Crystal's Wishes

by Crystal Wishes

The Royal Pain

Crystal went weak in the knees at the mere mention of his name. Prince Blueblood! A real live prince! She quickly raised a hoof to her mane to ensure it was still properly styled. Perhaps she could forgive her mother's self-guided actions if she became a princess! A giggle escaped her at the mere idea. For once, she almost wanted to even thank her mother for the opportunity.

As they approached the stallion, she went through a mental checklist. Dress still clean? A glance down confirmed that. Mane in place? She had already checked, but she felt it one more time to be certain. What about the lighting? It was natural sunlight, which was a little trickier to work with, but she tilted and lowered her head at the precise angle and height so that the light sparkled in her eyes without needing to squint. Lastly, how was her voice? There was only one way to find that out!

"Good afternoon, Prince Blueblood," Upper Crust said. Her forelegs curled underneath her as she bowed lower than Crystal previously thought possible. "We are positively honored to have an esteemed guest such as yourself at our garden party."

"Hmm, yes." Prince Blueblood surveyed them with only mild and brief interest.

Crystal bowed with all the grace her trembling knees could muster. She was a mere breath away from royalty! From where she was, she could reach out and touch him.

"This is my daughter, Crystal Wishes." Upper Crust straightened back up and gestured toward her. "I'm afraid I have matters to attend, but I'm sure my daughter can keep you company." As she turned to leave, she looked down at Crystal, her lips curled into a smirk.

Crystal hardly noticed her mother's look, what with her own eyes locked on the prince. She took a step closer to him and her heart began to beat faster. "Is everything to your satisfaction, Your Royal Highness?"

Blueblood lowered his gaze to her. "Is the only thing deemed fit to serve as a beverage that repugnant purple punch I see?" Without waiting for a response, he walked past her. "I'll have sparkling water."

"Of—Of course, sir." She blinked a few times and watched him leave before she broke into a near-canter.

Sparkling water? Where was she going to get that on short notice? She saw one of the castle servants walking across the courtyard. "Hello!" she called out as she hurried to him. "Hello, I'm sorry to bother you, but I am in need of a glass of sparkling water."

The servant raised his brow. "Excuse me, but—"

"It's for Prince Blueblood," she interrupted, a hint of desperation in her voice that she didn't quite intend, but seemed to work in her favor.

"Oh, I see," he said, his own voice tinged with distaste and flashed an exaggerated smile. "Of course. Wait right here."

Crystal tapped one hoof while she waited. The longer she was gone, the more opportunity some other mare had to swipe his attention! "Come on, come on," she muttered under her breath, glancing over her shoulder at the party.

The servant returned with a crystal chalice on a silver platter. The water inside the chalice bubbled happily. "Here you go, madam."

"Thank you ever so much!" She smiled and started to levitate the chalice, one hoof raised to sprint back to the party.

"Oh, no, no, no," the servant half-chided, half-chuckled. "Believe me, you will need the platter."

Crystal glanced between him and the platter, then raised it up from his hooves to hover underneath the chalice. "Oh—thank you."

He bowed his head. "Best of luck, madam." He turned sharply and trotted away.

Suspicion started to bubble around her excitement just like the sparkling water she carried back to the party. She had limited exposure to modern-day royalty despite living in Canterlot. When Princess Celestia addressed the public, she was always calm, cool, and well-spoken. In all honesty, not much was known about Prince Blueblood at all, other than he had a very distant and weak relation to Princess Platinum. He usually remained inside the castle and only attended the annual Gala.

Her heart had regained its normal pace by the time she found Blueblood in the sparse crowd. It was almost funny how different he seemed to her all at once: no longer were his eyes shining with charm, but instead clouded with self-importance, and his good looks dripped with the effort of servants he likely treated with contempt. She wondered if there was anything about him that didn't suddenly turn her stomach.

"Here is your sparkling water, sir," she said, the words rolling off her tongue as feathery as possible. "I hope it is to your liking."

Blueblood's horn lit as he took the chalice from her magical grip, along with the platter, which he turned on its side and raised to his eye level. As he sipped, he gazed at his reflection, a smile curling his lips. "It is quite—" He inclined his head one way, then another. "—refreshing."

