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Feelings are Stupid

by TangerineBlast

“I just think it’s stupid.”

Princess Cadance blinked, startled. She had just been in the Crystal Empire, putting Flurry Hearts to bed and making sure Shining Armor had gotten home from a late night patrol before they could spend some quality time together.

She had just been there, waiting for her husband. And now she was here. Seated in the statue garden at Canterlot Castle. Discord was sitting across from her, staring grumpily down at a half-finished puzzle.

This was not the first time she had dealt with Discord’s antics so she wasn’t particularly surprised. A little startled, sure, but not scream-in-confusion surprised.

And she would have been annoyed at being forcefully removed from her day. She would've been annoyed if Discord didn’t look so darn miserable as he hunched over the stone pedestal with the puzzle on it.

“What’s stupid?” She finally asked once she had gotten her bearings, watching his expression closely. His face scrunched up in irritation at the question, as if annoyed he had even brought it up.

Feelings,” Discord sneered, placing a brown puzzle piece down. It didn’t fit and his scowl deepened.

Cadance cocked her head to the side and, very cautiously, picked up a piece with her magic. Discord watched her intently. He seemed eager and… cautious, about what she would do.“You don’t like feelings? I thought friendship was working out for you?”

She put the yellow piece down and it slotted in perfectly, glowing as the edges merged with those around it so Cadance couldn’t even tell where the lines had been. Discord sighed, and leaned back on his paw and talon, pouting.

“No, friendship is fine. It feels...nice. Like a nice rubber balloon in my gut and I think I’m really starting to get the hang of keeping it in the air.” He flicked a piece with the tip of his tail and it fell perfectly into place, merging with the rest just like Cadence's had and creating what looked like a smile on the image’s surface. “It’s been difficult but I get it. And I get fun. That’s an easy emotion very balloony.”

“Then what do you think is stupid?” Cadance asked again, the next piece she had hovered next to her head as she searched for its home in the puzzle.

Discord turned his head away, like a school foal who didn’t want to admit they didn’t know the answer in class. “Other feelings. Every other feeling. Like this place!” He gestured to the garden all around them, the hedges of the maze creating a secluded pocket where only a few statues could witness their game. “This place is horrid! This place is the feeling of a lead ball just boiling in the pit of my innards.”

Cadance looked around with him. She had always like the statue garden when she had lived at the castle. It was easy to loose attendants and slip away among the twists and turns and the statues where always breathtaking works of art she could stare at forever.

In fact she would almost always stop next to Discord’s statue when she was a foal, feeling like it could stare back at her if she looked at it long enough.

She turned back to the real Discord, who was forcefully trying to shove a puzzle piece where it obviously did not go, his tail whipping back and forth wildly. The empty pedestal where the puzzle rested… there weren’t any empty pedestals in the garden.

“You’re scared.”

The puzzle piece slipped out of Discord’s claws and, because of the pressure he had been holding it down with, it ricocheted over to Cadance, only missing hitting her in the eye by her snatching it out of the air with her magic.

No,” Discord growled, the fur on his neck raising as he snarled, “I don’t get scared. Angry? Yes. And, oh, does this place make me angry. Like the ball is on fire, ready to burst.”

Cadance only frowned at him as he bared his teeth. “You are scared. That’s why you’re here, in the garden, you’re trying to get over your fear.”

He barked out a single laugh. “I’m the god of chaos. What would I ever have to be scared about?”

Cadance looked around the garden again, where she would always go to get away from the noise and the chaos of palace life. “Being lonely.” She placed the puzzle piece down, it was pink, this time. It fit.

Discord slumped when he saw that, all fire snuffed out as he folded into himself like a slinky.

He was quiet for a long, unnerving amount of time, before saying in a soft voice, “I like being immortal. I hated that it was used against me. It’s easier when I can just be angry about it.”

Cadance reached out and gently touched his paw, giving Discord as gentle a smile as she could. “You don’t have to be alone anymore. You have lots of friends now, remember? We won’t let something like that happen to you again.”

He looked at her hoof for a moment before pulling away and rubbing his paw casually, his normal flighty attitude back again, if only just. “It’s not like it’s that big of a deal. Everyone gets spooked by something. Even big ol’ Sun Princess’ keeps herself awake at night and she doesn’t go all fire and brimstone pissed. This place might give me the spooks but it doesn’t control me, obviously.”

Cadance nodded. “That’s why we’re talking here. To prove that to yourself.”

Discord hummed and slid another piece into the puzzle. It slid in smoothly. “Yes. Perhaps. But that’s not the reason we’re talking.”

