a brief moment, then shot a heated reply to the pinker mare. “It wouldn’t be a tulip garden salad if I used Petunias, you monster!”

Carrot Top rolled her eyes and detoured towards the sound of a growing flower argument. I better step in now before manes start getting pulled... “Good morning, girls! How’s the cleanup going?” She grinned widely as she reached the disgruntled trio of florists.

“There’s not a whole lot ‘good’ about it.” Roseluck grumbled. Her normally immaculate, pale yellow coat was already beginning to gather dirt. “Rainbow Dash just had to show off...and now we get to clean up her mess.”

“It’s not so bad.” Carrot Top said weakly, recalling the spectacular events from the day before. It wasn’t often you got to see an actual Double Rainboom. Well, okay, nopony’s ever gotten to see a Double Rainboom... It had been absolutely amazing, even if it did blow out all of her home’s windows...and one of it’s walls. “You’ll see, once the repairs are done, I bet this place’ll be better than ever!”

“Yeah, ‘til the next time Twilight tries a new spell...and then it starts all over again.” Daisy rolled her eyes.

Anyway, how’s renting a room at Mr. Waddle’s place working out?” Lily smiled nervously and changed the subject, “I’ve always wondered what that place looked like on the inside; it’s so old and big!”

“It’s very nice, actually,” Carrot Top smiled, “a few other ponies are living there too; I should actually head back so I can get a start on breakfast. I was thinking about making some for them to maybe help take their mind off things.”

“You're making breakfast for a bunch of strangers?” Roseluck asked while attempting to scrape out the dirt stuck to her fur. "How can you be that cheery right now?"

“Well, you know what they say; the grass is always greener on the other side!” Carrot Top laughed for a moment, by herself...then grinned expectantly around at the three florists. The other three mares looked back at her flatly.

“That wasn't funny, Carrot Top...” Roseluck muttered under her breath, leaning back down to dejectedly stir the garden dirt with a hoof.

“Yeah, you probably shouldn’t quit your day job...” Daisy said darkly. Behind her, Lily gave Carrot a meek, but unconvincing smile.

"Well, I thought it was funny..." Carrot Top's grin shrank slowly into a dour look, then she snorted and trotted off in the direction of Mr. Waddle's home. The other mares continued to under appreciate her witty humor while she left, re-beginning their argument. I'd like to see you do better... The dejected thought did little to reassure her of her sense of humor.

The orange-coated gardener spent the remainder of her walk trying to come up with something better she could have said as a joke, but had made little progress when the three-story house came into view. The old three story country house was unquestionably one of the largest homes in Ponyville, and also one of its oldest. Mr. Waddle had lived there alone at one point, though nowadays he lived in the Ponyville retirement center. Lately, he would often rent out some of its many rooms during large events, or if the local inn was full...or, if like now, disaster struck Ponyville. That last one happens quite often.

A steady rumble surged from the large, oak door as Carrot Top approached the giant home’s porch. It was a very sturdy home, but the porch itself almost seemed to buck slightly from the stress of the sounds coming from within. Oh’s far too early for this. Carrot Top frowned as she pushed open the front door and was immediately greeted by the blaring music of Vinyl Scratch, the town’s premiere DJ.

Apparently, she had spent the entirety of the previous day setting up her various turntables, keyboards and the other tools she used to make her...interesting brand of music. She had not come out of her room once since arriving late last night.

The current song she played reverberated deeply, rattling the old home and hurting Carrot Top’s ears, which plastered themselves to her head in an attempt to lessen the pain. Apparently, the equipment she brought with her the night before had in fact been set up.

I don’t get it, this just doesn’t sound like music to me... Carrot thought weakly, and entered the large kitchen in order to shut the door behind her. It only slightly muffled the strange, otherworldly sounds coming from upstairs. She turned and saw she wasn't alone in the kitchen; sitting by herself at the large table was another mare whose home had been destroyed.

“Hiya Carrot Top, morniiing!” The grey pegasus said in a friendly, chipper tone of voice.

“Hello, Derpy.” Carrot Top replied to her with a warm smile, trotting straight towards the stove and tuning out the racket upstairs. “I’m going to make some breakfast, would you like some?”

Derpy seemed to be playing with a strange looking toy. It was a cube that rotated and was made of smaller, colored cubes. "No thanks," she answered, scowling at the strange device she held in her hooves. "I already ate, I treated Dinky and myself to muffin pancakes before I dropped her off at school!” Derpy looked up, and beamed back at Carrot, her hooves began kicking merrily beneath the kitchen table.

