Stay Seventeen

by nagoluckywriting


Sweet Goodbye

"I can't believe that tonight is the last night of camp," said Berryshine as she sipped on apple juice. "I had a blast." The three mares sat at a table. It was lunch time, and all around, ponies were chatting about camp, and the times that they had over the past three weeks. Photo agreed with Berryshine. Her time at camp had been incredible, far exceeding her expectations. She couldn't believe that three weeks ago, she didn't even want to go, that she begged her mother to let her stay at home.

"Mind if I sit down?" Blueblood said as he approached the table carrying a plastic blue tray with two hayburgers stacked on top of one another.

"You say that every time," said Golden Harvest, playfully rolling her eyes. "We don't mind." Blueblood sat down in the seat next to Photo. "I thought you hated hayburgers, by the way."

"I have to say that they've grown on me. Quite a bit more substance than some of the foods in Canterlot." He laughed as he took a bite. "I... think I'll actually miss these."

Photo stared out the window absentmindedly, and only returned her focus to the ponies at the table when Blueblood tapped her shoulder. "Everything okay?"

"Yeah."

The day was a "free day", where the campers could do any activity they felt like doing. "We're going to canoe in the lake later," said Golden Harvest. "Want to join us?"

"Maybe," replied Photo.

"C'mon. It'll be fun!"

"We'll see."

"What were you going to do instead? Mope around? It's the last day! Let's make it a good one!"

"Actually, you're right. Blueblood and I will canoe with you."

Blueblood looked at her with a mock pout. "So nice of you to ask me what I wanted to do." Then he smiled.

After a lunch of hayburgers, the group of ponies headed for the lake. There were already lots of ponies canoeing in the lake, and for a moment Photo worried that there wouldn't be any canoes left to use. Then Berryshine spotted several canoes on the shore. Berryshine and Golden Harvest climbed into the blue one, while Photo and Blueblood hoisted themselves into the red one. They paddled out together, chatting, until they reached the center of the lake and parted, directing their canoes in separate directions. "It's okay. I get it," Berryshine said. "You want to spend more time with your special somepony."

Despite the intimacy and connection Photo and Blueblood had with each other, they had not used the "special somepony" label yet. "We're not—" they both started. But Berryshine and Golden Harvest had already drifted off, away from them on the clear blue lake.

A silence followed, in which the two of them sat still, their canoe unmoving. Ponies paddled all around them, splashing water onto their coats.

Finally, Blueblood spoke. "So... having fun?"

"I guess." Another pair of ponies canoed by, soaking Photo's coat. Blueblood stifled a giggle. "I don't know. I'm just thinking about what happens after camp is over."

"We get to go back home to Canterlot."

"Back to the normal life."

"Is there something wrong with that?"

"I dunno. I guess my time here has made me realize that adventure is still possible in this world. Day to day life in Canterlot would make you believe otherwise."

"I'm not quite sure I follow."

"What is your average day like, as a prince?"

Blueblood put a hoof up to his chin. "I usually start my day by yelling 'BUTLER! PREPARE ME THE FINEST OF OMELLETES!'." Ponies looked towards them, startled by the shouting. Photo giggled.

"No, seriously though."

"Honestly, photoshoots, interviews, and lounging around compromise a significant portion of my daily routine." Blueblood frowned and looked down. Photo could tell that he was thinking about how dull his average day was.

"See? I didn't do much either at home. This camp has made me realize that there's a whole wonderful world to explore, to have adventures in. There are so many other ponies to meet."

"Even if the coffee isn't good."

"Yes."

"Could probably skip the almost being eaten alive part too." Blueblood smiled.

"That comes with the adventure. Sorry." The two of them started laughing, the canoe gently rocking back and forth.

Photo looked at Blueblood. "What about us?" she nearly whispered.

"We're both from Canterlot. I'm sure we can still see each other. I'll add you to the list of approved guests." Photo had never been to Blueblood's estate. She'd only seen pictures. She imagined that it looked even more beautiful in person. Elegant shrubbery. Impeccable grass, every blade exactly the same length. From the pictures, she knew that there was a tall iron fence to keep out ponies who didn't belong there.

"Won't you be busy, though? With all your royal business."

"Maybe. That doesn't matter though. What matters is us." He grabbed her hoof and put it in his. Photo felt her cheeks grow warm as the two of them sat in the canoe, holding hooves.


