• Published 17th Nov 2014
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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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Treasure in the Moment

Crystal took a quiet but deep breath of air and slowly released it through her teeth. She sat with her hindlegs folded beneath her, facing a row of her peers that sat in a similarly formal fashion. Her mane was tied in a tight bun to ensure it stayed out of her way throughout the ceremony.

Silently, she bowed. The five ponies before her returned the bow before one washed their hooves in a stone basin, then slid the basin down to the next pony. Once each had washed their hooves, they returned their full attention to Crystal.

Using only her hooves, as tradition required, she pulled one of the small bowls in front of her closer with one hoof. A green tea powder had already been spooned into each bowl, so she carefully raised up a ladle from where it was resting in a pot of hot water.

For a unicorn, using one's hooves generally required much more concentration than using magic. Basic levitation became second nature once a foal got a handle on it. Holding and manipulating objects with a hoof or a mouth, however, was trickier. She imagined it was how pegasi felt when they had to run or walk for extended periods of time as opposed to simply flying about.

Crystal blinked a few times. She had gotten lost in thought and spilled a few drops of water on the floor.

"Ooh, you goofed up," a voice playfully hissed in her ear, which twitched both in irritation at the words and her own lack of focus.

"Velvet!" Crystal hissed back. She paused to focus on pouring the water while the ponies sitting across from them snickered.

Watching the ceremony in prior silence was Velvet, lounging on a pillow behind Crystal. "What?" She had her head propped up on one hoof and grinned when Crystal glared at her. She waved her free hoof. "Is it really that hard for you to use your hooves? You unicorns, spoiled by your magic."

Crystal dropped the ladle back into the pot. "Okay, well, I failed already. I'll clean up so the next pony can have their turn."

The snickering clubmates nodded and stood up from their formal poses.

"Well, it was a nice try," one offered.

"At least you didn't drop the ladle on the floor this time," another said with a small giggle.

Crystal's magic reached up to pull the clip out and undo the bun, her mane falling in gentle waves to her shoulders.

"You should keep your mane down more often," Velvet mused aloud. "It's really pretty like that."

"Hmm?" Crystal inclined her head to look down at her own mane. The locks of pink were woven into her tresses like vines of pink ivy scaling a blonde wall. "Oh, may—no! Don't change the subject." She frowned. "I said you could watch if you were quiet and didn't interrupt."

"Yeah, but you did that to yourself without any help from me." She giggled.

Crystal sighed, shaking her head. Despite, she smiled as she started to clean and empty the bowls, free to use her magic now to make the task go by quickly. "There are only two months left in the year. We're going to have a tea festival the week before the last one of school. I want to get it right in case my parents show up."

Velvet raised her brow. "Your parents? What are the odds that's going to happen?"

Crystal shrugged. "I dunno. Mom's the one that pushed me to do this club, so I thought, maybe—" She sighed and dried off the last bowl. "Anyway, why are you here?" She scooted away from the ceremony setting to sit beside Velvet on the sidelines while another pony took her place.

"Dance club is canceled today, so I've got nothing better to do than watch—"

The stallion that was starting his attempt interrupted her with a hissing shh.

Velvet grinned, then lowered her voice to just barely a whisper. "—you and your friends play pretend with—"

"Shh." The stallion glared over his shoulder, taking the whole thing quite seriously.

Velvet paused, then mimed a tea kettle by bending one foreleg to rest her hoof on her hip and curving the other one for a spout. She then tilted at the waist to pour imaginary tea and stuck out her tongue.

Crystal raised a hoof to dismiss the antics with a quick wave. She nodded and—in complete silence—drew the hoof across her lips, pointed at the ponies in front of them, and gestured between her eyes and them.

Velvet rolled her eyes, but faced her gaze forward nonetheless.

By the time club ended, they had watched three ponies practice the ceremony. There were only eight total ponies in the club, but the practice attempt took forty minutes at the most and few managed to get very far. The tea club president seemed somewhat distraught.