Carrot Top smiled and nodded back, then stopped and looked at the pegasus with a confused expression. “...Wasn’t the school house completely destroyed by Rainbow Dash yesterday, Derpy?”

“Oh yeah, Completely!” Derpy giggled, then looked back down and re-concentrated on her strange toy.

“Right...” Carrot Top turned away, smirking to herself. She pulled out a frying pan for eggs while waiting for Derpy to clue in. The grey mare often didn’t, and this time was no different. She sat there contently watching Carrot Top prepare her meal.

Though they had met in passing many times in the small town, Carrot Top knew very little about the blonde mare staring at her fix breakfast with a smile. (As well as the opposite wall.) Derpy suffered from some condition which gave her lopsided eyes. It was part of the reason Carrot Top had remembered her so easily after meeting her, they made her stand out quite a bit in a crowd.

Carrot Top chopped up an assortment of vegetables and cracked a few eggs, then placed them all in the well oiled pan. She may not be a great chef, but Carrot Top knew how to make some pretty mean scrambled eggs. As she cooked, her humming did its best to drown out Vinyl’s noise and soon, the pleasant aroma of cooking food filled the old kitchen.

“Mmmm, that smells great!” Derpy chimed, making Carrot Top jump. Derpy had been sitting so quietly, she had completely forgotten she wasn’t alone.

“Oh- umm, thank you! I learned how to cook from my mother.” Carrot replied, adding the cooked veggies to the eggs along with fresh milk.

“I think I’ll have some after all, if the offers still there, that is...” Derpy spread her wings and flew over to the crowded stovetop, her nose leading the way while taking in big whiffs of the scrumptious meal.

“But of course,” Carrot replied, smiling.

Derpy drifted closer to the counter, then, she drifted slightly too close. Her outstretched wing clipped the open milk carton, causing it to wobble back and forth, and then fall to the floor with a splash. Derpy gasped. “Oops! Oh no, my bad, I’m so sorry.” The mare looked down forlornly at the ruined produce and her wings snapped shut.

Carrot Top gave her a comforting smile and waved a hoof reassuringly. “No worries, there’s no sense crying over spilled milk, after all.” She chuckled at the old saying and leaned down to pick up the milk carton in her mouth.

Meanwhile, Derpy tossed her blonde-maned head about until she finally spotted a cloth hanging from the wall. Her teeth gingerly picked it up from the rung, and she began wiping the floor with a hoof. The cloth soaked up the liquid quickly as she concentrated on cleaning the mess, then, she suddenly stopped moving.

Without warning, she burst into a fit of laughter so loud, Carrot Top almost dropped the milk again.

“Th-that, was good one!” Derpy sputtered, trying to recover. She shook her head and wiped away a tear against her fetlock, “haha, milk.”

Once Carrot Top got over her initial shock from the blonde mare's outburst—and her own heartbeat returned to normal—she then removed the eggs from the burner with a smile. “Why, thank you, Derpy.” Take that, Daisy. I knew I was funny.

Carrot Top began scooping the eggs onto two plates set on the table when the kitchen door opened quietly. Wordlessly, in stepped the beefiest stallion in Ponyville. His bulging muscles made the tiny wings on his back look even more ridiculously small, and nopony would wonder about the meaning of his dumbbell cutie mark.

Carrot Top put on a timid smile and addressed him. “Hello uhm, Roidrage was it...? Would you like some scrambled eggs too?” She asked the white stallion.

Roidrage shuffled over to the table and sat while making a deep grunt, then produced a pair of square glasses and precariously balanced them his muzzle. The morning newspaper on the table rustled open in his hooves, and he began reading without another sound.

I’ll take that as a yes then... Carrot Top shrugged and reopened the cupboard full of plates, taking out one more with her teeth. Upstairs, the odd music came to a sudden stop. Better make that another two. She began wondering if she’d made enough eggs—given that ol’ Roidrage could probably eat a small fortune in food, and that wasn’t even considering Vinyl...

Soon enough, the door opened again and Vinyl cantered in.

“Dude! Something up in here smells awesome! Where’s the grub at and who do I have to grind against to get some?” She said from behind her trademark purple sunglasses, which sat above her trademark cocky grin.

