• 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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Consort in the Chaos

Velvet's birthday had finally arrived. Everypony in their class was talking about it, and, with each word that reached Velvet's ears, she seemed to sink lower and lower in her seat.

Crystal cleared her throat to bring Velvet's attention to herself and levitated a small present from her saddlebags. "Happy birthday!" she quietly exclaimed as the box floated over to rest on Velvet's desk.

Velvet gave a small gasp of excitement. Her hooves gently pulled the ribbon and sparkly pink giftwrap, then opened the box inside. A mane clip rested on a velvet pillow, featuring a group of crystals in the shape of a flower with white, fully plumed feathers set on top.

"Oh my gosh, is this—" Velvet looked over at Crystal with wide eyes.

"It is!" Crystal nodded with enthusiasm.

Velvet matched her enthusiasm with a squeal, then gingerly picked it up and clipped it into her mane. She raised her head with pride and gazed fondly at Crystal. "Oh, it's perfect! It looks exactly like Prima Donna's signature mane clip! How did you find it?!"

Crystal giggled. She rested her chin on one hoof and waved the other. "It's a secret!" She winked.

Velvet bounced excitedly before springing from her chair to knock Crystal over with a big, tackling hug. The two were laughing and giggling just as the teacher walked in.

"Velvet Step," she said, clearing her throat. "I know it is Friday and your birthday today—and happy birthday for that—but, please, it is time for class."

Velvet flushed and hurried back to her seat. "Yes, Ms. Tutor."

Crystal climbed into her own seat, chiming in, "Sorry, Ms. Tutor."

"Very good, then. Let's begin today's lesson."

Throughout the day, none of the glances her way or suspicious whispering seemed to bother Velvet at all. She swung her hindlegs and kept a goofy, happy expression on her face the whole day—and Crystal couldn't stop smiling, either.

There were definitely some benefits from having parents as well-ingrained in the affairs of the city, especially when it allowed her to commission the local jeweler on short notice. It had used up most of her allowance for the month, but the look on her friend's face was more than worth it.

At the midday lunch and recess, Crystal and Velvet sat at their usual spot under a tree in the playground. Crystal already knew what was in her lunch, since she had packed it herself, just as she did every morning. She leaned over to peek in Velvet's brown paper bag, much more interested in what goodies Sunbeam and Pepper Ridge had included.

"Ooh," Crystal cooed as Velvet unveiled a strawberry-and-cream-cheese-filled croissant. "That looks amazing!"

Velvet giggled. "Of course it does! Dad's the best." She glanced between the croissant and Crystal. "Do you want to share it?"

"Uh, of course?" Crystal giggled and retrieved her simple peanut butter and daisy sandwich. "But I don't have anything to exchange for it. Just this, an apple, and some carrots."

There was a pause as Velvet plucked a strawberry from the sandwich and nibbled on it. "I'll ask Dad to make two next time, if you want."

Crystal quickly shook her head. "Oh, no, that's okay! It's fine. I—"

Her ear flicked at the sound of approaching hoofsteps and she looked to see a group of fillies headed their way with Golden Pants in the lead.

Crystal groaned. "Oh, no."

"Huh?" Velvet blinked and followed Crystal's gaze. "Who are they?"

"Trouble," Crystal muttered under her breath, then smiled when Golden Pants was within hearing range. "Hi, Golden."

Golden regarded her with a snubbed nose. "Hi, Crystal." She focused her blue eyes on Velvet and sneered. "So, Velvet Step, I see you've got a new mane clip."

Velvet beamed at them, oblivious to the small frown on Crystal's face or that a group of Canterlot fillies was something to be wary of. "Uh-huh! Isn't it great?"

"Yeah, I guess." Golden Pants rolled her eyes. "If you didn't know anything about fashion, anyway."

Velvet deflated slightly at the somewhat sinister tone and looked to Crystal for help. "What?"

