• Published 17th Nov 2014
  • 14,052 Views, 5,459 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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Ups and Downs

"—and beyond the doors was this little room that was as glamorous as the rest of the building!" Crystal waved her forelegs dramatically in a wide arch. "There was a bench against the back wall that had the most comfortable pillows. And there was a chandelier hanging from the ceiling!"

Crystal gestured toward the ceiling and swept her hooves in the shape of an hourglass figure. "But the most amazing part of all was that when the door closed"—she brought her hooves together—"there was a unicorn inside who moved the room down the building!" With a sigh, she hooked one hoof over the other and rested her chin on them. "I don't know how somepony so powerful could be stuck in a tiny room all day."

Velvet was doing her very best to not laugh, but her cheeks were puffed and a hoof was pressed to her mouth to keep it shut. Her eyes watered from the pressure building within until she toppled over backward, laughing hysterically. "Oh—my—Celestia! Are you—serious?!" she managed between gasps for air and bouts of laughter.

Crystal pouted, her forelegs dropping to her lap. "What? It was totally awesome!" She paused as a thought hit her and her eyes widened. "Hey, wait, you used to live in Manehattan, right? Why did you never tell me about elevators before?!"

Velvet rolled onto her side and hugged her aching stomach. "Crystal!" She gasped for air. "Crystal, elevators—Oh my gosh." Her frame trembling, she propped herself up with the crook of her foreleg and grinned. "Would you talk about stairs?"

Her brow furrowed. "No."

"Exactly! Elevators are everywhere in Manehattan." She had to pause periodically to allow fits of giggles to escape. "I mean, what, do you expect me to have said, 'Oh, Crystal, darling, this two-story building is in dire need of a faster, expensive, more complex mode of travel'?" She shook her head. "You really have never heard of an elevator before?"

The pout returned and she looked down at her hooves, which she drew across the carpet in small, wobbly circles. "Well, no. I've not traveled much, and, well, no."

A giggle erupted into a full-blown laugh. "Okay, I'm no expert or anything, but the elevator operator isn't as powerful as you think." She paused to wipe the tears from her eyes. "It's kind of like, you know, a scale?"

Velvet gestured the idea with her hooves, raising one and lowering the other, then continued, "It's a system of cables, pulleys, and weights that make the elevator go up or down." She shrugged and lowered her hooves back down to rest on her pillow. "I mean, there's a lot more to it than that, but that's the basic idea anyway."

Crystal took a moment to consider the new information. Her ears slowly fell to the sides. "So it's not totally amazing?"

Velvet grinned and shook her head. "Not really. Not to me, anyway. We earth ponies are pretty creative, don't you think? There's a lever to trigger the system that anypony like you or I can use, so an operator isn't necessary at all, but the bigger buildings like Eminence Tower can afford to employ them, so they do."

Crystal grumbled to herself, a little embarrassed, but the feeling was overtaken by a gleeful grin. "Anyway, I signed the contract!"

With all of her time being eaten up by travel, the garden party, and writing, the two hadn't yet had time to chat, and Crystal was nearly dying to share everything that had happened.

Velvet matched her enthusiasm in an instant. "It's official?!"

"Yup!" Crystal puffed out her chest with pride. "C.W. Step is on her way to the bestsellers' list!"

This gave Velvet a startled pause. Her head tilted one way, then the other. "C.W. Step?" she asked somewhat cautiously.

"Oh, right." Crystal grinned. She looked up at the ceiling and rubbed the back of her neck. "You don't know about that. So, I had to make some decisions while I was there. Sunset said—"

"Wait, what?" Velvet interrupted. She leaned in closer, grinning and wiggling her ears. "Who's Sunset? Is he cute?"

"Pfft—no." Crystal swatted a hoof at her. "He's my—agent? Boss? Helping hoof? I'm not sure what he is, exactly, but no. Focus, would you?" She smiled. "Anyway, Sunset said I needed a last name for my pseudonym."

The grin faded into a trembling smile, her voice becoming equally soft. "So you picked—"

"—a name I knew that I'd never hate," Crystal finished with the returned favor of interruption.

They stared at one another for a moment, Velvet's lower lip quivering before she threw her hooves to her face. "Oh my gosh, Crystal, that—you—" She sniffed and mumbled, "I—Thank you."

Crystal smiled, though it slowly curled into a grin. "You've always been there for me, so this is my way of ensuring you never leave me!"

Velvet laughed. "Way to ruin the moment!" She sniffed again, rubbed at her eyes, then leaned forward to hug her. "Like there's a chance I'd leave my best friend in all of Equestria, anyway."

"Mmhm. Exactly as I planned." Crystal gave a playful cackle before she fully returned the hug. "So how are your ballet lessons going?"

"Well, about that." Velvet pulled away to reveal a sheepish expression on her face, not quite meeting Crystal's gaze. "I may be dropping out."

