• 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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Moonlight Shadow

Two hours went by before Pepper Ridge finally stumbled out into the waiting room. His coat, normally the lovely color of toasted bread, was dark and matted with sweat, but a tired smile was on his face. "Girls, you want to come in and meet him?"

Crystal and Velvet scrambled off the bench, nearly knocking each other over in their hurry to follow him to the room. Crystal's breath caught in her throat when she walked through the doorway and beheld a scene of pure tranquility.

Bathed in the flickering fluorescent light from above, Sunbeam rested on the lone bed in the room, wearing an unflattering aqua-colored gown. Her mane had been long since pulled out of its curls and instead clung to her neck and shoulders. From any physical aspect, she was a bedraggled mess; however, there was still something that had taken Crystal's breath away for a moment.

Sunbeam looked down at the little blue-wrapped bundle in her forelegs with such fondness and love that she radiated beauty. The sounds of the hospital—the beeping machines and murmuring staff—faded away around the family in front of her in that moment. Pepper Ridge stood at one side of the bed and Velvet climbed up on the other, all three faces looking down at one little one, all three ponies overwhelmed with a strangely calm joy.

Slowly, Sunbeam lifted her gaze to look at Crystal. "Sweetie, why are you standing over there?" She smiled. "Why don't you come say hello?"

Crystal swallowed. One hoof lifted and took a tentative step forward, then another. The closer she was to the bed, the more fluid her movements became until the face that had captivated the three of them came into view.

Nestled in the blue bundle was a sleeping, dark red foal. A tuft of off-white, almost cream-colored hair rested over his forehead. The blanket moved ever so slightly from his tiny but even breaths.

Crystal's eyes stung with tears. "Oh, Sunbeam," she whispered, "he's absolutely perfect."

Velvet stroked the mane tuft and looked up at her mother. "What's his name, Mom?"

"Red Velvet," Sunbeam said, giggling when Velvet gasped.

"You gave him my name?" she asked in a quiet but incredulous voice. "Mom, Dad, I'm Velvet!"

Pepper Ridge reached behind Sunbeam and over to Velvet, pulling his wife and daughter into a hug. "We're not replacing you, honey."

"But we knew we wanted him to having something in common with you, and the name just seemed right," Sunbeam continued.

"Plus," Crystal added in, all eyes turning on her, "we'll just call him Red."

Velvet scrunched up her nose, looked between them all, then sighed. "Fine, but I'm only calling him Red." She looked down at the blissfully unaware foal. "Got that? You're Red, and I'm Velvet."

A snort and a grunt came from the foal before his eyes opened, the same violet color as Velvet's. He blinked a few times and yawned, a small gurgling sound in the back of his throat.

Velvet's ears dropped to the sides as she melted into a smile. "Aww, all right. You can be Velvet, too, if you want."

Red focused his gaze on her. He opened his mouth and she smiled wider, eager to know what he was going to do next… and a loud wail burst forth from his tiny lungs. It sounded much more like full-grown lungs were powering his cries as they echoed throughout the room.

Velvet recoiled and exclaimed, "What did I do?!"

"Nothing, sweetums," Sunbeam assured her with a tiny chime of laughter. "Red is hungry, that's all." She carefully rolled onto her side. "If you want to turn away, now's your chance!"

"Turn away?" Velvet asked. Her eyes followed the bundle as it was lowered to the bed and set down beside Sunbeam. Red, driven by pure instinct, wriggled himself forward and buried his face against their mother. "Oh—Oh!" She blinked, then tilted her head. "Weird."

Crystal reached out and lightly bopped Velvet on the shoulder. "It's not weird! It's natural. How do you think you were fed as a foal?"

Velvet shrugged. "I dunno. I never really thought about it. I've never really given much thought to foals in general." She looked back at Red. "They're kinda cute."

"Oh, you." Crystal laughed and looked at the new-again parents. "Congratulations, you two," she said while Sunbeam and Pepper Ridge gazed at each other fondly. "I'll let you get some well-deserved rest. Velvet, are you staying here?"

