• Published 13th Oct 2011
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To Be a Better Stallion - Autumn Wind



Blueblood works hard to improve in order to regain Rarity's affections.

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Chapter the Sixth - Of Memories and Fantasies

"... I had no choice but to call him out. ‘Gruel?’ I said, ‘Certainly you must be deranged.’”

The dining room of La Rose Dorée was rather empty this morning, Blueblood being the only customer present. Few ponies ever came to the restaurant, and only a handful of those made a regular habit of it. Still, thanks to catering to the richest ponies of the town, the restaurant was more than successful. As such, only two staff members were currently in the restaurant: The chef, Cordon Bleu, and the main waitress and connoisseuse, Crystal Château, both unicorns.

With little to do, Crystal had taken to chatting with the prince, who had quickly become a regular customer. Blueblood had taken every single meal of his at La Rose Dorée since his arrival in Ponyville, each time trying a different item off the menu. This, in turn, had led to the two of them becoming somewhat acquainted.

“Alors, Monsieur Blueblood, how are you finding our little town of Ponyville?”

It was actually hearing her voice, distinguished and colored with a slight Percheron accent, that had first attracted Blueblood’s attention to the restaurant. He had always had a soft spot for Percheron haute cuisine, and La Rose Dorée had been more than successful at catering to that desire.

“I must say, it is slowly growing on me. Of course, I somewhat miss the luxuries of my home in Canterlot, but a small town such as this one does have its charms. I may just make plans to come back for a true vacation at a later date.”

Crystal gave a warm smile.

“We’d be more than glad to have you again.”

A bell chimed, indicating the arrival of new customers and startling the waitress.

“Oh! Off I go. Enjoy your breakfeast, Prince Blueblood.”

Briskly trotting over to the incoming customers, Crystal left Blueblood with his order and his bill, so that he could finish eating and pay at his leisure. When she next came by his table, he had finished up and left sufficient bits to cover the meal, as well a copious tip.

With each passing day, his tips were becoming more and more generous.

~~~

The walk to the library turned out to be short and uneventful. As usual, Prince Blueblood flashed a few smiles to mares attracted by his dashing looks, but he paid them little attention. His heart was taken, and besides, he was out of their leagues.

A library built inside a tree? These ponies sure have strange ideas when it comes to architecture.

The sudden approach of a noisy mass startled Blueblood. Coming from the distance, he could hear the giggles of several foals, the pattering of many small hooves, and the buzz of a young pegasus’ rapid wingbeats. The market was usually noisy in the late morning, but never as much as this.

Prince Blueblood watched in bewilderment as the Cutie Mark Crusaders came speeding by on their scooter and wagon, followed by a flock of a dozen of giggling, cheerful foals. He chuckled to himself at the sight, proud to have been an inspiration.

Finally, Blueblood found himself at the library’s doorstep. He brought a hoof up to the door and knocked three times. Voices rang out from the inside.

“Spike! Can you get the door?”

“I’m on it, Twilight!”

Spike? Twilight? I’m sure I’ve heard these names before...

The door to the library swung open, revealing a young dragon assistant the likes of whom Prince Blueblood had met a few times. Surprised to see such a creature here, the prince couldn’t help but look Spike over a few times.

Of course! Twilight Sparkle from Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns and her assistant, Spike!

“Uh... hi? Can we help you?”

“Oh! Pardon my distraction. I was looking to consult a book on the noble lines of Canterlot genealogy, and someone recommended I come here. If I’m not mistaken, you would be Spike, assistant to Lady Twilight Sparkle of Canterlot, am I wrong?”

The young dragon blinked a few times, frowning, before calling out.

“Twilight, I think you might want to handle this one yourself.”

Without any further words, he walked off in a huff, heading up the library stairs and leaving the prince alone at the door. Halfway up, he motioned to his eyes and then to Blueblood, as if to say “I’m watching you,” before vanishing into the upper level.

Blueblood remained at the door, looking right to left and wondering whether or not he should come in, until he was greeted by a peculiar sound.

“Who?”

Startled, the prince looked around, trying to find his questioner. Finally, a small brown figure caught his eye. An owl was perched on the top of the door, looking down at him.

“Pardon me?”

“Who?”

“That’s not a very polite way of asking, is it?”

“Who?”

“Oh, fine. I am Prince Blueblood.”

“Who?”

“Prince Blueblood of Canterlot.”

“Who?”

“Prince. Blueblood.”

“Who?”

“... Celestia’s nephew?”

“Who?”

The prince stamped a hoof against the library’s doorstep.

“How have you not heard of me? Everypony’s heard of me!”

“Who?”

“I just told you! Prince Blueblood of Canterlot! Head of House Blueblood! Honorary nephew of Princess Celestia! Proprietor of Quill and Sofa International Incorporated, Hammer Hoof Hardware Limited and Hayfries n’ Tulips Incorporated! I was twice elected most desirable bachelor in Equestria! I am a master of three classical schools of horn fencing, and the Equestrian champion of the stallions’ division in Longue Corne! Equestrian Dreams Magazine gave me the Most Charming Smile Award for eight consecutive years! I was top of my class at Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns and Class President in magic kindergarten! I swear, for all the manure in the world! How can you possibly not know my name?”

“Who?”

Blueblood could feel himself nearly catch fire, until the sound of a pony’s voice startled him.

“Prince Blueblood, I wasn’t expecting you to drop by! I see you’ve met Owlowiscious already.”

As Twilight Sparkle came into view, his attention turned to her. He paused for a moment, surprised. He hadn’t expected the awkward filly he’d known in school to have grown into such a pretty mare.

“Lady Sparkle, it has been quite a long time, has it not?”

Prince Blueblood bowed politely, and Twilight returned the gesture. Though it had been nearly a year since she had left Canterlot, the gestures of nobility had been ingrained in her from a very young age. Though her parents and herself were by no means royalty, her status as the Princess’s protégée had conferred to Twilight a position of noblesse, and thus, the title of Lady. In turn, this meant that she was expected to act properly in all matters relating to the courts of Canterlot.

“It certainly has. I’ve got to admit I was hoping for you to drop by. There are a few things I’d been meaning to ask you. May I ask what brings you to the library?”

“Certainly. I was hoping to borrow a book, but it would be no problem for me to stay and talk for a while.”

Twilight turned her head towards the back of the library.

“Spike! Could you prepare some tea? Thanks!”

