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A Mirror, Brightly - Ch. 3

By Guest
Created: 2023-04-10 04:12:41
Expiry: Never

  1. Paul had not so much let the cat out of the bag as dragged it out kicking and yowling while it tried to claw his face off. At least he could take solace in the fact that he hadn’t royally screwed the pooch from the word go. After all, Lucy hadn’t started screaming.
  2.  
  3. Yet.
  4.  
  5. She was, however, still frozen in shock, which, to be fair, was a perfectly understandable reaction to a small talking pony galloping out of her kitchen. At least it gave Paul some time to think before he opened his stupid muzzle again. Admittedly, Paul had never been the most loquacious orator under the best of circumstances, but almost anything at all, even silence, would have been better than, “Hi!” He only just managed to prevent himself from cringing externally. He could almost hear the universe itself giggling at his expense.
  6.  
  7. No, wait. He ‘could’ hear laughter. Very, very familiar laughter.
  8.  
  9. Paul paused his self-flagellation and stared up at his girlfriend, a hand over her mouth failing to hide her bubbly chuckling. Paul’s eyes narrowed, his muzzle scrunching with the effort. Lucy took one look at Paul’s expression and redoubled her giddy guffaws. He wasn’t sure if this was better or worse than her panicking.
  10.  
  11. “Oh goodness,” his girlfriend tittered, brushing a tear from her eye, “ain’t you just the cutest li’l thing? How’d you get in here? And what are you, anyway? Some kinda horse?”
  12.  
  13. “I-I’m not cute, damn it!” Paul stomped in protest despite the heat creeping into his cheeks. She’d called him cute before, of course, but that’d been when his body was his own. This body’s aesthetic appeal was the last thing he cared about at the moment. “And I’m not a horse, I--”
  14.  
  15. Lucy gasped before he could finish the thought, and her smile widened.
  16.  
  17. “So I wasn’t just hearing things; you ‘can’ talk.” She clapped once, barely suppressing a squeal of delight. “Oh, this just keeps getting better!”
  18.  
  19. “Better?” Paul sputtered, not quite believing his fuzzy new ears, “How do you figure ‘that’, exactly? You don’t even know what’s going on! Why aren’t you freaking out about the talking pony sitting in your living room?”
  20.  
  21. Lucy, with a nonchalance that was horribly at odds with the circumstances, crouched down to pick up her fallen purse and the few items which had spilled out onto the floor. “Do you ‘want’ me to freak out?”
  22.  
  23. “Well, no, but--”
  24.  
  25. “And you ain’t gonna hurt me?”
  26.  
  27. “Of course not, but--”
  28.  
  29. “And Paul’s okay?”
  30.  
  31. His breath hitched. He still wasn’t sure how he was going to tell her that he ‘was’ Paul. He decided to simply nod, not trusting himself to say anything else.
  32.  
  33. “Then what’s there to freak out about?” Belongings gathered, Lucy stood up, purse in hand, looming over Paul with that kind smile she always gave him. “I’m sure you’re raring to tell me all about what’s going on and why you’re here, but it’s been a long day and I wanna get out of these heels. You mind waiting for a bit, hun?”
  34.  
  35. Paul could feel the migraine starting to pound against his equine skull. He knew his girlfriend was an easygoing sort, liked to roll with the proverbial punches, but this was absurd. Everything about this evening was absurd.
  36.  
  37. “...Sure,” he sighed, surrendering himself to the absurdity and massaging his temples with his forehooves. It was surprisingly easy to stay upright without his front hooves on the ground; another quirk of his new physiology?
  38.  
  39. “Thanks.” Lucy nodded, her straw-colored tresses bobbing along. “Just stay right there, okay?”
  40.  
  41. She walked off before Paul could even mumble an affirmative, heels clicking an even rhythm against the wood floor. She dropped her purse on the dining table, then walked back across the living room and over to the hallway which led to their shared bedroom. She looked back and gave Paul a little wave, then disappeared though the door to their bedroom.
  42.  
  43. Well, at least he had bought himself some time. How was he going to convince her he was her boyfriend? Maybe he could tell her something only Paul would know. That was the cliche for these types of scenarios, right?
  44.  