“Oh? And what is?”

“Because feelings are stupid.” He tried to put another puzzle piece in. It did not fit.

Cadance giggled. “Yes, we’ve established that. Anything specific on your mind or did you just need a third-party to tell you what fear is?”

Discord eyed the piece in his claw, turning it over and over again as he squinted at it. “Fear...a four letter word, isn’t it? But it’s stupid because it makes completely harmless things, like gardens, hard to be around. Dumb and boring but managable. A balloon is maganable and a lead ball is manageable. Then there are feelings I couldn’t even possibly name but I’m sure are lunitical.”

Cadance didn’t even have to say anything. Discord just picked up another handful of pieces and kept talking. “Like friendship is nice. I’m an expert on friendship. But what if friendship felt nice and scary, hmm? What kind of creature would get the heeby jeebies around their friend? But also like it? I swear I’m probably coming down with something.”

“What do you mean, get scared around a friend?” Cadance pressed, “Are you… are you scared someone’s going to turn you to stone again.”

Discord was silent for only a moment before shaking his head and slotting in another piece. “No. No, I thought maybe that was it but being here… that is a different type of fear. One that gets me angry. The fear I’m talking about makes my heart race like I’m being chased and my tounge heavy in my mouth. It makes me feel like there's a big lead balloon in my stomach. It’s a sinking feeling and a floaty one all at the same time.” He chuckled and passed Cadance a piece. “Saying it like that, maybe I am just getting sick.”

Cadance thought about that as she too looked at the yellow tile in her magic. “Does this only happen around one, specific friend?”

Discord hesitated again before, very slowly, nodding. “Perhaps. When other friends do… friendship stuff with me it’s just a big balloon. Lifting me up and up and up! But with this friend… it’s a lead balloon. Bad and good. Heavy and light.”

“Well, contradictions are your thing,” Cadance jokingly pointed out.

“They are…” Discord mused, staring down at the puzzle. It was almost complete but for the life of her Cadance still couldn’t tell what it was supposed to be, it was like her eyes couldn’t focus on it.

“Let’s say it is fear,” Cadance said, taking a different route, “What are you afraid of, exactly?”

“I’m not afraid.”

Cadance gave him a pointed look.

Discord groaned and rolled his eyes. “Alright alright. If it was just fear and no other balloon feeling then I supooooose…” he tapped his talons on his chin in rhythm and blew a raspberry, “...being alone? Again? So sorry, I’m new to this introspection things you lowly ponies go through.”

Cadance rolled her eyes but pressed forward. “Okay, but why be so afraid if this friend leaves you alone. You have plenty of other ones. It’ll hurt, yeah, but it won’t be the end of the world.”

“It’s different,” Discord said immediately, “She’s- I mean, this friend is different. They’re not just any friend.”

Cadance smiled. It was obvious why Discord brought her here. Now she just needed him to figure it out. She put her piece down. “They’re a special friend, then?”

“...yeeees?” Discord said suspiciously.

“So you don’t want anything to change in your relationship ,right?” Cadance placed another piece.

“I don’t want to loose them,” Discord emphasised, watching Cadance’s movements closely, like a cat watching the food bowl get filled.

“But do you want your relationship to stay exactly the same?”

Discord’s mouth opened. And then hung there. He closed it and opened it a few times before eventually snapping his jaw shut with an audible clacking sound and pursing his lips. “...no. No that makes the lead balloon more lead too.” He tsked and crossed his arms with a huff. “But then what other option is there! It’s either change or stay the same! Even I can’t make both happen. Or can I…?”

Cadance slid him the final piece of the puzzle. “You could change into something more.”

That jolted him from his musings. “More?”

Cadance nodded to the the piece in Discord’s claw then at the almost completed picture of him and Fluttershy flying through the air together, seemingly no space for anyone else but each other in their minds as they laughed and twirled.

“Discord,” Cadance said, causing him to look back up at her, “The lead balloon will never fully turn into a normal balloon. It will always feel weird. Heavy and light at the same time. And it will always, always, be a challenge to keep floating.” She smiled at him. “But contradictions are kind of your thing, right?”

He stared at her for a moment, eyes wide and swirling with emotions he didn’t even know the name of.

Then he placed the last piece, completing the puzzle, and Cadance was back in the Crystal Empire.

“Honey?” Shining Armor called, poking his head around the corner, “There you are! Where did you run off to?”

“Oh, just some emergency Princess of Love duties to take care of,” she said, trotting over to kiss her husband, “You know how it goes.”