The next morning, Vinyl's eyes opened to a familiar pair of lavender irises.
"Octavia? What...what happened?"
"You passed out from the shock," she answered. "Oh, and you might not want to move your right foreleg too much. It's not in the best shape."
Vinyl looked over at a clock on the nightstand, almost jumping up when she realized the time.
"I'm late for class!"
The pain shot through her body from her sudden movement, and at the same time, she took notice of something else wasn't amiss.
"...You're...not in class, Octavia..."
Octavia smiled. "I worked something out. I went to the principal this morning and explained the situation. Reverb and Distort were immediately called in and suspended before my very eyes, and your teachers are going to send your work here with somepony. They also asked somepony to stay with you and keep you up to date on the material."
"Well, where are they?" Vinyl asked.
Octavia gave her a smile and lightly bopped the unicorn's forehead with her hoof, causing her to slowly slide back down onto the bed in a more relaxed pose. "You're still half asleep, aren't you? It's me, Vinyl. I offered to do it."
"...Wait, won't you miss your classes then?"
"We basically have the same classes, Vinyl, just at different times, with the exception of my 'Advanced Classical Studies' to your 'Advanced Modern Studies.' Of course, those are where our abilities that yielded our cutie marks lie, correct?"
"I guess so," Vinyl replied, still in a partial state of sleep.
"You should probably rest again," Octavia stated. "I'll come back to check on you every so often. All right?"
Octavia turned and began to walk out of the room.
She turned her head back. "Yes?"
"...Best date I've ever had."
Octavia chuckled, turning her head away to hide the several shades of red her face just shifted through. "Sleep. You need it."
Vinyl nodded sleepily and set her head back down onto the pillow before her. Octavia moved down the stairs where Rarity had been working on yet another outfit.
"How is she?"
"She woke up for a few minutes and I told her everything that happened. Then she fell back asleep."
"I could imagine," Rarity said, chuckling a bit to try and make light of the situation. "She must still be very tired."
Silence filled the room, but after a minute, Rarity spoke up. "I mean no offense, Miss Octavia, but it is honestly surprising that you and Vinyl actually managed to get along so quickly. After all, your interests are quite mirrored."
"Well, you know what they say," Octavia noted. "Opposites attract."
"Yes, of course. But not usually this much attraction occurs between them."
Octavia immediately flushed, which Rarity noticed, returning her embarrassed expression with a soft smile.
"You feel the same way about her that she does about you, don't you?"
"I...I think I do." Octavia was completely red in the face, and she knew it, turning slightly to hide it from Rarity. "At first, I thought she was just another lost cause desperately trying to learn how to play a classical instrument...but deep down, she wants to be a kind, caring pony, but she doesn't want to shed her 'DJ' attitude without losing it completely."
"Perhaps you may be the one to help her with that. I think you may have been the first pony ever to break Vinyl's shell. I've never seen her show concern for anything except her family and her own music."
"We've known each other for all of two days, though," Octavia noted.
"Sometimes it doesn't take very long to gain a friend. A day or two is all that is necessary."
Octavia smiled. "Yes, I suppose that is true."
"Now, if it wouldn't be too much trouble, Miss Octavia, could I ask a favor of you?"
Octavia eyed Rarity with a confused stare. "What is it?"
"I require a live model for some new outfits I've been commissioned to create, and my friends who usually assist me with this are out of town for the day."
"...I suppose," Octavia mused, "in between helping Vinyl, I could assist you as well."
"Wonderful!" exclaimed the fashionista unicorn. "There's not a moment to spare! Quickly!"
With Octavia acting as her model, Rarity went to work on an entire set of brand new dresses, made up of the best materials and decorated with the most valuable jewels she could find. Surely, these outfits were among those an aristocrat of Canterlot would be dying to wear. At least, Rarity had hoped they would go as well as her designs usually would.
In between dresses, Octavia went to check on Vinyl Scratch, who, by the end of the dressmaking process, had woken up and been attempting to flip through her textbooks using her only good foreleg, rather unsuccessfully.
"Would you like some help with that?"
Vinyl looked up to see Octavia, flailing her good foreleg about in shock and falling back into the bed. Seeing this, the gray earth pony couldn't help but laugh, despite how hard she tried to hold it in.
"I'm sorry, Vinyl, I really don't mean to laugh," Octavia said, reducing her laughter to a chuckle. "I just couldn't help it."
"Fair enough," Vinyl said, her own voice building into a laugh. "Because you look ridiculous in that outfit."
Octavia had walked into the room wearing one of Rarity's more detailed dresses, with a number of extravagant laces and bows lined across the hem and more jewels than any common pony would think could possibly fit on a dress.
"Well, I suppose this dress is a bit more...showy than most of your cousin's other works. My question still stands, though."
"Yeah, I guess I could use some help," Vinyl mused. "Can't very well hold a book open and flip the pages with one hoof, and I can't use my magic when I'm injured like this."
"And why is that?" Octavia inquired.
"Well, see, using a lot of magic normally can take a toll on a unicorn...when I'm like this, though, I might hurt myself even more."
"Then you're right," Octavia stated. "It is better if I help you."
Vinyl rose back up into a sitting position on the bed, and Octavia leaned over the bed's foot board, holding the book open. After a few pages went by, Octavia finally decided to put forth a question she had been holding in her mind for the past two days.
"Vinyl, if I could ask you something..."
"Huh?" The still partially-asleep Vinyl looked up from the book. "Oh, sure. Go right ahead."
"...Why did you choose the cello as your instrument?"
Vinyl froze up, remaining silent for almost a minute.
"I always figured you would pick something more...well, suited to your interests," Octavia added. "Perhaps a guitar or electric violin."
