The petal garden was quite lovely on this day. Not just because of the various flowers and their colorful leavings scattered around, that would have been expected any day not outside winter (and Fluttershy had her suspicions about even that). No, there was a sense of grandeur in this place today, and yet it was not the offputting, cold grandeur of pomp and ceremony. Instead, it seemed that every flower watched the ponies with rapt attention, stamen and stigma pointing from the blankets arrayed in a circle to the two curved tables that hugged a central circular raised stage.
She wasn't entirely surprised at the small number of guests that Discord had invited--even after his reformation, the number of friends he made was rather small. She was, however, surprised to see that Tree Hugger had decided to match his slim pickings; three guests and a Giver for three guests and a Giver. Granted, Discord's guests consisted of three alicorns, in stark contrast to the three mares that Tree Hugger had invited, but she supposed that was to be expected. Tree Hugger's mother sat between Luna and Celestia, clearly torn between nervous awe and outright joy; on the other side of the stage Twilight was engaged in an intense discussion with the head of the Equestrian Society for the Preservation of Rare Creatures while another mare simply watched in amusement.
"You know," she murmured to Discord, "it's usually tradition to have each group of guests sit separately."
The draconequuis harrumphed. "That's a pony tradition. My kind have always believed in mixing groups--we are going to be family after all." He adjusted his bowtie. "Well... at least that's what I've heard, anyway. I couldn't actually ask any of them."
"My dear Fluttershy, have you ever seen another draconequuis?"
The pegasus held up a hoof, paused, and lowered it. "...now that you mention it, no."
"There's a reason for that," Discord said grimly. "One which is quite horrific, traumatic, and disturbing."
He stared into the distance for a moment.
And then he smirked. "Which is why I'm not going to be talking about it today. After all, this is supposed to be a happy time, isn't it?"
"Well, yes," Fluttershy allowed. "I just... if you ever need to talk to anypony, you can talk to me, you know that right?"
Discord nodded absently, scanning the skies. "Yes, yes, I'm well aware--ah, there's our master of ceremonies!"
"Hmm?" Fluttershy looked up and--yes, there was, indeed, a brownish figure descending from above, spiraling slowly stagewards. "Oh! Did you ask one of your friends to officiate?"
"Not precisely. I asked Smoozey to go looking for somebody in particular, someone who would know the old draconequuis traditions. And lo and behold, he delivered." Discord cleared his throat. "Now remember, you're supposed to lead me to the base of the stairs, but not walk up them."
Fluttershy rolled her eyes with an amused smile, taking Discord's talon and walking him forward. It was, to be honest, rather adorable to see him so nervous and detail oriented; it spoke volumes to how far he'd come since she first met him. The two of them arrived at the base of the stairs just as the brown figure landed on the stage--a strange batwinged biped, with bald hands and feet, a leonine tail, and a long pink-skinned face emerging from a thick brown mane.
"WHAT HO, FAIRRRRRRREST OF GUESTS! VERRRRRRRRRRILY DO I PRRRRRROCLAIM THAT TODAY! I, SCORRRRRRRRRPAN! HAVE BEEN GRRRRRRRRRANTED THE GRRRRRRRRREATEST OF HONORRRRRRRRS!"
Fluttershy's jaw dropped as she stared in utter shock.
Scorpan held one hand to Discord, and the other to the other side of the stage. "TODAY, TWO SOULS HAVE COME FORRRRRRRRTH! TODAY THEY SEEK TO INTERRRRRRRRRTWINE THEIR VERRRRRRRRY FATES! ARRRRRRRRRRRISE, SO THAT ALL MAY SEE THE GLORRRRRRIOUS BOND THAT HAS FORRRRRRRRRMED BETWEEN YOUR HEARRRRRRRRRRRTS!"
At his call, the draconequuis began to clamber up the stairs. Fluttershy shook herself and backed off, catching sight of a green earth pony moving to join the unicorn between the older alicorns as she herself quickly made her way to a seat next to Twilight. As she sat down, she couldn't help but smile, her fond gaze falling on the stage.
There was Discord, stepping up in his bowtie and what he had claimed was the traditional hat for a draconequuis groom--a strange five pointed thing with no less than eight long feathers and a tiny tree. And there was Tree Hugger, wearing her own floral crown, as well as some sort of necklace collar thing that swooped back across her shoulders like some great pair of macaw wings.
"...are those really traditional draconequuis marital outfits?" Twilight whispered to Fluttershy.
The pegasus shrugged. "Well, Discord said he couldn't actually ask any other draconequuis. I wouldn't be surprised if he was just messing with our heads."
"BEHOLD!" Scorpan bellowed. "TO MY RRRRRRRIGHT, DISCORRRRRRRRD! CHILD OF THE DRRRRRRRACONEQUUI! PRRRRRROCLAIM YOUR PRRRRRRROMISE TO THIS OTHER SOUL!"
Discord cleared his throat. "Well, let me see. Traditionally I'm supposed to love and cherish you till death do us part, in sickness and in health, yadda yadda yadda. Let's just take that as read. I think a much better vow to make is to ensure your life is interesting and long to the best of my capability, to support you in your endeavors, and to be always willing to lend an ear. Actually, you know what?" He reached up and popped off one of his ears, handing it to the mare. "Here, just take it."
"Thanks, bro." Tree Hugger took the offered ear and carefully put it behind her own, a breezy smile on her face. "I'll treasure it for, like, ever."
"...okay, now I know he's messing with us," Twilight grumbled.
