A Present for Octavia

by GrassAndClouds2

Chapter 1: A Present for Octavia

There were over a thousand of them -- this Luna knew well. There were over a thousand of the various forms, documents, and licenses required for Canterlot Castle to function for even one single day. There were forms to pay the workers, forms to reserve the conference rooms, forms for cooking and baking, dusting and sweeping, hiring and firing. There were even forms for filling out other forms, although at that point she thought things were becoming a little bit ridiculous. But there were many, many, many, forms, and it could be a touch overwhelming for pages who were only recently accepted into the castle staff’s ranks.

Fortunately, some of the new pages had a little help.

“Okay, this form is for reserving a carriage for the elk dignitaries,” Paperweight instructed. She nodded at the first of the documents on the table. “These ones here are for ambassadors from Zaldia, and these ones are for the Griffin Kingdoms. Viceroy Night Light wants us to get six of each filled out so that he can work on trade negotiations with representatives from all three kingdoms. Ready?”

“Yes!” said Luna, nodding. She was in her disguise as Night Vision, a young and energetic page who had recently joined the castle staff and been assigned to work under Viceroy Night Light. Luna found it a relaxing break from her royal duties, and she had taken a liking to several of the pages she had met. Paperweight, the Head Page working for Viceroy Night Light, was particularly friendly, and Luna found herself enjoying the time that she spent as her supposed ‘subordinate.’ “I’m ready to go!”

Paperweight carefully divided the eighteen forms into two stacks of nine each. “Last pony to finish buys grilled cheese sandwiches at Cheddar Wheel’s?” she said, smiling brightly.

Night Vision chuckled. Nopony had challenged her like that in quite some time -- but then again, most other ponies knew her only as the invincible alicorn monarch. “You’re on!” she chirped. “And lemonades too!”

Paperweight grinned. “Ooh, a big bet. Well, I’m game. One... two... three!”

And the two pages began zipping through the paperwork.


Night Vision grinned as she munched her grilled cheese. “That was a close one,” she said. “Don’t feel bad.”

“I don’t!” Paperweight, as usual, had ordered the Grilled Cheese Deluxe with extra-sweet lemonade and a side order of hay fries. “It was my birthday last week. I’m still too happy about my presents to feel bad about anything.”

“Did you like my automated duck?” Knowing how much Paperweight enjoyed relaxing bubblebaths, Luna had enchanted a rubber duck to quack and swim around and have all sorts of fun with its owner. It wasn’t the fanciest present she had ever given somepony, but Luna had a feeling that Paperweight would enjoy it a lot more than the wagonload of treasures she doled out each year to her ministers and noble Courtiers.

“Oh, yes! It’s wonderful! I’ve even taught it to scrub that one spot on my back I can never reach.” Paperweight giggled. "Where did you get it?"

Night Vision shrugged. "Some old curio shop," she said.

“Well, between your present and Octavia’s, it was a really awesome birthday.”

Luna nodded. Octavia Philharmonica was her Court Musician, who performed for her during the raisings and lowerings of the moon and also played at the various balls and galas hosted by her Court. She would have never predicted a friendship between the serious musician and the bubbly page, but she was more than happy to have seen it form. Especially, she thought, Since I think Paperweight wants to make it a little more than just a friendship... “What did she get you?”

“Oh, didn’t I tell you? It’s really awesome! Look!” Paperweight rooted around in her saddlebag until she came up with a small crystal. Even in her form as Night Vision, Luna could sense the magic radiating from it. “At home, I always listened to records when I was going to sleep. It helped me drift off, right? But I couldn’t do that here because all the pages live in one big barracks, so if I was playing music I’d be bothering everypony else.” She tapped the crystal. “She gave me two of these, and they transmit sound to each other. I put one of them with my record player in a soundproof box under my bed, tuck the other into my ear, and then I get to hear music until I fall asleep without bothering anypony!” She smiled. “I told Octavia I got homesick when I was going to bed sometimes, but this really helps. She’s a great friend.”

“She certainly is,” said Night Vision. She took another bite of her grilled cheese. “That sounds like a wonderful gift.”

