"This is the worst possible thing, ever!" Raven exclaimed in an uncharacteristically dramatic, diva-like way. She buried her face in her hooves. "How did we not foresee this happening?!"
Crystal winced. "I-I'm sorry, I forgot that some flowers are season-dependent!"
Raven raised her head to glare at her. "I had never even considered a bird-of-paradise until you brought it up!"
"I'm sorry, Raven..." Crystal took a small step back. "There are a lot of other lovely flowers, though! L-like, well, this, here." She gestured randomly, then paused when she followed the direction of her own hoof to a bouquet of odd, ball-like silver brunias. "Okay, perhaps not this, but—"
"No, now that you showed me some sample bouquets, that's what I want. But now they have to be put on special order from some greenhouse in who knows where because they're not in season." She frowned and loomed over Crystal. "Do you know what special order means?"
Crystal gulped. "Extra...extra costs?"
Raven threw her hooves in the air and exclaimed, "Exactly! I have a tight budget and a tight schedule, neither of which coordinate well with special orders!"
The florist, Scarlet Begonia, stood off to the side safely out of danger, but tripped over a verbal mine when she muttered just loud enough to be heard, "Great, another bridezilla..."
"What?!" Raven's ears turned before her head and she shot the florist a dirty look. "How dare you, I—" She choked. Slowly, she looked back at Crystal. "... am completely blowing this out of proportion, aren't I."
Crystal ducked her head but smiled. "No offense, but yes, you are."
Raven walked over to a chair and slumped into it, her hooves raising to rub her temples. "I'm sorry. I just don't understand why nothing is going according to plan. The dress is backordered, the flowers are out of season, the shoes I liked aren't available in a color that matches the dress..." She heaved a great sigh. "I just want this to be perfect."
Crystal smiled, sat down beside her, and put a foreleg around the other's shoulders. "It will be. I promise. Maybe we just need to take this"—her magic grabbed the schedule from where it sat on the table—"and do this." She tossed it to the far side of the room. The florist huffed in protest, but they paid her no mind.
Raven stared at where the small planner had landed, a small frown on her lips. "You know," she finally said, "there is more in there than just the wedding schedule."
"You don't need any of it!" Crystal pulled her closer. "You are a strong, independent mare that doesn't need a schedule to tell her what to do!"
"Perhaps not, but Princess Celestia would likely be disappointed if I couldn't tell her when her meetings were." Raven straightened her glasses in an attempt to distract from her small grin. "You don't want to be the one who causes her to be late for an important dignitary meeting, do you?"
Crystal's enthusiasm deflated as her horn lit up to retrieve the planner. "Fine, perhaps you're a mostly independent mare who needs some of this schedule to remind her what to do."
Raven took the book out of the air and held it close to her chest. "Then what, you expect me to just... wing it?" Crystal nodded, and she rolled her eyes. "I never wing it."
"Flank on fire."
Raven blinked. "Excuse me?"
Crystal giggled and prodded her shoulder. "Liar, liar, flank on fire. What did you do during the changeling attack?"
"The changeling attack?" Raven frowned briefly, then smiled. "It interrupted the whole castle's flow entirely, so I had to run around trying to keep things in some semblance of order. It wasn't until three days later that things got back on track."
"There you go, then." Crystal nodded. "For the next few months, your wedding is a changeling attack."
Raven frowned again, but this time it was marked clearly as playful by the small snort that accompanied it. "Thank you so very much for that comforting image."
"Excuse me," Scarlet Begonia interrupted, "but I am going to continue following my schedule, if you please, and your appointment time is almost up. What flowers are you ordering?"
Raven's mouth opened and shut a few times before she sputtered, "Wh-white roses!"
Scarlet flashed a plastic smile before she looked down at a sheet to make a note. "White roses. Very nice. Okay, thank you, have a nice day." She waved a hoof to usher them along.
Crystal slipped out of her seat and marched to the front desk. "Hi."
Scarlet glanced up at her. "Yes?"
"I understand that you are so very busy, but need I remind you that it is we who are paying you?" She smiled sweetly. "I hate to point that out, but it seems you've forgotten that."
Scarlet's expression remained unfazed. "Need I remind you that there are other florists and you can kindly take your business elsewhere?"
Crystal hedged a moment. She thought to look back and gauge Raven's expression, but instead held her ground and raised her nose. "Then we will. Come along, Raven. There are indeed other florists in Canterlot."
As they walked out, Raven hissed, "There may be others, but Scarlet Begonia is the best floral arranger in all of Canterlot! Do you know how long it took me to book an appointment?!"
Crystal shrugged and kept walking. "Oh well."
"Oh well? Oh well?!" Raven cried in an exasperated tone. "You just fired her! For what, being rude? Need I remind you we are in Canterlot?"