Crystal gaped at her. "What? Why?!"

"The Canterlot Ballet is hosting auditions next week. If I get in, then I won't need lessons anymore, or, well, school." She rubbed the back of her neck. "Horsey's decision really got me thinking, you know? I know what I want to do—no, I know what I love to do, and I'd already be graduated if I were still in Manehattan, so why am I wasting time here?"

"Because you said you wanted to enjoy having friends and free time," Crystal offered quietly.

Velvet shrugged. "I had a great year, and I don't have any regrets, but when I saw the flyers for the Canterlot Ballet I got way more excited about that than all the bowling nights and dance parties combined." She smiled and shook her head, asking with a playful hint of sarcasm in her voice, "I mean, you're not going to try to pursue your writing career and still go to school, are you?"

It was Crystal's turn to not meet Velvet's gaze. She bit her lip and looked anywhere but at Velvet. "I don't really have that freedom. My parents finished Canterlot Academy. So did their parents, and—We may not always get along, but I'm not ready to burn that bridge, I guess."

"Oh." Velvet snapped her mouth shut, blinked a few times, and hesitated. Finally, she smiled. "Well, if that's really what's important to you."

The words sunk into Crystal's mind like stones into a lake. They settled at the very base of her thoughts and started to weigh heavily on her, but she shook her head quickly to dislodge them for the time being. "That's great for you, though! So your parents are okay with it?" She laughed at her own words. "Nevermind, of course they are. Your parents are actually reasonable ponies."

"I know, right?" Velvet sighed wistfully. "Sometimes, I don't know how you can survive without parents like mine!"

"Rub it in, why don't you?" Crystal giggled and shifted on her pillow almost uncomfortably despite her happy tone and expression. "Does this mean I'm going to see you less and less now?"

Velvet hummed in thought, tapping one hoof on the ground. "Probably, but you're going to be so busy with school and writing that I doubt you'll even notice I'm missing."

Crystal's ears folded back and she muttered intentionally loud, "I'd at least find time for you."

"Yeah, yeah." Velvet scrunched up her face and stuck out her tongue. "If I end up touring Equestria with the ballet company, I'll do my best to send you postcards or something."

"Gee, thanks." Crystal stuck her tongue out right back at her.

They held their expressions for as long as they could until Velvet succumbed to giggles, prompting Crystal to join her. As their laughter slowly quieted, their optimism started to deflate, shown in their sobering expressions.

"Crystal?" Velvet asked quietly.

"Yeah?" Crystal glanced at her.

"Things are going to be different from now on, aren't they?"

Crystal paused to think of the best yet still honest response she could, eventually landing on, "Yeah."

"Oh." Velvet got up and moved closer, settling on the available space remaining on Crystal's pillow and curling up against her. "That sucks."

Crystal shifted and rested her muzzle on top of Velvet's head. "Yeah." She paused, then continued, "But it'll be a good kind of different, I think."

Velvet closed her eyes, starting to smile again and muttering softly, "Yeah."

Crystal waited outside the palace and tried her best not to look suspicious, wearing her nicest sundress and a pink ribbon in her mane. After all, who could look like a threat to the kingdom while wearing a pink ribbon?

The guards stationed outside the palace were either well-trained in not showing that they were watching her or had accurately deemed her not a threat. She kept smiling, however, and admired the courtyard. She had been to the castle before, but only to the garden party or the ballroom. Today, Raven was going to show her so much more. The smile started to grow wider, but she cleared her throat to keep herself looking pleasantly calm. Too much excitement might draw the attention of the guards.

She glanced at them again to ensure they weren't approaching to drag her away, looking over just as the doors opened. Raven stood there a moment to scan the courtyard before she saw her. Crystal froze the instant their eyes locked. The uncertain, guarded mare from the garden party was not the one walking over to her with a steady gait and stern frown. There was a coldness in her eyes that sent a shiver down Crystal's spine.

"Good afternoon, Miss Wishes." Raven hovered a clipboard and pencil between them. "Please sign here agreeing to not stray into restricted areas, to not touch anything without granted permission, and to not interrupt any of the castle staff. Know that by signing, I am responsible for your actions while inside the palace walls in lieu of a guard escort, so act accordingly or you will be forced to leave the premises."

Though she knew she should never sign anything without reading it herself first, the seriousness in Raven's eyes and voice made Crystal forget herself long enough to sign on the dotted line.

"Very good. Follow me." Raven's magic drew the clipboard back to her and she turned to walk to the still open castle doors.

Crystal blinked a few times and quickened her pace to walk alongside Raven. "I thought this—"

"It's still a tour, yes," Raven interrupted, "but you will be entering areas of the castle not privy to the public eye, so I have just taken responsibility for you."

