64w, 6dTwilight's Library
67w, 5dUpdate 8/17 2 comments · 114 views
69w, 3dLookie! Another update! (8/4) 2 comments · 45 views
71w, 2dPhases update and Omake! 0 comments · 63 views
71w, 6dPhases: Chapter 12 is up! 1 comments · 43 views
72w, 2d7/16 Update 2 comments · 54 views
73w, 1dAnd finally, a new chapter! 3 comments · 43 views
80w, 4dAn update (5/19) 7 comments · 70 views
91w, 17hYes, I am still alive 4 comments · 51 views
93w, 2dHome again, home again... 1 comments · 61 views
93w, 5dJust in Time 0 comments · 65 views
With a set of old saddlebags draped across his back, Haystack slowly glided towards an open clearing in Ponyville. He circled around, scanning the area below to make sure that no other ponies were in his path. Satisfied that his approach would be clear he flew down and- once he was low enough- transitioned from his glide to a quick trot. After a few hasty steps he slowed his pace to a brisk walk which carried him the final few steps to the front door of the library.
His knock produced a cry of "Coming!" from inside, and after a few seconds, Spike the dragon opened the door. "Hey, Haystack. I'm sorry, but Twilight's not in right now. Is there anything I can help you with?"
"Actually, there is," the pegasus replied. "I was hoping to be able to check out a book, I need one on the topic of etiquette."
Spike motioned for Haystack to follow him inside. "Etiquette? You mean, like, manners 'n stuff?"
"Indeed." Haystack replied as he entered the building. "There is a dinner in Canterlot that me and my friends have been invited to, and I would like to avoid making a foal of myself if at all possible."
Spike stopped and scanned the shelves for a moment. "I didn't get to go to many parties or events like that when I lived there. Twilight pretty much kept to herself and did a lot of studying in her room, which meant I usually had to be there helping her find books and other stuff." Walking over to a section of the shelves, he asked over his shoulder, "So, what's the event? Some sort of dance?"
"No, it's a charity dinner that's being held at a school run by Princess Celestia, if I recall correctly."
"Oh, I know which one you're talking about! Twilight and I got to go to that once, what with her being Celestia's student and all. That's great that you managed to get tickets, they usually sell out pretty quickly from what I remember." Spike reached up, examined a book, and then put it back in its place. "No, that one won't do, let's see... ah! Here we go!" He turned and held the tome up for Haystack's approval.
"Etiquette for Everypony: The Manual of Manners for Mares and Stallions," Haystack read the title of the book aloud. "Thank you very much, Spike, that should fit the bill perfectly. Is there any paperwork that I need to fill out?" he asked as he opened one of his saddlebags and deposited the book inside.
"I'll just need a signature, hold on one second while I fill out the form." Spike walked over to a desk in a corner of the room. He pulled out a paper, grabbed a quill, and started to fill in the blanks. "There is a one week check out period for books," he explained as he wrote. "If you need to keep it longer, just stop by and see if any other ponies have asked for it. If not, we'll let you keep it another week. You still live out at your farm?" Seeing Haystack nod, he quickly jotted down a note and then held the quill up for him. "Then just sign here on the bottom line, that means you understand how long you can keep the book, and that should the book be damaged while you have it, you'll pay to repair or replace it."
Grabbing the quill in his teeth, Haystack signed his name, and waited for Spike to retake the writing instrument before replying, "Thank you, Spike. A week will be perfect for me. The dinner itself is five days away, I'll return it the day after we get back." He turned, and started walking towards the door when he paused.
"Oh, by the way, you said this dinner we're going to usually sells out fast?" the pegasus asked, keeping his head turned away from the dragon to hide the troubled look on his face.
"Almost always, yeah. Why?" Spike asked as he placed the form into a basket before leaving the desk.
"Oh, no reason. I guess we were lucky to get in, huh?" Haystack opened the door and stepped outside. "Thanks again Spike, and I'll see you in about a week," he called back as he took off. Circling as he gained elevation, he waved at the dragon below, and then headed back towards his farm.