Crystal moved to put herself between the bullies and Velvet. "It is high fashion, if I say so myself." She put her training to good use and inclined her head to give the impression of looking down at Golden. "And I would hope that you would appreciate that, Golden Pants. Your father certainly does. I think my parents are attending the Wonderbolt races with him tomorrow, are they not?"

Crystal gave a small, dramatic pause to feign thinking before she added, "Hmm, it would be a shame if they mentioned your poor taste."

Golden's eyes widened. She leaned to look around Crystal at Velvet once more, then straightened up with an expression of surprise. "Yes! I just didn't get a good look at it at first, but it's definitely high fashion!"

The fillies behind her nodded and murmured their agreement.

Crystal smiled. "After all, it is one of a kind."

This spurred a chorus of gasps and exchanged looks of surprise before Golden's entourage stepped forward to get a better view.

"One of a kind?" one squeaked. "Velvet, you're so lucky! I'm so jealous!"

"Hey, Crystal," another said with a flutter of her lashes, "my birthday is next month! Can I get a mane clip, too?"

Crystal flipped her mane over her shoulder with a hoof. "Maybe, maybe not. I am feeling a little tired and would like to spend some time with my dear friend, though."

"Of course!" the fillies exclaimed in unison, backing away. Golden shot Crystal a dirty look before sticking her nose in the air and trotting after them.

Once they were gone, Crystal rolled her eyes and dropped the airy voice back to her regular one. "Ugh," she groaned, sitting down and raising her sandwich. "That is why I hate Canterlot."

Velvet stared at her with her ears folded back, dismay on her face. "What just happened?!"

Crystal sighed. She put a foreleg around Velvet's shoulders. "One of these days, I'm going to have to write a manual on living in Canterlot. For now, um, just be grateful that you have me!" She gave her a playful nudge.

"I guess." Velvet sighed. "I feel like you just said a whole bunch of words, but none of it made any sense."

"Pretty much!"

Velvet poked at her lunch with one hoof. "Is that what my birthday's going to be like tonight?"

"Yup. But don't worry. I won't let it get too bad. Cross my heart and hope to cry, else I'll live in a pig's sty!"

Velvet smiled and took a bite of her croissant. "You're the best!"

When they parted ways once school was over, Crystal gave Velvet a big, tight hug and a heartfelt assurance that she'd be there as soon as she could, then raced home.

"Mom! Can you help me get ready?" she called as she burst through the door, tossing her saddlebags off and running up the stairs. "I want to be the first one there!"

"Oh, certainly not, darling," her mother said, walking out of the kitchen. "You know the rule. One must always be fashionably late so as not to seem too eager and give away the advantage, but not too late to garner gossip of disinterest."

Crystal ground her teeth as she paced in a quick circle. "But she's my friend! Maybe even my best friend!"

"All the more reason to not tip your hoof and show too much favor to this filly. Think of what the others might say!" her mother called from the living room.

In the privacy of being around the corner on a different floor, Crystal dropped down on her haunches and tugged at her cheeks in frustration. She made a few different sour and irritated faces, then called as sweetly as she could, "Yes, Mom, you're right, of course!" She gave another roll of her eyes before quietly storming into her room.

"Aggh!" She threw a pillow across the room. "But if I'm not there, they might be mean to her!" She sighed as she flopped down onto her bed. "Though, the meanest of the mean will be fashionably late, too, so maybe it'll be all right." Reassuring herself with a curt nod, she closed her eyes and tried to calm down.

An hour later, her mother came into the room and frowned lightly when she saw Crystal sitting on the floor, reading the next book in the Prima Donna series. "Crystal, darling, books are for practicing your balance, not for reading. But if you are going to read, could you, at least, read something with a little more substance?"

Crystal glanced up from the book. "But this is Velvet's favorite series! I'm—" She paused to think carefully on what she was going to say. "—studying. So that I can talk of her interests with her in front of everypony. That way I'm the most prepared for conversation."

