Oh, how I've missed this place. The old town hall, the hollow tree library, Sugarcube Corner, all of it. I do hope Sister is doing well, and doesn't mind my unannounced arrival. It would be quite a shame to be met with the same ire Mother and Father were so quick to give me. Uncultured rock-farmers. Can they really blame me for leaving such a dull and dreary environment? No room for creativity, no fun, no view to the outside world, only boulders and work! I'm so proud of Pinkie, and how she finally stood up to them. If only I had known sooner…

Octavia sighed heavily as she continued her slow-paced walk through the streets of Ponyville. It was her first trip back home since fillyhood, and the attempted reunion with her parents had not gone well at all. They had yelled at her, accused her of shirking responsibility, and claimed that she had removed herself from the family to pursue her own 'selfish desires'. The dull couple had practically disowned her, and refused to even listen to her attempted apology after so many years of absence. The stubborn couple may have been right about some things, but the proud twentysomething mare would never admit it. Octavia had left with a huff, turning her nose up at her parents just as they had done to her.

The turn of events had come as no surprise; she had indeed run away from home at a young age, leaving her sisters and parents behind. Though her decision was brash and unwise, the now-independent mare had never regretted it even once. Octavia felt as though she was slowly suffocating the entire time she had stayed with her parents, finding solace only in the free spirit that was her youngest sister, Pinkie Pie. After years of dealing with the dull torture, she had fled for the farthest city she could think of and never looked back, holding herself to a philosophy of no regrets. Had she not abandoned her past on that fateful day, she would never have met that old couple in Canterlot and become the daughter that they never had. And in turn, she would never have been introduced to the world in which she truly belonged: the world of music.

Soulful ballads, snappy jazz numbers, and sweeping classical scores were her favorites, but the light grey mare styled herself a bit of a music aficionado, willing to give any genre a try. Though some music merely irritated her due to its lack of artistry, in her opinion, anyway, she would never judge a song before she had heard it. Spending all of her teenage years in Canterlot had shielded Octavia from the more wild forms of music and underground rhythms, but she thought it was now high time to begin exploring outside of her preferences. Ponyville would be the perfect place to begin broadening her horizons, and upon receiving a letter from her younger sister Pinkie Pie, she leapt at the chance to visit her true hometown once again.

It truly has been far too long. I was… twelve, I believe, when I left, and Pinkie would have been…ten. Though she sent a letter just yesterday, I hope she remembers at least something of me. If nothing else, at least a second family member rebelled and set out to blaze their own trail in life. I can only pray that she is doing well for herself…

Octavia continued her leisurely walk, and found herself approaching a bright white unicorn with a purple mane. She tipped her head at the mare while giving a small smile, hoping to give a favorable first impression to the stylish mare before her.

"Good day!"

The unicorn shifted the wrapped package she was carrying in the air with her magic, moving it to get a clearer view of the new pony in town.

"Well hello! I hate to be rude, but I really must be going. Stop by my boutique sometime soon, I would love to discuss mane-care with you. That's quite a coif if I do say so myself!"

The unicorn gave a quick nod and smile, and moved to continue her light prance toward a large, decorated building in the shape of a carousel. Octavia's gaze followed past her and onward to the odd structure as the mare trotted up to the door and set the package down upon the steps. Octavia found herself slightly amused by the elegant décor, and made a mental note to visit the establishment when she had the chance.

Perhaps this town is not as rustic as I had once thought. I'll be sure to give that lovely mare a visit at some point during my stay here.

The earth pony turned back to look at the road before her once again. As Octavia's mane shook in the slight wind, she paused, closed her eyes, and took a deep breath. As she inhaled, the scent of Autumn leaves flooded her senses, and she basked in the delight of walking outside during her favorite season. The walled city of Canterlot had few trees, and so the sensation of the fading flora crunching underhoof as she walked was something Octavia treasured, but rarely got to experience. After savoring the pleasant aroma, she opened her light rose eyes and adjusted her small bowtie with a hoof. As she resumed her walk, she began to hum a slow tune, one learned from a street performer so many years ago.