  45. How they met, maybe? It wasn’t a very interesting story; he’d gone out to eat with some of the guys from the office at a family diner, and she’d been their waitress. She was cute, he was single, he made some jokes, she laughed, and in the end she’d scribbled her number on his receipt. But surely that wouldn’t be enough?
  46.  
  47. His gaze wandered to the accursed mirror, still covered by the white tarp. He’d never be able to convince Lucy that a magic mirror turned him into a pony, at least not without showing…
  48.  
  49. Oh. Right. Of course.
  50.  
  51. ---
  52.  
  53. A few minutes later, Paul’s ears perked as the bedroom door swung open. Lucy emerged from the hallway, having shed her blouse and skirt for a stretchy athletic t-shirt and sweatpants as she did nearly every day after returning from her waitressing gig. It added a lot to her homely, girl-next-door charm, which on any other day Paul would be more than happy to spend some time appreciating. Her step faltered when she saw him, but that little betrayal of her uncertainty was swiftly covered up.
  54.  
  55. “Sorry about that, hun.” Lucy’s smile was genuine, but wary; her initial giddy surprise must have worn off, and rationality had reasserted itself. She gestured to her attire, grin turning wry. “I know it’s not my Sunday best, but seeing as you ain’t got a scrap on you, I didn’t think you’d mind too terribly.”
  56.  
  57. “I don’t think ponies normally wear clothes,” Paul remarked, faintly blushing. His nakedness had barely crossed his mind, and certainly hadn’t bothered him until now. “Besides, I don’t think anything I own would fit right.”
  58.  
  59. Lucy’s eyebrow quirked upwards, but rather than clarify, Paul waited for her to get settled on the couch. She sank into the aging cushion and glanced at Paul’s personal effects, still laying in a pile next to her. She then focused her inquisitive gaze on Paul. Suddenly the room felt fifteen degrees hotter.
  60.  
  61. Paul gulped, heart beating like a tribal drum. “So, I’m sure you have a lot of questions. I do too, believe me. But, ah…I think it would be quicker to just show you. Just…try and stay calm, alright?”
  62.  
  63. “Been doing a decent job of that so far, I’d like to think.” Lucy nodded, leaning forward attentively. Paul swallowed heavily again. Time to rip the band-aid off.
  64.  
  65. Earlier, he’d carefully adjusted the mirror so the glass faced the couch. He took the tarp between his teeth, and gently, gently pulled it away. As the white cloth fell, the mirror’s face was shrouded by a swirling cloudy vortex, but when Paul stepped in front of it, the image cleared, and he stood face-to-face (or face-to-stomach) with his real, human body, just as disheveled as he’d left it.
  66.  
  67. His ears swiveled towards the shocked gasp from behind him. Gritting his teeth, braced himself as best he could for whatever would come next.
  68.  
  69. “...Paul?” came Lucy’s incredulous half-whisper. He flinched, but somehow he mustered enough courage to uproot his hooves and turn to face her. Her blue eyes were wide and uncomprehending, darting rapidly between pony-Paul and what he could only assume was human-Paul’s back in the mirror.
  70.  
  71. “Yes, Lucy. It’s me.” Paul held up a hoof to forestall the deluge of questions he could see threatening to spill past his girlfriend’s lips. “My uncle Dane--or someone posing as him, maybe--sent me this mirror and a letter that begged for more answers than it gave. When I first looked at it, I saw this pony instead of my reflection, and when I touched the glass like the letter said to, I…I dunno, I guess I swapped bodies with it. I tried calling my uncle about it just before you got home, but it went straight to voicemail.”
  72.  
  73. Lucy took a few moments to process the trimmed-down tale, then sighed. “Jeez, Louise. Either I’ve really gone cuckoo, or…I mean, you’re telling me a magic mirror turned you into a horse?”
  74.  
  75. “Pony.” Paul corrected Lucy with an odd conviction that earned him a withering look. Sheepishly, he mumbled,“I‘m a pony, not a horse.” How did he know? Why did he care? Paul couldn’t answer either question satisfactorily. He knew he was a pony, and that was that.
  76.  
  77. “Fine, pony,” Lucy amended, “But, how? And why are you a girl? Did the mirror download your brain and put it into a pony-shaped gynoid or something? Or is it actual, literal magic?”