Stepping out of the shower, Photo planned to finish the Daring Do novel that had remained in her bag for the duration of camp. All of the social activity of the past few weeks left her exhausted. It was midafternoon, the sky a spotless blue. In her room, she opened the book and began to read. Only a few pages in, there was a tap on her window. Blueblood was outside, waving at her. She opened the cabin door for him.

"Hey Blueblood," she said.

"Are you doing anything in a few hours?"

"I don't think so, why?"

"Let's climb the hill over there—" He gestured towards a hill in near the campgrounds. "—and watch the sunset together before dinner. Sound good? I know it does." He quickly turned around without awaiting a response from her. Photo was more than happy to watch the sunset with Blueblood, especially because she wasn't sure how many moments they had left together. She sat on her bed and promptly returned to her book.

The sky began to turn a glorious yellow, and Photo stepped out into the light, where Blueblood stood waiting. His blonde mane shimmered in the late afternoon sun. The camera bounced against her neck as she made her way towards him. Golden hour was her favorite time of day. The sunlight tended to produce pictures with qualities that some would call magical.

"I see a lot of other ponies had the same idea as us," Blueblood said, his gaze focused on the hill. Photo could hear the mild disappointment in his voice. Photo liked the thought of other ponies being on the hill though, because it filled her with a sense of community, one that she didn't really get from living in Canterlot.

"It's okay," Photo shrugged, brushing against Blueblood's fine white coat. Together, they walked up the hill, towards the setting sun and the crowd of ponies gathered to watch it.

Photo sat down in the grass next to Blueblood, and looked to her left. Looked to her right. All around, unicorns, pegasi, and earth ponies were chatting and laughing. She would miss this once camp was over. Less than twenty-four hours until she stepped into a carriage and headed back to Canterlot. She wanted to make every moment count. She put the camera viewfinder up to her eyes and looked through the lens, snapping pictures of ponies in motion. An orange pegasi gliding through the air. An earth pony dancing, legs kicked back in a dramatic arc. She couldn't wait to see what the photos looked like after being developed. She turned to Blueblood and took a close-up shot of him as well, a bright blue eye taking up a substantial portion of the composition.

"Taking more photos of me, are you now?" said Blueblood with a grin. "You'll have to send them to me."

"Why do you want them? Don't you get professional photos of you taken like, every other week?"

"Yeah, but those aren't the same. They aren't natural. Do you know how much preparation goes into those photos?" He sighed. "The makeup, the posing. It takes up half the day. I'd like to see what I look like in my natural state for once."

It was then that Photo finally understood the extent to which Blueblood's royal lifestyle affected him. When he'd first arrived at camp, he was so ingenuine, plastering on a personality that he thought other ponies wanted to see. Here, however, in this moment, he was real. Photo stared at him as the warm sunlight illuminated Blueblood's coat. His eyes were directed towards the sun, which grew ever lower in the sky, carrying the day towards a blissful summer evening. Photo turned her attention there too.

The sky was now a wondrous mixture of blues, purples, pinks, and oranges, and Photo again grabbed her camera to take pictures of the beauty before her. She couldn't wait to develop these photos and add them to the ever growing pile of film paper on her desk, her bedroom floor.

"It's nice, isn't it?" Blueblood said gently.

"Yes, it is." Photo nuzzled her head against Blueblood's broad chest, living in the moment.

After the sun had set, many ponies headed towards the dining hall, where a dinner followed by special deserts was being offered. Berryshine said that the Apple family provided the camp with a wide variety of delicious apple pastries. Neither Photo nor Blueblood moved as the sky gave way to a purple evening dusk that blanketed them. "We can get the desert later," Blueblood said.

They knew desert was being served when ponies began to file out of the dining hall licking their lips in satisfaction. Together, they trotted towards the building, a comfortable silence between them. As they approached, Photo could smell the delicious aroma of apple pies and apple strudels, among other deserts. Joe greeted them, and they waved back. "Y'know, members of my family would call all of this 'carnival food'," said Blueblood after surveying the table.

"Do you think it's carnival food?" asked Photo.

"I've just never truly experienced food like this before camp," said Blueblood picking up a piece of apple pie. Photo reached for a candy apple on a stick. "You know as well as I do that they don't sell food this simple—" He took a bite of pie. "—or this delicious in Canterlot."