The song had been a sad tune about a pony lost at sea, writing letters to his lover and enclosing them in bottles, hoping that the ocean would carry them home to his mare. The final few verses detailed the mare receiving one of the messages and setting out on her own journey to find her missing stallion. Octavia didn't understand why, but the song had become a favorite of hers, and one that she often sang to put her mind at ease. However, she was never one for spectacle or extra attention, and settled for humming, so as not to draw attention to herself.

As she continued to trot along, a large white, pink, and brown building crowned with a sculpted cupcake atop the chimney came into her view, causing the wandering earth pony's heart to leap with joy. Sugarcube Corner! That's where the letter came from! Pinkie said she was living there now! Oh, what fun this will be!

Octavia picked up her pace into a canter, no longer able to wait. She wanted desperately to surprise her sister, and hopefully catch up on her sibling's life in the short time that she planned to stay in town. Octavia had never been so happy to see a building, particularly one that she had only entered once before. The sole time that she had previously made use of the establishment was to gather a supply of food for her journey to Canterlot, back when only Mr. Cake was in charge. He had been so nice to her, not even questioning her destination and giving the charcoal filly much-needed food despite her total lack of bits. Octavia had never forgotten the kind gesture, and since that day had always made sure to donate her extra bits to help those in need in an effort to echo the generosity of the old stallion that had changed her life.

I wonder if he will remember me? Perhaps I can do something to return the favor to him… Either way, here we are!

Octavia drew another deep breath and rolled her neck, letting the longer back section of her mane fall around the sides of her face to frame it. Finally, she steeled herself and pushed a hoof into the glass door, causing the tinkling of bells to resound throughout the shop as she entered. A yellow stallion with a short orange mane looked up from decorating cupcakes behind the painted counter, and gave Octavia a welcoming smile.

"Well, hello there, Miss. You don't look familiar, so I guess you must be visiting? How can I help you today?"

Octavia trotted up to the counter, slicking her mane back with her hoof as she gave the weary pony a kind smile.

"Actually, I'm here to see somepony. But first… are you sure you do not remember me? I certainly remember you…" The mare had trouble holding back her grin as she turned to the side to display her cutie mark of a purple treble clef. Mr. Cake had commented on it when it had appeared right before his eyes so long ago as she sang to him as payment for two sweet rolls and a cupcake. His eyes widened, and he moved from behind the counter to give her a hug, which Octavia happily accepted.

"Octavia? Is that really you? It's been… something like nine years! Maybe more! I thought you left town for good, young mare! What brings you back?"

Octavia squeezed him harder, happy to finally be reunited with the pony who had helped to set her on the road to success in the ten minutes that they had spent together so long ago. "I decided to return to my roots for a while. I came here to see my sister, but I knew that I had to find you as well."

Mr. Cake let go of the mare and turned to face the kitchen, holding a hoof up to his mouth as he leaned forward and let out a yell.

"Honey! Come on out, there's somepony here you need to meet!"

The sound of a metal tin dropping to a counter rattled out of the door, and a light blue mare with a swirly purple and pink mane stepped into the room. She gave a quick nod to the grey mare, and introduced herself as Mr. Cake's wife. Octavia gave a small bow, and told the older mare her name in kind.

"Sugardumpling, this is the little filly I told you about! The one that visited my shop when it was just opening, and came in looking for pastries!"

Mrs. Cake looked at the stranger in a new light, pursing her lips and grabbing Octavia by the cheeks with her hooves. "Oh, aren't you just precious! Where were you running to, Darling? Did you find what you were looking for?"

Octavia backed away, slightly overwhelmed by the sudden questioning. She decided that answering honestly could do no harm, and resolved to indulge the gossipy pony.

"Well… I ran to Canterlot. I left home to get away from my parents' restrictive rules and lifestyle, though I was still but a filly. It all worked out in the end, and your husband even helped me to find my special talent. He asked me to sing for him in return for food, and I got my cutie mark right here in this very shop. I've built an entire career off of that talent, and I thank Mr. Cake with all of my heart for such a gift."

The elder mare clopped her hooves together, grinning excitedly. "So I've heard! I'm so happy that everything went well! I only knew a few details of your story, but it's so wonderful to finally meet you!"

Mr. Cake nodded his agreement. "So, who's this sister of yours? Is it somepony around town that we could help you find?"