"Oh!" Upper Crust smiled. "Well, in that case, I'll let you keep reading. It won't hurt to be a little bit later than late—"

Crystal hopped up onto all fours. "Nope! I'm all caught up on my studying and ready to get dressed!"

"If you're sure, darling." Her mother walked into the room, levitating various containers of different kinds of makeup behind her. "Sit pretty and let Mommy make you a star."

First, the dress was lifted and carefully pulled over her head and tied in the back. It was varying shades of blue, starting with a bodice of the darkest, then a tiered skirt of frilly layers, each a shade lighter than the previous. The last layer of sheer tulle draped over her tail and down to the floor. It was itchy against her back legs, but she would survive one evening of it.

Next came the makeup. Crystal hated the smell and feel of makeup, but there was no way around it. A shiny coat of pink lipstick was gently dabbed across her lips and she smacked them together when instructed. Blue powder was applied to her eyelids and thick mascara to her thin lashes. Her mother fussed with her mane and tail for a while, though Crystal refused to let her undo the braid she so carefully put together every morning. Even the most well-mannered ponies had their limits.

Then her mother pulled out various accessories, such as a tiara which Crystal immediately shot down and clip-on crystal earrings that she allowed. None of the necklaces seemed to please her mother, so she decided that Crystal's neck would be 'fashionably bare'.

Finally, after parading about to prove she could carry herself with proper posture, she was allowed to leave.

"Bye, Mom! Bye, Dad!" She levitated her sleeping bag that contained sleepwear and clothes for the next day. Her parents insisted on them, both of which were expensive brands. They had to get in every opportunity to flaunt, of course. "I'll be home tomorrow! I promise I will have a full report on the other ponies for you."

"That's a good girl! Remember to smile, but not too much!"

"Yes, Mom!"

"And eat only things that won't stain your teeth!"

"Yes, Dad! May I go now?"

They both nodded and waved her off as she walked gingerly down the street with her bag floating beside her. Her journal was tucked safely between her bed cushions, and she prayed to Celestia that her mother wouldn't go snooping around while she was gone.

She shouldn't have been as surprised as she was when she arrived at Velvet Step's condominium building to see a group of uncertain fillies loitering outside. Crystal put on her airs and walked toward them. "The party is inside, you know," she said, one brow raised.

"Yeah, but, I mean, look at the place," one whined, pointing at the colorful balloons tied to the door. "My parents would disown me if they saw me in the vicinity of such basic colors."

"Hmm, really?" Crystal eyed the balloons. "Well, I wouldn't want to be in your horseshoes when you go back and tell them you missed out on the opportunity to mingle with Golden Pants and High Horse. Oh well!" She trotted past them and they quickly followed in step.

She started to feel a bubble of nerves as she walked up the stairs to the door. Was Velvet okay? It sounded like more ponies had arrived before her than she had expected. When she thought about it, however, the eagerness to learn more about the new family probably outweighed the desire for fashionable lateness. She rolled her eyes as her head started to spin with the politics of high society ponies and she opened the door.

"Crystal!" Velvet exclaimed and rushed over before Crystal could respond. "I'm so glad you're here!"

Crystal knew what was wrong before Velvet could explain. She assessed the situation in a split second. The ponies were drilling Velvet’s parents for information, which they were more than happy to fumble through giving. They were good-hearted, simple folks with the best of intentions, but in a cutthroat world, they were giving away too much that could be used to embarrass Velvet later.

Crystal gave a curt nod, patted Velvet on the shoulder, and stepped into the center of the filly- and colt-filled room. She cleared her throat.

"Mrs. Sunbeam! Mr. Ridge!" She smiled with all the charm she could muster as a room full of eyes turned on her. "Such a marvelous place you have. It's so—"

She looked around at the quaint, somewhat under-decorated room. What it lacked in expensive furniture, however, it made up for in pictures of a happy, smiling family. This brought a sincere smile to her own face.

"Warm and loving!" Crystal raised a hoof to gesture at the pictures. "I only wish I could have so many happy memories captured in photographs!"