“I know... I’m just worried about getting her something equally good.” Paperweight looked up, seeming lost in thought. “Her birthday is in three days. I’ve been trying to think of something awesome to get her, but she’s already got everything she wants. She’s a great musician, everypony knows her music, and she performs for Princess Luna all the time.” She rested her head on her forehooves. “It’s tough to shop for a mare who doesn't want anything.”

Night Vision smiled to herself. Octavia performed for her quite often, and she knew what the mare liked. “You know,” she said, “I heard that Octavia likes--”

“Oh! I know!” said Paperweight, jolting upright. “I just had an awesome idea!”


“Night Vision, are you doing anything after this?”

Luna thought. She had nothing scheduled besides returning to her quarters, rejoining with the part of her that had been carrying out Court business that night, and then going to sleep. “No.”

“Let’s pick her out a present together! I’m sure the two of us can come up with a wonderful gift!”

For a moment, Night Vision wasn’t sure what to say. It had been ages since she’d gone on some kind of shopping trip. But, the more she thought about it, the more she thought it would be a lot of fun. “That sounds great, Paperweight. Of course I’ll help.”

“Yay!” said Paperweight, accidentally knocking her lemonade over in her excitement. She ‘eeped’ and scooted back, but was splashed anyway. The other patrons of the restaurant looked at her.

“Um...” said Paperweight, blushing slightly. “Another lemonade, please!”


“So, where should we go first” wondered Paperweight. “What does Octavia need?”

“Well, she’s a musician,” said Night Vision. “So we could get her sheet music she doesn’t have yet, supplies for maintaining her cello, a new case...”

“I think she can order all of that stuff through the castle, now that she’s working for the Court,” said Paperweight. “I want to get her something independent from her job. Like... hmm...”

“Like something to wear?” prompted Luna.

“Yeah, but she usually just wears fancy dresses when she plays for the Court, and her bowtie when -- oh!” She grinned. “I have a great idea! Come on!”

“What is it?” called Night Vision, hurrying after the scampering Paperweight.

“I think I know something she might like!”


There were over one thousand of them. That was the first thing that startled Luna Equestris, Equestrian monarch. There were big ones and little ones, bright ones and subdued ones, and varieties ranging from the practical to the completely and utterly silly. The princess, though she felt that she kept a reasonably accurate view of what was going on in her nation, had to admit to be utterly flabbergasted.

She simply hadn't known that there were this many different types of hats for sale in Canterlot's hat district.

Luna, still disguised as Night Vision, turned to Paperweight. "Are you sure that Octavia wants a hat for her birthday?" she asked. “I haven’t known her to wear them...”

Paperweight giggled. "I dunno, but if we don't find anything we like we can keep -- aha!" She scurried over to a store window and pointed at a large top hat with a big, gray bass clef stitched onto the front. "Think she'd like that one?"

Luna could not help but grin at Paperweight's energy. "I'm not sure. She tends to dress in a more... serious fashion." She gestured at another hat, this one painted in an subtle but intricate pattern of blues and purples. "Perhaps that hat, though. It seems more her style."

Paperweight scrutinized it. "It looks okay from here, but... well, we should try it on! Then we can see if it works!" And she hurried into the shop, Luna having little choice but to follow.

Within moments, two hats were perched on the heads of two mares. Paperweight chuckled as she carefully balanced it over her horn. "I like it! But... I'm not sure if Octavia would. It's kind of tight in the back, and she has a really long, flowing mane."

Luna had to agree. "It's too bad. This is a very pretty hat." It would actually go well with her own coat, she thought, and being an alicorn, her mane wouldn't be inhibited by anything like a felt brim. She made a note that maybe she could have a servant come back later and buy it--

"Want me to buy it for you?"

Luna blinked. "Oh, that isn't--"

"Hey, what are friends for?" Paperweight grinned. "Besides, you found us that really awesome restaurant that serves those grilled cheese sandwiches. And, when Blueblood took our hoofball after Bellemane kicked it into his palanquin, you found us another one really quickly so that we could keep playing!" Luna smiled at the memory; that game had been when their team had won the First Monthly Canterlot Castle Staff Hoofball tournament. "Don't worry about it!"