Crystal started to frown. "Can I just—"

"No." She sighed and stopped, turning her head to look at Crystal. "I have a very busy day and don't have time to answer questions not relevant to your research." Her tone lowered suddenly to a whisper. "Please don't forget that I work here and am particularly attached to my job, so I require as much professionalism between us as possible while we are here."

The frown lifted as the gears clicked into place. As the personal aide to the princess herself and in a secret relationship with a prince, Raven guarded her outward appearance more seriously than most. If she believed her actions reflected on the princess, then Crystal would respect that. She smiled, nodded, and drew a hoof across her lips. This earned a brief smile from Raven.

"Thank you. Now, first we shall go to the kitchen so you are familiar with where Sable will spend her working hours, then…"

The castle was, in one word, magnificent. Crystal kept an ear on Raven's every word to file them away while she admired her surroundings. Guards were posted outside most doors, observing the pair or just staring at the wall in boredom. The sweeping, grand architecture made the greatest impression on her, but she could only store so much information on it. After all, while she herself had rarely been that far into the castle, it would be Sable's every day, and she had to keep that in mind.

The smell of fresh herbs and roasted vegetables filled the air. There was the slight tinge of parmesan cheese floating underneath the heavier rosemary, but when all of the scents combined, even Sable's mouth watered at her own creation. She arranged the zucchini, yellow squash, and tomato slices on the plate in a perfect spiral, then tapped her hoof against a bell hanging from the ceiling.

Like clockwork, a servant walked through the doors, swept the plate up onto one hoof, and left to serve the princess. Sable watched the double doors swing back and forth before settling in the closed position, and she let a sigh escape. What she wouldn't give to see Princess Divina's face just once, to know if the princess enjoyed her food even half as much as she enjoyed preparing it.

"No, no, no." Raven looked across the cafe table and slid the papers back to Crystal. "The princess despises rosemary. Sable would know this."

It had only taken her a day after the tour to put together a more complete draft of the serial installments that made up the first chapter. Raven had agreed to meet during her lunch break at a cafe off grounds to discuss the accuracy of the chapter's details, which Raven cared about much more than Crystal did.

Crystal shifted in her seat, unable to help a small bit of exasperation in her voice. "But this isn't Princess Celestia. It's a different princess."

Raven gave Crystal a frown. "I did not go over our allotted tour to detail the princess's likes and dislikes for you to invent a whole new princess entirely."

"But if my princess has all the little details of Princess Celestia, and she happens to—she forbid—read it, won't she send the Royal Guard after me for being a crazed stalker?"

Raven waved a dismissive hoof. "The princess is far too busy, and she would have no way of knowing that you originally used rosemary."

Crystal stared at her a moment, then broke out into giggles. "All right, all right. I'll change it to parsley. Parsley wasn't on the list of dislikes." She raised a pencil to scribble notes across the draft. "Satisfied?"

"Very." Raven took a victorious bite of her sandwich and continued in a softer voice after swallowing, "I'm sorry for being such a nitpick about your story. I just can't help myself. My job is dedicated to ensuring precise and accurate details."

"I understand." Crystal smiled. She flipped to the next page. "You'll really help me out on portraying Highborn's character accurately. I'm struggling a little with that so far. This is the first time I've written such an arrogant, pompous prince and I'm not sure how to redeem him." She laughed softly under her breath.

Raven blinked a few times. "Really? What sort of princes have you written before?"

"Daring, kind, brave, passionate ones," she replied simply, as though it should have been obvious.

A heavy blush lit up Raven's cheeks and she looked down at her sandwich. "Oh, I see." She glanced around them. They had picked a table away from the other cafe occupants, but she still seemed nervous of eavesdroppers. "Could I—I mean to say, would you mind if I borrowed some of your other works?"

Crystal looked up at her with wide eyes that narrowed playfully after a moment of thought. "I don't know. The details might not be accurate enough for your liking," she teased.

Raven's blush grew a darker shade of red. "I—you—I'm just curious!"

"Uh-huh." Crystal winked. "Well, every mare is entitled to fantasizing. I'll see what I can do."

The embarrassment seemed to be too much for Raven as she stood abruptly, not looking Crystal in the eyes. "I—I believe my lunch break is over, so if you will excuse me, I must get back to work."

Crystal watched her hurriedly leave the cafe and tilted her head. Perhaps she had gone too far? After all, their relationship was still very tentative. Raven didn't seem to have any friends, what with the way she took her job so seriously—especially with her romantic secret—and how none of the servants in the castle seemed to regard her in any way but professionally courteous.

Crystal sighed and levitated the remnant of her sandwich and finished it off with two bites. Well, making a copy of some of her better romances featuring princes could be a good first step toward some sort of friendship, or it could be an embarrassing mistake. She hesitated, then smiled at the thought of what Velvet would say.

There's only one way to find out!

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