As usual, if one strong voice took the lead, others would follow. Velvet watched in confusion and wonder as expressions lightened and words grew kinder. Soon, she was swarmed with ponies asking how she got such nice and loving parents.

Crystal gave a victorious pump of her foreleg. One crisis averted, and the party was just starting! Well, for the fashionably late, anyway.

Sunbeam and Pepper Ridge walked over to Crystal with tears in their eyes.

"You are the sweetest little filly!" Sunbeam exclaimed, hugging Crystal close. "You didn't have to say such nice things about our little family!"

Crystal giggled. "Trust me, I did. When I write a Canterlot manual, I'll make sure you all get a copy."

Pepper Ridge leaned in toward her. "Oh, you're a writer, Crystal Wishes?"

All semblance of color drained from her and her ears folded down. She shrunk back a few steps. "No, it was just, um, a joke."

Velvet's senses seemed to tingle and she rushed over the moment she saw Crystal's face. "Mom! Dad!" She glared up at her parents. "What did you say to Crystal?"

"We just asked—"

"It's nothing, Velvet!" Crystal interrupted with a big smile. "I just remembered that I left something at home!"

Velvet looked at her with suspicion. Pepper Ridge and Sunbeam looked at her with slight confusion. Crystal tried to smile wider. "I was going to bring Velvet the next book in the Prima Donna series, but I forgot to bring it."

This seemed to assuage the tension surrounding her. Velvet's parents nodded with understanding while Crystal giggled nervously.

"That's nothing to panic about. You can just bring it Monday." Velvet looked up at her parents. "I think the punch is running low."

The pair gasped and hurried off to go check the table of snacks and drinks while Velvet sighed and shook her head. "They are so weird sometimes. I'm really sorry about that."

"Don't worry about it. Now, let me get a better look at you." Crystal took a step back and examined Velvet from head to hoof.

She was wearing her mane tied up curly twin tails. The Prima Donna clip was attached securely just behind her ear, which flicked from time to time whenever the feathers tickled it. Her dress was simple and pink, with a big ribbon in the back.

Crystal couldn't stop a small giggle from escaping at how uncomfortable Velvet looked when she was being studied. "You look so cute!"

"You're just saying that," Velvet muttered, her cheeks flushed. She rubbed her hoof against her foreleg. "You look amazing! I just look silly."

Crystal raised one brow and put a hoof to her chest. "Are you accusing me, Crystal Wishes, daughter of the ponies with the most fashion sense this side of Canterlot, of lying about fashion?"

Velvet's mouth hung open as she tried to think of a response. "I, uh, well, uh—"

"I'm just joking!" Crystal giggled and lowered the hoof to wave it. "You do look cute, though, and I mean it. With your mane like that, you look even more like Prima Donna!"

That brilliant smile returned to Velvet's face and put Crystal at ease, at least until she saw tears start to well up in Velvet's eyes.

"Velvet?" Crystal blinked. "Are you okay?"

Velvet raised a hoof and rubbed at her eyes. "Sorry, I'm just—I've never had a friend before!" She hiccupped. "I don't know what to do!"

Crystal smiled softly and sat back on her haunches. "You eat yourself sick on cake, 'cause it's your birthday, and then we play some games!"

Velvet nodded. She sniffled, then looked over her shoulder at the other foals. "I dunno if I want to play games with them, though."

"Don't worry about it. We'll kick their flanks in a game of Twister! I mean, think about it. Half of them are wearing ridiculous dresses that definitely aren't going to flex well."

Velvet giggled. "Yeah, you're right." She hugged Crystal, then started toward the others. "Let's have some cake!" she announced.

Crystal remained where she was, sitting on her haunches with her forelegs folded over her chest. Things were going pretty well, if she did say so herself! Of course, the party had only begun, and there was still a whole night's worth of a sleepover to get through.

But, in the meantime, she was going to enjoy some cake and games with her best friend.

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