"Well, you see," Vinyl finally said, "Those were my first choices...of course, they had to end up being everypony else's, too. They were totally sold out, so I had to pick something else. Then I remembered a concert I saw with Rarity a few years back...I didn't really wanna go because it was a classical orchestra, but she offered me the ticket, and I wasn't gonna turn it down or anything."
Vinyl pointed at Octavia. "You were there. On stage. It was a Canterlot Symphony Orchestra performance. I saw you playing the cello. You had a solo part too."
"Ah, I remember now," Octavia thought aloud. "That was the day I gained my cutie mark. That solo performance was my shining moment."
"On instinct, I picked the cello," Vinyl said, "because I remembered that I'd heard it before somewhere and liked how it sounded."
"So you mean to tell me that you chose your instrument for the academy...because of me?"
"In a way, I guess so, yeah."
Octavia fell into thought, taking a moment to take in this huge coincidence.
"I hope you don't mind if I ask another question," Octavia said, "but...how did you get your cutie mark?"
Vinyl looked down at her double quaver cutie mark, then looked back up at Octavia, chuckling nostalgically. "That one's definitely a crazy story. See, Rarity wanted to show off one of her newest designs, and back then, I was a lot more willing to say yes to being her model. I regretted all six hours of that painful walk through Fillydelphia. But, something good did come of that day."
"Your cutie mark?" Octavia asked, obviously knowing the answer already.
Vinyl nodded. "Yep. See, Rarity ran off further ahead, and I ended up heading down a couple of alleyways, losing that Celestia-awful dress in the process. I stumbled into a nightclub, and in a series of events far too chained-out to go into at the moment, I knocked out the club's DJ and my hoof slid across the turn table. As soon as I heard that initial scratch, I knew what I had to do. I had to keep the show going, and so I did. Got my cutie mark after the first set list, but I kept playing for eight hours straight, from midnight all the way into the morning."
"I never thought anypony could listen to music for eight hours straight."
"Well, the crowds came and went, so I was playing for a different audience by the hour," Vinyl noted, "But I enjoyed pretty much everything that I was playing all the way through."
"Quite an interesting thing, cutie marks," Octavia reflected. "Half the ponies that have them usually ended up getting them in totally surprising ways."
"Guess so," Vinyl added, looking back down at the book, then glancing to her clock. "We've been at this for about an hour."
"You've only read through five pages, Vinyl," Octavia said with a smile, causing Vinyl to show a guilty grin.
"Time flies, doesn't it?" she inquired with a nervous smile.
"All right, we can take a break." Octavia flipped the text upside down on the bed to hold its current page.
"So, I take it cello practice is out of the question, too?"
Octavia looked at Vinyl in utter confusion.
"What's with the face? Why are you looking so confused?"
"Well," Octavia stated, "to be completely honest, the other day, when you asked me out, I thought that the only reason you wanted lessons was-"
"To get closer to you?" Vinyl interrupted.
"My stance on the lessons still stands, Tavi. I want to learn how to play for the sake of playing...and I wanna be with you for the sake of being with you."
A thousand and one questions rushed into Octavia's mind, but the first to come out was regarding Vinyl's identification of her.
Realizing what she'd called her, Vinyl flushed. "Uh...y-yeah...It's kind of a nickname I thought up...you like it?"
"I...well..." Octavia's speech stumbled around in her mouth, trying to form words amidst her nervous thoughts. Finally, she collected herself and spoke. "I think it's adorable."
A huge smile crossed Vinyl's face. "Really?"
Octavia carefully leaned over the bed's foot board and planted a quick kiss on Vinyl's lips, which caused the two ponies to blush intensely. "Really."
Vinyl fell back into utter speechlessness. Octavia just chuckled quietly and moved back off the bed. "Take some time to rest. You won't be able to practice the cello for at least two or three days, but if you'd like to continue reading, I'll be downstairs. That all right?"
"Yeah," Vinyl managed to say through her stunned state.
Octavia left the room, almost tripping over her own hooves.
"Is everything all right up there?" Rarity called up from the first floor.
Though Octavia was still utterly confused, she knew exactly how to respond to this question.
"Couldn't be better."
Over the course of the next few days, Octavia continued to assist Vinyl in her studies, and slowly but surely, her wounded arm recovered, and by the third day of the week, Vinyl was able to take position behind her cello again, despite how many times Octavia protested and demanded that she rest. The cellist was forced to fold to Vinyl's tenacity and continue her lessons.
"Are you sure you'll be able to do this?" Octavia inquired.
Vinyl nodded, carefully pulling out her cello and setting it upright. "I'll be fine. Don't worry about it."
"If you're sure." Octavia drew forth her own instrument.
"We doing something different today? You don't usually take out your cello."
"I thought we could try a mirror lesson," Octavia stated, taking position behind her cello. "I will play a simple pattern of notes, and you will play them back. Simple enough, right?"
"Nothing is ever totally simple," Vinyl said, setting her forelegs up on the instrument. "But that's the way I like it. Anything without a challenge is boring."
"You've definitely got the attitude of a dedicated musician," Octavia chuckled. "Now let's work on your actual performance."
The lesson began immediately, with Octavia playing an array of notes on her cello and Vinyl mimicking them as best she could. After a few tries, Vinyl succeeded in copying the first set of notes, albeit partially sour. Octavia cringed slightly as she lowered her bow.
"Not to sound rude, Vinyl, but have you been practicing at home?"
"Never have the time to," Vinyl admitted. "I'm usually doing homework all night."
"All night?" inquired the gray mare, who had a usual routine of getting her work finished within an hour of arriving at home.
"I kinda struggle with the classical stuff...and short-answer questions...and multiple choice...oh, and essays, too."
Octavia just stared with a mixture of amused and sorrowful feelings.
"Yeah...I'm not exactly the student type, but I felt I had to get an education to go anywhere. DJing is my main gig, but I never know when Equestria will stop needing somepony like me."
"I honestly doubt there will never be need for a party pony," Octavia spoke. "No music will ever fade."