  78.  
  79. “Well, I’m flesh-and-blood all the way through, so I’m pretty sure it’s not the former.” Paul glanced back at the mirror, watching his human body do the same. The human’s eyes were tired, resigned. Paul shuddered. “I thought it was some kind of super-advanced tech at first too, but if it is, it might as well be sorcery. I…”
  80.  
  81. Paul shook his head and faced his girlfriend, her expression an equal mix of sympathy and curiosity. “I don’t know why it decided to turn me into a mare, either. I’ve been trying not to think too hard about that part. In any case, I already tried turning back, but touching the mirror again didn’t work, and I really don’t want to break it in case, well…”
  82.  
  83. The unspoken consequence hung in the air for a few moments. Paul’s hoof pawed at the carpet absently. He wasn’t sure what they were supposed to do; until Uncle Dane called back, he was stuck in this tiny body.
  84.  
  85. His ears perked when Lucy spoke again. “I want to try it.” Before Paul could list any one of the numerous good reasons she shouldn’t go near the darn thing, she cut him off. “You said you only transformed when you touched it, right? Well, I won’t. I just want to see my reflection, is all. Y’know. To see if it works the same for me.”
  86.  
  87. Paul noticed the smile she was desperately trying to suppress, and his eyebrow shot up. “Uh huh. Purely scientific interest, is it?”
  88.  
  89. The dam broke, and Lucy let her grin spill out. “Well, shoot, can you blame me, hun? This whole fiasco’s nuttier than a bowl of peanuts, sure, but it ain’t like you’re dying or nothing. Besides, do you even realize how gosh-darn adorable you are right now? It’s taking everything I have not to scoop you up and squeeze you like a big teddy bear.”
  90.  
  91. Paul flushed deeply, suddenly finding the ratty carpet beneath his hooves much more worthy of his attention. There was no way he was going to let her do that, right? Right? He thought back to when he’d been petting himself, to that suffusing warmth that accompanied it. If ‘that’ had felt good, then--
  92.  
  93. “I’m not a toy!” Paul nickered instead, trying to chase away the intrusive thoughts with a defiant stomp. “This is serious, Lucy! What if I can’t turn back?”
  94.  
  95. She met his outburst with a poorly hidden titter, and Paul glowered at her, not nearly as amused. “Then I guess I traded in my boyfriend for a pet pony. Six-year-old me would be so proud.”
  96.  
  97. “Lucy!”
  98.  
  99. “Okay, okay!” Lucy held up her hands in surrender, still smiling. “Look, don’t you think your uncle would have told you if there was a serious risk you’d end up trapped as a pretty little pony forever? Let’s just wait for him to call back, and I’m sure we’ll get this all sorted out. In the meantime…”
  100.  
  101. Paul puffed out his chest, intending to chastise her further, but he deflated with a sigh instead. He was quickly running out of energy to argue; in spite of the short, impromptu nap he’d taken earlier, the toll the day had taken on him was finally catching up. “...Whatever. You can look, but for God’s sake don’t touch it.”
  102.  
  103. Lucy squee’d, clapping her hands giddily and leaping to her feet. Paul stepped to the side before she bowled him over in her haste. Once he was out of focus, the mirror returned to showing the swirling black void for a brief instant before Lucy stepped in to fill his place.
  104. The vortex disappeared with little fanfare. Lucy took one look, stopped bouncing on her heels, and stared slack-jawed. “Woah…”
  105.  
  106. Just like it had with Paul, the mirror showed not Lucy, the human, but a small pony. It stared back at Lucy in equal awe with large, bright emerald eyes, and its rounded muzzle was hanging open. Its overall physique was similar to Paul’s, but where he was pleasantly plush, pony-Lucy was sleek and slender. That was far from the only difference between them, however.
  107.  
  108. Paul’s mocha-and-cream coloration, while richer shades than one might find in nature, would not have looked too out of place on your average farm horse. Not so for pony-Lucy, whose choppy, almost boyish mane and tail were a vibrant navy blue and whose coat was an eye-catching cherry-blossom pink.
  109.  
  110. Oh, and of course, there were the wings. On either side of pony-Lucy’s barrel rested a folded feathered appendage the same pink as its coat. Paul could see the joint where the limbs connected to its back, so unless it was a stellar costume job, the wings were real.