Velvet replied with an emphatic nod.

"All right." She giggled and walked to the door, waving just as she closed it behind her. "Again, congratulations!"

The moment the door shut, the sounds of the hospital became much more apparent, despite it being so late in the night that it was almost morning. Crystal paused to look around at the nurses that walked up and down the halls, a few guiding patients to or from their rooms.

A small shiver ran down her spine. The smell of rubbing alcohol and hoof sanitizer was thick in the air, and the lights overhead continually flickered just enough to be noticeable. There was a faint, nauseous smell of somepony nauseated somewhere nearby, and the disorienting white on white on white of the surroundings made her hurry to the nearest exit.

The night outside was quiet and serene. Crystal took a few deep breaths to clear the stagnant air out of her lungs, then smiled up at the moon before she started the long walk home.

Crystal nibbled on the quill's tip as she read her latest draft, the ink still wet. There was only a little under two months left of summer break before she'd be back to school and tied to a desk most hours of the day. While she still had some freedom left, she was determined to make more progress on the story.

The thought made her giggle. If Silent Knight came home when he wrote that he would, then she could work on her Silent love, as well. She giggled again and lowered the paper to the coffee table. Her gaze wandered the joined living room and kitchen. The condo was calm and quiet, despite being a Saturday for which Velvet would normally be around.

She yawned and stood up, her joints popping and creaking as she stretched out her forelegs. The clock on the wall indicated it was just shy of noon and she had skipped breakfast in favor of getting an early start on writing. Her stomach made its opinion on the matter quite known with a loud rumble.

Crystal put on one of her floppy hats and walked out into the hallway. While she walked out of the building, she mused on what seemed most appetizing: a salad, a sandwich, or perhaps some brunch? Biscuits and jam sounded rather nice, and nopony made them better than Papa Pepper. Of course, it was also a convenient excuse to drop by their place.

The air outside was hot and a little humid. Even though it was a short walk to Sunbeam and Pepper Ridge's condo, she worked up a light sweat and was eager to get out of the sun.

She knocked on the door and waited until it opened. When it did, Velvet's smiling face greeted her. "Hey! Come on in!"

Crystal walked inside, setting her hat on one of the coat hangers. "How's little Red?"

"Perfect, of course." Velvet rolled her eyes. "He only cries when he's hungry or needs changing. Otherwise, he's just, uh, happy. Not like, super happy, just baby happy, I guess."

Crystal glanced at the door that led to the nursery. "Who's managing the shop right now?"

"Dad." Velvet tilted her head. "Why?"

"Aww." Crystal laughed softly and sat down on the couch, shaking her head. "I was hoping for some of his biscuits and jam."

"Oh, I can reheat some for you, sweetie," Sunbeam said as she walked into the room. She had a sweatband around each ankle and another around her forehead to pull loose strands of blonde mane out of the way. "Let me finish my exercising and I'll get right on that."

Velvet huffed, stepping in front of her mother. "I can reheat them, Mom! Just relax, okay? If you wear yourself out trying to exercise and take care of Red and take care of Crystal, you won't have any attention left for me!"

Sunbeam giggled. She wiped her forehead along the back of one of her hooves. "Ever the selfless girl, you are. It's okay, I can finish up on the way to the kitchen!"

With a huff, she stepped around Velvet. Her movements were somewhat exaggerated, one foreleg and one hindleg stretching as far forward as possible before stepping down and stretching out the others. Once in the kitchen, she started to jog in place on three hooves while the other retrieved a wrapped bundle of biscuits from the fridge.

Crystal watched her with a smile, saying to Velvet, "She's really dedicated to losing the baby weight, isn't she?"

"Yeah, she is." Velvet shrugged. "Anyway, are you really just here for biscuits and jam?" She took a seat beside Crystal and swung her hindlegs absently.

Crystal nodded, paused, then shook her head. "I was, but now that I think about it, I did want to talk about something." She glanced at Velvet out of the corner of her eye. "Can you not make a big deal out of my birthday this year?"