"Guess you're right," Vinyl thought aloud. "Still, I gotta have something to be dedicated to other than my career. If school will help me with that, then that's what I'm gonna do."
"That is an interesting thought, Vinyl. I honestly didn't think you could be so dedicated."
"Always have been, always will be." Vinyl smiled, and Octavia returned the smile, moving her hooves up from her sides to her cello.
"Shall we continue?"
Three more days went by as Vinyl and Octavia continued to practice and study. Time felt as if it was flying by as the two grew closer and closer through their interactions. Vinyl's skill on the cello had grown as well. Not nearly as high up as Octavia's, of course, but significantly greater than she had been at the start.
One day later, Vinyl's time to recover had been used up and her foreleg had healed up completely. The two musicians set off for the academy at a steady pace, knowing that they had more than enough time to make it to their class.
"Vinyl, I am very impressed with the progress you've made over the past week." Octavia gave Vinyl a warm smile, which the unicorn returned.
"I'm just glad we were able to spend all that time together," Vinyl noted, blushing slightly and making sure as she walked not to put too much pressure on her previously-injured foreleg out of instinct.
"Indeed," Octavia said with a nod, the gray mare's face going red as well. "Well, back to the norm, yes?"
"Guess so." Octavia could detect the sadness in Vinyl's tone. She, too, didn't want the peaceful time they had spent together to end.
"Vinyl...perhaps, after classes today, we could meet for a proper night on the town together?"
"So you're asking me out this time, huh?" Vinyl inquired, giving Octavia a huge grin.
"Well, I suppose, if you wish to say it like that..." Octavia couldn't possibly hide her embarrassed expression. Her face had gone so red it was practically glowing.
"Then it's a date." Vinyl grinned. Octavia merely returned the smile.
"So," Vinyl mused. "What about the class? You mind if they know about us?"
Octavia didn't have to think twice. "Not at all. Strange as it may be, I've grown accustomed to being judged for many things: my taste in music, my methods of playing the cello, and even my performance choices. If I am to be judged for my preference, so be it."
"You are just the most awesome mare I've ever met," Vinyl stated, planting a kiss on Octavia's cheek. "Have I told you that?"
"You haven't, and could stand to say it more often," Octavia joked with a sly grin. Vinyl took immediate notice that Octavia didn't blush this time. In just a week, Octavia had not only adjusted to Vinyl's company, but become comfortable showing her true feelings in public. It would take some getting used to, but there was no doubt in either of their minds: they were in love.
They arrived at the Classical Studies room right on time, and were met with a friendly barrage of 'welcome back's' from all their classmates. The professor, Flat Key, was the last to speak.
"It's good to see you both back," he stated, giving the two a nod. "It's been much quieter without two of my top students around to answer questions."
"Oh, come now, professor," Octavia said, flushing a bright red. "You're too kind."
"Let him speak, Octavia," Vinyl said with a proud smile. "I like where it's going."
"There's that self-righteous determination I've grown to love about you, Vinyl," Octavia said, returning the grin.
"Ah, young love," Flat said in a nostalgic tone.
"Ah, so our dear professor has been struck by Cupid's arrow himself once," Octavia said smiling.
"Indeed...and though I'd enjoy reminiscing, there is much work to do. You two are aware of and have studied for today's test, correct?"
"Yes, professor," said Vinyl and Octavia in unison.
"Very good. Take your seats and we can begin."
The two complied, taking their seats. Octavia pulled a metal object out of her satchel that she affixed to her hoof and connected the two straps together around it. She then attached a pen to the socket on the front and was ready to go. All of the earth ponies and pegasai in the room had the same device equipped. Vinyl, like the other unicorns, had their pens held with their magic.
With a flash of his horn, Flat levitated the tests to each student's desk. "After you complete your test, you are allowed to leave. You may now begin."
Everypony began writing immediately. The subtle scratching of pens on paper filled the room, acting as little to no form of distraction for anypony. Each and every student was diligently writing or mulling an answer over, but all were working nonetheless. Within the hour, pony after pony finished their tests and brought them up to Flat Key's desk, exiting the room promptly afterwards. Octavia was among the first to complete her exam, looking to Vinyl and giving a nod of confidence as she leaves the room.
Being the last in the room, Vinyl had finally completed her test, returning her pen to her bag and levitating the test over to the professor's desk after giving it a second thorough look over. She magically equipped her satchel and made her way to the exit. Before she walked out, Flat Key spoke.
Vinyl looked back to see the unicorn professor eyeing her exam, smiling all the way down the page. He looked up and glanced over to her. "I like what I see, Miss Scratch. You've applied yourself rather well in the time you've been out. Keep up the good work."
Vinyl nodded with an excited grin as she left the classroom, seeing Octavia waiting for her. Upon seeing her expression, Octavia smiled a bit as well.
"You seem happy. You feel you did well?"
"Well, there's that, and Professor Flat said he liked what he saw when he was looking over my test."
"That's wonderful!" Octavia's smile widened.
Vinyl smiled, glancing up to a nearby clock. "Looks like I took a bit longer than I thought I would...almost time for our next classes."
"Well, we will see each other again later, yes?"
"Wouldn't miss it for the world," Vinyl replied.
Exchanging nods, the two set off for their individual classes. Adapting back to their schedule easily, the two met as planned six hours later. Their practice session picked up right where they left off at Rarity's boutique.
"I have something different for today," Octavia noted, going into her bag and pulling out a folder. "Vinyl, could you pull that music stand over here for me?"
Vinyl's horn glowed and the metal sheet music holder hovered over and was set down before the two. Octavia placed the folder on the stand and opened it, revealing near-endless reams of sheet music.
"I believe you're more than ready to begin playing full songs on the cello. Perhaps not to their entirety right away, but slowly and surely."