"Actually, it is a tradition to exchange body parts," Fluttershy murmured. "It was one of the few things that Discord was absolutely sure about."
"NOW, TO MY LEFT! TRRRRRRRREE HUGGER, CHILD OF THE EARRRRRRRRRRRRTH PONY! PRRRRRRRRROCLAIM YOUR PRRRRRRRRROMISE TO THIS OTHER SOUL!"
"So, I guess I'm going to love and cherish you, in sickness and in health, until my mortal frame releases my aura into the greater universe? Oh, also. I'm going to encourage your artistic endeavors, try my best to help you find your balance, and, you know, just generally be there to help out when I can." Tree Hugger reached up to her mane, untying a well-hidden knot, and held out a particularly long dreadlock to Discord. "So, can you take this as a symbol of my impact upon the universe and your life?"
"Absolutely." Discord took the thick bundle of hair and tied it around his neck. "I do so like things that remind me of things I like. And also tautology."
"I'm surprised she's going along with this," Twilight murmured.
"She was the one that suggested this whole thing."
Fluttershy shrugged. "That's what Discord told me."
"YOU HAVE SEEN THESE TWO PRRRRRRRRRROCLAIM THEIR PRRRRRRRRRROMISE TO EACH OTHER! NOW, BY THE AUTHORRRRRRRRITY GRRRRRRANTED TO ME BY THE RRRRRRRRULERRRRRRRRRS OF THE LAND, I DO PRRRRRRRRROUNOUNCE THE FATES OF THESE SOULS TO BE! AS! ONE! LET THE CELEBRRRRRRRRATION COMMENCE!"
Discord and Tree Hugger kissed to the cheers and clapping of the assembled party. Then Discord picked Tree Hugger up, tossed her over his shoulder, and hopped down to the ground. The mare took this completely in stride, sliding down his back and casually stepping off his tail.
"Well, that was fun," Discord said.
"Very much so," Tree Hugger agreed.
Fluttershy smiled as she trotted up to them. "Congratulations, you two."
"Thank you," Discord replied. "Actually, thank you quite a bit. We would never have met if it weren't for you."
"Oh, I... it wasn't anything, really." The pegasus ran her hoof through her mane. "I mean, I just thought to invite Tree Hugger to the gala because... well... I don't actually remember why, come to think of it."
"It was probably the flow of fate binding me to my future through my past," Tree Hugger offered. "It happens."
Twilight walked up to the pair and cleared her throat. "If I may ask, what exactly motivated you to... well, get married? Not that I don't think you love each other, I'm just surprised how quickly you decided to tie the knot."
"Oh, me and Discord started sharing some intense vibes, you know? Our auras resonate pretty deeply after we hang around each other enough. But we can't exist in a void outside the realm of others... well, I can't, he might be able to. And ponies would notice us, like, totally getting each other in a way that generally reflects harmonizing and they'd start asking when we'd write our own song. But the way I figure it, what goes on between me and my drakkyeqky is a song that should keep to only those who sing it. I can't stop ponies from asking, though, so I asked Discord if we could play a little tune now so they don't ask for an orchestra later, you know?"
Fluttershy tilted her head, parsing Tree Hugger's rambling. "So... you're saying that you got married... so ponies wouldn't ask when you were getting married?"
"...what," said Twilight.
"Oh come now, Twilight." Discord adjusted the dreadlock around his neck. "I'm doing something that's actually sensible for once in my life. Shouldn't you be happy about that?"
"I--you--that's not how--you're supposed to build up a relationship!" Twilight finally managed. "I mean, getting married just for the sake of marriage--this is, this is meant to be a celebration of your devotion to each other!"
"Well, we are devoted to each other," Discord pointed out. "And we do intend to build up a relationship. Nopony ever said we couldn't get married before any of that happened, though, and honestly dear Embrace had a point. Can you imagine how many reporters would want to get the scoop on the love life of a devilishly handsome draconequuis?"
"Well," Fluttershy interjected, "whatever the reason, I want to wish you a long and happy life together."
Tree Hugger looked up at Discord, a gentle but genuine smile spreading across her face. "Oh believe me, we will."
Discord looked down at her, returning her smile with a crooked grin. "What crazy scheme are you concocting now?"
"Oh, I kinda hid a gift for you in all the other wedding presents."
With a gleeful clap, her new husband bounded over a surprised Celestia and Luna, digging through the collection of gifts until he found one long and wide one. "From us, to us!" he read out loud.
"Careful with the wrapping!" Tree Hugger called. "They're kinda delicate!"
Discord rolled his eyes, raising his talons.... and then snapping them, vanishing the wrapping away. He gasped. "This... this is the portrait of you I painted... and, oh, what's this behind it?"
He slid another painting out from the one of Tree Hugger. To Fluttershy, it was a strange shape of swirls on a black background. But from the way Discord suddenly stopped and stared at it, it was obviously very important.
Tree Hugger trotted up to him. "You did one for me. Fair's fair."
"...this is really--?"
"Hmmm." Discord tilted his head. "Well. I never knew that I could look so.... wonderfully diverse."
"Yeah, but it's kind of still, you know. Now, if you picture it moving, it's a lot more realistic..."
Fluttershy shook her head as the two of them talked. Maybe this wedding didn't make sense to her, but if Tree Hugger and Discord got something out of it, that was what mattered. And she couldn't help but smile at the way they kept together, even when talking to the mare's parents, or convincing Scorpan to break out some of his mead.
Looking at the way they just... fit, somehow... it was just magical.