At Your Service

by DanishDash

Chapter 3: Hired

This was unreal, it was amazing, it was nothing less than a miracle.

Celestia could hardly believe her eyes as right there in front of her sat her nephew, drinking tea, not looking angry or annoyed but just sitting there politely. He had done it, somehow Dapper Dash had actually managed to get her lazy nephew to the palace at the time they had agreed.

Luna too was amazed, though somewhat relieved that Dapper had succeeded, it meant he got the job as their personal butler. She had warmed up to him as she had an amazing sleep and felt well rested and ready for her duties with energy to spare. Even right now she wasn't as moody as she usually was.

Like always Dapper's inner thoughts were impossible to read, he was the perfect picture of calmness as he poured Celestia her hot chocolate even though she had not asked for it. As if sensing her question he looked at her with a little smirk. "I saw how you admired lady Luna's drink, I imagined you wanted to taste it for yourself. Was I wrong?"

Quickly she shook her head. "Oh no, not at all Dapper, thank you."

"Of course ma'am." Dapper replied and took a step back. "Will that be all for now?"

"Yes, thank you Dapper," said Celestia. "If you would leave us for a private family meeting that would be good of you. I'm sure you like to get organized as well."

Dapper inclined his head. "Indeed ma'am. Then if you will excuse me, I will get settled." With a bow Dapper turned around and made his way to the service entrance. It was a network of corridors that worked as shortcuts for the servants, and also kept some of them out of the way of guests when bigger events were held.

With no one to see him in here, Dapper let out a small sigh, finally relaxing his stance. The pain of his wing started to feel worse, which meant it was medication time. Reaching into his inner pocket of his blazer he pulled out his bottle and swallowed two pills. Closing his eyes he felt the medicine take effect only a few seconds after and he let out a relieved sigh.

With his pain subdued, at least for now, he made his way down the halls and down to the kitchen area. Like always it was a busy, yet very organized place. There were high standards here, maybe the highest in the land. Ponies moved to get today's food ready, prepping their stations, cleaning others, taking care of dishes and much more.

There were a pony for every task here, all of them experts in their fields. Bakers, cooks, dishwashers, cleaners, specially trained cooks sous chefs and the head chef. It could be a little intimidating if you were a new staffer who were just starting out, even Dapper felt it.

"Hold your head high, don't ever let them see what is behind your eyes. Always be the perfect picture of calmness and control." He thought to himself and did just that. To be a good butler you needed to know everything and every pony. It would take time before he was completely up to speed with it all, but until then he had time to understand this massive organization that was the royal palace.

Calmly he trotted farther into the kitchen, inspecting everything. Though they continued to work, Dapper could feel them watching him. Most of them were watching out of nervousness, after all, he was the head butler now, the personal butler to the princesses themselves. Like it or not, he could either make or break your career.

Those who did not get nervous were watching him with slight disdain. Dapper knew why, he had come out of nowhere and just taken the job as head butler, he had moved up the ranks, passing every pony in here. Not that they wished to be a butler, but they wished to be the head of their fields, be the princesses personal chefs, baker, heck, personal anything, because it meant being close to them, and thus close to power.

Nobles could pretend they were close to the power that wielded this land, but those who truly knew them were their servers, that was a simple fact. Dapper was well aware some was just hoping for him to fail, others to take his place. Dapper was prepared for that, he knew because of his wing and because of his lack of cutie mark they would underestimate him. In time they would learn not to.

"Mr. Dash?" An elegant yet stern female voice spoke.

"Hm?" Dapper turned to find a maid looking at him. "Yes?"

"Please, step this way." Without introducing herself or any other courtesy she started walking away. Dapper knew he should stop her and demand to know who she was, but that would give an impression to the other staffers he was not in control, so he followed without protest.

They entered a long hallway. "Most of the more vital staff stays in these apartments here." She said, passing door after door. "Though most live in town somewhere. Those who have moved to work here have rooms downstairs."

Dapper nodded, understanding the ranking system. Newer staffers and those who were still building a life for themselves here were living on the ground floor of this wing. They had rooms, not apartments like the more senior staff who had small but comfortable apartments on the first floor.

