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Lyra's Human 2: Derpy's Human

by pjabrony

Chapter 1: 1: Through a Glass Derply

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Derpy Hooves looked down at the small object before her. It was designed to look like a hat, though not the kind of hat that a pony wore around town. She recalled seeing Spike wearing something like it, and she had heard it being called a top hat, but that confused her. Weren’t all hats for the top? What would a bottom hat be? Something to cover up your cutie mark? But she usually didn’t ask questions like that out loud, because when she did, ponies tended to laugh in a way that wasn’t entirely friendly.

It had taken a long time to get this object, which wasn’t really a hat after all, but which was something precious to her. Before using it, she thought, it was important to remember everything that had gone into it. Life was like that, she thought. The bad things come up on you randomly and hit you hard. Good things you had to work on day after day, and if you didn’t take time to reflect, then you couldn’t feel the good things, and the bad things were put in sharper relief.

Over a year, she thought. More than twelve months since the day she first made her decision to go after this, although she hadn’t known it was this she was after. She first had to track down Lyra Heartstrings, and track her down in the right setting. Several years prior, Lyra had done a very un-pony thing, researching a magic spell to transport a human into Equestria. Nopony had even believed in humans other than her, and all the ponies in town had been freaked out when it became known. Princess Celestia herself had come to town, and though Derpy was away at the time, she heard all about what a terrible row it had been. But it all worked out in the end, and Lyra had been living with the human ever since.

Derpy wanted to talk to Lyra alone. Truth be told, she was a little scared of the human, and would probably be tongue-tied if they were both together. When she had to deliver mail to the house that Lyra and the human shared with another pony named Bon-bon, she always hoped that the one to answer the door would have hooves instead of hands.

It took about a week and a half before Derpy finally spotted Lyra alone, out shopping in the town square. Even so long after the incident, Lyra was still something of a pariah in town. Nopony was uncivil toward her, but she was definitely treated like an outsider, not unlike Zecora, the zebra from the Everfree Forest. To actually accost her for conversation was not something most ponies would be seen doing, but Derpy was used to doing embarrassing things. She descended near her and got her attention.

“Hey, Lyra.”

“Oh, hi! You’re the mailmare. . . Derpy, right?”

“That’s right, Derpy Hooves. I wanted to talk to you for a bit if I could.”

“Why don’t we go sit down?”

The two ponies went to a table with a big umbrella overhead. Derpy set down her mailbag. She was ahead of schedule, but couldn’t stay for too long. And so, as Lyra looked at her in anticipation, she decided to come quickly to the point.

“So, you’ve been living with a human for a few years now, and I’ve heard some of what it’s like.”

“Yes, and?”

“And I want one.”

“Want one what?”

“A human. I’ve heard the one you have say that there would be other humans who would want to come and live with ponies, and has occasionally asked for volunteers. Well, I’d like to be the first.”

“OK, first off, I don’t ‘have’ a human. They’re not pets, you know. We’re friends and housemates, and we treat each other as equals. Second, taking care of a human is a big responsibility.” Lyra cut herself short as she realized that she had somewhat contradicted herself, but Derpy hadn’t noticed.

“I understand, and I certainly will treat her—or him—as an equal. And as to the responsibility, you know I have raised a foal, so I do know something about keeping someone safe.”

“But this is going to be a creature who knows almost nothing of our world and will have all sorts of preconceived notions. You’re going to have to lead them by the hand—that’s what they have instead of hooves—for a long while.”

“I’m willing to do so and to work hard.”

“OK, let me ask this: why? Why a human and why now?”

Derpy looked out at the ponies milling about. “Well, one reason is that ever since Dinky left home to go to school, I’ve been awfully lonely. Empty nest syndrome, I guess.”

“Well, that’s a good reason to want a friend, but there are plenty of ponies—“

“No,” Derpy interrupted. “That’s the other reason, the big one. I don’t fit in. I never have. You probably notice the way ponies look at you because of what you did. They look the same at me for things I haven’t done. You and I, we’re just a few degrees off normal. And that’s what a human would be if he came here. So it’s the right companion, I’m sure of it.”

“All right, well, I’ll go home and talk it over. No promises, though. If nothing else it will take some time to find the right candidate.”

Derpy accepted gratefully. Every day when she would deliver mail to Lyra’s cottage, she had to fight the temptation to ask how the search was going, but she knew that harping on her wouldn’t bring the answer any sooner, and it might change it from a good answer to a bad answer. Still, the possibility itself, and that she wasn’t rejected right from the start made Derpy happy, and allowed her to occupy herself in planning for things that she could do with her human if she ever arrived.