~~~

“Blueblood, do you remember Professor Solaris?”

Blueblood rose from his seat, chuckling under his breath, and assumed a theatrical, grandiose posture.

“Third nebula left of Orion, the skies tell a shining story!”



Feeling a rush of giggling coming over her, Twilight matched the gesture, declaring loudly for all to hear.

“Fifteen stars north, fifteen stars east, a comet flies straight to glory!”

The two of them laughed for a moment, as Spike gawked in incomprehension.

“Huh?”

“Oh! Right. You were too young to remember. Professor Solaris was one of our teachers back at school. His enthusiasm was... something else entirely.”

Spike gave a nervous laugh. Noticing that the prince’s attention had drifted to scanning the library’s history section from his seat, he leaned in close to Twilight and frowned before whispering to her.

“Twilight, what are you doing? This is Prince Blueblood, remember? Rarity’s Prince Charmless! How can you be so nice to him?”

Twilight gave the young dragon a stern look, occasionally glancing at the prince to make sure he wouldn’t notice.

“Spike, Prince Blueblood is an old friend of mine, and he’s making an effort to redeem himself. Rarity wants us to give him a chance, and that includes you. I know you don’t like him, but be respectful.”

Her words were a stern admonishment, almost a hiss.

Spike sighed in exasperation.

“Fine.”

Twilight could only offer an apologetic smile and a quick but affectionate nuzzle to the young dragon before the prince snapped back to attention.

“I promise I’ll make it up to you later.”

After a few more moments of searching quietly, Blueblood zeroed in on a familiar book’s spine amongst many others in the “History and Genealogy” section.

“Lady Twilight, I hope you won’t mind if I borrow a book, yes?”

Twilight beamed at the question, marvelling at the thoughts of her precious books being useful to a pony.

“Sure, go right ahead!”

“Thank you oh-so-very much!”

The book leapt off the shelf and landed on the table, swerving around Prince Blueblood’s teacup and slowly coming to a stop in front of him in a dexterous display of levitation magic. Intrigued, Twilight read the title of the tome her guest had selected.

House Majesty and House Blueblood: History and Genealogy - A Compilation of Works by Duke Silver Majesty XVII

Blueblood magically opened the book, flipping through a few pages in search of a specific entry.

