• Published 17th Nov 2014
  • 13,387 Views, 5,574 Comments

Crystal's Wishes - Crystal Wishes



Crystal Wishes thought she was content just writing about ponies falling in love. While her career takes off, her love life is somewhat... lacking. Can she be happy living vicariously through her stories or will she find her own happily ever after?

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Minute Moments

Charlie hobbled his way toward the front door, one foreleg suspended in a sling, his eyes darting between the floor and the view ahead of him to keep a firm mental grasp on his surroundings. With a small grunt, he nudged his shoulder against the door to push it open, then leaned out to smile at Bellerose.

"Lunch is ready, dear."

Bellerose peered at him with eyes as sharp as the day they met. "I thought I told you to go take a nap and rest that leg?"

Charlie gave her one of his signature charming smiles. If there was one thing he still had from his youth, it was a great set of brilliant white teeth. "I'll nap after you're fed. You can't cook worth your weight in apples."

That got the old grey mare moving. She thrust herself out of the rocking chair, grousing, "That doesn't even make sense!"

"But it got you on your hooves!" He laughed and ducked back into the house to limp away from

The quill paused when the front door jiggled before opening and Velvet trotted inside. Crystal lifted her head to smile at her. "Welcome home."

Velvet tossed her overnight bag in the direction of her bedroom, then looked at Crystal. "So?"

Crystal waved a lazy hoof. "He was busy."

"What?!" Velvet's stance widened as an irritated expression crossed her face, ears pinning back and lips curling downward. "Oh! Oh, I'll give him a piece of my mind! I'll—"

"It's fine! It's fine, you don't have to go punch a royal guard." Crystal laughed, shaking her head. "He dropped by to apologize last night."

Velvet snorted and jabbed a hoof in Crystal's direction. "You are way too easy on him. Isn't the point of being in a relationship knowing that somepony is there for you and making sacrifices for each other?"

"Compromise," Crystal corrected as she returned her gaze to the notebook open in front of her. "Relationships are about compromise."

"Well, it sure seems like you make a whole lot more compromises for him than he does for you." Velvet walked over to flop down on a pillow, her frown remaining firmly in place.

After a pause, Crystal inclined her head to return Velvet's frown. "You make it sound as if it's a bad thing! I spent the day alone. He spent it working! I think I got the far easier end of the deal."

Velvet rolled her eyes. "Fine, whatever. Sorry for being worried about your happiness." She shifted to face her back to Crystal and gave an agitated flick of her tail.

"There's nothing to be worried about." While Velvet was looking away, Crystal allowed her ears to droop. "I'm happy, even if I do wish I could take precedence once in a while..."

Velvet's tail lashed again. "Then just tell him that or I'll step in and do it for you, and I won't be nice about it."

Crystal sighed. One hoof shifted to flip her notebook closed while she stood from the couch, then started toward the kitchen. "Are you hungry?"

Velvet was quiet for a thoughtful moment before nodding. "Always."

"Are you all right with just some broccoli and pasta for lunch? I'm not in the mood to make a fancy meal." Her magic reached out to open both the fridge and a cabinet door.

"Sure!" Velvet rose to her hooves and trotted over to her discarded bag. "By the way, my parents wanted me to give you—" She rummaged around before pulling out a small wrapped gift. "—this! They said happy birthday, they hoped it was good, blah blah and all that."

Crystal giggled and freed up her magical juggling by tossing the pasta into a pot and the broccoli into the pan before turning her head to look at Velvet. "Your parents are the sweetest. Mine just send a card. The same card. Every year."

"Hey, at least they're reliable." Velvet glared at her. "Pretty sad when your parents are a better companion than your stallionfriend."

Crystal's smile fell briefly into a frown, then she just rolled her eyes and brought the present closer. The ribbon unfurled and the wrapping peeled back to reveal—"Velvet."

"What?"

"Seriously?" Crystal squinted at her, pointing a hoof at the pairs of little pink and blue foal booties that levitated out of the box. When Velvet just cackled in response, Crystal huffed. "You learned your subtlety from your parents!"

Velvet took a deep breath and held it to quell her laughter. After another sharp intake of air that she released through her nose, she flashed a big grin. "Yup! Aww, come on, Mom probably made those by hoof! You can't be mad!"

"We haven't even set a date for the wedding," Crystal muttered as she returned the booties to their container, set it on the counter, and went back to cooking.

Velvet walked over and leaned against the counter, watching the pot of water slowly come to a boil. "Yeah, well, you're basically my sister, which makes you basically their daughter. They want grandfoals!"

Crystal lifted her gaze from the covered skillet that steamed the broccoli. "Well, they have you for that, don't they?"

"Sure." Velvet snorted and then laughed. "That would require a stallion in my life and no, thank you."

With a small furrow of her brow, Crystal pressed, "You could always adopt."

Velvet's ears shot up and her eyes widened. "What! Me? Adopt a foal? Alone? At my age? Are you crazy?!"

"I didn't mean right now! I just meant—oh!" Crystal stuck out her tongue. "Don't be so contrary. You knew what I meant!"

There was a pause before Velvet dropped down onto all fours and walked back out into the living room. She nestled onto a pillow, though this time she didn't put her back to Crystal. "I don't know. Maybe someday?" She laughed, shaking her head. "This is silly! What kind of pony adopts a foal without a partner?"

Crystal glanced over the skillet and the pot before looking over at Velvet with a smile. "A pony who wants a foal but not a partner would. It's not like you'd be the first single mother in Equestria!"