  111.  
  112. “Oh my gosh, I’m a pegasus!” Human-Lucy, more eager than ever, squirmed like a snake had slithered down her pants in an effort to make the wings move, but apparently she lacked the proper muscles, since they remained firmly glued to the pony’s sides. “Come on, move, darn it!”
  113.  
  114. All the wriggling let Paul catch a glimpse at the pony’s haunches. As he suspected, pony-Lucy also had a large, conspicuous mark on her flank: a whirling cyclone of what he assumed to be wind. Inadvertently, he also saw a flash of what was under its--her--tail. That didn't seem fair; why did Lucy get to keep her gender!?
  115.  
  116. “Careful,” he cautioned, noticing how Lucy’s fidgeting inched her closer to the mirror, “Look but don’t touch, remember?”
  117.  
  118. “Aww.” Lucy finally tore her eyes away from her pony counterpart to pout at Paul instead, hands resting on her cocked hips. “Ain’t fair you get to hog all the fun.”
  119.  
  120. “...Fun?” Paul felt his eye twitch, and his dormant frustration threatened to break through his fatigue. “What about this is supposed to be fun, exactly?”
  121.  
  122. Rather than answer, Lucy exaggeratedly rolled her eyes. “Paul, honey, you know I love you, but you really gotta learn to lighten up. So you’re a pony right now; so what? Moping about it ain’t gonna make your uncle call any quicker. Why don’t you try and think of the positives?”
  123.  
  124. Positives? Paul scoffed. “I’m afraid I’m coming up blank.”
  125.  
  126. Paul knew he made a mistake when Lucy’s grin twisted into a devilish smirk. “Oh? Then maybe I could help you find some~”
  127.  
  128. “T-that’s really not necessary.” Paul gulped, finding his mouth far too dry, and began backing away slowly as he dared, as though any sudden move would set Lucy off. He might have been surprised at how easily he was able to backpedal despite only having hooves and four legs for less than an hour if he wasn’t too busy focusing on the looming threat of…whatever scheme his girlfriend was plotting.
  129.  
  130. “Nuh-uh-uh,” Lucy tutted, “If you’re so dead-set on being a gloomy Gus, then it’s my job to cheer you up. Now, if you’ll just--”
  131.  
  132. She sprang into action, arms outstretched, and Paul yelped in surprise. He tried to retreat, but with her longer legs Lucy was able to cross the short distance between them in a blink. Paul felt two arms wrap around his barrel, and his stomach dropped as he was hoisted unceremoniously into the air.
  133.  
  134. “Oof! Dang, girl, what’ve you been eating?” Lucy quipped, adjusting her stance lest she send the two of them toppling onto the ground. “And quit your squirming, you big baby!”
  135.  
  136. “Lucy!” Paul tried not to screech, but he was only half-successful. “Put me down, damn it! I’m not a--”
  137.  
  138. She staggered over to the couch and fell backwards onto it, earning a grunt of effort from the pair and a rusty squeak from the old springs beneath them. Paul was now firmly laying on his girlfriend’s lap. Usually it was the other way around as the two unwound while watching TV; then again, usually Paul wasn’t a pony.
  139.  
  140. Heart still hammering from the sudden invasion of his personal space and subsequent kidnapping, Paul had half a mind to buck like a stubborn bronco and escape Lucy’s clutches.
  141.  
  142. Then Lucy ran a slender hand down his back, and Paul froze.
  143.  
  144. She did it again, slowly, trailing her fingers through his impossibly soft fur, and he thawed.
  145.  
  146. The third time, she put her nails into it, lightly scratching along the ridge of his spine, and he melted.
  147.  
  148. Lucy’s magical ministration cut through Paul’s taut-wire tension, and as his bones turned to jelly and that intoxicating, sticky warmth crept back in, he let out a sound somewhere between a choked gasp and a blissful moan.
  149.  
  150. “Hee hee!” Lucy giggled, relentless in her assault on Paul’s back (and his dignity). When she spoke, her voice was low and quiet, a pleasant buzz in Paul’s splayed ears. “Someone sure was wound up, huh? Don’t you feel better already? Just relax, hun.”
  151.  
