• 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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High Hopes

Now striving to be more attentive to Horsey with the time they had left together in Canterlot, Crystal noticed that even though Horsey had gotten a part in the play, her parents didn't even show to support her. Crystal's heart sunk when she saw the empty seats they could have filled.

Horsey played the Nurse, which was quite a notable role—and, in hindsight, explained the otherwise meek mare's more vulgar commentary at bowling night. Backstage, Crystal and Velvet helped her get into the costume, which consisted of a simple tan dress with flared sleeves and a white wimple. Once she was dressed, they stepped back to get a good look at her.

"You look like a sweet old mare!" Velvet beamed at her, trying to cover up her grin with a wide smile.

Horsey stuck out her bottom lip in a childish pout. "I don't think that's really a compliment."

"We'll be in the first row rooting for you, old mare," Crystal teased as she trotted for the stairs off the stage, Velvet following after her. "Break a leg!"

"You're not helping, either!" She stomped both of her forehooves, but smiled nonetheless.

The play went about as well as could be expected for a rag-tag group of ponies with theatrically-inclined talents as well as those who just filled a necessary role. There were some rough patches, such as when Countess Maris forgot her lines and wasn't successfully able to improvise, or when Julimare dropped the vial before drinking from it. However, everypony in the audience gave a heartfelt applause when the curtains fell.

When they returned to the backstage area to congratulate her, both Crystal and Velvet stopped dead in their tracks. Horsey held a bouquet of yellow roses and in front of her stood 16-Bit. The stallion was rubbing the back of his neck and they had walked up just in time to catch the last of his words.

"—so, I'm sorry."

Horsey's expression and tone were strangely guarded. "It's okay." She didn't look directly at him. "Thanks for the flowers, though."

16-Bit bobbed his head. "You're welcome." He looked like he wanted to continue, hesitated a moment instead, and scuffed one of his hooves against the wood floor. "Will you still come to LARP over the summer? You're our best paladin."

"Probably not," Horsey muttered.

"Oh." 16-Bit's ears fell and he dropped his gaze. "Well, anyway, you did great today. I'll see you around, High Horse."

As he walked away and Crystal and Velvet hurried over, they heard her mumble, "Probably not." She looked up and smiled when she noticed the two approach. "Oh, hey!" She puffed out her chest. "What do you think? Was I great or was I great?"

"I think you burned a bridge with that stallion," Velvet muttered, glancing over just as he walked out of sight. "He bought you roses and you just totally shot him down!"

Before Horsey could reply, Crystal shook her head and said, "No, he bought her yellow roses." They both looked at her curiously and she explained matter-of-factly, "Yellow roses usually just mean friendship."

"Really?" Horsey looked down at the bouquet she held in the crook of her foreleg. "Well, it doesn't matter. He burned that bridge, not me."

"Let's forget about him and focus on how awesome you were. You didn't stutter once!" Crystal smiled. "Are you sure you want to be a model? Maybe you'd be a great actress!"

Horsey scrunched up her nose and tilted her head. "What? No." She paused. "Maybe?" She started to wriggle her way out of the wimple and dress. "I mean, I got my cutie mark when I was in a beauty pageant and I realized how much fun I was having." Once free of the clothing, she looked at the interlocked horseshoes on her flank. "Is it possible I misunderstood my own cutie mark? Can that even happen?"

Velvet shrugged. "Well, being a model and being an actress are kind of really similar, aren't they? Being on stage, putting on a show."

"Honestly, isn't a cutie mark about what you love to do?" Crystal added. "So if you do some acting and it turns out you love that, then that's all that matters, right?"

Horsey nodded slowly. "I'll have to think about it, I guess." She looked back at them with a smile. "Thank you both for coming, by the way."

"Like we'd miss seeing our best friend in her big debut!" Crystal wrapped a foreleg around Horsey's shoulder. "We're here for you."

"Always!" Velvet added enthusiastically, hugging the both of them.

The gathering of ponies at the tea ceremony festival—as well as the general feeling in the air—was quite different from the night of Horsey's play. Soft, gentle music played over the quiet conversation and sounds of tea preparation.