Crystal swallowed a snide remark that almost got away from her. "Are you enjoying yourself, sir?"

The smile fell and he rolled his eyes. "Please, this event may be considered second to the Gala, but it is far from it." He took his gaze off his mirror-self long enough to survey the surroundings. He paused at the sight of the solo pianist providing the music for the evening. "What in Equestria is she doing?"

She looked over at the stage as well. The pegasus mare in front of the piano wore an elegant silver gown that contrasted with her black coat, her white mane tied up an intricate series of curls. Her looks were one thing, but the truly eye-catching part was that her hooves rested neatly in her lap while the tips of her primary flight feathers danced across the ivory-colored keys in almost impossible ways.

A sincere smile finally graced Crystal's tired face. "Oh, my mother found her. Her name is Musical Dreams, I believe. The way she plays is amazing, is it not?"

"I have never seen anything like it." His gaze flickered away from both the pianist and Crystal. "I wonder if she will play at the Gala! I will have to ask Aunt Celestia." Without seeming to remember she was even there, he started to walk away. "To have her talent showcased at this little gathering is quite a waste."

Crystal's smile twitched. Not even so much as a nod in her direction? A new emotion rumbled in her chest: irritation. Before it could boil to the point of saying something, her mother was by her side.

"He's leaving already, darling?" Upper Crust asked, watching the retreating stallion. "My, you really do need to go to finishing school, it seems."

The temperature escalated and it was all she could do to not yell the words she muttered through clenched teeth. "Mother, dear, perhaps you should have spent a little more time with him." Her brow knit, her lips pursed, and her eyes narrowed as she glared daggers at her mother. "He's an insufferable louse that even you wouldn't be able to stand for the sake of marrying into royalty."

Upper Crust gasped. Her mouth opened, then quickly shut as she thought better of her retort and instead walked forward. "I'm sure you're being over-critical, darling. I'll set things straight with that fine gentlestallion."

"Gentlestallion, my tail." Crystal rolled her eyes. "My hooves are crossed for your success." She made her way over to the buffet table and poured herself a glass of the supposedly repugnant punch. It was a little too sour for her liking, but it was more refreshing than nothing.

Her ear twitched at a vaguely familiar voice exclaiming her name much too close, but she didn't let her surprise show. She turned her head and smiled politely at Trenderhoof. "Oh, hello."

He returned her smile with a bright, beaming grin. The sincerity was charming. "I cannot thank you enough! This garden party has opened so many doors for me. I might begin my travels as soon as next week!" His muscles tensed and relaxed as excitement visibly coursed through him. "This is the start of my career, thanks to you!"

Crystal giggled and waved a dismissive hoof. "I am certain you would have found your way into this event one way or another." She stilled the hoof to offer it to him. "Nonetheless, congratulations, Trenderhoof. I wish you the best of luck."

In all honesty, she was truly happy for him, but she couldn't show too much excitement. She had to remain calm and cordial. There were far too many wandering eyes nearby just waiting to catch and spread the next juicy gossip, and it wasn't going to involve her.

However, her mother didn't seem to keep that in mind as she stormed across the garden toward them. Crystal was familiar with every practiced expression her mother was capable of maintaining and the one she was wearing was certainly not one of them. Her cheeks were puffed out and her ears were pinned back.

"Go away," Upper Crust practically hissed at Trenderhoof.

He gaped at her in surprise before a glare sent him nearly scurrying away with his tail between his legs. Her eyes turned back to Crystal and at their closeness, she could see tears in the very corners of her mother's eyes.

"I give up. I've tried everything I can to ensure your comfort in life but clearly, I don't know what's best for you!" She struggled to keep her voice low. "I just assumed you spurned that buffoon prince out of spite toward me. I was wrong. He—He—" A shiver ran down her spine. "As always, you were right. Darling—" The irritation in her voice washed away and she set a hoof on Crystal's shoulder. "I'm sorry."

Crystal just stared at her, wide-eyed. Around them, the party continued with spurious laughter, gossiping whispers, and gentle piano. However, she could hardly hear any of that, instead putting all of her focus on her mother.

"I just want to be certain that you find the happiness I found in your father," Upper Crust continued, sighing. "Will you at least promise me you will stay away from that swine Blueblood?"