“I made scrambled eggs,“ Carrot Top said with a chime of her voice. She placed the extra plates down on the table and rolled her eyes, seeing Vinyl sitting in front of the plate she’d intended for herself. “You’re welcome to have some, uh, no grinding required.” Her face worked itself into a thoughtful look as she tried to figure out what exactly that was...

“Cool beans.” Vinyl said, grinning. She swept her electric blue mane out from in front of her strange glasses with one hoof and took up a fork with her magic. Beside her, Derpy munched merrily her own eggs, every so often missing the plate entirely with her own fork and hitting the table.

Carrot Top smirked at the familial sight and began to spoon a heap of the eggs onto Roid’s plate. “So, sounds like you’ve got your ‘music’ going pretty....loud.” Her eyebrow quirked as the DJ pony looked up to enthusiastically respond.

“Yeah!” Vinyl replied without missing a beat, before shoveling two mouthfuls worth of breakfast into her face. Unhindered, she continued to talk. “I got the subs all maxed out nice ‘n smooth, despite getting ruffed up by that light show Dash put on. Even better, I finally got the turbo-traxx mixer working around, like, 6 AM.” She gestured wildly while she spoke, and managed to spray yellow flecks all over the table and Carrot Top as well. “When my new EP drops, ponies won’t know what hit ‘em! I’m glad I was able to salvage everything, I won’t lose any time at all now.”

“Yes, I’m sure they won’t....” Carrot replied weakly, only wincing away from the food attacking her slightly. She gave Roidrage another portion of eggs in response to his gesture for more. The alabaster stallion glanced at the plate over his eggs, then grunted a third time and fixed her with a hard stare. He looked back at his half-filled plate, then back up to Carrot once more. The orange mare smiled sheepishly as she piled the remainder of the eggs in front of him. He grunted his thanks before setting aside the paper and digging into the protein-rich meal.

I wasn’t very hungry anyway... Carrot thought languidly. She began to stack her still empty plate onto the serving platter, when a series of hoofsteps echoed down the thankfully quiet house’s staircase. After dropping the plates on the counter-top, she poked her head out of the kitchen, just in time to see a light blue unicorn rush past.

“Miss? Hey, would you like some breakfast?” Carrot Top called after the blur that only paused upon reaching the front door. Just how many ponies have moved in here anyway? I get that it's a big house and all, but... Her thoughts trailed off, and were concluded by a curt response from the mare who was in such a hurry.

“Thanks, but no thanks, I’m late for work!” A blue aura appeared around her saddle bags as she floated them onto her back.

“Work? Half the town is in ruins, how could you be going in to work?” Carrot Top trotted closer to the mare, trying desperately to remember her name.

“Well, then the clock shop’s in the half of town that wasn’t completely destroyed, apparently. Clockwork’ll flip his lid if I show up late again, especially with so much to do! So thanks for the offer miss, but I really gotta go!” The door slammed closed, leaving a slightly confused Carrot Top alone in the wide foyer.

“Okay then...” The orange mare sighed dejectedly and turned around to reenter kitchen, wondering how a clockmaker could ever be late for something. The kitchen door swung open on it's old hinges to the tune of the boorish voice speaking excitedly on the other side.

“...and then THAT’S when the bass drops and the whoooooole crowd was like, ‘woooooooooooooah’ and I was all like, ‘THAT’S RIGHT!’ and it was basically the best show Canterlot had ever seen, ever!” Vinyl currently stood atop her chair in the kitchen as if before a crowd, playing madly on turntables only she could see. "I wouldn't be surprised if they started inviting back for all of their parties, I could totally do weddings!" Despite the fact one of the alabaster mare's back hooves had planted itself into what remained of Derpy's breakfast, Derpy looked up at her with what seemed to be awe. At least, Derpy seemed to be watching Vinyl. In her wall-eyed state she could have just as easily been looking at Roidrage's newspaper.

Despite the face of amazement Derpy made in response to the unicorn’s boasts, Carrot had the suspicion that the words themselves took a clear path over the grey mare’s head. I think I can almost see her mane parting to make way for them... She watched the strange sight while in thought, captivated.

Roidrage himself flickered his gaze up at the blue maned mare every time she flailed a hoof, but otherwise stared intently at his paper, expression unchanged.

Derpy crooned quietly in response to Vinyl's mock performance, which finally ended. “Oooooh, neat.”