"This will be yours." She said, stopping by a spiral staircase by the end of the hallway. "Being the head butler you will have two entryways, one leading straight into the palace and this one, leading straight to the servant quarters and the kitchen below. My girls already put your luggage up there."

Again before he could speak she was off again, trotting up the staircase with a calm and stern expression. Once they were both up there they came to a tiny room. The room had clearly been added to give some privacy from the apartment that had been newly constructed. The maid unlocked the door and they entered the apartment itself.

It had a good size, larger than any other of the apartments downstairs. The kitchen was small, but he was hardly expected to use it since he had the royal kitchen to his disposal. The living room was big and comfortable, a large couch, large windows that gave him an amazing view.

There was also a bathroom with an actual bath built into the floor, like a pool, though tiny when compared of course. The bed room was small, but that was to be expected, his luggage had been placed neatly on the bed.

"Well, this is nice." Dapper commented. "Which just leaves one thing." He turned to the white coated mare. She had green eyes, ice blue hair with a few white strands here and there. She wore a black maid uniform, the skirt covering up her cutie mark and a pair of black shoes on her hind legs. "An introduction."

The mare sighed. "Frost Heart."

Dapper raised an eyebrow. "You don't say? Well, I'm D-"

"Dapper Dash, I know sir." She replied. "I want to make one thing clear Mr Dash." Frost continued, locking eyes with him. "You may be the head butler, a station above my own as head maid, but I won't have you chasing my girls around. We have a job to do here."

"Excuse me?"

"I know. It's hard for young ponies who work closely together not to get certain feelings, but I'll tell you what I tell my girls, there will be none of that in the palace. We are here to serve, not to play around."

There was a five seconds silence, then Dapper walked over to the small dining table. "I see, well its going to be hard not to fall in love with such a charming mare such as yourself." He said, looking at the master key and an enchanted pocket watch that had been laid out for him.

Frost looked to him with an annoyed expression. "Are you mocking me?"

"Not at all." 

Dapper said and placed the master key within a pocket of his blazer and switched his own watch with the enchanted one. He gave it a look, not only did it tell the time, but it showed where his ladies were. If they needed him the little watch would give off a gentle chime. Just before he was about to put it in his pocket the clock chimed, and it seemed to be the sun princess who needed him in the study.

"If you will excuse me miss Heart." He turned to her as he put the clock away. "The princess needs me. If you would be so good to unpack for me while I'm gone that would be most kind of you."

"Well I-"

Now it was Dapper's turn to interrupt. "You see I formed it as a request to be polite, but I'm afraid it wasn't. Nice to meet you Miss Heart, look forward to working with you." He left, leaving Frost Heart to boil with frustration. As he walked however he couldn't help but chuckle a little. "I like her."

Dapper was still getting used to the palace, though thanks to a guard he arrived at the study in a timely manner. Standing straight and held his head high, he gently knocked on the door.

"Enter." Celestia responded after just a second.

Dapper did just that, without too much noise he opened the door and slipped inside. "You called for me ma'am?"

Celestia looked up with a small and friendly smile. "Ah, Dapper Dash, yes, please come closer." He inclined his head and did just that. As Dapper made his way towards Celestia's desk, she folded a few papers she had been looking over. "Have a seat." She gestured to a chair.

Dapper got the feeling this was not so much about her, but him. Was it because of his wing? Or his medication? He didn't know, so he kept up his armor of control and calmness. She in turn kept up her friendly smile, and although he could tell her smile was sincere he could see the observing nature behind those beautiful eyes of hers. Dapper wasn't fooled, he could see the intelligence that radiated from her, just like her own sun. She was looking at him, but not how any other pony would.

She was looking for any hints that would tell her anything about him, any clue that would lead her to a deduction about him and his past. The two simply looked upon one another for what felt like an eternity, time itself seemed to slow down around them as they played this mental chess game.

Celestia had already made the first move by calling him up here and made him sit down, it left Dapper with little choice but to play defense. When Celestia had decided the silence had gone on for long enough she said.

"First I want to congratulate you on getting the job."

"Thank you, your majesty."

Celestia giggled. "Please, call me Celestia, it's fine here in private."

Dapper shook his head a little, surprising Celestia. "I like to earn that right, but right now I don't feel I have done so. It wouldn't feel right. If you allow me to say so."

