• Published 17th Nov 2014
  • 13,391 Views, 5,574 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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Doubt

Crystal gasped and froze, dumbstruck. Silent Knight's mother regarded her with impatience by walking past and instead focusing on the machines attached to her son. Her hoof traced the display screens and she nodded to herself, muttering something under her breath, then turned back to Crystal.

"Excuse me, but I would like to be alone with my son." She peered down her snout, a chill in her voice. "You are dismissed."

"Oh, I, well..." Crystal's ears drooped. "Yes, ma'am." With her tail between her legs, she grabbed her belongings and hurried out of the room. The door shut behind her and she slumped against the wall to catch the breath that had suddenly escaped her from the way Silent's mother carried herself.

There were no tears in his mother's eyes. Her voice didn't crack with emotion. Instead, she moved the same way Silent moved when he was on duty: with careful, well-practiced precision. It was chilling.

Crystal sighed and found the nearest bench to rest on, a few paces away from the room. Even if he was under his mother's care, she didn't feel right just leaving. She wasn't there solely to watch over him. She was there to be with him, mother or not.

Wrapped in pink magic, her quill lifted and lazily jotted down her ideas for the next scene. It was slow but steady progress; though her muse was strong, she kept having to scrap scenes that poured forth faster than she could really consider them. Stoutheart going off to battle and coming back wounded... Stoutheart contracting a serious illness and being hospitalized...

Each time the story snaked its way too close to reality, she had to crumple up the paper and throw it away. It just didn't fit with the rest of the story, no matter how easily she could write about it.

Crystal's ear twitched at the sound of rapidly approaching metallic hoofsteps. She turned her head to see Winterspear hurrying down the hall toward the room. As she zipped past and inside, she didn't stop to acknowledge Crystal. In fact, she was pretty certain Winterspear hadn't seen her at all.

She shrugged and returned to her writing. Winterspear and her mother's voices drifted through the too-thin door.

"Mom! I'm sorry, I got caught up in a—"

"It's quite all right. I already told you that you didn't need to take off work just for me."

Winterspear hesitated. There was some shuffling of hooves. "Are you okay?"

"Of course I am." Her mother snorted lightly. "Do you think this is the first time I've been in a hospital room?"

"I, well, no, Mom, but..." Winterspear's voice hardened. "Why are you so calm about this?! It's Silent Knight lying there, you know!"

Another derisive snort. "I can see that. Your father's blind, not me." She sighed and hoofsteps indicated that she moved, perhaps closer to Winterspear or to the bed. "He's a royal guard, Winterspear. This is what he signed up for. Your father made it perfectly clear to him what he was getting into and he chose to follow this path."

"Did he?! Or did Dad force him to follow in his hoofsteps?!"

"Mind your tone, young lady. I accepted these consequences when I married your father... I knew I would be wife and mother to ponies who put their lives in danger to keep the rest of us safe. The least I can do for them is respect their decisions."

Winterspear stomped a hoof and yelled, "But he's your son! He's in bad shape, Mom! He might not ever wake up!"

"And it won't change anything if I cry over it. Do you think that's what he wants? Of course not. Anypony who gets involved with a royal guard and cries when things get rough was a fool to get involved in the first place. This is the life of the wife of a soldier."

There were a few sounds of incomprehensible words as Winterspear sputtered, trying to find the right retort.

"All of that aside, I do have a letter from your father in response to yours."

A moment of quiet passed after an envelope was opened. Paper crinkled as if squeezed by a hoof and Winterspear spat, "If that's all he has to say, then why did he bother writing anything at all?"

Before her mother could reply, Winterspear stormed away. The door ripped open and Crystal watched her continue on her fiery departure, each hoof landing with angered resolve. She turned her head to see the mother step out to watch Winterspear leave. There was a brief look of remorse on her face, but when she noticed Crystal sitting there her expression hardened.

They stared at one another in silence. Though Crystal's head was spinning from the mare's words, she stood up and matched the look with a determined one of her own.

Finally, Silent's mother raised her brow. "I see you're still here."

"Yes, ma'am. You dismissed me, but I'm not ready to leave yet. I'm fine waiting out here, however." After a brief moment of consideration, she added politely, "Ma'am."

Another staring contest took place until the mare said, "Wallflower."

Crystal tried to not look as offended as she felt. "I beg your pardon, I am not—"

A brief laugh escaped the mare. "No, not you. My name is Wallflower."

"Oh." Crystal's ears folded back and she smiled sheepishly. "I'm sorry, I just..." She shook her head and straightened up. "It's nice to meet you, Wallflower."