"I won't let you down," Vinyl expressed confidently.
"I wouldn't dream of that happening. Now, these are a few bits from some of my favorite compositions. I selected as many simple pieces as I could find, so you would not have to strain yourself trying to learn something so intense."
Vinyl took a look at one of the sheets, slightly baffled by the notes. "I don't usually...you know...read sheet music. But I think I can get this."
Vinyl set up her instrument and drew her bow back, ready to play. Octavia set herself up to assist if necessary. Vinyl began on the first note, playing it perfectly, staring intensely at the following ones, trying to recall what each symbol meant where it was placed on the lines.
"Man...I've never felt so...out of my element."
"What do you mean?" Octavia inquired.
Vinyl thought silently for a few seconds. "Like...say you were doing what I do, standing behind a turntable for hours on end, changing music every five minutes or so and keeping up with a list of song requests from everypony in the room, which is usually a minimum of one hundred."
"That does sound like quite a difficult feat," Octavia noted.
"Took me about a month to put together a working strategy for organizing myself for parties and stuff. That was when my magic really came in handy."
"I could imagine. An earth pony like myself would have difficulty managing all of that," Octavia admitted.
"Anypony would. Heck, even a unicorn would have a hard time working off my plan."
To the surprise of both Vinyl and Octavia, a knock came at the classroom door.
"That's odd," Octavia mused. "I thought everypony figured this room was locked after these hours."
Octavia walked over to the door, realizing only when she arrived before it that it was unlocked already.
"Whoever is out there, the door is unlocked."
The sound of a unicorn's spell could be heard outside, followed by the doors slowly creaking open. On the other side stood a tall, regal-looking unicorn mare with a light gray coat, a black mane and a golden bass clef symbol as her cutie mark.
"Miss Crescendo!" Octavia exclaimed, her expression morphing instantly to total surprise.
"I take it the two of you are practicing once again?"
"Once again?" Vinyl inquired.
"Every room in this academy has a magic surveillance system installed so myself and Vice Principal Fortissimo can make sure everything is secure before we lock up each night."
"Vinyl," Octavia said, turning back to the white unicorn, still standing behind her cello in a playing position. "Miss Crescendo is the academy's principal...the one who approved my being excused from class so that I could stay and study with you."
"And that is precisely why I am here today," Crescendo announced. "It has come to my attention that neither of you have moved into your dorms yet, is that correct?"
"Yes," the two ponies replied together.
"I think you may be able to figure out where I intend to go with this."
A smile grew across Octavia's face. It took Vinyl a few seconds more to think it through, but she gained a similar grin, perhaps greater than Octavia's.
"Do you mean what I think you mean, Miss Crescendo?"
"I believe it will be beneficial for the two of you to dorm together, so that you may continue studying together, as well as practicing outside of this classroom."
"Are you serious?" Vinyl asked, her voice elevating to pure excitement. "That would be so great!"
"I think that is a wonderful idea!" Octavia exclaimed.
"Then it's settled," Crescendo noted, using her magic to pull forth a key, Vinyl taking hold of it with her own telekinetic spell. "The place you will be staying is just off the campus. It is about a twenty minute walk from the campus itself. It belonged to myself and Miss Fortissimo when we attended the academy."
Crescendo turned around. "Now, I have a meeting with the staff regarding some cutbacks. I trust you will be able to make your way to your dorm easily?"
"Of course, Miss Crescendo," Octavia said. Vinyl just nodded, being far too excited to speak.
"Very good. Have a pleasant evening, you two."
Crescendo exited the room, and Octavia and Vinyl just looked at each other, practically speechless.
"Well, should we finish up this lesson?" Vinyl asked, finally managing to calm herself down a bit and speak.
"I believe we will have more than enough time to practice once we move all of our stuff in. While I still have more than hour before my next class, why don't we get started on that?"
"Good idea," Vinyl replied, stepping down from her cello and levitating the instrument and bow back into their case. "My stuff should still be waiting in the storage room in the main building."
"As should my things," Octavia added, doing the same with hers. "We can set ourselves up first in our dorm. That won't take very long."
The two young mares made their way to the main building, which was a ten minute walk from their classroom. Sure enough, Vinyl and Octavia's possessions that they had sent out from home had been kept in storage, waiting for them to claim them.
Vinyl's effects consisted of her turntable inside its see-through case, both of which appeared to have seen much use in its time, a series of posters with her favorite artists and groups on them, a notebook titled 'Autographs' with a pen hanging off the front, and the most obvious piece of furniture visible: a miniature refrigerator decorated with lace, fabric and jewels. It was clear that this had either belonged to Rarity or she had gotten to it, decorated it and sent it off before Vinyl could get a word in edgewise.
Octavia's supplies were not all that different. She, too, had a notebook with an attached pen, but this one read 'Sheet Music'. A box of folders sat nearby, in which Vinyl assumed were more pages of music, but the box was labeled 'Rare Classics' and each folder possessed the name of a famous composer. A cello case sat next to the box with the name 'Adagio' engraved into the front. It seemed to be in very good condition compared to Vinyl's turntable.
"This shouldn't take too long," Vinyl thought aloud. "All we need is a cart or something. They have those, right?"
"I believe we can request a luggage cart," Octavia pointed out. "I will go and ask."
Octavia walked out of the room, and Vinyl's gaze turned to the cello case. Its make was definitely not new, as most instrument cases recently were made from plastic and cloth. This case of Octavia's was finely-crafted and finished wood and its hinges and locks were metal.
"I've got a cart, Vinyl," Octavia said, entering the room. "Could you help me load my things up?"
"Sure thing," Vinyl replied, half in a trance at the moment.
"Everything but that case," Octavia added. "That I will carry myself. It is important to me."
