Chapter Fifteen
Octavia's Penthouse, Tilican Towers, Citadel

Octavia finished the piece that she had been practicing the entire morning. The last note hung in the air, a magical moment. For just a moment, Octavia was able to pretend that everything was alright in her world.

The moment couldn't last.

Setting her Cello down on its stand, Octavia placed her bow down on the small desk set against the wall.

Standing in the center of the room for a moment, Octavia stared out the floor to ceiling window as ships passed by outside and above her tower. It was so deceptively calm just watching everything pass by outside. It was like all of the problems in the galaxy just didn't exist. It was nice to think that there were people out there who didn't have lives that were falling apart.

Walking over to her door, she opened it a crack and peered out. She saw Vinyl sitting on the couch, asleep, the soft drone of the TV helping to keep her calm. The Doctor had told her to expect that. Being able to surround herself with quiet noise certainly helped the small mare to keep her mind off of darker matters.

Smiling at the sight, Octavia watched for a long moment. Vinyl looked more peaceful than she had for a long time and Octavia was almost able to imagine that she was the same mare that had fallen in love with so long ago. The mare who hadn't been a slave for the past ten years of her life.

Octavia stepped away from the door when her omni-tool gave a quiet ding. Quickly glancing down at it, Octavia saw that it was the Consort. She accepted the call with a hoof, smiling at the holo-image that appeared above her omni-tool. "Sha'ira."

"Mrs. Melody. How is your wife?" Sha'ira gave Octavia a warm smile, watching the grey mare calmly.

Octavia glanced back out the door at Vinyl sleeping on the couch. "It is going to be a long road, but she is doing alright. As well as could be expected, I guess."

"I am sure that everything will get better with time." Sha'ira smiled at the good news, and Octavia was thankful for her encouragement. Some people waited months to hear the same thing from the Consort.

"I hope so as well." Octavia sighed.

Sha'ira glanced away for a moment, looking at someone out of view of the camera. She turned back to look at Octavia, a slight apologetic look on her face. "I was wondering how much longer you needed before coming back?"

Glancing back out the door, Octavia watched as Vinyl murmured, rolling over and getting stuck when her prosthetic leg slid between the cushions. She murmured more, weakly struggling against the couches hold.

"Another couple of days, I believe," Octavia said weakly. She gave Sha'ira an apologetic smile. "I am not quite comfortable leaving her on her own."

Sha'ira nodded in understanding. "If she is willing, I would like to speak her."

"Really?" Octavia's eyes widened in surprise. For Sha'ira to offer a free session... it was practically unheard of!

"Indeed." Sha'ira nodded, a sly smile on her face. "You are one of my best acolytes. Helping your wife recover does me just as much good as it does you."

"I will have to see whether she would like that or not." Octavia tried to not break down in thankfulness to her boss. It would not be becoming of her.

"Of course." Sha'ira held back a giggle at Octavia's wide smile. "I look forward to seeing you again."

The call ended and the omni-tool shut down on its own. Octavia glanced out the door at Vinyl, whose face was creased with anxiousness even as she slept.

Octavia stepped out into the living room, making sure to walk as quietly as possible. She smiled forlornly at Vinyl, who lay sprawled on her back, her head falling off the edge of the couch. Octavia sat down close to the couch, careful to stay where Vinyl would be easily able to see her.

"Vinyl." Octavia spoke softly, leaning forward.

Vinyl didn't even stir, fast asleep. The TV blared on quietly in the background.

"Vinyl, come on." Octavia spoke louder, still gentle. "Wake up, darling."

With a groan, Vinyl tried to roll over, but her prosthetic leg stopped her, slamming into the back of the couch. She grumbled in annoyance, her mind beginning the long trek back to consciousness as she struggled against the couch.

"Vinyl, wake up." She spoke at regular volume, edging closer to Vinyl.

Vinyl growled, her eyes blinking open tiredly. "Wha..."

Octavia giggled at Vinyl's silly, sleepy expression, holding a hoof over her mouth.

"Tavi?" Vinyl asked, looking at Octavia upside down from her position on the couch.

Did you gave a nice nap, Vinyl?" Octavia asked, smiling at Vinyl.

"What? Nap?" Smacking her dry lips together, Vinyl struggled to roll over. She felt completely disoriented, but Octavia's presence went a long way to making her feel safe. "Right. Yeah. It was good."

"Are you hungry?" Laughing, Octavia moved forward and helped Vinyl right herself on the couch.

"No..." Vinyl shook her head, still half-asleep. "I'm good."

Staring at her a moment, Octavia nodded in sad acceptance. The two sat quietly for a moment.

"There is someone who would like to speak to you, Vinyl." Octavia said softly after a long moment, trying her best to not freak out Vinyl.

"Here?" Vinyl's eyes widened in surprised fear. Her head spun to face the door and she glared at it anxiously. "Now?"

"No!" Octavia was quick to reassure her. "No. Not right now. Later, definitely not here, and only if you are willing."

The white mare was silent for a moment, thinking it over. She looked up at Octavia. "Who?"

"I work for her." Octavia smiled, biting her lip. "Consort Sha'ira. She is highly sought after for help. Sha'ira is remarkably compassionate. I think you would like talking to her, and I think it would do you good."