Wallflower nodded. She turned and walked back into the room, returning to the side of the bed. "You're a friend of my son's?"

Crystal shut the door behind them. "Yes, ma'am."

"That's nice. I knew he was making friends, but I haven't been able to meet any of them until now." She shook her head. "What pitiable timing."

Crystal bit her lower lip, then moved to stand on the opposite side of the bed, looking up at Wallflower. "If you have time to wait, Runic Phial will be by in a few hours."

"Runic Phial?" Her eyes flicked up and to the left. "The cousin?" She shook her head. "No, I can't stay that long today. Stratus will do something foolish if he's left alone for too long." She sighed and returned her gaze to him. "I will have to visit in small bursts whenever I can give him something to keep him occupied while I'm here."

Crystal looked at her for a while longer, then dropped her head and stared at the sheets. The ticking of the clock on the wall paired with the occasional beeps and whirrs of machines filled the otherwise awkward silence. They stood there a while longer, perfectly and almost uncomfortably motionless, until Crystal's ear flicked at the rather peculiar sound of Wallflower chuckling, if only just slightly.

A small, almost bittersweet smile played on Wallflower's lips when Crystal glanced up at her. "He's so... quiet. Of course, he's always been the quiet type, especially as a foal, you know." She looked across the bed at her. "Perhaps you don't. Did Silent Knight or Winterspear tell you how he got his name?"

Crystal shook her head. Her magic flared to pull the nearest chair closer so she could sit down. "How?"

Wallflower sat down as well, folding her hooves neatly in her lap. "I don't know what you know about my husband or our family, but the Knight name is a proud name. My son is certainly not the first in our family to become a proud soldier." She smiled as she looked down at him. "He was only named Silent for quite a while, though."

"What?" Crystal furrowed her brow. "What do you mean?"

"Well, Stratus was very particular about who he would give the Knight name to. Winterspear didn't make the cut in his eyes. Mares shouldn't be soldiers, he believes. When Silent was born, he wanted to make sure he was the right one." She sighed. "His decision was delayed because Silent was an odd foal. He was... well, silent in every way. He never cried. He never made a sound, really. Stratus was concerned something was wrong with him. It wasn't until he was a few months old that Stratus looked at me and said, 'Yup, I got a good feeling about him. He's a Knight for sure.'"

Crystal didn't meet her gaze, instead staring at the white sheets that covered Silent's form. A strange feeling of anger bubbled in her chest and she struggled to keep her expression calm. "He just... withheld the family name from his own son?"

Wallflower shrugged. "That's the way my husband is." She cleared her throat and shifted in her seat. "Now, who exactly are you, again? How are you acquainted with him?"

"Oh." The fire was quenched as quickly as it flared, replaced by a moment of fear. How much should she divulge? She glanced at Silent Knight, as if to seek an answer from him, then back at Wallflower and straightened up. "I'm Crystal Wishes. A writer, ma'am. I met Princess Luna through my work and Silent Knight through her."

Wallflower's brow raised. "You are a friend of Princess Luna?"

Crystal hesitated. "It feels awfully pretentious to say that. I am friends with a mare who happens to be a princess."

"And that doesn't also sound pretentious?" Wallflower waved a hoof. "You are talking to the mother of a member of Princess Luna's House Guard. You are no more pretentious than me."

They sat in companionable quiet, both of them gazing at Silent Knight with similarly sober expressions.

"My husband believes he'll pull through," Wallflower said softly. "It seems that it is becoming a family tradition to be injured in the gryphon kingdom now."

"Really?" Crystal glanced at her, then pursed her lips. "Oh, yes. His father—I mean, your husband was injured in the knee, was he not?"

Wallflower nodded. She rose to her hind legs, sliding the chair back to make room for her front legs to drop. "And speaking of him, I should start the flight home. I will try to visit again today, but I likely won't be back until tomorrow. It was nice to meet you, Crystal Wishes."

Crystal stood as well, making her way around the bed to walk Wallflower to the door. The older mare stopped her by raising a hoof and gently touching Crystal's braid. That day, she had decided to weave a yellow ribbon in with the blonde and pink locks. She glanced between it and Wallflower, who stared for a moment and then retracted her hoof.

"Thank you for caring about my son." She smiled. "It brings a mother some sense of peace knowing that he has ponies here in Canterlot that are here for him." She turned and, with more poise than most of the ponies in Crystal's old social graces classes, walked out of the room, her head held high, her ears facing forward, and her tail appropriately perked to not drag on the floor. "Have a good day."