Spike rolled his eyes at the notion.

“Leave it to the prince to pick a book about himself and his family.”

Twilight shot the young dragon an annoyed yet amused glare, unable to decide whether she should laugh or scold him. Finally, she had no choice.

“Spike! Be respectful!”

Prince Blueblood simply chuckled, thinking to himself that only two or three days ago, he would have unloaded a vicious verbal assault on the hatchling.

“No, no, it’s quite alright. It does look rather silly of me. However, young dragon, you’d be surprised how much there is to learn from the past. It is sad that I myself only learned that lesson yesterday; perhaps I could have avoided this dramedy my life has recently become had I known this earlier. If it’s alright with you, Lady Twilight, I’d like to borrow this book for a day or two. Some in-depth consultation is in order, and I would enjoy being able to consult it in my downtime.”

Twilight nodded in full understanding.

“Of course, no problem at all. Spike, please add it to the library records.”

Spike nodded, thankful for the occasion to get away from his rival, mumbling under his breath as he walked downstairs and shut the door to the library’s basement behind him.

“He’s up to something! I’m sure of it! Don’t you worry, my dear Rarity! I swear this clown’s empty charms won’t trouble you more than they already have!”

Having recorded the book checkout, Spike headed back upstairs, but opted not to enter the main room just yet. Confident that he wouldn’t be seen, he peeked out from behind the door frame and eavesdropped on Twilight and Blueblood’s conversation.

“... I don’t get it, Prince Blueblood. Back at school, you were so nice, and now, you’re well-educated and respectful. Just what happened at the gala with you and Rarity?”

Blueblood’s head lowered. He had strongly hoped not to have to approach the subject, but since the cat was now out of the bag, he relented.

“I must admit, by now, I am asking myself the same question. I can’t say I recall changing all that much, yet events around me these past weeks have proven to me that I definitely have. I’ve mostly managed to drop that haughty facade I used to carry, and yet another problem plagues me. I often find myself having to consciously act polite against my own temperamental nature. ‘He wears a mask and his muzzle grows to fit it,’ as Oatwell so cleverly put it.”

Twilight smiled at the reference.

“He was a wise stallion, for sure.”

An awkward silence soon took over the library, as the two searched for words, until a suddenly more somber Twilight finally took it upon herself to speak out.

“Blueblood, you were really nice back in school, and I’m really not sure what happened these last few years, but... when you acted like you did to Rarity, it really hurt her. I’d never seen a pony look so miserable before.”

Twilight’s words struck home, leaving Blueblood to look down at the table.

Did... did I truly hurt her so much? Oh dear...

Seeing that the prince had nothing to say for himself, Twilight continued.

“I’ve seen your good sides before, I know you can turn things around, and I trust you. Just... please, be very careful around Rarity. I’d really hate to see her devastated again because you went and trampled all over her a second time.”

Lowering his empty teacup onto the table, Prince Blueblood nodded his head politely.

“I promise, Lady Sparkle. Never again will this stallion act so uncouth. My past actions are objects of shame to me, and I have made it a point of honor to put them behind me and recover a more proper and noble image.”

Twilight offered the prince an encouraging smile.

“In that case, I wish you the best of successes to turn things around.”

Prince Blueblood politely bowed. A faint smile found its way through the prince’s gloomy expression, thanks to Twilight’s encouragement.

“Thank you very much for these kind words, Lady Sparkle. It was a pleasure meeting you again, but I fear I have some concerns to attend to.”

Twilight rose from her cushion, bowing in turn.

“Feel free to drop by anytime; my door is always open to a well-read pony like you. Also, please give my regards to the Princess.”

Prince Blueblood followed suit and stood up, the book levitating itself into his travel bag. As he headed for the door, he turned to Twilight and offered a charming smile.

“Thank you for the invitation; I’ll be sure to find some time. I’ll make sure to tell Celestia how proper and smart a lady her student has become.”

Twilight barely managed to stutter a simple salutation through her blushing. The compliment had hit home.

As the prince trotted away from the library, pondering what kind of discoveries he would make from a closer inspection of the borrowed book, he failed to realise that he was being followed by a bush with strange green thorns and a purple tail.