Velvet gasped with obvious exaggeration. The sound was louder than necessary and both hooves raised to her chest. "What? No! I would never do that! This birthday isn't any more or less special than any other!"

"Besides, we already have the cake planned!" Sunbeam called from the kitchen in the middle of her push-ups while the stove preheated.

Crystal turned on Velvet, frowning and prodding at her with one accusatory hoof. "You are planning something! Velvet, I don't want you making a big deal out of my birthday."

Velvet crossed her hoof over her chest. "I'm not making a big deal out of it. Honest! I'm making an appropriately sized deal. Just trust me, okay?" She leaned back into the couch and tilted her head. "Anyway, why? Last year it was just you, me, and Horsey because you didn't have any other friends. Now you have a lot. Don't you want to celebrate that?"

Crystal shook her head. "It's embarrassing! Birthday parties are for fillies and colts, not a mare my age."

"That's not true," Sunbeam chimed in. "We do birthday cakes for grown ponies all the time. It's perfectly normal!"

"Not helping!" Crystal chimed back. She sighed and looked down at the floor. "How much have you already planned?"

Velvet hummed thoughtfully. "If I were planning something, then I would definitely be pretty far along. It's only, like, two weeks away." She jabbed a hoof at Crystal. "So don't ruin this for me, hypothetically!"

Crystal whined for a moment, pleading with her eyes, but Velvet didn't budge. Finally, she dropped her head. "If it makes you happy."

"Yay!" Velvet threw her forelegs in the air. "—is what I would say if I were indeed planning something!"

Sunbeam jogged over to the couch with a plate of biscuits topped with strawberry jam, which she set on the coffee table. "If you can stay for a while, Crystal, Red will be up from his nap soon."

Crystal's eyes went wide. "Could I play with him?"

"Certainly." Sunbeam smiled, then lunged her way to the nursery. "I'll bring him out when he's awake."

Crystal took a bite of one of the biscuits and relished its buttery flavor underneath the layer of jam. "Your dad can really cook," she murmured in bliss.

"Yep! Though with Mom stuck here with Red, I'm going to have to keep taking shifts at the bakery so he doesn't get overworked." Velvet sighed. "I'm sorry. I know that means you'll be stuck alone a lot of the time, but maybe you can be good and go out more?"

"'Be good'?" Crystal raised a brow. "What am I, a pet?"

Velvet's mouth wriggled before she grinned, nodded, and laughed when Crystal feigned a shocked gasp.

"Well, we'll just see how you feel about it when I—aww!" Her tone rose to a quiet but high-pitched squeal as her gaze was torn away from Velvet at the sound of a gurgle. "Look who's up!"

Sunbeam cradled Red in one foreleg as she walked over to them. "Here you go, Big Sis." She held him out to Velvet, smiling at Crystal. "She's his favorite when he wakes up from a nap."

"Of course! That's because Big Sis knows what Li'l Red likes!" Velvet raised the gurgling foal into the air, then gently wiggled him from side to side. "Choo-choo! Wook at mah widdle face!"

Crystal stared at her before she grinned. "Wow, Velvet, maybe you didn't want a cat after all."

"Huh?" Velvet lowered Red to cradle him in both forelegs. "What?"

Her grin widened. "You clearly wanted a foal!"

Velvet blinked. She looked from Crystal to Red. He looked up at her with a big, drooling smile. "What? But cats and foals are totally different. Cats are fun but foals are adorable and look at the way he smiles and oh my gosh I want one." Her eyes grew big as the realization sunk in.

Sunbeam gasped from across the room, dropping a small dumbbell to the ground. "What?!"

"I mean, not right now!" Velvet hurriedly clarified. "Now is definitely not the right time! Crystal needs to move out and in with Silent Knight first before I can even consider that. Also, the whole problem of, well, making a foal." She shook her head. "That means I'd need somepony, right?"

"You could always just adopt," Crystal offered.