Blueblood was right, to an extent. Many of the bakers in Canterlot attempted to create extravagant creations, sometimes without success, mixing different "fine" flavors together, such as imported dark chocolate and special whipping cream. Not nearly as humble as the deserts that the Apple family delivered to camp.

"You should convince your family to bake foods like this," Photo said through a mouth full of sticky sweet apple.

Blueblood laughed, then said loudly,"My family? Bake? That's what the personal chef is for." He sighed. "They'd never go for it anyways. I know them." At the words "private chef", some ponies turned their heads, then, seeing that it was Blueblood, rolled their eyes.

In the evening glow, Blueblood looked at Photo Finish and said, "I'm going to miss you, y'know."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, I'll miss spending every day with you like this." He gestured to their surroundings, to the warm campfires that burned red. Photo felt, in her heart, that she would miss him too, even if they still saw each other from time to time in Canterlot. It didn't matter that she had only met him three weeks ago. All that mattered was the time they spent together, and suddenly, the sadness felt real.

"Have you ever had a pen pal before? We could write to each other!" Blueblood was animated, perhaps upbeat because of the apple pie.

"Sounds romantic," replied Photo. Their wanderings around camp inadvertently led to Blueblood's cabin. When Photo finally saw the door, she wrapped her arms around his white coat. "See you tomorrow?" she mumbled into it.

"Mmm... How about 'See you tonight?'. That has a much better ring to it, don't you think?"

"You're not saying..." He nodded towards the door. Photo looked around nervously.

"Isn't it against the rules?"

"Rules? Whatever. Berryshine is in this cabin something like every other day." They both laughed before Photo returned her attention to the offer at hand.

"I'm not sure," Photo mumbled, looking at the dirt, speckled with small stones. Blueblood sensed her discomfort and understood. They had, after all, only been together a mere three weeks.

"It's okay," he said, touching his nose to hers. "I understand if you're not comfortable."

Thank you, Photo thought to herself. Maybe what we have is real. Blueblood's words proved to Photo Finish that the budding relationship between them was built on more than just lust. It was built on feelings. Feelings that Photo had never felt before.

"See you tomorrow it is." Blueblood smiled at Photo then moved slowly across the doorway, into the darkness of his own cabin. Photo headed towards her own.

"You turned him down?" Berryshine yawned, after Photo recounted the interaction between them.

"I mean, I've only known him for three weeks, so yeah, I turned him down. We're planning to see each other though from time to time, in Canterlot."

"Don't get your hopes up." Berryshine yawned and laid back in her bed, her bag packed, ready to leave camp in the morning.

"Why?"

"I've said it before. Being a member of royalty affects who you are, at your core. It's a part of you that you can never change."

"You say that like you know it's true."

"Trust me."

Photo sighed, then changed the subject. "What are your plans for the rest of the summer?"

They talked for a while, moonlight seeping in through the window, Berryshine's words becoming less and less audible until Photo could hear the gentle breathing that indicated she was asleep. Photo listened to the breathing for a while, its presence calming her, until she too drifted off into gentle dreams of the future. Their future.


A carriage approached the camp entrance. Photo recognized the driver. Her duffel bag hit the ground with a thud as she dropped it and prepared to say goodbye to her friends.

"So this is it then?" said Blueblood, wrapping a hoof in hers.

"I guess so."

Berryshine and Golden Harvest trotted their way. "Be sure to come back to Ponyville some time," said Berryshine. "You're always welcome to visit my farm."

"You can stop by my farm any time as well," echoed Golden Harvest.

"I want a picture with each of you before I leave," said Photo Finish. She bent over and dug around in her duffel bag, her hoof eventually settling on her camera.

Behind Photo, the carriage driver pulled to a stop, the sound of hooves on the ground ceasing. After taking the last photo, she hugged each of them one last time before saying, "Goodbye." The camera strap went around her neck. She picked up her bag and stepped into the carriage. She wished she were wearing the glasses her mom had given her so that they wouldn't be able to see her eyes tearing up.

"You have fun at camp, miss?" said the driver, beginning to move across the dirt.

"Yeah," said Photo softly. "More fun than I could have ever imagined." She watched as Blueblood, Berryshine, and Golden Harvest grew smaller and smaller, until they were nothing but specks of color in the distance, and then nothing. She toyed with the camera, rolling it over in her hooves. She smiled.

I can't wait to develop these photographs.