"Stop." Velvet raised a hoof. "It's actually starting to sound like a good idea, which is just crazy. Let's just focus on you and your messed up relationship before we mess up my life, okay?"

"Excuse you! My relationship is just fine!" Crystal tossed her mane and huffed. "It just—"

Knock, knock, knock.

Velvet let out a loud moan and rolled off the pillow, hitting the floor with little grace. "Are you serious? Ugh! I was so close to food!" She hopped upright and stomped toward her bedroom door. "Okay, pretend I'm not here, and talk to him. Okay? Just schedule a date or something. When was the last time you two went on a date?" After shooting Crystal a stern look, she snatched up her overnight bag and stalked out of sight.

An ache started to grow behind Crystal's eyes. Velvet had a good point. When was the last time they had been on a date? She grumbled as she checked the boiling water and broccoli before walking over to open the door. It had been much too long. Of course, if a birthday was too much to ask, then what hope did she have for a mere date? Irritation bubbled into her voice as she greeted, "You're early. I wasn't expecting that."

Silent stepped inside, giving a casual shrug of his shoulders. "I get things right every once in a while."

Crystal tried to smile. "Luckily for you, I already started lunch. It's almost ready, so I hope you're hungry."

When she turned back toward him after shutting the door, he had taken off his helmet to reveal a bruise showing through the coat around his right cheekbone. Getting a better look at him, she noticed that the eye above the bruising was slightly swollen and a gasp escaped her.

He blinked. "What?"

"What?" she repeated in squeaky surprise. "What do you mean, what!" She inclined her head enough to catch sight of a small hoof mirror resting on the coffee table and her magic brought it over to show him his reflection. When he just stared at himself, she pressed, "What happened?"

One of his hooves raised to touch the bruise. "Nothing, really. I got hit last night. I had a helmet on, so I didn't really notice. It's just a small bruise."

Her eyes widened and her mouth opened in a slight gawk. "You got hit? Who hit you? Why?"

His gaze shifted to meet hers and he said nothing. As usual.

"Oh, right. Of course. It's classified." She rolled her eyes while she walked toward the kitchen. "Sit down, lunch will be ready in a moment. Do you have any other injuries or was getting hit once enough?"

"Not to the best of my knowledge." He paused, then asked in an almost annoyingly sincere tone, "Is everything all right?"

"Of course!" She glared down at the plates as she portioned out the meal, sprinkled parsley over the lightly olive oiled pasta, and carried them over. "I just don't care for the idea of you getting injured."

"I'm not injured, though. It's just a bruise. It doesn't even hurt." His ear flicked as he eyed the levitating plates. "What's for lunch?"

Her magic dropped the plates on either end of the table while she quietly eyed him. So instead of spending time with her the night prior, he had chosen to go get hit in the face? And, as usual, she had to be in the dark as to why. What could be so classified about it unless it involved the princess? She almost snorted aloud. If Princess Luna had punched him, then he had probably deserved it.

"This looks great," he said into the silence.

She slouched into the empty chair. "Thank you."

The sound of forks hitting plates was the only conversation between them for a while until Silent glanced up at her. "So," he started, then trailed off.

She waited before pressing, "So?"

Silent set down his fork and held her gaze. "Were you aware that the reason I went to the officer's academy and got this job was because Princess Luna didn't want me to be in harm's way?"

"What?" All of the irritation and annoyance faded like wind shifting away from sails. She blinked a few times, her brow knitting. "No, I was not. Who told you that?"

"She did." He crossed his forelegs and rested them on the table. "Evidently, she was so upset by me getting hurt over in the Gryphon Kingdom that she wanted to make sure it didn't happen again. She pushed me away as her protector. And she convinced Shining Armor to put in the recommendation."

Words escaped her for a moment as her gaze fell to her plate. "You—ah—you don't look as upset as I would think you'd be after finding that out."

His ears pinned back. "The heavy bag at the gym would disagree. Look, I didn't want to miss your birthday, and I definitely don't want to be angry the day after I missed your birthday. I'm really trying here, all right?"

She tried to swallow around the lump in her throat and gave a meek nod while her fork poked at a piece of broccoli. "I understand. I'm sorry, honey."

"Yeah." He paused, then added, "So, I'm thinking about turning down the job offer from Shining Armor."

Her head jerked upward to look at him. "What? Why? It sounded like a good opportunity for you!"

"A very good one, yes. Now I think it might be too good to be true. Maybe it's because he feels guilt for agreeing to Princess Luna's plan. How can I know?" He shook his head. "Not to mention we'd have to leave all of our friends behind. I just don't think the time is right for this kind of life change."

Slowly, she lowered her fork to the plate and shifted in her seat. "How about, instead—" She bit her lip. "I mean, before you make a final decision on this. Before you decide whether or not to turn it down, just, sleep on it a few more nights. Things have been so busy for you lately and you've seemed rather on edge. The recent revelation might be making things worse. If the offer is genuine, then Shining Armor will wait." She tried to smile, but her heart was too busy sinking in her chest to make the gesture sincere. "I don't want you to have regrets about this."

"That is good advice," he said in a voice just as hollow as her smile. He forked at a couple of noodles that had separated from the others on his plate before dropping the utensil and shoving his plate away from him. "I'm sorry, Crystal. This makes two birthdays I've ruined because of my job." There was a faint hitch in his voice and he shook his head, chuckling as he added in a low mutter, "Turns out I'm just like him anyway."

Him? Her ears perked upright, then folded flat against her mane. His father?

