• Published 17th Apr 2012
  • 8,243 Views, 541 Comments

The Twilight Zone - Bad Horse



25. Necessary Evil: Lord Tirek will return to wreak havoc on Equestria... when he is needed again.

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18. Celerity

Celerity (noun): The quality of being rapid, swift, brisk. From the Hipponian, keles, a fast horse or ship.


During the spring, they’d been awoken each morning by proud, boasting birdsong on the balcony outside their room. Rarity supposed the latticework of its thick stone balustrade was the most-desirable avian real estate in Equestria, by virtue of being closest to the princess; and if they wanted to boast of being close to her, well, Rarity of all ponies couldn’t blame them.

The birds had served as a less-reliable alarm clock throughout the summer, and failed them entirely now, in the leafless tail end of autumn. An alarm clock, unfortunately, was the one thing Celly wouldn’t tolerate in her bedroom. “The most barbarous invention Equestria has ever suffered,” she called it; alternately, “my slave-driver,” or, “that which must be obeyed.” Before its invention, morning had come when Celestia jolly well wanted it to, and nopony could say she was wrong. Now even the sun had been trained to rise on a regular schedule, and it peeked over the horizon at their bedroom window with just the deepest purple of its rays, waiting eagerly for its master to take it for a walk across the sky.

“Rise and shine,” Rarity said, prodding Celestia’s big white flank. She carefully gauged her pressure to be not quite enough to get Celly out of bed. It would be a shame, after all, to prod that flank only once.

Without opening her eyes, Celestia reached out with one hoof, snatched Rarity’s pillow away, and dragged it over her head.

There were elements of the Equestrian press, such as that The Daily—shameless rag—which had little sense of lèse-majesté. Every piece of cake Celly had would somehow find its way onto the front page, usually accompanied by a photograph of Her Majesty’s hindquarters, taken through some sort of distorting lens. Their continual snarks about her tea “habit” were not, Rarity thought, in good taste. And “taste” had not even been in their vocabulary, unless it were in a lewd sense, back when she and Celly had begun their liaison. But there was one palace secret not even the tabloids would dare publish: Princess Celestia was not a morning pony.

“Now, what would our old friend Mister Robin think if he knew you were sleeping in while he was away?” Rarity chided. “After all the years he’s spent training you.”

“'s a different robin,” Celestia muttered from under her pillow.

“What? What do you mean, a different robin?”

Celestia did not elaborate, so Rarity prodded her again, a little more sharply. Celestia pulled herself into a ball and pressed the pillow more tightly against her ears.

Rarity smiled. She was going to get to do a lot of prodding this morning.

She draped herself over Celestia’s exposed back and drew one hoof slowly along her flank. “What would the nobleponies say,” she said, “if they knew that the start of the new day, all their business, all their plans—the fate of the Empire, really—depended on me getting you out of bed?”

A white foreleg reached back and arrested Rarity’s. “You’re not trying to get me out bed,” Celestia said from beneath her pillow. “You’re trying to keep me in bed.”

Rarity ran her horn up and down Celestia’s neck, combing her mane.

Her Majesty, Eldest Princess of Equestria, groaned, wiped the drool from her mouth, raised her head to look back at Rarity, and blinked stupidly as the stolen pillow fell beside her.

Rarity nibbled gently at the royal ear.

“Well,” Celestia said, “I don't suppose it would hurt the sun to wait a few more minutes.”

.


.

“What did you mean,” Rarity asked more than a few minutes later as Celestia sat in front of the vanity set and she re-did Celestia’s mane with a proper brush, “a different robin?” The hairs throbbed under her strokes, and often curled back around the brush and towards Rarity, but she was firm about mane care and could not be distracted.

“Wormbiter and Twig Sculptor didn’t come back this year,” Celestia said. “This is a different pair.”

“You named them?”

“No. Those are their names.”

Rarity paused, holding the brush out to the side.

“Rare?” Celestia asked.

“Oh, nothing,” Rarity said, resuming her even strokes through the long flowing rainbow. “It’s just—when they were just birds, it seemed natural that they should come and go. But it’s a little sad now that they have names.”

Celestia pushed the brush aside, turned, and raised her head to nuzzle the underside of Rarity’s neck. “You’re precious. But the best way to honor the pretty things is to enjoy them while we can, Rarity. You of all ponies should understand that.”

Rarity reached up and stroked Celestia’s chin with one hoof. Then she froze.

“Dear?” Celestia asked.

“Nothing,” Rarity said. She pulled the brush back in and began tugging it urgently through Celestia’s mane.

“Dear?” Celestia repeated, leaning back far enough to look her in the eye.

“Well…” She set the brush on the desk. “It’s just… oh, I know I was terribly shallow when we began seeing each other, Celly.” She laughed, quietly but crystal-clear. “I really don’t know what you saw in me! But I certainly hope you don’t imagine, after all these years, that I think of you as just a pretty thing.”

Celestia said nothing, and turned her face away.

Rarity bit her lip, and set her forehooves on Celestia’s shoulders, giving her a quick hug before patting her on the back and sending her outside to start the new day.

Author's Note:

I have a basic plot in mind to turn this into a longer story, but it would be a lot of work, longer than anything I've written. Thanks to Cold in Gardez, bookplayer, Bradel, & Jake R for pre-reading a much longer version.