"We've been practicing for three months, ponies! How are you still making rookie mistakes at this point?" She sighed and rubbed her forehead with a hoof. "Well, I'll see you all later this week. Please try to practice at home."

Crystal stood up and whispered to Velvet, "It takes years to master the tea ceremony, so I don't get why she's so surprised."

Velvet shrugged. The two walked out of the room and once they were in the hallway, Velvet inclined her head. "So, what's up with you? You seem a little on edge."

"Hmm." Crystal made her way to her locker and opened it. A mirror was affixed to the inside of the door, which she gazed into while she pulled her mane up into her usual side ponytail. "Another stallion asked me out. I said yes, but—"

"But?" Velvet tilted her head.

Crystal shut her locker door and turned to look at her with a small frown. "I don't know. I just want to feel that magic spark, you know?"

"I don't, but I know you do." She tapped her chin in thought. "You know, the last home hoofball game of the year is next week. You, Horsey, and I should go. Watch stallions be stallions, you know?" She winked.

It didn't take long for Crystal to imagine it. Hoofball players, running across the field, sweat clinging to their coats, their muscles flexing in the afternoon sun—

"I'll take that expression as a yes." Velvet laughed and patted her on the shoulder. "Oh, by the way." She hesitated a moment before offering in a cautious voice, "I know you have another club meeting, but the girls from my ballet group and I are going to go bowling at Looney Lanes. If you want to come after your meeting.." She trailed off, her smile falling.

Crystal's gut reaction was to come up with an excuse and decline as she always did when faced with a social outing with unfamiliar ponies. They were Velvet's friends, not hers; she'd be an awkward third wheel and that didn't sound like any kind of fun to her. However, something about Velvet's expression made her say instead, "Sure, I'll head over there as soon as I get out."

Velvet's eyes widened and she smiled wide. "Great! We'll have a lot of fun!" The smile widened into a playful grin. "It's hoof-only bowling, so you'll get lots of practice using your hooves for the tea ceremony thing."

"Oh, great." She rolled her eyes but smiled nonetheless. "I can't wait."

"Me neither!" Velvet trotted down the hall. "See you then!"

Crystal had barely made her way through Canterlot before she was filled with nagging regret. Had she ever bowled with her hooves? For that matter, had she ever gone bowling at all? Perhaps once when she was young, but she certainly didn't remember a thing about it. Velvet frequently went to Looney Lanes with her other friends, so that meant they would all be good at it. She groaned and kicked at a small rock on the otherwise even cobblestone streets.

The sound of glass shattering nearby made her ear twitch and her head jerk to the side, startling her out of her thoughts. Even more startling was seeing Midnight Poem outside of a flower shop, panic on his face as he waved a hoof at a cowering mare.

"Stop!" he exclaimed. "Wait, hold on!"

The mare stared up at him with wide eyes, trembling all over. She was a delicate thing, light green in coat with a dark green mane and tail. Her hooves, which were raised to try to defend herself from a perceived attack, had dark brown around them, likely from working in the dirt.

Crystal furrowed her brow. "What the hay?" she muttered under her breath and started to trot over. "Midnight, what—"

"—is going on here?" a stallion's commanding voice spoke over her own, halting all three of them.

The mare looked up with a sudden, relieved smile. Midnight looked over with uncertainty and a bit of fear. Crystal stayed where she was, not sure if the voice was addressing her or the suspicious scene. When a guard walked past her, she relaxed, then tensed up again. The tall stallion was completely unfamiliar to her. He was well-built, with muscles showing in his legs and shoulders from beneath his armor. His serious expression and firm tone, admittedly, made her more than weak in the knees.

Midnight's mouth flapped open and shut a few times before he stammered through an explanation. "I didn't do anything, sir! I promise! I just said hello, and she dropped this vase, you see, an—and, well, I don't know, but she won't stop looking at me like that!" He gestured at the florist. Whatever relief the other stallion's presence had brought her was quickly overwhelmed by Midnight speaking again.