Celestia inclined her head, and for a brief moment Dapper could swear he saw a hint of disappointment. "I understand, I hope we can get to that in time." She regained control of the conversation quickly. "For now however, why don't you tell me about yourself."

Dapper shrugged, then gestured to the papers on her desk. "Everything there is to know should be in those papers there."

"How do you know they are about you?" Celestia asked.

He shrugged again. "Educated guess."

Another giggle escaped her lips. "You're quite right Mr Dash, but it only tells me so much. For example it doesn't tell me where you learned how to be a butler."

"I have served before, traveled, worked to earn a living. I guess you can say I picked up my skills from my experiences."

Celestia leaned forward just a little, she actually looked very fascinated by what he said. "Not many like to travel outside of Equestria, and you did it on your own?"

Dapper nodded. "I did, I've tried a lot, seen a lot more."

"How did you convince my nephew to come here with his bags packed?" She suddenly asked, shifting the conversation without warning.

Dapper didn't flinch however, remaining in control of himself. Instead, he smiled. "A gentlecolt never tells."

She raised an eyebrow. "Not even to your princess and employer."

"No.." He shook his head. "Master Blueblood and I have an understanding, and I made a promise. So far he is keeping his, so I will keep mine." Then he tilted his head. "Unless you're going to magically force me to?"

The suggestion itself was a direct challenge. Celestia recognized it, but instead of feeling annoyed she was actually impressed with him. "No, of course not." Dapper had certainly surpassed her expectations, and he clearly had a clever mind. "I value honor, honesty, and loyalty. Among other things." She chuckled. "You're clearly not like most ponies I've met."

Dapper inclined his head. "Thank you ma'am."

"I think you will serve me and my sister well. If you are to stay on, can we expect the same level of loyalty?"

Dapper didn't hesitate in his answer. "Absolutely ma'am. I am at your service." 

Celestia smiled. "I will hold you to that.. Well, I think that concludes our talk." Dapper nodded and stood, but before he could leave she spoke up again. "My nephew will be staying for quite a while, though you work for me and my sister, we would appreciate you keeping an eye on him. I think my nephew can become a really fine stallion if given the opportunity."

She didn't need to go into details, Dapper understood. "As you wish ma'am." And with that, he left.

By the time he came back to his apartment he could hear Frost Heart still unpacking his belongings. She hadn't heard him enter, so for now he led her to believe that he hadn't arrived. Slowly and silently he made his way towards the door of his bedroom, as he got closer he could hear her mumble things, but what she actually said he couldn't hear.

Coming up to the door he glanced inside. She had cleaned most of his stuff away, but was inspecting his personal belongings. Gone was her stern expression from before, now she looked impressed. The many pictures in his book, the souvenirs from his travels.

She admired a small dagger from Nippone, let out a long whistle as she admired the blade. "Just how many places has he been.." Frost mumbled.

"Enough to miss home." Dapper commented, making Frost yelp in surprise as she turned around to face him.

She blushed, but her stern expression came back. "Y-you shouldn't sneak up on mares like that Mr Dash!" Frost bit out. "And now that you're finally back, let me tell you I have better and more important things to do than to go around and take care of your unpacking!"

Dapper smirked. "No you don't."

Frost grimaced. "Excuse me?"

"It's your day off Miss Heart." Dapper said and walked inside. "When I arrived this morning I caught a glimpse of the schedule, today is your day off. So whatever business you had with me was something personal as you value your job. I respect that."

Frost bit her lower lip, and there was a hint of something in her eyes that Dapper recognized. "So you knew and still put me to work?!" She asked in almost a growl.

"A harmless prank to make you angry. You look quite cute when you're angry Miss Heart." Dapper was now very close to her. 

Frost felt her heart pound faster, her eyes held a certain glare to them but her ears laid flat. "You're trouble Mr Dash.."

Dapper smiled a little, moving even closer. "Wanna find out how much trouble I am?"

Frost bit her lower lip again, considering. Then finally she grabbed his tie and pulled him close. Their lips locked and she quickly found herself on the bed, her horn lit as she used her magic to smack the door behind them shut. 

To hell with it, Frost needed this, and Dapper was all too happy to be at service.

Damn him.. She thought.