Within mere moments, Luna found herself leaving the store with a jaunty hat. She laughed in joy. "Thank you!”

“Don’t mention it,” said Paperweight. “I think it looks good on you.”

“Too bad we couldn’t find one for Octavia, though.”

"I don't -- ah! Wait! Maybe earrings!" Paperweight jumped up in excitement. "I remember now, she was just mentioning the other day that she was looking for some jewelry she could wear to the Viceroy Ball next month! Come on!"

And the two friends scampered off once more.


They couldn’t find any earrings that they thought Octavia would want. Nor bracelets, nor watches, nor saddlebags. Paperweight came up with the idea of getting her a trip to an amusement park, but Luna knew that Octavia rarely visited such institutions and talked the page out of this. For her part, she had proposed providing Octavia with a vacation to some other city famous for music, such as the Cavallian capital, but Paperweight had gently reminded her that they probably couldn’t afford that. Luna, belatedly remembering that she was supposed to be a page and not the princess of Equestria at the moment, retracted the idea.

As the sun rose higher in the sky, the two sat on a bench in one of Canterlot’s many small parks and enjoyed chocolate gelatos provided by one of Canterlot’s famed Roam Gelato shops. “I’m sorry,” said Paperweight. “I’ve been dragging you all around and we haven’t found anything.”

“Don’t worry about it,” said Night Vision. “I’m having fun!” She licked her gelato, belatedly realizing that she’d gotten a little on her muzzle. Giggling, she brushed it off with a hoof. “If she wasn’t on such a strict diet we could get her some gelato. I bet she’d like some.”

Paperweight leaned back, balancing the cup of gelato on her muzzle. “Huh. Maybe we could try to find some healthy desserts... but then she might not like the taste if she hasn’t had sweets in a really long time.” She blinked. “Maybe some kind of spa appointment? But I dunno if Octavia goes to the spa...”

“She usually does her own grooming, I think,” said Luna.

“It must take a long time,” mused Paperweight. “I mean, she’s got that really long, flowing mane. I bet it’d take an hour to go through that.”

Night Vision’s mouth quirked upwards. “Do you really like her mane?”

“Yeah,” mused Paperweight, idly eating another spoonful of gelato. “It’s really nice, isn’t it? It’s smooth and silky and pretty and...”

She trailed off, blinking. “Uh.”

Night Vision giggled. “You really like her, don’t you?”

The other page blushed. “Um. Maybe!” She buried her muzzle in the gelato cup. “I can’t talk now! I’m eating gelato! Yummy!”

Night Vision smiled as she leaned back. “She does keep her mane styled very nicely. Sometimes I wonder how she stops it from getting caught in her cello strings.”

“I asked her about that,” said Paperweight. “She told me that she just has to make sure she doesn’t move her head or neck too fast while she plays, or some of the hairs can blow around and get in her face or her cello.” She finished her gelato, licking the cup carefully to make sure she got every drop. “In fact, I...”

She trailed off, and both ponies looked at each other.

“A mane clasp!” they said at once.

“Perfect!” continued Paperweight. “It’ll hold her mane in one piece so she won’t need to worry about loose hairs blowing around.”

Night Vision grinned and finished the rest of her treat. “Well, what are we waiting for? I bet there’s a perfect mane clasp for Octavia somewhere in this city.”

“Let’s go!” cheered Paperweight. “There’s not a moment to lose!”


There were over a thousand pieces of jewelry in the store, but the one they wanted seemed to stand out from the rest. It wasn’t too large of a clasp, maybe the size of a young mare’s hoof, but it wasn't too small either. The clasp was carved from pure silver, with a few platinum stripes on the surface to add a little bit of extra shininess. It was even shaped in the form of a treble clef, Octavia’s cutie mark. It was absolutely perfect for the mare.