A strange feeling gripped her chest and she struggled to breathe for a moment. There was a wave of anger at first—anger at him for suggesting such a thing. Then, as the anger shifted toward herself and her prior irritation-laden actions and words, guilt raked through her like a biting gust of wind. While she fussed over petty matters like dates and birthdays, he had been suffering with his own darkness.

Finally, she found her voice through the torrent. "I didn't get the chance to meet him. I only know what your mother mentioned, which wasn't very much. But from what I do know, I don't think you're like him at all, Silent Knight." Her gaze darted between the table and his hunched-over form. He was making a clear effort to avoid looking at her. "I don't believe he was the kind of pony that would do all the things you do. Not just for me, but for your friends and family. Yes, I'll admit that your job tends to keep you busy, but I don't feel any less loved by you."

He didn't respond at first. His wings were tight against his sides, his ears were angled back, and his eyes refused to meet hers. All at once, he pushed his chair back, stood, and turned away from her. "I think I should go. No, I should definitely go. I've got to check on a pony that was hurt." He took a step forward, then paused. "May I come see you tonight?"

Her gut told her to beg him to stay, but she nodded instead. "Always."

"Great." He started for the door. "See you then."

And with that, she was alone, albeit not for long. Velvet opened her bedroom door and peeked out, an almost guilty look on her face.

"So," she mumbled, "that was awkward."

Crystal felt her chin tremble and a new pain formed behind her eyes, different from the earlier ache. It was a burning sensation that brought tears to her eyes, which pooled and fell down her cheeks.

Velvet hurried over to her. "Hey, hey, hey, it's all right! It's his fault for not telling you he had his feathers knotted up sooner!" She trotted in place with a worried expression before she reared back and threw her forelegs around Crystal's neck. "Don't cry, okay? It'd just make him more upset if he knew he made you cry."

"I'm so stupid," Crystal managed in a broken voice. "I didn't—I never stopped to wonder why he's been act-acting strange and not coming home until late." Her shoulders shuddered as she took a quick breath in. "Stu-stupid me."

Velvet stroked a hoof through Crystal's mane and cooed, "Shh, hey, it's okay. You didn't know. I didn't know. It's okay."

Crystal sniffled. "Can you put away the leftovers?" Her gaze fell to her plate. "I've lost my appetite."

Velvet hesitated a moment to peer at her, then nodded. "Sure, I can do that."

---

The soft music of piano drifting over the Canterlot grounds did little to mask the gossip that flittered between the groups of ponies in attendance. Crystal could hardly keep up with the conversation of the pony in front of her without hearing the same whispers quietly attacking from different directions.

"It's so bizarre to have the garden party so late, don't you think?"

"I was surprised they even managed to put it together after delaying for as long as they did. What were they thinking?"

"Well, you know what they say: better late than never, right?"

It was strikingly odd that the garden party invitations hadn't been sent out when they normally were and, after enough time had passed that most had given up, they finally arrived a few weeks ago. The event had been the last thing on Crystal's mind until a reminder invitation was delivered three days prior.

Crystal shifted from one hoof to the other and flashed a polite smile at the mare currently speaking. She didn't care. There weren't enough words in her vocabulary to describe how little she cared, in fact. But she had to maintain her one small, minute contribution to their relationship.

Movement caught her eye and she turned her head to see Upper Crust approaching. Relief and dread battled for dominion over her reaction to the sight. They hadn't crossed paths since the dinner with Silent Knight. What kind of terms were they on? As always, her mother's perfectly pleasant expression betrayed nothing of her true feelings or intentions.

"If you would give me a moment with my daughter," Upper Crust said, glancing at the ponies nearby. Once they dispersed, she returned her gaze to Crystal. "Hello, darling."

Crystal squared her shoulders and held her head high. "Hello, Mother."

Upper Crust stood beside her, facing out into the crowd and examining the party. "Your father and I were considering not hosting the garden party this year."

"What?" Crystal's composure dropped as she looked up at her mother with wide eyes. "But you host it every year!"

Upper Crust rolled her eyes. "I am aware of that, darling."

"Why would you consider not?" With her brow knitted, Crystal tried to find any kind of chink in Upper Crust's armor. The mare had her guard up, but what for?

"Don't you think it's somepony else's turn to host? We did. But nopony stepped into the spotlight to take over organizing it, however, and now here we are. Late. Terribly so."

Crystal gave a small shake of her head to try and clear it. Too many questions buzzed around her mind. "I don't understand."

Upper Crust sighed and finally turned her head to look down at her. "Darling, you're going to be married. That means eventually, we'll be grandparents."

A light flush heated Crystal's face but she tried to ignore it. "I still don't understand, Mom."

"I very well can't be like your own grandparents and never be there for my grandfoals, now, can I?" She raised a hoof to fiddle with the blue pearls that hugged her neck.

There was the chink—a nervous tic. Crystal glanced between the necklace, the hoof, and Upper Crust's eyes. "Why do you and Velvet's parents seem to think foals are around the corner? We're not even married yet!"

Upper Crust's ears twitched back and she cleared her throat. "It never hurts to be prepared. I certainly plan to be. As does your father."

Crystal frowned and oriented herself to face her mother completely. "What is this really about?"

Upper Crust returned the frown twofold, but her hoof never left her necklace. "What ever do you mean?"

"There's something you're not telling me. What is going on?"

Upper Crust took a breath in and held it. Her mouth hung open for a moment, waiting for words that didn't come, and she snapped it shut. After looking away, dropping her hoof to the ground, and clearing her throat, she finally said, "2324 Haylor Street, Chicagoat."