"Why should that be an excuse?" Crystal glanced at her with a small frown. "I'm not rude. You're not rude... all the time." The frown twitched into a grin.
Raven huffed and puffed while they walked toward the castle, then finally grumbled, "Fine, but it's on your plate to find a new, good florist now. And fast."
Crystal pranced on the tips of her hooves. "Of course! Don't worry, I already have just the florist in mind." When they came to an intersection, she stopped and said, "I'll go talk to her right now, if I can remember where her shop is."
Raven poked her with a menacing hoof. "Next time, consult me before firing somepony, all right?"
"All right, sure, of course," she replied quickly and almost evasively as she turned away. "Have a good day at work!"
"Crystal!" Raven yelled after her, but realizing she was being ignored, she stomped a hoof, grumbled, and stormed her way back to the castle.
Crystal hummed to herself while she walked along the cobblestone streets, squinting and frowning as she traipsed the edges of her memories. Somewhere, there was a flower shop with a very sweet florist, and Crystal intended to find her.
She retracted her steps from what little she could remember; she headed to Canterlot High and, upon reaching the gates, turned right back around to navigate the way toward Looney Lanes. As luck—or logic—would have it, she had hardly made it three blocks before she spotted what she was after.
"Hello!" she chimed just as a bell chimed to announce her arrival when she walked in through the door.
A light green mare squeaked from behind the counter and clamped a hoof over her mouth in embarrassment. "H-hello," she responded quietly.
Crystal smiled, approaching the mare. "Do you provide flower arrangements for weddings?"
Leafy Roots nodded. "Yes, I do, miss."
"Perfect. I would like to place an order, then." Crystal's smile widened.
Crystal sighed as she walked into Café au Lait, the familiar smell of coffee enveloping her like a warm hug. The real treat, however, were the subtle undertones of herbal tea that lingered underneath. She sat at her usual seat in the corner, took a notebook out of her bag, and opened it up to where she had left off.
"Let's see," she muttered under her breath. "Stoutheart needs to... Needs to..." The quill dropped out of the air when a menu was shoved into her face.
"Hi, welcome to Café au Lait," a monotonous voice said with complete disinterest. Crystal looked up to see Rossby staring down at her, holding out a menu. He frowned, glanced around, then said, "Just because we had a moment where you forgave me, or whatever, doesn't mean we're friends, but it doesn't mean you have to avoid me, either."
"Huh?" Crystal blinked a few times. "What?"
Rossby pushed the menu closer to her. "You're avoiding me."
Crystal returned his frown. "I am doing no such thing."
"You're not?" Rossby paused, his frown lightening to a straight line. "But it's been a month since I've seen you here. Or at the spa. Or at the grocery store. Or—"
"I get the point," she interrupted. "But I'm not avoiding you. In fact, I said 'hello' when you came by Runic's shop to work the register."
"And then you left as quickly as you could," he retorted almost bitterly.
Crystal held up a hoof and rubbed her temple with the other. "Are you actually upset, or are you just being contrary?"
Rossby pulled the menu back to himself. "Chai it is, then." He turned and walked away, ignoring her when she called after him.
"I swear," she muttered as she lowered her gaze to her writing, "stallions are impossible."
Equally impossible was her muse. The impending alone time with Silent Knight should have thrilled the fickle thing, but it was completely silent instead. All she could think about was Silent Knight, not Stoutheart. She sighed again for the—
"That's the third one," Rossby commented when he returned, setting a cup of tea in front of her. He glanced at her over the top of his glasses. "Here." He placed a cookie beside the teacup. "On the house." There was an awkward pause before he added, "You know, stress really ages a pony."
Crystal furrowed her brow and pursed her lips. "Are you saying I look old?"
Rossby simply shrugged.
Crystal's magic snapped up the cookie and she took an irritated bite. It was a little dry and crumbly, especially when she was accustomed to the ones Pepper Ridge made, but it was decent enough for free. "What's your point?"
Rossby released an exaggerated, drawn-out sigh and looked directly at her as he said, "We're not friends, but you can still, you know, talk. Or something. You know, anything that's not avoiding me like the plague?"
"Fine." The cookie dropped out of the pink aura and onto a napkin. She stared up at him, steepling her hooves. "I really like a stallion, and he's all I can think about, which would normally be a good thing, but in this circumstance, it's an undesired distraction."
Rossby's nose scrunched up. "Sorry, but I don't like you like that." He paused, then amended, "It's nothing personal, of course. I just don't."
"Not you!" Despite her light irritation, she laughed. "Why would I like you?"
"I don't know. Why wouldn't you?" He shrugged. "Isn't it a common trope to go from hate to love?"
She sputtered. "But you're—I mean, you're—"
"Yes?" He raised one brow.
"Oh, forget it!" She shook her head and raised the cookie back up. "Thank you, but I think I'll handle this myself."