“Yeah, and my new album is going to be even better!” Vinyl continued, unaware of Derpy’s lack of knowledge on anything she was talking about. “I was up all night working on the title track, ‘Bass In Yo’ Faaace!’. It’s not done yet, but trust me, it's gonna be hype! Actually, I was up working on it all night the last night before that too. And the one before that...huh.” With that, she stopped talking, then slumped forward, slamming her head on the table and breaking her half empty plate cleanly in half.

Roidrage’s eyes shot open to their fullest in surprise at the noise, then the wide eyed stare shrank just as quickly. He grunted and stood up off the kitchen chair after rolling his eyes. The newspaper ruffled back together in his hooves, then he folded it up and left the room, grunting one last time to Carrot Top as he went.

...I think I'll take that one as a thank you, I guess. Carrot Top looked back over the bizarre scene in the room, the likes of which she’d never seen before. She'd been an only child; seeing so much interaction in a kitchen like this was...interesting. Is this really what it’s like to live in a house full of ponies?

Almost in as if in answer, Derpy exclaimed loudly, “I’ll help with the dishes!” Without pause, the pegasus gathered up the remains of the home’s dinnerware in her hooves one by one, until the three plates were all stacked neatly on the table, including Vinyl’s broken one. The mare skillfully picked the plates up and flew towards the sink, grinning towards Carrot Top (maybe) as she did so. The grin was short lived, however, for they slipped from her hooves and onto the tiled floor mid flight, just shy of making it to their destination.

Carrot Top cringed back at the sound of shattering ceramic plates.

“I’m so sorry! Uhm, don’t worry, I’ll clean this up in a jiffy!” The pegasus landed—possibly attempting to focus on staring down at the now innumerable shards of plate-ware—her blonde mane draped over the top of her head.

Carrot Top was too shocked to speak, so instead, she slowly backed out of the kitchen, leaving the passed out Vinyl to Derpy’s well-meant, but horrendously clumsy mercy. She heard the sounds of more things smashing and the odd ‘horsefeathers’ from inside.

Maybe I’ll just...go check on my house again. Make sure the repairs are all on schedule... Perhaps I'll just stay there all day and lend a helping hoof. Walking back out the front door, she gratefully breathed in the brisk, open mid-morning air. I wonder if any rooms have opened up at the inns in town?

All Have Gathered

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A feeble knock at the sturdy Ponyvillean home’s front door heralded the arrival of a new visitor.One of its residents, after all, would in all likelihood have simply burst in.

Derpy looked around the kitchen’s doorway and into the spacious living room in surprise, and followed it up with an exaggerated, toothy grin. Guests, I love guests! Oh, this isn’t my home though, so I doubt they’re here to see me... So who could it be? Everypony should be out fixering their homes and stuff. After her mail route had been completed—which had been a short affair given the state of the town—the grey mare had clumsily (as always) flown her way back to the temporary living arrangements in which she and Dinky found themselves.

Derpy stepped carefully through the foyer towards the front door—deftly keeping distance from some of the donated home’s decorations. The knocks sounded again just as she pulled the door open and merrily poked her head outside to welcome whoever it was.

“Hi!” Derpy jubilantly shouted out the doorway. There, standing just at threshold, was a single wide eyed stallion. Behind him down the little path leading to the house, was a mare, slowly making her way closer.

One of the two was familiar to her, that one being the stallion in his golden years. While the other was a far less familiar—but still kiiinda familiar—purple colored pony. Wooow. Derpy’s thoughts oooed. She’s really, really purple! The stranger carried a copious amount of bags behind her, as well a large trunk-like crate which was balanced precariously on her rump. The whole thing was tied together haphazardly with a thick rope.

“Oh, Miss Hooves, you startled me!” Mr. Waddle let out a relieved breath and adjusted his tie nervously. The old pony’s mane was sparse above a shining scalp, and his voice spoke of many a year spent in Ponyville.

Derpy turned her head from trying to focus on the Purple Pony to sheepishly grin towards (or at least as closely as she could approximate was towards) her temporary landlord/gracious host. “Hehe, sorry Mr. Waddle, how is your day going?”

“It’s certainly going,” The elderly stallion chuckled weakly and wiped his brow with a cloth he produced from his saddlebags. “The townsfolk seem to have fixing everything up around here well under control... I do so wish that I was that spry, young go-getter I was forever ago and could help out more.” He sighed and gestured around, waving a gnarled hoof.