“A two-faced flatterer, that’s what he is. I’ll catch you red-hoofed yet, Blueblood. No fake charmer can get past this dragon’s keen senses! Don’t you worry, Rarity, I’ll make sure this... uh... how would she say it... ruffian! I’ll make sure this ruffian doesn’t disgrace you again!”

~~~

Not long after leaving the library, Blueblood was walking through Ponyville’s central park on the way back to his hotel room. By then, the desire to open up that book and read was burning him up from the inside, but first, he felt the need to wind down from the emotional reunion with his old classmate.

As he strolled across the gravel path, he slowly became aware of the unusual scenes around him. Foals running around and playing wildly, a musician stallion delighting a group of mares with his music, and a unicorn struggling to maintain a strange sitting position, much to her mate’s amusement. Unlike orderly, stuffy Canterlot, the ponies of Ponyville clearly had no problem having fun even if it made them look silly. It was all different from home, and yet it felt friendly. He didn’t feel like an outcast, even though he was so different. Here, he wasn’t Prince Blueblood, he was just Blueblood the potential friend. It was refreshing.

Perhaps I ought to come by this town every once in a while from now on, even if this all doesn’t work out.

He levitated the book out of his bag and up to his eye level, pondering to himself as he walked.

How did I never think to look into this? It is quite unbecoming of a stallion such as I not to have looked into his line before. As proud as I am of being head of House Blueblood, it feels rather silly of me.

But then, Mother has told me so much about Father. How he just up and left one day, abandoning his own kin; he was an awful stallion, unworthy of his name, so she said. I trusted her blindly for so long, but...

Prince Blueblood’s thoughts went silent, replaced by pure doubt. Over the last few days, he had discovered that his mother had been wrong on many things. What it meant to lead, how his behavior really appeared, so many things he had thought true had only led to his misery. Could she also be wrong about Father? He would soon have his answer.

The prince settled down on an empty park bench, unable to wait any longer. He opened up the book in front of him, quickly riffling through the pages.

“Now, let’s see... House Blueblood... direct descendants of Princess Celestia, branched off from the older House Majesty when Duke Blueblood the First was granted some land by Princess Celestia...”

He fanned ahead, looking for something more specific.

“Prince Blueblood the Fifth. Hmm, they have an entry about me. Interesting. Son of Duke Blueblood the Fourth and Précieuse... The title of Prince as granted to foals personally godmothered by Princess Celestia... Okay, nothing I didn’t know here.”

Prince Blueblood turned back a few pages.

“Ah! Here we are. Duke Blueblood the Fourth. Son of Duke Blueblood the Third, obviously. Born in Canterlot on the year of... okay, deceased...”

Prince Blueblood’s jaw dropped as the next words sunk into his mind.

“Died defending Canterlot from an invasion? Personal honor guard of Celestia herself? Mother! You hid this all from me?”

Suddenly, it was all clear. Her near smothering. Her panicked reaction when he wanted to try out for the guard. Those times when he had caught her crying at night over Father’s picture. Her insistence that he always stay at her side. It all made sense now.

She was afraid that she would lose her son like she had lost her husband. It could only be that. But... why the spankings? Why all the anger? Couldn’t she simply have been honest with him? Why had she lied to him for so long?

Silently, his hooves shaking, Prince Blueblood slowly closed the book. He attempted to pick it up with his magic but faltered, resorting to moving it into his bag with his mouth. He rose from the bench and walked away, nearly unaware of his surroundings. He would need some time to wrap his head around it all.

~~~

Rarity walked out of Carousel Boutique feeling relaxed, if somewhat disappointed. With business running at a snail’s pace today and Sweetie Belle off with their parents, her day at the shop had been a complete bore. Having no dresses to sew, no mess to clean and no ponies to give makeovers to, the fashionista figured she’d close up shop for the day.

Last evening, she’d discussed the latest developments of the prince’s quest. She’d heard about him helping plough the field and clean the barn, and how he’d even done his best to put up with the Cutie Mark Crusaders’ antics.

Sweetie Belle had also added oil to that fire, asking Rarity about Prince Blueblood some more, saying he had seemed pretty nice to her, and that the story he’d told her and her friends had given them a great idea for crusading.

Prince Blueblood is changing... for me? I must be the luckiest mare in all of Equestria!