There was a pause before the stallion broke the tension with a chuckle. "Is that all?" He stood just at the edge of the area of broken glass and looked at the mare with one brow raised. "I see. Well, then, assuming there's no issue, I'll get back to my rounds."

"I—I—I'm sorry," she stuttered, her voice just as delicate as her disposition. Her ears flopped down and she ducked her head in embarrassment. "There's no issue."

The stallion gave a cordial nod before trotting off. Crystal watched him leave, biting her lower lip as her gaze traced his sturdy form moving effortlessly despite the armor he wore, then shook her head to bring herself back to the present moment.

She trotted over and, with a quick sweep of her magic, collected up the glass shards into a pile. "Midnight, honestly," she chimed in, standing beside him. "You'll never find a special somepony if you go around scaring mares like this."

Midnight sighed. "I didn't mean to."

Crystal put her airs back on and smiled at the mare. "I apologize for my friend. I hope there wasn't much damage done?"

"No." The mare swallowed. "I'm sorry. I'm Leafy Roots, the florist for this shop." Her gaze turned to Midnight. "Did you need some flowers?"

"Well, yes, but, now it's not a surprise, so, perhaps not." He glanced at Crystal with a shy grin.

She paused. Was he there to buy her flowers? She nudged him in the side, grinning playfully. "What are you playing at, Romehorse?"

Midnight shook his head. "I'm not playing at anything! I just thought I'd pick up some flowers." He paled slightly. "Friendly flowers, like daisies. Not roses or anything romantic. Honest."

"Oh, I have daisies," Leafy Roots offered. "Let me get some for you. Just one second, okay?" She bobbed her head and ducked into the store.

Only a moment later, the mare came back out with a daisy chain, which she raised up and placed on Crystal's head. She had a shy smile on her lips as she explained when given a curious look, "Since he said, well, not romantic, this seemed more suitable, maybe?" Her smile wavered slightly.

Crystal inclined her head to look in the shop window at her reflection. It was a little hard to see in the daylight, but she got enough of a view to smile. "How sweet."

Midnight laughed and retrieved a pouch of bits from his saddlebags. "It's perfect! How much do I owe?"

"Four bits, I guess?"

Crystal blinked. "Is that all?"

Roots flinched, glanced between them, then down at the ground. "Well, normally it'd be, um, six bits, but with how I acted, I want to give a discount."

Midnight raised six bits out of his pouch and placed them in her hoof. "Six it is, then. Thank you, Miss Roots."

Roots looked up at him with a growing smile. "Thank you for your business! Please come again, okay?" She bowed her head, then went into the store to put away the bits.

Crystal sighed and gazed over her shoulder with a pout. "I didn't even get that stallion's name. He seemed so nice!" And he was good-looking, but she wasn't about to say that part aloud.

"Huh?" He blinked a few times.

"Nevermind," she said with a laugh. She turned to face him completely and bounced from hoof to hoof. "So, you bought me flowers, huh? Why?"

"Why else?" He sighed. "To apologize for that disaster of a date."

Crystal giggled. "You didn't have to, but I appreciate it." She started to walk down the street in the direction of the bowling alley, nodding her head to gesture for him to follow. "I'm going to Looney Lanes to go bowling with Velvet and her friends. Which are all mares." She winked. "Why don't you come along?"

"All mares?" He flushed as he walked beside her. "Are you trying to set me up?"

"With any luck, I won't be trying!" She giggled.

"Well, I didn't have any plans." He smiled a little sheepishly. "And it might be fun."

"Then it's decided! Operation 'Find A Mare' is a go!" She trotted ahead with an excited skip in her step, suddenly much more excited about bowling. After all, a ballet dancer seemed like the perfect muse for a poet. Every ballet move was poetry in of itself! And being the only stallion in a group of mares, he was bound to catch at least one's attention, she was sure of it.

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