Crystal nodded numbly. When was the last time her mother had been this open with her? No, the better question was: what the hay had Blueblood done to make her mother change her attitude so suddenly?

"That's a good girl." Her hoof moved to cup her daughter's chin and tilted her head up. "Now, smile, darling. Our audience is waiting."

Another emotionless nod of Crystal's head.

Upper Crust patted her chin before she turned and walked toward the nearest group. "My, what a lovely dress! Where ever did you…" Her voice faded into the background.

Crystal's hooves started to move of their own accord in the direction from which Upper Crust had arrived. It wasn't exactly accurate to say she was thinking "he'll pay for making my mother cry," but rather that she simply wanted to find out what he had said to upset her that much.

Finding him, however, proved more difficult than she originally thought. He stood out against the high-class commoners attending, so she should have spotted him easily, but it became apparent to her that he had stepped away from the party entirely. She rolled her eyes. He probably saw something reflective and chased his own handsome face.

While one ear passively listened to the nearby voices, the other swiveled, searching for anything out of the ordinary.

"Bluebie, stop it!" a squealing voice said a little too loudly somewhere to her left, then squeaked and mumbled something else.

Crystal raised one brow and turned her head in the direction of the voice. It was far from the party, located somewhere in the flora-laden part of the garden. Carefully, she walked with the lightest hoofsteps away from the open spaces and onto a narrow path through the bushes and flowers. A giggle jerked her head to the side and she stepped toward it, pushing a branch aside and gasping at what she saw.

Blueblood and a mare she could swear she recognized from somewhere were close. Very close. His muzzle was hardly an inch from hers. They seemed to be much too involved in each other to notice her nearby presence.

"Bluebie, you need to go back," the mare managed between giggles. "They're going to notice you're missing."

Blueblood pulled his head back and rolled his eyes. "Oh, please, those addle-minded gryphonbrains wouldn't notice their own hooves missing." A smile that made Crystal nearly swoon graced his lips. "Are you trying to imply you do not want to spend time with me, Raven?"

Raven. In an instant, Crystal figured out where she knew the mare from: Raven was the personal aide to Princess Celestia herself! Crystal did her very best not to gasp again. She was lucky enough that they didn't hear her the first time.

Raven covered her blushing face with both hooves. "Oh, you. Go back to your party." She dropped her hooves and pushed herself up with her hindlegs to place a kiss on his cheek. "I'll see you later—maybe."

He sighed dramatically. He started to walk away, saying over his shoulder, "Maybe indeed."

Crystal watched as Raven's lower lip quivered. The mare dropped down to sit on the ground, her gaze lowering.

"Oh, Raven," she muttered to herself, "what are you going to do?"

Now was the time to make her quiet exit and give the mare some privacy, though curiosity nagged the back of her mind. She took a careful, slow step backward. When Crystal let go of the branch she had held out of the way, it swung forward then back again to snap her in the face. She let out a startled cry, tripped on her dress, and fell to the ground.

Raven almost screamed at the sounds of unexpected company. She scrambled to her hooves and stared at Crystal with horror. "What did you see?!"

Crystal jumped up from her sprawled position. "Perhaps a bit more than I should have, but cross my heart, I won't tell anypony!"

Raven's expression did not remotely suggest belief in a spying stranger.

"I'm so sorry, but I just can't help myself." Crystal took a step forward. "Are you dating Prince Blueblood?!"

Whatever suspicions the mare had were momentarily dismissed by a rush of embarrassment, her cheeks turning bright red and gaze darting about. "I, well, I—"

Crystal stepped closer. "A princess's aide and a prince? It's so romantically avant-garde!" Her words and imagination began to run away with her faster than she could think things completely through. "I've never heard of it before! Is such a relationship even allowed? Do you have to keep it secret?"

Raven blinked a few times, slowly lowering her guard. Finally, she smiled, if a bit sadly. "I suppose I can't convince you it's not what it seems after that, and I think I would feel better if I could finally talk about it with somepony." She twiddled her hooves and continued in an even softer voice, "Yes, I am in a relationship with Prince Blueblood."

"Oh my gosh." Crystal quickly collected some nearby moss together in her magic and lowered herself onto it like a cat upon a silken pillow. "Tell me everything."