Rarity was dragged out of her thoughts by a sudden craving for one of Sugarcube Corner’s famous low-fat lily turnovers. With nothing else to occupy her day, she shrugged and daintily trotted off to the bakery, hoping she might run into some of her friends.

As usual, Sugarcube Corner failed to disappoint. Not only was Pinkie at work, somehow having anticipated Rarity’s arrival and immediately offered her the aforementioned turnover fresh out of the oven, but Rainbow Dash was also present, eagerly munching on a lemon tart.

“Hi Rarity! Welcome to Sugarcube Corner, where life is always sweet! Looking for the usual?”

Pinkie Pie giggled. She was the one to have come up with the bakery’s new greeting, and she reveled in saying it every time a customer walked in. Before Rarity could even answer, the turnover had been plated and thrust into her hooves.

“While I would enjoy being asked next time before you hand me the pastry, yes, that is exactly what I was coming here for. Thank you very much.”

Rarity levitated a few bits over to Pinkie, before sitting down at the same table as Rainbow Dash.

“Hey Rarity, fancy running into you here.”

Having her mouth full of crust and lemon filling was no obstacle for Rainbow Dash. The unicorn rolled her eyes, wiping a speck of sprayed food from her right cheek with a glare of sheer disgust.

“Rainbow Dash! You would do well to swallow before you speak.”

Rainbow Dash swallowed audibly, wiping crumbs off the side of her muzzle before giving a nervous giggle.

“Sorry, Rarity.”

“Rainbow Dash, I swear, sometimes, you are the worst.”

Rarity sighed, before remembering why she had been hoping to run into friends.

Before Rarity had a chance to touch her food, she became aware of Pinkie Pie sitting uncomfortably close to her. Somewhat uneasy, the unicorn dragged her chair a few hooves away from the intrusion and daintily took a bite of the fresh turnover, chewing a few times before swallowing and magically wiping the corner of her muzzle with a paper napkin before she explained.

“Now then, Rainbow Dash, I’ve heard from Applejack that the two of you have had a run-in with Prince Blueblood?”

At Rarity’s words, Rainbow Dash burst into laughter, almost spitting the remainder of her tart onto the table.

“A run-in? More like a run-into!”

Pinkie joined Rainbow Dash in laughter, until Rarity quieted them both.

“What do you mean, a run-into?”

Reclining back in her chair, the pegasus grinned awkwardly, attempting to cover for herself.

“Well, I saw Prince Haughty walking around the street, acting all ‘look at me, I’m the most important pony in all of Equestria’, and I kind of... just happened to lose control of my flight at that moment, and... uh... accidentally knocked him into a dirty puddle when I crashed into him?”

Pinkie opened her mouth to speak, but was quickly overridden by Rarity’s exclamation.

“Rainbow Dash! How could you? I know Prince Blueblood hasn’t exactly been a model of good behavior, but deliberately crashing into him? That is unbecoming of a lady!”

Rainbow Dash leaned forward against the table, panicked.

“Whoa, whoa! I’d never crash into someone intentionally! Look, I’ll be honest. I just wanted to give him a scare, you know, fly close to him, ruffle his mane, just bother him a little. But, uh... I kind of messed up and crashed into him.”

The white unicorn gave an annoyed sigh, burying her face in her hoof.

“Whatever shall I do with you, Rainbow Dash? A noblecolt comes to town looking for me, resolves to better himself for my attention, and you go and tackle him into a dirty, filthy puddle.”

Rarity stopped to ponder for a moment, struggling to bear with her histrionics.

”Oh, this is awful, this is just plain awful! How do you think this will reflect on me? Rainbow, do you not realise what you’ve done? I insist that you seek him out and apologize! To think a good friend of mine would crash into that noblecolt!”

Rainbow Dash rolled her eyes in response.

“Uh... a noblecolt? The only time I’d call him noble is with an I and a G ahead of it. Rarity, this is Prince Cakeface we’re talking about! The jerk of the gala! Just a couple weeks ago you were calling him words I’d never even use to describe Discord!”

Rarity recoiled, taken aback.

“But... things aren’t the same anymore! He’s changing for me! He said it! Applejack saw it!”

The brash pegasus flicked her head dismissively, rolling her eyes.

“Pfft! Please. Like a pony can just change from one day to the other. Rarity, hate to have to be the one to tell you, but you’re lost in your Disneigh Princess fantasies again! Get back down to Equestria a little, would you?”

