After three of Joe's choco-luxe doughnuts (a chocolate doughnut with chocolate chips, a chocolate glaze and chocolate sprinkles), Shining Armor was feeling a little better. Judging from the way the others were, he was not the only one as well.
When the six of them had arrived, all of them seemed to be relatively depressed over the night. The whole night, Applejack had only sold one product all night, an apple pie near the start. Rarity felt utterly humiliated over what had occurred with Prince Blueblood (although Rarity had a few other choice names for him), and disappointed at how horribly behaved he had been. Pinkie Pie was just disappointed in general because the party was not very exciting or fun. Rainbow Dash had been thrilled when she was able to hang with The Wonderbolts, but it was kind of disappointing because they were all so busy mingling that she never really got to do anything with them. Fluttershy was so excited to get the opportunity to see all the animals in the garden, but was very confused when they kept running away from her before she had the chance to get to see them.
Now everyone seemed to be in a much better mood. Pinkie Pie and Applejack were comparing recipes with Joe, which would mean new doughnuts at Sugarcube Corner and possibly tastier apple fritters here in Canterlot. Rainbow Dash was having a doughnut eating contest with Spike to see who could pack away the most the fastest (Shining probably should have tried to prevent that since it would most likely end with Spike having a massive stomach ache). Rarity and Fluttershy were not exactly in the best of moods, but the pair seemed to be enjoying their tea and snacks.
The bell tinkled as the door was opened, announcing a new arrival. Everything suddenly turned quiet at the new arrival. Pinkie Pie, Applejack and Joe all stopped and watched. Even Spike and Rainbow Dash stopped their eating contest and stared toward the doorway. Before he could ask anything, Shining Armor felt a tingle along his spine as the arrival moved to stand behind him.
Slowly, Shining Armor turned to see who it was.
There, standing behind him, was Princess Celestia. Her ethereal rainbow mane and tail shifted and danced with its magic. Her sunrise colored eyes looked down on her student and his friends. A small smile twisted the edge of her lips.
"That," the princess said in her soft tone, "was one of the best Grand Galloping Galas ever."
"What?!" six ponies and a young dragon all called out together.
"With all due respect," Shining Armor said, "the gala was.... well... awful." The other five all nodded in agreement.
"Shining Armor," Celestia said, "did you ever wonder why had never invited you to The Grand Galloping Gala before?"
That made Shining pause and think. He had never been invited to the Gala before, had he? Even if he had, would he have noticed? Would he have gone? Probably not unless he was practically ordered by Celestia.
"...Because I probably would have been reading the whole time?" he finally answered, getting a giggle from pony and a snort from another.
"While I am aware that such was a possibility," Celestia responded, "that is not the primary reason. Every year, The Grand Galloping Gala tends to be bad." She looked around the table. "When I invited you and your friends, I was hoping that they would be able to make everything far more entertaining. Now, while the night may not have gone as intended, you have to admit that things did not turn out so bad for you and your friends."
Shining looked around at the others and felt himself start to smile. The gala had been pretty bad, but everypony seemed to be feeling better now that they were hanging out together. Things seemed to be pretty good now.
An idea suddenly came to him as he caught sight of a jukebox. Smiling, he moved over toward Spike and leaned in close.
"Hey, Spike," Shining whispered, "there's a jukebox over there, and I think we both know a certain white unicorn who would enjoy a dance." He then pointed at Rarity.
Spike stared at the white unicorn mare a moment before turning back toward Shining Armor.
"Do you really think so?"
Shining pulled out a bit and held it out to the young dragon.
"Doesn't hurt to ask."
Spike grinned and grabbed the coin. Excitedly he hopped off his seat and ran for the jukebox. After looking through the options, he finally made a selection and ran back toward the table.
A slow song began to play as Spike walked up to Rarity. He cleared his throat and took a deep breath.
"Rarity," he said, "would you care to dance?" He held a claw out to the mare.
"Aww," Rarity cooed at the adorable scene. "I would love to Spikey-wikey." She reached a hoof out and let him take a hold of it. The pair of them then moved to an open space on the floor.
"You know," Celestia said from beside Shining Armor, getting his attention, "I think I see another mare who wishes to dance." She then pointed.
"Her?" Shining asked. "You really think so?"
"Trust me," Celestia replied as she put a hoof on his shoulder and give a small wink.
Shining looked between the princess and the mare. Closing his eyes and took a deep breath. He got up and walked toward the mare. The stallion's throat and lips suddenly felt dry. What was wrong with him?
"Wou-" he started before his voice cracked. Clearing his throat, he tried again.
"Would you care to dance?"
"Eh," Rainbow Dash responded with a shrug, "why not?"
Shining Armor smiled as he walked out toward the open portion of the floor. He was not sure, but he could almost swear that Rainbow Dash was smiling as well.