Paperweight’s eyes were as wide as saucers when she saw the clasp in a shop window. “That’s it!” she proclaimed. “That’s the perfect birthday present for Octavia! We’ve got to get her this!”

“How much is it?” wondered Night Vision, looking around for a price tag.

Paperweight waylaid a shop assistant who was stepping outside and asked the price. “It’s on sale for eighty bits,” she reported to Night Vision. “Hmm... I’ve got about forty...”

“Then I’ll pay forty too,” said Night Vision. “Perfect.” She smiled. “Think they’ll gift wrap it?”

“I hope so! Maybe they’ll have music notes on their wrapping paper!”

Entering the shop, though, they were immediately blocked by a tall and wrinkly stallion. “I’m sorry,” he said, in a voice dripping with insincerity, “But this shop is not open to the public right now.”

Paperweight blinked. “But... the door is unlocked.”

“This store is presenting a private show. A noble of the Court is here, and so this store is catering to him at the moment.” The stallion smirked. “Little ponies like yourself may come back tomorrow.”

Night Vision’s mouth dropped. “Now see here!” she began. “That’s not fair! We--”

There were hoofsteps, and then Prince Blueblood poked his head out from the next room. “Silver Sales! You’re supposed to be showing me your merchandise, not consorting with commoners!” He made a ‘harumph’ sound. “There’s many jewelry stores in Canterlot. I could easily take my business elsewhere. Especially since I was starting to consider buying your entire lot of merchandise. But, if you’d rather talk with two little ponies who don’t even have one platinum-coated, diamond-studded carriage between them...”

“No need for that,” said the wrinkly proprietor. “You two -- leave, now.”

Night Vision looked around, noting that a few pieces were marked as being on layaway for various ponies. Paperweight seemed to notice the same thing. “Can we just put one piece on hold then? We can come back to buy it later, and we already know what we want. We’ll only be a minute!” She smiled winningly. “”Please?”

“Uh,” said Silver Sales. “I guess--”

“Layaway? What part of ‘might buy the entire store’ do you not understand?” asked Blueblood. “For the money I’m paying you, I think you can refund a few layaway feeds.” He turned on his hoof and walked back to the back room. “If you’re not here in thirty seconds, I’m leaving.”

“No!” Silver Sales’ horn glowed, and the layaway signs on the jewelry flew into a trash can. “Effective immediately, this store no longer puts items on hold. Thank you, goodbye.” The two pages found themselves floating out of the shop. The door slammed, and a few moments later, a ‘Closed’ sign was mounted on it.

Paperweight’s mouth dropped. “That’s not nice!” she complained. “We want to buy that clasp!”

Luna thought quickly. She could return to her normal form, of course, and the shopkeeper would certainly let Princess Luna Equestris buy something, but to do that she would have to reveal her identity to Paperweight. She could go with Paperweight and return the next day, but that felt too much like giving up, and Blueblood might have bought the entire store’s worth of merchandise by then. I’m the Princess of Equestria! I don’t want to lose to Blueblood!

“We have to do something!” Paperweight was saying. “But... but I don’t know what.” She frowned. “What if Blueblood buys that clasp? It’s the only thing we found that Octavia likes, and--” She frowned. “And it’s not fair to the other customers either! I bet some of them were really looking forward to the stuff they put on layaway, and they were expecting they could get it, but now the shopkeeper is just canceling all their orders! What if some of those things were for other birthdays?”

“Blueblood will not buy that clasp!” announced Night Vision. “Or any of the other items that ponies reserved!” She pumped a hoof. “I have a plan! But I'll need your help -- and your knowledge too.”

“What is it?”

Luna explained it quickly.

Paperweight grinned. “That’s perfect! We’ll get that clasp for sure!”

“Alright!” Night Vision rose up on her hind hooves. “Victory will be --”

The hat that Paperweight had bought for her tilted down and covered her face and muzzle.

“...ours,” finished Night Vision, as Paperweight laughed.


Five minutes later, Night Vision burst into the shop. This time, she was dressed in a vaguely uniform-looking outfit that she had just bought at a thrift store for a few jangles. Though cheap, it completely covered her coat and mane, and she guessed that neither Blueblood nor Sales would recognize her. “I need to talk to Prince Blueblood,” she said, in a tone indicating a matter of great urgency for the noble. “It’s really important!”