A few minutes later he was home, headed towards the barn where he had left Pine Needle earlier that morning. His earth pony friend was inside, busy sweeping the floor. "Good news," Haystack said once he was sure that he had Pine Needle's attention. "Spike was able to find me a book. Once we're done here, we can go grab some lunch while we take a look at it."
"That sounds good," Pine Needle replied after he leaned his broom against a wall. "I've swept most of this area, but the other rooms still need to be done."
"Good work. Let me go put my saddlebags inside the house, and then I'll help get the cleaning done." After matching deeds to words, the two stallions spent the rest of the morning sweeping the floors of the barn and performing other small jobs that were found as they worked.
As they headed back to the house for lunch, Pine Needle turned towards his pegasus friend. "What is wrong? You have been very quiet since coming back from the library," he asked.
Haystack blinked in surprise. "Have I? Oh." He stopped, and his face scrunched up in thought. Pine Needle stopped and turned around a few steps later, a look of wonder on his face. Haystack sighed as he shook his head. "I don't know if something is wrong or not. I'm not even certain if what I'm concerned about is legitimate, and I don't want to be spreading false gossip if it isn't."
"Well, now you have gone and made me even more curious!" Pine Needle said with a chuckle. "But I shall respect your privacy," he added as he approached the door to the house and held it open for Haystack. "Just, please, if there is something I can do to help you with it, let me know."
"I will, thank you." Haystack stepped inside, and headed towards the kitchen. "For right now though, let's just concentrate on lunch and that book."
The tolling of bells alerted Luna to the fact that it was noon. Sighing, she used a piece of fabric to mark her place in her book, A Summation of the Griffin Wars, and stretched as she stood up. While she didn't mind her studies, some of the topics were actually quite fun to read about, she was starting to resent the sheer amount of history that had transpired while she had been banished to the moon for a millennium.
Smiling to Mrs. Hardback, the librarian of Canterlot Castle, Luna left the stacks of books and made her way to the royal dining hall. Noticing that she had arrived before her sister, she sat down and waited, not wanting to start lunch until Celestia was also present. It was hard, especially with the gurgling sounds her stomach was making (how could she get so hungry just by reading books? It didn't seem possible!), but lunch was one of the few times during the day when Luna got to spend some quality time with her sister. She wanted to stretch it out as much as she could.
Thankfully, Celestia arrived just a few moments later. Smiling at Luna, she took her seat across from her and motioned for the servants to bring them their midday meal. Over sandwiches and a small salad, the two sisters made small talk and discussed their plans for the rest of the day. Luna hoped to get through the rest of her book, while Celestia had an afternoon ahead of her filled with meetings and audiences.
Soon, too quickly for Luna's liking, they had finished their lunch and were nibbling on some sweet breads for dessert. "So," Celestia asked her, "I was thinking about your friends and the dinner coming up, and I was wondering, do they have any clothes that are appropriate for this kind of event?"
Luna considered the question as she slowly chewed her mouthful of dessert. "I'm not sure," she replied after swallowing. "I know Dewdrop has a dress that Rarity made, but I don't know if the others have anything. There really weren't any reasons to dress up while I was there, to be honest. If they do, they didn't talk about it."
Celestia smiled. "That's what I thought. Well then, don't you worry, I'll take care of that. It'll be entertaining to see how they react."
"What do you mean, entertaining?" Luna asked warily, not certain that she liked the undertones of her sister's statement.
"Well, consider this. What the worst thing that your friends could do at the beginning of the dinner?"
"Well, I'm assuming you mean reasonable actions, and not anything like one of them deciding to attack the other ponies," Luna said with a chuckle. Seeing her sister grin, Luna continued, "I would say letting the spectacle of it get to them would be a disaster. If doesn't matter how polite the other ponies are, if all my friends do is gawk and stare at everything and everypony, the first impression they would give the others would be hard for them to overcome."