Vinyl nodded and levitated the sheet music notebook and box of folders onto the simple wheeled cart outside the room. She then moved Octavia's normal cello case onto the cart as carefully as she could. Once the three objects were safely loaded on, Vinyl began loading up her supplies. It took all of one minute to get the cart loaded up and secured.
"It should be twenty minutes or so from here," Octavia noted, carefully hoisting the wooden case over her back. "Let's not waste time."
Vinyl and Octavia made their way off the campus, heading along a small but lengthy path between the academy and the dorms. Vinyl pulled the cart carefully behind herself with her magic, making sure to avoid any bumps in the road. After around twenty minutes, they arrived before a small single-story housing structure. Vinyl pulled the key out and looked at it, then at the number on the door.
"One hundred...this is the place."
Vinyl moved ahead first, carefully moving the cart along the brick pathway up to the door. Octavia followed close behind, watching the cart from behind. Vinyl levitated the key into the lock and turned it, proceeding to turn the doorknob upon hearing the 'Click!' of the mechanism.
Upon entry, the two noticed that it was much different on the inside than it was on the outside. Its outward appearance gave it an air of simplicity, but when they walked through the front door, they found themselves in a comfortable sitting room with two small cushioned chairs and a very soft-looking couch placed atop a carpeted floor.
Moving ahead, they came across a dining room with a round table overlooked by a simple chandelier. The floor was an exquisite blue-colored marble tile, which gave the room a very calming aura. The very next room was the kitchen, possessing a conventional gas-lit oven with a stove top, drawers and cabinets filled with metal utensils, pots and pans, and plastic plates, bowls and cups.
The very last room was the largest of all, spanning approximately twenty feet long, fifteen feet wide and ten feet tall. This room held two queen-sized beds next to each other on the left side, and to the right sat a four-layer shelf system. Lying on the lowest shelf was the extra key.
"This place is so awesome," Vinyl remarked. "Plenty of space, and it's really relaxing."
"And best of all," Octavia added, shooting Vinyl a smile, blushing slightly, "just the two of us."
Vinyl smiled in return. "Yeah."
Octavia cautiously set her cello case down against the wall, taking every precaution not to damage it one bit.
"I don't mean to pry or anything," Vinyl said, "but...that case. I kinda wanna know why it's important to you."
Octavia looked up and her and Vinyl's eyes met. Vinyl was half-expecting an angry glare, but she was instead met with a pleasant smile. "I would be happy to tell you."
Octavia looked back at the case. "It was my father's. This case and the cello I still play today. The cello doesn't have anything unique about it, but this case was very important to him. He had it hand-crafted by a family friend who owned the Rhythmland music store in Canterlot at the time. On the night I obtained my cutie mark, he gave this to me, telling me to follow my dreams, shoot for the stars and beyond, and make him and my mother proud."
A smile formed on Vinyl's face. "I'd say you've done a pretty good job of that, Tavi."
Octavia smiled in return, small tears of joy starting to well up in her eyes.
"You are truly the most kind, most caring and considerate mare I've met in all my life, and I couldn't possibly imagine what my life would be like had we not met."
"Well, there's no need to imagine it anyway," Vinyl said with a smile, giving Octavia a light nuzzle. "We met. That's how fate made it work."
"You're right," Octavia admitted, using her foreleg to dry her eyes. "No sense living in the past when we're here right now, together."
The two shared a quick kiss before Vinyl noticed the clock on the wall behind Octavia.
"Uh, don't mean to ruin the moment, Tavi, but you might wanna check the time."
Octavia turned around, glancing at the clock. "Oh, my. I'm going to be late."
She turned back to Vinyl. "If you could, can you-"
"Put your notebook and sheet music on the shelf? Not a problem at all."
The gray mare grinned. "I love you, Vinyl. I truly do."
"Love you too, Tavi."
Octavia packed the necessary books and papers into her satchel and began moving toward the door as Vinyl moved the supplies off the cart and carefully onto the shelves, making sure everything is easy to find.
"I will be back as soon as class is finished," Octavia stated, performing a double-take to ensure she took the key.
"I'll be waiting," Vinyl replied. The unicorn couldn't see it, but Octavia smiled as she walked out the door. Horn glowing, Vinyl closed and locked the door and continued to organize the shelf.
Two hours later, Vinyl heard the familiar 'Click!' of the door lock, and Octavia entered, placing the key back into her bag and shutting the door behind her with a light kick.
"Hello, beautiful," Vinyl announced, sitting down on the couch, arms wrapped around her cello. "How was class?"
"Enjoyable, as all my classes are," Octavia replied with a grin. "And I see you've been practicing."
"Yeah, I figured I'd get a little bit of practice in while I had the time. I should probably get started on my homework now."
"Well, now that I'm here, I could help you out with it."
Vinyl smiled. "I'd like that."
Vinyl pulled her book over via magic and opened it up, and the two began reading and answering the questions together.
Weeks went by, and Vinyl and Octavia adjusted to their new living conditions quite easily, not only being able to spend near endless time with one another, but their studies and Vinyl's lessons continued as well. Vinyl adapted to the cello quite well after two more weeks, and her grades and activity in her classes almost rivaled that of Octavia's herself. Together, the two joined the ranks of the most academically achieved ponies at the academy, Vinyl only standing several places behind Octavia on the charts.
Additionally, the two mares had finally found time to go out on formal dates. Though they received many awkward and somewhat hateful stares, they pushed through it all for the sake of their relationship. Nothing, not even Princess Celestia, could keep them apart. They loved each other as they did their music: endlessly, unconditionally and disregarding the opinions of the outside world.
Vinyl and Octavia were returning to their dorm when they ran into a Pegasus mare who was equal in size to their principal. The Pegasus had a dark blue coat with a long white mane, and her cutie mark appeared as a bass clef symbol.
"Ah, Miss Octavia and Miss Vinyl Scratch. I've been looking all over for you. I am Fortissimo Bass, Vice Principal of the academy."