Each member from the tea club sat in the proper, formal posture at their respective stations and wore traditional Jibanese attire: kimonos for the mares and hakamas for the stallions. Crystal herself wore a white kimono adorned with a flurry of pink cherry blossoms.

She shook her head, bringing herself to the reality of the moment and not its frivolous details. Her parents and friends were sitting in front of her, washing their hooves, and it was almost time for her performance.

Tea wasn't her special talent. She hadn't even really wanted to join the club in the first place. All in all, none of it mattered, so unlike during practice, she wasn't worried in the least.

For Celestia's sake, tea ceremonies weren't even a thing in Canterlot, and she had no plans to move to Jiban anytime soon. Once the stone basin was pushed aside, she pulled a bowl closer and picked up the ladle.

It almost amused her enough to break her composure and giggle at how easy things were when she didn't focus so much on them. Hooves weren't that tricky as long as she let them do their thing.

One of the five seats at her station was empty. She started to imagine that if she had a stallionfriend, he would be sitting in that seat, his eyes focused solely on her while she tried to remain calm. She felt her cheeks heat up as she imagined the weight of his gaze, the quiet anticipation as she served him tea, hoping he would—

"Darling?" her mother's voice interrupted. "Darling, you can stop preparing tea now," she whispered.

Crystal blinked down at the bowl into which she had started to pour water. It was the last bowl for the empty space. She did her best not to sigh. The empty space where her non-existent stallionfriend sat, not watching her, not waiting to be served.

"Of course," she replied quietly and started to clean out the bowl. "I was just so focused—"

"Shh, now. Only guests speak; the host remains quiet. Surely you haven't forgotten that."

A petulant frown broke across Crystal's otherwise calm face, but she quickly stifled it. Velvet and Horsey did their very best to keep their own expressions neutral as they raised their bowls, savored the smell, then quietly sipped, as did Upper Crust and Jet Set. Once they all had finished their tea, they set the bowls down and bowed. Crystal bowed in return, completing the ceremony, and the formality almost instantly dissipated.

"I do not like green tea," Horsey said, scrunching up her nose and sticking out her tongue.

Upper Crust looked at the young unicorn out of the corner of her eye. "It is an acquired taste for fine palettes. I'm surprised your father hasn't been more diligent in refining yours."

Horsey couldn't resist rolling her eyes. "Yes, Mrs. Crust."

"Please, do call me Upper Crust."

"Yes, Upper Crust," Horsey mumbled.

Velvet looked down at the bowls as Crystal cleaned them. "I thought it tasted earthy."

Upper Crust's gaze shifted to look at her. "Well, it's not exactly a shock that you would describe it so—simply." She smiled politely.

"Mom!" Crystal hissed through her teeth. "Really?"

"What?" Her mother put a hoof to her chest. "Velvet doesn't have the proper training like you and High Horse. You don't need to be so defensive over facts."

Crystal grumbled incoherently under her breath.

Jet Set finally cleared his throat to speak. "This was a delightful little outing, I do believe, but we must be off. Come along, dear." He stood and offered a hoof to his wife, helping her to her hooves.

"Good performance, darling," Upper Crust said, then raised her snout into the air in proper form as she and Jet Set walked off.

"I take it back. I definitely take it back," Crystal mumbled and buried her face in her hooves. "I thought I liked my parents, but I was wrong."

Horsey smiled. "They're not as bad as you think they are." She turned her head to watch them walk away. "They're just Canterlot citizens, is all."

Velvet glanced at Horsey, rubbing her foreleg. "So, just two more days before you leave, huh?"

"Yup." Horsey's smile widened further. "I'm really excited!"

Crystal pulled her mane out of the tight bun and stood up. "Well, I'm going to go change out of this stuffy clothing. Then let's make the most of the rest of today!"

The remaining days flew by much too quickly for Crystal and Velvet's liking, both of them dreading the week's end more than anypony else. The excitement of summer vacation did little to lift their spirits.

When they arrived at the train station, the look of pure joy on Horsey's face brought smiles to their own. Whatever loneliness they would feel suddenly paled in comparison to the idea of Horsey's misery staying in Canterlot. They galloped the rest of the way onto and across the platform.