Crystal blinked. "What?"

"2324 Haylor Street, Chicagoat," Upper Crust repeated in a low voice. "Your grandparents live there."

"No, my grandparents live—" Crystal's eyes widened and she recoiled a step away from her mother. "Wait, what?! Do you mean—your parents?"

Upper Crust bobbed her head in a small but curt nod. "Of course I do. Who else?" She sighed, her gaze drifting away. "I would never invite them to your wedding myself, and quite frankly I would advise against it. But..." Her eyes and voice softened as she continued, "It's your wedding, darling. If you want them there, it's your mistake to make. They've never lifted a hoof for you so I don't see why you should bother doing anything but the same for them. Your father said it was your choice, however."

The pounding of her heart reaching all the way to her ears drowned out the piano music. She repeated in a rather unladylike squawk, "Your parents!"

"Meet them if you must." Upper Crust took a step back, then turned and started to walk away. "But I want nothing to do with them."

Crystal stood there, all sense of self forgotten. Her mother's parents. She had never even met them. As far as she had been told, her grandparents had moved out of Canterlot to physically separate from Upper Crust after disowning her. Neither of her parents had ever had a kind word to say about them.

Perhaps curiosity would get the better of her eventually, but right then, the very idea sent a chill down her spine. She shuddered and looked around for the nearest group of ponies. Right then, she just needed to focus on surviving the evening. Her grandparents were a problem for her future self. She really, really pitied that mare.

---

Silver-clad hooves dropped into view, right on top of the bed of daisies. The little white flowers gave no resistance to their attackers and fell to the ground, a few throwing their petals in a bid for mercy that was not given. In an instant, her hard work and dedication was snuffed like a candle in the wind.

"Excuse me! You callous bru—" Misty Glen's voice came to a strangled halt when her eyes registered the owner of those hooves. She stared, dumbfounded, every inch of her frozen in a mixture of fear and awe.

The stallion who had just trampled over her flower garden was none other than Stoutheart, Captain of Princess Selene's Guard. He blinked down at the crumpled, flattened daisies beneath his hoof for a moment before looking up at her. His expression registered no guilt, but no malice, either.

Crystal giggled up at the copy of Her Silent Love that floated above her, fresh from the presses and still smelling of crisp paper. Her magic brought over another piece of dark chocolate that she savored while her gaze drifted across the pages. "Oh, Misty Glen," she mumbled softly, "you have no idea what you're in for, sweetheart."

Halfway through the chapter, somepony knocked a few rapid times on the door. "Coming!" she called, sliding a bookmark into place and setting the book on the coffee table before she went to answer.

Standing at her doorstep were two bedraggled ponies: Winterspear and Silent Knight. The former looked like she might pass out, and the latter looked like he already had.

Crystal looked between them with wide eyes. "What happened?!"

Silent mumbled some kind of incoherent greeting before dragging himself past her and collapsing onto one of the sitting pillows.

Winterspear blinked a few times in an attempt to lift her sagging eyelids. "Hi, Crystal."

Crystal gawked at her. "I repeat: what happened?!"

"Sick," Silent called in a pitiable voice from his pillow.

"Sick," Winterspear repeated while she shifted to straighten up. "He's sick. Half the unit is sick, actually, including him and Iridescence. I'm wearing out trying to take care of the both of them. You're going to be his wife so I thought, well, you could, you know, help me out?"

Crystal nodded. "I am going to be his wife, so leave him to me!" She smiled. "I'll get him back to full health in a couple of days. I know some great herbal remedies." Of course, they were all teas, but 'herbal remedies' sounded more useful in the situation.

"I hope so." Winterspear glanced at Silent, then back at her and said more as a command than a request, "Wear a mask at all times. Don't let him sneeze on you and wash your hooves as much as you can. If you can do that magic thing, then do that magic thing." She sighed and raised a hoof to rub her temple. "The doctors said this would last probably a week at most. We're at day three now. If it goes on longer than that, you'll have to take him back to the medical center." She flashed a weak smile. "Thank you for being volunteered for this, Crystal."

"It's absolutely no problem." Crystal started preparing a mental list of everything she'd need. She also wished she knew the magic health bubble spell, but that one had always been beyond her grasp. "Honestly, you should have dropped him off here sooner. You look like you might collapse."

"I feel like it." Winterspear gave a raspy chuckle. "Just waiting for my turn at this point. Take care to not catch it, okay?"

Crystal nodded. "I'll do my best. Take care of yourself, too." Once the door was shut, she turned and stepped closer to Silent, keeping a respectable distance between them. "Well, then, I suppose we'll be spending a lot of time together for a while."

Silent cracked his eyes open and wheezed, "This is going to remove all the mystery." He did his best to smile, but it looked more like a grimace.

"Mystery?" She laughed softly. "Don't forget that I sat at your side in that hospital quite a while. There isn't a lot of mystery after an experience like that."

His ears folded back and he dropped his head down onto the pillow, which was most certainly a total loss given how much sweat was matted into his coat. "That is actually a little frightening to think about." He closed his eyes. "I'm sorry that you have to be my nurse again."

"It's fine, honey." Honey. She'd definitely need to get more honey. Cinnamon, too. "Can you be by yourself for a bit? I need to go to the drug store to get some supplies."

One of his hooves raised and waved in her general direction. "Yep. Go on ahead, I'll be fine."

She levitated her satchel off the rack and slung it over her neck and shoulder. "Alright, try to get some rest. I’ll be back in a bit,” she replied before heading out.