Celestia nodded and smiled. "And on those same lines, showing up in an outfit that is clearly sub-par will do that too. So, I'll take care of both of those problems at the same time, and have myself some fun while I'm at it." She stood up, and made her way towards the door. "Besides," she said in a muted tone, "these dinners are almost all the same. This will be a nice little test run before some of the bigger events, like the Grand Galloping Gala in a couple of weeks, to see if my plans will work out like I think they will."
Luna watched her sister leave, stunned by the revelation. Her sister didn't like these dinners and events? She found them monotonous? And just what did she have planned for her friends? She trusted Celestia enough that she was sure her sister wasn't planning anything insulting or embarrassing, but she wished she had been more open with her. Did she really need to go to such lengths just have fun nowadays?
Thanking the servants for a wonderful meal, Luna got up and slowly made her way back towards the library. She had a feeling, with so many new things to consider, that she wouldn't be making much headway into the accounts of ancient battles this afternoon.
"Okay, my turn," said Haystack as he looked at the book of manners in front of him. "When is it permissible to put one's hooves on the table?"
"Only when you are passing a dish to another pony," replied Pine Needle. "I have to admit, these are all rather common sense rules. No eating with your mouth open, keeping your voice down, always saying please and thank you... I think mine biggest fear is forgetting something due to everything happening around us."
Haystack nodded. "Well, don't forget you have it a bit easier than me and Dewdrop. You don't have to worry about spreading your wings out in surprise or anger, or using your magic at the wrong time."
"I am quite surprised on how many rules there are about unicorn magic," Pine Needle said. "I guess it makes sense, because there are so many things that can be done with it and it seems that every unicorn has a spell or two that they have developed on their own. I don't know if I am more astonished by all the situations that are unique to magic, or the fact that the book seems to have an answer for all of them."
"Hmm, you may be on to something," Haystack said, and went to the back of the book and started looking through the index.
"I... what? You are making no sense, mine friend!"
"That thing that I've been working on since I came back from the library? You just made me realize that maybe there's something in here that could help me figure out what to do."
"Ah, yes," Pine Needle said dryly. "That thing which you continue to tease me with, yet never share. I don't suppose there is something in the book about doing that to your friends?"
Haystack sighed. "I'm sorry, I really am... and no, of course there isn't anything in here about catching someone in a lie. Just my luck."
"Oh? Just who did you catch in a lie?"
Muttering under his breath, Haystack closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "Okay, look, I'll tell you, but please don't go spreading this around to anypony else, okay?"
"It's just that, when I was talking to Spike at the library while I was checking out the book, he told me that the dinner we're going to sells out fast. But Princess Celestia told us that she hoped with Luna added to the guest list that the rest of the tickets would sell quickly." Haystack looked up at the ceiling. "It just doesn't add up to me."
"Well, did Spike say that it always sold out fast?"
"No, he didn't say always, just usually. But I still have a hard time believing that any event that has Princess Celestia as a guest would have a hard time getting ponies to line up to attend it."
Pine Needle paused and thought for a moment. "Well then," he said, "maybe it was just something she said to make us feel better about accepting her invitation to attend? Maybe she felt we might feel bad if we knew she was squeezing us into an already sold out event?"
"No, I thought of that," Haystack said while shaking his head. "I just can't see her going to such lengths for us. Or, rather, I don't think she would fabricate a story over something like that."
"I think you are putting too much thought into this, mine friend. Do you really think she has some sort of scheme that she is trying to hide from us?" Pine Needle started to gesture with his hooves. "Do you think she plans on using us attending a charity dinner to, I don't know, radically change the way that Equestria is governed, or use us as a cover to have some splinter group be removed from the picture?"
"It does sound rather silly, when you put it like that, doesn't it? I don't know though, I just have this feeling that there is more to this," Haystack said, clearly frustrated.
"Well then, why don't you go discuss this with Dewdrop?" Pine Needle suggested. "If she can't convince you of things, one way or the other, I don't know who could."
"You know what? That's an excellent suggestion. Thank you, I think I will. Do you still need this book, or are you all right if I take it with me? I'd like to have some other reason to go see her than possibly being paranoid."