"It's an honor to finally meet you," Octavia acknowledged. "Miss Crescendo spoke very highly of you when I first came to her."
"She puts me up on a pedestal, that cousin of mine," Fortissimo said, reminiscing. "But that isn't why I'm here. I know of Miss Scratch's lessons with you, Miss Octavia, and how talented she has become with her cello."
"Oh, I wouldn't say I'm that good," Vinyl murmured.
"Nonsense, Vinyl," Octavia proclaimed. "You are nearly at the level of skill I was when I obtained my cutie mark."
"Really? You think so?" Vinyl flushed a light red.
"I know so," the gray mare replied.
"I come to you two today with a request...due to cutbacks to the academy, we may have to let some professors go at the end of the semester...which is why Miss Crescendo and I would like to ask you to perform as a cello duo for the academy's fundraiser concert."
"The two of us? Together?" they asked in unison.
Fortissimo nodded. "Yes. You are both equally talented on your own, but I imagine your performance would increase tenfold should you take the stage together."
"What do you think, Tavi?"
"We should most certainly accept," Octavia replied. "There wouldn't likely be an opportunity like this again. And besides, we will be helping the school, correct?"
"That's true," Vinyl mused. "We'll do it."
"Excellent!" Fortissimo exclaimed. "Thank you both so very much! The concert is in a few weeks. You have until then to select the piece you will be performing."
"That should be enough time, right, Vinyl?" Octavia inquired.
"Definitely," the unicorn replied. "We'll be ready."
"I can't wait to see what you two come up with. Good luck!" Fortissimo walked off down the hall, leaving the two to discuss their plan.
"I think we should do an-"
"Original piece!" the two exclaimed at the same time.
"What a fantastic idea!" Octavia exclaimed. "We can get started immediately!"
They broke into a gallop back to their dorm, opening the door and heading inside quickly. Vinyl slowed a bit, closing the door with her magic. She caught up with Octavia, who had pulled her sheet music notebook out and gotten it set up on a table, ready with her Hoof Writer tool.
"Now, in what direction do we want this to go?"
"How about a combination of my style and yours?" Vinyl proposed. "It's gotta be upbeat, but it has to have that soft, relaxing feel too."
Octavia looked at him with a grin. "You are truly brilliant, Vinyl."
"Only because of you, Tavi," Vinyl replied with the same grin.
The two mares spent the rest of the night writing their duet masterpiece. It was nearly six in the morning when they finally finished.
"Well, it took us almost ten hours," Vinyl said with a yawn. "But we're done. Thank Celestia."
"That was quite the feat," Octavia admitted. "A full cello duet piece in ten hours. Of course, since it is the weekend, we have no classes, so feel free to-"
Vinyl didn't stay awake long enough to let Octavia finish. She was so exhausted, she had passed out, her head resting on the gray earth pony's shoulder.
"...You're so cute when you're asleep."
Octavia carefully moved Vinyl onto her bed, giving her a kiss on the cheek and tucking her in. Octavia climbed into her bed, easily managing to drift off into slumber herself.
Later that morning, Octavia had awoken to an intoxicating aroma originating from the kitchen. The sweet, savory scent drew her from her bed as she arrived in the doorway to see Vinyl Scratch placing a plate of chocolate chip muffins on the table.
"...Vinyl? You can bake?"
"A friend I met a while back taught me a 'Perfect Chocolate Chip Muffins' recipe. Only thing I know how to make. Doesn't mean they aren't good, though."
"Well, they smell incredible from here." Octavia stared at the plate, her mouth beginning to water. "What time is it, anyway?"
"About ten thirty," Vinyl replied. "Still early enough for breakfast."
Octavia took a seat before the table, taking one of the muffins from the plate and chomping into it, savoring the flavor.
"This is fantastic!" Octavia exclaimed, her speech muffled by a mouthful of muffin. She swallowed the chocolaty treat and clearly added, "I must have the recipe for this."
"I'll copy the recipe down for you," Vinyl said. "Anyway, while we got this weekend, we should start practicing on that song, right?"
"Of course," Octavia replied, grabbing another muffin and grinning at Vinyl. "After seconds."
Within fifteen minutes, the two mares had devoured all but one muffin of the plate of eight. Their stomachs full, they took to their instruments and began practicing the piece they had written no more than four hours ago.
A few hours of practice in, Vinyl presented a question. "...What are we gonna call it?"
"...That is a good question," Octavia mused. "What should we call it?"
"The perfect blend of upbeat and calming sounds..."
"A combination of your music and mine..."
"A rivalry of our respective styles..."
The two mares thought it through for a minute. Octavia's face lit up all of a sudden. "Requiem Rivalry!"
Vinyl looked at her with an astonished expression. "...That sounds so awesome."
"And we are, in all technicality, rivals in musical style, are we not?"
"Yeah, that's true," Vinyl admitted. "Then we got a name for it. Let's get back to practicing."
Octavia nodded and the music began again, echoing throughout the dorm for several hours.
Two weeks of practice, and the duo had mastered the song, all the way down to their individual and unique solo parts. Confidence filled their minds as their performance grew nearer and nearer by the day.
"One week until the concert," Vinyl stated with a subtle air of excitement in her voice.
"And you're ready for it?" Octavia inquired.
"Never felt more ready! I think this is gonna be one awesome performance! In fact, ours is gonna be the best one in the show! Hands down!"
"I still love that powerful confidence of yours," Octavia grinned, nuzzling against Vinyl's head.
"Eh, it used to get me into trouble a lot," Vinyl admitted. "That was mostly the reason I got picked on a lot as a filly. Distort and Reverb hated me because I was so happy and confident all the time."
"Well, you don't have to worry about them anymore, remember? They were thrown out for attacking you."
"Yeah, I guess you're right."
"Now, let's take a break from practice and study a bit. Midterms are drawing near, after all."