As she trotted down the hall, she heaved a heavy sigh. When she had said she wanted more time with him and to 'take precedence', this was not what she had in mind, but she would just have to make do.

---

With her bags full of various herbs, ingredients, a couple different bottles of medicine, and a pack of masks—one of which was already around her muzzle—Crystal walked into the condo to find Silent reading the book she had left on the coffee table.

Silent's ear twitched at her arrival. "I like Stoutheart."

Crystal grinned freely behind the mask. "Oh?" She shut the door and went into the kitchen to unpack her supplies. "Why is that?"

"Dunno." He coughed. Right onto the book. Her love for him had never been tested so greatly as it was in that moment.

"Well, I'm glad to hear that." Her magic stretched to put everything in its proper place all at once while also starting a kettle of tea on the stove. "The book should be in stores soon."

Silent's head lolled and a pair of half-lidded eyes peered at her. "That's so cool. You're so cool."

"Cool?" She frowned and, once she was done unpacking, she turned to look at him. His eyes were glazed over and he seemed even sweatier than when he had arrived. "How do you feel?"

"Fine," he muttered, his face slowly disappearing back behind the book.

She walked over to him and pushed the book down to put her hoof against his forehead. He was burning up. Hurriedly, she reached out with her magic to retrieve a washcloth, which was run under cold water, wrung out just enough so as not to be sopping wet, and brought over to her. "You can read later." The book levitated out of his grasp, and he frowned up at her. "Later," she emphasized, draping the cold cloth across his forehead.

Silent huffed, but didn't complain beyond crossing his forelegs over his chest.

"I'm making some tea, but it will take a while to steep." She returned to the kitchen, where she retrieved the containers of echinacea and white willow root, and added some of both to a tea pot. Once the kettle started to whistle, she poured the boiling water inside, then set a timer. "How are you feeling?"

"Fine."

She rolled her eyes and looked over at him, groaning when she saw the book back in his hooves. "Silent, you need to rest."

"I am." He turned a page, then gasped when the book was levitated away from him. "Hey!" His head bobbed as he tried to sit up to no avail. He plummeted back down onto the pillow like a rock. "I was reading that."

She shook a stern hoof at him. "Close your eyes and rest!"

One of his hooves wobbled its way into the air and shook back at her. "Close your eyes and rest!"

Silent blinked, then chuckled and lowered the hoof closer to his face. "Hey, hey, don't talk to her that way."

After a curious pause, she asked, "Are you talking to your hoof?"

"No."

His voice rose to a higher pitch as the hoof thrust into the air. "Yes!"

Slowly, her ears folded back as she was torn between concern and amusement. This was going to be a very long few days. "Well, tell your hoof to let you rest, then."

"Okay." His eyes focused on his hoof. "I need to rest. Crystal said so." The hoof waved back and forth, and he looked up at her. "Hoof says no."

"Then—"

The front door creaked open and Velvet poked her head into the condo, a cloth wrapped around the lower half of her face and covered her all the way down to her shoulders. "Is it safe?"

Crystal maneuvered into Velvet's view, her brow furrowed. "How did you know it wasn't?"

Velvet's ears shot up as she looked between Crystal and Silent, then gasped. "They got him?!"

"Who got him?" Crystal tilted her head. "What's wrong?"

"Vamponies!" Velvet practically shrieked. "They're back!"

Silent rubbed his hoof against the cloth still draped over his forehead. "Vamponies aren't real," he mumbled.

"Surprisingly, Silent is correct for now. Vamponies aren't real." Crystal arched one brow. "Wait a second. Did New Moon's sequel release today? That's rather unfortunate timing."

Velvet huffed, puffed, and kicked the door shut behind her. "Oh, right, Sequel. Because it's totally fiction. Yeah, I'll believe that when you prove it!"

Crystal groaned and returned to the kitchen to check the timer. "Velvet, how can I prove something isn't real?"

"Exactly!" Velvet stopped to stare at Silent, who stared at the ceiling. "So how long before he starts sparkling?"

Crystal rolled her eyes. "If vamponies were real—if—they wouldn't sparkle."

"It's in New Moon's autobiography. They sparkle."

"Not real," Silent put in, his voice weak.

Velvet glared down at him. "We'll see about that, Fangs McKnight."

There was no response. Crystal leaned out of the kitchen and, at Silent's closed eyes and parted lips that released a soft snore, she sighed. "Did he pass out?"

Velvet lowered herself so that her eyes were level with the stallion's face. "He did." A shiver ran visibly through her. "How long ago was he bit?"

Crystal stopped the timer when it went off and carried the tea pot and a few cups over. "He's not turning into a vampony, Velvet. He's just sick."

"That's how it starts."

"It's just a story!" Crystal jabbed a hoof in the direction of the infected Her Silent Love. "That's just a story! They're all stories!"

Velvet mirrored the gesture to point at Silent. "And yours are all based on true stories!"

Crystal paused, raised her hoof to her forehead, and groaned. "I hate that I don't have a good argument against that. Fine! Vamponies may be real, but Silent's not turning into one." She shoved her face in Velvet's and slowly enunciated, "He's—just—sick. With a normal pony cold."

"Do you swear?" Velvet stared at her. There was a serious look in her eyes and in her voice.

"Oh my gosh, yes, I swear! Now pack your bags and go spend a night or two at your parents' house until he gets better."

Velvet glanced at her bedroom door, then back at Crystal. "Okay! You have fun being nursemaid. I'm going to go enjoy the fresh air and sunlight." Her eyes narrowed as she took several side steps toward her room, never giving her back to Silent or Crystal. "Like a normal pony."