"Not that you need any specific reason to go see her," Pine Needle said, rolling his eyes. "But yes, take it with you. Do you mind if I go home?"
"Oh, not at all!" Haystack said. "We got everything done before lunch, there's no reason for you to stick around by yourself doing nothing." Haystack went to fetch his saddlebags. "Thank you again, not just for your work today, but also for your suggestion."
"Of course! See you tomorrow morning at the usual time?"
"Please. I want to go and inspect the south face of the hill and make sure everything is in good shape for the coming winter." Placing the book into his bags, he went and held the door open for Pine Needle. "Until tomorrow, my friend!"
Watching Pine Needle leave, Haystack looked things over one last time and, seeing nothing out of place, took to the skies. A short flight later he found himself outside the Ponyville Inn. Taking a deep breath to calm a sudden attack of butterflies in his stomach, he opened the door and entered.
"Greetings, and welcome to... oh! Hello, Haystack! What brings you here today?" Dewdrop said from behind the front counter.
"Do I need a reason to visit you?" Haystack replied nervously. "But um, yeah, I actually have a couple, heh." He walked up to the desk. "The first is I just got done reading a book on manners that I checked out from the library. I was wondering if you might want to look through it before I returned it?"
Dewdrop arched an eyebrow. "Are you saying that I need to work on my manners?" she asked. Seeing Haystack starting to stammer and sweat, she chuckled and waved a hoof. "I'm just kidding, dear. I actually would like a chance to skim through it, just to give myself a refresher on everything that I should know. Thank you. So, what's the other reason?" she asked as Haystack took the book from his bags and placed it on the desk in front of her.
"Well, um, I know you're on the clock still, but is there anyplace where we can talk privately?" he asked nervously. "I have something I want to talk to you about, and I'm not comfortable about other ponies overhearing what I have to say."
Dewdrop felt her cheeks start to heat up. "Uh, sure, we can use the office behind me, that way I can hear the bell ring if anypony comes in." Her horn glowed, and the door opened. She led the way into the room, and checking one last time to make sure that the lobby was empty, she closed the door. She looked at Haystack, her curiosity building as to what he was going to say. It was rare for the pegasus farmer to come visit her at work, so she figured it was something important.
Trying to figure out where to start, Haystack looked around uncomfortably for a moment before sighing. "Look, I don't know if I'm being an idiot or what, but I think something is going on with us being invited to this charity dinner."
"Oh? What do you mean?" Dewdrop asked, intrigued by what Haystack said while also feeling oddly disappointed.
"Well, when I was checking out that book on manners this morning, Spike mentioned that this dinner usually sells out quickly. And yet, Celestia told us that she was hoping that Luna would help ticket sales."
"Hmm. So you're wondering why there is a contradiction between what Celestia told us and what Spike said?"
"Exactly!" Haystack said, relieved that Dewdrop had caught on to his worries. "Pine Needle thinks that she was just trying to make us more comfortable in accepting the offer, so we wouldn't feel like we were being an imposition, but I've just got this nagging feeling that there is more to this than just that."
Dewdrop paced around the office as she considered his words. "Sorry dear, but I think I'm going to side with Pine Needle on this. I can't really come up with any other good reasons why Celestia would say that, other than this being the rare year where tickets for the dinner didn't sell quickly. Like they say, the simplest answer is usually the correct one."
Haystack nodded slowly. "You're probably right. Sorry for troubling you over something like this."
"No need to apologize! I'm just glad you to see you during the day for a change." She smiled at the pegasus. "Normally, the only times we cross paths are after work or on our trips to visit Luna. And thank you again for bringing that book. I'll make sure to get it back to you in the next couple of days, so you can do a final read through of your own before the dinner."
"Thank you. Well, that's all I came here for, and I don't want to get you in trouble here at work, so I guess I'll be heading home then?"
Dewdrop opened the office door. "Sounds good. Are we all still on for getting together for dinner tomorrow night? I know Feather Down is looking forward to it."