“Oh Mr. Waddle, you’ve helped us out so much! What more could anypony ask of somepony as nice as you, young and strong or not?” Derpy smiled again after speaking, trying to ignore that her eyes had decided to begin trading positions again. They did that if she looked at one spot too long...

A cough from behind Mr. Waddle drew both of their attentions to the other mare, who gave them both a strained smile from under her bags. “Hi, sorry to interrupt but...” She glanced up at her burden with a sweating expression.

Mr. Waddle put on an ashamed look. “Ah, sorry, I’m rambling! I’ve brought another tenant to fill in the last available room. Miss Hooves, please meet Burly Lunch!” He gestured to the new pony.

Derpy hopped past the old stallion, already reaching out to help the poor mare with her swaying load. “Sorry,” she began to apologize. “I get distracted easily, let me help you with that Burly!” Her hooves wrapped around one bag above the earth pony’s shoulder and she began to pull enthusiastically.

“It’s Berry, actually, Berry Punch.” Berry gritted her teeth and spoke in almost a grunt, the load she’d brought from the other side of Ponyville had been carried entirely by herself. And I might have overdone it... She took a few steps towards the door to where she could surely set the entire mass of baggage down. Even taking a break every hundred strides, this was way too heavy. I should’ve made two trips, or brought less to drink...well maybe not that.

Derpy tugged again on the bag that refused to budge while listening to Mr. Waddle give Berry a verbal tour of the old country home and its facilities. Grr, let go, you! Derpy gave the bag in question’s rope a vicious tug in order to free it.

A sudden feeling of vertigo overtook Berry as she realized the world around her was tilting. “Wha-? AH!”

“Oh no! Look out!” Derpy held her hooves up to her mouth in panic as Berry and her load tipped over off the brick path and onto the lawn. A strangled squawk emitted from the purple mare as the personal belongings she carried crashed down around her.

Berry’s hooves flailed awkwardly as she tried to immediately free herself. Near her side, Derpy spoke in a hysteric voice while Mr. Waddle stared on in shock. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry! I just pulled it, and it wouldn’t come off and...” Derpy flitted over Berry chaotically while the old stallion began helping the purple mare from her hoof-made harness. “Ar-are you okay?” She landed and stretched her hoof out to the new arrival.

“Ouch,” Berry rubbed a leg and winced while standing back up, but smiled weakly at the other ponies. “Yep, I’m alright, and don’t worry about it. I-” The sound of glass clinking together from the act of standing made Berry’s ears lay back, and her eyes widen to their fullest. “Oh no, no!”

Immediately, she pulled herself the rest of the way from under the mountain of bags to race around to its other side. “Phew, thank Celestia’s flank, they’re alright.” Her hooves had made their way into the carefully packed trunk, and from a quick inspection she could tell none of her prized possessions were broken or shattered.

Mr. Waddle and Derpy stared around the mass at her, worried expressions still on their faces.

Derpy spoke in a slightly strangled voice, still a little distraught at having been the cause of something, again. “Was there something really, really fragile or important in there? I’m so sorry...again.”

Berry looked down at the bottles of spirits again with a nervous smile while untying the pieces of luggage from the cluster. “It’s okay Miss Hooves, you were just trying to help after all, and you did get all the bags off quick...”

“Oh please, call me Derpy! Miss Hooves sounds so formal.” The mailmare flew lopsidedly a few feet in front of Berry while giggling before landing again.

“What an odd name,” Berry mused aloud, wearing a thoughtful look for a moment. “in a nice way. It’s really cute, what’s it mean?” A few bags wilted apart from one another as the ropes came undone, and she hoofed one bag towards the other mare.

“I dunno!” Derpy said proudly, setting the offered bag on her back.. “You really think it's a cute name?”

Berry chuckled and ran a hoof through what she realized was a very frazzled mane atop her head. “It definitely is, I’d say it suits you.” She grinned, then once more frowned down at everything she had brought along with her. “Guh, I probably should’ve cut down on how much my sister and I brought...” Her eyes lingered on the filly’s bags for a moment before moving on. “That, or I should’ve borrowed a wagon.” She sighed, realizing just how much easier that would’ve been. As it was, she was now a sweating, grass stained mess.