It was perhaps a month later that she decided she could no longer stand it. She resolved to speak to Lyra and ask for a progress report. Luckily, the next time she brought mail to the house, it was Lyra who came to the door. Derpy wanted to sidle up to the topic, not seem too eager. In contrast to their previous encounter, Derpy spoke haltingly.

“So. . . I was wondering. . . have you given any more thought to what we talked about a few weeks ago?”

“You mean about a human?”

“Yeah. . . I’m still interested..”

“We haven’t found anyone yet. You know, Derpy, you are a pegasus.”

“I know that. I’ve been one all my life.”

“Well, if you’re living with a human, you can’t exactly live in Cloudsdale anymore. You’ll need pied-a-terre, literally.”

“Huh?”

“Pied-a-terre, it actually means feet on the ground, but it’s also used to mean a second residence that a pony keeps in town.”

“Oh, I never knew that, thanks!”

“So anyway, unless you’re going to vacate Cloudsdale entirely, you’ll have to get some place—“

“I’ll start looking right away!”

“Are you sure, Derpy? Keeping up one house is expensive enough, two might be too much for you to handle.”

“No, it’s a good chance for an investment. I’ll find somepony who’s renting but not looking to stay long-term, and I’ll put in to take over the ownership on a mortgage. Then until we’re ready to move in I’ll collect the rent to defray the early part of the mortgage where it’s almost all interest, let the tenant know that I’ll eventually want to take residence myself, and rent or sell my old Cloudsdale place, depending on how the market plays. Hopefully that’ll be a rental as well so once the mortgage is done it’ll be a source of income.”

Lyra looked agog at Derpy, who had been talking half to herself, planning out strategy. “Oh, Derpy. I had no idea you... “

“Could afford something like that? I don’t know why everypony seems to think that I’m dirt poor. Yeah, mail delivery isn’t like owning a store, but it’s steady pay, and with proper economizing, anypony can save up money.”

Lyra was going to say that she had no idea that Derpy was that smart, but didn’t want to insult her. “OK, I guess you’re really serious about this then. You work on that and I’ll definitely try harder to find a human who wants to stay with you.”

“Thanks, Lyra.”

Derpy headed off with her head full of ideas. Even if she didn’t get to meet a human, to become a property owner and a landlady would be exciting on its own. Her filly Dinky had been smart enough to get to go to Princess Celestia’s school for unicorns, and with one fewer mouth to feed, Derpy’s bits had grown even as her heart emptied a little. Not that she regretted it. Dinky was growing and was going to be a wonderful mare, whether she went on to a career or found some stallion and became a house-mare.

After that conversation Lyra became more accommodating and proactive in talking to Derpy about the search, even if it was just coming up to her and saying, “Nothing yet,” or “Talked to a few people, but they were mean and not the type we want around here.” Then one time she told Derpy, “We had what we thought was a definite possibility, but it fell through.”

“Why?”

“Well, did I ever explain to you about the time distortion?”

“No, but I think I get it. Equestria and the human world are on different timelines, right?”

“Sort of. When a human comes here, no matter how long they stay, they go back to the same time they left. And we thought that would be a selling point, you know? ‘Come to Equestria and don’t lose any of your time.’ But the one we talked to, she said that she wouldn’t like it if she came here and got older while she missed out on her ordinary life back home. She’s rather young, you see.”

“Hmm, I can see how she’d say that, but I definitely agree with you that it’s an advantage. Hey, maybe instead of bringing a human here, I should go to their world!”

“Whoa, whoa, hold your humans.”

“Huh? I can’t hold her until I meet her.”

“Oh, it’s an expression I’ve taken to using.. You see, on Earth—which is the name of the human world—they say ‘hold your ponies’ when someone’s getting ahead of themselves. I think that’s what they say. Anyway, forget that. For one thing, the timeline trick doesn’t work the other way. If you went to Earth for a day, a day would still pass in Equestria. At least, that’s how we assume it is, because we’ve never sent a pony to Earth.”

“Why not?”

“It’s too risky. We don’t know if the pony could get back. We don’t even know if magic works on Earth. There’s no way to tell without sending a pony who might be lost forever.”

Derpy seriously thought about saying that she would volunteer, but when she thought about it she did realize that losing her home and her filly forever was too much of a chance to take. If only they knew for sure. “OK, Lyra, thanks anyway. Keep me posted,” she said.

Derpy had nonetheless gone off reinvigorated from hearing that there had been a human who at least considered coming to see her. But her joy waned over the weeks that came when it seemed that Lyra could find no more prospects.