“But... but... just see him go! He was ploughing the fields in Applejack’s orchard just two days ago! He bought muffins for Ditzy Doo and her daughter!”

Rainbow Dash nodded.

“I’ll give you that one, he is getting good at being nice, when he’s in a good mood. But have you seen him in a bad mood? He shouted at me and called me a madmare!”

Rarity cocked an eyebrow.

“Rainbow, I shouted at you and called you a madmare last week. Plus, you crashed into him.”

“Okay, you’ve got a point. Still, he’s far from being as good as you think he is. Do you think you’re the only one Applejack told about Blueblood? Have you seen his attitude? He’s always sighing and just barely holding back his annoyance. He almost snapped at Scootaloo when she’d barely done anything and he sneered at Pinkie Pie when they first met. It’s never, ‘Sure, I’ll do it!’ It’s always, ‘If I must!’”

The unicorn nodded quietly, silenced by Rainbow Dash’s words.

“Look, I’ll admit, he’s making a good effort. Even I have to recognize that. But... it’s all fake right now; he’s forcing it. It’s not real yet, and we have no way to know if it’ll ever be that way. I know you’re hoping this works, and as much as I don’t like him, I really hope it all works out for you. All I’m asking is, please, be careful. You’re my friend, and I’d hate to see you get hurt again because some doofus of a prince thought he could change in a snap and sweep you off your hooves, only to fumble and drop you onto the pavement.”

Rarity sighed.

“I... guess you’re right, Rainbow Dash. I’ll be careful not to go off in fantasies again, and try to keep my head on my shoulders about this. There’s only one thing I’d like to ask of you. Please, take a moment and apologize to Blueblood for crashing into him, would you?”

The pegasus begrudgingly nodded.

“Fine, but if he’s rude to me when I do so, I can’t be held responsible for my actions.”

Rarity chuckled and smirked.

“A fine bargain. Now then, what about you, Pinkie?”

The two ponies looked around. Pinkie Pie was nowhere to be seen. Rainbow Dash stepped over to the counter.

“Pinkie?”

There was a second of awkward silence until the bakery’s door suddenly crashed open. Pinkie Pie dashed in, dragging the Cutie Mark Crusaders in behind her and slamming the door with one of her hindlegs.

“Behind the counter, they won’t find you!”

Galloping under Rarity and Rainbow Dash’s confused muzzles, the three fillies ducked behind the counter as a dozen angry foals poured through the main entrance in a flash. Their de facto leader, a blue filly with a bow and arrow cutie mark, stepped forward.

“Come out, Cutie Mark Crusaders! We know you’re in there!”

Thankfully, Pinkie quickly calmed the mob down through the amazing magic of free, extra-frosted cupcakes. Once the bakery was clear, the Cutie Mark Crusaders walked out from their hiding place, out of breath.

While Rainbow Dash was too busy laughing at the mishap to question what had happened, Rarity looked down at her sister and sternly questioned her.

“Sweetie Belle! Please tell me, what was that chaos all about? I want to hear the whole story.”

Sweetie Belle scraped her hoof against the floor a few times. Apple Bloom and Scootaloo looked just as dejected as she did.