Derpy nodded absently while Berry spoke, before her eyes enthusiastically shot wide open once again. “Hey don’t worry! We’ll have all this stuff inside and you’ll be nice and cozy as can be iiiin no time!” Her teeth chomped down on the handle of one small bag and she trotted spiritedly into the home.

Berry wore a grateful smile as they both began carrying the bags into the house, as well as the trunk. “Thanks Derpy, I really appreciate the help.” The last bag settled into the corner of the foyer beside the others. She let out a tired breath while she tried to steady her slightly shaking limbs.

“It’s no problemo at all!” Derpy plopped down on the floor and smiled up at her new roommate as she spoke. “I don’t have much to do at the moment after all. Dinky’s at school and the weather is going to be kept very placid for the next couple of weeks at least, so I don’t need to go in to work I think... So, what with everyone having to be out and fixing their homes I don’t need to go work the weather! A lot of ponies are living in odd places on top of that, and most deliveries have been stopped, too. Everypony just drops by the post office if they need something really, really bad.” The cloud grey mare wore an innocent smile under completely shut eyes as she finished.

“Oooh, you’re the mailmare, aren’t you?” Berry asked, the pegasus nodding happily as the other pony made her guess. “But you’re a weather pony too, why two jobs?” The vintner tilted her head as she recalled seeing the peppy pony flying all around Ponyville with that telltale mail-pony hat and mailbag of her position. I guess I won’t bring up that the mail service is rather dreadful around here, I’m tired of getting the mail from somepony named Cherry Berry...

Derpy blinked a few times as if not understanding the question, or something else perhaps, when the gentle cough of an elderly stallion grabbed both mare’s attentions. She gasped and held a hoof up to her muzzle. “Mr. Waddle I’m so sorry, I think we completely forgot you were there!”

“Hehe,” The old stallion faced Derpy and chuckled heartily. “Yes, some of us ponies do tend to have that problem I feel... Oh well, I guess most of us just weren’t meant to be in the limelight I suppose.”

Berry and Derpy both laughed lightly along with the old fellow out of politeness, not entirely understanding.

Mr. Waddle slowed his chuckling, then adjusted his spectacles and focused on Berry with a squint. “So, this is it then Miss Punch, anything else that you might be wondering?”

The mare shook her head and looked up to the house. “No, I think that’s it. If I have any more questions I’m sure Derpy here can help me.”

“Alrighty then, here are your two keys Miss, the small one is for your room, the new looking one is another house key. Let me know if you guys and gals needs anything at all! I’ll more than likely be down by the retirement home if you need to find me.” Mr. Waddle coughed again, covering his greying muzzle, but smiled over it while walking at a snail’s pace back onto the porch. With a gnarled hoof the old stallion waved goodbye.

Derpy and Berry waved in return, and the door closed with a click a moment later.

The purple earth pony turned to face Derpy, who stared around the room, seemingly at random. Although, it likely wasn’t on purpose now that Berry thought about it... I just won’t bring it up, it might be a sensitive subject for her. She gave a start when Derpy addressed her suddenly.

“Is something wrong...?” The other mare asked hesitantly.

Berry jumped in surprise, so much so that she bit her tongue. Wincing, she did her best to answer Derpy with an excuse. “Gakpbth, I muh tongue! Nopf, nothink’s wong! Uhm, aim gonna juft moof mah bagth upstairth, then...” She let out a sheepish laugh and began walking backwards up the stairs, dragging a couple bags along with her.

The confused pegasus scratched her head as the new pony excused herself, then shrugged and merrily trotted into the kitchen with a smile.

“How many stairs does this place have!?” Berry huffed as she heaved the last of her bags up the long staircase. She wiped the new sweat off her brow as she finally made it to the top of the first flight of the building. Exhausted, she slumped to the floor beside the luggage to catch her breath. “I’ll just...go find the room first, then come back for these.” She all but panted the words out.

Having made up her mind, Berry rose off the floor and wandered down the hallway of her new home. The dubious looking floorboards creaked and groaned with every step. Geeeez, how old is this place?

The sound of soft music came from up ahead in one of the rooms as Berry made her way down the hall. Her ears perked up, and she realized it was the deep, somber voice of a cello. The creaking floor and the clop of her hooves as she walked closer to the source was drowned out by the haunting melody. More and more she was drawn in by the beautiful, resonant notes. A wan smile crossed her lips as a stray thought entered her mind. It sounds so sad...