Flying over Ponyville every day, Derpy normally liked to watch the seasons change, particularly in autumn when the carpet of green that normally served as her view put on a show of colors for her. But that year it seemed like she was marking time when she should have been busy. One day she flew over the apple orchard that served the town. It would soon be time for zap apple jam. It would come and go, she thought, and that’s one more experience that she would be having alone. It was near lunchtime and she decided to make it a picnic and eat under the trees.

She sat, munched, and contemplated. She had thought often about whether her quest to make a human friend was something she ought to be doing. Lyra had come close to accusing her of wanting an escape from her real problems, but the only problem she had was loneliness, and there was no better cure for that than a friend. Derpy was a simple pony, and she believed that if it was right for her that she’d find a way. Or, she thought, if I can’t find a way, maybe it wasn’t right.

A stiff breeze blew. From the tree above her, one of the zap apples let go its stem and fell squarely onto Derpy’s head. Startled and hurt, she dropped her lunch and started rubbing her wound with a hoof. Nopony was around, but if there had been some, they would have seen both her eyes, as she opened them, pointing in the same direction.

“That’s it! Directly proportional to their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them!”

Another apple fell and conked her on the head, and her eyes returned to their crossed state.

“That’s it! We can test magic in the human world! Forget that other thing, this is important!”

She picked up the apple and took to the sky, eager to explain her idea to her co-conspirator. She found Lyra eating her own lunch and did not hesitate to interrupt her.

“The apples, Lyra! That’s how we can know!”

“Derpy, slow down. What are you talking about?”

“You said that I can’t go to the human world because I might never get back, because magic might not work there, and we can’t test whether magic works there because we don’t want to risk sending a pony. But zap apples are magical and aren’t a pony! We could send one there and see if it disappears if it’s not harvested!”

“Yeah, Derpy, harvested from a tree. We’d have to send a whole apple tree there, and I’ve never moved that much weight between worlds. Then it would have to be planted in time for it to grow and then watched. . . but maybe you do have something there. “ Lyra started talking more to herself than to Derpy. “And it would be useful too, really useful. A bit tricky to work, I might have to do some research. I gotta go, talk to you later! Thanks for the idea!”

As she galloped off, Derpy was confused as to what happened, but it seemed good, so she went on with her day. She had only finished half her lunch, after all.

It was over a month until she next saw Lyra, but for the first time in the project, it was the unicorn who sought out the pegasus.

“I’ve got something to show you,” said Lyra, as she reached into her saddlebag and pulled out some small objects.

“Rocks?”

“Not rocks. Well, yes, rocks, but special rocks. Enchanted rocks. See, based on what you told me I got the idea that what we need are inanimate objects that can do magic, and are small enough to transport between worlds. As far as I know, that’s never been made by anypony. Magic’s always just been done by unicorns. But if a unicorn could store her magic inside something, she could give it to a pegasus or an earth pony. . . or a human. So it’s incredibly useful, and we have you to thank for it.”

“So these rocks do magic on their own?”

“Simple magic. Throw one on the ground and it floats back up. Watch.” She spiked one of the rocks to the ground and sure enough it formed a faint glow around it and rose back up to eye level for a few seconds, then dropped back to the ground like the rock it was.

“Wow, Lyra, you’re really good at magic!”

“No, Twilight Sparkle’s really good at magic. But she’s the kind of pony who would never think to do something like this on her own. When I gave her the idea she realized what a breakthrough it would be and raced down to her laboratory—did you know she’s got a lab in the basement of that library? A little creepy if you ask me. But she came out later with these. Just of experimental value, she says, but could be big.”

“And we can test how they work in the human world!”

“Exactly. We’re going to try that tonight, when I send my human home for a bit.”

“A bit? There’s money in the human world?”

“No, I mean, home for a spell.”

“Yeah, to try the spell on the rock.”

“No! I mean, home for a short length of time.”

“Oh.”

“And as Twilight said, technically the experiment can’t tell us that everything is safe to send a pony to Earth. But it can tell us if it’s dangerous if it doesn’t work.”

“It’s something. It’s a chance. Thank you for all your hard work!”

Derpy and Lyra went their separate ways. An old one-liner asks whether, if you send a letter to your mail carrier, she’ll get it earlier than she should. As it happened, Derpy saw a note from Lyra in her bag the next day and did not hesitate to tear it open.

“Experiment successful,” it read. “Must meet tonight to discuss plans if you’re really committed to visiting Earth. Come to the library at eight. Excitedly yours, Lyra.”