"Sounds like a plan."
Another week went by and the night of the concert had arrived. The audience was filled to the brim with professors and students alike inside the academy's auditorium, enjoying the many performances being put on that night. Vinyl and Octavia were both in formal attire, designed by Rarity, of course. Vinyl pulled at the collar of her shirt.
"Man, it's hard to breathe in this thing. How do you do it, Tavi?"
"I adapted over time. You'll get used to it. Now focus. We go on in ten minutes."
Vinyl nodded. "Right."
"And that was miss Lyra with Symphonic Strings!" announced the voice of Fortissimo from the stage. "And now a special performance from your professors, the twin-note unicorn musicians, Sharp Key and Flat Key!"
The black and white unicorn professors stepped onto the stage, two pianos being rolled out in front of them. The two began a magical battle between each set of ivory keys, exchanging complex medleys of notes in a whimsical duel.
"Those two are just awesome," Vinyl said, mesmerized by the mystifying musical match between the two unicorns.
By the end of their performance, the pianos had risen into the air and were circling each other as the final notes were struck, bringing the two instruments to the ground. Applause and cheers filled the auditorium.
"That was Sharp and Flat with War of the Ivories! Now, here's quite an unusual duo you're sure to enjoy, Vinyl Scratch and Octavia performing a cello duet they've entitled Requiem Rivalry!"
"Come on, Vinyl," Octavia said, nudging Vinyl's shoulder and breaking her from her trance. "Time for our performance."
The two took to the stage, Vinyl struggling slightly to carry both their cellos with her magic. Placing the instruments down, she took her position behind her cello and Octavia behind hers.
"Ready?" Octavia asked.
"Never felt more ready," Vinyl replied.
The two exchanged smiles and began their song, starting off slow but building up into a fast-paced yet strangely calming melody. The synchronization between the two was perfection: neither of them missed a single note or slipped up once. The crowd was utterly captivated by part after part of the majestic and epic tune. Not a single word was spoken for all ten minutes of the song.
The tune ended with a perfectly-harmonized crescendo from both cellos, followed by the two mares bowing to the audience. The cheers and applause that filled the room rose far above that which was for Sharp and Flat.
Before Fortissimo or Crescendo could step forward and speak, a powerful force of magic suddenly pushed Vinyl and Octavia apart, Vinyl being moved closer to the edge of the stage and held still in a red aura.
The professors and security ponies rushed at the stage, but brutish colts blocked their path, pushing them back with raw force. A familiar pair stepped onto the stage: a red and blue unicorn.
"Well, well...look at how far you've come, little Sandscratch," spoke the red unicorn Distort, glaring at Vinyl. "We're gonna have to knock you down a couple of pegs now."
The blue unicorn, Reverb, stepped forward with a sadistic smirk. "Not so tough now, are you?"
"Now, we're gonna play a game here. We're gonna throw you off the stage, and if we don't think we've damaged enough of your body, we'll do it again until we're satisfied!"
Vinyl became wrapped in both unicorn's magic auras and was raised up above the stage and began moving her over the edge. Vinyl was in too much of a panic to speak, and as she saw herself about to plummet to the ground below, she heard the sound of wood cracking against bone and the strings of a familiar instrument snapping.
Vinyl fell, but felt herself caught by Sharp and Flat Key's magical auras. She looked upon the stage to see Octavia standing up on her hind legs, glaring angrily at the unconscious Discord and Reverb, her cello in hoof, all but the neck of the instrument totally destroyed.
"Tavi...your cello..." Vinyl was released from Flat's aura and made her way over to Octavia.
"It's not important," Octavia said. "An instrument like this is easy to replace. But you, Vinyl...you're much like the cello case my father gave to me...I could never replace somepony like you."
Vinyl smiled. "You really mean that?"
"I do." Octavia wrapped her foreleg around Vinyl's neck and pulled her into a kiss. In that instance, Vinyl felt as if her heart was on fire. It was the greatest moment of her life...and she just knew that Octavia, her partner, her companion and her best friend, felt the same way. As Octavia pulled back, she looked Vinyl straight in the eyes, and with the most sincere tone and gaze, she continued, "You matter so much more to me than an instrument. I would give up a thousand performances to be with you, just as you sacrificed your shows for me."
The crowd cheered and applauded once more as Fortissimo and Crescendo stepped forth, carrying the two unconscious unicorns off the stage. Hoof in hoof, Vinyl and Octavia took one final bow before walking off the stage, carrying Vinyl's cello together.
The school year carried on, and Vinyl and Octavia became a prominent duo in the academy's concerts and began growing in popularity outside of the school. The two had also decided to start taking up their original solo performances again, Vinyl DJing for parties and Octavia playing at formal events. However, they managed to keep plenty of time on the side to spend with one another, meeting up after their respective shows and spending the night relaxing wherever they wanted. After picking up their work again, they most certainly had the bits to do so.
Summertime. The end of the school year was just around the corner, and with the change in weather came the change in pony activity. With time off, parties would go on for much longer, and Vinyl would have her work cut out for her. The same thing would follow suit among the aristocracy of Canterlot, being able to spend much more time attending formal gatherings, which meant more work for Octavia as well.
As the two were gathering their things from their dorm room to leave for the summer, a knock came at the door.
"I got it!" Vinyl exclaimed, rushing over and unlocking the door, opening it to reveal Fortissimo and Crescendo standing before her.
"Miss Fortissimo? Miss Crescendo? Is something up?"
"Actually, there is," said Fortissimo, levitating two ribbon-bound letters forward. One possessed the name 'DJ-PON3' and the other, 'Octavia.' The principal and vice principal simply nodded and walked away. Vinyl pushed the door shut and locked it with a quick burst of magic from her horn.
"Hey, Tavi! We got letters here! One for you and one for me!"