Velvet blinked slowly. "I could always just adopt…" She shook her head again, more rapidly this time. "Anyway, let's focus on the real situation at hoof! Silent is going to come home soon and Crystal's finally going to tell him how she feels!"

Sunbeam, after having just picked it up, dropped the dumbbell again. "What?!"

Crystal rubbed the back of her neck and grinned sheepishly. "Oh, yes, I said I'd do that, didn't I?"

Velvet gave a stern nod. "Yup!"

"You won't let me go back on that?"

Velvet shook her head. "Nope!"

Crystal laughed, looking at the approaching Sunbeam. "Then I guess it's true!"

"Oh, honey, that's wonderful!" Sunbeam embraced her, then pulled back. "Velvet, let Crystal play with Red to celebrate!"

"Okay, okay." Velvet transferred Red to Crystal's hold. "Now, be careful, he's a little finicky with how you hold him. No, put your hoof here, and hold him around here…"

Crystal trotted through the streets toward home with a saddlebag full of radishes, a small chuckle escaping her at the thought of them. Clearly, it was time for her 'surprise party'. Why else would Velvet wake her up and send her to the store to get "twenty-one radishes, each two-thirds more red than white"?

She rolled her eyes as she opened the door and called, "Oh, look at me, coming home so unsuspecting into a dark room!"

She waited. The lights remained off. Not a sound was heard. She blinked.

"Uh, hello? Birthday filly is here?"


She huffed and wandered around the room, checking behind the sofa, revealing nopony. She looked in the bathroom, under both beds, and even the kitchen cabinets.

"Seriously?" She walked back into the living room and slumped down onto a pillow just as she noticed a piece of paper taped to the back of the door. Her magic retrieved it and, once it was within reach, she read aloud, "You're a real treat."

Crystal stared at the note for a while before she gasped. "Sunridge Sweets! Of course!"

Just when she opened the door and barreled out into the hallway, she squeaked and collided into a grinning Velvet.

"What?!" Crystal looked down at the mare she had knocked over. "What are you doing here?"

Velvet laughed, getting back onto her hooves. "Waiting to see how desperate you were for the party you didn't want!" She winked. "Guess you wanted this after all?"

Crystal puffed out her cheeks. "Well, I just, if you did it anyway I might as well enjoy it!"

"Great! So now that I've distracted you…"

"Distracted me?" She glanced up, to the left, then the right. "From wha—"

"Surprise!" several voices yelled from right behind her, most laughing when she squealed and jumped into the air.

Crystal whirled around to see everypony standing in the hallway: Raven was accompanied by Moore, Horsey with Savoir, Painted Wave with Verdant Wellspring, and, of course, Runic, who probably would have been holding hooves with Miley if she weren't overseas.

She feigned a laugh as the reality in front of her set in. Almost all of her friends were in a relationship. How did she, the most desperate of all of them, end up the only single pony? She glanced at Velvet and mentally corrected, The only unwillingly single pony, that is.

Finally, her smile lifted into sincerity as she said, "Oh, you all didn't have to do this!"

"But we haven't done anything yet," Runic said before grabbing a phial from his vest. "But now—"

"Runic, no!" cried those that knew what was to come.

"—it's started!" he finished, rather innocently or intentionally ignoring them and throwing the phial to the ground.

Pink smoke filled the hallway and likely disturbed several neighbors. However, it had the pleasant smell of roses, and quickly dissipated into a thin haze, as though looking through rose-colored lenses.

Runic smiled with pride. "Made it just for you! It's my version of a bathless bomb!"

Crystal and a few others laughed through their coughing. Velvet ushered everypony inside, closing the door and hurriedly opening the kitchen window.

Sunbeam, Pepper Ridge, and Red were already waiting inside, having snuck past while Velvet kept Crystal distracted to deliver the cake. It was a two-layer white cake with a chocolate topper shaped like her cutie mark and a rosy pattern along the sides in pink. Several swirls of a dark shade of blue were interspersed throughout and Velvet leaned over to explain, "For, yanno, your Knight."

Crystal giggled and swatted at her. "Oh, you."