"Good!" Crystal dropped the pot and cups onto the coffee table and sighed, looking down at Silent. He was out cold, which was good for resting, but he also needed the helpful herbs in him. "Silent?"

He didn't stir.

Gently, she pressed a hoof to his cheek and patted it. "Silent Knight, wake up, please."

One of his eyes cracked open, followed by the other. "Mmuh?"

She smiled down at him. "Sit up and drink this, please." Her magic offered him a teacup, which he hoisted himself toward with the aid of her foreleg behind his head.

The moment he had finished the tea, he slumped back down, groaned, and lolled his head to the side away from him. "Shleep," he muttered.

"Yes, sleep," she repeated in a quiet whisper, giggling. Perhaps playing nursemaid wouldn't be so bad.

---

Crystal gently brushed the feathery tip of the quill to her mask-covered chin as she hummed in thought. Silent had spent the whole night asleep on the pillow, so she was stretched out on the couch with her notebook. Currently, her notes regarding the earlier installments of Autumn Leaves were staring back at her, sparse and loosely connected.

She knew where the tale would end, but the beginning was still giving her fits. The moment a groan escaped her, Silent shot upright.

"Fake!" he gasped out and turned his head to look at her.

"What?" She stared at him, then furrowed her brow when his gaze didn't quite meet hers. He seemed to be looking below her—at the couch?

"They're not real." He frowned. "Nox ponies aren't vamponies, either. There aren't any vamponies, Velvet." He leaned forward, nearly toppling off the pillow when it shifted from his moving weight.

Crystal clasped a hoof over her mouth to try to keep her laughter at bay.

"You're scared of a myth," he continued, his voice rising and falling with every few words. "If vamponies were real, I'd know about it. They would be a security risk. I don't know about them so they can't be real. So you don't have to be afraid." He raised a hoof to wipe his forehead and panted, looking around, then spied Crystal and squinted at her. "Water?"

Crystal set her quill down and nodded as she stepped off the couch. "Absolutely, dear."

After bringing him a glass, she paused to test his temperature with one hoof. He must have sweat through his fever. "How are you feeling?"

There was a pause as he gulped down the water, then mumbled, "Better. Sweaty. Can I take a bath?"

"Sure. Put your weight on me and I'll help you to the bathroom." She braced herself for his weight and, once he was upright, walked alongside him over to the doorway.

He eased down onto the cool tile while she turned on the faucet. "What were you working on?"

"Hmm?" She glanced at him. "Oh, just a new serial for Mares Monthly."

Silent lightly bobbed his head as though it were too heavy to keep upright. "What is it?"

Her nose scrunched up as she fumbled through an explanation. "It's a story about two ponies, ah, a stallion and a mare, who are still in love after being married for so many years. It's a little different."

"Oh." He stared at her with glossy eyes before asking, "So they're old?"

While she tested the water, her ears swiveled back toward him. "Er—well, yes."

"Why are they old?"

She turned her head to peer at him. "Do you have something against old ponies?"

"No..." One ear perked upright while the other remained flopped to the side. "But why?"

"I don't know." She huffed and pointed at the tub. "The water's warm enough if you're ready."

He gave a light nod, pulled himself to his hooves, and made it into the tub with some effort on both their parts. He curled up on one side with his head resting on the edge of the tub. "Thank you, Crystal."

"It's no problem at all, dear." She smiled before going to retrieve her notebook and quill. The moment she walked back into the bathroom, his eyes were fixed on the objects.

"Are you writing?" he asked, one hoof tapping against the surface of the water that slowly rose around him.

She sat down on the bath mat and nodded. "Ideally."

"What are you working on?"

One of her brows arched. "The new serial for Mares Monthly."

"Oh." His cheeks puffed out as he tried to stifle a cough. "What is it?"

After pausing long enough for him to give her a curious look, she cautiously replied, "A story about two ponies who have been and are still in love after tens of years of marriage."

He scrunched up his nose. "So they're old?"

"Yes, they're still old, Silent." She sighed and dropped her gaze to her lackluster list of ideas.

"Why?"

The quill scratched out a note to her future self: If foals are anything like a sick Silent, perhaps reconsider becoming a mother. "I don't know, dear."

"Oh..." He slumped down, his hind leg kicking out of the tub. Water dripped from his hoof onto the tile floor. When he pushed himself back upright, he looked over at her, then down at her notebook. "What are you working on?"

"Your obituary," she muttered.

His ears drooped. "Oh." After a pause, he asked, "Why?"

Crystal sighed and shook her head. "No reason, dear. No reason at all."

---

While Silent remained on his pillow that was starting to develop an impression of him in it, Velvet sat in one of the dining chairs to watch Crystal make a fresh batch of tea. The worst of the cold seemed to be over: no more fever, much less coughing, and little to no delirium. Though she had taken off the masks, it didn't hurt to keep brewing. He did need to stay hydrated regardless of how well he was doing.

Velvet glanced over and grinned as Silent flipped to the next page of Her Silent Love. "He still doesn't know?" she whispered.

Crystal just shook her head in response.

"When he figures it out, memorize the look on his face and describe it to me later, okay?"

Crystal shot her a playful glare over her shoulder. "If you're not around when it happens, then it's your loss."

Before Velvet could respond, there was a light knocking at the door. "I'll get it!" Velvet slid off the chair and walked over. "Oh, hey, Azurite!"