Octavia joined Vinyl at the door, looking at the letters with intrigue.
"Hold mine up for me. I can open it myself."
Vinyl held the two notes up, opening her own with her magic and allowing Octavia to pull the ribbon off hers with her teeth. Both letters started off similarly:
'Dear student, we are pleased to inform you that due to your incredible skills in the musical arts, you have been invited to study abroad. All travel and meal expenses shall be paid in full should you accept this offer.'
The two looked at each other, bright smiles being exchanged. They returned to the letters only to find disappointment in the following paragraph.
"...Worldwide modern study program," Vinyl mumbled.
"Worldwide classical study program," Octavia muttered.
They looked back at one another, their smiles reversing. Silence filled the dorm for a few minutes. Neither could believe what they were reading, but they knew it was true. Octavia and Vinyl would have the opportunities of their individual lifetimes, but in order to do so, they would have to go their separate ways.
"You should go-" the two voices clashed at the same time.
"...This is it, then?" Octavia inquired. "We just...move on?"
"Not forever," Vinyl answered. "I'm never gonna forget you, Tavi. That smile...those lavender eyes...and all the things that make you who you are."
"And I'll never forget your sheer determination...your superb organization..."
Octavia leaned into Vinyl's face, nudging her violet-tinted glasses up slightly, revealing her crimson irises.
"And of course, your beautiful red eyes."
Vinyl, embarrassed, fiercely nodded her head downward, bringing her glasses back before her eyes. She flushed red, which lasted all of two seconds before the two met with one final kiss.
"I love you."
"Love you too, Tavi."
"Keep in touch...all right?"
"A letter a week sound good?"
"It sounds wonderful."
Vinyl shuffled a bit in her seat, watching Pinkie Pie stare at her intently.
"I wrote a letter a week for as long as I could...my work started to get in the way of it, so I had to stop writing. Never even got to send off a note explaining why I dropped out of contact. Year and a half or so later, I show up in Ponyville and find out she's been living in Canterlot. I went to visit and...well, to say the least, she was furious. She told me she never wanted to talk to me again."
"That's terrible!" Pinkie exclaimed, flailing around and almost falling off her bean bag chair.
"Yeah, well...it was nice while it lasted...I guess I have to admit, though...I do miss just hanging out with her."
"Why don't you try again?"
"Believe me, Pinkie, I've tried and tried again. No matter what I've said to her, she just refuses to believe any of it. She just really hates me...and what happened earlier tonight pretty much confirmed it."
Pinkie frowned, though thankfully it wasn't enough to bring out her more depressed and suspicious self. "I'm sorry, Scratchie..."
"Ain't your fault, Pinks. It was all mine. I put work ahead of somepony that was really important to me."
For the first time in at least an hour, the room went silent. Neither Pinkie nor Vinyl spoke a word.
"Well, I think I've taken up plenty of your time, Pinkie. It's pretty late. You should probably get going back to Ponyville. Can't be throwing a party if you're tired, right?"
Pinkie nodded rapidly. "You're right! I can't be super happy if I'm not super awake!"
Pinkie Pie stood up and skipped excitedly to the door. "Thanks for the story, Scratchie! And don't worry! Everything gets better with a party! Don't forget that!"
"Never have, never will, Pinkie. Take care."
Pinkie stepped halfway out the door and stopped. "Oh, hey, Octavia! What're you doing here?"
Vinyl froze in place on the couch. What could Octavia be doing here? Should she let her in? What would happen if she didn't? The questions raced through her mind as Pinkie trotted off and the familiar figure of a gray earth mare entered her living room.
"Octavia...why did you come here?"
Octavia looked at the floor awkwardly. "Well...honestly, I came to apologize for my behavior at the Gala...it was unlike me, and although I was furious with you, I felt that you didn't deserve such treatment...then I overheard the end of your story."
Vinyl blushed, a strange nostalgic feeling overcoming her body. "H-how much of it did you hear?"
"That your work interfered with your letters."
"Oh...well, yeah...I tried to tell you a while ago, but-"
"But I was far too stubborn to listen to you," Octavia interrupted, openly admitting her own fault. Vinyl prepared to speak once again, but Octavia quickly interrupted, noticing something odd in the room and giving the unicorn a small grin.
"I honestly can't believe it...you kept it after all this time."
Vinyl looked around in confusion, her eyes locking with Octavia's current viewpoint. In the corner of the living room sat a cello on a stand, but unlike most other things lying about, it remained in near-perfect condition; not even a speck of dust lie atop it.
"Oh...yeah. I couldn't just get rid of it...it was what kept the memory of you...us...alive..."
Octavia eyed the flawless instrument, then looked back at Vinyl.
"Do you remember how to play?"
"It's been so long," Vinyl admitted. "I've always been too busy to keep practicing."
"Then why don't we start again?" Octavia inquired.
Vinyl's eyes widened in shock. "Wait...really?"
The gray mare nodded.
"Uh...all right, I guess."
Vinyl carefully brought the cello over and took position behind it, trying to remember how to position her hooves on the neck of the instrument. All of a sudden, she felt the familiar touch of Octavia moving her forelegs around, a deep red filling up her expression.
"Let's start with the scale, all right? Count off with me."
Vinyl simply nodded. "All right."
As the counting began, Vinyl felt Octavia's head resting atop her shoulder, nuzzling against her affectionately. Vinyl tilted her head toward Octavia's, feeling totally relaxed. She was once again with the mare she cared about most in the world. Octavia smiled, holding the exact same thought in her mind.
In her embrace, Vinyl could see the memories of her skill with the instrument before her flowing through her mind like a river, and she almost knew this moment was destined to come. The memories of their time together back in school came next, filling her with such sudden excitement, allowing her to see that this was all meant to be, somehow. Vinyl held the bow determinedly and awaited the counting to begin the nostalgic concerto.
"One, two, three, four..."