“The store is closed,” said Silver Sales, trotting back over. “Get out.”

“I’m not here to buy,” said Night Vision, using just the right amount of arrogance to indicate that she was a staffer of a noble pony and therefore considered herself above common shopkeepers. “Duty Bound, his butler, sent me over here with an urgent message for my master.”

Blueblood came into the front room of the store. “Who are you? I don’t recognize you.”

“Duty Bound just hired me, sir.” Night Vision bowed slightly. Oh, I’m going to get you for this, Blueblood. Maybe I’ll make you be the next chair for the Canterlot Sewer Commission! “But Duty Bound said your housing instructions were ambiguous, and wanted clarification.”

“Clarification of what?”

“Well, Miss Beautiful Mane is slated to arrive at your estate at half past five, and he understood she would be staying in your quarters, at least temporarily. But Miss Bellesandra is arriving at fifteen minutes past six, and is also staying in your quarters for the moment. He wished to confirm that both mares will be sharing your room.”

Blueblood paled. “What? No! Bellesandra isn’t supposed to arrive for another week!”

“She just confirmed that she would be stopping by this evening, milord.”

Luna giggled to herself as she saw Blueblood struggling to figure out how he would deal with two of his lovers showing up in the same evening. “I -- Silver Sales, I must deal with this at once. Sell nothing until I return!” He galloped out the door, almost running over Night Vision in the process.

Night Vision trotted out, struggling to contain her brilliant smile. “You’re up!” she chirped to Paperweight.

Paperweight nodded, took a moment to compose herself, then marched in. Luna magically amplified her hearing so she could know what was going on.

“Hi!” said Paperweight. “Oh! I see Blueblood didn’t buy everything. Can I make a purchase now, please?”

“No,” said Silver Sales. “He’s coming back. We’re still closed--”

“Did he reserve everything in your shop?” asked Paperweight. Her voice was still peppy.

“Er... yes.”

“Could I see the paperwork, please?”

“Uh, paperwork?”

Night Vision could almost hear Paperweight’ ebullient nod. “Yep! Under Canterlot law, you have to fill out a form to place anything on layaway, and you have to pay at least 10% as a down payment. It’s form 3542-EZ, which you can get from the Canterlot Chamber of Commerce. Also, if you want to put more than a thousand bits of merchandise on layaway, you need supplemental form 45291-EZX. And I think if a noble is doing it, that requires 241-CEZ as well.” There was silence for a moment. “But if he filled all those out for the one piece I want, no problem! I’ll be on my way.”

“...you know a lot about forms,” said the proprietor, in a very nervous voice.

“Yep! I do a lot of filing,” chirped Paperweight. “Anyway, if he didn’t fill out the paperwork, then...”

Her voice faltered, and Night Vision winced. Paperweight had to deliver her ultimatum here, but she was such a good-hearted pony that she would likely find it difficult to make a demand of even the mean shopkeeper. She paused, then cast a quick spell, and a distant strain of cello music -- one of Octavia’s more commonly performed pieces -- seemed to float in through the door. That should remind you of why you’re here. Come on, you can do it! For her!

“... then, legally, you can’t refuse to sell it to me!” said Paperweight. Her voice seemed a bit stronger, and Night Vision could have cheered. “So either show me the forms, or let me buy a present for my best friend! Or I’m going to the Guards!” She paused. “Pretty please?”

There was utter silence for a few moments, and then the shopkeeper sighed. “Alright. That stallion won’t notice one thing missing anyway. What do you want?”

“That treble clef music clasp, there! Oh, if you could have it gift-wrapped, that would be great! And maybe some ribbons, and a pink bow on top...”

Night Vision giggled to herself, and imagined Octavia’s face when she received this present. Good job, Paperweight. You’re a wonderful friend.

Eventually, she heard the sounds of bits being dropped into a cash register. “There. If that’s all, I’d like you to leave now,” snapped Silver Sales.