Octavia bowed her head, bringing her face back up to gaze at the stallion with longing eyes. "Actually… I believe you know her very well. My sister is Pinkie Pie, and I have heard that she lives with you. Is that correct?"

Mrs. Cake gasped and brought a hoof up to her mouth as her eyes widened in surprise. "Pinkie is your sister?" She turned to her husband and gave him a dirty, accusatory look before smacking him across the forehead with a hoof. "And you didn't know?"

Mr. Cake immediately moved backwards, putting a hoof up to fend off his upset wife. "N-no! Of course not! Though now that you mention it, I can see a resemblance!" He lowered his head and turned back to Octavia with a blush, hoping that his fuming wife would calm down if the conversation resumed. "So… you grew up on the rock farm just outside of town with our little Pinkie?"

Octavia gave a sheepish grin, shrinking back a bit. She didn't want to remember those depressing days, and preferred to focus instead upon how far she had come since her foalhood.

"W-well, yes. I understand that Pinkie came to you several years ago, seeking to start a new life?"

Mr. Cake nodded. "Yes, indeed she did. She was such a cute little filly, and wanted nothing more than to bake and party. Given that we run a sweets shop, we couldn't help but indulge her," he said with a smile. "We actually thought she was an orphan for the longest time, before her parents came one day to retrieve her. She refused to leave, and so... after some debate, we took her in formally, paperwork and all. I… don't believe she's spoken to her parents ever since."

That's my sister. Don't let those dreadful foals control your life. I'm so proud of you…

Mrs. Cake's features twisted into a grim smile as she nodded at her husband's words. "I do believe that's true. She's upstairs, if you'd like to go and see her now. My hubby and I will continue running the store, and leave you two alone." With a knowing smile and a nod, she pointed to the staircase that lead to Pinkie Pie's room. "I'm sure you two have quite a bit to catch up on! Go on, now, I'm sure she'll be pleased to see you!"

A rush of excitement overcame Octavia at the knowledge that Pinkie was indeed there, and mere steps away. The family reunion with the one sister who had ever understood her need to escape, who had told her to follow her dreams and make a break for it while she could, was about to get the surprise of a lifetime. The refined mare gave a final bow before cantering to the steps behind the counter and ascending them two at a time.

Will she remember the conversations we had on those starlit nights in the grassy fields back behind the farmhouse? The secret talks of running away, the dreams we shared for becoming something more than rock-pushing luddites? Has she matured, or is she the same silly filly I remember?

I almost hope that she hasn't…

One grey hoof raised to clop against the pink and yellow door twice. Octavia waited, filled with nervous energy and shifting on her hooves in anticipation. After several seconds, her ears picked up the sound of hooves falling to the floor. Directly afterward, a familiar call came through the wooden barrier.

"Come in!"

There was no use fighting the elated smile anymore. Though she was normally reserved, when Octavia got excited, her bubbly side came out in force. She was not unlike her carnation sister when filled with adrenaline, though vastly toned down and far less destructive. Octavia smoothed her mane one last time before pushing the door open and stepping inside to reunite with the sister that she had missed for so long.


Author's Note: …what the HELL is this? This started out as a funny one-shot involving Octavia meeting Vinyl Scratch, and somehow turned into… this thing, whatever it is. It's going to be a chapter story, though probably not a very long one. I don't know how this happened, why the story changed, or why I feel the need to develop upon Octavia at all, but… I feel like I should. This story just started writing itself after the second line, and I'm viewing it as some kind of creative runoff, or something. Hopefully someone likes it, as this will definitely continue, though I don't know to what end.

Two more one-shots coming soon, hopefully both of them will be uploaded this weekend or early next week. After that… updates to this, Pie and Pegasi, and Princess Textlestia are looking likely. Then, I've got one more surprise coming before Crossroads can finally begin. No idea how well it will be received, but what's the fun in being sure about everything? If that was the goal, I'd have never posted this story. I'd be interested to hear what you think of this, and anything else you might have to say. May be posting a serious one-shot very soon, will have to see how things play out. After all, if everything followed my original plan, this story wouldn't be what it is now. Funny how sometimes writing just spirals off on its own…