"You, too." Crystal blinked a few times, just as dumbstruck as she was when she met the mare. One hoof raised to stroke her braid and she turned to face the bed.

The door clicked shut after Wallflower left and suddenly, she felt alone. The room grew smaller and she was left with nothing but his mother's words ringing in her ears.

"This is the life of a wife of a soldier?" Crystal muttered under her breath, approaching the bed. "Are you going to do this to me again, Silent Knight? Is this just... the way it will be?" Her voice trembled, as did her whole frame. She lowered herself into the seat. "I don't understand. This... This is normal? But why?"

Crystal felt her lower lip tremble and clenched her eyes shut. "No, I mustn't cry." She lifted her head high and proudly, rubbing at her eyes with the back of her hooves, and looked at him. "That'll do no good for anypony, and you wouldn't like to see me cry, now would you, Silent Knight?"

Silent breathed in response. The machines beside the bed beeped in agreement.

A crack ran across her pride from forcing it too hard and she broke down with trembling and tears. "Th-then you'll just have to deal with n-not liking my tears, because I don't like your ban-bandages."

By the time Runic finally arrived, Crystal had stopped crying. In fact, she had stopped feeling after a while; it was as though she had cried herself numb. She lifted her head and greeted Runic with a small smile.

"You okay?" Runic approached her, his brow knitted in concern as he glanced between her and the bed. "Did something happen?"

"Huh? Oh, no." She stood up and walked past him. "I'm just tired, that's all."

Runic stopped her by flying over and landing in front of the doorway, his wings spread to block the path. "I thought we had an agreement about this! Aren't you supposed to talk to me when you have a problem now?"

Crystal opened her mouth, then snapped it shut. Her gaze fell to the floor. "Yes," she responded in a near whisper. "We did have an agreement, and I'm still keeping to it." She jerked her head back up. "I don't want to talk about it with anypony."

Runic's wings drooped. "It's about Silent Knight, isn't it? Don't worry, Crystal. He'll wake up, I'm sure of it!"

Crystal stepped around him, muttering, "That's what I'm worried about." She trotted down the halls with a brisk pace, the numbness wearing off enough that her chest tightened.

It was hard to breathe. The smells and sounds of the hospital were already familiar after only two days and that was a suffocating realization. Wallflower had known exactly what all the information on the machine displays meant. Her son being in the hospital hadn't seemed to bother her any more than him having a simple scuffed knee or failing an exam at school. Would that be Crystal someday?

She hurried toward the main doors and out into the open air, gasping for its freshness. The world outside was bright and sunny and carrying on as normal. But what was normal, really?

She shook her head when it started to throb. She needed a break. She needed to get away. She needed something, anything—

"Darling, are you all right?"

Crystal blinked. Her vision cleared to focus on the mare in front of her. "Mom?"

Upper Crust stepped closer, concern in her eyes. "Why are you at a hospital?"

"I..." She frowned. "I could ask you the same question."

Upper Crust gave an exaggerated sigh. "What did I do to deserve your hostility, darling?"

"What did you do?" Crystal's lips curled into a brief sneer. "You criticize every aspect of my life!"

"I only criticize a few things that I think could be improved. There's no need to be so dramatic." She waved a hoof as if to dismiss the topic. "But, fine, if it will move this conversation along, I heard you had been seen spending time here and came to check up on you."

Crystal eyed her with clear suspicion. "Well, I'm fine. Thank you for your concern, Mother."

Upper Crust returned the suspicious look with an even stronger one. "Your father wanted me to tell you that he will be making your favorite for dinner if you wish to join us."

Crystal hedged as she considered her options. Velvet would likely either be with her baby brother or part-timing at the bakery in her mother's place, which meant if she went home, she'd be alone with her thoughts. However, her father was somepony she could talk to if it weren't for the annoyance of her mother's nosy presence. Finally, with a sigh and a feigned smile, she said, "I'd love to."

"He'll be so glad to hear that. Now, why don't you explain to me why ponies have seen you here while we walk home?" Upper Crust turned and started down the street, giving Crystal no real choice but to follow.

"I have a friend staying here for... a while, that's all." Crystal walked beside her, matching her pace.

"A friend?" Upper Crust whipped her head toward her daughter. "It's not Velvet Step, is it?"

"What? No, no. If it were Velvet I would have said as much." Crystal sighed. "You don't know this friend, Mother."

Upper Crust stared at her a moment longer, then looked back ahead, nodding. "Well, it's good that you have more friends, I suppose, even if they're not ponies everypony should know."