Crystal gasped. Her magic nearly dropped a teacup onto the floor but managed to land it on the counter. "Lalala!" She trotted over and stuck out her hoof to pull the door open wider, hitting her elbow against Velvet's side.

Velvet grunted but got the message and smiled down at the little blue mare. "Oh, uh, who? Yeah, I mean, hi, you, right?"

After a moment of awkward silence, Silent said from behind them, "Hello, Azurite. This is a surprise."

"Yes!" Crystal cleared her throat and stepped to the side, gesturing with one hoof. "Please come in, ah, Azurite, is it?"

Azurite nodded. "Yeah. Sorry to drop by unexpectedly!" She walked inside with a wrapped package floating just above her head. "I didn't mean to interrupt this, uh, whatever is going on."

As she stepped into the light of the room, a bruise around her eye became more noticeable and Velvet pointed at it. "Wow! What happened? Did you get into a fight with Sunn—"

"Shh!" Crystal hissed under her breath. She brought her hind hoof down on one of Velvet's and looked away innocently.

Velvet glared at her. "Crystal, I swear to Celestia—"

"You're not interrupting at all," Crystal said over her, smiling at Azurite. "Come on, Velvet, let's go make something for our guest to eat while she spends some time with Silent Knight."

Crystal walked into the kitchen, Velvet lagging behind her to whisper something to Azurite before trotting forward. "Honestly, what happened to the mare who was good at keeping secrets?"

Velvet's ears pinned back. "I am! I just, well, she and I have been spending a lot of time together lately. I forgot that Silent isn't supposed to know that." She paused, then asked with a frown, "Wait, why can't he know that?"

"Because we're pretending she never came here!" Crystal sighed and started to rummage through the cabinets for something easy to put together. "I wish we had those little cookies still. She really liked those."

"She gets tons of sweets from my mom. Just put some peanut butter on celery and call that good." Velvet shrugged, leaning against the counter. "Anyway, I don't think she needs anything." Her head turned to look over at the two chatting somewhat awkwardly. "I think she's just here for Silent. I doubt she wants to stay for celery or cookies."

Crystal leaned around her to look as well. "Oh. Well, then, I suppose we'll just stay here and look busy."

There was a pause as they just stared at each other. Finally, Velvet broke the silence with a laugh. "This is so ridiculous. But that's normal for Azurite, I think."

Crystal tilted her head. "Is she prone to getting herself into odd relationships?"

Velvet laughed again, harder this time, and nodded. "You have no idea!"

Azurite presented Silent a gift and when he unwrapped it, Crystal recognized the packaging right away. She did her very best not to sigh. Another one of those Airship Armada figures! As if he didn't have enough of those already. While she and Velvet waited for the conversation to draw to a close, Crystal busied herself by wiping down the counters with a lemon-vinegar cleaner.

"See you later, sir!" Azurite's voice rang out as the mare made a dash for the door. "Bye, Velvet! See you tomorrow!"

None of them moved or said a word for a while. Silent just stared at them with one brow raised and, after glancing at one another, both of them shuffled their hooves as they walked out into the living room.

Silent cleared his throat and shifted his gaze to Velvet. "How do you know Azurite?"

Velvet dropped down to her haunches to wring her hooves, looking to Crystal for help. "Well, it's complicated, actually."

Crystal nodded. "Very." When Velvet glared, she shrugged back at her. This was Velvet's problem now!

"So, uh, you see." Velvet swallowed. "She came into the bakery with her friend this one time."

Silent stared a moment longer, then tilted his head. "Is that so? That's doesn't sound complicated to me. Almost every pony in Canterlot drops by Sunridge Sweets."

Velvet and Crystal looked at one another, the expressions on their faces mirrored: the explanation was that easy?

"You're right!" Velvet tried to laugh it off. "It sounded more complicated before I said it. Guess that explains that!" She stood up and started toward her bedroom. "Anyway, I've got practice soon, so I'm going to do some stretching. Since you're taking up the living room I'll be in my room."

Silent sighed, grumbling, "Just a few more days. Then I'll be out from under both your manes."

Crystal's ears folded back as she walked over and sat down on the pillow across from his. "It's fine. You shouldn't push yourself. Take the time you need to rest, and then we'll worry about getting you back in armor." A small smile played across her lips. "I won't lie. I've enjoyed having you here."

"I mean no offense, but"—he raised a hoof and shook his head—"I've not enjoyed being here. Not like this, I mean. I much prefer being here when I'm not sick. We do more entertaining things when I'm healthy."

A giggle bubbled up into a soft laugh. "Well, then, that should be good motivation to get proper rest." She winked. "You can save that pent-up energy for later."

"You two realize," Velvet said, sticking her head through the doorway, "that I'm like, right here, right? I can hear you."

The white of Silent's face turned red and his gaze darted away, tufted ears flat against his mane. Crystal just giggled again and reached out to put a hoof on one of his, giving it a reassuring squeeze. "It's all right," she whispered. "I'll make sure she's not here when you're well again."

---

"I'm sorry. Say that again?" Crystal stared at Silent, who towered above her with his full height.

Silent sighed. "Crystal, please let me have my armor."

Her magic kept the heavy pieces of metal hovering directly behind her as she stood between them and him. "No, the part about how you're going to work. I'm sure that's not what you said. Only a healthy pony would suggest that!"

"I've been sitting around here doing nothing long enough. It's time for me to get back to work. I've said please several times now." He took a step forward.

Crystal rolled her eyes. "Oh, yes, because if you put on this armor that will make everything better! Is it magic?" The hoof guards separated from the rest and laid down in front of her hooves. She stepped forward to put them on. "Hmm! I don't feel any stronger. Maybe this will help?"