Cake was served first, as Crystal's sweet tooth couldn't let such a testament to all things sugary sit untouched. Painted Wave wandered over to Crystal while the others mingled, especially Raven and Horsey who seemed particularly gossipy about each other's love lives. After all, Moore had officially proposed on Hearts and Hooves Day, so Raven was excited to show off her engagement ring to everypony.

"Hay," she said, levitating her plate of sweet hay fries and strawberry dipping sauce. "I saw your changeling invasion article in Mares Monthly."

Crystal glanced nervously up at her. "What did you think?"

Painted raised her brow. "Does it matter what I think? Well, if it does, then I think the real question is, how are you doing?"

"Much better. I still have a nightmare once in a while, and I can't go into Runic's back room yet without breaking out in a sweat, but I know that'll get better with time." Crystal smiled, looking out at the room. "I didn't realize it until Velvet pointed it out, but I really do have a lot of friends now. I don't think I appreciated that before. I'm sure that helps more than anything."

"Good." Painted munched on a fry. "So, Velvet said we're hoping for a surprise late arrival?"

Crystal giggled and shrugged. "That'd be quite the birthday miracle! The stallion I have a bit of a crush on might be returning from overseas, but I think if that were going to happen he'd be here already." She looked over at Velvet across the room. "I'll keep hoping, though."

Painted patted her on the shoulder. "That's the spirit! Now, come on, Velvet told us that you're a devilish Timberwolf player." She grinned. "I have no idea what that means but I want to find out!" Her head turned toward the room and she called, "Timberwolf!"

"Where?!" Runic looked around and reached for his phials.

Velvet yelped and tackled him, though it was more like a leaping hug, as he didn't budge at all. They all laughed and gathered around the coffee table while the remainder of the cake was moved to the kitchen.

It was a tight fit for the group, so the stallions sat out to enjoy some stallionly chat. Red dominated the conversation with his gurgling and babbling, however, seeming to have very strong opinions about construction, Wonderbolt races, and how long mares took to get ready for parties.

"So," Crystal started, looking across the table at Velvet, "this game is growing on you, huh?"

Velvet smirked. "Only because I have a secret weapon now."

"Secret weapon?" Horsey asked.

Velvet merely chuckled, then burst into a full-on cackle. The other mares looked at each other in concern, save for Sunbeam, who hummed a little tune while looking at her dealt role card. Crystal had a feeling that mares in that family all hummed when they had something up their sleeve.

Sunbeam, it turned out, had the ultimate poker face: her sugary disposition paired with her terms of endearment made it nigh impossible to call her a liar. Raven did so once and was so burned by the look of hurt on Sunbeam's face that she believed even the most improbable of claims from the mare. That included Sunbeam saying she was a Clairvoyant when Raven herself had been that role.

Painted, on the other hoof, was immune to Sunbeam's charms. "Objection! You couldn't be the Scandalmonger, because I was the Burglar and stole Velvet's card. She was the Scandalmonger!"

Sunbeam pouted. "Are you calling me a liar?"

"If the horseshoe fits!" Painted grinned.

The last grains of sand fell; time was up. They voted and several hooves pointed at Sunbeam. She flipped her Timberwolf card over with a small huff. Laughs went around the table, interrupted by a knock on the door.

Crystal's heart stopped, but her hooves moved faster than ever. She flung the door open to see the mailpony standing outside.

"Hello!" he said, held out a hoofful of envelopes, and winked. "Is it somepony's birthday?"

Crystal nodded. Her magic brought over a small plate with a slice of cake on it. "Here you go!"

He licked his lips. "Boy, that looks good! Thanks, you have a happy birthday!"

Crystal sighed after she shut the door. All eyes were on her, so she lifted a smile. "Just the mailpony."

"Yes, and?" Velvet rolled her eyes. "What if there's a letter from you-know-who in there?!"

The thought drew a gasp from Crystal and she flipped through the mail. A bill, something from her parents, something from her grandparents, and—"There is!"