"Oh, Horsey!" Crystal wrapped both forelegs around her. "Write as soon as you get settled so I know where to send our letters."

"I will, I promise!" Horsey nuzzled her cheek to Crystal's. "I can't believe this is really happening!" She pulled back from Crystal just in time to be nearly knocked over by Velvet's hug. "It feels like my life is finally starting. Like I'm finally going to be moving forward."

"I wish we could come with you, but—" Velvet sighed and shook her head.

"It's okay," Horsey said with a smile.

Crystal sat on her haunches and frowned. "I think my mother would burn down half of Equestria if I tried to leave. I'm not willing to risk the lives of innocent ponies just for you, Horsey," she finished with a teasing grin.

Horsey giggled. She put her hoof on her suitcase and looked at it with a mixture of a soft smile and sad eyes. "I think I'm ready to stand on my own for a little while, anyway."

The conductor leaned his head out of a window and hollered, "All aboard, last call! We're 'bout ready to leave fer Ponyville!" The train whistled to punctuate his statement.

"Well, girls." The reality of the moment made Horsey's eyes well up with tears, but she smiled in spite of them. "Come visit me soon, okay?"

Crystal and Velvet nodded vigorously. "We promise!" they exclaimed with one final, tight hug, and then let her go.

Horsey's suitcase rose effortlessly despite its hefty size, courtesy of her magic, and followed behind her. With her head held high and a burst of confidence, she walked forward and onto the train.

After she had found her seat, she could be seen in one of the windows. She waved, and they waved back as the train pulled out of the station. Soon, she was out of sight, but neither of them cried. It was hard to feel too sad knowing that the train was taking her to a happier life.

They sat there for a while, neither saying anything.

Finally, Crystal broke the silence. "You know, I never really considered that we could work at our age."

Velvet blinked up at her and tilted her head. "Huh?"

Crystal kept staring after the train. "I mean, it's like Horsey talked about. Ponies our age in Ponyville already have jobs. They're already doing what they love. I'm spending my time learning tea ceremonies and trigonometry." She turned her gaze to Velvet. "I think I'm ready to start writing for real."

Velvet pursed her lips. "I thought you already were writing?"

"I mean, I want to start publishing my work, so other ponies can read it."

With a loud gasp and wide eyes, Velvet threw her hooves into the air. "Really?! Are you serious?!"

"I think so." Crystal looked away again. "I don't know. I guess I'm just—oof!"

Velvet collided with her, sending the both of them sprawling to the ground, and she hugged Crystal tight. "That's great!" she squealed. "I thought I was going to have to publish your stuff for you, but this is way better if you do it willingly!"

Crystal's startled laughter at the sudden embrace was cut short. She stared up at Velvet with one brow raised. "Wha—"

"Just kidding!" Velvet laughed, then grinned in a playfully evil way. "Or am I? Equestria may never know!" She sat up, put her hooves on her hips, and tossed her head back with a maniacal cackle.

Crystal started to laugh again, but the sound died out as soon as it had begun. Softly, she mumbled, "Velvet, are you trying to overcompensate your excitement about this so you don't start crying about Horsey again?"

"Nope." Velvet stood up, her demeanor returning to a normal, even calm. "I'm trying to overcompensate so neither of us cry about Horsey again. Now, come on, let's get an anti-depression milkshake already." She turned and started to trot away.

Crystal stood up and hurried to catch up with her. After a quiet, thoughtful moment, she asked, "Wait, were you really going to publish my stories without my permission?"

"Maybe." Velvet winked. She trotted on the very tips of her hooves and hummed.

Velvet had always been terrible at keeping secrets. Every time there was something she was hiding, she hummed a particular tune, and at that moment, she was humming that very tell-tale tune.

Crystal paused again, then lowered her tone to an almost menacing level. "Velvet. What did you do?"

Velvet quickened her pace, saying nothing.

"Velvet!" Her right eye twitched as she repeated louder, "What did you do?!"

Velvet squealed and ran ahead. "You'll have to beat me to Sunridge Sweets to find out!"

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