Haystack grinned. "She likes any chance to be the servee instead of the server. And yes, both Pine Needle and I will be there. We wouldn't miss it. All right then, until later!" He waved and left the inn.
The rest of the week flew by for Luna in a rush. Between her studies and helping out her sister when and where she could, the day when her friends came to visit, as well as of the dinner, almost caught her by surprise. At Celestia's insistence, she only wore her royal regalia; her crown, necklace, and shoes. "Trust me," her sister had told her that morning, "we don't need to do anything else to be impressive in their eyes. They admire us for who and what we are; there's no need for us to rub it in their noses by dressing up extravagantly for something like this."
And so, Luna anxiously waited for the chariots carrying her friends to arrive. She wasn't worried about them being late; after all, it was only mid morning, and the dinner was still many hours away. No, what had her concerned was her sister. Celestia's comments from several days ago still puzzled her, and even with all the thought she had put into them, she was still unable to figure out what, if anything, she could do for her.
Finally, the chariots from Ponyville made their approach and landed in their usual clearing. She trotted over and hugged her friends, making sure not to disturb the saddlebags they wore. "It's so good to see you all again! Are you ready for tonight?"
"I think so," said Dewdrop. "We brought our best clothes," she said as she nodded her head towards her saddlebags, "and we all spent some time brushing up on our manners so we don't look or act like the small town ponies that we really are. We'll do our best not to embarrass us or you," she said with a smile.
"I'm sure you'll do just fine, all of you. C'mon, you can put your things in my room until we need them later in the afternoon." Luna started to walk towards the castle, and her friends followed after her. "So, do any of you have any questions about what we'll be doing tonight?"
"I do, actually," Feather Down said. "Are we going to be eating with you, or at own separate table, or with other ponies, or... what?"
"I believe the setup consists of several long tables, each hosting several dozen ponies at each, banquet style. We'll be close to each other, but there will be some guests between you and me, although I think that we should be able to see and speak to each other if we need to." Luna held open the door for her friends. "It's after we eat that we should have time to be together, although I'm sure I'll have a lot of other ponies coming up to talk to me. I certainly won't be offended if you want to go and mingle some yourselves."
"I'll see how well I do during the first part, before making any predictions about the rest," Pine Needle said as the group worked its way through the castle hallways. "I hate to say this, but I'm feeling very nervous."
"Oh? About what part of it?" Luna asked.
"Every part, to be honest. Am I going to forget something simple, like how to properly talk to somepony? What if I spill something during the dinner? And the clothes I have, while they fit, they aren't exactly what you would call current. I think the last time I wore them was back when I still lived in Stalliongrad."
"Oh, I've gone over that with you a couple of times already," Feather Down said. "That's a classic sports coat you have there, those don't go out of style. You'll be fine, trust me."
Luna was relieved to hear Feather Down reply. While she figured that her sister had some sort of plan to help her friends out if needed, she was still unable to guess at what it might be. She didn't want to have to go out of her way and try to hide what Celestia might be planning either, so she kept quiet as her friends talked about what they had brought with them for the dinner.
They arrived at her bedroom, and she pointed to a corner. "Go ahead and put your things there for now, they'll be safe." She watched as her friends went and placed their bags where she had indicated, and was surprised when she saw that Feather Down was standing as still as a statue outside the door to her bedroom. "Umm, Feather Down, are you all right?"
"Yeah," she said in a strained voice. "Or, rather, I will be. Just give me a moment. I have to fight the urge to go jump on Ricardo."
"Ricardo? Who is..." Luna sighed, resisting the urge to put a hoof to her forehead. "You named my bed, didn't you."
"Please! You can't tell Phillipe about this! I don't want him to think I'm cheating on him!"
"And Phillipe is?"
"My bed back home!" Feather Down wailed. "I don't have the heart to tell him that I found other beds as comfortable as he is, let alone better!"
"Oh, for goodness sakes," Dewdrop muttered as she stomped over and made a point of grabbing her roommate's saddlebags with her teeth and putting them into the bedroom for her. "I'm going to make you retrieve them yourself, I hope you realize," she said crossly.