The hairs on the back of Crystal's neck and shoulders bristled and she clenched her jaw. If only her mother knew just who her friends were—but the truth would just give her a reason to be even more irritating. "Yes, Mother."

"Now, is this a permanent choice, hmm?" She gestured at Crystal's braid. "Yellow doesn't suit your complexion, you know."

Crystal scowled at her. "Is that really all you care about? Whether yellow matches my coat? If I were in a coma, would you just gripe about how the hospital gowns aren't in vogue?" She quickened her pace to trot bitterly ahead, but Upper Crust reached out a hoof to stop her. The scowl remained in place, returned by a sincere, confused look that threatened to snuff the fire in her.

"A coma, darling? Is that what's wrong with your friend and has you so riled up?" Upper Crust lifted the hoof to caress her daughter's cheek. "Of course those awful gowns would be the least of my concerns. Do you really think I'm that heartless?"

Crystal shook her head, mumbled an apology, and started walking again. Just like that, anger turned to guilt. There was no middle ground when it came to her mother: she either irritated her beyond reason, or made her feel awful for feeling that way. It was completely different from talking to her—

"Dad!" She smiled, perking up at the sight of him in his usual recliner when she opened the door. "How are you?"

Jet Set looked up from his newspaper and smiled back at her. "Hello, dear. Did your mother mention the zucchini fettuccine?"

Crystal fluttered her eyelashes as she walked toward him. "Oh? Are you making that tonight? I had no idea!"

Jet Set chuckled. "You are still a terrible liar. Come on, why don't you have a seat?"

Crystal hesitated, glancing at her mother instead of responding. When she looked back at him, his brow was quirked.

"Actually," he said and pushed himself up out of the seat, "why don't you come out onto the balcony with me? There's something odd in the neighbor's yard that I'd like your opinion of."

Upper Crust snorted. "Jet, dear, we've talked about this. They're crocuses, not tulips."

"We'll see what Crystal thinks. Come on, dear." Jet Set held open the prench doors that led outside.

Though it was off the first floor, the yard at the back of the house was sloped so steeply that what was a deck on some of the houses in the neighborhood was just a balcony for theirs. A back yard and a full deck was a rare commodity on the side of a mountain, after all, and her parents could never afford that luxury.

"See?" He pointed a hoof. "Those are clearly tulips, are they not?" The door clicked shut behind them and he lowered his voice. "What's wrong, dear?"

Crystal leaned against the railing, gazing at the little lilac, cup-shaped flowers planted against the side of the neighboring house. "Crocuses," she said with a small giggle that quickly died down. "Dad, you love Mom, don't you?" He nodded and she continued, "Even though she's a serious headache?"

Jet Set looked over his shoulder. Inside, Upper Crust had already settled onto the couch and was poring over a magazine. "Of course. Why?" He smiled down at her. "Is this about one of your novels?"

"No." She sighed. "Dad, I thought I was serious about a stallion, but..." She bit her lower lip, continuing to stare at the flowers. "I don't know now. I don't know if I can handle the consequences of that love."

Jet Set's expression grew serious and he wrapped a foreleg around her shoulders. "Why don't you elaborate on consequences? I'm sure it's more than him being a headache, hmm?"

Crystal sniffed. The tears she had thought were all dried up returned and stung at her eyes. "He's a royal guard, Dad, but... but he acts like he's in the Equestrian Army or something. He's in a coma right now because of something that happened overseas, and if he wakes up, I, I'm scared he'll just get himself right back in the hospital." Her chin trembled as she fought off a sob. "I don't know if I can live this way."

Jet Set nodded slowly, listening carefully while she spoke and thinking just as carefully when she finished. Finally, he said in a gentle voice, "Crystal, I know you've never dealt with something of this nature before, but you have never been the sort to just give up."

"'Give up,'" Crystal repeated a little bitterly. "Why do those words keep coming up? We've not even been on a real date. I like him a lot, but that's all there is currently. How is it giving up if it hasn't even started?"

Jet Set shrugged. "How is it not giving up if it bothers you this much, dear?" When Crystal had no response, he smiled and continued, "You've fought your mother and I for years and hardly ever relented. You've finally found a stallion that suits you and now you're afraid?" He squeezed her shoulder. "Isn't now the most important time to be stubborn, of all the times you've dug your hooves in?"

Crystal turned her head and buried her face against his shoulder while she trembled. "I-I don't know, Dad," she whispered. "I just don't know."

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