“Okay, bye!” Paperweight began to trot out. “Oh! Didn’t you have a bunch of other things on layaway too?”

There was another silence. “It will require a lot of paperwork to cancel those layaways without the permission of the ponies that reserved those items, I’m guessing,” said Silver Sales.


“...It will be much easier to simply not sell those items to Blueblood and let the original ponies buy them, I suppose.”

“Yeppers!” Paperweight’s voice was almost bubbly. “Glad you understand! Have a wonderful day!” And she almost skipped out of the store.

“How did it go?” asked Night Vision, as if she didn't already know.

“I got it!” Paperweight showed Night Vision a small box, which was wrapped in wrapping paper that looked like notes on a musical staff, and tied with a bow that looked almost exactly like Octavia’s standard bow tie. “Oh, Octavia is going to love this! And I got Sales to put everything else back on layaway too!”

“That was very considerate of you,” said Night Vision.

Paperweight blushed. “It was your plan.”

“And your knowledge of the paperwork,” said Luna. “You’re a good friend, Paperweight. I think Octavia’s lucky to have met you.”

Paperweight blushed. “Aww, you’re making me feel embarrassed,” she protested. “I mean, you’re an awesome friend too. And you’re the best forward we have for hoofball!”

Luna laughed, and the two friends trotted back to the palace.


It would be a beautiful night, Luna thought. In a few moments, she would be raising the moon, accompanied by Octavia’s wonderful music. But for the moment, she was alone in Canterlot Castle.

She smiled as she looked at her little package, a miniature cello that had been enchanted to sound exactly like a larger one. Octavia had mentioned how one of her cousins had expressed interest in trying out the cello but was simply too little to play an instrument that was taller than most adult ponies. With this, Octavia would be able to help her foal cousin play on an instrument that the pony could actually use. It was a nice present... although, truth be told, Luna was more curious as to how Octavia would like the other one. She should be almost here... and I gave orders to summon Paperweight to that spot around that corner, so she should arrive very soon...

As Octavia turned one corner, Paperweight scampered around another. Despite her constant energy, the page’s uniform was crisp and immaculate, every inch the epitome of a professional and proper page. “Octavia!” said Paperweight. “Happy birthday!” She skidded to a stop. “Hang on, I have something for you!”

Octavia smiled warmly. “Thank you,” she said as she trotted over to the page.

Paperweight approached. “You remember Night Vision, right? She and I chipped in and we got you this!” She levitated the wrapped clasp out of her saddlebag and floated it over to the cellist. “Happy birthday!”

Octavia opened it and took out the clasp. She blinked. “It’s... Paperweight, this is beautiful.”

Paperweight blushed a bright red.

“Would you help me put it on?” asked Octavia, still smiling merrily. She began to move her long, flowing mane around so that she could put the clasp on. “Honestly, Paperweight, this looks lovely. Thank you... and please, convey my thanks to Night Vision as well.”

Luna, from her concealed spot around the corner, grinned.

Paperweight wrapped her mane tightly, then bound it within the clasp. “You -- I mean, it looks beautiful on you,” she said.

Octavia checked her appearance in a mirror that Luna had arranged to have been left in the hallway. “I think I will start wearing this to my performances,” she said. “Thank you once again, Paperweight. If you are available, I would be happy to perform for you... and Night Vision as well... once I have finished accompanying the raising of the moon.”

“That’d be AWESOME!” cheered Paperweight. Luna grinned; she knew well how much the page loved Octavia’s music. “I mean -- yes, of course! I’ll try to find Night Vision; I’m sure she’ll want to hear it too! Thank you!”

Luna began to return to her quarters; it wouldn’t do to be caught skulking in the hall. She’d go back up to her rooms and raise the moon, and then she’d probably split off into a few copies again; one for castle business, one for a few meetings with her advisors about governmental affairs, and one...

Well, one to hear beautiful music with a very close companion.

There were over a thousand forms in Canterlot Castle. And Luna would gladly fill out each of them a thousand times in order to be with her friends.

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