Berry pressed an ear to the closed door the music came from as the song reached its crescendo. With a quick series of alternating notes and a long, mournful low, the song came to its end. That was amazing, I need to know who played that!

Without another thought, Berry opened the door, clapping her hooves as she entered. Inside, she found a lone grey mare, standing while she held her instrument in an upright position. Her head and eyes shot to face the door and Berry. The enthusiastic clapping slowed more and more under Berry’s congratulatory grin, and an awkward silence settled in.

Before Berry could speak, the stranger coughed and spoke. “Can I help you...?” She trailed off and waved a hoof in a circular fashion, haughtily beckoning a response from the intruder in her midst.

“Hey, I just wanted to say that was really good! I love classical, it’s great for hangovers... Anyway, I heard it from down the hall. Could you play another, please? Do you know anything by Marezart? She’s my favorite!” Berry walked further into the room, taking in the mess of sheet music covering every inch of the cramped flat’s small bed. Across from that were several large bags and containers, reminiscent of her own uprooted possessions.

“Oh, please, I prefer to practice alone. If you would be so kind to-”

“Oh wow, that cello is beautiful, you’re really a professional aren’t you?” Berry grinned as her eyes ran up down the finely varnished instrument.

The grey mare pointedly rolled her eyes so Berry could see, then placed her cello on its stand delicately. “Please, I need to practice. This is the first chance I’ve gotten since that infernal disk jockey moved in. Now, if you would be so kind-” The mare’s hooves began to make whisking, shooing motions at Berry in the direction of the door.

“You mean PON-3?” Berry’s head tilted as she realized who the stranger was speaking about. There was only one disk jockey around Ponyville, and everyone knew about her. “I heard from Pinkie Pie that she was living here, but I’ve never really liked that kind of music...”

The grey mare had been about to wrap a hoof around Berry’s shoulder, but stopped abruptly, “You...don’t?” She raised one eyebrow quizzically at the other earth pony.

Berry shook her head emphatically, “Nope, makes my head hurt most of the time. I’ve always preferred the classics. It may not be party music, but it’s still better than anything I’ve heard with ‘wubs’. I’m Berry Punch by the way. Just moved in with my sister, Pina.” She held out a hoof to her new roommate to make their meeting official, smiling broadly.

The room’s tenant eyed the hoof for a moment, then reached out with one of her own. “Octavia Philiharmonica, first chair cellist in the Canterlot orchestra... Well, former first chair.” She finished with a snort, allowing her hoof to fall limply back to the floor.

“Former? Really? But you’re so good! What, did you personally insult Princess Celestia or something; call her fat in front of a bunch of royals?” Berry grinned while she played the funny scene out in her own head, all the while leafing through the written music on the bed. She began admiring the difficult chord progression of a piece that seemed familiar.

Octavia, meanwhile, recoiled with a start at the suggestion. “I did no such thing! I merely...well, there was a... excuse me, I really must get back to practicing.” She all but tore the sheet out of Berry’s hooves and shoved her towards the still-open door.

“But, you were gonna play some Marezart! Aw, come on I didn’t mean it Tavi!” Before she knew what was happening, Berry was back in the hallway with Octavia’s door slamming behind her. “Hmph, rude...” A few moments later, another slow song that was blatantly not composed by Marezart started playing.

Nice to meet you too. Berry scowled as she made her way back to her pile of bags, eager now to get her things in her room. I hope they weren’t in anyone’s way... She thought, walking back to the other end of the home’s second floor. It seemed they had not been, all of the bags sat untouched during her brief break. Where is my room exactly...Mr. Waddle said the second floor, but where? Lines of rooms sat on either side of the hall which easily numbered into the double digits.

Berry nonchalantly tried the handle of the door closest to her beside the bags, and grimaced at the sight of brooms and cleaning supplies along with towels. “This is going to be annoying.” She sighed tiredly and hefted one bag as she began searching the many doors for her room. Should’ve asked him which one was mine...

Ready to give up, Berry returned to her trunk dejectedly. Still fuming over her own stupidity, she reached down to grab its handle and drag it the rest of the hall. Instead, she found she had somehow opened the heavy trunk and pulled out one of the many bottles within. The full, unlabeled bottle sat glistening in her purple hoof, practically begging her to take a few swigs. Hmmm, well I am pretty thirsty. Maybe I’ll just take another short break. She thought, untwisting the cap with a satisfying crack.