Rossby shrugged again. "All right. Good talk. We should not do this again sometime." He turned away to tend to other customers in the cafe.
Crystal watched him a moment before she smiled. "What an odd cookie," she said, looking down at the partially-eaten sweet, "don't you think?"
It dropped a few crumbs on the table.
She giggled, then abruptly stopped, her expression going blank. "Well, now I can't eat you." She returned it to its napkin bed. "I really shouldn't talk to my food. Or myself." She drew a hoof over her lips, rolled her eyes, and focused her attention on the writing dilemma at hoof.
She outlined a few chapters by the time Velvet showed up and sat across from her, chiming, "Sorry we're late!" She smiled. "How's the writing going?"
"It's not," Crystal grumbled and looked up, then jumped in surprise. "Wait, we?"
"Hi, Crystal," Horsey said from off to the side, smiling bashfully. "Sorry to show up without writing first, but it's really important. I... I, um..."
"She's getting married!" Velvet threw her hooves in the air. "Savvy proposed!"
Crystal gasped and glanced between them, Velvet grinning and Horsey blushing. "Really!?" Horsey nodded, and she squealed, "Ohmygosh!"
Horsey walked over to sit down, her ears folded back as she looked at Crystal. "I'm sorry."
Crystal's eyes widened. "Why the hay are you sorry? Horsey, this is wonderful news!"
"Getting married before you seems, I don't know..." She twiddled her hooves. "You're not mad?"
"Oh, I'm immensely envious of you, but I'll get over it." Crystal giggled and wrapped her forelegs around the other to pull her in for a tight hug. "Currently I'm just very, very happy for you!"
Horsey finally giggled and her smile returned. "I'm so relieved to hear that. I mean, when he proposed, the only thing I was thinking about was how happy I was, but then, I started to think about you and how you might react. I've been dreading telling you."
With a heavy but playful sigh, Crystal shook her head. "Oh, Horsey, we've been over this before. I still believe that since you had the courage and strength to chase your stallion down, you've earned the right to have all the happiness in Equestria. And I wish nothing less for you."
Velvet drummed on the table with both hooves. "So, when's the date?"
"There isn't one, yet." Horsey smiled softly. "He only proposed yesterday, so we haven't really planned much of anything. It will be in Ponyville, though."
"Ponyville?" Velvet and Crystal asked together, giggled at the simultaneous response, then resumed a mote of seriousness.
"Why not Prance?" Crystal pressed.
Horsey sighed. Her gaze fell to the table. "I knew you would ask that. I don't know, I just, I like Ponyville. Prance is beautiful, but it's not home for me or Sav. He and his brother moved away from Prance when they were young, so it just seems right to wed where it would feel most comfortable."
Crystal sighed as well, though it was more wistful. "But I wanted an excuse to go to Prance..."
"Th-there's something more pressing that I wanted to talk about." Horsey's ears pinned back. "We're all friends, right? The three of us?" She didn't look up from the table.
"Of course," Velvet said, putting a hoof on hers.
"Absolutely," Crystal agreed.
Horsey clenched her eyes shut and said as quickly as she could, "You're both very important to me, but Sav is only going to have one best stallion, and his family is very traditional, so having two mares of honor might be strange, and—"
"It's fine, really," Crystal interrupted. "You and Velvet have always been closer."
Horsey looked up at her with tears glossing over her eyes. "I don't like that you think that, though! Yes, I was back then, but both of you are my best friends now." She sniffled and dropped her head back down.
"Then make Crystal your mare of honor," Velvet said, gesturing at the mare in question. "She knows a lot more about being one, and weddings, and all that. I'd probably just be asking her for advice all the time, anyway." She grinned. "Besides, she didn't get the title in Raven's wedding."
Horsey rubbed at her eyes with both hooves, then looked at Velvet. "You won't be offended?"
Velvet quickly shook her head. "No, no, not at all. I'm better at standing around in a dress and looking pretty than having to coordinate the flowers with the button ears."
"Boutonnières, " Crystal corrected, laughing.
"Exactly my point." Velvet grinned. "I think we've reached an amicable conclusion, then?" The other two nodded and she clapped her hooves. "Good! It's settled. I don't have to do anything! Yay!" She pumped a victorious hoof into the air.
Horsey let out a sigh of relief. "I'm so glad neither of you are mad."
Velvet leaned in, her grin widening as she asked, "So, will the reception be at Haut-Savoir?"
"Oh, no." Horsey shook her head. "Sav said that'd look too cheap, and he..." She flushed and giggled. "He said this isn't the kind of thing to be cheap on."
"Aww, how sweet," Velvet cooed.
Crystal watched the two while a smile played with her lips. Her magic raised her notebook and quill to scribble down one final thought: Always a bridesmare... She sighed, closed the cover, and returned her attention to her excited friends.