“Well... it all started when we decided to try for our Pony Leading Cutie Marks...”

~~~

The rest of Blueblood’s day was, to his great relief, devoid of any problems. In order to settle from his emotions and calm his frenzied mind, he had gone for a walk in town. Thoughts of his parents kept galloping through his mind, but he knew that there was no point in worrying too much about them, that things would be clear in due time.

A surprise inspection at the local branch of Quills and Sofas had revealed business to be booming, especially in the fainting couch department, and local manager Mr. Davenport had been promised a bonus.

Next, Blueblood had encountered the local spa and treated himself to their most luxurious stallions’ treatment, where the amazing talent of Lotus’s expert hooves had massaged away the tension he had built up from working so hard. On his way out, he had encountered Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon, themselves heading to the spa. Their endearing smiles had helped soothe his spinning head and worried heart.

Later, he had stumbled upon Sweet Apple Acres’ apple stand. Out of curiosity, he’d decided to give their produce a second chance, this time opting for a fresh apple rather than a sugar-laden fatty fritter. It hadn’t been really fair of him to judge them on a product he’d already known himself to dislike. However, a taste of the fresh produce itself, straight from the apple cellar, had shown him just why the orchard was so popular. Fresh, crisp, sweet, and delicious. He couldn’t help but purchase a few more to eat that evening, and he had made a mental note to seek investment opportunities in their business. It was clear that Sweet Apple Acres was destined to become a very big name and that he would be a fool to pass on such an opportunity.

Finally, he had made a most unexpected encounter on the way to his hotel room: a zebra mare. Zecora, as her name was, had been more than impressed when the prince had greeted her according to her native land’s customs, the way his uncle, an Equestrian ambassador in the zebra lands, had taught him.

His day now behind him, Blueblood arrived in the hotel’s lobby. Despite having been through the lavish décor several times since his arrival in Ponyville, it never ceased to impress him. The tapestries, the warm red carpet, the great chandelier; it reminded him of the luxuries of Canterlot.

The hotel’s manager, a middle-aged unicorn with a snowy white mane, stepped out from behind the counter to greet him, magically levitating an envelope over to him.

“Excuse me, Prince Blueblood, you have received some mail while you were away.”

Blueblood’s magic gently picked up the envelope as he walked by her, bowing politely.

“Thank you very much, Ms. Dreams.”

Sweet Dreams bowed back respectfully as the prince disappeared into the hotel’s main corridor and headed to his room.

~~~

Settling down for the evening, Blueblood laid out the borrowed book and the apples, then looked the envelope up and down on every side. There was no signature on the envelope, only a logo that he had come to know very well: Carousel Boutique. Prince Blueblood extracted the letter from the envelope in the blink of an eye and settled down onto the couch to read comfortably.

Esteemed Prince Blueblood,

I have been made aware of your recent bout of soul-searching and learning here in Ponyville. My friend Applejack, whom I presume you have met several times over the last few days spent on the farm, has informed me of the current situation.

I would like to congratulate you for allowing yourself to step off your pedestal and for doing some solid farm work. It is rather endearing to know that a noblecolt such as you would try his hoof at it. I have myself offered some of my time to help my dear friend Applejack, and I know just how discouraging that labor can be.

I have also heard of your commendable generosity to our local mailmare and her daughter. I have nothing but compliments to give here. That is a sign of a true noble stallion.

However, I have been made aware of more than just the good. Your altercation with Rainbow Dash, for one. While I do not hold you fully responsible, for I know that she can be quite a hoofful, I believe that your reaction to her was most uncouth. Sneering at poor Pinkie Pie before she had a chance to make a good impression on you wasn’t exactly nice of you either.

Still, all in all, I am very impressed by how much progress you have made since you first knocked on my door. There is yet hope for you, Prince Blueblood, and should you follow this path you have chosen, there may yet be hope for us.

Wishing you the best of successes,

Rarity

As he set down the letter, a smile slowly traced itself upon Blueblood’s face. Soon, a chuckle came to him, then another. Then, he erupted into gleeful laughter.

“I stand a chance! She knows! She cares! Oh, Rarity! Beautiful Rarity! Thank you for these kind words of hope! I shall not betray your trust!”

~~~

Big Macintosh smiled as he tapped the loose earth around the new sapling’s roots. The new tree, now bathing in the sunset, was barely a dozen hooves high, but would most likely be several meters tall by the time the farm passed on to the next generation.

Though he was happy to help Blueblood’s cause, Big Macintosh was thankful for a calm day with nothing to trouble him. Only his family, the farm, and his work were on his mind today, giving him some quiet peace for thought.

“Now then, what do we call you, little fella?”

The red stallion sat down, pondering for a moment, until an idea came to him.

“Considerin’ who got the earth here ready for you, I guess I may as well give him the honors. Prince it is.”

Satisfied with his work for the day, Big Macintosh headed back to the barn, glancing at his collar for a moment to make sure the precious note was still safely tucked inside.

That night, the red stallion went to bed with an oafish smile on his face and a delicate mare dancing through his thoughts.

And there I was thinkin’ things couldn’t get any better.

~~~

To Be Continued

~~~

Coming up next in To Be a Better Stallion

“Oh my gosh! You’re... Amethyst!”

~Rainbow Dash

“My, my, my. Somepony has certainly changed.”

~Lady Amethyst

“What you need to learn now, my dear Blueblood, is chivalry.”

~Lady Amethyst

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