Derpy went on her mail route paying even less attention than usual. For the first time fear started to share a place with hope inside her. She had to take a chance and make a leap of faith. Was she really completely willing to take the chance of never seeing Equestria again? By the time she had made her last delivery, she had an answer: no, but she was less willing to give up and spend the rest of her life wondering what would have happened.

Derpy, Lyra, and Twilight sat around a table in the library with candles burning. Twilight had a quill and scroll ready to take notes, and she addressed the other two.

“OK, first thing: I’ve written the princess about this, telling her what you plan to do. If she says no, then that’s it, we drop the whole discussion. I won’t help you go against her wishes. Agreed?”

“Agreed,” said Derpy and Lyra in chorus.

“Second thing is that we’re not doing this for a while yet. I want to meet with you a couple more times just because we might think of something in a week or two that we forget now. This whole project is going to be done safety-first. Now, the plan as I understand it is that we’re going to send Derpy into the human world for one day to spend time with a human and get to know each other.”

“One day at first,” said Derpy. “If we hit it off—and I know we will, I want it to be a regular thing.”

“OK, one day at first. But at least for that day you want to just stay with the one human and talk. Lyra, can you tell us a little bit about the human Derpy’s going to meet?”

“Her name is Karyn, and I know that’s a weird word, but even though humans speak regular Equestrian for the most part, they have made-up words for their names. She’s a young human who’s currently going to school, kind of like how you went to Celestia’s school for unicorns, Twilight, or how your filly is going, Derpy. In other words, she lives at the school and not with a family. We think that’s safest. She knows some things about Equestria and ponies. To humans, we’re a made up story that they can only see bits and pieces of. But Karyn has seen everything there is to see of us in the human world, so it shouldn’t be a complete culture shock.

“But it probably will be for you, Derpy, because we know far less about them than they do about us. You want to not stray off into the world without her to guide you.”

“Yeah, that’s important,” said Twilight. “And it’s the biggest topic for tonight. Lyra’s told you how we’ve developed the science of spellcrafting, making small objects that will let you do magic in the human world—hopefully. What we want to brainstorm is spells that we want Derpy to carry with her there to plan for every contingency. Then we’ll spellcraft them for you.

I’ve also been working on the design for exactly how the spells should be activated. We want something that you can’t set off by accident, but you can be sure to be able to use when you need it. Let me show you what I came up with.”

Twilight passed Derpy a small, hollow cylinder and said, “You put your hoof in until you feel three bumps. Then twist and push forward. It’s like one of the foal-proof caps we put on medicine bottles.”

“I think I get it. So let’s start thinking of what I’ll need.”

“First and foremost,” chimed Lyra, “the return-to-Equestria spell.”

“Right,” said Twilight. “And also something if you need to make a quick getaway from a sticky situation, maybe an invisibility spell.”

“Can’t I just fly away?”

“Yes, but what if you’re grabbed and held down. I’ll also give you a speed boost spell so you don’t get caught.”

The three of them spent the rest of the night coming up with other useful things for Derpy to be able to do, trying to cover every eventuality. As they finally prepared to break up, Derpy held them back.

“I just want to say, both of you have gone way out of your way for me, and I really want to thank you. I still want to do this for the reasons I told Lyra a while ago, but you two make me feel like I do fit in, just a little.”

“Aw, Derpy,” said Lyra. “I’ll let you in on a secret. We’re all ponies who don’t fit in. Everypony in town, and probably all over Equestria. Not fitting in wasn’t why I agreed to help you out.”

“Then why?”

“Because you cared, and because you wanted it, and because you showed passion. Passion counts. Don’t let anypony tell you otherwise. And I also did it because you’re my friend.”

“But I didn’t really know you until we started this.”

“You know me now, right? So we’re friends. Don’t let a little thing like the time of the friendship mess you up. Somewhere there’s a human who’s your friend too. Just because you haven’t met her yet doesn’t make her less of a friend. We’ve just got to get you to her.”

“I don’t quite get it, but thanks, Lyra.”

After more meetings, Twilight presented Derpy with a saddlebag full of spells, then pulled aside one. “This is the one that will take you to Earth. Before you use it, double check that everything is in place. Don’t forget anything. And stay safe. The princess said it was all right to go, but to be careful.”

“Thank you, Twilight. I’m planning to go first thing tomorrow morning. I’ll come over tomorrow night to let you know how it went.”

And so Derpy returned home and looked at her ticket to a new world. She hadn’t forgotten anything. She had remembered everything. She left behind fear and doubt. She put her hoof into the spell, turned it, and pressed.


I'm looking for pre-readers/editors to help ensure quality in future chapters! Details on my Fimfiction blog.

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