Vinyl didn't say anything say anything after hearing that piece of information.

"Just..." Octavia sighed, her head dropping almost imperceptibly. "Just think about it. Don't make any rash decisions."

Vinyl didn't look like she was going to listen.

"Please, Vinyl." Octavia reached out and put a hoof on Vinyl's shoulder. "Pleas think about it. For me."

Vinyl was silent for a long moment, but she did finally give a short nod, glancing away from Octavia. "Alright."

"Thank you." Octavia breathed a sigh of relief, pulling her hoof away.


Sitting at her desk, Twilight was relishing the first opportunity to catch up on her studies since she left for the Citadel nearly a week and a half ago. She couldn't believe how antsy she had started to feel after not having cracked open a single book in that time and she had quietly resolved to never be without some form of reading material again. For the good of her sanity, of course.

"Are we going to break for dinner anytime soon, Twilight?" From his spot lying upside down on a nearby couch, Spike groaned, looking up at Twilight.

"In a minute, Spike. I'm almost done here." Twilight spoke absently, having long since learned how to respond to anypony asking her questions without breaking concentration from her reading.

Spike rolled his eyes but accepted her words easily, going back to picking at his scales.

"Hello? Twilight Sparkle?"

The unexpected voice tore Twilight away from her book and she turned to look at Spike, her eyes narrowing ever so slightly in recognition. What was Gilda's mother doing in her tower?

Setting down her book, she turned to look at Spike. "Go ahead and go to the kitchens, Spike. You can start dinner without me. I'll be along in a few minutes."

"Cool!" With a grin, Spike slumped off the couch and jumped to his feet. "Thanks, Twilight."

Spike rushed off, edging past Tyra as she came up the stairs, not even bothering to give her a hello as he rushed towards a hot meal.

"Mrs. Blacking." Twilight waited until she heard the door close behind him before she started to speak. "Is there anything I can help you with?"

"You can tell me what my daughter has gone through," she said firmly in a cold voice. Tyra's wings were flared slightly, aggressive. She eyed Twilight with eyes like a hawk, her movements predatory.

"I told you before, that is between the two of you. I will not break her trust." Twilight was proud of herself that she spoke without a quaver in her voice. She stood her ground against the admittedly threatening griffin.

"She never has to know!" Tyra shouted with a growl in her voice, stomping one of her claws as hard as she could against the floor to make a point.

"It doesn't matter!" Twilight shouted right back. Anger welled in her chest against Tyra. "How could you go behind Gilda's back like that?"

"I'm her mother!" Tyra clacked her beak, pacing to and fro in front of Twilight. She was angry, filled with rage, and it showed as her face contorted its way through a plethora of emotions: rage, anger, sadness, guilt. "I have to know what they did to my little lion. Tell me!"

"No!" Twilight shook her head. "Stop trying to pressure me into betraying a confidence. It's the quickest way to lose a friend."

The silence that followed her statement made Twilight feel like something was missing, but she couldn't quite put her finger on it.

"Tell me, unicorn!" Tyra stalked around Twilight, who stood defiantly against the angered Griffin. "I need to know."


Twilight's simple question drew Tyra up short. She paused mid-step, unsure of how to respond.

"I..." She frowned, shuffling on her feet. "I need to know. I need to make sure that whoever... whoever hurt her pays!"

"Is that really more important than keeping the trust of your daughter who has finally returned after nine years." Twilight hung her head, feeling a twinge of guilt in her heart. She didn't want to get between a fight with Gilda and her mother, but it seemed that she had no other choice. "Nine years that you thought she was dead?"

Tyra was silent for a long moment, unsure of how to respond.

She looked up at Twilight, her eyes filling with tears. She opens her mouth to speak, but all that comes out is a sob. The tough-Griffin act that she had been putting up crumbled, leaving a hurting woman behind.

"I lost her!"

Twilight rushed forward, engulfing Tyra in a tight hug. The Griffin clung desperately to Twilight.

"I lost her!" Tyra sobbed, burying her head into Twilight's shoulder. "She was my daughter, and I did nothing as they took her. I didn't even know she was alive!"

"You did everything you could," she whispered. Twilight rubbed soothing circles between Tyra's wings, letting the griffin cry it out.

The two females collapsed to the floor, Tyra's heavier weight too much for Twilight to support on her own.

"I'm a Griffin. I'm strong, deadly!" Tyra sounded anything but deadly, her voice shuddering as her body rebelled against her. She spoke as a mother who saw her daughter hurting, but had no clue how to even begin making everything alright. "She flinches at the slightest noise, cowers from shadows! I couldn't even raise my youngest daughter right. What good am I as a mother?"

"Be there for her now! That's all you can do," Twilight said. It seemed rather obvious to her.

Tyra was silent for a long time before she spoke again, in a quiet voice. So quiet that Twilight almost had to strain to hear it.

"She already has you. What use am I?"

"You're her mother." Twilight was quick to respond. "She will always need you. Be there for her, comfort her through the nightmares. That's all that any of us can really do."

The two stayed in their embrace, still against the cold floor as the roiling emotions left them.