Celestia sighed as the last of the day's petitioners filed out. Today was one of those days, where everything seemed to be collaborating to make things difficult. At least what was next on the agenda would make up for that somewhat.
Twilight Sparkle walked past the guards outside the throne room door and bowed.
"It's good to see you Princess Celestia."
"And you, Princess Twilight." Celestia said, bowing her own head in solidarity. "If you'd wait one moment, there's one more who needs to be here for our meeting."
On cue, one of the guards just outside removed his helmet, tossing it aside and entering the throne room. In a burst of green fire he was replaced with Chrysalis. Celestia rolled her eyes at the dramatic entrance.
"How long were you standing out there?"
"Half a shift."
"And the original guard?"
"Was out sick." Chrysalis paused, glancing at Twilight. "Good afternoon, Sparkle." She said flatly, not sounding the least bit sincere.
"And you, Chrysalis." Twilight returned the sentiment in kind.
There was a brief pause.
"So why am I here, Princess?" Chrysalis asked glancing back towards Celestia.
To her credit, the princess of the sun was doing a grand job not breaking into a massive grin.
"Well, as at least one of you is aware," she began, gesturing toward Twilight. "The Grand Galloping Gala is coming up soon, and I've decided to send out invitations with a plus-one allowance again. One of them went to King Thorax as a sign of our continued good will to the changelings."
Celestia paused. As she did so, she was amused to see the slow dawning of realization spread over Twilight's and Chrysalis' faces in near parallels. Oh she did so love moments like these from time to time, especially around the Gala.
"And I was quite surprised to receive a message this morning telling me that his plus-one was someone already present in the palace!"
Chrysalis resisted the urge to hiss, or to spit bile, or to transform into something dangerous and go on a spree of violence. Instead she just scowled.
"You planned this." She managed after a moment. "You know I can't say no _now_, not in front of witnesses."
Celestia didn't reply, just smirking at Chrysalis before returning her gaze to Twilight>
"Twilight, I imagine Chrysalis will find difficulty in preparing for the Grand Galloping Gala herself, so I was hoping you could return to Ponyville with her? I can send a small group of guards if you feel it's necessary."
"No!" Twilight started accidentally shouting, before catching herself. "I-I mean, no, I believe Starlight and I can handle it if Chrysalis decides to get up to anything, which I'm sure she won't."
Chrysalis glared down at Twilight. Even as a princess, Celestia's student was still a little kiss-up.
"Good!" Celestia clapped her hooves together. "Then you should prepare to head back as soon as possible. I just have a few things to give to Chrysalis in private before you leave."
"Yes Princess Celestia." Twilight said, bowing again before leaving the room.
Chrysalis waited for Twilight to leave before letting an annoyed hiss. She was committed to this now. Curse Celestia's tricks.
"Come now, Chrysalis." Celestia teased, "It's not a bad thing to be invited to a party, is it? Besides, it's not just his plus-one that he sent you. First, there's this..."
Celestia hovered over a small envelope. Chrysalis rolled her eyes. Inside was an appraisal for what few treasures were found within the hive. ...That was a lot of zeroes.
"Thorax said it was only fair you be allowed to use the Changeling treasury while you're in Equestria." Celestia explained before standing and motioning for Chrysalis to follow. She didn't leave the changeling far.
Behind Celestia's throne was a polished black stone necklace, similar to the much more splendid ones Celestia and Luna wore. Emblazoned upon it was a design of a shattered heart, in a brilliant emerald green. It was no doubt this was meant for her. Chrysalis walked up, picking the necklace up with her magic and carefully putting it on.
"This material..." She commented, rubbing a hoof along the necklace's edge. "Is this?"
"Yes. The message stated it was carved from the largest remaining piece of your throne they could find. While not as potent as the full thing, I will admit sitting with it behind my throne all day has left me feeling quite drained."
Chrysalis could feel tears welling up in her eyes. Of the two gifts, this was clearly the one more valuable, at least to her.