"Crystal, please stop." Despite his words, a smile pulled at his lips as his helmet lowered onto her head, awkwardly resting against her horn.

"Stop what? I'm just trying to understand why a stallion who still needs his rest would think putting this armor on would be a good idea." She braced herself as she lowered the breastplate and cuirass to her form. It wasn't as heavy as she was expecting, though the adrenaline rush of her irritation toward him urged her muscles to keep it together. Standing with her shoulders squared and chest puffed out, she exclaimed in her best impression of him, "Look at me! I'm a big, bad, strong, stallionly house guard!"

Silent snorted and raised a hoof toward her, but she stomped away from him. "Crystal, please."

"I'm still not well yet but oh, yes, I'm going to go back to work because that is what I do. Work, work, work!" She circled the living room, each hoof falling with careful precision so as not to lose one of the guards.

When she circled back around, Silent stepped into her path. "Please take my armor off and give it to me."

She snubbed her nose at him, twirled with only a bit of off-kilter wobbling away from him, and resumed her marching. "I think if I put on my armor then I can go right back to work! I'm Mr. House Guard Commander Stallion and I say this is a good idea!"

Silent moved in front of her again, blocking her off from making a full circuit around the coffee table. "It's a crime to impersonate a royal guard, Mr. House Guard Commander Stallion."

Crystal stopped and backpedaled, her voice dropping back to normal. "But you're not well yet. You still need to rest up a few more days."

"I'm well enough." He shook his head. "Crystal, half of the unit is still out. I need to get back to the palace and relieve Sunny so she can get a break. Things have been rough for her lately, and Iridescence is worse off than me, so it has to be me."

She huffed and marched away from him; as she turned around, one of the guards slipped off her hoof and rolled under the couch.

He had a good point, but she wasn't ready. Having him around had been nice and, admittedly, she was used to it already. How could he just casually demand she give that up?

"All right." His wings slowly unfurled. "Crystal, we can do this the easy way, or you can force me to do this the hard way. It's up to you." With a few flaps, he lifted himself up onto the back of the couch and perched there, staring at her.

She stuck her tongue out at him. "Or—or! You can stay here and rest just one more day. Or two." She trotted over to the dining table and put it between them for safety.

Silent arched one brow. "What if I go easy at work?"

"You! Go easy at work? You never do that!" She huffed and pushed one of the chairs for a wider barrier. "Don't make promises you won't keep."

"I will, for you." He paused, then added with emphasis, "Today."

She feigned a moment of consideration, then stuck her nose in the air. "Nope! No deal!"

A grin spread across his lips. "Honestly, I was kind of hoping that would be your answer." His wings stretched all the way out to the sides to display all of his white and blue feathers. "The hard way it is!" He pushed off with all four legs and dove toward her.

With that kind of display, he definitely seemed well enough to go back to work! Crystal squealed and abandoned her chair-and-table fort to make a run for the other side of the living room. He pulled up and did a flip before landing on all fours, then shot a glare in her direction.

"Too slow!" she teased, giggling.

Silent huffed and puffed. Maybe he wasn't that well after all. "I need my armor! I've got to go on duty!"

The smaller size of the condo was great when it came to having to clean up, as there wasn't much room to make a mess. That also meant there wasn't much room to run away from a pegasus bent on capturing an armor-laden mare whose limbs were threatening to give out. Crystal only just barely made it around the coffee table before her front leg clipped one of the sitting pillows and she tumbled forward.

Silent sprung into action, standing over her with all four legs in each cardinal direction to pin her to the ground. "There," he wheezed. "Surrender."

Her gaze darted for an escape route, but she saw none. She looked up at him with the biggest, saddest eyes she could manage. "One more day?"

He shook his head. "No. Surrender."

Her lower lip quivered with sincerity. "But—" She sighed and dropped her head to the side so she didn't have to see his face as she admitted, "But I'll miss you."

The hardened expression on his face grew soft and he leaned his head to try to catch her gaze. "Miss me? What do you mean?"

She kept her eyes firmly angled away from him. "We haven't been able to spend time together lately... I meant it when I said I've enjoyed having you here. Sick or not, it's been... nice having you around."

There was a long pause until he lowered himself just enough to place a kiss on her cheek. "I'll be home for dinner. I promise."

She sniffed and peered up at him out of the corner of her eye. "You promise?"

"Yes. Now, please, give me my armor?"

She relented with a small nod. "Okay." After he stepped to the side and she rolled onto her hooves, her magic started to pull the armor off her form and retrieved the stray hoof guard from under the couch, then slowly she started to assemble them on him. "But I'm changing the locks if you break your promise."

Silent chuckled and, once the final touch of putting his helmet on was complete, he kissed her other cheek. "I promise I won't break my promise. I'll see you tonight, Crystal." He paused at the door to look over his shoulder and her and added, "I love you."

Crystal waved a hoof, smiling softly. "I love you, too, Siley. But I'm serious about the locks."

Once he was gone, she sighed and looked around the empty, quiet condo. It had been fun while it lasted, but it was time to come back to reality.

Author's Note:

Companion Secrets Chapter: The Truth
Companion Secrets Chapter: Patients

Happy chapter 100! Hopefully you enjoyed it more than Silent Knight did! :derpytongue2:

No, seriously, thank you all for your support and sticking with me. I appreciate every comment, favorite, and upvote—everything means so much to me. I wouldn't have made it this far without you all. :twilightsmile:

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