"You're such a great friend!" Feather Down said as she gave Dewdrop a big hug, to the amusement of the other ponies.
"Yes, yes, I know." Dewdrop returned the hug and turned to Luna. "So, what's the plan, before we have to get all dressed up later on?"
Luna smiled. "I was hoping to introduce you to one of my friends here in the castle. She's the librarian, and her name is Mrs. Hardback..."
The day passed by uneventfully, and they were back in Luna's bedroom, where she and Dewdrop helped the others get dressed with their magic. Both Pine Needle and Haystack had simple black sports coats with bow ties, and Dewdrop was wearing her dress that Rarity had given her several weeks ago. Feather Down wore a basic light blue dress that was plain but wasn't unattractive. 'They won't be the talk of the event for how nice their outfits are,' Luna thought, 'but they shouldn't be openly mocked either. I'm glad.'
Everyone was surprised when there was a knock on the bedroom door. "I wonder who that is?" Luna said as she went to open it. Her stomach twisted into a knot when she saw her sister standing on the other side. "Celestia! Come on in! What brings you here?"
"I just wanted to make sure everypony was ready for tonight, that's all," she said in a voice that sounded a bit too happy for Luna's comfort. "Come now, there's no need for you ponies to bow to me at a time like this, I just came to see... oh," Celestia's voice changed from one of joy to dismay in an instant. "Oh dear, no, that won't do at all."
Seeing that her friends were too stunned to make any sort of response, Luna asked, "What do you mean, sister? What won't do?" She found it hard not to scream in frustration. Whatever it was that Celestia had prepared, she was certain that she was playing right into her sister's plan, even though she had no clue what would happen next.
Instead of answering, Celestia walked back to the door and stuck her head into the hallway. "Cummerbund! Chemise! Get in here! It's just as I feared!" Two ponies galloped into the room; one was a blue unicorn stallion with a darker blue mane and a cutie mark of a red sash on his flank, while the other was a yellow earth pony mare with a silver and white mane whose cutie mark was a white shirt.
"How can we be of service, your Highness?" the mare asked in an exaggerated accent that Luna couldn't quite place. She looked at Luna's friends and gasped. "Oh my! Yes, I understand! Cummerbund! Go get the racks, I shall makes plans on what to do until you return!"
Luna fought the urge to groan out loud, and she edged closer to her sister. "You're going to play dress up using my friends, aren't you?" she asked quietly out of the corner of her mouth.
"Now now, while I wouldn't put it in such a crude manner, I guess that is essentially what I'm going to do," she replied.
"You know, you could have just told them that you would have provided something for them to wear when they got here. They wouldn't have minded at all, and it would have saved them the hassle of bringing their own outfits. And did you really have to go to these extremes?" Luna asked, her frustration showing in her voice.
Celestia started to answer, but paused when half a dozen other ponies came into the room, bringing with them several racks of outfits. After the hubbub had died down some, and Luna's friends found themselves being examined and prodded, she turned and softly replied to Luna, "Remember what I said at lunch a while back? This isn't just about getting them to look nice. It's also to get them past that first state of shock, to help get them acclimated to the amount of attention that they'll receive for being friends of yours." She smiled, and with a wink said, "Also, this way I get to have some fun too. I don't get to do that as often as I like, you know."
Luna looked at her friends. Feather Down seemed to be enjoying having other ponies offer up dresses for her to try on, and Haystack looked to be holding up too, putting up what Luna thought was a stoic front. Pine Needle however had been backed into a corner by unicorn mare twins, each magically carrying an outfit for him to try on, and Dewdrop looked like she was ready to come to blows with Cummerbund. Luna started to step towards Dewdrop to help her out when Celestia put a hoof on her shoulder. "Please, sister," Celestia said, "let me handle this."
The white alicorn walked over to the two unicorns and asked, "Is there something I can do to help?" she asked.
"There most certainly is!" Dewdrop exclaimed. "I don't mind if this colt doesn't like my choice of clothing, but to call this gift from Rarity a complete disaster is going way too far, and I won't put up with it!"