  152. Paul wanted to protest, to insist that this was wrong, but it died in his throat when Lucy reached up with her other hand to scratch behind his ears. Coherent thoughts were lost in the haze; emotional exhaustion mixed with the pleasure of his girlfriend’s careful attention to make a fog that snuffed out any hope of fighting back.
  153.  
  154. “Ohh,” Paul murmured, unconsciously pressing his side into Lucy’s stomach, seeking out more of her wonderful touch, “Lucy, I…I don’t…”
  155.  
  156. “Shh,” she gently chastised, playfully booping his snout and laughing when Paul scrunched his muzzle reflexively, “I’m sure you’ll be back to being Mr. Tall, Dark, and Brooding soon enough, but until then, why not have some fun being my little pony instead?”
  157.  
  158. Somewhere deep in the soupy morass that was Paul’s rational mind, he knew he had to deny it. He wasn’t a pony, let alone a mare. He was Paul Jensen, human male. Unremarkable, beneath mention, working a soul-crushing job simply to keep the lights on and fridge stocked, a job that he probably wouldn’t have come spring. He couldn’t relax. He couldn’t afford to. The second he stopped moving, stopped worrying, stopped dreading, he wasn’t sure he’d be able to force himself to go back.
  159.  
  160. But that voice was small, tinny, and so, so far away. Paul could hardly hear it over the seductively sweet siren’s song of Lucy’s gentle whispers of assurance and glee as she cuddled against his plush equine form. It was so very hard to fight against the rising tide of that sweet warmth, a warmth that brought murmurings of its own.
  161.  
  162. “What’s so bad about this?” it seemed to say in a soft, saccharine, and feminine lilt, “It feels good. ‘I’ feel good. Better than I have in far, far too long. Lucy’s right; I should enjoy this while I can.”
  163.  
  164. “But I--”
  165.  
  166. “Doesn’t everypony deserve a break now and then?” the voice interrupted, gently but firmly, “Just look at me. Look at my eyes, at the bags under them. I look like a zombie. Lucy tries to hide how worried she is about me, poor dear, but Celestia knows it’s killing her to see me like that.”
  167.  
  168. Distantly, Paul realized why the voice seemed so familiar. It was his--or rather, his current voice. His pony voice. He could almost see her in his mind’s eye, staring up at him with a broad, kind smile.
  169.  
  170. “Just this once,” she said, pacing a slow, steady circle around him, her wide hips swaying slightly with her steps, “Just this once, and the second I change back I’m shipping the mirror right back to Uncle Dane. Then it’ll be out of my life for good, and Lucy and I can share a laugh about it later.”
  171.  
  172. At some point, she stopped needing to look up to look him in the eye. He glanced down, saw chocolate fur and hooves, and knew he’d lost the battle.
  173.  
  174. “Just this once,” he echoed in her voice. She nodded, cream-white mane bouncing along, eyes bright and grin encouraging. Her cheer was infectious, and Paul found himself smiling, too. It wasn’t as wide, nor as cheerful, but it was a smile nonetheless. “I can rest…just this once.”
  175.  
  176. And so he did. For how long, he didn’t know. His consciousness floated in that blissful oblivion, vague awareness of the outside world returning only when Lucy shifted beneath him, or when she found a new spot to scratch and caress. He was putty in her skillful hands, and he just couldn’t find it in him to care. For a time, his world was warmth and sweetness and love.
  177.  
  178. But then ‘it’ started to creep in.
  179.  
  180. It began in his gut, so subtle at first that he didn’t notice it over the deluge of other feelings. But it grew, like a great chasm splitting the earth wide, opening up and swallowing all in its path. Wider, deeper, ever more expanding until--
  181.  
  182. Paul’s stomach roared like a starving beast, echoing through the house and dispelling the reverie far too soon. He blinked, and he saw the waking world once more. Lucy’s wandering touch froze, and when Paul turned to look at her, her smile was far, far too amused.
  183.  
  184. “Guess that means it’s dinner time, huh?”
  185.  
  186. Paul tried to hide his blush under his hooves, but judging by Lucy’s redoubled laughter, he wasn’t at all successful. He certainly couldn't deny it, though. Not after that.
  187.  
  188. "...How about a salad?"

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