Velvet cleared her throat as she stood. "Small intermission, everypony! Resume games and chatter like normal!" She grabbed Crystal by the hoof and dragged her into the nearest bedroom, shutting the door behind them. She whirled on Crystal like a ravenous timberwolf.

Crystal already had the envelope opened and was reading the letter, her heart pounding, her lips moving to mouth the words.

Dear Crystal Wishes

The time is finally here for us to say goodbye to our gracious hosts and return home. I imagine that we’ll be hot on the trail of this letter. Fortunately for it, mail moves faster than royal entourages.

I’ve made a fool of myself here. I let my distrust of gryphons blind me and I acted rashly. I realize now that I need to reevaluate irrational judgements. Thankfully that did not jeopardize the lasting good that has been done by ponies with cooler heads.

Our mission has been a great success and I think much has been done to bring pony and gryphon together. Please know that I look forward to seeing you and the crowd at your earliest convenience.

If I’ve done my math right this letter should arrive precisely on your birthday. Velvet Step told me the date before I left and urged me to hurry home for what she had planned. Please accept my deepest apologies for not being there myself but know that you’ll be in my thoughts.

Happy Birthday, Crystal Wishes. I know you’ll have a wonderful party.

Your friend

Silent Knight

"Friend?" Crystal sighed and folded the letter. Her ears drooped low. "I'll be in his thoughts, but he's only a friend?" She sighed again. "Oh well. It looks like he won't make the party, Velvet."

Velvet kicked at the ground. "Shucks! And I had the perfect lunch planned, too!"

Crystal blinked. "The what?"

"Well, we have exactly enough plates for every pony here, plus two." Crystal stared blankly and Velvet continued, "I ordered some spaghetti with zucchini and tomato sauce from Mangiatoia to be delivered, enough for every pony here, plus three." Velvet waited, then sighed when Crystal just continued to stare. "That means there'd have been enough plates for Miley and Princess Luna, but not for Silent Knight. Forcing you and him to have to share and end up kissing from a single spaghetti noodle like in the film!"

Crystal made an 'o' shape with her mouth in realization and laughed. "I don't think that works in the real world, but I appreciate the effort." She looked at the letter, then set it aside. "Well, it says he'll be home soon. I hope he means it this time because all this 'friend' business is quite seriously killing me inside!"

Velvet put a reassuring hoof on her shoulder. "Don't worry. Come on, let's get back to the party, okay?"

Crystal smiled a little reluctantly and nodded. "Yeah, let's."

The rays of the sun travelled slowly across the room, creeping toward where Crystal was on the floor. The stillness in the air was interrupted occasionally by her tapping the quill against the paper that held no words, only irritated, restless dots. She sighed and dropped the quill as she dropped her head.

"It's no use," she muttered. "Without knowing how he feels, I don't know how Stoutheart feels!"

The only reassurance she received was the blinds-filtered slat of sunlight reaching her hoof and warming it. It was also a reminder that it was nearing dinner time. She glanced at the door, frowning. Velvet had said she'd be home for dinner to help with finishing off the leftover spaghetti. Even after five days, they had barely made a dent in the surplus of servings.

"Liar," she grumbled, getting to her hooves. "I've been replaced by a foal." She stuck her nose in the air and started for the kitchen when three short knocks resounded from the front door.

Three short knocks. Her heart skipped three beats, or so she thought. In reality, that probably would have killed her, but such logical thinking escaped her right then.

Only one pony she knew knocked on the door that way.

Her stomach went from hungry to nervous excitement in an instant and she scrambled to the door. She paused to primp her mane and face with one hoof. She had to look her best when she opened the door, because standing there was a white-coated, blue-maned guard.

Her excitement lulled. Not only was the guard wearing the wrong color armor, but they were a she.

Crystal furrowed her brow and asked, "Winterspear? Why are y—" She gasped and one hoof raised to cover her mouth.

There was only reason why Winterspear would be visiting, her helmet tucked under one foreleg, sadness in her eyes.

Crystal's heart clenched, then sunk into the very pit of her stomach.

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