"Now, now," Celestia chuckled, "maybe his choice of words were a bit strong, but he does have a point. That dress of yours is, to be blunt, inappropriate for the event ahead of us."
"But, but..." Dewdrop stammered, unsure of what to say.
"It is a nice dress," the alicorn continued, "but it's the kind of outfit that would be worn by a servant, or a maid. It isn't what one would wear to a formal event, unless they were one of the ponies helping with the dinner or cleaning up afterwards." Seeing Dewdrop slowly nod in comprehension, she said, "Now, why don't you let Cummerbund here help you get into something that won't have you mistaken for being one of the servants, and I'll go help your stallion friend over in the corner who looks like he's about to have a nervous breakdown."
The unicorn mare looked in the direction Celestia was referring to. "Pine Needle? Oh, oh my, yes, please do." Dewdrop turned to Cummerbund and sighed. "I'm sorry for my earlier outburst. It's just that this is all happening so fast!"
Leaving the two unicorns behind, Celestia headed over to Pine Needle. "Oh dear," she said as the earth pony seemed to be ready to bolt at the first open route in front of him. "What seems to be the problem? I don't think I can recall the last time I saw a stallion be so afraid of two lovely mares wanting to help him out!"
Pine Needle blushed at the giggling coming from the twins. "I, I am simply shocked by how insistent they are! I am not being given a chance to breathe, let alone time to decide if I think what they are offering for me to wear is any better than what I currently have on!" he said, trying to hide his nervousness behind a facade of bluster.
Celestia studied his outfit for a moment, while the twins stepped back a pace to give the princess room. "Hmm, if I'm any judge, I'd say what you're wearing is several years old at the least. No reason for you to wear something like that when you have access to the most up to date fashions. Also, it seems to be very reminiscent of what is worn in the northern cities, such as Trotingham and Stalliongrad. In other words, a little too heavy to be worn in a room with a couple hundred other ponies. You'll be drowning in your own perspiration before we finish the main course!" She motioned to the selections the unicorns had brought with them. "If I can get these ladies to promise to not be so... forceful in their efforts, would you be willing to try these on, and see how they fit?"
"Well, when you put it that way, yes I can, your Highness," Pine Needle said grudgingly, trying to ignore the laughter coming from the two mares.
"Thank you very much," Celestia said with a smile. She left them and walked back over to Luna.
"For the record," Luna said quietly when Celestia was standing next to her again, "I'm still upset about all of this. I understand your reasoning behind most of it, but..." she trailed off, shaking her head at the scene in front of her. "I don't know, it just feels over the top to me." She was surprised when her sister bent down and nuzzled her.
"Good," Celestia said, her voice soft and proud. "I'm glad you care this much about your friends. And I'm even happier that you're willing to tell me when you aren't happy. I think that was one of the biggest problems we had in the past, both the recent and the distant. We weren't able to tell each other when we were upset by the other's actions, and that's what led to us going separate ways. Please, promise me that you won't ever hold anything back, okay?"
Luna stood in shock, surprised by Celestia's words. "Of course, sister! And the same for you too, please! I don't want you to think you have to hide stuff from me either!"
Celestia smiled. "Thank you. And now," she said as she straightened up again, "I have to go on ahead to the school so I can be there to greet the guests as they arrive. I'll be looking forward to seeing what your friends end up wearing, so please don't keep me waiting too long, okay?" She walked towards the door, and turned around before leaving. "Oh, and tell them that they can keep whatever they decide on, my treat for putting up with this."
Luna nodded, surprised by her sister's generosity. She looked again at the clothing being offered up to her friends. They were made of quality materials, and looked to be on the cutting edge of fashion. She figured that each outfit must cost at least several hundred bits, and would be good to wear for the entire winter without looking out of date. Turning back to Celestia, she said, "Thank you."
With one last dip of her head, her sister left the room, leaving Luna to stand back and watch as her friends were asked to try on outfit after outfit in rapid succession.